Tag Archives: yummy

SF Sundays – Top Ten Musts for 2020

It’s February, can I still say Happy 2020? Probably not but I’ll say it anyways… HAPPY 2020!

It’s actually been a bit busy for me, with my full time work, side projects and recent certification exam (long story, short, I like to keep learning!). However, I have been making a list of all the things I must see, do and eat in the Bay Area when I realized, does everyone else know about these sweet delights in our backyard?

What must we see, do and eat in the Bay? Here are a few off the tip of my very long list for 2020:

50 Years! I can’t be the only one that didn’t realize there is a fantastic museum that encompasses our history as a state just off the Lake Merritt Bart Station in Oakland. The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) is a fantastic space housing local art, history and culture with beautiful collections and visiting exhibits. This year, the OMCA is on my must revisit list as it celebrates it’s 50th anniversary of not just being a fabulous museum, but a welcoming “gathering place in the heart of Oakland”.

Let’s Eat! Reem’s has been added to my must eat list after seeing the nonstop hype behind it. Even the local news was all giddy when it was announced that this Oakland staple was opening up shop in San Francisco’s historic Mission District. Like a typical foodie, I went to check out the menu and literally salivated. It’s also worth mentioning that this is an Arab American lady owned business. So I’m biased in thinking it’s up to the hype and I can’t wait to eat it all up!

Up Above the Clouds! Taking a hot air balloon ride has been on my bucket list for a while. In looking to tick it off my list this year, I’ve come to find out I can do just that in the North Bay’s beautiful Napa Valley. We are spoiled for choice, whether going up with a group or privately, for an hour or so. Regardless, you can head to Visit Napa Valley to see which option best suits you, as well as other things to do while you’re up there.

Broadway! One of the longest running shows on Broadway is roaring it’s way to the Bay! The Lion King will be showcasing for a limited time this summer at the Center for Performing Arts in San Jose. As this is a limited engagement, it’s on my must see list because tickets will sell fast. Especially since it’s happening right after Hamilton’s extended run in San Francisco. What? You haven’t seen Hamilton in the Bay yet? What are you waiting for? It’s now extended through May 31st so add it to your 2020 must see list!

Frida! The most anticipated exhibit of the season coming to the Bay has to be Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving. Thanks to the Frida Kahlo Museum (aka The Blue House) in Mexico City, Mexico, we here in the Bay will get to see some of her personal items along with some of her magnificent works of art. As a fan of this prolific artist, this exhibit is on my must experience list, with the accompanying lectures, docent talks and much more at the de Young Museum.

Jazz It Up! The music scene in the Bay last year has been absolutely amazing. So much so, I started 2020 by heading to SFJAZZ‘s annual new year concert series of the legendary trumpeter Chris Botti! This concert was just a peak into the amazing line up happening this season. I’m now a proud member and so should you if you don’t want to miss out on great shows like this…

Hole In The Wall! Did you know, there’s a Peephole Cinema in San Francisco? Blink and you miss it! Peephole Cinema San Francisco is located in the Mission District at 280 Orange Alley, looping silent short films for those who’d like to take a peak. Another one was just added at SFO’s Terminal 1, thanks in kind to the curator, Sarah Klein. If you’re a movie buff or at least appreciate the art form, then add this to your must see list.

Yummy Delicious! The two day Eat Real Fest in Oakland’s Jack London Square has announced it’s dates for the year. What makes this food festival exciting is not only the great food expected to be shared, but the celebration of sustainable local ingredients and the craft behind the dishes and drinks served. I missed last year’s festival so I’m looking forward to eating my heart out while checking out all the cooking classes and demos that are being planned as we speak. Yummy!

Under The Sea! From the depths of the seas, statues of a three headed serpent and a mysterious deity were found, possibly lying in shipwrecks for centuries. The LOST AT SEA exhibit now through March is only happening at the Asian Art Museum. This tops my list as this one of a kind exhibit is only happening in San Francisco through March. You’re welcome to join our InterNations Culture and Art Group as we time travel and explore these wondrous beauties in February.

Just For Laughs! I LOVE the stand up comedy scene here in the Bay! We are truly blessed to get some of the best up and comers as well as established comedians stopping by to make us laugh. Ali Wong and Trevor Noah ended 2019 by coming through with sold out shows! 2020 shouldn’t be any different, if not better. I personally can’t wait for Michelle Wolf‘s return to the Bay later this week. Later this season, Jim Carrey, Whitney Cummings and Ali Wong will be in town too, woohoo!

So what’s on your Bay Area list for 2020?

Disclaimer: This rant was not sponsored or paid for by any of the above mentioned entities unless otherwise noted. Any and all sponsored or paid rants are for time spent, never for a biased take or review. If you’d like me to check out a happening around town or a local eatery to rant about, please email ha@mshala.co.

