Sunday, 21 May 2017

Lemon and Garlic Chicken Soup

Whenever I caught a cold my Jedo would always say that I needed to drink Araq (Lebanese moonshine) and eat more lemon and garlic. The great man lived for 96 years. He knew his stuff. 

Now, I can't reveal his Araq recipe, but I can share a tip or two about cooking with lemon and garlic. Lemon contains a significant amount of Vitamin C, and garlic has been used as a natural antibiotic for centuries. It's used in a variety of Lebanese recipe bases. As the cold and flu season rears its ugly head, it makes perfect sense to get this traditional soup on the stove. In my grandparents' village in Lebanon (Rachine) the name of this dish translates to 'Potato with Lemon and Garlic'. That's right, no mention of chicken. It's all about that base. 

A word of advice. If you want to keep up with the lemon needs in my family, buy boxes of lemons when they're in season. Squeeze, jar, freeze.

Another word of advice. Get to Flemington Markets before my family. No lemon will be left behind.

1 whole chicken 
1/2 kg potatoes
6 cloves of garlic
2 tsp salt
300mL lemon juice
2L water
Olive oil for frying
Salt to taste

The awesome foursome that make this dish magical

1) Butcher the chicken into smaller pieces, leaving the skin on. Cut the potatoes in half or quarters. You may wish to peel the potatoes, but I like to take advantage of all the goodness in the skins.

2) Brown the chicken and potatoes in a lightly oiled pan.

3) Flip the chicken and potatoes, ensuring that all sides are browned.

4) Crush the cloves of garlic and salt in a mortar and pestle. Adding the salt at this stage creates friction, turning the garlic into a fine paste.

5) Boil the water in a large stockpot and add the crushed garlic to it. Place the cooked chicken and potatoes to the pot. Allow to boil for 15 to 20 minutes.

6) If you do not have frozen jars of lemon juice handy (seriously, why not?) squeeze fresh lemons. For 300 mL, you will need about 5 medium lemons.

7) Add the lemon juice to the boiling stockpot, and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Salt to taste, then serve!

For the fussier eaters out there, you may wish to remove the chicken from the bone, or even swap the whole chicken for fillets. You won't get the same full bodied stock, but it will do the job!

Whether you need a rescue remedy, or you just love lemon, sahtein! 

Sunday, 20 November 2016


Duckers, I have something for you that you will not regret or forget. Sambousek. These little pockets of lamb (or your preferred filling) will leave even the fussiest of eaters smiling. It's no wonder that they're made all over the Middle East. The version that I bring to you today is Lebanese. My tayta, aunties and my mamma have been rolling them out just like this for decades. When you first start, you won't be quite as quick as my aunties, aka the sambousek ninja warriors. Don't be put off. Once you get the hang of it, it will be worth it.

Sambousek with my (in)famous houmous- recipe to come. 

NOTE: When you make sambousek in Lebanese proportions, it's best to have a production line (made up of 20 of your closest cousins of course!) In case cousins aren't available, I have provided measurements for about one tenth of what my family would make in a sitting. 

These do freeze beautifully. If you have the time and freezer space,  I recommend that you stock up.

4 cups plain flour
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 tablespoon salt
Water as required
Extra flour for dusting

1/2 kg coarsely minced lamb 
1/2 onion chopped
1 tsp baharat (Lebanese spice mix found in any good continental grocery store)
1/2 tsp salt
Black pepper (to taste)
Handful pinenuts
Handful roughly chopped almonds (optional non-traditional delicious addition)
1 tsp ghee


1) Combine all of the dough ingredients and knead by hand. When the dough binds, separate it into 2 or 3 balls of dough, dust with flour, and place under a damp tea towel. Allow to rest, however this step isn't entirely necessary, considering that this recipe contains no yeast. It will make the dough easier to roll out.

2) While the dough rests, prepare your filling. I ask my butcher to cut up a few lamb chops by hand, or I do it myself. I find that it adds a bit of extra texture. Other people (including my mamma) prefer mince. Either way, cook off the lamb slowly until most of the juices are absorbed back into the lamb. Add the onion, baharat, salt and black pepper. Cook for a few more minutes then turn off the heat.

3) Toast the nuts in ghee and add them to the mix. If you don't wish to use ghee, butter or oil will do. I figure that if I'm going to deep fry these pretty parcels, I'd better make the artery clogging process count. Ghee for the win!

4) Dust a rolling pin with flour, and roll out one of the balls of dough. I like about 2mm of thickness. Use a mug or a cup to cut out circles of your desired size.

 5) Start shaping! I like to be generous with filling, however there can be some explosions if you get a bit carried away.

Check out the video below for a bit of help with shaping.


If you really don't like the process, just fork it.

Keep on going.

Aaaand going...

6) Fry on medium heat until the sambousek is golden. Turn once.

 7) Drain on paper towel.

8) Serve alone or with your favourite mezza. Houmous recipe coming soon :)

And what about that left over dough you ask? Get creative.

Here are some cheesy pizza bites. I just used some pepperoni, pizza blend cheese and oregano.

And here is a giant Nutella triangle.

 Dust with icing sugar, and serve hot.

Let me know if you come up with any other delicious fillings. Enjoy!

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Knafeh- Tayta's Recipe (With Gluten Free Option)

My Tayta was the queen of the kitchen. She was making knafeh way before it was cool to line up and pick up a serving from a mobile shipping container. (Shout out to the Bearded Bakers for putting this traditional dessert on the map!)

I'd love to give all of the credit to Tayta for this recipe, but what you see here is the result of what some might call foodie fate. When Tayta arrived in Australia in the 1970s, the Arabic speaking neighbours of Greenacre took comfort in finding others who shared their language, customs and their bloody good recipes. That's when Tayta tried and tested a range of recipes, some including semolina, some with stringy white cheese and some with corn flakes.

