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...
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...
Sumac Sweet Potato Wedges

Sumac Sweet Potato Wedges

So yummy! So easy to make! Perfect as a snack or as side dish! And that Sumac Tahini Yoghurt dipping sauce is so good, you could have it with so many other things. Here’s the full recipe… Ingredients 1 tablespoon sumac 1 tablespoon evoo  7 – 8 Sweet potatoes (approx 850g)  Method Preheat oven to 200°C Wash & scrub clean the potatoes (I prefer mine skin on!) Cut potatoes lengthways into wedges. Try to make wedges approxiametly the same size so they cook evenly. Lay in rows on a baking tray. Do not overlap. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes, turning once half way. Remove from oven and serve immediately with the dipping sauce (recipe below)! Sumac Tahini Yoghurt Dipping Sauce Ingredients 1 cup plain yogurt 1 tablespoon tahini paste Juice of half a lemon 1 teaspoon sumac 1 clove of garlic, crushed (optional) Method In a bowl add all ingredients and mix until all are well combined. Keep refrigerated until needed. Serve with chopped parsley.  ...
Let’s talk about that paste – that Hummus

Let’s talk about that paste – that Hummus

So let’s talk about ‘that paste’, that Hummus. Everyone loves it. Don’t they? Well, slight exaggeration, maybe not everyone (my daughter, as example number one!), but most people I would say. Many regions around the world try and claim hummus as their own but the fact of the matter is hummus is the Arabic word for chickpeas, and although it is now globally synonymous with the dip or spread, the earliest recipe for hummus takes it right back to Ancient Egypt. For the Lebanese, hummus has been a regular and genuine part of their kitchen for generations. There isn’t a household that doesn’t embrace it. In fact I’d be suspicious of any Lebanese restaurant that didn’t serve it! You can buy hummus pretty much everywhere now, from corner shops to large chain supermarkets. But let’s be real. That store bought stuff (and I’ve tasted a few) are nothing but sly impostors, disguised and presented as the authentic thing. Nowadays when I see it in the dips section of my local supermarket I can’t help but remember the GoRemy ‘All about that paste’ parody. “You said you get your hummus down at the corner shop. You know that dish ain’t real habibi. Make it stop!” It’s really funny. I posted a snippet from it on my Instagram recently. If you haven’t seen it, check it out here ‘All about that paste’. On a serious note, I’m sure we’ve all bought hummus from the supermarket because it is just so convenient. There are a couple of particular brands that I don’t mind the taste of when I’m really desperate (ask me if...
Stuffed Eggplant & Capsicum

Stuffed Eggplant & Capsicum

Stuffed Eggplant & Capsicum 2 large eggplants 6 – 8 small whole capsicums or 3 – 4 large whole capsicums (tops cut off & hulled) 2 tablespoons olive oil Cooking oil spray 2 brown onions, finely chopped 3 garlic cloves, crushed 1 large carrot, finely chopped 1 large red capsicum, finely chopped 500g beef mince 2 x 400g cans diced tomatoes 3/4 cup beef stock 2 tablespoons tomato paste 100g crumbled feta Method To make stuffing: Heat oil in a large saucepan & add onion, garlic, carrot, capsicum. Cook for about 5 minutes until onion has softened. Add mince. Cook until browned. Add tomatoes, stock and paste. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove cover. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until thickened. Preheat oven to 200°C. Pierce eggplant several times with a fork & spray all over with oil. Place on an oven tray that’s lined with baking paper. Bake for 40 minutes or until tender. Cut eggplants in half lengthways. Using a spoon, scoop flesh from the eggplant halves, leaving a 1cm border. Finely chop. Combine stuffing and chopped eggplant in a medium bowl. Place eggplant halves on baking tray. Place capsicums into a baking dish. Spoon stuffing into eggplant and prepared whole capsicums. Top with the crumbed feta. Bake for 20 minutes or until heated through....
Braised Lamb Shanks & Pearl Couscous Salad

Braised Lamb Shanks & Pearl Couscous Salad

Braised Lamb Shanks & Pearl Couscous Salad 5 – 6 lamb shanks 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 brown onion, finely chopped 2 cinnamon sticks 6 whole cloves 10 allspice berries 1 cup beef stock 1 400g can diced tomatoes Salt & Pepper Couscous Salad 250g pearl couscous 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 cups chicken stock 1 brown onion, finely chopped 1 green capsicum, chopped into 1cm cubes 1 cup baby spinach leaves 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds 1/2 cup parsley leave, chopped finely 1/3 cup mint leaves, chopped finely Method Trim most of the fat off the lamb shanks & season with salt & pepper. In a large frying pan, warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil & sear the shanks in batches, turning for about 8 minutes until brown on all sides. Transfer the shanks to a slow-cooker. Alternatively, you can place in a large oven dish. Using the same frying pan, add the onion, cinnamon sticks, cloves & allspice and sauté until the onion has softened & changed colour. Pour in the beef stock & stir in the tomatoes. Pour this mixture over shanks in slow-cooker or oven dish. If using slow-cooker, cover & cook for 8 hours on low setting. If cooking in the oven, cover the shanks with baking paper & then tightly cover dish with foil. Place in a preheated oven (at 170ºC) for 4 hours. Meat should be falling off the bone when cooked. Move lamb shanks to a large plate. Strain braising liquid into a small saucepan & bring to the boil. Leave to boil for about 5 minutes until it reduces by about half....
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