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Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Olive Oil Ice Cream & The Ultra Premium EV Olive Oil Harvested From The Oldest Living Olive Trees On Earth

"When the dove returned to him in the evening, there was a freshly plucked olive leaf in its beak! Noah knew that the waters had receded from the earth."                      - Genesis 8 v 11.
"His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon."  
                                                                                                                   - Hosea 14:16

What excitement do I feel when I discover a new find!! And what sincere joy did I experience when I found out about the world's most exclusive 'Ultra Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil', which is harvested from earth's most ancient living olive trees 'The Sisters Olive Trees of Noah'! The very trees, believed to have lent a branch to the dove who in turn carried it to Noah, way back in the history of mankind! 

I know, I know.... too much to take in at one go! But believe me, it is of this magnificence! Read on and enjoy...

As it turns out, one of the world's rarest, most exclusive, and finest olive oils, comes from Lebanon! Not Only is the award-winning oil special in terms of flavour and quality, but the story really starts in the trees! This oil is harvested solely from 'The 'Sisters' Olive Trees Of Noah'. The 'Sisters' is a rare variety of olive trees believed to be the oldest living olive trees on earth - over 8000 years old. These olive trees are the ancestor of the most acclaimed olive tree variety in the Mediterranean. They are even tied to the story of Noah! here is how....

The History and Mythology of the 'Sisters' Olive Trees
Tucked in the Village of 'Bechealeh' in Lebanon 'The Sisters' olive trees are one of the great unresolved pre-Biblical Mysteries. The inhabitants of this laid-back Lebanese area always knew that there is something peculiar about their town. From the four Neolithic temple ruins on which four monasteries had been erected to the unexplained cavern fortress of unknown pre-Phoenician origins to its larger than life arcane, and the olive trees that have been proven to be the oldest planted trees on the planet, dating back to an unknown era of civilization. All of which have made this spot a destination for scholars. Biblical scholars, found this village especially intriguing. They together with the folklore of that town agree that those are the trees from which the dove took the branch back to to Noah when the deluge subsided.

This seems more plausible if you consider that during that great flood the whole of the Middle East was underwater and 'The Sisters' being perched at 1300 meters in altitude made them the defacto highest ever planted olive trees till modern days.

Olive oil had always been celebrated by all religions, with many references to its nutritional and holistic value.   Modern science had proven the healing benefits and antioxidant values of olive oil, which help in the prevention of many diseases such as cancer, and heart disease, as well as lowering cholesterol levels...etc

Did you know that there is such a thing as 
Ultra Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
Yes there is. These descriptive words 'Ultra Premium Extra Virgin' Olive Oil are used to explain the quality of the oil, which is hugely determined by the way the oil is extracted. To understand the difference among different olive oils, you must know a little bit about the art of oil making and how they are graded. 

All production begins by transforming the olive fruit into olive paste. This paste is then malaxed (slowly churned or mixed) to allow the microscopic oil droplets to concentrate. The oil is extracted by means of pressure (traditional method) or centrifugation (modern method). After extraction the remnant solid substance, called pomace, still contains a small quantity of oil, which are further processed.

The grades of oil extracted from the olive fruit can be classified as:
  • Virgin means the oil was produced by the use of physical means and no chemical treatment. The term virgin oil referring to production is different from Virgin Oil on a retail label. On a retail label this oil comes from virgin oil production only, has an acidity less than 2%, and is judged to have a good taste.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil  comes from virgin oil production only, contains no more than 0.8% acidity, and is judged to have a superior taste. Extra Virgin olive oil accounts for less than 10% of oil in many producing countries; the percentage is far higher in the Mediterranean countries. It is used on salads, garnishing appetiser plates, added at the table to soups and stews and for dipping.
  • Refined Oil means that the oil has been chemically treated to neutralize strong tastes (characterized as defects) and neutralize the acid content (free fatty acids). Refined oil is commonly regarded as lower quality than virgin oil; oils with the retail labels extra-virgin olive oil and virgin olive oil cannot contain any refined oil.  In commercial labels, this grade is usually referred to as Pure Olive Oil or Olive Oil this means it is made out of a blend of refined and virgin production oil. This type is the most commonly used by home cooks and is usually used for all applications.
  • Olive Pomace Oil means oil extracted from the pomace using solvents, mostly hexane, and by subjection to heat. Pamace oil is often blended with some virgin oil. It is fit for consumption, but may not be described simply as olive oil. It has a more neutral flavor than pure or virgin olive oil, making it unfashionable among connoisseurs; however, it has the same fat composition as regular olive oil, rendering it the same health benefits. It also has a high smoke point, and thus is widely used in restaurants as well as home cooking in some countries.
What Makes The Sisters Olive Trees of Noah's Oil Special?
It is Ultra Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil
This is the finest type of olive oil there is. It exceeds the Extra Virgin Olive Oil benchmark, where its production becomes another level of perfection, resulting in the highest quality. 'The Sisters Olive Tree of Noah' have mastered the art of oil making to bring out the goodness of an already superior olive tree variety. 

Sisters Olive Trees of Noah understand that the quality of the oil is heavily reliant on the quality of the olive fruit, and thus make sure to take utmost care of the fruit from its selection to cleaning, to milling and malaxing the paste. Starting with a commitment to freshness, where they ensure that the whole process from harvest to bottle is done in under 4 hours! And all done by hand!

Harvesting the fruit by hand results in a better product because the fruit is not bruised as when using the machines. Cleaning the olives prior to milling is all done by hand. Where each fruit is cleaned by removing the stems, leaves, twigs and then water washed prior to milling. Even their milling the olives into paste is done using a stone mill or hammer. The paste is cold-pressed (not subjected to heat) which is known to better maintain the quality of the olive oil. Their malaxing is done under total vaccume, which means there is no contact with oxygen therefore with a zero risk of oxidizing; resulting in the highest quality olive oil: A pure liquid emerald gold antioxidant: The Ultra Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil harvested from the oldest olive oil trees on Earth. 

The Sister Olive Trees of Noah     
The Brand
This award-winning Lebanese Organic Ultra Premium Extra Virgin Olive oil is unfiltered and made through an exclusive process of cold pressing, malaxing and decanting all in under 4 hours from picking the fruits (the entire process is by hand and without exposure to oxygen to maintain and maximise its holistic properties). Sister Olive Tree Oil has a very low acidity (0.18-0.24), and is very high in polyphenols
This oil has been described by connoisseurs as "with intense freshness, lightly fruity, medium peppery, buttery with almond and walnut notes, with fresh grass palate..."

