Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Nicaragua - Tres Leches Cake

It translates as 'Three milks cake' because it has regular milk, evaporated and condensed milk in the recipe. Apparently Nicaragua and Mexico both claim to have invented this cake and me posting it as Nicaragua's entry doesn't mean I'm taking sides, honest!


1 cup sugar
5 egg yolks
5 egg whites
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1  can evaporated milk
1 large pot of double cream

 Preparation, preparation, preparation! Butter and flour a cake tin.

Separate the eggs. I've seen people do this lots of different ways and seen gadgets to make it easier. I just juggle the egg yolk from half eggshell to half eggshell and let the white drop into a bowl underneath. I assumed everyone did it this way until recently. Each to their own though :)

Put the egg yolks in a bowl with the sugar. Beat together until paler and doubled in volume.

Add the vanilla, flour, baking powder and milk. Stir well to make a smooth batter.

Whisk the egg whites in a different bowl until they form soft peaks. I love this rotary whisk, such less hassle than anything electric. 

Gently fold the egg whites into the cake batter.

 Pour into the waiting cake tin and bake at 200C for 45 minutes. My cake looked weird and wrinkled on the top so I turned it over for the picture :D

 Mix together the condensed milk, evaporated milk and 1/4 cup of the cream. Use something pointy to poke holes in the cake all over and then pour the milk/cream mix all over the cake.

It'll all soak into the cake and then near the end of the mixture it'll just sit on the top. That's when you know it's soaked to capacity!

Whip the rest of the cream and spread on top of the cake. Chill until you're ready to eat it.

This cake was surprisingly delicious. I didn't expect much flavour wise because there's no strong flavours in the recipe but it was creamily soft and smooth to eat with a delicate sweet flavour. The cake was incredibly moist and dense inside but sort of chewy around the edges. Everyone loved it and ate 2 slices, even Erin who's usually not that keen on desserts.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Djibouti - Maraq Soup and Muufo Bread

Djibouti food is a mixture of dishes from bordering countries. So I've decided to make a Yemeni soup and Somali bread to go with it. The bread seems really interesting as it's made mostly of semolina instead of flour. It's difficult to find a unique food for some of the African countries as their dishes are quite similar or use ingredients I can't get hold of.


For the bread:

2 cups of semolina
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tbls sugar
1 tsp onion powder
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp  yeast
1-1/4 cup lukewarm water
Salt to taste

I got out the garlic zoom to chop up the garlic clove. I really like it, you peel the garlic and put it inside then drive it around your worktop to chop up the clove. It works quite well and chops it up more finely than I could ever be bothered to, hah!

 Put all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and then add the water to make a dough. I put in all the water it suggested then had to add more flour as the dough was way too sticky to knead. Oh yes, also knead the dough for 5 minutes.

 Cover the dough and leave in a warm place to rise. We've got a great place for that in this house near the back door.

 The recipe says to knead it again and rise it again, which I did because I'm a good girl but really I hate this part of making bread. I like to get a recipe done not keep coming back to faff about with it more! The dough rose quite nicely although I forgot to oil the bowl under the dough and it had all stuck to it and then my hands when I tried to get it out. So beware! :D

 Form into small bread rolls and place on an oiled oven sheet. Cover tightly in foil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 200C.

For the soup:

2 Lamb chops
Pinch of salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 cardamom pod's seeds
1 clove of garlic
1 small onion
2 carrots

Brown the lamb in oil in a pan and then add 8 cups of water. Boil, removing any foam from the top of the water. You boil until the meat is tender. Then get the spices ready. You can arrange them in a bowl to showcase the different ones like me or just put them in the soup, it's up to you :D

 Cut up the garlic and onion as small as you can. I used the garlic zoom again for the garlic AND the onion which isn't what the makers intended but they can't stop me now!

Also chop up the carrot into chunks and add that to the soup. Simmer until the carrot is soft enough to eat and the soup is done. I sliced up the lamb chop and took out the bone before serving.

 I was really pleased with how well the Muufo bread rolls turned out. They had a crispy outer shell but were soft and fluffy inside. The kids loved them and want me to make them again. We dipped them in the soup and ate them with butter on too, which was sooooo good.

I was disappointed in the soup. It smelled great while it was cooking and the lamb I nabbed whilst cutting it up tasted delicious. I think it was just because it was a brothy thin kind of soup. Mostly they taste like spiced hot water to me which I suppose essentially they are. JD enjoyed it but it did have all his favourite spices in it. The lamb was really flavouful so I enjoyed that. Maraq soup is usually eaten before the main meal and isn't intended as a meal on it's own so I shouldn't complain that it was quite unfulfilling. There's plenty semolina left so I might make more bread rolls to see what they're like with jam on, yum!

Monday, May 12, 2014

United Arab Emirates - Chicken Shawarma

JD and I are currently enjoying eating pitta breads for lunch most days with various fillings (the favourite being homemade hummous) so I thought it'd be nice to try out this dish which is spiced chicken inside a pitta bread.


  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 5 tablespoons plain low-fat Greek-style yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 pound of chicken
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 4  pittas

 Measure out the first five ingredients into a bowl.

 Add 1 tablespoon of yoghurt, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and 2 chopped up garlic cloves.

Mix well.

 Chop up the chicken into small thin pieces and stir into the yoghurt sauce. Cover and put in the fridge for a bit while you make up the tahini sauce.

Combine 4 tablespoons of yoghurt, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of tahini and the last chopped up garlic clove.

Saute the chicken in a tablespoon of oil until it's cooked.

Warm the pitta breads and then fill with the chicken, some cucumber slices and some of the tahini sauce. I served ours with some cous cous and a cucumber salad.

The chicken was incredibly spicy. I don't think I could have eaten the chicken without the yoghurt sauce. Together though the combined flavours were delicious. Everyone enjoyed the pittas so we'll likely have them again. Tahini is a strong flavour on it's own but in some yoghurt it gives a more delicate taste which was lovely. Nice!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Iraq - Maraq Fasoulia

Butter beans are probably my favourite beans so I was keen to do this dish. My recipe said to use dry beans and soak them overnight. I almost forgot to soak them which is usually the case when I use dry beans. I may try this recipe again with canned beans and see if there's actually any difference!

Sadly my camera had an accident a few days ago and so I had to take pictures with my phone instead. There's less pictures than usual and they're not as good, sorry :)


1 tbls oil
1 kg meat on bone
2 bay leaves
2 cups butter beans
2 onions
1 can tomatoes
3 tbls tomato paste
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 lemons (juice of)

 You might notice that I didn't use 1kg of meat in my stew, that's because we're not made of money! Seal the meat in the hot oil and add two chopped onions. Cook until the onions are sauted. Add the bay leaves and cover with water. Simmer for and hour and a half. (By the way, we've sussed simmering on this hob now, woo!)

 Add the butter beans and maybe a touch more water if needed. Simmer again for an hour. Add the remainder of the ingredients and stir well. Simmer for 20 minutes adding a bit of flour if it needs thickening. Serve with rice.

I used lamb chops as the required vague meat and it was deliciously tender and flavoursome. The beans gave a nice texture to the stew but not enough of them had survived the simmering for hours. The whole stew had nice flavour almost like a chilli or curry. It went well with rice since it needed something to soak up the liquid in it. It was easy to make because you could set it off simmering and leave it alone to cook for a while. Would cook again! :)
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