Sunday, June 6, 2010



Does anyone else find it ironic when people use kosher salt on pork?


Wednesday, May 19, 2010



I always call it chocolate frosting and vanilla icing.

Doesn't matter if it is buttercream or ganache or glaze... if it is chocolate it is frosting, if it is vanilla it is icing.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ramen Revelation: Pad Thai



My first ramen revelation is my version of Pad Thai. If you make the sauce ahead of time or get bottled sauce, this meal will take about 5-10 minutes to make maximum. It looks (and is) pretty simple, but the taste is absolutely fantastic!

2 packs ramen noodles (save the flavor packets for later, you won't need them for this one)
6-8 big shrimp or twice as many small ones
Pad Thai sauce (enough to color the noodles and season the shrimp, usually a few tbsp)
lemon juice
salt if desired
chopped cilantro or parsley
toasted peanuts

1. Soak the ramen in warm water until flexible, but not all the way squishy (think pliable but still pretty firm) should take about 5 minutes or so. (this is a good time to thaw your shrimp in cold water)
2. heat a wok or heavy skillet to medium high or high with a little vegetable oil (you can add a little sesame oil if you have it)
3. throw in noodles and start stirring
4. when noodles are almost cooked, add pad thai sauce, a squirt of lemon juice, salt if you want it (depending on what your pad thai sauce tastes like) and shrimp. make sure to get sauce on the shrimp while they cook
5. as soon as the shrimp is opaque and pink on the outside, remove and plate
6. add cilantro and peanuts to the top

This is a good way to explain the Pad Thai sauce:

There are four ingredients in the Pad Thai sauce, Tamarind pulp (for the sour flavor), Fish Sauce (for the salty part), Palm Sugar (for a slight sweetness), and Paprika or Thai chilli powder (for the spice). Two cups of sauce will make about 6-8 portions of Pad Thai. You can make your Pad Thai sauce vegetarian by using this sauce instead of fish sauce.

To make about two cups of sauce, you should begin with about ½ cup each of Tamarind (*see the note below for how to prepare tamarind pulp), Fish Sauce, and Palm Sugar. If you substitute white and/or brown sugar for the Palm Sugar, you should use only about 1/3 cup. Melt all these together in a small pot over a low flame. Taste and adjust the flavor balance until it suits you. Then add the chilli powder, begin with a teaspoon or two, depending on your taste, and keep adding until it tastes the way you like it. By the time you're done flavoring the pot should be simmering happily. Turn off the heat and let the sauce rest while you get to the other ingredients.

At this point in the game I like my sauce to lead with a salty flavor, follow by a mild sourness, then just a gentle sweetness and a soft caress from the chilli at the back of my throat at the very end. A finished plate of Pad Thai will be served with a sliver of lime and extra chilli powder to be mixed in at the table, so you could keep these two flavors in the sauce mild for now. I don't know about you but there is nothing I hate more than a cloying sweet Pad Thai. If your sauce starts out super sweet now it will be very tough to correct later.

Those of you with a scientific mind might want more precise measurements or proportion or whatnot. I'd do it if I could, but the problem is most Thai ingredients are not standardized in the way that a Western ingredient, say, white granulated sugar, is. A cup of granulated sugar is always the same, but a cup of your Palm Sugar or Fish Sauce might not have the same intensity as mine. So the easiest thing to do is just to taste. And herein lies another beauty of preparing the sauce ahead of time. You can take your time to taste and adjust the sauce precisely to your liking, which would be hard to do à la minute in the wok.

My Cooking Past



I wanted to let you all in on a little secret. I never really cooked until about two years ago.

My family was one of those families that didn't believe in "sit-down" meals. Very rarely would we all eat a meal together. Usually someone made a big pot of spaghetti or hamburger helper and we helped ourselves when we felt hungry.

In mosts cases we referred to ourselves as "grazers," just eating whatever was around.

