My Take on a Scandinavian Brownie Recipe

As a fan of baking, especially when it comes to chocolate, I’m always craving a new kind of recipe. This time it was brownies! I did a bit of research here and there before coming across this interesting recipe from Cacao Web. The link shows both a recipe for Scandinavian brownies with frosting. I decided to opt out of the frosting so I can make and test the recipe out. Of course as I always do, I made my adjustments to the recipe and decided to make not one but TWO separate batches.

The recipe calls for 1 1/3 cup flour, 1 1/2 cup sugar, 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 3 eggs, 3/4 cup of butter, 3 oz of hot water and 4 oz of chopped walnuts.

For the cocoa powder, I used the unsweetened kind that I get from Trader Joe’s. I find it to be much better for baking. For the butter, I gasped at what the recipe asked for. It’s almost two sticks of butter!! Just way too much for me! Instead, I used less then half a cup of my mom’s Egyptian style butter known as “semna”. For those who don’t know, this is like pure butter with no sodium. To make it, my mom gets unsalted butter and melts it down over low heat. This process separates all the gunk from the good butter rising to the top. She then jars it up after it cools at room temperature. It really makes all the difference in the world!

For the water, the recipe asks for a little under half a cup. However, I used a bit less then that so that I can add a dash of my favorite fresh brewed coffee. Coffee really brings out the chocolate flavor just as salt brings out the sweet flavor in most dessert recipes. I didn’t use any salt here and the recipe doesn’t call for it either.

With my adjusted recipe, I made the first batch into brownie cupcakes with chopped and whole chocolate chips to top it off. I did not use any walnuts per the recipe in this batch but the result was YUMMY!! It’s not too sweet and I promise you it’s not bland either. You can taste the chocolate and the texture is not dense, it’s very light. I do think that the next time I make a cupcake batch, I’ll add the chocolate chips into the batter as well as on top to make it more gooey.

The second batch was your typical one layer brownie with chopped nuts and topped off with powdered sugar. Instead of just the walnuts per the recipe, I used a small handful of walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts and almonds. I gave them a rough chop and folded them into my batter. Again, not too sweet but just right, especially the flavors of the nut variety. I didn’t want to frost them because the brownie are nice and soft. Instead, I let it cool, cut it up and sprinkled powdered sugar on top.

Feel free to try it out and let me know what you think! Happy Friday!

Tomato Basil Penne Pasta w/Sauteed Mushrooms

I just made a really yummy and simple dinner!! Penne pasta in a fresh tomato basil sauce topped with sauteed mushrooms and green onions. Very simple to make, very delicious to eat!

Here’s how simple it is…

I started with a pound of mini penne pasta in boiling water with a bit of salt, saving a cup of the water before draining the pasta. The salt and starch from the pasta helps make the sauce nice and thick.

For the sauce, I started with a bit of butter and olive oil, cooked a chopped tomato until it  softened. Then I added a canned tomato sauce and the pasta water. As the sauce simmered, I added about a tablespoon of fresh chopped basil leaves, salt and pepper to taste, a pinch of dried cilantro, thyme and cumin. About ten minutes in, I added about a teaspoon of cream cheese to make the sauce creamy.

Then I brought the pasta and the sauce together and let it cook on low heat.

In a small sauce pan, I put a really small piece of butter to saute about six decently sized mushrooms, chopped in nice slices. As the mushrooms shrank, I added one chopped green onion. Then added salt, pepper and cumin to taste.

Served my pasta, topped it with the mushrooms and ate to my heart’s delight!

 

Another Healthy Lunch!

Seriously, what is wrong with me?! I’m having another healthy lunch and didn’t even realize it until I sat down to eat it! hehehe …and it was good!

Veggie/Cheese sandwich: goat cheese, cream cheese, mozzarella, tomoatoes and cucumbers with some herbs and garlic seasoning. Homemade sweet honey mocha… simple ingredients people, simple.

…did I mention I had a Vegan Banana Chocolate Walnut cookie last night too?! I’m hooked on those things from Java at the Zoo (or from Java Beach)! Chocolate is chocolate, vegan or not!

Healthiest Lunch Ever!

I swear I’m working on a few new rants, including an upcoming rant series called W.I.S.S. (which will be explained and started in a few days!) among other things. In the meantime, I know I had promised to post some of my food creations from time to time. Today, the healthiest lunch I’ve ever had!

A makeshift salad consisting of blackberries, granny smith apples, tomatoes (I see it as a fruit!) and small cucumbers with a dash of apple cider and honey! Seriously, what is wrong with me?! I don’t do healthy but it tastes so good!!

