Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cocoa Cinnamon Brownies. Inhale.

Dear Doctor who Operated on Me,
I am mad at you. I am sad at you. I am all things unpleasant at you. I, my master's right ring finger, am still sick. Even after you cut me open and gave me a scar on my side that doesn't match my beautiful painted face. You stuck screws in me. Long screws that make me feel like E.T. Well the E.T. in me says, screw you, sir. You and your pompous butt. You know, sir, when my master was growing up (before she got boring), she used to draw faces on me and my four other buddies. All of us, standing straight, standing upright, smiling morbidly. Now that she's technically grown up (not that I think so), she has ceased to draw faces on us. And I thank God. Can you imagine what I'd look like in our group photo? A smiley face with a head tilt. A smiley face with a hump. You, screwy sir, have turned me into the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I'm happy that my master found her Esmerelda, in the form of a man with sparkling green eyes, but that might not have happened had I been the Hunchback five years ago. Shame on you for limiting chances that she doesn't need anymore. Hmph! So Dr. Screw, I say, screw you. The Hunchback, I, Scar Finger, previously known as plain old right ring finger, am participating in making glorious brownies when I'm not working out to get my strength back. And I say, poop on you. You'll never taste our brownies. Merry Christmas. 
Screws flying your way,
Hunchbacker (Sort of like a backpacker, but permanent.) 

P.S. My master is a little strange today and cannot stop listening to Bloodhound Gang. She "hopes you die". But not really. Oh, and she's apologizing to her readers for the hiatus. Her laptop died for a month but came back to life for Jesus' birthday, her yogi sister was visiting and oh yeah... she was busy fixing me, Hunchback.

Cocoa Cinnamon Brownies  
(Originally Alice Medrich's, I couldn't resist messing about.
I've made the original before and it is just as amazing.)  
140 grams of unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups of sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (I used salted butter and eliminated this)
1.5 teaspoons of ground cinnamon 
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold (I used 3 small eggs, because that's what I had.)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup of walnuts

Preheat your oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Line the bottom and sides of an 8x8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot. I actually skipped this step and microwaved it all, stirred vigorously, then combined the cinnamon. I was stuck on time and it worked perfectly. I've tried the original method before, which produced almost the same result with a 10-15% smoother brownie at the end. I highly recommend the proper way if you have the time. 
Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously (there we go again) after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer then beat for 40 strokes. Stir in the nuts. Spread evenly in your lined pan. 
Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Take them out. Let them cool for a while then pop them in the freezer, as they are, for a good 20 minutes. Take them out and slice. Nice. :) 
Happy New Year, you. 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Interview #1

Hello. Good morning. How do you do? A nice Egyptian lady got in touch with me recently and told me she wanted to interview me for her blog. So, I smiled. And I answered her questions. And... it felt funny but nice. 
You can find it here.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A broken finger deserves a Gratin Dauphinois

So, this is definitely not the best post ever. This is not even close to the best post ever. This post is a post that you might skip. A post that will make you go, "Naah, she's slacking." But trust in me, my children. Believe in me. Have faith. This is a truly miraculous side dish. This is a side dish that got me trying to cook a week after hand surgery. This is a side dish that I craved so deeply from the innermost innards of me that I got off my imaginary throne where I'm spoiled by my husband after surgery, wrapped my hand in latex and delved into the wonderful world we call "Stitched Up Successful Perseverance". P.S. Stitches came out. Hooray! I officially rename myself... SCAR FINGER. Please address me as so for the time being. :)