I grew up being not very picky about food since I would have to eat what there was or not eat. Also, I learned how to eat on a budget since my family didn't have a lot of money. (my parents are both public school teachers)

Because of this, I learned a great deal about a few kinds of food.
1. boxed dinners: Macaroni and cheese, hamburger helper, etc.
2. sandwiches: there was a time in my life when my two favorite sandwich fillings were butter and katchup (but not on the same sandwich). I now consider myself to be a master of the grilled cheese
3. Ramen: I can't tell you how many things I made up with ramen. I loved it. I still love it. Alhamdulillah it is so cheap because I don't know what I would do if it were expensive.

So I thought that, along with my cultural forays into food, I would include some cheap/easy/fast foods as well. They will mostly center around ramen because that is the quintessential cheap, easy, fast food.

I promise you wont be able to look at ramen in the same way again.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Bad Measurer



I'm not very good at this "recipe thing" you guys...

When I cook food (especially things with meat... which I pretty much everything I cook) I don't really write down how much spices and stuff I put in. I just dump stuff until it looks/smells right. I have a lot of food with pictures that I have made, but no recipes to go with them... That makes it really hard to do these blog posts sometimes.

Does it bother you guys when I say "add *these spices* however much you want"? I know if I was cooking from a recipe it would bother me but I want to know what you think. Should I try harder to keep track of how much I'm putting in?

This is how I usually tell if I have enough spices on the meat:
1. can i see the spices? are they evenly distributed over the surface of the meat?
2. does it still smell like meat? (I know this sounds weird, but it works for me) Basically I smell it and if it still smells like raw chicken or raw lamb or raw beef, then I add more spices. Usually I add a little vinegar to the meat and a little olive oil, so if it smells like either one of those I add more spices too.

It isn't very scientific, but it works.

When you guys cook, do you usually measure everything out or do you just eyeball it?




When I converted, alhamdulillah, the sisters at my masjid decided to have a gathering/pot luck after our weekly halaqah to welcome me to the community mashaAllah.

One of the sisters came and she brought a noodle dish.

She sat down next to me with her food and she looked at me and said "American's don't eat rice, right?"

I'm not sure if she was kidding or not, but either way

:-D It was hilarious!!! :-D

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Pretty Watermelon

سلام! بسم الله

SubhanAllah isn't that the prettiest watermelon ever? It has dainty little swirls in it!!!

How to Fold Triangle Samboosa

سلام! بسم الله

1. Start with a strip of egg roll or spring roll shell that is about 3 inches by 8 or 9 inches (I am demonstrating with paper, lol)

2. Fold a small triangle at the bottom.

The angle it makes with the side of the sheet should be about 45 degrees :-)
3. Apply a paste of flour and water (makes a glue) to the small triangle

4. Fold the triangle from the left to the right and press the small triangle down to stick it together. This makes a triangle shaped pocket. Fill the pocket with whatever you want (I really love spiced ground beef or cheese) Fillings should be precooked.

5. Fold again, this time from right to left, sealing the pocket

6. At this point you should cut the extra shell off at the tip of the triangle for a neater looking samboosa. Apply more *glue* to the small triangle that is left.

7. Fold small triangle over to the middle of the big triangle

8. Press to seal the samboosa

9. At this point you can choose to freeze the samboosa in an airtight container, or fry up a batch. They will look something like this inshaAllah!!

Enjoy and let me know if you give it a try!


سلام! بسم الله

I have experimented a few times with falafel. I still haven't found the PERFECT recipe, but this time turned out pretty good, so I took a few pictures.

2 bunches parsley
1 bunch cilantro
1 onion
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp coriander (ground seeds)
squirt of lemon juice
salt & pepper

1. Soak beans overnight in water

2. Use a food processor to grind everything together (I usually start with onions and leafy greens, then add beans, then spices) If it is too dry to grind, you can add a SMIDGE of olive oil, but this stuff gets too wet really fast so be careful! If it is too wet, add a little corn starch or flour to soak up the extra water.

3. Form into little patties either with a tool or by hand. (I prefer to do this by hand actually. Just make a ball and then squish it a little bit)

4. Fry in 375F oil until browned on the outside. Make sure the oil is hot enough because if it isn't, the falafel will explode :-P

5. Wrap it up in bread with some veges and tahinah :-D



سلام! بسم الله

I made SUSHI!!!! It wasn't my recipe of course, I just looked up how to do it online, but I still wanted to share some pictures :-)

I didn't have any sushi-grade fish, so I made this from teryaki chicken and tempura shrimp with cream cheese and/or cucumber.

