This delicious, delicate, always successful, and certainly impressive dish, used to be one of my go-to appetizers for years! It used to be my sister-in-law Katheline’s favourite as well, and since it freezes so well, we always made sure that one of us, had a few hidden dishes stached away in her freezer for last minute emergencies.
Then somehow it fell off my horizon, and I forgot all about it, until last night! when my niece-in-law asked me for the recipe. So… here it is Claudia, enjoy! And thanks for the reminder, I had forgotten how much I love it!!!
500 grs chicken liver (cleaned)
1 stick butter
1 medium onion finely chopped
1/2 handful dried sage chopped
1 clove garlic crushed
1/2 cup cream
2 tbsp cognac
chicken liver pate-2
melt 1/2 the butter
add onion & garlic and saute gently
add cleaned livers and saute till cooked through
place in food processor & work it till the mixture is smooth
melt the remaining 1/2 of the butter & cool slightly
add butter, cognac & cream to the mixture and process briefly till well combined
pour into 6 to 8 individual ramekins (or two larger ones) and chill
it can stay in fridge up to 3 or 4 days
or you can freeze for up to a couple of months, and defrost when needed
Yet another dish fought over and its identity claimed by so many different nationalities! Certainly all the countries of the middle east, no exception. As well as Turkey. And ofcourse Greece.
Personally, I prefer the middle-eastern version. Whatever the filling, it is always lighter & crispier than its Greek cousin. No offense meant to my adopted country!
1pkt filo pastry
2 sticks butter melted
400 grs shelled pistachios
100 grs hazlenuts
place the nuts in a food processor and give them a couple of whirls. Do not grind into a powder, you should still be able to see and identify the nuts!
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
juice of half a lemon
place your sugar and water in a small saucepan
when all the sugar has been disolved
squeeze-in the juice of half a lemon
keep simmering until the mixture starts sticking to the back of the spoon
add one tbsp rose-bud water to give it that middleastern touch (in Arabic it is called “mazahr” as opposed to “maward” which I dislike tremendously!)
set your syrup aside to cool
separate the sheets of pastry in two halves
brush your tray with butter
start laying your pastry sheets brushing with butter between each sheet
when half the sheets have been used, spread your nuts evenly over the whole tray
continue with the other half of your pastry sheets, one at a time, brushing butter between each sheet
finish with another good brush of butter cut your uncooked baklava tray in diamond shapes
you need to cut deeply, almost all the way through before baking (if you leave your cutting till afterwards you will end up with a crumbled mess! (so sorry, I forgot to take a picture of the unbaked version!)
Bake in a 180centigrade pre-heated oven for approx. 45mns
keep checking on the colour of your baklava as every oven is different
when you’re happy with its colour remove it from the oven and immediately pour on it the cooled syrup
in order not to end up with a soggy baklava, you need to make sure that one of your two items (baklava or syrup) is hot and the other one cold. If the 2 are hot it will be soggy, and if the 2 are cold the syrup will just sit on top of the baklava without penetrating its layers. I prefer to make the syrup ahead of time and set aside to cool, before placing my Baklava in the oven. This way its ready for pouring as soon as the Baklava is out.
Its been more than a year since I last posted! Apologies to those of you that have been following and must have given up on me by now! I promise that I’m still faithful to my kitchen and to my cooking, even if sometimes “life” does get in the way. I am now left with a backlog of pictures and recipes cooked throughout the year, and frankly, I’m at a total loss as to which to post and when. So lets just start with the most recent prepared just a few days ago.
The holiday season was quite busy this year. It so happens that a lot of the expats on our island, have decided to stay put this winter, so there was a fury of parties flying back and forth, and an over abundance of super delicious food, and fantastic company.
This past Thursday we had a few friends over, for an overdue and long promised middle-eastern meal.
We started with a spread of various appetizers: hummus, homemade labneh, mehamara (my style), and tabouleh. All with arabic bread ofcourse.
I then served one central dish: Maklouba Palestinian style.
Its basically chicken, eggplant, zucchini, and rice. Each cooked separately, then assembled in layers to be presented in one dish, which gets turned over (upside down) in the last minute. Hence the name Maklouba, which in Arabic means upside down.
