Showing posts sorted by date for query "cooked in translation". Sort by relevance Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by date for query "cooked in translation". Sort by relevance Show all posts

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Manousah or Arabic Pizza for Cooked in Translation

Almost every ancient country or ethnic group has a flatbread, whether baked in an oven or cooked on the top of a griddle.  I might even go so far as to say they all do, but then I would have to do some research before posting this.  So let’s just agree that almost all do.  (Right off the top of my head, I give you tortillas from Mexico, matzo from Israel, injera from Ethiopia and naan from India.)  Normally I would be all about the researching but, frankly, I have spent many of my waking hours this past last week responding to concerned friends and family who are worried about our safety here in Cairo.  Let’s just get it out there:  WE ARE FINE!  The demonstrations all over the region and especially the tragic murders in Libya are extremely upsetting but, as for Cairo, aside from protestors in Tahrir Square, the rest of the city is calm and peaceful and we are in no danger whatsoever.  I continue to pray for total peace in the region.  

Now back to our regularly scheduled Cooked in Translation post where the recipe prompt is pizza.  The challenge set this month by our host, Paola, over at Italian in the Midwest is to recreate pizza from a new cultural or ethnic perspective.  Which is what brought me to flatbreads in the first place.  Because what is pizza but an oven-baked flatbread traditionally topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and possibly a few other choice ingredients?  I decided to give this a Middle Eastern spin, making my crust with toasted cumin and topping it with roasted eggplant paste made with spices and garlic and tahini – that is to say, baba ganoush – and then adding feta and black olives and roasted red peppers.  Egypt does indeed have its own pizza, called manousah, but I couldn’t find one that used baba ganoush as a sauce.  I did find recipes with yogurt and feta and even tomato sauce or honey.  So, this baby is authentic nowhere but that doesn’t stop it from being delicious! 

Ingredients for two pizzas
For the crust:
4 1/2 cups flour
1/4 oz or 7g dried yeast (I used one envelope of Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise.)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon whole cumin

For the baba ganoush:
1 large or 2 medium eggplants
1/4 cup or 60ml tahini
3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Sea salt, to taste

For the additional toppings:
7 oz or 200g feta (I used sheep’s milk feta but your favorite will do nicely.)
1 large red bell pepper
1 teaspoon ground sumac 
1/4 cup black olives (about 14-16) or more if you love them
Olive oil
Good handful fresh flat-leaf parsley

First we will make the dough so it has time to rise. 

Toast your cumin seeds in a dry non-stick skillet over a medium fire.  Keep shaking them so they don’t burn.  This takes just a few minutes.  Set aside.

Put about half of your flour in the mixing bowl and add the yeast, salt and 1 1/2 cups or 355ml very warm water. 

Mix on low until all of the water is incorporated and you have a very thin batter.   Scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Beat on medium for two minutes.

Add in the rest of your flour a little at a time, along with the toasted cumin, switching to the bread hook, if you have one, when the dough gets too stiff for the regular beater/s.  If you don’t have a bread hook, knead the dough by hand until it is stretchy and smooth. 

Drizzle a little olive oil into the bowl and roll the dough into a ball and turn it around in the oil.  Cover and set aside in a warm place to rise.

Now on to the baba ganoush. 

Preheat your oven to 375°F or 190°C.   Roast the eggplant on the stove top if you have a gas stove or on a barbecue pit.  I know this looks scary, but an Indian friend taught me this method and she swore by it.  It really does work!

You want to keep turning the eggplant until all sides are charred and the skin is cracking. 

Place your eggplants in a pan in the preheated oven.  Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the eggplants are soft.

 Turn the eggplants over halfway through.

Roast your red bell pepper on the stove or barbecue pit, just as you did the eggplant.   When it is blackened all over, pop it in a plastic bag and tie a knot.  (The steam will help loosen the skin and make it easy just to slide off.)   Set aside.

Meanwhile, mince your garlic and roughly chop your parsley and set them aside. 

When the eggplants are soft, remove them from the oven and transfer them to a plate  Allow them to cool enough to handle.  Turn the oven up so it can preheat to 400°F or 200°C.

Peel the eggplants and cut the stem end off.  Put the flesh in a medium bowl and mash with a fork.

Add in the rest of the baba ganoush ingredients.  Stir well.  Set aside.

By now your dough should have almost doubled.  Punch it down and divide into two equal halves.  (These ingredients will make two pizzas, probably with baba ganoush leftover, if you don’t spread it on too thickly.)

Oil a baking pan and stretch one piece of the dough out by hand - as thin or thick as you like it.  We prefer thin to thick.  And remember that it will rise some more as it bakes. 

Pop this in the oven for about eight minutes.  The goal is to cook the bottom enough so that the crust slides around easily on the baking pan.

While the crust bakes, remove the skin from the roasted bell pepper.  Cut the stem end off, remove the seeds and cut it into strips.  Drain the olives of any liquid and dry them off.

Crumble your feta with a knife or fork.

