Tuesday, October 02, 2007

"Crazy Hour"

I love Ramadan and all the cleansing and renovated spiritual strength that accompany it, but everyday there is crazy hour. Yes, you read it right: CRAZY HOUR.

Right now is crazy hour in Doha. 2 pm, when working homemakers like me get out of the office and pass by the supermarket to get a couple of ingredients that, no matter how much bulk shopping i do before the 1st of Ramadan, are missing. Today it was vital that i get them, the onions and parsley.

I could tell most people at the supermarket had just come from the office because of the way they were dressed and how the circles under their eyes were giant, a telltale that they spend too long in front of the computer without coffee or tea, giant panda bears in suits and dishdashas and designer abayas (i live in Doha, Qatar).

It's that time when people just want to get home and have a nap, but instead they have to buy something. And we're all hungry and thirsty and everything starts to look good and smell good. So we go crazy and buy all the unnecessary things. We go crazy and almost fight for that last bag of freshly baked bread.
Yeah, so, crazy hour.
My husband says the hour before Asr until the actual iftar, his mom would send him to play football on the street because she needed to be alone. I can so relate. I really wish my husband would come home and have a nap until Maghroub. Seriously. Because it's my crazy time and i know i should be calm and getting the benefits of being humble and pious and observant -- but instead i am just raging mad. Because i am trying to cook for two and habibi comes in and complains its not enough food. And then he decides to cook an extra dish. Which in the end he does not eat because it turned out to be too much food.
But today, i had my dose of crazy at the supermarket and i just got a call saying there won't be crazy time at home because husband will work until 4. Which is great so i can cook without him hovering around the kitchen.

I still have to look into the fridge and decide what to cook. And when i do, i'll let you guys know. With pictures of the final result, inshallah.

Thanks for letting me into the recipe center. I'm really happy to be here -- it's not just crazy hour talk, i really am happy.

Ramadan Kareem everyone!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Happy Ramadan !

I will take this opportunity by wishing you and all your families a happy and serene Ramadan, and that your prayers be all answered.

Its been some time that any of us has posted on this blog. Maiuna I apologize as I had hoped that Id be participating more than I actually did.

Now being Ramadan we are obviously as busy as ever in creating new recipes for our never ending hungry families while using them for our feedback ..…
May Allah bless them.

Organization is the key to everything and especially when we are committed to working outside the family home. Here a juggling act has to be put into action and obviously the cleverer the juggler the better the act…….

I’d like to start off by offering a very easy dish that I hope you will enjoy.

Here it goes Tajine Batata (potato dish) (4-5 persons)

1kg lamb preferred cut is cutlets or portion sized pieces
7-8 potatoes (peeled then sliced thickly in rounds)
2-3 green peppers (hot chili)
4-5 fresh tomatoes (cut up in quarters)
1 medium sized onion sliced
½ Tbs tomato paste
1/2tsp bzar (curry powder can be used instead)
½ tsp red cayenne pepper
1/4tsp salt
1/3 cup Olive oil
½ -1 cup water

Mix all ingredients thoroughly let rest a couple of mins . Then cover with foil and place in moderate oven till meat is of well done or preferred consistency usually takes about an hour and half max.

Chicken , beef or fish can replace the lamb but some adjustments need to made .

*chicken same spices and all ,but here the potatoes need to be sliced thinner and to cover with foil the first part of the required time , then leave uncovered till juices are nearly all absorbed.

** beef , remains with no change (ie same recipe)

*** fish , bzar (spice( turmeric)yellow in colour ,saffaron can be used instead ) is omitted and cumin powder and a clove of minced garlic is used instead, again the potatoes must be sliced as in the chicken tajine, but not to cover with foil when using fish.

***** Tajine should never be watery nor thick but nice and light with a roasted kind of consistency. Last 5-7 mins place the tajine in oven with heat from above, for the broiled effect. Best served with rice pilaf and a salad of choice.

Sahten !
Bon Appetit!

PS: Will post photo ASAP.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Stuffed red peppers

You need:
Lots of medium sized red peppers (I used 10)
1/2 kilo minced lamb or beef
1 big onion
1 green chili pepper
1 handful of minced Arabic parsley
half a cup of rice
a little can of tomato paste
black pepper
grounded muscat
1/2 lemon

Mix the meat, onions, parsley, chili pper and the spices in a bowl with the rice. Knead everything through until levelled.
Empty the red peppers and clean them inside. You don´t really need the pepper caps, but they look nicer when together with the pepper.

Fill each pepper with the rice-meat mix. Leave 1/2 cm space for the rice to expand. Put the stuffed peppers in an oven pan. Mix the tomato paste with water and add the water until half covered. Cover pan with silver paper or lid.
Put the pan in the oven at 175 C and let steam under silver paper for 1 hour. Then uncover peppers and let them steam openly 1/2 hour more at 175 C.

