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Friday, April 24, 2015

Mamuniyeh: Brown Butter and Mozzarella Cream of Wheat

I'm excited to share another classic Syrian breakfast dish with you guys. When we were kids my mom would call this 'candy' and we were thrilled to eat candy for breakfast...we gobbled it right up and I really appreciated the sweetness in the meal. As an adult my mouth waters at the salty and cheesy complexity that the mozzarella adds. Serve this hot and fresh as soon as its ready and you'll watch with giddy anticipation as the cheese stretches from the serving dish all the way to your plate.

Mamuniyeh is a decadent dish that will warm you up in the morning. Making it involves a bit more butter and sugar than how I normally start my day so when I make this its either for a brunch or a treat for the kids. This dish's saving grace in terms of health is that Semolina is a fine hey, complex carbs and all ;) It's quick and easy and the last time we ate it a few days ago my 10 year old made it from A to Z with minimal assistance. The sizzle of the toasted semolina when it hits the sugared water is fun to hear and it literally goes from a soupy mixture to smooth and creamy perfection in about a minute.

Serves 4

-5 cups water
-1 1/4 cup sugar
-4 tablespoons butter
-1 cup semolina
-1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, to be divided
-1 tablespoon cinnamon powder

-any salty cheese to be eaten on the side

To make
-In a saucepan combine water and sugar on medium heat until the mixture boils. Stir to help dissolve the sugar into the water.
-While the water and sugar are heating, place butter and semolina in a skillet on medium heat. (**OPTIONAL: Brown the butter before adding the semolina for a hint of caramel in the Mamuniyeh. To do this, melt the butter over medium heat and whisk until it turns brown and releases a nutty fragrant smell. Immediately lower the heat and add the semolina to toast.**) Move the butter around and melt it while gently stirring it with the semolina. Continue to saute the mixture until the semolina has browned into a golden color instead of the pale yellow it was. Keep stirring it around to avoid burning it! You may need to lower your heat as it starts to color.
-When the semolina has browned and the water/sugar mixture has come to a roiling boil, carefully add the toasted semolina into the boiling water. It will sizzle as it drops in and may slightly foam up, I love this part!
-Reduce the heat to low and stir in 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Turn off the heat and mix it for a minute, it will thicken up into a porridge.
-Place into a serving bowl and top with extra shredded cheese and sprinkle with cinnamon powder.
-Serve hot with a cup of tea and enjoy!

I buy the semolina from Middle Eastern markets

Perfectly toasted semolina and ready to be dropped into the sugared water!
 Looking for more sweet breakfast recipes? Here are a few of my personal favorites!
PB Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies

Vegan Orange Poppy Seed Muffins

I'd love to connect with you! Like SavvyChef on facebook and follow Savvy_Chef on instagram. Tag Savvychef in your creations and pin the recipes on pintrest :)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Asparagus and Zesty Lemon Grain Salad

I created this salad as a challenge to myself to go beyond simple grilled asparagus. Every time I buy the green stems I feel like I cook then in the same manner...which although is delicious has gotten a little boring for me. I didn't want to waste their integrity and puree them into a soup or lose them in a pasta. Asparagus represents the Spring season...refreshing, breezy and bright...and that's exactly what you'll get from this salad!

We've had this as dinner, I've taken it to potlucks and it's been my go-to lunch whenever I've had it in the fridge. I LOVE IT. I love the way I feel when I look at it with the bright green from the asparagus and the red from the tomato, I love all the textures going on in here from the crisp of the asparagus to the crunch of the walnut and the chewiness of the barley. Don't even get me started on the explosion of're going to have to find out for yourself on that note, but I will tell you that stiring the lemon zest into the hot cooked barley will release the natural oils in the zest and let the barley absorb all the flavor...yum!

Serves 3-5

-2 cups water
-1 cup rinsed barley
-1/2 tablespoon salt
-1 teaspoon oil
-1 tablespoon lemon zest (about 2 lemons)

-1 bunch fresh asparagus
-2 cups chopped tomatoes
-1 cup chopped walnuts
-1 cup chopped parsley
-3 tablespoons lemon juice (about 2 squeezed lemons)
-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
-salt to taste

-1 cup valbreso feta cheese
-1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
-1 large chopped avocado

