Shami (pronounced shah-MEE) is a tasty Persian finger food. It is traditionally made with split peas, but I use red lentils instead because they cook quicker. Enjoy!

3/4 c. dried red lentils
1 small potato, peeled and quartered
1 pound ground beef
3/4 t. salt
1 egg
1 small onion, grated
1/2 c. bread crumbs
1 t. advieh spice* (if you don’t have this, use a pinch of saffron + a pinch of tumeric)
1/4 c. flour
2 T. oil

*Advieh is a Persian spice that is a blend of various spices: cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, rose petals, saffron, and ginger.

1. Boil the red lentils and potato together until cooked through. Drain.

2. Combine all ingredients and mix well until fully combined.

3. Take a golf ball sized amount of the mixture and gently roll in flour. Press the ball into a patty. Over medium heat, fry the patty in oil until brown and crispy on both sides.


Serve with raw sliced onion and sumac.



Slow Cooker Brisket

I looooove slow cooked meats – stews, brisket, pot roasts, you name it. This recipe is super easy because you throw everything into a slow cooker and let it do it’s thing. For the brisket, get a good quality meat and have the butcher trim off some fat, but leave a thin layer (maybe 1/2 to 1 inch) on the top of it to keep meat moist while cooking.

5-6 lb brisket (make sure it fits in your slow cooker!)
3 onions, roughly chopped
1 T. olive oil
1 c. roughly chopped parsley (Stems are ok)
2 sprigs rosemary, whole
6 sprigs thyme, whole
4 bay leaves
garlic powder (optional)
6 cloves of garlic
4-6 tomatoes, quartered
vegetable medley: carrots (or any root vegetable), celery, fingerling potatoes
water or beef stock

1. In large skillet, saute onions in olive oil until translucent. Add to the slow cooker; this will be your base layer.
2. Chop carrots and celery (or whatever veggies you are using, except for fingerlings, which I recommend keeping whole) into 2 inch pieces. Lay all the veggies on top of the onions along with the herbs (rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, parsley). Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3. Season the brisket on both sides with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Be generous as it is a big chunk of meat. In a hot, dry skillet, sear both sides of the brisket until a brown crust forms (3-5 minutes on each side – don’t cook it so much that you can no longer see raw meat on the sides of the brisket.) Add to the slow cooker.
4. Place the garlic cloves and tomatoes on top of meat.

5. Add enough water or beef broth so that only half of the brisket is submerged.

6. Cover and let it cook on LOW for 8-10 hours. If you can (no need to wake up at 3 am to do this), flip the meat midway and remove some liquid if it goes above the halfway line of the meat.

7. After 8-10 hours, take the meat out and let it sit at room temperature with tented foil to rest (30 mins to an hour). Do not touch/eat/cut the meat at this point! The juice needs to redistribute in the meat while it rests, otherwise the juice will run and the meat will be dry.

8. remove as much juice as you want from the crockpot, strain and defat it. Set aside for serving. (And save some for later in the freezer!)

9. 15 minutes or so before you serve, boil up the juice again. Slice the brisket against the grain. Place on serving platter with the veggies, and drizzle with a ladle or two of juice. The leftover meat is also great for sandwiches/panini.

Beef Stew

There’s really nothing better than a hearty beef stew on a crisp, cold day to warm you up. Though I must admit I break the rules and have this even when it’s warm out, just because it is so delicious and easy to make. The great thing about stews is that 1) you can make huge batches and enjoy it throughout the week, 2) you can make it in a slow cooker, which might be one of my favorite kitchen appliances, and 3) they’re easy to customize based on what you have in your fridge.

Below is a recipe for a basic stew, but feel free to replace the veggies with whatever you have on hand. Also, some people like their stew more like a soup, while others like it with little liquid — the recipe below will make a stew right in the middle, but it can be tweaked for your desired consistency.

1 pound cubed stew meat (I prefer chuck)
3 T all purpose flour
2 medium onions, diced
4 carrots, cut into 2 inch pieces
4 cloves of garlic, minced
8 baby creamer potatoes, cut in half
3 cups beef stock
3 T tomato paste
1/2 cup parsley, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
1.5 t garlic powder
1.5 t onion powder
4 T olive oil
1/2 T beef demi-glace (optional)

1. Remove excess fat from beef, and cut into the size pieces you want. Toss in flour to coat.

2. In a heavy-bottomed pot (I use my trusty Le Creuset Dutch Oven) over medium-high heat, warm 2tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions and sauté until translucent. Then add the garlic, carrots, and potatoes and cook until the carrots have lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove the vegetables, and set aside.

3. In the same pot, add the remaining olive oil and the coated beef. Sear on all sides but do not cook through.

4. Add all the vegetables, broth, herbs, spices, tomato paste, and demi-glace to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 1.5 hours. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Serve with crusty bread.

Other additions that would taste great: turnips, parsnips, bell peppers, tomatoes, celery… pretty much anything. And adding wild rice, quinoa, or lentils makes it even heartier and thicker!

Note: If you want to make this in a slow cooker, at step 4, just add everything into a slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours. Just make sure to deglaze your pan with a little bit of stock to get all the nice bits of flavor, and add that too the slow cooker too.