Lebanese Food / Wine and Culinary Traditions

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

Monday, May 30, 2011

Barbara Preparing Hrissé in Arsoun Helwe w Morra

Hisham, Nawal and their two boys really went out of their way to make this day special. I organized the next week, with a group of friends, a picnic with Cuisinette - Arsoun. It was a hit! Everyone was so delighted by their hospitality, their good food, and this sensational scenery. I invite you to join their fan page on facebook.

Maher helping to build the fire
The wheat is added to the stock
LBC crew in action
It's hard work to mix the wheat
The finished product
Nawal prepares a tabbouleh
Picnic in Arsoun
Nawal is very generous
A lovely picnic with a special family
Last but not least, a hot cup of Arabic coffee

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Barbara in Zghorta Preparing Kebbeh "Helwe w Morra"

I absolutely love Suzanne, why? because she flows with positive energy all the time. You can't help but squeeze her to death - she's so cute!!! Anyway, I've learned through all this experience that rarely do you find people who cook that are not sympatico! I say rarely because unfortunately a few exist. I won't go into that now. The goat herders and their family I met during this trip really touched me. Barbara, the little girl is very smart but unfortunately her and her siblings cannot go to school because they are not declared legally. They need our help. They are growing up without an education and I think that is a real shame. I will try to do my best to do something to help with the help of my friends Sarkis and Suzanne. I'll let you in on a little secret, "this is the best kebbeh nayeh in the world!" I'm sure you can tell how much I enjoyed it. I really love my job!

Here are the ingredients for Suzanne's kebbeh recipes:

Ingredients for the Kebbeh bi Sanniyeh:
for a 60 cm cooking tray

1 1/2 kg of meat (cow) - ask the butcher for "habra" ground twice! If you ground the meat at home, add 1/4 cup of ice cubes when turning the food processor.
4 1/2 cups of burgul (1 kg)
1 tsp of salt

for the filling:
1 large ground onion
1 1/2 tsp of 7-Spice mixture
2 tsp of salt

Ingredients for the Kebbeh Nayeh:
1 kg goat meat
1 cup of burghul
1 1/2 white pepper
1 ground onion
The best way to learn is to help out
Kebbeh bil saniyeh before it's cooked
The Doueihey family with my daughter Maria
Can you taste it??????
Shooting for the show
Love this romantic setting
Thanks Michele! 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Local Lebanese Spices

This is the chef's spice box at Abdel Wahab, the restaurant where I got a training in Lebanon.

Lebanese spices are important to flavor our local dishes, but do you know exactly what they are? I went to visit a local spice merchant last week and discussed the local varieties with him.

In a nutshell here is a simple list:

1. white pepper
2. ginger
3. falafel mix
4. anis
5. 7-spices

6. red pepper powder (Indian)
7. red pepper powder (Aleppo)
8. black pepper
9. cloves
10. kebbeh mix
11. nutmeg
12. allspice (called sweet pepper in Arabic)
13. cinammon sticks
14. cumin
15. shawarma mix (chicken / meat)
16. caraway
17. sumac
18. zaatar
19. camounieh (Southern cumin mix)

Of course we use bay leaves, basil, and many other aromatic herbs too ... Now you must be wondering which spice for which recipe. This entails Lebanese cuisine 101, soon!

Bread Movement

With graceful motion of the hands, paper-thin bread is made in Lebanon
Bread and anything that has to do with the subject is very important to me. I am making bread on a weekly basis for my family, not only because I think it tastes better but because the essential food of my children needs to be baked by their mother, I believe ... Their is a certain engergy that transcends into the dough making it nourishing both to the body and to the soul.

During the last Terra Madre, I met founder of the Bread Movement Nadezhda Savova. Bread Movement was founded in Bulgaria in 2009. It is associated with the Slow Food International Movement and Terra Madre Network.I highly suggest you visit the link provided above and read all about it. The great thing about all this is that Nadezhda will be visiting Lebanon in June. Bread and bread-making in Lebanon is indeed quintessential, we will have to celebrate its existence, somehow...Does anyone have any ideas to propose to Nadezhda? Ideas are welcomed. Let's open a Bread House in Lebanon.