'Sister Olive Tree Oil' is made in very limited quantities (less than 5000 bottles/year) making it the rarest publicly available olive oil in the world, which is upscale and gourmet. A fact that makes it even more valuable. Its packaging is unique and reflective of its heritage. The sleek flask-like ceramic bottles used for their packaging are inspired by ancient Lebanese ceramic kitchen bottles called 'Kabiya' and are suggestive that you are going to experience some exclusive premium olive oil. They come in 2 sizes (500ml and 250ml), and upon request they can offer a gift-box packaging for you.

The Cherry on Top
It is worth mentioning here that the 'Sisters Olive Tree of Noah' is a non-profit foundation that is dedicated to the preservation of the ancient olive grove, with a main focus on preserving those miraculous trees located in the mountain village of 'Bechealeh' in Northern Lebanon; which experts believe them to be the oldest trees on earth, and possibly the oldest living biological life-form on our planet.
Proceeds from all sales will fund the expensive and extensive preservation program that covers anything from soil erosion & disease prevention to funding 'the Sisters' plant nursery, Roman Mill and library.

They are also dedicated to bringing to the market the finest and most luxurious organic olive oil products that these olive trees produce to this day. Their products also include olive oil soaps, and facial creams all of which are handmade and harvested from heights far away from today's pollution. 

A brand worth supporting, I would say!
The Sister Olive Tree of Noah contacts
Bechealeh - Northern Lebanon
Tel +961 71 919 176

Olive oil is extensively used in food making. Its flavour is unique and cannot be mimicked. There are many recipes I thought of posting for this blog entry, but, an exclusive Premium Oil such as this one, must be met with a gourmet recipe just as good. 
Olive Oil Ice Cream took the world by thunder when it was first made. A very unique and unlikely combination that came as a brow-raising surprise. When you try it you will utterly love it. 

Serving Suggestions
There are many ways to use and serve this ice cream. It is good on its own, just like any ice cream, with chocolate shavings, or with finely chopped mint over fresh raspberries, and strawberries. You can also top an olive oil cake with a quenelle of olive oil ice cream and sprinkle with croquant. It is fabulously good atop a salad of segmented citrons (pomelos, pink grapefruits, ruby reds, and clementines) lightly drizzled with an olive oil and ruby red dressing. With just the right balance of flavours, this ice cream can be served in savoury dishes where a little sweetness brings out the flavour of the rest of the ingredients.

Olive Oil Ice Cream
You Need
1/2 cup Sister Tree Ultra Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups light cream or half and half
3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/2 cup caster sugar
Scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean

a pinch of unrefined salt shavings

In a small bowl, beat together the whole egg and the egg yolks.

In a saucepan, mix together both creams, sugar, salt, vanilla and olive oil. Place over medium heat, and bring to a simmer, stirring continuously to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat.

Temper the eggs by, drizzling 1 ladle full of the cream mixture - in a steady stream - over the egg mixture, while continuously stirring. Once fully combined, add the egg mixture to the saucepan, continuously stirring. Cook the mixture over low heat, stirring until it thickens and coats the back of a metal spoon (custard consistency). Do not allow to boil or mixture will curdle.

Place in a glass bowl, cover with cling film (cling film must touch the surface of the custard to prevent skin from forming). Chill at least 4 hours or over night in the fridge.

The next day, whisk the custard thoroughly and pour in ice cream machine, churn according to manufacturer's instruction. Place in an airtight container and store in the freezer.


It is always a great pleasure to learn about what all the great people are doing around the world to preserve our natural heritage. It is a pleasure to learn about different people's passions, and a huge pleasure to simply learn and be inspired. I hope that you too find your inspirations, your talents and your passions: The very fuel of a happy life. 

I would love to hear from you so leave me a comment before you go:) Thank you for reading this post, hope you have enjoyed it. Drop by again soon for more...

Saturday, 25 February 2012

My Final take on food and health : Oven Roasted Half Sliced Potatoes - The perfect Side to Meaty Dishes

"I would try doing a dish 30 different ways."    - Heston Blumenthal

Do we ever get tired of potatoes? Or better still, if you are offered a variety of dishes amongst which is a plate of crispy potatoes, which would you first reach out for? Everyone I ever asked would say they would go for the potatoes first. I have seen this manifest itself so many times, I need no proof!

You see, besides being utterly delicious, and offering an ultimately addictive nibble, potatoes are so versatile that you can never get tired of them. There are a million ways to cook a potato, all of which offering a different flavour, texture and overall experience. All of which superiorly tasty.

Hi, my name is Dima and I LOVE French Fries.... 
There I said it! I can hardly ever resist these golden, crispy, hot-oil-dipped strings of goodness! Dipped in tomato sauce, BBQ sauce, aioli, or even tartar sauce... all are a magnificent salty treat to me! But you and I both know that not all that tastes good, is actually good for you. I therefore go for the ostrich strategy when it comes to french fries: Sink your head in the ground, and pretend that everything is ok lol! Just pretend that they don't exist!! 

OR not, because:

Everything is good in Moderation. 
An occasional binge on French Fries won't kill you, but having them on your daily menu is risky, to say the least. But that doesn't mean you have to miss out on the goodness or the crispiness. I have found - and trust me I have tried many ways to come up with a substitute for french fries - that roasting and oven grilling can produce the exact same results, with a decimal of the amount of oil/fat. In fact, I have found that the oven grilled or roasted potatoes can even be better as they are more open to flavouring than in the case of frying. Weather you decide to Julienne the potatoes into "french fries" or cut them into wedges, slice or cube them, the results are the same (the amount of cooking time will have to be adjusted though).

