Tahini and Blood Oranges Brownies on International Women’s Day

Firstly, I would like to wish you a happy International Women’s Day! I must admit I felt a sense of joy this morning, as I was exchanging text message greetings with my friends in Croatia. A feeling of sisterhood, if you like! 🙂

This day used to be widely celebrated in Croatia, in the days of communism, so yes, probably all over the former Yugoslavia. The 8 of March. Everybody knew the date, everybody knew what it was. I remember there being shows put on for mums in my primary school, and I remember shopping for presents for my mum and gifting her. One year when I was 7, I had to dress as a peacock and perform in my primary school, in front of all the mums, teachers and other kids. The costume painstakingly sown together by my mum, of course.

The fact that the day was widely celebrated doesn’t, unfortunately, mean there is no discrimination of women in my home country. Croatia is still in large parts a patriarchal society, it pains me to say. Now that we’re a Catholic country, we no longer celebrate the 8th of March. There’s Mother’s Day (in May?), but Women’s Day is not celebrated in the same way.

I remember a particular scene from Ugo Betti’s poignant play ‘Il delitto all’isola delle capre’ (‘The Crime on the Goats’ Island’) where a daughter tells her mother how perfect she thought she was, how strong, standing there proud and tall, with the sun rays in her hair. (It sounds much better in Italian, I promise, though I can’t remember the exact quote now.) And the mother responds by asking whether she ever wondered how she really felt, what she really thought, standing there, proud and tall, with the sun rays in her hair. Mothers are women, too, no? People. Humans. Not defined by this one thing only.

So happy Women’s Day! And if you’re a woman, don’t let anyone anywhere ever tell you that you are inferior to a man because you’re a woman.

Tahini brownies

As soon as I saw tahini brownies over at Joumana’s, I just had to make them! And I did, within minutes of seeing the recipe. This is probably the fastest I’ve ever made a recipe after seeing it! Seen, made, eaten, photographed. A personal record. 😀

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While photographing these brownies, I discovered that my under cupboard lights are perfect for food photography, soft and warm. It was like having a mini-studio! These were also the first food photos I shot in the fully manual mode, so a little milestone for me! Previously, I used aperture priority control, but this is much better! That’s my red splash back that you can see in the background in the photo below.

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And what were they like? Perfect! Fudgy and crumbly, with a haunting nutty sesame flavour. The recipe calls for orange juice, and I used the juice of blood oranges, which have an ever-so slightly bitter, berry like flavour, less acidic than regular oranges. It worked a treat, and the end result had a fairly complex, bewitching flavour and gorgeously soft and fudgy texture. And did you know they are vegan?!

 

Tahini & Blood Orange Brownies

 

SOURCE: Maryline via Joumana

PREPARATION TIME: about 10 – 15 min

COOKING TIME: 20 min

CUISINE: Unknown

SERVES: 6 – 8

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 100 g of good quality dark chocolate, preferably 70% cocoa
  • 150 g of tahini (don’t forget to stir the jar before pouring)
  • 150 g of plain flour
  • 1 heaped tsp of baking powder
  • 120 – 150 g of icing sugar (150 makes it fairly sweet, it’s up to you!)
  • 150 g of freshly squeezed juice of blood oranges, around 3 medium but juicy oranges. (Joumana says you can also use a combination of rum and orange juice)
  • Pinch of salt (optional, but I like adding it to cakes)
  • Baking parchment for lining the tin (Joumana recommends it, and I agree. The brownies are very sticky!)

 

METHOD:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 C, cut the baking parchment to fit your tin. I used a round, 25 cm tin.
  2. Break the chocolate into small, even pieces and put it in a large pyrex bow. Melt the chocolate in the microwave, or over a bowl  of hot water. Either way, use low heat.
  3. Mix in the tahini and orange juice, add the icing sugar, and combine thoroughly.
  4. Sift in the flour and baking powder over the mixture and fold thoroughly.
  5. Line your baking tin with parchment, and pour the batter, spreading it as evenly as possible with a spatula. Bake the brownies for 20 min. Serve warm or cold, and enjoy!

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NOTES: They are gorgeous! Possibly even better than my previous Spedilicious Brownies!

Next time, I’ll use less sugar, as 150 g was a bit too sweet for me. Also, I’ll try using different nut butters. Almond springs to mind! Hey, we can even try using white chocolate instead! How about white chocolate, almond butter and lemon juice (diluted with water), with pistachios? The creative possibilities are endless!

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I know there’s not much difference between the these two photos, but I just couldn’t decide which one I prefer. What you think?

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Andrea’s Tarka Dhal

fbi rukavice

When I first started blogging, I didn’t know many blogs from former Yugoslavia. Now there are loads! FBI Rukavice stands for Food Blog Inspection, and ‘Rukavice’ (meaning ‘gloves’) is anagram of ‘kuvarice’ (or ‘cooks’). The event was started by mamajac, and it does exactly what it says ‘on the tin’ – it inspects, or investigates, one food blog a month! This month, Andrea’s beautiful blog Voće i povrće (or ‘Fruit and veg’) is under inspection! I had to take part! Andrea writes in Croatian, and I love her blog because of her recipes, photos and especially her writing. We share love of Indian cooking, so it was natural that I choose her Tarka Dhal as a first thing to try. I say first thing, as I’ve bookmarked many more!

