Thursday, May 30, 2013

Shawarma

Meat being cooked on a spit to make Shawarma

Lamb Shawarma, foul (fava beans) and pickles at a Cairo fast food chain
Chicken Shawarma made at home using a store bought seasoning packet, tomatoes, and onions.

Chicken Shawarma on pita bread with cucumbers and tahina
Shawarma is a popular street food in Cairo. It is made by stacking marinated meat on a vertical spit. It is then shaved off and sauteed on a flat grill with tomatoes.  You can serve it on long rolls, round rolls, or any type of pita or flat bread. Top it with Tahina or hummus and some pickles if you like and you've got a great sandwich.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Reckless Banana bread

As the weather heats up the bananas in my kitchen have started to brown a little faster. Although it is really too warm to bake I have been unable to resist the temptation to make Banana Bread.  The girls and I free styled this recipe: Guestimative measuring, reckless use of the wrong pan size, and creative ingredient substitutions made this a fun baking experience. My measuring cup broke and since we are moving in three weeks I haven't felt like buying a new one.  I've been using a coffee mug that is more or less a cup(although I have no way to measure it) and eyeballing the half cups and such. I also don't have a loaf pan so I found a basic recipe that used a cake pan. I always thought of baking as science rather than an art and so it never interested me before. Quick bread recipes, however, are the exception to this rule. You can substitute one mashed fruit for another, use a different type of oil, add nuts or chocolate chip... and as long as the consistency is basically the same and the things like baking soda are fairly accurately measured you can usually come up with something edible in the end.

Here is what we came up with (this time) but feel free to substitute, be reckless and experiment away...

 Reckless Banana Bread

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon each of vanilla extract and almond extract
  • 1 cup of mashed ripe bananas (2 large or 3 medium bananas)
  • 1/2 cup full fat sour cream or yogurt (flavored is fine... just reduce the sugar by a couple of teaspoons)

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) . In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
2. Beat together in a mixer the butter and sugars. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix in the vanilla and mashed bananas.
3. Mix in half of the flour mixture, then the sour cream, then the other half of the flour mixture.
4. Spread batter evenly in a greased 10x15 baking pan. Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 25 minutes, or until nicely browned and the surface bounces back when you press it with your finger.


 I hope this puts a smile on your face.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cruising the Nile on the Christina

Tonight my husband and I are leaving the kids with a sitter and going on a boat called the Christina Yacht.  You can bring a potluck or hire someone to cater and travel down the Nile while the boat staff serves you drinks and sets up a buffet. Some of the teachers at the school set up this trip for an end of the year party so we are going to dine on the Nile and visit with friends while the sun goes down. It is a little fancier than a felucca but still a relaxing way to go. I still think that I prefer the ease and economy of sailing rather than traveling by Yacht... but there is something really nice about sipping drinks and just enjoying the view.

I whipped up a pasta salad that I'm taking.

8 ounces dry pasta
2 cups broccoli florets
3 small to medium tomatoes diced
4 medium red onion, diced
2 cucumbers, sliced
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame seeds (toasted)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon chili paste
2 garlic cloves. minced

Directions:


In large pot with boiling water, cook pasta.

Drain, rinse pasta with cold water and let drain again. Place pasta in a large salad bowl, add broccoli, next 3 ingredients and toss well.

In a small bowl or jar with lid, combine soy sauce and remaining 6 ingredients. Whisk together or cover tightly and shake vigorously. Pour mixture over pasta and toss gently.

Here a few photos from past Christina Cruises






Sunday, April 28, 2013

Pat-A-Cake like an Egyptian

First they mix the dough in the machine- Yeast, water flour and salt.

Then the dough is made into small circles, coated with flour made from the wheat hull and left to rise.

The dough is left to rise.

The bread is then fed into a conveyer belt oven.

It comes out hot and fat.

The bread is then cooled briefly, put in bags and sold for 50 piastre each.

There are many things "Baladi" in Egypt: baladi music, baladi dogs, baladi dance and baladi dress... but the best is baladi bread. Baladi is a word comparable to the word folk in English. It used to describe objects that are indigenous or common in the streets and countrysides here. You can find baladi bread being sold off of date palm cooling racks (pictured above) on street corners all over Egypt. The best way to buy it however is straight from the oven like at the bakery we visited above. Mmmmmm.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Winter Break and Ginger Cookies

I never knew that Santa rode camels... but apparently here in Cairo he does!  I guess a sled would be worthless in all this sand.
Today was the last day of school before our winter break.  I made cookies for the PreK class using a recipe my daughter brought home from her cookie baking class at school. They were delicious.

