Category: Recipes

Loobi (fresh green beans with tomatoes and garlic)

loobi

I’ve been contemplating posting this recipe for quite some time.  It’s one of those recipes you can make anytime of the year, great with fresh summer green beans or a warm beautiful dish for the holidays.

Traditionally this dish is served cold because the flavors are more intense but I love it hot and steamy.

Loobi can be served as a side dish or on it’s own scooped up with torn pieces of Arabic bread or lavash,  a sliver of fresh onion tucked in and life is good.

Click here for yet another cringe worthy video on how simple and easy this recipe is.

Sahtain!!
1/4 C Olive oil

1 med onion

1 to 1.5 lb Green beans

5 to 6 gloves of garlic

1 28 oz can whole tomatoes

salt and pepper


Heat olive oil in a pot and add onions only when the oil is hot.  Sauté for a few minutes and add green beans, sear the beans with the onions until the beans are covered in olive oil and most have turned a bright green. Add garlic and stir. Pour the juice only from the canned tomatoes and mix, reduce heat to medium. Chop or squish the tomatoes with your hands and drop them in the pot making sure they are chopped or smashed well. Season with salt and pepper, cover and cook slowly on low for 45 min or until sauce is thick and the green beans are tender.

Variation:  Add cubes of beef or lamb with onions and continue to follow the rest of the recipe as written.  Serve over rice.

Authentic Lebanese Tabooli

tabooli

The call of chirping birdies and the imagined smell of fresh cut grass is keeping me up at night.  I don’t remember a winter this hard.  Do I say that every year?  Having lived with the caprice of a schizophrenic weather god the least little bit of spring fighting through has spurred my gastronomic desires

I can’t think of anything fresher or more restorative than tabooli to auspicate the occasion.  Or a better reason to use the word “auspicate!”  Ha!

Perhaps you know it as tabouli, tabbouleh, or tabulee but the popular Middle Eastern dish is actually an old Lebanese creation. Originally, the Lebanese made this with just parsley, oil, the seasonings and lemon juice and only later a little soaked burgul (aka cracked wheat) was added.   A truly authentic Tabooli recipe is all about the parsley.  Let me say that again. .  A truly authentic Tabooli recipe is all about the parsley. I say that twice because I have seen this dish made with predominantly cracked wheat (bulgur) and that just ain’t right!!!! That’s not tabooli. That’s a burgul dish.   As a matter of fact I often serve this dish without the bulgur because I try and stay gluten free as much as possible.  This refreshing fiber and vitamin-rich recipe is delicious either way.

Authentic Lebanese Tabooli

8 cups parsley (approx. 4 large of bunches)

1/2 cup bulgur (cracked wheat) #1 fine grind

2 large finely chopped tomatoes

1 small white onion finely chopped

6 green onions finely chopped

1 cup lemon juice

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 cup finely chopped fresh mint or 2 tablespoons dried

2 teaspoons salt

dash pepper

1.Before you start make sure the parsley is cleaned and dried.  I either clean it the night before by soaking and rinsing a couple of times and setting out to dry for several hours, or I use a salad spinner to get the parsley nice and dry to cut.

2.If using bulgur soak in a ½ cup water and set aside

3. Finely chop the tomatoes and place in a large mixing bowl along with all the juices.

4. Finely chop onions and add to the tomatoes.

5. Add the salt and pepper, mix and set aside.

6.  Chop the parsley as fine as possible.  Start by taking each piece of parsley stalk and line it up in your hand by the flower end until you get a good hand full that you can control without losing grip of the pieces. Place the bunch on a cutting board and cut off the stems where the flowers begin.  Grab the bunch in your fingers and squeeze for control much like making a chiffonade, and begin to chop the parsley as fine as you can readjusting your hold as you chop.  Continue this process until all of the parsley is chopped.   Add to tomatoes and onions

7. Finely chop the mint and add to the parsley bowl.

8. Add bulgur if using.

9. Add the lemon, oil, salt and pepper and mix well.

Serves 6 to 8

Tabooli can be served as a first course or a main dish. Try pairing with Milani Chicken. Yum!

Sahtain!!

Mo’s Persian Pasta

ppasta1

We didn’t get to see much of my dad growing up unless we hung out at his restaurant and then it had to be on off hours when the restaurant was slow, in between meals or early in the morning.  As we got older being in the kitchen became dangerous because we were eligible to be drafted to a white apron and put to work.     I promised myself and those that would listen, that I would never marry a man in the restaurant or hotel business.  Just so I could prove the statement “ never say never” is good advice, I did just that.

I met my husband when I was working in one of the restaurants he managed.  The attraction was immediate.  He was tall, dark, and handsome. He wore double-breasted suits and walked around the place like he was royalty, nodding with silent gestures and orders.   I found myself compelled to question his authority every chance I got.  He was just so damn sure of himself it drove me crazy and besides how else was I to get his attention.  Suffice it to say my plan eventually worked.  I had to get my friend “Donald” to send me flowers to the restaurant, for all to see, to get the ball rolling but that’s another story.