Sprinkle with half the lemon and serve either hot or chilled.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Spicy Chocolate Cake

This is one of my favorite recipes, it's so simple and spicy...Yumm!

125ml Vegetable oil.
1 1/4 cup sugar.
3 eggs.
1 cup self-raising flour.
1/4 cup cocoa.
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
1 teaspoon ground ginger.
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves.
1 cup full cream milk.
1 tablespoon icing sugar.


Beat eggs and sugar in a bowl with electric mixer until white, think and creamy.
Add oil and milk to the mixture and beat for 2 minutes.
Fold in sifted flour, cocoa, and spices, stir until smooth.
Spread into a greased 23cm square pan( and cover base with greased paper) bake in a moderate slow ( about 180 degrees) for about 1 1/4 hours or until firm.
Leave to cool, and serve dusted with icing sugar!

*you can use plain flour instead of self-raising, all you have to do is adding a full teaspoon of Baking Powder to each cup of plain flour.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Holiday cookies

Whatever religion these days, the Holiday Cookies make all kids happy. This is an old, genuine recipe from my maternal grandma which has been baking these cookies for half a century:

To make about 200 cookies you´ll need
500 gram wheat flour
2 eggs
400 gram butter
250 gram sugar
3-4 spoonful ice cold milk or cream
vanilla and a little spoon baking powder

For the icing you´ll need
Lotsa powdered sugar
Food color (red, green, yellow)
Cocoa powder
Some cold water
Colored cookie sugar bits

Seperate the egg yolk from the white. Put the white in a cup and away; you´ll need it later. The yolks are to be used in the cookie dough.

Mix flour, egg yolks, vanilla, baking powder, sugar and cubed pieces of the butter into an electric mixer to knead. When these ingredients are mixed thoroughly, add the ice cold milk, keep mixing. After a few minutes the dough will start to gather and become firm.

Put the dough together with your hands and cut to average pieces, my recipe´ll make about 4-5 chunks of dough. Each chunk is to be packed in silver paper and put in the fridge for at least 2 hours - else the dough will not work.

After some hours take out the first chunk of cooled dough and carefully roll it flat, using extra flour on the table and the roller. Work quickly, or else the dough will take on the surrounding temperatures and once the dough gets warm, it will not be used without breaking.
Punch out figures and forms into cookies from the cooled dough. You can re-use the rest of the dough, roll it out again and punch out new forms until dough is finished.
Use the other dough chunks one after another.

Put the figures/forms/cookies on an oven plate; keep apart from each other. Kids will happily help you out!
Put the cookie plate in the oven at 180 C for about 10 minutes or until turning slightly brown.

Now the cookies are ready, take out and cool off. But then it is time for the icing! That´s the part kids love the most...

To prepare icing, use powdered sugar and baking colors. You can also use different colored sugar shapes and specialized cookie toppings. Or use the egg white to paint the cookies and put some brown sugar on them.
Mix powdered sugar in a little bowl, add color or cocoa powder and 2-3 spoonful cold water. Keep stirring, or else the icing will stabilize. Cover the cookies with the icing and the colored sugar bits. Leave to dry a safe place.

My son Abdallah made these cookies December 21, 2006. Keep the cookies in a tight sealed jar; and they can last for months - except they usually don´t when you have kids in the house. Happy holidays!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Traditional Lasagna

Another easy recipe; traditional lasagna Libyan style with lotsa chili. Only difficult thing is the white sauce. To make lasagna from the beginning produces a much more tastier one than if you are using ready-made sauce mix. You´ll need:

1) Lasagna plates (or any other pasta of your choice)

2) White sauce: melting fat (butter or ghee), 4-5 spoonful of flour, 2 liters fat milk, salt, pepper, cinnamon, parmesan cheese (grinded)

3) Red sauce: 1 kilo minced meat, 4 big onions, 4-5 garlic cloves, 2 cans of red tomatoes, a small can of red tomato paste, salt, pepper, chili - or any other greens of your choice (such as carrots or mushrooms)- use the spices you like, such as oregano, basil, laurel or Libyan bzar.

First: chop the greens and the onions and the chili and garlic. Then brown them in a pot. Add the minced meat and brown it in the pot. Add the tomatoes (chopped in a kitchen machine), the spices, the tomato paste and some water. Leave to simmer in the pot hald an hour.

Second: now to the white sauce. Melt the fat in the pot, when the fat is very hot, add the flour and whip it good together with the fat. Add the milk in small quantities and keep moving the milk, preferrable with a wooden spoon, otherwise the milk could burn. When you´ve added all the milk, keep stirring and add the cinnamon, salt and some pepper. Let the cheese melt in the hot milk; keep stirring. When the brew finally starts to bubble, take off the heat.

