Hello Stranger | Login | Create Account
Jan 21, 2018
Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
Email | Text-size: A | A | A

Posts Tagged ‘Middle Eastern food’

By the Book: “Rose Water and Orange Blossoms” by Maureen Abood

Thursday, November 5th, 2015



Middle Eastern food transcends borders; one nation’s cuisine melts into its neighbor’s. They all have their own versions of standards like hummus, kebabs and baklava. For a Lebanese take on classic Middle Easter fare, I picked up Rose Water & Orange Blossoms by food writer and blogger Maureen Abood. The dishes are interspersed with heartwarming, engaging anecdotes and plenty of tips, serving suggestions and even ingredient brand names, which can be helpful when shopping unfamiliar international aisles.

This accessible text covers the spectrum of Lebanese cooking from avocado tabbouleh to zaatar. Straightforward and well written, most of her recipes are weeknight friendly, yet special enough to serve guests. With that in mind, I decided to prepare a classic meat and rice dish called hushweh that Abood described as “perhaps the most beloved Lebanese dish that my family has ever served anyone. Its buttery goodness will bring peace and calm in the face of adversity, and will soothe a weary soul.” Sold!

The recipe is made in three parts. The buttered nuts took just moments to prepare, and the roasted chicken, though delicious on its own and as good as any I’ve ever prepared, can be easily substituted with a store-bought rotisserie chicken (with only a 5-pound bird available to me, it took almost 90 minutes to roast).

The predominant flavor of comforting dish is butter scented with cinnamon. I’m not sure it would feed 12 as a main, but with an accompanying vegetable (sauteed spinach is perfect) and the suggested salad, pita and hummus, it would be plenty. While buttery and satisfying, I wanted to boost the flavor profile of the dish. I reheated my leftovers in a skillet, which yielded some nice crunchy bits. I finished it with a hefty dose of lemon juice to balance the richness, plus a large handful of chopped fresh parsley and a touch of fresh mint, which not only gave the entree a lighter touch, but also added a much-needed splash of color to the beige dish.

The Rundown
Skill level: Though perfect for an inexperienced cook, anyone will appreciate Abood’s detailed instruction and her inviting approach to simply complex recipes.
This book is for: If you’re looking for entry into the world of Middle Eastern cuisine, ingredients and menus, this book covers all the bases and then some.
Other recipes to try: Zaatar-roasted tomato crostini with labneh, fried kibbe with mint butter, sticky date cake with warm orange blossom-caramel sauce.
The verdict: Check back next week when Rose Water and Orange Blossoms takes on Zahav.




Hushweh (Chicken Rice Pilaf with Butter Toasted Almonds)
12 servings

For the chicken:
1 (3- to 4-lb./1.35 to 1.8 kg.) free-range chicken
1 large yellow onion, quartered
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
½ tsp. paprika
½ tsp. granulated garlic powder
½ tsp. kosher salt
Few grinds of black pepper

For the rice:
4 Tbsp. salted butter, divided
1 lb./450 g. ground beef chuck or lamb
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. Kosher salt
Few grinds of black pepper
1 cup/190 g. parboiled long-grain white rice (such as Uncle Ben’s)
2 cups/475 ml chicken broth
1 cinnamon stick
¾ cup/110 g. Butter Toasted Almonds (recipe follows)

• Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
• Pat the chicken dry. Place it in a large roasting pan. Stuff the cavity with the onion. Rub a couple of tablespoons of oil evenly over the skin and season the chicken all over lightly with paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
• Roast the chicken until the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced and the meat reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees in the thigh on an instant read thermometer, about 1 hour. Baste the chicken every 15 minutes with its juices while it roasts.
• Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a 4-quart Dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat. Add the ground beef and season it with the ground cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Cook the meat, stirring constantly and using a metal spoon to crumble it into small pieces until no trace of pink remains, about 5 minutes.
• Stir the rice into the meat until it is completely coated with its juices. Pour in the broth and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, tuck in the cinnamon stick, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until all of the broth is absorbed.
• Transfer the roasted chicken to a cutting board and when it is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin. Shred the chicken into 1-inch pieces.
• Remove the cinnamon stick and add the chicken, ½ cup of the toasted nuts, and the remaining 3 tablespoons butter to the hot rice mixture, stirring to combine. Taste and add more salt, if needed. Sprinkle with the remaining nuts and serve immediately.

