Sweet Orange Persian Rice and Pomegranate Soup {Iran}

This post has been migrated to my new location. Stop by for some Persian food at:

Categories: Food, Holidays, Middle Eastern Food, Rice, Soups, Uncategorized, Vegetarian | 1 Comment

Simple Potato Stew, Rye Soda Bread, and Chocolate Stout Cake: A Calm St. Paddy’s Day {Ireland}



Once, I spent a St. Patrick’s Day in France. I saw the Mona Lisa.  I ate a my first ever crepe (Nutella was an excellent choice) and shared a Powerade with my significant other.  (Wow, I look a bit different now!)

No one in Paris cared or mentioned St. Patrick’s Day except our hostel-mates.  Two days later, we flew back to Manchester, UK.  The streets around the U of M and MMU campuses were still a wreck for the St. Paddy’s Day destruction.    I think I prefer the calm,-eat-some-good-food-and-wear-a-wee-bit-of-green methods.

That’s right.  Do some yoga, run a little, blog a little, and avoid the pub-crawlers at all costs.

Our meal last night consisted of a very, very easy stew, a standard soda bread and a bit of dessert.

Cassie’s Simple Potato Stew (Serves 6)


  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3 medium potatoes, cubed (I don’t peel mine if they are organic–just scrub well)
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 5 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 T Earth Balance
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup stout (we did use Guinness–so if you have no gray areas with your vegetarianism, find a fish-bladder free stout)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (or water)


  1. Melt Earth Balance (or use oil or butter if you prefer) in dutch oven or large sauce pan
  2. Add onion and saute until translucent.
  3. Add garlic and saute for 2 more minutes.
  4. Add potatoes, carrots, and celery.  Give a stir.  Toss in parsley and bay leaves.
  5. Add stout and vegetable broth.  Bring to a boil and simmer until potatoes are tender.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This was really delicious for being so easy and not having oodles of seasonings.  You need to serve this with soda bread.  I love soda bread.  It’s so easy to make and adapt.  We had rye bread with caraway seeds.

You can make soda bread without a special soda bread dish, but I’ve got one.  So I use it every time.  (Thanks for that, Bev–you probably didn’t realize how much use I’d get out of it).

The cake we had for dessert was a recipe of my own.  And I made it hours before I noticed that 101 Cookbooks happened to post a Chocolate Stout Cake.  I swear it.  The recipes are somewhat similar, but I cut out the dairy and eggs, and used sugar for my sweetener.  Odd, I know, considering I still used Guinness (which again is not even considered vegetarian by many).  Oh, well. I still tried.  Pre-powdered shot below:

Almost Vegan Chocolate Stout Cake (Makes too many servings for a 2-person household)


  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance
  • 1 cup stout beer (find a vegan one if you’d like)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups unrefined sugar
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 flax “egg”: 1 T ground flax mixed into 3 T water
  • 3/4 cup cashew “sour cream”: soak 3/4 cup raw cashews in water until soft, blend with 1 T lemon juice until smooth.
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Melt Earth Balance into stout beer in medium sauce pan on stovetop.
  3. Mix in sugar and cocoa powder
  4. Add in flax egg, cashew cream, and apple sauce.  Remove mixture from heat.
  5. Add the flour to a separate, large bowl.  Create a well for the liquid.
  6. Add the liquid and stir until all flour is moistened.
  7. Pour the cake batter into a well-oiled or silicone dish.  You can use a 9×9 pan, a bundt pan, or cupcakes–whatever you prefer.
  8. Bake for 50 minutes, or until fork comes out clean.

I added a glaze made of almond milk, vanilla extract, chocolate syrup, and powdered sugar.  There was no recipe or measuring for me in this step, so you can make to your own liking!

Because this cake is eggless, it is more fudge-like than many cakes.  It’s dense and moist.  Which I prefer.

Yes, I did have a piece for breakfast this morning.  But hey, it’s whole wheat and has apple sauce.  It’s got to be healthier than a number of doughnuts and muffins on the market, right?


Now that I’ve been thinking over my St. Patrick’s Days, I remembered another traveling one!  During grad school, I was able to take a spring break trip with Jordan and his sister, Emilee, to Peru.  Though mudslides kept us from Machu Picchu, we managed to have an excellent time.

Maybe there is something to be said for venturing out on St. Paddy’s….


Categories: Baking, Breads/Starches, Desserts, European Food, Food, Holidays, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: | Leave a comment

From Ireland with Love: An Irish Breakfast

I’m super excited!  It’s the Pearl Project’s first guest post ever!  One of my most near (in spirit) and dear friends is currently living in Ireland, and I thought it’d be great to have her share some of her experiences here.  She’s a lovely person and a lovely writer.  She blogs over at Enos Village about her Irish adventures and wonderful fam.  Thanks, Jenny!

