Machboos

I’ve recovered from my first surgery, so it is time to move on to the next steps of my treatment plan.  The results from my pathology report have determined what will be next for me. The results are scary, but I am reassured that my choice to have a double mastectomy was the right one.  My left breast is where I found my lump and that tumor is measured at > 2.1 CM.  The measurement is not exact, because the main mass is surrounded by smaller deposits of tumor cells. So the left breast is described as being “extensively involved by carcinoma in the left half.  The surgical margins are narrowly free of carcinoma”, which means that I will need to do radiation.  They also found a tumor in the right breast which is only 2 mm.  The surgical margins are clear, so I won’t have to do radiation on the right side.  There was a removal of 7 lymph nodes 6 on the left and 1 on the right side, the one on the right came back negative and 6 on the left that all came back as positive, which means I will have to do chemo.  During this time my cancer stage is still undermined.

My breast surgeon gave me a list of various medical and radiation oncologists.  Based on my pathology she thinks the treatment plan is going to be chemo followed by radiation, so she suggested that I choose my medical oncologist first.  There about five medical oncologists on the list.  I have no idea, which will be better than the other, so I go in the logical order.  Call the first person on the list.  I never got a response, so I move on to the second person on the list and was easily able to make an appointment.

The morning of my appointment I am completely nervous.  My two friends Amanda and Jeff arrive at my house and we walk to the appointment.  I feel my tension, but it stays at a minimum as we tell jokes and giggle with each other.  At the office they take my weight, temperature, and blood pressure then wait for the doctor in an exam room.  The oncologist comes into the room and greets all of us and invites us back to his office.

He goes through the pathology report with us again, concentrating on the 6 lymph nodes that are positive.  This, he explains is a significant number to have positive.  “We typically see only one or two lymph nodes that are infected but you had six.  Six were removed and all six came back positive.  Based on this you are at least stage III.  We will need to determine if it has metastasized, or spread through other regions of your body.  The most common places for breast cancer to spread is in your lungs, bones, and liver.  We will have you take a PET scan to see if it has gone to any of these areas.  If it has, then you will be stage IV. ”  Each point he delivered with an awkward smile.

The oncologist continued to explain, “We don’t know what stage you will be, so let’s go over the treatment plan as if you had stage III.  I will recommend that you do chemo.  If you don’t do chemo the chance of reoccurrence will be about a 50% and if you do chemo the chance is closer to 10%.”

Amanda interrupted, “Okay, well that sounds like pretty good odds.” She stares at me.  To me this sounded like awful odds.  I just nod a bit too numb to say or ask anything.

The oncologist continues, “I am going to recommend that you do 5 months of chemo. There is a 3 month option, but it is a bit newer and with the extensiveness and how young you are I would recommend the 5 month.”  He writes the two drugs on a note pad and I don’t hear it all as I’m wrapping my head around 5 months of chemo.

As my mind comes back into the room, I ask, “What are the side effects?”

He answers, “You will have hair loss.  You will lose your hair, eyelashes, eyebrows.”

A lump in my throat forms and tears start to well up in my eyes.  I am totally taken aback. Since I was told the pathology results I had known I will do chemo.  I have come to terms with the fact that I was going to lose my long hair, but it never dawned on me that all the other hair on my body would be effected.  I love my eyebrows and the news that I will look like an alien just shocks me!

Amanda asked, “I had a friend and she did some treatment with chemo and didn’t loose her hair.  Is that an option?”

The oncologist hesitates and with an awkward smiles and answers, “I would not recommend it in her case. ” He looks at me, “There is a treatment where you can freeze your hair.  You bring ice packs and you put them on your head every 30 minutes.  You will have either 12 – 16 treatments and they are fairly lengthy.  So you will need a friend with you, a cooler, and multiple packs.  It will end up being a burden and there is no guarantee it will work.”

He continues on with the other side effects, “Nausea. We will give you medicine to help you combat the nausea.  You’ll likely experience fatigue and your menstrual cycle will likely stop.  He asks do you want kids?”

I respond, “No.”

He asks, “Do want kids in the future?”

I respond, “No. How about tastes?”

“On some of the treatments taste buds can be effected. This is different for everyone.”

Jeff asks, “How about drinking. She likes to drink.”

He says “Yes you can drink. I have one patient who is younger and she likes her wine.  We monitor your blood levels and saw that her liver numbers were going high and we went to the board as it is not normal for the chemo to be doing this.  I chatted with her and found she was taking tylenol after drinking.”

