In My Kitchen – March 2014…and an explanation

This morning I woke up excited at the prospect of blogging again. Hooray, I was going to get in on the first day of Autumn and submit my first blog post in over 6 weeks.

Then I checked the date. The 4th Of March. Oops.

Not sure how, but I convinced myself that today was the 1st. Maybe it’s because it was a short February. Maybe it’s because when you’re at home with a child all day every day you forget what day of the week it is let alone the actual date.

So I owe you all an explanation. You, my fellow loyal readers, and you, my fellow gorgeous blogging friends who I enjoyed frequenting your blogs on a daily basis and lately haven’t been able to do so.

Actually, I’ll tell you what’s in my kitchen this month first, then the explanation.

The In My Kitchen series is all brought to you by Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, a collection of posts from around the world, and a sticky beak into the bloggers kitchen that month. So without further ado,

In my Kitchen: Are pickled Armenian Cucumbers.

armenian cucumber pickles

Armenian Cucumbers are often labelled ‘wild cucumbers’ and have rippled or ribbed textured skin and are deliciously crunchy. I buy it from my local Middle Eastern deli. These pickles are a  wonderful compliment to any meal.

In My Kitchen: Is Indulge Coffee Mocha Ice Cream from Aldi’s.

aldi's coffee mocha indulge ice cream

This would have to be my ultimate indulgence at the moment. The coffee flavour is absolutely gorgeous and actually quite strong like you were sipping on a double espresso. Throughout the ice-cream are large chunks of bitter dark chocolate. My local Aldi’s brings it in weekly and you have to get in quick, it disappears off the shelves in a flash.

In My Kitchen: is Ginger beer.

ginger beer

I got hooked onto ginger beer on the South Pacific cruise we recently travelled on. Ginger is a great way to curb sea sickness or nausea and God knows just how sick I was this time around. We’ve been back a few weeks now but I’ve become accustomed to the taste and my fridge is now nicely stocked with this non alcoholic beverage.

So…..

Pickles, ice-cream and ginger beer….

Have you guessed it?

In My Kitchen: A bun in the oven…

bun in oven

I’m beyond elated to advise we’re expecting our second bubba on the second day of Spring!

Which brings me to explain and apologise to you all.

I apologise for the lack of posting. The truth is I’ve been so lethargic and nauseous this time around, I’d feel like a fraud speaking about food if even the thought of it started to make me gag. I’m 14 weeks along and the nausea has only just started to get better. It was the opposite with my daughter, I had a very easy and problem free pregnancy with her and this around it has been so different. We have been eating out a lot because handling slimy chicken or meat, and then cooking it has made me sick. The smell has made me sick. I’m only just starting to get any thing close to an appetite back and hope that things improve from here.

The 2 weeks on the cruise ship was interesting to say the least. Try combining sea sickness (rough seas leaving and returning to Sydney) with morning sickness when every step you take is some sort of restaurant on a cruise ship. It’s like food is literally thrown in your face on-board. Relax, eat! Relax, eat! Have fun, drink then EAT! Food, food glorious food everywhere you turn but not so fun when you’re feeling green.

The other fun unknown fact about pregnancy is that it makes your eyes dry and often blurry. I haven’t been able to sit at a computer for longer than an half an hour at a time because it makes my eyes hurt. I refuse to take eye drops because during pregnancy something happens to me that my husband refers to as ‘anally retentive’. I refuse all sorts of drugs, paracetamol, antibiotics and in this case eye drops. My theory is ‘just in case’ and regardless of what any doctor or study says that conclude it safe, I just cant bring myself to do it.

So there you go folks. I hope to be back in full spirit and mode soon! I also look forward to sharing this experience with you (the good parts!)

xx

 

 

 

A break…

 

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Can someone give me back my motivation?!

It’s late January and you’d think I’d be over the silly season festivities but alas not.

It’s incredibly hard to get back to it both physically and setting the correct mind frame

The month of January has so far proven to bring a few unexpected challenges for me personally. More on that in a few weeks’ time.