I had to share just a couple pics of her cute little (yet tall) family.  (I’m so hoping she doesn’t mind!)

(p.s. If anyone else is interested in a guest post for a specific country, feel free to contact me!)

Without further adieu–


Top o’ the morning to ya!  And Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

My name is Jennifer Enos.  Six months ago my husband, Luke, and I, along with our daughter, Isabella, moved to Ireland for Luke to play professional basketball.  Living in Ireland has been a great learning experience.  The first experience was finding out no one actually uses the greeting, “Top o’ the morning to ya!”  At least not seriously.  I know, I was disappointed, too.

Nearly everything has changed in regards to our meals since moving to Ireland.  We don’t have a car, so we always walk to the grocery store.  Which isn’t a horrible thing, but it becomes old when it rains nearly every day.  Our refrigerator is about three feet tall, so this results in grocery shopping every third day on average.  (A lot of the refrigerators here are smaller in comparison to American refrigerators). The selection of groceries at our grocery store is pretty limited compared to my local Safeway.  Overall, the food selection is a lot healthier than in America in regards to processed/packaged/boxed foods.  Also, the portions are a lot smaller for the price.  Some examples:

  • The only sugary cereals are frosted flakes and cocoa puffs.  If you want to buy a box of Lucky Charms or Reese’s Puffs, it will run you 9 euro (around 11 dollars).  Needless to say, we haven’t purchased either of these cereals.
  • The largest container of salsa available is about 1 cup, and it costs 2.70 euro (3.50 USD).
  • There is one kind of Pop Tart – Strawberry.
  • Three chicken breast filets costs 5 euro (6.60 USD). Because filets are so expensive, I have started buying whole chickens. **Side note: Filet is pronounced “fill-it” in Ireland**
  • A jar of 18 oz peanut butter is the largest available and costs 2.80 (3.70 USD)
  • If you want to buy black beans, you have to go to a health food store, and the cheapest can I have found is 1.29 euro (1.70 USD)
  • For those of you addicted to pop (called Fizzy Drink in Ireland) like my husband, a 2 liter pop is 2.19 euro (2.88 USD)  This is the cheapest route in feeding the addiction.
  • The largest portion of milk is 3 liters (4 liters is just over a gallon) and costs 2.88 euro (3.79 USD)

I like to believe that somewhere in Galway there is a grocery store that carries more bulk items, but the store we shop at does not.  One benefit to the higher prices and smaller portions, it seems like the population is healthier here than in the states.  Part of this could also be due to the fact that gas is 1.62 euro a liter (which is about 6.40 USD a gallon).  A lot of people walk or ride bike to save on gas.

When Cassie asked me to write a guest blog about Ireland’s food, I was unsure about what I should cook.  Most traditional Irish meals are very simple and use few ingredients.  A few months ago a friend and I made a meal from an Irish cookbook – baked onions.  Yes.  An onion, covered with foil in a broiling pan, baked for an hour.  Simple. We made a curry sauce to go along with it.

I decided to do something a little more elaborate than a baked onion, so I whipped up a traditional Full Irish Breakfast.  Nothing too fancy, but it is something the Irish definitely take pride in.

A Full Irish Breakfast consists of:

  • Bacon (which is more like ham than American bacon)
  • Sausage links
  • Black Pudding
  • White Pudding (these puddings are not of the Jello variety.  Pudding here is like a sausage)
  • Eggs
  • Potato bread
  • Soda Bread
  • Tomatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Baked Beans
  • Orange Juice
  • Tea or Coffee

The only part of the meal that required any preparation was the potato bread.

  1. Peel, boil and mash four medium potatoes.
  2. Add ¼ c flour, a dash of salt, and 1 tbsp melted butter.
  3. Mix with the potato masher, and then knead the mixture, adding flour until a sticky dough forms.
  4. The recipe calls to roll out the dough with a floured rolling pin, but I formed small pancake-like circles with my hands.
  5. With the pan sprayed with Sunflower Oil, I let the breads cook for 5-8 minutes on each side.

What really makes this breakfast an Irish meal is the pudding.  Like I said earlier, black and white pudding is like a sausage patty.  The white pudding is made of pork meat and fat, suet, bread, oatmeal and seasonings.  Its counterpart, black pudding, is very similar, but is made with pig blood.  Yes, the blood of the pig is congealed and put in this pudding.  And the Irish love it.  These come precooked in the form of a large sausage, and before serving are cut into patties and fried.

Generally the tomato is cut into thick slices and grilled, and the mushrooms left whole to grill.  I decided to incorporate my tomatoes and mushrooms into my eggs, since I don’t like tomatoes on their own.

Had I been a bit more ambitious, I could have made the Soda Bread.  Instead I opted to purchase some from the local bakery.

I must apologize for the horrible lighting, but these are the best pictures I could capture of our Full Irish Breakfast.

