Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Lentil Soup in Heaven

Yes, this is the lentil soup served in heaven. I played with this recipe, although the basis of it is certainly traditional. As I expand my ethnic food horizons, this recipe might fit many of them. However, yish hidnee, killee (eat ) this lentil soup and grow strong, get healthy, and it'll make you feel like a protein powerhouse!

Prep and cook time: 1 hour, 15 minutes. Very easy.

1 large white onion, diced
1 package lentil beans uncooked, rinsed, any color that pleases your eyes
1 large bunch of fresh spinach
1 large bunch of kale, broken into two inch pieces or so
2 medium carrots, sliced thin
1/2 cup of Uncle Ben's long grain rice (and ONLY Uncle Ben's) just kidding... not really, but if you have some other rice on hand, go ahead and use it
2 TBSP olive oil
Salt to taste
1 tsp. Ground Jamaican allspice
6 cups of water
(Optional: small diced lamb, beef or chicken) I don't use them because I like the vegetarian kind of soup like they would have in heaven....

In a large skillet that has a cover:
Heat on medium, add oil, heat oil, add onions and let them sautee until they just start to turn brown on the edges. mmmm...

Add the lentils and stir, coating them with the onions and oil. Add the spices.
Add the water.

Then add the carrots and let simmer on low heat, covered for 30 minutes. Check every 5 minutes or so, and stir. Hey, heaven soup takes coddling.

Add the spinach, kale and rice and let simmer another 30 minutes, partially covered.

Serve. And yes, those are the angels singing when you taste this.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Loobie (Green Beans and Lamb in Tomato Sauce)

Loobie Louie, oh, no, baby! Loobie is mmmhmm, delicious from first bite to last. You may serve it over rice pilaf, or with stuffed eggplant or koosa, or just eat it alone. The lamb will be fall-off-the-bone tender, and the flavor will be one your mouth won't want to stop tasting.

1 lb fresh green beans
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 or three meaty lamb neck bones
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 diced onion
Syrian pepper, or ground Jamaican allspice

Wash the green beans and snap off the stem end. Then snap them in half.

Put the olive oil in a pan on medium heat.

Salt the lamb bones on both sides. When oil is hot, add the lamb bones and brown on both sides.

Then add the onions and the chopped garlic.

Wait for onions to turn translucent, then add the green beans.

Add the diced tomatoes, the crushed tomatoes salt and pepper.

Stir all ingredients in the pan. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
I love mine over rice pilaf. You will fight over the lamb meat, so get yours first, and then take more when no one is looking.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Lubne bil Khyar (Yogurt and Cucumber Salad)

This is the most refreshing thing to eat on a hot summer's day. It'll cool you and it's good for you, too! Make sure you use fresh mint when making this. It'll delight your senses. Yes, if you must, you can use low fat yogurt, but it's best with whole milk yogurt.

32 oz container of plain yogurt
1 large cucumber, cut into bite size pieces and seeded (just scoop those babies out with a spoon)
1 large clove of garlic, minced. If you love garlic, make it two cloves.
3 tablespoons of chopped fresh mint

That's it! Just combine all of the ingredients and you're done! Even if it's 100 degrees out, have a sweater handy when you eat this, because it will cool you right down to your bones.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Izhjee (izh-jee) or The best Lebanese breakfast you will ever have

Izhjee has no known way of spelling in English. I just guessed at it. But don't worry about pronouncing it. It has a taste of it's own and it's the best breakfast this side of Lebanon. If you read the koosa recipe, and it said to keep what you scoop out of the squash, this recipe is why.

Serves 2:

4 eggs
insides of squash, mashed or chopped a bit or use a grater
1/4 cup flour
2 tsp. baking soda
Syrian pepper or ground Jamaican allspice
1/4 cup scallions, chopped
one big beautiful graden fresh tomato, sliced
butter for griddle
Middle Eastern bread or Syrian bread or Arabic bread and if you can't find these, pita bread, but using pita is almost sacrilegious...just sayin'...

The insides of the squash will look similar to this:

Arabic or Syrian Bread:

Pita Bread: ( see how thick it is?)

Beat the eggs:

Chop and add the onion:

Add baking soda and flour:

Add squash:

Mix it up!
It should look like this, pancake bater consistency:

Scoop pancake size portions onto a heated, buttered griddle. Cook about 1/12 to 2 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom, and flip, repeating the same.

Cut the Syrian bread into quarters. Put one of the izhjee's in. Top it with a fresh sliced tomato. Bring to your mouth and believe.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Hummus beh Tahini ( Chickpea Dip with Tahini Sauce)

Sometimes, all you need is love. Other times, all you need is hummus.


