Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Hot Cinnamon Drumsticks

Now that I'm working with a regular schedule like most people (which I haven't done in 7 years), it is not a matter of choice anymore that I make food days ahead to snack on during work hours. At first I tried to do the apple/banana & nut butter thing. I ate raw almonds in bulk. I drank and drank and drank herbal tea. But all day? No, thank you. There's only so much you can take before you hear your insides wail, telling tales of personal tragedy, aching for grease. 

For a few days, I ordered what I would call nothing else but crap with the 21 year olds at the office but in reality, my body at 30 does not feel like it's 21. 

Maybe it should. Maybe I'm not doing enough. Maybe I should. 

So I started trying. I had already managed to go for 2 months without refined sugar, honey & yeast (which is a story I should tell in the next post). This had to be the next level - maintaining what I had already started with a few exceptions here and there. 

At this stage, I'm doing okay. No more crap. Clean eating. Happy body. Sort of self-satisfied me. Oh & here's a recipe that I like a lot: 

Hot Cinnamon Drumsticks
You'll need:

1 kg of chicken drumsticks
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup of vegetable oil + 3 tablespoons for cooking
1/4 cup of honey
1 tablespoon of mustard
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of ground ginger
1.5 teaspoon of chili powder
2.5 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
250 ml of chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
Salt to taste

Excluding the chicken drumsticks, beat the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. Add the chicken and marinate for at least 8-12 hours.

Place a large frying pan on the stove and heat until medium hot and separate the chicken drumsticks into three batches.

For the first batch, brown on all sides then add approximately 80 ml of chicken stock and lower the heat. Cook for around 10-12 minutes until the chicken stock dries up entirely & the chicken is tender & nicely glazed.

Continue to turn the drumsticks to gain even color for another 1-2 minutes on medium heat.

Repeat with the next two batches. Allow the chicken to rest before serving.

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. 

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