Chef LuLu (Part 1)

Initially, I started off with the boxed stuff, like Betty Crocker Cake Mix and Betty Crocker Brownies and so on, except I’d try little hacks on them, for example, poking holes in the Cake and pouring Condensed Milk over top, while it was still fresh out of the Oven, to create a Poke Cake. You can find a ton of other Cake Mix Hacks on YouTube, if you’re interested.

I didn’t like how metallic the boxed Brownies tasted, so I learned how to make them from scratch, tweaking the recipe a little more each time, until I perfected it. I also enjoyed baking regular ol’ Chocolate Chip Cookies from scratch.

Aside from our Oven proving to be very problematic (full deets here), I couldn’t get my hands on a lot of ingredients (reasons mentioned here), for example Brown Sugar (which was needed to be mixed with regular White Sugar) for Cookies and things like that. I ended up having to mix Syrup with White Sugar to create a substitute for Brown Sugar.

April

By the time Ramadan rolled around, we literally had almost no groceries (aside from the most basic of basics). My little miscalculation with Sultan Center (here) certainly did not help.

So, at first, I just made Side Dishes or Appetizers.


For example, I’d get a block of Cheddar Cheese and cut it up into small rectangles. Then, dip them back and forth between an Egg Wash and Flour + Spices (Paprika, Oregano, Garlic Powder, etc…) and fry them to make Cheese Sticks, which would pair nicely with the Tomato Soup and whatever else we were having that day for Futoor.

April 28

For lack of ingredients, I wanted to make a Dessert mainly using Milk and after a quick google search, decided on Fried Milk which was more or less, the same concept as the Cheese Sticks (except one was savory and the other was sweet). You boiled it, chilled it, breaded it, froze it and fried it.

Just in case, it didn’t work out though, I also made Creme Caramel, as a backup. Both Desserts were completely gone before night-time!

On that same day, since we were having Butter Chicken for Futoor, I decided to mash up some Potatoes, added some spices (the usual suspects), breaded them, freezed them and fried them, to make Potato Nuggets.

This was to be a common theme for me. If I entered the Kitchen, I couldn’t just make one thing and leave. I had to make two or three or more. It almost felt… compulsive.

My brother would sit me and down and explain that we were low on supplies and needed to ration what little we had. I’d nod to show him that I understood (which I fully did) and then enter the Kitchen the next day and proceed to make 50 dishes again (like I said, compulsive) lol

Unless I’m making something that takes a year to prepare, in which case, I’m just sticking to a single dish.

April 30

For example, Shephard’s Pie or Cottage Pie, which involves a lot of layers lol I actually picked up a single packet of Colman’s Cottage Pie Mix from Sultan Center (bottom of this post), but didn’t get around to using it until much later.

First, there was the defrosting of the slabs of Minced Beef and the defrosting of the Frozen Peas. Next, was the boiling of the Potatoes (to make the layer of Mashed Potatoes, afterwards). There was also the chopping of the Onions and Carrots.

Once the prepping was done, I spritzed some Olive Oil on to the frying pan and fried the Minced Onions (the main reason why I shower immediately after cooking). Then, I added the Minced Beef and proceeded to brown it.

This is the part where the Colman’s Cottage Pie Mix comes in. You’re supposed to mix it with water and pour it over the Minced Beef for flavor. However, I always like to add my own embellishments, so I added a dash of this and a dash of that. Next, I added the chopped Carrots to the mix (they take so long to become soft) and finally the Peas (you need to add them in last otherwise they’ll get mushy).

The Meat + Veggies serves as the first layer. The second layer is the Potatoes (after you’ve mashed them and mixed them with some Salt and Butter and Liquid Cream). The top layer is a mixture of your favorite Shredded Cheese (I used a mix of Mozarella and Cheddar because that’s what I had in the fridge). Lastly, you just pop the Casserole Dish in the oven for about an hour and voila!

May 2

After the huge success of the Cottage Pie, I decided to recreate it, this time using Chicken instead of the Minced Beef.

Instead of Colman’s Cottage Pie Mix, I used Maggi Cheesy Bechamel Mix and instead of the layer of Mashed Potatoes, I added a layer of Conchiglie Pasta (haulage here). Also, I used Broccoli and Mushrooms and Corn instead of the other Veggies I had used earlier.

