Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Little Art and Some Recipes

I've been playing around with creating some backgrounds with paper collage, and layers by using household items (i.e. bottle cap, q-tips, bubble wrap, etc) as interesting stamps. When I saw the musical notes peeking through the background, I quickly painted this little bird. Somehow I didn't like the way it looked, but after I antiqued it with a little bit of burnt umber oil paint, it looks much better to me. I had used white, which was just too bright and distracting. I did have fun playing with the background. What kinds of things have you used for unusual stamps?

Ok, now to the recipes. I've had some requests for the recipes we are using to make the dishes and even the preserved lemons from my last post. Here they are (anything in brackets is my own commentary):

Lemons Preserved in Salt and Lemon Juice
from Arabesque, A Taste of Morocco, Turkey & Lebanon
by Claudia Roden

If you enter "Recipes with Preserved Lemons" in Google, you can get an idea of how they are used, mostly as flavoring in middle eastern cooking.

4 lemons (I use organic lemons for this)
4 tablespoons of sea salt
juice of 4 additional lemons, or more to taste (needed a few days after the rest of the ingredients)

Wash and scrub the lemons (I used organic lemons). The classic Moroccan way is to cut each lemon in quarters but not right through, so that the pieces are still attached at the stem end, and to stuff each with a tablespoon of salt and squeeze it closed. Put them in a sterilized preserving jar, pressing them down so that they are squashed together, and close the jar.

(I cut the lemons all the way through into quarters, because I had a hard time stuffing them with the sea salt. So, I just put the quarters in the jar and sprinkled them with the salt and then shook it a bit to mix it up.)

Leave for 3 to 4 days, by which time the lemons will have disgorged some of their juices and the skins will have softened a little. Open the jar and press the lemons down as much as you can, then add fresh lemon juice to cover them entirely.

Close the jar and leave in a cool place for at least a month. The longer they are left, the better the flavor. If a piece of lemon is not covered, it develops a white mold that is harmless and just needs to be washed off. (I’m not sure I’ll actually use moldy pieces, but then I also eat cheeses that are cultivated to develop a mold…we’ll see.)

Before using, scoop out and discard the pulp and rinse the lemon peel under the tap to get rid of the salt.

from Mediterranean Cooking

¾ cup dried chickpeas (or two 14-ounce cans chickpeas)
juice of 2 lemons
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of cayenne pepper
2/3 cup tahini paste
salt and ground black pepper
extra olive oil and cayenne pepper for sprinkling
flat-leaf parsley, to garnish

Put the chickpeas in a bowl with plenty of cold water and let soak overnight.

Drain the chickpeas and cover with fresh water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil rapidly for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat and summer gently for about 1 hour, until soft. Drain.

Process the chickpeas in a food processor to a smooth puree. Add the lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, cayenne pepper and tahini and blend until creamy, scraping the mixture down from the sides of the bowl.

Season the puree with salt and pepper and transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with oil and cayenne pepper and serve garnished with a few parsley sprigs.

Baba Ganoush (the spelling varies widely...)
from Mediterranean Cooking

2 small eggplants
1 clove garlic, crushed
¼ cup tahini paste (sesame paste)
¼ cup ground almonds
juice of ½ lemon
½ teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and ground black pepper
fresh thyme sprigs, to garnish

Broil the eggplant, turning frequently, until the skin is blackened and blistered (we do this on the grill, which adds a nice smoky flavor). Remove the peel, chop the flesh roughly and let drain in a colander.

Squeeze out as much liquid from the eggplant as possible. Place the flesh in a blender or food processor. Add the garlic (we dry roast ours in the peel in a skillet on the stove – it’s a little less pungent that way), tahini, ground almonds, lemon juice and cumin, season to taste and process to a smooth paste. Roughly chop half the mint and stir into the dip.

Spoon the dip into a bowl, sprinkle the remaining leaves on top and drizzle with olive oil.

We eat both Hummus and Baba Ganoush with cut up fresh veggies (i.e. carrots, radishes, cucumbers) and toasted pita bread. Sometimes we brush some olive oil and sprinkle salt on some pitas bread halves and toast them in the oven until crisp.

Now, one last thing (long post, isn't it?). I realized today that I have over 50 followers - truly beyond my wildest dreams when I started this blog in March - and decided to do a giveaway to mark this happy occasion and show my appreciation for all of you. I'll post about it tomorrow, so make sure to check back!


  1. i love your little birdie artwork...so very cute! and thanks so much for the wonderful recipes!! :)

  2. yummmm...I'm ready to eat that all up!!
    Your bird is darling and I love the background!! perfect:):)


  3. Love your little bird, very nice combination of colours!!

  4. Interesting lemon recipe I want to try it just because I bet it looks real pretty in the jar. But what do you use it for? A spread? Lorrie

  5. I am going to try this!! Looks delish! Can't wait to hear about the giveaway :)

  6. I loved that you got creative with stamping from ordinary household objects! I will have to give it a try. Thanks for the inspiration!

  7. Thanks, you all, for your sweet comments!

    Just a quick note - the preserved lemons are used in middle eastern cooking as a flavoring. You can do an easy google search and find all kinds of recipes. Plus, you are right, Lorrie - they look so pretty!

    :) Silke

  8. Silke - I love your bird, it so sweet! Great idea to use household items in your background. I'm not a stamper, maybe I'll have to give it a try :)

    The recipes sound delicious...when I make hummus I use canned chickpeas, drained & lightly rinsed. They work really well. Homemande hummus is such a treat :) Thanks for sharing.

  9. Silke,
    about the fettucini with sage - the trick is to fry the fresh sage in butter until crisp! Then quickly add the garlic, and the proscuitto, then the cooked fettucini and serve with lots of fresh parmesan!

  10. Hello dear Silke!

    I love your little bird painting - the shade of blue is just perfect for it!

    I've always wanted to try to make preserved lemons - yours look so pretty, I may have to try. Isn't homemade hummus the best? I make it all summer, too! But I've never made my own Baba Ganoush. I'll have to do that this summer.

    You are such an inspiration.

    Bis bald,

  11. thanx for sharing the recipes, I'll try them , I was looking for a easy Hummus one and you posted it :)) the bird is very beautiful!!