Authentic Arabic Bread - Basic Dough

Whenever we make dough for Zaatar pies, we save some to make Arabic (pita) bread. This is a Basic Dough recipe which is used to make Spinach, Meat and other hand-shaped small pies, as well as bread.  The dough is rolled thinner than for pita rounds, and is folded and sealed around a variety of fillings. This bread is present at almost every Lebanese meal. Another variety of Arabic bread that I love is rolled paper-thin and cooked on the top of a domed outdoor oven.  It is called 'marqooq', and is like lavash but much thinner. It can be found at Middle Eastern or Persian markets.

It's ideal for rolled sandwiches and making pin wheel appetizers, but since the dough is thin you need to use fillings that are not very wet, so the bread doesn't become soggy.

Traditionally, Arabic bread loaves are 10-11" round, but you can make them smaller, like the popular store-bought pita.

I use my larger Cuisinart to mix the dough, and then knead it 5 minutes by hand, or sometimes I let my KitchenAid mixer do all the work.  I leave that up to you.

Depending on the size of rounds you decide to make, this recipe will yield anywhere from 12 - 16 loaves.

Recipe

  • 4 c. organic all-purpose Flour
  • 2 c. organic Barley Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 2 packets (4 tsp.) dry Yeast
  • 1/2 tsp. organic Evaporated Cane Sugar
  • 2  to 2-1/4 c. tepid Water
  • 3 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sift flour and salt. Dissolve yeast and sugar in water, and proof for 5 minutes.

Fit mixer with dough hook, or Cuisinart with dough paddle. Put flour in mixer bowl and add water and yeast mixture. Process until smooth.

Remove dough and place on floured board.  Knead for 5 minutes.  Dough should be soft but not very sticky.  Add a little more flour or water depending on consistency.

Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with damp cloth and let rise until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours.

Divide dough into 4 equal portions, and divide each of those into 3 -4 balls depending on size preference. Cover balls with towel and let rest another 15 minutes.

Heat oven to 425º F, turn a cookie sheet upside down and place it on the middle rack of the oven while you are preheating the oven.  You will bake the bread on this surface (if you have a pizza stone then you can use that instead.)

Dust your work surface with a light coating of flour.  Slightly flatten one of the balls of dough with your hands and sprinkle a bit of flour on top.

Roll the dough out to between 1/8 and 1/4 " thick. If the dough does not stretch easily cover it with the damp towel and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before trying again.

Repeat with rest of dough.

Place as many pitas as you can fit on the hot baking sheet surface. They should be baked through and puffy after 3-4 minutes.

Remove onto cooling rack with dough paddle, or large spatula.

Store bread in airtight bag. Will keep for 2 days at room temperature, or in refrigerator for 5-6 days.

~ Sahtein! (double health).

Scraped Knees and Apricot Sherbert

I am soo happy to see that Apricots have now joined the other organic fruit on display at our neighborhood groceries.

I remember my Mom giving me a leg-up to get into the Apricot trees in our orchard in Lebanon, and me picking the red-cheeked, juicy ones that were too high to reach from the ground, and gently tossing them onto a folded blanket that Mom spread under the tree.

For every few I tossed down, I ate one, until both the baskets and I were filled to the top! My nephew or cousins would be in other trees, and sometimes I felt it my duty to turn the basket filling into a contest. Our fruit picking trips always included a picnic featuring tasty Lebanese mezza dishes (appetizers) that Mom made the day before... Tabboouleh, stuffed Grapes leaves, homemade Arabic bread, Hummus or Baba ghannouj, cheeses, olives, fresh veggies, and a watermelon for dessert.

As a skinny preteen, I usually had scraped knees and was often found in trees or sitting top of the many 6-foot tall stone walls in our home town. I'm not so found of climbing into trees anymore, unless they are low to the ground!

Yesterday I brought Apricots home of course, and after eating 3 or 4, I decided to cook some up into jam and sherbet. Below is the dairy-free Sherbet recipe.

