Labneh – Arabic Soft Cheese

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Another recipe from Balaboosta. Hopefully these recipes are entertaining for people….because they’ve been my last few posts!

This one is a keeper. So far – I am loving that cookbook. Lots of different recipes, easy to follow, and delicious!

And. It’s N approved. Which I love! He said this tastes authentic. So – there’s that!

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What’s labne? It’s basically an arabic soft cheese – made from yogurt. It’s hard for me to describe completely – but it’s a delicious blend of salty, tangy feta, creamy cream cheese, and sour, sour cream.

The version I’ve made is a soft version – if you want it to be harder (more like feta), then allow it to sit longer in the sieve.

Labne_SAC2Here’s what you need: whole milk yogurt, salt, olive oil, and (optional) zatar. Other items: 2 bowls, sieve, and cheesecloth.

And here’s what you do:

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Step 1: place sieve in bowl – place cheesecloth in the bottom of sieve (cheesecloth should be folded over 3 times).

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Step 2: mix 1 T. salt with the entire container of yogurt.

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Step 3: place the yogurt from the container into the cheesecloth covered sieve. Cover the rest of the yogurt with the cheesecloth.

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Step 4: place bowl with sieve, cheesecloth, and yogurt into the refrigerator overnight – or up to 24 hours.

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Step 5: remove from fridge, remove yogurt from cheesecloth – place into serving bowl. Mix with a spoon to lighten the cheese. Discard the excess water at the bottom of dish.

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Step 6: top with olive oil and zatar. (zatar is options….sumac, or any other dried mix that you enjoy would be delicious)

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Step 7: eat with thick pieces of crusty, crunchy bread.

AMAZING. Creamy. Sour. Salty. Tangy. Amazing.

What’s it taste like? Well – it’s like a mix of sour cream, feta cheese, and cream cheese.

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What else can you do with it? Well, I made roasted mushrooms and made this recipe for roasted, and stuffed mushrooms – and replaced the goat cheese with labneh. Amazing. You can add it to sandwiches. You can eat it with celery and cucumber. Really, your options are endless.

I really enjoyed this cheese – it was cost effective, easy, and delicious – I will be making again!

Labne
From Balaboosta Cookbook
Click here for recipe print out 
Prep Time: 10 min + 8- 24 hours waiting

Ingredients:
4 cups plain yogurt (whole milk)
1 T. kosher salt
Olive oil (to drizzle on top)
Zatar spice (to sprinkle on top)
Bread or pita for dipping

Directions:

Step 1: place sieve in bowl – place cheesecloth in the bottom of sieve (cheesecloth should be folded over 3 times).

Step 2: mix 1 T. salt with the entire container of yogurt.

Step 3: place the yogurt from the container into the cheesecloth covered sieve. Cover the rest of the yogurt with the cheesecloth.

Step 3: place bowl with sieve, cheesecloth, and yogurt into the refrigerator overnight – or up to 24 hours.

Step 5: remove from fridge, remove yogurt from cheesecloth – place into serving bowl. Mix with a spoon to lighten the cheese.

Step 6: top with olive oil and zatar.

Step 7: eat with thick pieces of crusty, crunchy bread.

Spicy Harissa Chicken Tagine

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I love you, tagine. I mean. That’s weird, right? (If you’re wondering what’s a tagine, check out my other recipes here).

Another recipe success from the Balaboosta cookbook. So happy with that gift from N.

This tagine recipe is a very nice balance of flavors, spice, and vegetables. I actually may consider this my favorite tagine recipe that I’ve made. Although, I can’t say that with 100% conviction – I did really, really love it.

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Here’s what you need: chicken thighs (bone-in, skin removed), chicken stock, harissa (from previous post), orange, lemon, Hungarian sweet paprika, cumin, turmeric, garlic cloves, fennel bulb, leek, kalamata olives (or black olives), mint leaves, salt and pepper.

Note: I know this recipe seems like a lot of work – but it’s worth it. I swear.

