Friday, June 24, 2016

Ramadan Meal Ideas #3

Welcome back to Breaking Fasts With Style. I am your host, the friendly neighborhood librarian at the Islamic Resource Center. Are you ready to try out some tasty side dishes today?

First up is the Soft Cheese Salad with Tomato and Basil Topped with Asparagus from the World Vegetarian cookbook by Madhur Jaffrey. We will follow this up with a potato s from The Iraqi Cookbook by Lamees Ibrahim.

Soft Cheese Salad with Tomato and Basil Topped with Asparagus
Serves 4
Prep time: 30 min. Cook time

1 scallion
18 fresh asparagus spears
9 oz fresh paneer or mozzarella (the fresher the better)
1 tomato, peeled, seeded, and diced about 1/3-inch big
1/3 large green bell pepper, diced about 1/3-inch big
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon peanut or canola oil
2 teaspoons oriental sesame oil
1/2 cup fresh basil, cut into fine strips (chiffonade)

Directions: Cut the scallion into 2" segments, stack, and slice into very fine rounds. Put them into a small bowl of ice water, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Drain, spread in a dish towel and wring out.

Cut off (or snap off) the tough ends of the asparagus spears and discard. Peel the lower half of the spears, then cut into 1/3-inch segments, leaving the heads whole.

In a bowl, crumple the cheese into small pieces. Add the scallion, tomato, bell pepper, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Mix well and set aside.

Put the vegetable oil in a nonstick medium frying pan or saute pan and set over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the asparagus and stir once or twice. Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup water to the pan and mix. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the asparagus is just tender. Uncover and add the sesame oil; stir to mix. turn the heat up to high and cook until all the liquid evaporates. Remove from the heat.

Toss the basil with the cheese mixture. Mix well. The asparagus can either be arranged on top of the cheese mixture or mixed into the cheese. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled.

Note: This recipe looks like it has a lot going on, but really it comes down to preparing the scallion, cooking the asparagus, and mixing everything together. It is quite simple to make and is a nice cheery dish to go alongside your main creation or to be served as the main course.

Potato Salad (Zalatat Potaita)
Serves 2-3

4-5 medium or 8-10 small new potatoes
2-3 medium tomatoes
1 large cucumber
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
lemon juice
olive oil
                                               salt and black pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes until soft and allow them to cool. Peel and cut the cooled potatoes into cubes and set aside.

Chop the tomatoes, peppers and cucumber into cubes.

Mix all cut ingredients together. Season with salt and black pepper. Add in the chopped parsley, lemon juice and olive oil.

Stay tuned for more recipes as the month continues. This cookbook and others like it are available from our bookstore at the IRC. We return you now to your regularly scheduled library blog.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Ramadan Meal Ideas #2

We're back for another installment of "What To Make For Dinner." Last episode we treated you to the taste of India with some succulent lamb chops. This episode we will be making a classic Iraqi treat called "Jouz al-hind," also known as Coconut discs or how I've always known them, coconut macaroons (my caucasian heritage is showing). This recipe has been adapted from The IRAQI Cookbook by Lamees Ibrahim to fit our needs:

Coconut Discs (Jouz al-Hind)
                           Makes 25-35 treats
Prep time: 15 minutes - Baking Time: 10 minutes
8 oz / 3 cups shredded coconut
3 eggs
6 oz / ¾ cup sugar
a few drops of vanilla extract
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Confectioner's sugar (optional)

Mix the eggs and sugar and beat with a fork. Add the vanilla extract. Stir in the lemon juice. Add the shredded coconut and mix well.

Add the baking powder and kneed the mixture until mixture becomes smooth and doughlike.

Form the dough into small balls (the size of walnuts) and place them on a greased baking tray. Make sure to leave about ½ - 1 inch between each.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F / 180°C for about 10 minutes or until slightly browned on top.

Decorate with a little confectioner's sugar.

Note: You can cool the dough in the fridge for half an hour before making the little balls. This will help to keep their shape during baking.

Variation: As I mentioned earlier, I've more often seen them called macaroons and were a staple of winter holidays in my home. Besides the traditional way described above, I've also done these with a little chocolate on the bottom or drizzled on top after baking. To do this, either slowly melt some semi-sweet chocolate in a double boiler or, if you don't have one, put about 1 inch of water in a pot and bring it to a gentle boil, placing a bowl on top so that the sides rest on the edges and the bottom does not touch the water. Place the chocolate in the bowl and stir constantly until melted. Dip the baked (and cooled) cookies in the chocolate and place on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper and let dry/cool.

Stay tuned for more recipes as the month continues. This cookbook and others like it are available from our bookstore at the IRC. We return you now to your regularly scheduled library blog.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Ramadan Meal Ideas #1

Okay, we started the tradition last year with the occasional IRC Facebook post during Ramadan in which I shared a couple of the delicious recipes found in the cookbooks in our bookstore. After all, we all know how stressful cooking can be around the holidays. So during the month of Ramadan we will be sharing a few easy recipes you can try at home from some of our fantastic cookbooks along with tips, tricks, and our own experiences with some of the dishes. Check back weekly to find new posts with recipes, crafts, and more. Ramadan Mubarak everyone!

We will start the series off with this wonderful recipe for grilled lamb chops adapted from the book
5 spices, 50 dishes:
Lamb Chops with a Spicy Rub
Serves 4

1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger (roughly 2-inch piece)
1 teaspoon finely grated garlic (roughly 2 large cloves)
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cayenne

½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
8 lamb rib chops (about 1 pound 4 ounces)
3 tablespoons canola oil

In a bowl large enough to hold the chops, mix together all of the spices to form a thick, slightly dry paste. Rub the chops well with this mixture and set aside to marinate for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours in the refrigerator.

Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Sear the chops to the desired level of doneness, 4 to 5 minutes on each side for rare. You may also grill these chops  on an outdoor grill over high heat. Let rest briefly before serving.

Side suggestions:
Lamb chops tend to pair well with potatoes, rice (pilafs are nice), or green vegetables. I have even seen a wonderful couscous salad with cucumbers, red onions and various herbs that worked wonders as a side dish to this flavorful lamb.

Stay tuned for more recipes as the month continues. This cookbook and others like it are available from our bookstore at the IRC. We return you now to your regularly scheduled library blog.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Summer Reading Program & Storytime start this week!

Quick reminder to those of you with children: This week starts the annual Summer Reading Program (SRP) and Summer Story Time (SST). Don't forget to get your children signed up, complete with their own library card! Our staff is looking forward to signing up your child today!

Also, be sure to come to our Ramadan themed Sunday Storytime events all month long! Children participating will get a chance to make their own Ramadan themed crafts and hear fun Ramadan stories.