Mom Knows Best!

Persian Ice Cream 5 arrMy mom has taught me everything I know – from Persian culture to family values, and the importance of ongoing learning. A gem in her own right, my mother has and persists to display multifaceted talents. Crafty yet studious, successful in business ventures as much as a leading parental figure, she’s – without a doubt – the person to whom I look up and admire, and fortunately, my personal ‘go-to’ when presented with life’s question however big or recipe-related.

 

On this Mother’s Day, my mind easily trails to an endless memory bank of times I shared with my mom. Moments for which I’m grateful, and instances that are now family stories in great thanks to my mother who selflessly took every spare moment she had to spend with her children. Always giving of herself, she put ‘quality’ in every minute, hour and all times that are now made eternal.

Persian Ice Cream 3 arrIn celebration of my mom and all mother figures, I like to dedicate this post to past memories and some made new. Regardless of the month or season, every year has been touched by my mom. From devouring a plateful of homemade Christmas cookies, to custom-made birthday cakes, my mom started traditions that were made to last. Effortlessly working to make every occasion special, she continues to approach holiday dinners with the same level of attentive care and happily creates festive menus and table spreads that are thematic and attune with hand-selected patterned dishes, flatware, drinking glasses and centrepiece arrangements. Again taking time, she not only ‘makes things happen’ but, too, adds an element of magic to transform otherwise ordinary events into something beautiful.

In recollection of one of my fondest childhood memories, every trip to the mall included a stop at the ice cream parlour – my favourite scoop in a cone, mint chip for my sister, and French vanilla for my mom. Clearly, this family loves ice cream. And for the creation of more sweet memories, my mother has passed on the tradition of making and appreciating Persian food, including traditional desserts.

Persian Ice Cream 8 arrGladly following in my mother’s footsteps, I hope to have honoured both her teachings and our heritage with the making of a delectable recipe fully-loaded with nostalgia. Hoping you, too, will share something sweet with your mother-figure, here’s what I learnt from the ‘wise’ one: a popular Persian Ice Cream commonly known as ‘bastani Akbar Mashti’ and ‘faloodeh’.

Having the fortune to savour my mother’s cooking, I need no formal introduction to the distinct floral tastes identified with these icy desserts. Inclusive of saffron, rosewater, pistachios and frozen pieces of whipping cream, this vanilla-based ice cream dessert was first invented by ‘the man,’ Akbar Mashti. Rightfully named, then, ‘bastani’ simply refers to ice cream in Farsi.

As easy to make as reading the ingredient list, anyone can share and delight in their very own homemade batch of Persian Ice Cream. Starting with pure vanilla bean ice cream – homemade or already-made, preferably premium grade – allow the ice cream contents to slightly soften, and then mix-in the following: 1 cup of pistachios, 1/4 cup of rosewater, 1/16 teaspoon ground saffron, and 500 mL of whipping cream for ultra richness – freeze cream separately, and break into pieces prior to incorporating – and when well-combined, place the container back into the freezer to solidify the jewelled ice cream prior to serving. In case it helps, here’s some pearls of wisdom passed from mum: a little goes a long way with saffron so – however tempted to intensify colour of your ice cream – be careful not to overpower the dairy contents or otherwise risk gaining an adversely medicinal tasting dessert. Also, I first bloomed the portioned saffron into the measured rosewater, and later incorporated the perfumed liquid gold to the ice cream.

Persian Ice Cream 10 arrHighly satisfying as-is, ‘bastani’ can even be sandwiched between two wafers or enjoyed alongside ‘faloodeh’. Perhaps unfamiliar to some, ‘faloodeh’ is essentially cooked rice noodles that have been frozen with rosewater infused simple syrup. Short on ingredients and steps, less is definitely more with this fragrant dessert. Once prepared and semi-frozen, be sure to comb it over with a fork – like a granita – as it does not share the same consistency as ice cream. Finally ready to serve, you can enjoy ‘faloodeh’ in all its rosy glory for an extra hint of tart and sweet tastes top it with a squeeze of fresh lime juice or sour black cherry syrup – and, that’s all she wrote!