A bit of an ambitious choice on my part considering that I’m a one woman kitchen! Also considering that “this” one woman does not have the same energy as in the past, and tends to tire somewhat faster these days. But with some organization it can definitely be undertaken, and believe me it will be worth the effort as this is one dish that is meant to impress!!!
There are many versions of Maklouba out there: Palestinian, Syrian, or Lebanese. Some with lamb, some with ground beef, some with chicken, but all with vegetables and with rice. I happen to like this one.
Oh and I forgot: for dessert I made a Baklava with pistachio nuts, which was a great success. Recipe to follow later today or tomorrow.
Now back to the Maklouba!
2 double chicken breasts (meaning 4 individual breasts cut horizontally into two each, giving a total of 8 relatively medium pieces)
2 chicken legs (w/bones) separate drum sticks from thighs
½ a tsp of each of the following spices: turmeric, cumin, coriander, allspice, clove, paprika, salt, and juice of one lemon
rub all over the chicken pieces, cover, and refrigerate for a couple of hours.
1 large onion cut into thin wedges
4 medium eggplants sliced length wise 1cm thick
4 medium zucchini sliced length wise 1cm thick
2 large onions sliced into thickish wedges
2 large tomatoes peeled and sliced 1cm thick
2 cups rice
2 cups boiling water
1 tsps turmeric
mix together in a bowl and set aside till ready to use
Brown the chicken pieces in a bit of olive oil in a large pan till lightly coloured on both sides
remove from pan and set aside
put the onion wedges in the same pan and saute till soft-ish
put the chicken back in the pan and deglaze with some white wine
add water (a little at a time in order to roast and not boil)
cover the pan and simmer till the chicken is tender and there is enough gravy in the pan to use for later
remove the chicken and set aside till ready to use
adjust the gravy: you will need about 2 cups worth, so you may need to add some water to it, probably a soup cube as well, and bring to the boil once
set that aside as well
P.S. Up to this point the chicken can be prepared the day before.
line a couple of oven trays with parchment paper
oil the paper and sprinkle some sea salt on it
place the eggplant slices next to one another (you may need to use both trays to hold all the eggplant)
brush the top of the slices with olive oil, and sprinkle with a bit more sea salt
bake in preheated oven, set on max, with fan on
third shelf and above it
switch trays half way through
check frequently on colour. Should be slightly coloured (not brown!)
repeat above procedure with the zucchini slices (oiling & salting the parchment paper first, then oiling & salting the zucchini slices)
if there is enough room in one of the trays, place the onion wedges as well
repeat as above until slightly coloured (the zucchini will need a lot less time than the eggplant, so remember to check on it frequently
you will need a large heavy bottom pan with a lid
start assembling your ingredients in the following order to build up the layers of your Maklouba
half the eggplant slices
half the onion
half the zucchini slices
the pre-soaked rice
the remaining eggplant
the remaining onions
the remaining zucchini
pour the gravy from the chicken on top
place a flat dish to keep everything in place
cover the pan and simmer for 40 mns or until rice is cooked
Test rice for done-ness. Remove pan from heat and keep covered (about 20-30mns) till ready to serve.
Now the tricky part: Remove the lid, place a large round serving dish on top of the pan, hold from both sides, and flip over and into the serving dish.
We first had this delicious dish, disguised as a salad, in our friend Sylvie’s house. Being that my husband is a huge lover of fish I of course had to recreate it, many times over, and in the process it became part of my usual repertoire.
It is a perfect dish for both small and large gatherings, the only “sticky” part is that it is best served warm. So, even though the ingredients can be prepared ahead of time, the actual assembly is best done right before serving. It is not a huge obstacle really, even if you’re planning to take it to a friend’s house. All you need to do is warm up the ingredients (a microwave will do fine), assemble, mix, and serve. All in all a five minutes process. And did I mention it is quite impressive?
750 grs (frozen weight) fish fillet cut in four (Perch is what I use, because that’s what I find locally!)