Recipe

  • 2 lb. ripe Organic Apricots (12-15)
  • 1/4  c. Water
  • ¾ c. Almond or Soy Milk
  • ¾ c. Xylitol or 2-3 packets Stevia (to taste)
  • 3 drops Almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp. Orange Blossom Water (Whole Foods or Middle Eastern market)

Split apricots and remove pit. Cut each into 1/6’s.

Reserve 1 Tbs. of the apricots.

Cook apricots with water in a medium non-reactive saucepan over medium heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about 10 mins. Add milk.

Remove from heat and stir in sweetener.

Let cool to room temp.

Puree the mixture in a blender or food processor until smooth. Stir in the extract, orange water and rest of the apricot pieces.

Chill thoroughly, then freeze in ice cream maker, or pour into Popsicle molds.

~ Sahtein! (double health)

Windy Days and Whole Wheat Pie Shells

Something about windy days puts me in the mood for baking. It's sunny and warm, but there's a lovely breeze blowing, and the house is still a comfy 67º.

My teenager just got home and is hunting for a snack... thank goodness I made a large bowl of Hummus yesterday, so that...a glass of milk...and some wheat crackers should do it.

The windows are open to let in the bird chirps and distant rumble of a car on an adjacent street.

I think I am going to chop some apples and apricots, and perhaps toss in a handful of blueberries. A little coconut oil, cinnamon and stevia... and perhaps our friend Chia... and into the oven! Hmm.. and how about a smattering of dark chocolate chips?

      Tell me how you choose to fill your shell!

Pie Shell Recipe

Here is a basic pie dough that lends itself to Quiche, fruit or pudding filling.

  • 1 c. organic Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 Tbs. freshly ground Flax seeds
  • 1 Tbs. organic Butter, cold and sliced (or use Coconut oil)
  • 1-1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 c. cold Water or cold Green Tea
  • 3 tsp. Xylitol
  • 1 omega-3 Egg + 1 tsp. water beaten till mixed

Combine dry ingredients with butter using a fork to blend.

Add water 1 Tbs. at a time, mixing after each addition.

Knead dough 5 times on floured surface.

Roll out into a 9" round, fit into pie pan crimping edges. Brush egg wash around edge.

Poke holes in bottom with fork tines, and bake for 8-10 minutes.

Wrap It - à la Mediterranean

They're easy to transport, easy to make, inspire creativity, and are fun to eat... I'm talking about Wraps

Crunchy GF Wrap6.jpg

This wrap integrates a North African ingredient with a tasty hummus (or you may substitute BBQ'd tofu) filling.

Mediterranean Chicken Wrap Recipe

 Yield - 8 wraps

  • 1 cup uncooked whole wheat Couscous
  • 1/2 c. chopped Almonds, toasted
  • 1/2 c. golden Raisins
  • 3 c. BBQ'd Tofu (opt.)
  • 2 c. shredded organic Romaine Lettuce
  • 2 Tbs. diced organic Red Onion
  • 1/4 . extra virgin organic Olive Oil
  • 1/4 c. organic Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 tsp. Cumin
  • 2 Tbs. chopped organic Parsley
  • 1 tsp. grated Lemon peel
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 whole wheat Pita Bread pockets, split into 8 rounds (or 8 whole wheat organic Tortillas)
  • 1 c. Hummus

Cook couscous according to package directions.

In a medium bowl, gently combine couscous, almonds, raisins, tofu, lettuce and onion.

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, cumin and lemon peel. Season with salt and pepper.  Mix 1/4 cup dressing into couscous mixture.

To assemble wraps, lay bread split side up on work surface. Spread each with 2 tablespoons hummus. Spoon approximately 1/2 cup couscous mixture down center of each pita round.

Drizzle with 1 tablespoon dressing.  Fold up bottom and then sides to wrap.

~ Sahtein! ♥

Kale to the Chief? .and How to Plan Your Meals

He'd be a lot healthier! If you told me 6 years ago, that I would grow to love this vegetable with a head of curls that vies my own, I would have fallen over into the clover, laughing like crazy Maizy (whoever she is)!

kale2
kale2

But the seemingly impossible has once occurred. It happened with Eggplant about 22 years ago.

