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12 Years Ago Today….

It seems like a lifetime, yet also like it was yesterday that the attack on the US happened on Sept. 11, 2001. Still to this day I cannot watch anything about it without crying, after 12 years the wound is still fresh. The new tower is almost complete, there is a museum and memorial on the sacred site and it’s good to see life breathed into a spot that remained empty for so long. Every year I watch the reading of the names dutifully, I feel I must. I don’t know why but I do. I can see the tribute in lights from my house which is just across the river from the site and I sit on my stoop thinking about that day.

Life goes on, but on this day I think it’s important to remember, remember those lives that were so senselessly lost, remember what we were doing at that very minute that it happened, be thankful that we are here to remember and be thankful. There is a lot that we take for granted.

A friend sent me a link to this video, It’s about the great boat lift that happened on Sept. 11. I had never seen it before and it’s amazing. Narrated by Tom Hanks it gives some insight into how difficult it was to get off the island that day and what people did to help.

Lest we forget.

Tribute in Lights

Tribute in Lights from google pictures

Loobiya Pollo

Loobiya Polo

Loobiya Polo

I love Persian/Iranian food, I used to make it all the time but have sadly fallen out of practice on many dishes that were staples in my kitchen repertoire. Loobiya (green bean) Pollo (rice) was one of them that I made frequently years ago, I actually forgot how to make it and didn’t have my original recipe, it was somehow lost. Thanks to great blogs like Fig and Quince and Fae’s Twist and Tango I have been able to piece together and actually remember many dishes and how I made them. It’s kind of like riding a bike, you never really forget, it is in the recesses of your mind. Azita from Fig and Quince gave me her recipe for Loobiya Pollo and after reading it, the memories started flooding back.

Loobiya Pollo is very simple, you make a stew using meat (beef or lamb or even chicken)  that is braised in a tomato based sauce spiced with turmeric, cinnamon and saffron, you add caramelized onions and green beans and let it cook together slowly. The stew is layered with basmati rice and steamed. It’s absolutely delicious. One of the best parts of the dish is the Tahdig, crunchy rice that forms at the bottom of the pot. The rice mixed with the rich tomato sauce is so wonderful.

I have to confess I don’t really follow a recipe exactly and don’t really measure when I make these dishes. I season to taste, eyeball consistency so results may vary. I will try my best to approximate the amounts for you though.  I like to serve this dish with crisp cucumber strips and plain yogurt mixed with dried mint, diced cucumber and a little lemon.

I always  make this with meat but it translates beautifully into a vegetarian or even vegan dish, simply omit the meat, you can add different vegetables and layer and steam with the rice.

Loobiya Pollo

Serves 4-6 depending on serving size

For the stew:

1.5 lb stew meat (lamb or beef)

1 yellow onion chopped (divided, reserve a small amount to saute with green beans)

approximately 4 oz tomato paste

1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce

2 whole fresh ripe tomatoes peeled and chopped

3/4 lb green beans, stem end removed, blanched and cut into bite size pieces

turmeric (approximately 1/2 tsp)

cinnamon (approximately 1/4 heaping tsp)

saffron (a pinch)

salt and pepper to taste


Approximately 2 cups basmati rice

oil for pot

pinch of saffron (in 2 tbs water)

1 tbs of butter (I like to use salted butter)

Heat a saute pan coated with oil (I used olive oil)  on med/high and add the onions, saute until soft and caramelized (takes 15-20 minutes) remove from pan and set aside. Add a little more oil and add the meat, sprinkle with salt, pepper and turmeric, sear the meat until browned, remove from pan and set aside. Add the tomato paste to the same pan, stir frequently and caramelize, add the onion and meat to the pan with the tomato paste, now add the tomato sauce and chopped fresh tomato, add the cinnamon and season with salt and pepper. Cover with lid slightly ajar and simmer on medium heat. It will take at least an hour and a half for the stew to cook and the meat to become tender. Check frequently you may need to add a little water if it looks like the stew has cooked down too much, stir occasionally. Taste as it cooks and adjust seasoning, I found that I needed to add a dash more cinnamon to get the flavor just right.

While this is cooking start preparing your rice. Rinse rice with cold water until the water comes out clear. Add the rice to a bowl, cover in cold water and add salt (approx 2 tsp) let rice sit in the salted water until you are ready to boil.

