When the war officially ended in Lebanon, there was a lot that needed to be done to rebuild the country; Mrs Micha Sarraf and her friends decided to put together a cookbook in order to raise money to help the Red Cross. The cookbook was called Mijotons (tr: Let’s concoct something). The ladies involved in this project asked many embassies in Lebanon, as well as a number of ladies from various communities to submit a recipe; this one was offered by the Embassy of Armenia. I saw that Laura Kelly had traveled to this beautiful country, and had posted an image of Mount Ararat on her facebook page.
The idea here is to recreate this beautiful mountain, so symbolic and so dear to the Armenian soul; you pile up the rice and fill apples with brandy; when dinner starts, the lights are out and the brandy is flambéed.
I am posting the recipe from the book; I played around with the ingredients, using different fruits (Idid not have any quince).
2 cups long-grain rice
4 cups chicken or meat stock
3 Tbsp butter or margarine
4 apples, sliced
2 or 3 apples, half-peeled
2 quince, sliced
1/2 cup grapes
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup dried prunes
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup brandy
clarified butter for frying
Rinse the rice and soak in water for one hour; drain it; in a Dutch oven, over medium heat, melt the butter and fry the rice until all the grains are glistening. Add the stock, cover and cook.
In the meantime, in a large skillet place 1 cup of clarified butter over medium heat; sauté the fruits. Core the whole apples (leaving uncore section at the bottom) and fill with brandy.
To assemble: On a round platter, place the rice in a mound resembling Mount Ararat. Insert the apples halfway through. Place the sliced apples and quince around the base and sprinkle the sides with the dried fruits.
At serving time, turn off the lights and light up the apples.
Recipe is from the Embassy of Armenia
Cookbook Mijotons, by Micha Sarraf, Maya Sarraf, Wadad Kanaan, Fadia Wardé.
This book was published in order to help the Lebanese Red Cross finance a team of emergency dispatch. (1997)
The images were the result of a collaborative effort with the professional photographer Rudy Shoushany. (check out his shot of a woman lounging on a camel in the middle of the desert, woohoo!!!)