Cookbook 156: Minnie’s Taste of Mediterranean Delight

I bought Minnie’s Taste of Mediterranean Delight by Farah Khairat and Omneya Minnie Negm at the Islamic Museum in Preston on their open day a couple of years ago. As always I’m a sucker for a cookbook, and the aims of this one appealed to me (from the link above)

Firstly, its authors are Omneya “Minnie” Khairat, wife of the Canberra-based Egyptian ambassador, and their teenage daughter.

And, secondly, “Minnie’s Taste of Mediterranean Delight” is aimed at helping get food on the table for disadvantaged people back “home”.

Attaching a charity to the cookbook was another inspiration to publish and, to put it simply, Omneya says: “We can help people, so why not?”

Family friends, Docklands Press, sponsored the project, allowing all proceeds to go to the Egyptian Food Bank. The authors say that the sale of one book feeds a disadvantaged Egyptian family for a week.

City News

I cooked from this cookbook a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been struggling with writing it up since. For a first attempt at a cookbook, it’s really good, however it really would have benefited from an editor. The contents page lists all the recipes included in the book, and the page numbers are wrong, more of a guide to where the recipe is versus where you’ll find it exactly. Some of the recipes are missing steps and ingredients, which is not helpful for a cookbook. This is definitely not one for a new cook, but someone who is happy filling in the blanks. I’m going to rewrite the recipes a bit so they make more sense (hopefully), and my notes will detail what I’ve changed, as well as what I thought of the dish.

One final thing before I get to the recipes, I really did love the author’s Egyptian take on Mediterranean foodstuffs. I would like to try more things from this cookbook. Overall I rate it 3 out of 5 stars.

Cheesy Cauliflower & Broccoli Bake (serves 5)

Ingredients:

  • 250g cauliflower
  • 250g broccoli
  • 250g sliced mushrooms
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (mixture of cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan)
  • 1 cube chicken stock (or 1 teaspoon of chicken stock powder)
  • 1.5 cups thickened cream
  • 1 litre of boiling water
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp oil

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C
  2. Cut broccoli and cauliflower into florets. Bring the litre of water to the boil and add the cumin. Add the broccoli and cauliflower and let them boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the water, drain and rinse the broccoli and cauliflower under cold water. Arrange the broccoli and cauliflower in a baking dish.
  3. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the mushrooms. Stir fry the mushrooms for 3 minutes and then add the chicken stock cube/powder and 1/2 cup of boiled water. Let the mushrooms cook in the stock mixture until the liquid has been absorbed.
  4. Pour the mushrooms over the cauliflower and broccoli.
  5. Add the thickened cream to the vegetable mixture and then sprinkle on the grated cheese.
  6. Bake in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes until the cheese has melted and is golden brown.
  7. Serve immediately.

Notes on this recipe:

  • Things I changed – a long list: Put preheating the oven at the beginning of the recipe; described how you cut the broccoli and cauliflower, added the step of running the broccoli and cauliflower under cold water; added oil to the mushroom step; added the cooking the mushrooms until the liquid is absorbed
  • I personally hate broccoli and cauliflower with cheese, I made this for Nigel (our resident vegetarian) who likes this dish. He said it was tasty, but as I had followed the recipe in the book and not the one I have written for you, it was a bit watery

Rosemary Potatoes (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 500g potatoes
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp dried or fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Peel and cut the potatoes into 1 cm cubes
  2. In a large frying pan, melt butter, and add the potatoes.
  3. Fry over a high heat for about 15 minutes until potatoes are golden brown and fully cooked
  4. Add the salt, pepper, paprika and rosemary. Stir for another minute.
  5. Serve hot

Notes on this recipe:

  • Not too many changes to this recipe: changed the length of time the potatoes cook to 15 minutes from 10; changed the time from 2 minutes to 1 minutes after adding the herbs
  • This was the most successful dish of the whole night. Everyone loved this and I’ve already made it again. I used dried herbs instead of fresh, so they would be evenly sized.

Shaareya with Toasted Almonds (serves 5 – 6)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 500g short vermicelli
  • 2.5 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • pinch of cardamom powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 L boiling water
  • 3 tbsp slivered almonds

Method:

  1. Fry the vermicelli in a large saucepan (that has a lid) with the oil and butter, stirring until dark brown
  2. Add all the other ingredients to the pot except for the almonds. Add 1 litre of boiling water.
  3. Let it boil at a high heat for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally
  4. Put the lid on the pot and let it simmer for 15 minutes on very low heat.
  5. Meanwhile, toast the almonds in a frying pan over a medium heat until they are golden brown
  6. Serve the shaareya on a plate garnished with the toasted almonds

Notes on this recipe:

  • Changes made: made sure you’re using a large pot, because this is a lot of vermicelli; added the almonds to the ingredient list; added boiling water to the ingredient list
  • Vermicelli is amazing in that it doesn’t really capture any flavour. This made such a big quantity that we ate it over two days, and no matter what we added on the second day, it just vacuumed it up into a black hole. It works best with very salty food like the potatoes above, or fatty meat

Kofta Daoud Basha (serves 6)

Ingredients:

Meatballs

  • 500g minced beef
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp bread crumbs
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground paprila
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp parsley
  • 2 tbsp oil

Sauce

  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cube chicken/beef stock (or 1 tsp stock powder)
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tbsp, sliced black olives
  • 1 red capsicum, diced
  • 1 cup water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese
  • Fresh parsley to garnish

Method:

  1. Mix all the meatball ingredients, except for the oil, in a large bowl
  2. Roll into balls with 1 tbsp of mixture at a time
  3. In a large saucepan, heat oil, and fry meatballs until browned on all sides
  4. Remove the meatballs and set aside.
  5. Mix the sauce ingredients with the exception of the parmesan cheese and parsley in a separate saucepan and bring to the boil.
  6. Add the meatballs to the pot and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.
  7. Garnish with shaved parmesan and fresh parsley. Serve hot with white rice or spaghetti

Notes on this recipe:

  • Changes made: added an extra egg as a binding agent for the meatballs, ours crumbled far too easily; added salt and pepper to the sauce ingredients; instructed you to not include the parmesan to the sauce ingredients; added parsley to the ingredients for the garnish, instructed you not to put it in the sauce
  • These were nice, but they could have been a bit more flavoured. I would also consider adding more of the spices to the meatballs, and perhaps a little bit in the sauce.

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