Friday, April 2, 2010

Cake Lollipops - A nice project to do with kids

This is a big seller at the market , unfortunately I don’t have the time to do it every week, as it takes some time to assemble and I work alone, specially if I have some catering orders , I try to avoid wasting time on several projects. They are cute edible bouquets of cake lollipops, with different flavours…

Sometimes I bake the cake couple of days in advance and turn it into cake balls and freeze it to use it by the end of week.

This is a fun project for the mom and her children ,and it’s a good starts for the children to be involved in their food.

The lollipops can be made from different flavours: I do banana cakes, carrot cakes, and chocolate cakes, even fruit cakes.

In advance bake the cakes and crumble them by hand and better if using a food processor... it combines a better texture to work with. Roll them and put them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Freeze them until hard.

In separate bowls add in each your decorations.

Take the cakes out of the freezer. Melt white and dark chocolates in different pots (of course you will be in charge of dipping in the balls) In couple of minutes the balls will soften enough to insert a wooden lollipop stick in them.

Dip in the chocolates and give your kids the pleasure to decorate them.

Return them to the baking sheet to set, and if needed couple of minutes in the freezer will quicker the operation... use plastic candy bags to wrap them, use a scotch tape around the bag to tie, them use a ribbon to tie around it in a nice bow.

These lollipops are fun to do, a good project for the family. Great for birth day parties and school projects.








My beautiful niece visiting me at the market










An edible bouquet






Yellow Lentil Soup and Lentil Kibbee

Today April 02nd, is Good Friday in the Christian Church:

Jesus came to earth,
To show us how to live,
How to put others first,
How to love and how to give.

Then He set about His work,
That God sent Him to do;
He took our punishment on Himself;
He made us clean and new.

He could have saved Himself,
Calling angels from above,
But He chose to pay our price for sin;
He paid it out of love.

Our Lord died on Good Friday,
But the cross did not destroy
His resurrection on Easter morn
That fills our hearts with joy.

Now we know our earthly death,
Like His, is just a rest.
We'll be forever with Him
In heaven, where life is best.

So we live our lives for Jesus,
Think of Him in all we do.
Thank you Savior; Thank you Lord.
Help us love like you!

By Joanna Fuchs

I choose a healthy nutritious recipe, full of iron, and very tasty. From the soup you can make kibbee balls to serve with a beautiful salad.

Lentil Soup – (Tlaw-hi in Aramic)

If you are doing the soup only half of the recipe is enough

Yellow lentil soup - Vegetarian:

1 ½ cup picked and cleaned yellow lentil

4 -5 cups of water

Sea salt

1 big onion chopped

Boil the lentils till tender soft, you will notice that the soup is thickened and might need more water. Take half of the lentils to another bowl and keep them warm. For the rest of the soup add ½ of rice, adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, and cook on medium heat. In a non stick pan cook some sliced onions in a spoon of olive oil to caramelized, add it to the soup and stir, add freshly ground cumin, and stir, when the rice is completely cooked take it off the heat

And serve either garnished with some chopped parsley or more caramelized onion.

Lentil Kibbee (Ba-llou-aa in the Aramic Language)

Lentil liquid

Same amount of fine burghul

Salt, black pepper, ground cumin, chilli flakes

A ¼ cup each of chopped fresh: parsley, mint, green onions.

Heat and measure the lentil liquid which you saved , wash the same amount of burghul and put it in a big bowl add the lentil liquid to it and let it sit for five minutes. Chop the veggies add them to the kibbee mix with the spices and mix to combine, don’t worry if it’s too moist, in couple of minutes it will dry out. Mix in the veggies, and turn into either

Balls or small logs. This has to be mixed and eaten right away. It’s recommended to make a small amount of the kibbee and eat it right away, and keep the rest of the lentil liquid in the bowl to warm and mix another batch.

Serve with a salad:

½ cup of chopped cleaned parsley

1/3 cup of chopped cleaned mint

½ cup of chopped cleaned green onions

1 cup of chopped tomatoes or more

1 lemon freshly squeezed

Olive oil

Salt, black pepper, dash of cayenne – optional

Mix and adjust the seasoning to your taste.

I encourage you to try it... It's delicious....

The soup can keep in the fridge for a week, warm and serve with crackers, or toasted pita.












