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!

Russian Cabbage stew with mushrooms

What is y our comfort winter food? Is it roasting chicken or meaty stew? Or maybe you are making lots of sweet pies during cold days? Everyone has their own preferences and favorite dishes that warm you up when outside is cold, and undoubtedly, such food should be warm, aromatic and delicious.

 For me, one of such winter dishes is stewed cabbage. The recipe is very simple, easy to cook and affordable. White cabbage is not expensive, and nowadays available all year round. As I already mentioned the recipe is really simple but takes time and patience to prepare, you have to stir cabbage regular so its color will be nicely dark but not burned. I used dry mushrooms along with fresh, as they add amazing flavor and uniquw taste to the whole dish; if it’s the right season and you are like to get fresh wild mushrooms – use it (like chanterelle or little honey mushrooms, or fresh porcini). It is a perfect vegetarian dish. If desired extra protein – serve the cabbage with roasted chicken or sausages. 

Russian Cabbage stew with mushrooms

What You’ll Need:

30g dry porcini mushrooms

300g brown mushrooms, sliced 

1 large brown onion, sliced or chopped

2 large carrots, grated 

1kg white cabbage, shredded

100ml tomato sauce or 2 tbsp tomato paste

2 bay leaves

1 tsp whole coriander seeds

150-200ml hot water

sea salt to taste

For garnish: fresh chopped dill, parsley, spring onions

How to Make It:

In a medium bowl cover dry mushrooms with hot boiled water. Leave for 30 minutes, drain, wash, chop and leave aside until needed.

In a large pan, heat oil and butter, add fresh mushrooms. Fry on a medium heat for 10 minutes or until liquid from mushrooms is evaporated (if will be any). Season a little bit and transfer to a bowl until needed. 

In the same large pan, add a tablespoon of oil if needed, onion and carrots. Fry on a medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Add half of the shredded cabbage. Stir and sauté for 5 minutes more. Add the rest cabbage, tomato sauce or paste, spices, stir well and sauté on the medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring even now and then. At this step if the cabbage begins brown too much, add a little bit of water, stir and continue to sauté. 

Add again a little bit water if needed, stir, cover with the lid and stew for 20-30 minutes more, stirring every now and then. 

When the cabbage is almost ready, add fresh and dry mushrooms. Cover and stew for 10 minutes more. Adjust the salt.

Sprinkle with fresh herbs if desired. Serve warm with a slice of rye bread. 

Can be eaten alone or with some roasted chicken, grilled sausages. 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!

Wholewheat Cherry Pie (with pecans)

Hi all! I supposed to post this recipe long time when cherries were still in the season..and I was not sure at first whether to publish the recipe or not but luckily nowadays you can buy frozen cherries in any large supermarket and it’s not a bad substitution at all. So, go ahead and make this delicious beauty, especially if you already know that cherries are a good source of vitamin C and contain some antioxidants. With crunchy streusel on top – it is a perfect treat at any time of the day!Wholewheat Cherry Pie (with pecans)
I used fresh sweet dark cherries if you can’t get it, use sour and add a bit more sugar. And do not refreeze frozen berries, scatter them over the pie straight from the fridge. Also if you prefer brown sugar to the white one, you can use it; probably it works even better: the taste will be richer and the color more golden.
PecanPie-1

Wholewheat Cherry Pie (with pecans)

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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I used a 20cm square baking pan
 
What You’ll Need
150g butter, soften
75g white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
2 eggs
250g wholewheat flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
50g ground oats (I used medium oatmeal)
200-300g fresh sweet cherries, pitted
Streusel (crumble topping)
4 tbsp wholewheat flour
2 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp butter, softened
2-3 tbsp chopped pecans (or walnuts)
How to Make it
  1. For the batter, beat softened butter with sugar until slightly pale.
  2. Add vanilla and salt, and beat in eggs one by one until just combined.
  3. Mix in flour (no need to sift) along with baking powder and oats.
  4. Spread the batter on a baking pan (lined with baking paper if needed), scatter cherries.
  5. For the streusel, mix the flour and sugar together in a bowl. Rub in butter with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in chopped nuts.
  6. Sprinkle the streusel over the pie.
  7. Bake in preheated 200C oven for 45 minutes.*
  8. Take the pan out from the oven, allow to cool slightly in the pan and then put on the serving plate.
*Note: if the pie begins brown too much, loosely cover with a piece of foil, and continue to bake.
Enjoy!
PecanCherryPie

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.