Saturday, January 17, 2009



1 1/2 pounds coucous (durum wheat recommended)
Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup lukewarm water
4 tablespoons butter, melted, plus 4 tablespoons Olive oil
2 small Cornish hens or 4 medium quails, cut into small pieces
1 large red onion, julienned, plus 1 large red onion, finely chopped
4 stems parsley, finely chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 generous pinch saffron
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
3 bay leaves
1-2 teaspoons Ras el Hanout
2 cups water
4 tablespoons honey
1 cup garbanzo beans, pre-cooked or soaked overnight
1 cup seedless raisins
20 majhoul dates or 1 pound biskra or deglat-nour dates
1/2 cup roasted, skinless almonds


Pour the couscous in a large bowl, add salt, to taste, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, 1 cup lukewarm water, 4 tablespoons of the melted butter. Mix and let rest for 15 minutes, until the water is absorbed.
Preheat a thick pot. Add olive oil and heat. Add Cornish hen or quail and brown for a few minutes. Add the chopped and julienned onion, parsley, remaining butter, spices, salt, and 2 cups water. Cook for 15 minutes.
Add honey, garbanzo beans, raisins, and simmer for another 15 minutes. Add water as needed. Add the dates. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until the dates are hot.
Separate the couscous grains by rubbing both hands together. Make sure there are no lumps. Fill the bottom of the couscoussiere (or pot) with 1 1/2 gallons water. Bring to a boil. Put the couscoussiere (or fine-meshed sieve) on top. When the vapour comes up, pour the couscous in the top (sieve), and let it steam for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender and spongy.
On a large platter, spread a 1-inch thick layer of couscous. Add some pieces of Cornish hen or quail around the middle. Then pour over the surface onions, raisins, and garbanzo beans.
Garnish with dates, the roasted almonds, and the rest of the sauce. Serve hot


1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
I teaspoon turmeic
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

In a small bowl whisk together all ingredients until combined well. Spice blend keeps in an airtight container at cool room temperature 1 month.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Traditional Date Squares

Date filling
3 cups pitted dates
1 1/2 tbsp orange zest (optional)
1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup water

2 1/2 cups rolled regular oats
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup golden brown sugar packed
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter melted

for the filling: place all ingredients in a pot and bring up to a boil; remove from hat and let dates sit and soak until room temperature. Puree until smooth and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350F , grease an 8 inch square pan, and line bottom with parchment paper so that the paper hangs over the edge of the pan on 2 sides, combine oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Stir in butter and blend until an even crumbly texture. Press half of the crumble in to the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread date filling over base and top with remaining crumble (not pressing). Bakes for 40 to 45 minutes, until the top of the crumble begins to brown. Allow to cool before cutting into squares.

Lebanese twist on Date Squares

Date Squares Filling:
3 cups pitted dates
1 tbsp orange zest
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cardamom
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup water + 1/4 cup orange blossom water or
1/2 cup water + 1/2 cup orange juice
the orange flavour combined with the spices gives the crumble a nice taste

2 1/2 cups rolled regular oasts
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup golden brown sugar, pakced
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butted melted

press half of the mixture in the bottom of your pan

follow the direction for preparing the tradition date squares.

Chicken and Date Tagine - Moroccan Meal

Tagine is a meat ,fruit and spice dish from Morocco, sometime you see recipes call for dried apricots and other times for dates.

675g/1½lb Chicken Pieces
4 tbsp Olive Oil
1 large Onion, chopped
2 Large Garlic Clove, crushed
1 tsp Ras el Hanout seasoning
1 tsp White Cumin Seeds
2 Bay Leaves
480ml/16fl.oz. Hot Chicken Stock
12 Dates, stoned and halved
4 tbsp Whole Blanched Almonds
2 tbsp Honey


1. Heat the oil until hot in a large flameproof casserole or saucepan add the onion, garlic, Ras el Hanout and Cumin Seeds and fry gently, stirring, for 15 minutes.

2. Add the bay leaves and stock and simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes until reduced by one 3rd.

3. Add the chicken mix well, cover and simmer for a further 1 hour, adding a little water or stock if necessary but not so much as to make the stock too runny.

4. Add the dates, almonds, honey and salt to taste, mix well and simmer for a further 15 minutes. Serve hot over couscous or rice.

Leg of Lamb stuffed with Dates from the Arabian Gulf

8 tbsp Olive Oil
2 Onions, 1 chopped, 1 sliced
1 Clove Garlic, crushed
Large pinch Saffron Strands
1/4 teasp Ground Cinnamon
1 teasp Cumin Powder
Salt and Black Pepper
Finely grated rind of 2 Lemons
8 Large Dates, stoned and chopped
2 tbsp Fresh Coriander, chopped
1.4kg/3lb Leg of Lamb, partly boned
2 Cinnamon Sticks, broken into short lengths


1. Heat 4 tbsp of the oil in a frying pan, add the chopped onion and crushed garlic and fry gently until soft and golden. Add the saffron, cinnamon, cumin and seasoning - stir well. Take off the heat and add the lemon and dates. Stir to mix and set aside until cold.

