Chami

  Ramadan Kareem! Ramadan is going on in the UAE, during this month Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, and when the sun sets they break the fast. It is also time to be more grateful and patience, time for charity. Many families and friends get together to break their daytime fast, that evening meal is called iftar. The meal most often starts with a date and a glass of water; then usually soup or salad is served, numerous appetizers (mezze), which includes olives, hummus, and of course cheeses.Chami
 In my opinion, cheeses are loved by many people and every country has their own varieties and names, and Arab region is not the exception. One of the traditional Emirati cheeses is called Chami, which is similar to cottage cheese. I can even say more, it is a cottage cheese. The legend says that an Arabian bedouin traveled somewhere across the desert, and took some milk with him in a goat’s stomach, and while he was traveling, extremely hot sun and his movements (or his horse) caused the milk to separate into curd and whey; thus the first simple cheese was discovered. 
 Most probably that time it was goat’s or sheep’s milk and thus the cheese, but nowadays it is usually prepared by simmering cow’s laban (local dairy drink,  similar to Russian kefir or buttermilk). Chami is usually drizzled with ghee (clarified butter) and eaten with dates. In my home country, homemade cottage cheese is often made the same way: by simmering the soured cow’s milk that caused the milk to separate. I love cottage cheese, not only to eat it as is, I add it into cakes or sweet one-dish bakes (you can find numerous recipes if you write “cottage cheese” in the search line on the right). So I make it quite often at home, but I prefer to simmer local yogurt, which is sold in large one, two and larger liters buckets. thus I have the bigger quantity of the cheese.

Monastery beetroot salad with coriander seeds

 Hello guys! How is your foodie-blogo-life going on?
I’ve wanted to post this recipe for so long that almost forgot about it. When I was a student I didn’t want to spend much time cooking, so the food was usually prepared well ahead of time, and then reheat, or simple dishes were all the time favorite, like boiled potatoes served with homemade pickles or macaroni a la flot, or famous salad vinegret was cooked pretty often. So, the recipe of this salad I read in one tiny little book with few recipes suitable for the Lent diet, when you’re not allowed to eat meat and dairy products; and I liked it from the first spoon (even though first time I didn’t use neither honey or coriander seeds) and since then I prepare it. I highly suggest not to omit coriander seeds, as they give so much flavor, and the simple beetroot salad turns into something special. And I love the idea that this bright salad can be made all year round and served whether as a starter or a healthy main dish (add some roast fish steaks on a side for the more nourishing meal).

MonasteryBeetroot Salad

Monastery beetroot salad with coriander seeds

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: very easy
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You’ll need 
450-500g beetroot
2 medium brown onions
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1.5 tbsp whole coriander seeds, crushed
150g prunes, without stones
100g walnuts, raw or dry-roasted
2 tsp runny honey
some chopped parsley or dill, for garnish, optional
How to make it
  1. Boil or roast beetroots until ready to eat. Peel, cut into cubes or wedges.
  2. Saute onions in oil until translucent, add coriander seeds and fry for 1 minute more.
  3. Chop prunes and walnuts, combine with honey. Mix into beetroot.
  4. Drizzle with extra oil and honey, if desired. Sprinkle with some more coriander seeds and (optionally) with fresh chopped parsley or coriander.
Enjoy!
MonasteryBeetroot Salad with coriander seeds

 

Coconut panna cotta

Panna cotta is such a universal dessert that suits any season, whether it’s freezing winter or hot summer. Cold panna cotta being served straight from the fridge with some fresh chopped strawberries is a perfect refreshing dessert for a sunny day; but if you take it out from the fridge a lit bit ahead of time, while quickly prepare super easy but super aromatic topping, like rosemary-scented mandarins, or quick sauté fresh cubed apples in a butter with a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg – and you have got a nice dessert that warms you up on a cold day.
 I have noticed that I make this dessert during cold months here: probably I miss the snow and the white color of panna cotta reminds me winter in my hometown… This time the idea to garnish panna cotta with coconut candies and flakes came to my mind, so I decided to add coconut milk to the mixture instead of using only regular milk or cream.
Coconut panna cotta
It looks like a mountain, which is completely covered in snow. Doesn’t, it? and those candies are like small snowballs, that little children make to play in a snow fight.
Coconut panna cotta/cup
TIP: If you sprinkle panna cotta with red and pink edible hearts – it can be a lovely dessert to impress your other half on a St.Valentine Day.
panna cotta with coconut milk
I serve panna cotta in glasses, but If you prefer, you can grease cups/ramekins with some oil and pour panna cotta in it, and then when it’s set and firm untold it before serving onto small individual plates.

