Sorry, No Sushi tonight!

Last night for iftari we ate Japanese. Anyone who knows me knows that I love sushi, however in order for my family to eat the meal the remit was that it should be sushi free!!! Obviously being Ramadan we all want and probably need a hot meal at the end of a long day.

I’ve often wandered past Wasabi and looked longingly at the steam escaping their cooked dishes and thought they looked very tempting. Sadly, none being gluten free I’ve never had the pleasure in trying their delights. It was quite challenge trying to firstly find dishes that were hot as a) I didn’t know the names b) the Japanese seem quite secretive about this angle of their cuisine c) there was a lot of fish, and sadly everyone isn’t as pro-fish as I am d) there was tons of pork!

Some of the dishes had to be altered significantly just to create an appropriate taste balance after all when omitting sake (rice brew), mirin (rice wine) etc I feel it is important to put something back into the dish otherwise you aren’t left with much. The end result might not be authentically Japanese but I feel that it tastes good and left me feeling as if I had eaten Japanese.

Our menu consisted of:
Prawn and Vegetable Tempura
Tsukure (minced chicken balls)
Rice Shapes
Ingen No Goma-ae (green beans in sesame dressing)
Beef Teriyaki
Berry Uire cake

Prawn and Vegetable Tempura
Tempura, in the modern world sounds very Japanese and indeed it is. However, looks can be deceptive and this was a coloniser import. The Portugese may have brought Tempura to Japan, however the Japanese have added their own twist to things making the batter lighter and crispier than other battered food that I have ever tried. The trick with Tempura is not to over mix the mix, don’t leave it to stand and only make it as you need it.

Ingredients
1 cup of plain gluten free flour (I used Doves Farm Plain Flour)
1 egg
Very cold or iced water to mix
Oil for frying (I used rapeseed oil)
Thinly sliced vegetables
Whole raw prawns / bite sizes pieces of fish

Place the flour and egg in to a bowl, gradually mix in enough very cold water/iced water to create a thin batter (thick enough to hold on your finger). Mix using a knife or chopsticks, this is so that the batter is not over mixed. If you have occasional small flour lumps in the batter this is ok!

Dip the vegetables and seafood in the batter and deep fry in hot oil until the seafood is cooked and batter is crispy.

Tsukure (minced chicken balls)
1 small chicken breast
1 clove garlic
1 piece of lemon peel (zest only) the size of your thumb

Slice the garlic thinly, slice the lemon peel in to thin slithers, chop the chicken. Place all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz until the chicken is mince. Form into golf ball sized balls. Each chicken breast should produce approximately 4 balls. Grill or deep fry until cooked all the way through.

Rice Shapes
For the rice shapes, I used a ‘toy’ that I bought in Malaysia. It is absolutely fantastic, you place the hot rice in to the moulds, push on the lid and then push out the shaped rice. If you do not have a similar gadget, I would suggest placing the hot rice into a dish with an edge about an inch deep. Pack the rice in and either score squares out and remove or cut out into shapes using a biscuit cutter. Ideally you don’t want to use shapes that are too big, a mouthful size is ideal.

1 cup of rice that has a high starch content eg sushi rice (I used a supermarket ‘basics range’ long grain rice that has a very high starch content). Leave the rice to soak for about an hour in water. Then rinse only once. It is very important that the starch stays in the rice as this is what will hold the shapes together. Cook the rice using a method where the rice soaks in the water, rather than one where you pour the water off. Once the rice has cooked either use a mould or pack into a tray and then shape the rice.

Ingen No Goma-Ae (Green Beans in Sesame Dressing)
For the dressing
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 tablespoon tamari sauce (naturally gluten free)
2/3 tablespoons of water

1.Toast the sesame seeds without oil in a heavy based pan until they are golden. Then transfer to a pestle and mortar and break down until they resemble breadcrumbs.
2.Blanche the green beans, and then spread the sesame seeds over them.
3.Mix the caster sugar, tamari sauce and water together then pour over the green beans.

Beef Teriyaki
Alhumdulilah we are very lucky that our butcher actually does know his cuts of beef. Most halal butches in London tend to have a slab of beef wrapped in plastic in a corner from which they cut slices upon request. If I ever asked what part of the animal the meat came from they would normally respond with a grunt. If you ask if it is suitable for steak they say yes, if you ask if it for stewing they say yes! How can it be both? If your butcher is like the aforementioned I suggest taking in an illustration of where the sirloin can be found.