2. Preheat the oven to 200C, 400F, Gas mark 6. Mix the fresh coriander into the stuffing and use to stuff the lamb. Secure with skewers or sew up the stuffed pocket.

3. Put the meat in a roasting tin and brush with 2 tbsp oil. Season well and surround with the cinnamon sticks. Roast for 1 hour 30 minutes, basting from time to time.

4. 10 minutes before the meat is cooked, fry the sliced onion in the remaining oil until golden and crisp.

5. To Serve - top the lamb with the fried onion and cinnamon sticks.

Origin and History of Dates - health benefits and cooking

The date palm is probably the oldest tree cultivated by man. Dates have been cultivated and traded from as early as 5000 BC and whilst dates were revered by many cultures, the Arabs seem to be the ones who hold it in the greatest esteem. Indeed, it is historically known that desert people, in particular the nomadic Bedouins, lived on dates and camel milk for months on end.

Evidence that the fruit was traded between India and the Arabian Peninsula dates back to the 1st Millennia BC, via the already established Frankincense and Myrrh trade routes.

It is easy to see how the use of this incredible fruit spread throughout the world; once dried, they are light to carry, self preserving (containing a high proportion of sugar) and with the nutritional attributes mentioned above, can be used as a major food source for dessert people, sailors on long voyages and armies as well as livestock.

Health Benefits of Dates :
Health benefits of dates are uncountable, as this fruit is affluent in natural fibres. These natural products also contain oil, calcium, sulphur, iron, potassium, phosphorous, manganese, copper and magnesium which are advantageous for health. Dates are even rich in several vitamins and minerals. It is said that one date is minimum requirement of a balanced and healthy diet. It helps in fighting constipation, intestinal disorders, weight gain, heart problems, sexual weakness, diarrhoea and abdominal cancer.
Health benefits of dates have made them the best nourishment for muscles development. People consume dates in several ways, like mixing the paste of the dates with milk, yoghurt or with bread or butter to make the food tasty and healthy. This paste is beneficial for both adults and children, especially during the time of recovery. According to the modern medicine survey, it is known that dates are useful in preventing abdominal cancer. It is also seen that many Muslims break their fast by eating dates and water according to their traditions. Breaking fast with eating dates helps us to avoid overeating of the food after the fast. When the body absorbs the nutritional value of the dates, the feeling of hunger gets pacified.
Dates are termed as a crown of sweets and ideal food which easily balances and digests food. It gives extra energy to a tired human body within half an hour after taking it. Dates are considered to be the best diet for confinement of the women. American Cancer Society recommends intake of 20-35 grams of dietary fibre in a day, supplied through dates. It is said that:” taking one date in a day will help you to maintain your healthy eyes for your lifetime”. They are quiet effective in guarding the night blindness problems.
Benefits of Dates:
: Date is termed to be a laxative food. This is the reason that dates are beneficial for people suffering from constipation. For getting the laxative effect from dates, you need to soak dates for one full night in water. You should consume these soaked dates in the morning like syrup to get their actual advantages.
Intestinal Disorders: The nicotinic content that is present in the dates is said to be beneficial for curing any kinds of intestinal disorders. Continuous intake of dates helps to maintain a check on the growth of the pathological organisms and thus, helps in the rise of friendly bacteria in the intestines.
Weight Gain: Dates are said to be a part of healthy diet. They consist of sugar, fats, proteins as well as many essential vitamins. If the dates are consumed with the paste of cucumber, one can easily come out from the problem of over-slimming. One kilogram of dates contains almost 3,000 calories. These calories alone are sufficient to meet the daily requirements of a human body.
Heart Wealth: Dates are quite helpful in maintaining your heart in healthy condition. When soaked for whole night and crushed in the morning and consumed, they prove to be quite advantageous for weak hearts. They help to fortify heart, if taken twice in the week.
Sexual Weakness: Dates are even beneficial for increasing sexual stamina in the human body. A handful of dates, when soaked in fresh goat's milk for the night and then grinded in the same milk with the mixture of cardamom powder and honey, becomes a very useful tonic for increasing sex endurance and sterility due to functional disorders.
Diarrhea: Ripe dates contain potassium. Potassium is beneficial for controlling diarrhea. They are easily digestible, which helps to cope up with the problems of diarrhea.
Intoxication: Dates are known as an excellent remedy for alcoholic intoxication. Dates provide quick relief in the case of alcoholic intoxication. They should be rubbed and soaked overnight for getting more nutritious values from them.
Abdominal Cancer: Dates are beneficial for curing abdominal cancer. They work as useful tonic for all age groups. They work as better as the medicines, and are natural and do not bear any side effects in the body. They can be easily digested and used for supplying extra and needed energy.
Although dates carry tremendous nutritional values, great care should be taken in their selection because they consists of sticky surface which attracts various impurities in them. Hence, you should consume only those dates that are packed nicely. Make sure to wash them thoroughly before consuming. This will help to remove the impurities present in them
Cooking with Dates