On our second date we ended up in the kitchen and that’s when I knew I was going to marry him.  He was an amazing cook, patient and methodical.  He had, what my dad liked to call  “that little touch” when it came to food.  He just felt like home.

Twenty-seven years and three kids later, we are still in the kitchen together.   This is one of my favorite dishes he makes.    I know it looks like just pasta with meat sauce but it ain’t my friend.  The Persians have so much to contribute to the culinary world that has yet to be discovered and one of my favorite of all times is Tadeek.   Tadeek is the crunchy, crispy, buttery, yumminess that comes from the bottom of the pan.    It transforms this pasta and hamburger dish into something exotically different yet still familiar.  There are many different ways to make tadeek but in this recipe we will be making it with pocket bread.

Mo’s Persian Pasta

1lb penne or elbow macaroni

1 lb ground beef

2 tbl olive oil

1 medium onion

3-4 gloves garlic

2 tsp turmeric

salt and pepper to taste

1 6oz can tomato paste

6oz water from the empty can of tomato paste

2 tbl ghee or clarified butter

1 large piece of pocket bread or 3 small

1 dish towel to cover pot

1. Drop the pasta in a stockpot of salted boiling water and cook at a boil until al dente.

2. In the meantime sauté the onions, garlic and turmeric in olive oil until the turmeric releases it’s aroma and the onions and garlic are soft.

3. add ground beef and cook until almost done.

4. add tomato paste and water.  Saute until mixed well

5. add salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

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6. drain the pot you cooked the pasta in and set the pasta aside.

7. add ghee to the same pot on medium heat, once melted place the bread on the bottom of the pot. The bread should completely cover the bottom.  In this picture I use the small pieces of bread to demonstrate how to use them.  The larger bread is very simple you just place it in the pan.  Need a video?  Click here

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8. add the pasta and then spill the meat mixture on top.  Mix well, careful not to disturb the bread.DSCF1465

9. once mixed form the pasta into a mound.  Place three sheets of paper towels or a clean kitchen towel on top of the pot and place the lid of the pot on top of the towel so that the towel is sealed by the lid.  Reduce heat to low and cook for 1 hour.

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Remove the lid of the pot and spoon the pasta on a platter.  Slip a spatula under the bread and lift out as one piece and place inverted on the platter.  The bread should be golden brown and deliciously crunchy.  A Piece should be broken off for each serving.

Sahtain!!

 

 

 

 

 

Lebanese Chicken and Rice

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No matter where you live on the planet, what your ethnic background may be, how old you are, or how well you cook, chicken and rice tops the list of favorite comfort foods around the world. For most of us, the smell and taste of chicken and rice evoke some of the best memories of childhood. The chances are good that your grandmother always made this delicious, filling and healthy dish for you whenever you came to visit and she passed the recipe on to your mother.

My mom’s easy recipe, of course, has a distinctly Lebanese flair, subtly spicing up an old standby with allspice and cinnamon to give the chicken a Middle Eastern flavor while pungent almonds and pine nuts turn the rice from a staid side dish into a crunchy, savory surprise.

Every Lebanese family serves a version of this dish handed down from mothers to daughters and every daughter thinks their mother’s version is the best.  I’ll admit I’m no different.   The smell of the chicken broth and the butter-toasted nuts still conjures images of my high school years and the pure bliss of snuggling up on the couch with a big bowl of leftovers.

1 whole roasting chicken

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

2 cinnamon sticks

 

2 cups long grain rice

1 tablespoon butter

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon allspice

2 teaspoons cinnamon

4 cups reserved chicken broth

 

1/4 cup sliced almonds

1/4 cup pine nuts

1 stick butter

1. Place whole chicken in a stock pot and add enough water until the chicken is just barely covered. Add the cinnamon sticks, salt and pepper. Simmer over a medium heat until the chicken is tender, about 1 hour.

2. When the chicken is done, remove it from the pot and set it aside to cool and reserve the broth.

3. Wash and drain the rice. In a medium pan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter, add the rice and sauté for 2-3 minutes.

4. Mix in the salt, allspice and cinnamon, stir and add the reserved chicken broth. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the rice is tender.

5. While the rice is cooking, sauté the almonds and pine nuts in butter until golden brown, about 3 minutes.

6. Debone the chicken and set the pieces aside.

7. On a large platter or wide-mouthed bowl, create a mound of rice in the center. Pour the nuts and butter over the rice. Arrange the chicken pieces around the rice.

Serve with a  green salad dressed with lemon, oil, and garlic.

serves 4-6

Sahtain!

