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?

 

Baked bread rolls

beehive stuffed bread rolls

[repost with revised recipe]

Aahh… the golden beehive in a tray. This heart-warming carby goodness is all the craze in the middle east, especially among my Saudi (and Algerian) friends. Whenever a lady comes to a potluck party with a tray of these, the entire room turns to her and takes a big sniff in… in attempt to have the biggest share of the sweet suckle and tender smell freshly baked hives emanate. Usually portions are one bun per person. Ha, what a joke! But then again, a baking tray can only fit so many buns, right?

Undoubtedly, each woman at the party sneaks two onto her plate, and maybe one in the mouth when no one is looking… diet? What diet? I’ll start that tomorrow (because you don’t go to potlucks everyday, now do you?!) Then come the ladies that missed out, wishing under their breaths that there had been a second tray, and gently cussing the ladies that got 3.

Behive stuffed bread rolls

I’m not overreacting here. The buns are really that good, and if you don’t believe me, you’ll just have to try them for yourself with a cuppa!

The dough recipe I use here is from an old housewife, and good friend. She, of course, does not use measurements precisely, but a dough is a dough, and if you’re a good baker, you will be able to make this dough beautifully. Feel free to use a milk bread dough recipe if you’re more comfortable with that.

Behive stuffed bread rolls

Yields: one 12-inch tray

Ingredients:

4 cup plain flour

2 handfuls of powdered milk

1 to 2 cups warm water

2 tbs instant yeast

3 tbs sugar

1 tsp salt

1/3 cup flavourless oil

1/2 tsp honey + water to loosen

1 small egg for an egg wash

1 x 250g tub of cream cheese (or your fave filling)

black seeds (Nigella Sativa) or sesame seeds to decorate

Method:

Combine the flour, salt, sugar, milk powder and instant yeast in a large bowl.

Make a well in the centre and add 1 cup water and oil. Combine, adding more water until dough comes together.

Knead with a dough hook (or by hand) until the dough is smooth, soft and elastic.

Oil and allow to rise, covered, for 1 hour.

Split the dough into large walnut sized segments, roll into a ball and flatten slightly.

Place a teaspoon of cream cheese in the centre and pinch dough together to form a ball. Roll between your palms to smooth out the surface. Repeat for remaining dough.

Bread rolls ready to be baked

Arrange stuffed buns in a greased 12-inch baking tray, about a centimetre (1/2 inch) apart.

Brush buns with an egg wash and decorate with sesame/black seeds.

Allow to rise, covered, for another 30 mins – 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (180 fan). Bake buns on the middle rack until golden brown.

Baked bread rolls

In a small dish, drizzle the honey, adding a few drops of water to loosen.

When the buns are ready and still hot, brush over the honey mixture, serve warm from the oven with a cuppa! 🙂

peach, raspberry & banana smoothie

The summer’s heat is really getting to us and the poor A/C is barely keeping up. We’re burning up in the heat, but I think we really need to install some insulation to save burning our pockets on the electricity bill, too! 😉

In light of summer, though, I thought I’d share with you a delicious summer smoothie. I’m so obsessed with smoothies, I could have them all year round, not just in summer!

 

This smoothie is packed with deliciously moist peach, plump raspberries and sweet banana. I add vanilla ice-cream to give it a smooth, creamy texture, but low fat yoghurt would work as a great substitute for the weight-conscious.

 

Before I move on to the recipe, I want to share with you an eBook. Oh no, it’s not my own one – not yet anyway! I was browsing the cookbooks here when I came across Modernist Cuisine (you can buy it through Inkling). I really loved this one because it’s jam-packed with droolworthy recipes and imagery. eBooks have actually become a big thing on my list of things I love because they’re so nice to flick through and many of them are interactive as well. Perhaps it’s coming from a girl who spent all her uni life behind a monitor, but as much as I love my printed cookbooks, I can’t help but stop at the e- ones. What do you like better? e-s or prints? 🙂

 

peach, raspberry & banana smoothie

 

Serves: about 2 tall glasses

Ingredients:

1 ripe banana

1/3 to 1/2 cup fresh raspberries

1 ripe yellow peach, skin on (adds a delicious texture and flavour)

1 cup skim milk (full cream, lite, do as you please)

3 – 4 heaped scoops of ice-cream (might add up to about a cup even!)

