Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Mdardrah - Lentils with Rice

2 tbs olive oil
1 medium sized onion, sliced
3 dl green lentils
4 dl rice
vegetable stock to cover
salt and pepper to taste

In a deep pot, fry the onion in the olive oil for about five minutes. Add the lentils and rice together with the salt and pepper and stir well.

Add the vegetable stock and stir one last time. There should be enough liquid to reach one centimetre above the rice line.

Leave to simmer until the rice is cooked through and you can hear that the water has disappeared.

This dish is absolutely delicious served with yoghurt, green salad and brown-fried onions and mushrooms (onions and sliced mushrooms stir-fried until browned with salt and pepper).

Mtabbal, commonly called Baba Ghannoush

This is a yummy dip, often included in Middle Eastern mezze.

2 medium-sized aubergines (egg plant)
2-3 tablespoons of Tahini (sesame paste)
salt, pepper
juice of one or two lemons
1 garlic clove
olive oil
a dash of paprika powder
parsley for garnishing

Poak the aubergines witha fork and put them on a greased oven-proof dish or some aluminium foil. Grill for about minutes, in the oven, turning them occasionally, until the skin has changed colour. Take the aubergines out and peel them once they have cooled off.

Put them in a mixing bowl, and add 2-3 tablespoons of Tahini, salt, pepper, the juice of one or two lemons, and 1 crushed garlic clove. Mix with a blender or hand mixer and taste. The garlic should not be too strong, because its taste matures and gets much heavier with time. Add more lemon juice if needed.

Arrange the dip in a plate, sprinkle red paprika, drizzle some olive oil over it and decorate with some parsley sprigs.

Place it in the fridge, preferrably for at least a few hours before serving it with pita bread as a side dish to a main meal or as an appetizer.

Semolina Porridge

4 servings

8 dl milk
1 1/4 dl semolina
1/2 tsp salt
sugar, milk
toppings: sugar, cinnamon or jam (eg. strawberry jam)

Put the milk with salt (and sugar if you want) over the medium hot stove, and add the semolina slowly while stirring, making sure not to get any lumps. When the porridge starts to bubble, lower the heat to its lowest grade and let it simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. When it has become thick it's done. If it's too watery, let it simmer for some longer or adjust the recipe for next time, adding some more semolina. If it's too thick, add some more milk and stir.

Serve with milk and jam or cinnamon.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Whole-meal bread

I love baking. Some of the simplest breads are what people love the most, and this is a bread with a simple recipe :)

0.5 kg whole-meal flour
0.5 kg white flour
1 tbs dry active yeast (tepid water and sugar to activate dry yeast)
or 0.25 g fresh active yeast (ask at a local bakery or supermarket bakery, you might get it for free)
1 tbs salt

Activate the yeast, if needed. Add the dry ingredients and then add water to make a dough, while mixing it all together. When I bake, I use eye-measurements, so take my instructions 'with a pinch of salt'.
Knead for about ten minutes and leave to rise to double size approximately 1 hour.
After it has risen, punch down the dough (knead it again) a few minutes and divide it. Make three big round loaves or the shape you're familiar with. Leave to rise another twenty minutes.
Bake in medium hot oven (180°C, gas mark 7?) for 40 minutes.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Eight Reasons Why Menu Planning Is A Terrible Idea

By Christine Steendahl

Have you heard about meal planning lately? Families are busy and getting busier all the time. As families work on getting organized, many home managers are turning to meal planning as a way to eliminate the evening stress in their homes.

However, meal planning is not for everyone. Here are eight reasons why meal planning just may be a terrible idea for you and your family.

1. You enjoy eating unhealthy fast-food three to five times per week.

2. You love the taste of pre-packaged preservative packed frozen convenience food.

3. Spending $200 and 2 hours at the grocery store, only to come home to discover that there is nothing to cook for dinner is one of your favorite things to do.

4. You enjoy the stress of running around like crazy at dinner time trying to figure out what to cook while your children and husband are hungry and crabby.

5. You like your food rut of spaghetti, hot dogs, pizza, repeat.

6. You have no other way to spend the extra $100 you spend each week eating out.

7. You have nothing better to do at 5 o’clock every day than to go to the grocery store. It’s enjoyable to daily spend extra money on groceries as additional items “fall” into your cart.

8. You have no desire to enjoy a home cooked meal around the dinner table with your family. You feel spending time with your family is a complete waste of time.

If you agree with the above statements please do not ever try meal planning – it is probably a terrible idea. On the other hand, if you possibly disagree with at least one of the above statements perhaps it is time to give menu planning a try!

Christine Steendahl Is The Founder Of Dine Without Whine – A Family Friendly Weekly Menu Planner. She Helps Families Eliminate The Dinner Hour Stress And Re-Discover The Pleasure Of The Dinner Hour! For A Free Sample Menu Visit http://www.dinewithoutwhine.com/offer

Friday, 27 June 2008

Veiled Beauties ;-)

Fateerah or Mahjubah (pl. Fataayer, Mhaajeb)

1kg semolina flour (I've tried both fine and coarse, coarse is less sticky in my opinion)
1tbs salt

Add water to the semolina and salt.

