Saturday, January 10, 2009

Fruit Dartoi with home made Marzipan

Pear Dartoi with home made marzipan
I don't have a real recipe for Dartoi, it consist of puff pastry , marzipan and fresh fruits.
Ingredients I use for the recipe
1 pound either home made puff pastry or store bought
5-8 oz of marzipan ( I prepare my own)
4 large rip peaches or 4 sweet pears or 2 of each(it will be perfect with sweet apricots)
Demamara sugar for sprinkling
egg wash
take the puff pastry from the freezer and leave it in the fridge for couple of hours, the pastry should be cold , if it starts getting warm return it to the freezer for couple of minutes, the butter cannot melt when you are working with it. you will have hard time shaping it.
Cut each sheet of puff pastry into four equal pieces or you can cut them in half to make two rectangular, the design is up to you. divide the marzipan into four equal pieces, put one piece in the center of each dough (if you are making two large rectangular cut them in half)
make sure the marzipan sits in the centre of the dough and at least 1/2 inch away from the border, peel the fruit and cut in half, you can slice the fruit into section or keep it whole. Lay the fruit on top of the marzipan , brush the sides with egg wash. take the second piece of dough, fold it in half, and using the back of a knife make lines from the folded centre leaving a thick border
(this will enable the dough to breath and gives a nice design)
see the picture. cover the first dough with the second piece. Again using the back of the knife press the edges together to seal, and at the same time makes a border, brush with egg wash.
sprinkle with the sugar and bake in a warm oven (425F) until golden brown. Serve warm
Fruit Dartoi are getting egg wash

Peach & Pear Dartoi

Note: if you are trying another kind of fruit please let me know...

I love apricots but not lucky to have ripe sweet apricots in North Bay....

Friday, January 9, 2009

Eggplant goes all the way to the sweet aisle

Do you know that we turn the eggplants to Candy ??????????
I bet you did not know!!!!!

In Lebanon we do make nice dessert out of small light purple eggplants.

I was not lucky to find the right eggplant at the stores here in North Bay What I found a small dark baby eggplants they call them Indian eggplants , I used in my recipe , they have a sharp taste, but turned very nice and cute when they cooked in syrup.
1 kilo of small purple eggplants
½ cup of lime powder (can be purchased from building supply stores)
8 cups of sugar
4 ½ cups of water
Juice of 1 lemon
20 whole cloves
Blanched almonds

Dilute the lime powder in a big pot of water, stirring till dissolved, then leave it to for 30-40 minutes to rest and the lime sink to the bottom of the pot.
Very carefully carry the pot and empty the water in another large bowl and without shaking the pot to stir the bottom. If you have half a cup of water or more left in the bottom with the lime just get rid of them, but don’t throw them in your sink, with paper towel collect the lime water, and put it in a bag full of papers or old magazines and throw in your cabbage, the lime powder if it dries will block your sink and then you will end up with a big headache and need to change the sink and pipes.

Peel your eggplants and soak them in the diluted lime water overnight.
The second day wash the eggplants several times in clean water , till it runs clear, and then dry them on a towel. Using a sharp knife open a small slit on one side and stuff with a blanched almond. Continue with the rest.
In a heavy stainless steel pot, dissolve the sugar and the water and cloves. When the syrup boils for 7 minutes add the eggplants and cook for 30 -35 minutes stirring regularly so they don’t stick, add the lemon juice and keep stirring, till the eggplants soak almost all the syrup and they become translucent and crunchy.

Note: some recipes ask for 8 cups of sugar and 8 cups of water and one kilo of glucose. After you boil the sugar and water for 7 minutes and you add the fruit and you cook for 30-35 minutes you add the lemon juice, stir and add the glucose and continue cooking for another 30-35 minutes till the fruit soaks the syrup and become translucent.

MSA-KA-AAH - Eggplant with onions and Tomatoes, Imam Bayildi

Msakaah - Imam Bayildi

a simple tasty meal, can be prepared in less than 30 minutes .

1 kg (32 oz) eggplants,(if they are big half peeled and thickly cut lengthwise if they are long a thin, peeled leaving some skin on for color -soak eggplant in salt water)
1 kg (32 oz) tomatoes, peeled and sliced
1 cup of dried chickpeas, cooked or canned , washed and drained
2 big onions quartered and sliced into rings
10 cloves garlic,
1 fresh red or green chili (optional) or
dash or chili powder
vegetable oil for frying (optional to fry eggplants) or
2 tablespoons of olive oil as a healthy option

Sprinkle salt over eggplant slices. soak in water , then squeeze well and dry on a paper towel. Fry eggplants in vegetable oil till golden brown and drain on paper towels.Fry onion rings until soft.
for healthy option brush your eggplants with on tablespoon of olive oil and bake in a hot oven at 425 F till golden brown, they take around 15-20 minutes.

in a thick pot, add the other tbsp of o.oil and the onions and cook on low to caramelize, and when the color starts to change add the whole garlic and just stir together.

