Well, we’re in the second week of Ramadan and the fasts are going well. They are long and it’s been really hot here in Denver but we’re managing. The air conditioning has been turned on, I held on as long as I could because I do enjoy the electric bills when the AC and the heat are off. Alas, when the temperature reached 85F/29C on the thermostat, I decided it was time to turn on the cold air!
The fasting is not terribly difficult, really. I can manage without the food but it’s the no water and heat that does one in. We manage though, the rewards of the month make it all tolerable.
Ramadan isn’t all starvation, crabbiness and hardship, we do enjoy some great evenings where we open our fasts with our friends. Last two weekends we’ve been invited to iftar (breaking of the fast) by our close friends and both evenings were incredibly pleasant with good friends, good conversation and good food. I’ll be having them all over this Friday. I happen to be off this weekend for July 4th so it was a good weekend for me, Though once again, when I have a weekend off from cooking, I’m spending the day cooking for even more people! It’s all good. I’m still working on my menu but it will be either Indian or Middle Eastern.
For the last three weeks, I’ve started a new project with the company for whom I do the cooking and product demos. I’ve started “teaching” cooking classes for specific brands, so clients who have purchased a specific brand and would like to know the use and care of their new appliance, can sign up for these classes. Between me, the sales guys and the appliance reps, we teach use and care and I teach the cooking basics for their new range/oven/cook top and so on.
I’ve done 3 classes so far and they have been quite fun. The clients are appreciative and they really enjoy the food! For me the fun part is creating a menu to tailor to the product they’ve purchased and interested in learning about. It’s not as easy as it sounds! I have 2 hours to get the food ready to eat whilst telling them about oven modes or induction technology or range functions. The rep from the company helps a lot by fielding many of the technical questions while I get the food in the oven. At the end of it, they sit down to enjoy the meal that’s prepared in the appliances they have purchased or will purchase. All in all, it’s been a learning experience for me as well. So far, I have done Thermador, Wolf and Dacor classes. The one last week was one for Wolf SubZero and I had 13 people! It turned out to be quite the party. I prepared a full Moroccan themed meal and the guests were in heaven. They all thoroughly enjoyed the food which made me very happy because, since I was fasting, I cooked the entire meal without tasting!
So, that’s what’s been keeping me busy of late. It does take up my time because all the shopping and prep is done by me and I spend an awful lot of time grocery shopping. Seems like I live at either Whole Foods or Specialty Appliance!
This soup, I know it’s the heat of summer and you must think I’m crazy posting a soup recipe but when you’ve been fasting for 17 hours, soup is a great thing to break the fast with. It’s a complete meal and a very nourishing one. This Kale and Meatball Soup is very hearty and filled with rice, kale, beans, chicken broth and meatballs.
I thoroughly enjoyed my bowl of soup with a side of sourdough toast. Another thing about fasting is that it tends to shrink your stomach so you don’t eat as much. The soup is a perfect, it’s filling but not overly heavy. It’s quite a light meal which is perfect because as soon as we finish eating, we really are almost ready to go to bed (to get up at 3 am to start our fast again),
Hopefully, for my Southern Hemisphere friends, this is an opportune post and also for the Ramadan fasters. For my friends on this side of the world, just book mark this for winter, it’s really good!
Serves: 10-12 servings
- 1 pound/455g ground beef
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- handful of parsley
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ¾ cup brown rice
- 10 cups chicken broth
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 2 medium potatoes, cubed
- 1 bunch kale, chopped
- 1 15oz tin kidney beans
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- squeeze of lemon
- Salt and pepper
- To make the meatballs, mix the finely chopped onions, garlic and parsley together.
- I put all the ingredients for the meatballs in my food processor and whiz until the onion, garlic and parsley are combined with the ground beef, add salt and pepper and mix through.
- Put a thin layer of oil in a fry pan or cast iron pan on medium high heat.
- Drop little balls of meatball mixture into the oil and brown.
- You can shape them in your hands and make them round or just drop rough bits into the oil.
- You can also drop them straight into the broth without frying but I wanted them a little brown so while the soup was simmering I browned up the meatballs.
- Once the meatballs are fried, keep them to the side until the soup is done.
- To make the soup, sauté the onions in a big pot or pressure cooker (the easiest way to make soup)
- in a tablespoon of oil.
- Once the onions are softened, add the garlic and cook a minute.
- Add the tomato paste and cook out the raw taste for a minute.
- Add the rice and coat with the onion tomato mixture.
- Add the broth and bring to a boil.
- If using a pressure cooker, put on the lid and bring up to pressure and cook according to your cooker instructions.
- In my pressure cooker, it takes 15 minutes to cook brown rice, so I set the time for a bit less.
- I cook the rice for 12 minutes and then depressurise and carefully open the cooker.
- I add the turmeric, carrots, celery, potatoes and kale.
- Put the lid back on and bring up to pressure.
- I cook the mixture under pressure for another 4 minutes.
- After 4 minutes, depressurise again and carefully open.
- The vegetables should all be soft.
- If the liquid looks low, add a cup or two of water if needed.
- Add the kidney beans and the meatballs.
- Check for salt and pepper.
- Add a squeeze of lemon to finish.
- If you are not suing a pressure cooker, follow the same order but the brown rice will take about 30 minutes to cook.
- The vegetables will also take another 15 minutes to soften.
- Cook the soup for another 5-10 minutes after the addition of the meatballs and kidney beans.
- The soup will turn out the same but the time will be a bit longer.
So, it’s hot and this is soup, but it looks good doesn’t it? It tasted awesome and just what I needed after a long, tiring fast.
I hope you all had a relaxing weekend and are ready for the week ahead.
Have a great one! I’ll be here, fasting and cooking (without tasting 🙂 )