Tag Archives: Cooking

RED HOT PEPPER SOUP

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Assalaamu Alaykum folks,

It’s a little known fact that some Muslim men can actually cook… I don’t count myself in their number but I can dabble a bit and as I’ve even the past shared some other recipes from blogs I thought I’d share this one… my ‘Red Hot Pepper Soup.’

So here goes, it seems like it has a lot of ingredients but it’s really easy and simple to make.

Cooking time:
1.5 hours

Serves:
8 – 10 people easily

Ingredients:

  • Large knob of butter
  • 3 medium sized red onions
  • 5-10 pepper corns, 3-5 cloves whole
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • About 5 or 6 Medium sized mushrooms
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of chilli flakes
  • 4 medium to large carrots
  • 2 parsnips
  • Good size handful of green beans
  • 2 Peppers
  • 2 tins of mixed beans, or two tins of two different types of beans
  • 2 tins of tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp of tomato puree
  • 2 tsp of cracked black pepper
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes, or some other stock cubes if you prefer
  • 1.5l of water

Method:

  1. Place a large cooking pot on the hob, medium heat, add the butter and let it melt being careful not to let it burn.
  2. Chop the red onions small and add to the pot when the butter is melted, stir occasionally, you want to soften them up not brown them or caramelize them.
  3. Chop the garlic roughly and add with the whole black pepper corns and cloves.

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4. Chop / slice the mushrooms and add to the pot. I prefer to slice half so has that mushroomly look my wife likes and so can easily be avoided for the kids bowls, as well as finely chopping the other half so it dissolves in the soup so I can sneakily feed it to the kids without them knowing about it.

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5. Allow the onions, garlic, pepper, cloves and mushrooms have cooked for about 5 minutes on a gentle heat. Stir occasionally and if sticking add a little water to the pot to avoid any burning.

6. Chop the carrots and parsnips, at an angle if you like to make it look nicer when cooked and add to the mix, stir in and allow to cook and soften for further 5 minutes whilst you move onto the next step.

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Check out the handmade spice rack in the background made by my mrs from salvaged wood

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7. Cut up the green beans and peppers, add to the pot along with the tomato puree, salt, chilli flakes, and cracked black pepper. Stir and allow to cook for a few more mins, add water again if necessary to prevent sticking.

7. Add beans and tomato tins along with the juice from the tins, vegetable stock cubes, and 1.5l of water. This doesn’t seem like a lot for a large pot but the fluid from the tins also adds to the volume as well.

8. Cover, bring to a simmer and leave it for about 35-45 minutes. Stir occasionally when needed to avoid any of the beans or other vegetables sticking to the bottom of the pot

40-45 minutes is about right if you want it to be soft but not soft, I tend to cook it for 35 minutes so that when I warm it up to eat for a 2nd meal the vegetables are not going to turn mushy.

9. Finally serve up with whatever bread you prefer. My kids prefer crusty french breads with butter on, but trying to be healthy myself I think it goes better with brown bread, whether shop bought or home made.

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So there it is, a very simple and healthy home made soup, very warming, especially if you substitute the chilli flakes with a little scotch bonnet which I like doing sometimes but my kids complain about it being too hot.

Please feel free to share, like and let me know what you think.

Assalaamu Alaykum,

Gingerbeardman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THE SINGLE PARENT GUIDE TO QUICK AND HEALTHY COOKING

Faaizah Asmal Laher has some tips for making family meal preparation a less stressful affair when budgets and time are limited.

Article originally taken from Sisters Magazine – https://www.sisters-magazine.com/2015/12/01/the-single-parent-guide-to-quick-and-healthy-cooking/

single parent guide to cooking

Being a single parent is tough! You’ve got to manage being the sole bread winner, take care of household chores, get the kids to school on time and make sure that the food you’ve served up is nutritious, delicious, edible and quick!

I spoke to a group of single parents not too long ago (both male and female), and one wish they all had was a stay at home shopper-chef just so that they could come home to a ready-cooked, healthy meal. The majority of single parents felt that time was an issue – they needed to do so many things at once that cooking (but also cooking something healthy) was just not a priority! Yet, it was still something they wanted to change, so I showed them how to cook healthy meals, without breaking into a sweat!