From my mother’s kitchen to yours, these Persian desserts are family favourites and simply worth having any time of year. Using these recipes or alternate expressions of thanks, I hope you have the opportunity to treat the parental figure who has left a lasting imprint on your life with daily tokens of gratitude. And on that note, this one’s for you – Love you, Mum!!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

An Éclairation of Dependence

Persian Profiteroles 1 arrRevelling in the dual arrival of spring and Persian New Year, I must declare: I love ‘choux’ ─ choux pastry, of course.  And given my affinity for all French ‘pâtisseries,’ this blossoming time beckons good eats to fuel an upcoming two week marathon of ancient-rich festivities.  Making an appearance on my Persian dessert table, then, I forecast a sweet year ahead with plentiful ‘choux’-inspired delights.

Baffled, by the correlation? You’re probably wondering how French pastry and Persian ‘shirini’ ─ sweets, desserts ─ relate, and rightfully so.  Persian Profiteroles 5 arrThe answer’s quite simple.  In one word:  PROFITEROLES!  Not news to Persians, we absolutely L-O-V-E heavenly clouds of light and airy cream puffs.  Clearly a highly favoured treat, profiteroles are to be seen in the display case of many Persian bakeries.  This year, however, shortcuts are not the way to go.  Instead, the baker-in-me calls for the making of homemade “Persianified” cream-filled pastries ─ I’ll tell you how ─ that’s easy to make, and even easier to enhance to suit varying tastes.

Praline Paris Crest arrStarting with the basics, I follow Martha Stewart’s dependable recipe for ‘choux’ pastry. Once the ‘choux’ is made, you can pipe classic domed rounds, rings or rectangular strips for the making of éclairs.  You can stick with one shape or the other, or both ─ the beauty with this recipe lies in that it’s your creation, and ultimately your choice.  Once my ‘choux’ pastries are baked, I set them aside to cool and begin with the fillings.

‘Choux’ shopping in mind, appetizing possibilities are endless. Envisioning dessert trays abound, my decision is made:  I must-indulge in a baking session that allows me to experiment and create everything.  Seriously settling on handfuls, I deduce the following selects will ─ for now ─ pleasingly suffice:  individual mini praline Paris-Brest, sea salted dulce de leche éclairs, and a flavourful trio of cream-filled profiteroles.  Dulce de Leche Eclairs arrUnique in both shapes and palatable accompaniments, an array of different sized ‘choux’ pastry shells and a range of luxurious cream fillings ─ almond praline pastry cream, Chantilly, raspberry and “Persianified” whipped creams ─ are a tall order to fill.  But, then again, these hollow pastry shells are designed to be packed with an assortment of divine filling.  Word to the wise:  advanced preparation of Martha’s vanilla pastry cream is recommended that leaves ample time for it to chill in the fridge, and later use either as is or to blend with almond praline.

Persian Profiteroles 3 arrAs for Chantilly cream, what is it exactly? Essentially, it’s heavy cream that is whipped with confectioner’s sugar and pure vanilla essence.  Wanting vanilla-infused Chantilly cream in addition to raspberry whipped cream and a distinct “Persianified” flavour profile, I obviously want it all.  And for this dedicated foodie, the response is clear:  all is possible, and so it shall be done!  Heeding to Martha’s directions, I measure precise amounts of specified icing sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla extract to ensure consistency, and whip the aforementioned contents using an electric mixer.  Chantilly complete, I remove half of the mixture into a separate clean bowl and blend it with raspberry purée for a berry wonderful alternative.

