middle eastern food

Juicy Baked Chicken & Potatoes in Mouthwatering Lemon Garlic Sauce

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I originally did this post for EZPZ meals a few weeks back (http://www.eazypeazymealz.com/juicy-baked-chicken-potatoes-in-mouthering-lemon-garlic-sauce/) and I've made this dish so many times since!! The potatoes in this dish are everything! And there is a actual secret that makes the potatos in this chicken & potato dish different than any other chicken and potato dish you've tried!

This particular dish has always been a family favorite and of course everyone fights over the potatoes.  Once you know the secret to why the potatoes are so amazing you'll understand why my mom couldn't simply add more potatoes to satisfy everyone.  If it was going to be amazing, there had to be limited potatoes and they were hot commodity. 

My mom usually uses regular russet potatoes sliced into 1/2 inch thick circles but I thought it would be fun to use a variety of colorful small potatoes.  Either way, they're amazing.  So are you ready for the trick of what makes it amazing?? ...... 

Okay.

Funnily enough, the secret to this dish is a trick that I didn't even know was a trick! The first time I made this dish, not realizing there is method to the madness, I didn't stay true to the trick and the results were off.  

The placement of the potatoes is the trick!

Placing the potatoes at the bottom of the pan makes them so flavorful and juicy because they are pressed down by the weight of the chicken and absorb all the juice from the chicken and the garlic lemon sauce.  A side of rice is usually served with this but a side of salad is just as great!

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One Pot Creamy Tomato Harissa Shrimp Past

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It’s funny because a lot of my friends think just because I own a food company or a food blog that dinner is always easily available at my home and I never need to ask myself whats for dinner.  I'm here to tell you, this is not true and you are not alone!  I am surrounded by food all the time and I too get stumped sometimes and I don’t always have the time to spend figuring out what to make. 

Enter one pot dinners into my life. 

I’ve just been fascinated with the idea that I use one pot, throw in all my ingredients, and voila dinner is made!  It reminds me a lot of the "ma'loubay" dishes made in the Middle East which is the "upside down" dishes.  Basically a bunch of ingredients are put into one pot with rice and then flipped upside down.  I posted my favorite one here .  

Usually if I was to make a pasta dish it would take me 10 mins just to boil the water and pasta where as with this one pot pasta dish, the entire dish is complete in 20 mins!

Honestly, for me, the olives are everything in this dish.  In fact, my husband picked out all the olives that I ended up just adding more afterwards.  The green olives I get are from the Middle Eastern supermarket.  They have a hint of lemon to them that make them so delicious against the creamy tomato sauce and perfect kick from the harissa. 

Oregano is a very popular herb used in the Middle East to season meats and kabobs.  I used Italian seasoning, which I commonly use in my cooking, to give it that extra flavor.  You can do this dish without the heavy whipping cream if you are trying to be healthier and the dish will still taste amazing.  A lot of the flavor is going to come from the olives, tomatoes, Harissa, seasoning, onions and garlic all being cooked together.

Best of all, Ayla approves :) 

Refreshing Sumac Salmon Kale Salad with Tahini Vinaigrette

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Recently, my husband and I have been listening to a lot of podcasts and watching documentaries about health and diet.  The concept that food is medicine seems so revolutionary and yet so simple at the same time.  I recommend everyone watch the documentary “Forks over Knives” and read the book or watch on Youtube “The China Study”.  Whole food plant based diets are linked to complete decrease in cancer and cures to autoimmune diseases.

 

I can go on and on about this documentary but I’ll just let you watch it.  Just know that I’ll be eating a lot more vegetables and salmon and a lot less meat and I hope I can inspire you to do the same! Enter Salmon kale salad with Tahini Sesame Vinaigrette and Pickled Turnips into my life and in my belly. 

Recently, I went to a restaurant in LA called Fundamental LA and they had an amazing Salmon Kale salad with pickled turnip and a ginger vinaigrette.   You know how super giddy I get when I see anything Middle Eastern in my cuisine.  That was me when my salad came out with pink pickles on top.  The pickled turnips are so nostalgic of Syria and the Middle East because they’re consumed all the time!  Mainly in a falafel sandwich or with certain entrees but we like to even eat them solo as a crunchy snack.  I call them the Middle Eastern pickle because that’s exactly what they are.   Pink pickles. 

