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Q&A -- Lebanese Cuisine

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torakris   

That was wonderful!

One quick question

How long can you keep the garlic and tahini sauces?

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FoodMan   
That was wonderful!

One quick question

How long can you keep the garlic and tahini sauces?

Thank you.

In the refrigerator, the garlic sauce can be stored for up to a week, the Tahine sauce for maybe 2-3 days after that it will become pasty and develop an odd flavor.

Elie

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Thank you for an excellent lesson, Foodman. A quick question. I love lamb kefta kebabs but usually make them in the patty shape because I have difficulty keeping them from falling apart on the grill using bamboo or metal skewers. Books I have read suggest using wide flat metal skewers, but I have never been able to locate any, even in Middle Eastern grocerys. Any advice?

Edit to add: Your article is a perfect example of "A picture equals a 1000 words". I have read detailed instructions on how to make kibbeh many times but never had the confidence to try it because I just couldn't envision it. Now I can!


Edited by IrishCream (log)

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boaziko   

Well Done Elie!!

Its great watching most of your (and mine) "staples" explained from scratch. I should try once the home made pita and some of the sweets. ( I do not have a baking stone… and it is 5 minutes from a good bakery…). And surely will try other variations.

I have 2 questions:

1. Does the "standard" serving way in Lebanon is like a wrap (cutting the whole Pita)?

2. Do you use "Baladi" eggplants in Lebanon and is it possible to get it outside the Middle East?

I'll run back to my kitchen as I have lots of work to do for tonight is New Year (Rosh Hashanah) and is it happens I also make Stuffed tomatoes. And I did the first stage exactly like you, but than I took another direction and filled it with a small Flower bunch made of 2 kind of arugula, lettuce, zucchini flower, asparagus, chives. Basically my tomatoes are little vases, and there will be decoration of real eatable flowers.

May you have a tasty, healthy and peaceful year !

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Thanks!

Could you please describe a day's worth of menus for in a typical household?

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FoodMan   
Thank you for an excellent lesson, Foodman.  A quick question.  I love lamb kefta kebabs but usually make them in the patty shape because I have difficulty keeping them from falling apart on the grill using bamboo or metal skewers.  Books I have read suggest using wide flat metal skewers, but I have never been able to locate any, even in Middle Eastern grocerys.  Any advice?

Edit to add:  Your article is a perfect example of "A picture equals a 1000 words".  I have read detailed instructions on how to make kibbeh many times but never had the confidence to try it because I just couldn't envision it.  Now I can!

Making them into patties instead of putting them on the skewers also makes very tasty kebabs, although not traditional in shape :smile: . So don't let this stop you. You are right, most Lebanese kebab shops will use those flat metal skewers because it makes it easier for the meat to stay on. The only advise I can give you is look in middle eastern grocery stores for them (which you already did) or online maybe. I will do some more research online and let you know if I find a source.

Elie

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FoodMan   
Well Done Elie!!

Its great watching most of your (and mine) "staples" explained from scratch. I should try once the home made pita and some of the sweets. ( I do not have a baking stone… and it is 5 minutes from a good bakery…). And surely will try other variations.

I have 2 questions:

1. Does the "standard" serving way in Lebanon is like a wrap (cutting the whole Pita)?

2. Do you use "Baladi" eggplants in Lebanon and is it possible to get it outside the Middle East?

I'll run back to my kitchen as I have lots of work to do for tonight is New Year (Rosh Hashanah) and is it happens I also make Stuffed tomatoes. And I did the first stage exactly like you, but than I took another direction and filled it with a small Flower bunch made of 2 kind of arugula, lettuce, zucchini flower, asparagus, chives. Basically my tomatoes are little vases, and there will be decoration of real eatable flowers.

May you have a tasty, healthy and peaceful year !

I am glad you enjoyed the presentation boaziko.

If you do live within five minutes from a bakery then you really do not need to make your own pita although I use the same recipe to make the great breakfast middle eastern "pizzas" the ones topped with melted cheese or za'atar. very yummy.. and you can just bake them on a baking sheet if you do not have a baking tile.

In Lebanon we use Pita bread for two serving styles:

1- The wrap is what in Lebanon is called a "sandwich". So when you go to a shawarma, falafel or kebab shop and ask for a sandwich, you will get the wrap. Also most kids in school will take a cheese or Labneh wrap with them to school for lunch.

2- It is used to scoop up foods. Basically a bite size piece of bread is formed into an edible "scoop" and food is just scooped with it or put in it with a spoon.

If by "baladi" (country) eggplant you mean the small finger sized ones, then absolutely yes. Matter of fact this is the type of eggplant most frequently used for the "Sheikh El Mahshi" and most other eggplant dishes. The larger ones are mainly used to make dips and such. The reason I used the bigger one is because it is the one most available, I only saw the other type once or twice at a middle eastern store.

Your stuffed tomatoes sound wonderful (pics please), and may you have a happy and safe new year.

Regards,

Elie

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FoodMan   
Thanks!

Could you please describe a day's worth of menus for in a typical household?