After all of the Tayta's testing and tasting, the creme de la creme ended up being the most simple knafeh recipes of them all. And funnily enough, the base ingredient is ... you guessed it, cream.

WARNING: Just like my Tayta, I don't stick to measurements. For some steps, you'll just need to use your eyes and your tastebuds. 


Sugar Syrup (Attar)

2 cups sugar
1 tsp rosewater (optional)
1 tsp lemon juice


Cornflakes (optional gluten free)
Unsalted butter

Cream base

1L milk
1 cup cornflour (optional gluten free)
600ml thickened cream


1) Bring sugar, lemon juice and water to the boil. Put enough water in so that the sugar is covered by about a centimetre. Ensure that the sugar is dissolved. Boil for approximately 10 minutes. Test the consistency by drizzling the syrup on a chilled plate (See the video below for the consistency). Add the rosewater at the end, if desired.


2) Put the cornflakes in a food processor and let them have it.

They should be fine enough for crumb but course enough for a bit of texture, as below.

3) Melt the butter in a pan that will be large enough to fit the cornflakes.

4) Add the cornflakes, tossing them gently until they are golden brown. Line a 30 cm by 30cm tray with about a third of the toasted cornflakes. Set the other two thirds aside for the top of the knafeh.

NOTE: You could skip this step altogether and simply put knobs of butter on top of the knafeh once completely assembled. Then bake in an oven for 15 minutes, until the butter has melted into the cornflakes.

5) Mix the milk, cornflour and thickened cream in a pot. Stir as soon as the cornflour is added to the mix, to prevent it from sticking to the bottom and burning.

6) Stir baby stir. Adjust the heat according to how confident you are. I like to live on the edge, so I turn that dial up to high. After about five to ten minutes, you will see a few bubbles. They'll suddenly appear and the mixture will be thick, like custard.

7) Pour the mix into your 30x30 cm tray.

I see you there, photobombing onions. You will pay for your ways.

8) Top the cream mix with the remaining toasted cornflakes.

Don't be scared to get your hands dirty! It's the way my Tayta would've done it.

9) Let the knafeh set. If you can't wait and want to eat right away, be warned that the mix will spill. It will be delicious, but it won't be pretty. Wait about half an hour and the consistency will be just right.

10) Cut a square and drizzle that sugar syrup like you're dying to see your dentist. Serve hot or cold, both ways are winners.

TIP: Store your sugar syrup in washed glass jars. You can use it later for your next batch of knafeh, baklava or other Middle Eastern sweets.

If you want to experiment with cheese, you can use this recipe and cheat! Pour out about half of the cream mix, top it with grated mozzarella, then pour the rest of the cream mix on top.
To experiment with semolina, add some to the cream mix as you're boiling and stirring.

Sahtein! And Get Ducked :)

Sunday, 31 July 2016

No Fuss Nutella Doughnuts (And Bonus Mug Cake!)

You've all heard the saying, 'You can't buy happiness, but you can buy a jar of Nutella, and that's almost the same thing'. Well, I take your Nutella jar and I raise you Nutella filled doughnuts. These babies are equal to, and possibly greater than happiness. Did I mention they can be whipped up in 20 minutes?

I love my Nutella like a fat kid loves... Nutella. In fact, I was that fat kid until I discovered some weights and the notion of moderation. I am so obsessed that I can tell you all about its creation, when International Nutella Day is, AND I can show you my collector glass jars from the 90's. Want to know more? Read the Two Ingredient Nutella Brownie blog :)

I've been playing with this particular recipe for about a month. Thanks to the all-knowing Food Technology teacher I work with, self raising flour made its appearance and is here to stay. You can use plain flour if you're after something a little more dense.

  • Nutella
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups self raising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter/ margarine
  • 150mls milk
  • (optional cinnamon/ nutmeg etc)
  • Canola oil for frying
  • Sugar for dusting

1) Spoon small globs of Nutella onto a plate lined with grease proof paper. The size is up to you, however I suggest starting small for your first attempt. Freeze for at least 15 minutes. Once frozen the globs are so user friendly.

2) Beat the eggs and caster sugar until glossy. I use an electric beater for speed. Add your other ingredients, alternating between wet and dry. You want your batter to be soft enough to coat the frozen Nutella easily. Use your discretion when adding or reducing the amount of milk you wish to use.

3) Heat the oil, on a medium/ hot setting. I prefer to shallow fry, for better control when turning the doughnuts over. 

4) Use a dessert spoon to scoop up the batter. Place a Nutella glob in the middle and (very messily) draw some of the batter up and ever the Nutella. The runnier the batter, the easier this is to do.

5) Using your finger, slide the doughnut off the spoon and into the oil. Fry until the bottom is golden brown, or until it's cooked. Turn the doughnut over and repeat. Use the usual toothpick test. If you poke the doughnut and the toothpick comes out clean, you're done. If not, give it a little longer.

6) Cool and drain the doughnuts on grease proof paper.

7) Dust in sugar. 

8) Enjoy!

When you get the hang of this, you can increase the amount of Nutella that you put in each doughnut. You can also fry about 3 or 4 at the same time with relative ease. I have tried the same recipe with jam, and it is almost as delicious. Try your own and be sure to let me know what works. You can't be developing diabetes all on your own.

As for that leftover batter...

Mug Cake

It's as simple as it sounds. Fill a mug with the batter, about a third of the way. I put a dollop of jam in the middle. Microwave for 90 seconds. 

Mug Cake Before Microwaving

Mug Cake After Microwaving

Mug cake... You have no bad angles...

I appreciate you, inside and out.

That's all for now. May yours be as ducking delicious as mine.