Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Healthy Baked Falafel with Tzatziki and Hummus- Recipe

Middle Eastern food must be one of my favorite cuisines as it is very close to my family's Kurdish cooking. I can eat it all the time, and never get tired of it. It is very versatile with simple recipes with multilayered flavors to more complex dishes that can take days to cook. I will share a few of my favorite recipes of famous dishes such as falafel, tzatziki and hummus.

The falafel recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbook by Salah Jamal 'Arabian Flavours'. It is such a lovely book with an innate charm and great stories and anecdotes from his life and the Arabic culture. It does lack photos if dishes but it is so easy to just google it and find photos of how the end result might look like. If not for the recipes, the read it to get an insight of his childhood and travel memories in the Arab world.


Baked Falafel (with my own twist)
1 can of chickpeas
1 can of broad beans
2 onions
1/2 cup of chopped parsley
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp self-raising flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp paprika, black pepper, cinnamon
1 tsp cumin, coriander, Kuba spice mix

1- Mix the beans in a food processor until grainy mixture and put it in a bowl. 

2- Mix the onions and parsley in the food processor as well and add it to the bean mixture. Sprinkle over the spices, flour, baking soda and mix well. Let the mixture rest for 1 hour in the fridge.

3- Form the mixture to patties and put them on a baking tray with grease proof paper.

4- Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes on 220 degrees o until golden brown and crispy.

3-4 tbsp greek yogurt
5 cm cucumber, grated
1/3 onion, grated
pinch of dried dill, parsley, mint and garlic powder to taste
salt and pepper

Method: Mix everything in a bowl and add more seasoning if needed. 

1 can of chickpeas
2-3 tbsp of greek yogurt
2-3 tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder or 1 clove of garlic

Method: Mix the beans in a food processor until it looks like a smooth paste. Add rest of the ingredients and mix some more. If needed add salt and pepper.

Tangy Salad
3 tomatoes, diced
1 yellow paprika, diced
1/2 cup of chopped parsley
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint 
10 cm cucumber
green olives, chopped
1 tbsp sumac
1 tsp pomegranate molasses

Method: Chop the washed vegetables and mix in a bowl. Add the sumac and pomegranate molasses which add a lovely, zesty and tangy flavor.

 Serve the falafel with the tzatziki, hummus, salad and flat arabic bread. Bellow, you see everything being presented in a big silver plate, together with lentil soup and dried dates and figs, as a great Middle Eastern menu. Works perfectly  as a menu during the Ramadan for Iftar, to break the fast with. 


Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Fat Free Homemade Bread with Seeds in No Time - Recipe

One thing that I can not get enough of and that will always be a part of my diet, no matter how often I hear it is not healthy, is bread. It comes in different tastes, shapes and color. And I love them all, especially French baguette.

Here is a super easy recipe for bread rolls that you can make in no time, without waiting hours for it to rise. They are perfect for your long Sunday breakfast, to serve with soup or making sandwiches with it for picnics. This is how you can make these delicious bread rolls:

Makes: 8-10 rolls

5 dl self raising flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp golden syrup
1,5 dl water
1 dl sour cream
seed of your choice (I used pumpkin,  and sunflower seeds)
sesame seeds

1- Add the flour,baking soda and a generous sprinkling of pumpkin and sunflower seeds in a bowl and mix.

2- In a separate bowl add syrup, water, sour cream and mix well. Pour the wet mixture in the same bowl as the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough is formed. Add a little more flour in case your dough is very wet. 

3- Form the bread into 8-10 rolls of bread and transfer them to a baking tray layered with grease proof paper.  Flatten each roll slightly with the palm of your hand in the middle as they will rise. Brush them with little water and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

3- Preheat the oven to 200 c degrees and bake the bread rolls for about 12-15 minutes or until golden brown


Thursday, 4 July 2013

Ovengrilled Chicken with Potatoes and Carrots - Recipe

Today's dinner was very tasty. I made a simple meal out of some veggies and few chicken pieces. Since I am trying to make healthy meals, I did not cook rice, couscous or bulgur as well, which I usually do with chicken. Served it with a lovely salad instead. I seasoned the salad with few drops of pomegranate molasses, sumac as well as a lovely balsamic vinegar. The pomegranate molasses is a new favorite of mine, which I love to use when I grill chicken. I just rub the chicken in this lovely syrup and it gives it such a lovely taste and crust. It is often used in salads as well, for instance in the famous Fattoush salad. The tangy flavor really adds a new dimension and incredible flavors just by using a few drops of the molasses. I definitely recommend it as a marinade for whatever you like to put on the grill.

Serves: 3

3 chicken thighs and 1 chicken breast, cut in smaller pieces
4-5 potatoes, cut in wedges
2 big carrots, sliced
1/2 parsnip, sliced
few drops of pomegranate molasses
bbq spice mix

1- Wash the chicken pieces and put them in a bowl. Add a few drops of the pomegranate molasses and the bbq spice mix and rub it all over the chicken pieces.

