Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Vermicelli and a Tuesday Letter

Dear Anonymous,
You made me laugh this morning by leaving this comment (which I will approve and won't shy away from) on my previous post about microwave cake: "this cake is horrible. not only does it taste like a chicken poop, but it burnt my boyfriends tongue... now we're going to the hospital...THANKS! NOT RECOMMENDED 0/100" 

Now, Anonymous, really? No constructive criticism? No punctuation and rude too? Tsk, tsk. I see why you're so afraid of this world. I wonder though, will you ever learn to leave your name when you leave a nasty comment? Or are you talking to strangers behind your mommy's back and prefer she not know? Nevertheless, I will continue to write this letter to you because your commenting skills need some work and someone has to address them.

First off, I didn't know my cake tasted of chicken poop. In fact, I've never had chicken poop in my life. [Hmm. I wonder if Andrew Zimmern has tasted chicken poop.] But no, you're not saying it tasted like chicken poop alone but "a chicken poop". I take it you were out one day, found a chicken and popped a single serving of its pebble poop into your mouth. Sort of like a Pringle or even better, a chocolate ball of some sort, Maltesers maybe? I hope that single serving of yours served you well. I'm guessing chicken poop is an acquired taste. Maybe if you indulge a little more, you'll get accustomed to it and life won't be so bad.  

Now about your boyfriend's tongue. You should be happy that he now has a burnt tongue. After all, do you really want to go there with the chicken poop flavor still lingering and all? Do you? I'm also a little befuddled. Could it be true that your boyfriend was never informed that cutlery, when immersed into something hot, becomes hot itself? You know, like your soup spoon if left for too long because heat travels? Could he not tell when he came close to the spoon that it would be hot? It just came out of the microwave. It just came out of the microwave. It just came out of the microwave. Do I need to say it again? 
Thanks for rating me 0/100 too. I didn't know that a microwave cake could actually have so many facets to it that it needed to be scored out of a 100. I also want to thank you for giving me content to blog about today; I really don't know what I would be babbling on about if it weren't for you. So again, dear Anonymous, learn to leave your name for you have nothing to be ashamed of and if something went wrong with the recipe, you could have asked and we could have worked through it together if you were having trouble but regardless of all that, I genuinely hope you're eating something better than chicken poop right now (save it for fertilizer please) and that your boyfriend will learn that cutlery gets hot. Cheers!  

Love and lots of microwave cakes, 
She who knows no chicken poop 

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, here's a recipe for Egyptian Vermicelli. Back home, you can buy vermicelli, pre-broken up, as our collective demand for it is in that form. Despite finding it a hassle to sit and snap vermicelli abroad, there are times when I find myself craving the simple flavors of "Sha'reyya" (Egypt's name for Vermicelli). At other times, you just need to be transported back to a carefree moment in your childhood where people cooked you yummy food before telling you to go study.
This recipe doesn't require much. In terms of ingredients, it's as simple as it gets. The star of the show is really the ghee. You could substitute with vegetable oil but it's no match. The main thing you have to remember is to take your time browning the vermicelli. Don't rush through it. You'll end up with quite an uneven color and you'll risk scorching it. Following the absorption method, you'll be saving yourself the hassle of draining it and it'll retain that beautiful smell.
Egyptian Vermicelli (Sha'reyya)

500 grams of vermicelli
1 full tablespoon of ghee
2 cups water
salt to taste
Break up your vermicelli into small equal bits and fry in ghee until it reaches a golden brown color. Add the water and salt and bring to a boil. When the water is almost absorbed, lower your heat and continue to cook until done (al dente).
Serve. This is usually served as a side dish. I'm a big fan of eating it with nothing else but that doesn't fly in most Egyptian households. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sweet Potato Fries and Two Columns

I've got to start updating more often and I will. For now, last week's column and this week's column for The Daily News Egypt. 
Sweet Potato French Fries
Serves 2

Vegetable oil, for frying
2 large sweet potatoes
Salt and cracked black pepper, to taste

Pour oil to reach halfway up the sides of a heavy saucepan. Heat the oil to 165 degrees Celsius. While the oil is heating, peel the sweet potatoes and cut into uniform sticks. Place the potatoes in a bowl of ice water to release some starch and to keep them from browning. Dry the potato sticks - this will keep the oil from splattering. Fry the potatoes in batches so that the pan isn't crowded and the oil temperature remains stable. Cook for 3 minutes until they are soft but not browned.

Remove the potatoes with a long-handled metal strainer and drain on paper towels. Bring oil temperature up to 190 degrees Celsius. Return the half-fried potatoes to the oil in batches and cook a second time for 4 minutes until golden and crispy. Drain on fresh paper towels then place in a serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pita Bread and Being In-between

I had previously written about making pita bread. Here's a new column for The Daily News Egypt I wrote while in Cairo. Full of memories and some might say emotions.    

Monday, May 9, 2011

Meatless Mondays

It's a Monday and Mondays should be meatless. If you still have no idea what I'm talking about (most bloggers should know this by now), my column this week explains to Egypt what the concept is based on and the benefits behind supporting this initiative. On another note, please keep Egypt in your thoughts. Difficult times for everyone. It will be hard on me emotionally to leave home and go back to Asia with everything happening. 
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