Add tomatoes, chickpeas, chili, salt . Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, add fried eggplants. Cover pot, cook on moderate heat for 15-20 minutes.
This can be served at room temperature as a side dish, or a vegan main course .
in Lebanon we serve it with fresh pita bread, and fresh sliced onions

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Tfadalou - Come join us................

Indoor BBQ Kabab Batinjan

Couple of days ago we were craving a BBQ meal; the weather was stormy with 80 km strong winds and heavy snow. It was not convenient at all to do outdoor BBQ.

I prepared my ground pounded beef (usually we use ground lamb) added salt, black pepper, and a dash of Allepo red pepper chili which is powerful (usually the meat turns red from the Allepo pepper they add) I added a tsp of paprika instead and let the meat marinate with the spice for an hour to get a good flavour.

Prepare your grill, cut your vegetables, you can quarter the onions, cube some green peppers, quarter some fresh tomatoes, in advance you slice your Italian eggplant and soak it in salted water, then drain and squeeze any juice, and this will discard any bitter taste.
Take a small piece of the meat turn it into a ball and skewer between a piece of eggplant and onion and continue, with the rest.
If you are stuck with a bad weather like me and you need to BBQ indoors make sure the fan is on and a slight opening of a window is needed to circulate the air.
When the skewers are well cooked I empty them in a Pyrex casserole and put them in a warm oven to keep them hot, after I finish the meat and veggies I add my tomatoes as they don’t take more than couple of minutes, then I add the tomatoes on top and leave them in the oven for 10-15 minutes so everything is tender and cooked all the way through, serve on pita with tahini sauce or garlic sauce.


Lebanese Eggplant Dip - Mtabal Batinjan (Baba Ghanouj)


Yield: 4 hearty servings

2 1-pound eggplants (450g each)
1/2 pound (225g) tomatoes, chopped
1/4 pound (115g) cremini or button mushrooms, sliced
1 cup (240 ml) chopped onions
4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground Lebanese spice mix
Freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup (160 ml) walnuts
1 6-ounce (170g) can tomato paste
3 heaping tablespoons capers, well drained
2 to 3 small ripe tomatoes, sliced

Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise, slicing through the stem end. Using a curved, serrated grapefruit knife, scoop out the flesh, leaving a 1/4-inch (.5 cm) thick shell, and coarsely chop the flesh. Put the chopped eggplant into a large, deep skillet or flat bottom wok.
Rub the inside of the eggplant shells with a small amount of olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Place the eggplant shells under the broiler and broil them 3 inches (7.5 cm) from the heat source for 5 to 10 minutes, until fork tender. Watch carefully to prevent burning. Remove the eggplant shells from the broiler and set them aside.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (Gas Mark 5). Add the chopped tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, garlic, olive oil, salt, cinnamon, and pepper to the skillet with the chopped eggplant, and cook and stir for 7 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
Coarsely grind the walnuts in a nutmill and add them to the skillet along with the tomato paste and capers. Mix well.
Fill the eggplant shells with the vegetable mixture and top with tomato slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake, uncovered, for 25 to 35 minutes. .

Eggplant (Aubergines) – BA-TIN-JAN

The delectable, yet mystical eggplant is known by many names, some quite unflattering. When Europeans first encountered the fruit, it had gained an intimidating reputation with its "mad apple" label. Even after the eggplant developed secure Mediterranean roots, it was still called mala insana, meaning "bad egg, mad apple, or apple of madness." Lifting its perplexing veil, the eggplant reveals its family members are to blame.

The Western or Globe Eggplant, with its plump, elongated pear shape and shiny deep purple color this variety is ideal for stuffing, sautéing, baking, and grilling

Japanese eggplant is long and slender, about 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) in length and about 1 1/2-inches (3.5 cm) in diameter. Its color is usually deep purple but can sometimes be a little lighter purple with greenish patches. This variety is frequently stir-fried, grilled, sautéed, and even pickled.

Chinese eggplant is also long and slender but is distinguished by its brilliant violet color and tender skin. Its flavour is sweet, making it ideal for stir-frying and grilling.