“Ohhh”,  Jeff, Amanda, and I all said in harmony.  Tylenol and alcohol don’t mix, we are not amateurs here!

He says, “Yes, so we will watch you every week and if we see an issue we will let you know. You will have blood drawn at each appointment and we have a blood lab here to do the measurements.  Your body may not like drinking any more as well.  It will let you know.” After a pause and no more questions from us.  “Okay, after chemo you will have radiation. We will then recommend that you go on a hormone therapy that will stop the estrogen in your body.  This is a daily pill that you will take for 10 years.”

I asked, “Why?  I thought it was 5 years.”

He answered, “Studies have shown that 5 is okay in people that are older.  You are very young and to keep the chances of this growing, I’d recommend 10 years.”

Jeff asked, “What is her survival rate?”

He responds, “It’s really scary you don’t want to know.” He gives an awkward smile and responds, “Well there are tools and things I can plug in and give you a number, but it doesn’t really matter as this is about what happens to you.  Those are based on a larger population.  I don’t recommend we look at it.”

Jeff starts to tear up.  I look at the doctor and say, “He cries for me so I don’t have to.”

Jeff says, “Stop making fun of me!”

“Someone has to.” I explain. We all laugh and the tension in the room is released a bit.

He starts to wrap up our appointment, “so the next step is to get you a PET scan booked.  If you have stage 4, none of this treatment will matter.”

I ask, “What will the treatment be?”

“It depends on where it has spread and what has happened.  There are too many possibilities to look at now.” He responds with an awkward smile. “Let’s first see what the results are and take it from there.”

This seems prudent.  So we say our goodbyes.  He walks us to the receptionist and I make an appointment.  I am thankful for my friends being there Amanda is organized and, well, Jeff cries for me.  We all go to lunch to process the information together.  Our conclusion is that we like this guy.  He smiles awkwardly at bad news, but I find it strangely endearing.   I see no reason to shop for another oncologist.  He won me over with his quirky smile, intelligence, and how he handled our questions.  He was honest and straight forward; I left feeling like I can trust him, which is great progress.  However, I can’t help feeling sad and depressed.  The reality of how long the process is going to be and how much of myself and lifestyle will be affected.  It is a shock and so instead of facing it, I am going to make some yummy food while everything still works.

In Bahrain there is a common dish mixed of meat, rice, vegetables, and spices.

It is an Arabic dish in the Persian Gulf it is called machboos, where in other areas of the Middle East it is called kbasa.  The version I am making is a chicken and rice that is claimed to be traditional in Bahrain.  It sounds yummy.  Comforting, and perfectly distracting.

The recipe calls for black dried lime… I have no idea where to find that!  I look up and find that it is indeed black dried lime.  You can get it as a lime, or ground into a spice.  I go to a Middle Eastern store and don’t see any.  A bit more research and the spice is named limoo. I have a spice store near by and talk to them about it and they introduce me to a Persian lime spice or lemon omani, which is ground black lime.  When I was a kid I used to eat dried lemon peel and the seasoning reminds me of that smell.  It has a tangy citrus quality.

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The recipe calls for a seasoning mix called baharat.  This is a spice mix that is used in various Middle Eastern cooking.  There is a version called Gulf baharat or kebsa.  This is of course a spice mixture more commonly used in the Persian Gulf region.  As I am cooking Bharian food I use this version of the spice mixture.

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Then season the chicken with the baharat, turmeric, cumin, and cardamom.

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Cook the onions with the lemon omani.

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Then add the chicken to the pan and add the remaining ingredients.  The chicken cooks for an hour.  After I remove the chicken and broil while the rice cooks in the stock.  I serve the chicken over the rice.

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I thought the chicken was overcooked and a bit dry.  I probably should have used a thermometer or cooked just the dark meat.  However the rice is flavorful and delicious.  It is reminiscent of chicken and rice my mom makes, but with much more flavor and complexity.  It is a perfect comfy distraction to an information heavy day.

