Friday, November 26, 2010

Kuwaiti appetizers!

I finally logged into my Gmail account and stumbled upon the Kuwaiti appetizers. Even though we ate them so long ago, I can still taste them!!!


Baba Ghanoush - the Best in the World! from

1 large eggplant

1/4 cup tahini, plus more as needed

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed

1 pinch ground cumin

salt, to taste

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/4 cup brine-cured black olives, such as kalamata

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill.

2 Preheat an oven to 375°F.

3 Prick the eggplant with a fork in several places and place on the grill rack 4 to 5 inches from the fire.

4 Grill, turning frequently, until the skin blackens and blisters and the flesh just begins to feel soft, 10 to 15 minutes.

5 Transfer the eggplant to a baking sheet and bake until very soft, 15 to 20 minutes.

6 Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, and peel off and discard the skin.

7 Place the eggplant flesh in a bowl.

8 Using a fork, mash the eggplant to a paste.

9 Add the 1/4 cup tahini, the garlic, the 1/4 cup lemon juice and the cumin and mix well.

10 Season with salt, then taste and add more tahini and/or lemon juice, if needed.

11 Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and spread with the back of a spoon to form a shallow well.

12 Drizzle the olive oil over the top and sprinkle with the parsley.

13 Place the olives around the sides.

14 Serve at room temperature.

Shredded Beets with Thick Yogourt from

Although the vibrant pink color of this Middle Eastern dip is startling, the flavor is superb. There are many versions. Sometimes the beets are pureed and blended into the yogurt; other times, they are simply sliced or cubed; still other times, a little tahini is blended in for a deeper, richer flavor. In this recipe, the beets are simply grated with the shredding disk of a food processor, then folded into thick, creamy yogurt. Serve as a dip or an accompaniment to fish.

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 35 minutes

Chilling time: 1 hour

Yield: 6 servings


cups plain low-fat yogurt, drained to 1 1/2 cups


small beets


large clove garlic, crushed with a pinch of salt


tablespoons fresh, strained lemon juice

Salt to taste

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Pinch of sugar, optional

Sprigs of fresh mint for garnish

1. Drain the yogurt to 1 1/2 cups. Cut off all but 1 inch of the beet stalks and leave the roots intact. Rinse the beets well but do not peel. Cook the beets in boiling salted water until tender, 25 to 35 minutes. Drain, slip off the skins under cold running water, and cut away the root ends and stalks. Coarsely grate the beets, using the shredding disk of a food processor or the large holes of a hand grater.

2. Combine the garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add the beets and yogurt and blend well. Taste and add a pinch of sugar if desired. Transfer to a serving dish, cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour. Garnish with sprigs of fresh mint just before serving.



  • 1 15 oz can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans, drained (save liquid)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon tahini, or low fat peanut butter if you prefer (optional, but if you do not use, increase yogurt by 1 TBSP)
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon salt


In a food processor combine beans, tahini (if desired), yogurt, garlic, and lemon juice. Blend well. Add salt and cumin and blend to a smooth and creamy dip.

If your hummus is too thick, add a little bit of the liquid from the chickpeas - about a teaspoon at a time. Other ways to thin out hummus is by using warm water or olive oil.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Kuwait - at last!

Scrolling through my email and I finally found the Kuwait mains! Now we are terribly out of order, but we can chalk that up to a misorganized inbox on my, I'm just posting the web URLs...

Chicken Mechbous (or Mechboos):

Kibbeh Stuffing:

Cucumber Salad:

According to Kris, any of these she would make again. I agree, as the Kuwaiti cuisine is simple to make and very flavourful.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Nigeria in November...consonance coincidental.

When we narrowed down the choices for 'N' to Nepal, Nicaragua and Nigeria, I must admit that I was a little apprehensive. I thought that Nepal (much like East Indian cuisine) and Nicaragua (Mexican inspired, with a hint of Creole) would be the front-runners for the group. However, the group picked Nigeria. I grew up in the time where World Vision had visuals of hungry, distended bellies so the thought of making something from an African nation made me think of drought, not yummy food. Yet, I'm glad I came around to agree that Nigerian food is awfully good!

Again, sorry, no food pics. We'll do better next time. You'll just have to make each recipe to see how good each of them were! The appetizers in particular went down the hatch quite quickly!

Nigerian Cooked Eggplant Appetizer

1 large eggplant
1 teaspoon mashed sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, mashed
4 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons parsley

Peel eggplant and bake or steam until tender (about 10-15 minutes). Mash with wooden spoon. Add the sesame paste, salt, garlic and lemon juice. Beat until smooth. Mound on a shallow dish and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve with piece of flat, like Pita.

Chickpea Bourekia

250 g (8 oz) cooked chickpeas
2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup (125 mL / 4 fl oz) dry white wine
125 g (4 oz) goat's milk or other feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
1 egg, beaten
225 g (7 oz) phyllo pastry
Olive oil, as needed
Preheat the oven to 190 °C (375 °F / gas mark 5). Mash the chickpeas in a large bowl and set aside. Cook the olive oil, onion and garlic in a saucepan, until the onion and garlic are translucent. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper, and stir. Now add the wine and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. When the mixture has cooled, stir in the cheese, chickpeas, coriander and egg. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Set aside.

Now prepare the pastry. Cut the phyllo pastry into rectangles about 10 cm x 20 cm (4 in. x 8 in.). Brush each sheet with a little olive oil. Put a tablespoonful of filling at one end of a sheet. Fold over the sides and nearest end of the phyllo and roll the pastry lengthways into a sausage shape.