The Health Institution
We have been tossed, flipped, stretched, extended, taken left then right, tucked and re-tossed with all this 'Health' business!! At times it was Full Fat VS Low Fat, then it was Carbs VS Carb Free and Protein diets, then it was liquid, then raw, then vegetarian, to pill popping, then gluten, and now it's Seed VS Vegetable VS animal Fat......!! it is a spinning wheel that will never stop, as long as food has a price tag, and medicines sell at stock markets, we will hardly ever know what is good, or not, unless each individual takes up a chemistry degree, and start consuming only chemical compounds that s/he finds to be healthy!! Even after all the fuss, diseases are still on an uprise, and weight is piling, and nothing is changing.
I too get very confused at times, and have no idea what is good or not most of the time. I too read the reports!

My food philosophy is as follows - 
(until I am proven scientifically wrong by those who are NOT merchants or pharmacists, and until apples are scientifically proven poisonous and inconsumable, and finally until it becomes a scientific fact that food is no good for you and humans were built to starve)

Everything is good in Moderation. Food is good, and all food types are good for you, and needed by your body and soul. We need carbs for energy and psychological well-being, we need proteins for tissue building and for inner strength, we need vitamins and minerals for healthy organ functions, water circulation and for the good taste they bring into our palates, we need sugars for the soul, and we need fat for fuel, warmth and comfort.

With that said, I would choose to keep sugars for very special occasions and not consume them on daily basis. I would reduce fat to a minimum, stay away from the deep fried stuff (except for 1 absolutely free meal a week) and prefer some fats over others (my palate is personal), and I would surely continue consuming whole wheats and brown rice or pasta over the simpler forms of carbs (as I prefer their flavours), and would limit the intake of carbs to moderate. I would have my 5 a day, fruits and vegetables, simply because life is dull without them, I like to bring colour into my life and love the flvaours. I would always choose organic though, because I do not fancy the modern chemical showers and hormonal treatments and so prefer it when nature takes care of itself and its produce, organically! I will eat grains so long as am not allergic to them - where my chin swells up and I can't breath! I will have dairy products because what is life without cheese or a ganache without cream? I will become vegetarian at different intervals in my life because vegetarian food is good and cleansing. I will eat raw food anytime, because I love Sashimi and think nature is the best cook. And I will continue to exercise even when I am 70, because I would want to feel the blood running through my veins and feel the power of being alive. All the while will continue to work at remaining healthy, fit and in good shape, not obese and by no means a skeletal size zero!

Now that that's out of the way, 

These oven roasted half-sliced potatoes are an amazing way to prepare potatoes, where you get the crispiness and texture of salted crisps, yet are able to flavour them with whatever flavour you are into that day. They are not deep fried, therefore are light and won't leave you feeling heavy. They are in fact very light and are the perfect side dish to meats from steaks, to poultry, fish and even game.

The thin slicing of the potato without fully cutting the slice off the base, also makes them look gorgeous on the plate. Not only that, but also aids in the fast cooking of these potatoes.
When it comes to flavours; keep an open mind. Think spices, salts, herbs, aromatics...etc anything can lend you flavour, and everything added is a layer of flavour. You can even go for combinations, just be creative and follow the overall flavours of your main meal. Think that the flavours of the potatoes have to compliment and bring out the flavours of the meat dish on its side.

My best loved oven roasted potato flavourings
  • Finely chopped corriander, finely chopped green chili, roughly chopped garlic, olive oil, salt & black pepper
  • Paprika, salt
  • Onion powder, salt and black pepper, and finely chopped parsley
  • Taragon, balsamic vinegar, rind of oramge, olive oil
  • Rosemary, Roughly chopped garlic, olive oil, salt & Black pepper
  • Soy sauce, mirin sauce, honey, orange juice and sesame seeds
You can experiment and come up with a million flavourings for these potatoes...

Here is how they are made
For the Plain ones
You Need
1 Kg new potatoes
2 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt shavings (preferably Himalayan Pink Salt)
Fresh Black Pepper
finely sliced Chives for garnish

Adjust your oven rack to the bottom of your oven, and preheat the oven (roasting or upper heat) to 400F.

Wash the potatoes thoroughly, and scrub them with a brush to remove any dirt. Do not peel. Towel dry, and start slicing them by using a good sharp knife, passing it through the potatoes without fully cutting through (keep the bottoms in tact). Keep going from the right to the left side making sure the slices are very thin, like crisps. Repeat with all potatoes.

Drizzle 1 tbsp olive oil on the bottom of your baking dish, and spread it along the bottom and sides. Sprinkle with salt & black pepper, then place the sliced potatoes in one layer along the baking dish. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the tops of the potatoes with the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil. Once done, shake the pan to coat the potatoes with the oil. Sprinkle with salt & black pepper and place in the preheated oven for 45 minutes - or until golden and cooked through - shaking and turning every 10-15 minutes in order not to burn.

Once done, remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Transfer to serving dish, and sprinkle the tops with finely sliced chives. Serve warm alongside meaty dishes.

If you want to go for a flavoured option, just add the flavourings to the potatoes before baking and continue as in the recipe above. I would usually reserve a little bit of the flavouring to sprinkle over the finished potatoes for freshness.

Hope you enjoyed this post, and remember no bad can come out of balance. Everything is good in moderation, provided it is not arsenic!! Thank you for reading, and make sure to drop by again soon for more good food :)

Monday, 20 February 2012

Mloukieh o Djaj - Stew of Jute Leaves with Roasted Chicken

My Friend had asked me to post Mloukieh Recipe a while back, and having to fit the gym, courses, meetings, the kids, their activities and home into an average day, I never got the chance to do it, till now!! But now that we are here, I will go on to say that this is one of my favourite Arabic Cuisine concoctions. Not only that, but it happens to be almost everybody's and especially famous with kids! For the longest time, and so is the case, everytime I ask my children what they would like to have for lunch, they always say "Mloukieh"!! If it was up to them, they will have it everyday of the week. I had a little experiment once with one of my son's friends, who came over for a play date. I had cooked this amazing dish for them. Being English, he had no idea what this food was, but I asked him to just try and if he didn't like it I would give him something else to have. He tried it, and loved it that every time he comes over he says: "I hope you cook that seaweed soup, coz I love it!!" lol

I totally recommend you give this a go if you have never tried it before, because it is truly good :)

Of course Mloukieh is not seaweed soup, it actually grows on land! It is the leaves of Jute (similar to spinach, yet more bitter in flavour) that are treated as vegetables in Middle Eastern, North African, East African and South Asian cuisines. It is eaten cooked, not raw, and in Arabic cuisine it is usually cooked in chicken (most famous) or meat broth - and in some cases including both meat and chicken together - into a light yet rich stew. This stew is said to have originated in Egypt, however, as a fact nobody knows how the region got to eat Jute leaves, and where it started. The preparation of Mloukieh or Molokhyyah stew differs from region to another. The Egyptians' way is to very finely chop the leaves and then cook them into a broth (to look like the stew in the picture above). While in Levantine Cuisine, the leaves are cooked whole instead of finely chopped. However, and since fresh Mloukieh leaves are not always available, most people would go for the frozen leaves, which mostly come finely chopped, rather than whole leaves. Therefore, most people would serve the finely chopped stew. I personally prefer the whole leaves one in terms of texture, but nonetheless would have the finely chopped one any time.

