10 December 2012

Omani Lobster with za’atar and garlic

Omani Lobster is presently a little overfished, but just once in a while, it’s a super way to turn things up for a celebration. This is a claw-less variety, and so is easy to prepare and eat. Simply use the tails, and if you want to keep waste to a minimum, use the legs to make a stock and freeze it for later.

Lobster tails are easy to cook – simply grill until the flesh is translucent – then take them off the heat and eat immediately - it will continue to cook a little in that shell until it's cracked open like a Christmas present. Za’atar is a local narrow and long-leaved thyme relative known elsewhere in the world as winter savoury.

  • 2 Lobster tails, cleaned
  • fresh za’atar – about 12 stems
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt, pepper and lemon to taste

Roasted Vegetable Salad

This is such a vibrant salad. Considering it is so hot here, even over Christmas, not everyone wants a bowl of hot roasted vegetables. It’s easy to prepare before-hand and features plenty of local and seasonal ingredients. It’s wonderful with turkey, but also makes a great accompaniment to grilled seafood.

  • 500g pumpkin, peeled and cubed
  • 1 bunch of radishes
  • 5 small beetroots, quartered
  • 250g roca (arugula)
  • 1 tbsp warm water
  • 1 big pinch of saffron
  • 1 tsp honey
  • coarse salt to taste
  • ¼ cup flaked almonds
  • 2 tbsp labneh
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • squeeze of lemon
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • herbs for garnish (za’atar or coriander)

Gingerbread lamp with stained glass

I've been inspired by the region - hard not to be really. Last year, we made a gingerbread house, and it turned out quite nicely. But the snow on the roof and the Hansel and Gretel theme doesn't really gel in this part of the world. So, here is a Middle-Eastern-Appropriate gingerbread, both in flavour and construction. And you know what? Easier than it looks...

  • 250g butter, softened 
  • 2/3 cup soft brown sugar 
  • 1/2 cup date honey (dhibs)
    2 eggs, beaten 
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup self raising flour
  • 2 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 15-20 clear boiled sweets (lollies), crushed with a mortar and pestle into coarse powder.

Roast Turkey with Freekeh

 Ok - this is not the easiest part of a Christmas Dinner, and so breaks my usual slap-dash rules of only 3-4 steps. Sorry about that - nothing to do. It is however not a hard recipe as far as roast turkeys go - just a simple roast, no brining or anything like that. Let's start you with the stuffing, which is really just chopping, browning and stirring, then I'll move through the trickier bits...

Freekeh Stuffing Ingredients:
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra, to drizzle
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 150g minced veal
  • 205g (1¼ cups) freekeh (washed well and soaked for 1 hour)
  • 2 tsp shawarma spice
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 750ml (3 cups) chicken stock or water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • ½ cup pistachios
  • ¼ cup dried barberries
  • Salt and pepper to taste

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