IDP#27 Eating a 4,000 year old meal…

Sunday, 22 July 2012

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Entree:
Pita Bread ( الخبز العربي )
with dips:
Tahini and Molasses (عسل أسود بالطحينة)
Dukkah (دقة‎)
Mint Cucumber Yoghurt (Khiar be laban – خيار زبادي)
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Pre-Mortar and Pestle toasted almonds, sea salt, cumin and coriander seeds

Toasted Sesame Seeds

Sam chose a winner with Egypt, I love middle eastern cuisine, so I think I cooked a bit too much with this one.

My wife game me ‘the look’ when I said I was going to make the dukka from scratch, along with the pita bread. It would be easier to buy it she said, yeah, but that’s kinda not the point.

All the ingredients we needed were quite easily found, with a trip to the health/organic store for the fava beans and red lentils (which I actually found we had at the local supermarket anyway.) Blanched almonds however they didn’t have…. so we had to blanch and peel out own almonds – so I had a little child labour camp going with all the boys – even 2 year old Ethan – peeling the skin from the almonds – and Ethan with his little fingers was the best at it!

We toasted the almonds, coriander seeds and cumin seeds sesame seeds, and ground them all up apart from the sesame. The only spice that was impossible to find here was something I’d never heard of Sumac… apparently it has a mild lemon flavor – and lemon zest is an appropriate substitute, and lemons we have! And after all that trouble I forgot to put it out on the night! So I’ll have to get the boys verdicts tomorrow…

The Tahini and Molasses dip sounded interesting, apparently its a dessert and well as a dip, and can be eaten as breakfast or an evening meal. I can see how it could be a dessert. It’s as simple to make as it sounds – mix equal amounts tahini and molasses, there’s your recipe right there… Not a flavor the boys liked, but my Dad seemed to he kept going back to it! I might have some for dessert tomorrow night!

Mint Cucumber Yoghurt (Khiar be laban), pretty much identical to Greek Tzatziki, Indian Riata and Persian Maast-o Khiar. Refreshing, minty, and good with bread and spicy meat.

We also had some Ful Medammes as a dip as well, but we also served it as a main so I’ll talk about that one in the next section.

Now the boys ratings… I knew Egypt might be a big ask of them… but there were bound to be a few favorites… like.. well.. err the bread…

PITA:
Sam’s rating: Infinity / Infinity
Ryan’s rating: Infinity / Infinity
CUCUMBER YOGHURT:
Sam’s rating: 5/10
Ryan’s rating: 4/4
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MOLASSES AND TAHINI:
Sam’s rating: 5/10
Ryan’s rating: Didn’t want to taste it
DUKKA:
Sam’s rating: 10/10 “I want some more”
Ryan’s rating: 1/1

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Mains:
Ful Medames (فول مدمّس)
Kefta / Kofta / Kufta with yoghurt sauce (كفتة)
and more Pita bread!
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Okay, I guess this is the bit where I qualify the title for this post. Yup, we had a 4,000 year old meal. The roots of Ful Medames can be traced back to Pharaonic Egypt. Pharaohs from the 12th dynasty have been found with Fava Beans buried in their tombs with them. So that’s this dish’s claim to fame. Ful Medames is claimed to be one of Egypts national dishes served with fried or hard boiled eggs, it is the daily breakfast meal for millions of Egyptians, so although it looks rather bland I thought it was a must for this little project, plus being vegetarian it would be ideal for my sister who is coming to dinner tonight as well.

I was pleasantly surprised by this one, it actually had more flavor than I thought it would, with the addition of lemon juice at the end of the cooking and onion/shallots on top it was nice on it’s own or heaped on the pita bread. The boys tried some, but didn’t seem too keen on it – but at least they tried it!

Now the Kefta, common throughout the Middle East, this is the Egyptian variant, nicely spiced, with mint, parsley and cumin, cinnamon and all spice these smelt great. And surprisingly held together without any egg mixed in with the minced beef. I thought these Meatballs would be something the boys would recognize and therefore be happy to eat and I was right, I served there’s up without yoghurt sauce to be on the safe side, but the adults all had the yoghurt sauce, which went well as a cooling element and added some more moisture to the dish.

All the meatballs disappeared – so that was a good sign. And Jocelyn and I had the leftover Ful Medames for lunch the next day – I didn’t quite feel like trying it for breakfast…!

FUL MEDAMES:
Sam’s rating: 5/10
Ryan’s rating: 4/4
KEFTA:
Sam’s rating: Infinity / Infinity
Ryan’s rating: 7/7

 

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Dessert:
Basbousa (بسبوسة )
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Finding a dessert was an interest voyage. I didn’t think the kids would appreciate Batata (Baked sweet potato) as a dessert, Khushaf (dates and dried fruits in sugar and water) looked tasty to me, but again – I didn’t think the boy would be overly impressed. Roz bil-Laban is a Milk and Rice pudding, and I am keen to introduce the boys to rice puddings (‘cos I like ’em) at some stage, but thought I’d skip that one tonight. So I settled on Basbousa, a semolina based sweet cake with a sweet lemon sauce. Looked great – was hoping I could pull it off.

