fati’s recipes has moved!

Yep! It’s finally happened!

 

fati’s recipes has moved blogs and is now over at

 

 ○ My Kitchen Kohl ○

 

If you’ve subscribed to fati’s recipes, please head over to My Kitchen Kohl and subscribe there to receive updates on new recipes! Be quick so you don’t miss out! 🙂

You will find the subscription option on MKK in the right hand panel (or at the bottom of my home page if you’re on a smartphone/tablet).

 

Catch you there,

fati 🙂

postcard from oman

I’ve been a little hush on the blog lately… But for a good reason. I’ve been holidaying in Oman for several weeks, visiting with my partner’s family. The country here is very beautiful, full of historical sites and souqs.

Al-Nakhal Fort in Al-Batinah, Oman

Al-Nakhal Fort in Al-Batinah, Oman

As my stay here has come to a close, and my plane to Dubai is just a few hours away, I had to share with you the highlight of my trip. I call it my biggest “Oh, man!” in Oman moment 😉

About 2 weeks into the trip, we were driving by a nearby souq and in drifted the smell of “shwa” or as I say “mashaawi“. Mashaawi, in my home country, basically refers to meat that’s been barbecued on coal, often the meat is skewered and marinated, and when cooked, it’s served with bread, finely diced red onion and parsley… YUM!

So this roadside bbq gave off a teasing smell – one that brought back memories of our childhood family barbecues – and although the formula of raw meat, cooked on the roadside, by a stranger with no clear idea of food preparation cleanliness sounds like a disaster – the urge became too strong to resist!

And so the decision was made, we’ll buy 1 of each skewer… It was one of those “my Arab belly can handle it, I grew up on this stuff” and “let’s say bismillah and hope for the best” kind of thought process. 😕

And 5 minutes later, I was sitting in the car, questioning what we had just bought, thinking there was only one way to find out. I could tell two of the skewers were chicken and liver, and there was a lamb one, but what was that last skewer?

Meat Skewers

I ate one of the skewers before I took this.. Can you tell which skewer is the adventurous one?

It was a little chewy in texture, white in colour, and would have been pretty bland without the basting on it. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Until my partner’s darling mother piped, “Ohh it’s sheep testicles!” right in the middle of my mouthful of the meat. 😮

Yikes! I didn’t really know what to think. I was in shock a little, I really have tried everything now, I thought. Then my mind swirled between the chewiness in my mouth, the adventurous stew of maddog, and my uncle’s wife who loves pan-frying the stuff.

Rest assured… it went down and stayed down, phew!
What has been your most adventurous holiday treat to date?

makdous and filling

makdous recipe

If I was told I had to ditch my uni job and enter full time work immediately, and that I could have any job I wanted, I’d probably choose a food magazine job – like a test kitchen chef or stylist (and I’ll attempt to fill in the photographer’s job when they’re on sick leave, too 😉 ) I mean it’s about time one of our food mags brought an authentic middle-eastern blogger into their kitchen to make things not often made… Oh when will we be recognised?! 😉

makdous jar

huh? what’s makdous? click the pic above find out! 🙂

Well… I mention this as I’ve been itching to try out a couple of things: making magdous & making a Syrian breakfast spread to photograph. Since I haven’t picked up my camera properly for many months now, I thought to combine the two opportunities and give my hand a go at styling and photographing – as though I was doing it for delicious. or Gourmet Traveller.

a typical syrian breakfast spread

…a typical Syrian breakfast spread… and that magazine shot I was aiming for 😉

So the story begins back in June of 2011 when my grandma who’d come all the way from Syria took me through the steps of making magdous. I captured her step by step technique and posted it here, and since then I’ve had so many messages & comments from people who’ve given it a go. (If this is your first time, I’d use that post for reference as my post below is more of a reflection of how I went making them alone.)

Naturally, I felt like it was time I gave it a go myself – to see if I could practice what I preached and if my grandma’s recipe really was as amazing as I’d made it out to be. And of course, over 4 years on, I’d developed a gnarling craving myself.

