Tuesday, February 28, 2017

baba ganoush + za’atar pita recipe

baba ganoush + za’atar pita

This recipe can be doubled or tripled for larger groups or families. The proportions below make 2 to 3 cups of finished baba ganoush. Adopted from virgie and hats.

1 eggplant, about 1 lb., cleaned and pierced several times with a fork
1/3 cup tahini paste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse salt (sea salt or kosher salt)
1/4 teaspoon aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon za’atar

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Place the whole eggplant on a gas burner at medium-high, or on an outdoor grill. When one side chars completely, use metal tongs to turn it, gradually, until it is charred on all sides. This will take 10 – 20 minutes, depending on how charred and smoky you like your finished baba.

2. When completely charred to your liking, place the eggplant on a baking sheet in the oven. Bake until it pierces easily all the way through with a sharp knife, another 20 to 30 minutes. You want to err on the side of overcooking. Remove cooked eggplant from oven and cook completely.

3. Meanwhile, combine the rest of the ingredients in the food processor or blender. Scrape and scoop all the cooled eggplant flesh from the skin into the bowl of the food processor. (You don’t want the skin in the finished product.)

4. Process or blend until smooth and completely mixed. Scrape into a bowl and serve with pita (below). This dish is better the day after it’s made, so you can also scrape into an airtight container and refrigerate for later use.

Za’atar pita

pita rounds
olive oil for brushing
coarse salt (sea salt or kosher salt)

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut as many pitas as you like into quarters. Place on baking sheet. Brush olive oil onto the tops of wedges and sprinkle with za’atar and coarse salt to taste. I like to evenly cover the tops of the pitas with za’atar.

2. Place baking sheet with pitas in the oven. For soft, pliable bread, bake for 3 to 4 minutes. For crisper chips, bake for longer, 5 to 10 minutes. Serve.

Baba ghannouj with zaatar recipe

 Baba ghannouj with zaatar

4 servings | Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 30 minutes | Passive Time: 20 minutes

Eggplant is the Summer vegetable head-to-head with the zucchini. As much as I love a good (well-seasoned, light) baba ghannouj, the creative urge in the kitchen takes over more often than not. I had bought some really good zaatar  in the town of Baakline (in the news  lately because it is where George Clooney’s wife’s family comes from). I thought, with a bit of trepidation, why not add zaatar to baba ghannouj? Dare I? Adopted from Taste of Beirut.


1 large eggplant shiny and smooth, about 1 3/4 pounds
1/2 cup tahini more, to taste (stir before using)
3 cloves garlic, mashed more, to taste
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice or bottled, as a substitute
2 teaspoons zaatar mix more, to sprinkle on surface
1/3 cup olive oil to drizzle, more to taste
2 loaves pita bread cut into quarters or pita chips


1. Grill the eggplant over an open flame, on a BBQ grill or on top of the gas stove. The idea is to get it charred all over. (See instructions on my video). Cool a bit, peel and drain over a sieve.

2. Mash with a meat mallet (see video) and add the other ingredients, adding more or less of each to taste. I suggest preparing the dressing ahead and adding it gradually to the eggplant. Add the zaatar last, tasting as you go. Transfer to a plate, form a ridge with the back of a spoon, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with more zaatar if you like. Serve at room temperature with pita chips or bread.

Recipe Notes

If you can find it, you can use a canned eggplant purée if it has been smoked. If you prepare the dressing first, start by mixing the garlic and lemon juice. Add the tahini and when it curdles, add a tiny bit of water till it get smooth. Then add it to the eggplant. Keep in mind that the eggplant has water so you need to be careful and not get the tahini dressing (tarator) too liquidy.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Ramadan kaak recipe

Kaak al eid

Recipes by Nadia

Last Ramadan was my first as a married woman. I had a menu for the entire month set two weeks before Ramadan even started! My husband was skeptical about what I planned to cook for dessert on the third day. I kept telling him that once he had a taste of my Ramadan kaak, he’d lick his fingers right after it. Let’s just say, he has never doubted my cooking skills since. Adopted from kiri Arabia.

Servings 11 | Cooking Time 15 mins | Preparation Time 30 mins

Chef's tip:

You can use the special clip to decorate the cookies instead of the maamoul molds. 


6 Kiri square portions
3 cups of flour
1 teaspoon cardamom (ground)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup of butter
1 cup of yogurt
Icing sugar (for garnish)
For the dip
5 Kiri cheese squares
1/2 cup of crème fraiche
1/2 cup of mashed dates
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

  1. Mix the Kiri squares in the doigh maker with flour, salt, cardamom, cinnamon, baking powder and yogurt.
  2. Melt the butter and add it to the mixture. Mix all ingredients to get a nice homogeneous dough.
  3. Let the dough sit in the bowl for 10 minutes then divide it into small balls.
  4. Put the dough in the maamoul mold then place the cookies in a plate distantly and bake them for 10 minutes until golden.
  5. Mix the mashed dates, crème fraiche and cinnamon in the blender.
  6. Add the Kiri squares and mix the ingredients until you get a date dip.

Oriental style rice with seasoned lamb recipe

My cousin and her children who live in Canada, visit us once every three years. The first day they arrived, I wanted to make something traditional that they haven’t had in a long time, so my husband suggested oriental style rice with seasoned lamb, which is, “accidentally” his favorite dish. It was the perfect start to their holiday, they absolutely loved it! Adopted from Kiri.

