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The Iraqi Family Cookbook

The Iraqi Family Cookbook
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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Homemade Vinegar, - الخل بالفواكه

Vinegar making is a tradition in every Iraqi kitchen. We always serve pickles with meals, and vinegar is an essential kitchen ingredients that we keep in large pottery jars for pickling or salad dressing. 
Traditionally, we make vinegar using dates or grapes. I decided to experiment with fruit I have.I peeled a pineapple, and decided to put the core in a large mason jar. I added blueberries, a few dates and sugar.
The process takes a few weeks for the vinegar to mature; it takes a little of patience, but the result is very successful!

4 cups water
1/4 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed
core of one pineapple
1/2 an apple sliced
4 dates
1/2 cup sugar, divided
In a large clean jar, pour the filtered water. Leave 3 inches of space to the top of the jar,  to allow space for the fermentation process.
Add 1/4 cup of sugar and stir. Add all the fruit and cover the top of the jar with cloth towel.Secure the top with rubber band.(Fermentation needs air. This is why we do not secure the top of the jar completely).
Leave the jar in a dark area in the kitchen for 3 week. You will notice the bubble and fruit are rising up to the top due to the fermentation process. 
Line a strainer with cheesecloth and place on top of a stainless steel bowl. Pour the vinegar mixture in the strainer to catch all the fruit. Discard the fruit. Pour the vinegar mixture in a big jar. Add 1/4 cup of sugar and stir. Seal the jar halfway with the top cap. Cover the jar with a kitchen towel, and leave it to mature for six more weeks.
Line a funnel with a coffee filter and put it on top of a jar to strain the vinegar again. Now you are ready to use for salads or for marinades.

Apricot Jam-مربى المشمش

This is one of my favorite jams. I always have jars of homemade berry jams in my fridge, and I give them as a gift when invited by friends. Whenever I make yellow cake I drop a few spoons of strawberry or blackberry jam in the batter before I put the pan in the oven.
In this recipe, I do not peel the apricots. I cut each apricot in quarters. Ripe and soft apricots are best for this recipe.
1 pound fresh apricots
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon fruit fresh powder or lemon juice
In a saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil. Add the apricots, fruit fresh powder and stir. When mixture starts to boil, reduce heat and simmer on medium low for 30 minutes. Make sure to skim off the foam that develops around the edges of the pot. Also, make sure to stir a few times to prevent the fruit from sticking to the bottom of the pot. When water is almost absorbed and apricots are cooked, remove from heat and pour in canning jars. Seal the jars and leave on the kitchen counter until cool. Store in the refrigerator.
You can use this jam with cream cheese or a topping for apple cake.


Friday, April 10, 2015

Green Beans with Tomatoes-فاصوليا خضرة

This is a vegetarian dish that we serve as a side dish or a main dish with rice.
I used frozen Italian green beans, but you can use regular frozen or fresh cut green beans.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper or Arabian spices
1 pound frozen Italian green beans
1 8- ounces tomato sauce
1 medium tomato, chopped
11/2 cup water
In a deep pan, heat the oil and add the onions and saute for 5 minutes. Add salt and seasonings. Add the green beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce and water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for 30 minutes or until the green beans are cooked.
Serve with plain white rice or saffron rice. Enjoy

Friday, March 6, 2015

Potato Chap- بطاطا جاب

Kubbat potato is an appetizer or finger food that is very popular as a street food, and served as a heavy mazza in restaurants and at home. We also serve it as a snack for our guests and sometimes we prepare it for a picnic.
I used potato ricer that works best for this recipe.