 


Recipes

 

Gulf Baharat

 

Machboos

Original Recipe can be found here

  • 4 1cups water
  • 3 cups basmati rice
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 chicken, cut in half
  • 3onions, finely chopped
  • 1cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground lemon omani (dried black lime)
  • 2 teaspoons baharat spice mix
  • 1 12teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-inch ginger, grated
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1cup lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  1. Cut the chicken in half.  Heat the water and leave aside.  In a small bowl, mix the baharat, turmeric, cumin, and cardamom together and add to the mixture one teaspoon of salt.  Sprinkle half of the spice mixture on the chicken halves.
  2. Heat oil in a large cooking pan, fry the onions until golden brown, then add to the pepper and the black limes.
  3. Add the chicken to the onion mixture and turn it over a few times in the pan. Sprinkle on the chicken a teaspoon of cinnamon and the rest of the mixed spices. Turn the contents all together so the chicken is coated with the spices, cover the pan and let it cook on medium heat for 3 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic, chopped ginger, and tomato cubes to the pan and turn the ingredients in the pan a few times.  Cover again for 3 minutes on medium heat.  Sprinkle with the rest of the salt and pour water on while its still hot.
  5. Cover the pan and let it cook for about 1 hour, or until the chicken is cooked.  Add the chopped cilantro 5 minutes before you remove the chicken from the stock in the pan. While the chicken is cooking, wash the rice well and soak for 10 minutes in cold water, then drain.
  6. Remove the chicken from the pan and put on an oven tray, brush with some oil and sprinkle with the rest of the cinnamon powder and grill in the oven until the chicken is golden brown.
  7. Add the rice to the chicken stock, stir, then let it cook on low heat until the rice absorbs the stock and is almost done.
  8. Sprinkle with lemon juice over the rice and place the butter pieces on the top.  Cover the pan and cook on low heat for 30 minutes.
  9. Serve the rice on a large serving plate and place the grilled chicken halves on the top.
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Shuyud plov

Plov is extremely popular in Azerbaijan and they have 40 different types.  Shuyud plov is a dill rice pilaf.  With my pre-surgery health kick I’m also going to make a salad called Çoban Salati, which is a tomato cucumber salad.  To add to all this healthiness my surgeon didn’t want me drinking any alcohol before surgery.  So that is 10 days with out any liquor, which should be easy to do.  However I don’t find this out until about two weeks before my surgery.  I was planning on throwing a party before the surgery, but with this new restriction there is no time.  I instead I go out with friends and make the most of the few days I had left.  Most of my social activities have to do with liquor, so I think I am going to be bored out of my mind for 10 days.  However I find that it isn’t all that bad. I still have to work out daily, which ends up being a great social activity going hiking, long walks, and yoga with friends.  Shane works me out about 2 times a week and we go to lunch.  I do a spring cleaning of my house, get a microwave, make keys, prepare my job for my leaving. All great healthy things, but after surgery I plan to go back to my partying ways!

To make shuyud plov you par-steam the rice and create a qamaq for the bottom.

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Add the rice, butter saffron water, and dill.

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Cook

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The salad is much like a greek cumber salad.  Finely chop the vegetables.

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Combine.

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The rice has a nice subtle dill flavor.  It is not overly powerful, but with certain foods like fish the dill will pair nicely.  The salad is a refreshing bite.


Recipes

Shuyud plov

Original recipe can be found here

  • 400 g/1 lb basmati rice
  • 100 g/4 oz melted butter
  • two medium-sized bunches of fresh dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon threads of saffron
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg and 1-2 tbsp yogurt
  • 100 g/4 oz plain flour

Preparation

  1. Put a few threads of saffron in a cup and add boiling water.  Cover and leave to infuse.
  2. Wash and chop the dill.
  3. Rinse the rice.
  4. Fill a large, heavy saucepan with water and add salt.  Bring to the boil.
  5. Add the rice to the boiling water. Turn the heat down slightly but cook at a rapid boil for 5 to 10 minutes.  Be careful not to cook for too long or the finished rice will be sticky.
  6. Strain the rice through a rice colander.
  7. Add the chopped dill to the rice, mixing it in gently.
  8.  Mix together 1 egg, 4 tablespoons of the parboiled rice and 1-2 tablespoons of yogurt. Add some of the infused saffron water.
  9. Rinse and dry the rice pan.  Return it to the heat and melt a generous knob of butter. Spread the qazmaq mixture or lavash over the bottom of the pan and fry for 2 to 3 minutes.
  10. Add the parboiled rice mixed with dill.  Spoon it gently into the pan to avoid breaking the grains.  When half the rice is in the pan, pour over some of the saffron infusion.
  11. Put the rest of the rice in the pan and pour most of the remaining saffron infusion over it.
  12. Put several knobs of butter on top.  Make holes in the rice with the handle of a wooden spoon to allow the steam to escape.
  13. Place a well-fitting lid on top of the saucepan, covered underneath with a clean tea towel. The towel helps to absorb the steam.
  14. Once the rice is steaming, turn down the heat and leave to continue steaming for 30 to 45 minutes.  The rice can be left to steam for longer without coming to any harm.
  15. Serve on a large dish.