How to arrange the lasagna: in a big, deep pan pour some of the white sauce until it just covers the bottom. Then place the lasagna plates. Pour red sauce on top of the lasagna plates; then add another set of lasagna plates. Keep adding layers of red sauce and lasagna plates until you reach the brim of the sauce pan.

Now pour all the white sauce on top and let it rest for some time (15 minutes). Then sprinkle the top white sauce layer with oregano and parmesan cheese. Put in oven at 200 degrees C a little hour until top is lovely brown and the top lasagna plates are firm and juicy. Leave 15 minutes out of oven before serving with green salad.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Yummy Pasta Sauces !

There are many sauces from the northern part of Italy to the southern part of the peninsula.

1)Tomato sauce (basically the same for all of the country )
2)Bolognaise Sauce (Ragu , from Bolognia )
3)Saltata (hot sauce from the south )

Tomato Sauce
Tomato sauce is an Italian classic and there is nothing better than to prepare it yourself. The recipe is straightforward, the ingredients are extremely easy to find and it is also very cheap to make. If you do not have time to prepare this sauce in the traditional way, a faster way is to buy a can of chopped tomatoes or whole peeled tomatoes. Nowadays, there are some canned tomatoes producers (thanks goodness!) that can give you organic chopped tomatoes without any chemical additives or pesticides in them.

THIS IS TO TOP 400 g OF PASTA (serves 4)

8 Tomatoes - medium size (you can use whole peeled tomatoes in can if in a hurry)
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt for seasoning

A can of chopped tomatoes
Half red onion 80 ml (3 fl oz)
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt for seasoning

Take a large pan full of water, bring the water to boil, put the tomatoes into the pan and boil for 2-3 minutes until you see some cracks on the tomatoes skin.

Meanwhile, finely chop half red onion.

Peel all the tomatoes with your fingers or, if they are too hot, with the aid of a small knife. The skin will come off easily without any problem.

Half the tomatoes and roughly scoop out the core and seeds. I suggest collecting the scooped out tomatoes into a small container.

Put the cleaned tomatoes into a bowl and sieve the contents of the container over the bowl (pressing down with a spoon to extract more juice).

Finally, you should have only seeds and cores in the sieve. These can be discarded.

Using a simple masher, roughly press down in order to break the tomatoes (why use fancy tools when you do not need to). For those who wish to have a thinner sauce, like the “passata di pomodoro”, I suggest to use a food mill.
Heat the olive oil over a low/medium heat.

When the oil is hot, add the onion.

Saute the onion until it gets golden.

When the onion is golden, add the tomatoes. As I said before, if you have not prepared the tomatoes yourself, just add the chopped tomatoes from the can.

Stir gently and let the sauce reduce over low heat for about 25-30 minutes.

Now, the most important part! Season with salt, stir for few seconds and taste it to check if you need to add a little more salt. The other important thing is to check the level of acidity (depending of the tomato quality and variety, you can have varying levels of acidity). Normally the onion brings this level down, but if you think that the sauce is a bit to acidic, then you can correct this by adding a pinch of sugar; that’s it!

Use the tomato sauce to top pasta or gnocchi.

Bolognese Sauce(Ragu) (serves 4 )


1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground veal or lamb
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, chopped
4 - 6 cloves of garlic....depending on your love for garlic and how much your family can stand
1/4 cup vegetable broth
2 carrots, peeled and sliced and 1 cup of chopped celery
1 16 oz. can whole tomatoes with/ juice
salt & pepper to taste
1 kilo pasta of choice
Parmesan cheese for grating on top

Have all your meats ready to go and start a big pot of water boiling.
Peel and dice the onion. Then peel and finely chop the garlic. Peel the carrots and chop them .Chop the celery .

In a
large sauce pot, brown the chopped beef and (veal or lamb), drain fat and reserve meat for later.
In the same pot,
sauté onion and garlic in the olive oil & butter until the onions are translucent.

Puree the whole tomatoes and add them to the pot along with the chopped carrots ,celery and reserved meat.
Simmer for about 1 1/2 hours. (If the sauce become too dry add a little water or chicken/vegetable stock)
Salt and Pepper to taste.
In a big pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta
al dente.
Serve sauce over pasta with grated cheese. (Parmigiano Regiano)

Saltata in Padella

In a large pot put water to boil. Add 1 Tbs. salt .


1 1/2 tbs.Extra Vergine Olive Oil

5-7 chili green peppers

3-4 cloves of garlic

1/2 Tbs red cayenne pepper (less if desired )

500 gms. spaghetti

*Tomato sauce previously prepared

In a large frying pan or wok, heat the olive oil and saute the pepers and garlic on high flame. As soon as peppers change colour( don't let garlic burn )add tomato sauce immediately. Turn heat off.