I boiled the Chicken Breasts and started shredding them into smaller pieces using two forks (which was very time-consuming). Once they were small enough, I spritzed some Oil on a Frying Pan and proceeded to fry the Minced Onions before adding the now Shredded Chicken. Next, I added some Milk and Mushrooms and Broccoli and Corn.

The Maggi Bechamel Mix was made in a separate Sauce Pan, while the Conchiglie Pasta also needed to be boiled separately. I added everything together in a Casserole Dish, topped it off with a ton of Shredded Cheese and popped in in the Oven. It took so long that everyone was almost finished with their Futoor, by the time this stuff was done.

Because I just can’t stick to one thing, I had Aunt Bessie’s Giant Yorkshire (picked up from Sultan Center in Salmiya pre-Covid) baking in the oven and filled it with Maggi Onion Soup (which I made stove-top).

May 3

I cannot even begin to explain to you how difficult it was to find the one tiny pack of Lime Jello or how long… and this was pre-Covid. I searched in all the Sultan Centers and City Centers and several different cooperatives and only ended up finding the one. It wasn’t even a brand I recognized, but I snatched it up.

With a heavy heart, I decided to use my one and only pack of Lime Jello and mixed it with Evaporated Milk to copy a recipe I found online. The recipe was the whole reason I’d been searching for Lime Jello… since 2016 and only ended up finding it around 2019.

I also mashed up some Kuwait Flour Mills & Bakeries (aka KFM) Square Biscuits called Petite Beurre and pressed them down into a Baking Dish.

Next, I melted some Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Morsels with some Butter into a Sauce Pan and poured it on top of the Petite Beurre to form a crust (for a Cake that I was going to make the next day).

Then I popped the whole thing in the Freezer (for tomorrow).

That day though, since we were going to have a BBQ-style Futoor (Burgers on the Grill with a side of Potato Salad) I figured I’d make Elote Corn (recipe with pics here) when the time came, so I decided to prep the Corn and make the Sauce beforehand.

Lastly, I made my infamous Awesome Blossoms (recipe with pics here) and popped them into the fridge and joined the rest of my family in the Pool.

We had an awesome Futoor and to top it all off, my sister-in-law made Monkey Bread (which smelled and tasted heavenly)!

May 4

The next day, I mixed a thing of Almarai Processed Cream Cheese with some KDD Liquid Cream with some American Garden Peanut Butter (Creamy) with some Nestle Condensed Milk and a few drops of Aeroplane Vanilla Culinary Essence using my Siemens Mixer and poured the mixture over the Biscuit + Chocolate Crust that I’d made the day before and popped it in the fridge until Futoor.

I was quite impressed with myself for making a Peanut Butter Cheesecake!

May 11

I decided to use the Betty Crocker Pie Crust Mix that I’d purchased earlier (pre-covid) on a whim, to make a Lemon Pie. Ideally, I would’ve made Key Lime Pie, but we only had Lemons at home.

Also, I’d wanted to use one box of Pie Crust Mix, but our Cook convinced me it was too little and I needed to use two. Well, let’s just say that in the oven, my Pie ended up giving birth to another Pie lol

Once the Crust was done, I took it out of the oven and pressed it down with the back of the spoon, as best I could. Then, I poured in the Filling and covered it up with Cream and baked it some more.

It looked more like a large Mushroom than a Pie lol That said, the Filling was actually nice but the Crust was too dough-y and chewy (like a slice of Toast, I suppose). Out of everything I’d made so far, this was the first that I didn’t count as a Win.

Despite that, the kids enjoyed it. To be fair though, they love anything that has Sugar, so that’s not saying much lol

May 12

Since we were gonna’ be grilling up some Burgers and Hotdogs for Futoor, as with everything I make, I decided to make something to compliment what we were already having, which turned out to be Texas Hot Wiener Sauce.

You guys, it smelled ah-mah-zing! My brothers loved the stuff! They all went for seconds and thirds!

For dessert, our Cook cut up slices of Watermelon and my sister-in-law made a something with Biscuits and Chocolate and Marshmallows in a Casserole Dish (meant to be served warm) so… S’mores adjacent? Whatever it was, it tasted so good!

May 13

We were having Fish for Futoor. So, I decided to make some Greek Style Roasted Lemon Potatoes, which I thought would compliment the Fish.