I made some extra seasoned sushi rice and tempura shrimp as sides.

The REAL secret to Shawarma

سلام! بسم الله

So a friend and I have been doing a bit more experimentation with shawarma lately. I thought I knew what was up with shawarma before, but my eyes have been truly opened :-P

NEW tips:
1. Invest in one of those pans with holes that you use over the grill. That way you get the smokey taste on the meat (mmm mmm good).
2. Use half beef and half lamb
3. Marinate it with a little vinegar and spices (cumin, lemon, coriander, salt, pepper, etc). You don't need the yogurt if you use the vinegar :-)
4. Cook it with some of the melted lamb fat so that it doesn't get dry
5. Eat it with turnip pickles (the pink things in the picture below). These usually made with some beet juice or pieces for color, vinegar, and salt water (brine).
6. Follow the cutting instructions on THIS post

My First From Scratch Cake

بسم الله

This is the first cake I ever made from scratch, the first icing I ever made from scratch and the first cake I ever carved!! :-D

The cake is this recipe: Just a normal cake, nothing really special or spectacular. I was just looking for something easy :-)

The icing is this recipe: *Note* you will probably need to add a little more liquid for this recipe to get it the texture you want, but the taste is fantastic!

Since I have never made this stuff before, I didn't use my own recipes.

Lol also you can see my ONE baking dish and my lack of hand mixer or stand mixer. I made the whole cake with a whisk and a fork :-P I am such a college student...
alhamdulillah it works for me though!

I wanted to carve it to look like a big chocolate. *Note* the cake is easier to carve when it is completely cooled (even frozen!) Most people suggest wrapping the cake and leaving it in the freezer over night.

*Note* when you carve a cake, you should include two layers of icing. The first is the crumb coat which catches all those crumbs you loosened by carving it and the second coat is your final top coat (or you can cover with fondant).

It is good to pop it in the fridge for a bit between chocolate coats.


Corn Bread

Once I brought corn bread to the masjid and they had no idea what to do with it...


I <3 Culture

Banana Bread

بسم الله

This bread is really goooooood. I love banana bread!! In this batch I didn't add nuts, but I did make a batch with dates later that was pretty scrumptious as well.
Also I only have ONE dish that I use to make EVERYTHING that goes into the oven except for things that can be made on a cookie sheet. So basically bake it in what you want to bake it in, just watch to make sure it doesn't burn.

2.5 mashed bananas
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup oil
1/2 tsp vanilla

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)

cinnamon sugar

1. Mix all the wet stuff: bananas, sugar, egg, oil, vanilla

2. Mix all the dry stuff: flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon

3. Mix the wet and dry stuff

4. Grease your pan with butter and then coat it in cinnamon sugar (mmmmmm delicious) then pour batter into pan.

5. Bake at 350F for about 45 minutes or until you can pull a clean toothpick out.


Lentil Soup: Two by Two Soup



The base for this recipe was handed from my great grandma, to grandma, to my mom, to me. I tweaked it a little (a lot, :-P) to give it my own flavor. I LOVE Middle Eastern food and this soup definitely reflects I think. Hope you enjoy!!

2 cup shredded carrot
2 sliced onions (any way or size you like)
2 tbsp thyme
2 cup lentils
2 boxes chicken broth (4 cups each) (can sub vege broth)
2 cans diced tomatoes (14.5 oz each)
2 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp corriander
2 tsp Gulf Spice Mix (mine is from Saudi, but this recipe tastes similar)
2 tsp paprika
salt & pepper to taste

1. saute carrots and onion in soup pot with a little oil (for less fat, use a little broth) until they are soft
2. add the rest of the ingredients, boil
3. cover and let simmer until the soup looks a bit thick and all of the lentils are cooked
4. blend some or all of the soup to give a nice thick consistancy
5. enjoy! (we like to have it with cornbread, but flatbread is nice too :-) )

Chicken Adobo



My mom spent a few years of her childhood living in the Phillipines. They had a maid who taught her mother how to cook some of their dishes and Chicken Adobo QUICKLY became a family favorite. This is definitely a taste from my mother's childhood so it was really cool to learn how to make it!

