July 31, 2012

Layla's Light Pizza - A No Hassle Pizza

Am not a big pizza fan, even though I indulge in one every now and then. I thought about my lukewarm attitude towards pizza, and I realized it was all this dripping saturated fat from the melting cheese that really got to me. Besides, I have a confession, I don't make them myself, I have a problem with dough in general...but NOT today.

So am about to proudly share with you MY version of what a light pizza is and I will add to today's recipe, an extra special bonus - a salad mix recipe. Hope you enjoy both.

But first you know what to do -----> please read my welcome note.

So let's get started with my first ever home made pizza, with a particular twist to it.

For 2 you will need the following : 

- a 25cm oven tray the ones you would use for pies.
- ready made pizza dough (if you can make your own all the better)
- half a green pepper bell diced
- 2 medium size tomatoes diced
- 1 medium size onion cut in thin rings
- 2 small zucchinis diced
- 2 gloves of garlic very finely minced
- a tiny bit of fresh red chili pepper minced with the garlic
- salt (a little to your liking don't forget feta cheese is salty)
- cayenne red chili pepper (a dash or two, I like it hot)
- paprika (a dash)
- dry Thyme (2 generous pinches)
- Feta cheese
- 1tbs of virgin olive oil

1) pre-heat your oven to max
2) follow instructions on your pizza dough pack. I spread it thin with a rolling pin on a large wooden board adding some flour and leave it to rest in the tray for a couple of minutes  (you can opt for a thick cut)
3) cover the dough with onion rings
4) in a separate bowl mix :  diced tomatoes, pepper bell, zucchinis, garlic, chili pepper, thyme, paprika and the olive oil. Mix well.
5) spread evenly over the onion rings
6) put in oven and turn heat to medium (important because you don't want your dough to cook before your veggies)
7) once your vegetables are cooked (they will be giving some of their juices) turn the oven heat up so all the juices are dry and the dough becomes somewhat crispy.
8) switch off the oven
8) pull your tray out and generously crumble some feta cheese on top, and put back in oven for a minute or so-  the point is to have the cheese warm but not melting.

Now for the salad :

- 1 largish cup of fresh grated carrots
- 1 apple diced
- 1 avocado peeled and cut in chunks
- 5 branches of fresh parsley, chopped (leaves only)
- a handful of walnuts
- a handful of Alfafa sprouts (optional but oh so good)

Salad dressing consists of :

- 11/2 tbs of mayonnaise
- about 2 tbs of virgin olive oil
- juice of 1/2 a lemon (fresh lemon please no squeezy thing)
- 1 generous pinch of ground cumin
- a dash of ground cinnamon
- salt and pepper to taste

whisk the above very well, taste it you may need to add some more lemon juice mayo or spices, this is not an exact science. Pour over your salad and serve with the pizza.

Sahtein  - Bon appétit  

July 24, 2012

Ramadan Special - Fatet Hummus

It's about time that I update this blog. I have a slight problem though, choosing adequate recipes since I have promised to go vegetarian for the whole month of Ramadan, meaning no meat, no chicken...( I may cheat with canned Tuna and Sardines but please don't tell anyone.)

Will not go into the exact reasons behind this decision of mine, but to put it briefly, I felt since Ramadan is a month of Mercy, let me be merciful towards animals. No need to spill their blood during this holy month, and let's give them a break for 30 days or so...Not that am a big meat eater, but chicken once a week and red meat once every two weeks were welcomed...well am giving those up. 

So my forthcoming recipes will be strictly vegetarian for this Holy month.

Tonight, I will share with you a traditional Ramadan dish, from Lebanon, Syria, also prepared in Jordan and Palestine called Fatet Hummus. In Syria they call it Tass'ieh.

But before I start, and specially during this month of Sharing, please make sure to feed one person or more, if you do try out my recipe. You can either give money for one meal or more, or give cooked food. It's up to you, but do it...what you give will return to you seven fold plus. Thanks.

Now let's get started.

Hummus means Chickpeas, also called Garbanzo Beans and 7'500 years old remains of this bean was found in the Middle East. So it is an ancient bean.

Hummus is very high in protein, and has sedative properties, contains Tryptophan, a precursor to Serotonin. In other words, it's a mood enhancer. You will see, when eating Hummus, you will really feel "chilled out". If you have difficulty sleeping Hummus does the trick..seriously.

Fatet Hummus is not to be confused with Hummus be Tahine. In other words it is NOT Hummus paste.
Fatet Hummus is usually served in Ramadan, after the Soup, it is VERY filling, so take it easy, in portions. It is not a main meal, but if you opt to have it as the only meal, be warned, you will not be able to move later...yeah it has this effect...well on me it does.