 

Method:

Place roughly chopped banana and half the milk into a blender and blend until smooth. This is a perfect little trick to make sure you don’t have any lumps of banana in your drink.

Add in remaining ingredients and blend lightly until smooth (don’t over-blend!)

Pour into glasses and serve with ice if desired, most importantly, cool and freshen up in the summer heat!

 

 

☆ 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! 🙂

croissant au beurre

croissant au beurre || a spiel & recipe

Somewhere between last Saturday and now, I managed to realise I am the most pathetic human being alive. When I say this, I am referring to empathy, i.e. I am empathetic – but empathy has so much sociocultural connotative baggage involved with it, I like to use the concept pathos from Aristotle and mirror it so that I’m the one being emotionally moved and persuaded by others (and not vice versa).

 

Since childhood I’ve known myself to be a sensitive creature, who cramps when the guy in the movie gets punched, who cries when she sees someone else in trouble or upset, and who will make it her responsibility to ensure everyone she loves is happy, regardless of her own personal state. And I admit right now, this is a very dangerous wadi to be in because of just how unstable it can leave you at the end of the day. The danger extends beyond that, however. You see, I’m very good at listening. I will listen to your entire life’s story if you wanted me to know it, but I am the worst person at helping. I will not know what to say. I will not respond properly. I will in fact sit and cry with you. Cry when you leave. Cry all night long. And probably the next morning, too. If I try to help, I’d attempt to get your mind off your problems by chatting with you about petty things (perhaps my life story), or attempt to bribe your worries away with food. Usually that doesn’t work. And we end up crying anyway – I more than you. But in light of food, which is what I’m best at doing, I will be happy to cook things out of my comfort zone if it means I have to.

before baking

before baking

 

Now if you’ve ever promised a Frenchman a French delicacy, you’d know the sort of pressure I put on myself making these croissants. I have, indeed, read all your Darking Bakers challenge blog posts with recipes, I have watched at least 15 YouTube videos on how to make the crescent shaped croissant au beurre. I dreamed about these darlings for nights on end. I shopped for them. I took a deep breath. And got to work. And work started with transcribing Chef Bruno’s (who’s accent can’t be missed) Taste of Paris video by hand into my little notebook, with macarons on it!

 

home-made or store-bought?

after baking

 

That’s right. making these had to be done properly the first time round and I was going classical with a proper recipe on paper and memorising all the “tour double”, “tour simple”, and whatever else turns and folds were involved!

I realised after making these that the croissant itself is not difficult to make in the sense that it’s steps are almost basic baking steps you might do in any baking recipe, the waiting involved (and the realisation of how enormous these croissants can go) is what lets croissant making seem such a dragged out process. This being my first go at making croissants, I ran to the local bakery and grabbed  croissant to compare. And I honestly could not tell the difference – except that some of mine were a little more buttery tasting than the bakery one. That’s a plus, surely? 🙂

 

croissants before and after

before and after baking

 

The croissants themselves were delicate, flaky and crispy, but they need to be left in an airtight container to keep their crispiness, running around with them in a Japanese basket and brown bag won’t help maintain the delicate crisp. I made three batches, one was absolutely massive, the other two looked exactly like the ones you’d pick up from a local bakery. I only managed to photograph the final proofing (sounds so dramatic) as I was far too busy ensuring perfection during all other stages.

I hope you have a go at croissant making sometime soon. I highly recommend you watch Bruno’s video linked above. I enjoyed a croissant pressed in the sandwich press, stuffed with some fetta, dried mint and black seed (you need to try this with some cold watermelon: divinity between your hands).

