Weekending: Foray into Delicious Cultures

On some level, I knew that this 80* weather was not going to be the beautiful, Indian summer we had been hoping for. In fact, it was 85+*F in our neck of the woods with 95% humidity. That is not park or playground weather. It isn’t anywhere but home weather. Besides, there is nowhere to go because we live just a few miles from the D.C. border and the government is still shutdown. As such, we stayed close to home base trying our best to avoid cabin fever.

Of course there was plenty of cooking going on both for the weekend and for the week ahead. My new resolution, if you remember, is to cook at least one Russian dish per week. Without much further adieu…


Starting the weekend with a very healthy Friday night meal. Seared coho salmon with a fennel and grapefruit salad. Cooking time – 15 minutes total.


Good thing Friday night dinner was healthy because Saturday morning breakfast (cooked by Evan) was anything but. A challah bread pudding with blueberries and raspberries (recipe here)


I refuse to let go of summer and what better way to hold on to the last rays of warm sunshine than a home-made roasted tomato soup?


Served with (luxurious) whole wheat bread with melted mozarella and topped with our garden-grown basil. This is a tomato soup I can get behind — not your store bought, runny, unbalanced concoction. It (without the toast) is healthy, too as it doesn’t contain any cream.


Evan’s version of a slow-and-low roasted lamb shoulder and roasted potatoes…

Weekending10_6_5Our cooking styles are so different. Evan likes to prep his mise en place  ahead of time while the only thing I do ahead of time is clean up the kitchen. There is nothing better, in my opinion, than working in a clean kitchen. These are his mise en place for the sauce for the lamb.


This apple cake is the russian dish of the week. Rich in apples which are of course seasonal now, it is the perfect light way to end a meal. The recipe here.

… and now … the pièce de résistance



Shirin Plov or Sweet Rice Pilaf with Chicken

Weekending10_6_9While pilaf is common in many countries and varies in the additions to the basic rice, this is the one I enjoyed so much while growing up in Baku. I made ours with dried apricots, raisins, berberis and chicken breast. The rice is cooked with steam low and slow and perfumed with saffron. My mom used to make a similar one all the time. Now-a-days, it is a special dish in her house. We changed her version by adding berberis which was very special as we used a batch gifted from a very special friend. While rinsing the rice (which takes a while as the water has to run clear), I couldn’t help but think about all the cultures who depend and enjoy rice as a daily staple and how the additions that each makes to their rice dish define who they are. This is a very special dish indeed and I’ll have to make it for our friend who shared the berberis with us.

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