Today I made “Amish Oatmeal”

As Salaamu Alaikum and howdy all.

Today I made Amish Oatmeal.  This is a custard-style baked dish that is perfect to serve anytime.  I like it in the morning because it is hearty and keeps you full for a long time.  Great for the kids who are in school all day.  This particular recipe is not too sweet, which I like.  You can actually drizzle it with honey or maple syrup if you want to make it a bit sweeter.

I got the recipe from here:

Amish-Style Baked Oatmeal

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This calls for oats, brown sugar, butter, eggs, milk raisins, apples, and walnuts.  I also added some coconut to mine.

First, I peeled the apples and then sliced them. I used two Granny Smith, but you can choose a sweeter apple if you like.  I had an extra apple because I overestimated how many I’d need.  Snack for me later!

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Then I mixed the dry ingredients.  2 cups of old-fashioned oats (quick oats would mush out too much), 3/4 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 a cup of walnuts (other 1/2 a cup gets sprinkled over the mix when it’s in the dish), 1 cup raisins, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tsp cinnamon (I also added 1 tsp cardamom which is not in the other recipe), 1 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 a cup of coconut (also my own addition).  Make sure that if your brown sugar is clumpy that you break up the clumps.

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In a separate bowl, I put 2 cups of whole milk, 2 eggs (fresh from my hens, thank you ladies), 1 tsp vanilla, and 4 Tbsp of butter that was melted and allowed to cool a bit.  You can dump the wet ingredients into the dry or the dry into the wet, make no difference.  Mix up well to combine.

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Now, before you started all this (you DID read the recipe link, right?), you should have preheated your oven to 325 degrees and grease a casserole dish.  Did you, well, did you?  No?  Well go get heatin’ and greasin’.  Don’t worry, I’ll wait (cue Final Jeopardy music).

Okay, so put the apples into the base of the casserole and then dump all the oatmeal mixture into the dish and smooth out with a spatula.  Top with the other 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts, then slide into the oven for about 45 minutes.

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Once it comes out, you’ll need to let it cool down for twenty minutes or so, lest you burn the top of your mouth.  Yeah, ouch. After that, just grab a bowl and a spoon and serve some up.  If you want to make it a treat, drizzle with honey and maybe even serve a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.

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And that’s it!  Didn’t take long to mix this up, and probably it won’t take long for my family to eat it up.  That bowl there was mine and I finished it right up.  Enjoy! Bil hana wa shifaa.

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Fried Eggplant With Tomato and Garlic and Pepper Salsa

As Salaamu Alaikum.  Wow, I haven’t used this blog in a LOOOONG time.  I love to cook and bake, but with the frantic pace of my life this last year I haven’t had time to write things down.  Oh, yeah, I can snap a few pictures and post it to my Facebook, but write out a recipe?  Maybe after the last kid is in school and we start wearing disposable clothes!  But I did make fried eggplant last night and people on my FB are asking for the recpie, so as long as I’m procrastinating from doing real work I may as well procrastinate productively!  So here it is:

Fried eggplant.  For this recipe you will need one large purple eggplant, two beefsteak tomatoes, three cloves of garlic, and one jalapeno pepper.  In addition, you will need some salt and vinegar, plus oil for frying.  And if you don’t have good pita bread to eat this with, run out and get some real quick!

First you cut the ends off the eggplant and then peel it:

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Then you cut the eggplants. You can simply slice them into rounds about 1/8″ of an inch thick, or slice the eggplant longways first.  I slice the eggplant longways and make smaller half-circle pieces because I can fit more into the frying pan at one time that way:

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Next, I lay the pieces flat on my cutting board or counter and I sprinkle them liberally with salt on both sides.  This step is needed because larger eggplants can be bitter and this draws out the bitter liquid.  Then I place them into a colander to drain.  You can leave the colander in the sink or set it in a bowl to catch the liquid, which will be discarded unless you want to play a really mean prank on someone:

