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M. Lucia

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  1. Depending on what part of the Middle East you're in Ouzi, has different preparations, but it is always a very festive dish. In Saudi Arabia, ouzi is a whole baby lamb, stuffed with rice and meat, and served over more rice. Click. In Lebanon the preparation is a bit more modest, usually a roast leg of lamb served over a rice dish made with ground lamb and nuts. There's a recipe for this in Claudia Roden's "Arabesque." There are also chicken and fish versions of ouzi, but in general ouzi is thought of as a lamb-rice-spices-nuts dish. This recipe looks good and approachable.
  2. Having spent some time touring professional baklava shops in the Middle East, I thought I'd chime in. The professional way of making baklava is quite similar to ChefCrashes method, ie the sheets are not brushed individually. As I observed in a workshop, one person is rolling out fresh phyllo. The fresh phyllo is layered in a tray with the nuts and then scored (cut all the way through). The trays were tossed onto the floor (crash), then someone poured melted samne (ghee) all over the tray to saturate, then baked. Cool syrup is poured on the hot baklava immediately after baking. This technique was used for almost all shapes of baklava, including fingers and birds nests. I actually asked one guy about brushing each layer individually with butter, he laughed and said it was unnecessary. But this is because the phyllo they are using is fresh, whereas purchased phyllo is slightly drier and I believe this is why some people choose to brush each layer individually, ensuring it is moistened. However, I think if ChefCrashes method works in the home kitchen, it sounds good to me:-) Though I'll admit it always kind of hurts my arteries to watch that huge mount of melted butter slogged over the pastries.
  3. A lot of Middle Eastern dishes are garnished with flavored clarified butter (samneh). One of the most well known ones is taklia, cilantro and garlic lightly fried in samneh and then poured over the finished dish. But I was thinking about how there are many other clarified butter garnishes: pine nuts in butter over fette, cinnamon and dried mint poured over pomegranate soup, fenugreek-flavored butter is popular in Egypt, etc. Is there an Arabic word for these flavored butter garnishes? I believe Paula Wolfert refers to it as "the sizzle," and I have another friend who says you can also use taklia to refer to all sorts of garnishes, not just the cilantro-garlic one. There is a Persian word for it that Najmieh Batmanglij uses, but I've forgotten it at the moment. Also, is there a sort of catalogue of garnishes that go with different dishes? Obviously, that would be something most home cooks learn by experience, but it would be interesting to try and catalogue them. Many thanks.
  4. Ah, yes, that does sound like Pasha. Someone once told me when it's made poorly it's awful, but when made in the right hands it is a delight. I've got that book on my Christmas list, and I better get it! It does indeed sound reminiscent of fette (my favorite dish ever!), and it also reminds me of those old-school fette dishes in Lebanon and Syria that were made with sheep's hoof. Thanks!
  5. Khlea (alternately khili) is a kind of Moroccan lamb confit. It is very similar to the Lebanese version, qawarma. Khlea Recipe (from Saveur) There's also a recipe in Paula Wolfert's Slow Med. Kitchen. As for the stuffed beef hearts, I've seen it done, but don't have a specific recipe. Check Roden's "New Book of Middle Eastern Food" maybe.
  6. Wow, thank you so much for that information! (you seem very knowledgeable, you wouldn't also happen to have a recipe for Sidon's sanioura biscuits, would you ;-)) I remembered last night what arayess was, I like the cheese ones as they remind me of panini. I love all the kebab variations- kebab halabi is my favorite, except in Syria it also includes a spicy tomato sauce, really delicious. I think it's so interesting how all these little towns have different ingredient associations. And urfa makes sense, like urfa biber, the peppers. Sanassel- umm, no wonder I never ordered this, is it tasty?? Many thanks again, and if anyone knows about those two Iraqi dishes, please chime in!
  7. Hi- I have lived in the Middle East (Beirut, Damascus) and worked and traveled throughout the region. I speak pretty decent Arabic and know a good deal about Arabic cuisine. I've been going back through some notes and recipes and doing some research about Levantine dishes, and found several scribbled notes of mine with names of dishes I do not know or don't remember. I was hoping someone could tell me what these terms mean or describe them or refer me to recipes: Kibbe Orfalieh- some kind of raw kibbe, but what are its components? Subaydij- some kind of mukabilat/mezze? Arayess - grilled meat stuffed bread- how is this made?? Snassel/Snansel- ? Toshka- ? Rakakat- fillo stuffed pastries, how are they different from borek? The following kebabs, what are their seasonings, differences? Kebab Istambouli, Kebab Orfali, Kebab Anatakly Goss- some kind of Iraqi meat dish? Pacha/Bacha- another iraqi dish? Many, many thanks for any information you can share!!
  8. I love these traditions- I went to a festivity in Cairo once where they had all these special dishes made for when a baby is born- rice pudding and such. Congratulations!
  9. Hibiscus Macarons not the world's most perfect specimens, but they were really tasty
  10. I've been meaning to make the far breton for a while now and finally got around to it. It was so wonderful! We finished it off so fast that I turned around and made another one. Easy and oh-so-pleasing. (Milady- I have baked Korova from frozen many times and never had any problems, don't know what's happening there)
