Caramelized Figs with Yoghurt Balls

July 30, 2012 § 10 Comments

My patient followers, new visitors, family and friends…

Ramadan Mubarak on all.

Its a been a very  very long break for me, and I apologize for that. A lot has happened during this time… most important of all is the addition of a new member to my little family, a baby girl ‘Reem’, who’s almost 1 soon! has it been that long?!

2 months ago I was approached by a talented woman, Reem Falaknaz, who works as an Executive Producer for Noor Dubai TV, she asked me to film a cooking segment featuring talented food bloggers to share a recipe that had a middle eastern ramadan essence. I immediately jumped in! Got super excited and recipes started flooding in. Caramelized figs with honey yogurt balls was born.

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Meeting Reem and filming was an absolute joy! She’s one of those people you feel comfortable with immediately, we shared a lot in common, most important was the love of Thai food and growing up a block away from each other!!

She has a culinary palate and huge talent for photography and videography! She blogs her adventures on I Found My Day & Ate It check it out.

The figs and yogurt surprised me… give it a try and let it surprise you too.

To many more posts yet to come, I hope!


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A New Discovery and an Old Love Story

August 9, 2011 § 6 Comments

Recently I have stumbled upon a food blog that I cant believe or forgive myself that I haven’t discovered earlier. It’s Sinfully Spicy by the Lovely and talented Tanvi. Two weeks ago her blog turned 1 so happy blog-birthday to her!!

My love for Indian cuisine is no secret. I got this deep love, respect and appreciation for that cuisine! All this is traced back to my Father. Ever since we were little kids he used to take us to the most traditional indian restaurants in Dubai and introduce us to all the different flavors, textures and ingredients in it.

He used to talk to us about the history behind it and always always used to say “can you imagine how the maharaja’s used to live? how they were pampered? how all this food was created in a way to please them?” this always took me to another world, imagining their lives, how lush, extravagant and heavenly it was. I have a dream and I hope it comes to reality soon, it is to travel to India. Visit all the different regions and experience the different flavors and history from one another.

Who doesn’t love Indian food? seriously?? can u name one person? they don’t deserve to eat if they do….

Back to the food blog that got me head over heels for her recipes, photography and writing. She got me hooked when I read why she named her blog Sinfully Spicy. She writes “‘Sinfully Spicy ‘…my food blog finally! Why this name..you might ask…and will agree instantly that Indians are sinfully in love with spices.Well I m no exception either! Totally in  love with spices, herbs, fruit extracts,essential oils and anything & everything edible which infuses aroma into food.Very often people relate the word ‘spicy‘ with foods which tingles on the tongue…I am totally in love with that concept and the fact that spices unite individual entities in a dish into one.”

and I totally agree…

Since I’m in my last few weeks of my pregnancy I got so lazy and I decided to feature one of her recipes on my blog, It was so sweet of her to agree to this. There were loads of recipes that I wanted to feature but the one I settled with was the Gulab Jamun… an old love story of mine.

I just love this smoth sweet little balls from heaven, when at an indian restaurant I cant help myself from ordering one at the end of a meal. When they put it infront of me, this warm, and  shiny  little tanned brown ball sitting in a pool of golden syrup  with the  sweet aroma of cardamom steaming out of it, it just puts a smile on my face. aaaaaahhhh and when I bite into it its so smooth and spongy, warms you up instantly. I love it!

I’m never too full to have more.

Here is Tanvi’s recipe:

Ingredients (Makes 18-20 of the size shown)

For the Dough Balls (Jamuns):-

  • 1 cup nonfat milk powder ( I use Organic Valley )
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp fine crushed nuts (see notes)
  • 1/4 tsp green cardamom powder (see notes)
  • 3 tbsp ghee, at room temperature (substitute with unsalted butter)
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature (or as required for kneading)
  • Canola Oil for deep-frying
  • Nuts/dessicated coconut for garnish (optional)

For the Sugar Syrup:-

  • 1.5 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • Few saffron strands (optional)
  • 4 green cardamom pods, cracked open
  • 2 tbsp rose-water (use 1-2 drops if using essence)