Now cook the spaghetti for only three minutes and drain (less than al dente because it will finish cooking in the sauce) Add to sauce in wok and cook for another 5 minutes. Turn heat off and serve immediately with green peppers on the side.


The Famous Libayn Soup!!

Lots of bloggers have asked me to post about the Libyan Soup, and finally I'm able to post the pictures I've taken in the process of preparing this recipe.

I hope you find the instructions easy to follow and if you have any questions or concerns (cofman), please do ask !.. And here we go, let's start cooking:


1 Table spoon ghee, leveled.
1 Small onion, chopped.
1/4 Kg boneless lamb meat or boneless chicken meat, cut into small cubes.
2 Ripe tomatoes, diced
1/2 Table spoon tomato paste.
1/2 Cup cooked chickpeas (Humus), drained ( you can use canned chickpeas)
1/4 Cup Orzo.
3/4 Liter water.
1 Tea spoon Bzar or Baharat (you can use All Spices, if Bzar is not available).
1 Tea spoon ground red pepper (if you prefer it very hot, you can double the amount).
Ground dried mint for garnish.


1 - Heat ghee in a saucepan, and saute the onion .

2-Turn up the heat, add meat cubes.

3-Saute while stirring frequently until meat is brown, about 5 minutes.

4-Lower the heat, add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, bzar or spices, and repepperer.

5-Mix everything well, and cook for 3 minute or so while stirring.

6-Add the drained chickpeas.

7- Add the water (enough to cover the meat), turn up the heat, and bring the water to boil.

8-Then, lower the heat, put the lid on. Simmer on low heat until meat is cooked ( about 45 minutes or so).

9- Add Orzo, and simmer till cooked (about 10 min).

10- Before serving, sprinkle crushed dried mint leaves.

11-Serve with Lemon wedges to squeeze into the soup and bread.

Bon appetite!!!

More tips and notes:

*if you were using chicken, you need to add chopped garlic to the recipe and saute it with onions.
How to chop onions.
More information about spices
encyclopedia of spices

Monday, November 20, 2006

Pesto Genovese (from Genoa)

Basil Pesto,with it's vibrant colour and tremendous flavour is a staple in Italian cooking.It is rich in history as it is in taste. Originally pesto was created by the Genoese to celebrate the exceptional flavour of a fresh harvest.

So here's my own version of Pesto passed on to me from my maternal grandmother (Italian).

Ingredients :
Pesto Recipe
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Olive oil
3 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts( I use pine nuts)
3 garlic cloves, finely minced

Place basil leaves in small batches in food processor and whip until well chopped (do about 3/4 cup at a time). Add about 1/3 the nuts and garlic, blend again.Add about 1/3 of the Parmesan cheese; blend while slowly adding about 1/3 of the olive oil, stopping to scrape down sides of container.Process basil pesto it forms a thick smooth paste. Repeat until all ingredients are used, mix all batches together well. Serve over pasta. You can also pour tomato or bolognaise sauce(meat sauce) prior to the pesto leaving pesto to top it all.
Basil pesto keeps in refrigerator one week, or freeze for a few months.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


I like the christmas season cause it is the Panettone Time!, and last year I decided to make one my self, so since then I tried so many recipes, some of them work some didn't, but last few weeks I got across this recipe and it worked fantastically! So if you were a Panettone fan (like me ;)) you should try this recipe, it is simple and the results are great. Enjoy!!


1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter, cut up
3-3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon finely shredded lemon peel
1 teaspoon anise seed
1/2 teaspoon salt
4-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (2 packages)
1 cup dried tart cherries
3/4 cup pine nuts (or any kind of nuts, I used Almonds)
Nonstick cooking spray
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 slightly beaten egg
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon pine nuts (or any kind of nuts, I used flaked Almonds)
Sifted powdered sugar for decoration(optional)


1. Add the first 11 ingredients to a bread machine according to the manufacturer's directions. Select the dough cycle.

2. Meanwhile, coat an 8x3-inch springform pan or souffle dish with cooking spray. For collar, cut a piece of clean brown wrapping paper into a 25x6-inch strip. Fit the collar around the inside of prepared pan, overlapping slightly. Coat the inside of collar with cooking spray. Set aside.

3. When cycle is complete, remove dough. Punch down. On a lightly floured surface, gently knead in raisins. Shape dough into a ball. Place in collared pan and flatten slightly to cover bottom of pan. Cover; let rise in a warm place for 45 to 60 minutes or until nearly double.

4. Stir together the 1 egg and the water; brush over top of loaf. Sprinkle with the 1 tablespoon pine nuts. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 55 to 60 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into center of bread comes out clean. If necessary, loosely cover with foil the last 10 to 15 minutes to prevent overbrowning.

5. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely. If desired, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Makes 12 servings.