The name pretty much says it all. It’s roasted Potatoes, drizzled with Lemon Juice.

Trying to be cute, I’d post a little flag of Greece in the corner of the photo on Snapchat lol

The one question I got the most from everyone on Snapchat was “How do you come up with this stuff?” to which I’d have to explain that these recipes already exist and all I did was just search for them.

Some would go on to ask, “But how’d you know what to search for?” to which I can’t help.

I mean, it’s very common to squeeze some Lemon over Fried Fish or Grilled Fish or most Seafood.

So going off that, I’ll get online and search for Lemony Desserts and Lemony Appetizers and Lemony Side Dishes and find the one that seems the easiest to make (with ingredients I can find at home, that’s not time-consuming, etc…) and go with that. Not much more to it.

Anyways, the kids weren’t huge fans of Fish. So the Cook made Spaghetti for them and I ended up using the leftover Chili Sauce (that I’d made the day before) for the Spaghetti.

May 17

Futoor was Murabyan (which was Rice with Shrimp mixed in) which struck me as an Indian Dish. I’m not entirely sure if that’s true or not, but I feel like it is. In any case, it put me in the mindset of Mint Chutney.

I’d been craving the Mint Chutney or whatever it was called that they serve as an Appetizer over at Mughal Mahal (the green stuff with the super crispy biscuit-bread for dipping into the green stuff).

I’d actually been craving it for a while now but unfortunately, it was a bit hard to find, especially since I didn’t know the actual name of the stuff. I decided to go with Mint Chutney and hope for the best.

I found several recipes on YouTube and mixed them into one (because… lack of ingredients). Unfortunately, the jar of Dried Mint (Mint Powder?) was almost empty. Thankfully, my dad had Fresh Mint growing in his garden!

So, I made a deal with our Driver, that if he snuck some Mint from my dad’s garden for me (my dad’s garden is sacred), I’d share the Mint Chutney I was going to make with him.

It tasted near identical to the stuff they serve over at Mughal Mahal!

Cook was also making Pizza (about 8 medium slices) for the kids and let me put the Toppings, which was Veggies that he’d already chopped up (Red Capsicum and Green Capsicum and Yellow Capsicum and Onions).

He’d already prepped the Dough beforehand and kneaded it and rolled it and used the Pizza Pan to cut the outline of the Pizza. All that was left was the Toppings.

He used the back of the spoon to spread several dollops of Tomato Sauce around the Pizza.

It felt like I was witnessing magic! This was how Pizza was made?

Next, I added the Veggies and sprinkled a ton of Shredded Cheese over top, finishing off with delicately placed Parsley Leaves (to make it look pretty for the photo I was taking for Snapchat lol)

It was so simple! I was definitely going to make Pizza by myself at some point!

May 21

I’d told the familia that I’d be making Futoor that day and it was going to be *drumroll please*… Saleeg!

Now if you don’t know what Saleeg is, it’s a Saudi Arabian Dish that consists of Rice (kinda’ like Risotto except you cook it in Milk instead of Cheese) and Chicken (boiled, quartered and roasted).

I’d done a lot of “research” (googled recipes the night beforehand and asked my friend to ask his mom for me, to which she sent him a voice note and he forwarded it to me) lol I consolidated all the recipes into one (that fit our needs) and was ready to give it a go!

Unfortunately, some of the ingredients were missing, such as Mastic. Since the only thing that comes to mind when I think of Mastic is Mastic Chewing Gum (Mystica in Arabic), I figured Mastic was something that was somewhat sweet. So, as a substitute, I used a stick of Cinnamon lol

Cook defrosted 3 Rotisserie Chickens, cleaned them and quartered them and everything.

I added the Cinnamon Stick and Cardamom Pods and Cracked Black Pepper and a Peeled Onion into the Water where the Chickens were being Boiled and babysat them.


Once the Chickens were done, I took them out using Tongs and placed them on a Baking Tray. I took out the Peeled Onion and set it next to them. Then, I dipped the Basting Brush in the same water (Chicken Stock) and carefully brushed each piece of Chicken (to make sure it wasn’t dry) and dipped the Basting Brush in Melted Butter and brushed each piece of Chicken again, before placing them in the Oven.