Bake for 15–20 minutes, until golden in colour.

Nigerian Entrees

We tried out four entrees, one of which was a dismal failure. Word to the wise, when the recipe says to use dried black eyed peas (them chicken's jackin' my style!) for "Akara" don't use canned black eyed peas or the deep frying doesn't happen the way it should! Thankfully, the other three dishes were more than adequate. You can find the recipe at the bottom of the entrees if you'd like to let me know how it works out!

The spices and quantities were quite subjective (what, exactly, is a 'medium' fish) as apparently Nigerians don't do a lot of measuring. We tried to stay with the quantities as listed below, but it wasn't always the case!

The main dishes appear below:

Suya (like beek kebabs with dry rub)

3 teaspoons finely ground roasted peanuts
2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or red pepper, or red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger ½ teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 or 2 pounds of meat (beef, chicken, etc.), cut into bite-size pieces
1 onion peeled and cut into chunks
1 tomato cut into chunks
1 green or red bell pepper, cleaned and cut into chunks (optional)
• Make the ground peanut powder: Remove shells and skins from roasted peanuts, if necessary.
• Grind the peanuts into a fine powder (briefly pound them in a mortar and pestle; crush them with a rolling pin; or use a food processor).
• Be careful not to grind them into a paste. If the peanut powder is oily, wrap it in absorbent paper (paper towel) and squeeze for a minute or two.
• Stir the spices into the powder, mixing well.
• For really spicy hot suya, use more cayenne pepper; for a milder dish, substitute paprika for some (or all) of the cayenne pepper.
• Divide the peanut-spice mix into two parts, putting half in one bowl and half in another.
• Set one bowl aside.
• Dip and roll the meat in the other bowl of the peanut-spice mix, making sure the meat is completely coated.
• Allow meat to marinate for thirty minutes or more. (Get the outdoor grill going or preheat the oven while you are waiting.)
• Place the meat on skewers (alternating with the onion, tomato and sweet pepper, if desired).
• Broil in a hot oven, or grill over hot coals, until meat is done.

Jollof Rice

Oil for frying (palm or regular vegetable oil)
1 chicken
1 or 2 finely chopped onions
salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper according to taste
chopped chilli pepper
2 or 3 crushed cloves of garlic
bay leaf
curry powder
2 cups of chicken or beef stock or Maggi cubes
3 ripe tomatoes, chopped
bell pepper or sweet green pepper, chopped
green peas or string beans
(carrots/cabbage chopped)
four cups rice
4 tbsp can tomato paste
2 tbsp dried shrimp or crayfish
fresh parsley and cilantro, chopped lettuce, shredded

Heat oil and brown chicken.

Remove the meat and add the onions, the salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic, bay leaf and curry in the oil.
Fry for a moment and add vegetables.
Fry the mixture until the onions become tender.
Add the stock and the chicken and boil for about 20 minutes.
Then add the dried shrimps/crayfish and the chilli and bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
Put the rice in a separate saucepan. Add water and tomato paste.
Cover and cook for about 20 minutes until the rice is done (add warm water or broth if necessary).
Adjust seasoning.
Serve with garnishes according to taste.

Special Yam Pottage

1 medium tuber Yam
1 small bunch of Spinach
1 medium size Fish
4 medium size Fresh Tomatoes (ground)
2 medium size Fresh Peppers (ground)
1 medium bulb Onion
3 Maggi cubes
1-2 cooking spoons Palm Oil
4 cups water

Peel, cut the yam into small pieces and wash
Place in a pot, add water and cook
Add the fish and 2 maggi cubes then cook till yam is almost soft
Heat the palm oil, fry the chopped onion, the ground pepper and tomato
Fry for a few minutes, stir
Add the shredded spinach and the remaining maggi cube, stir
Pour the fried mixture into the pot containing the boiled yam
Add salt to taste, stir - Remove from heat and serve.




Makes 40-60 balls.

2 cups (or about ½ liter) flour

2 cups (or about ½ liter) water

½ cup (or about an eighth of a liter) sugar

2 teaspoons yeast

Some vegetable oil


  1. Mix the flour, sugar, water, and yeast together until the batter is smooth.
  2. Wait until the dough has risen. About 2½ hours or so should do. (I've heard that if you use quick-rising yeast, you don't have to wait, but I have not tried it yet.)
  3. Put vegetable oil into a pot, until it is at least 2 inches (or about 5 centimeters) high (too little will result in flatter balls), and place on low heat.
  4. Test to make sure the oil is hot enough by putting a 'drop' of batter into the oil. If it is not hot enough, the batter will stay at the bottom of the pot rather than rising to the top.
  5. When the oil is hot enough, use a spoon to dish up the batter, and another spoon or spatula to drop it in the oil, sort of in the shape of a ball.
  6. Fry for a few minutes until the bottom side is golden brown.
  7. Turn the ball over and fry for a few more minutes until the other side is golden brown.
  8. Use a large spoon or something like that to take it out of the oil. I usually place them on napkins right away to soak up some of the excess oil.
  9. If desired, you can roll the finished product in table sugar or powdered sugar to make it sweeter.



A few ripe plantains (Un-ripe plantains are usually green in color and hard. As they ripen, they become more yellowish in color and a little softer, and when they are getting too ripe, they start to have more and more black patches, and they are really soft).

