Chicken and Bread (Imsakhn) & Jews Mallow (Molukhia)

Here are two great recipes to combine for one complete meal. Of course you can make these recipes separate, though they do lend very well to one another.

I have started with the main course, the Imsakhn.

Basically it utilizes the twice cooked chicken technique, not unlike Kebsah. (Boil and broil!) This means of course that you can get some of that lovely chicken broth that you can use for whatever you wish.

With that broth I made Jews Mallow (Molokhia) which I have shown below the Imsakhan recipe.

Imasakhn

(Twice cooked) chicken on bread, & onions

Supplies

Large pot for boiling chicken

Deep Pan (about 1-2 inch vertical), the bigger the better

Medium Frying Pan

Strainer (for straining broth)

Ingredients

4-6 Onions

2 slices of large flat bread (enough to cover the pan you use with two layers)

A whole chicken cut into about 8 pieces (A lot of supermarkets will do this for you, just bring them the chicken you find in the case and ask them to cut it up.)

Spices and Flavorings

A combination of a couple of simple spices is all you need.

Olive Oil

LemonSalt

Pepper

Sumac

Recipe

Let it boil!

1. Fill a pot up with enough water to cover your pieces of chicken.

2. Add your cleaned chicken and an onion and boil for about 45 minutes – 1 hour or until your chicken is cooked thoroughly.

3. Fry up your remaining onions until they are nice and browned4. Line your deep dish pan with a layer of bread, olive oil, 1/3 of your onions, and a lot of Sumac! Broil this first layer for a few minutes until nice and golden brown.

One layer down, now add another, and don’t be afraid to really pour on that Sumac. (Next time I will put even more than this picture shows.)

4. Take your first layer out of the oven and add another bread/onion sumac layer, so that you will have two layers. (You will have 1/3 left of your fried onions.) Now it’s time to layer the chicken on top.

5. Take your pot of boiled chicken and strain the broth into another pot. This should leave you with a strainer full of chicken and a chopped onion.

6. Tip the strainer over letting your chickens and onions fall on to the bread. Add the remaining fried onions alongside the chicken and arrange the pieces to be broiled nice and crispy.

Sumac, the deep berry red spice you see on the chicken, has a delightful somewhat tart taste.

7. Generously add all your spices and oil/lemon over the chicken. Don’t be stingy with that Sumac! Throw it under the broiler until browned and serve.

Now that you have some wonderful broth from the Imsakhan, why not add a side that takes only about 7 minutes to make? You can even do this while your chicken broils, and put everything out on the table at the same time. (I love when that happens.)

Jews Mallow (Molokhia)

Supplies

1 Soup pan/pot

1 Ladle

Small frying pan

Ingredients

One package of minced Molokhia

Chicken Broth (About 5 ladles)

One diced tomato

Spices & Flavorings

Diced garlic to taste (I like a lot so I used 4 cloves)

Lemon wedges (To serve alongside the dish)

Salt (Couple of pinches)

Recipe

1. Open up your package of frozen Molokhia and put into a pot with a ladle of chicken broth.

3. As it melts down add broth one ladle at a time until you have the consistency you want. (You won’t need much broth, it should be very cloudy with green.)

4. When it is melted, add a chopped tomato into the broth (Without this step, the consistency will be slimy.)

5. Let it simmer while you brown the garlic over the stove. (It needs only simmer  a few minutes.)

6. Sprinkle the  browned garlic into your pot of Molokhia and add a few pinches of salt.

7. Serve like soup with fresh lemon wedges to encourage diners to squeeze over the finished product. (Also great on rice.)

Delicious.

Dinner on the patio.

Fool Proof Banana Bread Part DEUX

Hey Ma, I did it, I finally did it! It has been two months since my last attempt, but this time my banana bread came out good enough to eat.

Unlike my last masterpiece, I added no frills and left out the kitchen sink.  I used this recipe, and only changed a few things out of necessity. For one, I do not have a mixer so I beat everything by hand. Another thing I didn’t have was vanilla, so I sprinkled a tablespoon of vanilla pudding powder with the wet ingredients. Lastly, I added chocolate chips because what’s the point without them? I baked for the said time and did not resort to the broiler; dinner was already cooked and cooling on the stove.