I absolutely loved the dhal! It’s earthy flavours, it’s double dose of cumin (seeds and powder). Even the Great Carnivore (aka husband) adored it! Hvala Andrea! (Thank you!)

I’m going away for work and have to get up at 6 am tomorrow, so for now, here’s just the pic, and I’ll post the recipe in a few days in English.

 

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Persian food blogs

Persian feast continues soon! In the meanwhile, let me share with you some great links for some excellent Persian food blogs!

Turmeric & Saffron by Azita

My Persian Kitchen by Chef

West of Persia by Bria

The Spice Spoon by Shayma (new blog including Pakistani, Afghani and Iranian recipes)

Pinch my Saffron by Yasamin

Javane’s Kitchen  by Javane (Gluten free!)

 

I discovered Turmeric & Saffron when Azita kindly left a message on my previous post about cooking Persian. This spurred me to look for more, and I discovered My Persian Kitchen and others.  Turmeric & Saffron and My Persian Kitchen are excellent sources of information on Persian food and delicious recipes! West of Persia and The Spice Spoon are new to blogging, but very promising.

Does anyone know of any more?

 

Here are the other posts from my Persian feast series:

  

Persian feast in my kitchen: Intro

Persian feast in my kitchen: the first courses

Persian feast in my kitchen: the mains

Persian baklava: the sweet end to our feast

 

 

 

 

 

Blog-tasting again! Yum!

Have you tried Burekaboy’s falafel yet? No? For god’s sake, what are you waiting for? They’re gorgeous!!! I looove the addition of sesame seeds in these gorgeous golden chickpea flour fritters!

OK, how about Sailu’s Palak Paneer, spinach and paneer (Indian cheese curry)? If not, you should!

And how about her Simple Mutton Curry? It may be simple, but it tastes terrific! Easy to make, big on flavour; in short, a real winner!

While you’re at it, Barbara’s Curried Chicken From the Oven: Masalewali Dum Murghi is also a must! It’s not a pretty curry, especially before it goes in theo oven, but it wows with performance, i.e. taste!

 

And what do you think? Any dishes you know about that I should try? Please leave the details in the comments section!

More Blog-tasting at Maninas HERE!

   

 

Barbara’s amazing chicken curry

 Barbara from Tigers & Strawberries is one of my favourite bloggers. Her writing is always inspirational and informative, her recipes creative and delicious. She is a trained chef, and food is both her calling and her passion. Please do check her fantastic blog!

Barbara makes this gorgeous chicken curry for her whole family to enjoy, including her adorable little babygirl (Kat in the title of the recipe). We loved it, too! It smelled and tasted absolutely amazing: I adored the masala, with its perfect balance of tastes – exceptional! I tweaked the curry a little to suit the tastes of two adults (by adding 5 green chilies), and changed the method slightly to make up for the lack of food processor/spice grinder (I used pestle and mortar only). I also fancied some black cardamom, so I added one, and it worked great! Here is my version, and below is the link to Barbara’s version.

I must admit I was a little skeptical about cooking onions in coconut cream, but I did try it, and it worked great. The onions turned out lovely and mellow, and I loved the cassia in it. I did have to add some ghee to fry the chicken, though, but it worked great!

This curry is fairly quick to make, with a bit of organisation. This is how I do it: 1. cut the onions and put all the whole spices together; 2. roast the spices; 3. fry the onions in coconut; 4. chop ginger, garlic and chicken; 5. add garlic and ginger to onions; 6. pound the whole spices; 7. add them to onions; 8. add chicken and fry, etc; 9. boil rice while the chicken is cooking.

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Kat’s Chicken Curry

 

SOURCE: Adapted from Barbara’s recipe

PREPARATION TIME: 5 min

COOKING TIME: 30 – 40 min

CUISINE: Indian-style

SERVES: 2 – 3

 

Ingredients:

1 can coconut milk

1 big thinly sliced yellow onion
salt to taste
5 cm cassia stick
2.5 cm cube fresh ginger, peeled and minced
4 large cloves fresh garlic, minced

5 green finger chilies

1 tbsp ghee

4 whole cloves
1 black cardamom pod

5 green cardamom pods
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2″ cubes
salt to taste
1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped

 

Method:

1. Put the whole spices in a hot pan and roast until fragrant. Take them out of the pan and put in the mortar.

2. Scrape about 4 tablespoons of coconut cream off the top of the can of coconut milk. Melt it in a heavy-bottomed deep pan over medium heat. Add onion slices, and sprinkle with salt. Add cassia stick, and cook, stirring continually until the onions are medium brown.

3. Add the ghee, chilies, ginger and garlic and keep cooking, stirring, until the onions are dark reddish brown and fragrant. Meanwhile, pound the spices as finely as you can. Use a spice grinder if you have one.

4. Add the pounded spices, paprika, cayenne and turmeric to the onions and fry for 30 seconds.

5. Add the chicken pieces and stir. When they are half cooked and half still pink, add the rest of the coconut milk and stir well. Turn the heat down and simmer until the chicken is completely cooked through.

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Add salt to taste, and stir in coriander leaves just before serving.

 

Verdict

Delicious! Do make this gorgeous dish!

It is extremely flavourful, with a strong tinge of cardamom (I would even call this Cardamom Chicken!). It has a gorgeous yellow colour from the turmeric, and a wonderful smell and flavour from the cassia bark. I love pretty much anything with coconut, so this is a clear winner for me! If you like coconut, it will be a winner for you, too!

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