Monthly Archives: January 2010

The Honest Award: 10 things to Hate about Us

The Taste-Buds (TB as referred down below) received their very first award: The Honest Award courtesy of the Caveman author of the Caution Caveman Cooking blog . The rules of the award state that we need to list ten honest things about ourselves and then pass the award on to ten other deserving bloggers. We ought to have published this earlier, way earlier, but we had technical problems.

So here are 10 honest things to hate love about us.

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Asian Sunday

I decided to go for an Asian meal on Sunday and my sister-in-law was invited to share the meal. My brother is in a business visit to China till the end of the month and it had nothing to do with it really. It was a more earthly reason: A soy sauce bottle that will soon expire.

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Crêpes with Asparagus and Mushrooms in Béchamel Sauce

Today, Mom made a local dish made of veal and rice. I am not a great fan of red meat and I did not feel like eating just the rice. So I decided to finally try a crêpes dish I wanted to make since ever… well since I tried it a few years ago at a family lunch where my great-aunt cooked it. My great-aunt worked as a cook and she always made the most amazing dishes. When I tasted this one, I asked what it is and she told me in her usual soft voice: it is crêpes.

Although then the filling was made with ground meat and the crêpes rolled like cannelloni. And we all already know I was not in the mood for meat…

I had to find a replacement. I have not long ago read on a Foodbuzz fellow’s blog (Frank Fariello), a crêpes recipe which was filled with Swiss chard and ricotta. Also the crêpes were folded in triangles.  I did not want chard either; neither did I want its cousin the spinach. Finally after a little concerting with Zahrah, my Taste-Bud, I finally decided on an Asparagus/Mushroom filling. Initially I wanted to add mozzarella to the filling and top with parmesan, then I went for cream cheese.

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More Lebanese Please!

Today I made the Chickpeas Fatteh, which I had heard is one of Viviane’s favorite authentic Lebanese dishes.  In beginning this adventure, I must have checked 6 or 7 different stores for something close to Lebanese bread and to no avail. I found some “Middle Eastern Flat Bread” at Trader Joe’s, but this ended up not fitting the bill so after reaching my limit of frustration, I decided to go ahead with some pita bread. The rest of the ingredients were easy to come by in the average US supermarket.

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Discovering a Taste for Lebanese

I have to begin by saying WOW! What a recipe! I was excited to try a real Lebanese recipe and I was not disappointed!

There has been a heat wave in Cape Town this week and it’s been too hot to want to cook anything. So when Viviane posted this challenge, I thought it’s perfect for lunch, especially in the heat and doesn’t require too much work.

I went to the store to buy the ingredients needed, and to my disappointment could not find pine nuts. I suppose not a commonly found nut in stores here. Since I had read Viviane’s post before going to the store, I knew that almonds would work, so I bought a packet. I also did not manage to get fresh chickpeas, so I was forced to go with canned. For the bread, I bought pita.

I got home and set to preparing it immediately. I followed the recipe, only substituting red wine vinegar for brown spirit vinegar. I did not follow the amounts since after talking to Viviane, she said it would not be good as leftovers. I was alone at home so made enough for myself only. I toasted the pita in the toaster, roasted the nuts in the microwave and quickly sautéed the butter, garlic and vinegar mixture. I also used some salt in the yogurt since I was unable to find Greek yogurt in a small tub (which I love) and had to go with Bulgarian. I broke the bread up in bite sized bits and layered according to the recipe.

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Chickpeas Fatteh for Lunch, Please!

I was not planning to prepare the challenge as soon as I posted but it was a spur of the moment when I decided to make it. My mom made wide kidney beans stew and kidney beans are not exactly on my list of edibles. Gladly, I happened to know the menu of the day in the morning, so I was able to ask my mom to soak the chickpeas and boil them for me. So by the time I got home chickpeas were ready. I know I categorized Chickpeas Fatteh under entrée but I almost always eat it as a main dish.
Chickpeas Fatteh Close-up

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Challenge 7: Chickpeas Fatteh

Based on the fact that my Taste-Buds have been asking me to post a Lebanese recipe, here I am complying. I wanted to make this post a double recipe entry and include Tabbouleh, but I thought I will leave it to another time, that is due to the fact that I ate it twice this week already.  You can say I am all Tabbouleh-ed out.  So I set my mind on a simple but awesome recipe, a personal favorite and extremely easy to make. It is mostly a summer dish but I thought it would be great to have it after the holidays, since it is nourishing and not too heavy. The dish is called: Chickpeas Fatteh. Consider it a Lebanese crumble, since Fatteh derives form the Arabic counterpart that means crumbs.

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A Challenge for a Birthday Treat

I meant to write this entry days ago, but had some trouble with my health. However, I am more or less back to normal and finally feel up to writing the entry.

I celebrated my birthday on the 6 January, and decided that instead of the usual family-over-for-cake-and-tea, I would throw a party for my 8 nephews and 2 nieces (actually cousin’s children, but they are like my own nephews and nieces). They are all under the age of 6 and most of them have not had their own big birthday parties. So, I set out to throw a party that they (and I secretly) would enjoy. I planned my guest list, my menu and hired a jumping castle and a water slide.

After discussing my arrangements with Viviane, she suggested that since I would be cooking, I could prepare the challenge as one of my dishes. This turned out to be an excellent idea. I had to prepare all the food the day before, since I had planned the party for on the day of my birthday and invited everyone for lunch. Continue reading

Zaza’s Soup – 3rd Mediterranean Cooking Event, Lebanon

I don’t know where this soup originated from, but I know it was cooked at my aunt’s household. My uncle was Armenian and his sister cooked this soup, so we named it after her: Zaza’s Soup. Maybe the soup is a mix of Armenian and Lebanese, even though the event is for Lebanese cooking, I think this soup characterizes the spirit of Lebanon and its diversity. Not to mention it is a delicious soup that I hope those who will try will enjoy.

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Epiphany in Lebanon

I know I should have made this post earlier, but I was mostly going out with my friends who are visiting for the holidays.

Epiphany in Lebanon marks the end of the holidays’ season. Usually on the 5th of January (Epiphany eve) people tend to make special kinds of sweets and I don’t know if I can call them cookies. They are available in pastry shops and some bakeries all around the year, but people make them at home mostly on Epiphany.

Another tradition is making yeast and hanging it on a plant or a tree outside in a cloth bag: careful though it has to be hanged on a non cursed tree, so no yeast hanging on fig trees and there is another one which I forgot. There is a belief (not sure where it really came from or if it has any theological origins) that Christ will be passing at midnight to bless homes and the hanging yeast balls. Some even leave a light on for this purpose. I don’t know if these traditions are carried on by younger generations. Continue reading