Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Monthly Archives: February 2018

If you are trying to eat more Mediterranean type meals, then this lunch will be very satisfying, indeed. It has all the flavors of the Mediterranean. along with being good for you and tasting absolutely delicious. This recipe comes together quickly and can be increased or decreased to suit your needs. This is good eating.

Greek Style Chicken Sandwiches

3 sandwiches

Ingredients

1 lb chicken tenderloins (fingers) about 6
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic minced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice.
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon Greek seasoning
Sea salt
3 mini Pita breads, warmed
Lettuce
Tzatziki Sauce, see recipe below
1/4 cup Feta cheese
Greek Olives

Directions

In a zip-lock plastic bag combine the olive oil with the lemon juice, garlic, oregano and Greek seasoning. Shake well to combine and add the chicken.

Seal the bag and refrigerate for about 3 hours.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and pour the chicken and marinade into the skillet. Sprinkle the chicken lightly with sea salt.

Turn the heat down slightly and cook the chicken in the marinade for about 15 minutes, turning the chicken tenders over about half way through the cooking time.

Remove the skillet from the heat and allow the chicken to cool down.

To make each sandwich:

Place a mini pita on a sandwich plate and top with a few leaves of lettuce.

Place 2 chicken tenders on top, sprinkle the chicken with some feta cheese and then add a few tablespoons of Tzatziki Sauce.

Serve Greek olives on the side.

Tzatziki Sauce

Ingredients

1 large cucumber
3/4 cups plain Greek yogurt (not low-fat)
2 scallions (green onions), minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Peel and seed the cucumber. Grate the cucumber on a box grater onto a paper towel, roll up and squeeze the towel to remove some of the liquid.

Place the yogurt in a mixing bowl. Add the grated cucumber to the yogurt along with the remaining ingredients and stir well.

Cover and chill in the refrigerator several hours before serving.


Pan Seared Petite Ribeye Steaks

Servings 2

Ingredients

Steak
2 grass-fed, organic, petite ribeye steaks about ½ inch thick and 6-8 oz each
1 teaspoon Montreal steak seasoning
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Mushroom Shallot Wine Sauce
1 large, finely chopped shallot
16 small button mushroom caps, stems removed
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Season the steaks on all sides with the steak seasoning.
Heat a heavy skillet on high heat until very hot.


Sear steaks 1 minute on each side.
Continue to sauté in the pan turning the heat down to medium for an additional 2 minutes per side.
Place the cooked steaks on a plate and cover with foil, so that they rest while the sauce is made.
Reduce the heat to medium-low in the skillet and add the garlic, shallot, mushroom caps and butter to the pan drippings. Sauté 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Add the wine, Worcestershire sauce, pepper and salt; cook over low heat about 3 minutes or until the sauce is reduced slightly. Remove the pan the from heat and stir in the parsley. Pour the mushroom mixture over the steaks and serve.

Parmesan Baked Cauliflower

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
2 egg whites
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray.
Cut the head of cauliflower into large florets. Place the florets in a large mixing bowl.
In a small bowl mix together the oil, garlic, salt, pepper and eggs. Gently toss with the florets.
Sprinkle Parmesan in with the florets and mix to coat.


Spread the florets on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer.
Bake about 30 minutes or until browned and tender, turning the florets over after 15 minutes. Serve with the steaks.


Stuffed Zucchini

2 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
One large zucchini (10-12 oz)
4 oz lean ground beef
1 mini bell pepper, seeded and chopped fine
2 scallions (green onions) chopped fine
1 small clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon tomato paste
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions

Cut the zucchini in half. Remove most of the flesh with a serrated spoon. Do not go too deep or you will pierce the outer skin. Chop the zucchini flesh into small pieces.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet. Add the meat and brown it completely. Remove to a medium mixing bowl. Add the garlic, bell pepper, scallions and zucchini flesh to the skillet. Cook until very tender, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool for about 15 minutes.

Add the vegetable mixture to the browned meat along with the remaining ingredients (tomato paste, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and mozzarella). Stir well and spoon the mixture into the zucchini shells. Place the stuffed zucchini in an oiled baking dish. Drizzle the top with a little oil. (Can be made ahead to this point and refrigerated.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy on top and the zucchini is tender.

