Monthly Archives: September 2012

Guacamole Salad

 

If you saw the earlier post, you know I made this salad to go along with the Chili Pie.  A great pairing, and this salad would work equally well with many dishes.  It would even be a great light main dish, you could grill some chicken and add it in if you’re the type who needs some form of meat in your salad to call it lunch.  This recipe is really easy, really light and tasty.  Enjoy!

Adapted from Ina Garten

Guacamole Salad:

Ingredients

  • 1 small container cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and 1/2-inch diced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup small diced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced jalapeno peppers, seeded (2 peppers)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (2 limes)
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 ripe Hass avocados, seeded, peeled, and 1/2-inch diced

Directions

Place the tomatoes, yellow pepper, black beans, red onion, jalapeno peppers, and lime zest in a large bowl. Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, salt, black pepper, garlic, and cayenne pepper and pour over the vegetables. Toss well.

Just before you’re ready to serve the salad, fold the avocados into the salad. Check the seasoning and serve at room temperature.

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Filed under Healthy, Salads

Chili Pie

Otherwise known as tamale pie, I like the name chili pie more because it really reflects what this hearty dinner is about.  It’s about chili, baked with a cornbread crust on top.  It’s chili pie! And its genius.  The chili part was wonderfully spiced, thick and fulfilling the perfect soon to be winter comfort food.  The cornbread gives a nice slightly sweet touch to overall dish, and the nice addition of a starch conveniently baked into the dish.   A possible addition I’d make is to add some shredded cheddar cheese to the cornbread dough itself, since the cheese that melted in with the meat mixture was kind of lost.  I’d definitely recommend this as a dinner or lunch entree, and it makes a lot!

Chili Pie adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

For the Filling:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
1½ pounds ground beef
1½ cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1 can (14.5-ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
3 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (adjust to heat preferences)
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional, gives a smoky flavor)
4 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ cup sliced black olives
120 grams cheddar cheese shredded ounces

For the Cornbread Topping:
1½ cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup whole milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional, just thought it would be a nice add in)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C).

2. Making the Filling: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil until hot. Add the onion, green pepper and jalapeños, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

3. Reduce the heat to medium and add the ground beef to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally to break up the meat, until browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Once the meat is browned, add the onion mixture back to the pan. Stir in the corn, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin and salt. Stir well to ensure that the spices and the tomato paste are evenly distributed. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand while preparing the cornbread topping.

4. Make the Cornbread Topping: Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients over the cornmeal mixture and stir together until barely incorporated.

5. Assemble & Bake the Pie: Stir the olives and shredded cheese into the beef mixture and pour it into a 9×13-inch baking dish, smoothing the top. Pour the cornbread batter over the filling, using a spatula to spread it into an even layer. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. (My oven runs hot, so it was done at 25 minutes) Allow the pie to rest for 15 minutes before serving. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and some black olives scattered on top if desired.

You might notice in the pictures this amazing guacamole salad I served it with.  It was the perfect match, and I loved the recipe.  I’ll be repeating it a lot! Stay tuned and the recipe will be posted.

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Filed under Main Meals, Meat

Cinnamon Sugar Spicy Nuts- Most addictive snack ever

 

 

This is a very useful blog post.  Why?  Because these nuts will make everyone love you.  They fill the house with the most amazing scent, you most likely have all the ingredients, they take 5 minutes of actual work and they make a big amount of the most addictive snack ever.  They are a great thing to take along to housewarmings, parties, gatherings, movie nights, basically any occasion in which people are gathered and eating.  You can fill pretty jars with these, tie a nice ribbon on it and they make the perfect affordable party favor.  You can also adjust what you add, I like mine with a bit of heat, and I’d like them a bit saltier but I know my family don’t like the extra salt so I kept it at a lower level.  They are crunchy, sweet, a little salty, and I dare you to stop at a handful.  Enjoy!

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen:

Sugar-and-Spice Candied Nuts
1/3 cup dark-brown sugar
2/3 cup white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt (I added only around 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt, sea salt is more salty then kosher salt but I’d still increase this to 3/4 teaspoon next time)
Generous pinch of cayenne pepper (I also added around 1/4 teaspoon of paprkia to give a smoky flavor)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pound walnut or pecan halves or whole peeled hazelnuts (I used walnuts, almonds would also be amazing)
1 egg white, room temperature
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 300 degrees (150 degrees C). Mix sugars, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon, making sure there are no lumps; set aside. Beat egg white and water until frothy but not stiff. Add walnuts, and stir to coat evenly. Sprinkle nuts with sugar mixture, and toss until evenly coated. Spread sugared nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet fitted with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven, and separate nuts as they cool. When completely cool, pour the nuts into a bowl, breaking up any that stick together.  If you want to store them, keep them in a jar and keep snacking on them whenever the urge strikes you.  I’ve used these on sundaes, I’d love to use these in a salad with goat cheese, and experiment however else you will!