Notes:-

  1. I take 8-10 mixed nuts (cashews, almonds & pistachios), grind them in coffee grinder to a  fine powder.Adding this to the dough gives a terrific, nutty taste in each bite.This is my mom’s trick & I really love it to pep up the texture of the jamuns.
  2. You dont need to buy cardamom powder (its uber expensive), buy whole pods instead from any indian or middle eastern store, just crack open the pods and use your mortar & pestle to grind the seeds into a powder.This is how cardamom is commonly used in Indian homes.
  3. Traditionally, jamuns are fried in pure ghee, however I add 2-3 tbsp of ghee to the oil to add the rich aroma, if you don’t have ghee,then skip)
Method:-

For the Syrup:-

  • In a large pot,add water, sugar along with cardamom pods and bring it to a boil.We are not looking for any consistency here, just boil & stir till the sugar dissolves.About 6-8 minutes on medium heat. If you see some scum on top, remove with a spoon.
  • Let the syrup simmer for a minute and then put off the stove. After 5 minutes when the syrup has cooled down a bit, add saffron strands & rose-water to the syrup.
  • Set the syrup aside.

For the Jamuns:-

  • In a bowl or pastry board ,combine the milk powder, flour, baking powder, soda, green cardamom powder & nuts powder and mix thoroughly.You can sift this once to catch the coarse nuts or lumps if any.
  • Next add the ghee to the mix and rub between hands so that the whole flour mix is moistened.Start adding milk and mixing simultaneously to make a soft dough.The dough will be quite sticky.Cover the bowl with a cloth & let the dough sit for 5 minutes.
  • Heat the oil in a frying pan/kadhai on medium heat. The frying pan should have enough oil to cover the balls completely while deep-frying. The indian way of testing the oil temperature is to pinch a small ball of dough & tip it in the oil, it should riseslowly to the top. If using a thermometer, use the temperature you fry doughnuts at.
  • While the oil is heating, with greasy palms pinch the dough into 18-20 equal parts and roll into small, smooth balls.As far as possible, roll out such that there are no cracks on the balls.This will give the jamuns a smooth look.The balls will double up after frying & soaking in syrup so do not make big balls. Line the balls on a plate & keep covered till ready to fry.
  • Meanwhile if your sugar syrup is cold or luke warm, put it on stove again so that it warms up.We want the sugar syrup warm (not hot) when the fried jamuns are tipped into it. Once warm , transfer the syrup to a bowl big enough to accommodate all thejamuns & keep them soakedAlso keep the sugar syrup nearby because the friedjamuns will go straight from frying pan into the syrup.
  • Once the oil is hot, tip in the rolled jamuns into the oil.Do not over crowd the pan/kadhai.While frying keep flipping the balls gently for even browning all around. Fry until the jamuns become golden brown. About 4-6 minutes depending on size.
  • Once browned,using a strainer, transfer the jamuns straight to the warm sugar syrup.The jamuns should sit undisturbed in the hot syrup for at least 30 minutes before ready to serve.
  • Once soaked, serve in bowl with few tablespoons of syrup & nuts/dessicated coconut garnish.I like them slightly warm.
  • Notes:-
    1. Do not knead the dough.Just mix the ingredients gently to combine everything till a dough is formed.
    2. Do not fry the gulab jamuns too much or on very high heat..they will harden & wont soak up the syrup.
    3. Gulab Jamuns can keep well in the fridge for up to 20 days.Whenver you want to serve, just microwave for 10-15 seconds.They can be frozen for 3-5 months.

All the photos in this post are taken by the talented Tanvi.

Tahini Cake

July 27, 2011 § 6 Comments

A new friend of mine asked me to guest post on her blog, this got me super excited and honored at the same time. She’s a fellow food blooger, an emirati, and a super Hero (i.e.full time mom) like me! She blogs at LaMereCulinaire. I totally relate to her life, juggling a toddler around is hard, and she does it with an infant on the other hand! I’m freaking out thinking about how I’m going to manage my life around 2 babies!!! I bow to you Arwa…

I’m writing this post right now while my daughter is lying on the couch next to me watching TV in a big mess of cracker crumbs around her, screaming “mommy one!” indicating she’s done with her cracker and wants one more! She’s full, now lets move to feeding mommy and making a bigger mess…. anyways back to the recipe.

Ramadhan is knocking our doors and we are getting super excited! Ramadan is a holly month that we get to clean our bodies and souls in. 29-30 days of fasting, praying and asking God for forgiveness,health, safety and anything we want. Its a time where you feel peace and serenity all around you through out the day, its truly a magical time.