Thin Serloin steak slices
Tamari sauce
1 clove garlic sliced
1 inch ginger sliced
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
5 Victoria plums (if you use other plums make sure they are small)
1 onion
1 red chilli

1.Boil the Victoria plums in enough water to cover the plums until they are cooked all the way through and their skins have come off. If the skins do not come off, remove them.
2. Place the sirloin steaks in to a container big enough to hold them.
3. Cover the steaks with enough tamari sauce so that they are covered in the sauce
4. Place the sliced ginger, slice garlic, rice vinegar, sugar and boiled plums into the container along with their juice.
5. Leave to marinate for approximately 3 hours
6. On a hot griddle pan, cook the steaks. Place them straight on to the pan and do not move until you are ready to change sides.
7. While the beef in cooking, put one thickly sliced onion in to a saucepan and place the marinade on top. Cook at a high heat for approximately 10 minutes to cook off any impurities that may have been in the meat. While you are doing this the mush the plums so that they come away from the stone and remove it.
8. Serve the beef teriyaki with the sauce on top of the meat and place the sliced chilli on top.

Berry Uire cake

To call Uire (pronounce ooo-ree) isn’t exactly truthful. Traditionally cakes are not eaten at the end of meal, instead the Japanese had accompaniments to the traditional tea ceremonies and this is one of those accompaniments. Considering the amount of sugar in this, this isn’t very sweet but it is a very tasty end to a meal. If you want a sugar rush I suggest replacing the fresh/frozen fruit with jam.

125g of ground rice
75g raw cane sugar
75g frozen mixed berries
Water

1.Microwave the berries until they become soft and liquid starts to release (approximately 3 minutes)
2. In a separate microwave suitable flat container mix the ground rice and sugar with ½ cup of water. Then microwave for 3 minutes.
3. Remove from the microwave and mix in the berries, their juice and additional ¼ cup of water
4. Pack in firmly into the microwave container and microwave for 5 minutes (5-7 minutes) until it has puffed and cooked.

5. Allow to cool before cutting into squares or cutting with a biscuit cutter.

PS
My apologies regarding the absence of photos for each item…I forgot!

Advertisements

Cooking up a Storm

I’m not exactly sure why, but last night I decided to cook a few things rather than just one or main plus carbohydrate. We’ve still been working our way through various countries but some iftaris weren’t really worth blogging about eg the night we had England as our theme, we had fish shop fish and chips…well the gluten eaters did. I had supermarket gluten free fish fingers with chips and baked beans. The following night with the US as our theme it had to be burgers. Last night we hit Spain.

Our menu was:

Lamb Paella with peppers and green beans
Prawns and mussels in garlic and chilli
Patatas Bravas
Tomato and goats cheese salad

Lamb Paella with peppers and green beans

1 onion
1/3rd of a shoulder of lamb (meat and bones)
Olive oil
2 ripe tomatoes or 2 tomatoes from a tin of tomatoes
230g of cooked Butter beans
100g green beans
1 red pepper chopped into large cubes
1 cup long grain rice
Approximately 2.5 cups* of Water
4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoons of sweet paprika (adjust to taste)
1 pinch of saffron diluted in hot water

* Cup = any mug you have just make sure to use the same for both the measures.

1. Wash the rice and set aside in some water.
2. Dice an onion
3. Put enough olive oil to cover the base of the pan, then fry the onions on a low heat until they are golden.
4. When the onions are done add the lamb shoulder, browning the meat.
5. Add 4 cloves of chopped garlic to the lamb and continue to brown.
6. Add the salt and paprika, stir and coat the lamb with them.
7. Finely chop the tomatoes then add to the pan.
8. Now add enough water to cover the meat entirely, bring to boil and then leave to simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes with a lid on. The water should have reduced slightly but there should be enough covering the meat.
9. Wash the butter beans until the water runs clear then add the beans to the pan. Stir to adjust the placement of the meat and beans in the pan.
10. Finally add the drained rice to the pan. Level out the rice so that it is evenly distributed in the pan. Do not stir the rice at all.
11. Heat the pan till the liquid till it boils, then reduce and leave to simmer for 15-20 minutes with the lid on.
12. Switch the heat off, and place the green beans and red pepper on top of the rice. Place the lid back on to the pan and leave standing for 10 minutes. Do not open until the 10 minutes are up.