Eggplant Parmigiana

First Stage

For each one pound of eggplant, you will need:

Salt
2 eggs, beaten with a few tablespoons of water
1 cup Italian style breadcrumbs

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Coat two large baking sheets with olive oil.

Peel the eggplant. Cut peeled eggplants crosswise or lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (no thicker). You want them to be thin.

Lightly salt the eggplant slices.

Place the eggs and water in one shallow dish and the breadcrumbs in another.

Dip the eggplant slices into the egg mixture, then coat lightly with the breadcrumb mixture.

Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 15 minutes, turn the eggplant slices over, and bake until crisp and golden, about 10-15 minutes longer.

This stage can be done ahead of time. The eggplant slices can be stored with foil between the slices in the refrigerator for a day or two or frozen until needed.

Second Stage

To assemble the casserole, you will need:

Spray an 8 inch or 9 inch or 8-by-11 inch baking dish with olive oil cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 375 °F.

2 ½ cups Marinara (pasta) sauce
8 ounces sliced mozzarella cheese
Breaded eggplant

Directions

Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Arrange half of the eggplant slices over the sauce, overlapping slightly.

Spoon 1 cup of the remaining sauce over the eggplant and place half of the cheese slices on top.

Add the remaining eggplant slices and top with the remaining sauce and cheese.

Cover the dish with foil and bake until the sauce bubbles, about 25 to 30 minutes.


There was a time when seafood stews and chowders were the food of the poor. Fishermen would make a stew out of leftover bits of seafood, tails or heads. Seafood, today, can be quite expensive. To keep the cost down buy local varieties of seafood and those that are on sale. Combining easy to find fish fillets with small amounts of shrimp or clams creates a rich blend of flavor without costing too much money. Adding an assortment of fresh vegetables, simple herbs and seasonings can make endless combinations for seafood soups or stews. If you have fish stock, then use it in place of the chicken broth. I rarely have it and I like the taste of chicken broth in the recipe. Some cooks use bottled clam broth, but I find that on the salty side. The vinegar helps to perk up all the flavors in the stew.

This stew creates a hearty meal that can be prepared in advance of the dinner hour. A salad and toasted crostini slices can be good sides, if you think you need them. You can use this recipe as a basic model in which to add seafood and seasonal vegetables that you like to use. Give it a try for a dinner out of the ordinary.

Seafood Stew

Ingredients

3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
1 large shallot, diced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 thin carrot, diced
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
2 cups cauliflower, cut into small florets
½ cup diced rutabaga (or potato)
2 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon seafood (Old Bay) seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (chili)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 large plum tomato, seeded and diced
3 lbs firm boneless fish fillets (such as halibut, cod, red snapper, sea bass, grouper), cut into small cubes
8 oz medium shrimp, shelled, deveined and tails removed
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

Directions

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoon butter. Add the onion, shallot and garlic. Saute for a minute or two and them add the carrot, celery and bell pepper. Cook until the vegetables are tender, 3-4 minutes. Add the rutabaga and cauliflower. Stir into the vegetables. Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook the vegetables until the rutabaga and cauliflower are tender. Remove the cover and add the: salt, pepper, chili flakes, seafood seasoning, thyme, tomato and vinegar. Sir well.

Add the cream, fish cubes and shrimp. Cook stirring the mixture gently for 4-5 minutes or until the fish and shrimp are cooked. Add the parsley and remaining tablespoon butter, heating until the butter is incorporated. Serve in large individual pasta bowls.


Inviting friends for lunch is a relaxing and easy way to entertain. The menu can be a few simple combinations that can be prepared ahead of time and assembled just before your guests arrive. This will give you plenty of time to spend with your guests. No fancy desserts needed. I usually just serve fruit.

Creamy Mushroom Soup

As made below, the soup will be a great menu choice for your friends who eat a vegan or vegetarian diet. Walnuts and dried mushrooms are used to thicken this soup without flour. However, if you would like it to be even creamier and non-vegan, add 1 cup of heavy cream.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 oz dried morel mushrooms
4 oz dried chanterelle mushrooms
4 oz sliced cremini or button mushrooms
1 onion, diced
2 shallots, minced
½ cup diced celery
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup dry sherry
8 cups vegetable broth
1½ cups chopped walnuts
½ teaspoon ground pepper
2 tablespoons sliced fresh chives

Directions

In a medium Dutch Oven or large saucepan, place the dried mushrooms and cover with 5 cups of water. Cover the pan and bring the water to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mushroom rest in the water for 30 minutes. Drain. Rinse out the pan.

