LEBANON IN MY KITCHEN

“At the souk, I met a woman named Mona al-Dorr selling her man’oushe, a puffed flatbread speckled with za’atar that she had made at home for years before finding an outlet at the souk. I saw Nada Saber, who was selling jars of hot pink pickled turnips, known as mouneh, or Lebanese preserves. There were Muslim women alongside Christian women, working together to highlight the culinary traditions of Lebanon.” -Bon Appetit Magazine, May 2019.

I love how food brings us together. It helps us set aside our differences and beliefs in order to just come together to eat, love and be tolerant. You can’t eat with someone and be angry at them at the same time.

A while back I watched a documentary on the foodie scene in Beirut. I couldn’t believe my eyes and was desperate to experience that scene. This of course, will not be possible, so when this month’s Bon Appetit magazine arrived on my doorstep with Lebanon’s food inside, I decided to bring Lebanon into my own USA kitchen. What a wonderful mix of ethnicity, simplicity, complexity and intense flavor. At first when I looked at the pictures and recipes, I thought it was going to be intricate, but it turned out to be much simpler than I anticipated. The prep time is lengthy and it took me about two days to prepare, marinade and execute. I share the recipes from Bon Appetit magazine with you below. The photos are my own.

Remember to join us at our dessert book launch on May 25th, 5-9pm at Lighthouse Coffee in Midlothian, TX. There is a Lebanese Orange Coconut Cake in the book made by Chef Craig, the dessert creator and photographer. Check us out on www.atasteofgorgeous.com

(The following recipes are courtesy of the May 2019 Bon Appetit Magazine.)

Crispy Pita with Chickpeas and Yogurt (Fattet Hummus)

4 SERVINGS. Typically eaten for breakfast this creamy, crunchy dish also pairs well with savory dishes come dinnertime.

2 garlic cloves, divided

15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed

Tbsp. plus 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

8″-diameter pitas, split in half, torn into 1″ pieces

2 cups plain whole milk yogurt (not Greek)

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter

½ cup chopped cashews

Sumac (for serving; optional)

INGREDIENT INFO: Sumac, a tart, citrusy spice generally sold in ground form, can befound at MiddleEastern markets, specialty food stores, and online.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Smash 1 garlic clove with the side of a chef’s knife and combine in medium saucepan with chickpeas and 2 Tbsp. oil. Pour in cold water to cover chickpeas. Season with salt and bring just barely to a simmer. As soon as you see bubbles, remove pan from heat and set aside. Spread out pitas on rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with remaining 1/2 cup oil and toss to coat; seasonwith salt. Bake, tossing halfway through, until golden brown and· crisp, 8- 10 minutes. Remove pita chips from oven and set aside. Finely grate remaining garlic into a small bowl. Add yogurt and lemon juice and mix w ell to combine; season with salt. Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add cashews and cook, stirring, until nuts and butter are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Divide pita chips among bowls and scoop some lemon yogurt over. Drain chickpeas and divide evenly among bowls, then spoon over some of the toasted cashews and brown butter. Sprinkle with sumac just before serving if desired.

Muhammara

4 SERVINGS

1 cup walnuts (I couldn’t find walnuts, so used pistachios. Turned out delish)

3 large red bell peppers

½ cup fine fresh breadcrumbs

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp. Red chili flakes

1 Tbsp. tahini

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

½ tsp. paprika

2 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses, plus more for drizzling

Kosher salt

INGREDIENT INFO: Pomegranate molasses, a thick pomegranate syrup, can be found at Middle Eastern markets, some supermarkets, and online.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Toast walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing halfway through, until golden brown and fragrant, 8-10 minutes. Let cool. Pick out a few walnuts for serving and coarsely chop; set aside. Meanwhile, place a rack in upper third of oven and heat broiler. Broil bell peppers on a rimmed baking sheet, turning occasionally, until skins are charred and flesh is softened, 12- 15 minutes. (Alternatively, you can char over a gas burner on medium­ high, turning occasionally with tongs, 12- 15 minutes.) Transfer bell peppers to a medium bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap so that they steam, 10 minutes (this extends the cooking and makes it easier to remove the skins). Remove skins from bellpeppers. Remove and discard ribs and seeds. Pulse bell peppers, breadcrumbs, oil, chili flakes, tahini, lemon juice,paprika, remaining walnuts, and 2 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses in a food processor until mostly smooth; season muhammara with salt. Transfer muhammara to a small bowl; drizzle with more pomegranate molasses and top with reserved chopped walnuts.

Smoky Eggplant Dip (Eggplant Moutabal)

4 SERVINGS. If you don’t have a grill or a gas stovetop, you can broil the eggplants in the oven, turning occasionally, until charred and tender. They might not end up assmoky, but the final dip will still taste great.