1 tsp paprika
1 ½ cups basmati rinsed well
water as per cooking instructions of your rice
1 ½ cups cooked chick peas
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red & yellow pepper
1 tsp curry powder
1 soup cube
1 cup water
1 cup peeled & chopped apple
1 cup sliced green & black olives
6 anchovies chopped
1 large lemon
parsley chopped rough
place fish in baking tray
sprinkle with salt & paprika
add a bit of olive oil
bake in a 200centigrade pre-heated oven until done
saute onion & pepper
add curry powder
add chick peas
add a bit of water
simmer until the flavours are well combined
when done, make sure that there is enough liquid/sauce left (picture #3) & that it hasn’t all dried up as it will add flavour to the final dish (you may need to add more water when simmering)
cook your rice
as mentioned above, do not go further until you’re ready to serve
when ready, make sure all the above (fish, rice, and chick peas) are warmed up before assembling
in a large serving dish
start with the fish
add the rice
add the cold ingredients (apple, olives, anchovies)
add the chick peas w/their sauce
add the parsley
squeeze the lemon
mix well with your hands until well combined (I find that using my fingers to mix is a lot more efficient and less “traumatizing” to whatever it is you’re mixing then using a spoon or other utensil)
finish up by decorating with a couple of slices of lemon
Looking through my pictures & recipes (in the hope of getting semi organised with my long neglected blog!!), I found a few that are totally ready but hadn’t been posted yet! So, apologies if you get an avalanche of recipes all of a sudden. I promise I’ll try to do no more than two postings a day until I catch up with myself.
This dish is an absolute winner! It is healthy, it is easy, it is quick, and it is a life saver in large gatherings. Any vegetable you can think of qualifies, the rule is: if you fancy it, then it definitely goes.
Have fun with it and experiment, you can not go wrong believe me!
Below is the variety I used, it changes often depending on what’s available in the market, and to some degree also on what’s available in my fridge & freezer at the time.
300 grs frozen flat green beans
300 grs frozen peas
2 small red peppers halved then quartered then sliced about ½ cm thick (if you want you can use 1 red and 1 yellow, it adds to the colour)
2 medium onions halved then quartered then sliced medium thin
2 aubergines halved then quartered then sliced about ¾ cm thick
4 medium-large zucchinis halved then sliced ½ cm thick at an angle
1 extra large tomato halved and sliced (or 1 can crushed tomatoes)
1 large tbsp tomato paste
2 soup cubes
2 cups hot water
place all vegetables in a large oven tray and mix roughly with your hands
add some olive oil
combine the soup cubes, the hot water and the tomato paste
add to the liquid some olive oil
pour on the vegetables
place in pre-heated 200 centigrade oven on 3rd shelf from the bottom until golden brown and cooked to your liking
P.S. after 20mns get the tray out and mix the vegetables carefully to make sure that all the vegetables get their fair exposure to the heat. If you don’t, the top layer will “bake” nicely and the bottom one will be “steamed”.
Repeat again after 20 more mns
Overall timing in the oven should be around 1 hour in total. If
you like your vegetables on the crispy side, you may have to
reduce the cooking time. Just taste as you go along.
Today’s post is for my sister-in-law Jiji, who graciously traveled thousands of miles this past summer in order to help heal my broken bones (and my broken spirit!). Thanks “Sis”, you were here when you were most needed; we could not have managed without you!
Jiji asked me for this recipe a few days back, so here it is my dear, your mom’s Cream of Tomato Soup….
This delicious creamy soup is a favourite of my husband’s as well. One of their mom’s many specialties, and a regular must on her table in the cold winter months during their growing up years. It has of course become a regular must on our table as well, and an all-time favourite of Maggie & Mona. A gentle warm reminder of their loving Nana.
