What’s in a name?

IMG_4024

To me, as an African,….a Nigerian, I could say it was everything.

I look at myself today and wonder what would have happened if perhaps, I had another…name, and not Ozozoma. Which is my full name.

Twice shortened: first at home in Nigeria to Ozoz, the full version only making punctuated appearances when Mum/Dad reached the limit critical. Thankfully no second name joined the first on those occassions.

IMG_4739

And second time around in Europe….to Oz. For the benefit of most who can’t comprehend Oz-Oz. And while I don’t mind, I do frown on references to the Wizard of -…..merely because I’d rather have positive associations made with my name. I know that people outside Africa think little of witchcraft but in Nigeria and the rest of Africa, it connotes a whole different aspect of being.

IMG_4766 IMG_4742

Note that in Africa, when children are born, most names are sentences! Parents and family members name their children, not only based on how the names sound but what they mean. These names are thought out….and tend to be blessings and more…..hopes, dreams, desires….all wrapped up in a name. And as the children grow up, they’re bound to ask what these names mean. My sister’s name mean’s celebration – she was born on the 31st of December. My husband’s – strength. His mom had prevailed in bringing him forth. The association with past experience and hopes for the future encapsulated in a name.

Saying that, people in Nigeria also have names like Friday, Sunday and Valentine, too!

And so, this is how I think of me….as my full name…..”the giver of children”, though that is not my only destiny!

And if you’re wondering why all I’m doing is rambling on about my name, which means ‘Everyone should give birth to children’ (I have 3 and so I think I have fulfilled my destiny!), its because when I read Sophia’s post, I smiled, having a few weeks ago penciled post titles, one of which was ‘What’s in a name?’ and the other? ‘Security through Obscurity’. She asked ‘Can you cook a dish that you think defines you the most?’

My answer is – ‘Yes I can’ ….and that dish wouldn’t be one….it would be a spread, a collection of many…..a bringing forth and bearing fruit, a birthing….and a celebration of ‘Mezze’! IMG_4785 And, I can now say…..(as per Blog checking lines), The 2010 February Daring COOKs challenge was hosted by Michele of Veggie Num Nums. Michele chose to challenge everyone to make mezze based on various recipes from Claudia Roden, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Dugid.

The MANDATORY recipes for this challenge were the Pita Bread and the Hummus.

The VARIATIONS ALLOWED were:

  1. The pita bread recipe uses all purpose flour – if you cannot digest wheat flour, you may tweak the recipe to use alternative flours.
  2. You can flavor the hummus however you’d like, for example, you can use olives, sun dried tomatoes, roasted peppers, etc. but stay with the recipe given. You cannot use your favorite hummus recipe or any other recipe.
  3. You can use however many optional recipes for mezze that you’d like – you can make all of them, or none of them.
  4. You can tweak any of the OPTIONAL RECIPES however you’d like to fit your tastes, or needs.

I decided to add other little dishes to the compulsory Pita and Hummus…..and this was served up as dinner, tonight.

IMG_4791 IMG_4738IMG_4740 IMG_4723

On the list:
Marinated olives, Sizzling prawns, Dates wrapped in bacon and stuffed with almonds, Pizza sarnies, Salad, Halloumi skewers, Dukkah and Pita chips,….with some orange tea…to wash it down!

Though it seems like a super long list, the beauty of it…..like having children is that some can be made (had/born)….before the others and in the end, they can all be assembled…..at the table, just like a family!

Child #1 – Make ahead

Marinated olives
Dukkah

Child #2 – days before (~3 days)

Hummus
Pita chips
Pita bread dough

Child #3 – on the day

Pita bread, baked
Dates wrapped in bacon and stuffed with almonds
Pizza sarnies
Salad
Halloumi skewers

And as you can see…..the things to make increases progressively with each child, sorry set of dishes – please don’t be discouraged….as mothers the world who have multiple kids will let you know….things change…..for the better. More noise, more diversity….all the things you love in a meal!

To be honest, for child #3, you can multi-task and combine the preps so….don’t be overwhelmed.

You can for instance, prepare the bacon, pizza sarnies and pizza chips all at the same time.

First of all, pop the bacon in the oven and after 5 minutes, put the pita chips in and then after 10 minutes, add the pizza. 8 minutes later, put the top on the pizza….

Then, after that 10 minutes, bring the bacon out everything.

Let the bacon rolls cool down and while that’s happening, cut the pizza

If you don’t want to use butter, you can spray canola or olive oil on them and sprinkle with herbs or seasoned salt. I split the pitas, cook the rounds and then break them into pieces when they come out of the oven.

Child #1 – The week before

Marinated Olives, adapted from Best of Morocco edited by Valerie Ferguson

IMG_4713

Ingredients
225g (1 1/2 cups) green or tan olives, unpitted (for each marinade)

For Moroccan marinade

3 tablespoons fresh coriander
3 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
good pinch of cayenne pepper
good pinch of (dry-roasted) cumin
2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil
2 – 3 tablespoons lemon juice

IMG_2145

For the spicy herb marinade

4 tablespoons fresh coriander
4 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
1 red chilli, seeded and finely sloced
1/4 preserved lemon (which I didn’t have….), I used lemon zest instead.

