Hot Days and Chilled Yoghurt Soup.

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It’s too hot. It’s too humid and we’ve definitely over-indulged over the last few weeks.

Oh by the way…Happy New Year to everyone…

Just about everyone around me ate and drank too much and I know this because I ate and drank right along side them.

My family celebrate on Christmas Eve. All my siblings with their families and some friends that have become part of the family head over to my mum and dad’s around 7ish where there is always too much food.

We spend the night singing (out of tune) way too loudly, we dance way too wildly and we laugh like a bunch of lunatics, and would never change any of it for anything. This year was extra special because my sister, niece and nephew arrived from New Zealand at 7ish on Christmas Eve and are here for the holidays.

I only wish I had some photos to share with you of our crazy night. Maybe next year….

Anyway, too much food and wine time is over for a little while. Time to give the old body some healthy and that’s where this delicious and disgustingly healthy and cooling soup comes in.

Cold Yoghurt and Cucumber Soup with mint and garlic. It’s perfect as an entrée or served with Riz (rice and egg noodle pilaf. Check out the link for the recipe) or grilled lamb or just in a big bowl as it is.

You’ll need:-

350g natural Greek style yoghurt

1 large clove of garlic – crushed

2 lebanese cucumbers – either sliced or diced

some fresh mint leaves – finely chopped

250 ml icy cold water

salt to taste

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Now here’s the really hard bit..whisk together the yoghurt and water in a big bowl then stir in the rest of the stuff and serve.

Perfect…

Enjoy…

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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…

Homemade Lebanese Bread

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So here’s the deal. I went for my walk this morning with the idea of stopping off at the shops afterwards and picking up a couple of things for tonight’s dinner. Sounds reasonable right? I thought it was.

Three different shops I stopped at didn’t have fresh Lebanese bread though they usually do.

Home I trudge with the things I did manage to purchase and the thought that I’d just have to go back out later to the bakery two suburbs over and buy my bread. The thing is I got lazy so instead decided to make my own. That’s right….I’m never too lazy to bake.

Well I found myself a recipe and am now very pleased with myself.

What you’ll need:-

2 cups bakers flour

1 1/2 tsp dried yeast

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp sugar

1 3/4 cup warm water (not hot)

What to do with the the above ingredients:-

Put them all into a big bowl (if you’re not sure your yeast is good, blend it with the water, salt and sugar and leave it for 10 minutes until it is frothy. If it isn’t frothy, my friend, you need to buy yeast). Mix all together then knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.

Put in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm draft free place to prove for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. (I use the oven)

After the dough has doubled in size cut into 4 or 6 equal portions (depending on if you prefer big or small bread) and shape into balls. Drape the plastic wrap over the portions and leave to rest 20 minutes more.

Turn the oven on to the hottest it will go and make sure one of the shelves is in the middle.

Take one portion of dough at a time and roll out very thinly, 0.5mm. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for 3 minutes, turn over cook 1 minute more.Image

I cooked one at a time but if you have a bigger oven than I do (which wouldn’t be hard) do more.

The best part is watching the dough puff up. Maybe that’s just me…

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Anyway… I’m very happy with how they came out. I think even mum would be…

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By the way dinner was Koussa ma’hshi, which I posted a recipe for a few months ago. Take another look.

Enjoy…

Kafta bi Saneah (baked Kafta)

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Most people now know what kafta is, and the many ways of cooking it.

It can come as skinless sausages, on skewers or not, which are grilled or barbecues and traditionally served with hummus and salad.  That’s a very popular to have it.

I’m baking it with potato, onion and tomato. The mix prepared the same way but instead of forming it into sausages we spread it onto a deep baking dish, add veggies and tomato and serve with rice, or riz.

We had a barbecue a couple of Sundays ago at mum and dads for mum’s and my Birthday. Menu choice was ours. I love barbecues. Our choice was lamb kebabs with hummus, Kafta sausages and loads of veggies, large portabello mushrooms, sliced zucchini and eggplant. We had great weather and the whole family was there to eat and have cakes. What a fantastic day.

Anyway...Kafta bi Saneah….

In a bowl mix together:

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250g lean beef or lamb mince

1 small brown onion – finely diced

1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley – finely chopped

1 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground pepper, 14 tsp ground cumin.

Spread 1 tsp olive oil over the bottom of a deep oven proof dish and press the kafta mix evenly over it. Slice 1 small onion into 5mm thin slices and place on top with 1 large potato that’s been sliced into 8mm rounds.Image Pour over 400g canned diced tomato with the juice and enough water to cover the potato. Give it all another small sprinkle of salt and pepper and bake at 200c for about 60 minutes or until the potato is cooked.