 

 

Lemonade with Orange Blossom Water


limeade

I am so happy to see the sunshine.  It’s making me want to cook, sit outside, and dine with friends again.  I don’t know about you but I tend to hibernate from January to March, and my alter ego Elizabeth takes over.  Yes, I named her.  She’s the “ugh” side of me.  The sluggish, wanna-stay-on-the-couch-and-not-answer-the-phone side.  I blame her for all my negative attributes, down to my inability to spell.  Sssh..

So  I decide to sit outside, write about some recipes I’ve been meaning to post but haven’t because I’ve been busy not answering the phone and such…  Dug out some old shorts and headed outside with the dogs. Although the glaring reflection of my pale legs is a little disconcerting (well, very disconcerting) I fight the urge to go in and change my clothes.   “Who cares?” One thought says to the other.  “No one can see you.” Considering the dark conversation I was about to have with myself I stifled the response to concentrate on the more productive task at hand.

In an effort to enhance the joy of the moment I made a batch of lemonade with orange blossom water.  My mom use to make this for us when we were young and I hated that she put orange blossom water in it.   For the life of me I couldn’t understand why she couldn’t just make things the way everyone else did.  My friend’s mothers didn’t put that stuff in their lemonade.   Of course, it’s my favorite way to make it now.   The orange blossom adds just enough floral note to balance the tang of the lemon.  Taste like summers gone by.

This wasn’t on my list of recipes to share today, but is seems to have taken over my thoughts as I sip and relish the sun with my dog-children frolicking near by.  I hope you try it and tell me what you think.

frolic

This ain’t bad with a little vodka if you are so inclined. Add a little muddled fresh mint and you won’t be mad at me.

On to the next recipe!!  Sahtain!!

Lemonade with orange blossom water

1 Cup Lemon Juice

4 to 5 cups water

Stevia to taste for the sugarless version or

1 Cup sugar

1 Cup water(for the simple syrup)

1 teaspoon orange blossom water

I try not to consume sugar if I can help it.  So my version is the sugarless version. I love liquid stevia.  NuNatural liquid stevia is my favorite.  It has no after taste and if I don’t tell my kids it’s not sugar they never know.    Add the lemon juice and water together. I like mine tart so I may not add that fifth cup of water depending on the tartness of the lemons at hand.  It’s up to you.   Stir in the stevia to taste, add the orange blossom water and you’re done.

If you prefer sugar.  Make a simple syrup by heating the sugar and water together in a sauce pan.  Make sure the sugar dissolves completely.  Let the syrup cool or refrigerate before mixing with the lemon juice, water and orange blossom mixture.  Adjust by adding the simple syrup gradually to taste.  If you need more tang add more straight lemon juice.

Serve with ice, lemon or lime slices or a twig of fresh mint.

 

Milani Chicken

cropdoneMuch like many newlyweds of my generation, when I first got married, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen trying to find my bearings and pretend I knew what the hell I was doing.   My mom and cousin were on speed dial for traditional Lebanese food assistance and just basic technique direction. There were so many opinions in my family about how and what to cook I found myself struggling to develop an approach for my tastes and style.  One time in particular I remember having a craving for the chicken kabobs my cousins served in their restaurant.  I didn’t have their recipe but I really wanted something a little more crunchy and garlicky.  Milani Chicken was born.   Even though I didn’t stray very far from home and tradition, my first original concoction has stood the test of time.  It’s a favorite of my family and friends and in permanent rotation in our household.  It also fueled my confidence as a young cook and opened the door for more experimenting in the kitchen.

My son Oliver loves the brown, crunchy bits of garlic the best  He comes behind me and scapes every last morsel from the pan.  If you don’t let the garlic get really toasted and brown then this recipe will just be another chicken dish.  Let it brown and then let it brown a little more.  Just like the pictures.  xoxox

4 boneless breast of chicken
One head of garlic mashed with a mortar and pastle
Juice of one lemon
1/2 C olive oil
2 heaping tablespoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Mash the garlic with a mortar and pestle

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2. Cut the chicken in cubes. Add all ingredients and mix.

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3. Spill into a hot non-stick pan and sautéed to coat each piece.

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4.Reduce the heat and allow the chicken and garlic pieces to brown.

5.Stirring occasionally.

Not ready yet. Almost!!
Not ready yet. Almost!!

This dish is done when the garlic is brown and crunchy and each piece of chicken is a caramel color at least on one side.

Now it's done!!
Now it’s done!!

Great on the paleo diet wrapped in lettuce.

For the non-paleo diet See below

Wrap in some pita and topped with cucumber dressing, lettuce, onion and tomatoes and life is good!!  Need a video?  click here

Cucumber Dressing

2 C shredded cucumbers
2 C Sour Cream
2 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 salt

Shred cucumbers and lightly squeeze out excess water. Add all ingredients mix and enjoy!  Sahtain!!

