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Monday, 30 August 2010

Arabic Sweets Part 3 - Lomet il Adi (Dough Puffs in Sugar Syrup)

Lumet il Adi, otherwise known as Awwameh is basically dough puffs that are fried, drained then soaked in sugar syrup. There is nothing innocent about these little bites of sugary heaven, but they are a treat nonetheless! The puffs are round balls of light pastry that had puffed as they were frying, leaving a hallow centre that makes a bite similar to chewing on a bubble. With the sugar syrup coating it and oozing out as you bite, your mouth sings the symphony of a sweet sugar rush. Highly addictive, so be warned!

This is another Arabic sweet that is very simple to prepare, and tastes delicious... Traditionally, this dessert is is not infused with other flavours except the sugar from the sugar syrup; but again in my 'Reviving Old Traditions' atempt I have infused it wth a variety of flavours on many occaions, and the feedback was always great. 
Here, I have written for you the traditional recipe, and at the end of this post, I have included some flavour variations for you to try out...

You Need
500g Flour
2 medium potatoes, peeled, boiled till very soft & mashed
a pinch of Salt
1 tsp yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 3/4 - 2 cups water

Put yeast and Sugar in 1/4 cup warm water, stir and leave to bloom for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine, mashed potatoes, flour and salt. Mix all to combine, then add bloomed yeast and mix with dry ingredients. add from 1 3/4 cups to 2 cups depending how thick your batter is.

Drop heaped tsps in hot cooking oil and fry till golden. Remove golden puffs from oil and drain, then drop them in the prepared sugar syrup (recipe:DK Supreme Sugar Syrup). Serve hot, warm or even cold! They are good whichever way you have them!!

Flavour variations:
  • Add 1tsp cinnamon, cloves or cardamon with dry ingrediets. OR
  • Add 1 tbsp Orange zest with dry ingredients. OR
  • Add 1 tbsp crushed anis to dry ingredients.
Arabic Sweets are really sweet and pair very well with the bitter flavour of Arabic Coffee (Ahweh Sada). For the full experience serve Arabic sweets with Ahweh Sada.

Hope you have enjoyed this post, and that I have inspired you to make some Arabic sweets at home. Do give it a go, you won't be disappointed.
Would love to hear from you, so leave me a comment :)

For DS Supreme Sugar Syrup (Qater)

Sugar Syrup is a concentrated sweet liquid made by melting sugar and water over heat. It is used in many Arabic sweet preparations. There are many ways to make sugar syrup some of which are complicated and require precise temperature measurements. To make it simple, you can follow this recipe of mine, which I named Dima's Kitchen Supreme Sugar Syrup. This recipe is basically used in the preparation of Arabic desserts, hence the flavouring choice. If you need to use sugar syrup for other desserts and do not wish to have the hints of Arabic flavour then omit Blossom water, rose water and Mistka. 
For a Vanilla flavoured sugar syrup: simply add the seeds of 1/2 a pod of vanilla to give a vanilla flavour to your sugar syrup, then use it with any dessert you desire.

Here is the best Sugar Syrup recipe to use with Arabic sweets:

You Need
3 cups sugar
2 cups water
Dash Orange Blossom water
Dash Rose water
2 drops lemon juice
a tiny pinch of Mistka (optional)

In heavy saucepan, melt sugar in water over medium heat. When melted, add rose water, blossom water and mistka. Stir to combine and make sure all sugar is melted. Once done, remove from heat & add lemon juice. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, place in an air-tight container.

Keeps well for 3 weeks.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Arabic Sweets Part 2 - The Best Ever Maamool with Dates Filling

DK Date Maamool
Maamool is one of Arabic Sweets' best creations. It comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and flavours. these cookies are most commonly served on occasions like Eid, Easter and Christmas. But nowadays you can find Maamool all year long in speciality Sweet Shops.

Traditionally made of Semolina & fat (Samneh) making up a dough that is then filled with a variety of fillings (most common: Dates as below, Pistachios or Walnuts filling). The fillings are what give Maamool its overall flavour. Go for the best quality ingredients when making Maamool as that makes a huge difference to the flavour.

Since Eid is approaching, and making Maamool requires some time and preparation, I am posting the recipes here for you, so you can give it a go and try making your own Maamool this year.

As with everything, practice makes perfect, and making Mamool might require a little bit of practice. Do give yourself some time to practice and make perfect :)

Traditional Wooden 
Maamoul Molds

You Need
3 Kg Semolina
1 cup shortening (or samneh: clarified butter)
500g butter, melted
2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup icing sugar
1 tbsp vanilla powder
1 tbsp Ground Mistka
1 tbsp Mahlab*
1 tsp ground fennel seeds
1 tsp of ground Anise

* Mahlab, Mahleb, or Mahlepi, is an aromatic spice made from the seeds of the St Lucie Cherry (Prunus mahaleb). The cherry stones are cracked to extract the seed kernel, which is about 5 mm diameter, soft and chewy on extraction, but ground to a powder before use.

In a large container, place all dry ingredients and mix well. Add fats and rub dry ingredients with the added fats like you would in preparing bread dough (simply grab a handful and rub your palms together, rubbing what you grabbed together) repeat rubbing, till all are well incorporated. Leave to set from 12 - 24 hours (the longer it sits, the better the Semolina is).

