Thursday, August 30, 2007

Baghrir or A Thousand Holes


250 grams fine semolina
250 grams flour (or omit and use 500 grams of semolina only)
1 tbs salt
3 eggs
1 tbs yeast
1/2 liter warm milk
1/2 liter warm water
1 tbs sugar

1 cup butter or any soft cheese
1 cup of warmed honey

Traditionally Baghrir is 100% Semolina, and it's eaten in Morocco and Algeria, although I have not seen many eating it! Today I used melted butter and honey for the filling but often I use softened whipped Cream Cheese and a few tablespoons of honey. I recommend making the filling first and letting it sit as you make the crepes.

Activate the yeast with the milk, water and sugar.
Add flour and semolina or just semolina and mix very well, until all lumps are gone and you have a smooth, soupy batter. Set to the side and let it become bubbly 30 to 45 minutes.

Using a heavy skillet melt a teaspoon or less of olive oil or butter (I always use butter) and when it's brown add one soup ladle of the batter to the center of the hot skillet and rotate the pan until the pan has batter spread evenly over it.
This crepe is not like French crepes, forget what you learned about no holes in crepes, Baghrir means 1000 holes! Your pan needs to be fairly hot.


As soon as you add your batter you will see the holes forming, it's quite pretty.
Flip over when the underside is brown a minute or two then leave on the other side for about 30 seconds or so. Traditionally it isn't flipped over, nor is it cooked in oil, it's cooked on a special pan which is oiled once and that is it. I have not seen this pan in the States, however I do plan on getting one when I visit Algeria!
Add the filling and roll up!
Enjoy!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Chocolate Chip & Pecan Cookies





Last night my little brother, who is not so little anymore, decided to make us cookies.
Over the course of him being with us we have found that while off to college he learned to cook a few things. We have now eaten his cookies, and on occasion his lovely spicy potatoes and eggs for breakfast and a a couple of times his put together dinners. All of which were wonderful and a nice break for me from cooking.

I am so looking forward to trying his pancakes and brownies. :-)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Two Milk Rice Pudding



5 cups milk
1 can of sweet condensed milk
1/3 cup long grain white rice
2 tsp orange blossom water
chopped pistachios


Combine both milks in a saucepan and whisk together.
Turn heat to medium and whisk until it begins to boil.
Add the rice and stir until the rice is tender and your preferred consistency is reached.
Turn it off.
Stir in OFW and dish into serving bowls.
Garnish with pistachios and serve warm or cold.
Enjoy

Friday, August 24, 2007

Ras El Hanout

Ras El Hanout which translates into English as "The Head of the Store" is used in at least Morocco and Algeria. I have heard that Tunisia uses it as well.

I have found that every person who makes it by hand makes it differently. It isn't an exact recipe per say, in fact there are other ingredients that some cooks add and many herbs and spices that others leave. The blend that I liked the best was given to me by family in Southern Algeria, so it's hard to come by here in the States and some of the herbs and spices are not even available here.

Take a pinch or two of each herb and grind them together by hand or blender and store in an airtight jar.

Of course you could always go to Amazon and buy a jar of it, see if you like that and attempt to recreate it to suite your own personal preference.

Cinnamon
Whole Nutmeg
Whole Mace
Whole Star Anise
Turmeric Powder
Dried Ginger
Whole Allspice
Green Cardamon Pods
Saffron Threads
Fennel Seeds
Dried Rose Buds
Whole Cloves
Black Pepper Corns
White pepper Corns
Caraway Powder
Coriander Powder
Cumin Seeds
Celery Seeds
Dill Seeds
Dried Elderberry
Feenugreek Seeds
Dried Orris Root
Dried Lavender
Allspice Berries
Black Seeds or Nigella Sativa Seeds
Dried Blue Ginger, Galangal or Chinese Ginger
Melegutta pepper, Alligator Pepper, Grains of Paradise or Guinea Pepper


If one doesn't have these spices a pinch of cumin, paprika, and caraway will suffice! LOL

Kataifi B'Ashta



Ashta/Custard:
2 1/2 Cups Whole Milk
9 Tablespoons Corn Starch
1 ts Vanilla Essence
6 tbs Sugar
2 tbs Orange Blossom Water (OFW)
1 Small Container of Ricotta Cheese

    Syrup:
    1 cup Sugar
    1 cup Water
    2 tbs OFW
    1 tbs Vanilla Essence

      Pastry:
      1 Cup of Salted Butter Melted
      1 Package of Shredded Filo Dough

        Garnish:
        Chopped Pistachios

          Make the Ashta and Syrup first.