Mloukieh is usually served topping a rice pilaf, alongside roasted and browned chicken. Custom has it that when hostesses are cooking a special lunch for guests, they would serve the Mloukieh along side Djaj Mahshi (Stuffed whole chicken - stuffing is a mix of precooked rice, minced meat and nuts). Usually each of the three items are dished separately and the host will plate rice topped with Mloukieh alongside a piece of chicken and a lemon wedge. Mloukieh needs a squeeze of lemon to perfect the flavour, or you can prepare a special vinaigrette with onions and chili (recipe below), which fabulously compliments the flavours of this dish. I would normally have both ready, lemon wedges and the vinaigrette, and keep it up to each one to decide which to go for.

Some preparations of Mloukieh include coriander and some don't. When the recipe includes coriander, some will cook the coriander with the stew, and others would lightly fry coriander and thinly sliced garlic in a little olive oil, then add it to the top of the finished dish. Whichever way you decide to go, the outcome is the same as the flavours eventually intermingle creating the whole either way. However if you are not into the whole coriander business (although highly recomended) you can skip the whole thing and cook it without coriander.

If you have access to fresh Mloukieh Leaves, then you need to cut the leaves off the stalks. Discard the stalks, then wash the leaves and dry them. Usually the leaves are then placed on a large tray to air dry for a couple of days, tossing them occasionally to ensure equal dryness. They are then  lightly stir fried and frozen till ready to use. My mother in law told me that she freezes them without stir frying, which I have tried and found to work very well. Then the leaves are used in the same manner as the finely chopped method.

After many explorations and experimentations and all, the below is how I cook Mloukieh at home. How I love it the best and how my family likes it.
PS For the roasted chicken, follow the link, and scroll down to the chicken part.

Let's do this....

You Need
to serve 4

2 whole roasted chickens
Rice Pilaf Side dish, topped with toasted nuts

For Stew
2 frozen Mloukieh bags, thawed
1 liter chicken broth
1 head of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 bunch coriander, finely chopped (optional)
2 tbsp Olive oil
Salt & Black pepper to taste

For Onion Vinaigrette
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 3 small lemons)
1/4 cup apple vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 red chili finely chopped
Salt & Black pepper to taste

Clean and roast your chickens as instructed in the link above. While the chickens are roasting start making the stew.

In a large pot, place the olive oil, the thinly sliced garlic and stir fry until the garlic is translucent but not browned (browning the garlic will lend a bitter flavour which is not favourable here). Once the garlic is translucent add the finely chopped coriander, and stir fry for 3 minutes. Add the Mloukieh (whole leaves or finely chopped) and stir fry to incorporate. Continue to cook while stirring for about 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken broth, and stir to combine all. Check seasoning and adjust as necessary. Bring the whole to a boil, then let boil for 2-3 minutes, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the leaves are cooked through and the flavours have meshed together.

Make the Onion Vinaigrette,
Place all vinaigrette ingredients in a jar and shake till all are incorporated. Please note that because there is no emulsifying agent in this vinaigrette the mixture will separate, therefore before serving shake again and stir before pouring.

To serve, place rice on dinner plate, top with a ladle of stew alongside a piece of chicken or shred some chicken pieces instead, then pour a little vinaigrette on top or a squeeze of lemon juice.

Et voila, Mloukieh the old fashioned way, the always good and comforting way :)

Thank you for dropping by, hope you like this post and make sure to come back soon for more :)

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Not on Food! On Love - Happy Valentine's Day

Let's Love today, let's put troubles aside. For a day let's not hate, instead let's love and celebrate life. 

I woke up today and watched the news! I don't do that anymore, watch the news that is! Why?.... because... what a troubled world we live in! I watched the news today, on Valentine's Day, and there was not a sign of love there! What a pity, on a global scale!

When we are capable of so much love, how can we let it go to waste? Why choose hate? Why do we push love out of ourselves, when it's an all embracing, powerful feeling of warmth that can change the world? If we focus as much energy to love as we do to hate, the world today will be different. It will be lighter and compassionate. Love makes life worth living, and good worth giving. Love brings us closer and makes us one, isn't that much better than hate? Aren't you and I essentially the same? Aren't we all?

Love is in the sun, the sea, the sunset, the breeze, the smile and the fields. Love is in flowers, in trees, in homes and love is in each one of us, and for each one of us. For the children, the men and the women who make this a whole, so make sure to love today, every single one and thing. Make sure to count the blessings and feel the love. Make sure to - as someone put it - "Make cookies, not war!"

Let's send a light out for love and ask for a less troubled world. Love, Don't Hate! #peace
This Valentine's day

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Understanding Meringue - Lemon Meringue Pie

Meringue is the true melt in your mouth experience... When done right!!! The hard outside and smooth inside texture of meringue is the reason behind the world's love of this cloud-like food. Ask anyone and they will tell you that a Baked Alaska is an incredible experience that show cases a balance between hot and cold, hard and soft, sweet and savoury! The same applies to Pavlovas, Meringue kisses, floating island and of course the amazing Lemon Meringue Pie.... Some foods are just too good to miss out on, and some experiences are unique and fully satisfying to the palate... Such is meringue!

Are you fascinated by the way egg whites rise when whipped? Did you ever wonder why meringue pies weep and shrink? Do you know the difference between French, Swiss and Italian Meringues? Is meringue cooked or uncooked? .... if you have been wondering and want to understand meringue, then read on, because I am letting you in on all things meringue, on why meringue can go wrong, and ways to prevent it!!