Hummus is known world-wide and is not only delicious, but a great source of protein. And it is hard to stop eating, filling, and just plain delicious. I have a secret in this recipe that makes it smoother than you have ever had. That is, if you like smooth. Some people don't and if you are one of those people, just skip that step.

2 1/2 cups canned chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans which is more fun to say), drained and rinsed
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon
1/4 cup tahini (which is made from sesame seeds)
2 cloves of crushed garlic
1 - 2 tbsp olive oil
Syrian Pepper OR ground Jamaican allspice
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup water
garnish such as parsley or olive oil or paprika or all of these

First: the secret step. Skip this step if you don't like your hummus really smooth. Add the chickpeas to 6 cups of boiling water and boil until the outer shells falls off. They're clear, but you can still see them. Drain the chickpeas and toss the outer shells.

Place the chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil and water in your food processor or blender. If you are using a blender that has the blades at the bottom, add the liquid ingredients first. If you have a blender with two levels of blades, do whatever you want.

Blend until it become the consistency you like. I blend mine for at least a minute in a two blade level blender because I like it like that.

Add ins: You may have noticed in the food markets all kinds of hummus with add-ins, like roasted red pepper, pine nuts, etc. You can add these to your hummus at the end. Just cut anything big to small sizes, and mix into your hummus.

Scoop onto a dish, and make swirls in it to hold the olive oil you are going to garnish it with. Then drizzle some olive oil on. You may sprinkle lightly with paprika and top with some sprigs of parsley. Pretend to save some for someone else by putting it, covered, in the refrigerator.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Individual Spinach Pies (Fatayah) Bet ya can't eat just one!

If you love spinach, these little delectables will become one of your favorite foods as a snack or a main course!
Use the same dough that is in the meat pie recipe.

6 cups fresh baby spinach (this will be about three cup after washing)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup lemon juice
olive oil
Lebanese pepper (or a nice Jamaican allspice)

1 package dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tsp. sugar
2 tbs. olive oil
3 cups of flour

Combine yeast, water, and sugar. Let this sit for about 10 minutes. Add flour slowly, about a half cup at a time, until you have a nice dough consistency. Depending on the weather, believe it or not, you may have to add a teaspoon of water to get the consistency right.  Separate into balls a little larger than golf balls. OK, there's the dough.

1 bag of pizza dough, rolled out and cut into 4" circles

Put the spinach in a bowl and cover well with water and salt. Let this sit for about 1/2 hour. The leaves will wilt..they are supposed to.

Next, take the spinach leaves after they have soaked, and squeeze them out in a colander. Then squeeze them out again. And then again. OK you can stop squeezing now. The point is, you want all the excess moisture out.
Mix the rest of the ingredients together then add to the spinach and mix well.

On 4 inch circles of dough, spoon about 2 tablespoons of spinach mixture into the middle. Fold up the edges and pinch them together to make a triangle. It starts like this:

Then fold in the third side.

Place these on a non stick baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Spray with olive oil spray. If you don't hide these, you won't have a chance to have seconds. Trust me.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Individual Meat Pies (Sfeeha)

These little lovers can be served as a meal or as appetizers. Versions of these can be found in many cultures, however we are going to make the Lebanese version of them. You may use pre-made dough or the kind that comes in the refrigerated tubes called dinner rolls. OR you can make your own dough. It is a bread dough if you are going to make your own. OK, OK..I will include the dough recipe.

1 package dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tsp. sugar
2 tbs. olive oil
3 cups of flour

Combine yeast, water, and sugar. Let this sit for about 10 minutes. Add flour slowly, about a half cup at a time, until you have a nice dough consistency. Depending on the weather, believe it or not, you may have to add a teaspoon of water to get the consistency right.  Separate into balls a little larger than golf balls. OK, there's the dough. Set aside while you make the sfeeha.


1 pound ground lamb (yes, you can use ground beef instead)
2 tomatoes, chopped small
1 medium onion, chopped very fine (processor works well)
1/4 cup pine nuts or sometimes called pignolia nuts
1 tsp. Lebanese pepper (if you can't find this, use ground Jamaican allspice)
1 tbsp. Salt
Olive oil spray

Combine all ingredients except olive oil spray and dough in a large bowl. Mix well with your hands until everything is blended evenly. Using a sautee pan on medium heat, cook until meat turns brown. This is the sfeeha mixture.

Roll the dough out flat on a floured cutting board. Put 2 tablespoons of sfeeha mixture in the middle of each one. Pinch in two sides to begin to make a triangle shape of dough around the meat. (Refer to the picture) Pinch edges together.

Place these on a non stick cookie sheet or grease a cookie sheet and place them on that. Spray with olive oil to make them look so pretty. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Watch them fly off the table!