Heat the oil in the pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, shallots, celery, garlic, thyme and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the soaked dried mushroom and sherry; increase heat to high and simmer, stirring often, until the sherry has evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the broth, pepper and walnuts. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.Remove the pot from the stove. Puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender or in a regular blender (in batches, if necessary) until very smooth. Return the pot to the heat. Add the fresh cremini mushroom and simmer the soup for 20 minutes more. Serve the soup topped with chives.

Creamy Avocado Dressing

If you would like a thinner dressing, add up to a 1/2 cup of water.

Ingredients

3 ripe medium avocados, peel and pit removed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon dried
2 tablespoons honey or sweetener of choice

Directions

Place all the dressing ingredients in a high-powered blender or food processor.
Process until completely smooth.
Use as a dressing over salad or serve as a dip. Great on tomatoes.

Salad Plate

Any of the following ingredients can be arranged in an attractive way on individual salad plates.
All these ingredients are delicious with the Avocado Dressing.

Soft greens/lettuces to line the plates
Sliced Pears, dipped in lemon juice
Sliced cooked beets
Sliced cooked hard-boiled eggs
Celery sliced on the diagonal
Red onion, sliced thin
Thin strips of baked ham or turkey
Thinly sliced plum tomatoes
Radishes, sliced thin
Toasted pistachio nuts or any toasted nuts


Grilled Lamb Chops For Dinner

2 servings

Ingredients

4 loin lamb chops

Marinade

¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced.
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon dried oregano

Directions

Place all the ingredients in a ziplock bag and place the bag in the refrigerator for several hours.
Bring to room temperature before cooking.
Heat an outdoor grill and oil the grill grates.
Place the lamb on the grill and cook 4-5 minutes on each side. Remove to a serving platter and let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Stuffed Mushrooms

2 servings

Ingredients

8 large mushroom caps, stems removed
Olive oil

Filling

1 cup fresh bread crumbs
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Place 2-3 slices of firm bread in the processor and pulse until crumbs form. Combine the crumbs the remaining filling ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Stuff the caps with the mixture and place them in a small, oiled baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil.
Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Bake the mushrooms for 20 minutes or until the crumbs are golden brown.

Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto

Ingredients

1 bunch thin asparagus spears (about 20-21 spears)
10 very thin slices Prosciutto de Palma
Olive oil
Coarse black pepper

Directions

Bundle 4 asparagus together and wrap each in two slices of prosciutto. Place the bundles on an oiled baking sheet. Sprinkle the prosciutto wrapped spears with olive oil and black pepper. Roast in a 425 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes.


Chocolate Covered Peanuts

Coconut oil works well with chocolate because it will prevent the candy from softening, as butter or oil would do.

Makes about 18 clusters

Ingredients

2 cups unsalted peanuts
1 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon coconut oil or shortening
3 tablespoons powdered sugar or powdered sugar-free sweetener

Directions

Combine the chocolate, coconut oil and sugar in a microwaveable glass bowl or in a double boiler.

Melt the chocolate mixture in a microwave at half power, for 1 minute, stir and then heat for another minute or until melted, stirring several times.

You can also melt the chocolate in a double boiler over hot water.

Stir in the peanuts, completely covering them in chocolate. Using a 1 inch scoop or tablespoon drop the mixture into wax paper. Cool completely before serving

One-Layer Heart-Shaped Carrot Cake

For the Cake:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large room-temperature eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts

For the Frosting:

4 ounces room-temperature cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 cup heavy cream

To Make the Cake

Heat oven to 325 F. Cut parchment to fit heart pan (or 8 inch round cake pan) and coat with cooking spray. Set aside.

Measure flour and add to an electric mixer bowl along with the sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, oil, eggs and vanilla.

Blend for 1 minute on low-speed.

Stir carrots and nuts into the batter. Pour into the prepared pan.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack. Remove from the pan to a serving plate.

For the frosting:

Place all the ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. With a hand mixer beat the ingredients until the cream forms stiff peaks.

Frost the top of the cake and refrigerate the cake until serving time.

Easy Frozen Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients

1 pint (2 cups) heavy whipping cream, well chilled
8 oz good quality chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chocolate sprinkles, garnish

Directions

In a double boiler or in a bowl set over a saucepan, melt chocolate over simmering water. Remove from the heat to cool slightly.

