Vegeterian Middle Eastern Zucchini Fritters (Ejeh)

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Little Miss 4 hates green. No, not green in nature, or her clothes or the colour itself, she hates green in food.

She will spot the tiniest micro spec of green no matter how much I blitz or puree herbs or green vegetables into her food. Really, she has a knack for it!

Ejeh (and fresh cucumbers too but we’ll get to that another day) is the exception. She will demolish and devour a fritter in 6 seconds flat especially if I serve it up in fresh Lebanese bread teamed with her favourite pink pickles .

This is one of those recipes that is both frugal, adaptable and seems a little too simple however don’t be fooled, the combination of garlic, zucchini and fresh herbs team up beautifully and when fried properly, it is both crunchy and soft at the same time. Magic!

Ejeh is as amazing served piping hot straight from the pan as it is eaten cold the following day.

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Middle Eastern Zucchini Fritters (Ejeh)

  • 2 large zucchinis, grated
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup plain flour
  • 1 large bunch dill finely chopped
  • 1 large bunch flat leaved parsley finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • Olive Oil to shallow fry

Squeeze excess liquid out of the grated zucchinis by either squeezing it over a sink which is both therapeutic and messy or place the grated zucchini into a muslin cloth, twist and squeeze the liquid out. Discard the liquid. Add the remainder of the ingredients and mix well. Shallow fry large tablespoons at a time until golden brown.

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Armenian Ich or Eech Salad.

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I mentioned in my last post there will be recipes that give you parsley teeth. This is one of those recipes.

My husband calls this one ‘Armenian Sang Choy Bow’ because its best enjoyed in a lettuce parcel. I call it ‘Reverse Tabouli’ because its a little bit of parsley and a whole lot of bulgur. The actual name for this traditional Armenian salad is Ich. Or Eech Salad. Or just get in my mouth salad.

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Its gloriously delicious, and its one of those salads that gets better with time. Make it and leave it overnight and see how gorgeous it is the next day. Possibly (if there is any left) even better on day 2.

Be sure to use the finest bulgur you can buy. And if you really want to be adventurous, you could even substitute it for quinoa, cous cous or any other fine grain. The main flavour here though is the combination of the pastes, lemon and the fresh herbs.

  • 1 – 1 ½ cups fine bulgur ( #1)
  • Hot water – enough to cover bulgur in a bowl
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons pepper paste
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons dry mint
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 lemons
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh mint, finely chopped
  • ½ cup green onions/shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes finely diced

Place the bulgur in a large bowl and cover it with hot water. Leave for 30 seconds then drain well. Add all the ingredients and stir well. Cover with glad wrap and place it in the fridge for at least an hour for all the ingredients to make love. Serve and enjoy with crunchy iceberg lettuce.

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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…

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

Crunchie Baked Kale Falafels.

baked kale falafel

There’s no stopping my Kale plants. They seem to be thriving in their little home and the more we cut them the more the flourish.

We’re eating kale every single day! Honestly, do yourself a favour, get down to your local nursery and buy a punnet of kale. They just doesn’t stop giving.

When I made my Kale Tabouli last month I started to look think of other recipes that I could substitute kale with. I figure if kale could easily replace parsley then why not falafels?

I decided to bake them instead of frying to keep things healthy. Hot out of the oven, they looked good and I teamed them up with a tahini sauce and simple garden salad for the photo, however when it came to the taste test I wasn’t sure If I liked them. They tasted quite ‘grassy’ however teamed up with my Lebanese turnip pickles, cos lettuce leaves, sliced tomatoes, a garlicky tahini sauce and a dash of chilli all wrapped up on Lebanese bread, they made quite a tasty meal and I forgot these falafels were even kale.

Crunchie Baked Kale Falafels.
• 4 cups kale leaves (stems removed)
• 1 400g can chickpeas, rinsed
• 2 garlic cloves
• 2 Tablespoons tahini
• 4 table spoons lemon juice
• 1/2 teaspoon cumin
• 4-5 tablespoons flour
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Small bunch of fresh mint leaves.

