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Fierce Foodie: Shrimp Toast, Candy Apples, and BBQ Ribs

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A blogumn by Roya Hamadani

I’ve spent the last three days visiting family in Boston, sharing shrimp toast and candy apples and barbecued ribs.  For gastronomic adventuring I can think of no better partner than my sister.  One taste and she can accurately predict my reaction – “You won’t like this cannoli, it’s got anise in the cream” – and my visits with her consist of epic culinary tours of all her favorite haunts and newest discoveries.  The highlight of this go-around had to be the mob Italian restaurant that served her a mounded platter of seafood and linguini in spicy red sauce that would have fed a family of five.  As my sister peered over the tower of mussel shells and squid rings before her, I thought, “There’s no place I’d rather be than right here, right now.”

At breakfast yesterday morning my sister’s brother in law asked for his left over cereal milk to be used in his coffee, launching us all on an extended fantasy in which “Uncle Drew’s Own Cereal Milk” outsold every creamer on the market.  According to our collective vision the logo pictures a bespectacled Drew smiling in his pajamas, milk dripping off his stubble, with a tagline that reads, “Made only with organic milk, natural sweeteners, and Drew’s own spit.”  It all ends in scandal after the emergence of a video showing Chinese factory workers chewing lactate by the handful and eating from huge vats of cereal which pour off the milky dregs into Drew’s bottles.

Food love is a special love.  It is exponentially increased when you eat in the company of those you adore.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a frozen waffle or a chocolate Florentine, just find somebody you love and share a bite.  Now I have to go – my sister’s two year old triplets are calling me and they have ice cream!

But before I go, the weather is getting colder and the stew season has begun!  Here, in honor of my sister, is the recipe for her favorite Iranian dish after the jump:


Koresh de Bademjan (Persian Stew of Eggplant)

Ingredients:
2 medium eggplants or 6 Japanese eggplants – look for those with green stems, they are fresher
flour
Veg oil for frying
1 tsp turmeric
1 large onion, chopped
1 32 oz can of whole canned tomatoes
1-2 pounds meat, cut into chunks
½ a dried lemon or the juice of 1 fresh lemon
Salt and pepper

Cut the eggplant in half, then slice lengthwise into slices about ½ inch thick.  Coat slices in flour.  Heat oil in a non stick pan over medium heat.  Fry slices in oil, turning them to brown each side until they just soften.  Then place on paper towels to leach out excess oil.

I am not going to lie to you, this process takes time, at least an hour.  It also takes a certain amount of resistance to beads of hot oil landing on your skin.  I guess what I’m trying to say is, be patient and careful, or just leave off the flour, brush the slices with oil and then broil them for a few minutes.  But not too long or you get eggplant with the consistency of foam rubber.

In a Dutch oven or large casserole pot, brown the meat in oil.  You can use chunks of lamb, beef, chicken, whatever.  I have never tried it with firm tofu, but I bet it would work just fine.

Add chopped onion and sauté until translucent.

Add 1 tsp turmeric.  I mean it!  More is not better when it comes to turmeric.  If you add too much it will taste like medicine.  (Also add dried lemon here if using.)  Stir.  Add tomatoes.

Add eggplant and enough water to cover.  Simmer covered, but do not boil, until meat is tender or at least 20 minutes.  Add water if necessary.

At end of cooking, add fresh lemon juice if using, salt and pepper to taste.  Persians like this dish very sour.
Serve over white rice with a side of plain yogurt.  Eat with a loved one.  Yum!!!