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Sunday, 20 January 2013

Baked Stuffed Minced Lamb- Kibbe

I am a great fan of Middle Eastern food and the cookbooks of Claudia Roden and Paula Wolfert and more recently  have added the fabulous Ottolengi books to my collection.
So this week I asked an Armenian friend to escort me around his favourite places to shop. My sister and I ventured to Greenacre and Auburn and visited the best food outlets for middle eastern food supplies.
We were very much in the minority as far as the burka goes, but all the women and men working in these grocers, welcomed us and were very helpful in explaining  the varieties of spice mixes and sharing of their favourite recipes.  A few giggles with a bit of lost in translation in some cases !We shopped in their grocers and dined at a Lebanese restaurant  Al Aseel  and had the most beautiful, baba ghanoush, hommus, garlic dip, Tabouli, felafel's and skewers of  marinated chicken, lamb and shish kebab. The felafel was divine. Crispy on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside.!
Everything was so fresh and tasty. No alcohol is served at this restaurant but we were very happy to join the locals with a huge glass of lemon juice with fresh mint, simply delicious and so refreshing on a hot day.
We then ventured onto a coffee and nut roaster who sells to the public. The fragrant aromas wafted out of the place as we parked the car. The problem with the freshly roasted nuts, they were nearly all consumed before we finished our day !
We stopped at Ablas for the most amazing array of baklava and middle eastern sweets and chocolates.
The variety of sweets that we would call baklava, was enormous but again patient explanations were given
as to their differences..
What a wonderful day out ! So, with a  full tummy and a car full of goodies, I came home totally inspired to cook. Coffee, nuts, pomegranate molasses, rose petal jam, green chilli sauce, bulgur, baba ghanoush, hummus, Turkish delight, baklava and Persian fairy floss and loads of fresh herbs and vegetables were purchased.
I haven't made Kibbe for at least 15 years and had forgotten how easy it is and better the next day. A great  transportable dish for summer . I used the spice mix I purchased from the grocer, which does not have the listed ingredients on the packet. The smell of it is quite intoxicating. The following recipe is my version of old and I made two lots one using the spice mix I bought and they were very similar in taste. This is not the little tear dropped shapes you get at Al Aseel, but easier to prepare.Give it a try!

2 cups cracked wheat bulgur ( you can use fine, but this time I purchased a coarser grain )
1 kilo minced lamb plus see below
1/4 teaspoon of mixed spice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup sesame seeds
olive oil
2 cups chicken stock


2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 large onion finely chopped
125 grams lamb mince
1/8 teaspoon all spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped mint

Treat the bulgur like rice, couscous or quinoa, 1 cup makes two. Place into a saucepan with the hot stock and simmer until soft and the stock is absorbed. Approx 10 minutes. Alternatively you can soak the wheat in a bowl just covered with cold water. Drain and remove any excess liquid and set aside.
Meanwhile, for the stuffing lightly brown the pine nuts in the olive oil and remove from the pan.Saute the onion until tender and add the lamb mince and cook until all traces of pink disappear. Drain any fat, add the nuts spices and mint.
Lamb mixed with bulgur and spices

Mix the bulgur and lamb with the mixed spice, nutmeg, cayenne and black pepper in a bowl. The best way to do this is with your hands.
Divide the mixture in half. Spray a baker approx 23 x 30 with olive oil and layer half of the meat mixture into the dish and flatten down.
Add the stuffing and spread evenly across the uncooked lamb mixture.
Top with the remaining meat mixture and smooth down.
Cut into a diamond pattern and sprinkle with sesame seeds and drizzle with a little olive oil.Bake in a preheated oven for 20 mins, turn down to 160C and cook for a further 10 mins.
I serve this with tabouli and a minted yoghurt.

Baked Stuffed Kibbe

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Quinoa Salad

What fabulous weather we are enjoying! Sunshine and the beach ! We have just been to New Caledonia enjoying the French food and brushing up on our French language skills. Yes, we did a lot of eating and drinking. Lots of duck, beef and seafood. Unfortunately, some of their better restaurants that I had earmarked to go to were closed for the Xmas New Year Break, but we still managed to find plenty that weren't. When we were last in Spain and did a fabulous gourmet walking tour in Madrid one of the  memorable meals was a simple grilled steak. But it was the method of cooking ! It was heavily salted and cooked on a  very hot stone grilled at the table, with each diner given their own stone. This enabled you to cook it to your liking. It was delicious and very succulent. I came home with wonderful ideas of getting my own stones, but I could never source the make of the stone and the restaurant would not tell me. That was the end of that idea.
Whilst in Noumea, we came across a stone grill restaurant. We had many a choice of beef, Australian, New Zealand and local in every cut available.It was just as memorable, absolutely delicious with an accompaniment of French beans in butter and garlic, french fries of course and a choice of sauces. Oh the simple things are often the best, providing the quality is good.We ate lots of seafood, loved the Mahi Mahi dumplings in a very light seafood bisque and the duck in a variety of fabulous sauces, cheese souffles,creme caramel, cheese platters. Oh calories calories and more calories
So as we do its New Year and we go on a diet. Maybe the steak without the buttery beans and french fries.
I have been doing a few quinoa ( pronounced keen- wa) salads. It has been grown in South America for centuries and comes in black and red grain as well. The wonder grain that can replace any other grain and is full of protein, iron and fibre and is gluten free. So a quinoa salad is filling and nutritious, with very little fat, not only great for vegetarians but dieters as well .I like to use stock as it adds more flavour, as the grain can taste bitter. Experiment with the ingredients, chopped apricot and cashews would be yum also.

1cup quinoa
2 cups chicken stock ( water is fine or you can use vegetable stock )
1 red onion chopped.
4 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
4 tablespoons sultanas
4 tablespoons chopped coriander
4 tablespoons chopped parsley
small red capsicum
seeds from 1/2 large pomegranate

Heat the stock in a saucepan on the stove and add the quinoa. Bring back to the boil and simmer until all he stock is absorbed. Approximately 15 minutes.
Saute the red onion and add it to the quinoa. Add the chopped herbs and chopped capsicum and sultanas.
Remove the membrane holding the seeds of the pomegranate, turn upside down over the bowl and bash the hard skin with a spoon to release all those luscious seeds.Lastly add the pine nuts.
I dressed it with a dressing of olive oil, balsamic and a little honey. Delicious, all you need, its a meal in itself.
Well maybe for a dieting girl.!

The remainder of the Xmas cake consumed pre diet of course !