I used 2 different types of Rice (1 Cup of each) and poured them into the Chicken Stock. Once the Rice was done, I added 2 small cartons of Milk (250mL each) to it and poured the Milky Rice on a large shallow dish.

Lastly, I took the quartered Chickens out of the Oven and placed them in a circle atop the Rice.

I was super proud of myself because it looked and tasted like an authentic Saudi Dish aka Saleeg!

While all this was going on, I also made Spaghetti (just in case the Saleeg didn’t pan out) salting the water until it tasted like Seawater.

Then, I made the Sauce (from recipes online, omitting what I couldn’t find and adding whatever I enjoyed, for example, Paprika) and had Cook stir the Sauce, while I babysat the Chickens.

I even showed him the merits of adding the Sauce to the Spaghetti in-pan (cooking them together) as opposed to mixing them afterwards. That said, I made additional Sauce and kept it on the side, for those who didn’t want their Spaghetti to be too saucy.

My sister-in-law made a lovely Vanilla Sponge Cake (shaped like loaf) for dessert! I obviously didn’t take this photo of the Vanilla Sponge Cake (it’s way too good lol) so either my sister-in-law or my brother took it.

It’s actually on one of the smaller tables we use for drinks and desserts (by the door) in the Family Living Room (photos, here).

May 22

We finally got Limes!

I used about 15 of them (there was absolutely little to no juice in them) in an attempt to make “Key Lime Pie”. In the end, I had to resort to using a few Lemons, which ultimately messed with the final taste.

First, I pulsed a whole box of McVities Digestives (Original) and mixed them in with some melted Butter to form the Crust. Next, I used 4 Eggs and 2 Cans of Condensed Milk mixed with the Lime Juice and Lemon Juice to make the Filling and popped it in the Oven.


Once again, I went wrong somewhere, because there was a strange powdery after-taste. Again, the kids liked it, but again, that’s not saying much because they’ll like anything that’s sweet. Also, the crust was a bit too loose (I hadn’t packed it hard enough).

Some day, Key Lime Pie, some day.

My brothers and I played Billiards with the kids and then my younger brother and I watched a few episodes of The Walking Dead. His wife had taken the baby and gone to the Chalet to spend Eid with her family which meant my brother had more time to spend with us.

If you watch The Walking Dead, you’ll recognize the still from the series (Season 9, Episode 15). That scene gave me chills! It was so unexpected! It was so good! Man, I just love The Walking Dead!

May 23

I was too pumped to sleep after The Walking Dead so even though it was around midnight, I went to the Kitchen to make something.

I used flavored Jello to make home-made Froyo for the next day (same day, rather)!

It was Aeroplane Berry Blue Flavored Jelly and Oh. My. Goodness. The comments on Snapchat were all “This looks like Cleaning Solution” (my younger brother) and “Gross” (my cousin) and the barfing emoji and so on (all dudes btw) lol

I’d been craving Pinkberry (everyone else in my family prefers Pick) since even before the lockdown and this little “hack” was the next best thing! Once they actually tasted it, everyone at home genuinely enjoyed it. I even started sharing the recipe with my girls and my cousins so they could make it too!

We watched more Walking Dead late at night, when around 11pm my brother casually told me that he had already told the family I was going to be making Girs Egaily (Traditional Kuwaiti Cake) for Eid the next day. I had actually wanted to try making a San Sebastian Cheesecake so I tried talking my way out of it saying that I didn’t know how to make Girs Egaily, but he said up until this Ramadan, I didn’t know how to make a lot of things (which was true) and now look at me. Also, Girs Egaily was a more traditional choice (for Eid). The dude was very convincing lol

We were all going to be having Breakfast together as a family (which is our Eid tradition) except instead of being Chicken Machboos at noon (which was our typical Eid Meal), we were going to be having Egg Omelets and Pancakes and French Toast (an actual Breakfast) at 11am. He was telling me all this at 11pm.

May 24 (Eid)

My bestie hooked me up with an Instagram Account that specializes in local dishes and I got the recipe from there. As per usual, most of the ingredients were missing (for example, Sesame Seeds which were a huge part of Girs Egaily) so I googled the recipe and mixed all the recipes I could find together, using whatever ingredients I had laying around at home.

Figuring out the measurements was a nightmare! Plus, I had to keep adjusting the cooking time. Basically, there was so much mathing involved, ugh.