Ladies’ Night @ Trader Vic’s – A Snapchat Story

Trader Vic's - Hilton Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato In case you didn’t know, every Wednesday night is Ladies’ Night at Trader Vics, Hilton Doha! Unlimited drinks and bites for two hours for 100QR! Even us hijabis and/or non drinkers can join in on the fun!ūüćĻ

You can read my review on Zomato and watch the full Snapchat story below!

 

Note: I’ve been to Trader Vic’s for Ladies’ night a few times, both as a guest and customer. My opinions on my blog and social media are strictly my own. Please contact if you’d like permission to share/repost this content.

Egyptian Inspired Friday Breakfast for One

Early this weekend -Fridays in Qatar of course- I came home from Jummah prayer craving an Egyptian style breakfast like the one my mommy and I used to make back in San Francisco, California. Take a moment to grasp this global sentence before I continue. =P

I’m still learning to cook for one without leftovers for two! It’s a work in progress so I posted the final results from my 20 minute cooking adventure on my Facebook and Twitter pages (still debating Instragram). Now by request from my fellow Qatari inhabitants, I’m not only sharing the recipes but a few of my ingredient finds. =)

Egyptian Fava Beans with Diced Tomatoes

So if you aren’t in Egypt where you can get the freshest of the fresh fava beans at 5 in the morning, this amazing canned product from California Fields is really the next best thing! We’ve lived off this in San Francisco and when I found it for the first time in Carrefour, I did a little happy dance in the aisle. You can also find this at Al Merra for the same sweet price!

There are several ways to make fava beans with various ingredients, oils and butters. However, the one I made here with just three ingredients is my absolute favorite! In a sauce pan, cooked one can of fava beans on medium heat (using a gas stove, high heat for electric).

As the beans started to bubble around the edges, I added a sliver of butter (about a quarter teaspoon at the most). I ran my cooking utensil through the beans to soften them a bit. I wasn’t trying to puree it, just want a nice and chunky texture. Diced a tomato and added the pretty red squares to the fava beans letting it cook for about two to three more minutes. This let’s the tomatoes cook enough while still holding itself. Then season to taste with salt and pepper… DONE!

For my dieting readers, fava beans are high in protein and very filling without the bloating… score!

Feta Cheese and Seasoned Tomatoes

I think my Arab brothers and sisters can relate to this dish because you seriously can’t go wrong with tomatoes and feta cheese seasoned and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil! For feta cheese, I’ve so far enjoyed Pride’s feta cheese from Al Meera as it’s similar to the one I used to get in San Francisco. This one is a nice solid with so many ways to serving it.

Here, I sliced a nice firm roman tomato and plated it. Than seasoned it with salt, pepper and lots of cumin. I scooped out a good tablespoonful of feta cheese, crumbling it in big pieces onto the plate. Then I drizzled about a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil onto the entire plate. This, some toasted pita bread and mixed pickles… OH SO GOOD!

For those needing that extra calcium boost, this is the perfect dish!

Sauteed Balsamic Eggplants

If some of my readers haven’t noticed by now, I LOVE eggplants just as much as I love tomatoes and potatoes! This dish is one of my favorite eggplant dishes and there’s so many simple ways to make it your own with all kinds of eggplants. A few days ago, I found these nice mini eggplants at Al Meera that I figured would be perfect for this dish.

Sliced two mini eggplants into about quarter inch (half a centimeter) disks and in small sauce pan on medium to high heat, sauteed them until they browned on both sides with a bit of extra virgin olive oil. Take the sauce pan off the stove and while the pan is still hot, added about half a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar for flavor (being very careful as the vinegar does react to the heat).

After the eggplants rested and took in the oil and vinegar for about 5 minutes, I start plating. Topped them off with sliced green onions (or chives), salt, pepper and drizzled the plate with a bit more of balsamic vinegar for taste… DELICIOUS!

Sided my dishes with salt and peppered boiled eggs, toasted pita bread, Egyptian mixed pickles found at Carrefour for about 12QR, fresh sweet orange slices and some sweet tea with low fat milk and I had myself ¬†the best Egyptian breakfast in Qatar… and so can you!!¬†Bel hana welshefa =)

My Qatari Inhabitants

Us expats here really do have an amazing variety of main staples such as oils and¬†vinegar¬†to be tried and tested! For extra virgin olive oil, I’ve so far liked the flavor of Serjella. It just cooks well unlike a few others I’ve tried including the “Spanish Oil” everyone’s raving about here. I’m still looking for a good regular olive oil to cook with more regularly so if you’ve tried a good one, pass it along. Now for my favorite vinegar, the¬†versatile¬†balsamic, was a bit tough because I’ve yet to find an aged one like the ones I’m used to from Trader Joe’s. However, I have to say I appreciate the one by Yamama. Even though it’s not aged, the flavor is very appealing and went very well with my lemon lime apple salad. I found both from Carrefour for less than 15 QR each.

I took all the pictures in this rant with my BlackBerry Curve 3G before I realized I have a real camera! Still pretty good for a 2 year old phone, right?

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!