Sunday, 5 February 2017

Onion Poppy Seed Bialys

This is based on a lovely Polish recipe that is great for breakfast or a packed lunch, hot or at room temperature. I make it with foraged poppy seeds ^_^

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Mighli (Caraway Cream)

This is more than a dessert: in Lebanon it is traditionally prepared to celebrate a birth (I was told that, strictly speaking, this was only for male births, but to hell with that) and also for Christmas (because baby Jesus), so now's the right time to share it. Ground caraway and even aniseed are not regular fare in Western supermarkets but you'll find it in spice shops, Middle-Eastern shops, and if all else fails, try eBay, or just grind the whole seeds, which seem to be more common.
I'll admit that this is not my favourite, but I love making it for friends who just had a happy event, and it is meant to be good for the mother after giving birth, with all these energy-packing nuts.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Mohallabiyeh (Rice Cream)

Another classic Lebanese dessert that I'm sure is also known to other cultures under other names. It's understated, which is really nice, not too sweet, and you can always play around with the flavour, for instance replacing the orange blossom water with vanilla extract, or lemon extract, amaretto and so on. I have not tried it with non-dairy milk but I think it would work, as the rice powder is the thickener. It won't thicken a lot in step 3, but after a night in the fridge it will be thick enough to eat with a spoon.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Khubz Arabi (Arabic Bread)

Boy was I excited to try this recipe! The resulting bread is not like the rabtet khubz from a bakery back in Beirut (alas), but it's exactly like the freshly made loaves they bring to the table in restaurants (yay!) It also freezes very well so it's worth making a big batch at once. (PS: We don't call it just "khubz". That just means "bread", any bread, and there are several local types not to mention "foreign" types, so you have to be specific).

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Sfouf (Turmeric Cake)

Sfouf is a plural (meaning "rows", referring to how they're cut), just like "brownies", and as much a classic of Lebanese homebaking as brownies are in the US (as far as I know). Although again, the attraction of western things is such that sfouf have been somewhat left by the wayside while brownies and co. are widely available in coffeeshops and restaurants. Ah well.
Sfouf have a dense texture, are not too sweet (at least with this recipe), and have a startling yellow colour due to the turmeric, which also gives them a particular taste hard to describe. To make them more nutty, you can pour half the batter into the pan, sprinkle nuts liberally, then pour the second half before creating the grid.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Simsimiyeh (Sesame candy)

I've just caught up with a few Lebanese "desserts" so expect a few in a row. (Traditionally we don't have dessert, we have sweets and pastries on their own, with coffee or for serving to guests, but nowadays the Western custom of having something sweet after a meal has become normal.)
If you're familiar with candymaking, the idea here is to reach a "firm-ball" stage (118-121ºC/245-250ºF on a thermometer).

Friday, 7 October 2016

Nut Milks

With the rise of veganism and lactose intolerance, nut milks are getting popular (also, they're delicious in their own right). But they cannot be found package-free, and involve mass-scale agriculture and production, so they are quite damaging to the environment. Happily, they are the easiest thing to make at home from bulk-bought nuts – all you need is a blender. This same method also works for making your own coconut milk rather than buying it tinned! I make cashew milk for my morning tea regularly, in small quantities adapted to my personal consumption: other than the overnight soak, it genuinely takes only a few minutes.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Lemon Curd

It's amazingly simple to make your own delicious fresh lemon curd, or any citrus curd you fancy: orange, blood orange, grapefruit... With the bigger fruits, you'll only need 2-3T of the juice (which is the average yield of a lemon).

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Tom Kha Hed (Thai Coconut Soup with Mushrooms)

This is a vegetarian and simplified version of Tom Kha Khai, a signature chicken coconut soup from North Thailand that I loved so much I ate almost nothing else during my stays there.
About the more exotic ingredients: Galangal is normally used instead of the ginger shown here, but they are close enough to be substituted, as the former can be hard to find. If you can't easily get lemongrass (which should be fresh) and kaffir lime leaves, replace them with, respectively, the zest from 1 lemon and from 2 limes. It won't be quite the authentic recipe, but it'll be enjoyable enough!
Serve with rice to make it a main dish, or serve as a soup before the main.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Artichokes in Lemon

The instructions below assume you're using canned artichoke hearts. If fresh, merge steps 3 and 4 and simmer till they're fork-soft.
This is a flexible recipe: If you don't want to use wine, just replace it with another 1/2 cup of stock; cilantro can be replaced with other fresh herbs such as thyme, oregano, sage, tarragon etc. Don't like lemon? (gasp!) You could leave it out altogether or replace it with another flavouring ingredient, such as a handful of olives or a chopped tomato, or other, but there you'll have to see how it turns out as I haven't tried it!