Chicken meatballs with dipping sauces

September 25, 2021  •  Category: , ,

I was checking the fridge and freezer and noticed a few ingredients that needed to be turned into ..something, and that something was a dipping sauce. And rather than buy bags of chips, I decided to make some meatballs with chicken breast meat. One sauce is a simple version of muhammara, and the other is an avocado/jalapeño/tomatillo Mexican sauce. The tomatillos and Mexican veggies and cheeses are found in all supermarkets here in Texas, but can be substituted. I would use green tomatoes instead of the tomatillos, for instance. If interested, there is another recipe in this blog for some chicken meatballs using fresh basil and some mozzarella cheese.

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Batersh

September 15, 2021  •  Category: ,

Batersh

This recipe is an ode to Syria, one of the most beautiful countries in the world, home of wonderful, kind, hospitable, refined people. So much has been published about Syria the last few years, all of it depressing and tragic, but the real Syria is a glorious land, filled with archeological treasures and historical monuments, one of the most delicious cuisines in the Middle East, and amazing people.

Syria will rise again.

This particular dish is a specialty of Hama, a city north of Damascus known for its waterwheels, built in the 14th Century, which allowed the irrigation of agricultural lands through aqueducts.

I had published a recipe for batersh, as it is called, or mutabbal hamawi (mutabbal from Hama), a few years back, but here is another, just because I love this dish, it is so easy to make, and so delicious!

 

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Vegan chocolate cake

September 4, 2021  •  Category: , ,

This was a cake made for a neighbor who was needing a vegan cake. I told her I would make it with tahini and she liked the idea (and loved the cake). I used tahini, grape molasses (to add sweetness) and some semi-sweet chocolate chips. I topped the cake with sliced bananas glazed with apricot jelly, but the bananas can be switched to raspberries or strawberries or blueberries, or any fruit you would like to add to this rich and moist chocolate cake. The ingredients yield a small cake 9″ wide, and about 1″ thick. It can be doubled easily, for a two-layer cake.

I made two cakes and coated them lightly with a vegan frosting. This recipe yields only one cake in a 9″ pan.

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Mujaddara

August 28, 2021  •  Category: ,

Eleven years ago when I first published this recipe, I was struggling with the Arabic title: Should I include it or should I call it “lentil and rice dish”. Now that our Near Eastern food has become mainstream, I can just call it by its name: mujaddara (pronounced mjaddra in Lebanon).

One caveat, though: This mujaddara is unlike any you will find on the web. It is the mujaddara made in Lebanon, (also known by mujaddara musfayeh), eaten everywhere in homes, school or hospital cafeterias. The mujaddara on the web, basically a rice pilaf, is also made in Lebanon, but is called mudardara. (I will post a recipe for mudardara later).

There are two main differences between the mujaddara and the mudardara: mujaddara is run through a food mill, which makes it silky soft, with only the occasional grains of rice providing texture. It also does not contain lots of rice, just 1/4 to 1/3 cup per batch. The mudardara on the other hand, has  equal amounts rice to lentils, and the caramelized onions are sprinkled on top of the rice pilaf. Both are eaten at room temperature.

Mujaddara is mainly made using the large green lentils most commonly found in all markets; however, it can also be made using red split lentils, in which case it is called mujaddara safra

(the word safra means yellow in Arabic). Mujaddara can also be cooked with bulgur, in which case it is called mujaddara hamra or janoubiyeh (hamra is red in Arabic and janoubieh is a reference to the janoub which means South, as it is a traditional version in the South of Lebanon).

Mujaddara has also a glorious past, as Lebanese culinary lore attributes it to the dish that Jacob in the book of Genesis gave up his inheritance rights for. As the story goes, Jacob was working in the fields all day, and came back home starving and asked for a bowl of lentils in exchange for his inheritance.  He was given mujaddara!

In the olden days in Lebanon, it was called the dish of the poor, because it contained no meat, and lentils were some of the cheapest foods. However, poor and rich alike would eat it with gusto as it is yummy! Another advantage of mujaddara is that it is served at room temperature. It does not require fussing with oven temperatures or serving it immediately. In Lebanese homes, one could see a dish of mujaddara on the dining table covered with a muslin globe to prevent flies from landing on it, waiting patiently to be devoured one or more hours later. The mujaddara is considered a full meal along with a salad like fattoush or a cabbage salad. Bread and olives are also made available on the table.

The spices used for mujaddara are simply salt, pepper and maybe some allspice or cumin. The main flavor here comes from the caramelized onions, not the spices.

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