Category Archives: Recipes

Granola mornings

At some point in my life, a life riddled with food obsessions that come and go, there was a period of time in which I simply craved granola. I wasn’t pregnant – I simply think my body needed something out of the mix of nuttiness and the comfort of yoghurt. I would order it daily at Cafe Greco in Maadi – sometimes even twice. I bought boxes of nutty granola from supermarkets around town, looking for something to quench my thirst.

One afternoon, when the craving hit a little harder than usual and I had dismissed two boxes of below standard granola, I decided to turn granola into a project and make it with my 5-year-old. I looked up a number of granola recipes and gathered together what I had in my house and what was available in the Egyptian market (by delivery from my phone). The result was so yummy, I presented my concoction in recipe form at the Egypt Independent for our Daily Ramadan Recipe series.

The obsession faded but recently, it has returned. Friends have inquired about the absence of the granola and my craving for the cinnamon-y maple-y nutty taste has slowly crept back, making my taste buds itch! The most recent granola production was a few days ago and I ran things a little differently from before so I thought I would post a more intricate version of the granola recipe! Happy baking to all…

Directions and Ingredients mixed together:

This list is fluid and ever changing… occasionally I have walnuts at home, sometimes cashews… my last granola batch was blessed with an overload of pre-shelled pistachios. Think about the nuts you love…

The base is 5 cups of oats.

Then you will need two cups of nuts – they can be 2/3 cashew, 2/3 walnut, 2/3 almond or the surprisingly flavorful 1 cup pistachios, 1/3 cashew, 2/3 almonds that I tossed together last time. In any case, chop the nuts up in a mini blender (or by hand) and mix nuts with oats. Look at your bowl and decide if you feel the nut to oats ratio of the granola is to your liking. Then add nuts accordingly.

Sunflower seeds in their shelled form are hard to find in Cairo – the first time I made the granola I shelled them myself. This time I had no sunflower seeds to shell and substituted with 1/3 cup of pine nuts. It was very delish.

You mix all of the above in a bowl.

In a stove top pot you should mix the other ingredients:

½ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
½ cup honey
⅔ cup sunflower oil
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

I use partial maple syrup (pancake syrup) since pure maple syrup is not available here – and the honey is always an estimate since it is hard to move honey to a measuring cup and then to the pot with out losing copious amounts on the way.

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius (probably the lowest setting on your oven).

Cover two baking sheets with foil.

Boil the ingredients above on the stove until the brown sugar melts and the whole thing is one consistent liquid.

Pour the mixture over your oat/nut/seed mixture with a wooden spoon and coat the oats and nuts completely.

Spoon it all onto the foil covered baking sheets and spread it evenly.

Place baking sheets into the oven for 10 minutes.

Remove the baking sheets (this is very important) and try your best to flip the granola about, bringing the granola on the sides to the middle and the granola in the middle to the sides.

Put the baking sheets back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

Remove the baking sheets and leave the granola to cool.

Break up the granola (it will be like a sheet) and make sure the foil does not stick to your pieces. My friend Rana suggested using wax coated baking paper instead – I have yet to try this.

Put the granola into an airtight glass (stop using plastic to store!!!) jar.

The granola will last your two weeks! Best eaten with yoghurt. It’s pretty sweet so you may not need honey…

YUM YUM YUM.

To all who have had my granola and enjoyed it – your comments are always little rays of sunshine for me – and inspire me to make more!

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A new obsession – vermicelli (sha3reya) with dried apricots and prunes

My friend Reham is an excellent cook. Above and beyond being a talented painter and an excellent mother, she can cook up fantasy dishes of fatta, experimental pumpkin pies and most recently, orange teriyaki steaks with apricot prune vermicelli. While I have yet to try making the steaks, tonight marked the third in a series of vermicelli filled nights of vigorous vermicelli stirring, scrumptious aromas and me with a cooking pot and a fork in my lap, scraping the last of the little vermicellis from the sides of the pot.

The mix of tastes – of sweet and salty – makes for a comforting and delicious treat.

Ingredients

1/2 bag of Regina vermicelli – approximately 1/2 cup I think?

4 dried apricot’s, chopped

4 prunes, chopped

3 tablespoons sunflower oil

1 cube of low salt/low fat chicken bullion

1/2 – 1 cup of water

Directions

1. Put vermicelli, apricots, prunes and bullion cube (crushed) into a pot.

2. Add oil and light the flame.

3. Stir vermicelli with apricots, prunes and bullion cube constantly – vermicelli should turn golden but should not burn.

4. Add in 1/2 cup water and mix. Cover the pot and wait for the water to absorb.

5. Taste the vermicelli and see if it is cooked enough – add water if it is still too al dente.

6. Eat and ENJOY!

By the way – I was partially inspired to do make and re-make this dish because while 1/2 cup of fresh fruits or veg is a serving, 1/4 cup of dried fruits is a serving. Feed it to your kids guilt free.

 

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A call for more cooking…

After a very complimentary mention by the Cairo360.com team and a link featured on La Bodega’s blog, I am humbled and wracked with guilt at my inability to update! While my cooking has also had a drop in its energy level… things have happened and the cook-in-me is making a comeback. Most recently, I mixed a tangy sun dried tomato pesto with some cream and finely grated Parmesan to glam up my daughter’s request for macaroni and cheese but in a more creative attempt last week, I created (with what was available in my fridge/freezer) some very yummy shrimp/salmon cakes…. so here you go!