          To make the Ashta mix together very well the cornstarch and a 1/2 cup of milk then set to the side.
          Bring the remaining 2 cups of the milk and sugar to a boil. Making sure to whisk constantly so as not to burn. After the milk has started to bubble, slowly add the cornstarch and milk mixture continuing to whisk.
          After you have a reached a very thick consistency, turn off the heat and whisk in the vanilla, OFW and cheese.
          Place in a crack safe dish, cover with a piece of plastic which will keep skin from forming and then set in the fridge or freezer until cool to touch.

          Make the syrup by bringing all the ingredients to a boil, then simmering for 15 minutes.
          Place the syrup in a crack safe glass and put in the fridge or freezer until very cold.
          The Pastry has to be room temperature to work with so follow the directions on the package.

          Prepare the pastry by pouring the butter over it and rubbing the strands together with your hands until all the pastry has butter on it.
          Cut the pastry in half and place on your baking pan and add the cream filling.
          After which add the remainder of the pastry and cook at 370 until golden brown, about 35 minutes.
          Cut into wedges of desired size, pour the cold syrup on top of the cake and garnish with cut pistachios.
          Eat cold or room temperature.
          I have found from eating in different Arab homes that most Arab countries have a version of this recipe.
          For example in Algeria the filling is with nuts, Lebanon its with cream, Egypt with some use cream while others use nuts. I have also found that all the cream recipes are not the same. Some use cream of rice, corn flour, semolina or flour, and then you find some that like to use soft cheeses like cottage or what I personally like, Ricotta.
          That's the lovely part of cooking, falling love with different cultures cuisine's and more importantly the people who make the food.



          Enjoy!

          Thursday, August 23, 2007

          Camel & Southern Algerian Man


          I found this amazing picture on Flickr, so of course I had to save it and share it.



          أَفَلَا يَنظُرُونَ إِلَى الْإِبِلِ كَيْفَ خُلِقَتْ

          "Why do they not reflect on the camels and how they are created ?"

          Al-Ghashiyah 88:17



          Lemon Meatball Tagine & Basil Carrot Salad


          1 onion grated
          1 bunch of fresh parsley finely chopped
          1 lb fresh ground beef or lamb
          cumin to taste
          paprika to taste
          pepper to taste
          salt to taste
          1 egg lightly beaten
          1/4 cup of soaked bread crumbs

          1/8 cup olive oil
          1 onion finely chopped
          hot paprika to taste
          sweet paprika to taste
          cumin to taste
          juice of two or three lemons
          3 cups of chicken stock or water
          1 bunch of chopped fresh cilantro
          1 bunch of chopped fresh parsley
          2 preserved lemons or the fresh lemons used for the juice

          Mix together all the meatball ingredients by hand or in a food processor.
          Shape the meat into whatever size of balls your prefer.
          Place in the refrigerator until the sauce is ready.

          To make the sauce saute the onions in the Olive Oil until translucent and soft.
          Add all the spices and fry for one minute then add the lemon juice, fresh parsley, cilantro and chicken stock or water.
          Bring it up to a boil then add the meatballs and simmer until the meat is done.
          Garnish with chopped Cilantro and lemon wedges.




          2 lbs fresh skinned and sliced carrots
          1/8 cup of olive oil
          1 bunch of fresh basil, torn apart rather than chopped
          garnish with a few springs of fresh chopped parsley

          Trim, peel and slice carrots into desired thickness.
          Steam until tender and then put into serving dish.
          Add basil, parsley with olive oil and serve warm or cold.

          Enjoy!

          Wednesday, August 22, 2007

          Eggplant Rague & Rice


          1 Large Eggplant
          3 Tomatoes
          1 Garlic Head
          Chickpeas
          Fresh Parsley
          Ras El Hanout
          Cumin
          Hot Paprika
          Salt
          Black Pepper
          Light Olive Oil
          Tomato Paste

          Jasmine Rice
          Steamed Green Beans

          Peel and dice the eggplant then saute in warm oil.
          Add cleaned and diced tomatoes, spices, garlic and tomato paste.
          When the eggplant is more than tender add the chickpeas a small bunch of chopped parsley or cilantro and about a cup of water.

          After simmering for awhile and it is the consistency that you like, adding more fresh chopped parsley or cilantro helps bring out all of the flavors.

