For the month of May, it was my pleasure to host the Daring Cooks challenge

A year ago I hosted my first challenge, at the time, I chose cheese making because it is a wonderful skill to add to your repertoire. This time around I wanted to choose a challenge that represents my own heritage. Something Palestinian, something fun and tasty, something challenging but worth the trouble.

For March’s Daring Cooks’ Challenge, Ruth, Shelley and Sawsan asked us to totally veg out! We made salads and dressings, letting the sky be the limit as we created new flavors and combinations that reflect our own unique tastes.

I LOVE making my own salad dressings! if you have not tried that before, believe me, you are missing out!A  few  simple ingredients and some imagination and you can turn your salads from boring to mouthwatering in a matter of minutes.

Salad dressing ingredients

The idea of making your own salad dressings may sound intimidating at first but in reality it is easier,cheaper, healthier and the taste is phenomenally better than the over-priced, preservative filled dressing you buy at the store.

For this month we chose to challenge the daring cooks to go beyond the dressings in a jar .The challenge was an invitation to dive into the vast and wonderful world of homemade salad dressings.

For this challenge I have made 7 mouthwatering salad dressings, I’ll post the first recipe today which is for my favorite tahini salad dressing and then a new salad dressing recipe every Sunday, I am thinking of calling the series “salad dressing Sunday”. If you have any special requests for recipes you want me to add to the series, please let me know in the comments. The recipes I have lined up for you are :

Tahini salad dressing (recipe below)

Tahini salad dressing: Chef in Disguise

Homemade Italian salad dressing

Italian salad dressing

A wonderful herb vinaigrette

Amazing herb vinaigrette: Chef in disguise. I will never buy salad dressing in a bottle ever again!

Citrus poppy seed dressing

Citrus poppy seed salad dressing

Ginger soya sauce salad dressing

sushi salad with ginger dressing 2

Homemade ranch dressing from scratch

ranch flavored Coleslaw

ingredients

We’ll start the series with one of my favorite dressings. Tahini salad dressing. Tahini if you are not familiar with it is  a paste made from ground sesame seeds. It’s extremely versatile and can be used in cooking sweet and savory dishes. The best part about it is that it’s packed with essential vitamins and minerals!

This tahini dressing is super creamy and tangy. It works as a dip or a salad dressing. I usually use it to make a tahini salad which is very popular here in the middle east. A tahini salad is simply some chopped tomatoes, chopped parsley and this amazing tahini dressing. Simple, I know. But packed with refreshing flavors. You can also use it to top your favorite greens or add some grilled  eggplants to it and then turn it into baba ghanouj.

Creamy tahini salad dressing

Tahini salad dressing

1/2 cup tahini paste
2-4 tablespoons lemon juice (depending on how much zing you like)
1 clove of garlic minced (optional)
2 tablespoons yogurt
salt to taste
1-2 tablespoons water (IF you want the dressing to be thinner)
1 tablespoon dried mint

Whisk the tahini with the lemon juice, at first it will get runny then it will thicken up and become lighter in color
add the garlic, yogurt, dried mint and salt and whisk until homogeneous.

Spanish tomato soup chef in disguise

We all start blogging for different reasons. Documenting a journey, venting emotions, dealing with stress or tragedy, finding some creative outlet, using up spare time, the list goes on and on. What no one tells you when you start blogging,though, is that at the end of the day, the part that you will cherish the most is the connections you will make. The people you will cross roads with.

I know many will argue that the virtual world is no place to “meet” or “get to know” anyone but if you have tried blogging for a while you will know that there is a precious connection that you can share with your readers, fellow bloggers and people you meet on this journey. A connection you can only feel with people who share your passion, who understand the spark of madness that is in every creative soul.

How to poach eggs perfectly

The perfect poached egg. Tender whites around a warm liquid yolk that oozes out like liquid gold when you cut into it. Place it on top of a salad and it turns into a meal. Place it on top of your favorite vegetables and you have brunch. Layer an English muffin with smoked cheese, roast beef and a poached egg and you have a fancy breakfast to rival that served in hotels and restaurants.

If you have never poached an egg before and you are intimidated by it, don’t be. It is much easier than you think. There are just a couple of “secrets” to learn and you will get perfect  poached eggs every single time.

gnocchi

If you are passionate about food and have a sense of adventure, I am sure you have a “recipes I want to try” list. If you are passionate about food, have a sense of humor and you are a food blogger then that list must be a mile long, at least, and it keeps growing with every new blog you follow and every cook book you add to your collection.

If you were to read my list , you’d find that Gnocchi has been there for quite sometime. I wanted to give it a go so many times but somehow I never got around to it. That is why I was super excited when this month’s daring cooks challenge was announced. The challenge was to make potato gnocchi from scratch!

Gnocchi if you have never tried it before are Italian dumplings made of potatoes, flour and occasionally eggs. You can think of them as potatoes meet pasta to yield light and fluffy pillows that are simply irresistable .

Chicken biryani, indian recipe

This month’s daring cooks challenge was about Biryani. Biryani is a rice-based dish made with spices, rice (usually basmati) and chicken, mutton, fish, eggs, or vegetables.The name is derived from the Persian word beryān which means “fried” or “roasted”.

Grace, one of our talented non-blogging Daring Kitchen members, was our Daring Cooks’ August hostess who shared with us some of her family’s tried and true Bengali Biryani recipes – all of them delicious and all of them prepared fresh from our own kitchens!

Chicken Biryani, easy with step by step instructions

This was my second time making Biryani and my first time making chicken biryani (the first was meat biryani). In my first attempt I used a ready made biryani spice mix that turned out to be too spicy. We couldn’t even finish the meal. This time around I was determined to make a biryani the entire family would enjoy. For guidance I used the challenge recipe, my friend Manu’s Hyderabadi chicken recipe and my friend Suhad’s biryani recipe. The aroma of the herbs and spices made everyone hungry as the biryani was cooking. We all had great expectations for this chicken biryani and it did not disappoint, even my four year old son enjoyed it immensely .