Monthly Archives: January 2009

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French onion soup

My son  was taunting me: “can you make a French onion soup as good as Panera’s (a chain of bakeries in Dallas)? as the French say mon sang n’a fait qu’un tour. I will make a French onion soup that will knock your socks off, said I. There!  I, who had French onion soup […]

French onion soup
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Servings Prep Time
6 servings 20 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 servings 20 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
French onion soup
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Servings Prep Time
6 servings 20 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 servings 20 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Ingredients
Seasonings to the beef broth
Servings: servings
Units:
Instructions
  • Brown the bones in a moderate oven (300-325) till they release their fat and get crispy, about 45 minutes Remove the bones and place them in a dutch oven; cover with cold water. Add seasonings to the pot: 2 bay leaves, a carrot, several allspice berries, a tablespoon of peppercorns, 3 garlic cloves, a sprig of parsley, a pinch of thyme. Let the pot with the bones simmer for 2 hours either on the stove or in a slow oven (275-300F)
  • Peel 3 large onions, cut in half and place half side down on half cookie sheet in the oven to brown. When the onions are a deep brown color, add them to the soup pot. When the soup pot has simmered sufficiently with the onions and spices (at least 2 hours) set aside to cool, remove the bones and extract the marrow (for a side treat) and put it in a small plate. Remove the bay leaves and carrot. Mash the onions with a spoon or a blender. Place the soup pot containing the onions in the fridge overnight.
  • The next day, skim the congealed fat from the pot and discard or keep for use later in the freezer. Chop 2 or 3 large onions and fry them gently in 2 tablespoons or butter or olive oil (or a mixture of both), in a skillet until the onions brown and stir them every 5 minutes to make sure they don't burn. You can add 2 teaspoons of sugar to the onions to help with the browning process. Add 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour to the onions and cook the mixture for 3 minutes more to cook the flour.
  • Dump the onions and flour into the soup pot with the addition of a cup of white wine and an extra cup of cold water. Bring to a simmer and let it cook for about 45 minutes very gently. Adjust seasonings, adding salt and pepper at that stage. Butter as many slices of bread as the number of guests and place the bread on a piece of foil on a cookie sheet in the oven set to broil. On each slice of bread place a generous quantity of shredded Swiss cheese . On top of the cheese, add 1 tablespoon of whipping cream. Watch carefully and broil the cheese for 2 minutes or so.
  • Serve the soup by ladling in each bowl and adding on top a slice of bread covered with melted cheese. Another option is to carve a round small bread and use it as a container for the soup, keeping in mind that the bread will absorb the liquid in a matter of minutes! Enjoy with a glass of the same bottle that was used in the soup.
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By |January 28th, 2009|Soup|2 Comments
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Couscous (Moghrabiyeh)

Some dishes are fit for royalty. This is one of them. I remember the anticipation of having moghrabyeh prepared for us by my dad’s favorite cousin in the mountains in the village of Maad; hers was the best and I still have her recipe that she passed on to my mother. Alas, the cousin […]

Couscous (Moghrabiyeh)
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Servings Prep Time
8 servings 45 minutes
Cook Time
60 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 45 minutes
Cook Time
60 minutes
Couscous (Moghrabiyeh)
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Servings Prep Time
8 servings 45 minutes
Cook Time
60 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 45 minutes
Cook Time
60 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: servings
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Instructions
  • 1)Braising the shanks: Salt and pepper the lamb shanks and brown them in a pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion, quartered, and brown it as well. Add water to the pan (about 1 1/2 quart), the cinnamon stick and bring to a simmer. Let it simmer until the shanks fall off the bone, about 1 hour or longer, either on top of the stove or in a slow oven (300F). This can be done one or two days before. Remove the shanks into a plate and pick apart to remove all gelatinous and fibrous tissue. Let the stock and meat rest for a day in the fridge.
  • 2) Parboiling the couscous: Bring about a quart of salted water to a boil,add a tablespoon of oil and drop the couscous in it. Let it cook for about 10 minutes until al dente. Then drain the water and set the couscous aside.
  • 3) Sauteing the pearl onions: Heat about 3 tablespoons of oil in a skillet and drop the peeled pearl onions in it, twirling the pan until the onions are gently browned and glistening with the oil. Add a couple ladles of broth to the onion and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • 4) Add the garbanzo beans to the lamb broth and simmer gently for about 15 minutes for the beans to soften and the flavors to meld. Leave it on the heat to be added to the moghrabyeh later. Add all the spices: caraway, cinnamon, white pepper, 7-spice, and salt if necessary. Add the pearl onions to the broth.
  • 5) Heat the pan that will be used for the final cooking of the couscous and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil with a tablespoon of butter (if you wish); add the drained couscous to the pan and start to stir with a large wooden spoon for the grains to be all evenly coated with the oil and not to stick; add the hot broth gradually to the pan (as if making risotto), a couple ladles at a time, for about 30 minutes. Normally, you should need around a quart of broth for 3 cups of moghrabyeh. It is possible to cover the pan and let it cook on its own either in a slow oven (300F) or on top of the stove, checking it every 10 minutes or so. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  • 7) If there is any leftover broth, add a handful of garbanzos and onions to it and serve it separately in a saucepan to present with the moghrabyeh on the side. 7) Serve the moghrabyeh by piling the grains in a serving dish with the pearl onions and the lamb pieces arranged on top.
Recipe Notes

