From the memory bank – Lebanese Mince

As I’m enjoying myself in Europe, I thought I’d share this recipe with you.  I’ve been making this regularly since 1992 when I first discovered it.  It’s quick, tasty and straightforward to cook.  It doesn’t have any vegetable content, so serve with a salad or some sautéed vegetables.

I regularly put in more than ½ a teaspoon of mixed spice and cinnamon.  If you put a bit more in, the dish doesn’t suffer.

Feeds 6 people

Implements:

  • Chopping board
  • Sharp Knife
  • Large frying pan
  • Saucepan
  • Wooden Spoon

Ingredients:

  • 375 grams of pasta (uncooked) (not string pasta)
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of butter or oil (add a bit more if required)
  • 500 grams of low-fat mince
  • ½ teaspoon of mixed spice
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 cup of tomato soup
  • ½ cup water

Method

Sauté the onions in the butter/oil, add the meat and cook until brown all over.  Add the mixed spices, cinnamon, vinegar, tomato paste, tomato soup and water.  Let simmer over a low heat while the pasta cooks as per the packet instructions.  When the pasta is cooked stir through the meat mixture and serve.

Cookbook 7: Italian Food Safari

I’m going to be in Europe for a couple of weeks as of next weekend, so this project will be on hold (I’ll try and avoid buying cookbooks, and taking them with me) while I’m there, but will recommence on the weekend of 25 August.

Anyway… this weekend was Italian Food Safari, which again taught me I need a bigger oven, a decent meat clever, and a bigger casserole dish.   The eggplant was the most popular dish of the evening, with everyone happily enjoying it (including those who don’t typically like eggplant).

Notes this time after the recipe. Please pay careful attention to the notes after the strudel.

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Cookbook 6: The Illustrated Food and Cooking of Lebanon Jordan and Syria

Last weekend was a birthday celebration weekend and so I asked the birthday boy what he’d like me to cook for him from all the cookbooks I own.  He chose the Armenian Jewelled Bulgur, and then I wandered through the rest of The Illustrated Food and Cooking of Lebanon Jordan and Syria by Ghillie Ba?an.

For these recipes you may need to find a Middle Eastern grocer, I visited Al Alamy on Waterfield Street, in Coburg in order to purchase some of the less common (for me) ingredients.  The dishes were simple and incredibly delicious.  Notes will be included at the end of each recipe (I didn’t always cook them as listed).

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Cookbook 5: chocolate

So this week, just to do something different, I picked up chocolate, by Australian Gourmet Traveller, for something different.  This time, as there were no meat dishes, I cooked 4 recipes, a biscuit, bread, pie, and pudding.  I remembered to take photos, and everything was incredibly good, though some were quite fiddly.  I’ll list the recipes in the order they appear in the book instead of the order I cooked them, as that was just a matter of convenience.  Comments this time throughout the recipe.

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Cookbook 4: Classic African: Authentic recipes from an ancient cuisine

Tonight’s meal was from Classic African: Authentic recipes from an ancient cuisine, available at second hand from Amazon. As this book is now out of print, it would appear that most of the recipes are available on the internet, so I will link to them below.

I forgot to take photos of the dishes this time, but on the other hand we timed it perfectly and everything was ready at once, which makes me really happy.  Sadly I didn’t enjoy the meal all that much, I’m not sure which of the flavours I disagreed with, but on the other hand the bread was amazing.

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Cookbook 3: Sri Lankan Flavours: A journey through the island’s food and culture

This weekend’s book was Sri Lankan Flavours: A journey through the island’s food and culture with recipes by Channa Dassanayaka (a Melburnian it turns out).  I cooked for 7 for this meal, and there are several important lessons I learnt.

  1. PREPARE ALL THE INGREDIENTS FOR THE DISH BEFORE YOU START TO COOK
  2. The serving size is an estimation at best (and often generous)
  3. Curry leaves are amazing (I already knew this) and they smell great, and they’re easy to cook with (the latter I didn’t know)

I do have a few problems with the recipes in the book, and given the number I made I am going to find equivalents on the internet and link to them because otherwise I will be typing forever.  There are times when the author doesn’t specify something important to the recipe.  For example, in the Eggplant Pickle, he says slice the eggplants thinly, but doesn’t really specify what that means.  Later, after describing how long to deep fry the eggplant for, he doesn’t specify how long to deep fry the onion or chillies for – and in relation to all the deep frying, he never specifies at what temperature.  Also apparently the Ghee Rice is enough for 4, we doubled it and had WAY too much for 7.

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Cookbook 2: Malaysian Hawker Favourites

This week was Malaysian Hawker Favourites with recipes by Rohani Jelani.  I found this book while holidaying in Malaysia, and at the equivalent of $AU 3, I couldn’t give it up, besides it had some of my favourite Malaysian dishes in it.  Sadly it only has one vegetable dish, so this time I made a bread dish (roti canai) to go with the meat dish, and I made a starter.  The recipes were slightly more fiddly than I expected, and I didn’t plan my time out as well as I should have, but the meal of spring rolls, Chicken Rice and Roti Canai was amazing.  Sadly I forgot to take photos of the spring rolls because we were far too interested in eating them at the time.  I remembered to take photos of the other two dishes.

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Cookbook 1: The Food of France: a journey for food lovers

The food of France: a journey for food lovers, recipes by Maria Villegas and Sarah Randell

Today’s recipes were:

  • Boef Bourguignon;
  • Gratin Dauphinois; and
  • Chocolate Mousse

The beef bourguingnon is the longest and most time consuming of all these recipes, so if you are going to tackle it, time it out appropriately.  I also have other comments about this recipe, so please note them at the end.

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Welcome to my project!

Hi there and welcome to my Cook Book project.  I am somewhat addicted to buying cook books, the idea of being able to cook tasty food from all around the world just seems so ripe with possibilities that I find it very hard to resist purchasing more and more books.  This of course is silly given the number of free recipes on the internet, but I like books, so I just keep collecting them.

After my last purchase (5 books for $50), I decided that I needed to actually cook from the recipe books I owned (all of them) before I can allow myself to purchase another one.  So this project has the following challenge, one meat (where applicable), one vegetable (where applicable) and one dessert/entrée from each of the cook books I own.  I will exclude the reference cook books I own and clearly won’t be able to make main meals from the chocolate cook books I own, but will instead make delicious desserts.  This challenge has the added fun of me not being able to cook a recipe in a cook book that I have previously made before this challenge.

I aim to cook something extraordinary each weekend, and will update the blog with a photo/s of what is made,  as well as where the recipe is from (amazon/fishpond links as appropriate), and the recipe (that’s probably ok, it should be fair use, especially if I’ve had to substitute an ingredient because I am unable to obtain an equivalent in Australia).

I have the awesome Smallfrogge (Scott) to help out, and to keep me focussed.  This weekend we’ll probably tackle something French, and we’ll go from there.  Come along and enjoy the ride!