Thursday, April 1, 2010

Welcome to North Bay - Ontario

We are lucky that we live five minutes walking from Trout Lake, and our drinking water comes from the lake, icy cold specially now when the lakes are melting. I heard that Trout Lake is open for visitors only, no boat sailing yet, as the lake is not 100% defrosted. North Bay is a beautiful City in the Summer, blessed with several lakes, even on our lot there is a small lake which runs all the way to Lake Nippissing, which during the Winter Season, you will see hundreds of ice shaks and tents and people fishing on the icy lake - Ice Fishing is big in Northen Ontario... and North Bay is famous for Pickrels and Walleye.
For more information about North Bay and Lake Nipissing press on this link:

A New Award


I got this wonderful Award from my friend Nadjibellah from Saveurs et Gourmandises. I am really thankful for sharing the award with me and in return I like to share this award with:

Heather of Azure Island Designs
Mary of one perfect bite
Angie of Angie's Recipes
Khadija of moroccan cuisines maricaine
Joumana of taste of beirut
Maggie of hommus w tabbouli

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Walima March Challenge - Representing the Tunisian Cuisine

Tunisia, officially the Tunisian Republic (الجمهورية التونسية al-Jumhūriyya at-Tunisiyya), is the northernmost country in Africa. It is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its size is almost 165,000 km² with an estimated population of just over 10.3 million. Its name is derived from the capital Tunis located in the north-east. Tunisia is the smallest of the nations situated along the Atlas mountain range. The south of the country is composed of the Sahara desert, with much of the remainder consisting of particularly fertile soil and 1,300 km of coastline. Both played a prominent role in ancient times, first with the famous Phoenician city of Carthage, then as the Africa Province which was known as the "bread basket" of the Roman Empire. Later, Tunisia was occupied by Vandals during the 5th century AD, Byzantines in the 6th century, and Arabs in the 8th century. Under the Ottoman Empire, Tunisia was known as "Regency of Tunis". It passed under French protectorate in 1881. After obtaining its independence in 1956, the country took the official name of the "Kingdom of Tunisia" at the end of the reign of Lamine Bey and the Husainid Dynasty. With the proclamation of the Tunisian republic in July 25, 1957, the nationalist leader Habib Bourguiba became its first president and led the modernization of the country.

History

At the beginning of known recorded history, Tunisia was inhabited by Berber tribes. Its coast was settled by Phoenicians starting as early as the 10th century B.C. The city of Carthage was founded in the 9th century B.C. by settlers from Tyre, now in modern day Lebanon. Legend says that Dido founded the city in 814 B.C., as retold in by the Greek writer Timaeus of Tauromenium. The settlers of Carthage brought their culture and religion from the Phoenicians and other Canaanites.


Tunisian Cuisine

The cuisine of Tunisia, is a blend of Mediterranean and desert dweller's culinary traditions. Its distinctive spicy fieriness comes from neighbouring Mediterranean countries and the many civilizations who have ruled Tunisian land: Phoenician, Roman, Arab, Turkish, French, and the native Berber people. Many of the cooking styles and utensils began to take shape when the ancient tribes were nomads. Nomadic people were limited in their cooking by what locally made pots and pans they could carry with them. A tagine is really the name of a conical-lidded pot, although today the same word is applied to what is cooked in it.

Like all countries in the Mediterranean basin, Tunisia offers a "sun cuisine," based mainly on olive oil, spices, tomatoes, seafood (a wide range of fish) and meat from rearing (lamb).

Unlike other North African cuisine, Tunisian food is quite spicy. A popular condiment and ingredient which is used extensively Tunisian cooking, Harissa is a hot red pepper sauce made of red chilli peppers and garlic, flavoured with coriander, cumin, olive oil and often tomatoes. There is an old wives' tale that says a husband can judge his wife's affections by the amount of hot peppers she uses when preparing his food. If the food becomes bland then a man may believe that his wife no longer loves him. However when the food is prepared for guests the hot peppers are often toned down to suit the possibly more delicate palate of the visitor. Like Harissa or chilli peppers, the tomato is also an ingredient which cannot be separated from the cuisine of Tunisia. Tuna, eggs, olives and various varieties of pasta, cereals, herbs and spices are also ingredients which are featured prominently in Tunisian cooking.

Shakshouka

This dish, with many variations, is a popular breakfast in North Africa, especially in Algeria and Tunisia. Most recipes include the eggs, but they can actually be left out if you like. Jewish immigrants from the Maghreb have made this a popular breakfast dish in Israel.

4 to 6 servings

Olive oil -- 3 tablespoons

Paprika -- 1 to 2 tablespoons

Onion, thinly sliced -- 1

Garlic, minced -- 2 to 3 cloves

Tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced -- 3

Green and red bell peppers, diced -- 2 to 3

Water -- 1 cup

Salt and pepper -- to taste

Eggs (optional) -- 4

Method

Heat the oil in a deep skillet over medium flame. Stir in the paprika and cook slightly to color the oil, about 10 to 15 seconds. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent and wilted but not browned, about 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and cook for 3 to 4 minutes to reduce down a little bit. Add the peppers, water and salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add more water as needed to keep it from drying out.