Pour the cream and vanilla into a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream on medium speed until slightly thickened, about 30 seconds.

Add sweetener to taste if you want. I did not because I think the chocolate makes it sweet enough

Continue beating on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, until soft peaks form, about 1 minute.

To test, turn off the mixer and lift the beaters. If the cream makes soft little peaks that flop over slightly, it is ready.

Add the warm chocolate to the cream and mix in slowly until incorporated.

Spoon into 4 dessert dishes. Chill in the refrigerator to serve as mousse or place in the freezer overnight to serve as frozen mousse.

Garnish with chocolate sprinkles before serving.

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries

Ingredients

8 large strawberries with tops
6 oz good quality chocolate, chopped

Directions

Gently rinse strawberries and dry on paper towels (berries must be completely dry). Line cookie sheet with waxed paper or set out muffin paper cups.

In 1-quart saucepan, melt chocolate chips and shortening over low heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. You may also microwave the mixture.

Dip the lower half of each strawberry into the chocolate mixture; allow excess to drip back into the saucepan.

Place on  the prepared cookie sheet or muffin paper cups.

Refrigerate uncovered about 30 minutes or until the chocolate is firm, or until ready to serve.

Store covered in refrigerator.


This easy, oven bake makes a wonderful, flavorful dinner with plenty extra for leftovers. I only use the breasts, thighs and chicken legs in this recipe. I also cut the breasts in half. The rest of the chicken parts are used for soup stock. If you would like to use the entire chicken for this recipe, then cut it into 12 pieces.

Chicken and Sausage Bake

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

One whole chicken (about 4 lbs) cut into 8 pieces
1 ½ bs sweet Italian pork sausage cut into 3 inch lengths
Two medium sweet onions, cut into eighths
6 mini bell peppers, seeded and cut in half
½ cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt & coarse black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Arrange the chicken pieces and sausage in an oiled oven-proof casserole dish. Sprinkle all the chicken pieces with sea salt and pepper.

Sprinkle the garlic over all the sausage and chicken. Add the onions and peppers.

Sprinkle the Italian seasoning and red pepper over all the vegetables, chicken and sausage. Drizzle with the olive oil.

In one corner of the baking dish, pour in the chicken broth.

Cover the casserole dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and cook an additional 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and serve with Italian bread.

Tomato Feta Salad

Don’t forget to let the salad marinate. It will develop great flavor.

4 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon good quality balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried basil or oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped sweet onion
4 diced plum tomatoes or a pint of multi-colored grape tomatoes, halved
¼ cup kalamata olives, cut in half
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup cubed feta cheese

Directions

In a serving bowl, combine the vinegar, basil and salt. Add onion; toss to coat. Let stand for 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, oil and feta cheese; toss to coat. Let marinate at room temperature for one hour. Serve with a slotted spoon.


 

The Mediterranean countries include France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal along the north; Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Israel on the east; the African countries of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco on the south and the Mediterranean Island Countries of Cyprus and Malta. The Mediterranean countries utilize many of the same healthy ingredients but each country has a unique way of creating recipes with those same ingredients. So far in this series, I have written about Mediterranean cuisine in general and about the cuisine in the countries of Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Israel. This series continues with the country of Egypt.

The Arab Republic of Egypt is located in the northeastern region of the African continent, bordering both the Mediterranean and Red Seas. The climate is arid and dry and most of the country receives less than one inch of rainfall each year. However, Egypt’s northern coastline can get up to eight inches of rainfall each year and the year-round temperatures are cooler here than inland. Egypt has no forests and only 2 percent of the land is arable (land that can be farmed).

The well-known Nile River, the longest river in the world, runs north and south through eastern Egypt and empties into the Mediterranean Sea. The Nile River Valley, which includes the capital city of Cairo, is the most fertile land in Egypt. Approximately 95 percent of the country’s population lives alongside the Nile River.

Egyptian cuisine is characterized by dishes such as stewed fava beans; lentils and pasta and okra stew. Egyptian cuisine shares similarities with other Mediterranean countries, such as rice-stuffed vegetables, grape leaves, shawarma, kebabs and kofta. The cuisine most often utilizes legumes, vegetables and fruits from Egypt’s rich Nile valley and delta. Although entrees in Alexandria and the coast of Egypt tend to use a great deal of fish and other seafood, the Egyptian cuisine is based on foods that grow in the ground. Meat has been very expensive for most Egyptians throughout history, so a great number of vegetarian dishes have been developed.

