Category Archives: Sides and Snacks

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

Basmala

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

Basmala

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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Ramadan Day 2 – Couscous Salad, Tuna Rolls

Basmala

Day 2 of Ramadan went well alhamdu Lillah with four of my children fasting: 15, 13, 10 and 7 year olds. My 4 year old decided at 11:30 to fast and she held out for two whole hours!  I opted for a finger foods theme today.  There was shorba already prepared that just needed to be reheated and to accompany, there were shop bought veggie samosas and shop bought onion bhajis (wasn’t able to buy samosa pastry to make my own samosa and borek until this afternoon), tuna rolls and cheese rolls, chicken nuggets and cous cous salad. No dessert today but there is always plenty of ice cream in the freezer for whoever has a sweet tooth!

For the cous cous salad, I cooked 1 cup of cous cous according to the microwave method mentioned here but omiting the final stage of adding ghee or butter.  I left to cool and then added a good glug of Hellman’s French salad dressing then added chopped cherry tomatoes, olives, diced cucumber and 1 package of  Apetina feta with garlic and green olives. (I normally add chopped sundried tomatoes too but have run out.) I mixed well and refrigerated.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry cous cous
  • 2 tbsp salad dressing
  • 2 inches cucumber, diced
  • 1 small tomato, diced or a few cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • sundried tomatoes if you have them
  • a few olives, sliced
  • 1 package Apetina feta cubes or similar

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For the little tuna rolls and cheese rolls – I drained 1 can of tuna in brine and set aside; beat 2 eggs with a splash of milk and set aside.

Next I took 10 slices of white bread, removed the crusts and rolled out flat with a rolling pin. I sprinkled the tuna over the bread, rolled up tightly and then dipped in the egg. The egg dipped rolls were then shallow fried in a few spoons of hot oil until crispy and golden. I made a further 4 slices of bread filled with cubed cheddar.

Ingredients:

  • 10 slices white bread, crusts removed
  • 1 tin tuna chunks
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp milk

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Fatayer – Arabic pastries

Basmala

The best fatayer I ever had were in England years and years ago and they were baked by a Saudi lady. The bread was very soft and light with a delicious, slightly sour spinach filling.

Since then, I have had them many times here in Saudi Arabia with various fillings but often the bread is a little dry or just ordinary. I have been wanting to try making ftayer myself but needed just the right dough recipe. It was when I found Ree Drummond’s Cinnamon Rolls recipe recently that I thought I might be onto something.

For these savoury pastries, I used a quarter of her stated amounts and also reduced the sugar content from 1/4 cup to 1 teaspoon.

 

Ingredients:

  • 280 ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 2 cups (plus 1/4 cup extra, separated) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon (heaping) baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon (scant) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat the milk, oil and sugar in the microwave until lukewarm.

Sprinkle the yeast over this mixture and leave for a few minutes.

Sift 2 cups of flour into the milk/oil mix and stir until well combined. Leave in a warm place for 1 hour.

Add the extra 1/4 cup of flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix well. If the dough seems too wet you may need to add another 1/4 cup of flour. What you should have is a very soft dough which remains a little sticky. You will need to flour the worktop well when working with this dough.

With this dough I was able to make 11 spinach fatayir, 7 feta cheese fatayir and 3 mini pizzas. I used a small ball of the dough weighing 25-30g  for each one.

For 11 spinach fatayir I used:


  • 1 small onion grated
  • 150g cooked and chopped spinach
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon sumac (depending on your taste)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (again, to your taste)
  • 1/2 tsp pomegranate molasses

NB: If you can’t get sumac or pomegrante molasses (you can use one or the other if you only have one of them) use lemon juice instead. Squeeze lemon juice over the cooked spinach and onion, mix well and stop when the taste is sour to your liking.

Fry the onion in a tbsp of oil until soft and then add the cooked spinach, salt, sumac and pomegranate molasses and combine well. My spinach was cooked and cooled straight from the fridge so I was able to use it to fill the pastries immediately. If you have just cooked the spinach you will need to cool the mixture before using it.

Take a 25-30g ball of the dough and place onto a well floured worktop. Using your fingers push it out to form a circle about 3 inches in diameter.

Place a teaspoonful of the spinach filling in the middle.

