30 things to do in the kitchen before I turn 30

I turn 30 next October, so I thought it would be fun if I challenge myself into 30 things to do before my birthday.

 

I’ll work on 2 separate lists, because I need a cooking to-do-list to make my regular non-cooking list even more challenging (this one will obviously have items such as losing weight, reducing my cholesterol & triglycerides levels, etc).

 

Today, I am sharing my food list.

 

Eggs Benedict Picture

Eggs Benedict just like these (Le Pain Quotidien – Dubai)

 

  1. Prepare a Hollandaise sauce

On top of some eggs Benedict, bacon (or salmon) and a muffin. Because why not?

 

  1. Prepare Puff pastry at home

The cheat one (keeping the challenge realistic!).

 

  1. Pickle something

Maybe some Lebanese cucumbers. Or almonds. I love pickled almonds. Have you ever tried them?

 

  1. Prepare Jam

Strawberries for sure, once they are a bit cheaper.

 

  1. Prepare Chicken Madghout

Chicken Madghout is a Khaliji dish, very similar to Kabsa, but prepared in a pressure cooker.

 

  1. Prepare pancakes

Never made these at home (I prepared them at work though)… I always intend to prepare pancakes but change my mind at the last minute and opt for thinner crepes.

 

  1. Cook Boeuf Bourguignon

Following Julia Child’s recipe. Of course!

 

  1. Cook Pork Cassoulet

I already cooked Wild Duck Cassoulet once, but I so want to try the pork version, especially that I have a cast iron pot now.

 

  1. Cook Roast beef

It’s already in my freezer…

 

  1. Prepare a Thai curry

I fell in love with Thai cuisine during my last trips to Dubai, so I brought back with me all the spices I need to cook some delicious curries from scratch at home.

 

  1. Cook a Gigot D’Agneau Pleureur

Seriously. How beautiful is this recipe?

 

  1. Prepare a Blood orange cake

I should be doing this very soon, now that it’s the season.

 

  1. Try Oysters

I never did. I confess I always told everyone that I am not a big fan, to avoid trying them.

 

  1. Use Lavender in a recipe

Maybe in a milk pudding? Any other suggestions?

 

  1. Prepare 20 recipes using Moulinex Companion

I got it as a wedding gift and I used it today for the first time to prepare a Poulet Basquaise. Very practical for busy moms. And guess what? It’s dishwasher safe! I’ll be telling you all about it in upcoming posts.

 

  1. Prepare Kibbeh b Laban from scratch

I have to use all the kibbeh (that I did not prepare) that’s in my freezer first…

 

  1. Try a wine & chocolate cake recipe

I love wine and I love chocolate, so let’s combine them in one cake and see what we get!

 

  1. Cook One pot pasta

I really need to know how these taste. And why would anyone do this to pasta…

 

  1. Prepare a Lemon Meringue tart

For my pride.
 

  1. Prepare a Kodrat Kader cake

And succeed in taking it out of the mold. For more pride.

 

  1. Host a pizza night at home

One night. A vegetarian. A pepperoni. A four cheese. A Margherita. A Quattro Staggione. Heaven!

 

  1. Try rabbit

I’ve heard it’s pretty good…

 

  1. Reduce food waste

I’ve been throwing a lot of food lately. I think I can reduce it a lot by planning my meals more carefully, and more importantly, by buying less.

 

  1. Cook a Stuffed Turkey Breast

Stuffed the American way. Or even “à l’Orientale”.

 

  1. Bake a Brioche

With chocolate chips inside…

 

  1. Try Zucchini Flowers

Never knew these were edible until very recently!

 

  1. Bake cinnamon rolls

With extra cinnamon. And drizzle them with cream cheese frosting of course!

 

  1. Go for a new #30Days30Salads Challenge

Because I should get back to clean eating… and because we’re not eating much vegetables. I think spring is the best season for such a challenge.

 

  1. Watch all the food movies I downloaded

The list includes Babette’s Feast, La Grande Bouffe, The Lunchbox…

 

  1. Cook & Eat healthier

This might not mean a lot after all the above, but seriously, I should try. Reduce the amounts of oil and cream. Avoid butter and Ghee (and that clarified butter that’s in my fridge!). Maybe cook healthy for the whole week and have a cheat day. Avoid ready-made sauces. And fast food of course!

 
So, anything you think I should add to my list?

I am back!!

I am back!!

I haven’t posted in almost a year; after all this time, I feel I should be telling you the highlights of last year, since a lot has changed.

First of all, I got married and moved to a new house, with a bigger and better equipped kitchen. I am still not used to it, and I am sometimes doing some real mess in there.

The first month was not easy at all. I wonder why no one tells you how hard can the first month be.

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I wanted to be the super-wife: the one who can handle everything at home, the one who cooks starting day one, the one who can throw many dinner parties every week, and even the one who can host both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve at her place on the first year of marriage. So I did all this, and it was really tiring. I finally decided to slow down the pace.