So, without further ado, here’s how I went solo…

makdous and filling

…makdous & its filling spiced with paprika, drizzled with olive oil & served as a dip with pita bread…

Yields: 12

Ingredients:

12 small eggplants

2 large red capsicums (bell peppers)

100g walnuts

2 -3 cloves garlic

~ 3/4 cup salt

~ 800mL olive oil

Method:

Begin by lining a saucepan with a tea towel or cotton cloth.

Pop your eggplants into the saucepan and wrap the cloth around them.

eggplants in saucepan

Add just enough water to immerse them – do not overfill as water may spill out while cooking.

Add a plate/small lid on top of the eggplants, enough to cover the entire pot. Bring the water to a boil then add a weight (mine was a smaller saucepan with filled with water; a heavy marble mortar could do the trick, too).

steps 2 and 3

Cook on medium heat for about 40 minutes, or until all eggplants are soft. (Personal note: some of my eggplants were still hard at 30 minutes, so I returned the saucepan for another 10. During cooking, you should keep a close eye on the saucepan as the water level will most likely rise (softer eggplants, more of your weight in the water = water displacement!) You may need to scoop some out and keep your weight in check to make sure it doesn’t move/fall.)

Once ready, drain from the water and leave eggplants aside to cool.

cooked eggplants

Once cooled, remove the green leaves from the tops of the eggplants.

Prepare a plate of salt for dipping. Beside it, line a sieve with a tea towel/cotton material.

making makdous

When the eggplants have cooled, cut a small slit along the centre (vertically).

Push through your index finger and rip any seeds/tissue (inner flesh) so as to make space for the stuffing to come later.

Dip your finger in the salt and spread along the slit (inside and out).

Dip the top of the eggplant in the salt and place it in the lined sieve.

Repeat this for all the eggplants. Be generous to avoid spoiling your eggplants!

Fold over corners of the tea towel/cloth in to cover the eggplants. Place the sieve on top of a plate. Place another plate on top of the eggplants (to act as a platform), and place a heavy weight on top.

draining the eggplants with weights

Here you’ve created a pressurised draining method to get all the water out of the eggplants.

Leave aside for at least 3 hours. You can leave these overnight so long they stay away from direct sunlight and the fridge! (Personal note: I didn’t stuff mine until 3 days later, so after the first night I put them in the fridge).

In the meantime, prepare the stuffing by adding chunks of a red capsicum into a food processor and lightly pulse with garlic cloves until finely chopped but not pasty/creamy.

Drain the excess water from the capsicum through a fine sieve pressing down with a spoon, or drain with cloth, you really want it as dry can be. Use your hands & paper towels to squeeze out any excess water.

eggplant stuffing

Place your filling in a bowl. Add finely diced walnuts and a pinch of salt. Mix, cover and set aside to allow the garlic to infuse.

making makdous steps 10-14

Remove the weight and check on your eggplants – now they should be ready to stuff.

Find the slit but be careful not to rip it any bigger than what it is already.

Stuff eggplants, using your finger to push the stuffing out of the way (left and right) so as to be able to fit in more. It should reach just about the size it was originally! Repeat until finished.

(Personal note: The original recipe calls for the same sieve to be lined with a dry tea towel. Once stuffed, place eggplants inside, wrap, add weights, and let drain for another 2-3 hours max before transferring to a jar. Now I forgot to pressurise my eggplants a final time, but they worked out anyway. Phew.)

Add eggplants into a jar that will cosily accommodate them. You want to stack the eggplants so they’re squashed up a little against each other and not swimming solo in oil.

Once filled, add olive oil to the jar and place in a cool, dark corner in the pantry without closing its lid. In fact, put the lid on the jar upside down!

(Personal note: back in 2011 grandma told me a reaction will take place which will cause the oil to spill over if the lid is on tightly. I managed to ignore her advise and close the lid of the jar. And sure enough within 2 days I had a pool of oil all over my pantry shelf. Put your jar in a bowl first, and check up on your magdous daily. The spill also could have happened to me because I didn’t give the eggplants that final pressurised drain.)

Now relax for a week and let the flavours infuse. Then pick up a bag of Lebanese bread as magdous are “mashed open” with it and eaten with the bread and a hot cuppa tea.

mashing open a makdous

…mashing open and enjoying a makdous…

No waste: once empty, use the oil to add an incredible tangy flavour to your other dishes when cooking. Spice left over filling with paprika, drizzle with oil and serve as a dip with pita bread.

