Molokhia {ملوخية}

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Molokhia is a leafy plant popular in Middle East, East African and North African cuisine. In Lebanon it’s made into a stew most often with chicken and using the full leaf.  When  Molokhia is boiled, the broth thickens, and is often described as “slimy”, but there a few things that can be done to reduce that and enjoy the yummy flavour. first when picking through the leaves make sure to remove all the leafy tops (these slim a lot), long stems and yellow leaves. Second, a good steep in boiled water or a 5 minute boil followed by a wash and squeeze will cut the thickness of your final stew in half. We use organic Molokhia sourced from the south of Lebanon. We find that with this kind a simple steep is all that’s needed during the prep process. Some of the boxed supermarket brands are more bitter and require to be boiled as an initial step before cooking with the chicken broth. The higher the quality of your molokhia leaves the better tasting your final dish will be.

In our home and in most Lebanese homes the aroma of molokhia stew triggers warm and happy childhood memories. This is one of our comfort foods and a staple every Lebanese cook will master with a little personal touch of their own.

Prepping this dish is the most time consuming part. When I find extra energy (and time) I will prepare more than one batch of leaves at a time and freeze for future quick meal prep.

Serves 5
prep time: 45 minutes
cook time: 40 minutes

INGREDIENTS
2-3 lb whole chicken
Chicken broth
150 grams dried Molokhia
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 small  green pepper
1 onion- pealed
1 tomato
1/2 bunch cilantro – chopped
10 Garlic cloves- mashed
2 lemons -squeezed

DIRECTIONS

  1. Prepare chicken and broth using the Lebanese Chicken broth {مرق الدجاج} recipe.
  2. In the mean time pick through Molokhia remove any leaf tops/ stems and steep in boiled water until re-hydrated (10 min); strain leaves in colander and run through with cold water; squeeze dry small amounts at a time and set aside.
    Tips: steeping leaves is usually enough if you know the source of your product. Store bought molokhia is usually more bitter and requires to be boiled for a couple of minutes (5) before being washed and squeezed.
  3. Place large pot on medium high heat and add vegetable oil, chopped cilantro and minced garlic; saute for a couple of minutes before adding molokhia, small amounts at a time, and mixing, until all molokhia has been added to pot.
  4. Cover Molokhai with broth, add tomato, pepper and salt;  allow to come up to a boil before covering with lid and lowering temperature to keep at steady boil.
    Tip: top up with boiled water if broth does not generously cover molokhia
  5. boil for 30- 40 minutes until molokhia leaves are tender
  6. Add de-boned chicken and stir into molokhia.
  7. Serve with Lebanese rice with vermicelli {رز لبناني} a squeeze of lemon and your favorite hot sauce or pepper.
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Mafrouke

Mafroukeh is a traditional Lebanese dessert that hails from the north of Lebanon. It’s made of a toasted semolina cooked in a caramel sauce then spread out and layered with kashta cream and topped with lots of nuts (either fresh or toasted). this recipe gave me a little run for my money but because it’s a favorite I had to get it right. With this recipe you can either make one large platter to serve or individual servings as desired. after making the semolina base, leave it to cool on counter and serve at room temperature.  It also keeps well overnight in the fridge so it’s a dessert that can be prepared ahead if needed.

Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves:4

INGREDIENTS

Semolina mixture:

1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup water
1/2 cup semolina #2
1/4 cup butter
1 tbsp rose water
2 tbsp blossom water

Topping:
1.5 cup kashta cream – or to your taste
1/2 cup blanched almonds- halved
1/4 pine nuts
1/2 cup roughly chopped pistachio

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a clean sauce pan add sugar with 1/4 cup of water and place on medium/ high heat; keep an eye on sugar until it starts to change color around the edges. Gently swirl pot over heat until the sugar is evenly amber colored and caramelized. that’s 348 F or has a sweet slightly bitter smell.
  2. remover caramelized sugar from heat and using a long wooden spoon; slowly and carefully mix in one cup of water. Mix in rose water and blossom water.
    Tip: if sugar begins to clump up return to low heat and allow crystals to dissolve.
  3. Set aside and move on to toasting semolina.
  4. In a pan on medium high heat  begin to toast semolina; continuously string until it develops a tan color and starts to smell nutty.
  5. Once desire color is reached add butter and allow to dissolve and coat all semolina.
  6. carefully pour caramelized sugar over semolina and stir over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes. mixture will absorb liquid and come together but stay a little loose.
  7. transfer to serving dish and leave to cool and set.
  8. once ready to serve spread kashta cream over semolina mixture and sprinkle with nuts; either toasted or raw. Serve with Atyr syrup on the side.

