Basque Roasted Chicken Thighs with Sweet Bell Peppers

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Chicken gets a Spanish spin, thanks to a sprinkling of smoked paprika and splash of sherry vinegar in this easy gluten-free dinner. You can roast the chicken and peppers on a sheet pan or a cast iron skillet, and either method will make for an easy clean up in the kitchen.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
8 oz mini sweet peppers, halved and seeded
1 small red onion, cut into thin wedges
2 pounds small bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
¼ cup smoked ham, diced
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
¼ cup chopped parsley

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425°F. To a large bowl, add the oil, garlic, paprika, salt, and pepper. Add the peppers, onion, chicken, and ham and toss to coat.

Arrange on a large parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet (or 2 smaller baking sheets) in a single layer with chicken skin-sides up. Alternatively, you can also use a 12-inch cast iron to roast the chicken and peppers. Bake 30–35 min., until chicken is cooked through.

When the chicken is done remove from the oven. To serve family style, transfer the chicken and peppers to a platter and drizzle with vinegar and  garnish with a sprinkle with parsley.

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Persian Saffron Ice Cream (Bastani)

 
 
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Persian cuisine is one of the world’s great gastronomies, flourishing for centuries across an area that, at the height of the ancient Persian Empire (circa 550 to 330 B.C.), included modern-day Iran, along with parts of Iraq, Macedonia, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia.

The repertoire of dishes is fragrant, diverse and highly refined, based on complex culinary techniques. They are imbued with fresh flowers and herbs like rose petals, fenugreek and mint; spices like saffron, sumac and cardamom; fruits like pomegranate and barberry; all kinds of citrus; and nuts, including pistachios and almonds.

If this roster of ingredients sounds familiar, it’s because Persian cooking influenced Middle Eastern, Moroccan, Northern Indian and Turkish cuisines yet itself remains somewhat below the radar.

 

It should be noted that Persia (Iran) has made many lasting contributions to the world of frozen desserts.

The Arabs, who had already conquered the Persian Empire, took the age-old Persian summertime refreshment known as sharbat (sherbet) where a mix of fruit syrup, saffron,  and honey was incorporated with snow and chilled in a  yakhchal, an ancient type of ice house. Alexander the Great, who battled the Persians for ten years, was known to  enjoyed “fruit ices” sweetened with honey and chilled with snow.

 

And had the brilliant addition of  milk and sugar gave rise to the invention of ice cream around 500 B.C. in the Achaemenid Empire of Persia and more than likely gave rise to  Bastani.

Bastani sonnati, or simply bastani  is made from milk, eggs, sugar, rose water, saffron, vanilla, and pistachios.  Modern day bastani often contains flakes of frozen clotted cream. Sometimes, salep or salaab is included as an ingredient.  Salaab is an extract from a wild orchid that thickens like cornstarch. Salaab gives bastani it’s texture and gives the ice cream bend and pull, almost like gluten, and it has a faint floral taste. Persian ice cream gets an extra dose of richness and texture from frozen chunks of heavy cream that are swirled into the base.

In 400 B.C., the Persians also invented an ice cream-like dessert made with rose water and vermicelli called faloodeh. Persians introduced ice cream and faloodeh to Arabs after the Arab invasion of Iran and the fall of Persian Sasanian. 

By the time of the Arab Conquest took place in across Sicily and Southern Italy in the 8th Century,  there was the development of  granita and gelato, two frozen treats that are now synonymous with modern day Italian desserts. 

Comparatively, the Persian ice cream sandwich made with faloodeh or faludeh, which  is a far more modern treat that was invented around the 13th Century. And shortly there after, Bastani-e nooni was created where the yellow hue of the saffron ice cream and the aroma of rose water are married to make a cool,  smooth textured creamy treat countering the crispy wafers and crunchy sprinkling of pistachios. 

And did you know that a  Syrian immigrant named Ernest Hamwi is credited with crafting the cone on the fly at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, when he rolled his Middle Eastern zalabia pastries into cones to hold that year’s wildly popular confection, ice cream. And even in these modern times, on a warm evening, everyone from grandparents to young couples can be seen strolling and sitting in parks enjoying their cones and cups. Ice cream parlors abound, from the hole-in-the-wall take-out joint to the elegant café.

Over millennia, Iranians have made frozen treats into an art form, the upside of necessity in a country where summer brings extreme heat. In Bandar Abbas, the tropical Persian Gulf, where the temperature was in the nineties before it reached noon, the  still enjoy the ever refreshing faloodeh , the rice noodle and rosewater sorbet that Iranians like to brighten with a spritz of lemon juice. In the shomal, the wet, green, and fertile north that cradles the Caspian Sea, you will find the juicy, red popsicles made of whole fruits with their pits still inside.