Allergy? My partner can’t have walnuts (or pecans), so I split the stuffing and used almonds instead for his. I infused them in a separate container. If you’re allergic to walnuts but can have pecans, they’re the next best thing to use.

So… will you be brave and give these cured eggplants a go?

 

Grape and Greens Summer Salad

‘grape and greens’ summer salad

Time’s flying by so quickly, and with less than a month until February is finished, summer still feels far from leaving us here Down Under. The weather here is funny: it’s like the patchwork of a crooked sewer, where we experience all four seasons in just one day!

From blazing hot rays through our burnt ozone, to spring time breezes, to gusty autumn winds, and finally some rain and hail (yes, literally, hail!)

For those summer moments though, enjoy this sweet and tangy grape salad… I love fruit in my salad because it gives a burst of sweetness in every other bite! This is something not often palatable in the Middle East however. I’m talking Watermelon Feta, Mango and Chicken, Fig and Blue Cheese… You see where I’m going? Bon appétit 🙂

Grape and Greens Summer SaladServes: 4-6

Ingredients:

2 cups loosely packed baby spinach leaves

1/4 iceberg lettuce, roughly diced

50g greek style feta cheese, diced into small cubes

1/3 cup canned corn kernels, washed

2 Lebanese cucumbers, peeled and diced

1 cup red seedless grapes, sliced in half

dressing of your choice*

Method:

Toss all the ingredients into a large bowl.

Dress with your favourite dressing – mine personally, a few tbs of olive oil, a pinch of dried mint, and a small dash of balsamic vinegar.

Toss to coat, and enjoy!

chicken pad thai

‘one pot’ chicken pad thai

There was a Thai restaurant near my uni which I used to enjoy eating at from time to time. Their Pad Thai in particular was the dish I enjoyed most, with requested peanut sauce on top (unconventional, but delicious!)

I recreated the dish once before with a store-bought sauce. A few years have passed before the craving has found its way back into my palette and I’ve had the chance to make it from scratch once and for all.

Atop the ‘made from scratch’ achievement, I also have the ‘one pot’ achievement for this recipe. Yay for 2 hypothetical medals! 😉 I am in a 2 person household, with no kids, and no major commitments but the thought of having to pack extra dishes in the dishwasher is dreadful… Imagine the scrapbooking I could be doing in all that time (hahaha 🙂 )

To my sweet sis, with a toddler, who loves one-pot dishes, and inspired this Pad Thai…

chicken pad thai

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

280g – 300g Pad Thai rice noodles (or enough for 4)

1 cup – 1.5 cups of chicken (breast or thigh) diced into strips/large pieces

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp cornstarch

2 tbs soy sauce (I used Worcestershire sauce)

3 cups fresh bean sprouts

2 spring onions, sliced

1/3 cup fresh coriander, chopped

1/3 cup roughly chopped peanuts

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 eggs, to serve, optional

1/2 cup chicken stock, if necessary (see method)

Pad Thai Sauce (see tip at end of recipe)

3/4 tbs Tamarind concentrate

2 tbs fish sauce

1 tsp chilli flakes/sauce

3 tbs brown sugar

chicken pad thai

Method:

  1. Bring a large multi-purpose frypan/wok of water to a boil and dunk in rice noodles. Turn down the heat to low and cook for a few minutes until softened but still slightly crunchy. Drain and rinse with cold water to prevent sticking. Set aside.
  2. Make the Pad Thai sauce by combining sauce ingredients together in a cup. Stir well to dissolve tamarind and brown sugar, and set aside.
  3. Place chicken slices in a small bowl. Stir together the marinade of cornstarch and soy sauce and pour over chicken. Stir well and set aside.
  4. Warm up the same frypan/wok over medium-high heat. Add 2 tbs peanut oil plus garlic and chilli, if using. Stir-fry until fragrant (30 seconds). Add marinated chicken. If wok/pan becomes dry, add a little chicken stock, 1-2 Tbsp. at a time, to keep the chicken frying nicely, 5-7 minutes, until cooked is cooked (I did not need to do this).
  5. Add the noodles, and pour the Pad Thai sauce over. Use a gentle “lift and turn” method to fry noodles. Stir-fry for 1-2 minutes. If you find your wok/frying pan too dry, push noodles aside and add a little more oil to the bottom of the pan.
  6. Add the bean sprouts and and continue frying 1 more minute, or until noodles are cooked. Noodles are done to perfection when they are no longer “hard” or crunchy, but chewy-sticky wonderful.
  7. Lift noodles onto a serving plate. Top with generous amounts of fresh coriander, spring onion, and peanuts. Add fresh lemon/lime wedges to squeeze over each portion, and serve!