 

homemade croissants

Yields: 10-14 croissants (depending on size)

Ingredients:

Pâton:

1 cup lukewarm tap water

4 tsps active dry yeast (2 packets fresh yeast can be used, just add to water & proof instead of flour)

3 1/2 cups unbleached bread/plain flour

3 tsp kosher salt

1/4 cup granulated sugar

100g (6 1/2 tbs) softened unsalted European-style cultured butter

Tourage:

250g (16 1/2 tbs) softened unsalted European-style cultured butter

 

Method:

Combine active dry yeast, salt, sugar and flour in a large bowl.

Add in the water and 100g of butter and continue kneading until just combined.

Transfer the dough to your work surface without additional flour and use your palm to knead the dough for five minutes.

When the dough comes together as a smooth, soft malleable ball, place in the bowl and let rise. This is the ‘first rise’ and should happen at 24 degrees C, that’s 75 degrees F, and should be left for roughly 2 hours to double in size.

Lightly dust your work surface and dough with flour. Deflate the dough and pat it (with your hands!) into a rectangular shape. Fold it over into thirds, then in half, wrap and refrigerate overnight. This is the ‘second rise’ and will allow the flavours to develop, adding depth and complexity. It allows the dough to relax and lose its stretchiness.

In the meantime, make your slab of butter by softening it slightly. Place the butter in a 7 by 8 inch sandwich bag and roll to the edges until you have an even thickness. Chill then trim off any thin edges.

Let the butter soften before beginning the tourage. When soft enough, remove the dough from the fridge and deflate.

On a floured surface, roll the dough into a 15 by 7 inch rectangle and place the butter slab on one half of the dough. Cover over with the other half of the dough. Tap the dough gently with a rolling pin then roll from the centre out until you have a 24 inch by 8 inch rectangle.

Sweep off any excess flour; fold the left third over to the centre, then fold the right over so the two ends meet. Readjust the thickness of the pâton (dough) by rolling over it then fold in half like a book. This is your double turn (called tour double).

Repeat the previous step, rolling out until you have a 24 by 8 inch long rectangle. Fold the dough into thirds, making your simple turn, then wrap and refrigerate for one hour.

When chilled, remove and roll out slightly. Cut in half and return one half to the fridge. The croissant dough should always be cool while being worked with. Roll the half you’re working with to an 18 by 9 inch rectangle with a 1/8″ thickness (~3mm).

 

the pâton

 

Cut the dough into six large triangles and roll into the familiar crescent shaped look.

Place croissants on lightly greased baking paper and brush with an egg wash (1 egg beaten with a pinch of salt).

Repeat with other half of dough.

the last proofing

Leave croissants on a counter top to proof for 2.5-3hrs until puffed and spongy.

Brush with an egg wash again and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (205 C) and bake for 10 minutes.

Turn down the heat to 375 degrees (190 C) and bake for another 12 – 15 minutes until golden brown.

Serve the delicious, buttery, flaky croissants as you please. Just enjoy and never go back to a store bought croissant again!

baqlawa (misspelled baklava) recipe

Baqlawa. Everyone claims they do it best, but who knows? I’ve actually had this post done and dusted and sitting in my drafts since September 2012 – a whole entire year ago! Wow 🙂 I thought I’d share it today because I’m head under stacks of study, assignments and midsem exams…. And well, it’s a near-finished post that just needed a few minutes to touch up and share. (And also because I’ve recently been craving baqlawa a lot! This craving was curbed with a friend’s kind offer to share some of the baqlawa she made recently 🙂 ).

Baqlawa generally is super easy to make. It’s almost a repetitive process of ‘lay the fillo, brush with butter’! In this recipe, I use 2 packets of fillo pastry and I cut the sheets to size. I use the left over fillo to make cute fillo cups and fill them with spinach and ricotta or fetta 🙂 If you have a rectangular tray that fits your fillo sheets perfect, go ahead and use that and cut the baqlawa into bite-sized squares.