Unfortunately it has been mistranslated recently into staying up late till dusk in “arabesque” tents smoking shisha, gossiping, and watching the so called arabic belly dancers. So to all you looking at us from the outside, this is not how we live it, and most certainly the purpose behind fasting and having shorter working days is not sleeping all day and being awake all night.

I ask God to bless us all and bring this month to us in health and prosperity.

I wanted to create something that had an arabic essence, a feel of Ramadhan about it. I was googling for inspiration and thought about tanini, a favorite ingredient of mine, especially in desserts. I love to have dates drizzled with tahini or some freshly baked pita bread dipped in Tahini then in date molasses for breakfast… yumm!

I immediately imagined the flavor in a cake and started searching for a recipe. I found a greek tahini cake “tahinopita” which seemed very appealing. I tweaked the recipe a bit and came up with this amazing cake that is delicious warm, bursting with orange, tahini and molasses flavors, and even better sliced and baked in a warm oven to give you the most delicious biscoties you have ever tasted.

Tahini Cake (my own recipe)

  • 2 cups whole meal spelt flour
  • 3/4 cup tahini
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • juice and zest of one large navel orange
  • 1 tablespoon orange blossom water (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup yoghurt or butter milk

Preheat oven to 175C, brush your baking pan with tahini, I used a rectangular loaf pan, it really works as an amazing non stick agent.

Sift all dry ingredients together and set aside.

Mix wet ingredients together, add the sugar, orange zest and whisk till well combined. Fold in the dry ingredients gently till its incorporated in the dough.

Pour into your prepared baking pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until skewer inserted comes out clean. let it cool for few minutes and serve warm drizzled with date molasses, the cake is not sweet enough to have as dessert on its own, it needs the extra molasses and it complements the flavor of tahini well.

You can also slice it thinly into biscoties and lay on a baking rack and bake in hot oven for 15 minutes till crisp. Store in airtight container.

Enjoy!

Fatma

Spelt Flour Banana Muffins

July 13, 2011 § 9 Comments

It’s been a long time since I cooked anything, let alone blog about it, but the past 2 weeks where a rough journey for us, coping and adjusting to the fact that a family member is missing.

I’m one of those people that hate to see any kind of food go bad in front of me, and I guess this thing runs in our family, my mom and sister are worst cases.

Recently my daughter has become such a picky eater and running out of control snacking on crisps and chocolates the whole time…. so those two reasons brought together the birth of this recipe.

Its a delicious sugar, and egg free banana chocolate muffins made with whole grain spelt flour. I didnt expect my 18month old to like them but she’s munching on them happily. Other than the fact that it got chocolate in it.. it’s quite healthy! If you use good quality chocolate you don’t have to feel guilty eating them at all.

I have been experimenting with different kinds of flour and so far all the outcomes are amazing, the reason behind this is the book Good to the Grain by the amazing Kim Boyce. Her book really did give me a different prospective with cooking and baking. Why are we so attached to the plain all purpose flour, you get so much more flavor using different kinds of flour! And it became easier to get them in grocery stores recently here in Dubai.

Try out this Recipe and I hope you like it.

Spelt Flour Banana Muffins (by Fatma Shabib)

makes 5-6 large muffins

  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons butter, oil or margarine
  • 1 1/2 cups wholegrain spelt flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

preheat oven to 175C and line or grease a muffin tray.

In a small pan over low heat melt the butter with the honey and vanilla, take it off the heat and mash in the bananas and mix well.

In a large bowl mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and the chocolate chips. Add in the wet ingredients and mix gently with a spoon.

Pour the mixture in the muffin tray and bake for 20-25 minutes.

variations:

  • Instead of the chocolate chips you can add any kind of nuts you have on hand (almonds, walnuts or cashews)
  • or  add 1/2 cup of quick oats or cooked steel cut oats, will give it extra crunch on the top and nuttiness.
enjoy,
Fatma

Easy chocolate sauce

July 1, 2011 § 6 Comments

 

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Yesterday was a blur, I woke up after a night I didn’t have much sleep in, which passed with tears and blank staring into the ceiling. I was hugging my daughter the whole night, not able to imagine how my cousin feels. She lost her son. A 13yr old boy that was an angel to everyone around him.

