I post when I have something to say. When I don’t, I won’t post. I wonder if that makes any sense to you?. I am also not one to post for the sake of celebration. I don’t get excited about New Year’s events, wedding anniversaries or any prophet’s birthdays. That can’t be a nice thing if I am your mom though. I dread my daughter’s birthday ever year. Just like I dreaded my own wedding, one year. Not sure if it is shyness, laziness or just can’t push myself into that sort of thing.
I guess what brings all this to the foreground is Valentine is coming up this week, and I don’t really celebrate that either. A one year mark has arrived and passed to this blog’s existence, birthday if you like and I have not put a candle up like many dotting bloggers do. Gladly there is no one to point out “how could you not” to me. Here I am free to just BE. On the other hand, I remember coming across a beautiful post on Valentine written last year by my friend Oz in her Kitchen Butterfly, Even though it was written for that occasion, it celebrated the self and its livelihood more than anything else. Her post made me think and feel a lot of things. It made me realise why I blog, and how much I learn when I share life stories, struggles and loves. I also fell in love with Oz’s courage and energy to share her personal experiences with food. Her writing actually resonated deeply with my own struggles and relationship with food. I will write about that at a later stage on this blog. For now and on the subject of love, food and life.. I woke up last friday and all I wanted was to bake this new chocolate cake recipe. “An ode to a chocolate cake” comes to mind. I had this recipe on my shelf for years but never took real notice to it. I am not going to marvel about its greatness. Just to say make it if you ever feel like a light sponge chocolate cake with a deep red color sponge. It is adapted from William Sonoma’s ‘Cake’.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line two 9 inch round cake pans with parchment (baking) paper.
On a baking sheet, or foil sheet, sieve the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda, set aside. Mix the Cocoa in the water. Leave aside for a few minutes then add the butter milk and Vanilla to the cocoa mixture. Beat the butter first in a cake mixer until soft, then add the sugar and beat untill pale and well mixed. Add the eggs one at a time and mixing very well after each addition. Add the dry mixture in 3 additions alternating with the cocoa wet mixture. Start and end with the flour mixture. Don’t over mix, just enough to scrape down any unmixed liquids from the bottom of the bowl. Pour the batter equally in the 2 cake tins and bake until firm to the touch for 30 minutes. I use level 2 and 4 in my oven and alternate the two cake tins hlaf way through the baking time so they both cook evenly.
Take out the cake tins, allow to cool down, flip them out securely and let them cool further on wire racks. Add 1/3 the icing in the middle and smother the rest on the top and sides of the cakes. Bon Appetite
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 170 g or 3/4 cup unsaulted butter at room temp
- 1/2 cup butter milk room temperature (I used low fat strained greek yogurt mixed with 2 tablespoons low fat milk.
- 2 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 1/2 dutch processed Cocoa
- 1 teaspoon Bi carbonate Soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 225g or 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
For the Icing I simply used this old and easy recipe
It has been a long time dream of mine to start a Music and Dance centre for children. It took a long time to pull together the right resources, means and courage to decide to launch into such a venture. The time has come to realize this dream. I am in that “studying” phase, where numbers feasibilities, and revenues are being introduced to me by more number oriented people like my little brother. How do you measure passion and one’s dream? I guess that’s where the challenges of reality come in and one has to put on a calculating hat more than anything else. While venturing into the unknown, I needed to use my hands and eyes to do what is familiar and comforting. Preparing food, taking a picture and writing about it. In Arabic a ‘Aroos’ means a bride and Even though I am not entirely sure why it is called that, I can only guess it is because of the satin like bread that wraps the white strained yogurt. This is a wrap that most children would have enjoyed at some point in their childhood in countries like Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
There is not a particular recipe but rather a few ingredients to put together. To bring out the contrast in the salty flavour of this wrap, its best to accompany it with a sweet cup of black tea.
How to prepare.
- 1/3 cup strained yogurt ( I love Total Greek yogurt)
- Sprinkle that with two generous pinches of sea salt
- 2 large tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- fresh mint leaves
- Green pitted olived
- Green thai chillies (just because I am lethal like that) I love chillies in the morning
After sprinkling the salt and mixing with the yogurt I would spread the bread in the middle cut the extra sides of the bread. Spread the yogurt, add oil, zataar, chillies, mint and olives. Fold both ends of the bread and wrap just as you see in the photos, cut in half. Enjoy. Bon Appetite.
The interesting thing about Jordanian cuisine is it is a real amalgamation of different cultures. It is a country that has three main ethnic identities, it has formed a unique and rich culinary heritage. For example, between my parents I have Jordanian, Palestinian, Circassian and Syrian blood in me. And that’s only a conservative mix.