After 24 hours, divide the mixture into 3 parts. Work on it a part at a time. For each part add: 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp yeast, 1/2 tsp baking powder. sprinkle with water (sprinkle and don't pour). Only sprinkle enough water to turn all into a dough (about 1 small cup only), the more water you add, the tougher the mamool will turn out after baking. Leave to rest for 1 hour. Then start working on moulding it. Once first part is all finished, prepare the second part and so on.

Plastic Maamool Moulds
Mamool is made using molds. You will place a small amount of dough and spread it around bottom and sides of mould, leaving space in the centre for the filling. once you place the filling in the centre, you then top with a thin layer of dough to cover. Press to seal then flip the mould over to release moulded Maamool. Another way of making it, is by placing a small ball of dough in your palm and using your index finger push the side facing you inwards to form a cavity, then place filling in that cavity. Enclose the filling by gently pulling the sides of dough over to cover the opening over the filling.

Traditionally wooden molds are used in making Maamool, also crimpers were used for decorating tops of it. Nowadays, there are plastic moulds of all sizes & shapes that help you create a variety of designs. Once Maamool is moulded, place on lined baking tray, and bake in 375 F oven till tops are golden.

Dates Filling
Date Filling is usually made using a round mould.
You Need
2 1/2 Kg GradeA Dates or what is known as Royal Dates
1 tbsp DS Date Maamool Spice Mix OR your preferred Maamool spices including: 1/4 tsps of: ground cloves, Ground Cardamom..etc
2 tbsp of orange blossom water
a dash of olive oil
Toasted Sesame seeds (optional)

Stone & soak dates in blossom water for 30 minutes. Rub all ingredients together till well incorporated. Place Semolina dough in the mould and fill centre with date filling, cover tops with dough, press to seal and flip to release. For a variation in shape you can roll date filling into snakes and then roll in semolina dough. Cut and shape into wheels, then crimp top using crimpers. Bake in preheated oven till tops are golden, let col for 5 minutes on tray, then move to cooling surface using a wide spatula underneath so they don't break.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Arabic Sweets part 1: Hareeseh - Samolina Cake

Please Click this link for this recipe in Arabic

Arabic Sweets Specialty Shops
There are many Arabic sweets that are truly a delicacy! You can walk into a specialty Arabic sweets shop and you will want everything there! Contrary to common belief, Arabic sweets are not hard to prepare. You can prepare these at home, and have them taste just as good as store-bought ones. They can even taste better at times! So I am posting some recipes here for you to try that are guaranteed to succeed, and taste better than bought ones. I will Start with

(also known as Basboosah in Egypt, & as Namoora in Lebanon)

Hareeseh (Samolina Cake) is a very popular dessert; so much so that in some Middle Eastern Cities it is common to see a push trolly scrolling down the streets selling Hareeseh. Especially by beaches, parks and even city centres :) Hareeseh can be bought by Kilo, or by large trays (large silver trays for larger quantities, commonly used with Arabic sweets, referred to as Sidder).

Hareeseh is among the Arabic Sweets, that can be served as dessert after a meal, had on its own with afternoon tea. In traditional Arabic customs, a guest would bring Arabic sweets for the host of a lunch or dinner as a token of appreciation for the host's efforts in preparing the food and hosting the get together.

Hareeseh is a bite of cake-like texture that's been drenched in sugar syrup. It is smooth, very moist and with a crunch from a piece of toasted almond placed on top of each piece. It is a treat by all means. Try it out, and impress your guests with a home-made hareeseh rather than a store-bought one. Especially if you are not from the Middle East, you can really impress your guests with an Arabic dessert that is succulent and different from your usual offering. 

Hareeseh is very simple to make, but requires time to be done, so make sure to plan ahead....

The ingredients below are for a large quantity ( silver tray: sidder size 60). If you do not have that tray, you can divide the quantity into several small serving platters..)
You Need
1 1/2 Kg Samolina
1 Kg Sugar
1/2 Kg Yoghurt
1.5 ltrs water (usually double the quantity of the yoghurt, you can use the yoghurt container to measure too)
1 tbsp Baking Powder
Peeled Almonds or coarsly crushed pistachios
1 cup ready Sugar Syrup (Qater)*

Hareeseh with Pistachio
To Make the Hareeseh
In a large container, mix all ingredients well together, and leave to set for 8 hours.

Spread in oven-proof serving platter (the layer should not be very thick, it should be about 1.5 inches thick). Top with a layer of crushed pistachios, or Almonds. Traditionally, hareeseh top is scored in diamond shapes and each diamond is topped with a piece of almond.

Bake in 375 F oven till golden brown on top.

Hreeseh can be served warm or cold, with sugar syrup on the side for those who like it sweeter.

Hareeseh with Almonds

When it comes to Arabic sweets, do you try to make them at home, or do you always choose to buy them from Arabic sweets shops? Having read this post, and seeing how simple it is to prepare Hareeseh, do you think that you will try and make it at home? share with me, leave a comment :)

Friday, 27 August 2010

Hearty Old Fashioned Chocolate Fudge Pie

Serves 8  | Easy

Chocolate! Nothing like it to satisfy the untamed cravings of a sweet tooth. Chocolate settles that score. But this pie is not just some ordinary chocolate pie! It's the gooey cousin; Chocolate Fudge! This Old Fashioned Chocolate Fudge Pie Recipe is a base that is often used in making other fudge pie recipes. Therefore, give it a try, and see how it goes. Then experiment and use it as a base for other chocolate fudge pies and desserts. 

