Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mushroom and Chicken Pasta Casserole معكرونة بالفطر و الجاج

This is a really good and easy dish to make and its good for like parties and such instead of the regular lasagna. I believe Khaleh Rajaa told my mom how to make this and it has become one of our favorite dishes in the house. If you don't cook very much this is a good way to start, its easy and for some of you its NON ARABIC (ahem ahem Yaman and Nour).

In a pan saute mushroom until golden brown. WHATEVER YOU DO RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO KEEP STIRRING THEM, this will release water and it wont caramelize the mushrooms.
See that beautiful golden brown...i don't like mushrooms very much but this looks good.
With the remaining butter in the pan (or you can add a little more) add flour and make a rue. A rue is a flour and butter mixture used to thicken sauces and soups.
Let the rue cook a little to remove the raw flour taste. It will bubble up like this which is good, but make sure to stir it, the cooking process only taste about 30 seconds of this bubbling up.
Slowly add COLD chicken broth (cold broth prevents lumps) and whisk until you get a nice sauce, let it boil. Add some milk to give it a little creaminess.
Return the mushrooms and the chicken (from when you boiled chicken and made a broth, shred the chicken before returning it to the sauce). If you want you can blend the mushrooms and sauce (not chicken) in a blender to make like a mushroom soup sauce but i didn't want my sauce dark so i didn't. I use to add a can of Campbell's mushroom soup instead of mushrooms but i don't like the additives so i don't do that anymore. Note the chicken is boiled chicken and the broth is used for the sauce.
The sauce should be runny, not as thick as like a bechamel because we are adding al dente noodles so that they thicken the sauce and so that the noodles absorb the mushroom taste.

Put everything in a baking pan
Cover with mozzarella cheese
cover and cook at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. (if you put it in the refrigerator it might need longer)
The cheese should be melted
When it comes out of the over it should be golden brown and yummy!!!
I like to eat it with salad (One of my favorite tomatoes, cucumber, radishes and fresh mint with olive oil and lemon juice....i like lettuceless salads)

Written Recipe:
2 chicken breast with skin and bone boiled (add onion, cardamon, cinnamon stick and salt)
(use 6 cups of the broth)
1 pound of noodles (1 box)
1 1/2 cups of fresh mushrooms (or campbells mushroom soup)
4 tablespoons of butter (more if needed)
8 oz of mozzerella cheese
1/2 cup of milk
4 tablespoons of flour

Friday, August 27, 2010

Riz ibFool (Rice and broad beans) رز بفول

Riz ou Fool is a very healthy and quick dish to make for dinner, in no time you can whip this up and even have a side to go with it. Broad beans or fool are a good source of protein and fiber, in 1 cup of broad beans there are 10 grams of fiber!!! This dish is an excellent example of why i LOVE arabic food, because spices come secondary to the actual flavor of the food. Arabs tend to use very little spice and rather combine ingredients and bring out their flavor, which i love.

I start off by cooking my lamb cubes in about 2 tablespoons of oil (the amount of oil doesn't matter because when the meat boil and you remove the "scum" you remove all the oil as well). The reason i do this step is because i want my broth to have as much flavor as possible and in order to do that i either need bones OR to make brown spot on my meat and pan. So once the "brown" spot are achieved add water and let it boil, remove the "scum" and then add 4 cloves. 1 onion, salt, cinnamon stick and 1 bay leaf.
I used Montana brand green broad beans (this brand was good, I've had some bad beans in my days)
Saute the frozen beans until they are no longer frozen and then...
Add a cup of water and cover the pot and cook the beans until all the water is gone.
Once all the water is absorbed add 1 cup of rice with 1 1/2 to 2 cups of your meat broth. and let it come to a boil. Add (optional) 1/4 teaspoon of Arabic spice and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon)
Note: i decided to use basmati rice because it has less starch than jasmine rice (traditionally used) and the broad beans have starch as well.
When the level of water is level with the rice and beans then turn the heat down all the way and cover and continue to cook until the rice is done.
Now the dish is done just plate it up and put your lamb cubes on top and garnish with fried almonds and pine nuts
Serve with a yogurt salad (yogurt, garlic, cucumbers, salt and dried mint) or with a small salad