Pad Thai Tip: For even more flavour, I doubled the batch of the pad Thai sauce. Then, as I’m stir-frying the noodles, I’ll add more sauce until I’m happy with the taste. Any leftover sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

 

polenta fish n chips with tartare sauce

Being jet lagged was a classic. Waking up at 2am and sleeping from lunch time til the stars shine. It took a good week to readjust to the climate Down Under after visiting the two Holy Mosques in Saudi for my first pilgrimage ever 🙂

I had some preconceptions of what the place will be like, and how the people will behave, but despite all my mental preparation the experience was surreal and beyond expectations.

Photo's courtesy of my partner's friends :)

Photo’s courtesy of my partner’s friends 🙂

 

You’ve probably heard about “Hajj” – you know, that ritual where 2 million+ Muslims flock to the lands of Makkah in search of soul, faith, redemption. During the ritual itself, the men there dress in two white cloths symbolising two things: their burial cloths, and equality among each other… you could literally be walking next to a millionaire, orphan, or CEO and wouldn’t know it. Because the two of you have brought yourself back to the very basics of human life and the encompassing ideals of “humanity”.

Women cover as Muslim women generally do – wherever you look you cannot judge or compare as women viciously do. You build a kind of self-love because you forget what it feels like to see “the ideal [photoshopped] body image” plastered over billboards that reminds you of everything your body is not.

There, strange things happen. You meet people who don’t speak your language – yet you share lollies and smiles and maybe a goodbye hug. You hussle at the markets and you find yourself blabbering your summarised life story that you’ve craftily learnt to repeat to shop owners and other shoppers you meet.

When your soul searching journey is over and it’s time to head home, you realise how much you’ll miss the place (because bias-ly(?), your origins are from a country so similar!) Then you hit the sands of Down Under and smell the heat of a burnt through ozone layer and good ol’ humidity. Amalgamated with the smell of used canola oil and a freshly fried batch of fish’n’chips.

Polenta Fish and Chips

Only this time, it’s spruced up with a twist on the batter: polenta instead of breadcrumbs. And homemade tartare sauce.

 

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

1 cup polenta

1 egg

1 tsp garlic powder

2 tsps finely grated lemon rind

4 firm white fish fillets (about 150g each – I just used Basa)

1 tbs lemon juice

Canola or rice bran oil, to fry (or any oil you like to fry in)

Potato chips, to serve

Tartare Sauce:

1/2 cup quality whole-egg mayonnaise

1 tsp finely grated lemon rind

1 tsp finely chopped capers

2 gherkins, finely chopped

1 tsp chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

 

Method:

First make your sauce:

Place mayonnaise, lemon rind, capers, gherkins and parsley in a small bowl. Season. Stir until well combined and refrigerate.

Tartare Sauce

Next, combine polenta, garlic powder and lemon rind in a plate; season with salt and pepper.

Whisk egg in a shallow bowl.

Dip 1 piece of fish in egg. Coat in polenta mixture. Place on a plate.

Repeat with remaining fish. I cut 3 of my fillets into cocktail sized bites for the kids.

Refrigerate fish for 10 minutes.

polenta fish (pre-cooked)

Heat oil in a deep frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook fish, in batches, for 3 to 4 minutes each side or until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain.

Serve with salad, tartare sauce and chips.

Polenta Fish, Chips, Tartare Sauce

honey teriyaki drummies & roast potatoes

You need to post more often[1].

Days and days do go by so quickly. Time and time does fly by so swiftly.

Minutes turn to hours to days to weeks to months. I last posted 8 months ago. So much passed since then – your recipes filled my inbox, my blog remained in a subtle hibernation, with the scarce WordPress notification downloading onto my app.

