Recipe: Koobideh – Persian Ground Lamb Kebabs

Recipe: Koobideh – Persian Ground Lamb Kebabs

While my husband was in grad school studying Persian literature, I started exploring Persian culinary traditions as a fun way to embrace and support his studies. One of our favorite meals is the very simple dish of koobideh, ground lamb kebabs, served with roasted tomatoes and basmati rice.

Koobideh Persian Ground Lamb Kebabs

The trick to a successful koobideh is to drain out the onion juice. This will help the meat to hold it’s shape better without being to soggy. The ground onion creates a much different experience in the flavor and texture of the dish than simply chopping the onion and adding it to the meat.

Koobideh – Persian Ground Lamb Kebabs

Koobideh – Persian Ground Lamb Kebabs


1 1/2 lbs ground lamb
1 medium onion
6 cloves garlic
1 bunch fresh parsley
1 egg
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Serve with:
Basmati Rice


Heat oven to 400°F or build up a hot grill.

Finely grate or blend onion in a food processor.

Strain onion in a fine sieve or through a cloth to remove the majority of the liquid. Then return the onion pulp to the food processor.

Add garlic cloves to the food processor.

Chop off the tough ends of the parsley stems and add parsley to the food processor.

Add egg and spices to food processor and blend well.

Break the ground lamb into large chunks and add to the food processor. Blend until just combined, being careful not to over-work the meat. Refrigerate mixture, allowing meat to rest and flavors to blend for two to three hours )or even overnight).

Divide the meat mixture into 8 portions, and form each portion into a long, narrow strip, 6 to 8 inches long, and place it across the width of a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining portions.

Use a knife or spatula to cut notches along the length of the kebab.

Kebabs can also be grilled over high heat. There are special wide kebab skewers made for koobideh; these are not necessary, but they do make turning the meat on the grill much easier.

Koobideh prepared in the oven does not need to be turned.

Place tomatoes on the pan in the spaces between the kebabs or around the grill.

Cook until the internal temperature reaches 160°F, about 20 minutes. The skins of the roasted tomatoes may blacken a bit.

Serve with the roasted tomatoes, over basmati rice.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Recipe: Blueberry Crisp with Peaches and Ginger

Recipe: Blueberry Crisp with Peaches and Ginger

Ginger adds a warm, earthy, autumn kick to this classic dessert.

blueberry crisp with peaches and ginger

Years ago, my mother taught me how to make a skillet pie. This is much like a regular pie, but quicker, and quite a bit more rustic. Simply start with a cast iron (or other oven safe) skillet. Melt butter, add a touch of flour and sugar and fruit, and heat in the skillet till the fruit starts releasing it’s juices and forming a syrup. Then top it with a pie crust and pop it in the oven. So simple and easy.

I started combining ginger with blueberries in dishes recently, and I just love the flavor combination: down home with a kick.  A few weeks ago, my friend Diane baked me a blueberry and nectarine pie, and that inspired the addition of the peaches.

I wanted a simple dessert like that, but I did not want to bother with pie crust, so I substituted with a standard crisp topping – with a touch of ginger for a little more kick. Toasted nuts would be delightful in this topping as well.

We are fruit smoothie people, so our freezer is always stocked with frozen fruit; this recipe was easy to whip up with ingredients we keep on hand all the time.

As always, delightful kitchen helpers make the food taste more delicious.

gem is a wonderful cook


Blueberry Crisp with Peaches and Ginger

Blueberry Crisp with Peaches and Ginger


3 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
2 cups sliced peaches (fresh or frozen)
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 cup flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter (melted)



In an oven safe skillet, melt butter, add flour, brown sugar, and ginger.

Allow this mixture to melt together, then add the fruit. As the fruit softens and releases it's juices, start working on the topping.


Mix together flour, oats, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, salt, and top with melted butter.


Spoon the topping over the fruit mixture. Place in oven heated to 350 F. Allow to cook 20 minutes or until the topping is lightly browned.


