Ma’amoul Swirls

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As you near the house all you hear is a familiar sound. The BANG of the Ma’amoul mould being hit on the edge of the table. Yep, it must be nearly Easter and Mum and Dad are elbow deep in Ma’amoul biscuit dough. On one side there is a big bowl of date filling and on the other a bowl of crushed walnut and rose water. The smell of melted ghee wafts out the kitchen and invades your nostrils. Only a few more steps and you’ll be amid the organized chaos and within arms reach of this years batch of Ma’amoul.

And then you see them….

Mounds of lightly browned date or walnut filled biscuits, still slightly warm and definitely too good to just stand around and look at so you make a run for them. But no…. you’re forced back by the  ‘DON”T YOU TOUCH THOSE’ yelled out in unison by both Mum and Dad…

I’d love to say that is a memory of our childhood but the truth is it happens still, every year.

These little gems are quite different to the Ma’amoul we wait for every Easter. My sister makes something very similar and I could sit and eat a whole plate of them with a cup of tea or coffee.

Let me tell you how I made Ma’amoul Swirls from this months The Cookbook Guru‘s beautiful book of choice, Saha by Greg and Lucy Malouf.

For the filling you’ll need:-

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200g fresh dates, pitted and chopped

4 Tblsp water

1 Tblsp castor sugar

1 Tblsp Kahlua (which I didn’t have so I used Dranbuie)

Melt the sugar in the water over a low heat then add the dates, stir well and cover. Leave for four or five minutes to soften then take off the heat and stir in the Kahlua. Leave to cool slightly then blitz in a food processor until smooth. Leave to cool.

For the Biscuit dough:-

270g plain flour

150g butter

30g icing sugar

20ml olive oil

45ml milk

Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs then stir in the sugar then add the milk and oil and work into a smooth dough.

On a floured bench, roll out the dough to a large rectangle, about 3mm thick, and spread the filling over the top evenly leaving a small margin on one of the long sides.

Now roll into a long sausage making sure to seal the edge well. Chill in the fridge for about an hour (this helps with the cutting).IMG_1512

Pre heat the oven to 160oC. Slice the biscuit log on the diagonal about 1cm thick and place them on a baking paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes then turn the heat down to 140oC and bake for a further 10 minutes.

Cool on wire racks.

The result…melt in the mouth biscuits. Absolutely delicious….

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My sister’s version is rolled in sesame seeds. I’ll have to try that next time.

Enjoy…

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Flat Chicken with Broad Bean Crush

Another recipe from Greg and Lucy Malouf’s recipe book Saha  for this months The Cookbook Guru.

The idea of the broad bean crush was too enticing to pass up, especially considering broad beans are currently in season and plentiful here.

When we were kids (and there is 7 of us) Dad used to go to the fruit market out at Flemington on Saturday mornings and come back with boxes and bags of fresh fruit and vegetables. He would unload the car, leaving everything in the tiny alcove near the front door and we would go back and forth carrying boxes to the kitchen where my mum would start to organise things for storage.

As the box of broad beans was being carried into the house we would reach in as it went past and grab a pod or two and begin to pod and peel the beans as we continued to cart fruit and veg into the house. What a memory that is.

Well, I don’t buy boxes of broad beans but I did buy a bagful (some for the recipe, some for me to munch on while I tackled the recipe). Mmmm… so fresh…

I have to admit I was a little disappointed with this particular recipe though. It had wonderful ingredients, all the makings of a great dish but the flavour didn’t really do much to enhance the meal. In fact I found the broad bean crush to be a little bitter. It did look amazing though…

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I used a free range chicken, cut out the back bone, then with the breast side up I pressed down with my hand to flatten it.

Next I seasoned the chicken well with salt, pepper, cinnamon, cumin, sumac and some sweet paprika. I lay it on a couple of sliced potatoes and a sliced onion then popped it in a preheated 200oC oven for about 45 minutes. (The recipe calls for 2 x 500g chickens and is grilled instead of baked but the chicken I got was 1.5kg and was not going to fit under my grill, so I baked it on the top shelf in the oven.)

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For the broad bean crush:-

1 clove of garlic, crushed

pinch of salt

125g broad beans, podded and peeled

1 shallot, finely diced

1/4 cup coriander leaves, finely chopped

50ml extra virgin olive oil

pinch cayenne pepper

freshly ground black pepper

juice of 1 lemon

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Pound the garlic and salt together in a mortar and pestle until you have a smooth paste, then gradually add the rest of the ingredients while pounding them all together until you get a sludgy mix. (You can always put everything into a blender or food processor)

This is where I tasted the mix and found it wasn’t quite to my likings so I added in a teaspoon of brown sugar in the hope of masking the bitterness, and it did help.

Once the chicken is cooked, smear the broad bean mix over it then pop it back into the oven for about 5 minutes to cook the beans and garlic a little.

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I served the chicken pieces with the potato and onion from the baking dish and a fresh garden salad.

Sorry to say I don’t know that I would make the broad bean crush again but I won’t be stopped from eating fresh broad beans straight out of the pod or digging into a plate of broad beans and rice Riz ib Fool. Yum….

Pickled Turnip

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Wow. It sure has been a while since I’ve posted on The Cookbook Guru but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been keeping up with all the contributions that have been added over the past couple of months. It’s always great to see how recipes are interpreted and shared.

For October we’ve been offered Saha by Greg and Lucy Malouf as The Cookbook Guru’s book of the month.

What an amazing book. A kind of modern twist on some of the foods I grew up on. I’m looking forward to a lot of the recipes in this book and though I can say I will try to follow the recipes as they are written, you and I both know I won’t. For instance:

Pickled Turnips

4 turnips

1 beetroot

2 1/2 Tblsp salt

boiling water

white vinegar

(The recipe also calls for peppercorns, thyme and bay leaves but instead I added a few fresh red chillis which is the way my mother makes them.)

IMG_1450 Trim and wash the turnips and beetroot. Cut them in half then in wedges or batons then mix them together and place them in a sterilized jar

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Dissolve the salt in about 500ml boiling water.

Fill 1/3 of the jar with vinegar then top up with salted water to cover the turnips. Seal and turn the jar upside down a couple of times to make sure everything is mixed.

Store in a cupboard for about 5-7 days to allow the turnips to pickle. Once opened store in the fridge.IMG_1453IMG_1455

We serve these pickles as part of a mezza or as an accompaniment to just about any savoury dish. I love them best in a falafel roll. Yum.

As always…

Enjoy…