Gratin Dauphinois. We never actually asked what it was called in our mom's house. We just ate. Happily. And with the hopes and dreams of teenagers who aren't yet afraid of what carbohydrates can do to you. Don't add cheese. Or onions. You'll be cheating and you can just call it "cheesy potatoes" then. You won't have earned the right. No way. You shall not call it a Dauphinois if you add cheese. And yes, I know Julia Child adds cheese to hers, but I trust my mom, dude. Now let's get moving because I've got books to organize in a bit. Sigh.
Gratin Dauphinois 
(6 side servings but you can eat it all and pretend you're 6 people.)
1 clove of garlic, split in half, lengthwise
1 kilogram of potatoes
2 cups of hot milk
An extra full 1/4 cup of heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Peel and slice your potatoes to around 3mm in width. Rub down the sides and bottom of your baking dish with the garlic clove. Discard the garlic clove when you're done. Combine your sliced potatoes, milk and salt and pepper in a saucepan. Simmer for a good 7-8 minutes. You'll find the milk thickening. Transfer half of the potato-milk mixture to your garlic-rubbed baking dish and pour some cream. Add the second half of the potato mixture on top of the cream you just poured, and pour the final spout of cream all over the top. Pop it into your already preheated oven.   
Bake for 35-40 minutes. Open the oven door, once, after 20 minutes, and crack the creamy skin. This will give you a better, thicker crust. Let it stand for at least five minutes before serving. Enjoy and thank my mom. :)
Leftovers of this are always welcome. This never lasts for long anyway. Happy times.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tomato Aubergine Pasta: The Encapsulation of Flavor

This is your master, Captain Sensational, speaking.  

You are being reprimanded on the Internet because people need to know that your friends in other bodies can also turn on their masters. I know I take you all for granted sometimes. I appreciate whatever it is that I'm tasting, touching, smelling, hearing or seeing but I never actually bother giving notice to those things that allow me to taste, touch, smell, hear or see. You, Senses, are never to be taken for granted again. But you. YOU got your revenge. You left me when I had a bad cold. When I needed you the most. When I needed food to taste good to get my strength back. I needed you really badly but you decided to throw a hissy fit and escaped with Sneeze. Shame on you. Really. I didn't know I could lose my sense of smell or taste completely for over a week. But then again, I realized a few things when you left on your booger-infested vacation. I realized that the way cappuccino feels in my mouth is the same way the sea feels, with the bubbles and the heaviness. I realized that spicy food made me feel better because I could at least feel the tingling, if not the taste. I realize now that I'm too tired to think of more realizations. So, please behave from now on, Senses. And I'm sorry again for taking you for granted. 
Love and Resentment,
Captain Sensational 

Today, we need something with flavor. Strong flavor. Bursting flavor. Intense flavor. Unmistakable flavor. Developed flavor. Yummy flavor. Commanding flavor. Flavor that doesn't allow people to say, "Ewwww. Egggplaaant." Play the adjectives game with me?
Serves: 6 sides (I bothered to see how many servings it covers today! Hooray!)
You'll need:
500 grams of pasta
1 large aubergine, cubed
2 tablespoons of olive oil (You could also use any kind of vegetable oil. I used a garlic chili  olive oil this time but usually use EVOO.)
2 cans of diced tomatoes (You could also use whole. I want mine cubey.)
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
3 tablespoons of hot water
1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon of white vinegar
4 to 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2-1 tablespoon of sugar (depending on how acidic your sauce turns out to be.)
1 teaspoon of chili flakes
2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste

You can make this in a pan or a pot. Your choice. Heat your olive oil over medium heat. Add your diced onions and let them sweat for a couple of minutes. Don't let it burn. 
Now, add HALF of your aubergine (or if you'd like to call it eggplant, go ahead; but my momma taught me fancy words). Let it sauté for 8-10 minutes until it gets a little tender. Fry the other half of the aubergine separately until it browns up. Take it out of the oil, drain the excess oil and leave it on the side to cool. 
Add the diced tomatoes and let it simmer for 2 minutes. Dump in the vinegar, chopped garlic, tomato paste and hot water. Mix it all in and sprinkle the sugar all over the top and let it seep in. Add the chili flakes, the fried aubergine, grated Parmesan then add your salt and pepper to taste. I won't tell you how much to add. My salt intake is not to be taken lightly. Sigh. Leave it to simmer for 10 to 20 minutes. The time yours takes depends on whether your aubergine is tender enough and if your sauce has thickened. If your sauce becomes too thick, thin it out with hot water or, even better, hot pasta water. You should boil your pasta in salted water once you've left the sauce to simmer.  
Garnish with Parmesan or fresh parsley. The parsley just works. I didn't have any on hand though so Parmesan it is. 
You don't have to fry half of the aubergine. It works wonderfully both ways. I just prefer the mix of both for extra FLAVOR (word of the day).    
This heats up really well too. Saucy times! :D

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Egg Bhurji: Breaking Kids into Indian Food

Hmm. Hello. 

