Zereshk Polo, Iranian Chicken and Rice by way of Armenia with Larra Haftevani

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Larra and I met through work. We became fast friends, bonding over our shared interest of hip hop and cats. Mostly cats, but also a lot of hip hop.

This girl is one of the biggest hustlers I know – not only does she work full time, she also recently landed a new job in marketing while getting her MBA at the same damn time. She also has a bumping social life and can cook like a fiend. How???

The other weekend, Larra graciously invited me over to her home in Williamsburg to cook me her mother’s Zereshk Polo. This dish is magical. Native to Iran, basmati rice and chicken are simmered together with saffron and studded with raisins and dried barberries (think of them as really small, really tart cranberries).

The key to this dish, she taught me, was to infuse saffron in hot water, creating a mind-blowingly beautiful deep-golden-orange hued “tea”. She used this tea to season different components of the dish separately, which gave the rice a delicious floral aroma and deep yellow tint. After she was done cooking, she melted butter (!!!) into the tea and drizzled it on top of the rice. Unbelievable.

Over copious amounts of red wine and plates full of Zereshk Polo, she told me about her family’s journey to LA from Iran by way of Armenia, and why this dish means so much to her. More after the break!

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Roasted Honey Glazed Carrots with Feta, Cranberries and Hazelnuts

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I’ve been making one variation or another of this roasted carrot salad for the better part of this year. What started as a fridge-cleaning experiment has become my go-to dish whenever I have people over for dinner. It’s super quick to throw together, and pretty easy on the eyes too.

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Sunday Supper: Roast Chicken with Red Wine Braised Mushrooms

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Whenever the weather gets gray and blustery like this, I start craving warm, home-cooked meals that stick to my bones. Time to work on that winter bod and get start getting ready for hibernation – see you guys in April!

I’m only half joking.

Last weekend, I couldn’t get the thought of having a proper Sunday roast chicken out of my brain. As you guys know, I haven’t really been cooking or eating much meat at home lately and generally feeling great about it. I’ve been trying to make an more of an effort to be more attuned with my body, listening more closely to what it needs and how the foods that I choose to eat make me feel. On most days it’s usually lighter dishes and veggies, but last weekend I could feel that my body was craving some protein. What the body wants, the body gets.

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Coconut Curry Kabocha Squash Soup

IMG_3570Here’s a deliciously warming soup, easy enough to make on a weeknight after a long day at work. Super nutritious kabocha squash is simmered in coconut milk and spiced with garam masala along with some other good stuff. The result is a creamy and surprisingly filling soup, perfect for this sweater weather we’ve been having in Brooklyn.

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Brown Rice Jook with Shiitake Mushrooms

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I was really struggling last week. After finally succumbing to the relentless cold that has been plaguing the office (and all of New York City, it seems) for weeks, I took two days off. Sometimes, when you’re body is running on fumes, you just have to listen to it and slow down.

Growing up, whenever I felt under the weather my mom, grandmother and aunts were always armed and ready with an arsenal of random traditional Chinese remedies. There was always a specific cure for whatever ailed me at the time. Their repertoire included pungent antidotes like Tiger Balm (an old-school, Chinese Vick’s vapor rub on steroids) for when I was congested,  and “Dit Da Jao”, a soy sauce-colored herbal wine used to rub on my many bruises (I was a clumsy kid).

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The Ritual of Dumpling Making with Tanya Chen of Buzzfeed

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The other weekend, Ryan and I took the trip to Astoria to visit our friends Tanya and Billy. The agenda? Dumplings.

I’ve known Tanya (@tanyenorth) since we were freshmen in college. She’s currently the Deputy Social Editor at Buzzfeed and is and when she’s not on the hunt for the latest breaking news sourced via the internet, she’s usually rock climbing or debating current events with our friends over far too many bottles of red wine (Cotes du Rhone, SVP).

For a self proclaimed “non-cook”, Tanya makes some pretty damn good dumplings. Here, we try to make them like her mom did growing up. That proved to be no small feat, as asian moms never seem to use exact, if any measurements (“just a little bit of that, a pinch of that, you’ll know when it’s right”).

More after the break on our day making dumplings together, and why the ritual of making them is so special to Tanya.

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