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While they are draining, you can prepare the salsa.  Dice up two beefsteak tomatoes.  Peel and thinly slice three cloves of garlic.  Dice up one jalapeno pepper (you crazy heat lovers can use a spicier pepper if you are brave).  These are all going to get tossed together into the pan later so you can put them all in one bowl – go ahead, they won’t mind:

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Now you need to rinse the excess salt off the eggplant slices.  Do this under running water, then rinse out the colander and put the rinsed pieces back into the colander to drain.  If you have one of those salad spinners you can use it to spin off the excess moisture.  After you do this, you will need to lay the pieces on a dry tea towel or on good paper towel to blot any remaining moisture.  You want them to be as dry as possible because water + hot oil is NOT a good combination:

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Now get a large shallow pan and fill it with about 1/4″ of vegetable oil suitable for frying.  Don’t use your olive oil on this.  Olive oil has a lower smoke point so it will not work well in high heat frying applications.  Heat the oil to about high medium.  It should take about five minutes a side to fry; if it takes too long, it will absorb too much oil.  Too fast, and you have not so delicious charcoal briquets:

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Fry the eggplants on both sides until golden brown. They should be a bit darker around the edges but not dark like the edges all the way through – unless you like them that way!  You might like yours a bit more well done, but remember if they go too long – charcoal!  And charcoal is not a good flavor.  I’m just sayin’.  Remove them to paper towel to drain.  After they are drained, put them on a nice plate for presentation:

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Okay, now for the salsa.  Tip almost all of the oil out of the pan, using great care because it is very hot.  Put the pan back on the heat, and then dump in the tomatoes, garlic, and peppers.  Sautee for about a minute or two on high heat until it starts to soften, stirring often, then add about 1/4 cup of vinegar.  I like apple cider vinegar.  Be careful not to breath in the vapors because  you WILL start coughing if you do, especially if you used spicier peppers (voice of experience here).  Continue to sautee and stir for another minute or so until the mixture has no free liquid splashing about and has thickened a bit, then simply layer it overtop the eggplant.  That’s it, you’re done!  Now take that really good pita bread you bought (or made, using my old recipe here) and tear off a piece to use as a scoop.  Scoop up a small portion of the eggplant with salsa and say Bismillah, then pop it into your mouth and sigh happily.  Well, that’s what I did, anyway :).

In the real world, one eggplant makes enough for two to four people.  Two if you are normal, four if you are trying to be polite and not steal the plate and run off and eat it all by yourself.  I would recommend that you don’t make this more than once a month – eggplants (and tomatoes, for that matter) are members of the nightshade family of plants and should be enjoyed in moderation.

Bil hana wa shifaa!

Basic Dinner Rolls – Gone in an instant!

I’ve made these dinner rolls three times this week.  As usual, they disappear in about five minutes.  The recipe is very basic.  You don’t have to make these into rolls.  You can make two big round loaves, use a loaf pan, or shape them into twists.  I like the little rolls.  They’re easy to shape and the right size for kids to grab.

Dinner Rolls:
5-1/2 to 6-1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup melted butter with 1 tsp dried oregano and 1/2 tsp garlic powder for brushing over finished bread (optional)

First, gather and measure out all your ingredients so you know you have everything you need.  Nothing is worse than getting started making bread and then realizing you are out of yeast or you used the last egg for hubby’s breakfast.  Measure half of the flour into the bowl of your stand mixer (or big bowl if you will be mixing and kneading by hand).  Add the yeast, sugar, and salt and mix up a bit.  Set aside.

In a small pot, add the water, milk, and butter and heat until the butter has melted.  It is very important to not heat it too much, or to let it cool down to the correct temperature, before adding this to the flour.  The liquid needs to be at a temperature of between about 86 degrees and 104 degrees.  Too cool and the yeast will not activate; too hot and the yeast will be killed and your bread will never rise.

