Tuesday 30 July 2013

Carrot with Coriander, Garlic and Cumin - Salatet Sfinari bil Kamoun سلطة جزر مغربية

This Moroccan salad or side dish is full of flavor and requires minimal effort. The marinade is a perfect combination of basic ingredients, easy to put together and versatile as it can be used with most vegetables and fish. In Libya similar salads (steamed or boiled vegetables such as carrots, pumpkin, or broad beans and artichokes are some favorites) use the same marinade ingredients but without the cumin.

Serves 4 to 6
3 large carrots
Sharmoula Marinade
1/2 a lemon
1 cup coriander leaves
1/2 parsley leaves
2 medium hot chili peppers
2 garlic cloves
1 table spoon cumin (or to taste)
Generous drizzle olive oil
Salt to taste

Peel the carrots and slice at an angle (more surface area to absorb the marinade)

Cover the bottom of the pan with a few centimeters of water and leave the carrots to cook under a lid on medium heat for 10-15 mins

Meanwhile mix the coriander, parsley, chili peppers and garlic cloves in a mixer (or chop finely). Devein and rinse the chili peppers if you want to reduce the heat.

Add cumin, salt  and lemon 

Drain the carrots well and leave to cool slightly before mixing in the marinade (if the carrots are still steaming the coriander will turn yellow)

Leave to marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours. Take the salad out about 15 minutes before the meal so it has time to get to room temperature and drizzle with olive oil before serving. To serve as a hot side dish: heat a frying pan, pour in some olive oil and stir-fry the carrots for a few minutes. 

Wednesday 17 July 2013

Ejja - Libyan Omelet/Frittata - عجة

Ejja is an egg-based dish similar to an omelet or frittata, made with chopped potatoes, tomatoes, chillies and fresh herbs such as coriander or parsley. This recipe is traditionally cooked in the oven but it may be cooked in a frying pan too. It is perfect for the iftar table with Libyan soup, or wrapped inside a piece of ftat, Libyan stove top flat bread.

(serves 6)

1 medium potato
1 tomato
1 chilli (devein or replace with paprika if you want less heat)
2 cups chopped parsley
1 cup coriander 

1 cup chopped onion and spring onion
1 teacup milk
4 eggs
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
black pepper, salt to taste

Chop all the ingredients, chopping quite small.

Saute the potatoes.

Saute the onions.
Put the onions and potatoes, add the other ingredients.

Add the milk, breadcrumbs and flour. The mixture should be thick.
Put some oil in the pan, wait until it gets hot and add the mixture. Flip to the other side after a few minutes when the bottom is set.

Alternatively, grease a casserole with oil. Place in the oven for a few minutes, then remove and add the mixture. Leave in the oven for about 20 minutes.

Serve warm, with soup, bread or wrapped inside ftat as below.

Monday 15 July 2013

Braided Puff Pastry with Savory Fillings

The intricate look of this braided puff pastry makes it seem more complicated than it is. Flaky buttery puff pastry is always a great favorite, and the braiding is easily achieved by cutting diagonal strips in the pastry and criss-crossing them over your filling, savory or sweet works equally  well. In this recipe, we've included two suggested savory fillings, one with chicken and fresh herbs and the other with spinach and feta cheese.

Puff pastry sheets
1 beaten egg

Filling 1:
300g spinach
100g feta cheese 
1 medium onion
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt

Filling 2:
1 medium onion
1 chicken breast
1 cup grated cheese
3 tsp fresh or dried rosemary and/or thyme or parsley
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp seven spice mix

Slice onion into wings and saute in a bit of butter. Saute the spinach, then combine the two. Add the spices.

Cut the feta cheese in small cubes.

Cut the chicken into small cubes, saute with the onion. Add the spices.

Spread the pastry on a baking sheet.

Cut the sheet in half vertically, and then on each half trace lightly with the knife to create three equal strips. 

Leaving the center for the filling, cut finger-wide slightly diagonal strips on either side, leaving about two fingers at either end.

Spoon the chicken and onion in the center.

Sprinkle parsley or rosemary or thyme, and grated cheese on top.

On the second half of the sheet, spoon the spinach and feta cheese filling onto the middle and again cut the diagonal strips.

Fold over the two ends. Begin braiding the dough by folding over one strip at a time from alternating sides.

 Once you've brought the strip across, press it firmly into the dough on the other side. Brush with the beaten egg.

Place on a greased tray or baking sheet and put in the oven at 250 C until golden brown. 

Leave to cool before cutting into pieces about three fingers wide.

