Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sunday Night Blues, or Girls With Toys

I don't know about you, but I get this thing on Sunday nights that I call the Sunday Night Blues. It's this strange feeling that the weekend is almost over (but not yet), the start of a new week is almost here (but not yet), and you're meandering listlessly somewhere in between. Stuck in a sort of blah-limbo where everything is grey and undefined and you really don't know what to do with yourself except open a bottle of wine and whittle the hours away (oh, wait, is that just me?).

What's even worse is that sometimes, when the weather outside is gloomy and very un-California-like (Um, rain? I really don't think so), my Sunday Night Blues start somewhere around lunch-time, and the sense of anticipation is often worse than the event itself. Even watching a shirtless David Beckham (!) train in Hawaii (!!) didn't do anything for me. Yeah, that's how bad it was. Fortunately, I have friend, Shushana, who is almost telepathically connected to me -- which I'm sure has been a great source of annoyance to her over the years -- and she decided to be a trooper and undertake the Herculian task of cheering me up.

After years and years of wanting to, Shushana, that brave soul, is finally indulging her passion by opening her own online home and kitchenware business. When she heard my gloom-and-doom voice over the phone, she knew that drastic measures were needed. She invited me to play with her toys. Squee! Oh my... Can you imagine rows and rows of neatly packaged pots and pans, spatulas and colanders, dinner plates and teacups? I mean, if that doesn't alleviate the Sunday Night Blues, I really don't know what would!

After walking around her stockroom for half an hour and touching all the samples (I didn't even break anything, that's how pretty it all was), I finally picked out a gleaming pot and pan set. Then, to celebrate, we fired up the stove and decided to send my new toys on their maiden voyage. We cracked her beautiful yet sadly neglected Persian cookbook and an hour later, we had a dish that was so tasty, tender, colorful and full of flavor, that my bad mood disappeared along with the last traces of the chicken (which we didn't fight over because we are both too ladylike, of course... *cough*).

Peach Khoresh (Persian stew with chicken and peaches)
(Adapted from "New Food of Life" by Najmieh Batmanglij)
1 large onion, sliced thinly
4 chicken breasts
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp Persian spice mix (see below)*
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup fresh lemon or lime juice
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp ground saffron dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water
3 firm peaches
salt and pepper to taste

In a Dutch oven (or a medium, heavy pot) heat 2 tbsp of oil. Brown the onions and the chicken together, about 3 min per each side of the chicken. Add salt, pepper and the Persian spice mix. Pour in 3/4 cup of water. Cover and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.

Mix together the lemon or lime juice, sugar and saffron water and stir the mixture into the chicken. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

While simmering, heat 1 tbsp oil in a medium fry pan on moderate heat. Remove pits and cut the peaches into 1/2 inch wedges. Brown the peaches until golden, about 4/5 minutes. Add to the chicken, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes longer.

Serve right away with white Basmati rice. Oh yeah.

*Persian spice mix
These spices add a lot of tenderness and flavor to any chicken or meat dish. You can find them in any Persian market or buy them online.
2 tbsp ground dried rose petals (I couldn't find these anywhere, so I was forced to skip this beautiful sounding ingredient)
1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp dried Persian lime powder
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp ground angelica
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp ground cumin

Throw it all together and give it a good shake. Store in a dry place with other spices.

By the way, I was asked recently if I get paid for anything that I talk about in my blog. The answer is: no. If I use a product and I like it, I write about it. I don't make any money and I don't get freebies (sad, but true, though I wouldn't say no to a Kitchenaid stand mixer - Cobalt Blue, please, if anyone is listening).


Anonymous said...

What a yummy dish that was. I am having the left overs for lunch today. Mmmmmmmmm....

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I love it when recipes combine chicken and fruit..peaches and nectarines would be my favourite combo. Thansk for visiting...I will be back.. :D

Irene said...

Ooooh.... peaches AND nectarines! That sounds like a definite improvement! :)

Anonymous said...

I live in Georgia and I think this is the perfect thing for GA peaches. Peaches and lime juice, YUM! I am running to the grocery store now. Thanks so much for having things on your website that always excite me. This is the first place I look when I need to be inspired in the kitchen.