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! 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Microcupcake: Technologic

Hello, my lazy friends. Today, 2 little people had chocolate cravings and I, voted Today's Queen of the Lazy, couldn't be bothered to actually get off my butt and BAKE a proper chocolate cake. Why bake one when it'll take you hours to find a recipe you're dying to try? But then some hidden energy I forgot I had today nudged me and reminded me of this superquick-supersneaky chocolate cake that you make in the microwave in 3 minutes. A little bizarre, yes, but then again people are using their microwaves for everything now so I succumbed. Is it satisfying? Yes. Does it make you smile? Yes. Should you leave it to get cold? No. This is not a save-for-later thing to make. You make it because you have needs. Demanding needs. Needs that need instant gratification. Yum! This is not for you if you're looking for "the best cake ever" (which you'll never find because it doesn't exist).
You'll need:
3 tablespoons of all purpose flour
2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
2.5-3 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 small egg
1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
3 tablespoons of melted butter
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2.5 tablespoons of milk
Icing sugar for dusting (I used vanilla dusting sugar.)
Put all the dry ingredients together in your mug then mix in all the wet ingredients. Mix vigorously (such a funny word) with a spoon for about a minute and a half or until all is combined and silky. Do a little dance while it cooks for 2.5-3 minutes in your microwave. It depends on the power of your microwave. Don't overcook it. It should look a little fudgy and moist. Happy lazy day! I'm definitely trying this out next time with mint. *evil grin*


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Half-Half Waffles: A Story of Love & Deception

I love carbohydrates. I love-I love carbohydrates. I love carbohydrates. ts. ts. ts. ts.

If you love carbohydrates too, pretend you know the tune to my song and sing along with me. It's currently very techno-y in my head and that's why there are two "I loves". I'm skipping. Now back to our point: what happens when you love carbohydrates as much as I do? You try to add some whole wheat flour to make believe you're healthier. So when you're in the mood to gorge on carbs, pretend you're being good to your body and feel like tricking innocent children into eating health(ier) waffles all at the same time (which can be very confusing, mind you), I recommend you make these. 1. Because they're good and warm and soft. 2. Because they're freezable. Aha. Freezer fun. Become a cryogenicist today.
Below is my column featuring this recipe in The Daily News Egypt dated Saturday, June 18th, 2011.

Upon exploring one of the city's hypermarkets during my most recent visit to Cairo, I was taken aback by the number of dusty waffle makers sitting sadly on the shelf. Or should we call them multi-purpose snack-making machines? Treading a few steps away from the cashiers, it caught my attention - a shiny, new waffle stand had also made an appearance at the ever-expanding mall, complete with plastic cutlery and no place to sit.

The human waffle makers hurriedly poured the gloopy batter into the overlapping hot irons while children, accompanied by freshly-manicured mommies urging them to add fruit, clamored to pick sugar-infested toppings.

In the past several years, comfort food in Egypt has been welcomed and has itself welcomed a new addition to the family - the waffle, a soft golden grid that comes in many a shape and tends to disappear under a heavy hand of syrup.

Today, waffle irons are usually sold as an afterthought, in a set containing a sandwich maker and a panini grill. I wonder how many of those afterthoughts are taken into consideration and used in the many homes that house the same children rallying to get their sweet treat at the mall.

The popularity of waffles has recently surged in the Middle East but are we simply passing them off as a modern Western innovation to be savoured by many? Do they originate in Belgium? Are today's waffles more exciting than those of days gone by?

The waffle has come a long way and has evolved from a mere mixture of barley and oats to the numerous forms it takes on today. Waffles have been present in the world's history dating back to Ancient Greece. The people of Athena happily munched on Obelios, flat cakes pressed between two metal plates over hot charcoal, much like the thin wafers of today.

Later, the Catholic Church picked up on them and started touting them as one of the more appropriate provisions for fasting season seeing that they didn't contain eggs, dairy products or animal fats.