To make
-Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a pot and drop in rinsed and drained barley, salt and oil. Reduce your heat to medium low then cover the pot and cook about 20-25 minutes or until the water is absorbed and your barley is soft and fluffy. Remove from the heat, uncover and add lemon zest and stir. Leave your barley to cool completely before adding other ingredients.
-While your barley is cooking, heat another pot filled with water and bring to a boil. Lightly salt your water and rinse asparagus. Gently snap off the bottom of your asparagus and drop into the boiling water. Cook for 2 minutes then immediately remove and drop asparagus into a bowl filled with ICE and water. This is called an ice bath and is done to stop the cooking process and shock the asparagus into retaining its vibrant green color. Leave the asparagus until it has cooled and then remove from the water and pat dry with paper towels. Roughly chop at a diagonal angle into 1 inch pieces.
- When your barley has cooled, place it into a bowl and  layer chopped tomatoes, asparagus, walnuts and parsley. You can now add optional toppings. Squeeze lemon juice and sprinkle black pepper on top. Drizzle the olive oil around the edges of the bowl.
*If you are making this ahead of time cover and place in your refrigerator until ready to use.
-Mix when ready to serve and taste to adjust lemon and salt content. Place into a platter and serve.

I'd love to connect with you! Like SavvyChef on facebook and follow Savvy_Chef on instagram. Tag @SavvyChef in your creations  :)

Looking for more salad inspiration? Try some of my favorites here! I especially enjoy
Mexican Bean and Corn Salad
Pomegranate + Green Bean Lentil Salad

Middle Eastern Tabbouleh 
Arugula and Roasted Beet Salad

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Kishkeh Khadra: Yogurt, Whole Grain and Walnut Spread

Kishkeh Khadra is a protein and fiber packed dish that is a traditional breakfast item in Syria. I love preparing it because it comes together very quickly, can be made in advance, has versatile uses and is HEALTHY. I make a batch of this right before the weekend and we enjoy it for SavvyChef's legendary Sunday brunches and then as quick sandwiches throughout the week.

Traditionally the preparation process was lengthy and had to be planned for in advance. Fine bulgur (cracked whole wheat grain) would soak on a counter top for a few days until the bulgur had softened and the yogurt had soured. Then the "green" ingredients (onions and parsley) would be added and the toppings (Greek kalamata olives, walnuts and olive oil) would complete the meal.

Around these parts I've condensed the process into as little as 30 minutes...without compromising flavor or authenticity! I've done this by providing an optional hot water soak of the bulgur to soften it before adding to the yogurt and by adding a splash of lemon juice to achieve the sour tang to the yogurt that typically takes a couple days to accomplish.  Most days I'll quickly mix the yogurt, bulgur, salt and lemon juice the night before and pop it back into the fridge until I'm ready to add the rest of the ingredients. This is a handy meal for entertaining because of its "make-ahead" qualities.

Kishkeh Khadra always finds a place on my brunch displays and most people who haven't grown up eating it still love it and request the recipe. I can't tell you how many times I've texted it to friends or sat around a table as the hostess verbally shared the steps involved. Everyone's way varies slightly. Some people replace the yogurt with sour cream (don't try this, its not good) but here I'm going to give you the quickest and most authentic method. Warm pita bread and a sweet cup of tea take this this dish to higher levels of bliss :)

I go out of my way to expose my children to foods that are out of their comfort levels and to treat wholesome eating as a way of life, not as an effort that needs to be made. Knowing that my children are consuming high amounts of protein (yogurt and bulgur), whole grains and fiber (bulgur), healthy fats (walnuts and olive oil) and iron (parsley) really encourage me to keep this option available. This also makes a great post workout snack with some carrots, cucumber or celery sticks!

Serves 4-6

-2 cups plain yogurt (Full fat really makes a difference in the creaminess and flavor)
-1/2 cup fine bulgur (cracked wheat, labeled as #1)
-1/2 tablespoon salt
-1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
-1 cup chopped parsley
-3/4 cup diced greed onions
-1/2 cup chopped walnuts

**If using 30 minute preparation method you will need 1/2 cup boiling water**

-kalamata olives
-chopped walnuts
-extra virgin olive oil

To make
-Mix together yogurt, bulgur, salt and lemon juice in a container. Return to fridge and leave overnight (or up to 1 week). QUICK OPTION: Soak bulgur in boiling water for about 25 minutes (or until soft) then mix together with yogurt, salt and lemon juice.
-When you are ready to serve stir in chopped parsley, green onions and walnuts. Taste and adjust salt and water content. If the mixture is too stiff add water or yogurt 1 tablespoon at a time until you have the consistency of a chunky dip or something resembling hummus.
-Spread mixture on to a serving platter or bowl and top with kalamata olives, chopped walnuts and a drizzle of olive oil.
-Serve with pita bread and tea, veggie sticks or as a spread in sandwiches.

I'd love to connect with you! Like SavvyChef on facebook and follow Savvy_Chef on instagram. Tag @SavvyChef in your creations  :)

Looking for more brunch items? Try my other go-to dish: A delicious yogurt, pita and garbanzo bean dish called Tisi'yeh!