Today. Today, I have nothing to say. 
Today is a day like any other day... 
but I have, to offer, nothing gourmet. 
Today we practiced, over and over, 
rhymes and rhymes, 
like food and mood and dude and rude 
and it was okay, 
sitting on the parquet, 
dreaming of soufflé or a fun flambé.
But nothing to offer gourmet.

Egg Bhurji is something I remember from my childhood. I remember it from my grandmother's kitchen and my mother's kitchen. Funny how that grandmother is not my mother's mother. Anyway, I'm passing it on today. Because you're worth it, like L'Oréal. 

You'll need:
(Adapted from my mommy.)
1 medium onion
2 small tomatoes or 1 large tomato
2 tablespoons of ghee or butter (You could use vegetable oil, just not olive oil please.)
1 handful of frozen peas
2 green chillies (I didn't include it this time because of the kids but I urge you to do it if you can handle it. You could also use some chili powder for some extra heat.)
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon coriander powder
1/4 teaspoon garam masala (optional)
1/4 cup of milk
4 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh coriander, to garnish (I didn't have any at home. You can choose to eliminate it.)
Chop your onions, chillies and tomatoes up. Yes, I know you can't see the tomatoes on top but use your imagination until I show you.
There we go. Tomatoes and onions. Let them sweat then add your peas, turmeric and coriander powder (as well as the chili and garam masala if you're using them. No fresh chili for me this time. Cry.) 
But I was sneaky enough to add in some red pepper flakes. Muahahaha!

Pour the egg mix in, scramble and let it set according to your preference and garnish with fresh coriander. Serve, preferably with a flat bread. Happy kids every time. Happy adults every time. Who says no to Happy? (Btw, this is a great idea for Sohour, in case any of you are fasting during Ramadan.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chocolate Cake better known as: "Finished Already"

We are split into 2 camps in this house. The chocolate camp and the vanilla camp. Lately, the chocolate camp has been complaining of unjust treatment. The chocolate camp claims that the vanilla camp isn't doing its part to make chocolate fit in. It's claiming that we're hoarding all things vanilla and not stocking up on anything chocolate. "What if there's a chocolate surplus in the world and people need a recipe?" they ask. "What if you're the only one whose blog doesn't have much chocolate in it?" they ask. They play on guilt. They play with me and I take it. Why? Because I secretly like chocolate too. Just don't tell them or we won't be 2 camps anymore. 
You'll need:
(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
1 cup of packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
1/2 cup of low-fat yoghurt
1/2 cup of milk
1.5 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1.5 cups of all-purpose flour
3/4 cups of cocoa powder (If you're using Dutch processed, keep the recipe as is. If not, eliminate the baking powder and up the baking soda to 1/2 a teaspoon.)
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
Broken up chocolate bits to scatter on top (70% cocoa dark chocolate is the way to go on this.)
Preheat the oven to 160°C. Butter and lightly flour a loaf pan. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat well, then the milk, yoghurt and vanilla. Don’t worry if the batter looks a little uneven. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt together right into your wet ingredients. Stir together with a spoon until well-blended but do not overmix. Scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Spread out your broken chocolate bits onto the top to get that amazingly uneven, melty texture. Bake for 60 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. It might take a little longer. Cool in pan on a rack for about 10 to 15 minutes, at which point you can cool it the rest of the way out of the pan. 

