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slices of an unorthodox Palestinian Moussakhan

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One of my favourite and most beloved dishes is the Palestinian Moussakhan. A flavour-rich dish that is traditional to the Palestinian country-side. And with only a few but very rich components, the Moussakhan, prepared with a traditional type of nan bread (taboun), olive oil, onions, chicken, and the yummy and lemony soummak spice, has been a source of pride to many many people of the Palestinian countryside as it reflects at once, their generosity and the rich produce of their sacred land: olive oil.

And even though I truly believe that there is no better way to serve this dish than the traditional authentic way, I’m sharing with you today an unorthodox way to prepare it in the hope that soon, I will be able to share the real thing 🙂

Recipe

Ingredients

Onion Topping:
2 medium onions, halved & sliced
4 – 5 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp soummak
juice of 1 lemon
salt & pepper according to taste

Chicken Topping:
400 g of boneless chicken, cut into rather small pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp soummak
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt & pepper according to taste

a few slices of country bread
3 tbsp olive oil
a few parsley leaves to garnish with

Onion topping: pour the olive oil in a medium frying pan put on medium heat. Add the sliced onions and sauté, stirring often, for a few minutes till all onions have been sautéd evenly. Lower the heat and the soummak and stir to mix well with the onions. Remove from heat. Add the lemon juice for a more lemony taste to the soummak. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep the sautéd onions in a well-sealed container to keep it warm.
Chicken topping: using the same pan, heat the olive oil on medium heat before adding the chicken pieces and sautéing it for a few minutes till they all have cooked thoroughly. Remove from heat. Add the soummak, lemon juice and season with salt & pepper according to taste.
Toast the bread slices. Then, using a food brush, spread some olive oil on the bread (and remember the more oil, the better :)). Top with the sautéd onions followed by the chicken. Sprinkle with parsley leaves and serve right away!
Tip: Optional, sprinkle with some roasted almonds and / or pines for a richer taste.

Bon Appétit!

c for carrot & coriander salad

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This incredibly simple yet yummy salad will be on my daily salad menu very often as it is a pure version of freshness and deliciousness. Of two distinctive tastes, this sweet (carrot) and sour (lemon) salad is very easy to prepare and can be ready in no time, almost 🙂
Recipe

Ingredients

about 300 g carrots, peeled & shredded
a generous handful of green coriander leaves, roughly chopped
zest of 1 lemon
1 – 2 tbsp lemon juice, according to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper, according to taste

Mix the ingredients in a medium bowl, then serve immediately. Enjoy!

Bon Appétit!

forget about calories…let’s talk cheese!

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A very important staple in the cuisine of many nations around the world, cheese most probably is as old as history. It most probably came as a result of the man’s desire to preserve milk for long periods of time even if in a form different from its original liquid one.

And there are hundreds of different kinds of cheese (with different shape, texture, flavours) around the world. For it not only differs from one country, region or land to another, but cheese various kinds depend on the milk, mold, and fat used (among other factors) in the making of cheese. And the techniques applied in the processing, production, aging, and fermenting of the cheese all result in endless kinds of cheese.

Cheese is simply amazing in so many ways, and mostly because it is delicious and can easily be turned into a comfort food!

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Among many many other cheeses produced in le pays de fromages, and originating in Normandy (in northern France), Camembert is a delicious cheese that is rather creamy and salty, and rich in flavour.

Dedicated to all the cheese lovers out there, this melted Camembert recipe looks sophisticated even though it is a very easy way to prepare and serve cheese in a most impressive fashion.

Baked Camembert -0259

Recipe

Ingredients

1 camembert cheese packed in its wooden case
a few green thyme springs
2 garlic cloves
sliced country bread, or any bread of your choice

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
Unpack the camembert cheese by removing its plastic wrap and put the cheese back in its wooden case, uncovered.
Chop the thyme springs and one garlic cloves and use them to flavour the cheese.
with a sharp knife cut small cuts onto the top of the cheese and fill with themy springs and garlic. Wrap an oven-proof ribbon around the wooden case to prevent it from breaking open while cheese is baking (optional). Place the cheese on a baking tray covered with baking paper
Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes, it really depends on how ripe your cheese is.
meanwhile, toast the bread slices and wrap them with one garlic clove.                              Once the cheese is melted on the inside (it becomes really soft to the finger touch/ it gives to the finger pressure), remove from oven and serve right away with the garlic breads.