Coconut panna cotta

What You’ll Need
2 tsp gelatin powder
3 tbsp cold water
1/2 can coconut milk (about 180ml)
250ml whipping cream (or heavy cream)
60g white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
coconut candies and flakes for garnish, optional
How to Make it
  1. In a small bowl, add cold water and sprinkle with gelatin, and let stand for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small pan over medium heat,  heat the coconut milk, whipping cream, vanilla and sugar until sugar is dissolved, (but not simmer). Remove from the heat.
  3. Add softened gelatin to the creamy mixture and stir until gelatin is completely dissolved.
  4. Divide the pan cotta mixture evenly among prepared cups/glasses. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours or overnight.
  5. Garnish with coconut candies and flakes before serving.
Enjoy!
Coconut panna cotta//with coconut candies

Red pepper Dip

Hello-hello! If you have seen the previous post, I promised the recipe with roasted peppers, so for keeping you waiting for so long. Here it is. The dip is such a nice snack, especially for mums, when you are doing lots of thing at a time, it is easy to forget to feed yourself (of course not your child, haha). All you need for this lovely dip is to prepare roasted peppers ahead, and then just whizz peppers with nuts and oil in a blender until you have a rough paste. In fact, I actually prefer not to measure ingredients in such simple recipes, throw in as you feel – that’s all. Then scoop the dip into a beautiful bowl, put on a table with some sliced bread or crackers on the side, and dig in when you have a time. Red pepper dip goes nicely with roasted chicken or fried chicken breasts. Yum! Healthy, delicious and sooooo quick to prepare, sounds perfect. 😀
Roasted red pepper dip
I’ve tried this dip with a store-bought almond meal and homemade roasted ground almonds, and surprisingly I love the option with almond meal. Honestly speaking, I thought I would like a note of roasted nuts in the dip but I didn’t. The choice is up to you, try both and let me know what do you like more.
Dip with roasted red peppers and almonds
Tips
If you like it spicy – add chili flakes or chili oil.
If you want to make the consistency thinner – add a splash of water.
No nuts? Not a problem, make it nut free – sub almonds with breadcrumbs.
Red pepper dip

Red pepper Dip

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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What You’ll Need
1 roasted&marinated red pepper
1 garlic clove from the marinade
1 tbsp EV olive oil
2 tbsp almond meal
6-8 basil leaves (optional)
1-2 tbsp water, optional (to thin the dip, if desired)
Salt, pepper, to taste
How to Make it
  • Put all ingredients in a blender, blend until desired consistency.
  • To make it thinner, add water – spoon by spoon, but not much!
  • Serve with bread, crackers or even chicken.
Enjoy!

Fish. Arabian red grouper

 Hello-hello! Many of us know that fish is loaded with lots of important nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, plus it is a low-fat and high-protein food. But let’s speak honestly: do you consume it at least once a week? I bet you often stick to the same preferences, it sounds “easier” to cook “favourite” chicken thighs or simply grill sausages… Maybe because you don’t know how to cook fish properly? or don’t like its smell?
 And for those of you who really like fish, what type do you prefer? Have you ever wonder how do you choose it: is it common salmon or tilapia, or do you buy whatever is sold on the market? Do you always stick to the same recipes or experimenting is your motto?
What are your thoughts, guys?
I like fish, most often I cook salmon, sea bream or sea bass. The easiest way to cook fish is Bake it. You need season fish, arrange it on a baking sheet/dish and bake until it’s done. Sounds easy, but if the cooked fish is too flakey that unfortunately means your overcooked it, and most probably it became dry and tastes not that nice as it should be. Well, it’s not a secret that I overcook fish quite often, especially fillets… I think I need to buy a special thermometer.. because how on earth I should check that fish color turns from translucent to opaque without flaking the fish? If it’s not right, I have to bake (cook) it longer and then flake it again..? So, finally, you will serve ruined-flakey fish instead of a whole piece of fillet. I prefer to cook it a bit longer that it has to be. I desperately need a fish thermometer! Red grouper with citrus slices and fresh herbs
This beautiful fish called ‘grouper’, it was caught in the Arabian Gulf (i.e in the UAE; I like to try everything local and that’s s why I chose it). When I don’t have any new ideas how to cook fish, I stuff it with fresh herbs and beautifully aromatic citrus slices, sprinkle with some extra dried ones plus seasoning and bake; and it turns out always good. If the fish itself is fresh and good, you can’t spoil it, right?
Red grouper

Baked Arabian red grouper

Tip: I have read 140F/60C is a desired internal temperature.
What You’ll Need
2 red grouper fishes
fresh coriander
fresh fennel or dill
some chopped garlic
few lemon slices+juice
few lime slices+juice
1/2 tsp dried fennel
freshly ground pepper
sea salt
EV olive oil
How to Make It
  • Wash, pat dry fish. Arrange on a baking tray.
  • Drizzle with lemon or lime juice, and season inside and out.
  • Stuff with fresh herbs and citrus slices.
  • Sprinkle with dried fennel and extra seasoning.
  • Drizzle with a bit of olive oil.
  • Bake in preheated 360F/180C oven for 15-18 minutes or until it’s cooked.

Enjoy!

Arabian Red grouper