Category Archives: Main

Lebanese spice patatoes (batata harra)

batata harra (2)Having a Lebanese husband I need to indulge him now and then with a home cooked Lebanese meal.  Something that is always part of these meals (and always a hit) is batata harra, which are spicy Lebanese fried potatoes.  It is a simple dish but very delicious – you can make it ahead and reheat it, great for leftovers.  Reheating anything fried probably does not sound like something you would associate with the term delicious, but here it works.  The coriander gives it a wonderful, almost lemony, taste which I love.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg of potatoes (you can use any kind of potato – I like using new baby potatoes)
  • oil for frying the potatoes (any flavorless oil, for example sunflower or peanut oil)
  • 1 medium hot chili pepper
  • 4 spring onions
  • a large bunch of fresh coriander (about 40 grams, stalks and all)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

Instructions:

  • Wash the potatoes.
  • Cut the potatoes in bite size chunks, no need to remove the skin.
  • Fry the potatoes but do not fry them till they are crispy, they work best in this dish when they are still a bit soft.  Once fried, put them to the side.
  • Cut the chili pepper very finely, if you like it hot leave in the seeds, if you don’t take them out.
  • Cut the coriander very finely, stalks and all.
  • Slice the spring onions finely.
  • Fry the chili, coriander and spring onions in a generous amount of olive oil (2 to 3 tablespoons).  Add the salt.  Once the chili and spring onion are soft, the coriander should be ready as well and a lovely smell should come from your pan.  I prefer doing this in a wok, I am a messy cook and once the potatoes get added using a wok prevents everything from flipping out of the pan and making a mess in the kitchen.
  • Add the fried potatoes and mix them in with the fried chili/coriander/spring onion mix.

If you like lemon, just before serving you can put a generous squirt of lemon on it.

Let’s eat!

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Let’s talk about buns …

In a desperate attempt at avoiding supermarket burger buns that taste like cotton balls, I started looking for a good recipe to make them myself.  The ‘All Recipes’ website has a great recipe for burger buns that I slightly adjusted based on the comments that had been left with the recipe and my own attempts.  They are simple to make, just take into account however that there is a good two hours of rising needed to make the dough light – firm buns are only delicious when they are attached to a man.

Burger buns

The ingredients are as follows:

– 235 ml milk

– 120 ml water

– 55 g butter

– 560 g all-purpose flour

– 10 g instant yeast

– 25 g white sugar

– 9 g salt

– 2 eggs (1 for dough, one for egg wash)

– sesame seeds

Start with heating the milk, water and butter together (don’t boil them, just heat them through), this can be done in a sauce pan on the stove or in the microwave.

Mix yeast, sugar, salt and half of the flour with the milk/water/butter mixture and one egg.

Beat the mixture until smooth.

Put in the remaining flour, one cup at a time, beating in between each addition.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes).

Heat the oven to 40 degrees C and put the dough into an oil greased bowl covered with a damp towel and let rise for an hour.  The dough should about double in size.

After an hour, turn down the oven, take the dough out of the oven and out of the bowl.  Divide the dough into 12 pieces and put them on a tray and back in the oven for another hour of rising.  Try not to handle the dough too much, leave it as is, otherwise the buns will turn out too dense.  The oven is turned of to avoid the dough from drying out.  Also don’t put a towel or cling film on them because it will stick to the buns and ruin them.

After an hour take them out of the oven, brush the top with the egg wash and sprinkle some sesame seeds on top of the buns.

Preheat the oven at 200 degrees C and then bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown.

Enjoy!

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Carrot, Coriander and Ginger Soup

Carrot Coriander Ginger soup

I am not a big soup fan, but I like this one.

It is so easy to make, it’s creamy yet it has a bit of punch from the ginger.  I tend to make a big batch of this soup and freeze it for the nights I don’t feel like cooking or simply don’t have time to.

WHAT DO YOU NEED?

– 1 onion

– 1 clove of garlic

– 2 kg of carrots (I did say I like to make a BIG batch)

– one tablespoon of ground coriander seeds

– one tablespoon of ginger powder

– 20 to 30 gram of fresh coriander

– 1,5 l of chicken or vegetable stock

HOW DO YOU PREPARE IT?

1. Chop the onion and garlic.  I like to use a garlic press for the garlic, much easier then cutting it.

2. No need to wash the carrots: with a potato peeler you shave of the outer layers of the carrots and chop the carrots in large chunks.

