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Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Snack Delicious With These Home-made Smoked Almonds

I will not be telling you about nutritional value or the infinite health benefits of almonds, the internet is full of such content. I will however, be telling you about flavours and memories, which are my absolute favourite things and are my ingredients for #FoodForSoul


There is a specific sophistication in the palate of smoked foods and I always find it delightful. From the popular smoked salmon to less popular smoked foods such as a most wonderful smoked basil ice-cream which I recently had at a restaurant in Barcelona and anything that resides in the levels in between the two, smoked foods are very interesting to say the least.

Therefore I chose to post a recipe for a smoked snack, because these days I am munching all the time and happily snacking away like they will disappear tomorrow!! And most delightful of snacks are those amazing smoked almonds. So I chose to share with you the recipe here and hope you love them as much as I do once you give it a try.
With that said and as you will read in the description below, I am also showing you how you can adapt this recipe to your preferred flavours and even type of nuts. 

Before jumping right into the recipe
Here is a bit of 
Levantine Entertaining & Love of Snacking

When we entertain guests, it is very common for the hostess to have placed a few bowls of assorted toasted nuts - in a variety of flavours - on the centre and side tables, so guests munch on them along with their drinks and until dinner is served. Sometimes even when friends visit, it is popular to serve these nuts among the other snacks and dips... In less formal and humbler societies nuts and seeds are very popular snacks that are usually taken for picnics and many people back in the day will have spent the whole afternoon and a big chunk of the night munching on these nuts and ceaselessly cracking seeds for the delicious little pearl of heart inside.
A little more back in time, people even took those same snacks to the much humblers forms of movie theatres that were present at the time. Once the movie was over and the lights were on the floor will have become no more and shells will have taken over to decor the ground of the theatre! Just imagine what amount of seed crackin will have taken place if there was any suspense in the movie!! :))

While back in the day it most likely was toasted, salted nuts or (less popular then than now) the raw nuts especially almonds, which are among my favourite snacks ever; in the recent decades many new flavours have emerged, from BBQ, to even cheese and I even once found a Mexican Jalapeno and cheese flavoured nuts... The variation is fun and allows you to play with themes, where even your choice of nuts can go with your whole menu or event's theme.

My favourite flavour is smoked almonds, however, you can choose to go with BBQ flavour, chili flavour or even cumin. Really any spice mix you prefer works well here. Also you can carry out the same recipe using walnuts, macademia or even cashews..
You might have to break the pieces apart as at home you do not have a revolver to revolve the nuts in order to keep them coated yet separate. But that is not such an issue really.

You Need
500g Unblanched almonds
1 egg white
2 tsp smoked spices*, BBQ spice mix or red chili for spicy almonds...
1/2 tsp unrefined salt (optional for more savoury flavour)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Preheat the oven to (325F/160C).

Slightly beat the egg white in a large bowl, then add the almonds and toss to coat them well with the egg white. Add the salt and smoked spices and rub the nuts between your palms (you can wear gloves if you must! or wash afterwards!) Make sure each nut is coated with the spice.

Spread in a single layer over the lined baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes making sure to turn twice throughout.

Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper over a wire wrack and leave to cool completely. Once cooled, break any stuck pieces and place in an airtight container. Store for up to 1 month.

Serve these almonds in small bowls for guests to munch on with their drinks, or as a snack for your family.

Smoked Spices there is a special mix called "Smoked Spices" that you can buy from spice markets and specialty stores that gives the exact flavour of spiced nuts you buy from vendors. However if you are unable to find this mix you can simply smoke your spices at home. A very easy way to do this is to place them in a foil bowl in a smoker with lit smoking chips (of course in a very well ventilated area) and smoke them until the chips burn out and the smoke fades. Another one is to use a smoking gun and place them under a smoking cloche and smoke them that way.

Go Nuts! Why not!
If you prefer to go smoked then check out the recipe on this link, you will love it!

Monday, 16 February 2015

Asabe' Zeinab - The Popular Traditional Palestinian Cookies

I have received many requests for this recipe and have always kept it on my task list to make, photograph and post. However, partly being very fully scheduled, and partly because I have limited making sugary foods to almost none (I always end up convincing myself to have more, and really could do with eating less lol) ... ! I have finally managed to get myself to tick this recipe off my task list :)

So here you go, the recipe for this best loved and delicious (however naughty) Palestinian cookies the name of whic literally means Zeinab's Fingers...

You Need
1 recipe sugar syrup
Flavorless vegetable oil for frying
2 cups fine semolina
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp ground fennel seeds
2 tbsp ground anise
1 tsp ground mehlepi (Mahlab)
1 tsp nigella seeds
2tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cup water

In a large bowl, mix well together the semolina, flour, baking soda, seeds and ground seeds. Add the olive oil and rub the mixture well between your palms to moisten all. Gradually add the water and mix until you have a firm dough. 

Place the dough in a bowl, cover and leave to rest for a few hours.

After resting, line a large baking sheet with baking paper. And start shaping the finger.
To shape, take 1 tbsp of dough and roll into a thick finger (sausage) between your palms. Roll the dough back and forth over a firm large holed sieve to creat impressions over the fingers as you can see in the picture above. Line the rolled and impressed dough over the lined baking sheet and continue to shape the rest of the quantity as such.

Once done, heat the frying oil. Meanwhile place the prepared sugar syrup in a pot next to you. Once the oil is heated add a few fingers at a time and fry them over medium heat until golden.

Once golden remove the cookies and dip them straightaway in the sugar syrup pushing them in to make sure they are fully covered with the syrup. Repeat the process with all the quantity.

Line on a serving plate and serve cold with tea.

Have a very sweet day :)

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Ghraybeh - Ancient & Traditional Arabic Cookies

For those of you who emailed me regarding posts and recipes please see my note below :-)

And here is a regularly requested recipe...
Perhaps an ancient Arabic dessert the recipe of which may have slightly been altered from time to time, however, remains with an unforgettable flavour from childhood for those who grew up in the Levant. Ghraybeh is a type of cookies famous all over  the region, however eternally residing in the cuisines of Falasteen, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, the area from which these cookies originated.

Give this recipe a try and serve these to your families with tea in the afternoon and taste the flavours of our childhood's afternoons.

You Need
2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
1 tsp powdered vanilla
1/4 tsp baking soda
Shelled pistachios for garnish

Beat the soft butter for 1 minute, add the confectioner's sugar and vanilla powder and beat until light and fluffy.

Add the flour and baking soda and beat on slow speed until the flour is all incorporated, then increase the speed to medium and continue to beat until you achieve a dough.

Place the dough in a bowl and cover, then leave to rest at room temperature for one hour.

Divide the dough into equal sized balls, roll each into a tube then pinch the edges together to form a loop like in the picture above. Press a shelled pistachio at the tip.

Line the shaped cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in a preheated (325F) oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until the bottoms are firm and slightly darker.

Remove from the oven and completely cool in the baking sheets, then line on your serving plate and serve with tea.

Happy Baking!

RE: Ur Emails
I am receiving your emails, and agreed, between family time and my work projects I have not had the time to regularly post, especially recipes!! And I know you love those, but you guys know I am not a 100% dedicated blogger as I mainly work on other projects (food related of course, however not all public projects) and blogging is what I do on the side. Some projects are more forgiving and allow me time, but somehow the projects I have been working on lately have been so demanding and leaving me no time to post regularly. I am saying this here as it is easier to post one answer than answering all the emails. Lol one month out and my inbox is jammed!!
Love you guys! :))