Ramadan Day 2 – Couscous Salad, Tuna Rolls

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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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Ramadan – Day 1

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Day 1 of Ramadan went smoothly alhamdu Lillah and I had minimal cooking to do since I had prepared nearly everything the night before. My 13, 10 and 7 year old children were fasting so I had to make something they would enjoy breaking their fast on on and I also kept it simple. Nothing greasy that would upset tummies on the very first day!

I made Algerian Shorba but I didn’t use any meat and instead of burghul (cracked wheat) I used a handful of broken vermicelli.

For main course I marinaded some chicken drumsticks in Nando’s garlic Peri-Peri sauce overnight and then grilled them for about 40 minutes just before iftar. These were served with shop bought coleslaw and potato salad and potato wedges with their skins left on and rubbed with olive oil, minced garlic, Italian seasoning and sea salt – they were baked in the oven on 190C for about 45 minutes.

All I managed to prepare for dessert was orange Jello! Hopefully, I will make some better desserts as the month progresses!

Ramadan Mubaarak

Basmala

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Alhamdu Lillah, Ramadan is upon us once again and so the month of fasting commences.

I haven’t  blogged for sometime so this seems the perfect opportunity to try to start up again. I can’t guarantee any new or exciting recipes since I am mainly catering to the palette of my children this year but, nevertheless I’ll try to blog what’s for dinner (or rather iftaar) or breakfast (suhoor) each day.

So, this evening the shorba has been prepared already for tomorrow and I have some chicken pieces in the fridge to overnight. This way, hopefully I will have minimal work in the kitchen tomorrow which will be our first day of fasting.

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Choco-peanut butter pancakes

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I was trying to think of a way of sprucing up the plain pancakes we often eat and noticed the peanut butter jar left on the counter top… it’s been a long time since I saw peanut butter chips in the supermarket so I thought I would try freezing blobs of peanut butter and making my own ‘peanut butter chips’! They pretty much melted when the pancakes were cooked but there were bits of peanut butter oozing from the pancakes as we bit into them. Delicious!

Ingredients:

1 cup self-raising flour
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon white vinegar
10g melted butter
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
50g smooth peanut butter

  • I started off by placing tiny lumps of the peanut butter onto a freezable surface and then placing the peanut butter in the freezer to firm.
  • Next, sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and sugar into a bowl. Beat in the egg and milk and then add the vinegar and melted butter.
  • Heat a non-stick pan (medium heat) with a tiny amount of oil and just before you start to cook the pancakes, empty the chocolate chips and peanut butter lumps into the batter and give it all a quick mix.
  • Drop tablespoons of the batter into the frying pan and heat until the top starts to become dry and the bubbles pop. Carefully turn over and cook for another minute or so. I made around 15 pancakes with this batter.
  • I served the pancakes with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.

Fatayer – Arabic pastries

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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.

Tofu Chocolate mousse

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I had a carton of tofu in the fridge and wasn’t sure what to do with it until I stumbled upon this recipe.

It’s a fantastically simple chocolate mousse dessert with minimal ingredients and tastes amazingly rich. You’d never believe that it contains tofu and NO eggs or cream.  If you love rich chocolate desserts, this really is a ‘must try’ even if you are not vegan. The other big bonus is that it contains no raw eggs.

Technically it does not set to a mousse-like consistency but the consistency is very pleasant and thick; just the way a cold chocolate dessert should be.

You need:

  • 1x 12 ounce package of silken tofu (I used ‘firm’)
  • 10 oz milk or dark chocolate (check that it is dairy free if you are making it for someone who is vegan)
  • 3 tsbp maple syrup (I used 2tbsp as I used milk chocolate which was sweet enough)
  • 1tsp vanilla essence (optional)

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave.

Blend tofu (preferably at room temperature) in food processor, blender, or with hand mixer until just smooth.

Scrape the melted chocolate into the food processor with the tofu and continue blending, add maple syrup and vanilla and process until creamy.

Pour into individual serving glasses or one large bowl and refrigerate until set.

I finished mine off with a grating of white chocolate but it would be gorgeous with something like chocolate curls or fresh raspberries, strawberries or mandarin segments.

TRIPLE choco-cookies

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Chocolate chips cookies in my house just got better! The only improvement would be if I make them quadruple chocolate chip! I don’t normally add cocoa powder into the batter but my son had been asking for dark cookies so just for him, I did!

This is just a variation on one of the recipes I normally use but somehow it came out nicer than ever. This is the recipe I used as a guideline but tweaked it somewhat so the new ingredients were:

  • 100g softened butter or margarine
  • 125g caster or granulated sugar (I had run out of brown sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla flavouring
  • 140g sifted plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons/10g sifted cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt (if your butter is salted already use only 1/4tsp)
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 75g milk chocolate chips
  • 75g chopped white chocolate

I followed the recipe as in the link given above and baked at 350F/180C/Gas 4.