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Baba Ganoush

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Baba Ganoush

Baba Ganoush

Time: 45-75 minutes (10-15 minutes to make once the eggplant has been cooked and cooled)

Serves: 10-12 as an appetizer

Inspired by: When I began cooking my theme was often “Mediterranean” because I always loved the foods prepared by my Armenian grandparents. I thought some sort of eggplant dip was something I should at least try to make. I found one in an Armenian cook book and then began modifying it slightly as I made it more and more often. I especially love the flavors of this when the eggplant is grilled and gets a bit charred – it adds a fabulous smokey flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 lbs eggplant
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4-6 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 4 tablespoons Tahini
  • 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ½ bunch parsley, minced (garnish)
  • Fresh pomegranate seeds (garnish)

Recipe:

  • Slice eggplants in half lengthwise, score the face with a knife and brush each face with olive oil.
  • Put eggplant face up on cookie sheet and place under pre-heated broiler (40-60 min at about 350), or grill eggplant face down over medium heat (20-30 min). Cook until thoroughly cooked – slightly charred outside and soft on inside.
  • Cool.
  • With spoon, remove eggplant from the skin and mash thoroughly (can do this in a food processor).
  • Then add the Tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and salt and continue to mix well until creamy.ly.
  • Spread the dip in a large, round platter. Sprinkle with parsley or garnish with parsley sprigs. Dribble with olive oil (optional). It’s pretty if sprinkled with fresh pomegranate seeds.

Notes: The grilling/broiling step is the key to this recipe as it makes the eggplant taste rich and smoky. This can keep for a couple of days but the garlic flavor gets stronger each day so if you don’t plan to eat right away, use a little less garlic.

Wine Suggestions: Any white or light red works well with this dish as well as other middle-eastern “mezzas”. Try a creamy white such as a rich California or Australian Chardonnay, and for crisp – try a Chablis or other unoaked White Burgundy, Sancerre, Gruner Veltliner or a Spanish Verdejo. Also a light red with a bit of oak tannin such as a Red Burgundy or Rioja is a good accompaniment if you go heavier on the garlic.


Lemon-Herb Chicken Kabobs

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Lemon Herb Chicken Kabobs

Time: 30-35 minutes active, 4.5 hours total. Approximately 20 minutes to prepare marinade, 4 hours for marinating and 10-12 minutes to grill.

Serves: 4

Inspired by: This is probably the most common Armenian marinade for chicken, beef and lamb. My family used this marinade for kabobs when I was growing up and would add green bell peppers, onions and tomatoes to the kabobs to make them yummy and beautiful.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs chicken
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ¼ cup snipped parsley

Preparation:

  • Cube the chicken.
  • Mix all of the rest of the ingredients in a medium sized bowl and then add the chicken.
  • Marinate in the refrigeratore for 4 hours. Skewer and grill at about 400 approximately 5-6 minutes each side – you should see grill marks – check to ensure it is cooked through – with metal skewers and fairly high heat – it will cook fast.

Notes: This is great with any meal, but nice to incorporate into a mediterranean-themed meal such as hummus or baba ganoush as a starter, and served with armenian rice pilaf and greek salad.

Wine Suggestions: This will go well with creamy, crisp or aeromatic white such as a California Chardonnay, White Burgundy or a Sauvignon Blanc from any region, or a light bodied red such as a Pinot Noir or Red Burgundy. I especially love this with a very lemony, high-acid White Burgundy.


Green Beans & Shitake Mushrooms

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Green Beans & Cremini Mushrooms

Green Beans & Cremini Mushrooms

Time: 20-25 minutes

Serves: As many as you’d like

Inspiration: Tony Khalife taught me so much about the basic cooking of beautiful foods. He also taught me that sautéing an onion to start off a dish makes the house smell beautiful and rounds out the flavor and texture of many pan-fried vegetable dishes like this one. I love all kinds of mushrooms. I typically do this dish with Shitake mushrooms, per the recipe below, but last night I couldn’t find them and bought Cremini’s instead (photo above).

Ingredients:

  • 1 small white or red onion
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Green beans
  • Shitake mushrooms (can do equal parts beans/mushrooms or vary it by your taste)
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation:

  • Wash mushrooms and green beans and snip off the ends of the beans.
  • Cut the onion in half, and then slice thin.
  • In a skillet or wok, sauté the onion with olive oil until it is caramelized (about 10 minutes).
  • Cook shitakes until they begin to soften.
  • Add green beans, salt and pepper to taste, and cook uncovered for about 10 minutes or until the veggies are at your desired firmness. You can also cover them for the first 5 minutes or so to speed up cooking as they will steam a bit.