Pulse the kale, chickpeas, garlic, tahini, lemon juice and cumin in a food processor until it forms a thick paste. Transfer to a bowl and stir through the flour. I added 4 spoons of flour, but if your mix is still wet and not solid enough to form small balls, add more flour.

baked kale falafel

baked kale falafel

Form them into ball like shapes and squish them down a bit to flatten

kale falafel

Pop them into a preheated oven and bake until golden brown
Best eaten hot and crunchy.

baked kale falafel

Middle Eastern Za’atar Crumbed Eggplant Chips

Middle Eastern Za'atar eggplant chips

Finding whole food snacks on my quest to avoid processed foods has been challenging. I usually reach for carrot sticks and the always present bowl of homemade hummus in the fridge for snacking emergencies. When I’m not hungry, just peckish, I make kale chips.

Today however, I had the munchies, bad.

Do you know that feeling when you feel like something but just can’t put your finger on what you actually want? You pace the kitchen, check the fridge, then the pantry, then the fridge again just in case something magically appeared that wasn’t there 4 seconds ago?

There was an eggplant in the crisper, stale bread on the bench and a bag of zaa’tar in the pantry.

Bingo!

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Middle Eastern Za’atar Crumbed Eggplant Chips

  • 1 large eggplant (aubergine)
  • ¼ cup plain flour
  • ¾ cup bread or panko crumbs
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cup za’atar spice mix*
  • Sea salt
  • Olive Oil or spray

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

Trim the ends of the eggplant and discard. Slice the eggplant into 2 cm thick slices then across to make ‘chips’.

Pour the flour, bread/panko crumbs and eggs into separate bowls. Combine 1 tablespoon of za’atar into the beaten eggs, then 1 tablespoon za’atar into the breadcrumb bowl and another tablespoon za’atar into the flour bowl.

First the flour

First the flour…

...then the egg mix

…then the egg mix

and finally the breadcrumbs

and finally the breadcrumbs

Toss the eggplant chips into the flour, dunk them into the egg mix and finally into the breadcrumb bowl. Sprinkle any remainder za’atar spice mix over the top.

Lay the coated eggplant chips onto a baking tray, spray lightly with olive oil and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes until crispy. Remove from oven and sprinkle with sea salt flakes while they’re hot.

Middle Eastern Za'atar eggplant aubergine chips

To serve, combine a simple yoghurt dip by combining natural Greek style yoghurt, olive oil, dried mint and a sprinkle of paprika.

The nature of eggplant means these chips won’t stay crispy for long, so devour immediately and satisfy those cravings!!

*Za’atar is a spice mix found in all Middle Eastern specialty stores, and now in most deli’s and supermarkets. Za’atars fragrant and tangy mix contains dried wild thyme, sumac and sesame seeds.

Za'atar spice mix

Za’atar spice mix

**If you’re not feeling adventurous enough to try Za’atar, you could easily transform this dish from Middle Eastern to Italian by substituting za’atar with fresh parmesan cheese.

Middle Eastern Za'atar eggplant chips

Kale Tabouli

kale tabouli

It looks like Tabouli

It smells like Tabouli,

Heck, it even tastes like Tabouli.

But this, my friends, is no ordinary tabouli! You see, it has no parsley.

So what’s that green stuff, I hear you say?

It’s kale! Glorious, raw, antioxidant-rich, superfood craze kale!

Get out of here!

I can hear all the Lebanese population ‘tsk tsk tsk’ me.

My Egyptian born mother is shaking her head in disapproval.

Can a tabouli be made without the main ingredient parsley? Why sure! Why not 

I have a glut of kale at the moment and I’ve found it to be most delicious in its raw form, uncooked and vitamin rich, combined with lemon juice, olive oil and all the other tabouli necessities like bulgur, tomatoes and cucumber, it makes for one very tasty and nutritious lunch.

A while back, I was sent the above hilarious you tube vid for a laugh. Now, every time I open the cupboard and see bulgur staring back at me, I can’t help but do a little tabouli dance.

