Thursday, March 28, 2013

344. Baked Eggplant Kebabs

Turkish food is vivid in its flavor, color, and presentation.
It can range from the complex list of ingredients and method to the simplest ever, both yielding the most luscious and succulent dishes.
This recipe, which I picked up from the fantastic Turkish blog aptly named My Turkish Kitchen, is one of the most impressive, delicious, and simplest dishes to make.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

343. Iraqi Fish Turn-Over

We have already established that Iraqis like to stuff their foods (vineleaves, cabbage, chicken, lamb), but did you know that layering food is also quite favored?
This fish turn-over mutabbag (سمك مطبق) or maqlooba (مقلوبة) is the perfect example.
Rice, fish fillets, and a sultana-spice mix are layered in a pot, cooked a little longer, then inverted onto the serving dish.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

342. Yogurt Roast Chicken

I think it is very important to know how to  roast a chicken.
It is basic, impressive, and a very touching way of telling those you feed "I care."
You can hardly get simper than Simple Roast Chicken, needing no more than salt and a chicken, but other combos are almost just as simple.

Monday, March 25, 2013

341. Couscous, Pomegranate and Pine Nut Salad

This is efficiency at its best. A substantial, flavorsome, and incredibly textured salad made and ready to eat within 10 to 12 minutes.
Couscous is a staple carbohydrate consumed regularly in Northern African countries, much like rice in the Arabian Gulf countries. It forms an excellent base for any flavors you want to add (like in Couscous and Grilled Summer Vegetables Salad ).

Sunday, March 24, 2013

340. Lemon-Mint Refresher Drink

Due to globalization, few ingredients that were once considered exotic still are.
Mint was considered very exotic and almost exclusive to Arab and North African cuisine.
This lemon-mint refresher is a typical drink in the Middle East.
The color and amazing flavor is completely natural, and no dye or artificial essences are added.
If we want to bring it close to the English language, I suppose we could call it mint lemonade although lemonade seems to be the poor man's alternative to this wonderful drink.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

339. Chocolate Fondue

Gather your friends and have a blast with this chocolate fondue!
It is so simple to prepare, tastes absolutely delicious, and is a great conversation starter.
A selection of whatever sliced fruits your heart desires, and another selection of baked goods on the side, plus the bowl of chocolate fondue, and you are good to go.
Fondue is the French word for "melted," and although chocolate fondue is very popular, it is not original.
The Swiss are famous for their fondue, the original sort: savory cheese fondue. It is a large pot of bubbly molted cheese in which you dunk cubes of baguette of boiled new potatoes. Indescribably delicious.
So this chocolate fondue is the sweet adaptation of the savory original.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

338. Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni is too often dismissed as kiddies' food and for unrefined palates.
Not true.
As adults, we find ourselves re-discovering so-called kiddie foods, and adapting them to suit our (so-called) adult tastes. In this case, the aged cheddar cheese (not pre-shredded) and sauteed mushroom made this cosy family favorite all the better.
The cubed toast (or "croutons" for poshy adults) made a wonderful contribution in the texture department: both crunchy and chewy at the same time; almost like popcorn.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

337. Apple Caramel Cake

Apples are an amazing and versatile fruit which we unfortunately take for granted and greatly underestimate it. There are so many varieties and so many different ways to eat them, from fresh to cooked or baked.
I came across this apple cake recipe on A Year From Oak Cottage, authored by Marie, who also pens The English Kitchen. I must have a taste for caramel-topped cakes, as the first recipe that drew me to The English Kitchen was the sticky toffee date cake several years ago. This cake is different but just as good. I dice the apples fairly small.

Monday, March 18, 2013

336. Iraqi Meat Pies

These Iraqi meat pies (لحم عجين) are a popular snack or afternoon tea accompaniment and are affectionately termed as part of the Nawashif (نواشف) food group. Nawashif literally translates as "dried," and include any number of baked and fried food, both of which are dearly loved yet do not qualify as a meal in themselves (hence the Iraqi love for stews or maraq).
Pulverizing the meat mix renders it highly spreadable and easier to both bake and eat, as it will not crumble off as un-pulverized minced meat will.
You can increase or decrease both or either the chili and/or the pomegranate molasses to suit your personal liking of spiciness and tanginess respectively.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

