Posts Tagged ‘dinner party’

You’re going to have to trust me on this one and try this. Don’t think about, just do it. Forget the fact that bulgar rhymes with vulgar. Forget that it’s a whole grain and 1 cup of it contains more energy and nutrients than the grains you consume in an entire day. Forget that you are going to find this in the organic or natural food aisle of your local grocery store. Forget that this is a staple of Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine where people eat healthier and live longer. This is good stuff all the way around.

I was introduced to bulgar through the Power Foods cookbook put out by Weight Watchers. No, I myself am not a Weight Watchers member, but I was cooking with a friend of mine who had this cookbook. I found the cookbook itself to be really good and the recipes inside introduced me to healthy ways of incorporating a lot of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern spices into my everyday cooking. The idea behind the Power Foods cookbook is to eat more meals that contain power foods which fill you up faster and take longer to digest so that you don’t go back an hour or two later to consume more.

This bulgar pilaf combines the sweetness of golden raisins with the light, nutty taste of bulgar complimented by various spices used through the Middle East. I strongly encourage you to give this recipe a try as a side to your next dinner.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2c chicken stock
  • 1 1/2c medium, quick-cooking bulgar
  • 1/2c golden raisins
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

1. In a medium sauce pot, place 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Place the onions in the pan and sauté until nearly translucent. Add the garlic and combine until the garlic is fragrant.

2. Add the spices to the pan. Combine with the onions and garlic and cook until the spices are fragrant. Add the chicken stock to the pan and turn up the heat to high. Bring to a boil. Add the bulgar and raisins to the pan, cover with a tight lid, and turn off the heat.

3. Allow the bulgar to sit for 30 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve warm.

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This appetizer was inspired from a trip to Fish Market, one of my favorite sushi restaurants in Boston. The restaurant had just opened, and being one of its new patrons, I was rewarded with a complimentary appetizer. What was served to me was a ball made out of avocado with a salad of raw tuna inside. It was delicious.

Here I’ve taken the same idea and made an American summer BBQ version using the avocado ball to deliver a mango salad served alongside large grilled shrimp. By and large, grilling  is my favorite method of cooking shrimp as it leaves the skin crispy directly contrasting the delicate flesh inside. This is an appetizer that can be made a few hours in advance and serves as an impressive beginning to a midsummer night dinner party.

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 4 tiger shrimp (Size 8 – 12)
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 mango, diced
1. Preheat the grill over medium high heat. Slice the avocado in half and scoop out the flesh onto a cutting board.
     
2. Using a very sharp knife, slice one half of the avocado as thin as possible. Use slow, deliberate strokes. There’s no rush.
3. Lay the avocado slices in a line over plastic wrap. Top the middle with 2 tbsp of the diced mango. Season with a little salt and olive oil.
     
4. Fold the plastic wrap over onto itself, folding the avocado in half. Then fold the plastic wrap back over the avocado as shown in the Step 5 picture.      
5. Twist one end of the plastic wrap so that it begins to smoosh the ends of the avocado together. Then repeat with the other side. If any mango begins to seep out, gently push it back it in, but be careful not to destroy the overlapping slices. Place the mango ball in the fridge to come together ensuring the twisted ends do not unravel.
 
6. Remove the shells from the shrimp except for the tails. Season with salt and pepper (I used some chili powder as well for additional heat).
     
7. Cook the shrimp on the grill until the tail has turned pink. Turn the shrimp over and finish cooking.
     
9. Assemble the plate by placing the avocado ball in the middle. Top with a slice of lemon and lean two shrimp on either side.