Makes 14 discs
3 large baking potatoes 
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch 
Vegetable oil for frying
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 pound ground beef or lamb
1/2 cup onion,chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon mixed spices, Syrian spice or seven spices
1/2 cup chopped parsley
Put the potatoes in a pot. Add water to cover. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil.
When the potatoes are cooked, remove from the pot and put aside to cool. Peel the potatoes and cut each in a half.
Mash the potatoes using the potato masher or ricer. When all mashed in a bowl, add the egg, salt and cornstarch. Mix by hand or a wooden spoon to combine.
Prepare the filling ahead to cool before filling the potato. Heat oil in a pan and sauté the onions until soft. Add the meat, salt, and spices and stir. When meat is cooked, set a side to cool. Add the chopped parsley and stir..
Now you are ready to assemble the potato kibbi. Take a small portion of the potato,the size of an egg. Dip your fingers in vegetable oil and roll the potato at make a ball. Make a hole in the middle and stuff the potato with one teaspoon of the meat filling.. Close it and pat it to make a disk.arrange on a plate.
Heat oil in a frying pan. Slide the disks in oil. When it gets toasty, flip the disks to the other side. Remove from  pan and place on a paper towel to absorb the oil. .
When cool, arrange the disks in plastic container for later use.When, ready to serve, arrange the potato  disks on a baking tray and heat in the oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees F.
You can freeze these disks before frying, but I prefer to fry them, freeze them and reheat them when ready to serve.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Dates Bread- كعكة بالتمر

Dates Bread is called, خبز بالتمر اوالكعك بالتمر

The dough is sticky

This is a delicious sweet bread that goes well with afternoon tea or breakfast. Once you  make this bread, you would not want to buy bread from the grocery store!
You can use majdool date or pressed dates for baking, which you can find at Middle Eastern grocery stores. This recipe does not require a lot of kneading
1 tablespoon yeast
3/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter,melted
3 eggs
4 tablespoons powdered milk
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon ground fennel, optional
1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds
Egg wash and one tablespoon sesame seeds

Prepare the date mixture by sautéing one pound of dates with a tablespoon of butter. Add ground cardamom and cinnamon for flavoring and mix. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, put the yeast and add the sugar and warm water and stir. when the yeast becomes foamy add the butter, eggs, salt, and stir. Gradually, add the flour as you stir. Add fennel and nigella seeds and stir. The dough will be rather sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on a floured board. Knead the dough for 2 minutes .Cover with a dish towel to  to rest for 15 minutes. Divide the dough into 6 pieces.
Use a rolling pin to roll out each piece of dough to make 6x3  inches. Roll the dates to make a the date rope on the dough and fold the dough over the date rope. And pinch the edges to seal . Attach both ends to make a ring. Make a few cuts  around the ring. Place on a sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover the dough with a towel and place in a warm area in the kitchen to rise for 1 hour.
Uncover the dough and brush the top of the rings with egg wash and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

Bake in a 375 degrees F preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and leave it on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Remove bread and place on a wire rack to cool.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Lamb and Potato Curry- كاري بالبطاطا

This is a delicious recipe using lamb chops. You could use stewing lamb, veal or beef. 

6-8 lamb chops
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon salt
1 large tomato, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 1/2 cup water
1 lemon
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and sliced
In a deep pot, heat the oil and sear the lamb chops on both sides. Add the onions, garlic,salt and spices and  cook for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and stir. Pour the water over and cover the pot and simmer for 60 minutes on medium heat. 
Check the sauce if it needs more salt. Add the potatoes. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes until the potatoes are cooked.
Turn off the heat, and squeeze the juice of one lemon and pour it over the the lamb chops.
Serve with plain white rice and salads.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Lamb Kufta with Potatoes, كفتة بالبطاطة

This is a very popular dish that we bake in the oven. You can cook it on top of the stove in a deep pan.

Serves 4
1 pound ground lamb or beef
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon Arabian spice(bahar)
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 large russet potato, peeled
1 large tomato
1 ( 14.5-ounce can) diced tomatoes 
1/2 cup water

In a bowl, put the ground lamb and add the garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt and spice and mix by hand. Shape the meat into small balls and press each ball to make patties, and set aside.

Slice the tomato in half and slice in 1/4 inch slices, and set aside. Slice the potato in 1/4 inch sliced and cut each slice in a half. Slice the onion very thinly.

Open the tomato can and pulse the tomatoes in the food processor to make a purée.

In a deep Pyrex dish, pour 1 cup of tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan. Make a stack of meat, potato, onion and tomato slices. Arrange side by side in the pan. When all meat and slices are arranged, pour the water and the rest of the tomato sauce. Season with salt and more spices if desired.

Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes in 350 degrees F. Oven. Remove from oven, uncover and bake for15 more minutes. 

Serve with plain white rice, and salad.