Mix it into a dough.

Start kneading by lifting the opposite side of the dough into the middle and pressing with the base of your palms.

More power is put into the kneading, if you sit on the floor, with the dough in front of you, in a big tray or plate (traditionally they use a big wooden "qas'ah").

And it takes a lot of strength to do these. I normally knead for at least half an hour, slowly adding a hand ful of water at a time.

When the dough is wet, it's easier to work the water into the dough with your knuckles, until it stops playng around.

Knead until the dough feels soft and elastic. Let the dough rest.

For a classical Mahjubah, fry some sliced onion, garlic, then add peeled, seeded and cut tomatoes, (animal fat - but I left that out) and hot chilli. Season with salt and pepper. Cook together and put aside.

Divide your dough into balls the size of golf balls, or a little bit larger. Fill a cup with vegetable oil, and pour some of it on your work top. Take one ball, put it on the oily surface. Press it on the work top, drizzle some oil over it, and press until it has a diameter of approximately 35-40 cm, and is very thin. Use the base of your palms and work from the middle out, press the edges, where needed, with your fingers. It doesn't matter if it tears a little.

Some bake them like this.

We fold them like this.

When we make Mhaajeb, we put the spicy filling on the first fold. I tried eggs too, this time, but it didn't work so well. I'll have to practice it more, or look for a better way of doing it.

First fold goes from the bottom to the middle. The second, from the top and over. It's really tricky to keep the right size and thickness with the fillings inside. It helps to wait with the folding to the last second, just before tossing it into the pan.

When folded twice, you fold in the sides.

If need be, press it back into shape after the folding (it's very elastic). Be careful if it has stuff folded into it. Put it in a pre-heated pan over medium heat. Drizzle some oil on it. When it has changed colour on the top, you know it has cooked through and can flip it over to give both sides a golden-brown surface. I use a teflon pan, which helps me cut the amounts of oil used. Traditionally, an upside-down tagine base over a gas fire is used.

There you have it! Delicious with some honey melted on top, accompanied with some tea or a glass of milk. Mhaajeb can be served as a light lunch.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Dsheeshah Soup شربة دشيشة

These pictures are really ... blah ... This is a very simple soup, takes about ten minutes to make, and is pretty colourless ... a bit of a challenge for an amateur photographer like myself. There's lots of texture, so it has potential to be quite interesting, but I don't have the right background and lights...
1/2 medium sized onion, peeled
1 l water
1/2 l milk
1 cup dsheeshah or barley grits(?), in French it's called semoule d'orge
salt to taste

Put all the ingredients in a big pot, bring to the boil and let simmer while stirring for about ten minutes. Done! Very simple, and a life saver, in hectic moments :)

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Gratin de poisson, Fish Bake

Approximately 730 g Coley or other white fish
2 tbs butter
2 tbs flour
500 ml milk
salt and pepper
parsley, chives or preferred herbs (I did it with parsley today - the recipe called for salad cream and gherkins, and on top of the béchamel, sliced tomatoes)
5 ml lemon juice
1 kg potatoes, peeled and cooked
fresh milk for the mashed potatoes
grated cheddar cheese

Cook the potatoes, and make the béchamel sauce in another small pan: melt the butter and add the flour, while stirring (it's a good idea to sift the flour into the melted butter). Add the milk little by little, while stirring. Don't let it burn, and keep it smooth. Season with salt and pepper and your chosen flavouring.
In a greased oven proof dish, put the fish, cover with the béchamel (here goes the tomatoes, if you want that) and top of with mashed potatoes (mixed with some milk, and maybe a pinch of salt) and grated cheese.
Bake in the oven at 190˚C, mark 5 for 30 minutes, or until the cheese has become golden.
Serve with a green sallad.

3+3+6=12 (more or less)

3 eggs
3 dl flour
6 dl milk

optional: a pinch of salt, 1 tbs sugar

makes approximately 12 pancakes.

Mix the batter. Melt some butter or margarine in a frying pan. Take one soup ladle of the batter and pour into the medium hot pan. When the batter has stiffened, flip it over to bake the other side too. And repeat until all the batter is finished.

Serve with sugar and cinnamon, syrup, ice cream, berries and cream, honey, or jam.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Chicken & Carrot Tagine

1 baby chicken
2 medium sized onions
2 cloves garlic
0,5 kg carrots
1 succhini

salt, pepper
a couple of bay leaves
juice of one small lemon
fresh chopped parsley
fresh chopped coriander

Cut the chicken in small pieces and brown it in the tagine. Slice the onions and add to the chicken. Peel and slice the carrots. Add to the tagine together with the spices. Mix it all gently. Slice the succhini and blend it into the tagine. Leave to cook for an hour on low heat, or until the chicken is well cooked. Add the parsley and coriander. Serve with bread.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Broccoli tagine

1 Onion
2 Broccoli heads
salt, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, paprika.

Fry the onions lightly in some butter, add the meat and spices, and leave to cook until the meat is almost done.
Wash and cut the broccoli in medium sized pieces, cook for a few minutes, without letting the broccoli loose colour. Add to the tagine, cover and cook for 15 minutes.