The Girs Egaily Cake was finally ready to go in the pre-heated Oven at exactly 1:15am. I had to babysit the darn thing because this was a first-time recipe.


At around 2am, I turned on the Broiler (to give the Cake some color) and kept turning the Cake, every few minutes. Unfortunately, I’d underestimated the power of the Broiler because the Girs Egaily Cake rose all the way up to the Broiler, to the extent that there was an indentation where the Broiler had burnt through the Cake! I was pretty miffed, but whatever.

I figured I’d make the Girs Egaily Sauce (Cream Cheese + Condensed Milk + Saffron + Cardamom) in the morning (it was already early morning, but I meant once I woke up). I tried to get some sleep but ended up staying up watching Podcasts (obsessed) up until 6 or 7 in the morning.

I woke up around 10:30, took the Cream Cheese out of the Fridge (so it would become warmer and easier to work with), went to take a shower, scrunched some Umberto Giannini “Mermaid Hair” Volume Mousse in my hair and wrapped it in a towel, went back to the Kitchen to make the Girs Egaily Sauce (which was basically just blending all the ingredients together using a Handheld Mixer) and dashed back to my room to get ready.

I threw on a pretty dress, clipped my bangs away from my face (both sides), spritzed some Perfume on and sprinted downstairs to the Family Living Room (photos of the layout of our home, here) where my family was all already gathered (minus my sister-in-law who had taken her baby and gone to the Chalet a few days prior, to spend Eid with her mom and dad).

I did the rounds (congratulatory hugs and kisses) and we sat down to have a hearty breakfast together as a family. None of us had left the house in months and even the kids (my sister’s kids) had spent the entirety of Ramadan at our place, making the concept of social distancing at our home irrelevant.

Despite the disfigurement, the Cake tasted authentic (according to my family).Girs Egaily is notoriously dry (it’s supposed to be that way) and I prefer my Cakes to be more moist lol but even I kinda’ liked it lol

After breakfast, we just hung out together as a family. We took pics with our parents and did all the usual Eid stuff (congratulatory phone calls to our Uncles, etc…) and then our parents went back upstairs to their place (to rest) while we changed into our Swimsuits (I even busted out my Zara Purple/Pink Striped Knit Cover-Up and wore it over my Swimuit) and spent the rest of the day in the Pool together ♥

I’d actually picked up a Pool Float from Fantasy World (Souq Sharq branch, back when I took the kids to see Aladdin in theaters) but had completely forgotten about it until a few days prior to Eid. I figured I’d fill it up with air on the day of, to surprise the kids. It was a huuuge blue Seashell that easily fit all of us, at once! In fact, it was actually called Seashell Island and was by the brand Intex (for those who’re interested).

We had a bunch of other Pool Toys and Pool Floats (mostly Inner Tube Floats which the kids would fight over), but nothing as big as this one! It provided us (not just the kids) with hours of entertainment! My friends included (whom I would start inviting to swim over, once the lockdown was lifted). I swear, it was such a good purchase!


Anywho, for lunch, my brother fired up the Grill and asked cook to fry up some Fries for us, while we grilled Burgers and and Hotdogs by the Pool.

There was an extra table on the side, which is where we usually placed the Sliced Cheese and Veggies and Bottles of Ketchup and Mayo and whatever else. It was also where we placed the Water Bottles and Juice Boxes and Soda. Basically, each person was meant to assemble their own Burgers or Hotdogs (self-service).

Looking back at the photos on Snapchat right now, seeing everyone’s smiles, it’s all coming back to me. I’m remembering that we had such a great day!

At the time, I couldn’t help but compare the blissful bubble we were in (being surrounded by family and so much love) to the chaos that was seemingly going on outside (in my mind, it was The Walking Dead, past the gates of our house).

I know things weren’t that bad, at least not in Kuwait, but honestly, I’ve never been more grateful and thankful for my family ♥

2 thoughts on “Chef LuLu (Part 1)

  1. Girl, just you wait ;) This is the first of several foodie/cooking type posts. I hope people enjoy them and don’t get bored past the 3rd one lol

    Papadum! I kept seeing it everywhere (well, in the chips section at Saveco) but never put two and two together. That specific one from Mughal Mahal with the Mint Chutney is the best though! Thanks love :*

    Like

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