Written Recipe:

1 bag of frozen broad beans (you can use fresh too, about 1.5 cups)
1 cup of basmati rice
1 cup of lamb cubes (fried and cooked with 1 onion, cinnamon stick, bay leaf and 4 cloves)
1 - 2 tablespoons butter, oil or samneh
1/4 teaspoon Arabic spice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Pine nuts and almonds for garnish

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fast and Easy Crepes كريب

I love crepes, they are really easy to whip up, they stay well if you want to make them ahead of time and use them later that night for a dessert. Crepes are also good when you want to make a variety of things or your having a party. Each guest can put their own fillings into the crepe for a brunch or for dessert. I like this recipe because it NEVER sticks to the pan. I don't have any non stick pans because I'm paranoid so stuff like this gets annoying because its so thin your don't want to add butter or spray and overwhelm the taste of the crepe.

First just mix all the ingredients together.

Pour about 1/4 cup of the thin batter into a warm pan (no grease and not too hot of a pan) and swirl to make a thin layer.

When the crepe has a little bit of golden brown on one side just gently release it from the pan and turn it over for like 30 seconds so the other side is cooked.

I made a scrambled egg crepe with sauteed mushrooms, spinach and tomatoes.
This one was for "REES" (Idris) its banana and Nutella Mmmmmmmmmmm it taste even better with strawberries. You can make berry crepes or crepes with ice cream...oh man im getting hungry..only 4 more hours until i can eat

Written Recipe:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
No additional butter is needed for the pan, simple whisk together and pour 1/4 cup at a time into a skillet.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Knafeh bi jibneh كنافة بالجبنة

Knafeh is a dessert made with either cheese or ushta (which is the cream fat skimmed from the top of simmering milk). Usually, though, when people make Knafeh with ushta it is not made with real ushta but rather a thickened and sweetened milk pudding. In this post i made Knafeh with 2 kinds of cheese, most people are intimidated but i have got to say this is a very easy dessert, what is the best part you say? Well Knafeh can be made ahead of time and either stored in the refridgerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer. Here is how I made Knafeh bi jibneh.

First we need knafeh dough also known as kataifi which is found in the freezer section at grocery stores. Place the frozen knafeh dough in the fridge the day before you plan on using it so that it can thaw out. This dough i believe is the same thing as filo dough except in strings so it dries out rather fast.
I melted 1 cup of butter. Traditionally Knafeh is made with Samneh or ghee but the taste of samneh is too strong so i mixed butter and samneh. I did not end up using the full cup of butter but rather 3/4 cups but it depends on your dough.
Start by shredding the knafeh dough into little pieces with your hand. and drizzle butter on the broken up dough slowly. Alternate between shredding the dough and putting butter, i think this helps the butter distribute more evenly throughout the dough.
Once the dough is done being shredded sprinkle about 3/4 of the dough into a pan (i used a 12 inch pan). Some people use a knafeh powdered food coloring to color the top of the knafeh, i forgot. If you want to color your knafeh mix 1 tablespoon of soft butter with as much coloring as you desire and then start sprinkling the knafeh dough.
This looks like alot of dough but you are going to press it down. Another reason for most of the dough being at the bottom is because you don't want any part of the pan to be exposed because then the cheese will melt and burn.
Press the knafeh dough down as much as possible so that when it cooks it is one piece.
I used a mixture of mozzarella cheese soaked in water to remove any salt. I also used a sweet cheese which i soaked for a little to get rid of any salt there might be. After they have soaked and the salt is gone dry the cheese well and crumble it so that they mix. I added 2 tablespoons of sugar to even out any salt that i didn't remove by soaking.
evenly spread the cheese but don't spread to the end so it doesn't burn.
I got this tip form Najat's Kitchen on your tube. Press paper towel down on the cheese until the paper towel no longer absorbs water. Here is a link to Najat's video on how to make knafeh. Although my recipe is not from her, knafeh is made pretty much the same way everywhere.
sprinkle the rest of the dough on top of the cheese and push it down. Cook in the oven at 375 for about 40 minutes.
The knafeh should be golden brown on top and the knafeh should come away from the pan a little like in this picture.
Invert the knafeh on a serving tray and pour sugar syrup while its still hot. garnish with crushed pistachios and serve.

