Firni

(Afghani Milk Pudding)

June 1: World Milk Day

When we dine(d) at Afghani restaurants in Houston, Texas, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Chicago, Illinois, we always finished our meal with dessert (as we do at all other restaurants we visit!). Because we are full after eating kabobs and rice, a lighter milk pudding balances out our filling dinner. Islander must take her lactase enzyme to be able to eat firni. So when we make this Afghani milk pudding at home, we use lactose-free milk and she is able to enjoy it without painful digestive issues afterwards. Firni is flavored with rosewater, cardamom and nuts. The milk is thickened with cornstarch to give it a pudding consistency. This sweet and simple Afghani milk pudding is perfect for World Milk Day!

Recipe

(Adapted from Afghan Kitchen Recipes)

Ingredients

  • 4 cups milk (we used lactose-free milk), divided use
  • 1 cup sugar (we reduced it to ¾ cup)
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 1-2 teaspoons rosewater
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ cup slivered almonds
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron threads
  • ¼ cup pistachios, chopped finely (optional garnish)

Directions

In a large saucepan or pot, dissolve the sugar in 3 ½ cups of milk and cook over low heat to avoid burning the bottom of the pot. In a small mixing bowl, combine the remaining ½ cup of milk with ½ cup of cornstarch. Stir until smooth and slowly pour into the pot. Mix well with a whisk until the pudding has thickened. Add the rosewater.

Stir in the ground cardamom, saffron threads and silvered almonds. Cook for another minute or two. Transfer the pudding to a larger bowl, cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Ladle into dessert dishes or serving bowls. Garnish with chopped pistachios.

Notes

  • Although we have not tried substituting cow’s milk for nut milk in this recipe, almond milk would be suitable alternative to enhance the slivered almonds.
  • Search our blog for other recipes containing milk.

Chimichurri Steak

June: National Steak Month

We only indulge in a steak dinner very few times during the year because it is quite pricey. But with June being National Steak Month, we had a great excuse to buy beef on sale and try a new recipe. We made chimichurri steak, an Argentinian specialty, because of the unique sauce. Almost like a pesto (perhaps because of the country’s Italian influences), chimichurri gets its vibrant green color from herbs (parsley, cilantro, oregano and scallions) and its flavor from spices (garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper). It is a popular condiment for any grilled meat in Argentina and neighboring South American countries.

While steak is still the star in this recipe, the chimichurri marinade and sauce elevate this dish to another level and make our dining experience even more special. Try chimichurri on steak during National Steak Month.

Recipe

(Adapted from Diabetes Forecast)

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup parsley leaves (flat leaf Italian)
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves
  • 3-4 stems of oregano, leaves removed
  • 1 stalk scallion (green onion)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 – 2 pounds steak (skirt, flank, sirloin, strip or ribeye)

Directions

Chop up the parsley, cilantro, oregano and scallions into smaller pieces. Place in a food processor.

Peel the garlic cloves and place in the food processor with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Add the red wine vinegar and olive oil.

Turn on the food processor and mix until it becomes a paste-like consistency. Use 2-3 tablespoons to rub on the front and back of the steak. Marinate in the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight. Before cooking, let the steak come to room temperature.

Fire up the grill. Lightly oil the grates. Cook the steak to desired doneness. Remove from the grill and transfer to a cutting board to rest for 10-15 minutes. Slice diagonally across the grain. Arrange the steak pieces on a platter. Pour the chimichurri on top. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • Since we prefer cilantro over parsley, we switched the amount in this recipe. Feel free to adjust the ingredients to your preferred tastes like we did. Cover and refrigerate any leftover chimichurri. Let it come to room temperature before using.

  • Cheap date night! We bought one steak on sale and split a big baked potato for our portion and budget conscious but delicious dinner.

Lavender-Lemon Scones

May 30: National Scone Day

This post is dedicated to Nan N., Islander’s BFF and bridesmaid from a quarter century ago, whose favorite color and scent is lavender. The hue is a delicate shade of purple and the smell is beautifully relaxing—all kind of mellow, just like Nan. So it is sweet reunion whenever we go home to Hawaii knowing she will be there for us no matter what. There is no drama, just a secure and stable feeling to have in a friend when there is so much change, quick paces and extremes in life. Everyone needs an even-keeled friend like her and we are blessed with the simplicity yet deep bonds of a relationship we share.

This lavender-lemon scone is also well-balanced. Sometimes the floral notes of the lavender might overpower another strong flavor like lemon/citrus. But not in this scone. The lavender and lemon complement each other well. It makes our kitchen smell so delightful while it is baking, too! The glazed topping sweetens the scone like a crowning glory (an ode to Nan’s fascination with royalty). These scones are an elegant addition to a teatime table.

Cheers to true and long-lasting friendships! Cheers to lavender-lemon scones on National Scone Day!

Recipe

(Adapted from Tea Time Magazine)

For the lavender-lemon scones

  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons dried culinary lavender
  • Zest of one small lemon (or 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup cold heaving whipping cream
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the flour and sugar. Cut the butter into small pieces. Use a pastry cutter to mix the butter into the dough until it resembles peas.

Add the lavender and lemon zest to the flour mixture. In a measuring cup, beat the egg into the cream.

Stir the vanilla into the cream-egg mixture. Pour into the flour mixture and lightly combine until a dough sticks together. Transfer onto a clean, floured surface. Pat together to form a ball, then flatten gently into a disc. Flour the rolling pin and roll the dough to ½ inch thickness.

Use a 2 ¼ inch round cutter to cut out the scones, re-rolling scraps as necessary. Place onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet about two inches apart. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes (the scones will have a pale brown top when done). Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

For the glaze topping

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 4-6 teaspoons milk

Directions

In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar with the milk and mix until smooth and creamy.

Spread the glaze over the top of each cooled scone. Optional: sprinkle 3 pieces of dried lavender on top before the glaze sets. Serve immediately. Store leftovers in a tightly sealed container (best eaten within a day or two).

Notes

  • For more scones recipes, click on our Themes Menu tab and scroll down to the scones section.