Since your requests were for simple dessert recipes, that do not require much work; I have made this recipe using a store-bought frozen short-crust pastry. This short crust dough can be found in most supermarkets, nowadays, in the freezer section. All you need to do is thaw and roll out. However, if you would like to make your own short-crust dough, click here for recipe and method.

Score Sides and Bottom 
of crust with fork
You Need
60g dark chocolate or bittersweet chocolate pieces, chopped
1/2 cup butter
1 cup caster sugar 
2 eggs, beaten
1 recipe pie crust (find recipe on this link)
Whipped cream (optional)

Preheat your oven to 375 F.

Prepare the tart shell
Roll the pastry out, and place on a lightly greased pie pan, making sure to spread the pastry well over the whole plate without leaving any air bubbles underneath it.

Score the bottom and sides of pastry with a fork. Place the pie plate in the fridge uncovered until ready to bake.

Melt the chocolate and butter together on a double boiler, until smooth and all melted. Remove the melted chocolate from heat. Add the sugar, then a little bit of the beaten eggs, and whisk to combine and temper the eggs. Then Add remaining eggs and beat well to incorporate all ingredients. 

Pour chocolate filling into prepared pie crust and bake for 25 minutes or until the centre is set and not wet.

Serving Suggestions
You can serve Chocolate Fudge Pie, plain OR You can whip the cream and spread on top the chocolate.

Individual Portion Pies

Cream Topped Chocolate Fudge Pie

  • You Can prepare individual serving pies, or mini pies. 

  • There is no limit to what you can do with a chocolate fudge pie: You can top it with meringue, caramel or butter scotch. You can serve it with fresh fruits, fruit coulis, sauces....etc. 

This a very good recipe to have as it allows you to create many desserts from the same base, and no one has to know.

Try a different choice every time !!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Musakhan - The heart of Palestinian Cuisine

Serves 4  | Easy

Musakhan is a very simple dish to prepare, that can definately be described as comfort food. For me, Musakhan means Grandma, roots, early childhood, and home. So for me it doesn't get any better.
Musakhan belongs to the Palestinian Cuisine, where originally it was prepared by peasants & farmers to kind of test and celebrate their produce - mainly Olive Oil. They say that a good Grade Olive Oil Musakhan can never cause heart burn. If it does, then the quality of Olive Oil isn't good. Also imprtant to Musakhan preparation is the quality of Summac, which lends a sour-like flavour.

Musakhan is usually made using 'Taboon Bread', a thick and bubbled bread that peasants used to prepare at home. The bread is supposed to be simple to prepare using the 'Traditional Oven' available at most houses back in the day. They also used to prepare it using their own home-raised hickens that used to run around their front yard (our modern translation is Free Range)   :)

 Nowadays, industrial bakeries prepare this bread, which people buy ready to eat. Although it is ideal to use Taboon Bread, it is not found everywhere; like here in Dubai it is hard to get hold of Taboon Bread, so you can substitute with 'Shrak Bread'  a wafer thin bread, found in most supermarkets, and occasionally at lebanese markets. Shrak Bread is traditionally used with Mansaf as well.

For reparing the Chicken
You Need
1 whole Chicken, Cut into 4 pieces
1 large onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic crushed
2 Bay Leaves
3 Whole Cloves
3 Cardamon Seeds, lightly crushed
5 Black Pepper Corns
Salt & Black Pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon

For Preparing Musakhan
500g Onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Summac
Salt & Black Pepper
1 cup Chicken Broth
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/2 cup toasted Pine Nuts
4 Taboon bread rounds or Shrak bread

Start by Cooking the Chicken to make some broth as well. You can either roast the chicken, and collect the juices (which is my preferred way for preparing chicken for Musakhan) or you can use the same method for making chicken broth to get the broth and cook the chicken.

Here is how you can make the chicken broth,
Clean your chicken pieces, and rub them with lemon juice. Set aside. Sweat the onion, & Garlic in a drizzle of olive oil, until translucent bt not browned. Add chicken pieces, and stir. Add spices & Seasoning and stir all to coat. Top with water and cook till chicken is cooked through.

Remove from heat. Separate the meat from broth (reserving the broth). Place chicken pieces in a baking dish, brush tops with a little vegetable oil and set Aside

In a large pot, put 1/4 cup Olive oil and cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until the onions are tender, but not browned. Lower the heat if necessary. Add the Summac and stir to mix, then add broth. Cook till onions are cooked through (very soft, but not browned) and liquids have reduced by 1/2.

Meanwhile, add 1/3 cup of prepared onions to the Chicken pieces, and broil the chicken in a preheated oven till golden.

It is traditionally served by dipping full bread rounds in the onion oil, then pouring some of the onion mixture atop the bread - but you can cut your bread in any size you like. Dip the middle of the bread lightly in the Musakhan liquids, place rounds on serving platter and top with a large spoon of musakhan onions. Traditionally, the breads topped with onion are stacked on top of each other in a large serving platter, topped with the chicken pieces. But you can place each serving in guest's plate topped with chicken. Or you can place bread in one serving platter and chicken in another. It is really a matter of what you prefer and the feel you are going after. Once all done and stacked sprinkle the whole with some sumac and the toasted pine nuts.