Butter Toasted Pine Nuts and Almonds
½ Tbsp. salted butter
1 cup/110 g. slivered almonds or whole pine nuts
Fine sea salt, to taste

• Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the nuts and reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir the nuts to coat them with the butter and continue stirring constantly until the nuts are golden brown. Keep a close watch over the nuts; they can burn quickly once they begin to brown.
• Transfer the nuts to a bowl while they are still warm and salt them lightly. When they have cooled to room temperature, store the nuts in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a month or in the freezer for up to one year.

Reprinted with permission from Running Press

By the Book: Suzanne Husseini’s Herb- and Pistachio-Crusted Rack of Lamb and Arugula and Tomato Salad

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013



Suzanne Husseini’s cookbook Modern Flavors of Arabia: Recipes and Memories From My Middle Eastern Kitchen is so fun to page through. From the cover to the photos of the dishes to even the distinct plates and glassware, each page is exotic and beautiful. Unfortunately, the recipes I chose did not turn out so pretty.




I’m not an expert cook. I wouldn’t even go as far as to say advanced. Normally, if a dish doesn’t work, I, without question, blame myself for doing something stupid. But for this recipe, I painstakingly followed every step. No shortcuts. No substitutions. No inserting my own “creative flair.” The lamb was pricey, and the picture of the dish looked delicious. I didn’t want to risk messing it up.




I questioned the amount of butter the recipe called for. A whole stick for a crust applied to just two racks of lamb seemed like an awful lot. But after triple-checking that a ½ cup really did equal one stick, I went ahead.




I only applied half the herb and nut mixture on the lamb (freezing the rest), and it still came out soggy. So I kept the lamb in the oven a little longer, hoping it would firm up. But I didn’t want to overcook the meat and truly ruin the dish, so I ended up eating it with a goopy, not crusty crust. Although it tasted delicious (reminding me of an Arabian take on chimichurri), the dish looked fairly unappetizing, and the texture was way off.




As recommended by Husseini, I paired the lamb with a very simple arugula salad. I was certain nothing could go wrong.




But somehow the salad was bad, too! The culprit? Sumac. In the past, I made a tomato salad with sumac, and it was awesome. But that recipe, which served six, only called for two teaspoons of sumac. This recipe, which was supposed to serve four, called for two tablespoons. I knew this amount sounded suspect, so once again, I triple-checked the recipe, but I went ahead, trusting Husseini over my amateur self. The recipe also didn’t specify how much olive oil to use, which I assumed was just enough to pour over four servings of the salad. As I suspected, instead of adding a nice touch of tart, the sumac made the dressing sour, grainy, and well, gross.




Although both my recipes seemed pretty off as far as proportions, I’m not ready to throw this book out the window quite yet. It’s just too pretty. However, I guess the lesson learned here is even if you aren’t the best cook, sometimes your instincts really are best.


Herb- and Pistachio-Crusted Rack of Lamb
4 servings

2 racks of lamb (cleaned, French-trimmed and patted dry)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 cup fresh parsley
½ cup fresh cilantro
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. paprika
6 cloves garlic, mashed
Zest 1 lemon
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (white bread, crusts removed)
1 cup pistachios, ground but not too fine

• Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
• Rub the lamb all over with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
• Put the racks on a baking pan with the meat side up and roast for 15 minutes.
• Remove to cool, but leave the oven on and lower the temperature to 350 degrees.
• In a food processor, place the butter, parsley, cilantro, allspice, paprika, garlic and lemon zest and pulse a couple of times. Then add the breadcrumbs and pistachios and continue to pulse to incorporate, ensuring that it remains coarse.
• Spoon the herb and nut mixture on top of the lamb, meat side up, and, using your hands, pat down to stick.
• Return the lamb racks to the oven and finish roasting for another 15 minutes. Remove and cover loosely with foil and leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Arugula and Tomato Salad
4 servings

Juice 1 lemon
2 Tbsp. sumac
Extra-virgin olive oil
4 handfuls arugula leaves, washed and drained
20 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
2 Lebanese or Japanese cucumbers, seeds removed, sliced
1 small red onion, sliced thinly
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Pomegranate molasses

• Make the dressing by combining the lemon juice, sumac and olive oil.
• Place the arugula leaves in a salad bowl, and add the tomatoes, cucumbers and onion.
• Pour on the dressing, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Lastly, drizzle on some pomegranate molasses. Serve immediately.