Breakfast:

-scrambled eggs cooked with samen or olive oil.

-breakfast pies: Pizza-like pies topped with either melted cheese or za'atar (dried herb and toasted sesame mixture with olive oil)

-olives

-Hot tea

Lunch:

This is the largest meal of the day and is typically served at about 1 or 2 in the afternoon or even later on weekends.

-Sheikh El Mahshi (stuffed eggplant)

-rice with vermicelli

-a simple tomato and lettuce salad with olive oil and vinegar

OR (more of a weekend lunch)

-Hummus dip

-Grilled chicken with potatoes and garlic sauce

-Grilled lamb kebabs

-yogurt and cucumber salad

-Pita bread

-Plenty of Arak

Dinner:

-Labeh and olive sandwich in pita bread (wrap)

-cold dishes such as the Zucchini cooked in olive oil

Hope you try some of those

Elie

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FoodMan   
Your presentation was fantastic.

Thanks Paula, this means a lot coming from you.

Elie

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torakris   

Foodman,

I made the bulgur pilaf last night, the variation with zucchini and feta and it was wonderful! Even my pickiest child loved it! :biggrin:

Thank you!

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heyjude   

This was a splendid class. Every picture tempted me to either cook or eat. One of my favorite Lebanese dishes, which I first had at one of the Bacchus Restaurants in the Washington,D.C. area, is Fette. It seems to fit into your home comfort foods category and I rarely see it on menus here in the Northwest. The combination of textures and flavors work so well for lunch or dinner, but when I asked for it at Abou Karim in Portland, I was told it was breakfast food. Do you have any secrets to share about how to layer this dish?

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FoodMan   
Foodman,

I made the bulgur pilaf last night, the variation with zucchini and feta and it was wonderful! Even my pickiest child loved it! 

Thank you!

Glad to hear that you and your family enjoyed one of my recipes Kristine.

This was a splendid class. Every picture tempted me to either cook or eat. One of my favorite Lebanese dishes, which I first had at one of the Bacchus Restaurants in the Washington,D.C. area, is Fette. It seems to fit into your home comfort foods category and I rarely see it on menus here in the Northwest. The combination of textures and flavors work so well for lunch or dinner, but when I asked for it at Abou Karim in Portland, I was told it was breakfast food. Do you have any secrets to share about how to layer this dish?

Thank you for the kind comments heyjude. I am assuming that the fette that you had was made with yogurt, chickpeas and toasted bread. correct??

If so then indeed this is usually a breakfast food . However, and I was thinking about incorporating this in my class but alas, it was already too long, at my home my mom usually made it to be served with "Rice with nuts and chicken" (Riz bil djaj w' Fatte). Here is a summary of the steps:

To make the Fatte:

-make the yogurt sauce by mixing up yogurt, with mashed garlic and salt and pepper to taste

-Boil chickpeas that have been soaking over night till tender, count about half cup chickpeas per person. season.

-Traditionally the bread is toasted, but my mom always fried the pita bread because it tasted better and kept its crunch for a longer time. so fry the pita bread in an inch of oil till brown and crispy.

-Assemble the Fatte by putting the chickpeas in a bowl, top with plenty of broken fried bread then top with a good dose of the yogurt sauce.

-Enjoy on its own or with the rice.

For the rice:

-just follow my rice with vermicelli recipe omitting the vermicelli and adding a teaspoon or so of ground cinnamon with the salt in addition to a handful of toasted pine nuts and almonds toward the end . Top with some shredded poached chicken.

Please do not hesitate to let me know if you need any more help with this.

Elie

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fifi   

eGADS...

I don't know where to start. I LOVE THIS FOOD. But I have never cooked much of it. An eggplant dip here, a cucumber salad there. Now I am inspired to broaden those horizons. I will even adopt this as my new favorite cuisine to learn in more depth.

Do you have any favorite brands of some of the staples? I am starting to see more "ethnic" products in my mainstream grocery stores and I am wondering if you have any favorites.

This lesson is a beautiful presentation, well organized and illustrated. Many thanks for your considerable effort.

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fifi   

I am working on Alton Brown's recipe for Baba Ghannouj even as I type because I am hungry for something eggplant. Also, what is the correct spelling for this dish? I have also seen it spelled Ghanoush. Do you have a favorite recipe?

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FoodMan   
eGADS...

I don't know where to start. I LOVE THIS FOOD. But I have never cooked much of it. An eggplant dip here, a cucumber salad there. Now I am inspired to broaden those horizons. I will even adopt this as my new favorite cuisine to learn in more depth.

Do you have any favorite brands of some of the staples? I am starting to see more "ethnic" products in my mainstream grocery stores and I am wondering if you have any favorites.

This lesson is a beautiful presentation, well organized and illustrated. Many thanks for your considerable effort.

Hello Fifi-

It's great that you want to learn more about this food. It is fantastic and I will be more than happy to help. Do you have any specific staples in mind???

I normally buy stuff that is made in Lebanon such as the Tahine sauce (usually "Al-wadi Al Akhdar") or Cortas brand for Orange blossom water and rose water. A good store in Houston that carries all that is "Droubi's" especially the one on Hillcroft. Check it out and let me know if you have any questions.