In the meantime I was looking at old photos of what a wonderful time me and my family had on board P&O’s Pacific Jewel this time last year. One telephone call later and another cruise was booked.

So, Bon Voyage for me, I’m off to sail the high seas, eat incredibly good food, chill poolside, explore the South Pacific and do absolutely nothing else.

I’ll be sure to let you all know about it on my return.

As our good friend John would say, ‘The Kitchen will reopen Mid February’.
xo

Garden Share Collective – January 2014

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The weather’s been hot, like REAL summer scorching hot these last few weeks. I haven’t tended to the garden at all except to go out at sunset and give the poor buggers a drenching.
No liquid fertiliser, no food, no added nutrients. Just water.

And you know what? The patch has been very forgiving.

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Remember my cucumber/zucchini/leek patch last month?

cucumber, zucchini and leek patch, Dec 2013

cucumber, zucchini and leek patch, Dec 2013

That is what it looked like in December. Now, 4 short weeks later here is the same patch, gone a bit mental!

Cucumber, zucchini and leek patch, Jan 2014

Cucumber, zucchini and leek patch, Jan 2014

We have lots and lots of beans. Dwarf beans, French beans and Purple King beans. I can’t remember the last time I actually bought any vegetables!

purple king beans

Our fairy tale eggplant is going a bit berserk too. There are over 25 eggplants on a plant about 30 cm tall!

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We have tomatoes coming out of our ears.

I’m also trying my luck with potatoes again after our kipfler and Pontiac experiment last year. This time there are Gabriella potatoes I bought from my local farmers markets. They started sprouting after a week. This time, I plan to bank up the soil and mulch as the plant grows and hope for a better harvest in 3 months’ time.

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So the garden continues to thrive, through the humidity and heat wave! The Garden Share Collective is thanks to Lizzy at Strayed from the Table, a collection of vegetable patches across the globe.
To see my vegetable patch’s growth before your very eyes, please take a moment to view my previous posts here.
Happy Gardening!
xx

In My Kitchen – January 2014

Happy New Year to all my wonderful readers!

I vowed to keep the laptop switched off over the silly season and just enjoy myself, the company of my family and friends, do some gardening and enjoy the outdoors, so apologies for the blogging absence. I so look forward to sharing my delicious recipes and wacky stories throughout 2014 with you. Thanks for joining me on this journey.

So without further ado, I start the New Year with a new addition to the In My Kitchen series, a collection of bloggers around Australia and the world who give you a sneak peak to the contents of their kitchens. It’s all thanks to Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.

In My Kitchen: Was a Christmas Day feast.

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We had the family over to our house on the 25th and it was wonderful to sit back, devour good food, and listen to carols in the presence of some truly wonderful people.

The plan was to have a nice BBQ outdoors, but Mother Nature thought over wise drizzling us with rain throughout the day. A hot buffet was planned instead at the last minute.

The menu was one big delicious mismatch! There was Dolma (rice and meat wrapped vine leaves), fried rice, lasagne, chicken wings, kale tabouli, garden salad, and a ‘sausage roll wreath’ inspired by Lorraine at ‘Not Quite Nigella’.

Needless to say the sausage roll wreath was the highlight of the day and I’m quite impressed with how nicely it came out!

sausage roll wreath

In My Kitchen: Blue Eye

blue eye mask evil

I don’t really believe it voodoo, but hey, what’s a Wog house without a ‘Blue Eye’ to fend off the evil thoughts of others. In Armenian, we have a saying ‘Atchket kaknem’ which literally translates to ‘I will shit on your eye’. It means if you ever have a negative thing to say about me or my family, the Blue Eye will protect us from your jealousy/negative thoughts. Hysterical!

In My Kitchen: There is Cognac. Lots of it!

landy cognac xo

My husband is a ‘Cognac and cigar’ kind of guy. He loves his cognac collection and it grows every year. The Landy bottle with the dog on top was my Wedding present to him 7 years ago.

And there you go, the 1st IMK post for 2014, Short and Sweet. For a recap of my 2013 kitchen contents, please take a moment to view my previous posts.