8 medium size tomatoes
2 small potatoes
2 cups milk
cream to dribble on top before serving
place the tomatoes in a pan
boil some water in a kettle
pour over the tomatoes to cover
let stand one minute then core the tomatoes and remove their skin
chop them roughly & set aside
chop the onion, carrots, and potatoes and place in a pan
add a bit of olive oil, sea salt, and sautee for a minute or two
add the tomatoes to the same pan, salt, cover and simmer
do not add any liquid at this point, the tomatoes will bring their own liquid
simmer for about an hour or until the potatoes and carrots are soft when tested
blend with a hand held mixer, the mixture will have a thick-ish puree consistency
add the 2 cups of milk and return to the stove on medium heat
adjust salt if needed
simmer for a couple of minutes
if it is too thick, you may need to add a bit of water, it all depends on how juicy the tomatoes were. I added about a ½ cup of water to mine, just use your own judgement
dribble a bit of cream in each dish before serving
WOW, its been an eternity it seems! I knew that I haven’t been posting for quite a while, but I never realised just how long that “while” was. My last post dates from the 14th of May!!!
Its not that we’ve been food-less since, its more like its been an unusually tough few months. What a year 2016 turned out to be: a bad fall, broken bones, surgery, and a long, very long, recovery….. And today? thankfully the last of it. The 31st of December, and not a moment too soon!
I am thankful, and grateful, for the lessons that this year has brought, but happy and relieved to say goodbye all the same. Thanks but no thanks, it is quite enough! I welcome 2017 with arms wide open and look forward to cheer and joy, to friends and fun, laughter, drinks of course, and tons of good food.
Today, to celebrate, I decided to make Sol’s shrimps.
It’s been quite a while since I’ve made this dish, so it may not turn out “exact”, but its the right day for it. Having Sol in the kitchen with me today is just what I need, and OMG this dish smacks of my big brother so much, that every time I make it, I could swear that he is right here with me, sipping at his scotch and watching me with an amused look on his face!
Sol was 8 years my senior and has been a loving constant in my life ever since I can remember! up until he decided to up and go that is, coming up to nearly six years now.
Sol was my protector, my mentor, my friend, and my biggest fan club. We have always been close, and have managed to remain in close contact throughout the many countries that we each lived in. Never the same one, except for our growing up years!
Our favourite place to hang-out was often in the kitchen, with a drink, concocting a dish of some kind, and always thinking up ways to improve on its prior version.
I miss him terribly… I suspect that I always will…
Sol’s big passion was seafood of any kind! Fish, shell fish, cooked, or raw… anything from the sea had a special place in his heart.
This prawn recipe was one of his favourites…
Cleaning the shrimps:
Frozen shrimps are fine since they’re always readily available, but I will have to ask that you get shrimps with their heads on! A lot of the flavour is in the head, and even if you end up not eating it, it definitely imparts extra flavour to the sauce. It also helps preserve the shrimps in a fairly decent shape, by preventing them from shrinking too much.
8 jumbo shrimps
a 2cms piece of fresh ginger
a knob of butter
a bit of olive oil
cognac (?? I just do it by eye!)
1/3 cup light cream
You can not prepare this dish ahead of time, it has to be a last minute affair. It is super quick so never really a problem. The only time consuming part is cleaning the shrimps. Sol was the one to teach me how to clean them with scissors. It is quick and easy, just follow the pictures. You can do the cleaning ahead of time, and store the shrimps in the fridge ready to use. No more than a few hours ahead of time.
So, lets start …
grate the ginger and the garlic
melt the butter
mix ginger, garlic, and paprika in it
use half the butter mixture and cook shrimps on medium high heat
turn them over and add the other half of the butter mixture
keep cooking on medium high heat while making sure to shake the pan to cook evenly
add enough cognac to deglaze the pan and get all the nice bits
keep shaking the pan
you may need to add some more cognac if you think the shrimps need a bit more cooking (just use your own judgement!)
add the cream and adjust salt to taste
that’s it, remove from heat!
arrange the shrimps in your serving dish, pour the sauce around, cut some nice fresh crisp bread for moping up the sauce, and place around the dish
P.S. You can also serve this as a main dish if you wish. It goes beautifully with Basmati rice to soak up the sauce, and sauteed spinach on the side. Personally I tend to lean towards the appetizer form of whatever can be turned into appetizers! I just love the one central dish, many forks, many friends, and many drinks!
“Sayaddeyya” is Arabic for fishermen, so … Fishermen’s rice. Traditionally served with guess what? fish ofcourse.