2 medium globe eggplants (about 1¾ lb.total)

1/3 cup tahini

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin oliveoil, plus more for drizzling

Kosher salt

Pomegranate seeds and black sesame seeds (for serving)

Remove grate and prepare a charcoal grill for medium heat (coals should be covered with ash and glowing red with no black remaining). Place eggplants directly on coals and cook, turning occasionally, until skins are completely charred and flesh collapses,15-20 minutes. (Alternatively, you can char over a gas burner on medium-high heat, turning occasionally with tongs, 12- 15 minutes.) Transfer to a colander set over a medium bowl. Let cool 15 minutes. Remove skins from eggplants (it’s okay if some bits of charred skin don’t come off). Transfer flesh to a sieve set over a bowl and let drain 10 minutes. Transfer eggplant flesh to a food processor; add tahini, lemon juice, and 3 Tbsp. oil and process until creamy; season dip with salt. Transfer dip to a bowl and top with pomegranate seeds and black sesame seeds; drizzle with more oil. Dip can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Cabbage Tabbouleh

4 SERVINGS.

¼ cup bulgur (not quick-cooking)

¼ medium head of green cabbage, cored, very thinly sliced (about cups)

½ medium white onion, very thinly sliced

2 cups very finely chopped parsley

1 cup mint leaves, torn

1 tsp ground allspice

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt

Fresh green chilis (Optional)

Place bulgur in a small bowl; pour in boiling water to cover by 2”. Let soak until tender, about 50 minutes; drain. Toss cabbage, onion, parsley, mint, allspice and half of the bulgur in a large bowl. Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice oer tabbouleh and season with salt; toss again to combine. Transfer tabbouleh to a platter and sprinkle with remaining bulgur. Serve with chilis alongside if desired. They’re meant to add some heat in between bites of the cooling tabbouleh.

Tomato Salad with Pine Nuts and Pomegranate Molasses

2 SERVINGS

1/3 cup chopped golden raisins

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup pine nuts

1 lb. small tomatoes

1/2 small onion, very thinly sliced

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

1 cup basil leaves, torn

2 tbsp pomegranate molasses

INGREDIENT INFO: Pomegranate molasses, a thick pomegranate syrup, can be found at Middle Eastern markets, some supermarkets and online.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine raisins and vinegar in a large bowl; let sit until raisins soften, 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile toast pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing halfway through until golden brown, 5-7 minutes. Let cool. Add pine nuts, tomatoes, red onion and oil to bowl with raisins; season with salt and gently toss to combine. Add basil and toss some more. Transfer salad to a platter and drizzle pomegranate molasses over. 

Grilled Chicken Skewers with Toum (Shish Taouk)

2 SERVINGS. Toum, an intense garlic sauce usually paired with shawarma, is used as both marinade and condiment in this chicken dish.

TOUM

6 garlic cloves

2 large egg whites

2 Tbs p. fresh lemon juice 1 ½ cups vegetable oil

Kosher salt

Pulse garlic, egg whites, and lemon juice in a food processor until smooth. With motor running, very gradually stream in half of the oil (this will help the emulsion staytogether). Scrape down sides of processor and continue to process, gradually adding remaining oil, until mixture thickens and becomes light and airy (it should cling to a spoon). Season withsalt. Toum can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.

CHICKEN AND ASSEMBLY

2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 Tbsp. ground coriander

3 Tbsp. vegetable oil, plus more for grill

1 ¼ lb. skinless, boneless chicken thighs

Kosher salt

pitas, warmed

Mix lemon juice, tomato paste, coriander , ¼ cup toum, and 3 Tbsp oil in a large bowl to combine. Transfer marinade to

a large resealable plastic bag. Save remaining toum for serving.

Working one at a time, slice chicken thighs in half lengthwise and season generously with salt. Add to bag with marinade, seal bag and massage marinade into chicken. Chill at least 3 hours and up to 12 hours. Let chicken sit at room temperature one hour before grilling. Prepare a grill for medium heat; oil grate. Thread chicken onto skewers. Grill, turning occasionally, until browned and beginning to char in spots, about 10-12 minutes. Serve chicken with toum.

Seven-Spice Grilled Lamb Chops with Parsley Salad

4 SERVINGS

1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (not Greek)

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper tsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. paprika

½ tsp. ground cardamom

½ tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. ground nutmeg

12 untrimmed lamb rib chops (about 3 lb.), potteddry

Kosher salt

1 small red onion, very thinly sliced

1 cup coarsely chopped parsley

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

2 tsp. sumac

INGREDIENT INFO: Sumac, a tart, citrusy spice generally sold in ground form, can be found at Middle Eastern markets, specialty food stores, and online.

Mix yogurt, black pepper, coriander, cumin, paprika,cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Season both sides of lamb chops generously with salt and add to bowl with marinade. Turn lamb in marinade to coat; cover and chill at least 3 hours and up to 12 hours. Let lamb sit at room temperature 1 hour before grilling. Prepare a grill for medium-high heat. Grill lamb to desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for medium rare. Let rest 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, toss onion, parsley, lemon juice, and sumac with a pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Serve lamb chops with parsley salad on top.

Enjoy the delicious food of Lebanon in your kitchen this evening.

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