The pictures aren’t that exciting, but I am just such a happy little baker, I had to share.

If I hadn’t failed so miserably before, I would not be as appreciative today, and that’s the lesson, a classic; if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again…

Discover Your Inner Chef

As you can tell by my banana bread fiasco, I am not a cook.  Just like the original Miss Corrigan, I too tend to burn whatever it is I am trying to put together.  But, I gotta eat, and I gotta feed my family, so I better learn quick!  So I turned to my cooking confidant, Miss Beaucoup, who always excites me with her love for all things food, except for grapefruit, which we have proven I love the most. I have asked her to light a fire under me so i can light a fire under a good meal.

Without further ado, I present to you Miss Juju Beaucoup:

How to Discover your Inner Chef

Don’t love cooking?  No problem . . . you don’t HAVE to love cooking in order to find the chef within, though it does help.  To start, you simply must love eating food, and when I say food, I mean REAL, fresh-from-the-earth food.  What better motivation to cook than the delightful reward of eating something homemade and delicious?

Though it may come more easily to some than others, every one of us has a chef within that is dying to come out and play.  The key to unlocking your inner chef is a simple as the three L’s:  LEARN, LIVE, and LOVE.

1. LEARN:  As with anything in life, the art of culinary creativity starts with learning. 

There are so many ways to get inspired to find your way in the kitchen.  To begin, just start exploring.  Have a conversation with friends or acquaintances about their experiences with food.  This is a great way to get recipes and tips, or you might even find a cooking comrade.

For those who don’t really love cooking, it is always more enjoyable spending time in the kitchen when you are there with someone you appreciate.  There are also many classes available through community resources that might offer the opportunity to learn with others—check out your local papers or stores for workshops.

Otherwise, find a cooking show you enjoy watching to learn some basics about ingredients and preparation techniques.  Watch before you start or while you’re cooking to stimulate your appetite and get you in the mood.
Jamie Oliver is a great host for those who don’t want to spend too much time cooking; he demonstrates casual, minimalistic and healthy techniques while adding some British wit and charm to the mix. There are endless videos to be seen online, not to mention entire television channels dedicated to food and the culture therein.

The next step to learning is to start trying.  Don’t worry if you feel like you’re going to fail.  Every failed attempt is a learning opportunity to get it right the next time.  When you are first starting, start slowly.  Pay attention to what steps you may have missed or where you went wrong so you can start over or try again another time.  Add ingredients little by little, cook at a lower temperature than suggested (if possible), or eliminate unnecessary ingredients so you can focus more on the interaction of the necessary ones.  Just keep it simple and pay attention to what HAS worked for you.  Success is a great incentive to keep at it!!!

     2. LIVE:  The best thing about cooking is that you can adjust your chef style to your lifestyle. 

One big misconception of cooking is that it has to be time-consuming and impossible to fit into a busy schedule.  With a little planning ahead, the tasks of shopping for and preparing fresh food can be done rather quickly and efficiently.

The best way to do this is to think about your tastes—what do you like to buy at the grocery store, what do you like to eat?  Once you have figured this out, find a couple of recipes that use these ingredients (hello, Google!)  and plan out a few meals for the week that will incorporate them.  Use recipes with few ingredients whenever possible.

A great place to start for simple, quick meals is pasta, sandwiches, tacos or even a good stir-fry.  Virtually any ingredients can be turned into a tasty version of these dishes.  They are all quick to prepare, complete meals, can easily be made with extra leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch, and are much more satisfying than yet another frozen dinner.

Once you have your footing with these basic meals, start to be a little daring and try something new.  Maybe you love that coconut curry you always get at your favorite Thai restaurant—go online and find yourself a simple DIY version to try at home.  Chances are you will be able to find the ingredients easily and it might even lead you to a new, specialty grocery store that you’ve never visited or even knew about.

Be creative about where you buy your food. The process itself is an incredibly engaging way to bring out your inner chef.  Finding food locally is much more motivating and rewarding than going to the same supermarket you can find in Anytown, USA.  Going to the farmer’s market to buy your produce and meat for the week is a pleasant activity that will excite you to get home and get busy using the wonderful things you just purchased.  If you don’t have access to a good farmers’ market year-round, try your local-food co-op, health store, or ethnic food stores for some basic ingredients.  Sometimes these stores are more expensive, but without a doubt, the quality of the ingredients you will find here is worth the extra cost.  In any case, being imaginative with where you find food can really help you lively up your chef-self.

