Monday, December 13, 2010

Arabic Breakfast/Ftoor

Arabic breakfast may seem like a cop out for a recipe but it is really important. Arabs eat this type of breakfast every single morning, and it is seriously my favorite because I get a little of everything. At the end of this post i will have a recipe for Arabic hard boiled eggs (it is how my husband always eats his hard boiled eggs but I think he is the only Arab that does it this way, if I am wrong please correct me) Anyways here is a typical arabic breakfast.

So normally there is some sort of vegetable, here i had some tomatoes, mint leaves (to be eaten with food like the laban msaffa (strained yogurt) or to be dipped in the tea) and cucumbers. Sometimes people also add some green onions or radishes, whatever you have available.
Honey or halaweh (sugar and sesame paste) is also always at the table, something to "ithala" with at the end of the breakfast (or if you are like me then you eat the sweet stuff all throughout the breakfast) Usually honey is eaten with cheese.
This is orange peel jelly but traditionally there is usually apricot jam.
Cheese, don't even bother telling an Arab breakfast is ready if there is no cheese. Here I have Syrian cheese or sometimes it is called chicago cheese. In Syria there is a cheese called jibneh bayda (white cheese) that is boiled before it is served to remove some of the salt, it squeaks when you chew it, you gotta love Syrian squeaky cheese. Sometimes (Laith's favorite) there is string cheese, pretty much any type of cheese you want.
Zaa'tar is a mix of dried herbs like oregano and thyme mixed with sesame seeds. Sometimes this mix is sour and sometimes it is not, i personally like it sour. This is eaten by taking pita bread and dipping it in olive oil and then in the zaa'tar mix.

Makdoos, I have a previous post showing how to make this pickled eggplant stuffed with walnuts and red pepper. This is very good and Syrians usually make it once a year and make enough for the whole year.
Laban msaffa or labneh which is strained yogurt topped with dried mint leaves and some olive oil. This is eaten either plain with pita bread or with black olives or with cucumbers.
Olives, again always available at any Arabs house you go to. Here I have black olives and green olives. Green olives are usually eaten with eggs and the black olives are eaten all the times. Arabs eat the olive by putting the whole thing in their mouth with bread and eating the olive then they (politely) spit the pit out in their hand. I, on the other hand, just peel the olive meat off and eat it.

This is how Oussama likes to eat his hard boiled eggs, I cut them in quarters and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Then I drizzle the eggs with tahini and olive oil and serve. Hard boiled eggs can also be served as is and sprinkles with salt and pepper.

And that is a traditional (everyday) Syrian breakfast. Of course do not forget the tea. I also have halaweh (which wouldn't photograph properly)

Written Recipe:

Hard boiled eggs
Take eggs and place them in a pot with cold water and then directly on the stove. When the water starts to boil then time it for 8 minutes. Once the eggs have boiled for 8 minutes then drain them and pour cold water of them so they are easy to peel. Peel and cut the eggs into quarters and sprinkle salt and pepper and drizzle tahini and olive oil on top.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Apple Crostata

So i recently joined Daring Bakers which is a group online that gives challenges every month. I am so excited because this is my first challenge so far this month. I was suppose to post on the 27th but when we moved i lost the cord to download the pictures from my camera on to the computer. Sorry this is a bit late, also i tried 2 different recipes one apple and one pumpkin but i must have forgotten to photograph the pumpkin pie, OH WELL. The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.
First we will start off by making the dough, i made it in the food processor. Take all the dry ingredients and pulse it a few times to mix.
Cut the butter and add it to the food processor, pulse so that the butter breaks down to the size of peas.
Pour the dry ingredients on the counter and make a well in the middle. Mix an egg and an egg yolk together and pour them in the middle of the flour well. Mix just enough to blend, don't mix too much because you don't want to melt the butter with your warm fingers.