Get your dutch oven or tagine out and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Get veggies prepared: Peel a small bit of the peel from the orange, and set that aside. Now, juice the orange – to get 1 cup. If you don’t have enough for 1 cup, add premade orange juice (or water).

Peel the 10 garlic cloves – keep them whole (some broken pieces aren’t the end of the world, believe me). clean the leek (slice, and soak in a bowl of water – or, run under water) – then slice into small pieces. Trim the fennel by cutting a think slice from the bottom of the fennel, then remove the tops. Dice into bite-size pieces.

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Now – get those chicken thighs prepared. Note: you can use skin-on and you can use chicken legs and thighs. I like thighs only and I like it without the skin – less fattening. But still delicious. Peel the skin off the thighs, if necessary, and season with 1 t. salt and 1/2 t. pepper.

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Time to incorporate everything: In the dutch oven (or tagine) put the 2 cups of chicken stock, 2-3 heaping tablespoons of harissa, 1 cup orange juice, 2 T. Hungarian sweet paprika, 1 T. ground cumin, 1 t. turmeric, 1 t. salt, and 1/2 t. pepper. Mix mix mix until fully incorporated.

Toss the leek, fennel into the dutch oven. Add the remaining ingredients: 10 peeled garlic cloves (whole), 1 fresh lemon (cut into wedges, seeds removed), 3/4 cup kalamata olives (with seeds removed), and 1 handful of fresh mint leaves (chopped).

Mix.

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Add the chicken pieces to the pan – and you’re ready to get cooking.

Cover with the lid – place into the preheated oven. Bake for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, remove the lid, and continue to bake for 30 minutes. Why? Because this gets the top of the chicken slightly crunchy and the sauce to further reduce. Yum.

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After 30 minutes – remove from the oven and it’s time to eat!

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I served ours with toasted pita and couscous. DE.LISH.OUS. Ha.

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So good – it’s not hot. Hot spicy. It’s more spicy as in flavorful. And the lemon and orange add such a great flavor. The paprika really shines, with hints of fresh mint and the anise flavor from the fennel.

All in all – you have to try this. It was amazing. The flavors go perfectly together and the chicken is so tender, it’s outrageous. I’m a huge fan.

Note: the adjustments I made from the original recipe: replaced preserved lemon with fresh lemon wedges (I didn’t have any preserved lemons), removed the skin from the chicken thighs, and reduced the amount of leek and fennel (costs!). Just FYI.

Enjoy!

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Spicy Harissa Chicken Tagine 
Adapted from Balaboosta Cookbook
Prep time: 25 min
Cook time: 90 min
Click here to print recipe

Ingredients:
3 lbs. chicken thighs – bone-in, skin removed
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed)
1 sliver orange peel (optional)
1 lemon
2-3 T. harissa
2 T. Hungarian sweet paprika
1 T. cumin
1 t. turmeric
2 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1 fennel bulb
1 leek
3/4 c. kalamata olives (pitted)
10 garlic cloves, peeled
1 handful fresh mint leaves

Directions:

  1. Get your dutch oven or tagine out and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prep veggies: remove sliver of orange peel, set aside. Juice orange to make 1 cup of juice (add water or juice to fill remaining). Peel the 10 garlic cloves. Keep them whole. Pit the kalamata olives. Slice and clean the leek. Dice and trim the fennel into bite size pieces. Set aside.
  3. Prepare the chicken:  Note: you can use skin-on and you can use chicken legs and thighs. I like thighs only and I like it without the skin – less fattening. But still delicious. Peel the skin off the thighs, if necessary, and season with 1 t. salt and 1/2 t. pepper.
  4. In the dutch oven (or tagine) put the 2 cups of chicken stock, 2-3 heaping tablespoons of harissa, 1 cup orange juice, 2 T. Hungarian sweet paprika, 1 T. ground cumin, 1 t. turmeric, 1 t. salt, and 1/2 t. pepper. Mix mix mix until fully incorporated. 
  5. Toss the leek, fennel into the dutch oven. Add the remaining ingredients: 10 peeled garlic cloves (whole), 1 fresh lemon (cut into wedges, seeds removed), 3/4 cup kalamata olives (with seeds removed), and 1 handful of fresh mint leaves (chopped). Mix. Add the chicken pieces to the pan – and you’re ready to go.
  6. Cover with the lid – place into the preheated oven. Bake for 1 hour.
  7. After 1 hour, remove the lid, and continue to bake for 30 minutes. (Why? Because this gets the top of the chicken slightly crunchy and the sauce to further reduce). After 30 minutes – remove from the oven and it’s time to eat!