Some vegetable oil


  1. Put oil into a frypan/saucepan, about ½ inch (or about 1½ centimeters) high, and place on fire on low heat.
  2. In a bowl or plate, slice or dice each plantain as follows (I'm assuming the plantain is lying down, so vertically means cutting along the circumference, and longitudinally means cutting along the length).
    • For larger slices, slice the plantains either vertically, or diagonally, so that each slice is about ¼ inch (or about ½ centimeters) thick.
    • For smaller pieces, cut the plantain into two of four parts longitudinally, and then slice vertically
  3. Place the cut pieces into the hot oil, spreading over the bottom of the pan.
  4. Turn over when the bottom sides are golden brown in color. (Some people prefer them more yellowish in color, and some more darker brown...any is fine because as long as the heat is low, the plantain will be cooked).
  5. Let the other side get brown to the same consistency as the first side.
  6. Remove using a spatula or large spoon.
  7. Depending on the ripeness of the plantain, you may want to put the fried plantains on some napkins first to soak up some of the excess oil.

Dessert, Mexican style

I'll keep it brief:

Tres Leches (Milk Cake)

Original Recipe Yield 1 -9x13 inch cake

• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter
• 1 cup white sugar
• 5 eggs
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 cups whole milk
• 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
• 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
• 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
• 1 cup white sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour one 9x13 inch baking pan.
2. Sift flour and baking powder together and set aside.
3. Cream butter or margarine and the 1 cup sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs and the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract; beat well.
4. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture 2 tablespoons at a time; mix until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan.
5. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes. Pierce cake several times with a fork.
6. Combine the whole milk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk together. Pour over the top of the cooled cake.
7. Whip whipping cream, the remaining 1 cup of the sugar, and the remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla together until thick. Spread over the top of cake. Be sure and keep cake refrigerated, enjoy!

Mexico...oh, Mexico

Mexico was the one country that Kris and Vanessa cooly calculated to be at their house, right from the beginning of AlphaGourmet. And for that, we are truly grateful. Particularly since Kris is an accomplished Mexican cook but also because they have authentic coals for grilling at their place (highly necessary for the shrimp!). Thankfully, the weather co-operated and was a beautiful 35 degrees Celsius that day. It was freakin' hot and humid! Surely the Mexicans made Corona expressly for the purpose of trying to forget exactly how hot it is down there on a regular basis.

The recipes for our appetizers may follow...we can't quite remember what they were since we're a few months out. However, what follows is Kris' detailed account of how to make thoroughly fantastic Mexican entrees. Apologies for the Spanish below, but I think that's what Google made it's translator for...

Process blog
Creating a Mexican marinade

Preparing for our Mexican fiesta has been off and on my brain ever since Argentina. I love Mexican food, Mexican culture, Mexican time, everything! Since it has been so hot, I knew the oven was NOT an option. What to do? Barbecue…or barbecoa but it doesn’t rhyme with “do.” I knew the spirit would move me when it was time to decide.

Anyway…. it’s brochetas or kebobs that surface, partially because I needed to make fish tacos for Rob, partially because everyone has had my usual burritos and finally, because real charcoal is IT. Then, there were so many awesome brochetas from which to choose, it turned into the “Cuarteto de brochetas,” including a fruit kebob with yogurt, tequila-lime shrimp (though I picked Oaxaca and used Mezcal instead of tequila), salmon and cod --since I couldn’t find monkfish (rape) or cuttlefish (sepia) and chicken. Hopefully they stick together! Of course it wouldn’t be a Mexican barbecue without puerco asado so I threw one of those in the crockpot too.

The last brocheta to come together was the chicken. I wanted something using chipotle, but none of the recipes were just right, so I thought I’d blog the process…

Chipotle- also known as chile ahumado- the smoke dried jalapeno goodness from the Aztecs:
“Chipotles date back to region that is now northern Mexico City, prior to the Aztec civilization. It is conjectured that the Aztecs smoked the chilies because the thick, fleshy, jalapeno was difficult to dry and prone to rot. The Aztecs used the same "smoke drying" process for the chilies as they used for drying meats. This smoking allowed the chilies to be stored for a substantial period of time.

Today Chipotles are used widely throughout Mexico as well as in the United States. Quite popular in the South Western U.S. and California; Chipotles have found their way into the cuisine of many celebrity chefs from Hawaii to Manhattan.

These chilies are usually a dull tan to coffee color and measure approximately 2 to 4 inches in length and about an inch wide. As much as one fifth of the Mexican jalapeno crop is processed into chipotles”

The heavy smoke and heat of the chipotle (I used Herdez’ canned version) calls for quite a balance and I thought even more so because this was for the chicken. Starting with fresh chopped garlic (about 5 cloves), extra virgin olive oil, parsley and oregano (FRESH from the garden ONLY;-) I made an herb rub (in my mini chopper). I then added the chipotle and a little of the sauce (about 4 with about a teaspoon of sauce). Chop/Mix- HOT! Hmmmm….add white wine…about a quarter cup. Needs sugar (about a full teaspoon), needs more softening--- add a diced medium-sized tomato…hmmmm. A bit of salt and a dash of lime juice (helps with the tenderness and if you are too heavy on the sugar)
Buen provecho…Kristin


Supporting dishes:

Pico de gallo:
Diced tomatoes
1 clove garlic
Jalapeno minced
Red onion minced
Lime juice
(Can serve on a corn tostada)

