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!

☆ 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! 🙂

petite pumpkin soup

I’m back! 🙂 In case you missed my previous post, I was doing a small tour of Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand 🙂 I’ve picked up on some amazing culinary practices I can’t wait to do here at home and share with everyone on the blog. 🙂

Today I’m sharing with you a recipe given by my aunty. It’s one of those eyeballed recipes, where perfect measurements aren’t really important. I promise I’ll move away from orange-coloured recipes soon (in case you’ve haven’t realised, I’ve posted a peach tart, sweet chilli fries, a peach pie, and now, pumpkin soup!)

As a final note, depending on how thick or thin you like your soup, leave it to simmer between 45 and 60 mins.

petite pumpkin soup

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

300g kent pumpkin, peeled and diced into 2cm cubes

1 medium-large brown onion, finely diced

1 tbs oil (rice bran, or olive)

2 medium-large potatoes, peeled and diced into 2cm cubes

salt and pepper to taste

cream to garnish lemon wedges to serve, if desired

 

Method:

Add oil and onion into a non-stick heavy based saucepan on medium-high heat, and sauté until onion softens, stirring often.

Add in the pumpkin and potato cubes, and immerse with tap water.

Add salt and pepper to taste and cover. Let simmer for 45-60 minutes on medium-low heat, stirring through every 15 minutes, until the water reduces down by a 1/4.

pumpkin soup

Transfer saucepan’s contents into a blender and blend until smooth.

Garnish with cream, freshly ground black pepper or chives and sip with croutons.

petite pumpkin soup

chilli sweet potato fries

If you’re after a party in your mouth, then this is the recipe you’re after. It’s packed with flavour, fried nutrition (:P), and loaded with texture to kick-start the best flavourful experience you’ll ever have. I’ll make an outright confession here: these aren’t as healthy as Rufus’ baked sweet potato fries, but they’re fries, so I’ll fry them. I mean, how often do we get to eat chilli sweet potato fries? (A fair bit, I know, but still!)

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

2 larget sweet potatoes

1/2 tsp salt

a pinch of each: taco seasoning (homemade or store bought), oregano flakes, smoked paprika

 

Method:

Preheat the deep fryer.

Wash and peel the sweet potatoes (peeling is optional).

Cut the sweet potato in half, then into long strips, no thicker than one centimetre.

Pat dry the potatoes and salt.

When the oil is hot (a potato should sizzle immediately), fry for 3 – 5 minutes, or until golden in colour.

Remove from the oil and immediately sprinkle on taco seasoning, oregano and paprika.

Serve as a snack or side with sour cream and chives if desired.

Devour!

perfect ‘pita’ pockets

Now that I’ve delved deep into uni, I thought I’d share with you a quick and healthy recipe I love to make… especially that I’m pretty much always short on time… It’s going to be one of my big and bold claims, that I invented this, because I’ve never before seen it anywhere… not in Google searches, on your blogs, or in recipe books! Let me know if you have, though, so I can pass on the title to its rightful owner 🙂

What I love most about this recipe is that it’s versatile, quick, and cuts down on the carbs (by doubling the amount of fresh veggies) when compared to the typical sandwich. I don’t know how you feel about the average sandwich, but I can’t seem to get it through my mind that 2 slices of bread, and some filling is enough for a quick lunch… especially coming from a Middle Eastern background, where lunch is rice, meat and a whole lot more. Doing my sandwiches this way, means I get twice as many, but only with the same 2 slices of bread…. let me know what you think of this way of making sandwiches 🙂 And remember to use what ever filling you fancy!

Serves: 1

Ingredients:

1 hard boiled egg

2 tbs mayonnaise

5 – 6 small iceburg lettuce leaves

1/4 cucumber, thinly sliced (8 slices)

2 slices white or wholemeal bread – not too thinly or thickly sliced

 

Method:

Toast the slices of bread until golden. If you toast them too much, they won’t open nicely.

Meanwhile, mash the hard boiled egg with a fork until it resembles course crumbs.

Rinse the lettuce leaves and roughly dice.

Cut the toasted slices of bread in half (I photographed this recipe so twice, so in the first few pics, I cut them as triangles, but the final images are when I cut them as rectangles).

Run a sharp serrated knife through the bread to make a pocket. Make sure you do the edges (near the crusts) and to shake out any crumbs to make more room for fillings!

Spread 1/2 tbs of good quality mayonnaise inside each pocket.

Add in a quarter of the mashed egg to each pocket.

Evenly fill each pocket with the lettuce and cucumber slices.

Serve fresh while the bread’s still crispy. I guess you could leave the filling out until it’s lunch time… what ever you do, please remember me while you..

Devour!

...just like this...

 

scrumptious curry puffs

I wonder if anyone is finding today a particularly weird day. Because it’s the 29th of Feb. Since I don’t know if I’ll be here or alive after 4 years from now, I thought I’ll put up a recipe for the occasion. A while back I tried a recipe for 2-toned curry puffs I saw on Tes at Home’s blog. Although my 2 tones didn’t turn out as 2 tones, there was still some sort of recognisable difference in the curry puff pastry.