Serve with toasted pita and couscous.
Enjoy!

Harissa (Middle Eastern Hot Sauce)

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First time I had harissa I was in NYC for work and a co-worker took me to this really unique Mediterranean/Moroccan restaurant for dinner. She told me that the couscous dish there was fantastic. And it was. The hot sauce/paste that they served on the side intrigued me – it was  hot, full of flavor, and totally unique. Later, exploring with tagine recipes and meandering around the Mediterranean grocery store – I discovered it was harissa. For more info on harissa – here’s the wikipedia link.

This recipe is from Einat Adomny’s book “Balaboosta” – so far, I’ve made 4 dishes from her cookbook – and they’ve all been fantastic.

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Here’s what you need: 1 red pepper (roasted), Hungarian sweet paprika, caraway seeds, cayenne, cumin, garlic cloves, tomato paste (that’s the frozen stuff in the ziploc baggie), canola oil, and salt.

And here’s how you make it:

Roast a red pepper. This can be done on your stove top flame – if you have a gas stove. If you don’t – 2 other options: If you have a broiler: broil in your oven, under high. Watching carefully and moving (carefully, and with tongs). If no broiler: heat a pan on high – lay the pepper on the pan, and allow to char before moving it to the rest. All options should take around 6-8 minutes – the intent is to get the outside skin charred, while cooking the inside flesh.

The pepper should be charbroiled – place into a bowl and cover with saran wrap – let it sit for 10 minutes.

While pepper is cooling off (and the skin is getting soft – easy to peel), get the rest of the items prepared.

I didn’t have ground caraway – so I had to grind the seeds: so use a mortar and pestle, or use a spice grinder – set aside. I kind of had fun using the mortar and pestle – made me feel connected to the history of this dish!

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Ok – so let’s get this pepper finished. Remove from the bowl – and the easiest way I’ve found to remove the skin, is to take a paper towel and simply wipe the black skin away. Note: not every single piece needs to come off. If there are some bits still sticking, go ahead throw it into the dish. It adds smokiness.

After the skin is removed, remove the seeds and slice into thick strips.

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Now, using a food processor, combine the following: 10 peeled garlic cloves, the red pepper slices, 1/2 cup of canola oil, and 1/4 c. tomato paste. Pulse until the mixture is almost pureed.

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Add the cumin, cayenne, caraway, paprika, and salt. Pulse, then add the remaining 1/4 cup canola oil. Once combined – it’s complete!

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Now, what to do with this? I used it in a tagine recipe, which will be posted soon. Delicious. I also used this batch to slather on boneless, skinless chicken thighs – that I then baked. If you make a couscous dish, like this one, you can put a dollop of this hot spice mixture on the side of the dish – and use it to season. It’s like any other hot sauce – use it in chili, add it to a soup, throw it in a rice steamer to season the rice or quinoa – options are endless.

The only modification I did from the original recipe, is I used about 1/2 cup less canola oil. If you want this to be more loose, add the remaining oil or (if counting calories) loosen up with water.

Really fun and different way to add heat to your dishes – than the conventional Red Hot or Tabasco sauce. although, i love me some Red Hot.

