Sunday, November 8, 2015

Natillas (Spanish egg custard)

Natillas - Spanish egg custard
- 50 ml Milk
- 2 Tbsp White sugar
- 6 Egg yolks
- 2 Tsp Vanilla extract

- 1 glass Milk (warm)
- 6-8 Maria/Butter cookies
- 1 splash Porto wine (or any other sweet fortified red wine)

- Cinnamon powder (about 1 Tbsp)

First, let us prepare the serving cups (about 6-8 depending on their size). I use glass yogurt/creme brulee cups.

Warm the milk on a deep plate, in the microwave, for about 30 seconds. You just need it to be warm (not boiling.. you're going to put your fingers in this).

Quickly soak the plain butter cookies into the milk (before they are too soft) and place the soaked cookies into the cups (1 cookie in each).

Then (in true Spanish fashion), take your bottle of Porto wine, and splash a little onto the cookie that you now have inside the glass cups. (You just for it to soak up a little taste, not to let it swim in a pool of Port! ;) )

Now that we have that ready..

In a small pot, over medium heat (4/6), place the milk & sugar, whisk in well (, and bring to a boil.

Remove the pan from the heat, and lower the heat to medium-low (2/6).

On the pan, add eggs & vanilla and whisk in. Place back over the medium-low heat, and keep stirring while it cooks (otherwise it will burn).

When it all moves uniformly & foam has disappeared from the edges, it is done.

Pour into individual molds

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Meghli (Lebanese dessert)

Meghli (cinnamon caraway rice pudding)
Well.. the now infamous recipe! I started writting this post in preparation for my 1st Lebanon trip :) over Xmass,, but when I actually got to make it, I poured the whole boiling thing over my thumb, and got a "fun" burn (be wiser than I was when holding the glasses to fill xD). The recipe is from my future aunt-in-law :)

So, Meghli is a traditional Lebanese dessert that is prepared to celebrate when a baby is born (including baby Jesus) and so typical of Christmas!

It is basicaly a sort of cinnamon-caraway spiced rice powder pudding, topped with nuts & coconut shavings.
When you first try it, it is a bit confusing flavorwise (at least for a European), as per its spices' flavour.

This is not an overwhelmingly sweet dessert (so no sugar syrup or butter oozing out!) that is fairly easy to prepare, and always gets thumbs up from d man of the house :) (as you know my toughest critic)

- 1 cup Rice powder
- 1 1/2 cup Sugar (white; caster)
- 1 Tbsp Caraway powder
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Cinnamon powder
- 7 cup Water (6 in mix + 1 at boiling)

Additional, toppings: Coconut shavings (small), Almonds (non-salted), Walnuts, Pistachio

Please note that you will need a large pot for this one (and it will yield about 12 glasses/servings of dessert). You can half the recipe for about 6 servings :)

Firstly combine all dry ingredients with 6 cups of water in a large pot. (Keep the remaining 1 cup on the side).

Place the pot over medium-high heat, and keep stirring with a whisk* until the mix starts boiling. At this point you should be seeing that it is thickening-up.

Once it comes to a boil, add the 1 cup of water left to the mix and combine well. Keep on the fire, stirring constantly for about 20-30 min (until the mixture thickens enough, that it dollops (not pours) off a spoon).

Take off the fire, and set on the side to allow to cool for a couple of minutes only. Then pour into your glass (or heatproof) tins/glasses to individual serving portions.

Let cool down for a good 20 min.
Then cover with cling-wrap & refridgerate for at least 2 hours. It serves cold.

When you want to serve this, sprinkle with coconut shavings, and roasted non-salted nuts: walnuts, slivered almonds/pistachios, (and yellow dried raisins if you like.. we are not fans of these..).

Place the toppings decoratively and you will have a Lebanese style dessert! Bon apetit :)

*Regarding the whisk, I use a rubber-coated whisk, so as not to scratch my pan.