Well there was more peeling of almonds here, the recipe was rather straight forward, my baking dish was a little small, so our basbousa ended up being quite high. But it cooked perfectly, and wonder of wonders came out of the cake tin perfectly.

It was popular with everyone, with people having so much they didn’t want coffee or tea afterwards – I can recommend this one and I think I might make it again, the semolina gives it such a great texture. As I write now, there is none left as we had the last two pieces with out coffee tonight. Success… recipe to come.

BASBOUSA:
Sam’s rating: Infinity / Infinity
Ryan’s rating: 100/100

Was a really great night with the family tonight, everyone got to try some different foods and I think everyone found something new that they liked. Already handed the Basbousa recipe over to Mum!

IDP#27 Well here’s a new continent to eat from…

For the boys these videos are starting to be about showcasing their um.. err… comedic talents?, rather than choosing a country – on the bright side it isn’t a 5 minute recording anymore!

IDP#26 Eating the Land of Beef: Argentina! (Ryan’s Choice)

Sunday, 8 July 2012

We were a little pushed for time this weekend, and I couldn’t find a simple nibble/entree for the kids, Empanadas were an option as was a more casual option of Picadas Simple which is basically what we call antipasto over here. In the end the sweet tooth won over and I made two desserts, mainly because it enabled me to make them ahead of time, which helped with out time crunch.

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Mains:
Milanesa (Crumbed Steak)
Chimichurri Bread
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Let’s start at the beginning, I’d planned to make an Argentinian bread to go with our Milanesa, so we could have it between to slabs of bread with tomato, lettuce, mayo and egg, as is a common way to serve it.

Well my Chimichurri Bread recipe said it could be made in the bread maker, and since we had a birthday lunch to go to, I thought, why not, will make things easier. Haha, well… I’ve had great success so far making breads by hand for our international dinners, well that success ended this week. We ended up with a house that smelt beautifully of freshly baked bread with all the herbs and spices that the recipe called for, however physically the bread resembled a doorstop more than a loaf of bread. Ryan still wanted to try it, because it was his country, so once it had cooled I cut him a thin slice, then another, and another, and another… I tasted some, and it tasted really great, just a pity that it would’ve made me sink if I went swimming. So I will give this bread another go this weekend, but this time I’ll be making it the old fashioned way the whole way (no bread machine for me.) If it works I’ll add some photos here.

Now onto the Milanesa, quite simply this is thin beef steaks, egged and breadcrumbed, then fried, we used to have something very similar when we were young called wiener schnitzel. The only difference is that this one is often served with sauce, and egg and ham, or even (and the kids liked the sound of this) on bread (slices or rolls) with tomato, lettuce, mayo and egg or ham.

At first Ryan wasn’t too sure, but once we built his “sandwich” he thought it looked like a hamburger – which it did – and he took a big bite.

“I love this! Can I have more” (all that and he was only one bit into it)

Sam made his ingredients in the same order as a McDonalds hamburger, because “that’s the best order”.

It was tasty – the garlic breadcrumbs were the secret I think, we all had seconds, as I lamented my doorstop-bread failure.

Ryan’s Rating: Infinity out of Infinity
Sam’s Rating: 100 out of 100

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Desserts: that’s right plural desserts!
Alfajores (Cookies with a dulce de leche caramel filling)
Torta de Ricota (Ricotta Pie)
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Ryan and I made the Alfajores the day before, because Sunday was going to be hectic. He helped mix all the ingredients, asking me what each thing was. I let him smell the brandy (wasn’t keen), he sooo wanted to crack the eggs, but because we only needed the yolks, it was going to be too tricky so I had to do it – but he could tip the yolk in and mix it.

And then we practiced his counting, addition and subtraction skills working out how many cookies we had stamped out, and how many more would fit on the oven tray, 16 per tray… but we only had enough dough for 30 (which would make 15 alfajores). Then we made the dulce de leche, which was pretty boring for him, and I think the dough had worn him out.

The next afternoon after the birthday lunch (Happy birthday Mum!) we made the dough for the ricotta pie, Ryan helped again, and even helped to roll it out, but by the time we got to the ricotta filling he was done, fair enough – it was a good effort. So I finished off and put it in the oven…

Now for the true test. After dinner I bought out the Alfajores, Ryan did try them, but he’d filled up on my heavy bread (he liked it and had quite a bit), and on the milanesa as well, so he was just too full. Bu had some the next day. Sam loved his, my wife and I had more than one. Put those on the list to make again…

As for the Torta de Ricota we served it the next night for dessert – wow! Stunning… I wasn’t sure how the boys would like it – Ryan tried a tiny piece … thought about it and said, Sam! It’s like ice-cream… so in his view it was ice-cream pie.

“Ry, it’s cheese buddy”

“Sam. it’s ice-cream cheese!”

He loved it, finished his, and then finished off his brothers as well! Sam only had a small piece as we wasn’t too keen, he’s still getting over his bug.

Alfajores
Ryan’s rating: 50 out of 50
Sam’s rating: 10 out of 10

Torta de Ricota
Ryan’s rating: Infinity out of Infinity
Sam’s rating: 6 out of 10

Everything tonight was rather simple to make and I think we’ll be making it all again at some stage, as the ingredients are all freely available here, and during the week quick preparation is good – especially with 3 hungry boys!