There’s generally a beautiful pattern we follow to cut the diamonds out of round trays as this one (which I’ve tried to really simply/make clear with the pictures below!) Perhaps if you try it on a rectangular/square tray and share with us how it worked out, that’d be great! 🙂 Remember if it doesn’t work out for you, the baqlawa will still taste amazing regardless! 🙂

baqlawa-fin

Serves: ~15-20
Ingredients:
2 packets Fillo Pastry (375g per pack)
3 cups cashews (I mixed cashews and walnuts for a nutty flavour when doing this – feel free to try pistachios – YUM!)
1 cup butter, melted
Syrup:
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 cup white sugar
1/8 tsp citric acid or juice of half a lemon
1 tsp rose water (or vanilla essence)
Method:
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees celsius (170 fan forced).
Lightly grease a deep 32cm diametre baking tray and set aside.
Pulse the cashews in a food processor until finely chopped.

filling

Remove fillo pastry from one pack, and place on a bench.
Place the tray on top of the pastry, and run a sharp knife along the edges of the pastry to cut to size (if necessary).
Place 2-3 sheets of cut fillo pastry into the base of the dish and brush with butter (put down one sheet at a time for a richer flavour).
Repeat with the remaining cut fillo pastry.

baqlawa

Spread the cashew mixture over the base.
Remove the fillo pastry from the second pack, and cut to size.
Repeat brushing with butter between the sheets for all the fillo pastry.
Use a sharp knife to cut diagonal bite-sized pieces (see diagram below; comment for extra help).
baqlawa1
Place the tray in the oven and leave for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown.
Meanwhile, for the syrup, add the sugar and water into a saucepan and bring to the boil.
Add the rosewater and citric acid and stir to combine.
Reduce to a gentle boil and leave undisturbed for five minutes.
Pour this syrup mixture into a milk mug and set aside to cool completely.
When the baqlawa is ready, remove from the oven and  immediately pour on cooled syrup. Leave the baqlawa to cool.

syrup

Serve with vanilla ice cream or tea.

i heart cinnamon rolls

I really do heart them. So I made some in mini heart-shaped pans I bought from eBay (I bought six small ones).

The story goes: I saw MJs heart shaped chocolate cups she had bought from the shops and wanted to recreate these at home. I did for a chocolate mousse but one use for things as adorable as these is a waste. When I had some left over cinnamon rolls, I thought I’d make individual servings using my heart pans – and they turned out so adorable.

hearty cinnamon rolls

For those who celebrate Mother’s day, you could perhaps try doing this (just get your order in time if you don’t have any 😉 ). I’m a huge fan of cinnamon – so to give you any review on this recipe would be very biased. I probably also upped the amount of cinnamon in the recipe (but the original is below) and I added a very small pinch to the actual dough (because I can eat the stuff in teaspoons 😛 ).

 

With Autumn in full swing these buns are perfect served warm for breakkie – perhaps with a hot cuppa, too 🙂

hearty cinnamon rolls

 

Yields: ~21 rolls

Ingredients:

dough

4 cups plain flour

1/2 cup sugar

3 tsps instant dry yeast

1/3 cup melted butter

3/4 cup milk, warmed

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)

2 eggs

1 tsp salt

filling

1/4 cup butter (can use upto 1/3)

1 cup brown sugar, fairly packed

3 tbs ground cinnamon

icing

1/2 pack Philly cream cheese

1/4 cup butter, at room temperature

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted (pure icing sugar, icing mixture’s worked fine with me before)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract/essence

Method:

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and gradually add wet ingredients to form a soft, somewhat sticky dough.

Leave in a warm place until the dough doubles in size.

Meanwhile prepare the filling by beating the butter until creamy. Add in the brown sugar and cinnamon and mix until well combined.

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees celsius.

Punch and roll until about half a centimetre thick – keeping sure the bench is well floured and the dough is not sticking to it.

Spread cinnamon mixture over the dough and roll up lengthwise.

Cut into 2cm pieces, cleaning your knife as you go so it doesn’t stick.

Place rolls into pans and leave for another 1/2 hour to rise (I skipped this step because I wanted to eat them already and it turned out fine).

Bake rolls for 10-15 minutes until golden brown (and slightly browning at the edges).

Meanwhile make the icing by beating together with an electric mixer until smooth (gradually adding in the sugar).

Drizzle frosting when rolls are warm, and serve!

 

 

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!