Put the bowl with the dry ingredients onto the mixer and attach the mixing paddle (not the dough hook).  Set the speed to one and slowly add the liquid.  Let it mix in and then add the egg.  After this incorporates, turn the speed to medium or a bit higher and allow it to mix for about three minutes.  This starts to activate the gluten, that sticky stuff that provides a strong framework for your bread to rise.  After three minutes, turn off the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook.  Add a little less than three cups of flour and turn on the LOWEST speed and allow to mix in.

The consistency you are looking for is fairly firm and pulling away from the sides of the bowl.  The dough will be tacky but not very sticky.  This is where a “feel” for the dough is important, and your feel will develop over time.  If the dough is too wet, add flour about 1/2 cup at a time and let it incorporate fully before checking again.  You may not have to add any flour or you may need to add up to a cup.  It depends on how dry the flour is or even if it is a humid day.  The dough will crawl up the dough hook; this is fine.  If you need to stop the machine to scrape it down you can do that.

Let the dough knead in the mixer for five to eight minutes.  If you are kneading by hand, well, you’re my hero and you no doubt have big Popeye biceps.  You’ll need to knead by hand for a full ten minutes.  Once the kneading is done, stop the machine, detach the hook, and bring the bowl to your work table.  Sprinkle the surface with just a bit of flour and scrape out all the dough onto the table.  Knead it for just a couple of minutes to bring it into shape and then place it in a greased bowl to rise for up to an hour (in my warm kitchen today it only took about half that amount of time) Grease the top of the dough as well to keep it from drying and developing a crust (I use a spritz of cooking spray), and cover it with a clean damp towel or a small clean grocery bag.  After it has doubled in bulk, poke your fingers into it to pop out as many bubbles as you can and then put it on the table again and knead into a round.  Cut the round into fourths, and then cut each fourth into eight relatively even pieces (mine are certainly not Martha Stewart perfect, as you can see.  Please don’t tell on me.)

Each piece should be rolled into a ball.  I usually shape mine in my hand and then roll it in my cupped hand on the surface of the table.  A bit hard to describe but you can watch the technique here.  Place on 1/4 size sheet pans, 8 to a pan, and allow to rise again until doubled in bulk.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Carefully, so as not to deflate your lovely dough, place each tray into the oven.  Close the door gently, set a timer for 8 minutes.  After eight minutes, the rolls will not yet be done, but you will need to rotate the pans so they bake evenly.  That means the pans are turned 180 degrees and the pans on the bottom rack go to the top and the top to the bottom.  Then set the timer for six  minutes.  Check after this time to see if they are done.  I like my rolls to be a little darker so I gave mine eight minutes, but ovens can run a bit hot or cold so keep a close eye on them and take them out when they are medium golden brown or a little darker.

Set them on the counter and brush immediately with the melted butter that has the oregano and garlic powder.  You don’t have to do this step but trust me, it is delicious.  Let the rolls cool either on the pans or on a rack and then get out of the way as your family stampedes to get to them.

Bil hana wa shifaa!

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Published in: on November 27, 2011 at 1:07 pm  Comments (2)  
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Mama Ganouj – Because why should Baba have all the fun?

 

Okay, I’ve been on an eggplant kick recently.  I love making baba ganouj, but I make mine a bit differently.  Mine has sweet and hot peppers in it, making it more spicy, so I have renamed it “Mama Ganouj”, because you know we ladies are more spicy than the guys :).  Enjoy!

1 large eggplant
1 large sweet red pepper
1 jalapeno pepper

1/4 cup tahini
juice of one lemon – Use fresh-squeezed lemons, not bottled juice!  In this dish, it does make a difference
2 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper to taste
drizzle of olive oil

Wash all your veggies.  Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and place, cut side down, on cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil.  Cut peppers in half and remove seeds and the white membrane (leave membrane if you want it hotter).  Place peppers on cookie sheet with eggplant.  Place in the oven and roast for 45 minutes to one hour, until eggplant is soft.

