Arabic Mezze

 While I’m enjoying the time in my home-country, in Dubai is the month of Ramadan. It’s one of the important months for Muslims; during the month they are fasting (no food or drink) during the daytime. Traditionally, it’s normal to brake the fast with dates before Iftar. Iftar includes buffet tables with a large variety of dishes.Arabic mezze
 Mezze is a selection of small dishes, appetizers served before the main course in many countries like Turkey, Lebanon, UAE, Syria, Greece, Cyprus. There are vegetarian, fish or meat mezze. Arabic-style mezze platters often include marinated olives, fresh herbs such as mint and zaatar, labneh (thick yogurt), halloumi cheese, kofta (meatballs) and many others. I guess, almost everyone is familiar with classic hummus – pureed chickpea dip. I do like this tasty dip, it’s wonderful with roasted chicken or lamb kofta, or simply with bread. But this time I made unusual hummus -with roasted red bell peppers and pomegranate molasses; it turned out so delicious! I served the hummus with Arabic pita bread, olives and baked halloumi cheese. Roasted red pepper hummus
 Halloumi cheese is another tasty appetizer, which is pretty popular in Middle Eastern cuisine. Baked halloumi with touch of honey and thyme makes wonderful snack. Serve it warm with bread or salad.Arabic mezze platter

Arabic Mezze: Roasted red pepper hummus & Baked halloumi

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 1hr
  • Difficulty: easy
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Roasted red pepper hummus

Ingredients

2 large red peppers
1 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot or 1/2 small brown onion
1 small garlic clove, chopped
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika (plain or smoked as you like)
1 can (400g) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2-3 tbsp fresh chopped coriander
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp orange juice
2 tsp pomegranate molasses (or add more lemon juice)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black/white pepper, to taste
Preparation
  1. Cut peppers into halves and place them onto lined baking tray under the grill for 15 minutes, or roast covered in foil in preheated 180C oven  for 30 minutes. Remove their skins.
  2. In a small frying pan, heat olive oil, add onion and fry over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, add garlic and cumin and saute for a minute more.
  3. In a food processor, add peppers, fried onion, paprika, chickpeas, coriander, lemon and orange juices, molasses if using and pulse several times. Add extra virgin olive oil, and blend again. Season to taste.
  4. If you want to make the hummus thiner, add a couple of tablespoons of water.
  5. Serve with Arabic bread, pita, crackers or your favourite bread.
Baked Halloumi
Ingredients
200g halloumi cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp liquid honey
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp black sesame seeds
  1. Cut halloumi into slices. Place onto baking tray lined with baking paper or foil.
  2. Mix all other ingredients. Pour over cheese.
  3. Bake in preheated 200C oven for 10 minutes or under the grill until just begin to brown.

Summer

 Hello my dear blogofriends! I’ve been out of blogging for some time, but I have a reason: I’m currently on holiday in my home-country. The weather is perfect here, only +30-35C during the daytime, and evenings are cool and fresh. Moreover, it’s a strawberry season here, and my parents have got lots of delicious strawberries in their garden, so you can imagine how many berries I’ve been eating every single day. :D Local strawberries are totally different from those ones in Dubai’ supermarkets, they are flavorful, sweet and of course organic!
 Another amazing thing about fruits, that cherries and apricots are both in season in Tashkent (the capital of Uzbekistan), and fortunately for me, plenty of these fruits are sold in Russian markets straight from sunny Uzbekistan, which is known for their tasty fruits.
 And here is the picture of ‘zemlyanika’ or wild strawberries which I picked myself in the wild woods near one Russian village. I have no words to describe them! These little germs are full of wonderful aroma! You need to try these little berries at least once. :)
Zemlyanika or Russian wild strawberries

Salad “Tashkent”

 Tashkent is the capital of Uzbekistan, one of the former USSR countries. According to one version this salad was created in Moscow during USSR times, when Soviet government set the task to popularize the various national cuisines of the Soviet Union. Due to a very limited availability of the ingredients in most parts of the USSR, Soviet cuisine can be characterized as simple. So, the salad also had to be simple, tasty and nourishing. Another version says that the salad was created by chef of the “Tashkent” restaurant in Moscow, where it also was served for the first time.
 Main ingredients are boiled beef and green radish, sounds simple but believe me the salad will be very tasty! Unhealthy side is dressing, because it’s mayonnaise. So, I suggest to make and eat this salad during weekend, or serve it for a special occasion and everyone will certainly be in awe. ;) You can also substitute mayo with sour cream, but the taste will be slightly different. Another option for dressing is flavorful sunflower oil, that sometimes mixed with a teaspoon of vinegar. Chose the option and enjoy the salad! 
Tashkent Salad
  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 1hr 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients 
400-500g beef fillet
800-900g green radish (I used daikon/Chinese white radish)
4 eggs, hard-boiled
1 large brown onion
2 tbsp sunflower oil for frying
100-150g mayonnaise for dressing (or sour cream/sunflower oil)
fresh chopped coriander or parsely for serving, optional
pomegranate seeds for serving, optional
salt, black pepper to taste
 