Directions

Crack the olives to break the flesh but not the stone. You can do this by pressing the flesh with your fingers

Leave in cold water overnight

Drain and divide between two jars

Blend the ingredients for each marinade and stir into the two jars

IMG_2112 IMG_2115IMG_2120 IMG_2124

Store in the refrigerator for at least 1 week, before use, shaking the jars occassionally.

IMG_4710

Dukkah – Cleopatra’s Spice Mixture. Recipe from Hot! Hot! Hot! by Marianne Kiskola and Sanna Miettunen

IMG_3978Ingredients

100g peeled pistachios
100g peeled pistachios
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon dried thyme
25g sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Directions

Roast pistachios and almonds in a hot, dry pan until they change colour

IMG_3969 IMG_4017 IMG_3960

Stir carefully and set the nuts aside to cool

Also roast the coriander, cumin and sesame seeds with the dried thyme. Stir carefully.

IMG_3986

Combine all ingredients and crush theim in a mortar.

The end result should be a crumbly mixture….not a paste.

IMG_4003 IMG_3999

To serve, dip chunks of Pide (Turkish bread), or quails eggs first in olive oil and then in the Dukkah. Scrumptious!

IMG_4765 IMG_4753

But this delicious mixture can be used a topping for bread, in place of bread crumbs….on meat/fish and anything you can thing off…..I’m thinking ice cream with olive oil, dukkah and some salt, just like the gelato con olie e sale!IMG_4761

Child #2 – days before

Hummus – Recipe adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
Prep Time: Hummus can be made in about 15 minutes once the beans are cooked. If you’re using dried beans you need to soak them overnight and then cook them the next day which takes about 90 minutes.

IMG_4728

1.5 cups dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight (or substitute well drained canned chickpeas and omit the cooking) (10 ounces/301 grams)
2-2.5 lemons, juiced (3 ounces/89ml)
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
A big pinch of salt
4 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste) OR use peanut butter or any other nut butter—feel free to experiment) (1.5 ounces/45 grams)
Additional flavorings (optional) I would use about 1/3 cup or a few ounces to start, and add more to taste

Directions:

1. Drain and boil the soaked chickpeas in fresh water for about 1 ½ hours, or until tender. Drain, but reserve the cooking liquid.
2. Puree the beans in a food processor (or you can use a potato masher) adding the cooking water as needed until you have a smooth paste.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Adjust the seasonings to taste.

IMG_4215 IMG_4219

My adjustments:
  • I used tinned chickpeas
  • I rinsed them once out of the tin and rubbed the peas together to remove the skins, which I discarded – this makes an incredibly smooth hummus
  • I roasted the chickpeas with some cumin seeds, garlic cloves and olive oil for about 10 minutes, till the chickpeas turned a golden yellow and the garlic softened. I love roasting because I think it smooths out the taste, mellowing, yet deepening the chickpea flavour.
  • I got my food styling tips from Beth of Dirty Kitchen Secrets!

Pita chips – I used a recipe from Martha Stewart.

IMG_3824 IMG_3825 IMG_3865 IMG_3881

I must say they taste terrific………thin, light and crisp. It appears that crackers will never be the same for me…..and they make a delightful vehicle for any manner of dip!

IMG_4768Child #3

Pita Bread – Recipe adapted from Flatbreads & Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
Prep time: 20 minutes to make, 90 minutes to rise

IMG_4786

2 teaspoons regular dry yeast (.43 ounces/12.1 grams)
2.5 cups lukewarm water (21 ounces/591 grams)
5-6 cups all-purpose flour (may use a combination of 50% whole wheat and 50% all-purpose, or a combination of alternative flours for gluten free pita) (17.5 -21 ounces/497-596 grams)
1 tablespoon table salt (.50 ounces/15 grams)
2 tablespoons olive oil (.95 ounces/29 ml)

IMG_4734

Directions:
1. In a large bread bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in 3 cups flour, a cup at a time, and then stir 100 times, about 1 minute, in the same direction to activate the gluten. Let this sponge rest for at least 10 minutes, or as long as 2 hours.
2. Sprinkle the salt over the sponge and stir in the olive oil. Mix well. Add more flour, a cup at a time, until the dough is too stiff to stir. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Rinse out the bowl, dry, and lightly oil. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until at least doubled in size, approximately 1 1/2 hours. (At this stage, I popped mine in the refrigerator and let prove overnight)
3. Place a pizza stone, or two small baking sheets, on the bottom rack of your oven, leaving a 1-inch gap all around between the stone or sheets and the oven walls to allow heat to circulate. Preheat the oven to 450F (230C).
4. Gently punch down the dough. Divide the dough in half, and then set half aside, covered, while you work with the rest. Divide the other half into 8 equal pieces and flatten each piece with lightly floured hands. Roll out each piece to a circle 8 to 9 inches in diameter and less than 1/4 inch thick. Keep the rolled-out breads covered until ready to bake, but do not stack.
5. Place 2 breads, or more if your oven is large enough, on the stone or baking sheets, and bake for 2 to 3 minutes, or until each bread has gone into a full balloon. If for some reason your bread doesn’t puff up, don’t worry it should still taste delicious. Wrap the baked breads together in a large kitchen towel to keep them warm and soft while you bake the remaining rolled-out breads. Then repeat with the rest of the dough.

