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Lebanese Feast

6 May

In early April, I blogged about making cheese and the search for my cooking mojo. It was a two-pronged attack: to return to blogging after a long absence and rekindle my love for cooking. I’m glad to say that I feel inspired again to both blog and cook. I’m even getting excited about the opportunity to share my food and travel experience with you in June.

I also promised to post about the Lebanese Feast which I was planning for an overdue dinner with a handful of friends. As with all my dinners, the diners get to choose the cuisine. The other options included Asian, Brazilian, Pizza, Mexican, Vegetarian, Vegan or low-n-slow. But choice is not the only thing. Suffer from a food allergy? Just say so! Don’t like tomatoes? I will prepare a non-tomato based dish. I feel it’s my duty to please everyone, something I’ve inherited from my mother. Thankfully I didn’t have to cater to special dietary requirements this time.

The Lebanese Feast menu included:

Mezzes

mezze

Clockwise from top left: Pistachios, Labneh, Tarator, Olives & Fetta Cheese

Main & Sides

lebanese feast

Clockwise from top left: Baba Ganoush, Tarator, Labneh, Kibbeh, Tabouleh, Fatoush, Homous (I ran out of time otherwise I would have included Falafel too)

Desserts

Baklava and Mafroukeh

I don’t have recipes for each dish because I’ve made them so many times it’s almost instinctive. However, the recipes for the desserts were sourced from other blogs (links provided below). The Lebanese don’t usually make desserts at home but not having the luxury of “sweetery” nearby meant I had to make it myself. I was happy with the result considering it was my first attempt.

I have included a glossary for those who aren’t familiar with Lebanese food at the footer of this page and can provide recipes if interested, just let me know ;).

Step-By-Step Pictorial Guide

Baba Ganoush

smoked eggplantpeeled eggplantpeeled eggplant with garlic

tahinibaba ganoushbaba ganoush 

Fatoush

pomegranate extractfatoush dressingfried lebanese bread

making fatoushfatoush salad

Tabouleh

(For recipe click here)

tabouleh

Kibbeh

making kibbehkibbeh mixture

making bottom kibbeh layerkibbeh layers

filling over bottom layertop layer on

kibbeh ready for baking

Baklava

(For recipe click here)

orange blossom waterlayering baklavarolled and chopped baklava

baklava ready for bakingcrushed raw pistachios

baklavabaklava tray

Mafroukeh

(For recipe click here)

dry roasting semolinaroasted semolina

sugar syrup with orange blossom watermafroukeh topped with ricotta and almonds

 

Glossary:

Baba Ganoush – smoked eggplant dip with tahini, lemon juice, garlic & salt

Baklava – sugar syrup coated puff pastry stuffed with nuts & flavored with orange blossom water or rose water

Fatoush – peasant salad of cos lettuce, radish, fried Lebanese bread, tomato, cucumbers & dressed with a pomegranate extract, lemon, olive oil & salt dressing

Kibbeh – baked layers of ground lamb, wheat, basil, onion, spices and filled with lamb mince, pine nuts, onion & mint

Homous – chick pea dip with tahini, lemon juice, garlic & salt

Labneh – strained yoghurt almost with a consistency like cream cheese

Mafroukeh – roasted semolina mixed with sugar syrup topped with clotted cream & crunchy almonds

Orange Blossom Water – essentially distilled water from orange blossom flowers for scenting syrups

Tahine (Tahini) – sesame seed paste

Tarator – tahini sauce with lemon, garlic, vinegar, water & salt

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Warm Wheat & Beet Salad

25 Feb

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There is something that I love about wheat. Perhaps it’s versatility. I mean, think about how many ways we can use this ingredient. What about the endless wheat flour recipes like bread, cakes, biscuits and cookies? Then there’s couscous, breakfast cereals and of course, beer!

A nice way to really taste this grain is to eat it in it’s original form, or as close as possible to it. I’ve been lucky enough to have had that chance thanks to my middle eastern heritage. There are many Lebanese dishes which contain crushed wheat both coarse or fine. It’s what turns lettuce, tomato, parsley and mint into Tabouleh, and, mince into Kibbe. Neither of those two dishes would be as distinct without out the star ingredient, wheat.

This is a recipe which I made up using my love for wheat and beets. The nuttiness of the wheat shines through and ties all the other vegetables together. Similar to my Pearl Barley Beet Risotto, it’s very easy to make but you will need to soak the wheat overnight in water. Use whatever spices that you like. Serve it warm or cold. With or without meat. It’s up to you. If you make it, let me know what you think.

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 small chilli, chopped
  • 2 handfuls of baby peppers (1 or 2 bell peppers)
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 cup of whole wheat soaked in water overnight, then strained
  • 1 handful of green beans, blanched
  • 3 medium-sized beets boiled for about 45 minutes, skin peeled
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • A handful of parsley or mint, or both, chopped roughly
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
Meat Option
  • 2 lamb loins per person
  • double the spices above

Directions
Dry fry all seeds in a non-stick pan, then grind in either a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Set aside.

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Roast peppers in a hot oven until skin starts to blister. Make sure you turn over once the tops are slight charred, then cook the second side. Take out, place in a strong plastic bag and seal. Allow to cool then remove skin, seeds then set aside.

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In a non-stick pan or wok, fry the garlic in olive oil, then add chilli and spice mixture. Stir through for a minute or two.

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Add the wheat, green beans and then shred the beetroot over the top. Stir through and cook for a few minutes until beetroot is incorporated well.

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Switch off the heat, then add peppers, parsley/mint mix and stir through.

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Serve warm or allow to cool if you want to serve it cold. Garnish with more parsley, mint, lemon zest and a drizzle of olive oil.

Meat Option

For the meat option, trim fat and bone off the loin. Rub with olive oil then the same spice mix above. Pan fry to your liking then pile on top of the wheat

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Extra Pics

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Leafy Green Salad with agave dressing

1 Nov

Gourmet Salad

This recipe is part of a 7 course dinner which I recently prepared in Vancouver. I love pecans but if you don’t like them, you can substitute with hazelnuts or just leave them out altogether.

Semi-dried cranberries can also be substituted with raisins and agave nectar with honey or similar. It boils down to your own personal taste and of course, that of the person you’re trying to woo 😉

I loved this salad and its so easy to make!

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of mixed salad leaves
  • 1 tbsp of semi-dried cranberries
  • 2 tbs of pecans
  • 50g of goat milk fetta, crumbled

For the dressing: 2 tbs of extra virgin olive oil, 2 tbs agave nectar & 2 tbs of balsamic vinegar

Method

Mix dressing ingredients in a jar and shake until combined. In a bowl, dress the salad leaves, split into 2 portions, then place onto individual plates. Arrange the rest of the ingredients and serve.

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