His death was a shock to everyone! He was well and active with a long history of childhood Bronchial Asthma, which he was on treatment for. He had a sudden severe attack that took him away from us.
I pray for him and for his mom that Allah gives her the power and will to get over this loss, for there is no greater loss than a parent to burry their child.

I woke up today needing a sort of comfort that I knew I’ll find in chocolate.
I had lost my appetite since I heard the news. Wanted to make some hot chocolate but coffee was more needed to help me get through the day.

My mother in law was in the kitchen prepping for a cake, I was praying she would pick the can of cocoa powder a sign she’s making chocolate cake, and she did!

When I went to eat some later I saw the cake toppingless… No sauce no ganache no frosting!
I ran to the kitchen to make some. I get to the pantry, no chocolate chips, OMG!
I remembered my sister making a chocolate sauce out of things we normally had in the pantry. I try to remember, imitate, and voila a brilliantly good sauce was born! It is perfect over dry choco cake, fruit or ice-cream.

My easy chocolate sauce:

3/4 cup yoghurt
3-4 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 table spoons sugar
A nob or two butter

Heat all the ingredients in a sauce pan over medium heat and cook till the raw flavor goes away (few minutes). Adjust the flavor to your desire adding more or less cocoa and sugar.
Enjoy warm over anything you fancy.

Your prayers for my cousin and her lost son (Abdullah)
Fatma

Food Bloggers vs. Macarons

June 29, 2011 § 10 Comments

A few weeks ago a jar of salty caramel, that I made for my brother in law’s birthday  “salty n sweet” chocolate cake, was sitting in the fridge staring at me with a sad glance mumbling “use me, pweez before I go bad”. I pitied it every day wondering what I’m going to do with it… I cant make that torturous cake again!

The first idea… “macaroons! I can put it in chocolate macarons!!” I imagined the flavor and started drooling,” yum! That’s it I’m making macarons. But wait… I never made them before!”. hhhmmm. From what I read they need certain skill and practice, and there’s lots of ways, fresh meringue, italian meringue… oh dear…

I immediately relied on the food bloggers group I joined recently, FIA(famished in arabia) “ask the FIA bunch! of coarse  a few if not all know how to make macarons.”

I posted the question on the Facebook group and got my answer almost immediately with the best macaron recipe, saved me some research and experimenting. Radia  sent me the recipe and we decided to turn it into a hands on training day! My sister and Yasmin , fellow food blogger joined us.

Telling my husband the macaron date I set up his facial expressions changed.

“do you know those people well? are you sure they will not turn out to be some weirdos or sociopaths??”

uuummm

“Its a group of food bloggers! they blog about food!! we share an interest, of coarse they are not!”

While deep inside I was wondering why i didn’t ask myself this question earlier.

Well, despite mine and my husbands fear they seemed to be the most sweet and kind hearted people I ever met!  clear and simple.

It was a wonderful get together and a play date for our kitchenaids! (I stole Radia’s line :p )

We chatted for hours non-stop talking about our families, food and living in Dubai. And to my surprise both had the same reaction from their families about meeting someone you barely know over the internet!!

I found in common between me and Radia something more than the love of food. We were both doctors!!!  Doctors that have put their careers on hold to peruse a greater cause, ya greater than saving a life, its being a full time mom! not only to our children but our husbands too. I finally found someone who understands my point of view.

Radia was THE mentor, and I think the God Mother to macarons, her knowledge and skill was amazing! We kept staring at her trying to devour every step she’s making, asking questions along the way and her patience for answering was so motherly. She told to us how room temperature and humidity can affect the outcome, and how one stroke can make or break a good macaron. She also explained about the shell, the dome, and the feet that a proper macaron should have.

It was such a pleasure to meet the ladies and even a bigger one to be taught how to make macarons from a pro. But it was so sad they had to leave before trying the macaroons.

Radia was fearing the outcome because of the high level of humidity that day but to our surprise they came out good for a first time try in a new oven.

Our outcome was:

  • chocolate macaroons with salty caramel
  • green tea macaroon with white chocolate ganache
  • plain pink macaroon with strawberry rose jam
  • saffron macaron with cardamom white chocolate ganache

Here is the Macaron recipe Radia sent me, it was from Dessert Magazine:

100g egg whites
50g granulated sugar
200g confectioners’ sugar
110g blanched almonds, whole or ground

1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue.
2. Combine the almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor and give them a quick pulse if you use already ground almonds (that you have ground ground yourself separately.) It will break the powdered sugar lumps and combine your almonds with it evenly. If you use whole almonds, pulse thoroughly for a minute or so.
3. Add them to the meringue and start to give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: If the tops flatten on its own, you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple more folds.
4. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip with the batter and pipe a small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper baking sheets.
5. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Let the macarons sit out for an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 10-13 minutes, depending on their size. Let them cool completely before filling.
6. Pipe or spoon some of your filling on one shell and sandwich with another one.