Bring two edges of the dough together to form the top of a triangle and then bring the lower portion of the dough up, squeeze gently with your fingers to seal. Since the dough is a little sticky you shouldn’t need any egg to seal the edges.

Place on a greased baking sheet and bake at 400F until golden

For the feta fatayir:

Take a 25-30g piece of the dough and gently flatten into an oblong about 2″x4″, use a well floured rolling pin if necessary.

Take a teaspoon of feta and roll it into a small log and place in the middle of the dough.

Bring the top portion of the dough forward, keeping the filling revealed, bring up the lower portion and pinch at the edges to make a kind of boat shape.

Still pinching the edges, lift and place on the greased baking sheet.

Bake at 400F until golden.

For the mini pizzas:

Take a 25-30g ball of the dough, flatten into a small disc and spread with a little pizza sauce and some grated cheddar. You could also add chopped olives.

Bake as above.

Variation:

For jubna (cheese) fatayir, take a 25-30g ball of dough, flatten into a disc of around 3″ diameter. Place a teaspoon of grated cheddar into the centre and fold into a semi-circle.

Bake as above.

Chicken kebabs

Basmala

These little, lightly spiced patties make a delicious side dish and are very easy to make. Thanks to Sarah for this recipe; hope you are reading!

Ingredients:

  • 300g chicken breast
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1.5 litres water
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped coriander
  • 1.2 teaspoon each of salt, cumin, garam masala
  • 1.5 ladlefuls (approx 150ml) of the stock from cooking the chicken
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs

Method:

Start by placing the garlic, onion, chicken and water into a pan and boil until the chicken is tender. Allow to cool.

Remove the chicken from the bone if there is any bone and place the chicken into the food processor. Add the breadcrumbs, coriander and spices and pulse until the mixture looks like chunky breadcrumbs.

Add about 150 ml of the stock from cooking the chicken and pulse again to make a dough that is mouldable but not to moist.

Shape into patties (I made mine into about 15 patties weighing approx 30g), dip in beaten egg white and then roll in the breadcrumbs. Fry for a few minutes on either side until golden.

Delicious hot or cold with chili sauce.

Note: This is also delicious used as a samosa filling!

Chicken and Broccoli Quiche

Basmala

I’d been wanting to make a quiche and then, when browsing Leslie’s blog I noticed the recipe for Easy All-butter Pie Crust that she posted recently. With promises of  “…a recipe with a technique that will give you the flakiest all-butter pie crust you’ve ever dreamed of”, I had to bite the bullet and give it a go!

I have to confess that I didn’t have butter but wanted quiche right away so I just got on and made it with margarine anyway. I wouldn’t recommend using margarine as it made the dough a little sticky and difficult to work with but the pastry was still a success: nice, flaky and cooked well without going soggy under the quiche filling.

Easy All-Butter Pie Crust

Makes one 9″ double crust or two 9″ single crusts

2 cups/280 grams all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
14 tablespoons (200g) unsalted butter
5 tablespoons cold water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

I halved the recipe since I was making a quiche and not a pie.

Start by sifting the flour and place into a freezer bag and freeze the flour until cold. Chop the butter into cubes and place in the freezer for 15 minutes. Combine the water, salt and vinegar and place in the fridge.

Next dump the butter and flour onto your clean worktop and roll over it with a rolling pin until the butter is flattened into sheets. Gather up the butter and flour and place in a mixing dish, pour the water/vinegar mixture over half at a time in case you dont need it all and combine into a rough dough.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and press together into a more uniform ball of dough, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least half an hour before using.

More thorough explanation of the method here.

I rolled out and lined a 9″ lid of a Pyrex dish with the pastry since I don’t have a pie dish and my flan dish is a little too deep.

I refrigerated the dish with pastry for a further 30 minutes before baking blind at 375F for about 20 minutes. I covered the pastry with foil and some baking beans so prevent puffing up.

Ingredients for the quiche filling:

1 ready cooked chicken breast (approx 100g), finely diced
50g boiled and cooled broccoli, finely chopped
80g Cheddar cheese grated
60 ml cream
3 eggs, beaten

Combine the chicken, broccoli and cheese and then spread over the base of the quiche.

Beat together the cream and eggs and pour over the chicken, broccoli and cheese.

Finish off with a little freshly ground black pepper.

I found the cheese salty enough and didn’t need to add extra salt.

Bake at 375 f for 20-30 minutes; until the filling is firm and golden.