Lebanese Food / Wine and Culinary Traditions

Lebanese Food / Wine and Culinary Traditions
Spring time always inspires me...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas


It's Christmas morning, I was just awaken by a beautiful dream. I was walking in the streets of Tripoli (North of Lebanon) in the old souk. I see a shepherd coming with a flock of goats. Each goat is tied to another goat. People start pushing and shoving them, almost afraid. I start shouting to explain to everyone that goats are harmless and very friendly to humans. Why can't they understand? The shepherd approves and smiles at me, I rejoice when I see his eyes on me. He walks away with his herd, discreetly cutting off the rope to leave a baby goat with me. My heart rejoices, full of love and happiness—I am awaken by my daughter who is excited to open her presents. I feel enlightened by this message, this dream of hope.... A spiritual Christmas gift especially for me. Very symbolic, positive hope for the new coming year. God bless!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Barbara's Lebanese Mezze

Can you taste this hummus bi-tahineh?
 I have decided to dedicate a blog to the Lebanese Mezze. I am going to teach you (my readers) the steps to making your own Lebanese mezze from A to Z. I will discuss in detail each recipe with the flaws that you might encounter if you are not careful. We will share variations, creations, and regional differences among many subjects. This is a learning process both for me and for you. I am very excited to go through this discovery together. I expect a lot of comments and participation. If you have recipes to share, they are  most welcome. My aim is to reach 100 recipes to conclude this delectable research. One might never know, it might turn out to be one day a book! I want to celebrate local foods and the people that make it happen.

Monday, December 19, 2011

One Person's Food Vision in Beirut


The Brownbook Urban Series | Kamal Mouzawak from Brownbook Magazine on Vimeo.

This is an interesting video, depicting one man's food vision. It was done during the time when I had my Mouneh photo exhibition at Tawlet. I have one criticism though, the music—which is definately not Lebanese—does not correspond with the subject (at all!).

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Barbara Preparing Man'oushé with Fares Helwe Beirut



Fares has played an important role in my life. I met him because I was meant to become his apprentice. My Man'oushe book started in this small street corner bakery. Fares was generous with his time and his teachings were a must to begin my adventure. I visited over 250 bakeries throughout the country but his remains very special to me.

Majjounet Gardenia
Hazmieh
Fares Issaac: 03-304483

I would like to share with you what I wrote about him in Man'oushé: Inside the Street Corner Lebanese Bakery.

"On the same street, three shops down from the first bakery where my training started stands a small bakery owned by a man called Fares. I entered his bakery with the same scenario that I would present to each baker. He was friendly and answered all my questions. I asked him why he became a baker. He smiled. “This answer needs time.” I retorted, “I’ve got all the time you need!” 

It was raining outside and customers were scarce. Fares and I sat down in his bakery for three consecutive hours. As the story of his life unfolded before me, tears ran down my cheeks. 

Fares was born in Bayno ‘Akkar, in the extreme North of Lebanon. He comes from a poor family and is the youngest of eleven children. According to him, his mother had time and affection only for three. Fares’ father was a farmer working odd jobs that could not give his family financial stability. Life was hard. Fares’ early childhood memories are not happy ones. He quit school early. A family dispute at an early age led him to Beirut. At the age of eight, Fares found himself alone and scared at nightfall under a bridge. A woman in a nearby building offered him refuge for the night and helped him find a job in a factory.

This job didn’t last. Fares found work in a bread bakery. The owner asked him “What can you do, son?” Fares replied, “Anything at all!” This is where he learned the ropes to become a baker. 

The young boy became a man. With his savings, he took on the responsibility of opening his own bakery. He worked very hard, yet was fulfilled by his success.

On the same street, three shops down from the first bakery where my training started stands a small bakery owned by a man called Fares. I entered his bakery with the same scenario that I would present to each baker. He was friendly and answered all my questions. I asked him why he became a baker. He smiled. “This answer needs time.” I retorted, “I’ve got all the time you need!” 

It was raining outside and customers were scarce. Fares and I sat down in his bakery for three consecutive hours. As the story of his life unfolded before me, tears ran down my cheeks. 

