Thursday, August 28, 2014

671. Iraqi Breakfast Fried Tomato


I woke up last week-end with an intense craving for a breakfast of Iraqi fried tomatoes.
Well, we can't have that without some fried aubergines (eggplant) slices. I have some haloomi in the fridge; grill those too. And no breakfast in complete without eggs.
I served breakfast with crispy baguette slices which is not traditional, but I prefer it because it soaks up the wonderful rich tangy fried tomato sauces beautifully. Khoubiz is traditionally served.
To round off the meal, serve bowls of olives, fresh tomato wedges, sliced cucumbers, and piled fresh herbs and spring onion. This breakfast makes for a very comforting dinner too.


Ingredients:

Tomatoes
Aubergines (eggplant)
Eggs
Haloomi cheese
butter
oil, to fry
Bread, to serve



Method:

To make the fried tomato, cut tomatoes in large wedges or circles.
In a deep pan, melt some butter and add the tomatoes.
Saute for 2-3 minutes until sizzling, lower the heat to medium, cover the pan and let simmer for 10-15 minutes until like a puree. Season with salt to taste. Done.

To make the fried aubergines, heat enough oil to deep-fry the aubergine slices.
Cut the aubergines into circles. I prefer thinner circles (0.5 cm thick) because they crisp and cook faster.
When the oil is hot, fry the aubergine slices until crisp and golden on both sides.
Remove to a paper-towel lined plate to release from excess oil and salt lightly.
To serve, place on a plate and dollop with a yogurt-tahini mixture and fresh mint leaves.
To make the yogurt-tahini sauce, mix three tablespoons plain yogurt with a teaspoon of tahini.

To make the eggs, lightly scramble eggs in a bowl.
Melt butter over medium heat and add eggs.
Reduce heat to a medium low and stir once in a while. The eggs will cook slowly but deliciously.
Season lightly with salt and pepper as it cooks. Be careful to not over stir.

To make the grilled haloomi, generously slice the block of haloomi cheese.
Heat a dry pan over medium-high heat.
Once the pan is hot, add the cheese slices without any oil or grease.
Be careful, the cheese will brown rather quickly.
Flip to brown on both sides.

I serve the breakfast with grilled baguette slices, which is very nontraditional, but it is my favorite bread to absorb the juices of the fried tomato.
Breakfast is usually served with Iraqi bread, khoubiz, discs, bowls of olives, fresh tomato wedges, sliced cucumbers, and piled fresh herbs and spring onion.


 صحة و عافية

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

670. Melon-Mint Smoothie


Melon and watermelon are the definition of Summer.
This refreshing smoothie is a must-drink before the end of the season.
Fresh mint leaves bring the freshness sky-high.
I like to put everything in a blender, blitz, and serve immediately (or within a day) over ice.


Ingredients:

1 (1.5kg-2kg) honeydew melon
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1 lemon, juice


Method:

Cut the melon in half and remove the seeds. Scoop out the flesh and put in a blender.
Add the mint, sugar, and lemon juice.
Blend to a pulp and serve immediately over ice.


 صحة و عافية

Monday, August 25, 2014

669. Blueberry Qataef


Iraq is in my blood, and in addition to that, Palestine is any Arab and Muslim's duty.
These beautiful qataef (قطائف) are in honor of our beloved Palestine, land of our Holy sites and many of our prophets. May Allah protect our brave brethren in Palestine and Iraq and grant them and us victory over the injustice and brutality of the enemy, in both this world and the next.
Qataef are Palestinian and are a very common sweet served in Ramadan. They are a holey pancake that have been cooked only on one side, not too sweet, and very fluffy. They can be filled and shaped in different ways.
Today I chose to fill my qataef with ashta, topped with a tiny dollop of blueberry preserve, a sprinkle of pistachio slivers, and drizzled generously with sugar syrup.


Ingredients:

2 cups water
2 cups flour
3 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup semolina
1 tsp dry yeast
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp rosewater

To serve:
ashta
blueberry preserve
pistachio slivers or powder
sugar syrup

For the ashta:
2 slices of American-style white bread
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp cornstarch, diluted in a bit of water
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp orange blossom water, 1 tsp rose water

For the sugar syrup:
2 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 tsp citric acid powder or 1 lemon, juice


Method:

Put all the qataef ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Pour the contents in a bowl, cover, and let rest in a warm place for about an hour.
Heat a non-stick pan over medium-low heat.
Pour about 2 tablespoons of batter per pancake.
The pancake is done when the top is dry and filled with holes.
Remove and set aside covered in a cloth until the entire batch is cooked.
Take the cooked pancake, holey-side up, and smear with about a tablespoon of mashed ashta.
Fold the pancake to enclose the filling and pinch the sides to seal about halfway through, so that half the filling is still exposed.
Arrange in the serving dish, then dollop with half a teaspoon blueberry preserve, a sprinkle of pistachio, and a generous drizzle of the cooled sugar syrup.
Best cooked, served, and consumed on the same day.