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Harissa (Middle Eastern Hot Sauce) 
Makes about 3/4 cup
Adapted from Balaboosta cookbook
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 5 min
Click here to print recipe

Ingredients:
10 garlic cloves
1 large red pepper
3/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup ground cumin
1/3 cup cayenne
1/3 cup sweet Hungarian paprika
1/4 cup ground caraway
2 T. salt

Directions:

  1. Roast the large, red bell pepper – place in a bowl and cover with saran wrap, leave for 8-10 minutes. Prepare pepper by removing the skin and seeds – and slicing into strips.
  2. Using a food processor, combine the following: 10 peeled garlic cloves, the red pepper slices, 1/2 cup of canola oil, and 1/4 c. tomato paste. Pulse until the mixture is almost pureed.
  3. Add the cumin, cayenne, caraway, paprika, and salt. Pulse, then add the remaining 1/4 cup canola oil. Once combined – it’s complete!

Jeni’s Buckeye Ice Cream

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Hello 2014! Well….I know I shouldn’t be posting an ice cream recipe with all the New Year’s resolutions starting….but I had to test out my new cookbook, right!?!

This ice cream recipe is fantastic.

So – for those who don’t know – I used to live in Columbus, Ohio where Jeni’s originated. The ice cream is dense, has exotic flavors, and is just unbelievable. My favorite flavor is the lemon blueberry yogurt – so delicious. I wanted to try out a recipe from the book that looked easy – so this buckeye recipe won. Buckeye is a signature flavor from Ohio – chocolate and peanut butter. The best combination on the planet.

Seattle doesn’t have anything close to Jeni’s. People told me to try this place called Molly Moon or something close to that – not good. Like, we don’t like it so much that when we drive by we aren’t even tempted. It’s nothing like Jeni’s. Maybe we’re spoiled. Oh well.

Buckeye Ice Cream_SAC11Here’s what you need: whole milk, cornstarch, cream cheese, peanut butter, fine sea salt, heavy cream, sugar, light corn syrup, honey, and semi-sweet or dark chocolate.

Here’s what equipment you need: an ice cream maker, 1 large bowl, 1 medium bowl, 1 small bowl, a medium saucepan, whisk, heat-resistant rubber spatula, a large Ziploc bag, saran wrap, and Tupperware.

First – In a small bowl – whisk together 2 T. of the whole milk with 1 T. plus 1 t. corn starch. Set aside.

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Second – In a medium bowl (larger than 1 quart) whisk together 3 ounces of cream cheese with 1/2 cup of peanut butter. Note: her recipe calls for all-natural peanut butter –  I didn’t have that so I used traditional peanut butter. I think it turned out amazing. So use what you want. Whisk – add in a pinch of sea salt – whisk and set-aside.

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Third – In a medium saucepan over medium/high heat – combine the remaining 2 cups of whole milk, 1 1/4 cups of heavy whipping cream, 2/3 cups sugar, 2 T. light corn syrup, and 2 T. honey.

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Bring mixture to a rolling boil (I had my stove set to 1 notch below medium heat) – and allow to cook for 4 minutes – set your timer!

After 4 minutes, remove from heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch/milk slurry that you made in step 1.

Place saucepan back onto medium/high heat and return to a rolling boil – continue to stir (with a heat-resistant spatula) for 1-2 minutes, until mixture begins to thicken. Note: this should not be incredibly thick – like a pudding. This should be thicker milk, enough to coat the spatula – but not super thick.

Mix the milk mixture with the peanut butter and cream cheese mixture. This is why you need a large enough bowl. Whisk until completely combined.

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Fourth – pour the ice cream into a 1-gallon Ziploc baggie. This is a little messy. Place into a large mixing bowl that you’ve filled with water and ice (an ice bath). Place the sealed (important!) bag into the ice bath – and allow to cool down for 30 minutes. Replace the ice if it melts. Note: I replaced the ice and water once.

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Fifth – remove the bag from the ice bath – and pour into the frozen canister from your ice cream machine. Begin to spin the ice cream.