At this moment, a little one in the house starts screaming, "Look, it'th not cake! It'th frosssteen!" We're trying to work on pronouncing things more beautifully, the way a "Princess" would. Shoot me. (By the way, turns out princesses get annoyed when they find out it's not frosting.)
This evaporated into thin air. As you finish this post, there will be no more of this cake in this world. Until you make it.  
Piece of cake?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Rosemary Bread: A Letter to a Craving

Dear "Italian" Herb Bread for I know no other fancy name,
I don't like it when you bribe me into eating you at Italian restaurants. I've promised myself countless times that I won't touch you again because you're free and things that come for free aren't as great as people make them out to be. I promised myself again that I wouldn't touch you because my life is not lacking in carbs. The best things in life are NOT free and you being free makes me just a little teeny tiny bit suspicious of you (not to mention, fat). I won't fall for it when you're aiming at my hips again. But you know what, I've missed you. I haven't seen you around lately and the longing got... long... so I decided to bring you home in the shape of flour and rosemary and dress you up until you become yourself again: hot, soft and loving my hips. I'm so sorry I can't eat you right now. You see, I'm fasting and I won't be able to take a bite of you for another 3 hours and a half. But the kids did so don't be sad. Alas, I have a feeling you'll be gone before I get to try you since we have little people who have just discovered balsamic vinegar. I know it means the world to you to have me eat you since I'm the one who nurtured you into adulthood but I want you to know that I'm so proud of your beautiful crust. They way you sound when I knock on you is just the way it should be and I won't even talk about your color because people might think I'm racist. 
Love you lots,
Fasting Foodie
You'll need: 
(Thank you, Emily at OneLovelyLife for 
a relatively quick and super easy recipe)
3/4 cup of warm water
1/2 cup of warm milk
2 teaspoons of yeast
1 teaspoon of sugar
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of dried rosemary 
1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
2 teaspoons of salt, plus extra for sprinkling
3 cups of flour
A spray bottle full of water

You'll need the things above to make this thing below. But, the things above are not all you need. No, no. 'Tis not that easy. Read on. Read on. Reaaad on. [Insert Depeche Mode's Dream On tune.]
Combine water, milk, sugar and yeast and let it bubble for around 5 minutes. Add your olive oil, rosemary, garlic powder and salt and stir to combine. Add the flour half a cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. Your dough should be relatively sticky. Turn your sticky-ish dough onto a floured surface and knead for 2 minutes. Put your dough in a greased bowl and cover it with cling wrap. Let the dough rise for an hour or until it's doubled in size. Punch down the dough and divide it in half. Form each half into a ball and place them on a pizza stone or cookie sheet. Slash the top of the dough ball. You can slash an X into it or diagonal slits. You decide. It's your bread. Cover and allow to rise for another half an hour. Bake at 220 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes. Spritz inside the oven every 3-4 minutes with the water spray bottle. Allow to cool then slice and serve with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Pretend it has a fancy name. It's more fun that way. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Oaty-Cherry Crumble

"All the world in one grain of sand
And I've blown it
All my world in one grain of sand
And you own it
Black cherry, black cherry, stone
Black cherry, black cherry"
-Black Cherry, Goldfrapp

LADIES (And MEN who like to cook or eat or have a strange obsession with food photos)! How about we pretend that the Internet is the world, nothing else exists, and we all get along just like we do online? How about we pretend we never had to find out how babies come out of mommies' bodies? How about we pretend we were never asked that question as adults ever? How about we pretend to be a little healthy and add cherries and oats to the two evils: flour and butter? How about it, ladies (and men who fit into the long descriptive phrase above)? Play pretend with me.
Pretty cherries. Yummy cherries.
Pop your cherries. Or rather, pit your cherries. Pamper them by drizzling them with some vanilla and water.
Crush the almonds. I spared them the torture of skinning them. So kind of me.
Mix your dry ingredients together in a small bowl and mix in the butter with your fingers. I love the feeling. I wouldn't use a mixer to do this EVER. It's so pointless even if you're making a bigger quantity.
Pop it in the oven for 25 minutes. It starts oozing pretty colored juice (that's not so pretty once it stains). 
Oh look at that. No, no. Not the water on the tray. Look at the edges. Look at the natural gooeyness of it all. Revel in it.
Eat! I get happy when I make something I can't say "pig out" to. It makes you feel that little extra better about yourself. Extra points if you eat it with yoghurt! 

