Friday, February 20, 2009

Visit to the Number One Tourist Destination for 2009

A Visit to the Number One Tourist Destination for 2009 ...

Well the Airline Tickets and Passports are ready; you and I are travelling to the No. one travel destination for 2009 according to the New York Times. It's not a short trip; we are crossing the Atlantic Ocean. I know your fear and what you are thinking: how can you arrange such a long trip and be in the air and trust the airline companies???? Well we have to trust in God, and have faith that we are going to enjoy a nice vacation, thank the captain and the flight crew for a nice and smooth trip.

We are landing in a beautiful place, with nice blue beaches awaiting us, and high White Mountains welcoming us as soon as the flight enters the Lebanese Sky.....

Welcome to Lebanon... Land of Milk and Honey , as the Bible Described it.

Lebnan, Le-b-nan that means the White Mountain, once called "The pearl of the Middle East,” is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, Israel, and Syria. At one time or another Assyrians, Babylonians,
Persians,Greeks, Arabs, European Crusaders, Ottomans, and French all ruled and had influence over the land and its cuisine. The Cuisine of this Ancient Land is diverse and steeped in history; Lebanon is a culinary and cultural Crossroads. Lebanon is located on the Eastern most shore of the Mediterranean in the Fertile Crescent, where Western Civilization is said to have begun. Both the Eastern and Western influences in its cookery are apparent. It combines the sophistication of European Cuisine with the excitement of Eastern Spices.

Here are some information about Lebanon:

1 -Lebanon is only 10,452 km sq
2 -Lebanon has 18 religious communities
3 - It has 40 newspapers
4 -it has 42 universities
5- It has over 100 banks. (that is banks and not branches )
6- There's 1 doctor per 10 people in Lebanon (In Europe & America , there's 1 doctor per 100 people).
7- The name LEBANON appears 75 times in the Old Testament.
8- The name CEDAR (Lebanon 's tree) appears 75 times too in the Old Testament!
9- Beirut was destroyed and rebuilt 9 times (this is why it's compared to The Phoenix).
10-There's 4 Million Lebanese in Lebanon, and there's around 15 Million Lebanese around the world
11-Lebanon, the country, was occupied by over 16 countries: (Egyptians-Hittites-Assyrians- Babylonians- Persians- Alexander the greats Army- the Roman Empire Byzantine- the Arabian Peninsula-The Crusaders- the Ottoman Empire- Britain-France- Israel- Syria)
12-Byblos (city in Lebanon) is the oldest, continuously living city in the world.
13-Lebanon 's name has been around for 4,000 yrs non- stop (it's the oldest country/ nation's name in the world!)
14-Lebanon is the only Asian Country that doesn't have a desert.
15-There are 15 rivers in Lebanon (all of them coming from its own mountains).
16-Lebanon is one of the most populated countries in its archeological sites, in the world!
17-The first alphabet was created in Byblos (city in Lebanon).
18-The only remaining temple of Jupiter (the main Roman God) is in Baalbeck, Lebanon (The City of the Sun).
19-The name of BYBLOS comes from the BIBLE!
20-Lebanon is the Country that has the most books written about it.
21-Lebanon is the only non-dictatorial country in the Arab world (Yes, we do have a President!)
22-Jesus Christ made his 1st miracle in Lebanon, in Qana (the miracle of turning water into wine).
23-The Phoenicians (Original People of Lebanon) built the 1st boat(using the Cedar Wood) and they were the first to sail ever!
24- The Phoenicians reached America long before Christopher Columbus did.
25- 1st law school in the world was built in Lebanon, in Downtown Beirut.
26-People say that the Cedars were planted by God's Own Hands (This is why they're called 'The Cedars of God', and this is why Lebanon is called 'God's Country on Earth

Beirut at Night

Byblos At Night

Jounieh At Night

Downtown Beirut

Downtown Beirut

Another view of my City Beirut

My City Beirut Um Al Dunia

Gulf of Jounieh with the Basilic

City of Jbeil - Byblos the oldest City in the world

from this Place the Alphabets were Created

Jupiter Temple the only one in the world survived the time in Baalback

Ruines of Baalbeck at night - Bekaa (my mom's Village)

Kefraya Village a Wine Village in Bekaa

Lebanese Wine

Zahle - The capital of the Bekaa - Bekaa Valley is famous for its wine and nice produce 70 % of Lebanon's produce comes from Bekaa
(white mountaines are surrounding the valley )

