Author Archives: Nicola

About Nicola

Wife. Mother. Daughter. Sister. Wanderer and wonderer. British, revert Muslim, mother of seven gorgeous half Algerians, living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Cloth diapering, extended breastfeeding mama with an interest in supporting other mamas for a natural birth and rewarding breastfeeding journey.

Spinach and Lentil Soup

Spinach and lentil soup (served with cheese muffins from The Pioneer Woman website)

1 medium grated onion
3 minced cloves garlic
1 tbsp oil
1 medium grated carrot
200g grated butternut squash
200g orange lentils
Sea salt to taste
Sprinkle of Pepper
1 teaspoon ground cummin
Pinch of chilli powder (optional)
1 bunch of fresh spinach washed and chopped
1.5 litres water or bone stock

Saute the onion and garlic until soft and then add the grated carrot and squash. (I use the cheese grater with box for this). Stir fry for a few minutes and then add the remaining ingredients.

Bring to the boil and then simmer until the lentils are soft. Top up the water level to desired thickness. You can make this quicker in the pressure cooker.

Mars Bar Cheesecake!

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Base 

200g digestive buscuits
 70g melted butter 

Filling 

500g cream cheese (Philadelphia, Kiri etc)
1/3 Cup sugar 
2 eggs 
1 tablespoon cocoa powder 
300g (about 1.5 cups) sour cream  
100g Good quality dark chocolate melted
150g Mars bar (about 3 bars) melted

Topping:

60g white chocolate
40ml single or double cream
1 sliced Mars Bar

Method

Brush a 23cm round springform tin with melted butter/oil and line the base and sides with baking paper.

Place biscuits into a food bag and bash with a rolling pin until they firm a fairly fine crumb. This can also be done in a food processor.

Mix together the biscuit crumbs and butter, press firmly into the base of the tin and refrigerate while preparing the filling.

Pre-heat the oven to 180C

Beat the cream cheese and sugar with electric beaters until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the cocoa and sour cream until smooth. Beat in the cooled (make sure its cool otherwise the eggs will cook) melted dark chocolate and Mars. Pour over the base. Smooth surface and bake for 45 minutes. The cheesecake may not be fully set, but will firm up.

Refrigerate, overnight if possible, until cold.

Remove the cheesecake from the tin and place on serving plate.

Melt the white chocolate and cream together in the microwave for about 30 seconds and then mix until it’s all melted and creamy. Allow to cool a little before pouring over the top of the cake.

Decorate with Mars slices.

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Lentil soup

Basmala

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 3 tbsp fresh, chopped coriander
  • 100g orange lentil
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp ground cummin
  • 1.5 litres water

Saut the onion until soft and then add the garlic and cook for a further minute or two. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to boil then simmer for about 45 minutes.

I like to blend the soup quickly for a smoother consistency.

Chocolate Sundaes

Basmala

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After a full day of fasting I find I can really get a huge chocolate craving. Need that sugar rush and some oh-so-creamy chocolate. My eldest daughter loves the chocolate sundaes that you can buy in the yogurt aisle of the supermarket and I was craving something rich so I decided to try making my own.

I decided on a layer of chocolate fudge brownie, some raspberries, whipped cream, chocolate mousse and chocolate sauce.

For the chocolate fudge brownie I used my wholemeal brownie recipe with half wholemeal flour and half white.

Chocolate mousse

2 medium eggs
60g chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
2 tsp sugar (or to taste)

Break the chocolate into pieces and microwave gently until melted.

Whisk the egg whites into soft peaks, add the sugar, and whisk briefly.

Mix the egg yolks quickly into the melted chocolate and then whisk in a third of the egg white. Fold the rest very gently into the mixture until just combined.

Refrigerate until the brownie in the glasses has cooled sufficiently so as not to melt the mousse.

Chocolate sauce

80g dark chocolate
80ml cream

Melt chocolate and cream together and stir until smooth and well combined. Make sure that it cools before drizzling over the cream at the final stage. It doesn’t matter if it’s still warm when you drizzle it over the raspberries and brownie though.

Cream

Whip 1 x 200ml tub of whipping cream

Assembly

Place 1 square of brownie in to each glass (6 glasses)

Add a few frozen raspberries on top of the brownie and a spoonful of the chocolate sauce.

Add a dollop of whipped cream then even divide the chocolate mousse between the 6 glasses. Top with the remaining whipped cream and a drizzle of the chocolate sauce.

Refrigerate for 3-4 hours.

