Khashlama

Khashlama

I prefer slowly cooked beef shanks for plain khashlama and leg of lamb for festive version. A slow cooker/crock pot is the most convenient device to make this dish. Otherwise, assemble vegetables and meat layers in an iron pot, start on the stove to bring water to boiling and finish in the 300F oven by slowly cooking for another 3-4 hours. There is also a version when meat is cooked first; then it is layered with vegetables in small ceramic or clay pots and cooked in the oven to serve khashlama individually portioned. In this case, it only takes 1-1.5 hours in the oven — just to cook vegetables.

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Tortilla Soup

Tortilla Soup

Tortilla soup is one of the most popular Mexican soups. Google it, and you can easily get tons of “classic” recipes and even more variations. The base is always the same — dry red chili peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, tortilla chips, cilantro, and lime. In some recipes tortilla chips are used to thicken the soup, in other, they are the topping. In central Mexico, this soup flavor is defined by pungent and tangy thin fleshed pasilla, in Michoacan region it’s a fruity and mild ancho, in Puebla a smokey chipotle takes the place. There are also a variety of additional toppings from cooked meat and poultry to avocado, cheese, and cream. Every local chef or home cook features the best regional ingredients in this soup. I often joke comparing tortilla soup in Mexican cuisine to borsch in Ukrainian.

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Erroneous Terrine

Erroneous Terrine: Eggplants, Tomatoes, and Herbed Yogurt

My first mistake was to buy these tomatoes. I keep assuming everything on Farmers Market should taste good. They looked so beautiful, but the taste had nothing to do with their looks — watery and diluted. The only way to make them more or less enjoyable was to concentrate their flavor by partial dehydration, by making something similar to sun-dried tomatoes. Then I’ve made another mistake — left them in the oven for too long, and they turned into completely dry chips. Using plain Noosa yogurt to reconstitute some of their moisture became a brilliant idea! Alternated layers of dry tomatoes and yogurt created an equilibrium of texture and flavors the next day. It could’ve been mistaken for salami with unusually layered “meat” and “fat”… Or could it?

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You Say Tomayto, I Say Tomahto

Roasted Tomato and Burrata Salad

Do you prefer fresh or roasted tomatoes with burrata? Why? For a long time I was sure fresh tomatoes are the best. Until today. Roasted tomatoes concentrate their flavor and change their texture. They become tender soft, just like burrata. Add basil leaves and flowers, chives flowers, thyme, EV olive oil, and fresh crusty baguette. That’s it.

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