Eggs are possibly the most remarkable ingredient in the kitchen. They totally transform to a new shape and acquire new properties with every cooking method used. This has enabled cooks to use eggs in a variety of concoctions as well as enabled the creation of many of the dishes we know today. Perhaps beating eggs is the one discovery that forever changed the face of cookery. It is through beating eggs that dishes such as soufflés, Meringues, Sabayons...etc. had come to life. Even specific types of cake, such as Angel Cakes, Meringue Cakes and Chiffon Cakes, would not have been possible without the discovery of the effects of beating eggs. For this reason, I have decided to dedicate a post to Egg Foams, specifically on the making of Meringue.

Egg Foams - The effects of beating eggs

Normally, physical agitation (produced by beating) destroys structure, but not for eggs. Beating eggs actually creates structure. For example if you place an egg white in a bowl and beat it with a whisk, in a few minutes you will achieve a glossy foamy texture that clings to the sides of the bowl when turned upside down! This same structure becomes firm and brittle when cooked, holding its own shape.

This foaming ability that the eggs have is basically, the ability of the egg whites to cling to air and make it an integral part of the ingredients making up the dish. Therefore, through beating the egg white, we are incorporating air, which is encased by the egg whites. This starts the build up of a foam. The more this foam is beaten, the more volume it acquires as more air is incorporated... The chemical and physical make up of the egg whites (its proteins), make it a less runny liquid which allows it to hold its form when foamed. Which is why the egg foam survives - as foam - longer than that created with other liquids. That's the reason why when whipped into stiff peaks, egg whites can hold perfect shape, allowing us to pipe it into detailed decorations, such as when making meringue moments or in the case of royal icing.

The addition of sugar to egg whites, adds density to the foam, making it more stable and thicker. It is usually added to egg whites after they had started foaming. But in some cases it can be added to the egg whites on the outset, which is done when a very firm, and dense foam is required (this is the most used method for commercial production of meringue). This is especially true when the meringue is going to be piped, or used in the creation of details.

Stages of beating egg whites
Beating egg whites results in foam (as in picture 1 above), once the foam is achieved continuing to beat will result in the formation of soft peaks (as in picture 2 above), these are peaks that curl up when you remove the whisk. Usually sugar is added at this stage. Then, further beating will result in the formation of stiff peaks (as in picture 3 above). Stiff peaks remain firm and straight once the whisk is removed. At this stage the foam should keep shape, and cling to the sides of the bowl, when flipped upside down.

Meringue - Sweetened Egg Foam
A Meringue is a sweetened egg white foam that is stiff and stable enough to hold shape. There are different types of meringue, such as French, Swiss and Italian meringues. The difference lies in the stage when sugar is added, or whether or not it is subjected to heat. However they all end up with the same result. It is therefore better to characterise meringue according to the method of cooking, rather than to origin.

The 2 types of Meringue

  • Uncooked Meringue   (French) This type is the simplest and most commonly used. It ranges from creamy to dense and stiff. The lightest consistency is achieved by beating the whites first to soft peaks and then gradually folding in the sugar. This creates a soft frothy consistency suitable for spreading, yet too soft to pipe or shape. If the sugar is beaten in, instead of folded in, you will achieve a creamier and firmer consistency. The longer you beat this egg and sugar mixture the stiffer it becomes, and the more suitable for piping and creating shapes it is. There is an array of methods to incorporating the sugar into egg whites. What is worth noting here though, is that the earlier the sugar is added, the firmer and stiffer the meringue is. The later the sugar is added, the softer the meringue.
  • Cooked Meringue    This type is trickier to make and results in a denser meringue than the uncooked type. This type is also less brittle than the uncooked meringue, and absorbs sugar more readily as sugar dissolves better in hot liquid. The partial coagulation of the egg whites creates a more stable meringue, which can sit without separating for a day or even more! This meringue is also safer than uncooked meringue, as the heat kills salmonella bacteria. Cooked meringues can be stored in the fridge for several days. There are 2 types of cooked meringue:
  1. Italian Meringue; this is a meringue that is made by using cooked syrup (sugar and a little water are boiled to "soft ball"), the whites are whipped to stiff peaks, and then the syrup is streamed into the egg whites while continuously beating. This meringue is usually fluffy yet stiff enough to use in decorating pastries, and can hold for a couple of days  before use. This meringue is also light enough to be incorporated into the making of other desserts such as cake batters, and creams...etc.
  2. Swiss Meringue; This meringue is usually made by placing sugar, eggs and some acid (like cream of tartar, or lemon juice) into a bowl over a water bath, and the mixture is whipped to stiff peaks. The bowl is then removed from the water bath and the mixture is whipped until it cools. This method also pasteurises the eggs.
Whichever way you decide to prepare your meringue, you should always watch out for "Meringue's 3 Enemies", which will cause it to flop and not get the proper texture. These 3 enemies are: egg yolk, fat or oil, and detergent. These chemicals will interfere with the foaming process and will lead to an unstable meringue and requires prolongued whipping. However, egg yolks and fat or oil can be incorporated into the meringue after the completion of the foaming process (after the meringue is achieved) as in the case of egg leavened cakes, and the making of soufflés . 

Meringue Troubles
We all know that meringue can go wrong! Weeping, Grittiness and Stickiness are the most common meringue problems. But what exactly causes them?
  • Over-beating or under-beating can cause weeping (unsightly puddles of syrup or syrup beads)
  • Weeping and beads are also caused by undissolved sugar. Therefore it is best to use caster or icing sugar rather than granulated sugar. This is also true for under-cooked sugar syrup.
  • Small particles of undissolved sugar in sugar syrup will also cause grittiness. In uncooked meringues, undissolved sugar (resulting from using granulated sugar and adding the sugar all at once) will also end up with a gritty textured meringue.
  • Meringue pie toppings can weep and shrink away from the base, this can be a result of undercooking, or cooking in a high temperature oven, which browns the meringue before the egg whites had the chance to gelatenise. Especially when the pie filling is cold, the meringue bottom will not cook, and the top will overcook in a high temp oven.
  • Humid weather is bad for meringue, as they absorb moisture, which will make it soft and sticky.
  • It is hard to control weeping when the pie is old. In fact, this is an indication of freshness of the pie if you are to purchase it. Weeping, softness or stickiness are all indications that the pie is old.
Now that you know how meringue is made, how to prevent meringue troubles and how to make my best ever Lemon Tart, you are ready to take on the all-time favourite Lemon Meringue Pie. Here is how its made:

Lemon Meringue Pie
Makes 1 (10" pie) or 12 mini pies
Make sure the meringue does not get too stiff before adding the cornstrach mixture.