          We ate this on top of steamed Jasmine rice and green beans for our salad. We more commonly eat this with bread and salad. However I didn't make fresh bread last night and rice worked well in a pinch.


          Enjoy!

          Tuesday, August 21, 2007

          Almond Peach Roll using Genoise

          1 cup flour
          1/2 cup sugar
          9 eggs separated
          1 ts vanilla essence
          1 ts almond essence

          2 cups heavy whipping cream
          fresh white peaches cleaned and sliced
          1/2 cup sugar
          1 ts vanilla essence
          1 ts almond essence


          Sliced Almonds

          Whip the yolks until creamy and pale. Add sugar in a slow stream and beat until thick and creamy. Add flour a spoonful at a time and beat until well incorporated. Genoise doesn't have leavening so it needs a lot of air beat into it to rise and be soft.
          In a separate bowl beat the whites until stiff peaks form then add the flour mixture to it, folding ever so gently not to deflate what air has been beaten into it.
          Prepare your jelly roll pan with a large piece parchment paper reaching a half of an inch over the edges. Smooth the batter onto the pan making sure to even it out as much as possible. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, the cake should be soft but an indentation of your finger should fill back in slowly and the cake should be lightly browned.
          Turn the hot cake onto a a towel and peel off the parchment paper. Let it cool 30 minutes then whip up your filling.
          Pour whipping cream into your mixing bowl and add all other ingredients. Make sure your cream is really cold. Turn on the mixer at high speed and let it make whip cream. After it's thick spread it out onto the cake then lay your fruit on and roll up your cake.

          It seems my brand new camera takes fuzzy pictures sometimes. I will have to exchange it maybe. Weird, this is the second camera that has decided to take unclear pictures.



          Enjoy!

          Monday, August 20, 2007

          Ramadan





          Essalam Alaikum,

          Ramadan is on the way! We are already in Sha'ban day # 7, year 1428.

          Where does the time go?

          Masha'Allah, this past year I was so busy with my children and house that I feel the entire year just past me by.

          Insha'Allah this Ramadan will be full of insight, reflection, family, friends and of course... lovely food.

          From sun up to sun down we fast for thirty days, and truly I feel that this is the best time of year. I am so excited. This will be the first time I will share our food online with people outside of those we invite to break fast with us after Maghrib (fourth prayer of the day).

          Traditionally we shouldn't eat more than a few bites to break our fast and we should be extra generous with our neighbors, friends, and the poor. Ramadan should be a time for strengthening our ties with God, helping to establish a well rounded helpful community, taking care of those less fortunate than ourselves and becoming better people. Of course we do this all year round, but Ramadan is really a special time for acknowledging what blessings we live in as so many people don't get to break their hunger when the sun sets, they simply don't have food.

          May God help us become more like our great teacher! May God help us remember where we came from and where we are going to!

          Wednesday, August 15, 2007

          Couscous

          Before steaming, clean. Cover the couscous with water and drain twice.
          You can just use a regular steamer, which is what I usually do.
          First steam

          Second Steam

          Third Steam

          As you can see, each time it is steamed it grows! :-)

          Finished


          pick three or four of the following:

          carrots
          potatoes
          zucchini
          sweet potatoes
          turnips
          eggplant
          speghetti squash
          pumpkin
          chickpeas
          fava beans
          peas
          meat
          chicken

          sauce:

          olive oil
          fresh diced tomatoes
          grated onions, either green tops or regular
          tomato paste, or not
          harissa, or not
          garlic
          pepper
          salt
          ras el hanout
          cumin
          paprika
          caraway

          If all vegeatrian;

          Add the cleaned and cut up veggies in a pot with the spices and oil. Cook until fork tender. Add a cup or two of water and finish cooking.



          If using meat;

          Brown the meat in the oil and spices, add one cup of water and presure cook for fifteen minutes until done.
          Take out and follow if all vegetarian added more spices if needed.



          Enjoy!

          Blueberry Sourdough Pancakes


          3 cups flour
          2 tbs baking powder
          6 tbs sugar
          1 ts salt
          give or take a bit, 1 1/2 cups milk
          1/4 cup sourdough starter
          1/4 stick of melted salted REAL butter
          2 eggs or 3 if you like
          Fresh Blueberries or Frozen (which I used this day but fresh are so much better)
          Maple Syrup or Honey if you like for your toppings.