Musakhan Rolls
A Thought
I remember, many years ago, I decided to serve Musakhan in rolls to reduce the mess and to make for a more elegant presentation. Nowadays, Musakhan Rolls are a staple snack & party item. I have also offered Musakhan Pizza to my catering clients, which was also very popular. I always like to add a twist to the traditional, make it a bit more modern, more interesting. I even call it 'Reviving Old Traditions' where I like to bring back a very good, old recipe tend to become pushed aside, and put a twist on presentation,  make them look cool or modern instead of old and tired, in order to revive them and keep them alive.

I tell my Arabic Cooking trainees all the time that we should all work on bringing back this cuisine's classics, as they are delicious and would be a shame for them to become just a piece of history! I extend this to you to, why not rediscover old recipes, revamp them and offer them to your guests, they will love the food and the artistry behind the new and improved dish :) 
This is how we can keep our Arabic cuisine alive, and evolving!

Musakhan Pizza
Thank you for reading this post, I hope you have enjoyed it and learnt how to make the delicious Palestinian Musakhan. 

PS if you do come up with a 'Reviving Old Traditions' Recipe, a new flavour to an old recipe, a better combination to an old dish, or a unique presentation to an old traditional food; and would like to tell people about it, then send us the recipe, and some pictures along with your name, and we will post it here for you for others to try. (It will be posted as your recipe)

Try it, you will love it :)

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Brownie Pudding; with 4 different serving suggestions!!!

Serves 6-8  |  Easy

What better than brownies to satisfy the cravings of  chocoholics??!! This is one serious chocolate fix!!!
I have included here a couple of ways to present this super yummy dessert, that you can use as serving variations. Just because you can prepare a dish, it doesn't mean it has to always look the same or have the same experience!

A little change in presentation and you got yourself a new dessert all together; And no one has to know!!

You Need
1 cup Flour
2 tbsp Cocoa Powder
3/4 cup Sugar
2 tsp Baking Powder
Pinch Salt
1 tsp Vanilla
2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
1/2 cup Milk
1/2 Cup Chopped Pecans or Walnuts

For Chocolate Sauce
You Need
1/4 cup Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 cup Boiling Water
3/4 cup Brown Sugar

Grease a medium-size deep baking dish and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a large bowl, stir together flour, salt, sugar, baking powder & cocoa powder. Stir in the milk, oil & Vanilla. Add chopped nuts and stir. Pour the batter into prepared baking dish.

To Prepare Chocolate Sauce
In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar & 1/4 cup Cocoa Powder. Stir in the boiling water till incorporated.

Slowly pour the chocolate sauce over the batter. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. Remove from oven, cool on rack for 1 hour before serving. Serve warm. Spoon into dessert bowls and spoon sauce with it. You can serve with vanilla ice cream.

For different presentation you can grease 6 ramekins instead of a bakig dish. this makes for individual portions. Pour batter & chocolate sauce into prepared Ramekins. Bake in 350 F oven for 40 minutes or until the tops are dried and a little firm. Cool fo 1 hour on wire racks & sprinkle with icing sugar before serving.

Another Serving Suggestion is after the brownie pudding had cooled down completely, spoon some into serving glasses, top with whipped cream, add another layer of brownie pudding and a layer of vanilla ice cream and chopped nuts.

One More serving suggestion is instead of individual glasses, you can use 1 large deep stand. (you might have to double the quantity for 2 layers though or triple quantity for 3 layers). Start with a layer of brownie pudding, top with whipped cream. Add a layer of chocolate ice cream, then top with another layer of pudding and repeat till top. Sprinkle tops with large white chocolate shavings.

Told ya, it's a Serious Chocolate Fix :)

Dima's Tips Stands and different hight platters make for a more interesting presentation, especially on a buffet. It is dull to keep things similar and in the same level. Mix & Match material, shapes, hights as well as colours and you are guaranteed to impress everytime ;) 

How do you like your brownies? Chewy, gooey, cut in servings, crushed and mixed into ice creams...etc? Share with us your favourite brownie experiences, we love to hear from you, leave a comment :)

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Ruz Bhaleeb - Rice Pudding

Serves 4-6   |     Easy

Rice pudding is a very simple dessert that is convenient, as you most likely always have all its ingredients at home. It is fast to prepare, no complicated techniques required, so falls under the category of simple desserts.

There are many recipes for Rice pudding, every area prepares this dessert differently. I am including 2 recipes here, one is the classic Arabic Ruz Bhaleeb, but I have perked it up a little to make it more interesting. The 2nd recipe is for a baked rice puddings, a nice variation to the original.

The classic Arabic Recipe, usually uses ground Mistik cristals (mistka) as its main flavour, I have used vanilla instead as I know it is more popular, and to stay true to reviving old favourites. If you want to keep it classic omit vanilla and use Mistka instead.