3/4 C butter
1 C sugar
1/4 C. molasses
1 egg
2 C. flour
2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 t. each cinnamon, cloves, and ginger

Mix butter and sugar together.  add Molasses.  Beat in egg.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.  Roll in small balls and bake on greased cookie sheet for 10-15 minutes in a 375 degree oven. 

Check out the teacher's gifts I made on my Worth a Knit Blog.

Cheers,
Jenn

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Rudolph the red nosed pizza,

Ready for the oven

Frosty the snow pizza

Rudolph

The kids decided to get in the Christmas spirit while making pizzas for dinner the other night.  Luci likes her pizza without sauce so she made a frosty the snowman pizza. and Mina made hers into Rudolph. A good friend introduced me to ready made pizza crusts here.  I know I could make my own crust, and sometimes I do, but on busy nights these are a quick fix.  They sell them in a three pack so it is perfect for the family.  I just need a small jars of sauce, some Panda cheese (I told the girls that it was made from real Panda milk... I don't think they believed me) and some chopped up veggies and black olives and wah la dinner is served.  Each girl can decorate a pizza and I can make one with anchovies on half and jalapenos for me and the husband.  It makes a quick, fun, and economical meal on nights when we are on the run.

The delivery pizza here is pretty bad.  There is a Dominoes  and a Papa John, and I think there is a Pizza Hut as well, but I didn't like their pizza in the States and I don't like them here in Egypt either.  Some of the pizza toppings are odd too.  They don't use pork products so they substitute smoked veal, chicken peperoni, and beef sausages.  My husband told me that when he lived here in the 80s there was a restaurant that they went to that served a pizza with potato chips on it and the everything pizza had a fried egg in the middle. I haven't seen anything that weird yet, but I have seen tuna pizzas and hot dog pizzas.  There is an Italian restaurant Paul and I went to on date night recently and their pizzas looked fantastic. 

I miss the pizza from Italian Garden in San Marcos and the hand crafted beers from Brewster's Pizza in Wimberly.  I wish I could click my heels together and find myself home, but until then pizza nights with the kids is a whole lot of fun.

Cheers,
Jenn

Monday, December 10, 2012

Chicken Soup for that hole in my soul...

I haven't posted here in a LONG time... almost 9 months... Life has been keeping me busy and I have been concentrating on other things. I am writing another blog and trying to get my crochet pattern writing/ toy making business running, but I have been missing the creative aspect of this blog.  I have been missing writing about culture, food and festivities.  I considered just posting a weekly blurb about food on my worth a knit blog, but I've changed my mind. I need to start enjoying food again and writing about food and foodlore always sparks my imagination.

 I'm still living in Egypt and I have had loads of things happen that were worth a fig in my life. I need to start documenting them again.  I have found cooking in Cairo a challenge.  Finding the ingredients you need can be tricky and often the quality is lacking.  But I have created some fabulous foods here and I've even tried some new things.  Many of my posts might be about the foods I've tried, recipes I've made and fabulous trips I've taken during my 9 months of silence. I have a lot of cool things to share. I may not write on this blog as often as I did in the past, but I need to start this up again.  So here goes... a simple recipe to get things rolling again.

For dinner last night I made a wonderful chicken noodle soup.  This is a fun one to make and my older daughter loves it.  I just finished eating leftovers for lunch and I would recommend that you make plenty because it tastes great on the second day.

4 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1.5 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 teaspoon chile paste
8 cups chicken broth
12-16 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut crosswise into thin strips
4 cups chopped vegetables(I used a mix of carrots, bell peppers and onions)
6 oz rice noodles, prepared according to packing directions
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Directions
Mix soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, sugar, vinegar, and chile paste in a small bowl.
Heat the broth in a medium saucepan. Add the soy sauce mixture, the chicken, and the vegetables and bring to a boil. Simmer for two minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Add 1 more teaspoon of sesame oil if desired.
Pour over prepared Chinese noodles. Garnish with cilantro.

Cheers,
Jenn

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