Food

Atour Foods' Kaymak

Over the last couple of months, I've had the opportunity to work again with one of my very favorite clients -- Atour Foods. They are a family run business that makes a cream spread used throughout the world; primarily the Balkans and the Middle East, but almost every culture has some form of it. Different regions call it kaymak, nata, kajmak, or urom. It's similar to clotted cream in the UK. I love learning about foods from around the world, so this project was right up my alley.

I believe the most common way of eating this cream spread is on bread or pitas, maybe with honey. I've photographed it like that for them in the past, but in these shoots, we wanted to showcase some of the many other ways it can be used too. Bear in mind that I did all the food and prop styling myself!

This is what the cream looks like when it's freshly made, before it gets packaged for sale. I had the opportunity to go on location to their shop to take the above photos right as it came out of the pan! It doesn't get fresher than this.

It can also be used in baking. In Latin America, it is known as Nata and is used to make delicacies like cookies and bread called pan de nata.

Kaymak can also be used in savory foods in place of cream cheese or sour cream -- we tried it as part of a lox plate and in spinach dip. Also, in the Balkans, it's used in a kebab sandwich called a cevappi.

If you'd like to find out more about Kaymak, including where to buy it in the Chicagoland area, check out: http://atourfoods.com/. (I took all the photos currently on their site as well.) They do free sample tastings at local markets too; check their facebook page for updates (https://www.facebook.com/atourfoods). Enjoy!

Lamb and rhubarb stew -- as seen at 3rd Annual Lillstreet Rhubarb Party

It started as sort of a joke, but every year, my pottery friends have a rhubarb-themed potluck. I like to get creative and approach this like an Iron Chef challenge, so this year I made a lamb tagine, using rhubarb in place of preserved lemon. I didn't officially call it a tagine, because I'm not sure how "authentic" it is -- and stew sounds more approachable anyway. A couple of people asked for the recipe, so here it is... I didn't really follow a recipe, so hopefully I've accurately remembered everything I put into it!

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Lamb and Rhubarb Stew

2.5 lb lamb shoulder or bone-in stew meat

1 tbsp light olive oil

4 small onions (or 2 regular sized ones)

2 cans chicken broth

1 can diced tomatoes

1-2 cans water

3 cloves garlic

1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped

¼ tsp turmeric

¼ tsp coriander

1/3 tsp cinnamon

1/3 tsp cumin

salt to taste

3 dried chiles

 

4 small carrots, sliced

1 small butternut squash, peeled and julienned

3 stalks rhubarb, sliced

10 dried apricots, chopped

 

¼ onion, finely diced

1 yellow pepper, diced

1 can garbanzo beans

juice of 1 lemon

 

rhubarb pickles, optional

 

Brown lamb in olive oil in a large, preferably nonstick soup pot (do this in two batches if it doesn’t all fit in one layer on the bottom of the pan).

Sautee onions for a few minutes, until softened and slightly browned.

Add broth, tomatoes, water, and spices.

Stir well to release browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Simmer for 1 ½-2 hours, until meat begins to fall off the bone.

 

Then, add the carrots, squash, rhubarb, and apricots.

Cook until softened but still slightly firm, about 10 minutes.

Cool and remove meat from the bone.

Add the de-boned meat back in, along with the ¼ raw onion, yellow pepper, garbanzo beans, and lemon juice. Add more salt to taste, if necessary.

Heat and serve.

 

If you really want to bring out the rhubarb flavor, garnish with pickled rhubarb.

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Pickled rhubarb

1 C vinegar – I used a mixture of cider and rice vinegar because that’s what I had in the cupboard.

1C sugar (or equivalent amount of stevia or honey)

1C water

 

3-4 stalks rhubarb, sliced or chopped

1 tbsp fresh ginger, sliced or chopped

 

Chop or slice rhubarb and ginger to your personal preference – if you want more of a relish, chop finely; if you want more traditional pickles, slice larger.

Heat vinegar, sugar, and water to a boil in a saucepan. Let cool slightly.

Once the sweetener is dissolved, place the rhubarb in a jar and pour the vinegar mixture over it.

Place in the refrigerator and leave there, covered, for 2 days before serving.

 

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Enjoy!

Healthy blueberry-banana muffins

About a month ago, I made these muffins for a potluck, and a couple of my friends asked for the recipe. So, finally, here it is.

I've been so busy lately that I have not had time to post anything in a while. Today, I'm home sick with a cold, so I have some downtime.

Cooking healthy, fresh food is something I have come to enjoy over the years. Of course, I'm still learning... This recipe was adapted from one in Bon Appetit; the original can be found here if you'd like to compare. 

My version has different types of flour to add nutrients and protein, stevia instead of sugar, and more fruit.

Blueberry-banana muffins; photo by Jolene Taschner

Dry ingredients:

  • 1 C whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 C soy flour
  • 1/2 C oats
  • 1/4 C almond flour
  • 1.5 Tablespoons Sweetleaf Stevia (this is not a paid product placment -- I've just found this brand tastes better than others I've tried)
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:

  • 4 mashed, ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 C 2% milk
  • 1/3 C light olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 C blueberries

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix dry ingredients in one bowl, and whisk wet ingredients in another, larger bowl. Mix dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, taking care not to over-mix. Spoon batter into greased muffin tins or cups.

Bake about 25 minutes, 30-35 if using frozen blueberries, until tops are golden brown and toothpick or knife comes out clean. Makes 12 standard muffins.

If my calculations are correct, these should contain about 190 calories per muffin (if your tin holds 12 muffins), and 18 grams of carbs.

I should add the caveat that these are definitely best when fresh out of the oven and still warm. When they are a day or two old, they seem more dry and crumbly. If anyone who's a more experienced baker wants to give some advice on how to improve that, it would be appreciated.

Still, these muffins are healthy and delicious. The lemon zest adds a freshness that I think fits well with the approaching spring season. Enjoy, and feel free to comment and tell me what you think!