I’m working on a separate post on how to make pickled turnips because there is a natural trick to achieve that color and because they're just that good.  So stay tuned!  In the meantime, you can find pink pickles at any ethnic Middle Eastern supermarket. 

The addition of fresh mint and thai basil leaves really make this salad such a burst of amazing flavors.  Combine that with the tahini dressing and the sumac salmon and then top it off with crunchy pink pickles and we got ourselves a winner salad. 

Freekah Kale Salad

In the Middle East and growing up we never consumed Freekah in a salad.  I paired it with honey roasted sweet potatos and kale and it was perfect.  So filling, healthy and the right amount of sweetness and smokiness. 

Freekay, Freek, Freekah is an ancient whole grain that is harvested when it's still young and green, then it's roasted and rubbed to create a unique smokey flavor.  Across the Middle East freekah is prepared usually with lamb or chicken or as a soup (which I love and thinking about making it tonight!).  Freekah has been around for centuries but Oprah featured it on an episode in 2010 and since then it's become more popular.  

The freekah process was actually discovered by accident almost four thousand years ago in the Middle East, most sources agree.  The story is a group of villagers were trying to protect their wheat crop from an enemy attack so they harvested the unripe grain.  The enemy still set the crop on fire but because of the moisture inherent in the green kernel only the dryer outer shells were charred.  The grains were then rubbed together, hence the name "freekah" which means "to be rubbed", and the shells were removed.  The wheat was saved and a new grain smokey grain was discovered.  

The superfood grain is also mentioned the Old Testament.  In book Leveticus Chapter 2 verse 14, the verse says "when you bring a meal offering of the first grain to the Lord you shall bring your first grain meal offering from "barley" as soon as it ripens parched over the fire, kernels full in their husks "ground into" coarse meal.  

Freakah is packed with fiber, more than twice the amount of quinoa and three times the amount of brown rice!  It's also high in iron and a good amount of protein, a true super food.  There is an Australian study (read it here) that shows that because the freekah is harvested young it retains more of the fiber, proteins and minerals than mature wheat.   

It used to be hard to find freekah in the local supermarkets and my mom would have to wait until someone was traveling from the Middle East to bring some back with them.  So eating freakah when I was young was always special.  Luckily, I can find it at Whole Foods now but my mother in law does bring me some whenever she visits because it seems the grain from the Middle East is larger and greener.  

Because the freakah is roasted there are sometimes burnt pieces that are dangerous because they become so hard they can crack a tooth.  Although the freekah cooks in roughly 20 mins the most time consuming part used to be sorting through each freakah to remove the burnt pieces.  My grandmother and aunts would make a morning get together out of it.  They would get the kids together, drink tea, catch up and sort through their freekah.  Nowadays, the freekah I buy from the supermarket is already sorted through but out of habit I still do a quick sorting through just to make sure no one will break their teeth eating my freekah.  

Freekah is sold in two kinds;  whole and cracked.  Cracked is basically whole freekah broken down even further.  Whole freekah takes a little bit longer to cook and has a slightly different texture.  It takes about 35-40 minutes while cracked freekah takes about 15- 20 minutes.   There are different ways to make it too; some cook it like they do pasta, boiling it in water or stock and discarding the excess liquid.  While others cook it until all the liquid is absorbed.  I cook it 1 cup of freekah to 2 1/4 cup of stock for about 20 minutes.   

Muhammara Chicken

MY MUHAMMARA IS A FINALIST FOR A SOFI AWARD!!!!!  I was literally shaking when I got the call because I know what a big deal it is.  There are thousandssssss of amazing sauces and dips out there and for the judges to pick mine out of such a great group, I was just ecstatic.  When I first decided to package my moms Muhammara, I really didn't know what I was getting myself into.  How hard can it be, I thought.  I'm glad I didn't know how difficult and challenging it was going to be because I might have been too intimidated but thankfully I was naiive.  If any of you are ever thinking about taking a recipe to market, please ask me first! There are tons of avenues to take and a lot to know but it is possible so you should do it!  

