Lamb and Pearl Barley soup

Hi guys, how is your foodie-life going on out there? It’s such a good weather now here – in Dubai, I’ve heard that this year March is one of the coldest months of the past 10 years! Believe me or not, but I’ve been living here approximately the same time and it really seems colder than usual, especially in the evening or those very windy days, that even with the jacket on I want to go in and hide somewhere with a cup of hot tea. 😄 

And this warm and nourishing soup exactly what I need these days. I’ve been enjoying it for the last couple of weeks, as I cooked it twice and both time in a large pot so it will be enough for at least two days. This soup combines Russian and Middle Eastern flavors and textures: pearl barley is a well-known grain in my home country, and lamb is a popular meat in the UAE and other Middle Eastern countries.

The soup is good in its simplicity, even though it takes more time to prepare it comparing to other soups, but you will like the result – flavorful and delicious thick soup. Using all spices is a another little secret to get wonderful aroma!

“Lamb

  • Servings: “4-5”
  • Difficulty: “very
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Dear readers, sorry but the ingredients’ weight is approximately. Next time I will cook it – I will measure fore sure. 😉

What You’ll Need 

  • 800g lamb, with bone preferably 
  • 100g pearl barley (you need about 2-3 Tbsp uncooked barley per person)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 medium capsicum
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp EV olive oil
  • 2 tsp whole coriander, crushed a bit
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • S&P to taste
  • some fresh chopped coriander, optional
  • Arabic or any other bread to serve


How To Make It 

  • Night before or at least 3 hours before cooking, cover washed pearl barley with cold water.
  • In a large pot, add lamb and cover with cold water. Bring to boil, remove all foam, reduce heat to medium-low, cover with a lid and boil for 1hour. Take the meat from the broth, and cut into medium pieces.
  • Drain pearl barley and then add to the pot, cook for 40 minutes.
  • Cut vegetables into small cubes, and add to soup along with bay leaf. Season the soup with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook the soup for 20 minutes more. 
  • Tip: Add some hot-boiling water if the soup is too thick for your taste.
  • Meanwhile, in a small frying pan, heat the oil and fry onion on a medium heat until it’s just transparent. Add coriander and cumin seeds, and garlic if using, and fry for 1 minutes more. Transfer to the soup.
  • Turn the heat off.
  • Serve hot with some bread. Garnish with fresh chopped coriander, if desired.

Enjoy!

Mulled Tea

 The calendar says it is already December. Can’t believe. I was planning to post the recipe of one tasty pumpkin cake when realized that autumn is over and winter is here. Even though it’s not freezing cold right now in Dubai and you can’t find the real snow but there are lots of Christmas markets, festive decorations and lights, gingerbread houses, cookies and smell of cinnamon and oranges around – it all makes this season a very special time. Moreover, the weather is absolutely amazing and you can visit tree lighting ceremonies, enjoy mince pies and even mulled wine in some places, or maybe go ice-skating or skiing, and you are in the right festive mood.
 For whatever reason but not everyone can enjoy mulled wine, and that not a big deal if you prepare this hot tea. Star anise and cinnamon in this warming tea makes it very aromatic, plus fresh ginger adds a little spicy note. Moreover, not only adults can enjoy a cup of this mulled tea. It requires almost no effort and festive drink is served, pour hot tea in beautiful glasses and garnish with apple slice or mandarin peel, and sip, sip, sip…
Ginger-Apple MulledTea
For this mulled tea, I simmer loose green tea with sliced apple, few mandarin peels, and spices. You can even squeeze the juice of one mandarin in it.
If you fancy trying another winter drink – click here for the recipe.
Enjoy the Winter Season!
Mulled Green Tea
Bringing a huge pot of mulled tea to the Fiesta Friday party, where I co-host along with lovely Liz. Come and let sip this tea together!

“Ginger-Apple

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: very easy
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I prefer unsweetened tea, you can add some pure honey or brown sugar to taste.
What You’ll Need 
1200ml water (300ml per person)
4-5 tsp loose green tea (depends on how strong you like it)
1 apple, sliced
2 peels of mandarin (or clementine, or orange)
some fresh sliced ginger
1 cinnamon stick
1-2 star anise
How To Make It
  • In a medium pot, cover all ingredients (except green tea) with hot water. Cover and let infuse for 20 minutes. If you have no time, skip this step.
  • Bring the pot to boil, add green tea, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Strain, serve hot.
  • If you’d like to make the tea sweet, add some brown sugar along with green tea. You can leave the drink unsweetened and serve it with honey, which is better to not to boil and preferably add to the ready drink thus it can keep all its health benefits.
Enjoy!

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

Chocolate cherry cookies

Hi there! It’s been a while, and I kept telling myself I’d get back to blogging tomorrow, in a day, a week, etc, but finally, I’m here writing the post. Hope you all had w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l holidays, full of surprises, lovely moments and delicious food. What is your favorite sweet treat during winter? Hot chocolate, spiced orange cake or just lots of chocolates? I’m still eating chocolates from the Christmas tree (yes, it’s still in our house, and probably will be here until the beginning of February).Chocolate Cherry cookies

I adore dark chocolate with cherry pieces in it, and I like cookies: good, buttery with those tiny little dots of pure vanilla in it. So, I combined my both desires and prepared these beautiful cookies. I’m thinking you will really love it. Even though, I prefer vanilla cookies over chocolate, but not this time. Better you cook and try, and you will never buy a cookie. Ok, maybe you will but nothing taste like homemade cookies, prepared with high-quality ingredients and the most important – your passion and love. Give these a try and you will be as happy with them as I was.ChocoCookies

Triple the quantity and take some to share with your friends or co-workers, or maybe even a neighbor.ChocoCherryCookies

Chocolate cherry cookies

What you’ll need
100g mild dark chocolate
50g dark chocolate with cherry pieces, or plain dark chocolate
180g plain flour
30g cocoa
1.5 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
120g butter, at room temperature
50g light brown sugar
50g white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
100g dried cherries
100g chopped/slivered almonds
20-30g dark chocolate with cherry pieces, optional
How to make it
  1. Chop 150g chocolate or break into pieces, and put into heatproof bowl and microwave on low power or melt over a pan of simmering water.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In another bowl, whisk butter with sugar for 5 minutes or until light. Whisk in vanilla extract and then eggs (one by one). Add the melted chocolate and stir well.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the batter mixture and stir well. Stir in cherries, almonds and chopped chocolate (if using).
  5. Line the baking sheet with baking paper and scoop out equal portions in some distance apart. Make 14 equal balls, flatten them.
  6. Bake in preheated 180C oven for 15 minutes.
Enjoy!
Chocolate cookies with cherries&almonds

 

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!