Remove from oven.  Scrape peppers off into the bowl of a food processor with a chopping blade.  Pick up each half of the eggplant, placing it cut side up on a cutting board, and scrape out the flesh using a spoon.  You may want to wait until it has cooled a bit.  Discard skin, put flesh in food processor bowl with peppers.  Add the remaining ingredients except olive oil.  Put the lid on the processor and puree to a mostly smooth consistency.  Check the flavor while processing to see if you need more salt.  Add more seasoning if needed and then continue the puree.

Scrape the mixture out into an attractive bowl, drizzle the top with olive oil, and enjoy!  You can eat this either with soft pita bread, or crisp up the bread in the oven, or buy pita crisps or whatever you like to serve this with.  It will be a bit spicy and very rich.  Bil hana wa shifaa!

 

Published in: on November 24, 2011 at 10:26 am  Leave a Comment  
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Basbousa. Or Basboosa. Or Basbousah. Whatever, it tastes good!

I found a really good basbousa recipe online at food.com.  I make it every so often and I ended up making it twice this week, once for home and once for an iftaar (meal to break the fast) at the masjid.  Here is a link to the recipe:

 

http://www.food.com/recipe/basbousa-1576-1587-1576-1608-1587-1577-12957

 

And here are the pictures:

 

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My son said there was a line for the basbousa at the masjid and definitely the pan came back clean.  Now, I baked these in two smaller pans but you can follow the recipe exactly.  I also added 1 cup of coconut, which is not in the original recipe, and you can decorate with slivered almonds as well.

 

Bil hana wa shifaa!

Published in: on August 7, 2011 at 7:29 pm  Comments (2)  
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Sherba – Sweet Cereal With Bulghur Wheat

Salaam Alaikum! I came across this very simple recipe for something called Sherba. One of my friends on Facebook posted it and I decided to try it out. It’s very simple and makes a tasty, filling breakfast – you need those complex carbs for suhoor to help you make it through a long day of fasting! Here’s the recipe:

1 cup Bulghur wheat (the kind you use to make tabbouleh)
3-1/2 cups of water
1 tsp salt
3 cups milk
3 Tbsp sugar (more if you don’t finish with honey)

Optional: Honey and semn (clarified butter)

In a large high-sided pot, bring the bulghur, water, and salt to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 30 minutes or until most of the water has been absorbed. Add the milk and sugar, stir, and cook for an additional 35 minutes or until the grains are tender. They should still have a bit of “tooth” to them and should not be mushy. Remove from the heat.
Serve into bowls and top with a touch of honey and semn, if desired. Thank you Umm Adam for the recipe!

I had a bowl of this and it is delicious and filling. My oldest son is pretty picky but he just had a bowl himself as an evening snack, so it gets the Abdel Hamid seal of approval.

Bil hana wa shifaa!

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Published in: on July 20, 2011 at 5:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Mastering the Meat – A Spicy Post Indeed!

When you’re on a budget, you learn how to make variety out of one menu item. You can get creative with chicken, beef, potatoes, rice. These frequent players can get very boring if you see them all the time in the same form, but with some creativity you can make even the humble hamburger into a special meal.

Today I made a spicy meat that can be used in a variety of ways. I made hawawshi for lunch, which is when I put the meat into pita bread half-rounds and bake them in the oven. For dinner, spicy burgers. I have also used the same meat mixture for meatballs, kebabs, and, with the addition of some breadcrumbs and an egg, meatloaf.

You start with two pounds of 80/20 ground beef. If you buy your meat from the halaal butcher, I’ve noticed they tend to try to give you meat without a lot of fat. Make sure you get meat that is not too lean, because the fat adds to the flavor. If you are health-conscious, okay, go with the lower fat meat, but it won’t be as rich :).

Break up the meat into a large bowl. Add one medium to largish onion that has been chopped up very finely. You can do this by hand with a good sharp knife, but I use a small food processor with a chopping blade so the onion will be almost liquified and will mix in well. Chop up about four cloves of garlic at the same time, more if you wish. Dump this on top of the meat.