Cut two Fuji apples (or any hard tart apple) into thin slices (peel or not, its your choice)
In a large bowl add the apple slices, cinnamon, flour, salt and sugar.
Mix together, it should be thick so that the bottom of the crostata doesn't get soggy.
Roll out the chilled dough, i cut the edges for a cleaner edge but this is optional.
Arrange the apples any way you want or just simply pile them in a big bunch in the middle.
Fold the edges up and brush on an egg wash
bake until golden brown and flaky
It cuts very nicely too

Written Recipe:
1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon of superfine sugar
1 3/4 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 stick of cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces
1 large egg
Zest of a half a lemon (optional)

Apple Filling:
2 Fuji apples
1 1/2 tablespoons of cinnamon
1 tablespoon of flour
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of brown sugar

Egg wash:
1 egg
2 tablespoons of water

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cucumber yogurt/Salatat Laban

This is a simple yogurt that is used as a side for many dishes like Riz oo bazalya, riz oo fool..stuff like that. This is how i make it:
So I used Persian cucumbers and I wash them and then chop them up really fine. I start by cutting length wise 4 times, then i take half of the cucumber and cut it down four more times. Then lastly i just chop it up fine. If this seems like too much work for nothing then simply use a cheese grater and grate the cucumber. Once the cucumber is grated add some salt and squeeze out the excess water. When you chop the cucumber it doesn't release as much water.
Smash up some garlic
Whenever I have fresh mint i like to use it and when i made this i happened to have some. If you dont have fresh mint use dried crushed mint. Again i wash the mint and chop it really fine.
Mix together the yogurt, cucumber, garlic, mint and some salt and serve cold. This can be made ahead of time, just cover it and stick it on the freidge.

Written Recipe:

2 cups of yogurt
2-3 persian cucumbers chopped finely
2 small cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of chopped mint of dried crushed mint
salt to taste

Riz oo bazalyah/Oozie

This is pretty much two recipes in one because you can serve it as Riz oo bazalya (rice and peas) or to be a bit fancier you can make it into oozie. This is actually a really easy dish to make and the oozie can be made ahead of time an frozen and then cooked up when needed. I always keep a few oozie in the fridge for my lazy days or for those days when you just had too much on your plate and didnt feel like cooking or eating nasty take out. According to Oussama Oozie is typically served at a funeral (eeck) in Syria but I've never experienced that I've only seen it served at parties. This is how i make Riz oo Bazalya/Oozie and.....My first video.

So first measure and wash your rice. Place it in a pot with cold water and some oil and salt. Let is come to a boil and then turn it down to a medium flame.
When the water is almost gone and there are little holes on top of the rice you would turn the rice all the way down on low and let in continue to cook (that is how i make plain rice) but instead we are...
Going to take a bag of frozen peas and let them steam while the rest of the rice is cooking! Genius, I know.
So once the rice is cooked and the peas have steamed add in the ground beef. I just cook some ground beef and once it is done cooking I add some salt and mixed arabic spice.
Take puff pastry and lay it flat.
Cut the puff pastry into 9 even squares

So one square at a time roll it out thin, as thin as you can without it ripping.
I like to place some nuts in my oozie, i cooked up some pistachios, almonds and pine nuts
Place like one of each kind of nut in the center of the puff pastry
Place your rice (about 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup)
Then bring the edges all into the middle. It wont shut tightly but once you flip it and cook it it shouldn't open anymore.
This is the oozie flipped

To watch how to fold an Oozie in a video click HERE
( this is my first video, i realize how awkward it is that I'm not talking, i'll fix that next video. Also i usually use an ice cream scooper to put the rice in so i don't have to dig the rice sometimes out of the measuring cup)
Bake them off in an oven (400 degrees F) until golden brown and serve with cucumber yogurt.

Written Recipe:

1 cup of jasmine rice
1 1/2 cups of water
1 small bag of frozen peas
1 cup of ground beef
some oil
1/2 teaspoon of mixed arabic spice
salt to taste
1 package of puff pastry (so 18 oozies total)
mixed nuts (pistachios, almonds and pine nuts)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Shakriyeh (lamb and yogurt stew)