Dark Chocolate Coated Spiced Candied Orange Peel

Dark Chocolate Coated Spiced Candied Orange Peel

When the lovely Claire from ClaireKCreations contacted me to ask if I’d be interested in joining a ‘Foodie Secret Santa’ with other food bloggers from around Australia I squealed with delight. Why of course I’d love to receive gifts in the mail so the answer was yes. She then said its not one present or two, but 3 different presents and I squealed some more!

This was back in November so for the last month I had ideas swirling through my mind as to what I would mail out to my 3 secret Santa participants.

I settled on orange and spice because those flavours remind me of Christmas and decided I’d make dark chocolate coated candied orange peel. I absolutely love orange and chocolate anything and it was so hard not to just polish the plate I had to mail out.

So yes lucky Secret Santa recipient’s, twas I, the Gourmet Wog that made that box of yumminess.

What I didn’t really take into consideration though was the weather and as I was standing at the post office with my 3 goodies all boxed and wrapped up searching through my blackberry to find the email with the recipient’s home address’s is that all 3 were located in the sunny north. QLD. Nice.

My beautifully decorated choc coated orange peel would arrive as one box of melted chocolate mess with orange things floating through it. I’m sure/hope it still tasted good!

I skinned 3 kilos of oranges to get enough peel for 3 participants. It turned out to be just enough and I ended up freezing the actual oranges once they were peeled for later use.

If you’re curious to see what other bloggers received, we tracked our goodies using hashtag #foodiesecretsanta in twitter, facebook and instagram.

foodiesecretsanta

What did I receive? Well this lucky gal was just so grateful to receive something other than bills in the mail, and even luckier because all 3 goodies were so delicious. Present one was Bread and Butter Pickles and homemade dukkah, present 2 was home made honey mustard, and present 3 was salted caramel peanut brittle and maple dukkah. Amazing! Thanks Secret Santa!! xx

Dark Chocolate Coated Spiced Candied Orange Peel

  • 3 kilo’s oranges, peeled.
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • About 10 cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • 200 grams good quality dark chocolate

Remove the skin from the oranges (pith/white part too) and cut into strips. If you’re fussed about presentation or OCD you can make square them up and make them all even in size but I went for the ‘rustic’ look (or the ‘I can’t be bothered doing the extra step because I have a crazy cat two year old running amok beside me). Actually, I like the rustic look, it makes them appear home made!

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Put orange peel into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring it to the boil for 2 minutes. Drain it, then repeat the process 3 times. This helps reduce the bitterness from the peel.

After you do this 3 times, bring all the listed ingredients (except the chocolate) to a boil and simmer away on a mid to low heat for 1 hour until the peel is translucent.

Dark Chocolate Coated Spiced Candied Orange Peel

Remove the peel from the syrup and place on a drying rack for a minimum of 6 hours. I did this step at night and left it to dry overnight for a better effect.

Dark Chocolate Coated Spiced Candied Orange Peel

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler and carefully dip each orange peel into the melted chocolate. Place the choc coated orange peel onto some parchment/baking paper to dry.

Dark Chocolate Coated Spiced Candied Orange Peel

Once the chocolate has set, you can store them for up to 2 weeks.

Dark Chocolate Coated Spiced Candied Orange Peel

Yummy Crunchy Oven Roasted Curry Chickpeas

crunchy curry salty baked oven roasted chickpeas

Every year I say I’ll do my Christmas shopping in November and get it out of the way.

Every year.

Every single year I end up doing it last minute, battling car park rage, shoving the crowds out of my way, while dealing with aching pregnancy feet/ screeching baby/one year old with pooplosions/terrible two tantrums.

It seems this year is no exception.

With 13 nights left till Christmas day we’re yet to put our tree up let alone do our shopping for the big fat wog family and I’m starting to stress just thinking about it.

Apologies in advance to my blogging friends and loyal readers for the lack of posts lately. I just have so much on and so much yet to do.

This working full time, being a mother, wife, chef, cleaner and blogger gig is hard work!

Yesterday I could have done some shopping but instead decided to enjoy a cold one under the sun, with my feet up, nibbling on curry chickpeas and it was bliss. Christmas stress can wait another day.

