For the Love of Spices!!!


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Spices and presentation are what give each and every single dish in any cooking, it’s personality. This is my opinion. There are indeed many dishes around the world that are similar to one another, from each country, and this is for sure. One of the biggest differences, to me, are the spices. I love them. I hoard them ahahahaha….some women have a love of shoes and clothes, not this one…Mine is spices. I have the messiest spice cabinet ever but I think I have every single spice from here to Iraq and back. I just can not get enough. If a spice becomes missing from over use, I can tell it is not there and it does not feel right. So, these are some of the spices used in Iraqi cooking.

The Iraqi Kebob….no one does it like Iraq


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There honestly isn’t a kabob I have ever had with as much heart and soul as the Iraqi Kabob. It honestly requires a great deal of skill and patience, although it looks easy and fast, it is not. The men, either my husband or our family friend Ahmed, make the kabob. Here where we live, my husband has a life time friend who owns the “halal” (slaughtered accourding to Islamic rules) store ad prepares the special ground mix of meat and fat used to form these mouth watering perfect ground meat rolls that go from the fire to your plate and into your stomach within 5 minutes flat…..only because they are amazing. So, a typical recipe for them would be something like this:

 

3 lbs of an equal mix of ground lamb and ground beef…the fattier the better for kebob

1 onion grated up

1/4 c of bread crumbs

1 tsp or more depending on taste, of salt and black pepper

some people add some allspice, but we do not. the fire gives it the flavor

if you want to be all traditional, get a whole onion and like 3 whole tomatoes to barbecue as well

you will need the long kebob sticks and form the meat around each one making sure your hands stay wet while doing so

and place them on the fire with a fan pointed at the flames to keep a good temp and fire going

line a large plate with a piece of the tanoor bread or parsley (my fav)

each kebob that is done after flipping and cooking, gently set on the bed of bread or parsley and sprinkle with sumac

cover with another layer of bread to keep the heat and flavor.

continue until all the meat is used up

we sever ours with pickle mixes and breads……this is truly an awesome meal.

Fatayer-Meat/Spinach Pies


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Ingredients

Pastry

2 Cups hot water

2 Cups hot milk

4 Tbsp. shortening

4 Tbsp. white sugar

2 Tbsp. salt

2 Packages instant yeast

10-12 Cups flour

Filling

Ground lamb

Ground beef

Minced onion

Salt and pepper

Method

Preheat oven to 400 F.

In a large bowl, place water, milk, shortening and sugar (let melt).

In another large bowl place 6 cups of flour, salt, yeast and mix well.

Add flour mixture into liquid and mix.  Add remaining flour a little at a time until you get the right consistency. (It is best to have the dough a little sticky)

Knead well.

Let rest for 10 minutes then cut the dough as if you were going to make rolls. Knead each piece and let rise until each piece double in size.

Now roll each piece out as thin as you can in a circle and add a small dollop of mixture in the center and spread it.

Pick two sides of the dough together and pinch tight as if you were making a turnover. Shape in a triangle and place on a cookie sheet.

Bake until light brown (Do not over cook as the dough will become tough).

Brush with melted butter once out of the oven and let cool on rack.

Sesame Tea Biscuits


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Sesame Tea Biscuits:

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1  1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
flour for kneading dough
oil for cookie sheets

Mix the flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl, Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the eggs and vanilla to the sugar-butter and mix well until fluffy. Add the flour 1/2 cup at a time to the egg-butter mixture. Mix well after each addition.

Place the dough on a floured surface and knead until smooth. Take small amounts of dough (about 1 Tbs) and shape into little loaves. Dip each cookie loaf into the milk and then roll in sesame seeds until well coated. Place on oiled cookie sheet and bake at 350F for 15 minutes or until browned. Remove from the tray and allow to cool.

Chocolate chip walnut banana bread…to die for


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2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg

1  1/8 cup sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 Tbsp buttermilk (I used regular milk)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3 large ripe bananas~mashed

3/4 cup chopped walnuts for inside the bread

1/2 cup chopped walnuts for on top-i always use more

3 big handfuls semi-sweet chocolate chips

Pre heat over to 325*  Grease and flour loaf pan.

Blend flour, baking soda and salt …set aside

Mix egg, sugar and oil until combined…add the flour mixture. When blended add the milk, vanilla and mashed bananas and mix until combined.

Fold in walnuts and chocolate chips.

Pour into loaf pan.

Top batter with remaining walnuts.

Bake 45 – 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out pretty clean.

Cool for 10 minutes

Mini cake/cheesecake bites


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This is a recipe that I was searching for but could not find so I put them together to make these delicious little bites…..

cheesecake part

4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup milk
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C)

In a large bowl, mix cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Blend in milk, and then mix in the eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate. Mix in sour cream, vanilla and flour until smooth.

set it aside

Cake:
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa, divided
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped $
Cooking spray $
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar $
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract $
3 large egg whites $
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
8 ounces cake flour (about 2 cups)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda $
1/2 teaspoon salt

To prepare cake, combine 1 cup boiling water and 1/2 cup cocoa. Add 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate; stir until smooth. Cool to room temperature.
Place 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, 6 tablespoons butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed 1 minute. Add egg whites, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add sour cream; beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture and cocoa mixture alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat just until combined.

set aside

i used the small cupcake wrappers and did about a tsp of cheesecake mix then a teaspoon of cake mix on top for each one.

when you bake them, have a cookie sheet filled with water under them so the steam helps them cook.
after they are done…cherry on top of each one held on by a small amount of chocolate frosting.

Banana Pistachio Cake-Kekat al-Mouz wal Fistiq


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This is a new recipe I tried out from a wonderful cookbook given to me by an amazing friend.
This cake has 3 layers with a cream filling, bananas and pistachios in each layer.

For the cake:

1/2 c oil

1 1/2 c granulated sugar

3 eggs 1 c mashed bananas or about 3 medium bananas

2 tsp rosewater

1 tsp vanilla

2 1/2 c all purpose white flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2/3 c milk or buttermilk

1/2 c chopped toasted nuts

for filling:

1 c chilled whipping cream

2 tbsp powdered sugar

1 tsp rosewater

thin slices of bananas

Icing:

1/2 c packed brown sugar

1/4 c whipping cream

3 tbsp butter

1/2 c powdered sugar

1 tsp rosewater

Garnish with banana slices and ground pistachios

to make the cake itself, mix oil, sugar, and eggs for 2 mins. Add the mashed bananas, rose water, and vanilla. Mix well.  Then Mix in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Do not over beat the mixture just make sure it is mixed well enough to be combined. Fold in nuts if used.

Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans, make sure to evenly divide the batter between the two. Put into a preheated 375F oven for about 30 mins or until toothpick comes out clean. Completely cool.

The filling is made by having a bowl already chilled and whipping the cream in it until it holds soft peaks, or can somewhat stand on it’s own.  Add sugar and rosewater and whip it together until stiff peaks form. You may want to use cool whip instead and if so just add the rosewater to it.

Cakes should be totally cooled and you want to slice them in 1/2 horizontally so you have 4 layers….spreading the filling on each layer with banana slices placed neatly. stack your layers.

The Icing is made by using a small sauce pan and combining sugar, cream and butter and bring mixture to a boil while stirring and making sure the sugar dissolves, then boil for about 2 more minutes. Let it cool to room temp and add powdered sugar and rosewater stirring until it is smooth. Immediately spread on the surface of the cake allowing it to drip down the sides of the cake. Sprinkle pistachios on top and decorate as you’d like. Enjoy!!!!!