IMG_4480

My adjustments:

  • I made half of the recipe with 2cups of wholewheat flour and 1 cup of white flour
  • I loved counting to 100…and 20! It seems to really activate the gluten cause in no time, I had a sponge
  • I made my dough up to the point of kneading, and because it was past midnight, I didn’t bother with the kneading but put it in the fridge and let it do a slow rise.
  • Next morning, I brought out and baked…..bitten by the bug of healthy bread in 5 minutes!

Dates wrapped in bacon and stuffed with almonds – recipe inspired by prepacked box at Sligro and memories of a recent dinner!

IMG_4500

Ingredients
Streaky bacon, slices cut across in half.
Dates
Almonds – blanched or flakes

IMG_4797

Tips

  • Use bacon slices which aren’t too thick or you’ll find it difficult to wrap the dates
  • Stuff the dates with almonds if using, before you wrap them.
  • Secure the wraps with toothpicks. Try to stick the toothpick close to one end of the wrap, to avoid the almond in the centre.
  • Get moist, plump dates with pits and then remove the pits yourself
  • How to

    Preheat oven to 180 c(350 F)

    {Place a baking stone/skillet on a baking rack (on the lowest rungs) in your oven (this is for step #2 – the pizza sarnies)!}

    Stuff an almond into each date. Cut each slice of bacon in half, crosswise.

    Wrap each date in half a slice of bacon, and secure if needed, with a toothpick. You should stick the toothpick through the date closer to one end, so as not to run into the almond in the middle.

    Place dates on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake for about 15 -20 minutes or until the bacon fat is rendered.

    {Note, when the bacon is half way through, put the pizza in the oven}

    Let cool for about 10 minutes because the dates will be hot and molten….and can burn!

    IMG_4494 IMG_4490IMG_4496 IMG_4498

    Pizza sarnies

    IMG_4777

    I had some left over Filet Americain, which formed the base, replacing passata or any other tomato sauce. In the past, I’ve made it with Muhammara too.

    I spread this on some  Lavash bread, followed by torn Mozzarella pieces, chopped fresh and sundried tomatoes, some oregano and some dried chilli pepper. I placed this on my heated pizza stone on the bottom layer of my oven and let it bake till the cheese was melted. When that was done, I placed another piece of the bread to cover the top….as it is quite thin. I let that toast for 3-5 minutes and then brought it out.

    IMG_4508 IMG_4510IMG_4516 IMG_4518

    The finished pizza sarnie was cut up into more manageable bites…..and enjoyed. (My husband loves it with butter over the top, for breakfast and dinner!)

    IMG_4531

    Sizzling Prawns, from Best of Morocco edited by Valerie Ferguson

    IMG_4780

    Ingredients
    450g raw king prawns, shelled and cleaned, with tails left on.
    2 tablespoon olive oil
    2-3 tablespoon butter
    2 garlic cloves, crushed
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

    How to

    Heat the olive oil and butter and fry the garlic for about 30 seconds

    Add the ground spices. Cook and stir for a few seconds and add the prawns. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes on high heat till they change colour and turn pink, stirring frequently.

    Serve the prawns with the spicy butter poured over them.

    Garnish with lemon wedges and coriander leaves.

    Salad

    I made a mixed salad of colourful and crunchy veggies. I didn’t bother with a dressing but you can dress at the table with olive oil and lemon juice.


    IMG_4776

    Halloumi skewers

    IMG_4744

    Ingredients
    1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
    1 teaspoon runny honey
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 tablespoon Lemon juice

    How to

    Mix all the ingredients, apart from the halloumi together.

    Season to taste and place in a shallow bowl, so you can marinade the Halloumi pieces

    Cut the Halloumi cheese in half across and then into 4 pieces lengthways.

    Put the Halloumi slices in the marinade, and  turn over till all sides are coated. Leave to marinade, till you’re ready to grill them.

    When ready, heat up a grill pan/frying pan.

    Gently push skewers through them……I will not at this point that I always have issues keeping the skewers in so I’ve taken to only pushing them in for a couple of centimetres and not all the way through.

    Place skewers in pan and let brown on all sides. The beauty of halloumi is that it stays firm and delicious…..great for any vegetarians on board!

    IMG_4568 IMG_4566IMG_4569 IMG_4572

    When this feast is ready…..gather the family round the table….if they’re not already there. Sit down, break bread and enjoy this beautiful delight that is ‘Mezze’!

    I ENJOYED this challenge, as much as I enjoy being me – the variety, the flavours, colours, textures…..right up my street. Thanks Michelle, and thank you all for reading!

    Night, night and till our next encounter……♥ and lots of it!

    Blog Widget by LinkWithin