My recipe for crunchy baked curry chickpeas is the ultimate beer snack. Perfectly crunch, salty and yummy it’ll have you going back for more. And the best part of it is they’re pretty good for you

crunchy curry salty baked oven roasted chickpeas

Yummy Crunchy Oven Roasted Curry Chickpeas

  • 2 cans (400g) chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon chilli flakes (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Rinse and dry your chickpeas thoroughly with a paper towel. You don’t want any excess moisture.
Combine all the ingredients together, toss well to evenly coat and spread out onto a flat baking dish
Bake for 20 minutes, switch the oven off and leave chickpeas inside the oven with the door closed for a further 20 minutes to dry out.

Open a cold beer, guzzle it down while you enjoy your salty crunchy chickpeas!

Chickpeas will keep crunchy for up to 3 days if stored in a air tight container.

Flavour variations: Don’t like curry? Why not go for these combos: cumin/paprika/salt …cayenne pepper/garlic powder/salt….sweet tooth? Cinnamon/sugar…

Garden Share Collective – December 2013

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Last month I mentioned Sydney decided to chuck a tanty and forgo spring because the weather was hot hot hot. Then like 30 seconds later, it chucked another tanty and the weather became cold cold cold! I sit here, it my robe and uggies writing this up on the first day of summer.

Welcome to the last Garden Share Collective post for 2013, a collection of vegetable patches across the globe all thanks to Lizzie from Strayed from the Table
Please take the time to take a sticky beak at my previous Garden Share collective posts to catch up or take a refresher on my progress.

3 of our 4 pallet beds are finally planted up. We’ll get to the 4th when I catch my breath!

A lot of prep work went into getting the patches ready. First weed mat was lined along the sides to stop the grass from growing through the pallet boards.

Gourmet Wog

Then 3 layers of thick cardboard was laid down to stop the weeds from sprouting through. Then the fun and smelly part of preparing the soil. My husband spent many weeknights sifting soil to make sure there were no onion weed seeds and to that he added compost, cow manure, mushroom manure, 5 in 1 mix, dynamic lifter and finally chicken shit. Noice.

Next it was time to plant!  We planted up the first bed with tomatoes and basil. It looked like this when first planted up (first week of November):

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And 3 weeks later (the power of a shit load of rain and a shit load of shit) it looked like this:

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The 2nd bed turned out to be a ‘bits and pieces’ bed and contains tomatoes, eggplant, basil, parsley, chilli, leeks and poppy flowers

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The 3rd Bed (my favourite) is neatly lined with our new crop of leaks, more tomatoes, zucchini and cucumbers. We planted these up 2 days ago, just in time for this post

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I love the way the leaks border the patch. We made sure to plant the leaks at about 20cms below the rest of the veggie patch to bank up the soil as they grow throughout the next few months.

growing leek plants

The other veggie patches are coming along nicely. I won’t show you the kale because you’re probably sick of hearing me talk about it, but just know that they’re still there, they’re thriving and they’re still going berserk.

The purple climbing king beans are doing just that, climbing. We’re yet to see any beans yet.

climbing purple king beans

Our dwarf French beans though are producing masses and masses. I pick a generous handful every single day. Most of the time it doesn’t make it back to the kitchen as they get devoured straight from the plant.

dwarf green beans

Our Hungarian yellow chillies are rewarding us well. They are surprisingly incredibly chilli!

hungarian yellow chillies

Finally, as hoped, we had much more success with our Pontiac Potatoes. I wanted to leave them to grow a bit longer but we had some really crazy storms in Sydney throughout November, and lots of rain so it was time to harvest them before they rot or go mouldy. These red gems were uncovered after planting only 4 potatoes in the hessian sacks.

pontiac potato plants undercovered

And there it is, my last Garden Share Collective for the year. Happy Gardening everyone 

In My Kitchen – December 2013

It’s finally here: summer in Sydney!!  Welcome to the last IMK post for 2013. This series has certainly been fun and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed sharing it with you. It’s all thanks to Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.