Fares was born in Bayno ‘Akkar, in the extreme North of Lebanon. He comes from a poor family and is the youngest of eleven children. According to him, his mother had time and affection only for three. Fares’ father was a farmer working odd jobs that could not give his family financial stability. Life was hard. Fares’ early childhood memories are not happy ones. He quit school early. A family dispute at an early age led him to Beirut. At the age of eight, Fares found himself alone and scared at nightfall under a bridge. A woman in a nearby building offered him refuge for the night and helped him find a job in a factory.

This job didn’t last. Fares found work in a bread bakery. The owner asked him “What can you do, son?” Fares replied, “Anything at all!” This is where he learned the ropes to become a baker. 

The young boy became a man. With his savings, he took on the responsibility of opening his own bakery. He worked very hard, yet was fulfilled by his success."

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Barbara with Chef Giovanni Helwe Beirut



La pâte ... tu la sens ... tu la vis... translated the dough, you feel it ... you live it! I can really relate to what Giovanni is saying there. I have had this love affair with dough, the result ... all these years of research. He is such a character and it was really a pleasure to be in his restaurant Marguarita in Gemayzeh cooking up my favorite food in the world PIZZA. I'm not finished with this man (chef), I'm going to dig deeper and learn more ...

Monday, December 12, 2011

I'm Inspired


 I love the subject, the composition, the colors of this photo. Can anyone relate?

A goat walks in deserted school classroom in the village of Voynitsa, some 100 km (60 miles) north of the capital Sofia, at the heart of Bulgaria s northwestern region. AFP PHOTO/DIMITAR DILKOFF

Saj bread | خبز المرقوق



I was browsing through the internet, as one does during one's afternoon coffee break, and what do I see—
a romantic interpretation of the making of saj bread (paper thin bread). Wonderful! I love the music and I really believe that making bread on saj is an art. I am grateful to those who took the time and energy to record this video (Tinia Nassif - Al Nahar 2011), thanks!!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Making of Kishk and Awarma in Helwe Beirut



I went to a lovely little village in the Kessouran still free from the "beton revolution" pretty much happening in many places all over our poor country. The name of the village is called Ain El Delbe, close to Wata Joz. I was accompanied by Francois Beaini who founded a small scale production of homemade mouneh items. He names his operation Mounetna - meaning our mouneh - our preserves. His parents were working on producing awarma and the drying of kishk. Quite impressive!

Mounetna is really about a family's yearly mouneh production which extended into a small family business. They grow fruits and vegetables in their lands and have always done so, like their ancestors. Francois, who is an employee at a local school, decided to open a small store in Sarba where the family lives in winter to sell his prized family mouneh. Visiting the store, you can tell that this is not only a business venture but somehow a passion for Francois and his family who have decorated the store with a lot of care and precision. I can't help but admire this family who work hand in hand. If you are interested to drop by, here are some contact information you may need:

Francois Beaini
03-741484
www.mounetnafood.com
info@mounetnafood.com

Friday, November 25, 2011

Honoring Lebanese Chefs at AUT University


The American University of Technology which is a leading University in Lebanon, is organizing a major event on November 28th 2010 in the Fidar Campus. This Major event is to Honor major Lebanese chefs and  chefs of Lebanese descendents that had an impact in international culinary activities. This event will be under the hospices of the Ministry of Tourism and in collaboration of the syndicate of Hotels and Syndicate of restaurants.

Local and international chefs will include: Joe Barza: Greg Maalouf, Clovis Khoury, Philipe Massoud, and Alex Atallah among others.I really look forward to meeting them.
Joe Barza will receive a special award for all his achievements both in Lebanon and abroad. 
I am really proud of him, keep walking my friend!