For the Classic Ruz Bihaleeb
You Need
1/2 cup white rice (short grain), uncooked
4 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla pod, halved and seeds scraped
1/3 cup fine white sugar (caster sugar)

In a large saucepan, heat milk, sugar & vanilla seeds. Bring to a boil, then gradually add the rice, stirring. Bring back to boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered for 1hr or until rice is cooked through and liquids are almost absorbed.

Place individual portions in small bowls, cups..etc (or you can place all in a large bowl). Top with either cinnamon powder, sulatnas, raspberries or you can sprinkle with sugar and burn it with a toarch or in the oven.

You can serve it warm or cold.

For Baked Rice Budding

You Need
1/2 cup white rice, short grain, uncooked, washed and drained
2 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup toasted pistachios
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp butter
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat Oven to 350 F. Grease medium-sized baking dish (bottom & sides).

Mix all ingredients (except butter & nutmeg) well together in prepared baking dish. Cut butter into small pieces and place around the dish.

Bake, uncovered for 1 hour (moving with fork occasionally). Bring out, sprinkle with nutmeg and bake for 20 more minutes.
Can be served warm or cold (can also be prepared in individual portions instead of whole)

Ramadan Karem :)

Monday, 23 August 2010

Easiest Ever Cupcakes - Yet a Feast to Your Taste Buds!

Makes 12  |  Easy

I am getting requests for desserts that are simple, and do not require a lot of work. So I will be posting some for you to try. It seems that many of you are struggling with baking, as you have communicated through your emails! Don't worry, I have many baking recipes posted on this blog, that are tried and tested and fail proof. Just follow the recipes exactly, and you are guaranteed: success every time!

You have also asked me for chocolate cupcakes that are very simple and easy, so here you go: I am posting these cupcakes that are super simple - not many ingredients, and no complicated techniques required in preparing them - they are delicious and a success everytime :)

If you are looking to become a cake expert: understand how cakes and baking work, understand flavours and cake creation, ultimately start creating your own cakes, and learn all about starting a baking business (inside information); then join DK Specialised Course "All About Cakes and Cupcakes"

You Need
2 eggs, let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes
125g butter at room temperature
125g self raising flour
125g sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1tsp vanilla

125g = 1 Cup

To Carry Out the blueberry flavour 
& garnish like in the above photo
You Need
Chocolate spread (can be bought ready in supermarkets)
Fresh Blueberries
Whipped cream
Baby Mint Leaves

To Prepare the Batter
Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Be very precise about measurements or cupcakes won't work.
Place all ingredients in a Bowl and beat till smooth. you can use hand-held electric mixer, or you can simply place all in food processor.

Line Baking Cups (cupcake cups) in a regular size 12-hole cupcake tin. Pour batter equally into lined holes. Bake in 350F oven for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted near centres.
Remove from heat, let cool 5 minutes in pans, then remove and cool thoroughly on a wire rack. Then they are ready to be dressed however you please.

To Garnish
Before you Garnish, make sure the cupcakes have cooled thoroughly. Cut the tp bit of your cupcakes off and fill (spread the lower bit) with whipped cream mixed with some fresh blueberries. Return the cut cupcake top. Spread Chocolate spread on top of it and add some blueberries and baby mint leaves as shown in picture.

For flavour variations   You can use mascarpone cream or white chocolate Gancache with the blueberries as a filling.
  • Omit the Cocoa powder you will get a vanilla cupcake.
  • Omit Cocoa Powder & use 1 tbsp orange rind, or lemon rind for orange or lemon flavour.
  • Try using other fruits like peeled orange wedges, strawberry, cherries...etc
Welcome to the world of Baking :) Let me know what you think, leave me a comment...

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Baked Chicken, Mushroom & Roasted Garlic Pasta

Serves 6  |  Medium
This is a gooey, oozing, cheese stretching, flavour-packed, ultimate comfort dish that everyone will love! Mmmm, I get hungry just thinking of it! Whenever I prepare this pasta dish my kids almost have a celebration! My guests shower me with compliments and my hubbs says "I love you" afterwards Everytime!!! What more can any dish do for a cook?!

I use the French classic Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic recipe in preparing this dish. I find that the favours combine so well. That chicken preperation makes all the diffrence to the flavour round up... It is a bit more work, but worth the extra effort. If you cook the chicken recipe a day before then you can use its leftovers to prepare the pasta. If you are in a hurry and don't have enough time to prepare the chicken that way, then any roasted chicken recipe will do. Try DK Best Loved Grilled Chicken for a less fussy option. 

You Need
2 whole roasted chicken with 40 cloves garlic, pull the chicken away from the bones in big chunky pieces and set aside. Reserve pan juices, and garlic seperately on the side.
1 packet pasta*
200g Fresh mushrooms, cleaned & quartered
100g Mozzarella cheese, grated
a handful Grated Parmesan Cheese
a Pinch of Oregano
2 cloves roasted garlic, crushed
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt & Black Pepper to taste

*you can use brown pasta if you like as it is full of fiber, which is very healthy for your digestive system, or any other type of pasta you like. I usually choose a pasta that has cavities as they hold the sauce in them, like jumbo shell pasta, jumbo elbow pasta, penne pasta.... You can also use fetuccine or Spaghetti pasta.. For instruction on how to prepare the pasta check out Pasta: All there is to Know.