Fruit cocktail {كوكتيل لبناني}

Summer months in Lebanon would not be the same without the iconic fruit cocktail ( no alcohol here) filled with chunks of fresh fruit and topped with Kashta cream (home made clotted cream) , nuts and a drizzle of honey !

The base of this recipe is made with a slightly sweetened strawberry smoothie and filled with your favorite fruits. For this recipe we used strawberry, peach, banana and cantaloupe but we also often add mango, kiwi and pineapple. Pick your favorite and layer them in a tall glass. serve with a spoon to scoop out all the delicious fruit and cream.

INGREDIENTS

For base:

1 cups sliced strawberries
1/4 cup water
1/2 tbsp honey

Chopped fruits:

1/2 banana
1 peach
1 cup cantaloupe
5 strawberries

Topping:

2 tbsp Kashta cream
Drizzle of honey
Tbsp crushed pistachios (or preferred nuts)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Blend all base ingredients together until smooth and set aside.
  2. Layer chopped fruit in glass and pour over prepared base.
    We also like to substitute with mango, pineapple and kiwi when available.
  3. Finish with a dollop of kashta cream, drizzle of honey and pistachios. You can also top with pine nuts, almonds, walnuts. Make it your own !
  4. Enjoy chilled

kamar el deen {قمر الدين}

Kamar el Deen is an age old beverage said to have originated in Syria. This apricot drink has been served for centuries as an excellent way of hydrating during Ramadan. It was a staple for the farmers and always on hand to keep them hydrated and energized.  As children we didn’t like the drink but we loved eating the dried apricot leather just as is. We’d cut it in strips and snack on it during the month of Ramadan. This drink can be made with store bought apricot leather or home made and is very simple to make.  A great summer time quenching beverage you can serve plain or topped with pine nuts.

INGREDIENTS

400 g dried apricot leather (https://amzn.to/2Wq5Z6v)
(Or home made leather)
2 1/2 cups Boiled water
3 cups cold water
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water
pine nuts (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cut up leather into 1 inch squares and transfer to heat resistant bowl or pot.
  2. Immerse in boiled water and cover; let soak for about 4 hours.
  3. Combine soaked apricot with remaining cold water, sugar and blend until smooth.
    TIP: if lumps remain pass drink through strainer.
  4. Transfer to jug and mix in blossom water.
  5. Serve chilled; Enjoy!

Lubya bzeit{لوبياء بالزيت} Green bean stew

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This Lebanese summer dish can be enjoyed year round and is an excellent vegan/ vegetarian dish the whole family will enjoy.  With just a few simple ingredients you have a dish on your hands that’s healthy and packed with flavor. Traditionally, lubya bzeit Continue reading “Lubya bzeit{لوبياء بالزيت} Green bean stew”

Lebanese Oven Roasted Chicken {فروج مشوي}

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Roasted whole chicken can seem like a daunting task to many. Growing up we use to love to watch chicken roasting on spits in Lebanese restaurants. Of course we love eating it even more.  Unwrapping a farouj mishwe (roasted chicken) from the crispy grasp of a markook bread Continue reading “Lebanese Oven Roasted Chicken {فروج مشوي}”

Hindbeh /Dandelion {الهندباء}

Hindbeh (dandelion) is a dish made with sauteed dandelion greens topped with caramelized onions.  This might not sound too appealing to westerners Continue reading “Hindbeh /Dandelion {الهندباء}”

Fava beans and Rice {رز بفول}

On the vegetarian recipe list – this is one dish we find is often forgotten. We have made fava beans and rice Continue reading “Fava beans and Rice {رز بفول}”