Mouneh Reviews

This is what happens when you google your own book: I want to thank Peter Bouckaert for taking the time to do this review and Ed from California! Fouad  Kassab, of the Food Blog and finally Mama's Lebanese Kitchen. Choucran.
5.0 out of 5 stars
An excellent, inspirational book, July 21, 2011
By Peter Bouckaert – This review is from: Mouneh (Preserving Foods for the Lebanese Pantry, Volume 1) (Hardcover)


I came across this book on a recent visit to Lebanon, and it has quickly become a favorite. It isn’t a cookbook, so don’t expect to find recipes for Lebanese food inside. But it is a great work, documenting Lebanon’s fascinating traditions of food preservation through pickling, brining, drying, and various other procedures. If you like having food in the pantry, this is a work for you. In Lebanese, Palestinian, and Syrian culture, almost every household still preserves much of its foodstuffs, harvesting or buying produce at the height of the season and processing them for the rest of the year–whether it is vegetable pickles or mulberry syrup. One of the more exciting developments in recent times in Lebanon is how a new generation of chefs have embraced this, and started incorporating more traditional Lebanese products into their modern cuisine, championing their national diversity. This is an important work of documenting that unique national diversity, and an inspiration to read and use.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Tradition Documentation, September 27, 2011 By Ed “Ed” (Santa Clara, CA) – This review is from: Mouneh (Preserving Foods for the Lebanese Pantry, Volume 1) (Hardcover)

I got this book as a gift and was very happy and impressed with it. It documents in details, and in a very cool and smooth writing style old Lebanese traditions of keeping “Mouneh”, ie preserving food. It goes through produce and foods by seasons, and documents places, people, and procedures used to preserve those foods the traditional way. It is such a gift to the Lebanese culture and is a well written book! I highly recommend it.
The Food Blog:
This is my first ever book review. My intention is to introduce you, dear reader, to books that inspire me to cook, ones that teach me new things, or ones that contain extremely valuable information. It so happens that this first book, Mouneh, does these things all at once.

Book Highlights

  • A comprehensive work
  • Contains recipes for lesser-known aspects of Lebanese food
  • A one-of-a-kind book which has, for the first time, made these recipes publicly available
  • Chefs and cooks will be inspired and educated about old techniques and obscure dishes that are absolutely stunning
  • Has beautiful photography
  • A must have for anyone serious or even slightly interested about Lebanese food

Book Review

To call the task of putting together a book like Mouneh daunting would be a gross understatement. Mouneh is the Lebanese word for the larder, the supplies and provisions that saw village people through the rough Lebanese winters. Weighing in at 592 pages, Mouneh is a comprehensive work, encompassing recipes for pretty much all Lebanese pantry items, from the well-known to the obscure. Author Barbara Abdeni Massaad is an American born of Lebanese parents and she is more than passionate about preserving both pantry items and Lebanese traditions. It takes individuals like Barbara who feel a connection to a country but see it through an outsider’s perspective to fully appreciate the value and need to document its fragile traditions. This work is the result of years of research and experimentation to produce accurate, authentic recipes categorized by month to give the reader an idea of what can be preserved at that time of year. Many of the recipes contained in Mouneh have never been previously documented or made this easily available.
In the style of her first book Man’oushé, which is dedicated in its entirety to manakish, the Levantine pizza, Barbara has written Mouneh in a personal tone. The recipes, it becomes obvious, are not her own, but belong to the farmers and artisan producers she introduces us to. She relays her stories and encounters with heart, and shares the recipes she has gathered from numerous people living all over Lebanon.
In addition to doing all the writing, Barbara has also done most of the photography. Her portrayal of wonderful and often exotic ingredients largely contributes to the pleasure of reading Mouneh. The book explodes with colour and the images of farmers in their fields or producers preparing their recipes speak a thousand words.
I aim to provide honest, balanced reviews, so here’s some dwelling on the negatives. In my opinion, the book could have used an editor to give it the once over as sometimes, the sentences could be better structured and there are some minor, infrequent spelling mistakes. My second criticism is common to most books I’ve seen come out of Lebanon, though it is observed less with Mouneh. Here, the layout and the typography could be better handled. A more suitable font could have been selected, the images are sometimes placed in awkward positions on the page, and in some cases the text clashes with its background and becomes difficult to read.
All in all, these are minor issues that would not stand in the way of Mouneh becoming a true classic. To me, Mouneh has become my first reference for Lebanese preserves. No other book has gone to such lengths to describe these recipes in such a serious, well-researched manner. Non-Lebanese readers will truly enter a new and colourful world of Lebanese food, one that is very distinct from any other Lebanese cook book, as it relates to a completely different facet of our cuisine. You won’t find a recipe for hummus here, but instead, you will learn how to make orange blossom petal jam, pickled green almonds, candied pumpkin and a plethora of other Lebanese classics that until now have been known mostly to a handful of the Lebanese. Barbara has done the Lebanese people a great service in producing Mouneh, and I, for one, am very grateful.
You can buy the book here: http://www.buylebanese.com/browse.asp?pr=596&x=2&y=4