And so, America’s favorite frozen treats had it origins in the  Middle East. But, it turns out, that ice cream came to Europe, and then America,  by way of the Arab invasion of Sicily , and thus, modern-day granita and gelato icy sharbat (sherbet) and velvety ice cream are still universally loved in Iran, in the U.S. and the rest of the world for that matter.

You can find Persian ice cream in the U.S, especially in Los Angeles, home to the world’s largest Iranian expat community. The two best known places are Mashti Malone’s, and at the Saffron and Rose

Mashti Malone’s is  an iconic ice cream parlor that makes the best Persian ice cream where you can get either faloodeh or bastani  served as an ice cream sandwich, pressed against two thin wafer cookies, and it is positively incredible. At the Saffron and Rose, you will find  delectable, handmade flavors range from orange blossom to white rose to pomegranate. 

Another Los Angeles Iranian establishment is the  Café Glacé, where you can slurp down a majoon, an ice cream shake blended with dates and bananas and topped with nuts. You’ll also find bastani-e nooni, the Persian ice cream sandwich: two thin, crisp wafers sandwiched around bastani. These can also be found in the freezer section of Iranian markets in different flavors, and if you’re lucky enough to go to an Iranian home for a meal, at dessert you may see a quart of ice cream and a box of wafers so you can make your own.

But if you’re feeling ambitious, you can make your own Persian ice cream from scratch. But rest assured, there’s an easy way to whip up Persian-style ice cream without using any gadgets or dirtying up the kitchen and ending up with a sink full of dishes. In taking a short cut to making bastani, it is recommended that you buy a  good quality vanilla ice cream, letting it get a little soft at room temperature, and then folding in pistachios and a teaspoon of ground saffron steeped in a tablespoon of hot water or cream. You can add a dash of rosewater and frozen chunks of cream if you want. Refreeze and voila, “authentic” Persian ice cream.

 

Makes About 1 quart

Ingredients:

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads (* See Cook’s Notes)
7 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon saffron, finely ground
1/4 cup Sadaf pure rosewater (** See Cook’s Notes)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Organic dried roses, for garnish

 

 

Directions:

To a small finger bowl, combine saffron threads and hot water and allow to seep until a vibrant orange red colour blooms.

Set a medium bowl in a large bowl of ice water. In another medium bowl, beat the egg yolks until pale, 1 to 2 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, whisk the cream with the milk, sugar, salt and saffron. Bring to a simmer over moderate heat, whisking, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Very gradually whisk half of the hot cream mixture into the beaten egg yolks in a thin stream, then whisk this mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the custard is thick enough to lightly coat the back of the spoon, about 12 minutes; don’t let it boil.

Strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into the bowl set in the ice water. Let the custard cool completely, stirring occasionally. Stir in the rosewater and vanilla extract. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the custard and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours.

Pour the custard base into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer the ice cream to a chilled 9-by-4-inch metaloaf pan, cover with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, at least hours.

Serve the ice cream in bowls, garnished with dried roses and pistaschio nuts, if desired.

 

 

Cook’s Notes:

Some people think that turmeric is a fine substitute for saffron, IT IS NOT. Definitely DO NOT use turmeric in ice cream because you will end up producing a very bitter tasting product.

*Saffron
Bastani is traditionally a custard like ice cream, rich in flavor mixed with saffron, rose saffron_jar_680water and pistachios. It is quite recognizable with it’s glorious golden yellow color and aromatic from both the saffron and rose water.

The other key ingredient is saffron. You want a high quality saffron, which gives your bastani its golden color and intoxicating aroma. Crush your saffron using a mortar and pestle and dissolve in a bit of warm water. This should steep for about 30 minutes, so do this while your ice cream is softening.

Once your saffron water is redish orange, add it to your softened ice cream with the rose water and pistachio bits. You can also add a teaspoon or two of crushed dried rose petals. It adds a bit of color as well as fragrance.

How to choose the best saffron
The amount of saffron you use is dependent on the quality of the saffron used. This affects the final color of your ice cream as well as the fragrance and flavor.
Always buy saffron threads and not powder. High grade saffron threads are dark red, not orange and no trace of yellow. When you open your container of saffron you should be able to recognize it’s beautiful scent.