This dish can be frozen. It can also be served with the addition of chicken, cooked the same way as the lamb. As it is the dish will serve 6 people as a main dish; if you are serving a crowd (up to 20 people) you can add 2 chickens (3 lbs each) using the same method as the lamb shanks and adding the chicken pieces at the end on top of the moghrabyeh.

7-spice is a spice mix; as each community or even family has its own mix, you can save yourself trouble and purchase it in a small packet from any middle-eastern store. Sometimes, you can find a packet labeled moghrabyeh spice, which is a blend of all the needed spices, and would be used instead of all the others.

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By |January 21st, 2009|Dinner, Meats, Traditional, Whole Grain|7 Comments
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Breakfast, Lebanese-style

 

Mmm…This is such a lovely sight! Fresh labneh, luscious extra virgin olive oil nestled in its fold, juicy tomatoes, always a bowl of olives and of course fresh mint and some pita bread…I am in heaven! This is the traditional Lebanese breakfast that will set your day right! I tear off a piece of […]

By |January 14th, 2009|Salty|2 Comments
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Cauliflower fritters with Tarator sauce

 

 

I know what you’re thinking! Cauliflower! How dull!

Well, trust me, this dish will completely change your mind about this admittedly unexciting vegetable. In fact, you will first try one, just for kicks, then another, then you will not allow anyone to get close to the plate! You will finish the entire cauliflower in […]

By |January 12th, 2009|Salty|12 Comments
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Biscotti (chocolate and orange)

 

 

TO CHASE THE BLUES AWAY!

These days I feel like retiring to a deserted island somewhere, never ever watching the news and just listening to the sound of the waves nearby. So I head to the kitchen instead  and bake a batch of biscotti! ( easy fix for big and insoluble problems ). I have […]

By |January 9th, 2009|Sweets|2 Comments
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Labneh (yogurt cheese)

 

We were told that Marcel Proust loved his madeleines, because when he would bite into one a flood of childhood memories would overtake him and he would experience bliss…

I am willing to bet that for a large majority of Lebanese expats the feeling is similar when a plate of labneh is presented to them.

Labneh (yogurt cheese)
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Servings Prep Time
4 people 5 minutes
Passive Time
8 hours
Servings Prep Time
4 people 5 minutes
Passive Time
8 hours
Labneh (yogurt cheese)
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Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 people 5 minutes
Passive Time
8 hours
Servings Prep Time
4 people 5 minutes
Passive Time
8 hours
Ingredients
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
  • Line a sieve (large enough to fit the quantity of yogurt) with either a coffee filter or a paper towel. Dump the yogurt on it and let it sit over a bowl for a few hours until the yogurt gets drained completely of its water, usually a minimum of 6 hours. The bowl can either be placed on a counter or in the fridge covered loosely with plastic wrap. It is O.K to let it sit overnight.
  • Grab the bowl, dump the water and flip the drained yogurt, now labneh, into a pretty serving dish. With the back of a spoon, draw a circular furrow all around. Pour some extra virgin olive oil in the furrow. It is ready now! Eat with pieces of pita and also, if you wish, fresh mint, olives, tomatoes and cucumbers, some zaatar sprinkled on top.
Recipe Notes

make labneh

make labneh

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By |January 7th, 2009|Cheese|15 Comments