Corn and black bean salsa

Diced sweet onion
Black beans (can drained)
Corn off the cob
(figure it out)

Cuarteto de brochetas, puerco asado, tortillas (page 754 in the Joy of Cooking, pico de gallo

So these were the recipes I picked out…but I amalgamated most of them (see process blog below)

Brochetas de langostinos al ajillo
Escrito por Angélica en Parrilladas, Pescados y Mariscos 4 Comentarios
Muy populares dentro de la cocina española los langostinos o “gambas” al ajillo son un delicioso plato en base a un sofrito de ajo que se prepara tradicionalmente dentro de una cacerola de barro. Debido a su versatilidad podemos también disfrutar de esta sabrosa receta acompañando unos spaguettis, montada sobre muffins o en estas prácticas brochetas asadas a la parrilla.
• 350 gr de langostinos o gambas crudas peladas.
• 2 cucharadas de perejil fresco picado.
• 4 cucharadas de jugo de limón.
• 2 cucharadas de aceite de oliva.
• 65 gr de mantequilla.
• 2 dientes de ajo picados.
• Sal y pimienta.
Colocamos los langostinos en una fuente llana no metálica con el perejil picado y el jugo de limón. Dejamos macerar por unos 30 minutos como mínimo.
Calentamos el aceite junto con la mantequilla y el ajo picado en una cacerola y removemos.
Retiramos los langostinos de la fuente y los añadimos a la cecerola con la mantequilla de ajo. Removemos hasta que queden bien cubiertos.
Ensartamos los langostinos en palitos para brochetas y asamos sobre la parrilla por unos 5 a 10 minutos, dándoles vuelta y untándolos con el resto de la mantequilla de ajo hasta que los langostinos estén cocidos y cambien de color.
Servimos las brochetas inmediatamente rociadas con la mantequilla sobrante.

Brochetas de cerdo y frutas
Escrito por Angélica en Aperitivos, Carnes, Parrilladas, Piqueos Comenta ahora!
Si te gusta disfrutar de las delicias de una parrilla junto a tus amigos, sorpréndelos con estas novedosas y originales brochetas de sabor agridulce y aromas impactantes.
• 4 filetes de cerdo
• 8 guindones previamente remojados
• 8 albaricoques secos previamente remojados
• 4 cucharadas de jugo de naranja
• 2 cucharadas de aceite de oliva
• 2 hojas de laurel molidas
• sal y pimienta
Cortamos la carne de cerdo en cubos y colocamos en un tazón junto a los guindones y los albaricoques.
Mezclamos el jugo de naranja, el aceite de oliva, el laurel molido y sal y pimienta al gusto. Volcamos esta mezcla sobre la carne y la fruta y removemos. Refrigeramos como mínimo 1 hora.
Escurrimos la carne y la fruta y reservamos la macerada. Ensartamos los trozos de carne y la fruta en las brochetas.
Asamos las brochetas en un grill o parrilla dándoles vuelta y untándolas con frecuencia con la macerada, de 10 a 15 minutos o hasta que la carne esté cocida.
Servimos decorando con rodajas de naranja y limón.
Tip: Para evitar que los palitos de brocheta se quemen durante la cocción ponerlos a remojar en agua fría antes de armar las brochetas

Brocheta de sepia y salmon

Ingredientes (4 personas)
400 gramos de sepia cortada en dados.
200 gramos de salmón cortado en dados.
200 gramos de rape cortado en dados.
1 pimiento verde.
2 dientes de ajo.
1 taza y media de aceite de oliva.
Sal y cebollino troceado.
Cómo se elabora:
Ensartar los pescados y la sepia en unas brochetas intercalando los pecados con unos trozos de pimiento verde y ponemos a punto de sal.
En una sartén antiadherente o en una plancha caliente doramos las brochetas pro laso cuatro lados y bajamos un poco la potencia de fuego para que se cocine por dentro el pescado y marisco.
Mientras tanto, en un mortero o en una batidora, se machacan los ajos con la sal, y agregamos poco a poco y sin parar de remover el aceite en un chorro muy fino.
Acompañamos la brocheta con un poco de salsa alioli y cebollino troceado.

Fruta fresca con yogur

Ingredientes (4 personas)
2 naranjas.
3 rodajas de piña natural.
2 manzanas royal gala.
2 kiwis.
50 gramos de azúcar (optativo) o edulcorante sin calorías.
3 yogures naturales desnatados.

Cómo se elabora:
Pelamos y troceamos en cubos regulares toda la fruta y la ponemos en un bol. Mezclamos bien todas las frutas y dejamos reposar en el frigorífico durante 50 minutos para que se mezclen los sabores. En unas brochetas de madera insertamos las frutas intercalándolas por colores. Las pasamos por la sartén antiadherente para que se doren ligeramente. Para los más golosos: se espolvorean ligeramente con azúcar las frutas antes de pasarlas por la sartén, de manera que se caramelizará dando un bonito color dorado). Servimos las brochetas templadas acompañadas de un yogur natural desnatado con un poco de azúcar o miel o con edulcorante no calórico.

Lebanan Dessert - Awamat

Awamat - Crisp Doughnut Balls

These sweet treats from Lebanon are perfect for any occasion. Small balls of dough are fried to a golden browned crisp and then coated with simple syrup. Make sure you make enough of these to go around - there is no way you can eat just one!