You Need

1 recipe lemon tart (freshly made and filling still warm)

For Meringue
You Need
150ml egg whites (from about 5 large eggs)
a squeeze of lemon juice
134g caster sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
90 ml water
1 tsp vanilla essence

Whip the egg whites with the lemon juice on high speed in a stand mixer until it tripples in size. (if you are using handheld mixer make sure to make cornstarch mixture before you start, once done transfer the cornstarch mixture from the cooking pan into a bowl to stop the cooking process). Gradually add the sugar, turn to medium speed. Continue whipping until soft peaks, do not over beat.

While the egg whites are beating, make the cornstarch mixture. Place the cornstarch in a saucepan and gradually add the water stirring until the mixture is smooth. Bring the mixture to a simmer while constantly stirring. Once the mixture becomes translucent, cook for 30 seconds extra. remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

Turn the mixer back to high, and immediately add the cornstarch mixture to the egg whites. Whip to stiff peaks. Do not over beat, stop immediately once stiff peaks are achieved.

Immediately cover the tops of the still warm lemon filling, making sure to touch the crust on all edges, leaving no gaps, in order to make sure that the meringue does not shrink. Once the whole top is covered with meringue you can create shapes by pulling your spatula upwards, or swirling it about. Just make sure that there are no gaps. Alternatively you can pipe the meringue over the top if you like. Bake in 375F oven for 10 minutes or until the meringue is lightly browned.

Refrigerate for several hours before serving, in order for the filling to set.

Thank you for dropping by and reading this post. Hope it helps you make perfect Lemon Meringue pies, which are really succulent and should not be missed! Come back again soon for more. & don't forget to spread the love :)

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The Best Ever Lemon Tart

"When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down 'Happy'. They told me I didn't understand the assignment, and I told them they didn't understand life."
- John Lennon

There is something about the lemon tree that makes me happy. It is beautiful, like a piece of sunshine. Very fresh, healthy, optimistic and promising of colour, tang and versatility. From the tree's bark, to the leaves, the blossoms and the actual lemons, all reek of the fresh and tangy scent that flirts with your senses, ever so gently leaving you refreshed and appetised. Have you ever smelled lemon and orange blossoms? I can safely say, it is about the best fragrance that you can ever smell. Something about the lemon tree, to me, evokes roots and grounding! I remember my childhood, when I would go with Dad to the farm, especially in spring when the trees have filled up with blossoms. The whole farm smelled like a sweet gentle breeze from heaven. When we used to stay there overnight, we used to make a camp fire using the wood of lemon trees, and as we munched on oranges, pomelos, clementines, mandalinas (Mandarin) we would throw the skin onto the burning wood, and as the skin burned away, the smell of the caramelising citrus bouquet was just Divine! This time of year is the season of Lemon and oranges in Jordan. The farm is now in full production mode, and at this time of year I reminisce the Lemon Tree; the camp fire, the rustic smell of wood against the wet earth. At this time of year I reminisce the earth from which I fed.

From the love of lemon, and its tang, sprung a love for lemon desserts. I find lemon to be a very good ingredient for desserts. The use of these tart fruits in desserts teaches you how to achieve balance in your creations. The sweetness of a desert balances the tartness of the lemon, creating a fresh and even-handed experience for your palate. One of my most favourite desserts is a Lemon Meringue Pie, and so I had first decided to post the recipe here for you to try, and maybe see for yourself why I am so deeply in love with this pie. However, and since it includes the making of Meringue, which deserves a post on its own, I have decided to go for my best loved Lemon Tart first, as it is a base for the Lemon Meringue pie, and move on from there to another post on meringue, including the Lemon Meringue pie. In this post I will focus on the flaky crust and leave the meringue for another session.

This lemon tart is one that I make regularly, and back in the day when I was catering it was always in demand and the most selling dessert option. I am always complimented on its flavours, and always asked for seconds. Therefore I strongly recommend you give it a go, it will make you a star!

The tart's shell is made out of a flaky crust, in which I incorporate lemon zest. The zest offers the essence of the lemon flavour, and does not tamper with the constitution of the crust. The crust is blind baked (baked topped with baking beans to weigh it down, for an even surface, free of air pockets), then fully baked till done. I then fill it with home-made lemon curd (recipe below). Then I spread a very thin layer of lemon syrup on top to protect the curd and prevent the formation of skin. I like the contrast of a couple of branches of red currents against the yellow of the curd, and a little green goes a long way, so I place a couple of fresh mint leaves on the side and sprinkle the whole with a light dusting of powdered sugar. Epic!

The lemon curd used in this recipe can also be canned in sterilised jars, and used as spread, or kept for use on another occasion. You can even use fancy looking jars and offer it to a friend or relative as a gift from the kitchen :)

Tips for guaranteed shell success
The ideal crust has to be light, tender and flaky. It should never be tough, hard to work with or rubbery. To ensure best results, follow these guidelines and you are guaranteed to achieve success every time.
  • Traditionally crust is made using lard. The use of lard results in super flaky crust, but too much lard can have a strong taste, that offsets the whole flavour. Therefore, butter is used along side a little lard in order to achieve best results without the strong flavour of lard. If you are not into lard, you can use vegetable shortening instead. With that said, shortening is not a very healthy option; therefore and if you are still uncomfortable you can go for an all butter crust, but since butter is high in water content and has a low melting point, the dough made of 100% butter is harder to work with than that made with some lard or shortening. Also the use of all butter results in a softer, dryer and crumblier crust. For best Results use a mixture of butter and lard.
  • The ingredients have to be used cold, not at room temperature. Using warm ingredients results in a tough finished product. Use ice water instead of room temperature water, and use cold butter and lard instead of room temp. Rest the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes before rolling.
  • Ideally while making the crust the fat should remain visible in little lumps. That is why we pulse, use finger tips or use a pastry cutter, and never process continuously. The crumbs resulting from the pulsing are actually little separated lumps of fat that clung to the rest of the ingredients. Friction produces heat, so a continuous processing causes friction, which in turn produces heat and softens the fat as it gets warmer. The soft fat will result in it blending into the flour instead of remaining in separate pieces leading to a dough that is hard to work with and which turns out non-flaky after baking.
  • Never knead a short crust, or a flaky crust. Kneading transfers heat from your hands to the dough, which softens and melts the fats. Instead gently bring the dough together (minimal handling) using the finger tips.
  • The flakiness of dough depends immensely on the flour to fat ratio. The more flour is used the harder the dough becomes, the tougher and harder the overall outcome is. Therefore follow the recipe precisely, and use minimal amount of flour when rolling the dough. I find that rolling the dough between two sheets of parchment paper is the best way to exclude the addition of any extra flour.
  • Finally if you have scrapes of dough, you must handle them as you would puff pastry scraps. Never knead them, instead layer them on top of each other and roll them out.