Time is the enemy when it comes to preparing healthy meals. A long day at the office, exhaustion from the previous night of sleepless or ill children – it is so easy to reach into the freezer for a prepackaged pizza or a takeaway meal. Sure, that’s OK every once in a while but being able to prepare quick, healthy meals is really as easy as A, B, C!

Always have a plan

Planning in advance will make sure that you are always prepared for the week ahead. Plan a menu for a week to a month in advance. Make sure each meal (breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinner) are on the menu, and each contains a protein, a vegetable, a starch – and don’t forget about fruit for snacks. Include theme nights, for example Italian, Indian, vegetarian or kids night; and don’t forget all those favourite family meals.

Once your menu is set, make a corresponding shopping list. Include items such as long-life milk, cheese (in bulk is cheaper), canned goods like fish and beans; spices, oils and condiments; and dry goods like pasta and rice.

While shopping, stick to your list and shop early in the morning or late in the evening – try to avoid peak traffic times which will just add to wasted time.

Knowing what staple foods you have in your pantry can help you plan a menu that your family will enjoy.

Trawl the internet for recipes that can be cooked in under 30 minutes. Keep a chalk board behind the kitchen door for a weekly menu, and keep a monthly menu and shopping list in your diary. Retain all the menus, shopping lists and recipes – once the wheel is going there is no need to reinvent it. Just repeat favourite dishes every once in a while.

Budget eating can be healthy too

Buying in bulk can save you money! Team up with a friend so that you can split the petrol, and share the babysitting cost for that one big shopping trip once a month. Use retailers that allow you to buy in bulk for a saving, then split the shopping with a friend.

Use methods like canning or freezing summer goods to be used in winter. Frozen vegetables are just as good (some say even better) than fresh vegetables. Stock up on frozen goods if you live far away from a grocer.

Get the kids involved in the kitchen

Among the recommendations made by the American Heart Association for overweight and obese children was the importance of involving kids in the planning, shopping, preparing and serving up of meals at home.

The kitchen can be a fascinating place for children, and it is so important to spend time with them there! It does take extra effort and patience allowing kids to help in the kitchen. Initially they might make a lot of mess and mix up the wrong ingredients, but when they are older and leave the nest, it will be worth it! Cooking with kids can help them get interested in healthy foods they might not try on their own.

Allowing kids into the kitchen not only encourages them to try healthy foods, but it also gives them a sense of encouragement at accomplishing a task that helped contribute to the functioning of their family unit. They will be more likely to sit down to a family meal if they have had a part in its preparation, and this also allows them to spend less time in front of the TV or computer, and have more quality time with the family.

Younger kids can lay the table, older kids can clear up. Young kids can get out ingredients from the pantry and older kids can help slice up veggies, or measure out liquids for a recipe

Use your freezer

Certain meals can be cooked in bulk and frozen in advance to be used on rainy days – for example, lasagna, Bolognese, pasta sauces, soups, breads, calzones, pizza bases, pancakes and cookies.

Frozen fruits can make a delicious smoothie for breakfast, frozen berries make a coolie (just like a pro!) and stale French baguette makes the best French toast!

Appliances makes work easy

Investing in a good food processor or pressure cooker will make preparing and cooking healthier food easier and faster! Do preparation for the week in advance; if you know you will use chopped up onions most days of the week, chop extra onions at the start of the week so that you don’t have to prepare that vegetable again, and it will also save on the washing up! Just 10 minutes on a Monday will give you enough preparation for the rest of the week.

A pressure cooker will allow you to cook a meal quickly while seeing to homework or chores. You will be surprised at how advanced pressure cookers have become since our mums used them. The newer versions are safer, easier and even have timers!
A slow cooker can also be a lifesaver. Throw in a seasoned chicken and vegetables, set the timer and you have a meal waiting for you when you get back home.

Organise Organise Organise!

Yes I know! Most single parents are in their own ways organised already without having me to say it again, but organising your kitchen can cut cooking time by half! Keep utensils you use often close to your stove, clear clutter off the counters so that you can just cook and not have to clear up first. Sort through your ingredients and equipment you will use. Donate or make some extra cash from all those appliances you don’t use – this will help add funds for an appliance you know will actually make your life easier.