1/2 cup of cooked Kale has an ORAC (Oxygen radical absorbent capacity) of 1150.  A minimum of 6500 is the recommended daily intake.  Add just 1/4 tsp. of Cinnamon and you've upped the dish by another 2675 to give you over half the daily goal in a 1/2 c serving of food!

If you have a cup of blueberries for breakfast or dessert (ORAC 3250), you've met your daily minimum of health supporting anti-oxidants.  Easy when you use the ORAC Chart.

shiitake
shiitake

I am always experimenting with Kale, since it lends itself to flavor exploration. Below is recipe that includes Shiitake Mushroomswhich are known for their anti-fungal, anti-tumor and anti-viral properties. Lentinan, an active compound found in shiitake mushrooms, helps boost the immune system, enhancing your ability to fight infection and disease.

Kale with Shiitake and Garlic

  • 2 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 med. organic White Onion, diced
  • 1 head of organic Kale, washed, and chopped
  • 7-8 Shiitake Mushrooms, sliced or diced
  • 2 c. hot Water
  • 4 cloves organic Garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. freshly squeezed organic Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. Black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. Cinnamon

Place a large pot over medium heat for 1 minute.  Add oil and wait 2 minutes.  Add onion and turn to medium low.  Saute, stirring, until onion is translucent.

Add kale and cook stirring until kale is bright green. Add mushrooms and stir to mix. Add hot water, return heat to medium, cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Add garlic, lemon and spices, stir to mix.  Cover and simmer on low for another 10-15 minutes or until Kale is cooked through.

Kale and Shiitake
Kale and Shiitake

Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve with lemon wedge alongside brown rice and chicken or fish.

~ Sahtein (double health)! ♥

Steam Baked Vidalia Onions

This recipe is a Cancer fighter. Onions are a major source of a Quercetin, a super-antioxidant.   Similar to garlic, onions and shallots seem to be most helpful in cancers of the digestive tract (e.g. esophagus, stomach, and colon).

Unlike garlic, onions don’t lose their potency if lightly cooked.

Prep: 5 mins Cook: 30 mins

  • 1 Tbs. organic Coconut oil or organic Butter
  • 3 cloves Garlic, finely minced or pressed
  • 2 med Vidalia Onions, peeled and cut in half across the middle
  • 2 Tbs. Water

Preheat oven to 375.

In a small sauté pan over med-low heat, warm the butter until just melted. Add garlic and stir to warm, about 1 minute.

Butter 2

Place onions cut side up, and the water in a small glass baking dish with a cover. Gently spoon the garlic butter on each half equally.

Cover with lid or aluminum foil tent (not touching any part of onions) and seal edges.

Bake until the onion is soft to the fork and garlic is slightly caramelized, about 30 mins.

Gently lift onto plates and serve. You can sprinkle with fresh oregano, thyme, or crushed rosemary.

Delicious alongside organic Chicken Breasts Baked in Lemon Garlic sauce, and a steamed Veggie of your choice.

~In good health! 

Vegan Eggplant and Spicy Chopped Salad Sandwich

Another warm day in the Bay Area.  I just finished ironing 7 shirts (my soon-to-be-17 son wears a larger size than my bf).  Lunch had to be something cool, refreshing, easy... Yesterday I made an eggplant/mushroom medley, and today it was going to be the guest of honor in my sandwich. I used the rest of the parsley and cilantro bunches, to make a spicy chopped salad.

Here are the recipes:

Eggplant - Mushroom Medley

I love this concoction because it goes well on pasta, in a sandwich, and as a dip.I make this with no oillike many of my personal recipes that call for sautéing onion. I drizzle virgin olive oil once a dish is cooked, for flavor.

  • 1 med. organic white Onion, chopped
  • 1 med. Eggplant, mostly peeled and diced
  • 5 organic Mushrooms, peeled and chopped
  • 1 organic Tomato, chopped
  • 1 c. chopped Parsley
  • 1 Tbs. organic Tomato  Paste mixed with 1/2 c. hot water
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper (opt.)
  • 5 cloves of Garlic, chopped

Place onion in a large saucepan over medium heat, no oil.  Watch the onion, stirring until it begins to turn brown.

eggplant muchroom saute
eggplant muchroom saute

Add eggplant and cover, turn to medium low, and stir every 2 minutes, until eggplant is wilted.