You may have noticed there are no baked beans on the plate.  So, the story goes: Luke was gone, and I was attempting to cook up this meal with only two frying pans while entertaining Isabella.  In the midst of cooking everything up and singing made-up songs to Bella, I forgot to prepare and serve the baked beans.  It wasn’t until I started writing this post that I remembered the beans were still sitting on the shelf, unopened.  Ah, well.  Can’t win them all.

So, there you have it.  Start your St. Patrick’s Day off right and enjoy a Full Irish Breakfast!  If you want to be extra festive, you could add some green food coloring to the eggs and drink some green milk to wash everything down. 🙂

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! And as the Irish say, Good Luck!

(yes, that is a very common parting salutation)


Thanks, Jenny!  I miss you!

Hey, readers, I’ll be back in a couple hours after mid-morning yoga with a post about our semi-Irish feast from last night.  We decided to celebrate a day early, in case we wanted to escape downtown Knoxville when the pub crawlers start to take over.  And yes, I am wearing a green shirt to yoga today 🙂

Categories: European Food, Food, Guest Posts, Holidays | Leave a comment

Year of the Dragon Hot Pot (Hougou) and Steamed Potstickers {China}

One country down.  Just over 200 left to go.  You and I, reader, we are like Mitt Romney’s campaign.  We’ve got a long way to go together.

As promised, my challenge began for the Chinese New Year.  I’ve celebrated the Chinese New Year since 2006.  This year, I did a bit more research on my recipes and found out that the cashew meringue cake that I love so much is actually Filipino. Oops! (Now we’re looking forward to the day I prepare the food from the Philippines).  Still, even without the cashew meringue, lasts night’s meal was festive and relatively authentic.

I stopped at Sunshine International Market to buy some sweet treats–lychee gummy candies and peanut cakes–and some papers to decorate the table.  The lychee candies didn’t go over well with the Jordans (one Jordan being my husband, the other being our friend), but I still think they are tasty.

Before we actually got started with the food, I prepared a few cups of jasmine tea.  The container was just too alluring for me when I was shopping at the international foods market.  Thanks to my mother-in-law, I also have quite the tea infuser.


Post-tea, I started the meal with some steamed tofu potstickers.

There is no real recipe for these little guys.  I put about 1/5 of a block of firm tofu, carrot shreds, one garlic clove, a half inch piece of ginger, three chopped green onions, and soy sauce into the food processor and pulse to the desired consistency.  Once the filling is made, the fun begins!

I usually put about 1/2 teaspoon of filling in each wonton wrapper.  Moisten your fingers and run them along the outside of the wonton wrappers.  Fold corner to corner (into a triangle) and shape as desired.  From my photos, you might have guessed that I had no particular desired shape.  I certainly need to work on making these look more uniform.  Or maybe not…

And here is where I have a home-cook geek out.  I am finally the proud owner of a bamboo steamer!  It only takes 20 dollars and one trip to Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  I’ve been wanting one of these since 2007.  I deserved it, right?

Yes, it is probably true that half the reason I really, really wanted a bamboo steamer was to take a photo like the following…

I steamed the potstickers for about 10 minutes, before transferring them to a 200 degree oven to keep them warm.  These went over pretty well.  Jordan–of the husband variety–chooses the potstickers as his favorite part of the meal.  I’d almost have to agree.  But then again…I really enjoyed the Hot Pot.

Hot Pot is basically Chinese fondue.   Our sauces consisted of a mustard/soy sauce blend (my personal favorite), shitake sesame, pepper teriyaki, and a sweet and spicy Asian bbq sauce.

Ingredients are dipped into a communal pot (called a fire pot in China) of hot vegetable broth to cook.  Items are then dipped in a variety of sauces and/or transferred into an individual bowl of broth.  We had baby bok choy, carrots, green onions, tofu blocks,  and mushrooms.  The plan was to eat Hot Pot in the traditional manner.  But then all ingredients just seemed to make their way into my individual bowl without hitting the sauces, etc.

Honestly, that worked just fine for me.  I added some of the sauces to my broth to liven it up a bit.  Once I was certain I had my fill of this, I moved on to dessert.  And the dessert in question is none other than the Amaretto Red Bean (Adzuki) Cake in last night’s teaser photo.

I’m not going to talk too much about the cake here, since I plan on providing a recipe post for the cake.  Don’t be fooled, just because there are beans in your cake does NOT mean it is healthy or sugar-free by any means…

Happy New Year!  I’ll see you tomorrow with some Indonesian.

Categories: Asian Food, Desserts, Food, Holidays, Vegetarian | Tags: | 7 Comments

Happy Chinese New Year!

I hope you are celebrating on this eve of the Year of the Dragon.  We are. With Amaretto Red Bean Cake!

Categories: Asian Food, Desserts, Food, Holidays, Vegetarian | Tags: | 1 Comment

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: