Embracing the Eastern goddess

Labneh and Rose Apple Jelly.

I was given this cookbook (Crazy Water Pickled Lemons) awhile ago. It’s a tantilizing mix of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and North African cooking. At the time I thought it was pretty but  thought a lot of the recipes were above me. All in the too hard basket, both with methods and ingredients. Then I revisited and woah mama! Of course I can cook out of this! Well I can at least hack a few recipes up and mama-fy them a bit.

First up Labneh. Labneh is a Lebanese Cream cheese, that has the taste of yoghurt but texture of cream cheese and couldn’t be easier to make. So easy you may just have to slap yourself  to believe, just how simple it really is.

First up make some yoghurt, or if you couldn’t be bothered…. buy it, a good natural one. Yoghurt is pretty easy to make though. Christine @ Slow Living Essentials has posted two great methods on making yoghurt. I do the quicker boil the kettle one. (and just a note, homemade yoghurt really is so much better than the bought stuff. No added ‘things’, it’s a LOT cheaper, its easy to make, and your cutting down on all those plastic tubs. Easy to flavour as you like.)

Back to the Labneh. Yoghurt made, and it’s time to to put it in a sieve and some muslin, and leave it for 12-24 hours. My book said for 24 hours, I did it for 12- depends on how quickly the liquid drains out of the yoghurt. Unwrap the muslin and voila! Labneh.

Next step in embracing my inner middle eastern goddess was Rose Apple Jelly. Sounding exquisite, and the colour divine, thursday night was jelly making night. (Naturally I was going to hack the recipe up and make it simpler.)

First roughly chop up your apples, seeds, core, skins and all. Cook it up until soft (approx 40 mins) then carefully drain off the liquid into another pot. Now the recipe did say to leave it for 12 hours in a jelly bag (or muslin) but I didn’t have that time so did it the quick way.

For every 600mls of liquid, add 375grams of sugar. Cook up along with juice of 1/2 lemon and 1 long strip of lemon peel. Cook until gels on small cold saucer. Add rose water to taste. (The original recipe asked for rose petals- with no access to lovely roses, I was going to have to skip that bit too. If by chance you would like to make your own rose water, Dana at  Fleur De Sel posted on making it.

Result? A really delicately flavoured, gorgeously coloured jelly. I hadn’t made jelly before and kept taking it up to the light and letting it sparkle.

Sparkle it did.

Capturing winter sun in a jar

Winter sun can be so uplifting to the spirits when its cold outside. A face tilted towards the sun through a glass window. Body warming against a sheltered brick wall. There are pockets of warmth in my apartment that are just perfect for capturing that winter sun.

Little Monkeys pillow, when he goes down for a day time nap. His pillow has been soaking up the morning warmth already for him to lay his head on. Makes me want to snuggle right down with him.

Coat stand, standing holding all of our jackets. When ever I go to put one on during the day, a little bit of winter wonder has been stored in there. Warming my back and a soft ahhh slipping from my mouth.

The dining table, just about time I usually eat some lunch, that soft winter sun is waiting for me. Sunny fingers out stretched, waiting to draw me in.

This mandarin marmalade drew me. Its sunny colour, and tang of sweet citrus, just begging for a little sourdough to accompany it.

Mandarin Marmalade

1.3 kilos skinned and segmented manderines

800mls water

Cooked up until soft (approx 1/2 an hour). Then wizzed up in a hand held mixer.

1 kilo sugar

1 large strip of lemon peel

Cooked up, and reduced until thickens. (Saucer test- put in freezer, then ladle a little jam on, if thickens and wrinkles then its ready.)

Pour into hot sterilized jars and seal.

* If you are not so keen on marmalade but like jam, this could be a good one. It doesn’t have the citrus tartness that normal marmalades do, due to their skins not being cooked up in the batch. The Monkeys loved this, and you know most kids don’t go for marmalade. It sits happily in between.