Serve hot, with ice cream. Also delicious cold, straight from the pan while standing in front of the fridge.
Triple Coconut Cream Pie

Triple Coconut Cream Pie

My husband turned 39 yesterday, so we made him a pie. My daughter had some thoughts about what kind of pie we should make. The conversation went like this:

Gem: I want to make Daddy a cherry pie for his birthday
Me: I just bought ingredients for coconut cream pie, because it’s his favorite
Gem: I think Daddy wants cherry
Me: Did you ask him?
Gem: Daddy, do you want a surprise?

Such is my life. For the record, we ended up making the pie I planned on, and she got away with being cute. It’s a kind of win-win. And, she was a great help in the kitchen.

The Dahlia Lounge has the best coconut cream pie in Seattle. Maybe anywhere. Aaron and I are big fans.

triple coconut cream pie

I was so thrilled to find that Tom Douglas and his team published the recipe for their Dahlia Triple Coconut Cream Pie in the Dahlia Bakery Cookbook: Sweetness in Seattle.  This cookbook is a great teaching cookbook. It’s more than just recipes, and it covers the how and why of techniques, so you really learn how to cook rather than just how to follow directions.

That was the pie I made for Aaron’s birthday. And it was amazing.

Triple Coconut Cream Pie

Triple Coconut Cream Pie


Coconut Pie Crust
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup ice-cold water (more as needed)
Coconut Custard Cream
1 cup milk
1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk (stir before measuring)
2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
2 large eggs
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Whipped Cream Topping
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
chunk of white chocolate
1 1/2 cups unsweetened chip or large shred coconut (or 2/3 cup shredded sweetened coconut)


Coconut Pie Crust

Make sure the butter is very cold.

Combine all ingredients except the water, and pulse in a food processor until it forms coarse crumbs.

Intermittently pulse and add a tablespoon of the cold water until a pinch of the dough holds together when pressed between your finger and thumb.

Turn the dough out onto plastic wrap on the counter. Use the wrap to pull the dough into a disc.

Chill for an hour before proceeding.


Unwrap and turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board.

Roll the dough to a 1/8″ thick circle, checking underneath occasionally to make sure it does not stick to the board.

Place dough in a 9-inch pie pan, and trim, allowing about an inch to hang over the edge of the pan.

Turn the edge under, and pinch edge all the way around with fingers to finish.

Chill the pastry for an hour before baking.


Preheat oven to 400°F.

Place some parchment paper in the pie shell and fill with dried beans to prevent the shell from puffing up during baking.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven and use the paper to lift out the beans.

Return the shell to the oven to bake another 10 minutes.

Cool the shell completely before filling with the coconut custard cream.

Coconut Custard Cream
Cook the Custard

Combine the milk, coconut milk, and shredded coconut in a medium sauce pan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add the bean and scrapings to the pan. Stir occasionally over medium-high heat, until the mixture gets ready to boil.

Put the eggs, sugar, and flour in a blow and mix them together well.

To keep the egg mixture from curdling in the hot milk, temper them by adding a third cup of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture. Blend well. Then add the eggs to the hot milk mixture.

Keep the heat medium-high, and continue whisking the mixture for several minutes until it becomes very thick. The mixture should be bubbling a bit through this process.

Stir in the butter until it is melted and well combined. Remove the vanilla bean.

Cool the Custard

Fill a large bowl half way with ice and water. Pour the custard into another bowl, and place that bowl in the bowl with ice water. Keep stirring the custard until it cools.

Cover the custard with plastic wrap. Place the wrap directly on the custard to keep a skin from developing.

Refrigerate mixture.

Whipped Cream Topping

Whip the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla together until peaks hold their shape.


Spread the coconut chips on a baking sheet and lightly toast them at 350°F for 5 to 7 minutes.

A little toasting adds a lovely toasty flavor to the coconut. This is a little too much of a good thing:

Not that I would ever burn coconut. Nope. Not me.

This is a little more like what you’re looking for:

Put it all together

Make sure the pie crust is completely cool.

Make sure the custard is completely cool.

Pour the custard into the pie crust, and even out the top.

Cover the custard with the whipped cream. This can be spread on, or for a prettier finish, piped on with a pastry bag and a star tip.

