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Shawarma

18 Oct

It’s been a long time since my last post. I had a great time at my village, Deirmimas, enjoyed the family time. Back to Toronto, two great news, first, we moved to a new place, a very nice cosy, bright place; the second news is that I’m enrolled now in a baking and pastry program. Yes, I’m back to school, and finally doing what I wanted, learning and baking. It’s a very energetic, fun place to be. School is taking up most of my time so I haven’t been able to cook or bake at home. But I’ve been meaning to cook a Lebanese dish called Shawarma, a recipe I got from mom. It ‘s a beef strips marinated in wine and spices, served with Lebanese bread and a tahini dip. It’s a very rich, aromatic, flavourful dish. So delicious. I hope you try it and tell me what you think.

Cloves, mastic, black peppers, cardamom

Shawarma:

– 1 kilo lean beef strips

– 1 cup red wine

– whole black pepper, cardamom, cloves, mastic, crushed and mixed in a mortar

– ground cinnamon, salt

– half cup olive oil

– half cup red vinegar

– 1-2 onions, cut in quarters

– 2-3 tomatoes, cut in quarters

Tahini sauce

-2 small garlic cloves, crushed

– juice of a lemon

– salt

– 1 cup sesame paste

-a little water

Mix the garlic, lemon and salt, then stir in the tahini and some water to loosen it a bit.

 

In a big bowl, mix the beef with the spices, oil, vinegar and wine. Then toss in the onions and tomatoes, cover and refrigerate over night or a day ahead.

Preheat the oven to 200 C, cook the beef for around 40-50 minutes. Serve with Lebanese pita bread and dip in tahini sauce. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

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Happy Easter Everyone

21 Apr

Maamoul

Today is a great day, may this day bring you joy and a fresh new beginning of sharing and exploring and I want to wish you all a Happy Easter.

In Lebanon we have a tradition that comes along during this miraculous holiday, baking holiday sweets,  “Maamoul” a recipe I have posted a couple of years ago. The difference this year is that, I used to help mom preparing the maamoul, this time I did it myself, of course with the help of my husband in moulding and shaping the maamoul. And they turned out to be just amazing, delicious and easy to prepare. What about you, what did you bake this Easter?

As we were invited for lunch today, I prepared this strawberry tart, since I prefer, and like, the home-made desserts. The crust is more like a crostata with crème patissière. I loved it.

Happy Holidays

 

Cooked Romano Beans, with Garlic and Cilantro

9 Feb

I love this bean dish, it’s warm, soft plus I like the combination of cilantro and garlic. It is also a popular dish in the Lebanese cuisine. There are different kind of beans, for this dish we use the Romano Beans, also known as Borlotti Beans or Cranberry Beans; it’s streaked with red. This dish is eaten with pita bread. The recipe calls for:

  • 1 cup of Romano Beans, soaked in water overnight
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed with a garlic presser
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • half bunch cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • water
  • salt and pepper

Get rid of the soaking water; put the beans in a large pan to boil, with enough water to cover the beans; When the beans are almost done, over a medium-heat, in another sauce-pan, drizzle the oil, add the garlic, stirring for a minute then add the cilantro and let them cook a bit, lowering the heat. Then add the tomato paste, and let them cook. Taste the beans, they should be soft, well cooked; reduce a cup of the water if it’s a lot then add the garlic-cilantro sauce, stir and let simmer like 15 minutes, season with salt and pepper. Serve the dish with spring onions, green bell pepper, radish, and pita bread. Enjoy.

Happy Easter To All

1 Apr

Maamoul, Easter sweets

Poached Figs with Scented Geranium

24 Oct

Last weekend, we visited my aunt, she has a nice house situated on a hill, facing mountains; as well a dozen of cats, of different colors and different ages… very cute but not domestic. So my aunt gave me a bucket full of fresh figs. The fig season reached its end at my village.

Tasting the poached figs that my aunt has prepared, made me want to try her recipe. The figs were juicy, sweet, aromatic, extremely delicious.

Choosing firm figs will conserve their firmness after poaching. I used a couple of scented geranium and few cloves. They gave the figs an amazing, delicious fragrance. These figs can be preserved for the winter time, and are a good dessert to be served after lunch, for your guests.

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Burghul Balls or Zenkoul

27 Apr

This dish is made on Good Friday only, because it is not supposed to eat fancy food on that day. It is a simple “poor” dish, using few basic ingredients, yet it is nourishing. In other regions, it is called Monk’s Kebbeh. We call it “zenkoul” in Arabic, I think it means, mini balls, and also “Za’aleet”  in Arabic. The recipe differ, from region to another, by few ingredients. In this recipe below, we use chickpeas, but in our village they omit it.

Zenkoul

– 1 cup boiled chickpeas

– garlic, finely chopped ( 2-3 cloves)

– small onion, finely chopped

-sumac

– vegetable oil

For the balls:

– 1 cup whole wheat flour

– 1 cup burghul

– 1 onion, finely minced

– 1 tsp marjoram, dried

– 1 tsp mint, dried

– salt

– 1/2 cup water

Mix all the dough balls ingredients together and form with your hand palms small balls. In a large skilet, fry the onion and garlic together for a couple of minutes, then add the chickpeas then the dough balls and some water to cover it and let it boil for a while until the sauce is thick. Season. At the end, sprinkle some sumac.