‘Tabouli, Ta Ta Tabouli, makes me shake, shake shake my booty’

Yes, you know you want to.

Ok, it’s nearly Friday and I’m feeling silly. So grab some kale, shock the Middle Eastern population, sing a little Tabouli jingle and shake your booty.

Kale Tabouli – Serves 2 as a side dish, or one very hungry person for lunch

  • 5 stems kale
  •  2 tomatoes
  •  2 cucumbers
  •  1/3 cup fine bulgur
  •  Small bunch of fresh mint
  •  1-2 juicy lemon
  •  ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  •  1 small clove garlic, finely minced.
  •  Sea salt to taste

Start by placing the dried bulgur to your salad bowl. Top with lemon juice and the olive oil. Leave it aside for 10 minutes until the bulgur has completely absorbed all the lemon juice and oil. Add minced garlic and season with salt.

kale leaf

Remove stalk from kale and only use the leafy part on top.

Remove the stalks completely from the kale. You only want to use the leaves in this recipe.

kale tabouli

Finely chop the kale as small as you can get it so it resembles chopped herbs. Add it to the wet bulgur mix.

Dice tomatoes and cucumbers, and shred the mint. Add to the bowl.

Give it all a good toss, using your hands. Taste for seasoning.

Enjoy and boogie.

kale tabouli

Seriously addictive Lebanese style Turnip Pickles…and an Interview!!

Turnips. You either love them or hate them. No in between.

Personally I adore them especially when they’re pickled, spiked with raw beetroots to give them a gorgeous pink allure.

Almost every Lebanese restaurant will offer you a complimentary plate of turnip pickles, olives and fresh mint before your bum has even touched the seat on arrival.

I must confess, I’ve known to abuse the free pickle system. I polish the plate with Lebanese bread before the waiter comes back to ask for our order and I get the chance to order ask for more. They’re seriously addictive!

Lebanese Turnip Pickles

It’s a shame many supermarkets have stopped selling turnips. I assume it could be because they’re not the most popular vegetable to fly off the shelves. Check your local farmers markets, or even your Asian grocer; the Japanese also enjoy a great turnip pickle. I found these beauties at the markets recently and knew immediately I HAD to have them.

I mean, look at them! They’re gorgeous!

Lebanese Turnip Pickles

Even more so once they’re teamed up with Beets. This pickle recipe is as easy as it gets. The transformation from white to baby pink and finally neon pink is quite remarkable!

Lebanese Style Turnip Pickles.

  • 1 kilo turnips
  • 1 Beetroot
  • 1 cloves garlic, whole
  •  1 ½ cups vinegar (white distilled)
  • 3-4 tablespoons salt
  • 3 ½ cups Water

Sterilise your jar by washing it well with hot soapy water, and then pouring boiling water from the jug directly into the jar. Let it sit for 5 minutes with the lid, then pour it out and let it air dry.

Lebanese Turnip Picklesc

Slice up your turnips and beetroots into small batons, like you would if you were making chips

Press the turnips and beets into the sterilized jar, together with the whole garlic.

Lebanese Turnip Pickles

In a separate cup, mix together the vinegar and salt until the salt is completely dissolved.

Top the vinegar and salt mixture with the cold water, mix well and pour the mixture into the jar until it completely covers all the turnips. Seal the lid air tight.

I have used a bit of glad wrap under the lid as mine didnt seal properly and I wanted to ensure it was air tight.  If your jar has a tight fitting lid, you don’t have to use the cling wrap.

Give the jar a little shake to evenly distribute the liquid and store it away in a dark cool place for a week.

Lebanese Turnip Pickles

Day 1, 3 and 7

After a week, give them a try. If they’re still tart, give them another 3 days of storage. Refrigerate once open.

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I felt very privileged when management from Frenchs Forest Organic Markets took the time to interview me this week, please take a moment to view the post HERE

Braised Silverbeet stalks with Garlic, Olive Oil and Vinegar.