Let's do this....

Makes 1 10" loose bottom tart pan
You Need
For the Crust
178g bread flour
3g salt
35g cold lard or vegetable shortening
114g cold unsalted butter cut into cubes
40 ml ice water
2 tsp lemon zest

For The Lemon Curd
45g cornstarch
340g granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups water
70g unsalted butter
5 egg yolks, beaten
90 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest

For the Lemon Syrup
6 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
75g caster sugar

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, the zest and the salt together and place aside. Place the cold butter, lard and flour mixture in the bowl of a food processor and pulse till mixture resembles crumbs. Do not over mix. Add the water and pulse again until the mixture gets together and forms a small ball. Do not over mix. The fat should still be lumpy. Turn onto a work surface lined with parchment paper. Gather the dough into a ball, using your fingertips. Flatten slightly into the shape of a disk (this helps the dough to chill faster). Wrap with cling film, chill for at least 1 hour.

You Can use beans instead of baking weights to weigh down the dough

Make the Shell
Roll the dough in between 2 sheets of parchment paper (3 mm thick). Transfer to a lined loose-bottom tart tin, and gently smooth - with your hands - into place. Press the dough onto the fluted edges. Remove excess dough, and place the lined tin in the fridge for 30 minutes to cool.
Prick the bottom and sides of the tart shell with a fork. Line the top of the shell with parchment paper and fill with dried beans or baking weights. Blind bake in a preheated oven (375F) for about 15 minutes. Remove the beans and the parchment paper, return to the oven, and bake until the shell is light brown and baked through, about 10 minutes longer. Set aside to cool.

Make the lemon curd
In a heavy bottom saucepan, place the cornstarch, sugar, and salt and mix until combined. Add the water while continuously whisking. Cook over low heat, continuously whisking until the mixture comes to a boil. Simmer gently for 3 minutes, then add the butter and stir until its completely melted and incorporated into the mixture. Remove from the heat. Ladle a small portion of the cornstarch mixture into the egg yolks to temper them, whisk to combine. Add the egg mixture back into the cornstarch mixture and stir all until well incorporated. Add the lemon juice and zest to the mixture and stir. Place the saucepan back on the stove, and cook again on low heat stirring constantly until the mixture boils, continue cooking while constantly stirring for 2 minutes extra.
Immediately pour the curd over the cooled shell. Cover with cling film, to prevent skin from forming. Refrigerate for several hours before serving to allow the filling to set.

Meanwhile make the Lemon Syrup
In a saucepan, place sugar and juice and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and allow to cool. Place in clean air tight container till ready to use.

Once ready to serve, gently remove cling film from the top of your tart. Release tart from the tin, and place on serving plate. Lightly pour a little lemon syrup on top of the filling and gently spread without breaking the top of the filling. Place a couple of branches of red currents in the centre, and place 2 fresh mint leaves on its upper side. Dust lightly with icing sugar and serve.

If you like to learn more about Pies and tarts, different pie and tart crusts, fillings, toppings..etc, join my Course "Baking Perfect Pies & Tarts Every Time". For more information about this course, or any other course, or for further assistance, please don't hesitate to let me know.

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Thank you for reading this post, hope you like it and that you will give this recipe a try. I know you will love it. Come back again soon, but before you go do show me the love and leave me a comment :))

Sunday, 5 February 2012

How To Make Fresh Phyllo Dough - a step-by-step Tutorial

Mostly requested recipes are for 'Quick & Easy'! I know, who has the time? But it's those trickier preparations, which require specific skills, that make the kitchen so much more fun, and grant a feel of achievement that will make you extra proud when you serve your food. 

Home-made Fresh Phyllo Dough is definitely one of these preparations. It is surely not one for the faint-hearted, requires Olympic rolling skills and needs a certain amount of skill to perfect. But hey, this is what my blog is for, taking your cooking skills to the next level, isn't it? Since you are here, I trust you want to go further in your kitchen, which is why I want to include recipes that are more challenging and require extra skills for you to try. At the end of the day, and just like with everything, practice makes perfect. With that said, Phyllo Dough is one that is found, fresh or frozen, in almost all supermarkets and in excellent quality. Yes you can always buy some, if that is what you are thinking, but if you were curious to know how they are made, or if like me, you like a challenge and want to learn how to make it, then read on as you are going to love this.

If you had read my Borscht Soup recipe, then you already know how I got to learn the method of making Fresh Phyllo dough. Before that incident, I had tried making phyllo pastry many times but it quite never turned out perfect. As I had come to learn, it was all in the rolling technique. This is the step that determines the success of your phyllo dough. Therefore, in this post, I have included a video of 'how to roll phyllo dough' which I took, when I was learning how to make it. I do not usually include videos in my posts, because not everything requires a video demonstration. However, and in order to make sure you get the technique right, I have included one here for you to watch. When you do, make sure you notice how the lady's hands move, and how she twists the end of the rolling pin with her right hand in order to stretch the dough more. Also pay special attention to how she rolls out the dough, firmly pressing down as she rolls the pin back towards her. You can come back and watch this video as many times as you need, while practicing.

What is Phyllo dough?
Phyllo, Filo or Fillo*, also known as sheet pastry doughs, which  are paper-thin sheets of unleavened** flour dough, very commonly used in making pastries both sweet and savoury, especially in Middle Eastern and Balkan cuisines. 

