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Italian Lemon Cake

This Italian lemon pound cake is a recipe that I'd had my eye on for a long time. I finally made it back in April! I skipped adding frosting but if you visit the original recipe it'll tell you how to make it. The glaze needed a lot more lemon juice than the recipe called for. I used 5 tablespoons of lemon juice and it was still very thick. The cake itself isn’t very lemony so you really do need either the glaze or the frosting to bring the lemon flavour to this recipe. I'm not complaining though, it was still really delicious! Italian Lemon Cake Adapted from My Recipe Confessions Makes 1 Cake Ingredients For the Cake 3 cups all purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 cup butter, softened 2 cups sugar 3 large eggs 1/2 cup buttermilk 1/2 cup sour cream 4 tablespoons lemon juice 2 tablespoons lemon zest 1 teaspoon vanilla For the Glaze 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar 5+ tablespoons lemon juice Directions Preheat the oven to 325F. Grease and flour a bundt or cake p

Jilla's Gheymeh Nesar - Persian Stew (Khoresh) Recipe

I'm very excited about this recipe! It's a long one but the finished dish is so delicious!

My sister-in-law, Aida, told me this recipe originates in a city in Iran called Qazvin which is probably why, after doing several internet searches for the recipe, I came up with nothing. Outside of Qazvin, my mother-in-law Jilla must be the only person who knows how to make this. When I heard mom was going to make this today, I grabbed my pen and notebook and watched every step of this beautiful dish as she prepared it.

Don't let the number of ingredients in this recipe intimidate you. It seems complicated but it's worth taking the time to make because it's just SO good. I wrote this recipe very detailed because I didn't want to miss a step. This dish also tastes really great re-heated the next day.

Jilla's Gheymeh Nesar - Persian Stew (Khoresh)

For the Rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, ground
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 6 cups uncooked basmati rice
  • 12 cups water
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 cup barberries
  • 1 tablespoon avocado (or unflavoured) oil (for the barberries)
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled (or 1 pita bread)
  • 2 tablespoons avocado (or unflavoured) oil (for the tahdig)
  • salt
For the Stew
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons avocado (or unflavoured) oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 lbs stewing beef or veal, cut into chunks
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, ground
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons avocado (or unflavoured) oil
  • 1/3 cup dried (not candied) orange peel
  • 1/2 cup raw slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup raw slivered pistachios
  • 1 1/2 cup barberries
  1. Put 1/2 a teaspoon saffron in a small heat proof glass and cover with 1/4 cup boiling water. Set aside.
  2. Put uncooked rice in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and stir. Let it sit for an hour on the counter.
  3. In a nonstick pot, fry the onions in oil on medium high heat until golden.
  4. Add the turmeric and give it a stir.
  5. Add the meat, salt and pepper to the pot and cook for about 10 minutes until the meat is cooked through.
  6. Sprinkle the saffron over the beef and stir.
  7. Mix tomato paste with 2 cups of water and add to the pot. Stir well. Liquid should just cover the meat. If needed, add a bit more water until the meat is covered by liquid. Simmer on medium heat for 1 hour checking occasionally to make sure the liquid doesn't run out, or the stew will burn.
  8. After one hour stir the stew and have a taste. Add more salt if needed. If the liquid is getting thick add a cup of cold water and stir will. Continue to simmer over medium heat for another 30 minutes.
  9. While meat is cooking, bring a small pot of water to a boil and cook the orange peel for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse the peel in a colander. Boil, drain and rinse the orange peel 2 more times. Set aside on paper towel.
  10. In a colander, rinse 1 1/2 cups of the barberries in cold water a few times to remove any sand or dust. Pick them over for any stems, then place on a paper towel. Set aside.
  11. Rinse the nuts in cold water and set those aside on another piece of paper towel.
  12. In a nonstick pan on medium heat, fry the orange peel and nuts in oil just until the nuts start to brown. Add the barberries and cook for another minute. Set the pan aside.
  13. After 1 1/2 hours of cooking, the meat should be tender. The best way to tell is to taste it. If it's still chewy cook it a bit longer until it becomes soft. Add more water if needed. When the meat is ready, taste it again to see if it needs more salt.
  14. When the meat is tender, stir the nut mixture into the stew. Taste it. If it's slightly sour from the tomato paste, add 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar and stir it well. Taste it again. It shouldn't taste sweet or sour - find a good balance. Reduce heat to medium low and continue cooking until your rice is ready.
  15. When the stew's been cooking (and the rice has been soaking) for an hour, you can start your rice. Bring 12 cups of water to a boil in a large wide pot. Add 1 tablespoon of salt.
  16. Drain the soaked rice and add it to the pot. Boil on high heat for 10 minutes - keep an eye on the pot to ensure it doesn't overflow. Rice should still have a bite to it. Drain the rice in a large colander and wipe the pot dry with paper towel.
  17. Place the pot back on the stove on medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil. If using potatoes for the tahdig (crispy potatoes or bread that will form on the bottom of the rice pot), cut them into 1/4" slices. Sprinkle a bit of salt in the oil and place the potato slices in a single layer on the bottom of the pot. Sprinkle a bit more salt over the potatoes. If using pita, simply break the pita into large pieces and place on top of the oil. No salt needed for the pita.
  18. Place the rice on top of the potatoes or pita in the shape of a mountain. Place your glass with the saffron water inside the pot and off to the side.
  19. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover the pot with a tight fitting lid. If your lid isn't tight fitting, put a clean kitchen towel between the pot and the lid. Tie the ends over the top of the lid so they don't touch the burner and catch fire. Let the rice cook for 30 minutes and don't be tempted to lift the lid (unless you smell something burning - then definitely lift the lid).
  20. Melt 1/3 cup of butter in the microwave for a few seconds at a time just until melted. You can also add the butter to a mug and leave it on the stove near as the heat from the elements will melt it during the rest of your cooking. Lift the lid on your rice pot and drizzle the butter over the rice. Use a fork to fluff it up. Cover and cook for 10 more minutes.
  21. Meanwhile, rinse 1 cup of barberries a few times in cold water to remove dust. Check for stems. Place on paper towel to dry so you don't get spattering (oil and water are not friends). On medium heat, cook the berries in 1 tablespoon oil just for a minute. Set aside.
Time to assemble the dish.
  1. Remove 2-3 cups of rice from the pot and place in a bowl. Add the saffron water and toss with a fork.
  2. On a large serving platter, place some of the rice followed by a layer of the meat mixture. Keep layering rice and meat mixture ending with a thin layer of rice. Place your reserved saffron rice on top in a nice design as well as your reserved barberries.
  3. Remove the tah dig from the bottom of the pot and serve on a separate serving dish.
  4. Serve with plain yogurt and an assortment of pickles.
Recipe Notes
You can save a scoop of the nut mixture that we put into the stew and use it as a garnish on top of the dish at the end. Simply mix it in with the barberries we cooked for topping the rice.

The speciality ingredients (dried orange peel, barberries and good quality saffron) can be found in middle eastern stores and online. The dried barberries are sour little things that look almost like goji berries but darker in colour. 

It's important that the pot be nonstick or your tah dig may not release from the pot.


  1. Beautiful post! I have to say that I love how generous you were with your saffron rice for decoration, in my humble opinion it makes all the difference in the world.

    PS. I've added you to my "Links I Love"! Thanks for adding me to yours.


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