Thursday 11 July 2013

Nuts, Raisins and Shredded Coconut Pastry

This sweet and very easy to make pastry is filled with raisins, chopped nuts, and shredded coconuts, a mixture laced with orange blossom or rose water. The folded triangles are then baked to a crispy gold in the oven and then dipped in sugar syrup. They are crisp, crunchy and the perfect accompaniment to the essential post-iftaar cup of Arabic coffee.



1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup roasted almonds, roughly chopped
1/2  cup sultanas and raisins
1/2 cup shredded coconut
2 tbsp orange blossom water/ rose water
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp sugar

Sugar Syrup 
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 tbspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon rose or orange blossom water

Ready-made phyllo pastry (found at any Greek or Middle Eastern shop)
1/2 cup vegetable oil, mix with a couple tablespoons of melted butter

Place the sugar, water and lemon in a saucepan and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add the rose or orange blossom water at the end. Set aside. 

Mix the ingredients of the filling - you can add more cinnamon, raisin, coconut or add other nuts, according to taste.

 Cut the phyllo pastry into three finger wide strips. Keep them covered with a towel so they don't dry out. Brush with the oil and butter mixture onto each strip before you add the filling.

 Put a spoonful of filling in one of the strips.

 Fold the strip over the filling, folding towards the opposite corner as you go.

 Continue folding until the end of the strip, cut away any excess.
Place the triangles on a greased baking tray or baking sheet. Put in the oven at 250 C until crisp and golden brown.

Allow to cool before dipping in the warm syrup. They should be dipped in syrup just before eating. Place in cupcake liners. 

Serve with coffee and other Ramadan sweets, such as QatayefFritters or, as here, Knafa fingers

Wednesday 10 July 2013

Ramadan Kareem

Ramadan Kareem! As Ramadan takes place in summer, many of us are fasting long hours this year, some of us over 20 hours. This is an opportunity to keep the objectives of Ramadan in mind, to think about how privileged our lives are, as well as to cleanse ourselves and recharge mentally, physically and spiritually. Wishing you all a month full of peace, serenity, and happy family gatherings around the iftaar table. And, of course, loads of delicious new food experiences!

Check out our Ramadan recipes, using the Ramadan tag. Take a look at some of our past Ramadan post-iftar sweets recipes below, from Knafa to Lugmet El Qadi. We'll be adding more recipes, both savory and sweet, throughout the month :)

Ramadan Sweets:

Baklava with Sweet Cheese Filling
Fritters in Syrup: Lugmet El Qadi
Arabic Milk Pudding: Mahalabia
Semolina Cake with Date filling: Basbousa bil Tamr
Ramadan Pastry with Shredded Coconut and Raisins
Nuts, Raisins and Shredded Coconut Pastry 
 Knafa Fingers
Dumpling Stuffed with Nuts and Raisins

Monday 8 July 2013

Cherry Cheesecake

Obviously, not Libyan! But for those of us who keep to a halal diet, cheesecake is a problem, as many recipes contain gelatin, and vegetarian gelatin is often not as strong as the animal-based products. We tried many recipes before arriving at our own fail-proof recipe. This one is topped with fresh cherries, but you can substitute other summer berries, fruit or try a chocolate, caramel or marzipan topping. Try it out and let us know what you think!

75g butter
16-20 digestive biscuits

2 deciliters milk 

2 tablespoons of cornstarch
50-75g sugar
200g unflavored soft cream cheese (eg Philadelphia)
200g fresh cream
1 tspn vanilla sugar
2 eggs
A satchet of Dr. Oetker's Vegegele (or two heaped teaspoons of vegetarian gelatin)

About 250g cherries
A satchet of cherry vegetarian jelly crystals

 Put the digestive biscuits in a blender.

 Melt the butter.
 Add the melted butter onto the biscuits and blend.
 Pour the mixture onto a springform pan, about 25cm across.

 Smooth flat with the back of a spoon.
 Make sure it is evenly spread throughout the base.
 Add the gelatine to boiled hot milk, stir until dissolved. Put in the blender.
 Add the cheese and cream to the blender.
 Add the cornstarch, sugar, vanilla sugar and eggs.
 Blend well. Pour out the smoothly blended mixture onto the biscuit base.

Place in the oven at 150 C, for just long enough that the cheese filling sets, but not long enough that the surface browns! About 15 minutes should do it.

 Wash the cherries, remove the stems and stones, cut the cherries in half.

Place the half-cherries onto the surface of the cheese filling. 

 Make the jelly, pouring the crystals into boiling water and making sure all the powder has dissolved.

 Pour the jelly slowly and carefully onto the surface of the cake.
 Place in the fridge for at least four hours, longer is better.

  When the jelly has done its work, run a knife lightly around the edge of the pan, then remove the sides from the base carefully.

 Slice and serve while cold