Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Baked Globe Artichokes خرشوف فى الفرن Kharshouf fil forn

Baked Globe Artichokes خرشوف فى الفرن Kharshouf fil forn
Sometimes it can be incredibly hard to find certain ingredients when you need them.  In February this year I spent 4 hours over 2 days making calls trying to track down some globe artichokes.  What a drama.  Wednesday morning I started by ringing the local grocers, two of them.  One didn’t have them because they were out of season – end of story.  The other said try another local store.  That store said try the supermarkets (who did have tinned artichoke hearts but none frozen).  I don’t even know if you can get frozen ones since no one knew of any such thing.  Eventually I rang the Victorian Growers Association.  No replies to my calls for the rest of the day. 

Thursday morning. Try again.  Third call to a mobile and finally an answer.  No idea who would be able to supply artichokes when they are out of season.  He referred me to an agent of his who I decide to ring straight away. 
Then Samuel woke up.  No, better not risk a phone call when he is awake.  I get him up and give him his bottle of milk.  He is happy playing and Alexander was playing by himself too. Must make this other call.  Off the top of his head the agent knew of a grower in Geelong who could possibly have a few growing even though it is summer and the start of February.  He also gave me a second name, a grower in Werribee but far less likely.  I try the first option and call the grower in Geelong.  The call is funny when I think back.  It went something like this. 

“Hi Mike.  My name is Dyna Buntine, I got your number from Geoff who suggested you might have some globe artichokes.”
“No, I don’t”
“I only need them for some photos and then cook them and take some more photos.”
“Oh, yeah I do”
“Really” (I mean REALLY??)
“Yeah, they are about the size of a fist.  How many do you need?”
“Oh, maybe a half dozen or a dozen. This is Fantastic! I live in Melbourne. Do you come into Melbourne at all?
“I come in to the market Thursday and Friday mornings and leave by 7.30”
“That’s 7.30 AM? Right?”
“Oh, alright, um… Iet me think, um… can I get back to you.  I will try and meet you Friday morning but will confirm.  Um…, what do, I mean, how much do you want for them?” 
“Two dollars each”
“Alright, I will let you know.  Thanks for the call…blah blah”

I did end up meeting him on Friday morning.  I arrived at the market at 7.33 and was standing at the boom gate at what I thought was the front.  Seriously, I have never seen so many fork lifts whizzing around.  Orange jackets on everyone.  This place is huge.  The Melbourne market on Footscray road supplies all the grocers, restaurants and supermarkets in Melbourne, so I am told. 

I don’t go any further just inside the boom gate and give Mike a call.  Just audible over all the noise I hear him ask what gate I am at.  It takes me a minute to find Gate 3 on a sign on the fence.  He starts to tell me where to go before he stops and says “I will come to you”. Within the next 2 minutes I have one forklift driver stop directly in front of me to ask if I am alright since I look lost.  And then 30 seconds later I get a security car pull up and wind the window down.  The driver asks what I’m doing, then who I work for, then with no satisfactory answer he tells me I am trespassing and shows me the security camera.  I say that is fine I’m not hiding anything.  He tells me he will have to fine me if he gets any more calls.  Not at all concerned I say that is fine, can I stand just behind the boom gate and he says that’s OK.  Before we get any further a car pulls up in front, a man gets out and puts a box of artichokes over his shoulder.  Saved.
Mike and I do introductions on the way to the car and he puts the box in the back on top of the baby pram.  He says $20 will do for the box and we organise change etc.  I was so excited.  The day was still young and I had achieved so much!

Meat stuffing

1 tablespoon ghee or butter
1 medium onion, chopped
500 g minced beef
140g tub salt reduced tomato paste
½ -1 teaspoon salt
1/8 – ¼  teaspoon pepper
½  -1teaspoon mixed spice
1 vine ripened tomato chopped
1 cup water

12 large artichokes
1 lemon juiced, in half pot of water (for soaking artichokes)
300ml  tomato puree or passatta
½ -1 teaspoon salt
1/8 – ¼  teaspoon pepper
½  -1teaspoon mixed spice
250ml / 1/4  L /1cup water  (or less, as required)
optional : your favourite cheese, grated, to serve.

For the stuffing:
Heat butter in a large pan, add onion and fry over medium heat until golden brown.  Add mince and cook over high heat for 15 minutes breaking up any lumps until it is browned and almost all the liquid has evaporated.
Add 1x 140g tub of tomato paste, chopped tomato, salt, pepper, spice frying for 1 minute then add the water and bring to the boil.  Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for further 30 minutes or until meat is cooked and the liquid has reduced, but the meat is not completely dry.  Set aside.