Book Score

Content: 7.5/10
Recipes: 10/10
Layout: 7/10
Total: 24.5/30

Additional Information

  • I heard about Barbara when she left a comment on my Manakish post
  • Barbara is also a blogger. Her blog can be found here: http://myculinaryjourneythroughlebanon.blogspot.com
  • In the interest of full disclosure, Barbara is one of my Facebook contacts, but I personally purchased the book and have written this review with no bias or favouritism.
Mama's Lebanese Kitchen Mouneh Review:

A few days ago our mother arrived from Lebanon for a visit.  Aside from the many edible delights that she brought with her including her freshly made Zaatar, Baklava from AbdulRahman Hallab Sweets, fresh batches of Lebanese 7-spices and Sumac spice, she brought us something unique this time, Barbara Massaad’s recent book titled “Mouneh, Preserving Foods for the Lebanese Pantry.”

Background:

“Mouneh” is a Lebanese slang word coming from the Arabic word “Mana” which means to preserve food. Mouneh is a living Lebanese tradition refined through the generations by culture and creativity. And what makes the Lebanese Mouneh specifically so special is the rich mixture and inheritance of civilizations that Lebanon and its surroundings have had over thousands of years, including but not limited to the civilizations of the Phoenicians, Babylonians, Persians, Romans, Byzantine, Islamic Caliphates, Ottoman and up to the recent French colonization.With that in mind, the people of Lebanon learned to preserve hundreds of food items and staples across seasons, and this is what Barbara’s book is meant to archive.

Barbara's Mouneh:

Barbara took over 5 years to write and publish this book. She moved from one Lebanese village to the other, sat down with the old and the young, and she took her time in not only listening to and writing their stories, but also in actually helping out the villagers in their processes of preserving their local foods. Hence, her experience is practical and is first hand.
So this is not a typical “recipes” cookbook. “Mouneh” documents the stories of the people and the traditions behind its recipes as well.

Content and Style:

The book “Mouneh” is organized into sections according to the 4 seasons that Lebanon enjoys. Each section contains recipes and methods of naturally preserving vegetables, fruits, grains, crops, spices and dairy products according to seasonal availability. The book has about 590 pages, is full color, and features hundreds of Barbara’s professionally taken photographs, along with photographs by other professional photographers. The book’s images are quite vivid and impressive, and give the book another dimension by helping the reader get fully immersed in the story.
Typically villagers in Lebanon tend to focus on preserving their own local crops and foods, with some exceptions. So it’s not  common to find one village that aced it all since nature, weather and even history play a big role in dictating what type of produce or food products each village grows.  And that is why Barbara’s work is quite important: it gathers all those precious methods from hundreds of Lebanese villages and people and puts its all in one place. The content is rich.
In terms of writing style, “Mouneh” is a very easy and lively read, despite its intimidating volume. Barbara overviews vividly the personal experiences she’s had in many villages.  She talks about people, and their stories, and she talks about their own traditions in preserving local foods, and in some case she talks about villages and their history. From this perspective, the book is quite a piece of cultural archive.

Conclusion:

As a final word on Barbara, she is a founding member of Slow Food Beirut, a delegate of the International Terra Madre Community, and Slow Food Italy. She is a contributing editor to local and international publications. She has also worked on an extensive portfolio dealing with children’s portraiture. She lives in Beirut with her husband and three children who are very much involved in her culinary journey.
We found Barbara’s work to be quite impressive and in our opinion, her book is a service to Lebanon’s future generations as it preserves a slowly fading aspect of their culture in such a beautiful and detailed way.