Persian Profiteroles 6 arrSaving the crowd-pleaser for last, the “Persianified” cream filling is as follows: start with a plain canvas of sweetened whipped cream ─ first whip 1 ½ cups of heavy cream with 3 tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar ─ and then proceed to add ½ teaspoon of rosewater and a generous pinch of ground cardamom.  Being careful not to over mix the whipped cream, delicately blend the perfumed addition and spice into the already whipped mixture.  Purely rich and intoxicating, a little goes a long way with these aromatics that make for a fragrant cream puff.  Also unlike other desserts, taking my sweet time to decorate these time-sensitive cream-filled pastries does not apply.  Persian Profiteroles 7 arrWorking in a meltdown-free zone, I hasten to pipe as many profiteroles as possible and quickly enrobe some with finely chopped pistachios.  Last pastry filled and third tray set into the fridge to chill, the end result is this:  I’m triumphantly tired!  Rejoicing in a successful mission complete, witnessing family and friends delighting in the fruits of a laborious baking endeavour is reward enough.  Starting another Persian New Year with sweet tidings, Happy New Year to all!!  P.S., you don’t have to be Persian to celebrate a new start ─ or to enjoy “Persianified” profiteroles, cheers!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2016.  All Rights Reserved.

‘Healing’ Waters

Poppins – who?  Before Mary came into the scene, traditionalists have long used sweet sugar to ease ‘troubles.’  Also requiring no sing-along, my Persian mom – like others before her – already knew the soluble response to minor stomach ailments.  Hunger pangs or over-indulgence, the known ‘treatment’ remains unchanged and in following ‘the method’ – the old-fashioned way.

MintWater arrThanks to the former housewives of Persianville, trusted homemade solutions are safely locked into memory and made using a touch of age-old necessity – ‘healing’ waters.  Diverse in application as in scent, find these ‘waters’ in tall translucent bottles – possibly – along the “international aisle,” and definitely available on the shelf of local Persian grocers.  To name a few, popular varieties of floral-infused waters – also stored in my fridge – include:  rosewater, orange blossom water and mint water.  While the number of distilled ‘waters’ are endless, aromatics via fruits, herbs and flowers are commonly used to create these wonderfully fragrant liquid elixirs.

Ancient in existence, but perhaps recent to some, perfumed waters have been around for centuries – talking about past generations!  With yesterday’s ‘news’ – now recycled – daily appearances of these ‘waters’ are more common than one may think.  Gently washed onto one’s face or incorporated into food, rosewater can be identified with beauty regimens or among Middle-eastern baking staples and fusion cuisine.  Still confused?  Just think about the last time you ate simple syrup-laden baklava – that mystery component was most likely rosewater.  Clearly a multi-purpose item, some even resort to these ‘waters’ for its medicinal purposes.   And, if you’re like my mom, mint water is the remedy to realign your ‘center.’  Equally appealing to my preference for all that’s effective, reliable and natural, this digestive aid works – all the proof I need.RoseOBlossomWaters arr

Previously tried, I can attest to mint water’s restorative ‘powers.’  But, people are people – we’re different!  As such, unique tastes will undeniably carry diverging reactions.  So if you don’t like mint, are allergic or – heaven forbid – are suffering from appendicitis, please don’t try this at home.  Seriously, in case of emergency – needless to say – you know what to do!  In the meantime, this agreeable recipe stands as my sure-fit non-prescription for refreshing alleviation.  Non-accidently made aware of this ‘medicinal’ drink, it comes highly recommended – even directly made – by my Persian matriarch line of ‘naturally’ instinctive doctors.  For your own glass of settling comfort, simply blend these ingredients:  a generous pouring – tablespoon or two – of mint water; then dilute with actual water – H2O; and to complete, mix the ‘remedy’ with a stick of crystalized sugar rocks or the famed alternative – “spoonful of sugar” – until ‘caster’ is dissolved.  Easily prepared and fitting of fast relief, this pleasant beverage need not be limited to a minty ‘curative.’  So go ahead, if you wish, and drink your ‘greens’ – anytime!

Appetite redeemed, satisfying cravings for more ‘aromatics’ is another flavourful bottle away.  As your bonus instruction, simply scoop and combine into a bowl:  premium quality real-cream vanilla ice cream, dash of rosewater or orange blossom water, and – though optional – top with a hint of ground saffron and crushed pistachios.  Sweet tooth or sore throat, whatever the ‘suffering,’ being under the weather is immediately corrected with ‘rosier’ alternatives – Persian food and drink!

© DISHFUL, 2014.  All Rights Reserved.