Snacks are essential in our household mid-morning and mid-afternoon. It keeps us all going, especially the kids. One child’s crazies are often subsided with a snack of some kind. Thinking back to living with my parents I recall that we snacked a fair bit too. More often than not it was nuts, seeds or fresh fruit. Dad would roast whatever was in season, chestnuts, peanuts etc. or there would be a bowl of pumpkin or watermelon seeds which mum would leave out on the bench.
Dessert was fresh fruit (and often still is!). Watermelon, grapes, honeydew or cantaloupe (rockmelon) was very normal for finishing off a meal in summer. We also grew fruits including plums, apricots, figs, prickly pear, persimmons and pomegranates (and you all know how much I like Pomegranates) as well as having really great almond and walnut trees.
These two nut trees would produce enough nuts to fill a fruit box or two or three each season. I don’t think I came across anyone else who grew almonds or walnuts in their backyard but they are unbelievably delicious when they are fresh. Almonds with their white flesh are sweet and soft. Walnuts are slightly crunchy but still tender with their natural and healthy oil.
|Goulash, Baklava جلاش Baklawa بقلاوة|
With so many nuts there was never a shortage for chopping up and using them in dishes such as Konafa كنافة , Quataef /kataif, and Goulash, Baklava جلاش Baklawa بقلاوة These pastries are common Egyptian sweets that are filled or stuffed with chopped nuts, sugar, coconut and / or sultanas then drenched in thick sugar syrup.
|Kataif / Qatayef قطايف|
|Kataif / Qatayef قطايف|
Besides the sweets the nuts were laid out on newspaper and dried so they would be like the nuts you get from a shop. In the evenings I remember my dad getting dried figs then cutting a slit across the centre to form a sort of pocket and filling them with almonds or walnuts.
The crunch of the nuts sandwiched between sweet popping seeds from the figs was a fantastic combination. I think the walnuts are perfect with the dried figs. I am not sure if they were something my dad put together himself or whether he had them growing up but I find them a very easy and sweet treat and I just love the look of them, little fig men (reminds me of Pacman when I was growing up). I dare say that dressing them up by drizzling a little melted chocolate over them would render them a great accompaniment to tea or coffee instead of the usual biscuit fare.
I have a few ready today for the kids to enjoy, a much more nutritious alternative to chips and lollies!
November 29, 2012