    Thursday, November 24, 2011

    Barbara Preparing Olive Oil "Helwe Beirut"



    Yussef Fares is a boy at heart with a lot of knowledge about olive oil production. This line of business has been passed on from generations starting with his grandfather. Yussef has taken modern technology to make the highest quality virgin olive oil with his brand name Jezd, made in Lebanon. He prides himself on the olive trees in his native village in Bayno, Akkar - north Lebanon. I have visited the village many times for different reasons and occasions and find it quite charming. I hope you enjoy this trip with me in Yussef's world.

    OK, we are both like children!

    Beautiful harvest

    Uncle Fares, Yussef's guiding light

    Simply awesome!

    Barbara with Mexican Ambassador "Helwe Beirut"



    This is really special! You all know how much I love Mexican food, top it with the most enthusiastic and very cute (if I may say that!) ambassador who loves to portray Mexican food, a renewed friendship with a dear friend from the past - Patricia Kebbeh, Chef Fernando and the Gou team cooking up a storm, good music and good friends... My Happiness!

    And finally, a great bonus, my husband Serge was captured on film ...!

    Enjoy!











    Saturday, November 12, 2011

    Barbara With Aline and Serge Armenian Food "Helwe Beirut"



    I don't need to tell you how much I love Armenian food. Aline and Serge Manoukian of Mayrig were so kind to show me around their restaurant. I really admire this dream that became a reality. Now the name Mayrig is growing into an international name with franchises all over the world. The great news too is that Aline and her friend Barbara (not me) have written a recipe book on Armenian cuisine which will be launched next week, more details will follow. I had a look at it already and I can hardly wait to start cooking. Notice the Armenian music background in the video too...

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    Barbara Preparing Pumpkin Jam "Helwe Beirut"



    This is one of my favorite traditional Lebanese recipes using pumpkins in season (of course). Siham and Hani Ghanem, a couple from Warhanieh whom have become wonderful friends have taught me many recipes throughout my culinary journey from their region. Hani is a hearty farmer who always has something funny to say. He takes life as it goes, while Siham—is a busy homemaker who worries a lot and spends most of her time in the kitchen cooking up delicious food. They have two adorable daughters who seem to grow so fast and have become little women in no time at all. This recipe needs to be planned ahead, as the pumpkin pieces need to be soaked in limestone for one night. This enables the pumpkin to stay crispy during cooking. Serve this confection at the end of a meal, your guests will certainly appreciate it.



    Monday, October 31, 2011

    Barbara with Chef Fernando "Helwe Beirut"



    Introducing Chef Fernando and delicious Mexican food! This food is MY WEAKNESS!

    Chef Fernando and Edid (my love)!
    Chef Fernando trying to eat his compadre (Pepito)
    Edid always working to make things pretty
    Roasting green bell peppers on the saj

    Chef Fernando's Mexican recipes:

    Guacamole en Molcajete

    Chile Paste Ingredients

    1 tbs of finely chopped white onion
    1 firmly packed tbs chopped fresh cilantro
    2 tsp finely chopped jalapeno, or more to taste
    1 teaspoon salt, or as needed


    Additional Ingredients

    3 medium ripe but firm Hass avocadoes
    3 tbs diced tomato
    2 firmly packed tbs chopped fresh cilantro
    1 tbs finely chopped white onion
    salt to taste
    Tortilla chips and / or fresh corn tortilla

    Make the chile paste: Grind the onion, cilantro, jalapeno, and salt together in a molcajete until all the ingredients are very finely ground. Alternatively, use a fork to mash all ingredients to a paste in a wide hardwood bowl.

    Cut each avocado in half, working the knife blade around the pit. Twist the halves to separate them and flick out the pit with the tip of the knife. Fold a kitchen towel in quarters and hold it in the palm of your "non-knife" hand. Rest an avocado half cut side up in your palm and make 3 or 4 evenly spaced lengthwise cuts through the avocado flesh down to the skin, without cutting through it. Make 4 crosswise cuts in the same way. Scoop the diced avocado flesh into the molcajete. Repeat with the remaining avocado halves.

    Makes 4 servings.