Çoban Salati

Original recipe can be found here

  • 2 medium-sized tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1/4 medium-sized red onion
  • a few sprigs of coriander, dill and basil
  • tablespoon olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Preparation

  • Wash and dice the tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers.
  • Finely chop the onion and herbs.
  • Mix all the ingredients together. Add salt & pepper and leave to stand for up to 1 hour before serving.
  • Dress with 1 tbsp of vegetable oil before serving

 

Soyug Salat

Azerbaijan cuisine has a wide variety of plov or rice pilaf dishes.  There are over 40 different types.  They also use fresh vegetables and herbs that vary seasonally as accompaniments to a meal.  I want to make the standard plov and found a recipe for BBQ vegetables salad called Soyug Salat. This all sounds healthy and as I am getting ready for surgery, more veggies sounds like a good idea.  To prepare for surgery, I was recommended during the lymphedema learning session, to go to a physical therapist to get measured. They recommend that they measure my range of motion, strength, and arm size.  This is so that they can easily determine if I have lymphedema and progress after my recovery.  As I have never had physical therapy I’m not sure where to find one so I just go with the woman who did the lymphedema class.

At the appointment she has me lay down and take a ruler and marks a few spots on my arm and then takes a measurement of the circumference of each point.  She then measures my strength, by testing me with resistance and determines that I am weak.  So, she gives me some exercises to start doing pre and post surgery and recommends that I start exercising 30 minutes a day (every day) between now and my surgery.  I take her recommendation seriously as I want as little difficulty with the surgery as possible. However, before I start the exercise let’s chat about some healthy food!

Vegetables and fruits are linked with a reduced risk of cancer, so this BBQ salad should be good for me.  The salad is straight forward to make.  First step is to grill the vegetables.  The vegetables are:

6769358683_d7e95f6e8e_oEggplant, which has phytochemicals.  There is no conclusive study on phytochemicals, yet.  But eggplant has anthocyanins and chlorogenic acid that act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.  This could prevent tumor growth and spread of cancer.  I see a lot more eggplant in my future!

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Tomatoes, have lycopene which is a phytochemical.  It is being studied a lot in prostate cancer because it has free radical-fighting antioxidants.  Free radicals are damaging molecules that float around in the body disrupting cells and promoting disease.  There is some evidence that this will help reduce breast cancer, but nothing conclusive.

Bell peppers are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and apigenin. Apigenin is a phytochemical that has been shown to exhibit potent growth-inhibitory effects in HER2/neu-overexpressing breast cancer cells.  However, I am not HER2 positive.  Vitamin A supplements have not been shown to lower cancer risk.  Also many studies have linked intake of foods rich in vitamin C to a lower risk of cancer.  Well I don’t know if it will help, but I love me some bell peppers!

My eggplant blows up on the grill

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Chop the grilled vegetables and mix in the following ingredents:

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Onions is an allium, which is known for various health benefits since ancient Egyptian times.

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Garlic also is an allium and is being studied to see if it will reduce cancer risk, but there’s nothing definitive at this time.  However there was a study of French women which found that those who consumed more onions and garlic had a lower risk of breast cancer. The good news is most dishes I cook start with garlic and onions and I love ’em.  I plan on continuing to eat them even if it makes my breath stink, that’s what tic tacs are for!

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Cilantro is high in vitamin A and K.  It is known for lowering blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol.  This is thought to be good for colon cancer, but nothing in particular about breast cancer.  However I am one of the people who love cilantro and so it being good for the other organs, means I should eat it!

 

Add oil.

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Rice isn’t really known for healthy diet, especially white rice.  However I grew up eating it and it is consumed by 1/2 of the worlds population.  So how bad can it be?  Well that’s a debate that I don’t feel like having so I’m just going to make it and call it healthy.

The plov is a bit more complicated to make than the Soyug Salat.   First you par cook the rice.  Then combine egg, some of the rice, and yogurt and create a qazamq.  I have no idea what qazamq is, but looking it up in trusty google I find that it is the Azerbaijan word for the crust made at the bottom of the pan when steaming rice.