By the Middle Ages, waffles were eaten by just about everyone – rich and poor, peasants and kings. Sold by street vendors and named Waferers in England and Gaufriers in France, the then wafers, soon to become waffles, were catching on like a house on fire.

The word “wafre” in Middle English was adopted from the word “wâfel” appearing in Middle Low German, which then later changed to the Modern Dutch “wafel”, French “gaufre” and the German “waffel”. Eventually, the New World created the modern American English waffle by the 18th century. I hope you enjoyed my little etymology lesson.

Spreading throughout Europe, people were finding new ways to design their warm waffles using creative waffle irons specially made to brand the homes that requested them. The familiar honeycomb pattern we know today (said to mirror intertwined crosses), coats of arms and religious symbols were all used to mark these tempting tidbits.

The wealthier of society would use honey, eggs and wine to flavor the base recipe of flour and water and by 1270, medieval France founded an entire guild that would train the waffle vendors to do a better job on the street.

Nearing the early 17th century, the Dutch, who had taken an even stronger liking to waffles than the rest of Europe, took them along with their colonies to what was to become the U.S.A. Rapidly changing in America, the waffle earned the extra “f” and was patented, stovetopped and then paired with electricity.

By the 1930s, an electric waffle iron became a much-needed household appliance and by 1953, the world was introduced to store-bought waffles, increasingly available in most parts of the world today.

I remember making waffles for my stepchildren for the first time last year, only to find them surprised that we could make them at home and invent toppings to suit the mood. Sneakily, I traded half of the white flour for the superior wheat flour in hopes of teaching them that brown is usually better when it comes to all things bready. Experiencing this together allowed them to genuinely believe that everything can be made at home if you take a little time to do it; and that making a big batch of waffles to freeze for later allows for days on end of pleasurable waffle eating. All you really needed was a waffle iron, a playful attitude and ingredients already in your pantry.

We tend to forgo the history of food flogging it as inconsequential. Unfortunately, we have forfeited most of our roots to food because of that. Egyptian chefs and researchers alike can spend hours arguing about the origins of our meals because no one took the time to write our food traditions down after the Ancient Egyptians decided to desert us. Argue as everyone may, our new Egypt should start taking note of the changing attitudes of Egyptians toward food and how they will evolve years from now. They should also take note that while my stepchildren prefer maple syrup and bananas on their waffles, I'd prefer a fragrant basil chiffonade atop some macerated ripe strawberries in balsamic vinegar. An epicurean treat.

Half-half Waffles
You'll need:
1 cup of whole wheat flour
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/4 cup of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
3 tablespoons of baking powder
3/4 teaspoon of salt
1.5 cups of low-fat milk
1/2 cup of water
3 eggs
1.5 teaspoons of vanilla extract
Mix flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together in a mixing bowl. Add milk, water, eggs, and vanilla to your dry ingredients and mix well. Pour gradually into your waffle maker and cook according to your waffle maker directions. Serve with butter, syrup, fruit and sticky kisses due to stealing the first waffle.
(You could use 2 cups of whole wheat flour instead of one and one. I just didn't have 2 full cups left.)

And now a song to get rid myself of some excess energy: 
They call me Cuban Pete. I'm the king of the Rumba beat. When I play the maracas I go Chick chicky boom, chick chicky boom, chick chicky boom.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Heavy Hips: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Dear feelings,

I have decided to block you. Yes, like on Facebook or on MSN. I'm cool like that. I'm going to block you. For as long as my cookies last, I will. Who needs you to surface your ugly head when I have chocolate chip cookies right under my nose? Really, really, really good ones too. Chewy ones. Ones that make you believe that the world is still a place that is good and wholesome. A place where sugar and butter don't go to your hips. A place where you're always warm and there are no bad moms and dads. So for now, feelings, I'm going to make you jealous and have them take your place and I command you to be dormant until I'm done with my chewy cookies and the weight I'm going to gain tomorrow morning. Thank you for behaving.

