Thursday, January 31, 2013

310. Overnight Muesli Oats

There is something about January that makes me want oats in some form or another.
Although I have posted oatmeal cookies, muesli, and muesli bars, I've known this overnight muesli recipe the longest. It is by Jamie Oliver, and he named it pukkola, based on his favorite word pukka, which I suppose is the equivalent of fantastic. And fantastic it is. The overnight soaking makes the oats wonderfully thick and gooey, and even slightly dissolves the dried fruit to develop a wonderful sweetness regardless of the absence of sugar.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

309. Freekeh Green Wheat Pilaf

Freekeh (الفريكة) dates back to ancient Mesopotamia, where it was cooked as commonly as we would cook rice today; as an everyday meal staple.
It is basically wheat grain, picked when it is still green. It has since gained popularity and is being enjoyed as a superfood across the globe.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

308. Beetroot and Green Apple Salad

I love happy accidents.
I came across this salad quite accidentally, at a lunch I had no intention of attending yet circumstances led me to do so. And this salad made it so worth it!
It's child-simple really: cubed beetroot and green apple, tossed in a simple vinaigrette.
But I absolutely loved it.

Monday, January 28, 2013

307. Cranberry Up-Side Down Cake

Upside down cakes are so much fun.
The fruit caramelizes to an amazing richness and the flavor is so very intensified.
In this cranberry upside down cake, the fruit simmers in a spicy sugar mixture to deliver a cosy and warming taste very different from refreshing summer cakes. A dollop of whipped cream on top of a slice when serving is perfectly complementary to the spice flavor.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

306. Kofta Flowers

Kofta is the generic Arab term for a minced meat patty, usually shaped longitudinally.
This is kofta autrement, presented in a creative and modernized manner.
For some people, roast meat with gravy and mashed potato is the epitome of comfort home cooking.
This innovative recipe plays along that concept, with just 20 minutes of oven time!
The steps may be many, but they are as simple as can be.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

305. Iraqi Tea: Chai Istikan

Great poetry has been written about the perfect brew of tea.
Tea has been around for much longer than coffee, and holds a place near and dear to every culture on the face of this Earth.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

304. Muesli Breakfast Bars

Whether you are a student, employed, or just stay-at-home, there will be times when you need a fast breakfast. A fast breakfast on the go does not necessarily mean unhealthy and fattening.
These muesli oat bars are the ideal thing for just that.
They are fantastically healthy, absolutely delicious, and oh-so-easy to make: all you need is muesli and a can of sweetened condensed milk.
They reminded me of flapjacks, except I liked them more.
Make a batch of these, store them in an air-tight container, and you've got breakfast for the entire week ahead.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

303. Muesli: Swiss-German Granola

As I have mentioned in the granola post, muesli and granola differ mainly in that the latter is baked, whereas the former is raw.
Muesli is a popular Swiss breakfast consisting of four main groups: grains (almost invariably oats, but can also have millet, puffed rice, bran, cornflakes...), dried fruit (raisins and sultanas most commonly, but really any dried fruit will do: blueberry, cranberry, dates, apricot...), nuts (brazil nut, almond, hazelnut, pecan, walnut, pistachio, coconut, peanut...), and seeds (shelled of course: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds...).

Monday, January 21, 2013

302. Oatmeal Cookies

Every super food list I come across has to have oats somewhere in the top ten.
Healthy doesn't necessarily mean boring or distasteful. So although oatmeal cookies may not be the ideal form of consuming oats, it is nonetheless and a satisfying and delicious one.
These cookies are the plainer sister of the oatmeal m&m cookies I promised a while back.
You can eat them any time throughout the day, but I prefer them best for breakfast. That way, I won't be dizzy with hunger by lunchtime.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

301. Noodle Broccoli Stir-Fry

Noodle stir-fry is my go-to dish in case of intense hunger that needs to be satisfied within the span of 10 minutes. You can really adapt the recipe to whatever you have on hand, not unsimilar to broccoli stir-fry. The type of noodles is the Chinese or far East Asian type, known generally as chow mein. The ones I had on hand have seasoning pouches in them, but they are by no means essential to the recipe: soy sauce and oyster sauce will suffice.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

300. Date Maamoul

Maamoul ( معمول‎ ) are small shortbread pastries that are made with a variety of fillings.
The most popular fillings include dates and another containing walnuts. But it is not uncommon to find pistachio, or fig, or even turkish delight fillings, among others.
They are popular in Levantine (Shami) cuisine and, really, in all Arab countries.
They can either be decorated manually or be made in special wooden moulds, as the one I use here which I have has for oh so many years.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

299. Iraqi Truffle Rice

Desert truffles differ from European truffles. They are still relatively expensive, but the difference is huge. A kilogram of desert truffles may average anywhere from $80 to $150, depending where and when you are buying it. European truffles can reach $2000 per kilogram. But the latter are so pungent that a few slivers from a single knob of truffle is aromatic enough to flavor an entire dish (usually foie gras and the sort). Desert truffles are less potent, and can be used as the actual main ingredient of a dish, sort of like really exquisite mushroom.