Reprinted with permission from Random House.

What’s the worst dish you’ve made from a recipe? Who was at fault: you or the recipe’s creator? Tell us about it in the comments section below for a chance to win a copy of Modern Flavors of Arabia by Suzanne Husseini. We’ll announce the winner in next week’s By the Book column.

And now, we’d like to congratulate Pari, whose comment on last week’s By the Book has won a copy of The Lebanese Kitchen by Salma Hage.  Pari, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew.



By the Book: Salma Hage’s Butternut Squash Stew

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013



The Lebanese Kitchen is the authority on Lebanese food, and it’s got the heft to prove it. This weighty tome is one part cookbook and one part Lebanese culinary encyclopedia. The book’s brief introduction shares the story of home cook Salma Hage’s childhood spent on a farm in Lebanon and details about her time spent cooking for her family and working in catering. She also highlights the key staples of a Lebanese pantry and garden (nuts, seeds, fruits, spices, grains, legumes, etc.), and the multiple components of a typical Lebanese meal, from meze to mains to a final cup of coffee – never lightened with cream.

Hage is a no-nonsense instructor. There are no cutesy anecdotes, no memories of an uncle or grandmother to preface dishes. Only a handful of photos punctuate the book’s 500 recipes. Hage has no time for stories or pictures; she’s too busy teaching you seven variations of hummus, four different baklavas, dozens of kofte, kibbe, stews, roasts and more. Ever wanted to make your own pita bread, yogurt or zaatar blend? Hage has the answer.

Her butternut squash stew was a delicious dish of seasonal flavors. One of my favorite aspects of Middle Eastern and North African cooking is the surprising sweet-savory combinations. The stew marries earthy mushrooms and tomatoes with sweet squash, mild yellow curry and a fat cinnamon stick.




This largely hands-off recipe was simple to follow. Onions and garlic sweated together before getting a dusting of sweet curry powder.




Golden butternut squash, vibrant carrots and the last of the garden’s tomatoes tumbled into the pan, and the whole mélange took a swim in vegetable stock (I used chicken broth, as it was on hand.) for 30 minutes.




I carefully added mushrooms and chickpeas to the brimming pan. Ten minutes later, the squash was buttery soft and had just started to break down, thickening the dish without adding fats or flour. The chickpeas were still firm enough to pop in my mouth, and the mushrooms added chew to a stew that otherwise would have had the texture of baby food. It was warm, hearty and just happened to pair perfectly with an O’Fallon Pumpkin Ale – as did the second bowl with another brew.




Salma Hage’s Butternut Squash Stew
4 to 6 Servings

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp. curry powder
1 carrot, sliced
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into large cubes
14 oz. chopped tomatoes
Generous 2 cups vegetable stock
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 cinnamon stick
3 ¾ cups crimini mushrooms, quartered
14 oz. canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro (I used parsley.)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

• Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion and garlic and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened.
• Stir in the curry powder and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until it releases its aroma.
• Add the carrot and butternut squash, increase the heat to medium, and stir well so that the vegetables are coated with curry powder and onion, then add the tomatoes, stock, tomato paste and cinnamon stick.
• Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes until the squash is nearly tender.
• Stir in the mushrooms and chickpeas and cook for another 10 minutes.
• Season to taste with salt and pepper, remove from heat, and serve immediately with chopped cilantro.

Reprinted with permission from Phaidon. 

What’s your favorite fall dish to pair with a pumpkin ale or Oktoberfest brew? Tell us about it in the comments section below for a chance to win a copy of The Lebanese Kitchen by Salma Hage. We’ll announce the winner in next week’s By the Book column.

And now, we’d like to congratulate Seema, whose comment on last week’s By the Book has won a copy of Malouf by Greg and Lucy Malouf. Seema, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew.



By the Book: Einat Admony’s Harissa and Honey Hot Wings and Tangy Tabbouleh

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013



Balaboosta: Bold Mediterranean Recipes to Feed the People You Love from Einat Admony is the first book by the Israeli chef. She’s worked in the kitchen for many fine-dining restaurants, including Bolo (which I loved), Danube and Tabla, but her first restaurant, Taïm, is anything but fine dining. It’s a hole in the wall where she serves dishes like falafel and hummus,  but her experience in fine-dining kitchens makes her everyday food special. You can see that in the book’s recipes, too, which is why it was so fun to use.