Until today, that’s what fishermen prepare on their boat, to eat alongside their catch of fish while they’re out at sea.
It got fancy over the years, and now you can add all sorts of spices to the dish, even pine nuts if you wish. But at its very base its mainly 2 major ingredients: lots of onions and cumin.
You can have it plain, or have bits and pieces of “fishy” stuff added to it while cooking.
For this recipe I used shrimps.
2 cups rice (rinsed well)
500 grs frozen shrimps (ofcourse you can use fresh, but the weight here refers to the frozen weight. So probably around 400 grs after defrosting)
2 large onions grated (in the picture you see 3, since they were small-ish)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp curry powder
2 tsps cumin powder
water as per cooking instructions of your rice + 1 extra cup to allow for the cooking of the shrimps
1 soup cube
Place a little olive oil in the pot, add the grated onions, and fry while stirring frequently, until the onion is very dark, looking as if almost burned. (Don’t put your attention elsewhere while this is happening, you need to stay on top of it and keep stirring, or else the onion will burn and acquire a bitter taste.)
add the spices
add the tomato paste
add the water
add the soup cube
add the rice
cover and simmer until you can still see “some” water
add the shrimps
cover again and keep simmering until the rice is done.
I love this recipe! It is delicious, easy, and quick. The only trouble is that you can not do the stir frying until you’re ready to eat, i.e. its got to be done while your guests are already there!
It doesn’t present a problem for me, as I have an open kitchen, and I can work while still chatting with my guests. Asking for the occasional help from your guests won’t hurt either, just keep the wine flowing and the conversation going, and you’ll be done before you know it!
I usually serve this dish with Sayaddeya Rice w/shrimps. You will find the recipe in the Rice section.
1 kg fish fillet (I find Perch fillets readily available in the frozen section of our supermatket, and I like the fact that Perch doesn’t smell very “fishy”. But you can use any of your favourite kinds as long as its meaty, firm, and doesn’t tend to fall apart easily).
a small piece of ginger grated
grated rind from 1 lemon
pepper flakes (I didn’t measure, I just sprinkled! Same for the paprika and the salt.)
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsps fish sauce
1 medium onion cut in wedges
1 red pepper cut in medium size pieces
Cut the fish in fairly decent size cubes
sprinkle all the spices including the lemon juice & the fish sauce
add some olive oil
mix well with your hands and everything is nicely combined
add the cut onions & peppers
mix, cover, and place in the refrigerator
(You can do all this ahead of time, as the fish tastes better when its been left to marinate for a few hours. You will need to get it out of the fridge about an hour or so before you anticipate using it).
when ready, heat your frying pan, add a tiny bit of olive oil, and place the fish kebabs & vegetables in smallish batches, making sure not to crowd the pan. Shake to stir as its cooking, try not to use the spatula too much so as not to brake the fish
when you’re satisfied with the colour, add a tiny bit of white wine in the corner of the pan (not directly on the fish), and “shake” the pan to de-glaze and coat the fish
remove to your serving dish, and continue with your batches until all the fish is done
For all the rice dishes in this category I will use Basmati rice. If you can get your hands on Egyptian rice, then by all means do, you will absolutely love the difference! Unfortunately I can not find it where I live, so I use my next favourite which is Basmati.
I also always rinse my rice well before using, it helps get rid of some of the starch.
2 cups rice (rinsed)
2 vermicelli balls (crushed, as in picture)
¼ cup pine nuts
3 small grains mastic (it adds a lovely aroma)
water as per cooking instructions of your rice
1 soup cube
Brown the pine nuts in a tiny bit of olive oil, keep your eye on it as it tends to burn very fast.
Place on kitchen paper to drain off excess oil and set aside, you won’t need it until the very end
put the crushed vermicelli in a frying pan, add some olive oil, and toast till dark golden. Make sure you keep stirring to colour evenly
in the pot where you’re going to cook the rice, add a bit of olive oil, add the 3 grains of mastike, and heat till you see the mastike melting
add the water, the soup cube
add the rice
add the vermicelli
some crushed pepper corn
adjust salt if needed
cover & simmer till cooked
transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle the pine nuts on top.