St. Antonio's Monestery - Kanoubeen Valley

Fakra Village

Cedars of the Lord - in Cedars

Cedars of the Lord in the Cedars

Cedars of Barouk Village

The Phoenician Map and where there Kingdom stretched around the Mediterranean Sea, All the areas with red are Phoenician Cities . The Lebanese Cities are circling around the Mediterranean

Thursday, February 19, 2009


The Landry's Are Happy to Invite You
To A Mardi Gras Party
Thursday, FEB 19, 2009

Menu including dessert

Appetizers: Tabbouleh, Hummus, Goat cheese balls, Brie cheese in croissant, black olive tapenade, and home made pickles (pearl onions, dill pickles and antipasto) home made bread
brie stuffed in croissant dough

Black Olive Tapenade

Entrée: Fried Kibbee Balls, Seafood Pasta

Desserts: light Sherry Pavlovas with home made vanilla ice cream or berry sorbets with tropical fruits.

Goat Cheese balls

Shrimp & Sea Scallops Pasta

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Lebanese Baklawa - Part II

Traditional Baklawa recipe
Including hidden tricks with simple direction to follow


1 pound of phyllo pastry sheets

4 cups of mixed whole nuts (I use walnuts, almonds and cashews and pick over them, from any broken shells, then chop them in a food processor, keeping some coarser than others)

1 cup - 2 cups clarified butter (on a very low heat warm the butter and start skimming the top to end up with a nice clear pure butter 1 pound of unsalted butter makes one cup of clarified butter.Don’t scrap the bottom)

1/4 cup of sugar

2 tbsp each rose water and orange blossom

1/3 cup of finely chopped pistachios for decoration (optional)

syrup = 3 cups of sugar, 1 3/4 cup water,1/2 of fresh lemon squeezed, 1/4 cup of rose water + orange blossom water.
Boil the syrup, when it starts to thicken add the lemon juice and stir, continue cooking for couple more minutes. Take it off the heat and add the flavored water and stir.
Leave it to cool completely before you pour it over the Baklawa.


The night before defrost the phyllo pastry in the fridge. Leave it on the counter two hours before you start your baklawa. Open the box and lay the sheets on a tray, cover with a plastic wrap then cover with a damp towel to keep them humid and don't dry during your preparation work, especially if this is your first attempt and you are not fast to work with phyllo dough.

The sheets come in a 15 x 17 or even 17.5” box. If you don't have the right size of tray to use don't worry instead of folding the sizes to make it fit, use a 9 x 13in tray and cut the sheets in half follow the folding line as your guide, using a sharp knife, cut in half. You will end up with 38 -40 sheets of phyllo pastry depends on the package. Mix the nuts, sugar and the flavoured waters well. If clarified butter is prepared in advanced, warm it in the microwave to melt for brushing. (It’s okay to use unsalted butter, melt in the micro, and make sure not to use the milk solid left in the bottom) Brush the bottom and sides of the tray with enough clarified butter, and start layering the sheets, brush each sheet with a light brush of clarified butter specially the corners as they get drier, (some sheets comes with a bit of corn starch sprinkled on top to keep them separated – use a different brush to clean the sheets, avoid using the same brush, because you will thicken the butter with corn starch, and it will be very hard to use) you can build 10 sheets of phyllo then cover with one cup of mixed nuts, or build 12 layers of sheets and stuff with one cup and then start building, there is no rule, its up to you, you can even divide the sheets in half and add all the stuffing over one half then top with the remain sheets, or you can build 12, 10,10,8. It’s your choice and how patient are you to build and create your master piece.

I can guarantee that it will taste great... just go for it. brush the last sheet of phyllo with a generous amount of butter, and let it rest for 5 minutes, then using the same brush, run it under water let it drip the excess water, and brush the top of the sheet, this is a trick I learned from a chef in Lebanon, the top will not crack and dry, and the butter will not turn very dark.

Warm the oven at 250F, when ready, cut your baklawa using a sharp knife,(when you rest it for 10 minutes it will be easier to cut) you can either cut it squares or diagonals again its up to you.

Bake the baklawa in the center of the oven for 60-90 minutes, until its light golden brown and all the sheets are toasted. Sometimes if I have time I even leave it in the oven after I shut it off to cool completely, then pour 2 cups of the prepared cooled syrup, and wait until it soaks down. If you like it sweet and dripping with syrup, or you like the Lebanese Style which is not overly sweet and can be eaten by hand without a mess.