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Authentic Traditional Baba Ghanoush

Just in time to include a little Mediterranean flare to your Thanksgiving table.  Baba Ghanoush is not only refreshing and healthy it’s a delicious way to add some new  flavors to the “same ole” Thanksgiving palette.  Perfect as an appetizer or snuggled up nicely beside some juicy turkey and gravy.  These fall flavors seem to match up perfectly.

When I was a little girl this dish was not one of my favorites.   I couldn’t understand how anyone would want to eat an “egg” plant.   When I realized it had nothing to do with eggs I opened my mind a little and now it’s one of my favorite vegetables. Eggplant is much more user friendly than most people give it credit for.  I especially love its smoky flavor in this dish.

The ingredients are almost identical to hummus except, of course, the most important element… eggplant.  Baba Ganoush is actually less calorie dense than hummus. A cup of eggplant only has 35 calories while a cup of chickpeas has 285.   Whaaat????   So you can indulge a little more.   The traditional topping of pomegranates add a lovely unexpected freshness to the warm smoky eggplant and not to mention the added nutritional impact.  So worth the effort of having to peel the pomegranates.

2 Cups eggplant

1 Cup tahini

½ Cup lemon juice

3 Cloves garlic grated with a micro plan or smashed with a mortar and pestle

1 ½ Teaspoon salt

Generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Pomegranate seeds optional

Aubergine

Start with three nice sized eggplants.  Let me just say color makes a difference here.

The dark purple aubergines are the ones you want to use for this recipe.  I enjoy all species but the lighter ones don’t hold up to this type of roasting.

 

 

Score each vegetable with a fork three or four times and place them on a hot grill.  Let them roast for at least 45 minutes.

 

 

Once good and charred on both sides remove the eggplant and scoop out the creamy pale innards

Add the eggplant, garlic and tahini together and blend with a hand blender or electric blender.  Add lemon, salt and blend.

Plate it by smoothing it out on a nice Milani Platter. 🙂

Give it a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a generous topping of Pomegranate seeds and that’s it!  So easy.  Right?  Let me know what you think!

Sahtain!!

 

 

 

Roasted Tomato Sauce

German Johnson

A while back my daughter and I were in the city looking at schools.  After spending the day torturing our feet from school to school we had to rush to catch dinner before a show that evening.  Totally against my character, I had not made dinner reservations so we ducked into a little Italian restaurant near the theater.  I wish I remembered the name, but I vividly remember our little table for two against the wall, the warm hue the red checkered tablecloths cast in the room, and the glorious smell of roasting tomatoes, garlic, and fresh-baked bread.

We ordered our standard favorite, fried calamari, and when I first tasted their Marinara sauce, I almost did a ‘Tom Cruise on the chair.’  I kept interjecting my daughters comments about the schools we’d visited with things like ‘is this not the best sauce you’ve ever tasted?  I mean really can you taste the depth, the rounded flavors?  It’s perfect don’t you think?”

I look up to see two enormous beautiful black eyes staring at me across the table.  My daughter knew the signs well.   Before she could say “mom please don’t” I had motioned for the waiter.  Excuse me I said.  Can you tell me a little about this sauce?  Were the tomatoes roasted? Is that basil I taste? Is there wine in here?  It was obvious he was confounded by my questions by his opened mouthed expression.  And judging by the fact he was slightly out of breath in an earnest attempt to accommodate his packed section, he did not have time to answer crazy questions. Coming to his rescue my daughter tells him,  “It’s ok we are late for a show anyway” and before I could get any answers, we had left.

It wasn’t the first time I’d been scurried out of an eating establishment for the same reason.  At least I’ve never gone back to the kitchen like my father used to do.  I know. We are a disparaging lot.

So I was left on my own to figure out a reasonable facsimile, and since then this sauce has been a staple in my house.  As a matter of fact every year at the end of August I make several cases of the summer’s best and last tomato harvest to freeze for the winter.   I wanted to post this recipe now for that reason. This sauce is only as good as the tomatoes you use.

 

4lb tomatoes peeled and coarsely chopped (I use German Johnson)

1/4 cup finely chopped Garlic

1/4 cup Olive oil

1 jalapeño

salt to taste

Basil or oregano which ever you prefer 


Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for just a few minutes so that they will release their skins.

peel tomatoes

Peel the tomatoes and coarsely chop and place all ingredients in a medium to large size casserole depending on how much you are making.

 

bake at 400 degrees for about 1hr. or until the tomatoes start to brown and thicken.

Remove from oven, blend with a hand blender or blender.

 

 

Here is when we usually take some out for immediate use and bag up the rest and freeze it.   We use this sauce for everything and anything that calls for red sauce and sometimes even if it’s not called for.

Sahtain!!

If you need a visual demonstration click here for a quick video.

Tammy