    Red Pepper Soup

    Ingredients
    ·         4 large red bell peppers
    ·         1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
    ·         1 large russet potato, peeled and diced (about 1 1/2 cup)
    ·         3 cloves garlic
    ·         1 quart chicken stock (or vegetable stock for vegetarian option)
    ·         1/4 cup cream or milk
    ·         3 Tbsp butter
    ·         Cayenne, salt and pepper to taste

    Method

    1.      Roast the red bell peppers by placing them over or under an open flame until they blacken on all sides. (You can use a grill, cooktop gas burner, or oven broiler.) Place the blackened peppers in a bag, close the bag and let the peppers steam for 10-15 minutes, or until the skins feel like they can easily be slipped off. Remove the peppers from the bag, peel off the blackened skins, remove the seeds. Chop the peppers roughly.
    2.     Heat the butter in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and saute for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the potatoes and cook another 1-2 minutes, then add the garlic and roasted peppers. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes.
    3.     Add the stock, stir well and bring to a simmer. Cook over medium heat until potatoes are soft.
    4.      Purée the soup in a blender or food processor until very smooth. Fill the blender about halfway with the soup. Start the blender on low and keep your hand on the top, in case the lid wants to pop off from the rising steam. Once everything is well chopped, turn the blender to its highest setting and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. You might need to do this in batches.
    5.      Return to a clean pot set over low heat. Add the cream, stir well and taste. Add some cayenne, salt and pepper to taste.

    Makes 4 servings.

    Friday, October 28, 2011

    Mexican Fiesta at Gou


    Gou restaurant is hosting a special week full of surprises in participation with the Embassy of Mexico in Lebanon ! Mexican food will be highlighted for 7 days from the 2nd to the 8th of November. I will be shooting for Helweh Beirut on the first night, the "Day of the Dead" Feast, to learn all the delicious recipes of one of my favorite destinations in the world, Mexico. Chef Fernando and Gou's kitchen crew will be cooking up a storm.
      
    The menu of the first night includes:

    Appetizers: guacamole and mango seafood ceviche will be served.  Colorful tamales will be presented as an entree. Main dishes will include chicken leg, mole sauce, rice and jalapeno peppers. Last but not least, the dessert is called Capirotada - banana pudding with coconut ice cream and Cajeta sauce. Yum, sounds sinful! I can't wait really.

    Here are some of my food / people photos I took in Mexico last year while visiting the Sanchez family (the best):
    Homemade tortilla baked on the comal
    A bit of everything served on a wooden board
    Inspirational
    Insects, you bet with a spicy bite
    Pomme d'amour
    Woman selling tortilla on the street
    A Mexican chicken stew
    Hundreds of peppers are available in street markets
    Happy in Mexico
    Mexican Buffet

    Street Foods of Mexico City

    Introducing Shahiya.com


    Today I received an interesting press release from Shahiya.com, I'd like to share it with you. It is a good initiative taken by food lovers who wanted to document our "Arabic" food heritage. The site lets one interact and share recipes and is designed in a professional and computer-friendly way. I think if someone has time, one can stay for a while browsing and tasting the virtual foods. I have not tried any of the recipes yet, I am very tempted to do so. The site is available for both Arabic and English readers alike.

    To visit the website: Shahiya.com

    The press release:

    The Arab Food Revolution:



     The words “food revolution” might conjure up images of Jamie Oliver, whereas the “Arab revolution” refers more to the recent Arab Spring uprisings.

    However, for Hala Labaki, Carole Makhoul Hani and Daniel Neuwirth, the three co-founders of shahiya.com, their “Arab Foodie Revolution” has been quiet, subtle and tasty.

    It all started with a simple realization: for all Arab cuisines, finding reliable online sources of recipes was close to impossible. The Arab culinary heritage had been stored forever in family notebooks, lying on the shelves of every grandmother’s kitchen. But most of the time, it was only transmitted to the close family, sometimes even being lost with the departure of the elderly.

    “We thought of the idea for this site while studying abroad. We craved Lebanese food, but couldn’t find a single dependable online source for Lebanese recipes, especially in Arabic”, says co-founder Hala Labaki. “We used to call parents and friends, wasting hours in international calls to be able to make this or that dish. But for other cuisines, French, Italian, American or Chinese, reliable recipes were all over the net. This is how we first identified a need.”

