Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Summer Cocktails for the Hot Days

Hello bloggers,

You will be pleased to know that we have been testing a few cocktail recipes over the weekend (but only because we wanted to blog about it)! The first one we tried out was Pimm's, a British summer classic invented in 1823 by an English farmer. Made of gin with added spices, fruits and herbs, Pimm's is a very refreshing and colourful cocktail to try at home. Simply add slices of seasonal fruits (oranges, lemons, limes, cucumber, strawberries and mint leaves) and a soft drink of your choice (we used lemonade) and serve over ice.


Now that we shared a classic cocktail with you, let's also show you our latest concoction (yes it's been a very rough weekend for us): a mouthwatering drink made with fresh passion fruit, strawberries, mint, passion fruit juice and vodka. For 5 drinks, simply slice a handful of strawberries, scrape the seeds of 3 passion fruits, toss in a few mint leaves and gently crush together using a wooden pestle. You just want to extract the flavours so make sure you don't end up with a paste. Then add 5 shots of vodka (or less depending on how strong you like your drink) and fill the rest of the jug with passion fruit juice. Stir and serve over ice. Enjoy!

Our summer cocktail 

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Malfoof - Rolled Cabbage Leaves

Hello food lovers,

Foodscape was asked to participate in a fundraising day at the A.M. Qattan Foundation in London to help raise funds for 'Bait Al Karama' the first international cookery school project launched by 3 fantastic Italian women opening in Nablus, Palestine (more details to come). In order to get my Middle Eastern food repertoire back on track, I recently purchased a cookbook of classical Palestinian cuisine and have been obsessing about it for the past few weeks. It must be nostalgia because as I flip through the pages, each recipe takes me back to my childhood years when my sisters and I used to spend our summers in the scorching hot Jordanian capital. Needless to say all my aunts are excellent cooks and we were fed like queens, daily. 
I didn't particularly enjoy meat when I was younger but I specifically remember loving one dish, Malfoof, literally meaning 'rolled' cabbage leaves with lamb and rice stuffing. This dish is best served with a fresh 'baladi' salad (which comes from 'country' in Arabic and usually refers to locally grown produce) made of chopped cucumbers and tomatoes. Add to this some plain yoghurt on the side and you're set for a full meal.... Well you'll have to cook the Malfoof first which can be long and tedious so I recommend cooking this dish on a weekend. 

Malfoof (serves 5-6 people)

1 large white cabbage (2kgs)
400g minced lamb (or beef, or half of each)
1.5 cup of short grain rice
1 onion (finely chopped)
8 garlic cloves (5 crushed + 3 whole)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp seven spices
1 tsp butter
Salt & pepper

Carefully cut the cabbage heart out using a sharp knife and place in a large pot of boiling water (with a dash of ground cumin) until the leaves become slightly translucent. This should take about 15-20mins depending on the size. The leaves should be soft but be careful not to over cook them as they will break when folding them later. 

While this is cooking, prepare the mince: mix the meat, rice, chopped onion, crushed garlic, butter and spices together. Make sure to clean the rice before mixing it all. Set aside.

Remove the cabbage from the pot and run under cold water for a few seconds. Gently peel the leaves off one by one and cool on a rack (try not to stack them). As you get closer to the core, if the leaves are still too hard, put the cabbage back into the water and cook for another few minutes. 

Folding: on a flat surface, take each cabbage leaf and gently scrape the end bit to get an even thickness. You have to do this with each leaf - otherwise you'll have a hard time folding them because the end bit will break off and you'll end up very frustrated (that's precisely what happened the first time I tried to make it). 
Place 1 tsp of mince at the edge of the leaf. Fold once over, then over from each side, then roll all the way like a cigar. Repeat this step for each leaf. Stack the rolls as tightly as possible in a large pot - make sure to put any bits of left over cabbage at the bottom of the pot so the rolls won't stick to it - and cover  3/4 with water. Toss in the garlic cloves, cover and cook on high heat until it starts to boil, then lower heat and cook for another 30 minutes.

Serve with a Baladi salad (chopped cucumber and tomatoes, parsley, lemon juice and olive oil) and plain yoghurt on the side. Slice a few lemon wedges and serve all together.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Holidays in Buzios - RJ Brazil

The combination of an awesomely beautiful place and deliciously fantastic food can only mean PARADISE, if there is heaven and it’s something along those lines then I want to die now …

Buzios is located in Rio de Janeiro and  it's about 3-4 hours driving from the city. It’s an amazing holiday spot with many beautiful beaches, bars, restaurants, shops etc. We stayed in Joao Fernandez and if you are looking for a tip for your next trip, you don’t need to go any further, we can share all the details with you and I can guarantee this will be a holiday to remember forever…

We rented a big house for 10 people and a little toddler (Mummies although this place doesn’t look child friendly , we managed just fine with a very active 2 year old and no issues with either edges , cliffs or swimming pool , you just have to be aware at all times thou) The house is absolutely beautiful and spacious, highly recommended for a big group , you can check the details on their website : http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p575895149?cid=E_habrownerinquiry_DB_O_20110208_thumbnail_text_LPROP_

It’s the BEST location in Buzios with the most stunning view , its priceless waking up and looking at the sea first thing in the morning...

The view from our house

And of course not to mention the adorable Ezio and his wife (housekeepers) Ezio is in charge of the food and Roseli is in charge of the cleaning, so you can imagine what kind of royalty treatment we had…

Ezio really impressed us with  his cooking and passion for food, every morning  he would wake up and start preparing our menus according to what we wanted to eat on the day , the fish was picked up fresh in the early morning from the fisherman’s market and the house was filled with different aromas every day.

The dishes varied from Brazilian fish stew the famous “Muqueca de Peixe com Frutos do Mar”  to typical Brazilian dishes such as “Feijoada and Arroz Carreteiro” which is a pot of slow cooked black beans with cured meat and sausages served with in this case with fried rice but typically you can serve it with simple steamed rice. Everything was absolutely delicious and there was never any leftover… we always made sure we ate everything and complemented the meal with lovely caipirokas de maracuja (passion fruit cocktails)… what a beautiful way to enjoy life!!!

fresh fish from the market

fresh prawns and squid

Muqueca de Peixe e frutos do Mar seved with rice and farofa (fish stew)

caipiroska de maracuja ( passion fruit coktail )

Typical Brazilian dish - Feijoada

Meat loaf with spinach sauce