Cookie Killer 

After hours of searching for a recipe, I ended up with my adaptation of this. If I didn't remember making these cookies, I'd believe that I bought them while sleep-walking. 
You'll need: 
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3/4 cup of unsalted butter, melted
1 cup of packed brown sugar
A scant 1/2 cup of white sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups of semisweet chocolate chip (I used 1 cup of milk chocolate chips, which made these richer + 1 cup of smashed up, pounded to bits dark chocolate.)
Preheat your oven to 165 degrees Celsius. Grease your cookie sheet or line with baking paper. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt and mix in a separate bowl. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well mixed. Beat in the vanilla, egg and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the dry ingredients until blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart. Bake for 15 minutes in the oven or until the edges are lightly toasted. They'll still feel super soft. Cool on baking sheets then transfer to a air-tight container to retain chewiness once they're cool. Smell and smile please. 

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Cubist Brisket. Fear me, Pablo!

Hello. I've got two little monkeys in the house that I'm constantly feeding but for some reason, I'm not posting at all. The "for some reason" is really because I was lazy and cooking unblogworthy things. I really need to snap out of this blogfunk. This time around, I'm posting something that my sister thinks can never look good in photos: Beef! Or as she calls it "food food", because to my sister "food food" is anything that isn't sugary. So here I am trying to make her believe that "food food" might not look all that bad in photos. Okay, maybe a little. For those of you who are curious, blogworthy things are beautiful things that come out of our kitchen that are so fun in your mouth that you want to create a mini-you who isn't grossed out by chewed food to go in there and party. So today, I took out the mediocre meat hanging out in our freezer, the carrots everyone is too bored to eat and the mushrooms we'll forget about and made something wonderful out of them.  

On another note, we went to the amusement park today and I didn't find any fried ice cream. My heart died a little. Anyone crazy enough to have a good recipe? 
Cubist Brisket
You'll need:
1 kg of beef, cubed. [You could go ahead with a not so fancy kind. It won't make that much of a difference to have a good cut over a tougher cut.]
2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
2 onions, finely minced
1 cup of hot water + 1/2 cup just in case
1 tablespoon of sugar
1.5 teaspoons of salt (Use less if you want. Or a lot more like me. Ha!)
1.5 teaspoons of garlic powder + 1 pinch
1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of white pepper
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon of paprika
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2.5 heaped tablespoons of tomato paste, dissolved in 1 cup of hot water
1 cube of beef bouillon, dissolved in 1 cup of hot water
200 grams of white button mushrooms
3 medium sized carrots, roughly diced
Start by combining all your spices in a small bowl to create a seasoning mix. Begin searing your meat. Wait until the pan really, really, really hot then add your tablespoon of olive oil and sear the meat on all sides until nice and brown. Don't be lazy with the searing, it really adds to the color of your sauce as well. Remove from the heat and get a stock pot or dutch oven ready. Place the meat in the stock pot along with the flour. On low heat, toss the beef cubes in the flour for a minute. Add the carrots and minced onions and toss for another two-three minutes until it basically starts to look a little unpleasant. Haha. Add your total 3 cups of water including the bouillon and tomato paste. Add all your spices. Begin preheating your oven to 180 degrees Celsius after 20 minutes. Stir for a few seconds until it's all mixed together. Leave on high heat until the broth boils then turn down your heat to the lowest possible and leave to simmer gently for 40 minutes.

While it simmers, quarter your mushrooms and sautee them in a pan with a drop of oil and a pinch of garlic powder. Here's a photo of the mushrooms in black and white to prettify the photo because prettifying is fun. 
Take your dutch oven and place it in the oven or transfer the contents from your stock pot to an ovenproof casserole dish with a lid. If you want a thinner sauce, add the extra half cup of water. 

Leave to simmer in your covered dish for half an hour then add the mushrooms and leave to simmer again for another hour. Serve with something that sops up the sauce. Our pick was mashed potatoes and Lord of the Rings. This is a really good dish to make a day early. It heats really well in the oven and it only makes the sauce richer. Until next time, ole! 
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