Prepare artichokes, removing any old outer leaves from the heads and remove the stalks from the base of the heads (or leave a little attached, if desired).  Cut the top ¼ off and remove the inner choke of the artichoke with a spoon.  Cut the remaining leaves with scissors or a knife.  This leaves the artichoke centre or heart.  Brush the cut surface with lemon juice or soak in lemon water (I just half fill a large pot with tap water and add 1 lemon juiced) while preparing the rest as they will turn brown otherwise. 

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas mark 4).  When all the artichokes are prepared, drain the artichokes from the lemon water and fill the centre of each artichoke with the cooked mince and place into a roasting tray.  Add salt, pepper and mixed spice to the tomato puree (passatta sauce) and pour over the artichokes.  Cook for 45 – 60 minutes or until the artichokes are cooked through. The artichoke should be soft when tested with a fork or skewer.

Serves 4-6.

Artichokes خرشوف Kharshouf 
Artichokes خرشوف Kharshouf

Artichokes خرشوف Kharshouf 
Artichokes خرشوف Kharshouf

Baked Globe Artichokes خرشوف فى الفرن Kharshouf fil forn
Baked Globe Artichokes خرشوف فى الفرن Kharshouf fil forn

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Pigeon, squab, مسلوق حمامة Hamam Masloo

I have only had the blog up for a couple of weeks now and this week  while I  was having a bit of a think about what recipe would be interesting to put up I received an email, a request really, to make the next one about pigeon. So this week is Pigeon week instead of Ghee - which will now have to wait.
 Pigeon or squab ( حمامة Hamam) is not something I have had often but I have quite a vivid memory from my childhood concerning pigeon.  I travelled to Egypt with my family at the age of 12 and while the whole country and the way of life was foreign to me (as an Australian born Egyptian), I was excited to meet my relatives and experience their way of living. 
 One day we went to a market and my sister and I painstakingly selected out our pigeons along with half a dozen others.  We took them back to my aunt’s house where over the course of a week we would visit them and feed them as they lived it up in the bathroom of her apartment.  Each day my father would take us out to explore the region and each day on our return we would check in on our pet pigeons.
 Then, one fateful day, we returned from our day of exploration to find the bathroom spotlessly clean and – no pigeons!!!! Distressed and disturbed we made our way to the dinner table and, lo and behold, there on the table were little chicken-like bodies that looked disturbingly like our missing pets!
 The reality is that pigeons are farmed and eaten as commonly in Egypt as we eat chickens.
Having only had pigeon at home one or two times I had not really felt the inclination to cook it myself (and perhaps I am still emotionally scarred from the incident in Egypt!), however I felt that seeing as I am trying to get recipes together for a cookbook of the food I ate growing up it really had to have pigeon in it. 
So off to the market I went.
I didn’t realise that there was a season for pigeon and being out of season the only option was to buy a frozen one.  I chose one of the two birds available and took it home to cook, but not before asking the butcher how they would cook the bird.  They said that if I was roasting the bird I would need to cook it with some liquid as it is a small bird and could easily be overcooked and dry.
At home however I engaged the expertise of my step mother as to how a pigeon should be cooked.  Perhaps not so surprisingly it is boiled and then fried so it won’t dry out.  Make sure that the pigeon is cleaned thoroughly (I have only seen it sold already prepared).  Then stuff the pigeon with the partly cooked ferique and sew up the hole or use toothpicks to keep the stuffing in.  The meat is darker than chicken and in my opinion tastes closer to duck than chicken.
I bought commercially raised or farmed pigeon (squab) for $20 each.  These take less time to cook than wild birds, and are better for roasting, grilling, or searing.  If you cannot source these birds farmed or prefer to use wild pigeon, then the meat may be older and is generally tougher than farmed birds and therefore better suited in casseroles and slow-cooked stews. 
Serves 1 -2
1 or 2 pigeons (Squab)

1½ tablespoon ghee (clarified butter)

1 whole onion, peeled with a cross cut into the top plus ½ an onion very finely chopped
¼ cup of ferique (also known as Freekeh and farika.  This is a grain harvested from green or immature durum wheat)
¼ cup white rice
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
Fried quail eggs to serve, if desired.
 In a saucepan fry the chopped onion with the ½ tablespoon of ghee.  Add the ferique and rice along with ¾ cup of water (this is plenty of stuffing for 2 birds). Cook for15 minutes or until the water has been absorbed (the grains will not be fully cooked yet).  Remove from the heat. 
 In a pot big enough to fit all the birds bring water to the boil.  Add the whole onion, salt, pepper and bay leaf.   Put the birds in and reduce the heat to low (the birds should be covered with water so add more if required) and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes.  The time will vary depending on the number of birds.  To test if they are cooked use a skewer inserted into a thick part of the bird.  The juices should run clear.
 Once boiled, remove from the water and set aside.  Heat 1 tablespoon of ghee or butter in a pan and fry the birds turning frequently until they are a lovely golden brown colour.  Serve with fried quail eggs, if desired.