Try using the effective suggestions above to make life easier and more fun for you and your children. Meals don’t need to be complicated and elaborate or take hours to prepare. Often the meals that are simple and quick are often the best! You can do it – and you can do it the healthy way!

Faaizah Asmal Laher is a registered dietician in Johannesburg, South Africa. Faaizah’s great passion in life is assisting others to feel and live healthier by showing them how to shop, cook and eat more healthily and to embrace the wonderful benefits of mental and physical wellbeing. Contact her for all your nutrition related queries: faaizah.dietician@gmail.com or visit her blog http://www.faaizahsnutritionlab.wordpress.com

 

 

PLEASANTLY PUNGENT GINGER

Christine Amina Benlafquih invites us to try this aromatic condiment in a myriad of ways.

Post originally from Sisters Magazine – https://www.sisters-magazine.com/2016/03/07/pleasantly-pungent-ginger/

ginger

What comes to mind when you think of ginger? Asian dishes such as teriyaki, baked treats like gingerbread and ginger snaps, or perhaps a beverage along the lines of ginger ale? For many years, that was pretty much the extent of my own encounters with ginger, but today the spice represents considerably more.

Versatility
In my Moroccan kitchen, for example, I use ground ginger almost daily in dishes which run the gamut from savoury soups and stewed veggies to well-seasoned chicken, meat and fish preparations. Use a little, and ginger can be described as fragrant, sweet and peppery; use a lot, and you’ll notice that it’s also a bit fiery.

Blessed
The Qur’an cites ginger as a food of Paradise:
“And they will be given to drink a cup whose mixture is of ginger.” (Al-Insan:17)

There is little to be found in the Sunnah with explicit references to ginger (zanjabeel in Arabic). However, one hadith narrated by Abu Said al’ Khudri shows that the Prophet (SAW) tasted and shared some preserved ginger which he received as a gift from the Byzantine emperor. (Medicine of the Prophet)

Healing
In addition to being a remedy for colds, flus and respiratory infections, ginger is widely recognised as an effective treatment for indigestion, heartburn, diarrhoea, flatulence and nausea. Some pregnant women find that ginger alleviates the symptoms of morning sickness, while some travellers conclude that it’s useful in combatting motion sickness.

While these therapeutic qualities are notable, ginger’s chemical properties go beyond improving how one feels. Ginger is also said to improve the memory, increase sex drive, benefit the circulatory system by reducing cholesterol levels and preventing blood clots, and work as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-fungal and anti-viral. It can be used to treat headaches, muscular and joint inflammation and menstrual cramps.

Usage
Ginger in fresh rhizome and dry, ground form is available all year round. The rhizome can be refrigerated (or peeled, wrapped and frozen) to preserve its shelf-life; dry ginger should be stored in an airtight container and replaced every few months.

Although the flavour and pungency of fresh and dry ginger differ a bit, one can be substituted for the other using a ratio of 4 to 6 measures of freshly grated ginger to every 1 measure of dry.

Appetizing
The plethora of international dishes which call for ginger make it easy to incorporate this sunnah food into our diet. To get started, try these easy recipes:
Ginger and Honey Tea
Fresh ginger tea is a healthy concoction that can aid digestion, soothe an upset stomach and provide relief from cold and flu symptoms. Honey, another sunnah food, adds flavour and additional health benefits.

Ingredients
• 2 ½ cups water
• 1 ½ inch section of fresh ginger
• 2-3 tbsp honey, or to taste

Method
1. Peel the ginger. Cut into thin slices and put it in a small pot with the water.
2. Bring the water to a boil and allow it to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or a bit longer if you prefer a stronger tea.
3. Strain the tea into cups, add honey to taste and serve.

Grilled Ginger Salmon
This Asian-influenced marinade works well with salmon, swordfish or firm fish steaks. You can also try it on chicken or turkey breasts.

Ingredients
• 1 kg salmon
• ½ cup orange juice
• ½ cup soy sauce
• 1/3 cup honey
• 2 tbsp Dijon style mustard (optional)
• 1½ tsp dry ground ginger
• 1½ tsp garlic powder
• Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Method
1. Wash the fish. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, whisking until smooth.
2. Reserve ¼ cup of marinade and set aside.
3. Add the fish to the bowl, turning it over several times to coat it with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours.
4. Remove the fish from the bowl and place over medium heat on a grill (alternatively you can use a grill pan or broiler). Cook for approximately ten minutes each side, basting occasionally with the reserved marinade. Serve.