Monday, January 14, 2013

298. Stuffed Cabbage Leaves

I can't pinpoint the real origin of stuffed cabbage leaves (or cabbage rolls), as it is one of those dishes that every culture has their own version and claims as their own. Just like dolma.
What I can claim, though, is that it is very popular in Arab cuisine: from Egypt to the Gulf nations, to the Shami (Levantine) region, where it goes by the name of malfoof (ملفوف). 
Its popularity is undying even amongst the Turks and Greeks.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

297. Mutabbal, Aubergine Salad

Aubergines, or eggplants, are thoroughly enjoyed in all forms in the Arab cuisine.
Just in salads, we have seen it fried in Aubergine Rocket Pomegranate Salad , mashed in Baba Ghanouche, and now roasted in this mutabbal salad recipe.
Actually, baba ghanouche and mutabbal are very similar: the aubergines are cooked in exactly the same way, but the former mashes it, whereas the latter simply cuts it into chunks.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

296. Zimtsterne Cinnamon Stars

Zimtsterne are flourless cinnamon star cookies that are very popular in the German-Austrian-Swiss region.
They have a traditional white icing that is baked along with the cookies.
These cinnamon cookies are commonly found in the winter, at around Christmas time, but I hear they are also available in the spring for Easter.

Friday, January 11, 2013

295. Sweetened Condensed Milk Cake

Sometimes, all you want is the plainest, most unpretentious of cakes, that you can grab for a breakfast on the go with your coffee or juice, or any time of the day with a steaming cup of tea.
This cuts the bill.
It is so plain yet so right. This condensed milk cake is made with five ingredients, all of which almost anyone has on hand. And it takes about 50 minutes to make, from the moment you thought about making it, to the moment it comes out of the oven. I promise.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

294. Raspberry Rice Pudding

The classic and common rice pudding is modernized with a vibrant touch of fresh fruit.
Any fruit of your choice is roughly mashed to a pulp with some powdered sugar and is topped with thick, creamy rice pudding.
I used raspberry here, but the same procedure can be used with so many other fruits: blueberries, mango, kiwi, peaches... just peel what needs to be peeled then go on and mash away.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

293. Mediterranean Salmon

The combination of tomato, basil, and olives is a classic Mediterranean one.
This salmon fillet is studded with Mediterranean flavor-packed tomato-basil-olive parcels.
The recipe is originally by Gordon Ramsay, but I came across it on A Seasonal Cook in Turkey.
It is a fun and new way to present salmon, not to mention fast and filling.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

292. Baba Ganouche

Baba ganouche (بابا غنوج) is a Levantine staple appetizer-slash-salad almost as popular as tabboula and hummus tahina. Its main ingredient is aubergine (eggplant), which is roasted before scooping out its silky flesh to mix with a few seasonings.
Really, you can increase or decrease any of the ingredients to achieve the consistency and flavor you like best, so the recipe outlined below is just a guideline.
I served the baba ghanouche as "boats" in endive (chicory) leaves, and sprinkled with some fresh pomegranate seeds.

Monday, January 7, 2013

291. Apple Charlotte

I have had this recipe jotted down in an old recipe notebook ever since I can remember, therefore alas for the source, it is long forgotten.
The name of this dessert is Apple Charlotte.
It consists of stewed apples covered with sweetened butter-fried fresh breadcrumbs.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

290. Iraqi Kubba-Turnip Soup

We have had white kubba soup (Kubba Labania), and green kubba soup (Spinach Kubba Soup), so now it is time for red kubba soup (kubba-turnip soup)!
This is a famous Iraqi soup that is delightfully tangy and hearty.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

289. Crispy Honey-Garlic Chicken Fillets

This is a Chinese-inspired chicken dish that is unbelievably crispy-crunchy on the outside, and wonderfully moist and tender on the inside. The flavor punch comes from the richly seasoned flour coating, and again from the concentrated sauce.

Friday, January 4, 2013

288. Spinach Artichoke Dip

Spinach-Artichoke dip would always be the first thing I order when dining in a place that serves it.
I can't find any information where the dish originated from, but since it contains artichokes, I'm assuming it's got Italian or French roots.
I honestly don't know why I never tried making it at home. I think I might have thought I'd never make it as good. I was right: I made it even better to the point that I never again order this dip out.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

287. Mocha Bûche de Noël

There are all sorts of cake: everyday breakfast cakes, afternoon tea cakes, birthday cakes, festive cakes...
You really don't need much of an excuse to make (or eat) a cake.
I love swiss roll cakes: light fluffy cake, enveloping some sort of creamy or jammy filling... it's fantastic.
Now, this Bûche de Noël (aka Yule Log, or simply log cake), is traditionally served by Christians over Christmas. Hotels and bakeries present it all throughout the winter season.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

286. Meringue Mushrooms

These adorable little confections can be enjoyed by themselves like a cookie, or as an edible decoration to a bigger dessert.
I have seen them a lot used to decorate chocolate cakes and bûche de Noël (yule log), especially around the end and beginning of a year.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

285. Iraqi Date Kleicha

If you want to know anything about Iraqi food, you cannot miss the istikan of tea with date kleicha (كليجة).
The are oh-so-many home made kleichas that vary in the details (coconut kleicha), but the principle remains the same: date paste enveloped in a flakey buttery dough. (See also Traditional Iraqi Date Kleicha.)
Iraqi Muslims, Christians, and Jews alike all make kleicha to celebrate an occasion, or even without an occasion!