Add mushrooms, tomato and parsley. Stir, cover and simmer over low  heat for 10 minutes.

Add the diluted tomato paste, seasoning and garlic, turn heat to medium, and cook uncovered for another 8 - 10 minutes, or until veggies are cooked through and water is absorbed.

We're adding the garlic last so it doesn't lose all its antioxidant power!

You may add a drizzle of olive oil once you remove from heat.  This dish is good warm or cold.

Spicy Chopped Salad

  • 1/2 bunch organic Parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch organic Cilantro, chopped
  • 1 small white Onion, diced
  • 1 organic Tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 organic Jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 1 Tbs. fresh Lime juice
  • 2 tsp. fresh Lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1 Tbs. virgin Olive Oil

Mix it all up!

Serve as a topping for rice dishes, stews, sandwiches or as a fresh dip with toasted whole wheat Pita bread, broken into 'chips'.

Assemble Sandwich

  • Vegenaise (opt.)
  • 1 Tbs. organic Tomato Paste
  • Bread

Take two slices of your favorite Whole Grain Bread.

eggplant sandw1
eggplant sandw1

Spread one slice with tomato paste and the other slice with Vegenaise.

eggplant sandw2
eggplant sandw2

Spread some of the Eggplant Medley over the tomato paste.

Top with Spicy Salad.

eggplant sandw3
eggplant sandw3

(You may add protein of your choice if you like).

eggplant sandw5
eggplant sandw5

Cover with other slice, press down, and munch!

~ Bon Apetit! ♥

Eggplant Tomato Bake

Eggplant, King of the Vegetables as it is hailed in the Middle East, lends its creamy texture and unique flavor to this pasta dish. I modified this recipe to decrease fats from dairy and increase fiber from whole grain pasta and flour.

  • 1/2 c. barley or whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 c. dry whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 2 Tbs Italian seasoning
  • 2 Omega-3 eggs
  • 2 Tbs water
  • 1 small organic eggplant, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1 Tbs peanut oil
  • 1 (14 oz) jar organic marinara sauce
  • 1 c. silken tofu, crumbled
  • 1 c. grated Almond cheese (if you can have dairy may use Parmesan Cheese)
  • 1 organic tomato, thinly sliced
  • 1 (8 oz) package angel hair whole grain pasta

1. Preheat the oven to 350º F (175º C).

2. In a plastic bag, combine the flour, bread crumbs and Italian seasoning. Shake to mix. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs and water. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. There should be enough oil to thinly coat the bottom of the skillet. Dip the eggplant slices in egg, then place in the bag and shake to coat. Fry the slices in the skillet until golden brown on each side. Remove, and drain on paper towels.

3. Spread a thin layer of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a 9-inch square baking dish. Cover with the eggplant slices, then top with more sauce. Mix together the tofu and Parmesan cheese; spread over the eggplant. Spread sauce over the cheese, and top with tomato slices. Cover with more sauce, and spread remaining cheese over the top.

4. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling.

5. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, and cook for about 3 minutes, or until tender. Drain.

6. Serve the eggplant tomato bake over pasta. Serve with steamed Broccoli and green Salad.

~ Eat Hearty!

The Overlooked, Misunderstood Dandelion

Once upon a time there was a tall, slender green plant called a Dandelion.  Its name came from 'Dent-de-lion' which means lion's tooth in French.  This is due to its jagged edged leaves. dandelionUnfortunately, when you say 'Dandelion' many people think of the tiny yellow flowers and the stemmed puffs of white wispy hairs that crop up in their lawns, disturbing the otherwise monotonous green blanket of grass.  It is treated like an unwelcome visitor, annoying and over-staying its welcome.

Aaah, if they only knew who this disguised visitor really was, not only would they welcome it, they would shove the grass over to make permanent space for it!

