Thursday, March 17, 2016

A NEW DAY - TOOT - PERSIAN MARZIPAN



♪Music we're cooking to♪  


Propel. That's a good word, Mama. - Luna

Turn up the music. The music we're cooking to.

Turn it up loud.

I mean feel the rhythm surge through your entire being and bounce off your heart kind of loud. 

Louder. Louder. Louder.  

Push aside the curtains, throw open the doors and windows. Take off your shoes, grab your children's hands, step out, throw your arms up to the sky and welcome a new day.

 NOROOZ - Persian New Year.


Mute all devices that jingle, jangle, and make you twitch and tumble. Silence all the chatter floating through invisible wires, invisible messengers. Selling invisible dreams and schemes.

But, turn up the music. 

Loud.

Throw some almond flour in a bowl, scoop in the powdered sugar, and sprinkle the cardamom.

Slowly drizzle in the rose water. Get your hands in there and make a soft dough.  

Rose water again, Mama?

A little more, Soleil. Enough to make a dough.
  
We've been using a lot of rose water these days, Mama.

And we'll be using more, Luna.

It smells like Norooz, Mama.  And I just want to swim in rose water. 

We're gonna be swimming in rose water, cardamom, nuts, saffron, greens and more greens for the next few days, girls.

And SUGAR, Mama. Don't forget about the sugar!

And sugar, girls. To sweeten our days and our hearts.

That's silly. Sugar sweetens our taste buds, Mama!



Sit back. Close your eyes and press record. Record the rhythm of their giggles. Sisters. The cadence of each breath, the crescendo of the eventual disagreement. And repeat back to the giggles. 

It's like cookie dough, Mama. Are you sure we don't have to cook it?

I'm sure, Soleil.

Can we shape them how we like, Mama? I want to make a bunny.

We call them toot because we make them look like the real toot we eat - mulberries. But you can shape them however you like, Luna. No rules for toot making.

Giggles, giggles, giggles.

Soleil, did you hear what Mama said? She said toot making! Toot! Toot!

Giggles, giggles, giggles. 

Feel the rhythm of their laughter surge through your entire being and bounce off your heart. 




Sliver a few pistachios. Stick them in the toot, like a stem. Or bunny paws. No rules.

Arrange the toot on a platter and set them on your Haft Seen Table. To sweeten your heart, your days and your taste buds. 

Gather around your Haft Seen Table and light the candles. Watch as the flames reflect off the mirror and dance to the rhythm of the music, the rhythm of their giggles, the rhythm of your heart beat.

Turn up the music loud and let the beauty of it all propel you into a new day. 

Propel into Norooz.

This we year we welcome spring and Norooz on Saturday March 19th at exactly 9:30pm PDT. I wish you all a very Happy Norooz!

And please make sure you also sweeten your taste buds with the following Norooz recipes from Persian food bloggers from around the globe.




Monday, March 14, 2016

CITY OF GOLD AND A FARRO, MUNG BEAN, CANNELLINI AASH

 Music We're Cooking To ♪

I expected food, culture, and a unique culinary guide to the city - my adopted city. 

I didn't expect the tears.

I was invited to a screening of the documentary film City of Gold about Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times food writer Jonathan Gold, directed by Laura Gabbert. It was a mid-week event right around dinner time. Which means high level planning, texting, and coordinating by the tag team parental unit. It means somewhere between school pick-up, homework, piano and violin practice, and endless queries about when it's ok to play Minecraft, there's dinner to consider. It means preferably a one-pot meal - stove to table. Something that will satisfy and nourish. Something a six-year-old can pick at and deconstruct to the daily (hourly?) whims of her palate. Something for which a nine-year-old will happily lick her bowl clean. All of which translates to aash - a hearty Persian soup. Use up whatever is within reach kind of aash. 



I take my seat in the intimate theater. The lights dim and Laura Gabbert's lens invites us to ride shotgun along side Mr. Gold. He guides us through the streets of his beloved Los Angeles with ease, respect, curiosity and a local's sense of love and authority. A true reflection of what has made him and his columns so adored by Angelenos and beyond. He weaves on and off our Escherian freeways in search of a taco truck, a hot dog stand, Szechuan, very spicy Thai, Oaxacan, fancy French fare, Ethiopian, grasshoppers with Ruth Reichl, and a brief stop at the always reliable and delicious Attari for a little taste of Iran. 

What shines brightest in City of Gold, what resonated most deeply with me, what grabbed my heart and lodged a lump deep in my throat are the stories behind the food. Laura Gabbert touchingly captures Mr. Gold's gift to shine a light on these stories. The people, the families, the struggles and successes, life in the diaspora, life in every corner of Los Angeles.

Mr. Gold's dedicated pursuit of the next satisfying meal reveals the many colors of the mosaic that makes up Los Angeles. We are reminded that our communities are alive and bursting with all sorts of flavors, people and stories - we just need to venture out a little more east, south, north and west to discover them. To break bread with them

This aash is a reflection of the flavors and ingredients that have journeyed with me from east to west. A mix of flavors that bring comfort in their familiarity. There is the abundance of fresh greens so beloved in Iranian cooking, the chewy bite of Italian farro, a mix of creamy cannellini and mung beans, a whole leek - white and green parts, mini-meatballs mixed with fresh herbs and Parmesan (for added flavor and more importantly because that's how my kids love them) and a couple of spoonfuls of yogurt to bring it all to life.

The true spirit of aash-making is not in how accurately you measure, or use these ingredients exactly as dictated. Aash is generous in spirit and very forgiving. If you don't have mung beans on hand try lentils, or substitute rice or noodles for the farro. For a vegetarian option, leave out the meatballs. Don't get too caught up on how big or small your bundle of greens is. Reach deep in the back crevices of your fridge and revive the forgotten and neglected. This is also a great dish to use the whey (from straining yogurt) sitting in your fridge door, politely waiting for its turn to be asked to the dance. If you don't have whey, not a problem, just use water.This recipe can serve as a guide as your pantry, crisper and taste buds lead the way. From east, south, north and west.

At a time when there is so much talk about building walls to separate - Laura Gabbert and City of Gold quietly offer Jonathan Gold, an ambassador of sorts. A not so anonymous, suspenders and bowler hat-clad food critic - crossing bridges, and overpasses in his green pickup truck - connecting us to our neighbors. One dish at a time.