In My kitchen: Is Smoked FALKSALT.

FALKSALT smoked sea salt flakes

It’s no secret I love salt. I’d pick savoury over sweet any day of the week and my absolute favourite cocktail of all time has to be the Margarita, salt crusted of course!

I was given this lovely jar of Smoked Salt by FALKSALT  by my gorgeous Sister who just got a job at one of Sydney’s finest deli’s. The salt is imported by Simon Johnson and comes all the way from sunny Cyprus. As soon as you lift the lid, the smoked hickory aroma hits you and I find I have to stop myself from eating the salt crystals as is.

Adding the smoked salt to roast veggies take them to a whole new dimension and it’s amazing how much flavour they contribute.

In My kitchen: Is this hand painted spoon rest from Dubrovnik, Croatia

olive painted spoon rest

I bought this gorgeous spoon rest on our travels throughout Europe many years back. I love the olive design and colour scheme and at only $1 Australian it was a major bargain.

It adds a splash of colour to my dull and beige kitchen

In My Kitchen: Green Tea with Certified Organic Ganoderma

green tea with organic ganoderma

A close friend has become a distributor of Organo Gold products and kindly gave me some samples to try. I had never heard of Ganoderma before and when she explained that it was a cancer fighting mushroom, I was intrigued to say the least. Ganoderma, or Reishi as its known throughout Asia has been used for the promotion of health, longevity and treatment of cancer in traditional Chinese medicine. The tea thankfully tastes very much like any other green tea with no mushroom aftertaste.

In My Kitchen: Hangs this gorgeous Christian art work.

Armenian artwork from 1980

My gorgeous Armenian friend kindly gave me this art work to hang in my house. I don’t know the story behind the artwork but I can clearly see it is a religious piece depicted by the halos and angel wings the two figures. The artwork was purchased by my friends Dad in 1980 in the USSR, current day Armenia and it is very special to my friend as her father has since passed. She went on to marry a kind Muslim man many years ago and requested the artwork be hung in a Christian house where she feels it belongs. I felt very humbled when asked and it hangs proudly in my kitchen, the heart of the house.

In My kitchen: home-grown garlic

homegrown organic purple garlic

My last listing for the IMK 2013 series is very special to me. It was listed on my very first IMK post in April this year and that was garlic. I bought a gorgeous bunch of organic and locally grown garlic from my farmers markets  and was so taken back by its taste I decided to try my luck at planting a couple of cloves. I really do mean a couple, I didn’t want to waste any of my precious garlic and thought I could ‘spare’ 2 cloves. Well, I really do wish I planted more because from those 2 cloves, I just pulled out 2 large bulbs from the garden 7 months later. They are currently drying near my kitchen window and I can’t wait to eat them, raw and in all their glory in garlic dip

homegrown organic purple garlic

Thank you for joining me the last IMK for 2013. My previous entries can be found here.

Vegan Spiced Tahini and Orange Cake aka Tahinopita

Vegan Spiced Tahini and Orange Cake aka Tahinopita

My daughter has started going through a fussy toddler eating stage. It’s not that she doesn’t like the flavours, it’s because she’s defying me and just wants to be stubborn.

The one thing she will eat though is cake.

So everything that comes out of our kitchen is now called cake.

Savoury quiche for dinner? We’re having “ham cake” for dinner tonight! Hooray!

Breakfast? “It’s tomato and cheese omelette cake” Hooray!

After saying the word cake 3 times a day for the last week, I actually woke up with a craving of cake today but couldn’t be bothered to venture outdoors. With no eggs or milk left in the fridge, I started trawling the internet for vegan recipes and came across this beauty. Tahinopita, a Greek tahini cake that is completely vegan and uses no fat, except for the natural oils found in tahini. Hooray!

This cake is not overly sweet. It is however quite dense and a stick to your teeth kind of cake. The tahini flavour is quite dominant but the subtle orange zest does shine through. Perfect with a cup of tea for breakfast!