Yes, saffron can be expensive, but don’t be duped and purchase cheap saffron. The color and aroma produced will not be the same. The best high quality saffron comes from Iran and can be purchased at FamilySpice.com.

 

**Rose waterdownload (13)
Using a high-quality, pure rose water is essential for this recipe. Look for Sadaf brand, which is available at kalustyans.com.

If you cannot find rose water in your specialty markets, you can find it locally at Asian Markets, like HMart or online at Amazon.com.

 

Storing the Ice Cream
The ice cream can be frozen for up to 1 week in an airtight plastic container.

 

 

 

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Duck a L’Orange

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You can use any type of duck that you can find in your local supermarket or butche. I like to use the Rohan duck, which is exclusively available at D’Artagnan. It is raised without antibiotics or hormones in open barns, and is the company’s proprietary hybrid that includes the Heritage Mallard and Pekin duck breeds. With a flavor reminiscent of a heritage-breed duck from France, the juicy, tender, rose-colored meat and mild taste make the Rohan™ Duck unique.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 quart fresh-squeezed orange juice, or bottled
One 12-ounce jar orange marmalade, reserving  3 tablespoons for basting
½ cup honey
1 D’Artagnan Rohan Duck, 5 to 6 pounds
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 small red onion
3 garlic cloves
1 small lemon
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 thin-skinned navel orange, washed and cut into thin slices
½ cup Grand Marnier

Directions:

Remove the duck from the packaging and rinse the duck inside and out with cold water, reserving the neck and liver, if desired. Trim the excess fat and skin.

Combine orange juice, marmalade, and honey in a bowl  or casserole dish, deep enough to hold duck. Add duck, and drizzle the marinade over the duck, cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Make sure you turn the duck once or twice if marinade doesn’t cover it completely.

The NEXT day,

Preheat oven to 375 ° F.

Remove duck from marinade, reserving marinade.

Using a fork, prick duck skin all over with a fork, but DO NOT pierce the flesh. Season inside and out with salt and pepper.  Slice the small red onion, break the garlic cloves in half and slice the small lemon in half and place the onion, garlic and lemon in the cavity of the duck. Using kitchen twine, truss the duck and place breast  side up on a rack in a roasting pan. If you do not have a rack for you pan, use three or four four ribs of celery, laying them in a row and set the duck on top of the celery “rack”.  If you are using a Granite Ware Enameled Dutch oven to roast your duck, be sure to cover the duck with the lid provided.  Transfer the roasting pan to oven and roast the duck. After 10 minutes, turn heat down to 350°F and roast for 1 ½ hours.

Once duck has rendered some fat, spoon 2 about tablespoons of it into a saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat, add onion, and sauté until tender and light brown, 5 to 6 minutes stirring occasionally. Pour in reserved marinade and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring up any browned bits. Adjust heat to medium and reduce liquid until thickened, 20 to 25 minutes. Pour the sauce into an electric blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Pour through a strainer into a saucepan and add the Grand Marnier and set aside.

When duck has roasted for 1 ½ hours, remove pan from oven and turn heat down to 325°F. Discard all but a little fat from roasting pan, and lay orange slices over bottom of pan.  Return the duck, placing it over the orange slices. Using a pastry brush, baste the duck with the sauce. Return the pan to oven and cook until slices begin to brown about 10 minutes.  Brush a final coat of orange marmalade all over the duck. Cover with the lid if using a roaster, Turn off the oven and let the duck stand for 10 minutes.

Remove the duck from the pan and place on a craving board and allow to rest for at least 10-15 minutes before cutting or craving.

To serve for 2: Cut duck in half using sharp scissors or poultry shears. Remove backbone by cutting along one side and then the other, then cut along breastbone. For 4: Cut each half into breast and leg sections.

Place each duck portion on a warm plate. For complete meal, serve with a generous mound of rice next to it, lay orange slices around it,  and a green vegetable like green beans or steamed asparagus, or roasted Brussels sprouts, and ladle on sauce.

 

 

Cook’s Notes:

If you don’t have any Grand Marnier on hand,  Cointreau or triple sec are suitable substitutes.

downloadI like to roast my duck in a Granite Ware Enameled Dutch Oven, that I inherited from my Grandmother. I don’t even know if they still make them or not. For me, using this type of cookware always produced a moist bird, whether you are roasting a duck, a chicken or a turkey. You can perfectly roast your duck without one, using a shallow roasting pan and that is perfectly fine.

Hello Friends!

All photographs and content, excepted where noted, are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

Thank you so much!