    When the three friends rejoined in Lebanon, they shared their concern for safeguarding their culinary heritage and their desire to make it more accessible. With the rise of online social platforms, the solution was plain to see, and shahiya.com was born.  

    The 100% user generated website aspired to be a platform where home cooks from all over the Arab world could create a free profile and add their own recipes. They would share recipes they had tested and cooked many times - hence offering reliable, feasible and authentic recipes. 

    Today, a year and a half after it was launched, shahiya.com is well on the way to fulfilling its initial aim: with more than 25,000 members viewing, reviewing, and trying out the 2,200 recipes shared since on the site, it is quickly becoming a first point of call for authentic and reliable Arab food recipes. Currently more than 60% of visits are from the KSA, making shahiya.com the number one food website visited in the Kingdom. 

    What makes this site unique, among other things, is a feature found on no other Arab food site: each published recipe gets its nutrition facts calculated. So if you always wondered how many calories there are in your sayyadieh, now all you have to do is to post the recipe on shahiya.com and when it gets published you’ll find out! This service, along with diet recipes and an online free nutritional profile, is provided under the supervision of Carole Makhoul Hani, an RD.

    “Cook Lebanese- 101 recipes” iPhone application

    Encouraged by the success of the site, the trio decided to take their idea further; to bring Arab food home to even more people, they launched an iPhone application. “For our first iPhone application we decided to focus on what we know best: Lebanese Cuisine”, says Daniel Neuwirth.

    101 quintessentially Lebanese recipes were selected by the Shahiya team. The team then actually cooked, tasted and fine-tuned these recipes. The resulting final, foolproof set of recipes made it into the app. The 101 recipes are divided into nine categories with a vegetarian filter offered for each. The dish pictures are not only beautiful; they genuinely illustrate the expected end result.

    The app ‘Cook Lebanese – 101 recipes’ is available in six languages (Arabic, English, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese). Conveniently, all the listed ingredients are readily available anywhere in the world, and all recipes can be emailed to friends with a click of a button. In a nutshell, that’s the Lebanese culinary heritage meeting the entire world, 21st century style.

    “Food is at the heart of our lives”, says Labaki. “It’s a great vehicle for drawing people together, and introducing them to new experiences and cultures. It is also such a huge part of our heritage, and we hope to keep it alive on the web with shahiya.com.”


    Cook Lebanese is available on the iPhone App Store
    at: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cook-lebanese-101-recipes/id443934198?mt=8&ls=1#

    For additional information about Cook Lebanese, including screenshots, a demo video and more, please visit http://shahiya.com/english/app_iphone.aspx or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Z_t61HlEmU


    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    Introducing Fouad Kassab, the Food Blogger in "Helwe Beirut"



    The focus of this segment is to introduce food blogger, Fouad Kassab, writer of the Food blog to the Lebanese. Fouad is especially known in Australia, where he resides with his Australian wife and adorable baby girl. He writes mostly of  regional cuisine, emphasizing the love of ingredients, flavors, and how to put them together to make delicious foods. We met through the great maze of the world wide web. On his summer visit to Lebanon, we met in person and instantly hit it off. We discussed for hours our common passion - food! The Food Blog is an interesting escape for all foodies alike, especially those interested in Middle Eastern foods with an emphasis on Lebanese cuisine. It is very informative and skillfully designed. I invite you to drop in and visit Fouad's world!

    To read an interview of his work, click here.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    Apple Season in Mayrouba



    Therese is a special lady! She is a small scale producer from the Souk el Tayeb "family". What I did not know is that she is also a school teacher. She is so proud of her mother's village and really made it a point to show it off. She reminisces of her carefree childhood where her family would live from the harvest of nature. She shared with us her apple jam because it was an important part of the mouneh every year in her home. The village of Mayrouba (38 km from Beirut) is known for its delicious apples, what better way to introduce viewers to this sweet recipe. Thanks Therese!
    The jam cooks slowly emitting a delicious aroma
    Different flavors add a special touch to the jam
    Apple chips drying in the autumn sun