Servings 5 | Cooking Time 20 mins | Preparation Time 20 mins

Chef's tip:

Serve with a yogurt, cucumber, garlic and mint salad on the side. You can also serve with a curry sauce.


6 Kiri squares
500g minced lamb meat
3 medium onions (finely chopped)
4 cups of white long grain rice, washed and drained
5 cups of chicken stock
1/4 cup of raisins
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon Arabic 7 spices
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
5 whole cardamom seeds
Bay leaf
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup of toasted pine seeds, almonds and pistachios mix

  1. Saute the onions in the oil until it turns golden brown, then add the lamb meat.
  2. Add raisins, cinnamon, spices, pepper, cardamom and bay leaf. Then cook the mixture.
  3. Stir the rice and combine it with the meat.
  4. Add the Kiri squares to the chicken stock and stir until the cheese melts.
  5. Pour the Kiri mixture over the rice.
  6. When the rice starts to boil, cover the cooking pan and simmer over low heat until the rice is well cooked.

Goulash with minced meat recipe

Goulash with minced meat

I have to admit that this recipe is not from my own invention; yet it is happily by my husband and children. They surprised me with it on my birthday. And from this day this recipe has a special memory in my heart. For this reason, I am sharing my family's recipe & my present with you all. Adopted from Kiri.

Servings 4
Cooking Time 35 minutes
Preparation Time 25 minutes


6 kiri squares
2 tablespoons of oil or butter
2 medium sized onions smoothly minced
300gm of minced meat
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 boiled eggs "minced"
¼ cup of minced fresh parsley
10 layers of ready-made samboosa dough
½ cup of melted butter

  1. Heat the butter in a large pan.
  2. Add the onions and mix for 4 minutes until golden
  3. Add the meat and mix until it turns brownish-gold
  4. Add the salt and black pepper, and let the mixture cook for 3 minutes
  5. Add the kiri squares while stirring consistently and remove the pan from the heat
  6. In a bowl, mix the eggs with the parsley and the meat mixture
  7. Coat a 30x35 tray with butter and place the layered dough on the tray and then coat with butter.
  8. Repeat the previous step with 4 layers and then pour the meat mixture on top
  9. Cover the meat with another layer of dough coated with butter. Repeat this step 4 times.
  10. Coat the top with the melted butter and then place the tray in the oven heated to 185 degrees celsius, Let it cook for 25 to 30 minutes until golden.

Anise rings (Kaak be-yansoon) Recipe

Anise rings (Kaak be-yansoon)

This is one pastry that is probably present in every household in Lebanon on a semi-permanent basis. Crunchy, not too sweet, fragrant with anise, rather plain, it is a usually presented with a cup of coffee or tea or homemade juice to visitors that drop by unexpectedly. Adopted from Taste of Beirut.

INGREDIENTS: This quantity will yield 45 anise rings, about 2 inches in diameter.

2 teaspoons of baking powder
3/4 cup of sugar
a pinch of salt
2 large eggs
juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons milk powder
pinch of mahlab (optional)
2 tablespoons of anise seeds
1 tablespoon of ground anise seeds
1 cup of vegetable oil or melted butter or margarine (or a mixture of both)
2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

  1. Sift the flour, salt, baking powder, milk powder, anise, mahlab (if using) and sugar into a large bowl.
  2. Add the melted butter and oil to the flour mixture, mix well. The dough will be like little pebbles. Add the eggs, one at a time. If you find that the dough is still very sandy and dry, add the lemon juice. Mix well. Add the anise seeds. Gather the dough and wrap in plastic and let it rest for 30 minutes or longer in a cool place.
  3. Cut small balls of the dough and shape into sausages, laying them side-by-side on a work surface to rest for about 15 minutes. Heat the oven to 350F (180C)
  4. Take each sausage and roll and stretch it thin, then cut it into 4 inch length ropes, tying the ends into a ring, trying to keep them even-sized.
  5. Place the rings on a cookie sheet lined with a parchment and bake for 20 minutes or until the bottoms are golden and the top is dry and crispy.
  6. When cool, keep the rings in a metal box for a couple of weeks, or freeze for longer periods.
NOTE: You can decrease the melted butter and oil to 2/3 of a cup and add an egg instead. The pastry will not be as crumbly.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Lebanese Rice Recipe

Lebanese Rice

0:20 Prep | 0:30 Cook | 4 Servings | Capable cooks

Pomegranate seeds pop with flavour in this budget-friendly Lebanese rice. Adopted from Taste.


1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 brown onions, thinly sliced
400g lamb mince
1 1/4 cups basmati rice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
400g can chickpeas, drained, rinsed
Seeds from 1 pomegranate (see notes)
1/4 cup flaked almonds, toasted
1/3 cup torn fresh mint leaves


Step 1 Heat oil in a large saucepan with lid over medium-high heat. Add onion. Cook, stirring, for 10 minutes or until golden and caramelised. Transfer 1/2 the onion to a small bowl. Cover to keep warm.

Step 2 Add mince to pan. Cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, for 3 minutes or until browned. Reduce heat to medium. Add rice and spices. Stir until rice is well coated. Add chickpeas and 13⁄4 cups cold water. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Bring to the boil over high heat. Cover. Reduce heat to medium. Cook for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat. Stand, covered, for 5 minutes.

Step 3 Fluff rice with a fork to separate grains. Spoon onto a serving plate. Top with pomegranate seeds, almonds, mint and reserved caramelised onion. Serve.


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