You'll need (per bowl/ramekin):
5 to 7 pitted cherries
1 heaped tablespoon of all purpose flour
5-7 crushed almonds
1.5 tablespoons of rolled oats
1.5 tablespoons of brown sugar
A pinch of salt
1 tsp of water
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1 tablespoon of cold butter
Extra butter/oil for greasing

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Grease each bowl or ramekin. I didn't have enough cherries to fill my bigger ramekins. Throw in your cherries into the serving/baking dish. Combine all your dry ingredients and mix them. Add the cold butter and mix it into the dry ingredients. It'll stick to everything and become... crumbly! Add the dry, buttery mixture to the cherries and bake for 20-25 minutes. Like I said earlier, extra points for yoghurt. Penalties for ice cream. We're trying to pretend we're good to our bodies, remember? 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Skewered Sentiments

Two little monkeys jumping on the bed, 
one fell down and bumped his head.
Papa called the doctor and the doctor said, 
"No more monkeys jumping on the bed!"
One little monkey jumping on the bed. 
He fell off and bumped his head. 
Mama called the doctor and the doctor said, 
"Put those monkeys straight to bed!"
Dear Disney Channel, 
Do you know how sneaky you are? You've always been sneaky, yes, making us little Muslim girls on the other side of the globe think we can Americanize ourselves and marry Cory Matthews and Ben Savage way back in the 90s to the complete Jonas trio, the current Disney "it" boys. See, Disney, I was fine with that. I didn't have a problem when you made our hormones race over boys we wouldn't ever consider marrying when we grew up. But now, you're just cheap. Now you want our little girls wearing Jimmy Choos and Prada but pray tell, Disney, are you going to buy them too at the marked up prices that are even higher than that of your "developed world"? Do you really believe that a child watching the evil blonde bimbo sing lyrics that go like this: "Iced tea imported from England, lifeguards imported from Spain" and "Fetch me my Jimmy Choo flip flops, where is my pink Prada tote? I need my Tiffany hair band" will actually believe that the evil bimbo brat is evil, horrid and a bad role model? Or do you think they're going to wish they were 16 so that Daddy can buy them Jimmy Choos with his spare money? Disney, you're an evil cow. Eff you very much for forcing me to explain things that are a little too early to explain. I will now have to try to convince the kids we're Arabs AGAIN through fake Shish Tawooks. You suck.

Stabs & wounds,
Betrayed & Bullshitted 
Raw chicken! Fun! Salmonella! Not fun!
"Don't be dirty fellow."
(You'll get it if you click the link. Don't look at me like that.)
Mini Chicken Skewers
You'll need:
4 chicken breasts
3 tablespoons of olive oil 
1 red pepper, cubed
3/4 of a medium-sized onion, cubed
1 teaspoon of rosemary
1.5 teaspoon of thyme
1/2 teaspoon of dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1.5 teaspoon of salt
1.5 tablespoon of lemon juice
Mini wooden skewers

I marinated the chicken for an hour but you're welcome to marinate it for longer.  

Browning up a bit.

Put your thyme, rosemary, parsley, salt and pepper in a bowl and combine. Add the oil and lemon juice to your mixture and whisk lightly with a fork. Pour it all over your chicken, which should be cubed into small cubes. Isn't it awkward when you use the same word often in a sentence? Toss the chicken in the marinade until it's all coated. Slippery stuff. 
Get your skewers and start threading, alternating the pepper, onion and chicken. Pour some olive oil into a large pan, or a small pan, but you'll take so much longer, which just gets boring and then you end up smelling of chicken a little too much. Place it over medium heat. Cook on each side for 5-7 minutes. Take it off the stove and get excited. Whee! Eat! Double whee! 
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