Preparation
  1. In a large pan, put the raw meat, cover with cold water, season with salt. Bring to boil, remove the foam, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for 50-60 minutes. Optionally, you can add few peppercorns, bay leaf, small onion to get aromatic stock which you can use later. Cool the meat, then cut into julienne (thin strips).
  2. Cut eggs into thin strips. Optionally, instead of cutting eggs into strips you can cut them into 4 wedges and garnish the salad.
  3. Cut radish into julienne. Sprinkle radish with salt and let stand for 15 minutes, drain the liquid. If you are using green radish, cover it with cold water and leave for 1 hour to get rid of bitterness; then drain the water.
  4. Thinly slice the onion into half-moon. Heat the oil and fry the onion until golden-brown.
  5. In a large serving bowl, mix radish with onion, add beef, season with salt and pepper. Carefully stir in eggs and dress with mayonnaise. Garnish with coriander/parsley and pomegranate seeds.

Sharing at lovely Fiesta Friday party by Angie, and co-hosts this time Jhuls and Laurie.

Sweet potato&Raisin Cookies

 I had only few tablespoons of leftover mashed sweet potatoes and I couldn’t throw it out. I don’t know how this idea came into my mind when I decided to make cookies, and you know what? Leftover sweet potatoes puree got the new life! I mixed ingredients like for shortbread cookies; I was trying to make it a bit healthier, so I used fine oats instead of plain flour and raisins for a sweet taste. You can even omit the sugar or maple syrup and add more black or golden raisins, they have quite enough its natural sweetness.Sweet potato and raisins Cookies

 And what’s your way of using up leftover puree? :)
Sweet Potato Oatmeal Raisins Cookies

Sweet potato&Raisin Cookies

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 20mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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-As you can see I used only 70g of puree, but the recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.
-You can make fine oats by grinding regular oats or use store-bought.
Ingredients
70-80g (3/8 cup) sweet potato puree (without salt or pepper)
12 Tbsp fine oats
5 Tbsp ground almond (almond meal)
25g butter, soft
1 Tbsp brown sugar or maple syrup, optional
1 tsp molasses, optional
50-70g black raisins
1-2 tsp slivered almonds, optional
  • In a bowl, mix oats with ground almond, add soft butter, sugar (or maple syrup) and molasses if using. Mix until just combine. Fold in raisins.
  • Make a log (4cm diameter) and cut into 1cm-width discs.
  • Arrange cookies on a lined the baking sheet. Press into each cookie few almonds, if using. Bake in preheated 180C oven for 12-15 minutes or until light brown color.

 

Olive Oil and Rosemary Crackers

 I’ve been on a homemade everything kick for a quite long time.. :D Homemade crackers is not an exception. I’ve tried lots of crackers recipes and usually crackers turned out like cookies, not very crunchy, tasted like shortbread cookies, or I was unable to roll out dough thinly. Finally, after tasting and comparing different recipes, I created my own recipe of salty crackers. You need only few ingredients to prepare these amazingly tasty, crunchy and aromatic crackers! The dough contains extra virgin olive oil and rosemary, natural bitterness and pepperyness of the oil and piney aroma of the herb give incredible taste and smell to the dough and crackers. You can make sticks, twists or roll out the dough very thinly and cut out any shape you like. I enjoy these crackers as is, it’s a nice midday snack; you can also make a sauce and dip crackers into it.Crackers Twists

This edible bouquet for all beautiful and wonderful ladies, who has brought many tasty dishes to Fiesta Friday party today! A feast for the eyes and the stomach! ;)Rosemary Crackers Bouquet

Olive Oil and Rosemary Crackers

  • Time: 40-30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients
160g strong/bread flour
130g wholemeal flour + more if needed
3/4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black or white pepper
1.5-2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary 
150ml water
90ml extra virgin olive oil
 
  • In a large bowl, mix flours, baking powder, salt, pepper, rozemary. Add water and mix with a spatula or wooden spoon. Add olive oil and mix again. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead with hands. Add a bit more flour if the dough is too sticky.
  • Cut the dough into equal 6-8 pieces. Roll each piece into circle as thinly as you like, cut into squares, diamond shape. You can also cut into strips (1.5-2cm width, 15cm length) and then twist each strip.
  • Place crackers on a baking sheet and bake in preheated 220-230C (450F) oven for 10-11 minutes or until golden color.

I keep crackers in airtight container in the fridge up to 5 days.

 
Enjoy!