These recipes are straightforward and unfussy. I tried out her honey harissa hot wings because our photographer Greg Rannells dropped off some homemade harissa to our office (He drops off gifts periodically. So nice!). The prep was a quick marinade of honey, olive oil, salt, harissa and lime juice whisked together and poured over the wings for an hour or overnight. I just let them marinade for three hours. The recipe recommends grilling them, but Admony provides a baking alternative I appreciated. The wings turned out delicious: spicy, sticky and sweet with a burnished skin from all that honey.




I also tested her Tangy Tabbouleh, which was refreshing. I normally don’t like tabbouleh because it tends to be parsley-heavy, and honestly, parsley alone is too grassy. This version has parsley, but it also has cilantro, scallions and mint for a bright salad of herbs enhanced by a lemony zing.




Harissa and Honey Hot Wings
4 to 6 Servings

½ cup honey
1/3 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp. World’s Best Harissa (Recipe follows. You can also used your favorite store-bought harissa.)
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
3 lbs. chicken wings

• Whisk together all the ingredients except the chicken wings. Taste the marinade, and if you can handle a little more kick, add another dollop of harissa.
• Dry the chicken with paper towels, then coat thoroughly in the harissa and honey mixture. Allow the meat to marinate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
• Prepare a grill and cook the wings over a low flame for 15 to 20 minutes, flipping them over halfway through the cooking time. If you don’t have access to a grill, bake the chicken wings in the oven at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

World’s Best Harissa
Makes about 2 ½ cups
10 garlic cloves
1 large roasted red bell pepper, peeled, cored, and seeded
1 ¼ cups canola oil, divided
¼ cup tomato paste
½ cup ground cumin
1/3 cup cayenne
1/3 cup sweet Hungarian paprika
¼ cup ground caraway
2 Tbsp. kosher salt

• Combine the garlic, bell pepper, 1 cup oil and the tomato paste in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is almost pureed.
• Add the cumin, cayenne, paprika, caraway and salt. Slowly drizzle in the remaining ¼ cup oil while the machine is running. Keep processing until the harissa is completely pureed, and all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
• Store the harissa in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 months.

Tangy Tabbouleh
6 to 8 Servings

1 cup medium bulgur
1 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 cup cilantro, finely chopped
4 scallions, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh mint, finely chopped
1 cup diced tomatoes
Zest of 2 lemons
¼ cup lemon juice
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. kosher salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

• Pour enough hot water over the bulgur just to cover it and soak for 10 minutes. The bulgur will absorb most of the water, and it should have a slight crunch when you bite into one of the grains.
• Meanwhile, toss together the remaining ingredients in a very large bowl. Add the bulgur and mix thoroughly. Allow the salad to soak in all the wonderful tangy flavors for 30 minutes before serving.

Taïm may be a hole in the wall, but it serves up great food. What is your favorite St. Louis hole in the wall and why? Tell us about it in the comments section below for a chance to win a copy of Balaboosta by Einat Admony. We’ll announce the winner in next week’s By the Book column.

And now, we’d like to congratulate Lauren, whose comment on last week’s By the Book has won a copy of Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. Lauren, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew.

Meatless Monday: Ranoush’s Meza

Monday, September 2nd, 2013



It’s not often vegetarians and meat-lovers can dine in harmony at one restaurant; someone always gets the dinky section of the menu. But at Ranoush, traditional Syrian meatless dishes get as much love as kababs and grilled meats. Entrees are available, but diners can easily make a meal by sharing three of the dozen or so hot and cold meza.

These small plates, available at the Kirkwood and U. City locations, can easily sate a hungry appetite. Crisp, golf-ball sized falafel yields to a verdant, moist center of spiced ground chickpeas. Cheese fatayer – Halloumi cheese wrapped in pastry and fried – oozes when you first slice into this little pie. And use fresh pita to scoop up refreshing, cool baba ghanoush to cut through some of the heavy fried goodness. Oh, and be sure to ask for a side of Ranoush’s garlic mayonnaise to dip, well, everything. No sacrifices here.



Keep up with one or all of your favorite Sauce Magazine columns
Conceived and created by Bent Mind Creative Group, LLC 1999-2018, Bent Mind Creative Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Sauce Magazine 1820 Chouteau Ave. St. Louis, Missouri 63103.
PH: 314-772-8004 FAX: 314-241-8004