Mental note: Do not hold the glasses while you pour.. you might burn yourself

Friday, January 30, 2015

Thai Red chicken curry

Thai red chicken curry
I've honestly rarely ventured down d Asian food road.. just seeing all d specialty ingredients that I need to have gives me anxiety.. And my poor kitchen is already overwhelmed w Spanish & Arabic stuff!.. so when d man of d house mentioned an orange/red chicken curry I was hoping for something simple & accessible in d supermarket (as well as in d kitchen).

To my surprise Thai Red chicken curry was very easy! and full of taste (and not spicy! which was a relief).

3 specialty ingredients (should be coconout milk!)

You only need 3 specialty ingredients: thai red curry paste, fish sauce and a can of coconut milk. (Thank you food gods!) :D

Here is d wonderful, fast & easy recipe.

- 1 Onion medium (halved & finely sliced)
- 1 Tbsp Vegetable oil
- 6 tsp Red Curry paste
- 500 gr Chicken breast (chopped in squares)
- 1 Tbsp Fish sauce
- 1 tsp Brown sugar
- 1 can Coconut milk (400mL)
- 20 gr Coriander
Sweat onions, add paste, lightly fry chicken
add coconut milk, let simmer 10-15 min

**Better eaten on top of plain white rice**

Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sweat for 1-2 minutes (until translucent and soft).

Add d Curry paste and mix well for 1 minute (stirring constantly). Add the diced chicken and do the same (mix to coat everything, stirring for a minute).

Then add in d fish sauce, sugar, coconut milk and coriander. Combine together and let reach boiling point.

Simmering in low heat - Thai red curry
Once it bubbles, turn down the heat to medium-low (3/6) so it simmers for 10-15 minutes (do not cover the pan); stirring a bit every 5 min (so it doesn't stick).

Check that the chicken is cooked (it took me about 12 min because my chicken pieces were cut small).

To serve, plate hot over a bed of white rice!
Very easy, few ingredients, and tasty :)

* For the plain white rice (for 2 light eaters): place 1 cup of white rice + 2.5 cup water + 2 pinch salt in a medium pot. Cover with a lid, and place over medium heat (3 or 4/6) until rice is fully cooked (about 10-15 min).

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Layali Lebnan (Nights of Lebanon)

Layali Lebnan (Nights of Lebanon)
This is provably the second Arabic/Lebanese dessert that I ever tried to make :) (Being d custard lover that I am) I fell in love with this rose/orange blossom scented semolina (eggless) custard!

Ah d joys of living in d Middle East! :)

My aunt-in-law (d in-law part eventually one day..) gave me d recipe, both including eggs, and d eggless version. (I personally like this eggless so nothing takes away from d Arabic scents :) ).

As with any Arabic dessert, this is not for d faint-hearted (will likely put you on sugar-coma)! but is it Oh so delicious! and custardy-like :)

Ingredients for d custard:
- 7 glass Milk
- 5 Tbsp Sugar
- 8 Tbsp Semolina
- 1.5 Tbsp Vanilla extract
- 3 Tbsp Rose water
- 3 Tbsp Orange blossom water

Additional ingredients/toppings:
- Bananas (ripe; sliced)
- Almonds (slivered)
- Pistachio (slivered)
- Walnuts (whole halves)

- Aatar (Arabic sugar syrup) **recipe below**

Place all custard ingredients over medium heat (4/6) and stirr constantly (I use a coated whisk) until it starts boiling (bubbling). Then lower the heat (3/6) and keep stirring for 4 minutes until the consistency is more thick/firm.

Remove from heat and pour into a glass bowl/tefal/containers. Let cool down.
(If you cooked it long enough the surface should not crack when cold).

In the meantime, you can prepare some Aatar (sugar syrup). Note that Aatar keeps for weeks up to a month in the fridge easily :)

- 2 cups Sugar
- 1 1/4 cups Water
- 1 Tbsp Lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp Rose water
- 1 Tbsp Orange blossom water
Place sugar & water on a pan over medium heat. Whisk until the sugar disolves, then let come to a boil.

Once boiling do not stirr!!, add the lemon juice, and lower the heat to let it simmer for 12 minutes.
Then add the rose & orange blossom water and let boil for additional 30 seconds.

Remove from the heat, and let cool down completly. Then place into a container, and keep in the fridge until use.

