Saturday, 29 September 2012

Basbousa with Yoghurt بسبوسة بالزبادى Basbousa bil Laban Zabadi

Basbousa with Yoghurt بسبوسة بالزبادى   Basbousa bil Laban Zabadi   

It has been a while since I put up a video so that seemed like the best thing to do now.  I realise I put up the recipe for Basbousa way back in June but I now I have the video to go with it.  And just in case you don't feel like hunting for the Basbousa with Yoghurt بسبوسة بالزبادى   Basbousa bil Laban Zabadi  Blog from June here is the recipe I put up back then.

 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 Basbousa, 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 Basbousa from oven and pour cooled syrup over hot Basbousa.

As for the video, I thought I had the kitchen to myself but I do get an impromptu visitor, which was nice but as they say the show must go on. 

The video is on YouTube but as usual just click on the link below to view how to make Basbousa with Yoghurt بسبوسة بالزبادى   Basbousa bil Laban Zabadi. 

Basbousa with Yoghurt بسبوسة بالزبادى   Basbousa bil Laban Zabadi   

Basbousa with Yoghurt بسبوسة بالزبادى   Basbousa bil Laban Zabadi   

Basbousa with Yoghurt بسبوسة بالزبادى   Basbousa bil Laban Zabadi   

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Ammonia bisuits بسكويت نشادر Biscot na- shader

Ammonia bisuits بسكويت نشادر Biscot na- shader

After dropping my eldest at Kinder this morning I thought what better time to make a batch of biscuits than when I only had one extra pair of hands in the kitchen to contend with.  I got started right away and had great help from my youngest, a mere 1 year old, who helped carry random things from the fridge to the bench as that is what I must have appeared to be doing in his eyes.  
I gathered the ingredients and while pulling out the mixing machine I find him watching me with his fingers already in his ears – clearly he knows this thing makes noise.
I was attempting to make Ammonia bisuits بسكويت نشادر Biscot na- shader which is a light crunchy biscuit made light by ammonia - and not the household cleaning kind!

Baker's ammonia = ammonium carbonate = bicarbonate of ammonia = This is an ancestor of modern baking powder.  If you can’t locate Bakers ammonia then substitute (for 1 teaspoon of baker’s ammonia) 1 teaspoon baking powder plus 1 teaspoon baking soda.  

I didn’t have bakers ammonia and decided to go ahead and use the substitute.  Also, I used 7 x 50g eggs and while I should have known better I substitute some cotton seed oil (which I happen to have in the cupboard since it was given to me as a gift) for the vegetable oil which I didn’t have quite enough of to make 1 cup.  I must have used about 50 ml so not a great deal but in hind sight should have gone without.

I followed the recipe given to me by my step mother and was careful to measure accurately.  All was going well until I needed to shape the biscuits.  A quick phone call to confirm details and I go ahead shaping my first batch of Ammonia bisuits بسكويت نشادر Biscot na- shader.  
Hmmmm….Not really what I expected.  They were thick and had an uncanny resemblance to those tiny dinner rolls you can buy from the supermarket.  Take 2.  I make another batch for the oven remembering that my step mother warned me not to roll them too thick.  

They still don’t look right and they didn’t taste right either.  Not to be disheartened I moved forward making several more trays full of biscuits of varying shapes and sizes.  I also took some of the dough and mixed through some finely grated orange rind to see if that helped with the flavour.
No, that didn’t help.  The flavour was strange to me and I put that down to the cotton seed oil (even though there was such a small amount in there for the amount of dough).  I go back and read the label on the bottle.  Yep, that’s where the answer lies!  Cotton seed oil – INFUSED WITH GARLIC AND GUMLEAF (Gumleaf which comes from the Australian native tree which provides food for Koalas only and no other animal – except for perhaps people who infuse oils with them) !!!

Well, no coming back from that. No masking THAT flavour and since the biscuits I made bear no resemblance to the Ammonia bisuits بسكويت نشادر Biscot na- shader I decide to call it quits.  