Italian Eggplant is small and round with white flesh and striking violet streaks and markings. This variety is unique because it retains its shape when cooked and is good for baking, sautéing, and grilling.

Another Italian variety, Listada de Gandia, is long and oval, and distinguished by its purple and white stripes. The skin may be slightly bitter but the flesh is firm and flavorful. It can be used for grilling, sautéing, baking, and stir-frying

Eggplant Cuisine The eggplant touched many lands along its centuries-long sojourn. Everywhere it traveled, the revered fruit became infused into the cuisines -- China, India, Italy, France, the Middle East, Persia, Russia, the United States, Greece, and Turkey.
Baingan Bharta is a favorite Indian curry made by first roasting the eggplants until very soft. The flesh is scraped from the skin and combined with tomatoes, onions, and garlic, then slowly cooked with fresh and dried coriander, cumin, turmeric, and other spices until thickened and richly flavoured.
Europeans like to scoop out the flesh of the eggplant leaving the uncooked rind. They roast it and mash it with salt, pepper, and butter. Then they spoon the mixture back into the rind, and bake it.

In Turkey, eggplant cubes are threaded onto shish kebab (kabab Batinjan)skewers along with chunks of lamb. Another beloved dish of this region is Imam Bayildi, an onion and tomato stuffed eggplant seasoned with garlic and olive oil. The country is so enamored with eggplant; the Turks claim to have 40 different ways to prepare it, including "the poor man's caviar," a roasted, mashed eggplant seasoned with onions, tomatoes, lemon juice, and salt.
Italians serve Eggplant Parmigiano as their entrée and often begin their meal with an appetizer of Caponata, a robust mixture of sautéed bite-sized eggplant cubes, capers, chopped green olives, onions, pine nuts, and bell peppers in olive oil and red wine vinegar.
In France eggplant becomes Ratatouille, a delicious vegetable stew that includes zucchini, bell peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and herbal seasonings.
The Chinese cut the long, slender purple wonders into irregular shapes and stir-fry them with basil, or prepare the eggplant in a spicy Szechuan style.
A favorite of Middle Eastern cooks is Baba Ghanouj, an appetizer that combines roasted eggplant with sesame tahini, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt.

Eggplants Medical benefits:
While some practitioners of Eastern medicine may consider eggplant beneficial in treating uterine tumours, they also recommend that people with loose stools avoid the fruit.
For people with arthritis and related problems of the bones and joints, some physicians suggest patients eliminate foods of the nightshade family. Because this food group contains solanine, a calcium inhibitor, consuming it can further enhance mineral imbalance and add to joint pain and swelling. Doctors suggest eliminating nightshade vegetables from the diet for six weeks, then adding them back one at a time to see if the body is able to tolerate them.
Members of the nightshade family include eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, and all peppers with the exception of black pepper. These foods contain a toxin called solanine, an alkaloid that may cause diarrheal, heart failure, headache, and vomiting in some sensitive people.
For people who tolerate eggplant well, the medicinal benefits are many. Eating the fruit can reduce swelling, clear stagnant blood, reduce bleeding, comfort bleeding hemorrhoids, and treat dysentery.
Eggplant's ample bioflavonoid may be beneficial in preventing strokes and hemorrhages. The fruit contains the phytochemical monoterpene, an antioxidant helpful in preventing heart disease and cancer. The National Cancer Institute has been examining vegetables of the nightshade family, especially eggplant, to see if they may inhibit the production of steroidal hormones that encourage tumor growth. Eggplant may also prevent the oxidation of cells that leads to cancer growth.
For scorpion bites, apply raw eggplant directly on the affected area. For frostbite, prepare a tea of eggplant, bring it to room temperature, and apply a compress to affected areas.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

BHARAT - Middle Eastern Spice Mix

I thought it will be wise to add recipes for the spice mix of each country I am talking and sharing their food with you, and we start with the Lebanese Spice Mix.

I remember since I was a child my mother, used to buy her spices whole in bulk, she will wait for a hot sunny days to dry her spices in the sun, and if she is not satisfied, she will toast them in the oven for 5-8 minutes on low, just to take out any humidity. The warm spices will be easier to grind very finely in the Jorn and Mdakah (mortar and pestle). She will work on them for couple of hours until they are finely grind (with our help) using a fine strainer to make sure that they turned to a fine powder. These days finding an electric spice machine is very easy, and almost at any supermarket.
The flavour of home made spices worth every effort.
This recipe shows you how to use your dried rosebuds, if you have a rose bush in your garden, You can pick the fresh buds, before they bloom, wash them and dry them in the sun and then add them to your spice mix. The Lebanese use the rose buds to prepare rose jam, and our famous distilled Rose Water, for all Middle Eastern Desserts and sweets, and also a refreshing drink. The roses give a sweet nice flavor to your spices.