As said; "The war on lawn weeds in general -- not just dandelions -- is based on the notion that "the lawn is meant to showcase the diligence of the person who owns it. According to this view, lawns should be uniformly composed of grass, with no "intruders" permitted.

But others would argue that dandelions bear rather attractive flowers, whose yellow hue complements a green lawn nicely. "While the flower isn't bad," perhaps you object, "the seed head that succeeds it is unsightly." Even so, there are easy ways to minimize the impact of dandelions on the lawn, as long as you're willing to show some tolerance toward their presence. One way is to pluck the flowers as they appear. Another is to eat your weed problems away! "

Unveiling the Dandelion

The Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, which means the "Official Remedy for Disorders", is so well-respected, in fact, that it appears in the U.S. National Formulatory, and in the Pharmacopeias of Hungary, Poland, Switzerland, and the Soviet Union. It is one of the top 6 herbs in the Chinese herbal medicine chest.

According to the USDA Bulletin #8, "Composition of Foods" (Haytowitz and Matthews 1984), dandelions rank in the top 4 green vegetables in overall nutritional value. According to data, dandelions are nature's richest green vegetable source of beta-carotene, from which Vitamin A is created, and the third richest source of Vitamin A of all foods, after cod-liver oil and beef liver! They also are particularly rich in fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and the B vitamins, thiamine and riboflavin, and are a good source of protein.

This perennial has been known since ancient times for its curative properties and has been used for the treatment of various ailments such as infections, bile and liver problems, some cancers, dyspepsia, heartburn, spleen and liver complaints, hepatitis and anorexia. However, its use has mainly been based on empirical findings. There is evidence to suggest it may have anti-inflammatory effects and assist with urinary tract infections in women. 

Note: Due to its high potassium level, dandelion may increase the risk of hyperkalemia when taken with potassium-sparing diuretics.

The Plea

Now will you let it hang out in your yard?  Ok then, here's yet another reason...It's DELICIOUS!!

Sautéed with garlic, cilantro and lemon it beats Spinach in flavor...and  used in salads it adds a nice slightly bitter 'edge', much like escarole.

The following is my favorite Dandelion Greens Salad...it's quick and simple to prepare.'

Hoda's Simple Dandelion Salad

  • 4 cups chopped organic Dandelion leaves
  • 1/2 Red Onion, chopped fine
  • 2 Tbs. Lemon Juice
  • 2 Tbs. virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin (opt)

Combine all in a deep bowl, toss well and serve.

~ Compliments whole grain, lentil and bean dishes. Also good with roasted chicken.

If You Won't Drink it... Eat it!

So you don't like tea.  My boyfriend thinks it's only necessary to treat tummy aches... siiigh. This from a man dating a girl who is more British than the Brits about daily tea.  Well, apparently there are a number of you slightly odd people out there, fighting against the scientific evidence that drinking 3 - 5 cups of tea a day will boost your health and even ward off cancer.  To you I say...

"Eat it... eat it... Open up your mouth and feed it... " with thanks to Weird Al.

Here's where you say, "What in the world is she talking about? I think she's gone off her rocker, it must be all the tea she drinks."

Ummm, no.

If you won't drink tea, I want you to eat tea.  That's right.. EAT IT!

So here's how this goes...

You'll need:

  1. 4 c. filtered water
  2. 4 Tbs. Green Tea (Dragon Well, Sencha, or Gunpowder are best)
  3. a clean non-metal pitcher

Heat water to just below boiling point.  If it boils, then let it sit 5 - 6 minutes.

Place leaves in pitcher.  Add water and stir. Allow it to steep for 5 minutes.

Now, either drink the tea throughout the day, with a tiny squeeze of lemon to boost its anti-oxidant capacity, OR save and use in place of water in practically any recipe you're making!

Put tea leaves in a ceramic or glass bowl and refrigerate up to 2 days.

When you cook stir--fry's, vegetables or grains... add some of the tea leaves to the dish!  Our kids don't even notice them in mixed veggie dishes, and they get a nice dose of Auntie Oxidante.  :)

~ I rest my case, or my kettle.