Patatas Bravas

4 medium potatoes
Spray oil

Cube the potatoes into approximately ½ inch cubes, put in a pan of water and boil for approximately 5 minutes. Drain and place on an ovenproof tray and spray with spray oil and place in the oven at 200 degrees for an hour and a half or until golden brown. Serve hot with the bravas sauce and allioli.

Bravas Sauce
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 onion
1 red chilli
½ tin tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon smoked chipotle

Slice the onion and fry in the olive oil until golden, add the chilli, tomatoes, salt and smoked chipotle. Gently stir on a medium heat until the sauce is thick.

Allioli
1 egg
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil + extra for pouring
1 crushed garlic clove
A pinch of salt to taste

Combine the egg, garlic, teaspoon of vinegar, teaspoon of olive oil in a food processor and blitz until they take on an emulsified consistency. Gradually pour in a little olive oil until you reach a thin mayonnaise consistency. I find doing this bit slowly helps.

Prawns and mussels in garlic and chilli

Allow approximately:
200g of mussels per person (ensure they are cleaned with beards removed)
5-7 raw grey prawns per person (ensure that all intestines are removed)
1 crushed clove of garlic
1 chilli finely chopped
3 tablespoons water
Olive oil

Put approximately 1cm of olive oil in a pan with the crushed garlic and heat on a very low heat for approximately 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and then add the chilli, prawns, mussels and the water. Place a lid on the pan and cook for 7 minutes or until the prawns and mussels are cooked all the way through. Serve with sliced limes.

Tomato and goats cheese salad

Slice tomatoes, goats cheese. Arrange the goats cheese on the tomatoes and sprinkle cracked black pepper and coarse sea salt on top.

Quick Palov

I’ve been slack of late, not necessarily in art of cooking but more in remembering to photograph or where I have remembered to photograph I’ve just been lazy in writing things up! Not good! Alhumdulilah, we’ve been fortunate enough to choose a different country to eat from every day this Ramadan and my objective was to share this so inshallah I will start sharing!

Last night for iftari we ate Palov from Uzbekistan done earlier (click Uzbekistan on the side – I can’t figure out links!). Actually it was very easy almost too easy! Before Ramadan I had prepared the lamb stock for the palov which meant that with iftari at approximately 8:23 last night the food didn’t actually get on to cook until 8pm! My husband did actually question me a couple of times to make sure I was on schedule.

The plus point was that all I had to do was chop carrots, if I had been at work I would have bought pre chopped carrots, but honestly I needed something to do just to pass the time! Once my carrots were chopped perfectly all that remained to do was drain and wash the chick peas, throw in the pre-soaked rice, the mandatory head of garlic and hey presto iftari was done! It was so easy, quick and brilliant for when your head just isn’t functioning.

Alhumudlilah everyone enjoyed iftari.

An Indian

Monday night, my mother cooked iftari for us so we indulged in true home cooking which made us feel truly loved, Alhumdulilah. She cooked keema aloo (Indian/Pakistani mince meat cooked in spices with potatoes) it is a dish my husband loves and yet one which my father-in-law cannot come to terms with. He repeats the same phrase every time my husband mentions this dish on the phone “ ..but how can you have a mince meat curry?” My husband views this dish as his childhood favourite meal of mince and tatties (now this I cannot get my head around this, plain boiled mince with boiled potatoes!) taken up a level.

My mum made a simple bougia of courgettes to accompany. Its really simple and one of my favourite vegetable dishes and best of all it can be done with any vegetable: a little oil, some whole cumin, whole coriander, whole cloves, whole black pepper then add some ginger, garlic and courgettes. Just add a little water until the courgettes begin to cook down and release their own water.

Finally my mum made a real treat for me, gulab jamon. Gulab jamon are little balls of milk solids which are gently fried until dark and then, like so many arab influenced desserts, are steeped in sugar syrup delicately flavoured with rose water or kerwa water. Surprisingly I have no memories of my mother making these for me when I was little simply because we always bought them from Ambala (an Indian/Pakistani sweet shop) however since becoming coeliac and prompted by Ambala’s refusal to state what their gulab jamon contains my lovely mother decided to make me some herself! If I ever do get to see what she does I promise to reveal all! In the mean time I’ll leave you with some lovely photos!

London Riots

Salam alaykum, I’ve been a bit slow in posting up what we’ve been eating over the last few days just simply because I have been watching television. I, like may others, have been shocked and outraged at the levels of wanton violence that mobs have been using to attack shops and homes. It is beyond disgusting.

