Saturday, August 22, 2009

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Kids Turtle

One of my brother in laws found a turtle on his way back to Metlili from Algiers. Being the animal lover that he is, he just had to bring her home! The kids are thrilled, watching her daily, giving her lettuce (leafy green of course) and apple leftovers. She bakes in the sun during the early mornings to mid afternoon then covers herself during the scorching late afternoon! She has the crack on her back, I wonder if a bird thought that she would make a lovely lunch and picked up her, flying as high as possible to only drop her down again attempting to break her shell... We have a new addition to our family and that bird was out lunch!

She laid a dozen or so eggs and buried them close to her a few weeks back. Now I'm waiting for them to hatch, the day is close I'm sure, I did some reading after contacting a Vet and sending her some pics and her official name is Testudo hermanni., I call her Hermie.

Supposedly they are amongst the "smarter" turtles. Whatever the case, I hope she doesn't die from the heat and lack of baths, the last few days it has been a degree or two above 110! My in laws think it's crazy to give her a bath, even though it is totally needed and recommended, saying as much as a couple times a week but at minimum once.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Fresh Fruit & Herbs

I always wanted to walk outside and pick fruit, walk back into my kitchen and bake.

Grapes & Pears

Green Apples

Green Figs & Pomegranate



Friday, May 29, 2009

Back In Southern Algeria

We took a nice drive through Seb Seb which isn't too far away from Metlili.

My mother in law is from here, it's a really quite place, full of nice people, mostly farmers. I love their vegetables and peanuts.

Those are from atop of a mountain, entering Seb Seb.

Here is a closer look.


Below are some pictures from a touristic place.

Here is the entrance. I just watched  special on local TV about this place, I was happy I had my own personal pictures to share.

This is a traditional tent. One of which I reckon nobody uses anymore, at least not for living anyway.

Here is a traditional clay oven.

A traditional roasting bed for meat along side a smaller clay oven.

I hope to one day have one of these in my backyard for making breads, roasting meats and veggies.  HEAVEN!

This is a pretty structure. I wish I would have taken another picture of it.

Here is the inside of the roof, pretty awesome design.

It has been more than one month of being back in Algeria.

Friday, March 6, 2009

M'Hadjeb Linguine Night? Would you like a plate?

So this is by far from the traditional Spaghetti or Linguine that I grew up eating. But just because it's not something we grew up with doesn't mean it isn't just as good!

This is something I make often using either Spaghetti, Linguine or Angel Hair Pastas, but usually not with M'Hajeb sauce, but a quick onion, tomato and garlic sauce I make on the spot.
I don't like canned nor jarred spaghetti sauces at all. They are full of sugar and who knows what else. Making fresh sauce isn't hard, can be done using simple ingredients and is so relaxing! Why used something bought?
Besides I don't throw away food, so many people don't have any and how can I not be thankful for the blessing I'm living in. This is a great way to utilize what is left over.

pasta of your liking
m'hajeb paste, see here for the recipe
dry or fresh parsley for the meat
fresh minced garlic for the meat and sauce, how much depends on how much you like garlic ;-)

fresh or dry basil
ground black pepper
olive oil of any kind
ground turkey, chicken, beef or lamb, or omit meat and make some fritters to eat along side your pasta, see here for a simple recipe

Add your spices and garlic to the meat and blend gently until well mixed. 

Form into balls and set aside.

Heat your skillet, dutch oven or pot until oil is sizzling hot. Place the meatballs gently in the oil and brown well and all sides.

Push the meat to the side and caramelize the garlic

After the garlic is browned a bit add the M'Hajeb paste and caramelize that as well.

Place the lid on and cook on low for about twenty minutes until all the flavors blend well and the onions, garlic and tomatoes are really soft and sweet.

Place your boiled pasta on top of the sauce.

Mix well and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
If you are using basil now is the time to add it.
The heat of the sauce will bring out all of the essential oils in the basil and will be so sweet!