How do you wrap up eight whole months into a few short sentences, to perhaps try and justify your absence from something you once couldn’t abstain from for a day? Maybe you don’t. In fact, you probably just say a big bang hello and I’ve re-arrived at the party. And I brought some drummies and desirees along with.

roasted desiree  potatoes

But at the party my body of experiences doesn’t hold back. I tell you everything that happened in the 8 months I was gone.

From graduating university, to taking a semester’s break off work, to moving into an adorable townhouse and facing the reality of independent living with a loving partner, while missing the warmth of family back home.

But I have my own kitchen now.

Not that I hadn’t claimed the old one mine anyway.

I can cook whatever on earth I want to cook.

But on some days I don’t even want to cook.

That’s why I plan for leftovers from time to time.

Lie – I don’t plan it, I’m only feeding two mouths, yet only have experience cooking for 6.

 

Okay, enough. It’s a funny experience writing a blog post again after so long. I hope my readers are reading, and my blogging friends still around because I do plan on sticking around this time…

 

Drummies are on me. And the Desirees.

 honey teriyaki drumsticks

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

8 chicken drumsticks, skins on

 
For the marinade: 
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbs honey
2 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp ground ginger
1 onion, minced
1 tsp peanut oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbs parsley, chopped

 

For the potatoes:
6 red and 6 white desiree potatoes
2 cloves garlic, skin on, halved
a pinch of sea salt
a pinch of dried thyme
a drizzle of olive oil

 

Method:

Combine marinade ingredients in a large bowl with chicken drumsticks.
Marinate for 1 hour (up to ‘overnight’).
Arrange drumsticks in a flameproof baking tray and bake, uncovered, in 190 deg C preheated oven for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, drain marinade through fine seive and place in a saucepan on low flame until reduced to 1/2 the quantity (to form a glaze).
Glaze drumsticks by brushing all sides and return to bake for a further 20 minutes or until juices run clear.
Place pan on stovetop to evaporate any excess juices, and glaze drumsticks again (excess juices can be poured out if tray is not flameproof).
Return to grill to char for a minute and dress with sesame seeds.
To roast potatoes, cut larger potatoes in half and place in a separate baking tray.
Drizzle with oil, add garlic, salt, thyme, and toss to coat.
Bake in 200 deg C oven for 30-50 minutes until tender in the middle and crisp on the outside.
Check on potatoes and toss at 30 minute mark.
Serve chicken and potatoes with salad.

 

☆ my 2013 resolution | recipe roundup from my blogroll ☆

Since it’s year’s end and blog posts are trending around the topic, I thought I’d join the party and post:

a warm welcome to all my new subscribers – I hope to dish up delicacies that’ll tickle your taste buds this coming year;

a tribute to my blogging friends… a roundup of some of the dishes I’ve made from some of my beloved blogging friends. I enjoy receiving your recipes and droolworthy photos right to my inbox; and

my 2013 “new year’s resolution” for the blog to be freshly pressed which never happened!

I’m one of those people that “don’t do”. I don’t do this, I don’t take part in that, etc etc. and new year’s resolutions are one of those things that I don’t really do. Because they’re always a failure. Since “losing weight” has broken the records for being the most wanted, consecutive resolution for the past decade, 2013’s shifted towards the blog in hope that since I’m not losing weight when I set a goal to, I may lose weight in lieu of the blog not being freshly pressed. Did it work? I won’t tell you. 😛 Because there’s either a problem with my posts, the freshly pressed editors, my scales, or eating habits.. or perhaps all 4 things. 😉 I s’pose there’s still 20 minutes to go on my side of the globe, so there’s still hope 😉

 

Most of my 2013 was spent tearing my hair out to graduate from my bachelor, so my cooking frequency dropped, and so did my posts, but I have been on your blogs, and I have fulfilled my promises. When I say “bookmarked for later cooking”, I truly mean it.

Despite losing many photos of dishes I’ve made, I’ll be sharing what I can today.

~★~☆~★~☆~

This past year, and the couple before, I’ve craved, sighed in desire, been inspired by, and eagerly awaited posts from my blogroll, from Samah’s Good Cooks, to Sawsan’s Chef in Disguise, to Ksenia’s Saffron & Honey and more.