Bon Appétit!

labneh with green herbs for a perfect breakfast…

Nothing beats a lazy day at home. And a happy day I wish you all! And so, I thought of sharing with you this simple and- delicious recipe that can add a magical touch to your breakfast on any day.

labneh with green herbs-0150
A good sour Labneh (strained yogurt) is delicious as is, there is no denying that. But sometimes we feel like we need to add that little touch that would give it another dimension of freshness. That is why I chose to go back to a traditional levantine practice of adding some fresh herbs to the Labneh equation. Served with some Arabic pita bread, this breakfast dish will sure make your day.
For the Recipe

Ingredients

300 g Labneh
A handful of fresh thymes
A handful of fresh dill
A handful of fresh mint
2 spring onions
1 garlic clove
salt & pepper
Olive oil for serving

Coarsely chop the thyme, dill, mint, and spring onions. Crush the garlic.
Add the herbs, onions and garlic to the Labneh and mix well.
Pour the Labneh in the serving plate. Sprinkle with good quality olive oil and season with salt & pepper.
Serve it with Arabic pita and indulge!
Bon Appétit!

orange & almond pudding

Orange & Almond dessert-0113

This most refreshing and delicious orange recipe is quite easy and quick to prepare. Literally, it just takes minutes to make! And seconds to devour 😉

Despite the few and simple ingredients of this dessert, there is something quite enchanting about its oriental taste. And I do hope you get the chance to try it.

Orange & Almond dessert-0128

For the Recipe

Ingredients

400 ml fresh orange juice
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 cup ground almond
2 tbsp corn starch
2 tbsp pistachio, roughly chopped
Pour most of the orange juice (keeping about 1/4 cup aside) and sugar into a medium saucepan and place over medium hear stirring often till sugar dissolves entirely.
Add the ground almond and stir often till the mixture starts to simmer. Lower heat.
whisk the corn starch into the remaining orange juice before adding it to the mixture in the pan. Cook till the pudding becomes to get thicker.
Divide among individual serving bowls and allow to cool before serving the pudding sprinkled with some pistachio.

Bon Appétit!

double chocolate cheese tart

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When it is not a cheesecake, but not a tart either, it has to be a double chocolate cheese tart…and it happens to be quite easy and straightforward to make. Hope you get the chance to try it and share your adventures with me.

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For the Recipe

Ingredients

Tart Base:
125g butter, cut into small cubes
150g dark chocolate, chopped
1 egg
150g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
140g all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 tsp baking powder

Cheese Cake Topping:
250g cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
75g caster sugar
1 egg
100 white chocolate

Preheat oven to 180°C, grease & line the base and sides of a round 20 cm spring cake tin with baking paper.
Start preparing the tart by melting the chocolate and butter in a heat-proof bowl placed on a small pan of simmering (not boiling) water making sure the bowl does not touch the water (double boiler). Stir continuously till chocolate and butter have melted completely and are well combined. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, and using an electric mixer, beat egg, sugar, vanilla extract until creamy and pale in colour. Then stir in the chocolate mixture, followed by the flour & baking powder.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, and try to spread it as much equally as possible. Then bake for ten minutes only.
Meanwhile, prepare the topping by melting the white chocolate (use the same double boiler technique used for melting the dark chocolate and butter).
In a medium bowl, and using an electric mixer, beat the cheese, vanilla extract, sugar, and egg until smooth. Then beat in the melted white chocolate.
Pour the topping mixture over the baked base and bake for yet another 15 – 20 minutes. Then leave to cool completely in the oven with door ajar.
Once tart has cooled completely, refrigerate it for a minimum of two hours.
Sprinkle with cocoa powder. And enjoy :))
Bon Appétit!

green lentil salad

Green lenil salad 2

Rich in nutrients with the ability to last for years when stored properly, lentils are among the most ancient staples known in history, and they constitute a very important component in the pantry of different civilisations / nations. Lentils come in different colours, and even shapes and their taste and texture and even uses vary accordingly. And there seems to be endless possibilities for dishes that can be prepared using them.

I’ve shared a few delicious lentil recipes before, and always feel tempted to share some more. Lentils are just so delicious!

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Today, I share this totally yummy green lentil salad, which is a beautiful, light and healthy snack. It is so easy to prepare and is full of simple freshness! As is the case in most kind of salad, it should be eaten fresh once prepared.
For the Recipe

Ingredients

1 cup green lentils (washed, and soaked in water for about 10 minutes then drained)
3 celery stalks, washed, trimmed and chopped
12 – 15 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper, according to taste

Cook the lentils over medium heat in a medium pan covered with 2 cups of water, for about 20 – 25 minutes. Drain the lentil to get rid of any excess water. Set aside to allow to cool before making the salad.
In a medium to large serving bowl, mix the lentils with the other ingredients. Give the mixture a good stir and your salad is ready to go 🙂
Serve and enjoy fresh!