Silverbeet stalks

I hate waste. I really really do.

So when my Dad reminded me of a wonderful way to enjoy the woody Silverbeet stalks without throwing them into the compost bin, I was thrilled!

My Dad, what a trooper! He really is something in the kitchen!

Silverbeat is also known as Bietole, Chard in America and we know it here in Australia as Silverbeet.  I speak the International language 🙂

While Silverbeet leaves are great for filling gozleme, bouregs, or really in any recipe that calls for spinach, the woody stalks are almost certainly thrown out in most kitchens.

Here, they are transformed into a tasty side dish, a star in their own right.

Braised Silverbeet stalks with Garlic, Olive Oil and Vinegar.

  •  1 large bunch Silverbeet
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ¼ cup White Wine Vinegar.
  • Sea salt

Silverbeet stalks

Wash your Silverbeet stalks well. If you are not using the leaves for another recipe, reserve them by blanching them and popping them into the freezer. Remember, food waste is not on!

Trim stalks and lightly peel any fibrous exterior like you would with celery. Chop them into rough 7cm pieces.

Place them into a saucepan with plenty of boiling water to submerge the stalks and boil them, covered, for 10 minutes until tender.

Silverbeet stalks

Drain the Silverbeet well and quickly return to the pot together with 2 crushed garlic cloves. Turn off the heat, place the pot cover back on and let the garlic steam together with the stalks for 5 minutes.

Serve the stems with a dressing of vinegar and olive oil. Season as required with a bit of sea salt flakes.

These are equally good straight out of the pot warm as they are cold. Even better the next day

Enjoy!

Vermicelli Basmati Rice

Vermicelli Basmati Rice

Do you have any food quirks or traditions?

I do! I cannot make rice without eating a little tea cup saucer full of crunchy buttery fried vermicelli grains. Yes, I’m strange.

 It’s one of my earliest food memories and takes me back to being 8 years old when my grandmother came from overseas to live with us for a few months. She would often make Vermicelli Basmati rice and would sneak a little saucer of the Vermicelli rice to me, sprinkle salt on top and we’d eat the crunchy grains with our fingers, giggling like crazy. It was our naughty little secret.

 My Grandmother passed away not too long after that but this memory lives on. Now, when I’m making rice as a side dish to a stew, I have put some Vermicelli aside and hide in the laundry while I eat it. I don’t know why I hide, my husband is well aware of my crunchy rice eating habit, but eating my little saucer of rice in secret takes me back to being the giggly 8 year old with my Grandmother standing next to me, sharing the love.

Vermicelli Basmati Rice

  • ½ cup of Vermicelli/Filini pasta
  • 1 Cup Basmati Rice
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Wash your Basmati rice in a colander until the water runs clear, removing all the starch from the rice. Be sure to use your hands to massage the grains under the tap. You will find that this removes even more starch.

Vermicelli Basmati Rice

Raw Vermicelli with Butter

Brown the Vermicelli till golden brown

Brown the Vermicelli till golden brown

In a saucepan, add the butter and Vermicelli and pan fry it on high until the Vermicelli is a lovely shade of golden brown. Be sure to keep stirring, the browning will happen very quickly and can burn very easily.

(This is the part where my grandmother and I would take a tablespoon of the fried Vermicelli, add it to a tiny saucer and sprinkle it with some sea salt and eat it gloriously crunchy)

IMG00928-20130522-1831

Add the washed Basmati rice to the fried Vermicelli, add a teaspoon of salt and add the hot water to the saucepan. Cover and reduce the heat to the lowest possible temperature to cook the rice until soft and done.

I find that sometimes I may need some more water, if the grains are still not quite cooked, add some more hot water from the jug, close the lid and turn off the heat. The remaining steam in the pot should cook the rice.

Enjoy the fluffy and buttery rice as a side dish to any meal.

Vermicelli Basmati Rice

Sprung eating the crunchy buttery and salty Vermicelli. Uh-Oh!

Sprung eating the crunchy buttery and salty Vermicelli. Uh-Oh!