Fry the qazamq in butter.  Then add the rice and more butter and saffron.

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Cover with a lid and towel and let the rice cook.  When done flip the pan over and serve

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Well the top of the rice looks burnt, but it all tastes good.  It is buttery rice with a bit of a crunch. T he salad reminds me more of salsa, but has a great smokey flavor.


Recipes

Soyug Salat

Original recipe can be found here

  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 5 sprigs of cilantro
  • juice of 1/2 of one lemon
  • 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
  1. Place eggplant, tomato, and bell peppers on barbecue and turn regularly as the vegetables cook.
  2. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Chop and place in a large bowl.
  4. Finely chop 1 onion and mince garlic and add to the salad
  5. Finely chop cilantro and mix in with the salad.
  6. Add vegetable oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper mix well.
  7. Allow to cool before serving.

Plov
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron
  • Egg
  • 2 tablespoon yoghurt
  1. Rinse the rice in cold water several times to remove excess starch.
  2. Put a few threads of saffron in a cup and add boiling water.  Cover and leave to infuse.
  3. Fill a large, heavy saucepan with water and add salt.  Bring to the boil.  Add the rice to the boiling water.  Turn the heat down slightly but cook at a rapid boil for 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Strain the rice through a rice colander.
  5. Prepare the crust or qazmaq:  mix together 1 egg, 4 tablespoons of the parboiled rice and yogurt.  Add some of the infused saffron water.
  6. Add tablespoon of butter to the pan and melt.
  7. Add qazmaq to the pan and fry for 2 to 3 minutes.
  8. Add half the rest of the parboiled rice to pan and pour over half of the saffron infusion.
  9. Put the rest of the rice in the pan and pour most of the remaining saffron infusion over it.
  10. Put remaining butter on top.
  11. Make holes in the rice with the handle of a wooden spoon to allow the steam to escape.
  12. Place a well-fitting lid on top of the saucepan, covered underneath with a clean tea towel. T he towel helps to absorb the steam.
  13. Once the rice is steaming, turn down the heat and leave to continue steaming for 30 minutes.

Spam Musubi

To figure out what type of surgery I need I have to get tested for BRAC.  BRAC is a gene mutation that if you have it will significantly increase your chance of getting breast, ovarian, pancreatic, and prostate cancer.  I went to my breast surgeons office to have the test administered and it was crazy simple.  A nurse came in with a kit that had a pamphlet with information about BRAC, an empty cup, and two bottles of scope.  She explained in detail the importance of BRAC and what the risks are and then administered the test.  Which was having me swish my mouth with the scope in a cup and spitting into an empty cup. I hope the rest of my appointments are this simple.  Well, on to one of my favorite snack foods of Hawaii.

Musubi is a rice ball originally from Japan, which is also know as onigiri.  Musubi can be served with a variety of things:  eggs, salmon, plum, etc.  In Hawaii they have a version with Spam.  Spam was introduced to Hawaii during World War II and now 50% of Spam is consumed in Hawaii.  Spam musubi is just one of the ways that spam is prepared on the islands.

I like to have my spam musubi with teriyaki sauce.  When I first moved to the mainland I noticed the teriyaki sauce was brown and gelatinous, which wasn’t like the sauce I grew up with.  I have later learned that this is Seattle style, I’m still not a big fan.  Anyway I didn’t trust what was in the markets so I learned to make my own teriyaki sauce, which is simple.  So now that’s what I do.

Combine soy sauce, ginger, brown sugar, and garlic.  It needs to sit for 48 hours.

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Then to make the musubi cook white rice, either use sushi rice or short California rice grain.  Let the rice cool.  Fry the spam, I like mine crispy.

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Then pour teriyaki sauce into the pan and cook it for about a minute.  You want it to thicken a bit.  Add the spam back to the pan and allow the teriyaki to glaze the spam.

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I have a spam musubi maker, which makes it way easier.

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Put the rice at the bottom and press down to mush the rice together.

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Sprinkle with furikake on the rice and layer with two pieces of spam.

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Cut the rice block in half between the spam slices.

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Then take a slice of nori and wrap it around the rice and spam in the middle of the musubi.

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There you have a yummy spam musubi.

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Recipes

Teriyaki Sauce
  • 1 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1″ piece fresh ginger, sliced and crushed
  1. Mix together all ingredients until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Let it sit for 48 hours before using.