The boys didn’t mind the taste (after all aren’t all biscuits delicious) but I threw them out anyway.

I think secretly that spoiling that batch was a good thing.  The alternative was that they would be absolutely delicious and then I would have a battle on my hands for self-control when it came to eating them.  All’s well that ends well. 

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Wax and Waxing

Wax and Waxing, how hard can it be?

I thought I would give a totally different ‘recipe’ today…
I made wax recently, for the first time in… well too many years to think about.  Maybe a decade?  I used to have to wax at home as a teen as shaving was out of the question.  Being Egyptian means that waxing has been part of tradition for women for centuries and gets passed down from mother to daughter.  My mum would make the wax, showing me and explaining along the way, and then wax me. I found that my father and brother would magically have outdoor tasks to attend to as it initially took some getting used to - and by that I mean the ripping hundreds of hairs out of my legs at time.   After several years of apprenticeship I was allowed to head to the bathroom on my own and spend over an hour trying to wax myself.  As I got older and more experienced I began to wax my sister at times too.

While that all might make waxing sound easy, even simple things can go terribly wrong at times!  The first time I tried to make wax by myself was after school one day and my mother was still at work.  I figured I had a good 3 hours to play with which would be plenty of time. 

I used the same pot my mother used, the same measuring cup and the same amount of sugar, water and lemon that she would use.  I was so careful.  Standing over the stove watching the sugar melt and slowly start to boil it all looked good. Then the phone rang.  It was a friend of mine so I moved away from the stove and sat on the couch chatting.  I got up a few times and checked the wax then sat back down. 
I was engrossed in the conversation I was having until I saw thick smoke creeping slowly across the ceiling – along with a very strong smell of burnt sugar!  I rushed into the kitchen to find that the wax had formed a kind of very light honeycomb – as solid as a rock and black as coal!  I FREAKED out.  The smoke alarm was yelling at me and I felt the adrenalin rush that comes with horrendous fear and panic.
Forget the waxing, forget the phonecall.  I had to get everything back into order before mum came home or there would be trouble.  I used a fork, then several knives to break down the solid mess in the pot.  It must have taken me a good hour to get most of it out, and then another one just trying to get the charring out of the pot.

I did manage to get the pot clean, dried and put away, the stove clean, the sink clean (there were flecks of carbon everywhere).  The house had been airing and thankfully my mum walked in none-the-wiser. 
Really though, there were so many ways I could have better spent that three hours and I certainly  gave up the idea of making wax  by myself for a really long time after that!
All that aside, making wax is pretty easy.  It is learning how to work with molten sugar that is the difficult part and it really does take practice.  I would have taken a video of it but thought I would try it first to see if I still had the touch.  So the video will have to wait until another time.

In the meantime here is the recipe I use –
1 Turkish coffee cup/espresso cup sugar
1 Turkish coffee cup/espresso cup water
juice of half a lemon

Combine and stir to dissolve the sugar then simmer gently without stirring until the syrup reduces and turns a golden colour.
Remove from heat and pour onto cold, wet metal – I pour it onto the metal of the sink – remembering that it is very hot at this stage!
Because it cools from the edge inward you must then scrape around the edges and bring the cooled wax to the centre until it is cold enough to handle.
Scrape off with a spoon and handle with your fingertips until it has cooled enough to use. You need to keep stretching it and working it until it changes colour to a pale gold. 

To wax you need to place the wax on the skin from the bottom and work upwards, pressing and pulling it until the wax is a thin layer. Starting at the bottom again pull the wax off away in the opposite direction to how it was put on.

The hairs and old skin cells will become one with the wax and leave your skin wonderfully smooth and clean.  
After finishing waxing then jump straight into the shower and wash.  The wax will dissolve and is completely environmentally friendly and biodegradable.

Remember after you are clean to go back to the kitchen and clean the pot and sink – very easy to do if you left everything soaking in water beforehand.

Good luck!