2- Peel and cut the parsnip, potato and carrots. Sprinkle over some of the bbq spice mix and mix them so that everything is evenly coated.

3- Place the veggies in an oven tray and place a grill rack on top. Put the chicken pieces on the grill right on top of the veggies. This way the veggies will get evenly coated in the delicious chicken juice while cooking in the oven. The oven should be on 200 C for about 1- 1.5 hours. Take it out once the chicken is cooked through and veggies are soft inside but crispy outside.


Pimp up a bought cake

Few days ago I made a cake to give to my neighbors and got some vanilla and coconut cream left over. I did not want to throw it away so I saved it in the fridge, trying to think of a way to use it up. When husband came home yesterday, he had bought a vanilla and chocolate cake from our supermarket. Since it looked quite plane, I decided to use the vanilla and coconut cream to pimp it up.

 I cut the sponge cake diagonally to create two layers. I spread spread both the vanilla and coconut cream on the first layer and put on the top layer so that it looked like a Victoria sponge cake with a cream filling. The cake was really delicious and moist and the cream made it so much tastier. Although I usually make my own sponge cakes at home, I can now buy a good quality cake and just pimp it up by adding different layers and fruits.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Gooey yet Crunchy Fajitas - Recipe

When we get tired of hearty dishes like rice and stews, family and I love to make easier yet delicious meals instead of a take away. But when you still craving fast food, homemade fajitas is a great choice for those lazy days when you just can't think of a 2 course meal that will take a few hours to cook. 

Delicious fajitas
Now I don't make everything from scratch as I can be too lazy to do so, but making fajitas at home instead of ordering them, can be such fun as they are very easy to make and can be varied easily. You can use chicken, lamb, beef or even shrimps and choose from different types of veggies to be included in your fajita. I usually choose chicken, sun dried tomatoes, corn, paprika and onions for my filling. Here is how I make mine:

Serves: 3

2 chicken breasts, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
1 yellow paprika, sliced
1/2 cup sweet corn
2 sun dried tomatoes, sliced
fajita spice mix (I use Old el Paso spice mix)
8 tortillas
200 g salsa sauce (any salsa sauce you like or make your own)

1- Slice up the chicken and brown it in a frying pan with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Once the chicken is browned add the amount of fajita spice mix you like, I usually use half of the spice mix bag. While the chicken is frying,  slice the veggies. 

2. Once the chicken looks almost cooked, add the vegetables and add a little more of the fajita spice mix. After few minutes, when the vegetables are soft yet crunchy, add the salsa sauce and stir well for about 10 minutes on medium heat, until the sauce has reduced a little to a nice sticky consistency.

3. Let the filling cool a little and prepare the tortillas, by warming them slightly. Add some of the filling on a tortilla and top it with some grated cheese. Since I like to make my fajitas crunchy I also add a mix of different salad leaves but you can leave it out if you don't like it. Roll them up and enjoy a lovely, gooey yet crunchy meal!


Breakfast ideas

One of my favorite meals of the day, has to be the breakfast. Especially when you are not in a rush, taking a long and lovely breakfast is a great way to start out your day full on energy. Being from Sweden, we have many different and healthy choices for breakfast, compared to an English breakfast. But to cheat once in a while and indulge in a decadent English breakfast plate is just want you want.

But, usually I would opt for a more healthy choice and make something that is not time consuming in the mornings. In Sweden, we love our porridge. It is quite easy to make and cheap, not to mention what a great stomach filler it is. The good thing with porridge is that is a slow burner and will make you feel full for a long time. This is how we do it in Sweden: 


1,5 dl oats
2,5 dl water
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/2 tbsp butter
milk for serving

Method: Mix oats, water, cardamom, salt, butter and cinnamon in a small saucepan on medium heat and stir it once in a while. After only a few minutes you should have the required consistency of the porridge, which is thick and creamy. Serve it with a little milk in a deep bowl and sprinkle over more cinnamon and little sugar. To make it healthy add shaved apple or other fresh fruit such as berries as a nutritious topping.

My next breakfast idea is an open faced egg sandwich. Take 2 whole grain slices of bread or any other more healthy bread and toast them. Add a thin layer of butter and low fat cheese. Top it with a sliced boiled egg on each bread. To keep it more healthy do not add another slice of bread on top of the eggs. This way, the  filling to bread ratio is higher which makes it tastier and have a less dry consistency. Serve with your favorite cup of tea.

 My last idea, is a very simple open faced sandwich which is basically a slice of whole grain bread with a spread of butter, slice of cheese and slices of paprika. Preferably a yellow or red paprika, which have a sweeter taste than the green one. But you can certainly add more veggies on your sandwich, such as slices of cucumber and tomatoes. This will definitely keep your full for a longer period.


Monday, 1 July 2013

Salad Guide

Here is a great salad guide by Williams-Sonoma which is a website full of great salad recipes. This guide has lovely pictures of inspiring ingredients for a great summer salad. So choose your ingredients and get creative and healthy!!

Salad Guide