What I love about this recipe is that the dough (water one especially) is SO easy to make. If you’re the sort of person who makes fillings in advance, you could be curry puffing your way in minutes without a tiring huff or puff!

To make these curry puffs again, I think I’ll only stick with the water dough, because I think they’ll taste just as good without the butter dough and extra rolling to do. 🙂



Yields: 25

Ingredients:

Curry Pastry:

Water Dough:

2 1/2 cups plain flour

2/4 cup warm water

1 tsp baking powder

2 tbs oil

Grease Dough:

1 1/2 cup plain flour

1/3 cup butter, interchangeable with Canola spread, softened and cut into small cubes

2 tbs oil

1 tbs water if necessary

Filling (enough for 2 batches of curry pastry recipe above, can be frozen):

2 medium potatoes, peeled and finely diced

2 skinless chicken thigh fillets, finely diced (leave out if vegetarian)

1 medium carrot, grated

1 medium onion, finely diced

1 tbs tandoori paste (or tomato paste)

1/4 cup corn

1/4 cup peas

juice of half a lemon

1/4 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp tumeric

1/2 tbs soy sauce

1/2 tsp paprika

1 tsp salt

a dash of pepper

 

Method:

Combine all ingredients for the water dough in a large bowl.

Knead well for 5-7 minutes. Cover and rest the dough for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, for the grease dough, crumble the butter in the flour until it resembles coarse grains.

Add the oil (and water if necessary) and knead until smooth and pliable.

Make the filling by adding the potatoes  with a drizzle of oil into a non-stick pan.

Add in the salt and stir through the potatoes for 5 minutes on medium heat.

Add in the chicken and cook for a further 3 minutes.

Add in the remaining ingredients and spices and simmer until the potato and onion soften.

Dish up the mixture and leave aside to cool.

Meanwhile, roll the water dough out into a large sheet and wrap it around grease dough.

Roll out into the long sheet, make marks with the rolling pin to help you roll it into an even shape.

When you have rolled out the dough to a 1 cm thickness, roll it into a Swiss roll.

Roll the dough again out into a sheet, then into a Swiss roll, like the previous process.

I rolled mine a bit thick, but they're tastier when the dough is rolled out thinner (I did this recipe twice)!

Cut the dough into 1/3 cm thick discs.

Gently roll the discs to flatten them.

Add the filling onto the middle and fold the pastry in half.

Press and crimp the edge of the curry puff.

Repeat this until all the remaining curry puffs are finished.

Heat oil in a deep fryer over the medium-high heat.

Deep fry the puffs for few minutes or until golden brown.

Devour!

lolling lentil soup [syrian style]

I’ve been so brain dead for the past few days. Like in the same way society scrutinises blondes for being dumb. Only tenfold worse. You see….. I’ve been aiming to get my driver’s license since August last year… I did a practical driving test on the 23rd Aug 2011… and after passing all the exam exercises, I failed while driving back to the transport department because the examiner intervened.

I went again on Feb 15 of 2012 for a test. I passed. Until on the way back to the department, I merged lanes without being asked to. Diver intervened. I failed.

I called to make another appointment and [very] miraculously got one on the 16th Feb. I was driving along and on the way back to the department……. driver intervened. Only verbally, saying: “so what do you have planned this afternoon?” I panicked! Did I pass or fail? Why is she saying this? I said, “oh nothing much!” she continued talking to me… what do you study, what grade are you in, etc. I thought, “hooray! I’ve passed” ….but I didn’t want to jinx myself so I just kept quiet until I got to the department… without an examiner intervention… which meant I had passed! HOORAY!

Thursday night my grandmother did a little dinner party because she’s so happy that I finally got my license. And on Saturday, my sis did 2 gorgeously cute cakes for a hors d’oeuvres ‘party’ we held… the cakes were a green car (i.e. the Toyota I’ve been training in which I have plans to steal from my father)…

I didn't say this, but I think she didn't smooth out the cream because.. (next caption)

It’s so cute, right?! But that’s not all… The car comes with break lights AND a personalised rego plate… FA01

...it's a reflection of all the bumps I've dinted into the car 😉 nah, only joking!

… and the other is a P plate cake. Because here in Aussie, you go from Learner plate, to Provisional 1 (red), to Provisional 2 (green), to Open license.

Isn’t she so sweet? She even did a gorgeous updo for me at my request, and did all that rushing around that a host does when they’re hosting a hors de’Ovors party! I felt like a queeeeen! :mrgreen:

Anyway, since I’ve been doing nothing more than lying around in the heat and pondering over how dumb I’m becoming due to this agonisingly intense calefaction, I thought I’ll share with you a super lazy, awesomely delicious, fool proof, Syrian style lentil soup for those enjoying the cooler months! This soup is usually eaten with kibbeh (recipe to be posted one day). For meat lovers, add in about 150 – 200 g minced/diced meat half way though the cooking process after marinating with spices for 30 minutes.

