Saturday, May 14, 2011

Brown Fish Rice

There's nothing Fish-y about this rice, except its name. This is the type of rice Egyptians eat next to Fish or seafood, it gets it's brown color from browned onions.

First minced onions are fried in oil till almost blackened, then water and rice are added. Flavored with cinnamon, this is one unique way to cook rice as a side dish.

Brown Fish Rice Recipe


4 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 medium sized onion, minced finely
1 cup Water
1 1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Cinnamon (or to taste)
1 Dry Bay leaf
1 cup rice, rinsed


1. Place the oil and onion in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.

2. It is important to keep stirring the onion for it to brown evenly.

3. Keep stirring, and if it's browning too fast or unevenly, lower the heat.

4. At this stage have the water ready, as the onions will get from golden to light brown in color, but continue on stirring.

5. When it reaches dark brown in color it is almost done, it's important to keep stirring so it doesn't burn. Be careful 'cause it goes from brown to black in a blink of an eye, which is what we DON'T want.

6. When it has reached dark brown and the onions started to sizzle frantically, water is added. Be careful because water might splash when it is added, this is a good time to make use of kitchen gloves.

7. Add salt, cinnamon and Bay leaf to water, and stir to combine.

8. Add rice to water and cover with lid, and bring to a boil. About 5 minutes.

9. Open lid after 5 minutes, if water is almost evaporated and the brown onions are visible on top of rice, stir through with a fork a couple of times to incorporate onions, lower heat and continue to cook for 15-20 or until rice is done.

Serve next to a seafood dish.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake, or is it?

I had leftover half a box of white cake mix that was about to expire and I hate throwing things away so I came up with small but tasty idea.


For Cake:
1 Half White Cake Mix (About 9 Oz.)
1/2 Cup plus 2 1/2 Tbs Water
2 1/2 Tbs Canola Oil
2 Eggs

For Filling:
1/4 or to taste Strawberry Curd

For Whipped cream Frosting:
Adapted from Joy of baking,

1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy whipping cream
1/2 Tbs (15 grams) Vanilla Sugar

Strawberry slices for Decoration


For Cake:

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, butter and flour a 9" x 9" pan and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, add cake mix, water, oil and eggs. Beat on low until combined, then beat on medium speed for two minutes.
3. Pour mixture in pan, and bake for 25-30 min or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
4. Cool on a wire rack.

For Frosting:

1. In a bowl place the whipping cream and sugar.
2. Cover and chill the bowl and wire whisk in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
3. When chilled, beat the mixture until stiff peaks form.


1. When cake is completely cooled, divide into 3 equal pieces.
2. Cut each piece into two layers. This means you will have 6 layers of cake.
3. On a serving plate place two layers apart (not on top of each other), add filling to them, then add another 2 layers on top of each. Repeat till you have to cakes with three layers.
4. Cut each cake into two halves so you have four Gateux.
5. Frost each one and decorate with strawberries.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Egyptian Rice with Vermicelli or Roz Bil Sha3reyyah

This has got to be my favorite Rice recipe.
Vermicelli is a type of pasta that is thinner than spaghetti, it comes in different lengths. The one Egyptians use in this recipe is the shortest type of Vermicelli (1 mm) it's easily found in supermarkets in Egypt. And if you live in Cairo, I suggest two brands: Either Jenan (Made in UAE) or Bizum Mushtak (Made in Turkey).

If you live abroad and you cannot find this short type called for, you can always buy the longer type and break it into 3-4cm lengths.

This rice goes great with potato dishes, vegetable stews and Meat or Chicken. Egyptians usually eat a different type of rice with Fish & Seafood dishes.

Rice with Vermicelli:

2 Tbs Butter
1/4 Cup Vermicelli
1 Cup White Rice
Salt to taste
1-2 Bay Leaves
1 1/4 Cup water


1. In a medium-small sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter.

2. Add Vermicelli, stirring constantly until browned. making sure not to over brown or burn the pasta.

3. Add Rice and salt, stirring constantly for a minute until combined.

4. Add water to sauce pan, throw in bay leave.

5. Cover and set heat to high.

6. After about 10 minutes or when rice begins to form holes (Air bubbles), reduce heat to low and let sit for ten more minutes. Taste for doneness.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Basic Tomato Sauce

Everybody's got their own variation of their go-to Tomato Sauce.