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Two Weekends Ago; Lunch By The River


He to whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth: 
no son has He begotten, 
nor has He a partner in His dominion: 
it is He who created all things, 
and ordered them in due proportions.
Quran Surah The Criterion Ayah 2

Sunday, January 25, 2009

M'hadjub ... M'hajub

This is an Algerian dish that I enjoy making, it's fun to make the dough, it's fun to stretch it and fold it over and it's great for winter days as it's spicy! When I do make it, I love to eat at least three but I can only make it every couple of months, it's oil content is too high.

4 cups of fine semolina
2 cups of room temperature water plus two tablespoons, more depending on semolina texture
salt to taste
light olive oil for frying and stretching out the dough


3 medium tomatoes
6 medium onions
hot pepper
tomato paste

I used an entire package of semolina (I didn't measure it, but it's about a kilo, four cups) and added water bit by bit until a very smooth and elastic dough was formed.

You shouldn't be able to feel the coarseness of the semolina grains at all. This takes like ten to fifteen minutes by hand or five to eight by a mixer. I like to do it by hand, but the mixer works great too.
After the dough is soft, elastic, smooth and very silky, coat with olive oil and set to the side to prepare the filling.
Shred the onions and tomatoes. Cook on medium high heat, salted, until they are soft and all of the water is gone and all you have is a thick onion spread. Season with hot paprika, cumin, salt, & black pepper.
Finish cooking until thick.


Add a few tablespoons of tomato paste. Set aside to completely cool.

Rolling out the dough is the fun part. I couldn't take pictures because my hands are all oily and really you need both hand to make this pastry. I will however post a whole new Mhadjub post soon with full pictures, or maybe even a video.
Break off a lemon sized ball, and place it on a well oiled counter top.
Don't worry if it rips in places, as long as the middle part is fine, the filling shouldn't leak out.
Dip the dough into olive oil, or sprinkle some on top of it. I use Olive Oil, but really any oil works.
Using a circular motion press the dough out until its paper thin.
Leave the middle thicker then the rest of the pastry so it may support the filling.
Practice a few times and it will be perfect, but don't stress yourself out into tears!
Place a couple spoons of cooled filling and gently stretch the dough on one side opposite of the filling over the filling. 
Then repeat with the other three sides.
Place on a hot heavy cooking skillet, preferably something like cast iron.
I use my two burner grill pan, cast iron, flat one one side, grilled on the other. Or my cast iron pizza pan.
A nonstick pan works as well, and it's what most people use... But just in case you don't know, they are extremely hazardous to your health. Flip it when the side is well browned.
Sever with tea, or soup, or eat it alone with a glass of cold milk like me!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Chicken & Olives Tagine

This is really one of my favorite dishes from Algeria!
Its so aromatic, I love to make it and I really love to eat it.
One of the special qualities of this dish is how forgiving it is. You can add some things and take some away without any problems. Just make sure you have the olives, chicken and carrots with the spices and it will be delicious!

chicken of your choice, I use breasts
mushrooms (optional)
potatoes (optional)
one large onion
one garlic head (optional)
teaspoon of cinnamon
teaspoon of black pepper
pinch of salt
teaspoon of turmeric (optional)
preserved or fresh lemons (optional)
fresh or dried parsley or cilantro
    I really love the taste of caramelized onions and garlic in olive oil, I think it really adds complexity and texture. I know a lot of people puree, grate, or blend the onions, I don't think it adds much to the dish, so I don't do it.
    Caramelize the onions in olive oil then add the roughly chopped garlic half way through.
    Add the sliced carrots, so they can also brown a bit. It brings the sweetness out in them and also helps with the color of the dish.
    After the carrots are a bit brown, add the chopped mushrooms. I only half mine, but you can quarter them or leave them whole if you prefer.
    Mushroom absorb most of anything you cook them in, so I like them best with the garlic and carrots. After they are a bit soft and cooked add the chicken to brown. This is also when I add the spices, minus the turmeric. Be really light handed with the salt as olives are salty.
    After the chicken has browned a bit, add the olives.
    Add the quartered or halved potatoes.
    Add the turmeric and parsley.
    I add just about a half cup of water and bring it up to a boil. If I were using preserved lemons I would add a wedge now. I pressure cook this dish for about ten to fifteen minutes.
    Add fresh chopped parsley for a garnish and use a baguette or Khubz Tagine for your eating utensil.
    Here is an authentic Algerian dish!