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Recipe of the Week (well, last week): Semnah

June 14, 2010

Oh, blog.  How I’ve missed you.

It’s been a little while since I’ve been able to sit and write here. My days were consumed with a pretty awesome event and I’m now in the process of recovering and attempting to do a little thing called RELAX.  It would appear that I’m not very good at relaxing, as evidenced by the very long list I made this afternoon of stuff I just absolutely must do.  I sincerely welcome suggestions and encouragement for learning how to take a break. Seriously. See the comment box down there? Go for it.

So, week before last I didn’t cook anything because I had the previously referenced awesome event to occupy my time. This past week, I just didn’t feel like cooking. I believe exhaustion is finally starting to kick in and I had no desire to shop, and prep and cook something – so I didn’t.

I did manage to flip through my mama’s cookbook and find a couple of things I wanted to make sooner than later and I noticed that they all required the use of semnah (clarified butter). I’d never made semnah before, so I decided to make that my recipe to try. Semnah isn’t a terribly involved process, but you still have to have a couple of hours to dedicate. The good thing is once you make it and jar it up, you should have enough to last you for several months without needing to refrigerate.

I never really understood what the purpose of semnah was and my dad explained to me that the rendering process draws out a lot of the water and salt from the butter. Doing this allows you to store the semnah unrefrigerated for longer periods of time and it also allows you to cook/bake at higher temperatures than if just regular butter was used.  It’s very similar to ghee and I now have a huge jar of it chilling in my pantry. I guess I have no choice but to start making more sweets since semnah is a staple in many of those recipes.

Semnah

5 lbs. of butter or margarine ( You can adjust this depending on how much you think you’ll need. This renders one large jar of semnah. Also you can opt to use 50/50 butter to margarine, just butter, or just margarine.)

1/4 – 1/2 cup coarse burghul – rinsed (but don’t soak!)

Melt butter under low-medium heat until melted. Do not stir. Add the burghul once the butter has melted and allow the butter to render out. A heavy foam will form on the top while cooking/boiling.  Keep heat low and allow about 20 minutes or so for the melted butter to turn clear. Remove any residual skin/foam on the top and set aside to cool. Once cool, use a coffee cup to pour only the melted butter into a glass jar and seal tightly with a lid. Make sure to leave the burghul at the bottom of the pan.  Store in a cool, low-moisture environment and use as needed.

In addition to the semnah, my dad made his shortcut version of the mahshi that I’d cooked a few weeks ago. Mahshi is a very laborious dish to make and my pops found a way to make it just as yummy without all the work.

Basically, refer to the recipes from my mahshi post . You take the stuffing (in this case it was about 3/4 cup ground beef to 2 and a half cups of rice with allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper and salt to taste) and cook it up with about 3 lbs. of thinly cut yellow squash and a small can of tomato sauce and I’m sure some water – though I don’t know how much. I’m sure my dad will read this post and comment to correct whatever I’ve missed – so keep a look out.

It’s a great way to enjoy something I love to eat, but don’t have the time to make. Thanks, Dad!

Stay tuned. Pictures to come!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Your Dad permalink
    June 15, 2010 9:38 pm

    You lucked out. I read your blog and am willing to ad to the proceedure. My Not So Mahshi, Mahshi is perfect for a lazy day. Slice the squash about 1/4″ and season the squash with the same seasoning as the rice put a little oil or samneh on the bottom. Place a layer of the squash and a layer of the rice mix on top. Alternate layers use one 6 oz. can of tomato paste and enough water to the top or two cans of tomato sauce and enough water to top. Add salt to the tomato.
    Boil on high and reduce to med low. Make sure to stick a knife ocassionall into the pot at severl points to make sure the sauce is distributed throughout the layers. Cook aprox 45 minutes or until the top layer of rice is cooked. Enjoy. PS. the flavor is actually richer than the real thing.

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