Written Recipe:

1 package of kataifeh dough
2 cups of either sweet cheese or akawi cheese
1 cup of mozzarella
2 tablespoons of sugar
3/4 to 1 cup of butter or samneh

Monday, August 23, 2010

Chicken Biryani برياني بالجاج

Ok, i am not sure if i am making this the official way but this is how i make biryani and it turns out like other biryanis i have tasted. I have had my fair share of mistakes in making biryani because i didn't know how. There are a few things you need to know in order for it to turn out, tricks that we don't use when cooking Arabic food. Here is my version of biryani, if it is not the way Indians make biryani then we can call it my Arab version of biryani.

In a saucepan saute onions until they are slightly brown on the edges, you don't want the whole onion to be browned or frie because then your sauce will be a dark brown color rather then a nice reddish color. When the onions are done add in tomatoes cut in quarters and let this cook down.

While that is cooking i smash (or my little angel) garlic and grate ginger. Indian store sell garlic ginger paste but it is full or preservatives and it comes in big containers and i don't use ginger in my cooking very much. It is just as easy to just make your own preservative free one.
This picture is foggy but you can see how the oil has separated from the now tomato and onion mixture. When the oil separates it means that most of the water is gone from the vegetables which is what we want because if there is alot of water then the rice will become soggy.
Next add in the spices and stir into the oil for a little then add the chicken, fresh garlic and ginger and yogurt and cook.
The chicken and yogurt are going to release ALOT of water so just keep cooking this down until the oil separates once again. The chicken will stay moist because of the yogurt so don't worry about it drying out.
While you are waiting for the chicken to cook, in a separate pan bring water to a boil and i like to add spices to the water. Here i have added cinnamon stick, bay leaf, caraway seeds, cumin seeds and whatever else you might want to add. All of these add flavor without changing the color of the rice.
Boil the basmati rice until it is 3/4 cooked, so if you taste it it will taste almost cooked but has a little crunch to it. The rice will continue to cook int he over with the chicken and the rice will absorb all of the flavors of the sauce.
When the rice and sauce are done take half of the rice and spread it in a baking pan and then drizzle over saffron soaked in milk. ( I have to admit something, i could not find my saffron for the life of me so i used knafeh coloring, hey whatever works)
Place the chicken on top of the rice. The chicken and sauce is going to be sandwiched between all of the rice.
Here is a picture of the sauce once it has been cooked down. See how all of the oil is on top, this is what you are looking for.
Place the sauce on top
And then the rest of the rice. Drizzle the rice with some more saffron milk mix.
Cover the biryani and cook it in the oven until the rice is cooked all the way through from the steam. I served mine with yet another Arab version of raita.
i chopped up a tomato, cucumber, mint and cilantro. Some people like to add onions or carrots or small chickpeas but this is a middle line for me.
Mix all of the ingredients together and sprinkle with cumin and salt to taste. Now if you have never had cumin in your yogurt, TRY IT, seriously it is sooo good. I am definitely not a fan of strong cumin taste but it is heavenly with biryani.
I garnished with the rest of my tomatoes and mint and cilantro. Yum.

Written Recipe:

1 chicken skinned and cut into 8 pieces (i don't add wings)
3 cups of basmati rice
1 red onion sliced
4 medium tomatoes quartered
3 tablespoons of fresh ground ginger
1 to 2 tablespoons smashed garlic
1 cup of yogurt
1/2 to 1 cup of oil or Samneh (Ghee)
Biryani mixed spice (I use Shah brand)

Spices for rice:
1 cinnamon stick
2 to 3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
2 teaspoons of caraway seeds
little oil

Fry onions in a pan until the edges are golden brown, Add the tomatoes and cook until the oil separates. Add in the chicken, garlic, ginger, yogurt and spices and cook until the oil separates again.

In a separate pot boil the rice in the spice infused water until 3/4th cooked.

Layer in an over proof baking pan rice, saffron infused milk, chicken and sauce, rice and more saffron infused milk.
Bake covered at 375 for 30 to 45 minutes.