~★~☆~★~☆~

To begin, I’m going to share with you Rufus’ Stir-fried chicken with basil, mushrooms and chilli. Rufus was my first commenter, and subscriber and his ongoing presence really boosted my confidence and willingness to continue blogging. I’ve spent far too many late night flicking through Rufus’ daily posts, and have managed to learn a lot of new things from the blog. Thanks, Rufus & co.

Chicken Basil

This chicken basil recipe was delicious, and I thoroughly enjoyed the combination of flavours – minus some of the chilli as the girls around here can’t stand too much spice. Definitely give this recipe a go, all of you, it’s not to miss!

What’s comes after a really good meal? A really good dessert, of course! I cannot begin to explain how comforting, Rufus’ Brie and strawberries “pie” is, or how ridiculously tasty it is, or how simple to make it is. What’s not as simple as I thought though, is the cheese used in this dessert. And particularly, how it’s pronounced. Brie is apparently said Bree and not Bry like “dry”. Sorry, let me insist English is my second language to avoid the embarrassment! 😉

Brie and Strawberries

 

As I was not going to compete with Katherine’s talent, instead of roses and leaves on a rounded Brie pie, I folded over a what looked like a little bundle, and cut out (freehand) letters to spell … well you can see that for yourself! This was a perfectly timed dessert which I shared with the extended family after the birth of a little baby boy to my aunty. The only problem with this dessert is that it’s not enough. The next time I make this, I’m buying an extra large wheel of Brie so I can satisfy my portion needs of desserts this tasty. 🙂

~★~☆~★~☆~

Next I present to you Five Euro Food’s Roasted Beetroot Dip. Five Euro Food is run by Charles, also one of my early commenters and followers, who had to wait a really long time before I decided to check out who this loyal follower was. Since then I fell in love with the Swedish, French, English and all-things-in-between recipes he’d post.

Roasted Beetroot Dip

 

Charles had creative ideas when it came to beetroot which was fantastic for me – because I love beetroot, and, well sometimes my grandpa would buy far too many to just be disappointedly boiled or pickled. The roasted beetroot dip was delicious, although I’ll be roasting the garlic with the beetroot when I make this again. Perhaps our Aussie garlic tastes really strong, but any left over dip will have a super garlicky taste the next day – so enjoy it freshly made, it’s really hard not to finish in one sitting anyway!

If dips aren’t your thing, and you like the chips instead, then go no further than the Hand-cooked beetroot chips also at Five Euro Food.

Beetroot Chips

The littlest one here absolutely loves beetroot chips, so I just had to give these a go, and they were delicious, and far better than the store-bought packs. Be sure to pat your slices dry before frying to get a delicious crisp 🙂

~★~☆~★~☆~

Now if you haven’t headed over to My Ninja Naan, you’re really missing out. I’ve just about made all the smoothie recipes on this blog, and can’t get enough of them! I lost all the photos I had of the smoothies I’d made, but when I coincidentally found myself making yet another Date and Banana Smoothie, I put my glass down beside my window and grabbed my camera for a quick shot. If dates aren’t your thing, then you have to sip the strawberry banana smoothie instead. Both are so delicious! 🙂

Date & Banana Smoothie

Check out the texture on that date 😉 Definitely use medjool dates are they’re soft and will blend smoothly. When I made this one I only had small dried dates, but if you love a bit of texture, then by all means throw ’em in!

~★~☆~★~☆~

Next up is Eva from Kitchen Inspirations. I’ve made more recipes from Eva than I’ll list here, but I’ll share with you my attempt at making Eva’s Rösti potato. I wasn’t very confident when I made this back in January(!) so my rösti didn’t have the gorgeous streaks of browned potato throughout. But it was delicious nevertheless, and was eagerly welcomed into the tummies of the family.

Rosti Potato

From Eva’s blog, I’m also going to share with you her Lovely, flaky buttermilk cheese scones. To be honest with you, my scones weren’t as flaky as Eva’s but they tasted so delicious, I took them along to a family dinner they vanished before anything else did.