Easy access to various spices due to Egypt’s many seaports has, throughout the years, left its mark on Egyptian cuisine. Cumin is the most commonly used spice. Other common spices include coriander, cardamom, chili, aniseed, bay leaves, dill, parsley, ginger, cinnamon, mint and cloves.

Egyptians are known to use lots of garlic and onions in their everyday dishes. Fresh garlic mashed with other herbs is used in a spicy tomato salad and also in stuffed eggplant. Garlic fried with coriander is added to soup and sometimes to chicken or rabbit. Fried onions can also be a popular addition.

When meats are on the Egyptian table, they are usually rabbit, pigeon, chicken or duck. These are often boiled to make a broth for stews and soups and the meat is served separately. Lamb and beef are the most common meats used for grilling.

The local bread is a form of hearty, thick, gluten-rich pita bread called eish baladi. This bread is made from a simple recipe that forms the backbone of the Egyptian cuisine. It is consumed at almost all Egyptian meals; a working-class or rural Egyptian meal might consist of little more than bread and beans.

Although many rural people still make their own cheese, notably the fermented mish, mass-produced cheeses are becoming more common. Cheese is often served with breakfast, it is included in several traditional dishes, and even in some desserts.

Despite the country’s dry climate, Egypt grows a variety of fresh fruits. Mohz (bananas), balah (dates), burtu’aan (oranges), battiikh (melon), khukh (peaches), berkuk (plums) and ‘anub (grapes) are grown.

Tea is the national drink in Egypt, followed only distantly by coffee, prepared using the Turkish method. Egyptian tea is uniformly black and sour and is generally served in a glass, sometimes with milk. Tea packed and sold in Egypt is almost exclusively imported from Kenya and Sri Lanka. Egyptian tea comes in two varieties, kushari and sa‘idi. Vendors also sell a variety of asiir (fresh-squeezed juices) made from fruits like banana, guava, mango, pomegranate, strawberry, from sugar cane, and even hibiscus flowers.

Egyptian desserts resemble other Eastern Mediterranean desserts. Basbousa is a dessert made from semolina and soaked in syrup. It is usually topped with almonds and cut vertically into pieces, so that each piece has a diamond shape. Baqlawa is a sweet dish made from many layers of phyllo pastry with an assortment of nuts and soaked in a sweet syrup. Ghuriyiba is a sweet biscuit made with sugar, flour and liberal quantities of butter, similar to shortbread. It can be topped with roasted almonds or black cardamom pods.

Dining customs vary throughout the country and between different religions. When invited to be a guest in an Egyptian household, it is polite for guests to bring a small gift to the host, such as flowers or chocolate, to show their appreciation for the meal. Before dinner, cocktails (usually nonalcoholic) are frequently served. This is a time for socializing and becoming acquainted. Mezze (salads and dips) would also be served at this time. When dinner is ready, usually between 9 P.M. and 10 P.M. , guests seat themselves and food is placed in the middle of the table. Bread will almost always accompany meals, which may include vegetables, rice dishes, soups and meat dishes. Following dinner, guests will move into another room and enjoy coffee or mint tea. Guests should always compliment the cook.

Although Ramadan is a month of fasting for Muslims in Egypt, it is usually a time when Egyptians pay a lot of attention to food variety and richness, since breaking the fast is a family affair, often with the entire extended families meeting at the table just after sunset. There are several special desserts that are served almost exclusively during Ramadan, such as kunafa and atayef. during the Ramadan month, many Egyptians prepare a special table for the poor or passers-by, usually in a tent in the street, called Ma’edet Rahman which literally translates to “Table of the Merciful”.  Observant Christians in Egypt adhere to fasting periods according to the Coptic calendar; these days may extend to more than two-thirds of the year for the most observant. The more secular Coptic population fasts only for Easter and Christmas. The Coptic diet for fasting is essentially vegan. During this fasting, only vegetables and legumes are eaten and all meat and dairy products are avoided.

Egyptian Recipes To Make At Home

Gebna Makleyah (Oven-Fried Cheese)

Serves 4 to 6.