My mother makes hers with Mushrooms, green peppers and usually canned tomatoes. My grandmother makes hers basically based on tomato paste and my sister makes hers with Onions. And all of them have their different version for when they add minced meat to the sauce.

I'd never add minced meat to my tomato sauce, for some reason I'm generally not a big fan of minced meat.

We eat a whole lot of pasta at home, especially with red sauce, it's the fastest thing when I'm in a hurry and Mr.WD40 couldn't love Spaghetti with red sauce more.
So every three or four weeks I would make one big batch of 3 to 4 kilos of tomatoes pour in a large glass container and freeze for the month. I could divide it into portions and freeze in freezer bags but I don't have the space for that. It really does save me so much time, I just defrost and cut into the block of sauce and heat in a small sauce pan before adding to pasta.

The following recipe doubles as my Pizza sauce recipe as well, I only add dried basil to the sauce before topping the pizza with it.


3 kilos Tomatoes (Washed, peeled and seeded.)
3 Tbs Olive Oil
8 Garlic Cloves (minced, also to taste. Depends on how much you like garlic.)
1 Tbs Salt
1 Tbs Pepper
1/2 Tbs Dried Rosemary
1 tsp Chili Powder (Or to taste.)
2-3 TBS Tomato Paste
2 Tbs Oregano


1. Blend tomatoes in your stand mixer on a medium speed for a few seconds, let it be lumpy, careful not to over blend.

2. In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil and Garlic over medium heat.

3. Before the Garlic begins to color pour the blended tomatoes into the sauce pan, and let it cook on medium-high heat until mixture turns deep red and bubbly. Stir a few times.

4. Add Salt and Pepper, Stir to combine. Add spices, and cook for a few more minutes on low heat.

5. Add Tomato Paste and continue to cook until mixture reduces and thickens.

6. Turn off heat and let it cool before pouring it into a container and freezing it.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Koshary or Egyptian Chilli, in details..

Koshary is a popular traditional Egyptian national dish. It consists of a base of rice, brown lentils, chickpeas, pasta and a topping of spicy tomato salsa. Fried onions and a garlic-vinegar dressing are usually added as garnish. Koshary is a vegetarian dish, the food of choice for poor people in Egypt and tourists as well.

One of the first places a foreigner in Egypt would want to visit would most definitely be downtown Cairo's Koshary El Tahrir; one of many restaurants specializing in this dish.
Koshary is so popular that when Egyptians wanted something like America's Finest News Source, The Onion they came up with Egypt's Most Reliable News source: El Koshary Today!

However most Egyptians would probably never cook Koshary at home. It's much easier to buy a large bucket of ready made Koshary for 5 EGP at Koshary Hind in Korba, which you could also have delivered to your doorstep. Or at least that's what my Mom suggested I do when I asked her on the phone if she knows how to prepare Koshary.
And while I realize she wanted to save me the trouble of going through an easy, but long process, I wasn't going to give up on trying to impress Mr.WD40 with my Koshary skills just yet. And it was so worth it, after he took the first taste of my very first attempt he admitted that that was the best plate of Koshary he's ever had in his life. Ha!
At first I really did think that it's a very long recipe to put together, but after making it, I was kinda relieved and surprised by how easy it actually was. One thing that sucks about this recipe is how many different saucepans it requires! So be prepared to face a full sink after all is said and done.

Egyptian Koshary Recipe:
This recipe was given to me by Iman, my grandmother's maid.
Serves: 4


Tomato Salsa
Fried Onions
Garlic-Vinegar Dressing (optional)

Tomato Salsa:

4 Tbs Oil
2 Onions, minced
2 Jalapenos, finely chopped
3.5lb Tomatoes, washed, peeled, seeded and processed in a food processor
1 1/2 Tbs Salt (or to taste)
1/2 Tbs Black Pepper
2-4 Tbs Chili Powder (or to taste)
2 Tbs Tomato paste


1. In a large saucepan, heat oil and fry onions in oil until tender. Add Jalapeno and stir around for a couple of minutes.
2. Add tomatoes to pot, and increase heat until it's bubbly and tomatoes reach a darker red color. About ten minutes.
3. Add salt, pepper, chili and stir until incorporated.
4. Add tomato paste and stir. Let simmer for 10-15 more minutes, or until mixture reduces and is thickened into a salsa.
Tip: You can definitely make the salsa ahead and keep it in the freezer for when you plan to make Koshary.