Shrimp salmon bites

Inspired by the random discovery of ‘Old Bay’ at a local supermarket – which reminded me of some killer crab cakes I ate in Baltimore – I did some research and picked out my favorite ingredients (and those available in Cairo) to make a little snack for myself and the family about a week ago.

Ingredients

3 eggs, lightly beaten

2 salmon steaks (gourmet) skin removed and chopped in little pieces

250g shrimp, chopped up in little pieces (tails chopped off too)

soft breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons of dijon mustard

1 tablespoon regular mustard

2 teaspoons of Old Bay spice

salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Mix all these ingredients together – leaving out the breadcrumbs in the beginning.

2. Add in breadcrumbs bit by bit and mix with your hands till the mixture sticks together but is not too goopy.

3. Leave the mixture to sit for a few hours – you don’t have to do this but it will help the flavors really take hold of the salmon and shrimp.

4. Heat up sunflower oil and wait till it bubbles a little at the bottom.

5. Fry little patties of the mixture to make small shrimp/salmon cakes and turn them over so they are golden on each side. They should cook for a few minutes on each side since both shrimp and salmon cook quickly.

6. Leave them to cool on paper towels (yes, try to get rid of a little of that oil).

7. Serve them with: soya sauce, dill cream sauce, tartar sauce….

Enjoy!

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Ooh! Fatta with Hommus!

Ok – just tried this out last night (but didn’t take a picture, will take one tomorrow when I make it again) and it is SO yummy and very very easy if you have access to the ingredients. Otherwise, it’s only kind of easy. I’m not sure how ‘authentic’ it is as a fattet hommus with yoghurt but all I can say is that two casserole dishes of it were inhaled by 7 of my favorite people.

Ingredients:

3 loaves of baladi bread (Egyptian pita bread… )

2 tablespoons of butter

Sunflower oil

4 cloves of garlic, smushed or chopped super fine

4 yoghurt pots (the little ones – or one very large one)

1 can of chickpeas (whole)

1/2 can of hommus (smushed chickpeas with some tahina)

1/2 cup of pine nuts (optional)

Directions:

1. Prepare the ingredients – smush all the garlic and put it in a little container so you can use it throughout the recipe. Empty the yoghurt pots in a bowl if they are not in one big container, etc. Do not empty the whole chickpeas from the can yet.

2. Rip up the bread with your hands and fry it in a mixture of butter and oil with a sprinkling of smushed garlic. Remove when slightly crunchy and browned.

3. Mix yoghurt with 1/2 can of hummos (the smushed chickpeas with tahina) and the remaining garlic.

4. Melt the remaining butter in a frying pan with the pine nuts.

5. Layer – Take a casserole dish and spread the fried bread across the bottom. Cover the bread in the liquid from the can of whole chickpeas – just enough to coat the bread. Pour the yoghurt/hummos/garlic mixture over the bread. Pour the entire can of chickpeas over the yoghurt (you may have a little liquid left in the can after you pour some onto the bread – drain it, you don’t need that liquid on top of the yogurt). Pour the melted butter and pine nuts over the top.

6. Eat! (Or serve, if you are so generous.)

*** Pictures (of every step) to come!

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Katsu discovery!

Best feeling ever… craving a Wagamama favorite and then buckling down and finding a good recipe for it. Already had panko breadcrumbs so that part was easy… as for the sauce – found a number of recipes with apples and carrots and bananas (?) and then found a recipe on http://www.pistonheads.com – in response to a wagamama recipe request and took it from there…

my version (which turned out shockingly like the restaurant version I love)

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, smushed
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons curry powder (half yellow, half mixed)
2 tablespoons flour
water to consistency

1. Heat the oil in a saucepan.
2. Add garlic till golden and add in ginger.
3. Add in curry, flour, paprika and stir to make a paste.
4. Add in water till a little soupy and leave to cook for 5 minutes.
5. Pour over your panko breadcrumb fried chicken breasts!

I made them with some reheated rice (in a pan with a little oil) and added some pine nuts and powdered mint to the rice. Very nice flavor mix!

*This recipe tastes different in one way – it’s much less spicy (which works for me) – if you want to spice it up, I would suggest 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder?

chicken katsu curry!

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I love…

Sharwood’s Tikka Masala! Just discovered it tonight with chicken for a fabulous dish. There is a resemblance to the tomato cream curry sauce I make with chicken but I just can’t get over the flavor and the wonderful lack of spice. I know there are not many of us but I’m one of the random people who love Indian food, despite it’s hot spiciness. To find a sauce with fabulous flavor and no sting… well – it’s making me very happy.

xx

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oooh… advice!

I let my chicken breasts for the stuffed chicken breast recipe (my first recipe) soak in Sprite for 30 minutes while I made the stuffing and it made them considerably more tender! Of course I rinsed off the sprite before I stuffed them.

AND – there are these little machines they sell in Cairo that make foam out of milk… they’re like this little beater or something – a plastic thing that separates into two at the end and whisks madly – I’d liken it to a mechanical toothbrush in its size and shape… anyway – you can make fluffy whipped cream with it (I only realized that when I came to the final layer of my tiramisu) but it sprays the cream about so cover the bowl with your hand to keep things from getting too messy.

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