For Cheese Sauce
You Need
2tbsp butter
2tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup pan juices from roasted chicken
Salt & Pepper to taste
3 cloves garlic from the ones previously roasted with the chicken. if you did not use that recipe, then just roast some garlic cloves, or use fresh ones
50g grated Mozarella Cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese

Cook Pasta, drain and set aside.

In a large pot cook 2 crushed cloves of roasted garlic and quartered mushrooms in olive oil but do not brown. Remove from heat. Add prepared pasta to garlic &mushrooms, mix all. Add the pulled Chicken pieces and toss gently so not to break chicken pieces. Prepare Cheese Sauce;

To Prepare the Cheese Sauce
Make a Roux: Melt butter in a saucepan; making sure it is all melted before adding the flour. Stir in flour, salt & pepper. Cook & stir over low heat until well combined. Once fat & flour are combined without lumps, slowly add all the milk & 1/2 cup pan juices in a thin continuous stream constantly stirring to evenly blend the roux & milk.

Cook & stir the mix over medium heat until mixture is thickened and bubbling across the entire surface. Add crushed roasted garlic to mix and stir to combine. Cook stirring for 1 more minute to completely combine and cook the flour through. Add cheeses and stir till melted and combined.
Pour Cheese sauce over the pasta mixture and stir all to combine.

Place some grated mozzarella cheese on the bottom of a deep baking dish. Top with prepared pasta n cheese sauce. Spread all in an even layer. Top with the remaining grated Mozarella cheese & Parmesan Cheese to cover all. Season with black pepper & oregano. Bake in 350 F oven till cheese is melted & golden brown.

Serve warm ;)

Have you ever tried using leftover meats in making a pasta dish? How did it turn out? I love making new dishes with leftovers, this way it doesn't feel like I am repeating the same food and it is a chance to be creative! What do you do with your leftovers? Would love to hear your thoughts on this, so do let me know, leave me a comment :)

Friday, 20 August 2010

Date Rolls

Makes 40-50 rolls   |     Easy

Another simplified variation to Date desserts. This super easy recipe that can also be frozen allows you to serve date dessert any time and in no time at all! Drizzle with Butterscotch sauce, as dates and butterscotch pair well :)

You Need
2 packets or 50 phyllo squares (can be found in most supermarkets)
225g dates, pitted & mashed (to make mashing dates easier, you can heat them up in 2tbsp boiling water, then mash them with the water)
1 tsp Orange blossm water
1 tsp melted butter
1 tsp rose water optional
Cardamon powder optional
pinch ground cloves optional
Icing Sugar for dusting

To prepare the date filling
Mix well dates, blossom water, rose water, spices if using until well incorporated. shape the mixture into little cylinders about 1 cm (to shape the cylinders, take little pieces of date mixture and roll into small circles, place on work surfce and roll back and forth between your palm and work surface, till you get a cylinder shape. do not roll too thin)

To Roll the sheets
Place 1 date cylinder on the philo sheet. tuck in the sides of the sheet, and roll into a bigger cylinder. Repeat till all quantity is finished.
To make your own filo sheets, click here

To Freeze
If you are going to freeze the prepared rolls then place on wax paper in a container, and seprate layers with wax paper to prevent pieces from sticking to each other. Prepared date rolls can be frozen up to 6 months.

To serve
You can deep fry the rolls till golden, or to control the fat content you can spray with vegetable oil, place on baking sheet &  bake in a 450F oven till golden, turning once.

Let cool for a minute, place on serving platter and dust lightly with Icing Sugar.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Allayet Bandoora - Tomato Stir Fry

Serves 8   |   Easy

Allayet Bandoora, is a thick and pulpy tomato sauce made by stir frying tomatoes and garlic in olive oil. This dish is usually served as an appetiser or mezze in Buffets, or alongside grills, BBQs... It is traditionally served with Arabic pita bread, but can be poured over meats and steaks as well. It is a very good accompaniment to Mujadara, and rice dishes such as Bukhari Rice, Maloubet Beitinjan...etc

Allayet Bandoora is a very simple dish, with much depth to the flavour. It is very tasty and a total crowd pleaser. I like mine to be spicy, so I add finely chopped green chilies to it, but you can go for a non-spicy version if that's what you fancy.

There are 2 versions of this amazing dish. There is the Appetiser Allayeh, and the Main Course Allayeh, the difference between the two is that in the main course one, there is the addition of onions, and meat. While in the appetiser one, those two are not used, but we add fried eggplants, which are not included in the main course. The Appetiser Allayeh is a Buffet staple. Asides from being fabulous along side BBQs, it can be a brilliant base to many sandwiches.  

You Need
For Appetiser Allayeh
2 large eggplants, Sliced into thick circles, fried & set aside to drain
1Kg ripe tomatoes, peeled & chopped
5 garlic cloves, sliced into thin circles
2 chilies, finely chopped (optional)
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup fresh tomato juice
Salt & Pepper to Taste
2-3 Tbsp Olive oil
1 tbsp Sumac Powder
1 handful of finely chopped fresh parsley
Toasted Pine Seeds

In a large saucepan, sweat the garlic, chilies in olive oil, but do not brown. 
Add chopped tomatoes and stir fry till heated through. Season with Salt & Pepper and let cook for 5 minutes stirring, add juice, broth and tomato paste; stir to mix all.