Hands down the recipe I've been making almost every other day, but you already knew that from Snapchat haha (@nadiahubbi).  So this is an interesting dish because Muhammara is not traditionally cooked in with food, it's served as part of a meze platter and eaten the same way hummus is.  I was playing around with different ingredients in the kitchen and created this dish.  My husband immediately told me to write it down because he knows me better than I know myself, I happen to still be in the stage of denial as to how bad my memory has gotten so I assume I can remember how I made it.  He says, please just write it down in case you forget how you made it.  Glad I listened to him!  

Muhammara has complex flavors stemming from the red peppers, walnuts, pomegranate, chili, among other ingredients.  It's texture is unique because bread crumbs are used and the flavors marry each other well.  This dish is so simple but it screams exotic and mysterious because untouched taste buds will be activated.  The already complex flavors of the Muhammara combined with the sweet potatoes, the chewy dates, and the sweet onions makes for one party in your mouth.  No one is going to believe this dish took less than an 45 minutes to make!  It might take a little longer if you don't have Sweet Pillar Muhammara in stock but have no fear, it's still easy!  I have the Muhammara recipe posted here and you can always make some and store it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks! 

The BEST CREAMY Tahini Salad of ever!

So remember I said I come from a family of traditions... well, this is one of them!  My family goes all out for Sunday brunch with all the usual Middle Eastern suspects; jams, cheeses, fava bean salad (ful mdamas), chickpea yogurt dish (tisi'ya// fetay), eggs, walnut stuffed pickled eggplants (makdoos), olives, and pita bread galore.  I remember my dad would always cut the pita bread into half circles and make us fava bean salad pita sandwiches drizzled with yogurt (so. friggin. good btw).  So when my mom would make breakfast, she would make this tahini salad and as a separate brunch dish she would make the fava bean salad which is called Ful.  The ful dish is made up of basically this tahini salad plus boiled fava beans and more olive oil.   My siblings and I never knew the name of this particular tahini salad so we would always beg my mom to make it and refer to it as, the ful without the ful salad.  

So I present to you the "ful without the ful salad".   There was a period where I would eat this every single day.  The way the tahini lemon sauce marrys the crunch cucumber and juicy tomatoes is just out of this world.  

I can eat this salad on its own but its also great served with chicken kabobs or lamp chops or really anything. 

This dressing is everything.  Make some and store for later! 

This dressing is everything.  Make some and store for later! 

It's important to toss the salad because you want all the flavors to combine with the tomatoes.  You want the onions to release their flavors as well.  I've been trying to stay away from consuming too much bread (very difficult because bread is def one of my weaknesses) so I eat this salad as is, but it's actually good with warm pita bread.  Feel free to add more or less of whatever you like.  My sister loves cucumbers so she usually adds way more cucumbers, I like it more lemony so I'll add more lemon.  Don't be afraid to adjust to your liking! 

 

 

Sumac Cumin Crusted Salmon

Ok so confession, I didn't necessarily love salmon until recently.  Anyone else feel this way? Anyone?  It used to always taste kinda bland to me.  For a while the only way I would make it, (and the only reason I only did make it is because I knew of the health benefits), was with a touch of olive oil, lemon juice, and rosemary baked in the oven.  It was good but I needed more.  I then did a little Asian switch it up and started adding vegetables and soy sauce and some other flavors and that was good.  Salmon was on its way up for me. BUT then my husbands cousin, who happens to be a male foodie that loves to cook and experiment in the kitchen (lucky wife) told me about this recipe and this has been my go to salmon recipe ever since!  The combination of sumac, cumin and yellow mustard seeds creates this super flavorful crust that is the perfect crunch texture contrast to the melt in your mouth salmon.  It's so good, and it's so easy.  Seriously.

Sautee the kale in the same sumac, cumin, honey mustard rub for a few minutes

Sautee the kale in the same sumac, cumin, honey mustard rub for a few minutes

Today was a particularly long day for me.  I'm in the middle of production for one of the Sweet Pillar products (can't tell you which one yet :) and there is just so much that goes into producing a product that it's so non stop.  It's like conducting an orchestra, every piece has to be played correctly at the correct time in order for it all to work smoothly and successfully together.  But I digress.  I can talk about this stuff all day I worry I bore people with this food production talk haha. 

