Saturday, June 30, 2007

Kalb El Louz / Qalb Alouz (Heart of Almonds)

4 cups of large grain semolina
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup cooled but melted butter or ghee and or canola oil or a mixture of which ever ones you prefer
1/4 cup of orange flower water
pinch of salt

2 cups of ground almonds
1 cup of sugar
1tsp cinnamon
2tbs orange blossom water

6 cups of water
3 cups of sugar
1/4 cup of orange flower water
1/4 cup of butter (optional)
juice from one small lemon (optional) or 1 ts vanilla extract

Split blanched almonds for the top
Mix all of the filling ingredients together using a food processor and set aside.

Make the syrup by bringing the water and sugar to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes, until the water has condensed to just over half of what you had started off with. After it's cooled add the vanilla or lemon, butter and orange blossom water to it.

Toast semolina until it's golden brown and there is a very nutty smell in your kitchen.
Let the semolina cool then whisk in the sugar and salt. 
Next gently work in the room temperature melted butter (or whatever fat content you have chosen), making sure all the grains are coated well. 
Add the orange flower water making sure to not overwork your dough.
The dough shouldn't be really wet, it is the consistency of wet sand, gritty and damp.
Let the dough sit for as long as you can, overnight preferable but at least fifteen minutes.

Afterward split the dough into two, and press one half of dough into your buttered dish using your hands or the back of a spoon, but not packing it, just evening it out.
Spoon the almond filling onto the first layer of dough and spread evenly.
Cover the almond mixture with the second half of the dough and gently even it out.

Cut half way into the cake marking your individual pieces.
Press half of an almond onto each piece of cake for decoration (optional). You can brush butter or ghee onto the cake. Bake at 400 30 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. If you would like a darker red color put it under the broiler. Take the cake out of the oven and slowly pour the syrup onto the cake.
Turn off your oven and place your cake back into the oven for another ten to fifteen minutes.
Ladle more syrup if desired.
Let the cake relax overnight... if you can be patient.
Serve with mint tea or coffee.


Chackchuka (Roasted Veggie Salad)

This is a traditional Algerian meal, or a side dish if you like.
You can use just about any kind of pepper, hot, mild or sweet. Also you can use as much as you would like of each. My family really likes everything, so we use everything equal in proportion except for onions and garlic bulbs, usually only one of each.
You can also roast your veggies outside on the grill or right on your stove as I did this particular day. It is a mess to clean but so worth it!


After roasting until burned looking, I shock them in cold or put them in a plastic bag then gently pull off the skins. Chop everything up and mix together with good quality extra virgin olive oil, salt and apple cider vinegar.
We use fresh bread as a spoon to eat this lovely dish. On this day I made Focaccia which is on another post. I wish I turned off the flash as you cannot see the salad very well. It truly is a beautiful dish.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Shetha with Zucchini

zucchini, we are a big family so we use around 10 or 12.
fresh tomatoes or omit
olive oil for sauteing
1-2 tbs hot pepper paste/harissa or sweet, but hot is our preference
1-2 tbs tomato paste
1 bunch of fresh chopped parsley or dried if you don't have fresh
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
ras el hanout if you have, if not omit
cumin to taste
caraway to taste
paprika to taste

This dish just follows the cooks taste. It's really up to you how spicy you would like it. I like mine more hot, paprika and cuminy (if there is such a word! ;-)
Clean, trim and cut zucchini lengthwise. Heat your pans and add olive oil and begin frying.
While they are frying you can clean and dice your tomatoes. You can omit them if you aren't a tomato kind of person, we love them so we use a lot in this dish.

I don't drain or pat off the oil on my zucchini although many people do. Olive oil is great for health and we only use that so I don't stress out on how much we eat.
After you have fried all of your veggies the sauce is all that is left.
Dump out 3/4 of the oil and try to keep as much of the zucchini pieces in the bottom. They give the dish flavor. Add all your spices, chickpeas, pastes and start cooking.

This sauce can be as soupy as you would like or as thick. We like ours in the middle, so you can see I used a lot of tomato paste, you can omit that and just use the pepper paste or you can just use the tomato paste. After simmering covered for an hour or so this is what is looks like. Pour the sauce on top of your veggies and mop up with some homemade bread! We eat this dish often in our house.



2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup bread flour (or add one extra of regular flour if you don't have)
warm water
2 ts yeast
1 tbs honey
1 tbs salt
4 tbs olive oil

2-4 tbs olive oil
2 tbs dried rosemary
2 tbs dried basil
2 tbs dried thyme

Activate yeast in the water mixed with honey.
Mix the salt into the flour then add to the water.
Knead until satiny and smooth.
Let double covered for about one hour.
Gently deflate and let double again, however not necessary if in a hurry.
Dump the dough onto your cooking plate and stretch it carefully trying to maintain as much of the air as you can. Dimple with your fingers.
Let rise a third time for about 20 minutes or until the height you prefer.
Sprinkle herbs and drizzle olive oil if you like although this time I didn't.
As always dimple the bread and after the third rising. :-)
Bake 350 until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped.

Raisin Bread

2 ts instant yeast
3/4 cup water
3 1/2 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
1 1/2 ts salt
4 tbs powdered milk
4 tbs honey
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tbs cinnamon
1 egg yolk + 1 tablespoon milk lightly beaten for the wash
1 cup raisins soaked to reconstitute

You can first plump the raisins, or leave as is and add later.
Place warm water, honey and dry milk in a bowl and mix well.
Add the yeast.
Add all other ingredients in any order and mix well.
Then knead either by hand or mixer.
Knead until the dough is satiny and smooth.
Cover with a towel or transfer to a doubling bucket and let it double.
Gently deflate and add raisins, knead until the raisins are as evenly distributed as possible.
Shape into a boule a loaf.
Let the dough double.

Brush with egg wash. Bake in a 350 oven until golden brown.