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Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

I needed to make something for a friends house, it needed to be awesome, and I needed to have the ingredients beause I was too lazy to go to the supermarket.  Voila! I was led to this recipe which is definitely going to be repeated many times.  What’s great about them is that they are really easy, don’t take much time at all, but look like they are hard to make and take forever! Now, you need to make these because:

1. They are chocolate cookies stuffed with a creamy peanut butter mixture.

2. You probably already have the ingredients, and they are super easy.

3. THEY ARE CHOCOLATE COOKIES STUFFED WITH PEANUT BUTTER!

Now, let’s get started!

Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

For the Cookies:

1½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

½ cup granulated sugar (plus more for rolling)

½ cup light brown sugar (I didn’t have so I used dark brown)

¼ cup creamy peanut butter

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Filling:

¾ cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup powdered sugar (Recipe called for 3/4 cup, but I didn’t want it to be too sweet)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.

3. With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream together the butter, sugars and peanut butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat to combine. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture and mix until combined.

4. In a separate medium bowl, mix together the peanut butter and powdered sugar for the filling until smooth.  Taste sweetness, and add more if you want.  I like adding less because then the peanut butter flavor really shines through, with a touch of saltiness that adds a lot to the cookie.

5. In a small bowl, put some extra granulated sugar for rolling the cookies.

6. Use a medium cookie scoop (or heaping tablespoon) of cookie dough and flatten it with your hands. Take about 1 teaspoon of the peanut butter filling (or a small cookie scoop) and place it in the center of the chocolate dough. Wrap the chocolate dough around the peanut butter center, pressing to seal.  I don’t have cookie scoops so used a tablespoon and a teaspoon.  Add a heaping teaspoon of peanut butter, I didn’t add enough and had a little filling left over. Roll the cookie into a ball and roll in the sugar. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Flatten each cookie slightly with the palm of your hand.

7. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.

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Filed under Cookies, Desserts

Oreo Tunneled Bundt Cake

For me bunt cakes are one of my favorite cakes to bake. They look stunning, not like plain old sheet cake. Also, they are easy to make, not like those layered cakes which need a special occasion to really shine. This bunt cake has an added bonus of an Oreo cream cheese filling sandwiched between two layers of moist, gooey chocolate cake.

Of course I forgot to take a picture after we sliced it so you could see the ribbon of cream  cheese running through the cake, I guess I was too busy stuffing my face! But you have to trust me, you will love it. Just picture the creamy filling in stark contrast to the dark cake. I used Hershey’s recipe for the cake but you could be lazy and just use a box cake mix. It will still taste amazing I promise.

For the cake:

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup  Cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

For the filling

  • 1 package cream cheese (8oz or 200g) softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped Oreos
  1. Heat oven to 180C. Grease and flour a large bunt pan.
  2. For the cake:  Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).
  3. In a separate medium sized bowl mix together the cream cheese and sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla.Fold in the chopped Oreos.
  4. In the bunt pan pour in half the cake batter. Then spoon the cream cheese filling on top. Finish by pouring the second half of the cake batter.
  5.  Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
  6. To make the glaze, just mix some confectioner’s sugar with milk until you reach your desired consistency. Pipe over the cooled cake.

Enjoy!

– M

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Filed under Cakes, Celebration Cakes, Uncategorized

Gusto Bahrain Restaurant Review

I don’t go to Saar very frequently to eat out, which is probably why I’ve pretty much ignored Gusto, a pizzeria that opened a few months ago.  Until now, that is.  After reading a mention in Time Out Bahrain, I went for dinner with a group of friends, and again a few days later with parents.  The reason I went again is because I think I found my new favorite pizza in Bahrain!  There were definitely a few hit and misses though.  I’ll combine the dishes that were ordered on the two separate occasions for ease of review.

 

 The pizzas are made in a traditional wood burning oven, and it shows.  They are light and crispy, thin style authentic Italian pizzas.  I’m no pizza snob, I definitely enjoy Papa John’s from time to time, but after a trip to Italy last summer I like to think I know what good authentic pizza constitutes.  And Gusto’s pizza base is exactly what I like.  Crispy at the edges, with a thin crust that’s the tiniest bit charred on the edges while maintaining its chewiness towards the center. 