Vegan Spiced Tahini and Orange Cake aka Tahinopita

  • 1 cup tahini
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 ¼ cups plain flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1 tablespoon oil to grease the cake pan

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease your cake pan of choice

Before you pour a cup of tahini, be sure to use a spoon and give the jar a good mix. Beat tahini, sugar and orange zest for 3-4 minutes until fluffy on a high speed. Gradually and slowly add the orange juice until all combined and smooth.

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Meanwhile sift together all the dry ingredients and fold into the tahini mix

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The mix will be quite dense and not at all like a traditional cake batter. Pour it into you pre-greased tin and bake for 40 minutes. Let the cake cool down before you remove it from the tin.

Pour yourself a cuppa, sit back and enjoy.

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Incredible Lebanese Garlic Sauce aka Toum Dip

Incredible Lebanese Garlic Sauce aka Toum Dip

Ok, now let’s set things straight, this stuff is potent. I mean ‘brush your teeth eight times and you still have garlic breath’ and ‘garlic is coming out of every pore’ potent. You will be burping garlic for 12 hours and cursing yourself the following morning. But fear less, it tastes SO good you will make this again time after time.

If you haven’t tried Toum before, I’m so sorry you poor thing. Grab yourself these pantry essentials, blend and emulsify then come back and praise me. Lebanese Garlic dip is a gastronomically sensation, and must be experienced by all!

All Lebanese restaurants will serve up their version of fluffy and creamy garlic dip with charcoal chicken or shawarma, along with pink turnip pickles. They also usually sell the stuff on the side for about $5-$8 for a small 100ml pot. Now you can make your own for a fraction of the price, but be warned, it’s truly addictive and you may never be able to eat chicken without it.

I have found through experience there are two ways of making this. Those scared of raw egg can make the first version (however it takes a lot longer and requires a lot of patience) and those who aren’t really concerned about raw egg can make the easier and quicker version that takes less oil

The first version requires a heavy duty food processor. The food processor will be on continuously for ten minutes so please use a good quality processor so that the motor doesn’t burn up. The second variety uses a blender and can be made in 3 flat!

I have also found through experience that Sunflower Oil is by far the best to use for this recipe. Please do not use olive oil. It is too strong and will completely change the taste of the dip. Also, try to buy local garlic, not the Chinese variety. It makes all the difference. Unless of course you live in China and Chinese garlic IS your local…

Incredible Lebanese Garlic Sauce aka Toum Dip

Incredible Lebanese Garlic Sauce aka Toum Dip

Version One: Eggless ‘Food Processor’ Toum:

  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 cups Sunflower or any other neutral Oil. Do not use olive oil
  • ½ cup peeled whole garlic cloves
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Put salt and garlic cloves in food processor and pulse. Scrape the sides until all the garlic is the same in size.

Turn on the food processor once again and do not stop it until done. In a very thin stream, add ¼ cup oil very gradually. Please do add it very slowly, don’t rush it or the sauce will split. Once you have added ¼ cup oil, add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice also very slowly, drop by drop. Add another thin stream of ¼ cup oil then 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Keep doing this until you have used up your lemon and oil. The process will take 10 minutes. Be patient. If your sauce has split by the end of it and isn’t a fluffy dip, you can try to add 2 teaspoons of cold water or add 1 icecube and wack on the processor again for a few minutes. If that hasn’t worked, abort mission or *gulp* add a raw egg white and process for another 3 minutes.

Version Two: Quick and Easy ‘Blender’ Toum

  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and whole
  • 1 egg white
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons iced water
  • 1 cup of Sunflower or any other neutral oil. Do not use Olive Oil

 Put the garlic cloves and salt along with ¼ of the lemon juice in the blender, and blend on medium, scraping down the sides. Add the egg white. Add ½ cup of oil in a slow and steady pour.

Turn the blender onto its slowest speed and add the rest of the lemon juice slowly then once again add the second half of the oil slowly and steadily.

Finally, add the 2 tablespoons of ice cold water and it’s done.

If the dip has split, try adding another egg white and blitz on high for a couple of minutes.

Slather and spread. Devour. Burp. Regret. Eat some more.

Incredible Lebanese Garlic Sauce aka Toum Dip