Friday, March 28, 2014

Garlic Confit

At the soft opening of Chef's Market, we were given a giveaway bag - embossed wooden spoons, a copy of the menu and closest to my heart, a little jar of garlic confit paste. I used it all - in grilled cheese sandwiches, the simmering molokheyya on my stove, vinaigrette, pasta, winter soups and hummus dip. It was my companion, tender and fragrant, adding that extra bit of oomph when time was not on my side.

A little saddened at its end, I washed the jar and put it away hoping that one morning, I'll get up and remember to make that garlic confit, golden, nutty and sweet, like its predecessor. 

Today was the day. I didn't make it into a paste this time preferring to keep the plump cloves intact, submerged in the oil that flaunted its new caramelized notes, tucked away safely in the same jar. My garlic confit jar. 

A thank you to the chefs at Chef's Market. Good stuff. 
Garlic Confit
You'll need:
1.5 cups of peeled garlic
2 cups of vegetable oil
3 black peppercorns
4 white peppercorns

Place the garlic and peppercorns in a pot.

Pour the oil over your garlic and pepper mix.
Cook over low heat for 40 to 45 minutes or until your garlic is soft and you have reached your desired color.
Store chilled, submerged in the remaining oil. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Banana-Mixed Nut Espresso Smoothie

I was never one to turn down cake, especially if I was alone with it; if I was able to bite into its soft crumb with my gaping mouth that struggles to keep the frosting off my nose. On other days, it is the butt of a baguette with salted butter and a sticky glob of honey, scarfed down in seconds until there is none. 

It has been weeks. Three of them. No sugar, no yeast, only discipline. Surprisingly, at least to me, I am a happier human. I have more energy. I smile more often. It almost feels like a better side of myself has decided to drop by. 

On a Saturday, I dropped by the farmer's market at Arkan where I ran into these ladies running a branded booth, Fino'sthat made all kinds of nut butters. For a moment in which I moped, I was told that they add honey to their products. A little heavy-hearted, I asked a question; the kind of question that would normally irritate me. 

Out loud, higher pitched voice: "Do you have anything that is unsweetened? No sugar? No honey? Nothing?"
Old Me to New Me: "Are you really turning into that woman on a diet/with an allergy/that can't accept a product the way it is and buy or walk away?"

But it turns out that people are nice sometimes (or maybe I need to socialize more often) and that these ladies do cater to my selfish needs. I ended up with a mixed nut butter; dense, smooth, rich, clean, good. I'm sold.  
Banana Espresso Smoothie
You'll need:
400 grams of frozen sliced bananas
2 1/2 heaped tablespoons of mixed nut (almond, hazelnut, cashew) butter
2 shots of espresso (Substitute: 1 1/4 tablespoons of espresso powder)
1 1/2 cups of milk
7-10 ice cubes, depending on the size
Honey to sweeten, optional (I did not use any so will be unable to give a measure.)

Blend, espresso, bananas, milk, mixed nut butter and ice. Serve.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Mom's Cinnamon Rice

The recipe I'm sharing today is one of no fuss because Egypt really doesn't need to be any more difficult than it is right now. We need simple pleasures - ones that assure us that the sun will continue to shine despite the plumes of smoke in gradients of grey rising in our city's sky; pleasures that remain firmly fixed in our transient memories. 

My mom's cinnamon rice. Scents of family gatherings, leftovers ravaged after a late night out and Ramadan. Familiarity and inner peace. A safe place to be. 

Start your way to inner peace too, if only for a moment or two with a little bit of beef, an onion and some ghee. 

Cinnamon Rice
You'll need:
350 grams of ground beef
1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
450 grams of short-grain rice, soaked for 30 minutes
3 tablespoons of ghee
2.5 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
Pan-fried almonds to garnish 
In a large pot, melt 2 tablespoons of ghee on medium heat. Cook the onions until translucent then add the ground beef. Cook the ground beef until browned. Add the cinnamon in the last 5 minutes of cooking the beef. 

Add 3 cups of water to the beef and leave to simmer for a minute. Rinse the rice to remove extra starch and add the rice to the beef.

Stir then season with salt and add the last tablespoon of ghee. Bring to a rapid boil then turn down the heat to a flame. Cover the pot and allow to cook for 20 minutes or until the rice is cooked through. Once cooked, place in a serving dish and garnish with toasted almonds. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Chocolate Drizzle Cake

It's about time I get back to posting regularly. This is attempt #1. 

Since my husband started cooking almost daily with me, I have found less of a need to share.

This does not suit food blogging. The purpose is to share, Sarah. So here we go. We've got chocolate cake. It's good. It's airy. It feels like it has no calories in it. It does. Many calories. And pockets of chocolate. Pray for your hips. 
Chocolate Drizzle Cake
You'll need: 
200 grams of unsalted butter, softened
200 grams of caster sugar
80 grams of melted milk chocolate
1 tablespoon of milk
140 grams of all-purpose flour
60 grams of cocoa powder
2 teaspoons of baking powder
4 large eggs, separated
A pinch of salt
2 drops of vinegar
Begin by preheating your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Grease a 20 cm round baking tin and line it with baking paper. 
Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa together and set aside. 
In a large bowl, cream your butter and sugar together until light and fluffy using a stand mixer or electric beater. 
Add the egg yolks and milk and mix until combined.
Mix in the combined dry ingredients then the melted chocolate. 
Whip your egg whites in a sepatate bowl with a pinch of salt.*
Start whisking the egg whites on low speed at first to get smaller and more stable bubbles in your foam. 
Add the vinegar and continue to beat the egg whites continuously until you get stiff peaks. 
Fold the egg whites into the cake mixture carefully. Don't fold too much or you'll end up with a deflated batter. 
Pour your cake batter into the baking tin and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool then remove from the baking tin.

*Make sure your egg whites are at room temperature. Make sure your bowl and utensils are clean and oil-free. 

For the ganache:
1 cup of heavy cream
1 ½ cup of chocolate chips

To prepare the ganache, heat the heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and pour in the chocolate chips. Stir until completely combined and glossy. Allow the ganache to cool before pouring over cake.
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