Make the sugar syrup by bringing to boil the sugar, water, citric acid or lemon juice.
Simmer over medium-high heat for 10 to 15 minutes until visibly syrupy.
Set aside to cool completely, by then it would resemble the consistency of corn syrup.
Make the ashta the night before: Cut the edges off the bread. Cut the soft white part in dices. Pour the milk and cream in a heavy-bottomed saucepan; add the diced bread, add the sugar; dilute the cornstarch in water; stir the milk mixture continuously until it starts to steam; add the cornstarch and keep stirring until the mixture thickens, making sure it does not burn (adjust the heat). Add the flavored waters if using, stir a few seconds more and remove from the heat. Pour into a bowl, let it cool and then cover with plastic and store in the fridge overnight to give the cream a chance to thicken.


 صحة و عافية

Saturday, August 23, 2014

668. Lamb Pomegranate Bourag


These bourag were a happy accident.
My sister one day asked me why I don't put pomegranate seeds in my bourag; fresh pomegranate seeds; and no, not cooked with the stuffing.
So with my haloomi bourag rolls still in mind, I decided to mix fresh pomegranate seeds in an Arabic-spiced raw minced meat stuffing. Filling the bourag with ruby-studded raw meat mixture ensured that the meat would not spill out into the frying oil as it would if I had pre-cooked it. The raw meat encased the ruby seeds and they cooked together as one, encased in the light crispy spring roll wrapper.
A word of advice: make plenty and freeze the extras; these will become a favorite.
This other bourag, another favorite, uses a cooked meat filling (and a dipping sauce), so as you can see you need to fold the sides over the filling before rolling so it doesn't seep out.


Ingredients:

250g minced meat (lamb or beef)
1 grated onion
1/4 tsp allspice
pinch cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt & pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds (arils)
spring roll wraps pastry


Method:

Mix the minced meat, grated onion, allspice, cinnamon, salt, pepper, chopped parsley well.
Stir in the pomegranate seeds and try to envelop them in the meat mixture as much as possible.
Take a tablespoon of the mixture and shape it into a line at one end of a rectangular piece of springroll pastry.
Again, push any pieces of pomegranate seeds into the meat.
Do not make the bourag too thick or the meat will take longer to cook and the pastry will burn.
Roll the pastry and seal shut with the "glue" (1 Tbsp flour+2 Tbsp water).
Refrigerate or freeze covered until needed.
Fry in hot oil until golden and crisp.


 صحة و عافية

Thursday, August 21, 2014

667. Chocolate Fudgecicles


As simple as these chocolate fudge ice pops may be, they are rather scrumptious and have a very special bite to them.
They are fudgy, so they do not freeze completely solid, and you can bite into them quite easily.
As is somewhat standard in ice creams, the dairy ratio is one part whole milk to one part heavy cream, so if you happened to be watching your waistline, keep these as the occasional treat.
There is no need to buy specialty ice pop molds; you can simply make the pops in paper cups and freeze with a stick in them. To unmold, just tear away the cup.


Ingredients:

2 tsp cornstarch
1 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp fine salt
2 tsp vanilla extract


Method:

In a medium saucepan, whisk together cornstarch and 2 tablespoons milk until smooth; whisk in remaining milk, cream, sugar, cocoa, and salt.
Bring to a boil over medium-high, stirring constantly, and cook 1 minute.
Transfer to a large liquid-measuring cup and stir in vanilla.
Pour into ice-pop molds or paper cups and insert ice-pop sticks.
Freeze until pops are solid, about 6 hours (or up to 1 week).
Just before serving, briefly run molds under hot water to release pops, or if using paper cups simply tear away to unmold.


 صحة و عافية

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Iraqi Breakfast Watermelon and Cheese


If you are eating watermelon as it is, you are missing out on some serious flavor combinations.
One of which is the famous and beloved Iraqi style combo of watermelon and salty cheese.
I like to pair my watermelon with Haloomi cheese. This makes for a delicious and fresh breakfast, but like all breakfast foods, it is just as good any time of day.
I think by now it is a rarity to meet an Iraqi who does not have some memory, vivid or vague, of being in the midst of a bombardment. I remember when I was barely ten and the sirens had just turned off, my mother cut us some watermelon and fresh white Iraqi farmer's cheese for breakfast after long hours in the bomb shelter. At the time, this small familiar act came almost as a comfort and relief in the midst of war.
May Allah grant comfort and relief to all in need.

 صحة و عافية