All Things Persian

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It takes little to remind me of the exotic foods I love to delve into. But the recent Persian New Year, Nowruz, which began on March 20th this year, lasting 13 days, and celebrating Spring and the vernal equinox, had me heading to my local Persian market.

Nowruz, which pre-dates Islam by quite a bit, is celebrated by the people of Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan, people who are ethnically Persian. Nowruz shares many traditions with other cultures that remind their people of new life, rebirth, cleansing (both figuratively and literally) . . . you know, Springtime!

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Our Persian dinner began with a fresh herb and feta platter, named Sabzi Khordan, with a centerpiece of feta cheese drizzled with a coriander and curry infused olive oil, with a sprinkling of coarse salt, surrounded by spring onions, radishes, walnuts and microgreens. We wrapped bits of everything in our lavash and munched on the various textures and flavors. This dish can be left to enjoy during the complete meal.

But the main dish that I prepared began with the chunks of fresh goat that my Persian market showcased in their butcher section. I’ll take goat just about anyway I can get it. And I found the perfect Persian stew to showcase the goat, Abgoosht, a fragrant and hearty stew thickened with chickpea flour.

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The list of ingredients include: red bell peppers, carrots, onions, lots of garlic, fresh ginger, dried apricots, omani (dried limes — my first time seeing them or using them), olive oil, some sort of beer, sun dried tomatoes, a pouch of [cardamom, star anise, cinnamon stick, turmeric, green and pink peppercorns, coriander seeds, szechuan peppercorns, cumin, & nutmeg], chick peas (added near the end of cooking), chick pea flour (for thickening), some pomegranate molasses (for a little sweetening — something I purchased the 2nd time I made this dish), and a little balsamic vinegar (for a little tartness).

I am also a great fan of couscous, and my Persian market has DOZENS of choices, so it’s the perfect accompaniment  to soak up the intense flavors of this goat stew. I threw in some saffron threads I had soaked in a little warm water.

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I have to admit I tried this dish first using a whole goat leg.

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Let’s just say, it’s a good thing I also planned on also serving a prime rib! The goat leg cooked for 5 hours, not tenderizing at all! I cooked it later for at least 3 more hours before it was ready to fall off the bone. That little goat must have had plenty of exercise during it’s life!

So I’ll stick with chunks of goat meat (Caution! Lots of little bones!) when I replicate this dish.

If you are a lover of fragrant, exotic dishes, give it a try. So many flavors that meld together beautifully and such great textures. I’ve made this dish 3 times in 3 months, so it’s a keeper!

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Mardi Gras is Upon Us, Again

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For me and my family, we always enjoy the bit of celebration that signifies Mardi Gras, once again spent at home and not reveling in the streets.

But I have to reflect on Lent, loosely related to the Feast of Unleavened Bread observed by some cultures. The putting away of “sin”, physically portrayed in clearing out items from the home that represent foods we love, such as puffy breads (beignets?). Clearing out our minds of the things that are a wall between us and our higher authority, such as hatred, envy, contempt.

So as I prepare this indulgent meal for tonight, for Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, I look to tomorrow and what I can do to become a better person. A better person to a higher authority? Maybe. To my family. Surely. But also to myself. To calm the unrest that I have found raging in my soul for the past few months.

So I believe tomorrow will be a good time to shut off the TV. Stop watching CNN, CBS, FOX, etc. Stop reading Quora. GREATLY limit my time on Facebook.

But for tonight I eat. And drink!

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It’s all about the mise-en-place, ready to go.

I’m preparing an Etouffee, that Cajun and Creole dish simmered lovingly with the holy trinity of onions, celery, and bell pepper, or mirepoix, a slowly developed roux, and served over rice. It is often prepared with crawfish, but I had no time today to run an hour or so south to Catalina Offshore to acquire those muddy little crustaceans. So shrimp it is, and I chose cute little Argentinian red shrimp, which have a sweet lobster flavor.

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Creole and Cajun dishes always involve slowly developing a roux, a blonde roux for tonight.

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So tonight we revel. And eat. And drink. Tomorrow is for capturing the tortured soul and looking for calm. ‘Til next year, cheers! Laissez le bon temps rouler!

 

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Cleopatra’s Bath Secret

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As Queen Cleopatra knew, the legendary Queen of Egypt and the coveted object of many hearts, milk leaves the skin soft with a healthy, sexy glow.  A warm bath in milk was one of her many secrets to beauty and allure.

In the arid desert regions where camels thrive, camel’s milk has long been used to increase passion. And Cleopatra knew this well. Therefore, a camel’s milk bath would definitely be one of her secrets. And we think you’d rather luxuriate in a warm bath, perhaps with a loved one, rather than sip on camel’s milk.

Our Passport to Passion includes a fragrant Camel Milk soap bar infused with lavender.

As for oil of lavender, it has been proven through scientific study that the scent of lavender is a powerful aphrodisiac that many men find hard to resist. Camel’s milk soap, yes. Warm bath, yes. Oil of lavender, yes.

