Picture this: it was a sticky hot afternoon. My kitchen was a mess, my hair had just fallen out of its hastily fastened together bun just as I was spooning a mix into a pan and somehow, two cunning little flies had gotten in and were buzzing around me. I was highly irritated and not in the mood for advice.
"Do you know what you need?" Mr NQN said to me coming up to me eating a mango.
"What do I need?" I said through gritted teeth.
"A frog!" he said smiling broadly as if he had figured out the solution to the errant fly problem.
He's quite mad my husband and despite my foul mood, a smile crept into the sides of my mouth. Before I finished scooping the batter into the tin, I had started laughing. If anyone knows how to brighten a mood, it's Mr NQN with his random interjections.
But did you know I know how to brighten his mood too? And no, I don't mean that, this blog is read by children ;) It's by making him these Sesame Snaps! This recipe is from my friend Faith's new cook book "An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair" which has just been released. I was proud enough to write the foreword for the book too! Faith and I "met" a few years ago on the vast expanse of the internet and we've been reading each other's blogs ever since. These sesame snaps are great for gifts as they're a cinch to make, taste fabulous and keep well too.
This is an excellent book if you're looking to delve into Middle Eastern cuisine. Faith married into a Middle Eastern family - her husband Mike is half Palestinian and half Syrian and because of this, she asks and answers the same questions that those new to the cuisine might ask. She starts with basic recipes for ashtar (which I've always wanted to know how to make) and goes onto breads & pies, salads, vegetable and rice side dishes; appetisers; beans & lentils;chicken & seafood; beef & lamb; desserts and drinks. I went straight to the desserts (of course, right? ;) ) and I found something that was the perfect Christmas gift. It takes less than half an hour and Faith's instructions are crystal clear and simple. It is perfect to package in cellophane bags for friends. That is, if you don't eat it all yourself first.
As Faith is a friend of mine, I'm giving away 10 copies of her new cookbook An Edible Mosaic to be shipped worldwide! For a chance to win, all you have to do is tell me what puts you in a good mood! Just add your answer as a comment to the story. The competition ends at midnight AEST on the 7th of December, 2012. You can enter this competition once daily and it is open worldwide.
*The winners are:
Wendy A. of NSW
Lyn R. of NSW
Ulrich T. of NSW
Rebecca C. of Vic
Margaret J. of NSW
Tricia C. of Qld
Joanne F. of SA
Lucy W. of NZ
Antonietta F. of Vic
Jenny W. of NSW*
Best of luck!
Lots of love,
Oh and I have some other news! As of today, I've signed up to The Remarkables Group who will help out with all of the business side of NQN. As I've been doing the blog full time by myself for four years now, I finally availed myself of some much needed help. Nothing will change for you Dear Readers, but I will have more time to write while they take care of the business side of things and I'm so grateful for this. Thank you for your patience and I will hopefully have more time to focus on a more user friendly design for the blog where information is much easier to find! xxx
Adapted from "An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair" by Faith Gorsky
Yields: about 3/4 lb/ 350g
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
2 teaspoons oil or non stick oil spray
1 cup (140g) white sesame seeds
1 cup (225g) caster or superfine sugar
1 teaspoon orange blossom water
Variations: use vanilla instead of orange blossom water, add your favourite spice or you can also use black and white sesame seeds.
Step 1 - Brush a 20x20cms (8x8 inch) square baking tin with oil or spray with non stick spray. Also spray a knife and a silicon spatula with the oil.
Step 2 - Preheat oven to 350F/175C and spread out the sesame seeds on a baking tray. Bake for 10-12 minutes until a light golden shade shaking the tray halfway. Remove from oven to cool.
Step 3 - In a heavy bottomed saucepan, add the sugar and orange blossom water on medium high heat (I used 8 out of 10 where 10 is the hottest). Allow the sugar to melt but do not stir until two thirds melted, about 5 to 8 minutes - just don't ever leave hot sugar unattended, it's a total Gremlin ;) Once two thirds melted, gently stir with a clean spatula or wooden spoon (not the one that you have oiled).
Step 4 - Once the sugar has melted and you have a caramel, working quickly but carefully as the caramel is very hot, pour the sesame seeds into the caramel and stir to combine and then immediately, pour into the prepared tin. Smooth with the oiled spatula. Wait for 2 minutes and then with the oiled knife, score to make whatever shapes you like-I made diamonds and rectangles.
Step 5 - Cool 2 to 4 minutes more, then turn out onto a cutting board and cut along the scored lines. Cool completely and store in an airtight container at room temperature or wrap individually. And try not to eat them all as we did! ;)