My Best Summer Salad

July 29, 2011 § 1 Comment

Its one of those ordinary lazy hot days here in Dubai, nothing out of the ordinary… same old story, its hot, the sun is too strong, the traffic is bad, crazy drivers all over the road….. I’m really starting to hate the way my day passes by routinely, don’t get me wrong I love my family to bits and I never regret giving up my career to raise my daughter, but I feel that I have more to give to the world!

Starting this blog was one of the reasons that I didn’t know what to do with my energy.

So it was an ordinary day, I’m at my parents house lying on the couch in front of the TV most probably watching the food network (nothing better to watch), my daughter fed and in her cot napping, my father walks in the house with bags of groceries and a big grin on his face, “hey girl! where’s the little one?” of coarse since I had my daughter my existence to my family is not as important as their first grandchild.. “napping” I answered, still walking to the kitchen “I’m making a salad” he yells back at me “would you like to help?” I jump straight away and join him! I love spending time in the kitchen with my father, he is just amazing. He taught me a lot about food, cooking, flavors and the chemistry behind it (we are both majored in scientific fields, and he has a theory that people who love and understand chemistry are great cooks). He awakened our palates at a very young age, growing up eating lobster, blue cheese and caviar we knew we were different from other kids who frowned in disgust at the sight of those things!

I walk into the kitchen as he lays out the groceries on the counter, a bag of mixed salad leaves, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts (ordinary so far) he puts a pan on the stove turns the heat on and throws some sugar in it… I watched with wide eyes ” Dad? what are you doing exactly??” “caramel” he answered calmly (and the unordinary started!)

This salad was by far the best salad I had in a long time. It was crunchy, fresh and sweet, it was the perfect summer salad.

Try it and I hope you like it as much as I did.

My best Summer salad: (my dad’s recipe)

  • 1 bag of mixed lettuce leaves
  • 10-12 baby asparagus stalks
  • 1 hanful of alfalfa sprouts
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 cup of strawberries, cut up in half
  • 1/2 cup shelled walnuts
  • 1 small wheel of plain brie cheese, cut into wedges
  • 1 cup sugar, for caramel
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

First of all you need to make a caramel, lay your asparagus neatly next to each other in a row on a nonstick baking paper and clear the area around you, make sure no children are around. dip ur spoon in the hot caramel and drizzle the asparagus with it, going across it back and forth, dipping the spoon again in the caramel till you are satisfied with the amount on it.

While the caramel is still hot, you might need to put it back on the heat, throw your walnuts in and coat them with it. Lay them separately on the baking paper next to the asparagus and let it cool completely.

In a salad bowl throw in your salad leaves and toss in the cherry tomatoes and starwberries. scatter with alfalfa on top.

In a hot pan drizzle some olive oil and fry your Brie wedges on both sides till golden, not too much or the cheese will melt away.

Lay the asparagus, the seared brie cheese over the salad leaves and scatter with caramelized walnuts, drizzle with the dressing and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Fatma

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malaysian delights

June 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

(previously posted on fatmazkitchen)

Since I started watching “rick stein’s far eastern odessy” I have been craving far eastern cuisine so bad.

Yesterday I got it all together and I cooked up a Malaysian menu:

  • Beef Randang with steamed jasmine rice and cucumber coconut salad.

It was a long day with my cast iron on the stove for 3hrs but  it was worth it! and a huge hit with my Hubby.

Malay cuisine is one of the most satisfying cuisines regarding flavours, where sweet, salty, spicy mingle together perfectly in the strongly aromatic dishes. I think the world is lucky that we have such a cuisine which is new compared to others, created by the blend of people and different cultures living in that country.

this dish is perfect, the meat comes out so tender and the flavor is just divine. I can still smell the lemon grass on my hands and I luv it!

Beef Randang: (by Rick Stein)

Serves 6

  • 100g finely grated fresh coconut
  • 4 fat lemon grass stalks, bruised
  • 50g piece tamarind pulp
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 x 5cm cinnamon stick pieces
  • 3 star anise
  • 6 cloves
  • 12 green cardamom pods, lightly bruised
  • 1.5kg blade or chuck steak, cut into 5cm chunks
  • 800ml coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar
  • 8 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • Spice paste
  • 10 dried red chillies
  • 225g onions or shallots, roughly chopped
  • 8 fat garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 6cm piece peeled fresh galangal, roughly chopped
  • 6cm piece peeled fresh ginger, roughly chopped
  • 4 lemongrass stalks, outer leaves discarded and core roughly chopped

For spice paste, put dried chillies in a bowl, cover with boiling water and soak for 30 minutes. Drain well, put into a food processor with remaining paste ingredients and process until smooth.

Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Add grated coconut and stir for a few minutes until golden. Remove from pan and cool, then coarsely process in a food processor.

Cut off and discard the top half of each lemongrass stalk. Lightly bruise the remainder with a rolling pin.

Put tamarind pulp into a small bowl and add 125 millilitres of hot water. Work pulp with your fingers until it has broken down and the seeds have been released. Strain through a sieve into another bowl and set aside.

Heat oil in a large, heavy-based pan or flameproof casserole dish over a medium heat. Add cinnamon, star anise, cloves and cardamom and fry gently for two minutes.

Add spice paste and fry for two to three minutes more until mixture smells fragrant.

Add beef, coconut milk, sugar, kaffir lime leaves, toasted coconut, bruised lemon grass stalks, tamarind water and salt. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and leave to simmer uncovered for 2½ to three hours, stirring occasionally, then stir more gently and frequently towards the end of cooking, to prevent it sticking on the base of the pan.

Eventually, the sauce reduces so much it clings to the meat. Adjust sugar and salt to taste and serve with steamed jasmine rice.

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