I was almost going to pick up take out as it was such a long day AND it was drizzling in Orange County, which means everyone was panicking and it was extra chaotic and busy.  I'm so glad I didn't order take out and made this instead.  I always get my salmon from Whole Foods and it tastes amazing and dinner in its entirety ends up taking 10 minutes from start to finish.

This particular dish is not a Middle Eastern classic that I grew up with although the sumac and cumin are very much staple spices in any middle eastern spice cabinet.  If you're feeling fancy but don't have the time, this is what you should make. 

Yellow mustard seeds

Yellow mustard seeds

Ground up yellow mustard seeds

Ground up yellow mustard seeds

Sumac

Sumac

Sautee in a tablespoon of olive oil

Sautee in a tablespoon of olive oil

Valentines Day Semolina sponge cake aka Namoura || Basbousa || Hareesay

What is everyone doing for Valentines Day??? I have such a love hate relationship with this holiday and let me explain why.  Despite the fact that my last name means love in Arabic, so I believe everything love and hearts and pink and frills is in my blood because c'mon obviously my name is indicative that either my great grandfather was cupid himself or worked very closely with him.  So I love love.  But I hate feeling forced to celebrate something just because I'm a consumer, and I am very much a sucker consumer.   I buy something just because they're giving out samples (to be fair, I usually like it and  I like supporting small business and usually they are small businesses), or the packaging is pretty (again, to be fair, I'm a huge packaging fan).  I love the holiday itself, I love celebrating love.  I also love an excuse to throw a themed party, and make everyone wear red or pink.  But I don't want to be told to.  I don't want to go out to a restaurant on Valentines Day with my husband just because its Valentines Day.  I much prefer to go out the day before or after Valentines Day just to be rebellious.  On Valentines Day I prefer to stay home or have friends over and make a home cooked meal, something special and celebrate love the way I want to, on my own terms.  

Use a Turkish/Arabic coffee "dolay" {coffee pot} as a decorative piece

Use a Turkish/Arabic coffee "dolay" {coffee pot} as a decorative piece

This year I wanted to make a middle eastern style Valentines Day get together and reinvent fun middle eastern dishes and desserts.   I'm going to post them in stages because it takes so much time to write up a post and I don't want to keep you waiting as I get it all together!   

Semolina yogurt sponge cake is known as Hareesay in Syria, Namoora among Palestinians and Lebanese and Basboosa in Egypt and North Africa.  It's the equivalent of brownies and is commonly consumed with tea or coffee.  But then again, in the Middle East they drink tea and coffee all day everyday so pretty much everything is consumed with coffee haha. 

This is yet another thing my mom used to make that I always thought was sooo impossible to make and again I'm surprised that it's so easy! The only downfall is I found out how much sugar is in it and that was a little scary.  But there is yogurt in it so that's good, right?

Moving on.

The way to make this dessert is by mixing all the ingredients and then letting it sit for a little while it all rises.  Then incisions are made, usually in the shape of diamonds so it bakes into the shape of diamonds and its easily cut off.  Almond halves or pistachios are usually used to top each diamond for a nice little crunch but mainly decoration.  To make this Valentines Day appropriate, I thought to make heart incisions instead of the diamonds but that seemed wasteful because there would be so much extra cake.  So, I purchased little candy lips from the supermarket and topped each one off with that instead of the almond or pistachio. 

My daughter Ayla is in the phase of wanting to "help mommy" So everything is "I help mommy" "mommy I do it" " Ayla help".  So she threw these cookie cutters on top as I was taking pictures and I actually liked it.  She was so proud of herself too haha.

My daughter Ayla is in the phase of wanting to "help mommy" So everything is "I help mommy" "mommy I do it" " Ayla help".  So she threw these cookie cutters on top as I was taking pictures and I actually liked it.  She was so proud of herself too haha.


"Eggplant Upside down" Rice, Eggplant, & Tomato dish called "Ma'loubay Betinjan"

Upside Down aka Ma’loubay

The name of this dish, ma’loubay literally translates to “upside down” because of the way it is served by first flipping it upside down like a beautiful cake with layers of rice, meat and vegetables.  