Dates can be used in a variety of both sweet and savoury recipes. When used in their dried form, they add a richness and sweetness unrivalled by most other dried fruit. They are particularly popular in Middle Eastern and North African Cuisine.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

PISSALADIER - Onion,Anchovy and Black Olive Tart

Pissaladier out of the oven

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
5 medium onions, sliced into thin rounds
2 large garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 sprig fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
2 large tomatoes peeled , cored, seeded and chopped
bread dough
8 anchovy fillets, rinsed and drained (I didn't have any so I used anchovy paste)
12 black olives pitted and halved

Heat oil over medium heat in skillet. Add onion, garlic and thyme, toss and coat with oil. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally until onions are golden, about 20 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes, raise heat to high, and cook until liquid is evaporated and mixture is thick, about 20 minutes, discard thyme sprig.
Roll out dough on lightly floured surface and roll out into an 11x 14 rectangle or round pizza tray.
Transfer to a baking sheet; cover and let sit for 15 minutes.
spread vegetable mixture evenly over bread dough, all the way to edges. Arrange anchovies in spoke pattern and sprinkle olives on top. Let sit for 15 more minutes.
Bake until crust is crisp, 15 to 20 minutes.
slice and serve warm

Bread Dough
3 cup unbleached flour ( you can mix white and wheat)
2 1/2 tsp dry yeast
1/2 sugar
1 1/2 warm water
1/3 cup of olive oil
tsp of salt

Pissaladier is ready for the oven

Monday, January 12, 2009

Parsley : Heatlth Benefits

Parsley: The delicious and vibrant taste and wonderful healing properties of parsley are often ignored in its popular role as a table garnish. Highly nutritious, parsley can be found year round in your local supermarket.

Parsley is the world's most popular herb. It derives its name from the Greek word meaning "rock celery" (parsley is a relative to celery). It is a biennial plant that will return to the garden year after year once it is established.

Parsley is a strong flavoured herb that is used in very limited amounts. It is used as a garnish and decoration, in recipes and is seldom eaten straight.Parsley has folk lore about it. If you cut parsley; you will cut your luck. Food is protected from contamination if a sprig of parsley is placed on the plate.Health Benefits:
Parsley is one of the world’s seven most potent disease-fighting spices!! Many Therapeutic Health Benefits Include Its Use For:
Anemia, Antioxidant, Bactericidal (kills bacteria), Bad breath, Blood Purifier, Blood vessel rejuvenation, digestion, Dissolves cholesterol within the veinsHormonal support: in women, parsley improves estrogens, nourishes, and restores the blood of the uterus. Conditions like delayed menstruation, PMS, and the menopause (dry skin, irritability, depression, and hair loss) can often improve.Hormone balancing is achieved through the volatile fatty acids contained in parsley.Immune booster: The high vitamin C, beta-carotene, B12, chlorophyll, and essential fatty acid content render parsley an extraordinary immunity enhancing food. Parsley is an immune-enhancing multi-vitamin and mineral complex in green plant form and one of the most important herbs for providing vitamins to the body.
Fights cancer: Parsley contains volatile oils that have been found to inhibit tumor formation in animal studies, particularly those in the lungs. The oils are not only cancer-fighting; they're also known to neutralize carcinogens including those found in cigarette smoke and charcoal grill smoke. Parsley also contains folic acid, which has been found to help prevent colon and cervical cancers.
Good for the heart: The folic acid in parsley is a critical nutrient in cardiovascular health. Specifically, folic acid helps convert potentially dangerous homocysteine into harmless molecules, a process that protects blood vessels and reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Culinary Uses:
Parsley's culinary uses are endless and should not be limited to providing an attractive garnish for savory dishes. Add the leaves to soups, stews, stuffing, sauces, vegetable dishes, eggs, savory pies, and casseroles, and use when preparing meat, fish, and shellfish.Include fresh parsley in salads-it's an essential ingredient of tabbouleh, a tasty staple of Lebanese Cuisine-and in savory mousses, dips, biscuits, and crackers.Parsley is a mainstay of fine French cooking. It's included in bouquet-garni, along with bay leaf and thyme, in aux fines herbes, a mixture of parsley, tarragon, chives, or chervil, and in persillade, a finely chopped mixture of parsley and shallots that is traditionally added to a dish just before it has finished cooking.Italian chefs prefer the stronger taste of the flat-leaved variety and use it extensively.The oil from parsley leaves and seeds is used commercially to flavor cured and canned meats, condiments, sauces, pickles, baked goods, and soups.