Thursday, February 21, 2013

325. Iced Coffee

Coffee shops can easily turn our favorite coffee fix into an expensive habit.
With a little know-how and creativity, we can concoct our favorite brew from the comfort of our own home.
I have made no secret of my delight in the wonderfulness coming from a can or sweetened condensed milk.
Here is yet another situation where its magical properties make everything better (after banoffee, cake, and dulce de leche). It is much better than trying to figure out the correct amount of coffee creamer and sugar to add, and then the dull task of dissolving them in... With sweetened condensed milk, just stir and go.
I also highly recommend making ice cubes from coffee instead of water, because this way your drink will not get diluted as the ice melts.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

324. Mint Tea

Having mastered the regular istikan of tea, a whole world of flavored tea opens up before your eyes.
One of the most popular is mint tea. There are also sage tea, as well as lemon tea, but mint is far more popular.
I don't know why people associate mint tea so much with Morocco, when it is in fact an Arab infusion which has been inherited by Morocco.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

323. Green Monster Smoothie

This is not your average diet-slash-detox smoothie.
This is your breakfast buddy for life. Take it form a converted skeptic.
First off, it tastes good. Even better than good.
Second, it is so filling and satisfying that you will not even be remotely hungry for a good five to six hours.
Third (which should probably have been first), it is uber healthy and absolutely packed with fiber and nutrients.

Monday, February 18, 2013

322. Shineena: Yogurt Drink

Shineena (شنينة) is a very popular yogurt drink in Iraq. It is also known as ayran (عيران) in Turkey.
It is delicious and refreshing, and usually we make an entire jug, refrigerate it, and drink from it throughout the day.
If the shineena is not served right away, the water will separate from the yogurt, but this is easily solved by giving it a stir.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

321. Orange-Pomegranate Juice

Have you ever tasted something and were so impressed by it that you just had to ask the person how they made it? And after they tell you, you think "really? That's so easy!"
I get that alot, and it's not nice.
I suppose that's what appreciation really is, be it simple or not.
Learning is wonderful, especially from the most unexpected of circumstances when you're not looking for it.
Because in reality, simple things can be truly magnificent and utterly unexpected.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

320. Crinkled Baklawa Rods

There are so many varieties of baklawa (بقلاوة or baklava) to the extent that it is almost impossible to enumerate on one page.
I mentioned a while back in the Baqlawa recipe that I tasted an amazing pistachio-orange rind baklawa while in Istanbul.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

319. Swiss Roll Cake

This swiss roll cake recipe is so basic that it's the epitome of simplicity.
The original recipe called for three (three!) ingredients for the sponge, plus jam for the filling.
Eggs, sugar, and self-rising flour. I added a bit of vanilla and baking powder, since I only had regular flour on hand. My advice is that since the recipe is so simple, use only the best jam available (home-made is usually best). The flavor of the jam is purely up to you.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

318. Cold Stuffed Vineleaf Appetizer

I am almost sure that every culture existing and has ever existed has some form of stuffed food in their repertoire.
Italian stuffed calzone. French stuffed mussels. British stuffed leg of lamb. Chinese stuffed springrolls.
Japanese stuffed sushi. Mexican stuffed jalapenos.
Arabic stuffed dolmades, pigeon, cabbage, courgettes, aubergineswhole lamb, vineleaves, potatoes, kubba, and even cucumbers, among many others (including dessert, like maamoul).
People have an undeniable favor towards stuffed foods.
Nawal Nasrallah was perfectly correct when she included a chapter in her encyclopedia-cookbook especially for stuffed foods.

Monday, February 11, 2013

317. Tarte au Citron

Organization, method, and order are supreme.
Applying organization to even the most mundane of things, and method to the most trivial of tasks, and order to seemingly unimportant matters, makes life so much more pleasant to live.
I suppose this is something the French take to heart (mostly).
I happened to be grocery shopping some years ago while visiting in France, and like any mundane task of a grocery shopper, I bought a bag of lemons. This bag of lemon (and all the others as well), had a tag with printed suggested recipes to do with its contents. I got the tarte au citron (lemon tart) recipe. So I clipped it and saved it, not really believing in its authenticity or accuracy because it's so simple... until I tried it.
Can I say I prefer tarte au citron to lemon meringue pie? I do.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

316. Dill-Cheese Flatbreads

Herbs and cheese are a classic combination.
Mint and feta. Rosemary and Parmesan. Sage and goat cheese. Thyme and gorgonzola.
Dill and emmental?
Dill flat breads (خفيفي الشبنت) are an Iraqi favorite since almost forever.
Having tasted it made with the addition of cheese while at my cousin's, I decided follow suite.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

315. Meat Bourag with Yogurt Paprika Dip

I made these cigarette rolls to rave reviews. They are very popular in almost every culture in some form or another (these cigar rolls are very popular in Northern Africain countries).
In Iraq they fall under the general category of bourag (بورك), which simply denotes a fried light pastry encrusting a filling (could be meat, cheese, chicken, or vegetables).

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

314. Puffed Jumbo Shrimp

Puff pastry is a great thing to have in the freezer. It can be used for both savory (such as chicken pie), and sweet (such as apple tart) recipes.
This recipe is very simple yet at the same time, very impressive.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

313. Basboosa: Semolina Cake

Basbousa's (بسبوسة) popularity stretches from Greece and Cyprus, to Turkey and Egypt, and back up throughout all the Arab countries. It is the Arab equivalent to the American basic yellow cake, with many differences.
First off, the cake is flourless, and uses semolina instead. Secondly, the baked cake is then drenched in sugar syrup, rendering it somewhere in the middle between fluffy and dense.
It is a perfect end to a meal with a cup (or istikan) of steaming tea.

Monday, February 4, 2013

312. Fruit Salad

Fruit salad is wonderfully versatile and a great way to consume fruits.
You can opt to use seasonal fruits, that way you will have a different fruit salad every time!
We often have misconceptions about fruit salads, and salads in general as well.
Some people think that they are the perfect health food. By all means, this is true... i you are careful what you add to them! Most pre-made fruit salads contain an obscene amount of sugar. Some are served with a dollop of clotted cream, or ice cream, or chocolate covered strawberries. Those additions make them not so great for the figure.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

311. Iraqi Fried Kebobs

These little fried kebobs (كباب عراقي مقلي) are somewhat of a cross between traditional kofta and fried iroog.
They are meaty and delicious, as well as packing quite a bit of vegetable goodness.
They go well with a simple farmer's salad or tabboula and maybe even some yogurt sauce.
For the sake of children, you may omit chili from the mixture, but some hotsauce on the side would definitely make things better!