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The Iraqi Family Cookbook

The Iraqi Family Cookbook
Purchase the new edition on Amazon

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Tahini Cookies

Tahini is a sesame paste that I use for making hummus, and other sauces. I decided to make these delicious cookies that resemble sugar or peanut butter cookies using tahini. You can use almond butter if you do not have tahini. You can find tahini in the Middle Eastern isle of the grocery store.

This recipe makes 20 cookies
¼ cup tahini
4 ounces butter, melted (1/2 stick)
½ cup sugar
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
1 egg
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a bow, put the butter, tahini, sugar, egg and whisk until sugar has melted. Add flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom and stir using a wooden spoon.
Take a small ball of the dough the size of a walnut. Roll it in your hands, and put on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. When done rolling, make an indention in the middle of the cookie dough and put a few sesame seeds. Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven. Remove from oven and leave the cookies to cool before removing from pan. Store them in a Tupperware container lined with wax paper.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Fig Jam


Figs are in season in mid August when they ripen and ready to pick. They are perishable, and plan to eat them within one day or store in the refrigerator for two days. You can also freeze them whole or cut in a half. Just arrange them on a parchment paper lined tray and put in the freezer for 3 hours. Then remove from the tray and store them in a freezer bag for later use. Use them for a smoothie, or cook them for making fig sauce to pour over goat cheese, cream cheese or plain yogurt.
I was fortunate enough to find purple figs in the Farmer’s Market. I purchased a few pounds for consuming and canning. I usually keep the figs whole before cooking them, but you can chop them and cook them for a spread.
2 pounds whole figs, rinsed and drained       
1 ½ cup of sugar
6 cloves cardamom
1 stick cinnamon
¼ cup water
Juice of 1 lemon
Place all the ingredients in the pot and bring to a boil. Skim off the foam that develops on top. Simmer the figs on low heat for 50 minutes. When figs are cooked, remove from heat and spoon in jars and seal the top. When the jars cool off, store in the refrigerator.

Whole green or yellow fig jam

Monday, June 30, 2014

Purslane Vegetarian Stew-Edible Weed Stew

This is an edible weed that grows wild in the yard. People unfamiliar with it weed it,
but we eat it. It makes very nutritious salads. The flavor is lemony and the leaves are meaty and delicious. It looks like the jade plant.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large tomato, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper or mixed spices
2 cups purslane, chopped (use leaves and thin stems)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Heat oil in a deep pan, and sauté the onions for 3 minutes. Add tomato paste and chopped tomatoes and water, and stir. Bring to a boil. Add purslane, and season with salt and spices and stir. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add lemon juice.

Serve as  soup with bread or with plain white rice.

Purslane Salads Recipes-Edible Weed Salads

This is an edible weed that grows wild in the yard. People unfamiliar with it weed it, but we eat it. It makes a very nutritious salads. The flavor is lemony and the leaves are meaty and delicious. It looks like the jade plant. 

During my weekly visits to the farmers market looking for purslane,  I was unable to find it. I mentioned my disappointment at work, and one pf my colleague surprised me with a big bag of purslane from her yard. I was so thrilled and promised to share the dishes I make with her.
This is a popular Summer green that we consume in Iraq, and we call it Berbeen.
Rinse it well, and make sure it is pesticide free. Use the stems as well as the leaves for these recipes.
Purslane Tomato Salad

1 cup purslane, chopped (use the thin stems and leaves)
1 large tomato, diced
2 Persian cucumbers, sliced
¼ cup of onion, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
 In a salad bowl, pour the olive oil and lemon and add salt, and stir. Add all the vegetables and stir. Cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.
You can sprinkle 1 teaspoon of ground summac on it if you prefer. You can top the salad with feta cheese too.
Purslane Onion Salad
For this recipe, use sweet Vidalia onions.
1 onion, sliced
2 cups purslane, sliced
1 tablespoon sumac
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Put the onions in a small bowl and sprinkle salt and sumac over it and stir. Cover, and set aside for one hour to wilt and change color. Strain it (do not rinse it), and set aside.
In a salad bowl, put the purslane and add the onions. Pour the lemon juice and olive oil and stir. Sprinkle more ground sumac over it if you prefer.
Decorate with slices of tomatoes, and serve with chicken or kufta  kabobs.
Purslane Yogurt Salad