Pigeon, squab, مسلوق حمامة Hamam Masloo

Pigeon, squab, مسلوق حمامة Hamam Masloo

Pigeon, squab, مسلوق حمامة Hamam Masloo
Pigeon, squab, مسلوق حمامة Hamam Masloo

Pigeon, squab, مسلوق حمامة Hamam Masloo
Pigeon, squab, مسلوق حمامة Hamam Masloo

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Basbousa with Yoghurt بسبوسة بالزبادى Basbousa bil Laban Zabadi, Semolina Cake

My husband recently had a family reunion.  His aunt kindly organised a weekend at her farm so all the extended family could attend. We decided that we would go for a night and Alexander could camp outside with daddy and I would stay indoors with Mr Goo (Alexander’s affectionate name for his little brother).
What to make, what to take?  Aunty Judy thought we could bring along some biscuits.  Jamie thought that meant Tim tams and I of course thought that meant anything to have with tea and coffee.  I decided to make Basboussa with yoghurt.  Another opportunity to make something I could photograph but not have to eat it all. 
This recipe is one that my sister-in-laws' mother shared with me.  My mum never made it with yoghurt but after my brother married an Egyptian I was introduced to variations to the recipes that I grew up with.  This is one of them.

2 cups semolina, (1 cup coarse and 1 cup fine semolina if you can get it)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup plain yoghurt
125g unsalted butter, melted

Syrup :
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
juice of half a lemon
a few drops of vanilla essence.

To make syrup:  Combine sugar, water and lemon juice in a saucepan and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes until syrup thickens.  Add vanilla and leave to cool.
For the Basboussa, combine semolina, sugar, baking powder, and yoghurt in a large bowl.
Add melted butter and mix. Transfer mixture into a greased tray, 30cm x 25cm, and press firmly.  Cut into squares. 
Bake at 180°C (350°F/Gas mark 4) for 40 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove Basboussa from oven and pour cooled syrup over hot Basboussa.

This turns out to be a big hit but after all the packing required to go anywhere, let alone away for the night, there was no time for photos before we left so I will have to make it again after all to get a photo...

Well, it has been quite a while since the family reunion but I have finally got a photo to attach to the blog.

 بسبوسة بالزبادى   Basbousa bil Laban Zabadi

 Basbousa with yoghurt, بسبوسة بالزبادى ,  Basbousa bil Laban Zabadi, Semolina cake

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Arabic Coffee قهوة Ahwah

I am sure you have heard of Turkish coffee.  It refers to the process and not the coffee beans used.  Any coffee beans can be used, but they need to be ground extremely finely.  Dad used to sell about a dozen different coffee beans when he had his Mediterranean food shop.  People could come and purchase the beans and have them freshly ground.  I remember the smells.  Some people would combine 2 or 3 bean varieties together and the aroma would waft throughout the shopping centre. 

Anyway, back to Turkish coffee.  Arabic coffee uses the same basic method (that is very finely ground coffee) but differs between countries by the addition or absence of cardamom, cinnamon or cloves, giving Arabic coffee a different aroma and taste to Turkish coffee.  Water, coffee, sugar, heat (don’t boil) pour and drink.  Just remember when you make it that you pour all the coffee from the pot into the cups but you don’t drink it all.  Drink the coffee but leave the granules that sit at the bottom of the cup.

I don’t remember ever drinking Arabic coffee although I may have tasted it when I was younger, but I wanted to include it in the cook book and so I got some coffee and a coffee pot from my dad and gave it a go at home.  I know how to make it in theory and I have made it before even though that was probably close to a decade ago.  We have an electric stove which made it difficult to make as the heat is hard to control.  As far as I recall making a cup or two would take a few minutes on a gas flame.  Add 1 heaped teaspoon of coffee and the same of sugar to 90 ml of water in a coffee pot.  Heat to just before boiling point, remove from the heat then repeat and pour into a cup to serve.  It should have a nice frothy head on it, the bigger the better.  On my electric stove it was painstakingly slow.  Almost 10 minutes on the stove trying to heat it up but with the heat coming on and off as it does with electric stoves, it took quite a bit of patience. 

I couldn’t prevent my coffee boiling and the bubbles came to the top and then the froth sank.  Disappointing.   Since I didn’t have any more coffee I poured them into the 2 espresso cups I had and took a photo for the book. 

When I finished, a bit flat after spending close to an hour setting up, videoing, styling and photographing a cup of coffee with very little froth, Jamie asked if he could have one and I decided to join him and drink one.  It was really nice with a lovely flavour. 

On the next visit out to dad’s I think I will procure some more ground coffee and have another attempt at making a coffee that not only tastes good, but that looks good too.

Ahwah, Arabic (Turkish) coffee