Christine Amina Benlafquih is an expert on Moroccan Food. Her culinary creations can be found on http://moroccanfood.about.com

RUSTIC EARTHEN KITCHEN CHARMS

clay pot biryani

ARTICLE ORIGINALLY FROM SISTERS MAGAZINE – https://www.sisters-magazine.com/2016/02/07/rustic-earthen-kitchen-charms/

“Are you serious?” my husband looked at me, amazed, as if I had asked for the most unusual thing in the world. I had just asked the waiter, at a fine dining restaurant, if I could take home the empty clay pot that contained the biryaani we had relished minutes ago. My husband had flatly refused to ask the waiter himself, suggesting that he’d buy one for me from the market instead. However, I wanted this biryaani pot because, apart from it being a reminder of the wonderful dinner we had just had, it would also be a good way to recycle.

My interest in clay pots began this summer while vacationing in India. It all started with some cold lassi – a traditional milk and yoghurt drink – served in clay tumblers. While most people would usually just discard the clay container afterwards, I brought it home with me to reuse, and have since been collecting earthenware.

The tradition of pottery in the Asian subcontinent is as old as human civilisation itself and is considered a sensual art form, identified with the feminine qualities of grace and delicacy. During early times, each village had its own potter, who held a respectable place in society because they made a myriad of articles used in the regular household. An example is the clay-made piggy bank that children used to have. This only had a one-way slot for coin insertion so that when the piggy bank was full, the custom was to smash it on the ground and retrieve the collected money.

The main use of clay pottery, however, was for making cooking vessels. These clay pots worked best for dishes that require cooking on a low heat for hours, like mutton curry, goats’ trotters, black lentil curry, etc. Hyderabad, India, is famous for its ‘dum ki biryaani’ that is slow cooked in a huge clay pot. In some parts of India and Bangladesh, there is a special, heavily-spiced fish curry that is cooked only in earthen cauldrons. In Pakistan, women prepare and store pickles in clay jars. Sweets like kheer – rice pudding – is also set, chilled and served in clay bowls.

Cooking in clay pots is a great way to add flavour and reduce fat in our diet. Unlike vessels of other materials, food cooked in clay pots is less likely to stick – thus reducing the need for more oils. The pot is always soaked in water for at least fifteen minutes before use so that it is saturated with water and because clay is a porous material, steam evaporates slowly when it is heated in the oven. During cooking, the food inside the clay pot releases liquid and cooks in its own juices. These juices remain sealed inside the pot until it is completely dry – which is around the time the food has cooked completely – hence adding to the flavour.

With the arrival of modern cooking vessels like non-stick pots, casseroles and pressure cookers, clay pots slowly disappeared from households. Besides, with the fast pace of today’s lifestyle, the slow cooking process in clay pots became quite an inconvenience.

However, it’s nice to see that efforts are being made to rediscover and revive the use of clay pots today, especially in high-end restaurants where food is served in earthenware. There are several advantages to bringing the ancient cooking vessel back: healthy food, being environmentally-friendly, a touch of tradition, jobs for potters and aesthetics (yes, food served in a clay pot is very appealing). In fact, it has gained so much popularity that some restaurants are giving decorative token clay pots for desserts! Finding food served in clay pots in India or Pakistan is common, but I am pleasantly surprised to find them here in the U.A.E – like biryaani, desserts and even tea!

I make an effort to use clay pots regularly because of the health benefits, added flavours and for being eco-friendly. Of course, another important factor is that I take a lot of food pictures for my blog and I know that serving them in traditional clay pots will make the presentation even better. Now, whenever we dine in a restaurant that serves in clay pots, I try to ask the staff if I can take the pot home, and they almost always agree. As a result, I am now the proud owner of six clay cups for tea, two clay bowls for sweets and one gorgeous handi or round-bellied clay pot in my collection – all of them complimentary tokens from restaurants! As much as I love cooking and serving food in them, family members and guests are equally delighted to experience eating out of a clay pot.

Nadia Masood lives in Dubai, UAE and writes about travel, food and photography on her website http://nadiamasood.com.