Enjoy.

Maamoul

21 Apr
 

Maamoul with dates, pistachios and walnuts

Happy Easter. Joyeuses Pâques. Buona Pasqua.

 I love this time of year, I love all the holidays. Easter has a great meaning to us. So to celebrate this holiday, we bake maamoul. An excellent Lebanese sweet. An unbeatable, irresistible dessert for me.

Both shapes dates maamoul, made with a mold or with a tool

Those bite-sized treats made out of semolina and filled with different mixtures. Either dates paste, pistachios or walnuts. Helping with molding and unmolding is a very amusing thing to do.

Dates Maamoul

Pistachios maamouls designed by hand

Usually when I treat myself with a maamoul, I never stop at one only. I have to eat one of each kind, and that is a small problem since I have to watch my waistline. Trying to resist those maamouls is quite hard for me. Un délice. Usually wooden shaped molds are used for maamouls but we use another tool to design it by hand, the one pictured below.

The tool we use to design the maamouls

What I love the most, other than eating those maamouls, is the smell of the house when baking. It is one of the greatest, beautiful cooking smells. It is very hard for me to explain how scrumptious, mouthwatering, agreeable smell it is.

Walnuts maamouls

Making maamoul requires some patience and time. It has different steps to follow, prepare the dough and let it rest for overnight, grind the nuts and slightly cook the date paste.

 

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Basbousa

14 Mar

This mediterranean dessert is very popular and easy to make. It has different names depending on the region. This is my first time baking this sweet. I decided to make it vegetarian, specially for this fasting period. It is very similar to a dessert called Nammoura, where we also use semolina and sugar syrup. The coconut gives the cake a distinctive flavor.

I liked my version of Basbousa and would definitely do it again with some changes, playing with a recipe is quite interesting.

Basbousa

– 2 cups semolina

– 1 cup shredded coconut

– 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

– 1/2 cup sugar

– 3/4 cup canola oil

– 1/2 cup warm water

For the sugar syrup

– 1 cup sugar

– 1 cup water

– squeeze of lemon

– 1 tsp orange blossom water

– 1 tsp rose water

Preheat oven to 190C. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the oil rubbing with your fingers till combined then slowly add the water mixing well the dough. Spread evenly the dough in an oiled round pan and bake for 30 minutes or until it is golden brown. Before the cake is fully baked, in 10 minutes, remove from oven and draw lozenges shapes with a knife and place slivered blanched almonds in the lozenges. Put back in oven for 10 more minutes. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the sugar syrup, put the sugar and water in a saucepan, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture starts to boil and thicken. Remove from heat and add a squeeze of lemon, orange blossom water and rose water. Let cool.

Pour the sugar syrup over the cake and let it soak for few hours before serving.

Enjoy.

Knefeh

7 Mar

This Lebanese dessert is prepared at home one week before Easter fasting. It is our tradition, as well as my relatives’. It’s a way to end enjoying sweets and eating meaty and dairy products such as butter. It is a mediterranean dessert, also known in Turkey, Egypt.

There is another Lebanese dessert also called Knefeh, usually eaten at breakfast but it is very different from this one. It is made of semolina and topped with melted cheese, all coated with sugar syrup, eaten with a kind of bread, which I love alot, so incredibly delicious.

But Our Knefeh is made out of thin vermicelli-like dough filled with a mixture of pistachios or walnuts, sugar, orange blossom water and rose water, rolled up and baked.

The method of doing these threads consists of drizzling a row of thin streams of flour-and-water batter onto a turning hot plate, so they dry into threads, which are collected into skeins. I like to call it “hair”.

At our village, long time ago, housewives used to prepare these dough threads at home; my grandmother used to do it, as my father told us. I admire that alot. Imagine homemade dough, plus they used pure, fine margarine, which gives an amazing taste, as my parents tell us.

Nowadays, these hair-noodles are store-bought. And they are just delicious.

So I helped mom preparing the recipe, it’s a very easy dessert to make.

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Awwamat Or Crisp Doughnut Balls

6 Jan

Today is the Epiphany. For the Eastern Christians, it is the holiday where we celebrate the baptisim of Jesus in the Jordan river. Our tradition involves, on the Epiphany Eve,  in addition to the preparation of different desserts, to knead a small piece of dough, place one or two coins in the middle, fold the edges onto the coin and leave it either in the closet, or outside the balcony, so that when Jesus “passes by” on that night, he blesses the dough to more prosperous time.

I await this time of year impatiently, why, because I love the desserts we make. At home, we prepare zalebieh, maacroun, and awwamat, in arabic it means floaters, because they float when fried and when soaked in the sugar syrup. It’s a fried small doughs, ball- shaped, made with few ingredients, flour, water, yeast and mahlab; then dipped in Qater while still hot so they absorb the syrup well. I love their sweet softness. So delicious, that the whole batch was over in just one day.

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