Cheese scones

~★~☆~★~☆~

I’ll end my little roundup with Dawn from First Look then Cook. I made her Chive and black pepper pop overs without having ever known what a pop over was. I learnt about these beauties from her blog! 🙂

Pop Overs

With so much batter I made large ones in the 12-case muffin tins and and mini ones in the 24-case muffin tins. The chives and black pepper really complemented each other, and I can only say I’m so lucky to have been introduced to such yummy little treats!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little roundup. I can’t wait to list another, with recipes ranging from MJs Kitchen to Very Culinary‘s! 🙂

Until then, stay safe, keep well, and bon appétit! 🙂

postcard from dubai & big news

Take a huge pile of sand, add millions of dollars, a passage of time, and find yourself in Dubai in the UAE. I’m sending you this overdue postcard from Dubai – a city that holds so many memories, experiences and meanings for me. This particular trip to Dubai will be especially memorable. I’m staying at a relative’s apartment at Dubai Marina and the views are just breathtaking. I can truly get used to this kind of living daily 😉

 

view from the balcony

view from the balcony

 

Tomorrow (2 Dec) is the 42nd national day of the UAE so huge celebrations have started already. I’m looking forward to photographing and enjoying the celebrations myself 🙂

But why this trip will be of the more memorable though is because of the news I received as I was entering the city at the airport. Just before arriving to the immigration desk, I managed to hook on to some terrible internet and check my uni email to see my grades. I’ve averaged a distinction, and will be graduating this December! Hoorah! 😀

I was truly worried about my finals, and the news came with such an overwhelming amount of joy, my knees buckled and I found myself crouching on the airport floors, crying many happy tears. It was a sweet, but awkward moment having my passport stamped, but I wasn’t going to hide my tears 🙂 So that’s the big news I have for you all!

Hoping everything on your end of the globe is going well.

Until anon! 🙂

garlic prawns

food[ident]ity crisis – a celebration of pescetarism & garlic prawns

Since chatting with a class mate a couple of weeks ago about food and all the -ians that come with it, I’ve been trying to put together a post in my head, but I’m finding it incredibly difficult to get my creative juices flowing. I do sincerely hope I say everything the way I intend it to mean – but do pitch in with your thoughts, too.

 

So it all started when I accidentally shared a link to a seafood restaurant promoting a discount. Really, that accident became the pivot point at which I realised I’m having one of those identity crises where I can’t put to definition some aspects of who I am. You know what I’m talking about – everybody has those moments when they don’t know what religion they are, don’t know what their family or work role is, don’t know what xyz aspect of them is – and they suddenly feel a sense of “my entire life’s a mess”.

 

Now it wasn’t that dramatic for me, I promise, but I realised I probably seemed hypocritical when I linked them to my blog, after telling them I’m pescetarian. Like whatever that is 😉 A pescetarian is a person who only eats seafood and otherwise eats what a vegetarian would. And to about a 70% extent, I am exactly that. Note I still enjoy my eggs, milk and butter, so I’m not vegan in any way.

 

Now what ever happened to that last 30%? Well my problem extends beyond that. Because now I have multiple foodie identities…

Identity 1: Vegetarian

You see, all my doctors think I’m a vegetarian. Because it’s easier to tell them that than trying to pronounce that P word. And also because – whilst I eat seafood – I don’t do it that often. And telling them I’m vegetarian quickly helps them understand why I’ve forever been slightly iron deficient… “because you don’t drink blood, of course!” …that’s what one of them told me (yes, they’re a vegetarian).

The lie in it

Now I’m a “vegetarian” largely because I don’t like the texture of red meat – most of which was lamb during my childhood. So it’s rare that I ever am in the mood to eat red meat, or crave it. It wasn’t until very, very recently that I learnt the “b” word in meats, and all the different steaks, stews and barbecues that you could make with it. And being outright honest, yeah, beef tastes a lot better than lamb. But I still only consume red meats when they’re put on my plate, or when I’m somehow in the mood for them. Which again isn’t often.

Whilst texture and taste is my biggest reason for not enjoying meat – the other would be preparation. I mean right from birth to supermarket. After watching a documentary, Food Inc., I was quite shocked to learn the manner which animals are treated. My uncle worked at abattoirs here in Australia, too, and I learned of the process that involved electric shocks and other unmentionable things. So all of this makes me feel quite uncomfortable – but I don’t actively fight against it, or persue the matter much – just give me my freerange chicken meat and I’ll be a happy supporter that way. Perhaps this is just laziness on my part.