3. Fry the onions and garlic in a large pot.

4. Add the carrots, 1 tablespoon of coriander powder and the stock.

5. Bring to a boil and let it boil for about 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes check if the carrots are soft and if they are turn the heat down.  If not, boil for another 5 to 10 minutes.

6. Add the fresh coriander (I use stalks and all).  No need to chop it, the blender will take care of this.

7. Blend the soup to a smooths consistency.

That’s it!

Let’s eat!

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Ta-ta-ta-tagine!


Living in Brussels means also somewhat living in Morocco.  There is a huge Moroccan population in our town and the food they make is simply delicious!  One of the most simple and most forgiving dishes to make is a tagine which is nothing else but a spicy Moroccan stew.

Moroccan spices give the dish a gentle, warm and deep flavor without being overpowering.  Its a forgiving dish because you can adjust the seasoning of the dish as you go along, the only thing that could go wrong is that you put too much spice in it.  Start with the proportions indicated below and if they are not to your taste, add.  Add small amounts of spice, not too much in one go – once there is too much spice in it you can not correct it anymore.  So, be careful.

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The main spice mix used here is called “ras el hanout”, it is a mix of all kinds of different spices that you can find in most supermarkets today.  You will notice that the flavor accents can be different depending on the brand that you buy.  If you ever go to Morocco and buy ras el hanout in one of the many souks you might be lucky and see the shop owner mix up the spices in front of you.  Although the components might vary slightly – the dish will always have a similar aromatic flavor.

Like with any stew, the principle of cooking today and re-heating tomorrow really makes this dish go from yummy to WOW, so if you can prepare it in advance, do it!

The tagine described below is a beef tagine, the beef can easily be replace by lam if that picks your fancy.  The cut of meat you use should not be the best cut, most butchers sell a kind of ‘stew meat’, this meat gives the best result.

You will notice that I add 0.5 kg of potatoes  however this is not necessary and is to my knowledge not done in Morocco.  I just like the way the potatoes suck up the tagine juices and take on the aromatic flavoring   On top of this I also add couscous and the combination of AND potato AND coucous might seem very strange but it is delicious.  I have to blame the Arabic heritage of my husband for this, because in Arabic cooking it is not unusual to have a dish with potatoes in and eat rice with it.  So the potato and couscous combo is somewhat based on the same principle.

WHAT DO YOU NEED? (FOR 6 PEOPLE)

  • oil for frying
  • 1 kg of beef: stew meat is fine (not the best cut, but ideal for stews)
  • 0.5 kg of potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika (sweet/mild paprika)
  • 2 teaspoon of ras el hanout
  • 200 gr of dried apricots, chopped up
  • 200 gr of dried prunes, chopped up
  • 100 gr of mixed raisins
  • 2 big onions
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 250 ml yoghurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mint
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • bunch of fresh coriander
  • almond flakes
  • 1 liter of water with 2 cubes of vegetable stock
  • 0.5 kg of couscous

HOW DO YOU COOK IT?

  1. Dry the meat with a towel (otherwise it won’t brown properly).
  2. Put pepper and salt on the meat.
  3. Fry the meat in oil.  When finished, keep the oil in the pan.
  4. Cut up the onions, chop up the garlic and fry in the oil used to fry the meat.
  5. Add the meat back in and add the spices and dried fruit.
  6. Add the water with stock cubes.
  7. Bring to the boil and then bring heat down and let simmer for one hour.  At this point taste the sauce and if needed add some additional seasoning  put some more ras el hanout in and let simmer again for another hour.  The meat will be ready when it is tender and slightly falls apart.

HOW DO YOU SERVE THE DISH?

  1. Take the yoghurt, add in the mint and the garlic powder.  Put it back in the fridge.
  2. Cut up the coriander in small pieces (stalks and all).
  3. Toast the almond flakes.
  4. When you are ready to serve the dish, make the couscous.  This is done quickly by adding an equal amount of hot water to the amount of couscous and letting it absorb the water.  Once all the water is absorbed add in a knob of butter and stir around till the couscous has gotten a grainy consistency.
  5. Layer as follows in the dishes: couscous, tagine, good spoonful of yoghurt, sprinkle of coriander, sprinkle of almond flakes.

You’ll get the most wonderful combination of textures and tastes … hot and cold, soft and crunchy, mild creaminess and spice … heaven.

Let’s eat!

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