335. Broad Bean Dill Rice Pilaf

Broad bean and dill rice pilaf (تمن باجلا) is just as popular as carrot rice in the Iraqi household.
It is healthy, hearty, and delicious, and jam-packed full of flavor.
Similar to the Iraqi carrot rice, you may opt to make it vegetarian or as carnivorous as you like.
Broad beans, fava beans, and lima beans may all be used interchangeably.
Some households serve this rice with shredded boiled or roasted chicken, others with roasted or simmered lamb shanks, while some find it the perfect accompaniment to roasted fish.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

334. Simple Roasted Rack of Lamb

I made this simple rack of lamb to accompany my rose petal rice pilaf.
It really is simple, barring the overnight marination, it is done within an hour or less.
Millie "seals" the rack by searing it in a pan before roasting it. She suggested roasting it for 15 minutes, but that was too rare for our liking, so I cut the rack up into chops and seared them lightly in a pan.
You can do that or you can roast them longer, I think both and either would work.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

333. Rose Petal Rice Pilaf

Did you know that most fruits and vegetables started off as flowers?
The colorful petals serve to attract bees and other insects to land on the flower, thereby pollinating it.
Pollination leads to fertilization, which is when the petals begin to wither and fall, and the actual fruit develops.
So if we eat part of a flower, strange as it might be, there is absolutely no reason not to eat a whole flower.
This rose petal rice pilaf is insatiable; the more you eat from it, the more you want to eat.
It is a medley of perfumes, flavors, colors, and aromas.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

332. Caramelitas Bars

I happened to have a slight favoritism for oatmeal treats. As decadent as they might get, the oats give them a faintly nostalgic and wholesome feel. These caramelita bars are decadent for sure.
I adapted them from Lulu the Baker, who used regular caramels softened in some cream. I however opted to used dulce de leche instead of the caramels, which resulted in a brand new and innovative way to enjoy it!
The recipe is very straight-forward and is one of the few unplanned cooking creations I've attempted.
Success from the first try.

Monday, March 11, 2013

331. Zaatar Chicken Roast

Zaatar's uses are not confined to breads and cheese. Using it as a rub on chicken and meats packs on the flavor and texture to unbelievable heights.
It may seem like an odd pairing, zaatar and pumpkin, but really it is a genius one. Just look at the contrast in color! The bright orange like the breaking of dawn,  and the rough, dark, and spicy zaatar is like rich soil still damp from the night. The contrast in flavors is very intriguing as well: the tangy zing from the zaatar versus the mellow sweetness of the pumpkin.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

330. Baraziq: Sesame Cookies

These popular sesame cookies are named Baraziq (برازق).
They are amazingly airy and crumbly and tasty.
The top side is coated in toasted sesame, and the bottom is lightly pressed in chopped pistachio.
You simply cannot visit an Arabian souq without leaving with a box of these.
At some point though, one might feel compelled to make their own, either because they don't have access to pre-made versions, or simply to expand culinary horizons.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

329. Tomato-Dill Quiche

Quiches are fantastic.
They work for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Best of all, you can put in them what you like and whatever you have available.
You may vary the cheese and the vegetable content as you like.
I opted to make dill the star of today's quiche recipe, along with some roasted tomato wedges.
If dill is not your cup of tea, you can easily replace it with parsley or coriander.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

328. A Simple Burger

It's strange to have a recipe for burgers when we are so accustomed to buying frozen patties and throwing them on the grill. I mean, why bother making your own burger when it's so easy to get them ready? Well, because believe it or not, this is even easier than that: the only ingredient is minced meat. That's it!
It was unbelievable to me that a one-ingredient burger patty would taste good.
I've come across so many recipes for burgers that contain breadcrumbs, eggs, herbs (dried and fresh), onion (fresh and powdered), mustard, chili, etc, etc.
Despite my skepticism, I decided to give it a go, and my was it one of the best burgers I've ever tasted!
The brioche bun didn't hurt either :)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

327. Corn Lettuce Salad

This salad is a breath of fresh air, almost bringing with it a light breeze of summer-scented days of grilling, watermelon, and ice cream.
Luckily, we don't need to wait for summer to enjoy it.
It is basically corn and lettuce, laced delicately with a light dressing of dried basil and apple vinegar.
Adults as well as picky children enjoy this salad very much.

Monday, March 4, 2013

326. Iraqi Coconut Kleicha

I am back with a very festive and cultural cookie: coconut kleicha (كليجة جوز الهند)!
Kleicha is undeniably the essence of an Iraqi household. There really is no need to wait for an excuse to make them, as they are fit for all occasions.