What Arab doesnt like yogurt and rice? Ya thats what i cant think of one. Yogurt and rice to Arabs is like burger and fries to Americans....i guess. Shakriyeh is so very delicious, everyone has their own way of making it, what i love about this dish is that it is hard to mess up unless of course you dont follow directions and leave the yogurt on the stove and burn it or something. AHHHH i just remember one of the first times i made Shakriyeh after i got married. I had seen my mom make it a ton of times and i knew how easy it was but my MIL insisted i cook the yogurt and then add the starch, well a long story short i tried her way and the yogurt boiled over and curdled...i was very depressed that night. This is seriously a fool proof way of making it. I can imagine some Arabs in their heads when reading my directions for Shakriyeh saying, "OH MY GOD she is doing it so wrong" well i don't care because it tastes the same and i have never ruined my Shakriyeh before (except that once). People, we need to improve and make things easier on ourselves, why must we follow traditions of a time when they didn't know how to take easy routes? Anyways my rant is over, this is how i make Shakriyeh.
I start off by boiling lamb shanks in a pressure cooker. I leave the bone in (some people don't) and yes that is the silver skin still on the shank. Don't fret my dear ones, once you boil these shanks the silver skin will come off and the meat will stay in tact while it boils because of it.
So once the meat comes to a boil and the scum is removed i add in an onion, salt and these spices. Can you guess them? cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamon and bay leaves! GOOD JOB
So this is the meat after it is done cooking (about 1 hour in a pressure cooker because it has the bone in)
The meat should be literally falling off the bone YET it should keep its shape because youwere smart and left the silver skin ON! aren't you glad you listened to me?
So in a big pot with a strainer over it add in yogurt, 1 egg (i leave the egg yolk in but some people only use the egg whites) and corn starch. This is where people think I am screwing up this dish. Usually Arabs add in the corn starch slurry after the yogurt has heated up. The problem for me with this is they stand over the yogurt with much anxiety stirring constantly! If you turn your head for a minute the whole thing comes boiling over and curdles (my first experience) so listen to me if you want an easy Shakriyeh experience, add the corn starch in and whisk it into the yogurt BEFORE it gets hot.
So after the yogurt starts getting warm add in the lamb broth. This amount it up to you because some people like their yogurt very white so they don't add much in but i like my yogurt to taste good so i add in a few cups of the broth.
So when the meat has cooled down enough for you to handle it (but not cold otherwise you wont be able to get the silver skin and fat off) i remove the meat from the bone and I remove anything else that is not meat (i don't like fat so i get it all off but arabs do like their fat...not judging)
Serve with vermicelli rice and cracker black pepper
Some people like to eat their Shakriyeh cold served over hot rice ( it becomes like jello when cold) but i like the rice and yogurt hot. Enjoy

Written Recipe:

1 container of yogurt
1 egg
1 tablespoon of corn starch
3 lamb shanks
1 onion cut into 4
2 cinnamon sticks
6 cloves
5 cardamon pods
2 bay leaves
salt to taste
vermicelli rice

Yogurt Pasta

I love this pasta, Oussama thinks i am just being lazy when i suggest eating it for dinner. I absolutely love this dish because it is creamy with juicy, flavorful meat and of course one of my favorite herbs parsley! This dish is the perfect dish for kids, for a fast dinner and of course for a lazy day :-). (ok side note again doesn't that smiley look like me with the was by accident but i should make it my signature) Anyways back to the pasta, this can be made with or without the meat but i prefer it with meat. I am not exactly how this is a Syrian dish since pasta isn't in the Syrian history, it is just a dish that people started making when they found out about the yummiest of carbs. Here is how i make mine:
Start off with mixing in a bowl yogurt (i use low fat) tahini, lemon juice and garlic (same mix as when you make fateh)
I cook up my ground beef and when it is almost done cooking i add in salt and the mixed arabic spices. The meat releases juices and i let the meat keep cooking until all of the juices cook into the meat or evaporate (whatever you want to believe).
Boil some noodles, i used penne here but i have used spaghetti before and i like both.
So once the noodles are done cooking (optional) put some butter or samneh on then so they don't stick together (i don't do this, no need for the extra calories but it would taste good). I add the ROOM TEMP yogurt on top. The reason i say room temp yogurt is because otherwise it will cool down the whole dish and i like eating hot food.
Top it with the ground meat and some parsley and pine nuts if you want. You can either leave it like this or stir it up but it looks prettier like this. When you stir it the yogurt will get brown from the spiced meat.

Written Recipe:

1 pound of pasta (penne of any you prefer)
2 cups of yogurt
3 tablespoons of tahini
2 crushed cloves of garlic
juice of half a lemon
salt to taste
1 cup of ground beef
1 teaspoon of mixed arabic spices
Chopped parsley for garnish
Toasted pine nuts (optional)