Now for the spices. You can use a box mix, easy to find at Indo-Pak or Middle Eastern stores, but I just use what I have in the cupboard. For the two pounds of meat, I use:

1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp turmeric

You can other spices, like cinnamon and cardamom, different types of chili powder, oregano, basil. Go with what you like. Finish with a couple of dashes of Maggi Kitchen Bouquet and two tablespoons of soy sauce, then mix well with your hands until all of the spices are blended in.

I always do a test batch by heating a skillet and then cooking a small piece of meat til done to make sure the spice balance is where I like it. If you are not happy with the result, you can add a bit more of whatever you feel is lacking. That gives you the chance to test again, which is very tasty :).

After you get the mix where you like it, cover and set it aside in the refrigerator to allow the spices and flavors to marry. I set mine aside for a couple of hours if I can. When you are ready, heat up a skillet, make some patties, and then brown on both sides, then reduce heat to cook through. For the burgers I made today, I sprinkled the tops with grated Asiago cheese and topped with pickled jalapeno peppers. My husband made short work of the burgers and ended up sharing a couple with the kids, which is why I always make extra.

I have more ground beef in the freezer, so next time I make this meat inshaAllah I’ll make either meatballs in tomato sauce or perhaps meatloaf. A meatloaf you would be happy to serve to guests. Bil hana wa shifaa!

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Published in: on May 17, 2011 at 7:19 pm  Comments (2)  
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German Potato Salad – Picnic Perfect!

My mom always made potato salad when we were growing up. We would take it on picnics to serve with fried chicken. I like this recipe because there is no mayo in it, meaning you don’t have to be paranoid about it spoiling and making everyone ill.

You will need:

All-pupose or russet potatoes
hard-boiled eggs
oil
vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
diced onion (optional)

There’s no set quantity for this recipe. You can do more or less depending on how many will be eating. I used a big pot and just covered the bottom with potatoes. I use one egg per potato to keep the ratio right.

Boil the potatoes in a big pot of salted water. Try to have the potatoes of similar size so they will cook at the same time. Do not peel before boiling or they will be too watery. When they are done (stick a knife in to see if they are cooked through), drain and then return to the pot. The hot pot will help the water on the skins to evaporate.

Boil eggs. I put the eggs in a pot in a single layer, cover completely with water, then bring to a boil with the lid on the pot. As soon as it reaches a boil, turn off the heat and set a ten-minute timer. After the timer goes off, drain the hot water and cover with cold water. Allow to cool for a bit before you attempt to peel them. Older eggs peel more easily than fresh eggs.

Peel the potatoes and cut them up into chunks. Cut the eggs into the bowl with the potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste, and then add oil and vinegar. I used olive oil and apple cider vinegar for this batch. The potatoes will soak up a lot of the oil and vinegar when warm so you will probably use more than you think you will. Just drizzle the oil on first and then mix it around. It should NOT be pooling on the bottom of the bowl. Drizzle on the vinegar, wait, then stir. Taste and add more vinegar if you like. I like mine a little more sour so I keep going :). You can also add diced onion to this but I usually omit it because my kids would freak out and run screaming from the room if they saw a raw onion in the bowl.

That’s about it. No muss, no fuss, makes a great picnic side dish. You could use red potatoes for this but I prefer “mealy” potatoes to “waxy” potatoes because I like how the potato falls apart and soaks up the dressing.

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Bil hana wa shifaa!

Published in: on April 17, 2011 at 5:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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My German Mom’s Awesome Spaghetti Sauce – Wunderbar!

Okay, I guess I didn’t give you enough carbohydrates with the pancakes this morning, so I’ll just finish you off so you can end up as a quivering starchy mass on the sofa watching an NCIS marathon:

I make my spaghetti for a family of 8; I’ll give you the quantities for a family of 4, or fewer if you are very hungry :).

Sautee one diced onion until translucent, adding four cloves of garlic, finely chopped, and then sautee for about two minutes more. Add one pound of ground beef, salt and pepper, and brown. Drain off excess fat through a sieve. Set aside.