Remove the crust from the oven and top with some baba ganoush and half of the feta, olives and bell pepper.  Sprinkle with half of the sumac and drizzle on some olive oil.

Slide the pizza into the oven, off of the pan and directly onto the oven rack or shelf.  Bake until the crust is golden brown and the feta is melted, about 15 more minutes.

Remove from the oven by reversing the process, grabbing the edge of the pizza crust and sliding it back on the baking tray.

Top with chopped parsley and drizzle on a little olive oil.  (Repeat the whole process for the second pizza.)

I like to put my pizza on a wooden cutting board at this point because I think the wood absorbs some of the steam and keeps the bottom from losing its crunch.  But you can leave it in the pan, if you’d like.  Cut into slices and serve.


If you would like to learn more about Cooked in Translation, you can find the instructions to join here at The German Foodie. 

To check out the other delicious Cooked in Translation pizza posts, follow these links.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Brazilian Fishcakes with Molho

I like to make fishcakes whenever I have leftover cooked fish, sometimes from a whole fish we’ve put on the barbecue or baked in the oven. Turn leftover fish into Brazilian fishcakes, for a whole new meal your family will love. 

This is my first time to take part in Cooked in Translation and our host for this month is the lovely Soni Sinha (which means she gets to choose the international dish we will interpret) from Soni’s Food for Thought.  She has chosen fishcakes!  But you probably guessed that from my title.  My mind went immediately to the bolinhos de bacalau or cod balls  (Doesn’t it sound better in Portguese?  Most things do.) we loved when we lived in Brazil.  Salted cod is soaked until it is tender again, then flaked and mixed with mashed potatoes and seasonings.  Little balls of this mixture are deep-fried to a golden crust.  I am not a fan of deep-frying, at least at home, so I decided to make the mixture, form it into patties and pan-fry, adding the typical Brazilian molho or sauce to finish.  Fishcakes are a wonderful use of leftover fish so, instead of salted cod, I used grilled Grouper, but you could use any flakey fish.  Gotta say, these got good reviews at home and I would make this again! 

For the fishcakes:
About 2 cups or 225g cooked fish, deboned
7 oz or 200g potatoes
1 small onion
1 clove garlic
2 fresh chilies
Small bunch cilantro or coriander leaves
Sea salt
Black pepper
1 egg

For the molho:
1 medium tomato
1 small green bell pepper
1 small onion
1 medium lime (or two tablespoons juice)
1/8 – 1/4 cup or 30-60ml Olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper

Using a couple of forks, pull your fish into small pieces.  This particular Grouper was a big guy and needed a knife to cut him up.  It was the weirdest thing because he was definitely not overcooked but even his skin was tough.  His flavor, though, was outstanding.

Peel and cube your potatoes and put them to boil in lightly salted water.

Finely minced your onions, fresh chilies and garlic cloves.

Rinse the cilantro and remove any thick and woody stems. Gather it up in a small ball.  Finely mince it as well, soft stems and all.

Meanwhile, your potatoes are probably cooked.  Make sure a fork goes into the cubes very easily.  Yes?  Okay, then drain out the water and mash the potatoes until very smooth.  Set aside to cool for a few minutes.  I removed mine from the hot pot after mashing so that they would cool faster.

Mix together the fish and vegetables, including the cooled potatoes, and add a light sprinkle of salt and a couple of good grinds of black pepper.   Stir well.

Add in your one egg and mix thoroughly.

Divide the mixture evenly into four patties.

Dampen your hands and use them to form patties with the mixture.  Rest them on a plate covered with cling film.  The cling film helps them not stick to the plate and also gives you a way to get under them without mashing the beautiful patty when removing to fry.

Cover the patties with cling film and chill for 30 minutes (or until you are ready to eat.)

To make the molho, cut your tomato in half and remove the seeds.  Do the same with your bell pepper.  Cut them both into small pieces.

 Peel and dice the onion.

Mix all three together and add a good sprinkle of sea salt and a generous few grinds of fresh black pepper.

Squeeze your lime into the bowl – or if your lime has a lot of seeds, into another bowl so you can remove the seeds before adding.

Drizzle in olive oil and stir, tasting occasionally to see if more is needed.   Set aside.

When you are ready to eat, drizzle a little olive oil into a non-stick pan and gently place the fish cakes in the oil.  Cook over a medium heat and put on a lid so that the insides of the patties will warm as well.

Allow to brown on the first side before trying to turn them over.

Turn a couple of times until both sides are nicely browned and the patties are heated through.

Serve topped with a couple of spoonsful of the molho.

If you want to go completely Brazilian, the full meal could include black beans, rice and farofa, which is manioc flour, toasted with butter and seasoned with garlic.   It can sometimes be found online or in Latin American shops.  Or if you are in Cairo, in my freezer.


And to take the Cooked in Translation one step farther, the next day,  I made a sandwich, spreading homemade hummus and fresh habanero pepper sauce inside half of a pita bread and filling it with crumbled fishcake topped with molho, adding a little Middle Eastern flair to the spicy Brazilian fish.  Good food has no borders!  (And isn't that the point?)