So, you have your custard, you have your sugar syrup; now let's put it together.

Serve your custard on the individual plates, and then you can place some whipped cream (if you want) and then sliced bananas, slivered pistachios, almonds, and walnuts... aaand drizle some Aatar syrup on top :) (I told you, this is not for the faint hearted!!)

Voila! a beautifuly scented, custard-like dessert with Arabic touch :) Enjoy!

PS: if you are keeping the custard in the fridge, make sure you cover the top with transparent film, or place a hermetic lid if you have over it, so it wont crack & dry out on the top.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Strawberry condensed milk mousse

Strawberry condensed milk mousse
Ah d joys of homesickness! :)

I actually almost forgot that my mum does this delicious, fresh mousse so well (if you have been on this blog before, you are provably aware that she's a pretty terrible cook.. except for crepes & flans.. and this mousse Lol).

She actually got the recipe off a Nestle condensed milk wrapping some years ago, and does it her way (without gelatin) slightly changing the proportions. I am not a fan of gelatin (or cuajada) textures, so I prefer the mousse this way, even if its a little runny.

*If you actually want something more 'composed' I would suggest you soak-up 2 gelatin sheets in cold water, drain them, and add them to the mix (prior to blending d whole thing).

This mousse is very light/flowy & kind of feels like a digestive dessert :) It is ridiculously easy to make with only 4 ingredients! (you can see the minimal-cooking family gene here..! Lol)

Ingredient steps - then blend
- 500 gr Strawberries (fresh; chopped)
- 125 gr Yogurt (natural)
- 1 can Condensed milk (396 gr)
- 200 mL Whipping cream (cold)

Wash & dice the strawberries, and place in a large bowl.

Add the yogurt, condensed milk & whipping cream. With a blender wand blend everything together (you should let bubbles/air come into the mix to help it 'mousse-up' a bit).

Pour into little yogurt glasses & refridgerate at least 2-3 hours. Serve cold!

I actually like to top it with a little crunch from a Lotus/Speculoos cookie :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Pumpkin cheesecake (swirled)

Pumpkin cheesecake
 I am on a baking spree! Maybe its the uncertainty of 2015, or being away from home this Xmass.. (Can you believe? the ONE year I don't fly 7'500 km to be home they have a 10 year highschool reunion!! How unfair Lol 'nerd outcast rebirth' for me xD oh well, maybe in d 15 year reunion then Lol)

This cheesecake was so sunctuous and delicious that it barely survived 5 minutes in d office!!

It ranked top #1 (along with d carrot cake)!! so it is definitely a winner!

*Disclaimer: my cheesecake cracked a bit, so I have included some detailed steps to avoid craking :) 
Preparing base ingredients
- 225 gr Speculoos cookies (powdered)
- 75 gr Pecan (powdered)
- 60 gr Butter (melted)

Cheesecake filling:
- 680 gr Philadelphia cheese (room temperature)
- 200 gr White sugar (caster)
- 2 Tbsp Cornstarch (or AP flour)
- 2 tsp Vanilla extract
- 4 Eggs (large; whole)
- 215 gr Pumpkin puree
- 2 tsp Cinammon (powder)
- 1 tsp Nutmeg (powder)

Butter a 9 or 10 inch round pan (all inside).
Pre-heat oven to 170 C (top & bottom), place a rack in the middle.

Making the cookie/pecan base
 To make the crust, in a blender powder the cookies & pecan together. 

Melt the butter in the microwave.

Then mix butter & cookie powder well together, and introduce into the greased baking pan. Press onto the bottom (and a little on d sides), and place into the oven to bake fo 6 minutes.

Once the 6 minutes are over remove from the oven and let cool down to room temperature (or place in the fridge to cool - of course over a heat-proof surface).

In the meantime, you can prepare the cheesecake filling:

Making d plain cheesecake

In a large bowl, place the Philadelphia cheese (room temperature!), white sugar, cornstarch and vanilla extract. Beat together until well creamed (2-3 min).

NOW, add the eggs and incorporate well with the lowest amount of beating/mixing possible.
The more you beat it, the more chances that your cheesecake will crack!!

