Category Archives: Dinner

Stuff it!

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Given that my partner is half Lebanese, we often eat Arabic food.  I was looking through some middle eastern cookbooks and it struck me how many of their recipes consist out of stuffed vegetables.  From potatoes, to courgettes (zucchini), peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, onions and even cabbage gets filled with all kinds of deliciousness.  The fillings can be rice, ground meat or chicken mixed with spices, fresh herbs and nuts.

Last weekend I made stuffed potatoes. Traditionally they are eaten with rice but even for a carb-o-holic like myself this is too much of a good thing so I serve it with a simple tomato and cucumber salad.

It’s the spices that provide the middle eastern flavor: in this version I used Bokharat, an Arabic 7 spice mix.  You can find it in most middle eastern shops, but you’ll also find the recipe on my blog if you fancy making it yourself or can’t find it anywhere.

Ingredients (makes enough for 4 people)

  • 1 kilogram of potatoes, preferably new potatoes but ordinary ones work as well
  • 2 tablespoons of Arabic 7 spices
  • ground meat (beef or lamb)*
  • 1 large onion cut up in small pieces
  • pine nuts
  • 1 liter of peanut or sunflower oil for frying
  • 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic grated or cut up in small pieces

*if you want to make a vegetarian version you can replace the ground meat with cooked rice

Instructions

  • Peel the potatoes.
  • Empty out the potato: you can do this which ever way you find easiest.  You can buy a special tool for this however personally I find that a small teaspoon works best.  Don’t use a knife, the potatoes are slippery and you risk cutting yourself.
  • Pour the oil in a deep pot and heat it up.  To prevent any overflow, make sure you do not fill the pot more than half.  You can check if the oil is hot enough for frying by putting a small piece of bread (or potato) in it and it should start frying immediately.  If that is not the case, the oil is not hot enough yet.
  • Fry the potatoes in the oil. The goal is not to get them golden brown and crispy, fry them gently until you start seeing bubbles on the outside of the potatoes and they have slightly softened.
  • Let the fried potatoes cool down on some some kitchen towel.
  • Take a pan and over medium heat fry half of the onion mixture together with the half of the chopped garlic and all of the pine nuts until the onions are soft and the pine nuts are golden brown.
  • Add the beef to the onion/garlic/pine nut mixture and fry it.
  • In a separate pan fry the remaining onion and garlic and add the chopped tomatoes.  Bring the tomato mixture to the boil and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Fill the potatoes with the meat mixture.
  • Taken an oven dish and poor the tomato sauce into it.  Arrange the potatoes in the dish and bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 200°C.
  • Take the dish out of the oven and let cool slightly.  Then take half a lemon and squeeze it over the potatoes.

That’s it! Let’s eat!

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Lemon Risotto


Honestly! Who does not like risotto? Such creamy deliciousness!  I’ll tell you who did not used to like it: my husband.  I’ve discovered a way to make him eat it – and  loooooooove it – by adding a simple ingredient: lemon.  The Lebanese and their precious lemon – it’s an affair of the heart.

This risotto is a basic risotto, I like to add garlic mushrooms at the end because it adds flavor and texture but if you don’t like them you can leave them out.  You can also add scallops or shrimps at the end and let them cook for a couple minutes in the hot risotto.

WHAT DO YOU NEED (SERVES 4)? 

  1. 400 gram of arborio rice
  2. 20 gr of flat leaf parsley
  3. 400 grams of mushrooms
  4. garlic powder
  5. pepper and salt
  6. two lemons (juice and zest)
  7. one glass of dry white wine
  8. 4 spring onions
  9. grated parmigiana cheese
  10. 1 1/2 liter of water with two cubes of chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  11. nob of butter
  12. a bit of oil

HOW DO YOU PREPARE IT?

…the mushrooms…:

  1. cut the mushrooms in slices (not to thin)
  2. put a tiny bit of oil in a non-stick hot pan – really: a tiny bit otherwise the mushrooms will not brown, they will turn in a soggy mess.  Best is to just take a brush and brush some oil onto the bottom of the pan.
  3. put the mushroom slices in pan, put garlic powder and pepper on them
  4. then let them brown on one side (don’t touch them, don’t move them around, just let them just sit there for a minute of two), then turn over and do the same on the other side
  5. take them off the fire and set aside

…the risotto…:

  1. cut up the spring onions and fry them slowly on low heat in the butter, please don’t burn them, just sweat the onions (tip: if you are afraid of burning the butter, add a tiny bit of oil)
  2. add pepper and salt
  3. add the rice and fry it for a minute or two until it turns glazy and has absorbed some of the cooking fat
  4. crank up the heat, add a glass of wine and keep stirring the rice until the alcohol has evaporated
  5. then for about 15 to 20 minutes, keep adding two glasses of stock at a time and keep stirring the rice till the stock has been absorbed, then keep repeating
  6. after about 15 to 20 minutes the rice should be cooked
  7. add in the parmigiana, the mushrooms, parsley, lemon juice and lemon zest and stir well.

Done!

Let’s eat!

C.