Garnish with the toasted coconut chips and then use a vegetable peeler to top off the pie with curls of white chocolate.

recipe is from the Dahlia Bakery Cookbook: Sweetness in Seattle by Tom Douglas.

Happy birthday, my love. You are a wonderful husband and father, and we love you. I hope 39 is an awesome year for you.

birthday pie

FTC Disclosure: of course, I use affiliate links wherever possible, including this post.

The recipe reader – and a Chocolate Hazelnut-Pear Tart Recipe

The recipe reader – and a Chocolate Hazelnut-Pear Tart Recipe


My little girl has become quite the foodie. She loves to watch Anthony Bourdain (at age 2 she declared: “Tony is my best friend”), Chopped, Cupcake Wars, and pretty much any other food related show we will let her watch. She got a kitchen for her birthday: But  one of her favorite pastimes is to sit and read out loud from cookbook; one recipe after another. That means my days sound like this:


It wouldn’t be so bad if the recipes were all healthy and nutritious, but her favorite book from which to read is this: All day long with the delicious sounding recipes, delectable ingredient after delectable ingredient. And the recipe she was reading in the video was for a Chocolate Hazelnut-Pear Tart. Mouthwatering.

So hour after hour I sit here having chocolate deserts described to me, and the more she reads those recipes, this more I want to shovel chocolate in my face.

Now I don’t pretend to be a cooking blog, so no, I haven’t made this recipe yet. Although, I do believe this particular tart is in my future. But, since we taunted you with the ingredient list earlier, I’ll go ahead and include the recipe she was reading here: Chocolate Hazelnut-Pear Tart.

Chocolate Hazelnut-Pear Tart

Yield: 12 servings

Chocolate Hazelnut-Pear Tart


16 ounces canned pear halves, well drained
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
2 tablespoons hazelnut-flavored liqueur
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 cup flour
1/2 cup Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
2 ounces (1/2 baking bar) Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate, for garnish.


Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray, or grease lightly.

Pat the pear halves dry with paper towels. Cut each half into thirds lengthwise. Set aside

Cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, liqueur, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and ground chocolate. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture, mixing well. Stir in the nuts. Spread into the prepared pan.

Arrange the pear slices in a circular pattern on top of the batter. Bake 23 to 30 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean when inserted into the center of the tart. Cool tart on a wire rack. When the tart is partly cooled, run a knife around its edge and remove it from the pan. Allow the tart to cool completely.

Melt the bittersweet chocolate in a double boiler over hot, but not boiling water. Stir the chocolate occasionally until smooth. Using a spoon or pastry bag, drizzle the melted chocolate over the cooled tart.

recipe is from The Ghirardelli Chocolate Cookbook (1995)


Worth the Effort: Coffee Bean Turkey with Sweet Onion Gravy

Worth the Effort: Coffee Bean Turkey with Sweet Onion Gravy

Tom Douglas, the guy who arguably put Seattle’s culinary scene on the map, took his place behind the stove of the demonstration kitchen at Macy’s, and started off by saying: “Today I want to talk to you about effort. If there is one thing I want you to take away today, it’s that it’s worth the effort.”

pears on kitchen counter

He was talking about cooking at home for your friends and family. He was talking about sharing not just the family recipes, but the stories that went along with them, such as the way the house smelled when his Grandma came to visit and made her famous schnecken, and the benefits of being the biggest kid in a very large family, when they all reached in to grab their favorite bits of the gooey treat.

“Create memories with your family around food, memories that involve all the senses. Those are what you will remember years from now.”

Tom Douglas

Take 3 recipes, he said, say for instance one pie, one cake, and one cookie recipe, even if you’re afraid of baking – especially if you’re afraid of baking. Make each one three times, following the directions exactly.  The trick to baking well is following the directions. By the third try, you will OWN that recipe.

Pick recipes you want to be known for, and be the person who’s known for bringing it. You don’t have to be a great cook, just well practiced at a few recipes. You can grow your repertoire later, just start with three.


