The ‘Desert Rose’ Pavlova

The ‘Desert Rose’ Pavlova

Over the years we have seen the humble birthday sponge grow and transform into all kinds of creative, sometimes elegant, sometimes whacky, designs. Now with social media these designs can go viral, trends are so quickly created and people will go wild for them. I don’t mind buying these cakes. Any kind of cake really and I do, I certainly do! But when it comes to special occasions, for a loved one, I especially love making the cake myself. I am a DIY type. I really enjoy having something creative to work on and you can’t beat the taste of a homemade cake, especially one made with love (a dash of sweat & perhaps a few tears!). So when that right occasion comes around, I pull out my cake tins, I’ll sit and watch cake-making video after video and with conviction I think to myself, ‘I can do that!’ So I delve knee deep into cake making and baking one of the latest in cake ‘trends’ and I have to admit even though I start to regret it sometimes (just because it’s usually not as easy as I thought!), more often than not, seeing the look on the face of the recipient…just that end result, makes it all worth it. All these ‘trendy’ cakes aside, what I love baking most are the classics. Sponge, carrot, eclairs, lamingtons, pavlova…especially pavlova! If there’s ever an array of desserts on offer and pavlova is one of the options, hands down, I’ll go for the pav first! I love the crispy shell, the soft marshmallow-y inside and when it’s topped with freshly whipped cream and fresh...
Suhoor – the pre-dawn meal

Suhoor – the pre-dawn meal

Suhoor (سحور‎‎ suḥūr), which literally translates to ‘of the dawn’ or ‘pre-dawn meal’ is the meal that is eaten in the very early morning, yep, you guessed it, just before dawn or sunrise. During the month of Ramadan this meal replaces breakfast and even though there are some who give it a miss (like me, sometimes!), it is in fact highly recommended to wake up and at least have something small with a cup of water. Considering that suhoor is the only meal you can have until iftar (breaking of the fast time at sunset) it becomes especially important to avoid skipping. As part of this Ramadan blog series, I’ve asked Hiba Jebeile (Nutrition & Dietetics) to share with us her opinion on the benefits of suhoor, some meal tips to keep you well nourished throughout the day as well as handy recipe links. __________________________________________________________________________________________ In Ramadan, Suhoor really needs to be the breakfast of champions. While it does take a bit of extra effort to prepare meals and wake up that little bit earlier in the morning, there are many benefits to waking up for suhoor including: Providing you with the energy and nutrients for the day Keeping your metabolism going and helping to prevent Ramadan weight gain Removing the need for a second meal or late snack in the evening Modern diets tend to include processed breakfast foods such as cereals, breads or liquid drinks. Breakfast and in the case of Ramadan, suhoor, should always include a slow release carbohydrate, source of protein or dairy, plus fruits or vegetables. Here are our top picks for your suhoor this Ramadan: Something to...
RAMADAN – WEEK 1 Are you ready?

RAMADAN – WEEK 1 Are you ready?

Guess what folks, yep it’s that time of year again…Ramadan (2017 /1438 AH) is here. For those of you playing at home… Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar year where Muslims abstain from eating or drinking from sunrise to sunset. Sounds pretty tough and sure in other parts of the world where the daylight hours are longer and hotter, it may be. This year in Sweden, for example, daylight goes for 19.5 hours! In recent years, in Australia though, the fasting month has fallen on the shorter, winter days which means this year our fasting hours are approximately 11.5. So there should be no complaining from Down Under! Be that as it may, it’s really important to remember, fasting isn’t just about abstaining from food and drink. We often tend to forget the fast has a lot more to do with pressing the breaks on the ‘fast life’. Naturally, we all get caught up in the mundane rituals of everyday life. We are all so busy with family, work, studies, kids, schedules and so on. There’s always something we need to do, somewhere we need to be. The fast of Ramadan is a gentle reminder to think about what we are doing with our time and where we are heading. Ironically, we are ‘fasting’ but in natural fact the term ‘fast’, not only represents abstaining from certain things but more importantly marks a period of slowing down and reflection. Ramadan is also a time for breaking bad habits and setting goals in an attempt to increase such things as self-discipline, humility, patience & charity.  In saying that, what we call ‘iftar‘ or the breaking of the...
Fattoush Salad

Fattoush Salad

Fattoush… has to be one of the most popular salads (beside or perhaps just after tabbouli) on a Lebanese menu. It’s healthy, tangy and fresh with a perfect crunch from the addition of toasted pita bread. It’s also very easy to make and works as a great accompaniment to many meals. Here’s how to make it… Ingredients ½  cos lettuce, shredded 1 cucumber, diced 2 tomatoes, diced 5 radishes, sliced 2 spring onions, finely chopped ½ red capsicum, diced 1 handful parsley, chopped 1 tbsp mint, chopped 1 Lebanese bread Dressing 1 garlic clove, crushed 2 tsp sumac 3 tbsp olive oil 3 tbsp lemons juice 1 tsp salt 1 tsp pomegranate molasses Method In a large bowl place lettuce, tomatoes, capsicum and cucumbers, radish, spring onions, mint and parsley. Toast the bread under the grill until crisp. This may only take a couple of minutes so don’t take your eyes off it and let it burn. In a small bowl combine the garlic, sumac, oil, lemon juice, salt and pomegranate molasses to make the dressing. Break up the bread and add with dressing to vegetables. Toss gently and serve salad immediately....
Sayadiah – Fish & Rice

Sayadiah – Fish & Rice

Sayadiah is a traditional rice and fish dish that is beautifully aromatic and quite common in all Lebanese households. Over the years I have tried making it a few different ways, sometimes using saffron and other times using baharat (Lebanese 7 spice). Most recently I asked the advice of my older sister Fadia and found the trick to getting that robust flavour was firstly the way you cook your onions (soft, golden and not browned) and the other being the homemade fish stock! So here is my version of her recipe. I added the use of the prawns which I think undeniably intensifies the flavours. Ingredients 1 – 1.5kg whole white fish (such as barramundi, filleted & bones reserved) 500g green prawns 2 cups long grain rice 4 tbsp cup olive oil 1 brown onion, roughly chopped 2 brown onions, diced finely 1 teaspoon vegetable stock powder 2 bay leaves 1 garlic clove 2 pieces lemon peel 1 coriander root 2 tsp salt 5 whole cloves 5 cups water 1/2 tsp white pepper 1/4 tsp cinnamon 1/4 tsp cumin 1/2 cup pine nuts 1/2 cup slivered almonds Method Fillet the fish, leaving bones (or most fish mongers will do this for you). Cut the bones to fit into your stock pot. Discard gills. Cut fish fillets into large chunks and refrigerate until needed. Remove heads and shells off prawns. Add shells and heads to stock pot and refrigerate prawn meat until needed. To the stock pot add one onion (roughly chopped), stock powder, bay leaves, garlic, lemon peel, whole cloves, coriander root and 1 teaspoon salt. Add 5 cups of water to the pot & bring to...
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