          Whisk together all of the dry ingredients and set aside.
          Whisk together the milk, eggs, sourdough starter and cooled butter.
          Gently add the egg mixture to the flour and stir until most of the clumps are gone, not all of them however otherwise you won't have a nice soft and fluffy cake!



          First I add a small tab of butter to a hot frying pan and melt it until golden brown with a hint of that nutty smell only browned butter gives.
          Ladle one spoon of batter and then add the fruit on top. I never add blueberries to pancake batter, I don't like a blue batter.


          Let the bottom become brown then flip it over and cook until the other side is also brown.


          Enjoy!

          Cream Cheese Raspberry Roll ... Genoise


          1 cup flour
          1/4 cup sugar
          9 eggs separated
          2 tbs vanilla in any form

          1 package or a cup of cream cheese at room temperature
          1 tbs vanilla
          1/2 - 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
          1 jar of  raspberry jam at room temperature and stirred well. Reserve 1 tbs of the jam for the frosting.

          1 cup reserved cream cheese mixture
          1 tbs of reserved jam

          Traditionally Genoise doesn't and shouldn't have leavening so it needs a lot of air beat into it to rise and to be soft.


          Whip the yolks until creamy and pale.
          Add sugar in a slow stream and beat until thick and creamy.
          Add flour a spoonful at a time and beat until well incorporated.
          In a separate bowl beat the whites until stiff peaks form then incorporate them into the yolk and flour mixture ever so gently not to lose the air you have beaten into the batter.


          Prepare your jelly roll pan with a large piece parchment paper reaching a half of an inch over the edges. Smooth the batter onto the pan making sure to even it out as much as possible.

          Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, the cake should be soft and an indentation of your finger should fill back in slowly. The cake should be lightly browned.

          Turn the hot cake onto a a towel and peel off the parchment paper. Let it cool

          Filling:
          Add the whipping cream, vanilla and cream cheese to a bowl and whip on medium speed or hand mix until thick and creamy.
          For the topping remove roughly one cup and add the reserved 2 tbs of jam to it and mix well. Put in the freezer if you have time. It will stick to the top better if it's cold.

          Spread your jam onto your cake first then top it with the cream cheese mixture.
          Roll it up and lay seam side down.

          Spread the topping on the cake, place in the fridge until you are ready to serve it.

          Enjoy!

          Tuesday, August 14, 2007

          Stuffed Cream Cheese & Olive Snails


          3 cups whole wheat flour
          3 cups white flour
          1 tbs yeast
          water
          6 spoons of powdered milk


          1 jar of green stuffed olives
          1 package cream cheese @ room temperature
          1-2 cloves of minced garlic


          3-4 tbs milk
          sesame seeds

          This is an eyeballed  recipe. Not sure how I came up with it, but it works the same way every time.
          Combine the dough ingredients, making sure the salt is last so as to not kill the yeast.
          Let it rest until doubled.
          Gently deflate it, separate into 4 balls and let it raise again for about another hour.
          After I rolled each piece out into rectangles, about 1/2 inch thick and then spread my filling onto it and rolled it up and twisted it into a snail.
          Two snails at a time, into a 375 preheated oven for about an hour at least until hollow sounding and dark brown.


          Enjoy!

          Thursday, August 9, 2007

          Stuffed Spicy Artichoke Snail

          This is the same dough I always use to stuff bread, and is found on the other stuffed bread recipes.
          This filling is just Spicy Artichoke Dip bought from Safeway. :-) Worked pretty well actually.

          3 cups whole wheat flour
          3 cups white flour
          1 tbs yeast
          water
          6 spoons of powdered milk

          3-4 tbs milk
          sesame seeds

          Mix all ingredients together with 1 cup or so of warm water until you have a soft pliable dough.
          Set aside to double, cover with a towel and check back in an hour.
          On a lightly floured surface gently deflate, divide into 2 or 4 equal portions, cover with a damp kitchen towel and let double again.
          On a lightly floured surface, roll out to 1/2 inch thick rectangle.
          Spoon on filling then roll up jelly roll style, gently wrap or swirl the bread back on itself until you have a snail and let rise again on a lined or buttered half sheet pan.
          Preheat oven to 375.
          Brush on egg wash and sprinkle with seeds.
          Two snails can cook at a time for about an hour until when tapped sounds hollow and the bread has developed a nice golden color.





           
          Enjoy!

          Strawberry Roll using Genoise



          This was fun and easy to make.


