Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wednesday's Recipe: Maklouba

Oh, the lessons we will learn!  This week, I tried to recreate that fabulous Arabic dish, Maklouba, or "upside-down rice," that we first tasted in Berkeley at thZaki Delectable Mediterranean Cuisine. I found a wonderful recipe online posted by Legal Nomads for a Jordanian version and dashed to the grocery store to buy spices and veggies.

First lesson: Do you have the spices you need? At first, I thought I was making a major investment on Wall Street. Over $14 for just one spice? Yep, and I needed five new spices. I didn't know if my dear hubby (DH) would even like the resulting dish! So off to the bulk foods aisle I went, bagging my own for about thirty-five cents.

Next lesson. Always reread your recipe. Back home again, I threw a whole chicken into the oven to roast, remembering that at Zaki's Cafe, a roasted chicken added so much more flavor. Ooops! Always reread your recipe before beginning, for this version of Maklouba involved simmering the chicken to gain that oh-so-delicious broth.  So half way through roasting, out came the chicken from the oven; I popped it in a large pot.

Last lesson: Check number of portions before you begin. The results were delicious. DH said beyond delicious. But we could easily have fed 8-10 people with this version, so we have eaten Maklouba every night this week!


Keep in mind this is a complicated recipe BUT it is worth every effort you make!

Step 1:  Start chicken broth
1 whole chicken (parts removed, washed)
1 onion chopped
2 teasp tumeric
3 bay leaves
1 teasp salt
Put chicken, spices, and onion into pot. Add water just until chicken is covered. Bring just to a boil. Simmer for about 30 minutes, until chicken is fork finished (meat thermometer 165-170). Cool chicken and shred/cut into bite-sized pieces. Put chicken in a bowl in the fridge. Set aside chicken broth.

Step 2: Assemble Spices
Mix together about 1 teasp each of paprika, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamon, nutmeg.
Add 2 teasp tumeric. You will use about 2 teasp of this mix in the soup stock when layering all ingredients. Save the rest for the next time you make Maklouba.
Chop fine 3-4 cloves of fresh garlic. Set aside.

Step 3: Precook vegetables and rice
Soak 2 cups of rice in just enough water to cover for 30 minutes with 2 teasp tumeric
Chop 1 cup fresh parsley and set aside to use right before serving
Toast 1/2 cup sliced almonds in a little butter and set aside to use right before serving

1 head of cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces (some people like the greens added too)
1 eggplant, cut into large bite-sized pieces
Saute cauliflower and eggplant with olive oil in large frying pan until brown.

4. Assemble all ingredients and cook
Start with a large pot. Layer in cauliflower and eggplant.
Add chicken in the next layer. Add chopped garlic on top.
Add rice (drained).
Add spices + 1 TBSP of salt to chicken stock and mix.
Pour gently over layers in cooking pot until water about 1" above layers.
Cover pot. Cook for about 10 minutes on high.
Without removing the lid, turn heat to simmer for 45 minutes.

Traditionally, when cooking is complete, you would let the pot cool for about 10 minutes and then flip the entire pot upside down on a large platter. But I didn't have a platter big enough. Use a large spoon to dig down through all the layers and serve. Now's the moment to add the parsley and sauteed almonds.

Maklouba (Camp 2013)
Did anyone make this??? I will happily cook this again, but maybe next time, I'll invite those 8-10 people over to share.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wednesday's recipe: A ridiculously fast salad . . . Tabbouleh!

When you are sick, nothing helps more than good food, preferably prepared by someone else. But if you have to make your own comfort food, try this faster-than-fast Middle Eastern (Arabic) salad. I have some in my fridge now. Good even for breakfast!

Basically, you make the cous-cous, pull the other ingredients together, throw them all in a bowl, mix and chill. What could be easier? This lasts three or so days in the fridge, so make a batch! Next time, add more garlic for a zippy taste and different seasonings. Experiment with this high protein and tasty dish.

STEP 1: Make the cous-cous. Boil 1-1/2 cups of water. Add 1 cup of cous-cous. Cover, remove from heat (or the microwave), and set aside while the cous-cous absorbs the water. 

STEP 2: Gather your ingredients and throw them in a large bowl:  
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 can sliced or chopped olives, drained
1 can corn, drained
2 chopped tomatoes
1/2 chopped cucumber
1/2 chopped green pepper
1 garlic clove, diced fine
1 cup parsley, chopped

STEP 3: Mix all ingredients with cous-cous. Drizzle dressing of 1/4 cup lemon juice (fresh or from a bottle) and 1/4 cup olive oil. Add salt to taste (usually about 1 teaspoon). Mix well. Put any leftovers in the fridge. This salad travels well, and truly, you can eat it for breakfast. It's vegetarian AND vegan and helps to keep the vampires away (if you are so inclined).

Tabbouleh salad with Mermaid (Camp 2013)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Welcome home soup . . .

Gone a month and happily home to my own kitchen! 

Serve this rich, easy-to-make tomato soup with crusty bread and enjoy.Interpret my directions with an easy hand. I sort-of measure.

Beth's Welcome Home Soup

1 onion chopped
3 cloves of garlic, rough chopped
Stir above into soup pot with about 1 TBS olive oil.

While that's cooking, add:
About 2 big handfuls of those small carrots cut in half
2-3 stalks of celery, cut bite-sized
1 green pepper, cut bite-sized

Stir fry for about 5 minutes and then add:
1 15-oz can corn
(and this next is the secret to fabulous soup)
1 28-oz can crushed Italian tomatoes (I used S&W and it had oregano & basil already in it)

Now add about half a can of water (use the 28-oz can).
Stir. Add a little more water if you like.
Add the spices gently:
About 1/2 teasp paprika
Ditto salt, pepper and cumin

Simmer 10 minutes and truly enjoy. This recipe comes from a soup I tasted in a tiny, nameless restaurant someplace south of Berkeley. I had to try to replicate the wonderful taste for their soup included tons of fresh basil (which we don't have yet).

My Country Tomato (Rachel made the placemat)
Did you try it? Let me know!