***

Before getting married, I did some medical exams. The results were not enchanting; cholesterol and triglyceride levels are both high, which means I should be on diet. I ate healthy food for 2 months before the wedding and lost some weight.

I also started yoga and it was making me feel great.

But then we got married, started with the dinner parties and Christmas, and that’s how we ruined everything. For the coming month, trying to eat healthy should be one of my priorities. And getting back to sports as well.

***

During the last year, I traveled 4 times: France in July, Oman and Dubai in September, Cyprus in December (for the wedding) and Dubai again in January.

France

In July, I was back to Paris, with my boyfriend – now my hubby – this time, to attend his friend’s wedding in Evreux in Normandy. In addition to Paris, we spent a few days in both Normandy and Brittany.

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Philippe Conticini’s little pieces of paradise

As expected, both Normandy and Brittany were beautiful, and our experience there was a lot more relaxing than in Paris. We visited Honfleur, Deauville, Mont Saint Michel, Dinan, Saint Malo and Rennes, and all were amazing.

galettes de Sarrasin picture

The galettes de Sarrasin

This trip was more interesting than the first one on the culinary level. I had done a better research, so I had a lot of addresses for the best bakeries and pastry shops in Paris, in addition to some excellent restaurants in Normandy and Brittany, and the local specialties that I need to try.

Yves Bordier butter tasting

Butter tasting

As usual, some of the experiences were great: butter tasting in Bistro Autour du beurre in Saint Malo, trying Brittany’s galettes au sarrasin, visiting Pierre Hermé for a tiny Ispahan macaron, trying the fairy desserts of Philippe Conticini’s “patisserie des rêves”, discovering one of the best bakeries around the corner where I was staying, Maison Landemaine…

Maison Landemaine pain chocolat amandes

The best pain aux amandes ever!

But the highlight of the trip was definitely the “Kouign-amann”, a Breton cake that I had never heard of, and that was one of the best desserts I ever had in my life: a round crusty cake made of layers of puff dough stuffed with lots of butter and sugar. We tried it in a restaurant in Rennes, “Léon le cochon”, served with Caramel au beurre Salé ice cream. Wow!

Kouign Aman picture

A Breton cake


Oman

I spent three days there, at a friend’s. Despite September’s 45 degrees, Muscat was still an enjoyable city. The Omani experience is very different from the experience in Dubai.

People are more chill, more relaxed. You see Omanis everywhere; they have all sorts of jobs. You see Omanis drinking alcohol in pubs in their traditional clothes – no Omani women there though.

When it comes to food, I tried two traditional dishes: the famous Omani Shuwa, a delicacy that’s usually prepared only on very special occasions, by marinating meat in spices – to each family its special blend – and then wrapping it in sacks made of dry banana or palm leaves.

Omani Shuwwa picture

Omani Shuwwa

The sacks are then thrown into an underground sand oven that is sealed so that no smoke escapes. After 24 or 48 hours of cooking, it becomes extremely tender and is then served over basmati rice.

The second dish consisted of stewed lamb’s feet. I loved them both, but they’re really heavy that I could barely sleep.

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The lamb feet stew

And of course, if you’re planning to visit Oman, you should not miss the fish and seafood there, as it’s delicious.

Dubai

The Dubai experience in January was different; for the first time, it was 25 degrees only, and I was traveling with a colleague, which made the whole stay more interesting.

I fell in love with Thai cuisine after a dinner at Pad Thai– I brought back with me all the spices I need to prepare Thai food at home. I also had the best meat I had in my life, at The Meat Co.

The most disappointing desserts ever? I had them at Lafayette Gourmet. They looked so perfect, but lacked taste.

I’ll be going there at the end of this month for Dubai food festival. I can’t wait honestly.

Until then, I’ll try to get back to posting regularly. Ciao!

Indian Beef Cooked in Whole Spices

Picture of Indian Beef Cooked in Whole Spices

Delicious Hot Beef

I’ve tried this recipe a while ago. I was craving some Indian food, and I wanted to try a beef recipe. I don’t know about you, but everyone I know here uses a pressure cooker to stew beef, and I was scared that I’ll end up with tough chewy meat. The result wasn’t bad at all.

It was not as tender as when cooked in a pressure cooker of course, but was fine for both me and my sister.

I got the recipe again from my favorite Indian cookbook, Shehzad Husain’s “What’s Cooking Indian” and adapted it a little bit. I served it with saffron rice, but it also works with Indian Pulao Rice.

Beware; this recipe is hot, especially when compared to all the Indian recipes that I shared before (Potato and Garbanzo Curry Recipe, Indian Shrimp Curry Recipe…) and that fall under spicy rather than under hot.