All About That Girl Power

All About that Girl Power
By: Ms. Hala Abdoun for BQ Plus via Zomato
Originally Published: March 2017
Publication Source: BQ-Magazine.com
Republished on the Zomato Community Blog under the title, Celebrating Women’s Day in Doha

Article on pages 38-40

All About That Girl Power!
Hala Abdoun for Zomato Qatar

March is the month we celebrate Girl Power! We take the time to appreciate the fantastic women in our lives, starting with our mothers of course. We remember her hugs, her kisses and her cooking, which was really hugs and kisses in a bowl, right?

Celebrating Women is the latest collection on Zomato showcasing the top eateries that are either owned and/or cheffed by women. With over 3,500 restaurants in Doha alone, these nine eateries truly shine with the unique and awesome power of the women in charge!

9. La Creme
Where:  Royal Plaza Shopping Mall, Al Sadd
Rating: 3.4 / 5
Sweet Power: Considered a hidden gem by many foodies, this sweet spot is all about fulfilling your sweet tooth. Owned by the classically trained Chef Nicole, she has spent years perfecting each bakeable recipe, from the popular goodie jars to customized tiered cakes.

8. Nineties Cafe
Where: Souq Al Wakra, Al Wakrah
Rating: 3.4 / 5
Nostalgia Power: Anyone else nostalgic for the good days of the 1990’s? We sure wish we could turn back the hands of time. Lucky for us, we’ve got Maryam running the cafe that gives us all the feels from back in the day. This place serves up a simple menu of waffle bubbles to go with your favorite drink of the day.

7. Shay Al Shoomos
Where: Al Jasra Street, Souq Waqif
Rating: 3.4 / 5
Mama Power: Remember when mama worked her magic over a small kitchen stove to produce a feast? Qatari Chef Shams does exactly that! She’s cooking up her famous rogag with all kinds of fixings, brewing up pots of shay and treating her customers like they were all her own children. Thanks mama!

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6. Italia Mia
Where: Behind Souq Waqif Art Center, Souq Waqif 
Rating: 3.6 / 5
Pasta Power: Want to eat like a true Italian without leaving Doha? Try out what the dedicated following this hidden gem has amassed are raving about. In the heart of Souq Waqif are dishes upon dishes of homemade pastas and everything in between to make you feel like you’re in Italy. Mamma mia!

5. Korean Garden
Where: C Ring Road, Fereej Bin Mahmoud
Rating: 3.7 / 5
Fusion Power: Many think Asian fusion dishes are a new trend in Doha but that’s far from the truth. Owner Yun Hee Lee is the Asian fusion trendsetter, serving up Korean and Japanese fusion dishes in one of the oldest Asian restaurants in Doha. So much the trendsetter, BQ Plus deemed it one of the Best Asian Restaurants back in the September 2016 issue. You Go Girl!

4. Thai Cuisine
Where: Al Jazira Street, Fereej Bin Mahmoud
Rating: 3.7 / 5
Delivery Power: Any place that makes sure you are eating at the comfort of your home will almost always have a place in our hearts. Owner and Chef Korn Kanok Penglong has made sure you get your favorite Thai dishes ready to pick up or delivered to your comfortable couch (or bed, we don’t judge) in time for your TV binging.

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3. Mamig
Where: Katara Cultural Village, Katara
Rating: 3.8 / 5
Star Power: Chef Zarmig is a celebrity here in the Qatar food scene and rightfully so! She’s the power behind the only high end Armenian Lebanese restaurant around. She’s tapped into everything we truly love perfectly: good food, smooth sheeshas and live music overseeing the Doha skyline from the heart of Katara. 

2. Three Peppers Restaurant
Where: Old Airport Road, Old Airport Area
Rating: 4.1 / 5
Pepper Power: Just like a small pepper packs a big punch, this small place packs three big punches! Chef Mary’s take on authentic Chinese eats is probably the reason behind why the Old Airport area is always so jam packed. This hidden gem fills up faster than you can say “Szechuan chicken please!”

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1. Nistantasi Bakose
Where: Melia Doha, Dafna
Rating: 4.3 / 5
Gold Power: And topping the list is the one restaurant garnishing the ever popular Turkish kebab with gold. That’s right, GOLD! Fonda and her husband Ahmet have brought the finest dishes from their main Istanbul restaurant to Doha to become an overnight sensation. She oversees all the ingredients coming into Qatar straight from Turkey and keeps the chefs on their toes to serve up what foodies have deemed the best Turkish restaurant in town.

We’ve run out of space but we can’t end this powerful list without some honorable mentions. The Pearl is now complete with the opening of it’s first Thai restaurant, White Oryx. Raved for baking up the best cookies in town is the perfectly named, Sweet Moments The Boutique. And in the third floor of Marriott Marquis is Aziza, serving up levantine favorites.

Don’t miss out! Download the Zomato app, bookmark these restaurants and celebrate these women today and every day!

All images courtesy of Zomato Community Blog unless otherwise noted