Spam Musubi
  • 6 cup of sushi rice (there will be left over rice)
  • 1 can of Spam, sliced
  • Teriyaki Sauce
  • Nori, cut into strips
  • Furikake
  1. Cook rice and let cool.
  2. Fry the spam until desired crispness.
  3. Put Teriyaki Sauce in the pan cook for a minute to get the sauce a bit thicker.
  4. Add spam back to the pan and glaze both sides with Teriyaki sauce.
  5. Scoop rice into a spam musubi maker until almost full.
  6. Smash the rice down and remove from the musubi maker.
  7. Sprinkle Furikake on the rice.
  8. Top the rice with two pieces of spam.
  9. Cut between the spam pieces
  10. Wrap nori around the spam and rice.

Caribbean sushi

Caribbean Sushi, I know it doesn’t sound so traditional, but I just really found the dish fascinating and wanted to give it a try. I found the recipe in the tablemanners cookbook which features Antiguian chiefs and the ingredients seem to be from the Caribbean.

The first step is to make the coconut-rice pudding. It is straightforward to make. It has a sweet creamy texture with a subtle hint of coconut. It is fairly yummy on its own.

While the rice pudding cools down I make the chocolate wrapper that is to act like nori. I’m not sure how this is going to work as I always think chocolate gets hard when it cools. I melt the dark chocolate and add some corn syrup. Then wrap it up and place it in the fridge for two hours.

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While the chocolate rests I make the mango sauce. I puree 2 fresh mangoes. The sauce tastes like a sweet mango.

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I take the chocolate out of the fridge. It was in there for more like 3 hours and some of the chocolate is soft, some parts are hard, and some parts are sticky and still melty. I remove the hard chocolate. I see if I can get some of it to soften with my hands. There isn’t much that is useable, but I think I have enough for one nori wrapper. With cocoa powder and some creative hand work I get a sad looking nori wrapper.

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I spread the rice pudding the way I would with sushi rice: spread thin and a little space at the top to seal.

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Then I add kiwi and strawberry down the middle

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Then I roll. It is hard to get the circular shape of Sushi. mine is a bit mushed. Maybe I need more rice pudding?

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Slice it and serve with the mango sauce.

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It isn’t the prettiest, but it is edible. It’s very decadent. No ingredient individually was overly sweet, but together it is rich.  The chocolate combined with the creaminess of the rice pudding is sweetened from the mango sauce and fruits. I’m thankful that I could only make one roll as I doubt anyone should eat this much dessert.

Well this concludes Antigua and Barbuda. I can’t say that I truly enjoyed any dish. However I am really looking forward to my next country Argentina; it’s a place I have actually visited!

 


Recipes

Caribbean sushi

Original recipe can be found here

  • 1 Cup of Sushi rice
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 2/3 cup of heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 mangos
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 7 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 5 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 kiwi
  • 6 strawberries
  1. Wash the rice.
  2. Combine rice, coconut milk, heavy cream, and 3/4 cup of water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
  3. Simmer for 20 minutes. Stir frequently
  4. Set aside and let rice cool completely.
  5. Pure mango in a blendor
  6. Whisk mango, corn starch and water in a small sauce pan.
  7. Cook on l0w heat for 20 minutes or sauce thickens. Stir frequently.
  8.  Melt chocolate in a double boiler.
  9. Mix in suryp.
  10. Divide chocolate in two and cover in plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  11. Kneed by hand with cocoa powder until the chocolate is not sticky.
  12. Form into a square shape
  13. Spread rice pudding on the chocolate square. Leave about an inch at the top with out rice.
  14. Put the julienne fruit in a line in the middle of the rice.
  15. Roll like a sushi.
  16. Serve with mango sauce.

 

 

Sabzi Challow

There is a difference between the Indian and the Afghanistan Sabzi. In Indian cuisine it refers to a vegetable cooked in gravy, while in Afghanistan it means braised greens.  You can make this as a vegetarian dish, but in Afghanistan it is commonly cooked with meat where lamb is more popular. Spinach originated in Persia and in China it is referred to as the “Persian vegetable”. Thus this is traditionally made with spinach however you can substitute this with other greens like kale. Challow is rice. There are different types of challow recipes. Sabzi is typically served with plain white rice or pita and yogurt.