  11. I happened to be shopping at Dynasty supermarket in Chinatown today and found... Boiled peanuts! Fresh! They come in a take-out container and just say peanuts in salt water. They're slightly more firm than I'm used to but a little extra boiling took care of that, and they have a nice flavor. Dynasty supermarket is at Elizabeth and Hester streets, the peanuts are in the refrigerator case next to the prepared food and tofus.
  12. Desert Candy Lots of recipes, and I also write about my experiences as a Westerner cooking in Damascus.
  13. Hi, I just saw this thread, and I felt the need to comment. I would NOT recommend traveling alone in Yemen, especially as a woman and a non-Caucasian one. Do you speak any Arabic or will you have a guide with you? You can eat in a restaurant alone, but you will probably be stared at and made to feel somewhat uncomfortable. Also, you might get bothered by men on the street. When travelling outside the main cities you should have some sort of guide or security with you (I have several friends who have been caught in tribal conflicts). I am not saying these things to frighten you but merely to offer some realistic advice. It could be that you ignore some of the annoyances and end up having a great time, but you should be prepared. As for food, another good option would be to go to the souq and pick up fresh vegetables/fruits, local breads, cheeses, and whatever else is on offer. Do be careful about washing things in purified water your first few days so you don't get sick. Little lunch places that serve hummus and stews are good options for a quick meal. And stay away from qat.
  14. These Cashew-Caramel Cookies are really good. However, I make my own caramel glaze, the one in the recipe won't set up, which makes for messy packaging.
  15. Dorie is everywhere! It's great to see the book is so popular. On NPR with rugelach recipe. In the LATimes with a Chocolate Chestnut Torte. Personally, I have my eye on the Far Breton.
  16. Kelly, what is this dish? The pasta is filled, rolled, then baked? I can't quite tell from the photo. Also, I adore the ricotti gnocchi in the Zuni Cafe cookbook. I don't know how they compare to Mario's version, but they are wonderful and light and sauteed in butter.
  17. I made some chocolate-almond cookies and some bourbon balls (pictures here), both family standards. I also shipped some nammoura, meticulously packaged, to the boyfriends family. I used a Jordanian friends recipe and it came out great. And Nakji, ditto on baking in a foreign (non-Western) country. People are literally shocked by brownies, like they are the most exotic things, and choc-chip cookies, they go crazy. Next I am going to have to introduce them to pie!
  18. Ok, I'm confused by this version of limonana. The traditional Arab version looks nothing like what is pictured above, though the ingredients are the same. Basically, take lemon juice, sugar, fresh mint, and water and blend in a blender. The mixture should be vibrant green (think green smoothie or juice) and should be served immediately. In Syria/Lebanon/Jordan it is only done fresh because it really doesn't keep well, it settles and dulls in flavor. Maybe this helps??
  19. Just to add my two cents... Samen, or samneh as we say in Syria/Lebanon/Jordan, is a sort of clarified butter made from cows milk. All the major brands here in Syria and Lebanon usually say "cow samne" and have a big image of a cow on them. They come in a metal tin and yes, they smell very strong. "Zubde" is plain butter, Lurpak or Plugra are the common brands available. I always said there are two secrets to Syrian cooking: samne and lemon juice, both used in copious amounts. The pervasive smell of samne wafts through the streets and is used in everything from basic rice to baklava. Pine nuts are fried in it and poured on top of fette, it gives heft to mansaf and flavors roast chicken and maqloubeh. In New York you can get samen/samneh at Kalustyans, at the Indian Grocery at 1st Avenue and 6th Street, and in the Brooklyn groceries along Atlantic Ave like Sahadis, as well as many other locals.
  20. I didn't get to chime in as much as I would've liked, but I've really enjoyed your blog. Turkey and Syria are really amazingly different, despite many similarities. Do let me know if you make it down the Damascus or Aleppo way. Lovely baklava, we don't get that style of pistachio sweets, so green!
  21. I just came across this: Oyster Crackers, though I don't know how useful...
  22. I must add to the chorus of oohs and ahhs, and also the requests. What are those lovely buttery looking Swedish Thins??
  23. I just discovered your blog and I am so excited. I'm in the U.S. for two months but I normally make my home to your south in Damascus, Syria for work. Obviously, there are many similarities in cuisine but differences also. Ditto, on your list of things unavailable, sweet potatoes, pecans, foreign cheeses- although you should be able to get Nestle tins of condensed milk (they are often mis-labeled in English). And we have sobia heaters too, though they run on mazot, a sort of gasoline byproduct. Thankfully my house doesn't have one as they are nasty. We have a couple good Turkish restaurants in Damascus and I like the boreks that are rolled and baked in a big tin. And the lovely yogurt sauces and yogurt soup. I often see little kids going to school with their rolled up pita-helva snack.
  24. Oh my god, fette, one of my favorite-ever foods! (though Lebanese Taverna is not like homemade)
  25. M. Lucia

    Hot Tapas!

    Why oh why has no one mentioned bacalao fritters?
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