Monthly Archives: December 2009

Chicken Pasilla Fettuccine: a New Treat for an Old Tradition

My cousin/best friend have carried on a tradition since we were in university: we have our own Christmas celebration. Now even that she moved to Dubai about a year ago, we continue with this ritual. Usually we have a meal and exchange gifts a day or two before or after the actual Christmas date.

This year we decided to celebrate over the pasta challenge. Since it was time for me to cook it and it was the right time for our celebration. Usually making pasta is not a problem for me, since it is one of my specialties. I went by the recipe except that I used ¼ tsp of cayenne pepper instead of flakes.   This seemed to make it hot for my cousin Mireille and my dad, knowing that my dad is a fan of hot peppers! I was the only one to find it just fine! Talk about a shocker.

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Pasilla Chili Chicken Linguine

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Christmas: A Lebanese Celebration Tale

Christmas in Lebanon is one of the most celebrated holidays around the year. It reflects a spirit of welcome and joy.

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Sumac and Dried Mint Omelet – 3rd Mediterranean Cooking Event

I know I am supposed to be posting about the challenge, but a few days ago I got an invitation to join a cooking event about Lebanon: 3rd Mediterranean cooking event. So I decided to join. I don’t know if I will post more than one recipe, but I know I have a couple in mind. Although for now, I am posting a really simple thing: an omelet.

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Challenge 6: Chicken Pasilla Pasta

This recipe has been a family favorite of ours for several years now. It is not too difficult to make, but really delivers in the flavor department. It is a versatile one, so feel free to mix it up according to your individual tastes. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do! Have fun with it!

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Mixed Rice and Beef Breyani

After almost a week of trying to find the right window of opportunity, I finally found the time to make the Breyani on Wednesday morning. Immediately after getting off work (at about 8am), I was off to the store to gather my ingredients. It was actually nice shopping so early in the morning since most people were either just heading to work, or were not awake yet. I’m not a fan of the holiday crowds. I always feel like I am dodging cars in the middle of a busy freeway when walking the stores this time of year.

This recipe required numerous spices of which I only had about half of. In addition, some of the spices are not used that often in every day cooking here in the US. To my relief, I found all of them but the saffron at the first store I hit. I decided to go with beef instead of lamb in this dish since buying this much lamb would surely empty my entire Christmas savings account. I also had to settle for dry spices instead of fresh ones in some cases as I did not want to drive another 30 miles to an Indian store for solely this reason. I could not believe how much saffron was at the second store. They wanted about $15 for not even a pinch of the stuff. There was even a choice between 3 brands, all about the same price! I reluctantly chose one to ensure I got the fully authentic experience.

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Beef Breyani: Traditional South Africa in Lebanon.

I did my shopping along the week to get all the ingredients/spices for the Breyani. I meant to prepare it on Sunday (October 6). I even asked the maid at the office where I can find a place that sells masala and similar spices. She is Sri-Lankan and I figured that they use something similar in their cuisine. She pointed a close by place, but after some asking and a lot of running around, I declared myself forfeited. I don’t know if it is the maid’s broken Arabic, the people who did not know the place but pointed different spice stores or it was me who did not get the directions: result was no masala. I tried the supermarket but the masala I found had most of the spices I got. I even found a Breyani mix, but again it had the same spices I already had.

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Trick or Treat à la Libanaise*

Saint Barbara is the Lebanese Halloween counterpart, minus the spooky side. Although Halloween has been celebrated in Lebanon for a few years now, by an inspiration from the west, the “trick or treating” is still done by kids on December 4th.

Saint Barbara is celebrated at that date, to commemorate how Barbara – a pagan noblewoman turned Christian- fled her father who was trying to kill her because she denied the gods. Barbara hid from her father by painting her face and wearing disguise. Thus the kids celebrate that by wearing disguises and singing specific songs when doors open for them. Although there is no real trick, there is always a treat for the kids: most commonly it is small money bills or coins given after the chants. There are even thank you songs that might call you cheap if the kids did not like how much you offered.

Some people do offer a pastry made for the occasion: Katayef.

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How the breyani came together

Being a very traditional dish, I decided to make the breyani for Eid lunch. I needed my mom’s help as it would be the first time I made it and I was not confident to make it on my own, especially since I would be tackling my grandmother’s famous recipe. My mother and I sharing a kitchen were going to be epic. We are very close, but the one place we do not get along, is in the kitchen. So I revved myself up for an epic day in the kitchen with my mom. Continue reading