Ingredients

1 cup firm feta cheese, crumbled or traditional Egyptian cheese, such as labna or gebna
1 tablespoon flour
1 egg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Olive oil
Lemon wedges and pita bread cut into triangles, for serving

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Place the cheese, flour, egg, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well.
Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls.
If the mixture seems too loose to hold the ball shape, add a little more flour.
If the mixture seems too dry, add a bit of lemon juice, vinegar or water.
Pour 2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil onto a cookie sheet to grease.
Arrange the cheese balls on the cookie sheet, rolling them around to coat thoroughly with the oil.
Bake 5 minutes.
Wearing an oven mitt, open the oven door and shake the cookie sheet to prevent the cheese balls from sticking, then turn them over.
Bake 5 more minutes, until golden brown.
Remove with a spatula and drain on absorbent paper.
Serve warm with lemon wedges and triangles of pita bread.

Ful Mudammas (Broad Beans in Sauce)

Serves 4 to 6.

Ingredients

2 cans (15-ounces each) cooked fava beans
6 cloves garlic, or to taste
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
¼ cup olive oil
1½ tablespoons parsley, minced
Garnish, such as radishes, hard-boiled eggs, chopped scallions, pita bread (toasted and cut into wedges)

Directions

Press the garlic cloves through a garlic press into a medium bowl.
Mash the garlic and salt together.
Next, add the lemon juice, olive oil and parsley to the garlic mixture and combine thoroughly.
Drain the beans well, rinse and put the beans into a large pot over low heat.
Add the garlic mixture and stir with a wooden spoon to combine thoroughly.
Serve warm with the garnishes arranged on a platter.
Each person is served a plateful of Ful Mudammas and adds the garnishes of his or her choice.

Koushari (Lentils, Macaroni, Rice, and Chickpeas)

Serves 4 to 6.

Ingredients

1 cup lentils
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup elbow macaroni
1 cup rice
1 can (15-ounces) chickpeas (also called ceci beans)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Sauce

1 cup canned tomato puree
¼ cup olive oil
2 onions
1 garlic clove, or to taste

Directions

To prepare the lentils:
Place the lentils in a sieve and rinse thoroughly. Place them in a large saucepan with 3 cups of water and 1 teaspoon salt.
Heat until the water begins to boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 1 hour or until the lentils are tender. Drain and set the lentils aside.

To prepare the macaroni:
Fill the same saucepan with water (add salt). Heat until the water begins to boil.
Add the macaroni and boil about 12 to 15 minutes, or until the macaroni is tender. Drain and set the macaroni aside.

To prepare the rice:
Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the same saucepan. Add the rice and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, thoroughly coating the rice with oil.
Add 2 cups of water and heat until the water begins to boil. Cover the saucepan and simmer until the rice is tender, about 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.

To assemble the koushari:
Drain the chickpeas and rinse them in a colander. Add chickpeas, lentil, and macaroni to the cooked rice and toss very gently with a fork.

To make the sauce:
Peel the onions and cut them in half lengthwise. Slice each half crosswise into thin slices.
Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a skillet. Add the onions and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon until the onions are golden brown.
Add garlic clove and cook 1 or 2 more minutes. Stir in the tomato puree and heat until bubbly.
Pour the sauce over the lentil mixture and heat over very low heat for about 5 minutes, until completely warm.
Serve with pita bread.

Khoshaf

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 cup dried prunes
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup dried small figs, halved
1½ cups raisins
1 cup sugar, or to taste
2½ cups boiling water
Nuts for garnish

Directions

Place all the fruits in a bowl and mix together gently.
Sprinkle the sugar on top of the dried fruits.
Carefully pour the boiling water into the bowl, cover and allow to cool to room temperature.
Refrigerate for several hours or overnight if possible. ( Khoshaf is best when allowed to marinate overnight or for several hours before serving.) Garnish with nuts and serve.


This is a great month to take advantage of some of the early spring crops that are coming to market. Broccoli, Cauliflower, all types of greens, beets and strawberries are some of the best choices. And, if you are lucky to have a friend who likes to garden, like me, you can reap some of the harvest. See the photo below for what I was treated to from his garden.

Stuffed Peppers

This recipe goes well with sautéed cabbage. See recipe below.

Ingredients

6 bell peppers, assorted colors
1 lb lean ground beef
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1/2 cup jarred, mild salsa
1 cup frozen cauliflower rice, defrosted, or regular cooked rice
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
Salt and pepper

Directions

Cut the tops off the peppers. Reserve the top and remove the stem. Dice the tops and set aside.