This recipe will make 4 servings

1 cornish hen, quartered
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup vinegar
1-2 bay leaf
5-10 whole peppercorns
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 1/2 cup white rice
4 1/2 cup water, salt

1. bring soy, vinegar, bay leaf, and peppercorns to a boil (you can adjust the the amount of soy and vinegar depending on what you like)
2. add chicken and simmer until thoroughly cooked
3. roast garlic in pan with oil until it is soft and brown
4. add chicken to pan with garlic and sear both sides
5. place rice water and salt in sauce pan, cover with foil and lid: heat over med-low for 15-20 minutes until rice is the texture that you like
6. serve chicken on a bed of rice with juice and topped with roasted garlic

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Saturday, April 10, 2010


بسم الله

Here is my favorite pancake recipe. Almost identical to my grandmothers. Hope you all enjoy!

1 1/2 c Flour
3 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1 1/4 c Milk (if your batter is too thick, add more milk, but I wouldn't add more than about 1/8 cup unless you want crepes, lol)
1 Egg
3 tbsp Butter, melted

1. Mix ingredients
2. Heat griddle or pan with small amount of oil
3. Pour onto griddle the desired amount of pancake
4. Brown the first side until you see bubbles form on the top of the pancake
5. Flip and cook until browned
6. Eat!

I know most Americans like really traditional pancakes with butter and maple syrup, but I challenge you to trade your butter for cream cheese spread and/or your syrup for honey and give it a go.



بسم الله

I know this is random, but I just thought it was so cool!

Lookkkkk: the pepper is smiling at us!!!!!


Patty Cake: Lower Calorie

بسم الله

I made a patty cake for my mom's birthday, and I even marked it with a B! lol, but really here is the cake I made for my mom's birthday. Her name starts with a "B".

It is just a regular store bought cake mix because I am lazy, but I decided to cut back on the calories and here is how!

1. Get a white cake mix, not yellow: this requires you to use egg-whites only, so no cholesterol and calories from the fatty yellows
2. substitute 1:1 apple sauce for the vegetable oil

This will give you a lower calorie cake and is SO light and fluffy, almost like angelfood cake.

As for the decoration, I used chocolate frosting and tiny multi-colored ball sprinkles. I used a knife to cut a "B" out of wax paper, which I centered and laid on top of the cake, then poured sprinkles over it.

I removed the wax paper and put more sprinkles around the edges to give it a "cohesive" look (aka to make it look less naked, lol).

Safiha Ra'a ala Laila

بسم الله

I made about a quarter recipe of the Safiha Ra'a from Laila Blogs and it was DELICIOUS!!!! MashaAllah her recipes come out really well and I encourage you guys to try them :-D

I had them with a cucumber yogurt sauce, and inshaAllah I will try to write down what I put in it and let you guys know :-D

The Secret to Fantastic Shwarma

بسم الله

Everyone loves a good shwarma. However, making this delicious food at home can be a bit tricky, as traditionally it is made on huge rotisserie things, slow cooked for hours in its own juices, then thinly slice for proper sandwich consumption.

It took a while, but finally a way has been found to get that perfect thin slice in home-made shwarma. I love you guys so much that I am willing to share it. :-D



It is so much easier to get a thing slice when the meat isn't rolling around on you, so get your meat half way to three quarters frozen, then slice away!

I would tell you how I spice it and everything, but I do it differently every time so there would be like... a thousand different shwarmas on here. If I ever get a set recipe I will let you guys know inshaAllah.

Other Tips for Shwarma:
1. marinade with yogurt and spices that you like, in my opinion it helps keep the meat tender and gives a really great flavor
2. if working with chicken, add a little vinegar to your marinade to get ride of that *chicken smell* lol
3. marinade for several hours, don't just spice then throw it on the grill
4. try cooking it in the oven at 350 instead of in a pan or on a grill

Do you all have any shwarma tips?