The verdict

All in all, I suppose I’m a true vegetarian about 6% of the time. And whilst I don’t eat meat much, I still prepare and cook it for others.

 

Identity 2: “Omnivorian”  (I’ll coin the word to keep the -ian trend going)

My immediate friends and family know me as an omnivorian (i.e. an omnivore). Because I’m an all-eater. Who loves chicken pad thai, mince meat pies, pan-fried salmon, all-veggie fattoush, cookies, cream, toast and crumbs. This is largely due to my cultural upbringing where “whatever mum serves, you eat” regardless of whether you enjoy it or not. It wasn’t until recent times that I started cooking when I started to enjoy meats more – as I’d flavour them to my own liking and cook them my own way.

The truth in it

I guess being an omnivorian is closest to the truth as possible, it’s just that I don’t eat certain foods as much as I do of others. I don’t like to promote myself as an omnivore but I don’t like stating I’m a vegetarian either because of all the baggage attached to being one.

The verdict

I’m probably an omnivore 22% of the time, yet one that flicks aside the meat when no one’s looking if I’m really not enjoying it.

 

Identity 3: “Carnivorian” (see bracketed heading above)

No one’s ever known me to be a carnivore unless when very specific meals are dished up. I become a meat loving muncher when sfeeha  (the proper ones), mince meat pies (the proper ones), stew/soups  (the proper ones) are dished up. Did I mention they all have to be proper? Meaning taste nice. Meaning of the type that fati loves eating…?

The deceit in it

My behaviour change is often only witnessed during colder months when comfort food is a necessity.

The verdict

I probably display my carnivorian characteristics about 2% of the time – they’re a fad that come and go quickly.

 

Identity 4: Pescetarian

“Everyone else” knows me as a pescetarian. I love seafood and all the different things you can make with it! After all, that picture of the lobster from the restaurant that I shared with my class mate is what started all this! I enjoy the array of flavours, textures and cooking methods associated with seafood and I consider it a cuisine of it’s own. It really needs careful preparation and lots of respect to get the most out of it, though. I enjoy making garlic prawns, chermoula prawns, pan-fried salmon, baked basa, grilled (or battered/fried) fish, seafood salad, and so much more.

The catch in it

Really, I’m a happy muncher of seafood and will forever be – I think! It’s one of those things I worry I’ll one day eat a dish of that will turn me off seafood for a long time.

The verdict

Put me in an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet and I’ll eat a plate and say no more, thank you. Because – yes – I’m probably 70% pescetarian, but I don’t overkill… if you know what I mean.

 

I think that wraps up who I am food-wise. So a bit of everything, really, which an “omnivore” would easily cover – but I can’t bring myself to label myself like that… So if you want to give it a name for me, do let me know, or perhaps I should print business cards which explain my eating habits to give to those who bring it up 😛

 

But in celebration of 70% me… in celebration of a little seafood… I’ll end today’s post with a recipe I enjoy making because it’s quick, delicious, & easy to whip up for a weekday dinner. 🙂

 

garlic prawns

 

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

1kg uncooked green prawns, tails intact and deveined (no less than 35 prawns)

1 small-medium brown onion, finely sliced

1/2 medium-large green capsicum, finely sliced (try red capsicum for a tangy alternative)

2-3 large garlic cloves, crushed

1 teaspoon sweet chilli sauce (optional)

pinch of white pepper, cyenne pepper, dried dill, lemon pepper seasoning

squeeze of lemon, drizzle of oil

 

Method:

If prawns are frozen, thaw and drain. Set aside.

Drizzle oil into a large non-stick pan on medium-high heat.

Once heated through, add onions into pan and sauté for one minute, until beginning to soften.

Add in the capsicum and sauté with the onion on medium heat until capsicum begins to soften.

Add in the prawns and sweet chilli sauce and cook, stirring often, until prawns begin to turn pink at the tail.

Add in the remaining spices and cook for another minute, or until prawns have cooked through (be careful not to overcook the prawns as they will harden. If this happens reduce the heat to low and cook covered for another 10-15 minutes or until prawns soften again).

Serve with crusty bread and lemon wedges.