Heat saute pan with a little oil, add the reserved raw onions and saute until soft, add the green beans and a pinch of turmeric and a little salt and pepper and cook for approximately 2 minutes just until the green beans are lightly sauteed. Set aside.

When meat is tender but needs another 30 minutes or so add the green beans and finish cooking add a pinch of saffron, stir to combine.

Put large pot of water on to boil, add about a tbs of salt. When water is a full rolling boil, drain the rice that has been sitting in the water and add to the pot. Stir to separate each grain and let par cook, this takes about 10-12 minutes, the rice will be hard in the center of the grain. Drain into sieve and rinse with cool water. While rice is draining, put your pot back on the stove, dry it and add a little oil to the bottom of the pot, let it heat on med/high heat until good and hot. Add enough of the rice to cover the bottom of the pot about 1 inch thick, now add a thin layer of the stew spread evenly on the rice, now you will layer, add some rice topped with stew, you will end with plain rice, add 1 tbs butter and drizzle with the saffron water. Cover the pot with tea towel  or paper towel and place cover on pot so that it is a tight fit. Turn heat up to high for 5 minutes so steam will build up in the pot then lower to medium and let it steam undisturbed for 45-60 minutes depending on how much rice you have made. Don’t open it while it’s steaming but keep your nose at attention, if you smell it burning remove from heat immediately.

To remove from pot and serve:

I like to use a non stick pot to make my rice, the tahdig can stick to the bottom of the pot and having a non stick surface makes it easy to get out in one piece. When the rice is finished cooking put a couple of inches of cold water in your sink and place the pot in the water, let sit for about 30 seconds.

Place serving dish over the pot and invert. The rice should come out in one piece (looking like a cake). The tahdig (bottom of the pot) should be nicely browned and crisp) it’s so delicious and underneath is tender totally separate rice. Serve hot.

An example of how rice will look when it comes out of the pot, this is not the loobiya dish but a plain basmati rice with tahdig, I didn’t get a picture of the loobiya pollo.

Persian Rice with tahdig

Persian Rice with tahdig

Apricot Pistachio Loaf

I made this loaf for a Mealku event, maybe you remember the breakfast marathon that I catered a little over a month ago. I got good reviews and it is entered on my recipe page, It was requested again for pick up today and I remembered I had never posted the recipe here, well thats sort of not true. I use the same recipe but make substitutions so this is actually my banana bread recipe with apricots and pistachio’s. It is a really good recipe, moist and flavorful. The apricots were I think the last apricots anywhere for the season, I normally poach them but since seeing the roasting method for figs a few weeks ago I decided to give that a try and it’s really good. I roasted the apricots with some cognac, vanilla bean, cinnamon and allspice, they are pretty amazing. NOTE: you do not have to use cognac or any type of alcohol you can use water or apricot nectar or even apple juice.



Roasted Apricots

1 lb ripe apricots split in half and pit removed

1/4 cup organic sugar

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup cognac or brandy

1/4 cup water

1 vanilla bean (whole)

1 cinnamon stick

3 whole allspice

Pre heat oven to 400 degree’s. Place the apricots cut side down in a non reactive baking pan, add the cognac, spices and vanilla bean, sprinkle the sugar on top of the apricots and then drizzle the honey. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until apricots are soft and the wonderful aroma fills the room. I spoon into canning jars while hot spices vanilla bean and all and let them sit until cooled then refrigerate.



Apricot Pistachio Loaf

Makes one 9 inch loaf or 3 mini loaves

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 eggs at room temperature

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp cardamom

1/4 tsp powdered ginger

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup sour cream

1 heaping cup of the roasted apricots chopped with a little of their juices

1/2 cup chopped pistachio’s plus a little to sprinkle on top of loaf

Pre heat oven to 350 degree’s, butter or spray the bottom of a loaf pan or pans and set aside. Cream softened butter and sugar in mixing bowl, beat in the eggs one at a time until creamy and fluffy. Sift flour, baking soda, salt and spices into the butter and stir to combine, Add the sour cream, apricots, vanilla and pistachio’s, stir to combine. Spoon into loaf pan smooth top, sprinkle pistachio’s on top and bake for approximately one hour. It’s done when it’s golden brown and skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes then invert onto cooling rack, let cool completely before slicing.