Using a spoon, form four small indentations in the simmering peppers to hold the eggs. One by one, crack the eggs into a small bowl and slip each from the bowl into an indentation. Cover and simmer for another 10 minutes or so until eggs are cooked through.

Serve with crusty bread, pita or rice.

Variations 2

Add 1 teaspoon of cumin seed to the hot oil for about 15 seconds before you add the paprika. Add 2 to 3 teaspoons of ground coriander along with the onions.

For a little spice, sauté 1 tablespoon of Harissa paste or a minced Chile pepper with the onions.

Sometimes fresh shrimp or a spicy lamb sausage called merguez is added to the simmering peppers along with the eggs.

Add 1 small, diced eggplant along with the peppers.

Add 1 potato, cut in a small dice, along with the peppers.

Sprinkle the top of the cooked dish with chopped parsley or cilantro.

Add a few olives and capers and eliminate the eggs. Chill and serve garnished with hard-boiled eggs or tuna.

Cover and simmer for another 10 minutes or so until eggs are cooked through.

Serve with crusty bread, pita or rice.

Variations 3

Add 1 teaspoon of cumin seed to the hot oil for about 15 seconds before you add the paprika. Add 2 to 3 teaspoons of ground coriander along with the onions.

For a little spice, sauté 1 tablespoon of Harissa paste or a minced Chile pepper with the onions.

Sometimes fresh shrimp or a spicy lamb sausage called merguez is added to the simmering peppers along with the eggs.

Add 1 small, diced eggplant along with the peppers.

Add 1 potato, cut in a small dice, along with the peppers.

Sprinkle the top of the cooked dish with chopped parsley or cilantro.

Add a few olives and capers and eliminate the eggs. Chill and serve garnished with hard-boiled eggs or tuna.

Makroud, Tunisian Date Pastry Recipe


Makhroud are small semolina cakes cut in the shape of lozenges, stuffed with dates, hazelnuts, or almonds, deep fried in oil and drizzled with honey or sugar syrup.

Semolina pastry

- 200 g (7 oz.) fine semolina (I used 300 gm semolina)

- 2 g (1/2 tsp.) ground saffron (pinch of saffron)

- 100 ml (6 Tbsp.) vegetable oil (40 ml olive oil)

- 20 g (4 tsp.) butter (110 gm butter)

- a pinch of salt

¼ cup of orange blossom to dissolve the saffron

Filling

- 150 g (5 oz.) dates (or other variety) 300 gms dates

- 1 orange ( I didn’t use)

- 2 g (1/2 tsp.) ground cinnamon, ½ cardamoms, and ½ nutmegs

Syrup

- 150 g (5 oz.) sugar

- 75 g (3 oz.) honey

- 1/2 lemon

- 50 ml (3 Tbsp.) geranium flower water, or orange flower water

- ½ cup water

Decoration

- Toasted sesame seeds

- Or ground almonds

Other

- Oil for frying --- I baked mine instead of frying and dipped in the syrup.

Method

1st step

Heat and clarify the butter.

Combine it in a bowl with the vegetable oil.

Prepare the pastry by putting the semolina, saffron and salt in a bowl.

Add the clarified butter/oil mixture.

2nd step

Combine everything with a spatula.

Gradually add in 100 ml (6 Tbsp.) warm water to form elastic dough.

3rd step

Knead the dough on a work surface.

Form into a ball and spread out using the heel of your hand.

Let the dough rest for 30 minutes, covered with a damp cloth.

4th step

Prepare the filling by pureeing the pitted dates in a blender.

Peel the orange and cut the zest into small dice.

Combine the dates, orange zest and cinnamon into a paste.

Top of Form

Shape into 3 cylinders.

Bottom of Form

5th step

Knead the dough again with the heel of your hand.

Divide into 3 equal pieces.

Form into cylinders 2 cm in diameter.

Using your fingers, form a cavity along the length of the cylinders.

Fill with a cylinder of date filling.

Seal the edges of the dough to enclose the filling.

Smooth and shape the cylinder lengthwise.

6th step

Using the wooden press, flatten the pastry (or use a rolling pin).

Cut the cylinders into rectangles and cut into equal-sized lozenges.

Squeeze the juice of half the lemon.

Combine the ingredients for the syrup.

Fry the lozenges in hot oil until golden.

Drain on paper towels before immersing in the syrup.