For those of you not in the UK, one of the many justifications that is being put about by various people is that the voice of the youth is not being heard, that they are deprived, that they are fed up of a life without prospects, that they have no youth clubs, that they have no where to hang out and that they have no choice but to hang around on street corners!

The truth is that besides leaving a wake of broken shops, burnt out homes and ruined livelihoods, there are another group of people who have suffered even more because of these yobs…the people who are starving because of the drought. Only the day before the riots began there was a story of a little baby boy who was about five months old and after spending two weeks in the refugee camps and being intensively fed, he had gone from a ghost of a baby made of skin, bone and hollowed eyes to what a baby should look like: bright eyed, smiling, happy mash’Allah! Since the riots began these stories have totally disappeared. Somalia and the other countries don’t seem to feature anywhere. They need us, they need our prayers and they need our actual help to help them.

The looters in my area attacked a sports shop and mobile phone shops. These aren’t shops that sell the basics of life, they sell the luxuries of life. They also attacked a petrol pump and threatened to blow that up too. There is no justification for this. Some may try and say that these are similar to riots that led to revolutions, there is no revolution because there is no ideology. Ideology has a purpose. This has no purpose. The objective here is to loot, to damage, to harm, to injure and now to kill. In three short days one man has been shot in London, one Malaysian student badly injured and then robbed, and now three men have been killed in Birmingham while standing outside a mosque trying to protect it.

We need normality back. We need sense back. We need parents to take responsibility. We need calm. Most of all we need the real people who have NEEDS back as the headline of the news.

Belizian Bollo aka Tamales!

Belize is a small country in central America and this is where the Bollo comes from. Bollo, however, is a Spanish name and all the more baffling considering the official language of Belize is English! However Tamales are made through out Latin America and are almost staples of daily life. They consist of a filling surrounded by dough which is then wrapped in corn husks and steamed. In the olden days, and I mean ancient times, they were used as form of transportable food. Each parcel would contain meat, vegetables and carbohydrates, all in all the ideal meal. The origin of the Tamales goes back to the ancient civilisation of the Inca.

The way that the corn husks are used is similar in to the way that banana leaves are used in tropics. If you have neither banana leaves or corn husks to hand you could always use baking parchment.

For the filling I made up a spicy mince using approximately 250g of minced meat: cumin, garlic, onion, coriander and chipotle chilli, which is a smoked jalapino. The smokiness really makes the difference as the smokiness permeates the mince. I also added some peppers to the mince.

We served our tamales with a simple salsa of tomato, onion, fresh coriander and a little vinegar. Our accompaniments were sweet potato fritters and a grated carrot salad.

Makes approximately 10 Tamales

Dough
2 cups Masa Harina
1 cup water
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of buttr
Corn husks
Cheese to sprinkle

1. Soak the corn husks in bowl of hot water to soften them
2. Beat the butter with the water until fluffy
3. Add the masa harina, baking powder and salt
4. Bring it all together as a dough
5. Create golf ball sized balls and then roll out each ball on to each corn husk
6. Place the filling eg mince, veggie and/or cheese, in the middle of the tamales and then fold up as a parcel and tie with string to hold in place
7. Repeat with all the corn husks and dough
8. Place in a steamer for a hour
9. Serve with the husks on but remove the husks before eating

Picture shows the tamales cut open

Mezze

Lebanese Mezze Menu
Shop bought Baba Ghanoush
Quinoa tabouleh
Grilled Haloumi
Left over kaufteh
Batatah Hara

I was feeling quite unwell yesterday and so my contribution to iftari last night consisted of burning kaufteh which just needed heating up, making the quinoa tabouleh and opening a tin of Baba Ghanoush. Subhan’Allah, when we made our Ramadan meal planner I put in a couple of easy meals but had never anticipated that they would fall on the exact night that I was feeling unwell. I just thought that I would switch things around nearer the time!

My husband decided to cook the Batatah Hara which was really delicious. I have no idea what he did but Alhumdulilah it tasted really good.

For the Quinoa tabouleh I just cooked some quinoa in water for approximately 20mins and strained off the excess water. I allowed it to cook for a bit before I added a simple dressing of olive oil and orange juice. Then chopped up some parsley very finely and mixed it in along with some tomatoes. Normally I would have added cucumbers and lemon juice. However as I didn’t have any I just made do and it worked.