So for 2-3 people as an entrée /starter you will need :

Ingredients :

- 300gr of chickpeas - either in tin or dried. 
*If you opt for dried chickpeas,rinse them then soak them at least 12 hours in double their volume of cold water, adding a small tsp of sodium bicarbonate. 
*if tinned, (I prefer dried but when in a hurry I use tinned). Rinse them under cold water first.

- 1 medium size Lebanese bread (Arabic bread) a MUST
- 2 large Tsp of Cumin powder (a Must)
- 2 standard cans of Yogurt  about 150 grs each.
-1 tbs of Tahine or Sesame paste (if you don't have that, don't fret, you can also do without it but BETTER with it.
- 1 clove of garlic crushed
- 2 full tbs of not salted, not roasted pine nuts (if you can't find those, don't fret, it's okay, but preferable with pine nuts)
- 2 branches of parsley, leaves only, coarsely chopped 
- salt

Preparation :

- if using dried chickpeas, rinse after soaking overnight. In a large saucepan, cover with boiling water, adding 11/2 tsp of cumin (important), salt and leave it to cook until very tender. Make sure to have some liquid in there, don't let it dry.

- if using tinned chickpeas, rinse them well, place in saucepan, cover with boiling water plus 11/2 tsp of cumin plus salt and let it boil for 3 mn only.

- meanwhile grill your bread in the oven until Crispy (not burnt) just well crispy.

- in a deep dish, break the bread with your hands until they are like medium size crumbs, leave a little bread on side, don't use all the bread, just enough to cover bottom of dish

- take a little of the chickpeas WATER (only) and humidify the bread with it...not soak the bread, just dampen it, so you can see it moist

- drain chickpeas  and cover the bread with the chickpeas like a second layer.

- now add remaining crispy bread on top

- in a separate bowl, pour the 2 cans of yogurt, in which you would crush the garlic, add 1/2tsp cumin, salt and a tbs of Tahine paste (sesame seeds paste), as I said if you don't have Tahiné you can skip that part.

- if you are using Tahiné add  JUST a squeeze of FRESH lemon juice to the Yogurt Tahine mix. 

- mix it real well

- cover your dish with the yogurt mix

- in a non stick frying pan, heat the olive oil, (it should not smoke, just heat it well), to which you will add the pine nuts, fry them until golden (careful pine nuts burn quickly, you need them golden brown not black)

- pour the nuts WITH  the olive oil on top of your dish

- decorate with chopped parsley

- Serve HOT

Ramadan Kareem ! And a prayer for Syria !

P.S: I decline all responsibility for excessive flatulence, (a possible side effect, hence I stress on the cumin, it absorbs) I also recommend you don't drink cold stuff with this meal, stick to warm drinks, tea with mint is an excellent choice. Trust me you will love it, flatulence and all. x

July 10, 2012

Chaï in Arabic, Tea in English.

I am a coffee addict but also a tea addict, and nothing gives me more pleasure than concocting my own mix.
Tea is a wonderful drink. and is a powerful anti-oxydant.
I noticed something when in the desert, Bedouins, drink hot tea in the desert heat! I was then told that drinking something ice cold in the heat will actually make you thirstier...besides in traditional Chinese and Arabic medicine,a body suffering from heat, should not be given something very cold to drink but something hot or lukewarm.

Anyways this is my two cents worth regarding the benefits of tea. As usual if you are new to my blog I will ask you to read my welcome note first, but since today it is not an edible recipe but a drinking one, I do not expect you to feed one (or more persons) in return but will encourage you to offer a drink of something (preferably non alcoholic) to one or more...

Now for my tea concoction. Yes it is absolutely delicious, very scented, aromatic and a bit of an aphrodisiac.

Let's get started.

Drinking tea is an art, choose your favorite cup/glass, teapot for the full experience. Sit back, relax and sip,   let your senses do all the tasting...

In a small non stick saucepan mix the following :

- 3 whole grains of cardamom (crack them a little)
- 1/4 stick of Cinnamon
- 4 cloves
- a generous pinch of dried rose petals (the edible ones - can be found in any herbal shop)
- a small pinch of Saffron threads
- good quality BLACK tea ( Ceylon, Lipton etc won't do it - you need real Black tea preferably loose or one tea bag like Tetley / PG tips or English Breakfast by Twinnings)

Mix all your spices and add boiling water - bring it to boil once and leave it to simmer on a medium low heat for a few minutes, until all the aroma is out. Your water by now should be looking kind of brownish.
Add your black tea and leave it to simmer one or two minutes, you need it strong.

Using a sieve, drain it, add some milk and sugar and enjoy.

If you have any of the mixture left, you can guard it in a flask for 24 hours or for another cuppa.

Enjoy !