Sunday, December 6, 2015


I delayed this meal because it was scheduled just after Thanksgiving, and to be honest, I was still full from all the wonderful food my friends and family made. And then all the leftovers! So, I pushed it off a week, and I’m so thankful that I did. 

This was wonderful. I found this bread from someone's blog who was looking for this bread. I can see why the author went through the trouble looking for it.

Today’s bread choice was a no-brainer: Man’oushe Za’atar flatbread. I started out by proofing my yeast by mixing a yeast packet with 1 Tbsp sugar and then adding in ¼ c warm water and letting it sit for 10-15 minutes until it becomes frothy looking. Then I took out a large bowl and combined my 3 ½ c of all-purpose flour (it originally calls for 2 ½ c of all-purpose and 1 c of cake flour, but I forgot I needed cake flour) and 2 tsp of salt. Then I added in my yeast mixture when it was ready along with 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil. I slowly poured in 1 c of warm water and kneaded the dough until it came together, and I could form it into a ball. I put the dough in a slightly oiled bowl and turned the dough to cover it in oil. Not only did I cover it in plastic wrap, but I also covered it with a kitchen towel as well. I let it sit in a warm spot for about an hour and a half (on top of my stove). Then I deflated my dough and divided it into four parts. After sprinkling more flour on them, I let them rest another 20 minutes. Then I placed an overturned cookie sheet on the lowest rack of the oven and turned it on to 425ºF. While it was pre-heating, I combined ½ c of za’atar with ½ c of olive oil. (The za’atar I used is called green za’atar, which is roasted wheat, roasted thyme, ground sumac, sesame seeds, and salt.) Then I rolled out the dough so that it was round and about ¼” thick. I found it was easier just using my hands to spread the dough out rather than using a rolling pin. Taking a spoon, I spooned on about 3 Tbsp worth of the za’atar-olive oil mix on top of the rolled out bread, leaving about a ½” gap around the edge. I used pieces of parchment paper to do the transfer in lieu of a peel. After putting the bread in the oven, it only takes about 10 minutes for them to get to golden brown. This bread was so delicious. The za’atar-olive oil blend was superb, and I loved everything about this. One loaf was a little thick, so it took a little longer to bake. This was clearly a good idea. And after we had all eaten, I totally forgot that I bought arugula, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers to place on the bread to eat with it. I’ll have to make a sandwich out of this tomorrow. 

The winner for today. I love potatoes so much anyway. I will probably always make them like this for the rest of my life.

I also found a recipe for batata ma3 kizbra, or potatoes sautéed with garlic and cilantro. I sliced four medium potatoes into cubes and chose to bake them in the oven until they were crispy (I salted and sprinkled olive oil on them and covered them in foil before putting them in the oven for about 30 minutes. I did it this way instead of frying them.). While they were in the oven, I pulled about a ½ c of cilantro leaves and set them off to the side. In a skillet, I sautéed a little bit of minced garlic in some olive oil, adding a pinch of salt, the cilantro, and some lemon juice to the mixture and let it sauté for about a minute or two before taking it off the heat. When the potatoes were done, I threw in the potatoes to the skillet and sautéed everything together for another minute or two, making sure everything was coated evenly. These can either be served cold or hot; I prefer them warm. I will go out on a limb to say that this might be the best part of the meal. I loved how the lemon really stuck out and meshed quite nicely with the cilantro. The crispy fried parts of the potatoes added to the texture. I just wish I picked larger potatoes because we ate every bit of this. 

Yummy, yummy chicken.

The main course for today is jawaneh, or chicken wings with coriander, garlic, and lemon. I actually went with some chicken drumsticks because they were on sale, and I think you get more meat on drumsticks rather than wings. I arranged my chicken on a baking sheet and drizzled olive oil and a little bit of salt on them, roasting them for 45 minutes until they were crispy and browned. Just before they were ready, I whipped up my sauce: I sautéed some chopped cilantro (also called coriander), garlic, and oil for about a minute before adding in a little lemon juice. When the wings are done, I added the wings to the skillet and tossed to completely coat them and fried the chicken slightly. It was very lightly flavored. I think it would’ve been better with just a little more lemon in the sauce. But I was very pleased with this, even though the flavors were the same as the potatoes (I didn’t really think that through). 

[Sorry, this photo won't load at the moment for some reason. I'm going to work on it.]

Finally, I made freekeh salad with pomegranate seeds and molasses. Freekeh is a type of grain, and I couldn’t find it at the international store, even though I swear I’ve seen it there before because I’ve laughed at its name. So, I bought some couscous as a substitute. I’m pretty sure I ventured away from the recipe a bit on numerous times. First I made my couscous, except when boiling my water, I added in a cinnamon stick and a couple of bay leaves. (I removed these before adding in the couscous.) I took it off the heat, added in the couscous, and let it sit for 5-6 minutes before fluffing with a fork. I chopped my eggplant and bell peppers (I used half of a red one and half of a green one) and sautéed them instead of grilling them. In a large bowl, I mixed my sautéed vegetables, some dried mint, and some dried parsley. Then I put my pomegranate seeds in the mix (this is my first time cutting a pomegranate, and thanks to YouTube, I figured it out, more or less). For the dressing, I mixed together a little bit of cinnamon, some orange juice, a little bit of pomegranate syrup, and some olive oil together and sprinkled it on the salad. Lastly after mixing everything together, I topped it with some sliced almonds, pepitas (or pumpkin seeds), and some crumbles of goat cheese (I went with a garlic herb goat cheese). I loved how the tart sweetness of the pomegranate seeds tasted with the robust creaminess of the goat cheese. This is something I haven’t had before but really enjoyed. And although I only used a little bit of mint, it certainly came through. To me, mint is hard to match up with certain flavors because it tends to overpower the dish. But otherwise, I liked it for the most part. (I think I was the only one.) 

A very interesting flavor. I really want to try the pistachio one or the vanilla one next.

When I was looking for ingredients, I came across halva. This is an especially popular dessert throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean. It’s described as a “sesame seed fudge,” and I can really taste the sesame seed flavor. It comes in several different flavors: I saw vanilla, pistachio, chocolate, and nut, but I went with the chocolate halva. It was much drier than I thought it would be, but I don’t know if it’s because it’s store-bought or if that’s how it’s supposed to be. But it goes quite nicely with my morning coffee. 

Overall, it was an excellent meal. I look forward to my lunch tomorrow.

I really loved this meal. It all went together quite well, even though I ended up eating by myself: my husband was on a phone call, my daughter fell asleep because she’s sick, and my son said he wasn’t hungry (although he came and tried some of the chicken and potatoes). I guess that’s how things go sometimes. I like when I try new flavors together and find out I like them (like pomegranate and goat cheese). Now that I know how to cut a pomegranate, I think I’ll buy more. They take a little work to prepare, but I really like them, and they’re usually pretty cheap. I wonder why I waited so long? I learned a lot about Lebanon, and I’m glad the meal was as good as I imagined it would be.

Up next: Lesotho

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