Tom prepared three recipes for us: Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Broccoli Rabe and Fontina, Coffee-Bean Turkey with Sweet Onion Gravy, and Pear Tarts with Dreamy Caramel Sauce.  

Now, I don’t have room enough to share all three recipes in one post, so I’ve picked one to share today, perhaps more on another day. You’ll just have to come back and visit my blog again some day. Two of the recipes are from Tom’s new cookbook that he is promoting, The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook. Of course, the recipe I chose to share has something to do with coffee, Coffee Bean Turkey with Sweet Onion Gravy. This recipe is from the Macy’s Culinary Council Thanksgiving & Holiday Cookbook.

“Seattle is famous for its coffee. And that inspired me to stuff the turkey cavity with whole roasted coffee beans. Turns out they add a nice toasty-smoky aroma that seasons the bird from within. I leave them in even after the turkey’s done. If a few slip out at the table while I’m carving, it’s a good conversation starter.”

Tom Douglas

Get this one ready for Thanksgiving:

Coffee Bean Turkey with Sweet Onion Gravy

Yield: 12 servings

Coffee Bean Turkey with Sweet Onion Gravy


1 Fresh whole turkey, 15 pounds
6 T butter, at room temperature, plus 6 T, melted
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
12 Sage leaves
1/2 Cup Dark-roast coffee beans
1 T Rendered bacon fat, melted
1 onion, cut in half lengthwise and julienned
5 Cloves Garlic, peeled, but left whole
7 to 8 Cups chicken or turkey broth, heated
1/2 Cup Instant (quick-dissolving) flour such as Wondra


Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a small bowl, mash the 6 tablespoons room-temperature butter until smooth and season with salt and pepper. Using your fingers, and starting from the cavity end of the turkey, separate the skin from the breast meat, being careful not to tear the skin. Gently rub the softened butter evenly over the breast meat, then insert 6 of the sage leaves under the skin, placing 3 leaves on each breast half. Pat the skin back into place, and then brush the whole exterior of the bird with some of the melted butter. Season the turkey all over, including the cavity, with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the coffee beans inside the cavity.If the turkey has a metal clamp on its legs, remove it. Remove the giblets and neck from the cavity, if included, and reserve for another use or discard. Remove the cavity fat, then rinse the turkey well and pat dry with paper towels.

To Roast the Turkey

Brush the bottom of a roasting pan just large enough to accommodate the turkey with bacon fat, then make a bed of the onion slices in the center of the pan. Place the turkey, breast side up, on top of the onion.

Place the turkey in the oven and roast for 1 hour. Baste the turkey with some of the melted butter and add the garlic, the remaining 6 sage leaves, and 5 cups of the broth to the pan. Continue to roast the turkey, basting with butter at regular intervals a few more times, for another 1½ to 2 hours. If the turkey is browning too much, tent with aluminum foil. The turkey is done when a thigh joint is pierced and the juices run clear, or when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh, away from bone, registers 155° to 165°F.

Remove the turkey form oven, transfer to a platter, and tent with aluminum foil. Let rest for about 20 minutes.

To Make the Gravy:

Before beginning, remove any stray coffee beans that may have escaped from the turkey cavity into the roasting pan. set the roasting pan with the onion slices and juices on the stove top over medium high heat. You may need to straddle the pan over two burners. Using a wooden spoon, stir up any browned bits stuck to the pan bottom and continue stirring for a few minutes. Sprinkle the flour evenly over the onion and juices and stir until well combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of the broth and any juices that have collected around the turkey on the platter, then simmer gently, whisking occasionally, until thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. If the gravy seems too thick, add more broth. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the gravy into a warmed gravy boat and keep warm. Carve the turkey and serve immediately.


If you are stuffing your turkey, be careful not to over-stuff it. You want plenty of space for hot air to circulate inside the cavity so the meat cooks evenly.

Recipe compliments of Tom Douglas from The Macy’s Culinary Council Thanksgiving & Holiday Cookbook (Book Kitchen, 2011).
tom douglas and judy schwartz haley
Tom Douglas and Judy Schwartz Haley

FTC Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I was paid to attend this event, but as always, my opinions remain my own.