Think about it, isn’t everything better upside down.  I actually can’t think of anything else thats better upside down.  Maybe headstands.  But is that really better?  Okay moving on.

I DO know that a rice, meat and vegetable dish IS better upside down because the flavors all marry each other and the best of the flavors fall to the bottom and when flipped upside down it brings the best of the bottom to the top.  #started from the bottom now we’re here haha

There are many variations across the Levantine (Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, parts of Turkey) which include mainly a variety of vegetables usually eggplants, cauliflower, potatoes, and carrots.    I’ve seen tons of images, but of course I can’t find a single one to post now, of 2-3 women and men all holding a ginormous pot trying to carefully flip it over.  They’re usually served with yogurt or a simple Middle Eastern salad which includes tomatoes and cucumber.  

I had to experiment with a few pots I own and found one that works perfect for my measurements and I just stick with it.  Usually, every Middle Eastern home has a special straight edged pot that makes it easier for flipping.

This dish could be time consuming because of the prep work required but it is NOT difficult.  Once everything is prepped, its just a matter of layering them together.  Do not be intimidated by how pretty it looks!  And even if your ma'loubay flops when you flip it over it will still be an amazingly tasting and aromatic dish!

Feeds 3-4 people (or just the three of us with just a little bit of leftovers haha)

INGREDIENTS

  1. 1 large eggplant sliced
  2. .3 pounds ground beef
  3. 1/4 diced tomato
  4. 2 tablespoon pine nuts (or substitute almonds)
  5. 1 1/2 cup jasmine rice
  6. 1 1/2 cup chicken stock
  7. 3 tblspoon tomato paste
  8. oil for frying or for brushing eggplants for broil
  9. salt & pepper to taste

 

INSTRUCTIONS

1. peel and slice the eggplants 

Lay them on a paper towel and salt them.  

Let them sit for 30 minutes

2. Put the jasmine rice in a bowl and cover with water

Let it sit for 30 minutes

3. Meanwhile, brown the meat with salt and pepper

Sauté the pine nuts with 1 tbl vegetable oil

Combine with meat and set aside

4. On low heat add chicken stock, tomato paste and salt and pepper to taste 

Whisk it all together until paste completely dissolves

5. When the eggplants are done straining wash them off with water and pat dry

Heat up oil and fry eggplants (OR the healthier version is to skip the initial part about straining them and just brush the eggplants with oil. sprinkle with salt and put in a preheated broiler until they are brown on each side).  

6. When the 30 minutes is over for the rice, sauté for 1-2 minutes in 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and mix in 1 tablespoon tomato paste (this is optional but I feel it gives the rice a little more flavor and makes the rice more moldable and easier when flipping upside down).

Now that everything is prepped all we have to do is assemble.

  • Start by placing the diced tomatoes at the bottom
  • Add the meat and pine nuts
  • Layer the eggplants (see image)
  • Add the rice inside the eggplants and carefully pour the tomato stock on the rice
  • Bring to a quick boil then lower heat and cover for 15 minutes.  
  • Keep it covered for an additional 5 minutes
  • Uncover, place plate on top of pot, say a prayer and flip that bad boy

This picture was taken right after I flipped it and a lot of the tomato and meat were still stuck to the bottom of the pot.  I fixed that problem by just scraping the pot and putting them back on top.

Middle Eastern Rice and Peas with Cucumber Yogurt {Riz ou bazalaya}

I'm eating this dish as I type this post, and I forgot how much I love it!  Miss no appetite ever Ayla is asking for more and I'm sitting here wondering why I don't make this more often!

It's SO easy.  

Is everyone sick of me saying everything is SO easy haha.

But seriously,

It is.  

Like if you can boil water you can make this dish.  But the best part about this meal is the cucumber mint yogurt served on the side.  

SO FRIGGIN GOOD and SO FRIGGIN EASY.

On a separate note, I took a personality test today.  I know it sounds like I'm a weirdo lol but it was one of those emails that every one of my friends took and we talked about the results and the analyzation and mine was so accurate, actually all of them were creepily accurate!  My analysis said I like to inspire people and I couldn't agree more.  