***This dessert is very similar to Maamoul Mad, a Lebanese dessert made from the same ingredients and baked in a tray , combining two layers of semolina dough (using only more butter no saffron) and the centre is stuffed with the date filling. Baked in the oven and then drizzled with the Lebanese Syrup. Check my posting for the recipe.















Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Orange Tian - The Daring Bakers Challenge

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.

Note: There are quite a few steps to making this dessert; however a lot of them can be made in advance. The orange marmalade can be made several days ahead of time and the caramel sauce and orange segments preparation should be made the day before you make the dessert. Also, if you have a scale, try and use the weighed measurements as they will be the most accurate.

For the Pate Sablee:
Ingredients U.S. Imperial Metric Instructions for Ingredients
2 medium-sized egg yolks at room temperature
granulated sugar 6 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon; 2.8 oz; 80 grams
vanilla extract ½ teaspoon
Unsalted butter ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons; 3.5 oz; 100 grams ice cold, cubed
Salt 1/3 teaspoon; 2 grams
All-purpose flour 1.5 cup + 2 tablespoons; 7 oz; 200 grams
baking powder 1 teaspoon; 4 grams
Directions:
Put the flour, baking powder, ice cold cubed butter and salt in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.
In a separate bowl, add the eggs yolks, vanilla extract and sugar and beat with a whisk until the mixture is pale. Pour the egg mixture in the food processor.
Process until the dough just comes together. If you find that the dough is still a little too crumbly to come together, add a couple drops of water and process again to form a homogenous ball of dough. Form into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit.
Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface until you obtain a ¼ inch thick circle.
Using your cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough and place on a parchment (or silicone) lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until the circles of dough are just golden.

For the Marmalade: (I used my own home made with has oranges, grapefruit, tangerine, and lemon with some slices of citrus segment. I don’t use pectin; I use the old method of cooking until it thickens…

For the Orange Segments:
For this step you will need 8 oranges.
Cut the oranges into segments over a shallow bowl and make sure to keep the juice. Add the segments to the bowl with the juice.
[See YouTube video in the References section below for additional information on segmenting oranges.]

For the Caramel:
Ingredients U.S. Metric Imperial Instructions for Ingredients
granulated sugar 1 cup; 7 oz; 200 grams
orange juice 1.5 cups + 2 tablespoons; 14 oz; 400 grams
Place the sugar in a pan on medium heat and begin heating it.
Once the sugar starts to bubble and foam, slowly add the orange juice. As soon as the mixture starts boiling, remove from the heat and pour half of the mixture over the orange segments.
Reserve the other half of the caramel mixture in a small bowl — you will use this later to spoon over the finished dessert. When the dessert is assembled and setting in the freezer, heat the kept caramel sauce in a small saucepan over low heat until it thickens and just coats the back of a spoon (about 10 minutes). You can then spoon it over the Orange Tian

For the Whipped Cream

Ingredients U.S. Metric Imperial Instructions for Ingredients
heavy whipping cream 1 cup; 7 oz; 200 grams
3 tablespoons of hot water
1 tsp Gelatine
1 tablespoon of confectioner's sugar
orange marmalade (see recipe above) 1 tablespoon
In a small bowl, add the gelatine and hot water, stirring well until the gelatine dissolves. Let the gelatine cool to room temperature while you make the whipped cream. Combine the cream in a chilled mixing bowl. Whip the cream using a hand mixer on low speed until the cream starts to thicken for about one minute. Add the confectioner sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high. Whip the cream until the beaters leave visible (but not lasting) trails in the cream, then add the cooled gelatine slowly while beating continuously. Continue whipping until the cream is light and fluffy and forms soft peaks. Transfer the whipped cream to a bowl and fold in the orange marmalade.
[Tip: Use an ice cold bowl to make the whipped cream in. You can do this by putting your mixing bowl, cream and beater in the fridge for 20 minutes prior to whipping the cream.]

Assembling the Dessert:
Make sure you have some room in your freezer. Ideally, you should be able to fit a small baking sheet or tray of desserts to set in the freezer.
Line a small tray or baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone sheet. Lay out 6 cookie cutters onto the parchment paper/silicone.
Drain the orange segments on a kitchen towel.
Have the marmalade, whipped cream and baked circles of dough ready to use.
Arrange the orange segments at the bottom of each cookie cutter. Make sure the segments all touch either and that there are no gaps. Make sure they fit snugly and look pretty as they will end up being the top of the dessert. Arrange them as you would sliced apples when making an apple tart.
Once you have neatly arranged one layer of orange segments at the bottom of each cookie cutter, add a couple spoonfuls of whipped cream and gently spread it so that it fills the cookie cutter in an even layer. Leave about 1/4 inch at the top so there is room for dough circle.
Using a butter knife or small spoon, spread a small even layer of orange marmalade on each circle of dough.
Carefully place a circle of dough over each ring (the side of dough covered in marmalade should be the side touching the whipping cream). Gently press on the circle of dough to make sure the dessert is compact.
Place the desserts to set in the freezer to set for 10 minutes.
Using a small knife, gently go around the edges of the cookie cutter to make sure the dessert will be easy to unmold. Gently place your serving plate on top of a dessert (on top of the circle of dough) and turn the plate over. Gently remove the cookie cutter, add a spoonful of caramel sauce and serve immediately.