So, scatter rose petals to lead to a warm bath, perhaps infused with milk like Cleopatra. Just add 2 cups of milk to your warm bath water, and soap up with your loved one using our fragrant Camel Milk soap bar.

Valentine’s Day comes once a year, but love can be for any day of the year.

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A Feast for All the Senses

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As I mentioned in a previous post “The Business of a Business You Love” ((https://passportdinnersblog.com/2016/10/14/the-business-of-a-business-you-love/), the great re-boot of my company, my vision, my passion has been quite a process.

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My original Exotic Moroccan Feast box, pictured to the left and below, was fine.

 

 

 

 

It had all the organic dry ingredients and menu & preparation instructions you needed to have a nice theme dinner party, plus decorating ideas and music choices to complete the evening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

But I desired to provide a more authentic experience, a feast for all the senses. So after being introduced to Renda from The Argan Project, Renda was able to provide me with a contact in Morocco, Farid,  through whom I could add items to my Exotic Moroccan Feast, giving the venturous cook a more authentic experience. Still great menu ideas. Still all organic food items. All our food items are hand picked and carefully measured to give you the perfect amount needed for each dish.

Even more Historical & Cultural information plus more Moroccan music choices. But enhanced with additional products such as a premium loose leaf Moroccan mint tea, sweetened with organic cane sugar, culinary Argan oil, organic raw honeys, organic Ras el Hanout Moroccan spice blend, a hand painted mini tagine, plus a hand of Fatima key chain.

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Whether you’re the venturous home cook yourself,img_3744or you wish to give a unique gift to those special foodie friends of yours, shop now at passportdinners.com. Our exotic ingredients will help you create a unique international dinner party for all the senses. And become a Passport Dinners Loyalty Rewards member.

 

 

 

 

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Loyalty

Loyalty:  reliable, trusty, faithfulness, support. No, I’m not attempting to fill a Cabinet post. I, as a small business owner, am assessing the loyalty of my customers. If you’re a small business owner also, do you have a way to draw in a loyal customer base?

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Hot off the presses! I just picked up from the printer my newly-designed Loyalty Passports. By the way, beginning to use a professional printer for all my printing needs such as brochures, etc., was a SMART idea. What took me so long? And if you’re still printing your small business products at home, run, don’t walk, to a small, local printer, not a big box store. I am so pleased with the care and service of the local person I found.

After a lot of downloading of templates (hmmm, that one is for Mac only, bummer) and cutting and pasting, I came up with what represents my company and vision and allows me to grow a loyal fan base.

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One of the fun parts was designing stamps to ship out with each dinner box, each stamp representing the theme of the box. What do you think?

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All designed to present a terrific theme dinner box experience. The re-design of the Moroccan dinner box is ready to ship out with some new authentic products just received from Morocco. Now I must speed up my re-creation of each of my existing dinner boxes and the creation of new dinner box experiences. Lots of work, but so much fun! Head on over to my website, passportdinners.com, and buy one, or more, today! Become Loyal,  Reliable, Trustworthy, Faithful, Supportive.

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Goats in Trees

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One of the most exciting products we’ve added to our Exotic Moroccan Feast is culinary Argan oil.

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Found exclusively in Morocco, Argan trees produce one of the most beneficial oils known to man, especially high in essential fatty acids and Vitamin E. And the goats. The goats nimbly climb the branches of the Argan tree in search of its seeds. These seeds are essential for Moroccan farmers to crack, roast, and grind to release its oils.

We just received another shipment of Argan oil from The Argan Project  (http://thearganproject.com/).

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The Argan Project is a local San Diego company that acquires their oil, both culinary and cosmetic, from women-owned cooperatives in Morocco which benefits these Moroccan women with added income to help their families during times of need. Go to their website to learn more about these cooperatives. And check out our website to see, and purchase, our Exotic Moroccan Feast gift box which includes a bottle of this culinary Argan oil along with other exciting items from Morocco plus organic spices and honey to help the receiver create their own Moroccan dinner party.

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Shrink Wrap is Shrinking my Brain!

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Opening our Moroccan boxes can be a wonderful experience, with the scent of rose oil and the brightly colored pouches and bags filled with all sorts of wonderful organic products to help you prepare a Moroccan feast . . . unless that sticky raw organic honey has escaped it’s cork-topped bottle!

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So in our effort to provide you with the best experience possible, I’ve come to the conclusion that something like a shrink band would be a good choice. This goes along with finding out they are called shrink bands! Measure the neck of the bottle or bottles, research shrink bands and how to apply, buy appropriately sized shrink bands, buy heat gun (not using a hair dryer, I find out), and watch a lot of YouTube videos on how to apply them.

In the last photo you’ll see a lot of little failed shrink bands. Not so easy! Seal, baby, seal! But I think I’m getting the hang of it.  All part of our on-going process to make an excellent product. No dripping honey for you!

On to the next issue.

 

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Passport Dinners: taste the world, one box at a time

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