I am working on Alton Brown's recipe for Baba Ghannouj even as I type because I am hungry for something eggplant. Also, what is the correct spelling for this dish? I have also seen it spelled Ghanoush. Do you have a favorite recipe?

As I mentioned in my class spelling in English (with Latin letters) is done phonetically so either would work. I would say Baba Ghanouj is the closest with the "gh" forming an arabic letter not found in the english language. It sounds similar to how the French say the letter "r". hope that makes sense.

As for the recipe, I know Alton's and it is pretty traditional so just follow it and you should be spot on. The only thing is the addition of parsley. I normally omit that, but it's presence is certainly not bad.

Best of luck to you

Elie

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heyjude   

Elie, at Bacchus, they substituted lamb or chicken for the chickpeas to make it a dinner dish. The pita was very crisp and the yogurt (Ithink) was drizzled with clarified butter. It was garnished with pomegranate seeds which brought some color. It has been years and I still remember the dish this fondly. I'll try it at home, thanks to you.

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fifi   

Thanks, Elie. I am off to Hillcroft next week to check out Droubi's. I wonder if they are the same Droubi's as my favorite lunch place downtown?

I made the Baba Ghannouj. It took some looking but I actually found tahine in my Kroger's. I am not sure if it is the good stuff, though. It is krinos, "greek gourmet" brand and I finally found it next to the olives. :blink: I did use the parsely and I like it ok. I could also like it without it. The Baba Ghannouj came out great but if I had my smoker up and running I think it would have been spectacular with some smoke or grilling going on. My 2 cloves of garlic are sure in there! (OK... They were really big cloves.) I didn't process the ingredients in a food processor or blender. I had great fun with my big chef's knife going whack, whack, whack like Martin Yan. I like the coarser texture better. The pita bread is mushy crap, but that garlicy stuff makes anything edible.

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FoodMan   
Elie, at Bacchus, they substituted lamb or chicken for the chickpeas to make it a dinner dish. The pita was very crisp and the yogurt (Ithink) was drizzled with clarified butter. It was garnished with pomegranate seeds which brought some color. It has been years and I still remember the dish this fondly. I'll try it at home, thanks to you.

Oh, I see what you mean. That sounds like a delicious dish. You can defenitly make it at home by using finely minced or shredded leg of lamb, top with the bread and yogurt. A drizzle of clarified or melted butter is always a nice touch. I need to make some of that myself.

Elie

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FoodMan   
Thanks, Elie. I am off to Hillcroft next week to check out Droubi's. I wonder if they are the same Droubi's as my favorite lunch place downtown?

I made the Baba Ghannouj. It took some looking but I actually found tahine in my Kroger's. I am not sure if it is the good stuff, though. It is krinos, "greek gourmet" brand and I finally found it next to the olives. :blink: I did use the parsely and I like it ok. I could also like it without it. The Baba Ghannouj came out great but if I had my smoker up and running I think it would have been spectacular with some smoke or grilling going on. My 2 cloves of garlic are sure in there! (OK... They were really big cloves.) I didn't process the ingredients in a food processor or blender. I had great fun with my big chef's knife going whack, whack, whack like Martin Yan. I like the coarser texture better. The pita bread is mushy crap, but that garlicy stuff makes anything edible.

I forgot to mention, there are 2 Droubi's on Hillcroft. If possible go to the bigger original Droubi which is located on Hillcroft between Bellair and Bissonett rather than the smaller one on Hillcroft and Westheimer.

Let me know how it goes or if you have any questions.

Elie

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Mottmott   

I add my voice to the chorus of admiration and thank you.

I wonder, could you speak about how different Lebanese cuisine is from others in the region and place it in context for me?

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boaziko   

i1412.jpg

I hope my "stuffed tomato" with flower bouquet has made through the Imagegullet

(sorry it took me a couple of months...)

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Foodman, I hadn't found egullet yet when this course ran, so this is a little late...but thanks for a great introduction! I grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which has a thriving Lebanese community. Falafel and tabouleh are common food-court fare, there, and ingredients are readily available.

Unfortunately, I now live in Edmonton, and I don't know yet where to find Mid-Eastern ingredients. But I will...

Mottmott: Tess Mallos' "Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook" does a fair-to-middlin' "compare and contrast" of the different national styles in the introductions to each section.

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Various dishes prepared tonight that are inspired from this course:

gallery_2_4_17984.jpg

The basic garlic sauce listed in this course, plus a "doctored" version mixed with zaatar and fresh oregano, and the ubiquitous hummus dip.

gallery_2_4_56748.jpg

Fresh pita bread baking in the oven, on ceramic tiles.

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A "Shepherd's Salad" made with tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, parsley, with a dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, and shredded Goat Feta.

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Eggplant Salad.

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Pita Bread, Garlic marinated Chicken with Lebanese Garlic Sauce (restaurant style, "doctored"), Eggplant Salad, Shepherd's Salad, Hummus

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