Bon Appétit!

fresh coriander meatballs & sauce

Meatballs 1

Fresh Coriander Meatballs & Sauce

Fresh Coriander Meatballs & Sauce

Meatballs in Coriander and Pinenut Sauce
I remember when I was a kid, I used to get confused between fresh coriander (cilantro) and parsley as their leaves look very similar, despite the very distinctive flavour and aroma of coriander. Of course that is no more the case (fortunately!), but now I find it amusing to ask my kids to tell the difference between them when we go grocery shopping.

But the truth remains that till about a decade ago, I was never in love with coriander. And it was only after I met Ali, my husband, that I discovered my hidden love for this most amazing herb. For the way he finds pleasure in adding fresh coriander to different kind of dishes intrigued me and made me want to do my own discoveries.

Now, obsessed with coriander, I not only add it to as much recipes as I can, but I even find myself creating recipes with coriander as its main ingredient. However, it seems I’m not the only to have (or to ever have had) a crash on coriander. Most probably native to the Mediterranean basin, this herb and its seeds seem to have been the obsession of different civilisations, like the Pharaohs and Greeks, for both their culinary and medicinal uses.

Meatballs 2

Meatballs 3
For the Recipe:

Ingredients

Meatballs:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup fresh coriander leaves, chopped
500 g mince meat
2 1/2 tsp sweet spices
Salt & pepper, according to taste

Coriander Sauce:
4 cups fresh coriander leaves, chopped
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp pine nuts
Salt & pepper, according to taste

1 cup meat stock
To prepare the meatballs: in a large frying pan, heat the olive oil then sauté the chopped onion for a few minutes stirring continuously till onion has browned a bit and soften. Add the garlic and chopped coriander and sauté for one minute further. Pour the mixture into a large bowl then add the meat, sweet spices and season with salt & pepper. Mix well using your hands, then shape the mixture into bite-size balls (about 32 – 36 small balls). Using the same frying pan, cook the meatballs over medium heat, stirring often, for about 8 – 10 minutes (or till balls are golden brown). Remove the meatballs from the pan and keep in an air-tight container to keep them warm while preparing the coriander sauce.

To prepare the sauce: still using the same pan, sauté the chopped coriander and garlic for a couple of minutes before adding in the pine nuts. Season with salt & pepper and cook further over low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring continuously.
Return the meatballs to the frying pan, add the meat stock and cook further over medium heat for about 15 minutes.
Serve right away with plain white rice or with some nice fresh pita bread!

Bon Appétit!

petit peas soup

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Soup! Who does not love soup! Other than my kids, that is 🙂 Well, unfortunately it is true and they are not all that crazy about soups. But when not left with much other choice, my little ones might tolerate having some soup for dinner. But I do (if that is of any importance to you :)). And I intend to share soup recipes more often, now that the beautiful weather in Dubai makes us fancy more and more soups.

Inspired from the Portuguese cuisine, this most delicious soup is quite simple and straight forward to prepare (with one main ingredient, I can’t see where this soup can go wrong). And, it is elegant and can make for a perfect entrée to a beautiful dinner. The soup is ideally served with garlic and coriander bread, but served on its own, it would make for a beautiful and rich gluten-free dish.

For the Recipe

Ingredients

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 small onions, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 celery stalk, trimmed & chopped
500 g frozen peas, thawed
salt & pepper, according to taste
3 cups water

a generous handful of fresh coriander leaves, coarsely chopped
1 tsp butter, room temperature
1 garlic clove, shredded
some baguette bread slices to be served with the soup (optional)

Heat olive oil and melt the butter in medium pan. Sauté chopped onions for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic then celery and cook for about 2-3 minutes further. Add the peas. Sauté for about 7 – 10 minutes over low heat, stirring often. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the water onto the pan increasing the cooking heat and bring to a boil. Then lower heat and cook for about 15 minutes.
Using a hand held food blender, process the pea soup till it turns into a beautiful smooth and consistent soup.
Prepare the bread slices by toasting them (optional), then spreading them with some butter and a light sprinkle of garlic and coriander.
Divide the soup among the serving bowls, sprinkle with some chopped coriander leaves and serve along with the garlic and coriander bread.
Bon Appétit!