Monday, October 19, 2009

Persian Jeweled Rice

Jeweled Rice
I catered a rehearsal dinner a few months ago that was based on the groom's Persian culture. It was so nice to cook Persian food as I grew up with this type of food and have always loved the flavors and techniques of Persian cooks. I honestly believe that Persian food is the finest in the world. It is always so delicious and beautiful!

When you get married in Iran you must have Javaher Polow or in English...Persian Jeweled Rice. This stunning rice dish is supposed to represent the jewels and sweetness that are to come to the happy couple....and bring them good luck. And the dish truly does look like it is adorned with it may take some time and some ingredients that you don't always have on hand....but believe me....this dish is a show stopper and will definitely get your guests to say "oooohhhh" and "aaahhhhhh"....not to mention the amazing flavor that is going to put them over the edge and be so thankful that you made them a dish worthy of royalty!

So here is a recipe for Jeweled Rice that is not as time consuming with a few shortcuts but will still impress your guests and will taste and look amazing!

Jeweled Rice with Lamb
8 cups cooked rice (preferably Basmati Rice)
1 cup blanched and slivered almonds (reserve 1/4 cup for garnish)
1 cup golden raisins (reserve 1/4 cup for garnish)
1 cup barberries (or any other bright red berry) (reserve 1/4 cup for garnish)
3 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon sugar
1 can julienned carrots (I learned this shortcut from a Persian friend of mine!)
1 pinch saffron threads
1 tablespoon orange marmalade
orange rind (for optional garnish)

A unique ingredient in Jeweled Rice is dried barberries. You can find these at some Middle Eastern grocery stores but if you cannot find them you can substitute with dried cranberries or cherries or use fresh pomegranate seeds since they are in season right now.

If you do use a dried berry...make sure to rehydrate them by soaking them in some water.

Saffron is also used in Jeweled rice so take the pinch of saffron and let the threads soak in about 1/2 cup of water until the water is bright orangish-red.

Once all your dried fruit is hydrated...saute the raisins with the almonds in one tablespoon butter and one teaspoon of olive oil.

Then add the dried berries. Season this mixture with a teaspoon of cumin, and a little salt and black pepper.

I use fresh lamb from the Middle Eastern butcher whenever I can. For this recipe I use about 1 lb. of lamb. You can also substitute beef or just omit the meat if you want to keep the dish vegetarian.

Cut the lamb into bite size pieces and saute in one tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt, 1 teaspoon cumin and a little black pepper.

Once the lamb is nice and golden add the nut and fruit mixture and then add the saffron mixture, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1 tablespoon orange marmalade, 1 teaspoon of cumin, 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom and stir. This does not have to cook just heated up all together.

The way to serve this dish is to layer the rice with the lamb, fruit and nut mixture. I then take the julienned carrots and orange peel, and some reserved nuts and dried berries and garnish the dish. I take pita and cut it into wedges and place them around the rice.

This is by no means a traditional Persian Jeweled Rice recipe but takes a fraction of the time (the traditional recipe I used for the wedding took me several hours to make)....But this recipe is still very delicious and will wow your guests with it's beauty!
Isn't this just gorgeous? And the flavor is seriously amazing! Please try this recipe as it really is not that difficult!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Summer Wedding

As most of you know...I own a catering company here in Omaha and I wanted to share with you a wedding I did this summer that was pretty simple but ended up being just beautiful. I love catering weddings and this wedding was special to me because it was the couple's second marriage and they both have children from their previous marriages (same as me and my husband). The way they included their children in the ceremony was so sweet. Heather and Scott were so easy to work with and they were so appreciative of all the work we did to put their special day together. It's always so nice to work for people who know how much hard work we put in to make everything run smoothly and how difficult it really is to make sure everything is timed just right. Enjoy the pictures and look for more wedding and event pictures to come!

Two of my employees getting the drink/bar station ready.

Heather wanted everything to be simple and and white with wild summer flowers.

She had a bunch of small vases with flowers in them on the tables and had this arrangement made for the bar.

The whole ceiling in my event space is a skylight...we hung white lanterns and the effect was amazing!

She didn't want to spend tons of money on flowers (like I said this was a 2nd marriage for both of them and they have better things to spend their money on..for so she chose several small vases with wild flowers on each looked great and the guests could still see each other across the table!

Heather also chose a simple yet contemporary dress with a black sash...she looked great!
Guests going through the appetizer station.

Instead of a wedding cake...the bride chose to do assorted mini desserts......
not only did they look beautiful.......
guests loved having a choice of many different kinds of desserts.
The first dance...I love how the lanterns look above them!

What a great wedding...thanks Heather and Scott!

Wishing you much love and happiness!