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Sixth – while the ice cream is spinning – melt the 4 ounces of chocolate. I used a mixture of semi-sweet and dark chocolate chips. Melt in the microwave or in a double boiler. When the ice cream is almost complete (about 20 minutes) slowly pour in the melted chocolate. This will begin to freeze on impact – making the chocolate into shard-like bits.

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Continue to spin until reaches the desired consistency – then remove and place into a Tupperware – place a piece of parchment of saran wrap directly on top of the ice cream, and cover with a lid. Place into the freezer for a minimum of 4 hours. Then eat. And fall in love. Buckeye Ice Cream_SAC12

This is rich, creamy, sweet – all the things a great ice cream should be. I am in love with this recipe. It’s worth the work. Yum!!! Buckeye Ice Cream_SAC14

Jeni’s Buckeye Ice Cream
From Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream at Home Cookbook
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours and 35 minutes
Makes about 1 quart
Click here for recipe print out 

Ingredients: 

2 cups whole milk
1 T. plus 1 t. cornstarch
1 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
pinch of salt
1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 T. light corn syrup
2 T. honey
4 ounces semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Directions:

1. In a small bowl – whisk together 2 T. of the whole milk with 1 T. plus 1 t. corn starch. Set aside. 

2. In a medium bowl (larger than 1 quart) whisk together 3 ounces of cream cheese with 1/2 cup of peanut butter. Note: her recipe calls for all-natural peanut butter –  I didn’t have that so I used traditional peanut butter. I think it turned out amazing. So use what you want. Whisk – add in a pinch of sea salt – whisk and set-aside.

3. In a medium saucepan over medium/high heat – combine the remaining 2 cups of whole milk, 1 1/4 cups of heavy whipping cream, 2/3 cups sugar, 2 T. light corn syrup, and 2 T. honey.

Bring mixture to a rolling boil (I had my stove set to 1 notch below medium heat) – and allow to cook for 4 minutes – set your timer!

After 4 minutes, remove from heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch/milk slurry that you made in step 1.

Place saucepan back onto medium/high heat and return to a rolling boil – continue to stir (with a heat-resistant spatula) for 1-2 minutes, until mixture begins to thicken. Note: this should not be incredibly thick – like a pudding. This should be thicker milk, enough to coat the spatula – but not super thick.

Mix the milk mixture with the peanut butter and cream cheese mixture. This is why you need a large enough bowl. Whisk until completely combined.

4. Pour the ice cream into a 1-gallon Ziploc baggie. This is a little messy. Place into a large mixing bowl that you’ve filled with water and ice (an ice bath). Place the sealed (important!) bag into the ice bath – and allow to cool down for 30 minutes. Replace the ice if it melts. Note: I replaced the ice and water once.

5. Remove the bag from the ice bath – and pour into the frozen canister from your ice cream machine. Begin to spin the ice cream.

6. While the ice cream is spinning – melt the 4 ounces of chocolate. I used a mixture of semi-sweet and dark chocolate chips. Melt in the microwave or in a double boiler. When the ice cream is almost complete (about 20 minutes) slowly pour in the melted chocolate. This will begin to freeze on impact – making the chocolate into shard-like bits.

Continue to spin until reaches the desired consistency – then remove and place into a Tupperware – place a piece of parchment of saran wrap directly on top of the ice cream, and cover with a lid. Place into the freezer for a minimum of 4 hours.

Then eat. And fall in love.

New Year’s Eve —- Resolutions and Ice Cream

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This is a preemptive post – but I just made a batch of Jeni’s Buckeye Ice Cream – and it’s amazing. It’s in the freezer right now – but after tasting it a few times, I am fairly confident it’s delicious. Recipe and finished pics to come tomorrow!

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p.s. if you don’t know what Jeni’s ice cream is – you have to try to find some and/or make your own version. The best ice cream out there……for real.

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And – because I couldn’t help myself – here are some of my wishes for the New Year. Nothing new or earth shattering – but overall, be happy. Reflecting on 2013 – there have been a lot of changes. More than I’m comfortable with – but hoping that all of those changes make my 2014 even better. SAC New Years Wishes