          9 eggs separated
          1 cup flour
          1 cup sugar
          2 tbs vanilla
          pinch of salt

          Whip the yolks until pale and think, slowly pour the sugar in a stream and cream for a minute or two until looks creamy and thick. Add vanilla then slowly add the flour and beat until well incorporated.

          In a separate bowl beat the egg whites and a pinch of salt until stiff. Then fold them into the flour mixture.

          Pour and smooth evenly onto a baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper.

          Bake at 350 about 20 minutes until light golden and well set.

          Take out and cool completely for about 30 minutes. After it's done cooling make your filling in a well cleaned and cold whisk and bowl. I put mine in the freezer for about 10 minutes before whipping up my filling.


          1 cup heavy whipping cream
          1/2 ts  vanilla or lemon extract
          2 tbs of sugar
          fresh strawberries

          Beat the cream with sugar and extract. Clean and cut up the strawberries.
          After your cake is completely cooled invert cake onto a towel and peel away the paper, pick which side you would like to show and spread your filling, load on your fruit and roll up.

          I dusted this particular cake with powdered sugar first then cocoa powder.


          Enjoy!

          Almond & Chocolate Cake using Genoise


          Originally I was going to make this into a jelly roll cake, but found that the cake was too sensitive and would crack when I tried to roll it. I'm not sure why that happened, maybe because it didn't have flour in it?

          9 eggs separated
          1 cup flour
          1 cup sugar
          2 tbs vanilla
          pinch of salt

          Whip the yolks until pale and think, slowly pour the sugar in a stream and cream for a minute or two until looks creamy and thick. Add vanilla then slowly add the flour, I wanted to try a flour less cake so it's omitted here.
          In a separate bowl beat the egg whites and a pinch of salt until stiff. Then fold them into the flour yolk mixture.
          Pour and smooth evenly onto a baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper.
          Bake at 350 about 20 minutes until light golden and well set.
          Take out and cool completely for about 30 minutes. After it's done cooling make your filling in a well cleaned and cold whisk and bowl. I put mine in the freezer for about 10 minutes before whipping up my filling.
          2 tbs almond essence
          1 1/2 cups whipping cream
          sugar to taste
          pinch of salt


          Enjoy!

          Beautiful Semonlina Bread



          4 cups of fine semolina
          2 1/2 - 3/4 cups warm water
          1 tbs yeast
          4 tbs olive oil
          2 tbs salt or to taste
          seeds to your liking

          Dissolve the yeast in the water.
          Whisk together semolina and salt then add the olive oil.
          Add the water to the semolina and knead until soft and satiny.
          Set aside covered until doubled.
          Gently press into disks, how many depends on your taste for thickness. I like thin sometimes, so I cooked four disks.
          Let double again.
          Brush with an egg and sprinkle with seeds.
          Bake in a 400 degree oven until golden brown and hard when tapped.

          Enjoy!

          Saturday, August 4, 2007

          Gooey Thick Pizza


          Although the toppings were great, I tried a new recipe and the crust went thick and gooey on me.  No doubt, too much flour and semolina.
          I like the thinner crispier with either big holes or flat and crunchy. Occasionally I do like deep dish, or the thicker hand toss crust... but not too often.

          Anyway everything gotten eaten and no leftovers, but hey, with four children, your brother and a hubby, who was going to leave any pizza left over.
          Safeway carries the best Turkey Pepperoni in the world!

          Enjoy!

          Friday, August 3, 2007

          My First Sourdough Using My First Starter


          It was way too chewy for my liking. Almost like... glue. YUCK.
          Stubborn me, I didn't even follow a recipe, I just added some starter to the normal flattish bread I make almost daily for dinner.

          My husband liked it, he said with his usual happy face during our meal. My little brother said it was good as well, but sourdough isn't his thing either and I am pretty sure both of them were just being nice.
          I think you have to let sourdough rise more than the two times, once before shaping and once after then into the oven. Sad really, I was so looking forward to sourdough this night.

          My First No Knead Sourdough


          This wasn't hard in the least.
          I followed a recipe from Bread Topia.
          I bought a Cajun Cast Iron Pot from Amazon for 11 dollars. It was the worst spent 11 dollars in my life, thus far anyway. The bread crumb was good, full of flavor and beautifully colored, however the crust was too thick and hard and I was truly disappointed. When I can afford it I will buy a dutch oven that has enamel on it to prevent the instant rust that occurred on my Cajun Cast Iron pot and lid on the arrival of it in the mail. :-(