Once it is well mixed, place 200-220 gr of the mix into a smaller bowl. To the small bowl, add the cinnamon, nutmeg and 215 gr of Pumpkin puree. AGAIN, incorporate with minimal amount of beating/mixing.

Split cheesecake, prepare pumpkin cheesecake mix

Remove the cold cookie crust from the fridge, and place half of the pumpkin mix onto the mold. Then, place the entire (plain) cheesecake mix on top. With a knife, swirl around a bit (without cutting into your cookie base).

Then, add the remaining pumpkin mix in spoonfuls over the top; and swirl with a knife. (See the picture for the swirling outcome).
Now you are ready to bake!

*So about craking:

A cheesecake cracks when the center reaches 65 Celsius.

The best way to bake the cheesecake is to do it "Bain Marie" (a.k.a. in a water bath). Unfortunately as you see I do not have a large enough pan to contain my 9 inch cake-pan.. Also if you line the tin with foil it will aid the no-cracking.

Filling pan by layering, and swirling

While baking do NOT open the oven.

So, after all that disclaimer :) ,, place the cake in the center of your middle oven rack, and bake for 55-60 min.

Once done, remove from the oven, wait a couple of minutes & pass a thin knife along the borders of the pan (to make sure it doesn't stick & crack while cooling down). Then, cover (not too tightly) with foil to let it cool down to room temperature.

Once at room temperature, place into the fridge and let refridgerate for a couple of hours.

After it refridgerated you can remove from the pan and serve as desired :)

.. a nice way would be with some Dulce de Leche drizzle & whipped cream :D

Pumpkin cheesecake - longside cut
Pumpkin cheesecake (slightly craked..)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Batata harra (Lebanese potatoes with garlic and coriander)

Batata harra - Lebanese
Can you feel the Holidays approaching?! I guess this year theres no way for me to contain my excitement :) 17 days to be on vacation, in Lebanon.

So in d spirit of Lebanese food, here is a simple mezze, crowd pleaser, apt for vegetarians & potato lovers :) (like the man of the house!)

- 500 gr Potato* (diced medium)
- 1 handful Coriander (fresh; largely chopped)
- 6 Garlic cloves (diced small)

*First of all, let us talk potatoes. You want to get potatoes to use for "French fries" (yes, there are different potato kinds). You want your potatoes crispy outside (not soggy..). In Doha I have learnt to get the young/hard frying potatoes, light yellow color, smooth skin (they should be hard to the touch).*

So, once that is out of the way :)

Fried potato dices

Peel and dice your potatoes; rinse them with water and drain them.

Olive oil & chopped garlic

Set a platter with kitchen napkin (to soak off the excess oil - after frying).
Heat generous vegetable oil on a pan (at highest heat) and once hot, deep fry until golden. Remove from pan and place into platter to soak off some oil. Salt them.

On the same pan, heat some Olive oil (2-3 Tbsp), add the chopped garlic, and fry until it starts turning slightly yellow/golden. Then add the coarsely chopped coriander and fry until soft (just a minute or two).

If you fry it for too long it will turn brownish (you don't want that).

Once soft, add in the fried potato dices and toss/incorporate well.

Serve hot :)

For those that like spicy/hot food, you can add some chopped chilly peppers, or 1/4 tsp of Cayenne pepper (I would suggest, since you're going the Middle Eastern route, to add some Harissa paste to give it some hotness :) (just make sure you are aware how spicy Harissa paste really is.. )

Friday, November 7, 2014

Macarroni n cheese

Macarroni and cheese
One of the first American things that I taught myself to cook (on a "cold" 25 C Doha winter evening :P ) was mac&cheese. I think we all crave hearty comfort food (with a bit of a crunch/texture!) when the weather gets colder.. and knowing that 'cream-based sauces' are preferred at home, I gave this winner a try! It has evensince become a staple in my house :)
This is a really fast recipe is nice and creamy/moist (but not overwhelmingly heavy).
You can prepare this in provably 15-20 min if you don't intend to gratinate cheese & breadcrumbs on top.. (Gratinating takes about 15 min on its own,, but it is well worth the texture!!)
So here we go!