3 cups pastry flour
1/2 tsp. sugar
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 tsp. dry yeast
1/4 tsp. salt
olive oil for frying
Simple Syrup


In a large bowl mix pastry flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Slowly add water until dough forms. Knead well. Spoon dough by the teaspoon full and form ball shape with hands.

In a frying pan, add olive oil, enough so that dough will be submersed. Heat oil until hot. A good tip for testing the heat of oil is to place the end of a wooden spoon into the oil. If you see small bubbles form around the spoon then oil is hot.

Carefully place dough into oil, only a few at a time. When dough is cooked it will rise to the top of the oil and be golden brown. Remove from oil and place on plate covered with paper towel to cool and absorb excess oil.

Once dough is cooked and slightly cooled, toss and coat in simple syrup. Serve immediately.

Lebanon main courses

It's a wonder that the Lebanese are not squat and wide as the food would certainly lend itself to was really fantastic.

We have a distinct lack of photos for the actual entrees. But, there are photos of desert and then the dance party...

Fattouch (Salad)
Chopped lettuce, parsley, mint, cucumber, onion, tomato, radish, fresh thyme, oregano leaves and grilled Lebanese bread…portions are your choice.
Sauce: Red vinegar, olive oil and summak

Lebanese Chicken
Yield: 4 servings

3/4 cup lemon juice
8 large Garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp Thyme, minced or 2 tsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp Paprika
1 1/2 tsp Ground cumin
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 chickens (3 lbw each) Split lengthwise, backbones removed and discarded lemon wedges to garnish.

1. Whisk lemon juice, minced garlic, thyme, paprika, cumin and cayenne pepper in small pepper.
2. Place chicken in 13x9 glass baking dish.
3. Pour marinade over; turn chicken to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.
4. Preheat oven to 425 F. Transfer chicken to large roasting pan.
5. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, basting occasionally with pan juices, about 50 mins.
6. Transfer to plates, garnish with lemon wedges.
7. Pass pan juices separately.

Potato Pie (Kibbet Batatah)

about 3 lb potatoes
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 lb lean minced (ground) lamb
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons creme fraiche, or sour cream if unavailable
1 egg yolk

1. Wash the potatoes and put them in a large saucepan. Cover with water, add a generous pinch of salt, put the lid over the pan and place over a high heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium and boil gently for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are done.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 F and grease a deep baking dish, about 12 inches x 8 inches, with a little butter.
3. Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat and saute the pine nuts, stirring regularly, until they become golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a plate. Saute the minced meat in the butter until it loses all traces of pink. Keep mashing and stirring it with a wooden spoon or fork so that it separates well and does not form lumps. Remove from the heat and season with cinnamon, allspice, pepper and salt to taste. Stir in the pine nuts, taste, adjust seasoning if necessary and set aside.
4. Drain the cooked potatoes. Peel and puree them. Stir in the cream and egg yolk and season with pepper and salt to taste. Spread half of the puree in an even layer over the bottom of the baking dish. Spread the stuffing over the potatoes and cover with a layer of the remaining puree. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top becomes golden and the pie is hot throughout. Serve hot.
5. To make a vegetarian version, replace the minced meat with 3/4 pound onions, finely chopped and fried until golden in the same butter as the nuts.

Chickpea and Rice Stuffing

4 tablespoons olive oil
12 medium-sized green peppers
6 spring onions, chopped
200g/7oz long-grain rice, cooked
425g/15oz can chickpeas, drained
4 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
TOMATO SAUCE: 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, grated
1 clove garlic, crushed
225ml/8 fl oz water
400g/14 oz can chopped tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato puree
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Cut the tops from the peppers, trim and reserve. Discard the seeds and white membrane. Put the peppers into a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander, then invert onto layers of kitchen paper and leave to drain.
2. FOR THE CHICKPEAS AND RICE STUFFING: Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the spring onions and cook gently for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the remaining stuffing ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Stand the peppers upright in an oiled baking dish and fill them loosely with prepared stuffing. Replace the tops of the peppers. Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/gas mark 4.
4. FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE: Heat the oil in small saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and cook gently for 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining sauce ingredients and bring to the boil.
5. Pour the tomato sauce over the peppers, cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for 15 minutes, basting the peppers with the sauce if necessary to keep them moist. Serve hot.

BBQ Kafta

1 1/2 pounds lean ground lamb
1 medium onion, grated
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
6 wooden or metal skewers


1. Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat. If using wooden skewers, soak in water.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, onion, parsley, cayenne, allspice, salt and pepper until evenly blended. Divide into 6 portions, and press around one end of the skewers to form a log shape approximately 1 inch thick and 6 inches long.
3. Grill for 10 to 15 minutes, turning occasionally, until meat is no longer pink.

Lebanon...which was out of order in August 2010!

Bill and Alicia moved into their new house back in May but we didn't quite get around to having Lebanon until August. Something about reconstructing the floors in the house that was holding us back!!!

So, actually, we did do Mexico in July, but in the interest of going alphabetically (it is the AlphaGourmet club, after all) we'll list the recipes for Lebanon first.

Apparently the Lebanese like to party as we had quite a dance party on the back patio that night...the music was not so Middle Eastern, though...more like Western 80s pop.