Bring to a boil and lower heat. Leave to reduce by 1/2. Once done turn off heat, and remove saucepan. In a deep serving dish; place prepared eggplants in an even layer, sprinkle with  1/2 Sumac powder, top with Allayeh (Tomato sauce). Garnish with toasted nuts, chopped parsley & sprinkle remaining Sumac powder.

Tomatoes are so versatile! There are a million recipes using tomatoes. I have tomatoes daily; sometimes in sauces, in stews, in tarts, in bakes, raw with cheese or zaatar, in salads....! What is your favourite way to have tomatoes? Do you have a favourite tomato Recipe? Share with us, and leave us a comment :) 

Freekeh - Green Wheat Pilaf

Freekeh (unground)

Serves 6  |  Easy

Freekeh is "cereal food made out of unripened green wheat that is roasted whole throughout its production process" this continuous roasting burns the outer layer covering the wheat, which in turn smokes the wheat giving it its signature smoky flavour.

It is therefore safe to say that Freekeh is Smoked Green Wheat. There are 2 typesof freekeh: the hulled grain, which is left whole (unground) and is used like you would rice. And the half-ground, which produces a fine grain and is used for making freekeh soup. Freekeh is mainly a carbohydrate, but it contains a lot of fiber too, which equalises the carbs, making it a healthier type of carbs to consume. It can substitute rice in many preperations, providing a healthier option. 

Freekeh is popular in Middle Eastern cuisine, especially that of the levant; and is very much so particularly in Palestinian cooking. This dish is especially famous in big events as it is customary to be offered on occasions like Weddings, Funerals, Eid gatherings...etc where one is expected to feed many people.

You can buy freekeh from most specialised herb stores, sometimes found in supermarkets and always in Middle Eastern shops. If you live in Dubai, I always find it in Lifco on Shaik Zayed Road.

This delicious dish is often served with Allayet Bandoora (stewed or Stir-fried Tomatoes)Mloukhieh (stew of Jute Leaves).

There are many ways to prepare the chicken, but I have chosen my family's Best Loved recipe for Grilled Chicken (below). Ty it, you will love this recipe. This is how I prepare Freekeh at home and how I prepared it for Buffets when I used to cater...

Serves 4
For Preparing the Freekeh
You Need
2 cups Freekeh, washed till water is clear
1 small brown onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 cups Chicken broth, or the juices from the grilled chicken used in this recipe
Salt & Pepper to Taste
1 tbsp Olive oil
Toasted Nuts for garnish (almonds, pine nuts, &a pistchios)

Wash and drain the Freekeh grains a few times until the water runs clear, discarding any hulls that float to the surface. In a large bowl, soak the Freekeh grains in cold water for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In your rice cooking pot, saute the chopped onions and crushed garlic in olive oil, until translucent but do not brown. Add the drained Freekeh and stir to mix all and coat. Season with salt & black pepper and stir to mix.

Add the chicken broth or the juices from the grilled chicken if using. Stir once to mix, then cover the pot and bring to the boil. Continue to boil until the water level drops and you can see the top of the grains. Reduce the heat to low and leave to cook until all the liquid has been absorbed and the Freekeh is cooked through.

Serve hot sprinkled with nuts and topped with roasted/grilled  chicken.

Ramadan Kareem!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Dima's Best Loved Um Ali Recipe - An Egyptian Bread Pudding

Serves 8  | Easy

Um Ali - Traditional Arabic Dessert Originating from Egypt

This dessert is one of my favourite Arabic desserts, and I always have some if offered in any buffet. Thing is, I used to get disappointed very often with what I had, as it was either too sweet, not sweet enough, too soggy, too rich...etc there was always something missing. So I kept experimenting with recipes until I came up with this one and it is my take on the perfect Um Ali. This desssert is a staple for any buffet, it is great for any occasion, and is a platter that you can whip up right before your guests arrive... what more do we expect out of any dessert?

Um Ali is usually made with bread, and frequently corn flakes is added. and all sorts of other breads... I make it elegant, with flavours that mesh together properly, using crisped butter croissant. Toast the sliced butter croissant for a crunch and see the difference, you will never have Um Ali any other way :)

Click this link to find out the story of this dessert, where it originated and why it was created. Very interesting history behind this Egyptian dessert.

You Need
350g butter croissant (get your hands on some real good quality butter croissants, good croissants make all the difference in flavour)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
4 cups water
1 cup sugar (for less sweet use 1/2 cup sugar or you can omit sugar all together)
1small can Cream (for variation: you can use honey flavoured ones)
1/2 cup desiccated Coconuts
1/2 cup chopped blanched Almonds
1/2 cup chopped pistachio
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup orange blossom water
2 tbsp cinnamon powder

Soak all nuts & raisins in blossom water. Set aside.

Cut the croissant into bite-size pieces & place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake in a 350 F oven for 15 minutes or until golden &crunchy. Do not overbake or they will burn! Remove from heat & set aside.

In a saucepan, mix condensed milk, sugar (if using) & 4 cups water and cook stirring over medium heat for 5 minutes, so they are well incorporated. Set aside to cool.

Meawhile place 1/2 croissants in serving dish that is oven proof (you can use one whole dish for all the quantity or you can prepare individual portions in ramekins or cups as preferred). Top with 1/2 the nuts and sprinkle all with 1 tbsp cinnamon. Add remaining croissants and add prepared milk, top with cream  mixed with a dash of milk then sprinkle remaining nuts and cinnamon powder.