- 75 gr Butter
- 75 gr Flour
- 1/3 tsp Salt
- 1/3 tsp Black pepper
- 1/8 tsp Nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp Garlic granules
- 0.75 cube Chicken stock (Maggi cubes)
- 600 gr Heavy cream (or light cream - depending how dense & heavy you want the sauce)
- 350 gr Very sharp Cheddar cheese (grated)

**Before you start I must say the "very sharp" for the cheddat cheese is what I suggest if you want to avoid the taste of boxed/artifical mac & cheese. The sharpness gives it a nice geniune flavour. (You will find sharp is a more dry looking cheese.)**

Place the macarroni to cook in a large pot. Once done, strain them and run through them cold water to stop cooking (to mushy).

Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat (4/6). Once melted, add the flour and mix together; keep stirring until butter looks golden color.

Add in all spices, and the heavy cream gradually; mix well (still over the medium heat) with a silicone-coated whisk (so you dont scratch your pan! :) ). Keep stirring constantly, making sure there are no lumps, until the mixture has thickened (~10 min).

Then remove from the heat, and whisk/mix in all the grated cheese, until well melted & combined.
(If you are having trouble with the cheese not melting, stirr it for 10 seconds over the heat until it does completly melt).
Mixed mac n cheese
In the large pan mix the macarroni and sauce together (straight after you finish preparing the sauce; so still warm). Then place into the desired pans.

**At this stage, the mac and cheese can refridgerate for a couple of days; or freeze for later use.**

- If you want to gratinate the top:

Sprinkle the top with cheddar/emmental cheese (or even parmesan), as well as some breadcrumb powder (this will be making it crunchy!).

Pre-heat the oven (top heat) at 240 C, then place the pan on the highest/er rack and let gratinate.
Keep an eye on it!

Ready for the oven (large or individual portions)

Serve hot! :)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Chocolate rice krispy treats

Chocolate rice krispy treats (packaged)
So this is d same as d "dragon glitter poo" recipe, but with regular Chocolate rice krispies :) and adjusted quantities to make it easier.
Took pictures along d way for you! (u can imagine d mess between stirring & photographing...

50 gr Butter
30 gr Marshmallows
310 gr Choco krispies (full pack)

Grease spray a square pan (browney tin), set aside.

Melt butter at low-medium heat. Once fully melted, add d marshmallows, and stirr while melting them fully.

Melt butter, add marshmallows; melt completly (low heat)

Remove from hear and mix-in d choco-krispies until well combined.

Place into tin, and use a greased spatula to press the krispie mix into d tin. (If d spatula is not greased it will stick and u will struggle to press it down).

Add rice krispies, mix well; transfer to GREASED pan, press with GREASED spoon.
Let cool, then demold and cut into serving pieces.

Demolded chocolate rice krispies

Chocolate rice krispy treats

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Doubletree cookie

- 450 gr Butter
- 340 gr Castor Sugar
- 280 gr Brown sugar light
- 4 Eggs
- 2.5 tsp Vanilla essence
- 0.5 tsp Lemon juice

- 266 gr Flour
- 10 gr Baking soda
- 2.5 gr Cinnamon powder
- 75 gr Oats
- 2 tsp Salt
- 177.5 gr Walnuts (broken pieces)
- 900 gr Chocolate chips

Preheat oven at 170C (top & bottom).

Cream d butter and sugars together at medium speed (2 min).

Add eggs, vanilla and lemon juice; blend at low speed for 30 sec, then at medium speed until light and fluffy (2 min).

Add all dry ingredients, mix at low speed until just incorporated (45 sec).
Add chocolate chips and walnuts, blend at low speed until well incorporated (45 sec).

(Should make 48 cookies - each cookie ~52 gr).

Line each sheet with baking paper, and arrange cookies (they will expand greatly!). Place them in d freezer for 10-15 min to harden up a bit before baking.

Bake for 15-16 minutes (they should start being a big golden brown on d edges, and not crazy moist in the center).

(When baking more than one tray at a time, allow 9 cm space between oven shelves).

Let cookies cool down on the tray for at least 20 minutes (if not completely 1 ) before handling.