Today on Feature My Food Fridays, let me introduce Amina Elshafei, who was a contestant in Masterchef Australia 2012. Amina has a Korean mother and an Egyptian father. With such a unique gastronomic heritage, Amina wrote a cookbook that combines these two varied cuisines. If you have not seen her cookbook, Amina’s Home Cooking yet, you should have a look. The recipes are mouth-watering, have an average of 4 to 6 steps (maximum 9) and the photography by Luisa Brimble is inspirational.
Over to you, Amina!
Tell us about you.
I’m the eldest daughter of two girls, brought up in a multicultural family of a South Korean mother and Egyptian father. Both my sister and I were born in Saudi Arabia and immigrated to Australia in the late 80s. I’ve been a paediatric nurse for the past 7 years in Sydney. Thanks to a lot of encouragement from my sister Eman, I took the step to apply for Masterchef Australia 2012 and it certainly has opened a lot of doors for me in the food world!
Photo credit: Luisa Brimble
Where do you find inspiration for your recipes?
The cultural foods of both of my parents have given me a wide spectrum of understanding, learning and cooking both Egyptian/Middle Eastern and Korean cuisines. Watching my parents cook over the years has provided not only inspiration but a lot of sentiment in the food that I grew up with. Living in Australia, the exposure to multicultural food is amazing and inspirational to try new flavours and cuisines.
Is there anything you would not touch even if you were given £1,000 to eat it?
Oh dear… where to start… Definitely wouldn’t touch any type of spiders even for more money, ha ha!
Can you give us an anecdote about food?
When I was younger (around 13) I wanted to try a ‘microwave’ cake recipe since I was banned from using the oven or stove unsupervised. Made the batter and popped the cake mixture in the microwave, five minutes later I hear a loud bang and the microwave was on fire! Never making microwave cake ever again… actually any microwave recipes!
What is your favourite way to share your recipes?
I especially love get-togethers with friends and family and eating home cooked meals. Whilst eating, I love moments when we all share our recipes, tricks and secrets and enjoying the company. Since being on Masterchef Australia, I also have loved doing food demonstrations in particular cooking classes showing and teaching people my recipes.
Could you share a couple of tips that make your life easier in the kitchen?
- Pop on some funky tunes whilst in the kitchen and make it fun!
- When making salads, try and use fresher ingredients as well as optimising seasonal ingredients
- Good quality pans and pots can make a difference in your cooking, both quality and time
- If you have a busy schedule, try and make a little more and store the meal in the fridge or freezer for another time
1 thing no one should ever do in the kitchen:
- Always have sharp knives in the kitchen. If your knives are blunt, buy a suitable knife sharpener, or if you’re good mates with a butcher, let them teach you or even sharpen them for you! Knife accidents can be pretty horrible!
Which recipe did you choose to share and why?
Baba Ghanoush is my family’s favourite dip.
Photo credit: Luisa Brimble
It is important to cook the eggplant / aubergine over an open flame to ensure you get the smoky flavour achieved by charring the skin – otherwise the eggplant flesh will be flavourless. This dip is especially delicious with roast or barbecued lamb. If you are having a barbecue, cook the eggplants / aubergines before the meat; that way, you can complete the dip by the time the meat is cooked. Always use large eggplants / aubergines; they have a lot more flesh and are much easier to skin than small ones.
- 3 large eggplants / aubergines
- ¼ cup olive oil 60 ml
- ½ cup tahini 140 g
- ½ cup lemon juice 125 ml
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Virgin olive oil to drizzle
- Flatbread to serve
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Use a sharp knife to cut deep slits into the eggplants / aubergines. Using tongs, place the eggplants / aubergines over an open flame, turning every few minutes until the skin blackens and blisters (about 6 to 8 minutes).
- Place the charred eggplants / aubergines on a baking tray. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes or until the flesh is soft. If you are using a barbecue, place the eggplants / aubergines over medium heat, turning every few minutes until they are cooked through and soft.
- Cover the eggplants / aubergines tightly with plastic film and leave to cool to room temperature. As soon as the eggplants / aubergines are cool, carefully peel away the skins.
- Place the peeled eggplants / aubergines, olive oil, tahini and lemon juice in a food processor and blend until smooth. Mix in the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into a bowl and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil. Serve with flatbread.
- This dip can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Thanks for sharing, Amina! I love your style, your passion for sharing good food and your tips. I also try to batch-cook as much as possible to save food for busy days. I would not touch spiders either, especially the big ones you have in Australia!
Fancy seeing your recipe on Feature my Food Fridays? Whether you are a keen baker, a blogger or a reader who would like to see their creation online, I would love to feature you! Just email me and I will send you more details.