The appetizer was called Fool Meddamas:


• 1 (15 7/8 ounce) can fava beans
• 1 cup water
• 3 tablespoons lemon juice
• 1/2-1 teaspoon minced garlic
• 2 tablespoons olive oil (good quality)
• 1/3 teaspoon salt (to taste)
• 1/3 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
• 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
• 1 (15 7/8 ounce) can fava beans
• 1 cup water
• 3 tablespoons lemon juice
• 1/2-1 teaspoon minced garlic
• 2 tablespoons olive oil (good quality)
• 1/3 teaspoon salt (to taste)
• 1/3 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
• 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)


1. Rinse & drain the canned fava beans. Place in a saucepan with the water & bring to a boil.
2. Reduce the heat & simmer covered for 10 minutes, then add the garlic & chilli if using & cook a few more minutes or until the beans are nicely softened.
3. Remove from the heat & drain. Mix the lemon juice & salt in a serving bowl. Add the fava beans along with the parsley & mix well to coat.
4. Drizzle the olive oil over the beans & serve with fresh bread.


Arabic Honey Cake

1/3 cup butter
4 eggs1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tspoon baking powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Butter a pan. Preheat the oven to 300-400F.

Mix eggs, sugar and vanilla, Beat until whitens. Add the melted butter and mix well.

Sift the flour and BP. and add to the previous mixture, mix gently.

Pour in the prepared pan and bake 10-15 min.

preparing the topping.
Melt the butter on medium heat. Add the rest of the ingridients. and bring to boil, stirring constantly.

Pour the topping gently on the cake and return it to the oven for another 15-20 min.

It really doesn't take very long to make and is quite scrumptious.

Below: the photo of the top of the cake.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Japan's desserts - months on - sorry!

Well, it's been forever since I've posted so we'll begin by finishing off the desserts from Japan, back in January.

Green Tea Ice cream

1 cup of milk

1.5 tbps matcha

2 egg yolks

1/2 cup superfine sugar

1 cup of heavy cream

Put milk into a saucepan and heat until it is just about to come to a boil. Whisk together the matcha and a little of the warm milk in a bowl until smooth. Add the remaining warm milk.

Lightly whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Add the green tea milk and heavy cream and cook, strring, over a medium heat for about 20 minutes until the custard coats the back of a wodden spoon.

Transfer the custard to a freezerproof container and freeze for about 1-2hours, or until the edges start to freeze, then remove and beat with electric beaters. Repeat this process 3 timesor until the ice cream is smooth and creamy. Transfer the ice cream to the refrigerator for 15 minutes before serving to let it soften slightly.

Black sesame cake

7oz butter chopped plus extra for greasing

1 1/3 cups of black sesame seeds

3 eggs lightly beaten

1 1/3 cups of superfine sugar

3/4 cups all purpose flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and line 8 inch square cake tin with parchment paper. Put the sesame seeds into a spice mill and grind to form a smooth paste.

Put the butter and sesame paste into a saucepan and cook over low heat until the butter melts.

Remove from heat and stir in the eggs and sugar. Combine the flour and baking powder in a bowl. Sift the flour mixture over the egg mixture and gently fold to combine.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake 35-40minutes or until skewer comes out clean. All to stand in tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Heat the chocolate and cream together in saucepan over low heat until melted. Allow to cool for 15 minutes. Spread icing over cake, allow to set and cut into small bars and serve.

Creamy Ginger cheesecake with a green tea topping

4oz digestive cookies

2tb tosated sesame seeds

2 oz butter, melted

3 1/2 oz crystallized ginger, chopped

1 lb of cream cheese, softened

2/3 cup superfine sugar

1tsp vanilla extract

1 tbs lemon juice

4 eggs lightly beaten

for topping

2tsp matcha powder

1 cup of sour cream

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbs superfine sugar

Line the base of an 8inch round springform tin with parchment paper. Put the cookies and sesame seeds into a food processor and process to form crumbs, then transfer to a bowl. ADd the melted butter and stir to coat the crumbs in the butter. Spoon the mixture into the bottom of the tin. Allow to chill in fridge for 20 minutes. Sprinkle the ginger over the biscuit base.

Preheat over to 350F. Beat together the cream cheese, superfine sugar, vanilla extract and lemon juice in a large bowl until smooth. ADd the beaten eggs and beat to combine. Do not overbeat as this will cause the cheesecake to rise and fall during the cooling.

Pour mixture into the tin and bake for 45 minutes or until just set.

Toppping: Whisk matcha powder with 1tbs of warm water in a small bowl until smooth. Put the green tea liquid, sour cream, vanilla extract and sugar in large bowl and mix to combine. Spread over the top of the warm cheesecake, return to oven and cook for 7 minutes. Allow to cool on wire rack for 2 hours, then chill in fridge for 20minutes.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Japan in January

Moving along further in the alphabet, we traveled to the Asian country of Japan. Several of us have (more or less) recently become enamoured of sushi, so this was a logical visit for us. As well, there are only so many countries starting with the letter 'J.' According to, the only countries starting with 'J' are:

Jamaica (and we already visited the Carribean country of Barbados)

Jan Mayen (would have to consult Google maps to find out exactly where this is)


Jersey (New??? or who knew there was a state that was also a country?)

Jordan (already did Egypt)

Japanese Appetizers...

It was unanimously decided that the tempura vegetables that we had were the freshest and lightest tasting veggies that we'd ever had tempura style...they were fabulous!