To be honest this is not the flavour I wanted to use for this tart... I wanted to try Mango and Peach, toping and mango peach homemade jam .
Also an appetizer tart combines home made mascrapone cheese with Lebanese fig jam, and fresh figs topping...and drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar .

I was very sick the last couple of days, I had a bad sinus infection, all my face with hurting.
I couldn't do much . But keep checking I am going to prepare the new flavours soon, and post them as part two of the challenge.





French Vegetable Tian


Provençal cooking celebrates the earthy traditions of the French countryside and southern France in general, with food as simple and good as bread, wine, cheese. A Tian is a layered, baked vegetable dish that originated in Provence but is also common to city kitchens. The vegetable Tian is a savoury dish to complement the sweet dish for the March Challenge.


Unlike a gratin, a Tian does not include a dough, bread crumbs or cheese, which allows the juices in the vegetables to evaporate in the oven's dry heat, concentrating their flavours.


Summer Vegetable Tian


This recipe calls for aubergines (eggplants). Look for glossy, brightly coloured skins (eggplant with overly dark flesh tends to be bitter). As with many rustic recipes, ingredients are called for by size and quantity but not a measured amount. Try not to worry: If you use the sizes and quantities below, you should have the right amount.


2 medium leeks
4 medium cloves garlic (the recipe calls for 2 cloves)
1 or 2 small zucchini
1 or 2 small aubergines (eggplants)
2 or 3 medium plum tomatoes
2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme (I used 1 tbsp Herb De Provence)
1/4 cup dry white wine (you can use water or vegetable stock-wine gives the acid flavour)
Extra virgin olive oil
Butter (I didn’t use butter, instead I brush the veggies with olive oil)
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper


1. cut a piece of parchment paper to the size of a two-quart glass or ceramic baking dish. Set aside. Butter the inside of the dish and set aside. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Remove the root ends of the leeks and cut the leeks just where the white part meets the green top. Set the greens aside for another use (such as making stock). Slice the white leek segments in half lengthwise and halve each. Slice leek quarters crosswise into ribbons; scrape into a bowl and fill the bowl with water. Swirl the leeks around until they start to separate and release the grit between the layers. Repeat with one or two changes of water to remove all the grit. Once the leeks are clean, drain them in a colander.

3. While the leeks are draining, peel and mince garlic.

4. Remove the ends from the zucchini and aubergines and discard. Cut each crosswise into coins 1/8-inch thick.

5. Remove the stem ends from the tomatoes and discard. Cut each crosswise into rounds 1/8-inch thick.

6. Coat a small pan with a two-count of olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and swirl to coat. Gently add the leeks, avoiding splashing. Cook, stirring frequently, until the leeks have begun to soften and the garlic has released its fragrance, approximately two minutes.

7. Carefully spread the leek-garlic mixture across the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and a few grindings of fresh black pepper; strip the leaves from one of the sprigs of thyme and sprinkle over the mixture.

8. Layer the zucchini, aubergines and tomato on top of the leek-garlic mixture, alternating each and overlapping slightly. If working with a square or rectangular dish, layer in rows; if working with a circular or oval dish, work in fans from the center. Drizzle with a two-count of olive oil and splash with the wine. Sprinkle with salt and a few grindings of fresh black pepper; strip the leaves from the remaining thyme and sprinkle over the casserole.

9. Butter the cut parchment and carefully place, buttered side down, on top of the vegetables. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, depending on your oven, until the vegetables are soft but not mushy while the edges are nicely crisp and brown.


Note: use a pie plate and not metal the acid in the wine will ruin the metal part.
Use a tray with parchment paper to catch the spill out juice.
If you have a convection oven, adjust the setting to convection roast, 400F; otherwise raise the oven temp to 425F. With the pan in the bottom and the paper on top the dish needs a higher temperature to roast and not steam the veggies. The last ten minutes take the paper off and let the veggies roast and caramelize.


I highly recommend this dish, it smells amazing, and tastes soooo good. A healthy side dish with your chicken or roast dinner.