2 cups purslane, chopped (leaves and stems)
1 cup plain yogurt
1 clove of garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Put purslane in a salad bowl. In another small bowl, pour the yogurt, and add salt and garlic, and olive oil and stir. Pour the yogurt over the purslane and stir. Cover the bowl and store in the refrigerator. Serve with rice dishes

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Stuffed Eggplant (Sheikh Mahshi)

Traditionally, we purchase small eggplants, cut them in half and core them to stuff them. Italian eggplants are medium side, meaty  but a little too large for stuffing.  I decided to cut them lengthwise and top them with meat filling.

2 Italian eggplants, cut lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed
½ pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Arabian spice (Seven Spices,Syrian Spice)
1 tomato, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup water
Heat oil in a pan. Put the eggplants cut side down. Leave it to cook for 10 minutes on medium heat until half way cooked. Turn eggplants to other side and add more olive oil to cook for five more minutes.( you could oil them and put the under the broiler of 10 minutes if you prefer).
In another pan, sauté the meat for 5 minutes and add onions, salt and spices. Cook for 5 minutes and add the tomato and tomato paste, and stir the mixture. Add water and simmer for 10 minutes.
In a deep Pyrex pan, pour ½ cup of water in the bottom of the pan. Scoop one tablespoon of the eggplant flesh and  arrange in the bottom of the dish. Arrange the eggplants. Spread 2-3 tablespoons of the meat filling on each half. Spoon some sauce in the Pyrex pan, and around eggplants.
Cover the pan with foil and bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 40 minutes.
Serve with plain white rice.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Swiss Chard and Chickpea Stew

There are a variety of Swiss chards. In this recipe, I am using the chard with red stems. Make sure not to discard the stems. They are meaty, nutritious and delicious. I mention in the recipe the Arabian spice which is also called Syrian spice or Seven spices. It is sold in Middle Eastern grocery stores or just mix the ground spices to make the spice mix.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 large bunch of Swiss chard, rinsed and sliced.
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup water
1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed
1 teaspoon salt
1 /2 teaspoon Arabian spice(mixture of cinnamom,allspice,cloves,black pepper and ground cardamom)
Juice of ½ lemon
In a deep pan, heat the oil and sauté the garlic and onions. Add the stems of the Swiss chard and tomatoes. Add 1/2 of water and bring to a boil. Add the Swiss chard leaves and chickpeas. Season with salt and spices. Simmer for 5 more minutes. Add lemon juice, and stir. Remove from heat and serve in soup bowl, with toasted bread.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Potato Pie-Baked Potato Chap

This is a very delicious pie that you can prepare ahead and reheat it.We use this recipe to make small individual potato kibbis , and fry them in oil. This is an easier recipe, and much lighter. You need to use a Pyrex pie dish, 12 inches in diameter.

3 large Yukon Gold potatoes, boiled
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon salt
½ pound lean ground chuck
1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Arabic spice or
a combination of(allspice, black pepper, cinnamon and cloves)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the potatoes in the food processor and pulse until well mashed. Remove it from the processor and put it in a bowl. Add the cornstarch, breadcrumbs and salt. Mix by hand, and set aside.

Prepare the filling. Sauté the meat and add the onions and spices. When cooked, add salt and chopped parsley. Remove from heat, and set aside to cool.
Brush the pie dish with 2 tablespoons of oil. Take half of the potato mixture and press it down to cover the surface of the dish. Spread the meat filling on top and cover it with a layer of potato. Smooth the top of the pie and brush it with oil. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Bake for 30 minutes.