Tempura Vegetables

3/4 cup light beer

3/4 cup rice flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 small sweet potato

vegetable or peanut oil, for frying

8 asparagus spears, trimmed

16 sugar snap peas, trimmed

1 small red pepper, cut into 1/4 inch rings

1 pinch sea salt (optional)

soy sauce (for dipping)

1 white radish, peeled grated (daikon)

2 lemons, cut into wedges

Directions 1

1. In a medium sized bowl, whisk the beer into the flour until just combined (will be a bit lumpy).

2. Stir in salt and cayenne.

3. Peel sweet potato and cut crosswise into 1/4 inch slices.

4. Using a large heavy saucepan, deep fryer or wok, heat 2 inches of oil over medium-high heat to 350°F.

5. In batches of 3 or 4 pieces, dredge veggies in batter to coat completely, letting excess drip off.

6. Fry, turning, until golden coloured (2 to 3 minutes).

7. With a slotted spoon, remove cooked vegetables from pan and transfer to paper towel lined, rimmed baking sheet to drain off excess oil.

8. Season with a pinch of sea salt if desired.

9. Keep warm in oven set to 200F while frying remaining veggies.

10. Each diner should have a little bowl of soy sauce, a tiny dish of grated white radish (daikon) and a few lemon wedges to season his/her food.

11. Serve with hot rice.

We also had other futomaki rolls as our appetizer:

Crab and cream cheese rolls

1 cup white rice

1 teaspoon minced ginger

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1 cucumber

imitation crabmeat, leg style (I used real canned crab)

cream cheese

nori sushi sheets

Directions1. 1

1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add the ginger and rice. Cover and simmer 20 minutes or until rice is cooked.

2. Add the rice vinegar and salt to the rice, mix well.

3. Lay out your seaweed sheets.

4. Moisten your hands with water and divide the rice evenly between the 2 seaweed sheets, flatten the rice. Leave about a half inch of space not covered with rice at the top of the sheets. This will make the sushi roll easier to close.

5. About an inch from the bottom, arrange the crab, cucumber and cream cheese in a straight line, from one side to the other (left to right).

6. Gently but firmly, roll the sushi as tight as possible (from bottom to top), being careful not to rip the seaweed sheets.

7. Wet a very sharp knife and cut the rolls into individual pieces of sushi.

Inside-out avocado rolls with cashews

1 large avocado (or 2 small avocado)

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons mayonnaise (preferably Japanese)

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon wasabi paste (optional)

3 ounces cashews (roasted, salted cashews work well)

3-4 chives

2 sheets nori, seaweed cut in half

2 cups cooked rice, seasoned with sushi vinegar seasoning (see #315511 Easy Sushi Rice)

1/4 cup rice vinegar

Directions. 1

1. Peel the avocado and cut into small chunks. Put in a bowl with the lemon juice, mayonnaise, salt and wasabi, if using. Toss and mash slightly, but not until mushy. Divide into 4 portions.

2. Chop the cashews very finely and put in a bowl. Chop the chives very finely and mix with the cashews. Divide into 4 portions.

3. Divide rice into 4 portions.

4. Mix 1 cup water with the rice vinegar in a small bowl and set aside to use as hand vinegar, to rinse your hands and keep the rice from sticking.

5. Put a sheet of plastic wrap on the rolling mat. Put 1/2 sheet of nori on top, rough side up with the long edge towards you. Dip your fingers in the hand vinegar, take 1 portion of the seasoned, vinegared rice and spread it out in a thin layer over the nori, leaving about 3/4" bare on the far edge.

6. Sprinkle one portion of the nut and chive mixture on top of the rice and press it in gently with your fingers.

7. Carefully lift the whole thing up and flip it over so the rice is face down on the plastic wrap. To make this easier, you can lay another piece of plastic wrap on top of the rice, flip everything over, and remove the extra piece of plastic wrap next to the nori.

8. Put 1 portion of the avocado in a line along the long edge of the nori closest to you.

9. Using the rolling mat, carefully roll it up, then cut in half, then cut each half into 3 pieces, giving 6 pieces.

10. Repeat to make 4 rolls, for a total of 24 pieces.

The dipping sauces were AMAZING!

Dipping Sauces:

Wasabi Cream a la Kris

¼ scant cup of sour cream

¼ scant cup of buttermilk

2 (or more to taste) teaspoons wasabi paste

½ of a large avocado

Sea salt to taste

Thoroughly mix sour cream, buttermilk and wasabi paste.

Mash in avocado (more or less to desired consistency)

Salt to taste

Ginger Mint Dip a la Kris

6-8 fresh mint leaves

2T. chopped ginger

½ cup of mayonnaise

⅛ cup of sour cream

½ teaspoon cider vinegar

1 teaspoon lime juice

salt to taste

Put all ingredients into a mini-chopper and thoroughly chop

Adjust seasonings as needed


We tried to duplicate the spicy tuna rolls that we like at Akira, a local restaurant. However, apparently sushi grade tuna is hard to find, and has also jumped in price to about $25 a pound. So, we settled salmon, which was substituted into this recipe. Below are the spicy salmon rolls (with some of the spicy sauce) and also some avocado rolls with and/or without shrimp (on the right hand side. We also served a generous helping of pickled ginger. Recipes are below:

Spicy Salmon Roll with Special Sauce


· 1/3 cup mayonnaise

· 2 tablespoons hot chile paste

· 1 teaspoon hot chile oil

· 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

· 4 sheets toasted seaweed (yakinori)

· Prepared sushi rice (at least 3 cups cooked rice), recipe follows

· 1/2 pound sushi-quality fresh tuna, cut into 1/2-inch wide strips

· Wasabi paste

· 2 tablespoons finely sliced scallions

· 3 tablespoons toasted black sesame seeds


In a small bowl combine mayonnaise, chile paste, hot chile oil, and sesame oil and stir to combine.