Verdict:  The dessert was absolutely beautiful. All of the kids gave it the thumbs up. The raspberries were wonderful combined with the rich chocolate and mousse was heavenly. Te only thing I would do differently would be to use something else apart from chocolate brownie as this did make it a bit heavy towards the bottom of the glass. The brownie soaked up juices from the raspberries and the sauce and became a little stodgy. I think crumbled digestive at the bottom would make a lighter base.

Ramadan Day 4

Basmala

Felt rather tired today but personally I find keeping busy in the kitchen helps the time to pass quicker so I am happy to stay there making a few things.

Today there was Algerian shorba again, vegetarian as it was last time but this time with tiny Orzo pasta (or Tli-tli as the Algerians call it) instead of burghul or vermicelli. There were some leftovers as well as mini pizzas that came out soft as little pillows, vegetable samosas as I made a double batch yesterday and cheese and potato Borek. A tip for the potato borek that I picked up from my dear sister-in-law is to use instant potato! Yes… the powdered stuff in boxes – remember the adverts for Smash in the 1970’s or early 1980’s??! “For mash get Smash!” So, I used about 120g of Tesco instant potato and about 550ml of boiling water, stirred well with a wooden spoon and then added a knob of butter and about 150g grated cheddar. I used this to fill the spring roll pastry and folded into logs. I slightly over-cooked them as you can see in the photo. 🙄

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Dessert was Eve’s pudding but made with strawberries and raspberries instead of apples – this was served with rich chocolate ganache. It didn’t turn out quite as planned because I took a shortcut and used a supermarket cake packet mixture which was a bit too runny for this recipe. It was very tasty though with the tart, tanginess of the raspberries and the soft, sweetness of the cake. I didn’t think it really needed the rich chocolate sauce but my 15 yr old and 13 yr old daughters disagreed. Nice to have pleased someone!

Ramadan day 3 – Cheesy Chicken Roll Ups

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Another day, another fast and alhamdu lillah everyone got through the day in one piece! It was a bit of a cooking fest today – I made chicken noodle soup, vegetable samosas and cheese and garlic stuffed chicken breast slices and also cooked up some shop bought tortelloni. In addition of course, there was leftover couscous salad and tuna rolls.

The chicken rolls are very simple and require only a few ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 2 large chicken breasts, thinly sliced
  • 75g medium strength Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • breadcrumbs
The chicken breasts I used made 9 slices, the remaining bits of chicken I used for the chicken noodle soup.
Mix the cheese and garlic together and then divide between the chicken slices and roll. Dip in the egg and then the breadcrumbs and then hallow fry in a little oil until lightly golden. Bake in the oven at 190C until golden and cooked through (about 25-30 mins).

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A bit later in the day I had a sudden urge to try making a chocolate sundae, all from scratch. Needless to say, it was a hit. Recipe to follow another day but it consisted of chocolate fudge brownie, raspberries, homemade chocolate mousse, homemade chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Chocolate heaven!

I have to add that making brownies AND mousse when fasting is torturous as you can’t lick the bowl out afterwards! 😯

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Ramadan essentials – Samosas

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Samosas, samboosa, samboosak, spring rolls, borek, borega as they are variously called in different countries are all a variation on a similar theme. They generally consist of a paper thin pastry filled with meat or vegetables, rolled into triangles or logs and deep fried. They feature on iftar tables during Ramadan worldwide in some form or other.

I have no set recipe for these and will generally fill them with whatever ingredients I have on hand, favourites include spiced mixed vegetables (as below), minced meat, onions and scrambled egg (Algerian style) and mashed potato/ Cheddar cheese. I have also tried filling them with Pakistani chicken kebab mixture and they were a hit.

One thing I love to do, whatever the filling, is to quickly dip each rolled samosa into egg wash and then in breadcrumbs before frying.

The prepared, uncooked samosas can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days or they can be frozen and thawed as needed.

Today’s recipes consisted of:

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 potato, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1/2 cup sweetcorn
  • 1/2 cup petits pois
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • salt and chilli to taste
  • a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Place the potato, carrots, sweetcorn and peas into boiling water and cook until soft.
Drain the vegetables and then very quickly give them a little mash – mainly just to break up the potato cubes a bit.
Fry the onion until soft and then add the mustard seeds, cumin, coriander, chilli and salt and stir on a medium to high heat for one minute before adding the cooked vegetables. Stir fry for a minute and finally add the squeeze of lemon juice.
Allow to cool before filling the samosa pastry. Fold into triangles, dip in beaten egg and then breadcrumbs if desired.
Fry in hot oil until golden and crispy.

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