Umm Ali with Maltese Bread

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Umm Ali with Maltese bread, as seen on tv.  This photo was taken by Charles Vassallo during a live show.

‘this Egyptian dessert must be, I think, my most favorite sweet.  I still remember the first time I tasted it and although I have replaced the condensed milk in mine, it is still very good.  I use stale Maltese bread and serve it with some vanilla ice cream.  mmmm.’

You will need:

1/2 Maltese small loaf
800ml milk
half a cup on chopped apricots
half a cup of chopped dates
half a cup of chopeed mixed almonds and pistachios
1/4 cup coconut
150g sugar or the equivalent in stevia (check the label for conversion)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
a few drops of vanilla essence
1/2 cup mascarpone mixed with 6 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Cut the Maltese bread into small cubes and place in a large bowl. Add the nuts, dried fruit, vanilla, cinnamon and coconut.
Prepare an ovenproof dish with oven spray. Place the bread mix into the ovenproof dish.
Heat the milk and sugar or stevia and bring it to a boil. Remove from the heat and pour the milk on top of the bread, nut and dried fruit mix. Allow to rest for 15 minutes if you have time. Pour the mascarpone mixed with water and then sprinkle the icing sugar. Cook for 30 minutes. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Tip: Serve hot or cold with vanilla ice cream or a runny custard and scatter some flaked almonds.

I use dried fruit and nuts by Good Earth, spices by Schwartz, mascarpone by Zappala, stevia by Tate and Lyle, kitchenware by Tescoma

An Egyptian Breakfast: Ful Medames

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I loved Ful Medames when we lived in the Middle East but it is my first attempt at making it. They used to serve it for breakfast in the local cafes, very cheaply with lots of warm flatbread to accompany it. There are of course endless versions, but here is mine with a delicious combination of flavors and textures.

You will need:

200g Dried Fava Beans (the ones I used were labelled ful medames)
2 garlic cloves, crushed until they are a paste
1 onion, half very finely chopped and the other half thin slices
Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 hard cooked egg, chopped up finely
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek, soaked for half an hour
1 bay leaf
1/4 cumin seeds crushed
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Juice of half a lemon or lime
Grated rind of 1/4 lemon or lime
5 spoons good olive oil
A fist of finely chopped flat leaf parsley with a few left aside to decorate

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Soak the beans overnight. Drain the water, rinse a few times, then place in a pot and fill with water. Add the bay leaf.

Cook for about an hour until they soften. Taste to check texture. Remove from heat. Rinse.

Fry the onions in one tablespoon oil. Add the garlic. Keep some of the cooked slices aside for decorating the top.

Roughly mash a quarter of the quantity of the beans and then mix them together.

Add the onions and garlic, paprika, cumin, fenugreek, lemon juice , stir gently.

Add the olive oil and mix in. Season with sat and pepper.
Top with cooked onion slices, chopped parsley, chopped hard boiled egg and grated lemon zest. Add more olive oil if desired.

Serve hot or cold, as a starter, side, main or the Egyptian way for breakfast !