* All spellings are correct and commonly used to refer to the same term.
**Unleavened meaning: without the use of a leavening/rising agent such as yeast or baking powder...etc.

Sheet pastry doughs are prepared one layer at a time, and can be assembled into pastries that use a dozen layers before cooking such as in Baklawa or Börek for instance. These super thin sheets of dough are not to be confused with puff-pastry, the preparation of which is very different from the making of phyllo. Unlike phyllo, in puff pastry, the layers are created in the actual process of making dough - by wrapping in the butter rolling and folding as you go. With layered phyllo preparations, the layers are created before cooking and way after the sheets have been created.

Phyllo dough is created by making stiff flour and water dough. Some recipes use acid like vinegar for tenderising the dough, other use oil. The result is the same, which is a paper-thin (1 mm) translucent dough that can quickly dry and become brittle. It is therefore brushed with oil or butter until its cut to prevent it from stiffening and drying out. Another variant to phyllo dough is the strudel, which is very similar to phyllo except it will include little fat and usually a whole egg in its ingredients. The making of either one involves the same techniques.

Origins, Namings and Uses
It is widely believed that phyllo, which is Greek for Leaf, was invented in Istanbul at the times of the early Ottoman Empire. But some historians believe that a more primitive version of it, was evident in the drawing of the early Egyptians. However, the closer version to what is now known as phyllo comes from the Turkish cuisine. When the Ottoman Empire ruled parts of Eastern Europe, the phyllo dough was adopted in Hungary as Retes and in Austria as Strudel. Phyllo is also the ancestor of the French Feuille.

In Turkish Cuisine, pastires made out of phyllo dough are called Börek, and in Arabic cuisine especially Egyptian they are called Gollash, while in Bosnia Börek refers only to pies made with meat, while other pies using phyllo dough are called Pita, and finally in Macedonia they are referred to as Kori. Other pastries made using phyllo dough go with a variety of names such as Baklawa for instance,  or what is more commonly referred to as Baklava.

Phyllo can be used in a variety of ways, rolled, turnovers, folded, layered... and can have a variety of fillings from vegetables, to leaves, nuts and chocolates and anything you can think of. It is commonly used in making Samboosik, or Samosas. 

Before you start
To make Phyllo pastry at home, you will need a specialised rolling pin, that is about 1.5-2 meters long, which is thicker in the middle and moves on to thinner edges. This rolling pin is used for rolling out the dough which will keep on stretching as it rolls, the only substitution to this rolling pin is a dough sheeter, which is not readily available in most homes. You can custom design a pin at any carpenter's if they are not available in your local market. You will also need a 2.5m square 100% cotton sheet (you can buy a bed spread and use it for this, however make sure it is 100% cotton, as the cotton absorbed the excess moisture making it possible for the dough to stretch). Finally you will need a large table or surface to roll the dough and streatch it, as it will stretch to 2 m square. If your table's surface is rough or with strong texture, use a thick table cover to cover it under the cotton sheet in order for the dough not to tear.

You Need
1.5 Kg all purpose flour
2 tsp Salt
Water (usually 40% water, 60% flour. The quantity depends on the weather and type of flour, follow recipe for instructions)
1/2 cup Vegetable oil or melted butter to brush the dough

In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Add water gradually and mix together, until thoroughly incorporated. If the dough appears dry, add more water. If the dough looks like that in the pictures 4-6 above: has come together and no flour is visible, as well as looks similar to bread dough; dry but soft, no more water is needed. Divide the dough into 3 balls, and sprinkle with flour to coat. Cover and let for 30 minutes.

At this time, you must cover your table with the cotton cloth. Sprinkle the cloth with flour. Take 1 dough ball out, place over the floured surface, and knead it using only your finger tips. Pull the dough out and push it in at the centre and repeat, till the dough is elastic, soft and is like bread dough (as in picture 2). Gather up the ball, tucking all the sides in towards the centre (as in picture 3). Keep the seam downwards, sprinkle the table with flour, and place the ball (seam side down) and sprinkle the top generously with flour (as in picture 5). Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

After resting, start by pressing the ball down at the centre. Using the rolling pin, start rolling the dough to flatten as you would a cookie dough. Once the dough is flattened as much as you can flatten it, place the rolling pin at the edge, rolling the edge right onto it, using the left hand to lead the dough on the pin, and the right hand to twist the pin to secure. Continue, twisting and rolling until you have the whole dough rolled around the pin. Lift the pin up and place back on the table. While pressing downwards towards the table, unroll the dough from the pin. You will notice that with each roll the dough is stretching and becoming thinner and bigger. Repeat this process until you have a large thin sheet of dough, about 3 mm thick.

Here is a video of how to roll phyllo dough, to make the process clearer:

Now to stretch the phyllo dough, you first have to sprinkle the top with vegetable oil or melted butter (as in picture 1). 

Then gently lift over the sides of the dough and flap towards the centre to distribute the oil over the whole surface, unfold back to position. Repeat with all sides, add more oil only if necessary. Once the whole surface is covered with oil (as in picture 6), you are now ready to start stretching the dough by hand (see picture 1 below).

Stretching the Phyllo dough by hand

Gently hold the edges of the dough and pull towards you ever so slightly, making sure not to tear it. You can pull a little, and stop then pull a bit more and so on. Continue to pull all edges, until the dough covers the whole surface. The dough should be 1 mm thick and about 2 meter square in total surface. The dough will become transparent as you stretch it, just careful not to tear it.

Once stretched, the phyllo sheet can then be cut to use straight away for filling or layering or cutting rounds for making phyllo tourtiere for instance...etc.

If you wish to store or freeze the phyllo dough, you will have to cover the tops with another cloth (100% cotton) to absorb all the moisture. Cover for about 5-7 minutes. Press all over the cloth to absorb all the moisture. Then remove and sprinkle the tops of the dough moderately with corn starch. Place the cloth back on and gently distribute the starch by rubbing your hands on the cloth. Remove cloth and cut into sheets, strips or squares, let them stand for 5 minutes. Wrap well with plastic and freeze for up to 6 months.

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Thank you for reading this post, hope you have enjoyed it. I am looking forward to hearing you say you tried this too!! Let me know how it goes, and come back soon for more :)