Although Lebanon is a small country but over the course of history many civilizations settled here bringing their own culinary creations and passing it on to us. Ottoman and Levantine cuisine has great influence on Lebanese kitchen and similarly, most dishes use olive oil, garlic, parsley and lemon. I love how Lebanese are rooted in traditions but also easily embrace modernity and move abreast. They developed an eclectic mix of food and made dining the center of every get-together, no matter what the occasion is. I wonder if this is gonna be ever the same after the confinement because of the covid19 virus. I can’t imagine Sunday without family reunions and summers without sunset drinks on the terrace.
Breakfast also includes marvelous options. From the savory list like manakish, kishik, balila or the sweet list, like knefeh, sahlab, honey areesheh cheese; Food here is taken seriously. Lebanon’s fertile soil grow flavorful produce, I think one has to taste it locally to really understand what I’m talking about. I was so happy with my foul mudammas this morning that I have been itching to share the recipe with you.
1 x 400g cooked broad beans or canned foul mudammas, drained
1/3 cup of water
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup tahini
1/3 olive oil
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 stem green onion, finely chopped
1 tomato, diced
½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
In a small saucepan, over medium low heat, place the broad beans with water and bring to heat.
Add lemon juice, olive oil, tahini, salt, pepper and cumin. Reduce to desired consistency.
Return beans to plate and top with tomatoes, green (or spring) onions and parsley.
Taste and adjust seasoning if desired and serve with bread.
TIP: I think spring onions or onions are essential in this recipe and don’t forget to drizzle with extra olive oil before eating.
Many 5 stars hotels in Turkey greet you with a cup of Sahlab or Salep at arrival. This drink was introduced to Lebanese by Ottomans. Originally it consists of milk and orchid flour, but now many cafés prepare it with milk, sugar and cornstarch. I personally use Sahlab mix, they are available in many brands in Lebanon and all over the world. You just mix it with hot milk and ready in a-snap-of-a-finger! Some add orange blossom water or honey, others top it with pistachios and shredded coconut, but I like it the way dad used to make it, sprinkled with cinnamon and served with kaak on the side.
This thick creamy drink has higher demand on cold winter days, just perfect to snuggle on the sofa with. but I love that during summer it can be found among ice cream flavors.
Sahlab is popular throughout the Middle East, and heard from my vegan friends that it can be done with soya milk.
If you can get Sahlab -Salep- fine powder, here below the recipe!
2 cups milk
1 1/2 tsp ground sahlab
pinch (or a bit more) of ground mastic
2 tbsp sugar
Dissolve the mastic in 1/3 cup warm milk. Set aside.
On a medium heat, pour the rest of the milk and bring to boil. Add the Sahlab by sprinkling gradually and stirring. Keep stirring for about 5 minutes.
Add sugar and stir. Transfer the mastic milk mixture and stir to form a thick creamy milk.
Serve hot sprinkled with cinnamon and with your favorite brioche or kaak.
FRIENDS… and not the TV show! Friends that we have, from school, work, clubs… and friends we make through our children later in life. How many times while dropping your child at a new friend and when waiting for the door to open, you start wondering about the mom… Is she nice? Fun? Warm? Chatty? Psycho? Does she give a lot of sweets? And how many of them ended to be a keeper and became one of your closest friends. I am blessed with few of them, actually many, and we share a lot; we take trips together, we volunteer for school projects and we sometimes bake together.
The Honey Almond Slices is a new recipe for me. Axel, my daughter, had tasted it at her friend’s house and at pick up time she begged me to bake some for her. The funny part is that the mom bought her bars at the market and doesn’t even know what it was called. Thanks God for Pinterest where I combined few recipes and made my own with less butter and less sugar but still I thank my friend for the inspiration. My eagerness is boundless to try new recipes, especially that belongs to the dessert section.
For the base:
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
1 cup ground almond
1/2 cup light brown sugar
120g butter, melted
For the topping:
½ tsp salt
¼ cup honey
2 cups sliced almonds
25 cm x 25 cm pan
To make the base Combine flour, ground almond, brown sugar and melted butter until you have a moist sandy mixture. Press mixture into a brownie mold or tart tin and bake for 12 minutes at 170°C / 335°F.
To make the filling Inside a saucepan, on low-medium heat, place butter to melt, add sugar, honey and sliced almonds. Stir to well combine.
Spread mixture to top evenly the base and return to oven to bake for 25 minutes or until deep golden brown.
Allow to cool completely. Remove from pan and slice into squares or rectangles and serve.
Freekeh is a young chewy wheat, with a nutty flavor. Containing twice as much protein and fiber as quinoa, freekeh is nutritious! Try this combination of antioxidant-rich pomegranate, beetroot, avocado, herbs, seeds and watch those health benefits add up!
Beetroot Freekeh Salad
3 cups whole grain freekeh, cooked according to package directions
1 cup beetroot, grated
1 cup fresh purslane leaves (bakle)
1 cup fresh thyme leaves
½ cup pomegranate arils
1 avocado, diced
½ cup mixed pumpkin and sunflower seeds
1 cup olive oil
½ cup lemon juice
2 tbsp fresh mint leaves, minced
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp sumac
½ tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
In a salad bowl, combine freekeh, beetroot, purslane, thyme, pomegranate avocado and seeds.
To make the dressing, mix together all ingredients and shake well.
Grade 3 class at my daughter’s school are preparing for International Day next month and they chose Argentina to represent and talk about. Part of the celebration, they proposed to serve a rice salad on that day, with Chimichurri sauce. Since I always volunteer to help with the food, I came up with my own version of the recipe and took a picture of the end product. I’m super happy to document it in my blog and share it with you, hope you will like it.
If you like to add more ingredients, my advice is to stay away from juicy ingredients and stick to solid ones like chorizo, ham, pickles, green onions, …
Ensalada De Arroz Con Chimichurri
Rice Salad with Chimichurri
3 cups long grain rice, cooked and cooled
1 cup kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup corn, drained and rinsed
1 cup cucumbers, diced
1 cup red bell pepper, diced
1 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup olive oil
½ cup apple vinegar
Freshly ground Salt and Black Pepper
In a large bowl combine all salad ingredients.
In a small mason jar combine all of the dressing ingredients; shake well. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well.
Mimosas are astonishingly, ridiculously, exceedingly, embarrassingly easy to make. Not that simple doesn’t taste yummy and easy won’t add the sparkle you’re looking for:) The flavors are splendid! I promise you a cool drink that will deliberately take care of the mood.
Merry Mimosas everyone!
6 tablespoons grenadine syrup
1 cup cranberry juice, chilled
1 (750ml) bottle champagne, chilled
Rosemary sprigs, to garnish
Fresh cranberries (optional)
Add 1 tablespoon of grenadine syrup in each flute.
Combine cranberry juice and champagne together and fill up the flutes almost right to the top. Garnish with rosemary and drop the berries right before serving.