Enjoy!

Fatma

Strawberry Rose Jam

June 24, 2011 § 12 Comments

First of all welcome, to my new blog this is just an extension of what I started on Fatmazkitchen. Baby steps as they would say.

I really wanted to start an official food blog a long time back but being a full time mom really does take all your time! I also wanted to start this blog with my amazing sister Mai, but she is busy getting married (good luck sis!) I hope she joins in later as her talent in food, photography and anything crafty is just amazing.

Trying to find a new name for the blog was so hard! most of the good ones where taken and I really wanted to capture the essence of an emirati arab woman cooking. Obviously the current name doesnt capture it entirely but after lots of brain storming and googling this was the best I (the not so creative of my siblings) can come up with.

I finally found the time to finish up the final touches and write a new post to launch the new blog on a vacation at our Prutting home in Germany. We love being here. Its a very small, tranquil, and quite (very bavarian) village in the province of Rosenheim, where every one is so sweet and simple. I feel away and free from all the hustle and bustle of Dubai.

Although this vacation is not perfect since its the first time for me away from my Hubby in almost 4 yrs. Habibi if you are reading this you are terribly missed.

Coming here I was so excited as it is summer and my daughter would have so much fun playing out in the garden, going to wild parks, and picking strawberries at strawberry farms, but unfortunately this past week was so cold and raining most of the time.

None the less this did not stop me from making the most delicious jam ever! It is summer and strawberries and roses  do peak at the same time. The strawberries were brought from the market but the most fragrant roses I have ever smelled were from our the garden. I have to admit although i adore rose jam this heavenly combination was not my idea… I found a jar of strawberry rose jam from Waitrose at my dad’s which I loved very much and was the source of this inspiration.

Just in case you didn’t make the link, Rosenheim means “roses home”. Here you can find all kinds of roses during the summer, the view and smell is just divine walking between the houses or even the streets.

As usual I didn’t stick to a recipe doing this jam but I found a great recipe in a blog. I did use the same ingredients in it but I went with my own quantities. I personally don’t like my jam to be too sweet so I used 2:1 fruit to sugar, and for the health part i also used brown sugar which did give it extra fragrance.

Strawberry-Rose Jam from Dans la cuisine food blog

Ingredients:

  • 2 quart baskets very ripe, fragrant strawberries
  • 4 c. sugar
  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice
  • Petals from 2-3 organically grown, very perfumed roses

Makes enough to fill 4-6 half-pint jars, depending on the pectin content of your fruit and how long you need to cook it to reach the jelling point.

Hull the strawberries and cut them in half, dropping them into a conserve-making pot (which is very wide and relatively shallow) or other large casserole. Use a pot with the largest surface area possible. Toss with the sugar and put over medium-high heat, bringing to a boil and stirring frequently to prevent scorching. At the boil, reduce heat to medium.

Meanwhile, put a saucer in the freezer for testing the doneness of your jam, and put your clean jam jars upside down in a large pot of water. Put this on to boil to sterilize the jars. If your water is hard, add a dash of vinegar to the water to prevent unsightly mineral deposit on the jars. Bunch the petals of each rose together in your left hand, and cut off the base of the petals as you cut them from the calyx. The bases of the petals have a bitter taste, and you don’t want to include them in your jam.

Skim the foam from your jam as it cooks. When it seems slightly thickened, start testing it for doneness by placing a drop on the cold saucer and returning it to the freezer for a minute. Remove it and touch the jam drop. If it wrinkles slightly when you touch it, and clings in a sort of thread as you draw your fingertip away from it, it has reached the jell point. Reduce the heat to low. Stir in the lemon juice and rose petals. As soon as it returns to a gentle boil, reduce the heat to a barest simmer. Fill your hot sterile jars with the hot jam, leaving 1/4″ headroom if you are sealing them immediately. screw the lids on and cool at room temperature before storing.

Enjoy!

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