Thursday, 21 April 2011

matlou or leavened Algerian bread

This bread is heavily consumed during the month of Ramadan in Algeria as it teams up beautifully with the famous soup Chorba Frik. It required more work than other bread, required longer kneaning and a proper warmer place to prove (to raise). In cold Scotland, I never make it whitout something cooking on the stove at the same time. Tha't the only way to have enough heat and steam for it to rise properly.

I made it once for my bosnian friend when she visited with her older sister, They loved it so much, and they though the texture and taste is similar to the italian bread Ciabatta in a better homely version.
They did something very funny, they helped themselves with a butter tub and my black pepper grinder and they munched on pieces of bread on which they spread butter and added some fresly ground pepper. They said this is a tradition in their family (or may be Bosnia) when girls want to discuss or share their worries. I tried this combination and it was delicious.

Moroccan Carrots and orange Salad

This simple salad is refreshing, and the orange blossom water adds an unusual touch.

I prepared this dish for the second time for a barbecue that we enjoyed with few families in a place called Haddow house (30 min from Aberdeen). I have been thinking about trying this recipe with others for it's unusal combination of fruits and vegetable. It went really well with barbecued meat (especially chicken). Feel free to play with the quantities to suit your own taste.

I also made a middle eastern salad. The coulours say it all. Health on a plate. Who said healthy food is boring...

500g carrots
3 oranges
4 tsp orange flower blossom water
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp caster sugar
Juice of 1 orange
Ground cinnamon


1. Peel the carrots and grate finely 

2. Peel the oranges and cut the flesh into small pieces, catching the juices.

3. Mix the oranges, carrots, olive oil, orange flower water and sugar together in a serving bowl, adding plenty of salt.

4. Sprinkle ground cinnamon over the surface and chill well before serving.

Serves 6 as part of a salad selection.

Monday, 7 March 2011

'Bouza bil halib' بوضة بالحليب milky ice cream with sahleb 'orchid'

1 litre of milk (4 cups)
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of sahleb powder
1 tbsp orange blossom water
½ tsp mastic pounded with ½ tsp sugar
Pistachios for decoration


1.      Mix the sahleb with a little of the mil, Boil the rest of the milk in a saucepan after you added the sugar (keep stirring all the time).
2.      Add some of the hot milk to the sahleb paste, then gradually mix in the rest of the milk, add the mastic powder.
3.       Stir vigorously until it is all dissolved and simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes until it is tick (keep stirring from time to time).
4.      Mix in the orange blossom water and pour the mixture into a bowl for the freezer.
5.      leave it to cool, then cover and freeze, beating at intervals to avoid the formation of crystals (I used an electrical hand mixer and it added air to the mixture)
6.      Take out of freezer 10 minutes before serving, spoon the ice cream into bowls and sprinkle with chopped pistachios

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Simit: Turkish bread

Not a bagel, not croissant, not a baguette, but as good as if you like this kind of stuff…
This bread is very popular in Turkey and the middle street, is sold in the streets throughout the day as the vendors walk around with baskets or trolleys filled with the freshly baked rings covered with sesame seeds.

Simit is not your typical meals accompaniment bread. It is more for breakfast with jam and cheeses or for a light snack. I don’t even think that they use it for sandwiches.

For the texture, it is crunch from the inside and chewy and soft from the inside

Apparently, it is one of the things Turkish people miss most when they are abroad. How do I know!!! I am not Turkish, easy answer, I made it once, everybody at home loves it and we are already missing it.

500g flour
1tbsp salt
1tbsp instant dried yeast
Warm water (roughly 300 ml)
A shallow bowl of sesame seeds
2 tbsp Pomegranate molasses diluted in 2 tbsp water
1 to 2 eggs (beaten)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1.      In a medium mixing bowl, sift together flour and salt. On a side add the dry yeast

2.      Make a depression in the dry ingredients with your fist, making a "hole" in the middle. Gradually add the warm water and use your hands to draw in the flour from the sides until you get soft dough.

3.      Knead the dough for 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic

4.      Put the dough backing the bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave to prove and double in size (1 hour or 2)

5.      Punch the risen dough and knock it back into a ball of dough.

6.      Tear off pieces of dough (about 16). Use 2 balls of dough to make cigar shapes. Bring ends of "cigars" together to make a ring (look at picture).

7.      Dip the rings into diluted pomegranate molasses (in some water) or a beaten egg mixture, the dip again in a bowl of sesame seeds.

8.       Place circle on an oiled baking tray.

9.      Cover with a damp cloth and let rise again in a warm place for 30 minutes.

10.  Bake in a preheated oven (200ºC) for 20 to 30 minutes until golden brown

11.  Brush with milk. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Repeat with remaining dough.

12.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until simit become a golden brown color and crispy on top.

I tried few with black sesame seeds

My boys insisted on making their names with the last piece of dough
can you guess their names?

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Sablés (Short crust biscuits with Jam)

Ingredients: makes 25 pieces

125g cold butter cubed
125g icing sugar
250g plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 – 2 tbsp cold water
1 jar strawberry jam
Icing sugar

1.   Put flour, sugar, salt, butter, vanilla and baking powder in food processor and blitz it until mixture texture is similar to sand. Rub all ingredients using both hands to get similar results.
2.   Add the egg and 1 tbsp of cold water and blitz again few times. Don’t over do it though.
3.   At this stage, the dough should starting blending as a ball at the sides of the mixing bowl. If you touch it, it should have a soft but crumbly consistency
4.   Take dough out of food processor, dust some flour over it and rest for 15 to 30mn. Roll to 3 mm thickness and cut out circles like on the picture.
5.   Bake in a preheated oven 180°C for 7 to 10mn
6.   Leave to cool down then dust the hollow circles with icing sugar.
7.   Sandwich the two circles with some strawberry Jam or any other jam of your choice

Mchouek مشوك (Almond spiky macaroons)

Ingredients: makes 40 pieces
3 cups ground almonds
1 cup caster sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
Vanilla essence
3 eggs separated
1 extra whole egg
1- 2 cups almond flakes


1.      In deep bowl, mix the almond powder, sugar, lemon zest, sugar and vanilla.
2.      Slowly add the egg whites and mix using your hands. You should a get a firm but wet and sticky mixture.
3.      Take pieces of a size of a walnut and roll into balls
4.      Add the whole egg to the egg yolks and beat in a small ball. Dip few ball at a time in the egg mixture.
5.      Roll into the almond flakes.
6.      Put into baking cases. Top up with half glace cherry and bake in a preheated oven (180°C) for 10 to 15mn.

Maamool معمول (Semolina cookies filled with dates)

Ingredients: makes 35 pieces
3 cups fine semolina
2 cups plain flour
1 cup melted butter
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup icing sugar (dough)
½ cup icing sugar (dusting)
½ cup milk or less
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp baking powder
250g pitted dates


1.      Melt the butter, leave it to cool down. Mix the semolina, flour, oil butter, sugar, salt, baking powder until all ingredients are well blended.
2.      Add milk and knead gently. You should get a soft and crumbly consistency. Leave to rest for ½ hour.
3.      Meanwhile try to make the pitted date into a soft paste. You could use the microwave to warm it (2mn). Then knead it into a soft bowl. You could also use a mini chopper to reach the same result. Add 1 tbsp of cinnamon for a nice flavour.
4.      Stuff walnut size dough balls with smaller dates’ balls. I used a special Maamool mould to give it a nice design. You can also flatten the
Stuffed balls and use a fork or a knife to give a nice design.
5.      Bake in a preheated oven 180°C for 10 to 20mn until lightly golden.