    Thursday, October 6, 2011

    Jibneh baladi "White Cheese"



    Jibneh baladi is the cheese made in high mountains all over Lebanon by shepherds and their families. It is very delicious. Often the milk is derived from a mix of goat and sheep milk. The milk of the sheep gives the cheese a stronger taste because of the percentage of fat available in the milk. Charbel Chamoun and his family were so kind to me during our shooting and I felt right at home amidst all these beautiful animals. The technique of production to make the cheese is not so difficult, the result is well worth it. The milk is usually not pasteurized. To prevent any health problems, the animals are kept clean and free from any diseases. This and many other recipes will be included in my next book CHEESE. 

    Saturday, October 1, 2011

    La Pizza a Cheese 2011



    The president of the AssociazioneVerace Pizza Napoletana talking about PIZZA

    One of the highlights of visiting CHEESE in Bra, Italy this fall was to train (for two hours) with people from the Verace Napoletana Pizza Association. You could say it was a dream come true for me to meet with these fine people. Why, you may ask. I have had a passion for pizza-making for such a long time. Those who know me, know this. In fact, very often I invite my friends and family for pizza because I really enjoy baking and eating pizza. My Man’oushé book started with a dream of going to Italy and doing a thorough study on the pizza. One sees the grass greener on the other side always, yet I was wise enough to carry out this dream in my own country in search of all the baked foods in a typical street corner Lebanese bakery. The Verace chef showed us how to make the pizza according to the standards and regulation set by the association. I met a chef lately in Lebanon, owner of da Giovanni and Marguerita. I told him of my meeting with Verace, he did not believe me at first. Later, he was convinced. We shot a segment for Helweh wa Moora (who's name now has changed to Helweh Beirut) one week later for me to stay in the pizza-making mood. The show focused on how to make the best pizza (straight from a fellow who comes from Napoli), stay tuned... Giovanni and I had so much fun that we both forgot that the LBC crew was there, as we talked and talked and talked...He is special!

    I was chosen to try because I asked so many questions
    The dough is garnished with canned San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo cheese, fresh basil leaves, with a drizzle of olive oil
    Before
    After
    Pizza Marinara

    Thursday, September 22, 2011

    Beirut: Schuhbecks Reise in die Welt der Gewürze




    Chef Alfons Schuhbeck is a famous chef from Germany who came to visit Lebanon. I was introduced to him by a dear cousin from Aleppo who lives in Germany. He was treated to a faboulous array of Lebanese food in the presence of talented food producers, thanks to the hospitality of the Doumar family. Great souvenir.

    For further reading (in German), read the blog.

    Schuhbecks with Chef Joe Barza :)

    Schuhbecks with Jean Doumar, our kind host

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011

    Potato Kebbeh

    Eating grapes from Mayrouba
    Today I spent the day EATING! I visited Therese Sarkis at her mother's house in Mayrouba. We shot the segment for Helweh wa Moora : the making of apple jam. I will post the segment when it is diffused. I want to share with you a delicious recipe that Shahideh Saadeh Sarkis shared with me. She made this delicious kebbeh for us while we were at her house, among many other saj items. The recipe differs from the traditional potato kebbeh because instead of using burghul, she uses walnuts. Adding tehini also is innovative.The recipe is said to be from a neighbor in Jounieh who is originally from Deir el Ahmar in the Bekaa.

    Shahida, an 87 year old woman, preparing lovingly the potato kebbeh
     Potato Kebbeh (Kebbet Patata)

    1 kg potato
    1 bunch of fresh mint
    1 medium onion
    1/4 cup of tehini
    200 gr chopped walnuts
    salt 

    Boil the potatoes. When cooked, peel off skin while hot. Grind the potatoes in a vegetable mill in a large mixing bowl. Chop the mint leaves with a sharp knife. Do the same with the onion. Chop the walnuts or crush them with a pestle in a mortar. When potatoes cool, mix all the ingredients together. Slowly combine the tehini into the mixture. Thoroughly mix with hands. Add salt to taste.

    Serve with a bunch of fresh mint leaves and onion. Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

    The final product

    Therese, her daughter, fixing the trimmings for the kebbeh