 We ordered a artichoke goat cheese salad with roasted peppers, diavolo pizza which is pepperoni with spicy peppers, a quattro formaggi pizza, a pizza with ricotta cheese and artichokes (not pictured), and a margherita with additional buffalo mozzarella on top (Doc margharita).  I was very excited about the salad, and thought it looked great, but the taste disappointed me.  The goat cheese was tough and rubbery, and the few roasted red peppers didn’t mix well with the lettuce leaves.  If it had been a lettuceless salad, with a pile of roasted red and yellow peppers, artichokes and creamy goat cheese they would have had a hit.  The artichokes, both in the salad and on top of the pizza tasted canned, I usually love artichokes but I ended up pushing these to the side.  The toppings on the pizzas themselves were hit and miss.The quattro formaggi was very bland; I couldn’t even detect any sauce under the heaviness of the cheese.  But the next two pizzas completely redeemed the place and one in particular, the doc margherita, is the reason I ended up going back the same week.  The margherita was spectacular, the buffalo mozerella was gooey and melted, the basil tasted very fresh and added a flavor that permeated the whole pizza and the tomato sauce also tasted light, fresh and perfectly seasoned.  Everyone agreed that was the clear winner.  The diavolo was also really good, with crispy spicy pepperoni, but the pepperoni was a little too much, those of you who like really meaty pizzas will like this, while I like a little less meat to really taste the cheese and crust. 

The second time I went back, I ended up getting the same margherita with buffalo mozarella pizza and a shrimp pasta (pasta with gamberoni, giant shrimp, rocket, and cherry tomatoes).  The presentation was really nice, I was immediately excited to dig in.  And the pasta didn’t disappoint!  It’s done in true Italian style, with very little sauce, just olive oil and a touch of tomato, with a lot of garlic.  The shrimp was huge and cooked perfectly, but I didn’t like that it came in the peel (I like my food totally ready to eat).  The pasta overall was a bit salty for my taste, but if I combined roasted sweet cherry tomatoes and rocket with each bite it evened it out.  My parents ordered the seafood pasta (I don’t eat squid or octopus) and they really liked it, but also had the same complaint that it was a little salty.  If the sauce had a bit more tomato in it to give it a more substantial feel, I think I’d like it even more.

   Regardless, go to Gusto if only for the pizza, but be careful of some options on the menu that won’t impress as much.  I’d advise you to go simple, try the buffalo mozzarella margherita pizza, and what seems to be their speciality on the pasta end, the seafood pastas.

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Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie is traditionally a summery dessert, when skies are blue, temperatures are hot and you want something tart and refreshing straight out of the fridge.  While the rest of the world adjusts to fall, with its changing leaves and chillier nights, Bahrain is basically just starting its normal summer season.  June, July, and August are basically beyond what can even be classified as hot, while September starts bringing a bit of a pleasant respite, and the beginning of what a normal summer feels like for the rest of the world.  Hence, this recipe can still be made for the next couple of months here and feel completely natural.  In all seriousness, I’d make this any time a year because it is incredibly easy, always an attractive thing in desserts, and it is really really good.  I apologize that I don’t have better pictures…this finished way too fast!

Key Lime Pie (recipe below is my adaptation from Pioneer Woman)

Ingredients:

12-13 digestive biscuits (I can’t find graham crackers in Bahrain! But these do just fine)

1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter (75 grams), melted*

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

*Healthier alternative: use only 1/4 cup melted butter and when mixing butter with crumbs, add a dash of milk, enough so that crumbs start to stick together and crust starts to form

Filling:

1 Tablespoon (heaping) lime zest

1/2 cup lime juice (I used normal limes, no key limes to be found here!)

2 whole egg yolks

1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C)

For the crust:
Crush crackers in a food processor or Ziploc bag. Pour them into a bowl and stir in sugar, cinnamon and melted butter. Press into a pie pan (9inch) and bake for 5 minutes or until golden and set. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.

For the filling:
Mix lime zest, lime juice, and egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Add in condensed milk and mix on high until smooth and thick. Pour mixture into crust and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven, allow to cool, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour—more if possible.

Serve with sweetened whipped cream (heavy creamed whipped with a 2 teaspoons of powdered sugar added in while whipping) and more grated lime zest.  Eat fast, or it’ll be all done before you can!

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