I really hope my recipes and dishes inspire someone, anyone, to explore Syrian and Middle Eastern cuisine.  I was always so intimidated because I saw my grandmother spend allllll day cooking and I assumed it was such a time consuming style of cooking but its actually not that bad!  My grandmother and mother were just cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner for an entire tribe basically!  Anyway if anyone wants to take the test its at www.16personalities.com and mine is ENFP.  If you take it please comment and let me know what you got, it's so much fun!  I feel like I know myself a lot better now, and who doesn't want that.

INGREDIENTS FOR YOGURT SAUCE

  • 2 cups yogurt
  • 1/2 cucumber shredded (1/4 cup)
  • 1 T dried mint
  • A lot of salt ( cucumbers are very watery and they'll water the sauce down so compensate by adding more salt than usual)

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Mix all the ingredients together! As simple as that

INGREDIENTS FOR RICE & PEAS {Riz ou Bazalaya}

  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 lb chicken (I used boneless chicken thigh for this one)
  • 1 cup sweet green peas
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (or substitute slivered almonds)
  • 1 t olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Boil chicken in water covered for 35 minutes (I also add bay leaves, onions, cardamon, cloves, black whole pepper, salt and cinnamon stick.  Feel free to add all or some for more flavorful chicken stock)
  • In the meantime sauté the green peas and pine nuts in oil until pine nuts are golden brown and set aside
  • Take 2 cups of the chicken stock and let it come to a boil
  • As soon as it boils add the rice, reduce heat to low, cover and set timer for 15 minutes
  • Let it sit covered for another 5 minutes before removing the cover
  • I like to brown the chicken by broiling it in the oven for several minutes
  • To serve; put rice first, chicken, and top with peas and pine nuts
  • Serve immediately with cucumber yogurt
  • Enjoy!

Zaatar Crusted Shrimp with Lemon Tahini Drizzle

You have no idea the high that I get after my husband gives me the thumbs up after trying something that I "created" in the kitchen!  This was one of those highs.   

So what ha happened was, I met up with a friend, a fellow mom foodie that thinks about food just as much if not more than I do to talk about work, seriously.  We spent about 2 hours talking about the kids and food, just kidding it was pretty much all food and sweet pillar, work, you know.  Zaatar came up in the conversation.  That was that.  

I came home, saw the shrimp I got for a lemon shrimp pasta dish I was planning on making.  Lightbulb.  Zaatar from my subconscious jumped out, the shrimp was right in front of my face, boom bam, next thing I know I'm creating Zaatar crusted shrimp with lemon tahini drizzle.

I thought it tasted great and I love that it was so different.  My mom and grandmother, both the best chefs I've ever known literally make so much food on a daily basis for the family, the kids, and non stop guests it's as if they were running catering businesses.  My mom makes and experiments with food all the time and cooks every cuisine under the sun, but when it comes to Arabic food she is NOT comfortable experimenting.  If I ever consulted with her about making zaatar crusted shrimp she would have freaked out, gave me a look of confusion, and would've just said in arabic "we just don't do that.  we don't eat zaatar and shrimp.  It's just not done."  There is one way to eat zaatar and its taking pita bread, dipping it in a bowl of olive oil then a bowl of zaatar and then sipping tea.  I'll update this post and tell you her reaction once I show her the pictures and tell her what I did.  Insert emoticon of monkey covering his face here.  haha. 

 

So this is actually pretty easy to make.  The lemon tahini sauce is used for multiple dishes so it's definitely a recipe to hold on to and know how to access later.  Ayla eats this sauce with just pita bread, she loves it so much.  I made the shrimp the same way I would if I was making buffalo shrimp or coconut crusted shrimp and then I just drizzled the zaatar marinade at the end.  The challenge is making the zaatar wet enough to stick on to the shrimp.