2 Cups Cooked Rice with Vermicelli, but follow these changes:

1. Cook rice in oil instead of butter.
2. Increase the ratio of Vermicelli to rice to 1:1.
3. Don't brown the Vermicelli in oil so much before adding the rice. Go light on the browning, in other words.
4. Omit the bay leaves.


2 tsp Oil
1 Medium Onion, minced
3/4 Cup Brown Lentils, rinsed
1 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
2 Cups Water


1. In a medium saucepan, fry onions in oil until translucent.
2. Add lentils, Cumin and salt. Stir for a minute to combine.
3. Add water, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally until lentils until are tender, but not mushy.
Tip: If water is evaporated but lentils are still undercooked, you can add a little more water until lentils are completely cooked. Be careful not to add too much water though.
4. Set cooked lentils aside.


1 Cup Ditalini or Elbow Pasta
150g Spaghetti or Spaghettini
Boiling Water


Boil both pastas individually according to directions and set aside.
Tip: Don't cook pasta al dente. It has to be a little more tender than that. It shouldn't really bite like it should in an Italian pasta dish.


1 Cup Cooked Chickpeas or canned chickpeas drained.

Fried Onions:

4 Onions
1/2 Cup Flour

1. Cut onion in half, thinly slice each half.

2. Put flour in a bowl and add sliced onions, toss to coat.

3. Put floured onions into a sieve and shake off any excess flour.

4. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking.

5. Working in batches, add onions to hot oil, let sit for 20 seconds without stirring.

6. Stir onions constantly until browned and crisp, about 7 minutes so it doesn't over brown. Be careful not to burn them.

7. Transfer onions using a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain oil and set aside.
Tips: If you happen to burn the smaller pieces, just discard them and add the large unburnt ones to your stack of fried onions.

Garlic Vinegar Dressing: (Optional)

4 Cloves Garlic, minced
3 Tbs Vinegar
1/2 Tbs Oil


Add all ingredients together in an oil bottle. Shake until thoroughly mixed.

When it comes to a plate of Koshary, to each their own. For instance Mr.WD40 prefers a small portion of lentils mixed with rice and double that in pasta. He likes it drenched in extremely hot sauce and all the fried onions he could get, but opts to skip the garlic-vinegar dressing. So it's actually a matter of preference when it comes to serving one's own plate, which only seems to be another reason to cook one's own Koshary!

Koshary Assembly:

1. Toss Rice and Lentils together to combine.
2. Put a portion of the rice and lentil mixture in each plate.
3. Toss together the two types of Pasta, and divide them between the serving plates.
4. Top with desired amount of Salsa.
5. Add a handful of chickpeas on top of the salsa.
6. Garnish with Fried Onions.
7. Add a splash of the Garlic-Vinegar Dressing.
8. Mix it all up.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My Birthday Cake

Ever since I saw this Neapolitan Cake on Sweetapolita's most wondrous blog, I have decided it would be my birthday cake.

So I made it for myself.

I just love how it turned out, and I'm so happy with myself for putting it together. I enjoyed the long process of it coming together, it was exactly the type of excitement I was craving. A layer cake made my day!

But what was really a keeper was the ButterCream Frosting, it's the best I ever had.

Strawberry Party Frosting
Makes enough to fill and frost a 3-layer (or 5-6 thin layers) 9″ cake.


1 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
8 cups confectioners’ sugar
120 ml whipping cream
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon water
pinch of salt
Chosen gel coloring


1. In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar for about 2 minutes.
2. Add the vanilla, water, whipping cream, salt and whip on high speed until fluffy and smooth, about 4 minutes.
3. Add color and mix until well blended.
4. If the consistency is too thick, add more water 1 teaspoon at a time, then whip again for 30 seconds.

Source: Sweetapolita

Saturday, February 19, 2011

EmerilĂ­s Creole Seasoning

Chef Emeril Lagasse is probably my favorite, I got to know him through the foodnetwork, his recipes never fail me. One thing I always keep a handy Jar of is his creole seasoning recipe. I use it in pasta, meat dishes or whatever I can add it to. I love it.


2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried leaf thyme


Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

Yield: about 2/3 cup