Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lebanese Stuffed Zucchinis in Tomato Sauce

Most people double take when I tell them I am half Lebanese. Sometimes they don't believe me. Often I have to get out photos of my family to show them. I think it has something to do with the blond hair, pale skin and blue eyes...

My Dad was born and raised in Lebanon, and came to Australia when he was 21. My Mother is Australian. We were raised on a mixture of Lebanese and Australian food. Christmas dinner can be roast lamb with potatoes and pumpkin, with a side of hommus and kibbi. The food is one of my favourite parts of my Lebanese heritage.

Mihshi kousa b'banadoura (or stuffed zucchinis in tomato sauce) is still one of my favourite Lebanese meals. Most of my absolute favourites are those cooked by my Aunt or Grandmother (Teta) which I have no idea how to make! One day I hope I can learn these recipes so that I can share them with my future family. Thankfully my husband adores Lebanese food!

The only tricky part of this dish is hollowing the zucchinis. I use a special scoop that I got from a Lebanese bakery. It looks like a thin pipe, cut in half lengthwise. However you could use an apple corer instead. The zucchini pulp is not used in this dish, but we keep it to add to soups, or to make fritters. However this time, my husband used it to make zucchini and sultana muffins (recipe in the Handmade Help cookbook)

Stuffed Zucchinis
Serves 6

Meat filling
1 med onion, finely chopped
1 tbs ghee or olive oil
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cinnamon or mixed spice (I use a combo of cinnamon, ground clove, nutmeg and a little ground ginger)
1 1/4 cups white rice, washed and drained
500g minced lamb
1/2 cup water

18 small or 12 medium Lebanese zucchinis
2 med onions
4-5 tbs ghee or olive oil
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
2x 455g cans chopped tomatoes
2 cups water
1 teaspoon of dried mint
To make the meat stuffing, saute 1 of the chopped onion in the ghee/oil until soft. Mix the onions, along with the spices, salt and pepper into the rice. Add the lamb and the water and mix with your hands until well mixed and a smooth consistency is reached.

Wash the zucchini and cut off the tops. Scoop out the pulp, being careful not to break the skin. Rinse and drain the zucchini.

Fill each zucchini with the meat and rice filling, only to about 3/4 full to allow for the rice to expand during cooking. Make any leftover meat mxture into meatballs to be cooked with the zucchinis or save it for another day.

Lightly brown the 2 chopped onions in the ghee/oil (do this in the pot you will cook the zucchinis in). Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Spread the onion mix evenly over the bottom of the pot and place the stuffed zucchinis on top in closely packed rows and layers. (Add any meatballs around the zucchinis). Mix the canned tomatoes with the water and salt and pepper and pour over the zucchinis. Sprinkle over the dried mint.

Cover the zucchinis with an upturned heat proof plate to keep the zucchinis from floating. Cover the saucepan. Bring to the boil and then turn down to a simmer and leave to cook for 60-90 mins.

Serve the zucchinis piled on a platter with the juice poured over the top. Make sure you have lots of pita bread to serve it with!

a food porn close-up!

Recipe from The Lebanese Cookbook, by Dawn, Elaine and Selwa Anthony.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Remember these?

I actually did do some sewing on my trip in July - I just haven't put it all together yet (shocking, I know!). That will be my first job today.

My husband left for Melbourne on Friday afternoon for the AFL Grand Final and won't be back until late on Tuesday night. I had planned for 2 full days of sewing (!) however I have been feeling a little off colour, so I spent yesterday curled up on the couch with some DVDs and finished a couple of hand sewing projects.

I also finished sewing the binding onto my windmill quilt (the teasing pic in my last post), now I just have to get outside to photograph it. It's a bit too windy today, but hopefully soon!

This is definitely my favourite, la Tour Eiffel - belle!

This groups of fat quarters has got me excited... What ever shall I use them for?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Not much stitching happening here at the moment... I've been distracted. Yes they are books for teenagers, yes they are not particularly well written in parts but it is pure fantasy and I've been sucked in. I tried hard not to be, but I have...

I did do a small amount of sewing on the weekend, and it's almost done. Just got to put the book down to finish it off!

apologies for all the cat hair!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Strawberry Rose Cupcakes and a Girls Night In

I found these pictures recently of some cupcakes I made a while ago and thought I would share them with you. They are quite girly and I think they would be great for the Cancer Council's Girl's Night In which is happening in October. It's a great excuse to have a night with your girl-friends and raise money for an important cause.

To join in the fun you simply register as a Girls Night In host and then invite your friends, workmates and/or family to a get together one evening. Guests are then asked to donate the equivalent of what they would have spent on a night out if you had gone to a club, restaraunt or show.

Perhaps you could have a crafty night in?