INGREDIENTS for TAHINI LEMON SAUCE

  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup water
  • salt

INSTRUCTIONS for TAHINI LEMON SAUCE

  • whisk all ingredients together
  • As simple as that

TIP:

  • If it is too pasty, add more water until desired consistency is achieved
  • If you don't taste the lemon burst of flavor, add more
  • I tend to use a lot of garlic, so feel free to add more or less depending on how you like it

INGREDIENTS for ZAATAR CRUSTED SHRIMP

  • Egg
  • Flour
  • 8 Raw Shrimp, deveined
  • 1/4 cup Zaatar
  • 2 Tbl Olive oil
  • Frying oil (I used vegetable)

INSTRUCTIONS for ZAATAR CRUSTED SHRIMP

  • Create an assembly line by whisking egg and a little bit of water in one bowl, flour in the second bowl and shrimp in a third.
  • Start by dipping the shrimp in the egg mixture then the flour
  • Refrigerate while creating the zaatar mix and heating the frying oil
  • Once the oil has heated, fry the shrimp for 2-3 minutes
  • Remove and place on a paper towel to remove excess oil
  • Mix zaatar and olive oil 
  • Drizzle on shrimp
  • Done and Done!

 

Muhammara & Cauliflower Soup

I obviously love Muhammara and judging from the past few post and Instagram photos, I obviously love cauliflower.  Not sure what my thought process was that led me to come up with this genius idea :)  I do know that the idea simmered in my mind for a few days before I actually executed.  The stars aligned a few days ago and the universe was basically forcing me to make this soup.  I had preordered a book called Soup for Syria,  a humanitarian cookbook project whose profits will be donated to the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR to provide urgently needed food relief for Syrian refugees, which arrived that day.  I also caught the first glimpse of fall which for Southern California included 10 minutes of drizzle and some clouds, but it was enough for me to jump on the opportunity to make this soup.

Muhammara is a red pepper spread which originates in Aleppo, Syria.  It's made from roasted red peppers, walnuts, and sautéed cumin.  Traditionally it is only used as a dip but I literally with no exaggeration use it almost every day for everything.  Most often, I use it as a paste to thicken and add flavor to any sauce slash soup I'm making.  

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoons of Muhammara 
  • 2 cups baked cauliflower
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 small onion sliced
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Drizzle olive oil, salt & pepper on cauliflower and bake for 10 minutes or so
  • On stovetop medium heat sauté sliced onion in olive oil to caramelize
  • Add chicken stock and muhammara to chicken stock
  • Add baked cauliflower to chicken stock for a few minutes so flavors can simmer together 
  • Add everything to blender and blend until desired consistency
  • Optional: Serve with pita chips and spoon of muhammara

INSTRUTIONS TO MAKE PITA CHIPS

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Cut pita bread into desired shape
  • Drizzle with olive oil and whatever seasoning (I did just salt and pepper)
  • Put in oven for 5 minutes
  • Monitor carefully remove when golden brown

INSTRUCTIONS TO MAKE MUHAMMARA in case our store is out of stock =(

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons tahini
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 3 red bell peppers
  • 1/2 small yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tablespoon Chili paste or Chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Roast the red peppers on the stove top until skin starts to peel off
  • Roast the walnuts in the oven at 350 until they are golden brown
  • Pulse walnuts in food processor until they are desired size (some like it bigger for more crunch, some like it finer) set aside
  • Add all ingredients to the food processor and pulse
  • Add walnuts at the end
  • Keep in the fridge for up to a week

 

Lemonade & Mint Drink "Limonana"

This drink is screaming summertime and granted its almost October, but in Southern California its still in the 80s so I think its appropriate to make and drink this!  But truth be told, I actually make this drink in the wintertime too, those days when I'm craving summer.  The original Lemon & Mint (laymoon ou na' na') drink is basically just lemons and a ton of mint but we decided to go a step further and add watermelon which also tasted amazing.

Happy summer in October =) 

INGREDIENTS Lemon Mint

  • 2 cups Lemon Juice
  • 6 cups of water
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh mint
  • 1 cup sugar (or honey)
  • Ice as desired

INGREDIENTS Watermelon Lemon Mint

  • 3 Cups Watermelon
  • 2 Cups Lemon Juice
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 1/2 Fresh Mint
  • Ice as desired

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Peel the lemons and stick them in a blender
  • Use a strainer to get rid of the pulp and seeds
  • Put lemon juice back in the blender
  • Add mint, water, ice, and sugar or honey ( & watermelon if making watermelon drink)
  • Adjust to make it sweeter or tangier

Tips:

  • Add more lemon juice if its too diluted
  • Add more mint if the mint flavor isn't strong enough
  • Add more sugar/honey if it's too sour