Heat a large pot with high sides over medium heat. Add two tablespoons of butter and melt, then whisk in two tablespoons of flour. You are making a roux, the base for a bechemel sauce. Bechemel sauce? But I thought we were making spaghetti sauce. We are young padawan, we are….

Allow the roux to cook at medium heat for a couple of minutes to get rid of the floury raw taste, whisking once or twice to keep it from overbrowning. While it is doing its thing, open a 29 ounce can (or thereabouts) of tomato sauce and pour one cup of milk into a measuring cup.

Raise the heat to high and immediately add the milk, whisking constantly. Add the tomato sauce while continuing to whisk. Keep whisking until the sauce starts to bubble, scraping around the corners to make sure you are scraping all the roux off the bottom of the pot. As soon as it starts to bubble like a volcano, reduce to low and whisk another few seconds. At this point you should be able to switch to a spoon and stir occasionally as it simmers.

Now is the time I add my seasonings; a teaspoon of something called Maggi Kitchen Bouquet; two teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce; a squirt of ketchup; a teaspoon each of dried basil and oregano; salt and pepper to taste. Remember you sauteed onion and garlic with the meat so you don’t need to add garlic powder unless you are trying to ward off vampires.

Now add the meat and then allow the flavors to marry for about half an hour. Taste and adjust seasonings as you like. I always serve this over spaghetti but you can choose a different pasta if you prefer.

I love love love this sauce and make it often for my family. You can play with it a lot. Sautee green peppers and carrots along with the onions; add diced zucchini or eggplant to the sauce; use shrimp instead of ground beef. Make it yours and enjoy it. Serve with some nice garlic bread, a salad, and a whole lotta napkins. If you have kids, figure that you’re going to have to give them a bath that night.

Bil hana wa shifaa!

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Published in: on April 2, 2011 at 9:05 pm  Comments (1)  
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I’m a Fuul For Love, and Other Bad Puns

I made fuul for breakfast yesterday. Fuul mudammas is one of the main protein sources for the majority of Egyptians. It is everywhere, even more common that a burger and fries is here in the U.S. Fuul is actually fava beans, sometimes called horse beans. You can buy them canned but I prefer to make mine. The taste is much better, and it’s cheaper to buy in bulk. Here’s what I do:

Soak two pounds of small fava beans (with the skins on) in a generous amount of water overnight.

Drain the beans. Put them in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer until beans are tender and most of the liquid is evaporated. You may have to add water during cooking.

Once the beans are cooked, allow them to cool completely and then portion into quart ziptop bags. Lay flat on a cookie sheet and then place in the freezer. Freeze until solid, remove from the sheet, and store in your freezer.

The day before you want to make fuul, you can take a bag or two out of the freezer and allow it to defrost in the fridge. It doesn’t have to be completely thawed to use, but of course your cooking time will increase. You can also thaw in a microwave.

Put the beans in a pot. Add one tablespoon of tahini (sesame paste), the juice of one lemon, two teaspoons of cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. You can also add chili powder or hot sauce if you like a “kick”. Cook until heated through, then either mash with a potato masher or the back of a fork. Place into a bowl and drizzle the top with olive oil.

Part of what makes fuul so great is the accompaniments. I dice up garlic and place it on top (except on Friday because of the Friday prayer, lol), dice tomatoes to put on top or slice to set alongside. Serve the fuul with scrambled or boiled eggs, farmer’s cheese or cheddar, olives or torshi (pickled veggies). The plate will look wonderful and it will really fill you up when you eat it the traditional way, with big rounds of pita bread. Oh, and my husband thinks the meal is in no way complete unless you have an onion cut up to serve with it.

Give yourself some time to digest and then you’ll be good for the day. If you prepare the fuul before hand, you’ll have between six to eight bags so you won’t have to do the big soak and cook and bag more than once a week, even if you eat fuul every day :).

Bil hana wa shifaa!

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Published in: on April 2, 2011 at 10:17 am  Comments (2)  
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