The recipe says that the dish is typically served for New Years and calls for 8 lamb shanks. This is obviously meant to feed a lot more than one person. I figure to half the recipe and get 4 lamb shanks. I get to the butcher and ask for my four lamb shanks and these things are huge! I won’t be able to eat this on my own, so I call a few friends and now I have an Afghan dinner party! Too bad it isn’t new years…

Lamb shank

The first step is to sear the meat. The recipe calls for 1/4 cup of olive oil. I’m a bit too much of a California girl that I can’t do another meal with tons of oil. So I start with a table spoon of oil and sear the lamb. During the sear the lamb has rendered some fat and seems enough to cook the vegetables in, so i don’t add any more oil. I add everything back into the pot and get it ready for its 2 1/2 hour braise.

Braising a Lamb

 

As it cooks, the house smells like spinach and a hint of lamb. I didn’t time things quite right, so my friends arrived while it still had 40 minutes to braise. They all commented that the house was fragrant and were easily distracted with wine and conversation while we waited for it to finish cooking.  Once it was done I decided to shred the lamb as it will be easier to serve. It fell off the bone so easily.

IMG_3599 Shreeded lamb

 

I used 5 cups of broth for the braise as my pan was not big enough, so the shanks had to be stacked on top of each other. When it was done it was a bit more liquid than I expected. I reduced it for 30 minutes while the rice cooked.

The challow recipe was a bit different than how I normally make rice. You are to soak the rice for 3 hours and then cook it for 5 minutes. Then you add a 1/4 cup of water ( mine was saffron water as it was a party) and steam it for 30 minutes covering the pot lid with kitchen towels.  I didn’t have enough kitchen towels, but I  had an apron. I was a bit nervous about the apron catching on fire, but it seemed to work. Oddly none of my friends seemed to think it was odd that I wrapped an apron around a pot.  The rice is supposed to be a bit crispy at the bottom, mine was not that crispy, but the rice was cooked perfectly.

Apron steam

 

The result was awesome. It’s slightly tangy with a rich buttery flavor. The broth was sucked up by the rice. The greens were not a star but more of a base. It turned out that one of my friends didn’t like lamb, but she loved this. She said it didn’t have any of the gamy flavor she thinks about in lamb and went back for thirds. I think I will have to make this again for new years.

Sabzi Chollow

 


Recipes

Sabzi with lamb

Original recipe can be found here

  • 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. olive oil.
  • 4 lamb shanks
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 tsp. ground fenugreek
  • 1 tbsp. dried dill
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 5 cups baby spinach, stems removed (large leaves must be chopped)
  • 3 cups cilantro leaves
  • 16 to 18 scallions, whole, outermost layer and tough upper green removed
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3-5  cups beef stock
  • 5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof Dutch oven and brown the lamb shanks on all sides. Remove the lamb and set aside. Add the onions to the pot and sauté until soft and lightly browned. Stir in the next 6 ingredients. (turmeric through salt). Add the spinach, cilantro, parsley, and scallions. Sauté for 20 minutes, stirring constantly. The aroma of the herbs should rise—it is very important for the taste of the stew that this stage be completed.
  2. Add the garlic to separate pan with a teaspoon of olive oil sauté briefly and add to the spinach mixture.
  3. Return the lamb to the Dutch oven. Add enough beef stock to barely cover the shanks. Bring to a boil, then cover, transfer to oven, and cook for 2 – 2 1/2 hours.
  4. When the meat is tender, remove from oven.
  5. Remove the lamb and shred the meat. If the spinach is too saucy put it on stove top to reduce.
  6. Stir in lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over challow.

Saffron Challow

Original recipe can be found here

  • 4 cups uncooked basmati rice
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon saffron
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  1. Rinse and drain the rice three times in tepid water. Place the rice in a large bowl and add 8 cups of water and 1 tablespoon salt. Soak the rice for 2 – 3 hours
  2. Boil 1/4 cup of water, add saffron, and reduce heat. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Strain saffron and add more water to make it a quarter cup.
  4. Fill a medium-size pot halfway with water. Bring to a rapid boil. Drain the rice well and add to the boiling water. Return to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Test the rice—it should soft on the outside and still firm, but not brittle, inside. Strain the rice and rinse with tepid water. Drain well.
  5. Rinse out the pot with water and add the oil. Place over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add the rice, 1/4 cup of Saffron water. With the handle of a wooden spoon, poke five holes through the rice, one in the center. Cook for 1 or 2 minutes—do not stir. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cover with a lid wrapped in a kitchen towel. Steam the rice for 30 minutes (do not remove lid to check the rice during this time). The bottom should be crisp.