Remove the seeds and membrane from the peppers. Wash and set on a paper towel, upside down, to drain.

Heat a skillet and add the oil. Brown the ground beef until you no longer see any pink color.

Push the beef to the side of the pan and add the onion, bell pepper tops and garlic. Saute until tender.

Add the Italian seasoning, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper, stir, and remove the pan from the heat. Let cool.

Stir in defrosted cauliflower rice, salsa and ½ cup cheese. Fill the peppers to the top and place them in a baking dish just large enough to hold the peppers upright.

I used some foil to support them and keep them from falling out.

Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 30 -40 minutes or until the peppers are tender.

Remove the baking dish from the oven and top each pepper with some of the remaining cheese. Return to the oven for five minutes to melt the cheese topping.

Sautéed Cabbage In Brown Butter

Ingredients

One head of savoy cabbage
1/2 onion, sliced thin
3 tablespoons butter
1 small garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper

Directions

Remove the large leaves from the cabbage for stuffing, Cut the rest of the cabbage head in half. Set aside one half for coleslaw or another recipe.

Thinly slice the remaining half of the cabbage.

Heat the butter in a medium skillet and cook until the butter turns a light brown, Add the onion and garlic and cook 3-4 minutes to tenderize the onions.

Add the sliced cabbage and cook until very soft and tender, about ten minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with the stuffed peppers.

Oven BBQ Pork Roast and Vegetables

 

 

Ingredients

1 top loin pork roast, bone-in, about 3 pounds
8 oz mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced on a diagonal
8 oz carrots, thinly sliced
Half a sweet onion, cubed
1 ½ cups bottled or homemade BBQ sauce, see recipe below
Half a head of cauliflower cut into large florets

Directions

Heat the oven to 325 F.

Oil a roasting pan with foil and place the mushrooms, carrots, celery and onion on the bottom of the pan.

Place the roast on top of the vegetables and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the cauliflower florets on two sides of the roast.

Pour the BBQ sauce over the pork.

Roast the pork for 30 minutes per pound, or until it registers at least 140 degrees F on an instant read thermometer.

Baste the pork roast with the barbecue sauce several times during the roasting time.

Let the roast rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.

Homemade BBQ Sauce

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup water
Two 6 oz cans tomato paste
1/2 cup cider vinegar
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon dried minced onion or powder
3/4 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
3/4 teaspoon ground paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Directions

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.

Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat and let simmer on low, uncovered, for about an hour.

Make sure to stir frequently, about once every 10 to 15 minutes, while the BBQ sauce is cooking.

This will help better incorporate the flavors and ensure that the sauce is evenly cooked throughout.

Let the sauce cool before transferring to a storage container.

Oven Roasted Salmon and Broccoli

2 servings

Ingredients

1/4 lb broccoli florets (about 2 floret tops)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
Two 6-ounce skinless salmon fillets
1 jalapeño, thinly sliced into rings, seeds removed if desired
1 small garlic clove, grated
1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped green onion (scallions)
1 mini red bell pepper, minced

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Mix broccoli florets with 1 tablespoon oil in a baking dish; season with salt and pepper.

Roast broccoli, tossing occasionally, until crisp-tender, 10 minutes.

Combine the jalapeño slices, vinegar, scallions, bell pepper, 1 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of salt in small bowl.

Rub salmon with 1 tablespoon oil; season with salt and pepper. Push broccoli to the edges of the baking dish and place salmon in the center.

Evenly distribute the jalapeno mixture over the salmon and broccoli.

Roast until salmon is cooked throughout and the broccoli is tender, 15 minutes. Serve with Cucumber Salad

Cucumbers In Tzatziki Sauce

Ingredients

1 large or 2 medium cucumbers
Half of a large cucumber
3/4 cups plain Greek yogurt (not low-fat)
2 scallions (green onion), minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Peel and seed the half cucumber. Grate the half cucumber on a box grater onto a paper towel, roll up and squeeze the towel to remove some of the liquid.

Peel the large cucumber, cut in half lengthwise and cut into thin half-moon slices.

Place the yogurt in a medium bowl.Add grated cucumber to the yogurt along with the remaining ingredients, except the sliced cucumber and stir well.

Fold in the cucumber slices.

Cover and chill in the refrigerator before serving.



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