     3. LOVE: It’s an age-old idea that the secret ingredient to good cookin’ is love.

This is absolutely true!!!  Cook when you are in a good mood, and if you’re not, then find a way to set the mood.  Put on some good music and relax.  Think of someone you love while you prepare your food, and if possible, share with them when it comes time to enjoy your finished product.  Without a doubt, the more love you put into cooking, the more love will come back to you and the more you will love to cook!  If you don’t love what you’re doing then it’s not even worth doing it—find a way to add some love to your food and the rest will take care of itself.

The bottom line is that we all have our own obstacles that keep us from cooking.  If you think you don’t have time to prepare your own food, you do.  It takes more time (not to mention more money) out of your busy day to run and grab something at the store than to plan ahead and bring something with you before you start your day.  There are endless options for quick dinners and it goes even faster if you have a little help (kids, roommates, husband . . . gasp!).  If you think you simply don’t like cooking, think again.  Think of the satisfaction that comes from eating and allow yourself to take pride in the food you make, especially if you didn’t really want to make it.  If you think you are no good at cooking, then keep learning.  Skill can come from knowledge and knowledge is empowering—with some initial effort on your part, your ability will expand and become effortless in time.  Whatever your excuse is, ask yourself this:  Why do I eat?  That reason in and of itself is a good enough reason to start making your own food, if only once in a while.  I promise you that the more joy you seek in cooking, the more joy you will get out of it!

HAPPY COOKING AND BON APPETIT!

COMING NEXT FROM JUJU BEAUCOUP:

The new chef’s guidelines to using great ingredients!

Fool Proof Banana Bread in a Few Easy Steps

Don’t you hate it when you make all the necessary preparations for the perfect banana bread, and nothing seems to go right?  You wait and wait for that perfect ripeness of the bananas. You even hide those bananas so no one eats, as they are reserved for something way better. You go ahead and buy the more expensive chocolate, the nice butter, and opt for the more expensive nut-the pistachio, because you are going to make something special.  You seek out recipes on the internet from fellow bloggers and you add your own special touches.  In some ways it’s a whole days event…at least it seems that way as you are cleaning your equipment and waiting for it to bake.

Luckily I have posted for you a fool proof way to make banana bread.  Follow these instructions and hopefully yours will come out as beautiful as mine did.

  • First follow this recipe, but go ahead and eye the measures if you don’t have the appropriate tools.  If you are missing an egg or something just leave it out.
  • Add your own special touches right before it goes into the oven like chocolate chips, pineapple, almonds, pistachio, and granola
  • Put into the oven for the recommended time but if you are afraid of burning it to a crisp like you did to your cookies the other night, take it out 20 minutes early
  • Turn your cake upside down before it has a chance to solidify
  • Realize its totally underbaked so scoop it up and stick it under the steaks that are broiling on high
  • Take it out and let it cool, maybe cut a few of the choice pieces for your favorite somebody
  • Voila! You have banana bread that will if you’re lucky, will look something like this:

Yum. Tasty. Enjoy.

Simple Dinner Recipe: Lamb & Okra

Lamb and Okra blah, not the ingredients I regularly think to make. Okra especially with its goo consistency keeps me away. However, the other night my husband’s father showed me how to make a superb dish sure to please the masses. It is easy to cook and best when sopped up with Arabic bread or flatbread.

Ingredients

3 lbs of Lamb with bone

6-7 Tomatoes (optional)

Tomato paste

Okra (We used two bags of frozen okra for this recipe)

Salt & pepper to taste

Oil

Cumin (pinch)

Lemon wedges

Recipe

1. Cut the fat off the lamb and cube the meat. Boil in water until cooked all the way through

2. Meanwhile, fry the okra whole in oil until it is soft and brown

3. Add chopped tomatoes and tomato paste to your okra, cook for a few minutes

4. Strain the water and add the cooked lamb meat, cook together for 10 minutes or so

5. Spice with salt and pepper, Cumin is also a nice spice to throw in

6. Serve hot with cool lemon wedges, so your dinner guests can squeeze over the stew