Our Jordanian table reflects a complex diversity of cuisines. On one side we have the Palestinian kitchen which is predominantly a mediterranean diet. Then there is the bedouin cuisine which originated from the desert with its limited bounties. Then there are all the other influences coming from Egypt, Lebanon and Syria. And to add to this mix we have the Circassians and their wonderfully different way of cooking food that served the purpose of warming people living in the Caucus mountains.
Even though I love what Jordan has to offer in dishes and produce, I am also always fascinated with the ways other cultures cook and eat. I am archiving the dishes that I consider to be related to the Jordanian table and venturing at the same time into other cuisines.
Do you feel that Christmas has caught you by surprise this year? I really do feel that way. Last year this time, our tree was up and gifts were being bought. This year it’s not been that way at all. Even though we are not Christians per say, we do celebrate and love Christmas, having lived most of our adult life in Christmas celebrating countries.
Melomakarona: Greek Cookies
So instead of posting a single recipe, I am taking a leaf of my friend OZ from Kitchen Butterfly who herself has also leaved Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, featuring a ‘what’s in my kitchen’ for the month of December. I did say that I was going to be away from blogging till I am done with my projects but I could not stay away for very long. I guess it’s all the festive cooking and baking I am witnessing around me.
So the cookies you see above are Linzer Cookies I made yesterday. I followed that with baking Melomakarona: Greek cookies that are usually baked at Christmas time. These two cookies deserve a separate blog post each really. It’s like doing a joint feature on Cecilia Bartoli and Kiri Te Kanawa. Two distinctively different opera divas with great pizzaz and very different personalities. But it is Christmas and one can indulge both on food and imagination!!
So another two things that featured in my kitchen this month is Butterscotch Bars adapted from Celia in her Fig Jam and Lime Cordial . I reduced both the sugar content to just 150g and butter to 150g. It was still amazing considering all the wonderfully sweet and bitter chocolate that goes into them. Last but not least I baked a chocolate trifle for my friend Reema that was fit for a good friend. Just baked the same chocolate cake from Halloween and layered that with some whipped cream and the chocolate icing that is also in the Halloween post. That cake is one of the lightest and darkest sponges I have ever baked. Note: I will be adding the recipes for both Linzer and the Greek cookie later this week.
Enjoy your Christmas and may all your wishes come true!
I sat this morning in a cafe adamant to finish paper work and research that needed to be done. I found myself instead day dreaming about baking just that autumnal kind of cake. One that had cinnamon, apples and everything that is warming and wonderful. I have to say though that my day dream did start with a lemony poppy seed muffin and gradually metamorphosed into a caramel apple muffin. Unfortunately that’s part of a Geminian personality, always changeable. Fortunately it works well sometimes. I went straight to the Contessa herself Ina Garten.Her sour cream apple muffins looked wonderful. I wanted all the goodness of her recipe minus the butter content. So I added 1/4 cup grape seed oil instead and reckoned that the sour cream will add the moistness and fat content it needed. It worked! I also grated the apples as I did not want to bite into a cooked fruit. Fussy eater anyone? A tiny amount of butter goes a long way, so added that on top mixed with cinnamon, walnuts, flour and sugar to get some glaze and sweetness.On another completely different point I wanted to share with you A Girdle Buster Pie that I baked for my friend Lara’s gorgeous Thanks Giving dinner. The pie did not set in the freezer and we could not serve or eat it. It was a flop! I think it’s useful to sometimes show what also doesn’t work in the kitchen. The recipe states that you pour caramel over the ice cream once it has cooled off, but not set . I made the mistake of not waiting long enough for the caramel to cool off completely and poured it when it was a little warm. It melted the ice cream and for some strange reason the pie did not freeze even after leaving it for 24 hours! Note: I will be away from this blog for three weeks to work on a current teaching project to tell you all about later.
- 2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon BP
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cup granulated brown sugar (plus 2 teaspoons to sprinkle over grated apples)
- 1 cup full fat sour cream
- 3 eggs room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup grape seed oil or any vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoon Cinnamon and extra for dusting over those apples
- 1 cup broken walnuts
- 2 large apples grated and squeeze a table spoon of lemon juice on top with the cinnamon and 2 teaspoons of sugar
Mix 1 table spoon cold butter with 2 table spoons flour. Add 1 table spoon sugar, cinnamon and extra chopped walnuts. Sprinkle a small amount over each muffin before baking.
- Preheat the over at 180C. Grate the apples and add the lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon and leave on the side. In a cake mixer, mix together the oil and sugar for five minutes. Add the eggs gradually, vanilla essence and sour cream. In a separate bowl sift the flour, BP,BS, cinnamon and salt. Once you add the dry ingredients to wet ingredients, mix for a few seconds ONLY and fold in the grated apples and walnuts. Pour the batter into 24 or more muffin cases, sprinkle with the butter sugar topping.Bake in the oven for half an hour. Bon Appetite.