Let the baklawa rest at least 8 hours before you cut it, its better to leave it till the next day. Don’t sprinkle the pistachios right away; they will slide with the syrup wait till the next day to decorate the tray, or even when you serve it sprinkle on top.

you can cut in squares or diagonals

You can shape the sheets into finger's - Assabeei Al Arouss

My farmer's Market Baklawa trays

Sahtein – Bon Appetite.

Please try it and let me know if my information were helpful.

Selling and Preparing Baklawa

what I am going to say about preparing the Baklawa will be shocking and bitter to some and very helpful to others!!!
sharing my opinion about preparing and using the right ingredients for baklawa;

Before you buy Baklawa from a store , buy one piece and taste what you are paying for....
some ,and for profit reason ,are offering low prices on their products. You have to be careful , try to ask , what is inside the pastry, and what kind of stuffing do you use, what kind of butter? can we check it???
I heard some places instead of adding pure nuts in their pastries they mix half the stuffing with bread crumbs, or roasted unsalted peanuts, where the ingredients should be pure nuts, either one kind of a mix of two or more. Depending on the price and the market(the traditional flavours are walnuts & almonds and some with cashews and pistachios)

Also I heard that some are using vegetable oil instead of pure unsalted butter, we all know the price of good quality butter in comparison to oil products in the markets. Be careful...

there is no comparison in flavour,smell and texture between the Baklawa prepared with clarified butter and a baklawa prepared with cheap oil. (1 pound of butter when clarified will make 1/2 pound)

If you have any comment, or stories you would like to share, please leave your comment

Lebanese Baklawa - Part I

I am a proud member of the North Bay Farmer's Market, I want to take this chance to encourage every one of you to support your local farmer's markets vendors, and buy local food produce and baking goods, they are working very hard and from the heart to provide you with something clean, tasty and unique . Different than what you can find at your local stores. I sell Lebanese food and Baking at the NBFM.

Here are some of my Baklawa which I sell at the North Bay Farmer’s Market and you can place an order or come see me at the Market starting May 17, 2009 till Mid of October 2009.

blossom's baklawa

Oussmalieyeh - Shredded phyllo stuffed with cluttered cream topped with pistachios

Creamed stuffed Baklawa -Semolina Cream stuffed Baklawa

Multi nuts Baklawa

Nuts fingers

Chocolate fingers Baklawa

Cashews coffee flavoured Baklawa

Almond spices Baklawa

Apricots & Pistachio Nuts Baklawa

Cranberry & Hazelnuts Baklawa

Birds's Nests made from shredded phyllo and stuffed with pistachio nuts

Monday, February 16, 2009

Herb Salt - a Healthier Alternative

Here is an herb salt recipe, because herb salt is a marvellous and healthier alternative to ordinary salt.
For those of you who have high blood pressure and need to restrict your salt intake, herb salt can be an alternative that you are looking for.

Try to buy organically grown Herbs. Or grow your own herb garden and get the joy of eating fresh herbs during the season, and then prepare your dry mix for the winter.
If you wish to wash the herbs, do so in advance(I always do) leave them to dry completely. You don't want to worry about pesticides and chemical residues on the leaves. It is absolutely important that the herbs are dry before using them .(you can dry the herbs on a baking sheets in the oven @ 200F for 40-50 minutes. this will dry them and take the humidity out .

This recipe is similar to Mrs. Dash mixture, use this salt substitute herb mix on all types of savory foods and you won't miss the salt at all. Ground the spices according to the recipe


1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
1 tsp dried savory
1 /2 piece of mace
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp dried grated lemon peel
Combine cayenne pepper,
garlic powder, onion powder, basil, oregano, thyme, parsley flakes, savory, mace, black pepper, sage, marjoram, and lemon peel. Mix well. Place in a glass airtight container and store in a cool, dark place up to four months. Use on all types of savory foods. Recipe may be easily multiplied.

All Purpose Herb Salt Recipe better than stor bought

1 cup of mixed herbs:
Dill, rosemary, chives, tarragon, thyme,
oregano, basil
2 large cloves of garlic
1 cup sea salt (about 160 grams)
Mix the herbs and sea salt in a large bowl. Stir it to try to make sure that the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
In a food processor, place some of the mixture into the processor and blend. Repeat till all of the mixture is processed this way.
take the blended ingredients and spread on a cookie sheets. Place the cookie sheet(s) into a 200 degrees Fahrenheit or 90 degrees Celsius oven for 40 to 50 minutes to dry the salt mixture. Make sure to stir frequently during drying and break up any lumps.
Cool the herb salts completely before storing them in clean jars.