Mom's Lebanese Seven Spices Mix

200 gm whole black pepper
200 gm whole all spice
200 gm dried rose petals
100 gm cinnamon sticks
75 gm  whole cloves
75 gm whole nutmeg
75 gm cardamom whole (only the seeds inside the pods)
put the spices on a clean try and let them toast in the sun for couple of days before grounding them.
If you are very careful you can toast them on top of the stove making sure they are toasting and not burning. 

Lebanese Blend II

¨ 4 whole nutmegs
¨ 4 whole mace
¨ 8 sticks of cinnamon
¨ 1 1/2 tbsp white peppercorns corns
¨ 20 allspice corns
¨ 12 cloves corn
¨ 12 cardamom pods (optional)
¨ 12 -15 dried rosebuds
¨ 11/2 tbsp black peppercorn

Moroccan Blend

¨ 4 whole nutmegs
¨ 10 dried rosebuds
¨ 12 cinnamon sticks
¨ 12 blades mace
¨ 1 tsp aniseed
¨ 8 pieces turmeric (or 2tbsp)
¨ 2 small pieces orrisroot
¨ 2 dried cayenne peppers
¨ ½ tsp lavender
¨ 1 tbsp white peppercorns
¨ 2 pieces galingale
¨ 2 tbsp whole ginger root
¨ 6 cloves
¨ 24 allspice berries
¨ 20 white or green cardamom pods
¨ 4 black cardamom pods

Middle Eastern Blend - used in any Middle Eastern recipe
¨ ½ oz allspice berries
¨ 1 oz black peppercorns
¨ ½ ox galingale
¨ ½ oz mace
¨ 1 ½ whole nutmeg
¨ 10 cardamom pods
¨ 1 ½ oz dried gingerroot
¨ ½ oz cinnamon sticks
¨ ¼ ox turmeric
¨ 3 dried rosebuds
¨ 1 clove

Place the above ingredients from either recipe in a spice machine and blend till its fine.
Place in an airtight container or Mason jar. And try always to use fresh spices; it makes lots of difference in flavoring the food you are cooking.

Note: The recipes are based on flavours you prefer, and if you prefer one more than the other, you can adjust it, but make sure keeping the balance, to achieve the right flavor in your food.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Story of a drunken chicken

A Beer Marinated Chicken with home made Roasted Potatoes

Do you think I taned enough or I need more!!!!

Marinating the meat with beer is not something new in Lebanon, and there are many recipes which call for marinating the meat overnight in beer or wine. I used to prepare chicken pieces (thighs and breasts) and marinate them in beer for 24 hours, the next day I take them out into a baking dish and bake them in the oven and something grill them on a charcoal grill, they come out tender and juicy with lots of flavours.

What is new though is the chicken BBQ Beer Rack Stand (you can find it at any supermarket in the BBQ section of the store for 8-10 dollars)
You insert a can of beer in the rack and sit the chicken over the beer and you cook it either on the BBQ or even in the oven.

To me the time which takes the chicken to cook is not enough to develop the flavours or the juiciness I am after, so I tried my recipe using a Lebanese method with North American technology and the results was superb juicy tender chicken inside, and golden brown color outside.

1 air chilled chicken
¼ cup BBQ Dry Rub (I do my own blend)
Can of beer (with mild flavour)
Lucky me I was in a beer bath for over 8 hours.

The day before, wash the chicken well and trim the extra fat. Put the chicken inside a freezer bag inside another deep bowl, empty a can of beer over it in the bag, and let the chicken marinate in the beer for overnight up to 12 hours, making sure you turn it around couple of times. Save your empty can you will need it for the second day.

After the bath, I have some makeup on and ready for the Tan

Here is the trick:
The second day, take the chicken out of the bag, and dry it well with paper towel, put it aside, then carefully empty the beer in the bag back in the can and insert it inside the BBQ stand. Prepare you dry rub, and sprinkle it generously all over the chicken and rubbing with your fingers making sure all is quoted, insert the chicken over the beer rack, and place the rack inside another tray to catch any juice. You can either BBQ on the grill or in a preheated oven at 350F for 90 minutes or until the meat thermometer register 180 degree.
The results are a juicy tender chicken with golden color, and you will not taste the flavour of the alcohol.