Place 1 piece of toasted seaweed on top of a sushi roller (makisushi), with the short end closest to you. Using lightly wet fingers, press enough rice onto the seaweed to completely cover the seaweed, and press firmly so that rice adheres to seaweed. Turn seaweed over so that rice side now faces down. Arrange strips of tuna on top of seaweed, with the tuna strips running vertically in line with the short side of the seaweed, about 1/3 of the way into the seaweed sheet.

Spread a small amount of wasabi on the tuna, then sprinkle with sliced scallions. Using the sushi roller as a guide, carefully begin rolling the seaweed up, pressing as tightly as possible so that the roll is firm and compact. Once the roll is completely rolled, reposition roll on sushi roller and press again. Sprinkle sesame seeds on a flat surface and lightly roll in seeds to coat. Allow roll to sit for a few seconds before slicing with a sharp, damp knife.

Cut roll into 6 or 8 pieces and serve with dollops of sauce spooned on top, or alongside for dipping. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Mitsuko's Perfect Sushi Rice:

· 3 3/4 cups Japanese rice, such as Nishiki (or 5 rice maker cups)

· 3 3/4 cups water (or 5 rice maker cups)

· 1/2 cup rice vinegar

· 4 tablespoons sugar

· 1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, add rice and cover with lots of water. Stir rice in water with your hands, then pour off most of the water, and agitate 10 to 15 times by quickly moving your hand back and forth, swishing rice against side of bowl. Rinse the rice several more times, until the water that drains off of the rice is almost clear. Transfer the rice to a colander and let drain for 1 hour, undisturbed. Transfer the rice to a rice cooker, add the water, cover and cook as directed by manufacturer's directions.

While the rice is cooking, bring rice vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan, and then remove from the heat. Add sugar and salt and stir until dissolved. Allow to cool to room temperature.

When rice is done, allow cooked rice to remain in rice cooker for 10 minutes. Transfer rice to a large shallow mixing bowl (traditionally a wooden tub, called a hangiri), so that rice forms a mound in the center of the bowl. Using a diagonal slicing motion, gently cut into rice with a wooden paddle (called a kijakushi), and pour cooled vinegar mixture over top of rice. "Cut" rice several times to evenly distribute vinegar mixture, then allow to cool. Gently turn rice over from time to time with paddle so that rice cools evenly. You might want to consider using a fan if time is of the essence. When rice has cooled to body temperature, it is ready to use for sushi rolls. Rice can be kept at the proper temperature by placing it in an insulated container such as a small ice chest, covered with a damp kitchen towel.

Yield: enough rice for at least 7 large rolls (futomaki)

And teriyaki chicken - which was particularly nice because it didn't taste too salty, unlike most off-the-shelf teriyaki sauces.
Teriyaki Chicken

½ c soy sauce

2 Tbsp mirin

1 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp oil

12 chicken drumsticks


1. Place all ingredients except chicken in small pan and stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring to boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 2 mins.

2. Heat oil in skillet, add chicken in batches and brown on both sides over high heat.

3. Return all chicken to pan, add sauce, cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the chicken is tender. Serve with (what else?) rice.

We also made these yummy green beans.

Green Beans in Roasted Sesame Seed Sauce

1 lb slender green beans, trimmed

2 Tbsp white sesame seeds

6 cm piece of ginger

1 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp mirin

3 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp white sesame seeds, extra


1. Cook the beans in large pan of boiling water ( I might steam them instead, next time), plunge in cold water to stop cooking, drain again and set aside.

2. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan over medium heat, shaking pan until they are golden brown. Pound the seeds in a mortar and pestle until a paste is formed (the mixture will become damp as oil is released from the seeds)

3. Combine the paste with all ingredients but the extra sesame seeds. Pour the sauce over the beans and then scatter on the extra sesame seeds and serve.

NB: the beans can be flavoured in the sauce overnight, if desired.

Below is Rob's big dish - he loves sesame! The steak was fabulous!

Steak in Roasted Sesame Seed Marinade

2 Tbsp white sesame seeds

1 clove garlic, crushed

3 cm piece of ginger

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp sake

1 tsp caster sugar

1 lb sirloin

3 scallions, to garnish

1 Tbsp oil

Dipping Sauce

4 cm ginger

½ tsp togarashi

½ c soy sauce

2 tsp dashi granules (we subbed fish sauce)

2 Tbsp water


1. Roast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan over low heat for 2 mins, shaking, until seeds begin to pop. Crush the roasted seeds with mortar and pestle.

2. Place the sesame seeds, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sake and sugar in bowl and dissolve sugar. Please steak(s) in shallow dish and pour marinade over top. Marinate for 30 mins or longer.

3. To make dipping sauce, cut ginger lengthways into very fine strips and combine with rest of ingredients. Whisk until well combined.

4. Cut spring onions lengthways into very fine strips (about 4cm length) and place in a bowl of iced water. Leave until they are crisp and curled; drain.

Lightly brush the oil over steaks and grill (preferable – yum!) or fry them for 3-4 mins per side. Let rest for 5 mins before slicing on the diagonal. Garnish with spring onion and serve with steamed rice and dipping sauce.

Recipes and photos will follow with the Japanese desserts!