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Serve with Riz (see Bazella post for Riz recipe) and if you like, a little natural yoghurt.

Perfect.

Enjoy…

Lahme B’Ajeen (Lebanese Pizza)

image This is a go to recipe when I’m running a little short on time or when I feel like a pizza without wanting an actual cheesy pizza. I found these pitta breads in my local butcher of all places. They’re perfect for this dish. You’ll need :-Image 400g lean minced beef 1 medium onion – finely diced 2 medium tomatoes – finely diced Salt, pepper, cinnamon (to taste) Pitta or Lebanese bread. In a bowl mix together the beef, onion, tomato and seasonings. (Mum adds finely chopped flat leaf parsley too but I didn’t have any. Still tastes great though. Image Spread the mix evenly over the bread and grill until brown and cooked. Yes, that simple. Serve with a salad or a plate of spring onion, radish and lots of lemon. Chilli sauce is great squeezed on them too. EnjoyImage

Koussa Ma’hshi (stuffed marrows or Lebanese zucchini)

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This one was very difficult to write. I’ve made Koussa dozens of times but every time I made it,  the weights were wrong and I’d end up with heaps of filling left over. I believe I’ve got it right this time.

Koussa Ma’hshi is a family favourite. Growing up it was always served with vineleaves stuffed with the same filling. Mum would make the filling and stuff the zucchini while I rolled the vineleaves.

There was never a shortage of vineleaves thanks to the vine in mum and dad’s backyard. All spring and summer you could find us outside picking the leaves, laying them flat on top of each other and storing them in the freezer. Things haven’t changed much over the years either, except now you’ll also find my husband outside picking them as well.

During summer the vine covers alot of the yard and provides a wonderful canopy. Perfect place for barbecue lunches.

We use a tool called a manakra which is a kind of long thin apple corer to hollow out the zucchini. You’ll find a manakra in most Middle Eastern food stores. I’ve seen it written that you can core the zucchini with the handle of a long spoon, but I’ve yet to try it.koussa 2

For this dish you’ll need:-  8 medium (10 – 15 cm long) Lebanese zucchini

4 large cloves garlic – finely chopped

1/2 medium brown onion – finely diced

150g long grain rice (rinsed well)

250g canned diced tomato

200g lean beef mince

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp each ground black pepper and ground cinnamon.

juice of 1 large lemon

Cut the stalks off the zucchini. Carefully hollow out the fleshy inside making sure not to poke any holes through the skin. Rinse well with cold water, and allow to drain while you prepare the filling.

In a bowl mix well the garlic, onion, rice, tomato, mince, salt, pepper and cinnamon.

Stuff the zucchinis with the filling, and arrange in a medium saucepan.

Sprinkle a little salt over the zucchini, invert a plate to fit over them and cover completely with water.

Cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 45 – 50 minutes or until the zucchini are tender.

Serve warm with a little of the cooking liquid and some lemon juice.

The filling amounts should stuff 8 zucchini but I only did 6, so with the left overs I defrosted some vineleaves and rolled them up with the filling inside.koussa 4

Yum

Enjoy…

Mjadra (Lentil and Rice Pilaf)

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Yet another Lebanese Lentil dish. I did say we love lentils in this house.

I cooked a corn beef on Monday night, then made fritters out of left overs yesterday and then corn beef and mustard pickle sandwiches for lunch today. We are all corn beefed out. A quick SMS to my husband and tonight’s dinner is decided.

Healthy, vegan and delicious – Mjadra….

Here’s what you’ll need :-

1/2 cup green lentils

1 cup brown rice

1 1/2 large brown onions

2tbs olive oil

salt and pepper

2 1/2 cups water

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Rinse the lentils then put in a medium saucepan. Pour over  cups cold water, cover and bring to the boil. Once boiling turn heat down to medium low and let simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile chop 3/4 of a large onion into large dice and gently fry in 2 tbs olive oil until soft and just starting to brown on the edges then throw them, along with the oil, in with the lentils.

After the lentils have had their 10 minutes, stir in the rice, season with plenty of salt and pepper,  cover and bring back to the boil, then turn the heat down to low and leave to cook for 45 – 50 minutes or until the rice is cooked. (You can add a little more water if you think it needs it.)

When it’s done, turn the heat off and leave it covered while you thinly slice the rest of the onion and brown in 1 tbs olive oil with a sprinkle of salt. This is then served on top of the Pilaf.

We like this dish with a fresh tomato, onion and parsley salad and a spoonful of Greek yogurt.

Yum…

Enjoy…