Notes: If you use Cremini’s or other fast cooking mushrooms instead, add the green beans before the mushrooms. Cook until they are about 5 minutes away from being finished, and then add the mushrooms for the last five minutes or so.

Wine Suggestions: You’ll probably select a wine that goes best with your main course, but if you are considering wines that are most complimentary to green beans, good pairings are Sancerre or Gruner Veltliner. A light, earthy red such as a Red Burgundy is a fabulous pairing with the mushrooms – you might consider that if you go very heavy on the mushrooms and light on the green beans.


Blackened Salmon

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Time: 15-20 minutes

Serves: 2

Inspired by: I can’t even remember the first time I had blackened fish, but it was one of the first ways that I enjoyed fish. This is so fast and easy and I love how crispy the outside of the fish gets, yet stays so moist inside. I also think this seasoning really enhances the flavors of salmon.

Supplies: Cast iron skillet

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound wild salmon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or avocado oil is a good choice for high heat cooking)
  • Approximately 2 teaspoons of Spice it Up …by Karen™

Preparation:

  • Heat your cast iron skillet so that it is searing hot (approximately 7 minutes over a gas stove). Make sure you have a powerful hood/fan or you might set off your smoke alarms and get a visit by the fire department!
  • Coat the fish lightly in olive oil and sprinkle on the spice.
  • Add olive oil to the hot skillet, let it heat up for about 30 seconds, and then place the salmon in the skillet.
  • Sear each side for 3-5 minutes until blackened, crisp and just barely cooked through. Alternatively, if you’d like a crispy exterior but not so black, the skin side and the top for about 2 minutes and then finish off in a 350 degree oven – approximately 10-12 more minutes. For thiner cuts or wild salmon that is lean, cut baking time to 6-8 minutes.

Wine Suggestions: A medium bodied red with some good fruit and a bit of spice on it would be perfect.  I’d recommend the same wines as suggested with the blackened chicken and because some salmon can be pretty fatty, I think that can also hold up well to some Bordeaux blends or other bigger reds that have softened with some age.


Chipotle-Lime Halibut Kabobs

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Time: 30 minutes active; 2.5 hours total. 10 minutes to prepare marinade and fish, 2 hours to marinate, and 20 minutes to skewer and grill kabobs.

Serves: 4

Inspired by: A friend of mine years ago, Linda, had me for dinner and made these kabobs. They are so easy, healthy and with awesome flavors!

Marinade Ingredients:

  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Chipotle powder
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 2 tablespoons light olive oil

Kabob Ingredients:

  • 1-1.5 pounds of halibut steak, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 zucchini, 1 yellow squash, 1 small Japanese eggplant, 8-12 mushrooms  (or use your favorite veggies for grilling)

Preparation:

  • Mix marinade ingredients well and then put the fish into the marinade for about 2 hours.
  • When fish is ready, preheat your grill (or oven), cut the veggies and toss lightly with some of the marinade.
  • Put the fish and veggies on skewers (you can put them all on the same skewers alternating colors so they look pretty).
  • Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and put on a 350 degree grill for 12-15 minutes (alternatively you can bake these as well).

Wine Suggestions: I like this most with a Red Burgundy or California Pinot Noir, but the spicy contrast with an off-dry white would also be nice.


Baked Salmon all Spiced Up

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Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 2 for a dinner main course

Inspired by: My love for eating a beautiful healthy meal even when I have minimal time to prepare something. I have even prepared this for a late breakfast/early lunch when I know I have a full day ahead and want a more substantial morning meal.

Ingredients:

Preparation: Preheat oven to 400 degrees or, if you can use a toaster oven, there is no need to preheat. Rub salmon lightly with olive oil, sprinkle spice over top. If you are cooking a fatty Atlantic Salmon, bake it for 12 minutes at 400 degrees and then broil for another 3-5 minutes to crisp the top. For a thin tail piece or for leaner Wild Salmon, drop the cooking time by several minutes.

Wine Suggestions: Red Burgundy is my favorite. A fattier salmon also holds up well to a medium bodied red as well such as as an aged Bordeaux, and of course any medium bodied spicy red such as a Grenache/Syrah blend or Syrah or Rioja – as long as it isn’t too big. I’ve also found that a high-acid white with beautiful aromatics such as a Condrieu, White Burgundy or Gruner Veltliner can be a nice combination with the salmon and spice.


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