Strawberry Rose Cupcakes
165g butter
100g white chocolate, chopped
1 1/3 cups (290g) caster sugar
2/3 cup (170ml) water
1 teaspoon rosewater
Pink food colouring
1/2 teaspoon strawberry flavouring/essence
1 cup (150g) plain flour
2 tablespoons self raising flour
1 egg

1. Preheat oven to moderate 170degrees/150 fan forced. Line 12 hole standard muffin pan with paper cases

2. Combine butter, chocolate, sugar, the water and flavours in small saucepan, stir over low heat until smooth.

3. Transfer mixture to large bowl; cool 15 minutes and then add colouring to get a vivid pink shade. Whisk in sifted flours, then egg. Divide mixture among cases.

4. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning cakes onto wire rack to cool.

I iced these cupcakes with either a vanilla buttercream (which was lovely) or a rosewater buttercream (which I thought was a little too much with the rosewater in the cupcake, but my friends liked it).

Buttercream Icing
125g soft butter
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 tablespoons milk
a few drops of the flavouring of your choice (vanilla, rosewater, etc)

Beat the butter in a mixer until very pale. Gradually add 1/2 the icing sugar, then the milk and flavouring, then the rest of the icing sugar. Pipe or spread onto cupcakes. Top with sprinkles or other ready made decorations if you wish.

Adapted from the Women's Weekly Cupcakes book.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Spring Stitch-In - 12th September

I flew to Melbourne on Friday night ready for my day at Glenharrow with Leanne and Rosalie...

There were giftbags at each seat with some very cute cookie cutters, a kit each from Rosalie and Leanne and also 2 fat-eighths of Rosalie's new fabric range!!

There were lollies to keep our energy levels up (note the tablecloth of Rosie's new fabric)...

And he barn was decorated with gorgeous samples of Rosalie and Leanne's work.

It was lovely to see these quilts up close and to discover the incredible amount of work that Leanne had put into them - her embroidery stitches are so tiny!

We did a little stitching too - in between nibbling on the lollies!

Here's my Mum - busily stitching!

We enjoyed a lovely lunch...

And then went for a walk through the gardens of Glenharrow...

We met some of the Glenharrow family....

This little guy was my favourite!

We went back inside for some show and tell. This is Chantelle - one of the lovely girls Mum and I shared a table with. She had two gorgeous quilts to share.

Then I showed off my Leanne's house quilt (yes, I know, I've still not finished! It will happen one day!)
Leanne spent some time chatting with us and teaching us her method for needle-turn applique

Then Rosalie taught us how to mount our stitcheries onto a canvas

I was a little nervous when we arrived as all the ladies seemed to know each otheralready. But everyone was so lovely and Rosalie and Leanne were incredibly friendly, approachable and very honest. A huge thankyou to both ladies (as well as Nel, Erica and the others) for organising such a wonderful day.
Mum and I had such a great day - when can we sign up for next year?!?

Thursday, September 10, 2009


I've had lots of ideas lately for little projects, all of which I've been jotting in my little notebook that I carry in my handbag. I decided to start with the smallest, and simplest - a small needlebook and pincushion.

I got this fabric from Silly Gilly in a giveaway and knew immediately what I wanted to use it for.

I picked these buttons for their stitching detail around the edge - so cute!

And I also made my very first, Renee-designed softie! I've had this idea in my head for a while and it was nice to see it in fabric too. Here's just a sneak peek as I am still not entirely happy with her face.

Can you tell what she is?

Only 2 days until I head to Melbourne for the Spring Stitch In with Rosie and Leanne! I can't wait!

Monday, September 7, 2009


Please excuse the title, but really... how can my quilting go from this:

to this?

And really, who can free motion quilt, but not quilt a straight line? Seriously... it's doing my head in!

But I shouldn't complain, my stippling is improving and I am actually enjoying it now!

And as always, Sampson is enjoying it too.


Using the random number picker, also know as my husband (!), Suzie is the winner of my giveaway!

Congratulations Suzie!

Thankyou everyone who dropped by and left such lovely comments. Reading them is one of my favourite things about having this blog.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

It's giveaway time!

Thankyou to everyone who has commented, given advice and encouragement over my last 100 posts. I really do appreciate it. Especially to those of you who are always here!

So, now it's my turn to give back to you!

I have a "Bug in a Bag" kit to give away. It includes the pattern, from Rosalie Quinlan designs, the 3 fabrics and stranded thread that you need to make the cute little pincushion. The pattern is not too hard, so it would also be good for a beginner - so those of you non-sewers out there (I know there are a few of you!), don't be afraid to enter!

To enter, please leave a comment on this post by Sunday Sept 6th, 5pm (Sydney time) - and please tell your friends to come visit too!

Good Luck!

yes, I will post anywhere :)