 

Indian Beef Cooked in Whole Spices

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp Vegetable oil
  • 500 g round beef, cut into cubes
  • 2/3 cup yogurt
  • 3 finely chopped small onions
  • 1 tbsp. shredded ginger
  • 4 shredded garlic cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 green cardamoms
  • 3 cloves
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 6 dried red chilis
  • 3 chopped fresh green chilis
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • Fresh cilantro leaves

 

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a deep pan. Fry in the onions until brown. Reduce the heat and add garlic, ginger, cloves, cinnamon sticks, cardamoms, peppercorns and dried chilis. Stir-fry for 5 minutes.
  2. In a bowl, beat the yogurt with a fork, add to the pan and stir. Add the meat and 2 of the green chilis and stir-fry for 5 more minutes.
  3. Gradually add the water, stirring well. Cover and cook for an hour, until meat is tender.
  4. Garnish with the remaining chilis and cilantro leaves and serve.

The best of Sri Lanka’s fruits!

When you first say Sri Lanka, you think of tropical fruits of course (this might be for foodies only…)!

Here’s a list of the fruits we tried during our last vacation there in December, from my favorite ones to the one fruit that I hated (yes, such thing exists).

Start with the coconut water!

Start with the coconut water! 

King coconut picture

… And ready to enjoy!

Thambili – King Coconut

On our first boat ride, in Beruwala, we tried the king coconut. Oh my God, that’s a delicious fruit! The vendor will make some holes in it first and you drink the coconut water with a straw, then the vendor will cut it for you and make you a spoon out of the peel so you can eat the flesh. It is very different from the coconut we know and oh-how-yummier!

Did I mention that you can add some rum to it? 😀

cut King coconuts picture

Oh… And the mess we left behind us

Pineapple

Pineapples were always available. We were having them for breakfast and for dinner. Beruwala’s pineapples were not that special, but the ones we had in everywhere else were amazing. The best ones we had were the ones we bought from the local market in Kandy. For 1$, you get a baby pineapple cut and ready to eat.

Red pineapple in a Spice garden

Red pineapple in a Spice garden

We also discovered the red pineapples (we didn’t have the chance to try them though). Apparently, these are the pineapples that help people lose weight, and not the regular ones. Bad news for you?!

Avocado

My sister and I ordered an avocado salad in a restaurant. That was the best avocado I ever had! What a buttery feeling, what an amazing flavor! And then you ask yourself what the hell are those avocadoes they sell in here? 😦

Avocado salad picture

The best of the best

Mango

Even though it was not mango’s season, we found some delicious mangoes on a street cart. Yeah, we had some “Are you out of your mind” looks from people with us on the tour, but the mangoes were worth anything!

We were able to find some mangoes in the market as well, but they were not as good as the first ones we tried. And guess what? For 1 dollar, you can have 4 small mangoes. Hmmm!

Banana

A boring fruit, you say? Well, we’ve tried more than 5 new kinds including red bananas and small bananas, and they’re really good. All of them. And when fried, they’re delicious!

Jackfruit

A new fruit that I never knew existed. Raw and ripe, we were told that it tastes like a cross between mango and pineapple: I was not very impressed.

Jackfruit on a tree picture

Jackfruit on a tree

But the surprising fact is that young jackfruit is used as a vegetable for cooking, and I’ve read that it tastes like pulled pork. Huh?!

... and an open jackfruit

… and an open jackfruit (source: friendfortheride.wordpress.com)

Papaya

I am not a big fan of papaya, but everyone agreed that papayas were good. They were also available in almost every buffet we went to. So if you’re a fan, and you’re heading there, they should be on your list!

A small Banana, Nellis and pineapple (with some other delicacies as well)

A small Banana, Nellis and pineapple (with some other delicacies as well)

Other fruits

In addition, there were guavas, passion fruits, rambutans, watermelons, in addition to a small bitter fruit, “nelli”, that I hated and could not eat. Seriously, how can anyone eat something that sour and bitter? Erghhh

Foul Recipe with Tahini

Foul with tahini picture

Delicious with a drizzle of olive oil

Last week, I was craving foul mudammas all the time.

I had seen someone preparing it at Souk El Tayeb, and it looked so delicious. I wake up on the next Saturday with the sole intention of preparing fava beans for breakfast.

I am not really used to eating foul in the morning. We usually have it for lunch or dinner, but I love big breakfasts on weekends, so why not?!

I wanted to try a new recipe of course. I went to my beloved Atyab Tabkha and started searching for an interesting recipe, and here it was: Foul with tahini. I usually look for recipes that were added by users, without a picture, so I could add mine once I am done.

The recipe looked like hummus, but with fava beans instead: it required smashing the beans. I tried it and loved it. I did a few amendments to the quantities only and ate almost the whole thing. (I ended with some pains in my tummy and promised myself to never be greedy again…).

Now, let’s check it together!

 

Foul Recipe with Tahini

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 can Foul Mudammas
  • 2 tbsp Tahini
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp Salt and Black pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cumin
  • Olive oil to taste
  • Water

 

Method:

  1. In a saucepan, put the fava beans and their brine. Add the cumin and enough water to cover the beans. Cook on medium fire until liquid boils then leave for 5 additional minutes on low fire.
  2. Remove from heat and smash the beans with a fork.
  3. Add the Tahini and lemon juice then season with salt and black pepper. Serve drizzled with olive oil.