Bake in a 350 F oven for 10- 20 minutes, or until it becomes golden. Serve warm for best experience.

You can reheat Um Ali if desired. Just add a little milk to it and place in preheated oven until heated through.

Yoghurt & Cucumber Salad سلطة خيار بلبن

Serves 8    |   Easy

Yogurt & Cucumber Salad/Relish

Yogurt & cucumber salad is very famous in Arabic cuisine. This is one salad that is always had as a relish next to food. Usually served next to rice-based concoctions, lamb-based dishes, Kubbeh dishes as well as being best loved next to meaty grills and BBQs and frequently used as a condiment in sandwiches....

Easy to prepare and delicious, give it a go and you too will be serving it often

You Need
5 medium cucumbers, peeled & chopped
1/2 kg low fat plain yoghurt
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 cup dried mint leaves
Salt and Black pepper to taste

In a large bowl mix all ingredients together until combined. Chill. Serve cold. That is it!!


Kubbeh Bil Seniyeh - Baked Kubbeh كبة بالصنية

The more famous form of Kubbeh is those fried parcels filled with minced meat goodness. But for the full effect of kubbeh try this baked version! Served with Cucumber and Yoghurt Salad, or on its own with a squeeze of lemon; it is truely a feast for your taste buds...

Serves 8   
You Need
For Kubbeh Mix
700g beef rump (or you can use lamb if preferred)
300g Bulghur
1 medium onion, chopped
1tsp dried Marjoram or Mardakouch
Salt & Pepper to taste

 If you do not have a food processor, or do not want to prepare the kubbeh mix yourself you can buy this mix ready from the Butcher's. You can even take your own Bulgur & herbs; pick your preferred meat cut & ask the Butcher to prepare the mix for you.

For The Filling
300g minced beef (or you can use lamb mince if preferred)
2 medium onions, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp sumac powder
75g toasted pine nuts
1 tsp pomegranate molasses

To prepare the Kubbeh Mix
Soak the Bulgur in water for about 30 minutes. Drain & Squeeze well. Mix in the food processor the meat, bulgur, onion, herbs, Salt & Pepper. Set aside.

To Prepare the Filling
Sweat the onions in the olive oil add the minced meat, season with salt & pepper and cook till meat is browned. Remove from heat and add the toasted nuts, molasses & sumac powder. stir to mix all.

Grease a 30cm round baking dish or rectangular one. Line the prepared  dish with 1/2 the Kubbeh mix. Top with the entire filling spread evenly, then cover with the remaining 1/2 of kubbeh mix. Wet your palms slightly with water & smooth the surface of the kubbeh.

With your finger make a hole in the middle of the prepared kubbeh platter to reach the bottom. Using the hole as guide, mark diamond shapes on the kubbeh surface.

Fill hole with olive oil. You can also top the surface with small pieces of butter. This helps the Kubbeh to remain moist, but it is optional.

Bake in hot oven for 40 minutes or until browned.

Serve hot.

Related Links:
Yoghurt and Cucumber Salad
Fried Kubbeh
Kubbeh Bilaban

Hope you liked this post, let me hear from you, leave me a comment :)

Monday, 16 August 2010

Fasoolia Bi Zeit - Green Beans stir fry

Serves 6   |  Easy

Green beans stir fried in olive oil is one of the many mezze platters of Arabic Cuisine. This dish can be had as an appetiser, or a side dish to dinner buffet. I find that this same preparation goes very well alongside cooked meats such as steak, or whole roasted lamb's tenderloin, as well as along side baked or pan fried fish. You can prepare this platter to be spicy - by using finely chopped green chilies - or you can keep it non-spicy. Some prepare it only with pieces of tomato without the tomato sauce like in the picture above, others prepare it with tomato sauce like the picture below. Both preparations are delicious, and therefore I have put for you both recipes try out... Do give them a try, am telling you, they are Delish!

You Need
For Plain Green beans without Tomato Sauce
500g fresh green beans (deveined)
5 garlic clves peeled & sliced into thin circles
1 green chili, finely chopped (for less heat, remove seeds & veins. For full heat keep them. if you prefer non-spicy then do not include chilis)
500g peeled & chopped ripe fresh tomato
4 tbsp olive oil
1 glass wate
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, slightly fry the garlic, chili in olive oil. once softened but not browned add the green beans and stir to mix. cover with lid & cook for 5 minutes tossing occasionally so the beans do not brown or burn. Then add chopped tomatoes and stir to mix. let cook for further 5 minutes tossing occasionally. add 1 cup water & seasoning, stir to mix. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes to reduce.

For Green Beans in Tomato Sauce
Prepare as above except add 1 extra cup water, and 1 small jar of tomato paste when you add the water. Stir all to mix and continue as above. you might need to leave it simmering a bit longer to reduce. the idea is to have more tomato flavour, but not a stew.

Serve at room temperature.

These 2 variations are super easy to prepare yet very tasty! Have you ever tried stir fried green beans? Having read these 2 recipes, do they sound easy to try out? Would you give them a try? Let me know what you think, I love nothing more than hearing your feedback :)