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

2 cups red lentils

1 small onion, finely diced

2 tbs butter (or oil)

4 cups tap water

1/4 cup bulgur (or rice)

3 tbs ground cumin

dash of salt, pepper, and baharat to taste

1 tsp safflower threads

 

Method:

On high heat, add the lentils and onion into a non-stick saucepan, and fry in the butter for a minute.

Add in the water and cover.

Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium.

Add in the bulgur and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

At the 30 minute mark, add in the spices to taste.

Cover and cook for a further 20 minutes on medium heat.

Serve with lemon wedges and cumin if desired.

Devour!

Told you it was too easy! 🙂

basic fruit basket

Now that summer’s over, I’m really looking forward to cooler nights and heartier food 🙂 A few weeks back when the fruit drawer was overflowing, I made a very basic fruit basket and took it along to a little morning tea.

If all else fails, take a real fruit basket with you 🙂

I had plans to make it a bit more fancy, but I started just an hour before I had to leave, so I had very little time to make it fancy and cut up fruit to place within. Asides from that, my little journey to make this basic fruit basket almost came to an end when I accidentally cut straight through the handle! Some clear sticky tape got that fixed up 🙂

For a first time, I think I did quite okay, but I plan to make this basket again… but with a fancier touch. My idea was to use a lemon zester (not that I even have one!) to carve out a basket weave on the watermelon, and cut the handle with some curves to make it look like a plait. Hope you stick around ’til then… 😀

Yields: one fruit basket able to feed 10+ people 😉

Ingredients:

1 medium watermelon

an assortment of fruit, including:

kiwi fruit         rockmelon

peach               plum

grapes              mango

apple                pineapple

lychees            orange

pear                  banana

cherries          strawberries

Method:

Begin by placing the watermelon on its side and rolling it to find the most stable position.

Use a whiteboard marker to draw out the handle and ‘rim’ of the basket.

Use a sharp knife to cut these sections out.

Carve out the flesh, starting at the flesh which comes down off the handle.

You can use a mini ice cream scoop to make melon balls to place in the basket; alternatively, cut the remaining watermelon flesh in half, then carve each half by running the knife through the flesh, cutting it into segments.

Use a tablespoon to help cut away the segments from the skin.

Pour out any watermelon juice from the basket.

Continue using a tablespoon to scrape the flesh off the insides to have a clean, smooth finish.

Wash the basket and set aside while you wash and cut all the fruit.

Place the fruit into the melon basket and keep refrigerated until serving time.

Devour!

 

fancy fataayer bil jibneh

Ehm…

I-L-O-V-E-F-A-T-A-A-Y-E-R!

If it helps to read it like this, then: I LOVE FATAAYER! I can’t explain to you how much I love this fat-full, carb-full, little delight. Back home in Syria, on the days you feel like it, you wake up, wash up, wear your clothes and head down to the “bakery” and order x-amount of pieces of “fataayer”. The whole ritual is so appeasing; the crispy fresh air and the “exercise” you get completely remove any guilty conscious feelings you may have about eating haloumi cheese and white dough first thing in the morning, with a huge cuppa tea and three sugars (if not four, that is).

I must say, Arabs sure have good taste. Here Down Under, I’ve tried making this little pastry a few times, with every attempt bringing me closer to the ultimate fataayer “pie”. By ultimate, I must admit, I mean replica to the ones you get from the bakeries. And this might sound a bit silly, but why I’m stressing about it so much is because bakeries in Syria don’t do these pies in ovens, the do them in open fire ovens (like oo-la-la).

Below, so far, is the best recipe I’ve made. It replicates the original eye-shaped pies you get, and tastes almost like them. Like 90% almost. Only these ones that I’ve made are a mini version of the palm-sized pies you get. Perfect for hors d’Oeuvres parties.

Yields: 20

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups plain flour

1/3 cup + 1/8 cup warm water

1/8 cup plain yoghurt

1/8 tsp instant dry yeast

2 tbs olive oil

1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

10 sprigs parsley, chopped

1 3/4 cup finely grated haloumi cheese

 

Method:

Place the cheese and parsley into a bowl and mix to combine.

Add flour, yoghurt, water, oil, sugar, salt and yeast into another bowl and knead for a minimum of 5 minutes to form a pliable dough.

Set aside to rise for 40 minutes.

Lightly grease two baking trays and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.

Break the dough into golf-sized pieces and roll into thin oblongs.

Place a levelled tablespoon of the haloumi cheese along the centre of oblong.

Fold over the long sides and pinch the two ends to form an eye shape.

Press down firmly (on the whole pie) with the palm of your hand, then transfer onto a baking tray.

Repeat this until the dough and mixture is finished.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges become golden.

Set aside to cool slightly before serving.

Devour!