I quote from the website:
"The movement inspires people from around the world to join and make the first step toward sustainable, responsible lifestyle: making one’s own bread, and making it collectively as a leisure entertainment! "

"Workshops with different religious groups and immigrant communities, as in Cape Town with Muslims, Catholics, Protestants, African animists, and atheists, showed the unifying and peace-building power, not in inter-religious “dialogue” but inter-religious “making” the most basic and universal human sustenance for life! Bread as a symbol and as a tactile experience also embraces spiritual and religious values, and communities within the BREAD Movement are encouraged to think how to inter-weave the community ecology with local spiritual practices, so sustainability would have strong roots in people’s hearts and minds as much as in their local soil."

The site goes on to say, Why BREAD?

I quote ...
  • Bread is universally present and loved around the world (even rice and corn-based cultures have rice and corn breads), consumed by people without division of economic status, age, gender, ethnicity, religion, education,etc: therefore, bread is a universal experience and a universal language to unite and educate
  • Can be made by anyone, from child to grandparent, and is at the same time the most entertaining cooking activity
  • When people share food, they are very much likely to establish peace and cooperation
  • Creating, not passively consuming, bread and art inspires the confidence that there are creative solutions to any problem, and that problems are not as grave as imagined
  • Tactile and taste experiences (bread-making stimulates all five senses!) develop particular parts of the brain, as studied by psychologists, which makes one perceive the world differently and ask deeper, critical questions: “Where does food come from and why? How do I treat my body, and what other food – intellectual and spiritual – do I need for a meaningful life?”
 Their motto is " grain by grain, one bread at a time"

Because I have been photographing this subject for years in Lebanon, here is a glimpse as to what bread means to us as Lebanese, it's the common denominator in our diversified country ... 

photo Raymond Yazbeck

photo Raymond Yazbeck


Friday, May 20, 2011

A Cheese Shop in Beirut

I was browsing through the Commerce du Levant which I think everyone should purchase this month because they have a special on Beirut restaurants, cafes and bars prepared by Hodema, a hospitality consulting service firm based in Beirut and in major Arab cities. I am dying to go and see this place, especially now that I am working on my new book dealing with dairy products—cheese included of course. Please if anyone has been to the shop and would like to comment, please do so! Here is the article, as written in the magazine (in French).

Fromages alléchants
Muriel Rozelier, Mai 2011

Lorsqu’on est épris de tome de brebis, de Saint-Nectaire ou, pire, d’un Munster fondant… les adresses de qualité à Beyrouth se comptent sur les doigts de la main. D’où notre chapeau bas à ce nouveau “comptoir” ouvert dans la descente de l’hôtel Alexandre, qui propose quelque 85 sortes de fromage à des prix raisonnables. Ce printemps, sa boutique s’étoffe d’une terrasse pour offrir à ses clients la possibilité de grignoter sur le pouce une assiette fromages et vins. « Il suffit de composer son assiette, de choisir sa boisson au comptoir. On pèse le tout. On ajoute cinq dollars pour le service, sans autre surcharge. »
Jean, Charles, rue Adib Ishak, Achrafié, ouvert de 9h à 19h en semaine, jusqu’à 20h les week-ends, Tél. : 70/324253

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Barbara in Barouk Helwe w Morra

This is how a community of folks from the Shouf make something exceptional with food. I have always been very much impressed by their mouneh production. When I started my mouneh book, I was very much influenced by the wide range of products available at the reserve. Rizkallah, a charming man, whose job is to coordinate the whole process was kind enough to introduce me to some of his food producers. The area is really special and I respect very much the fact that it is being protected from man's bulldozers. Thank you! This trip was magical, the bread-making exceptional. The ritual, very enlightening - and I always say we can perpetuate it all over the country in every household. Start with purchasing a saj and the rest will come easily. Let us keep these traditions alive, for the sake our children.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Barbara with Habib Honey on Helwe w Morra

I hope you enjoy this report, it was so much fun to shoot it. Maurice and his wife are wonderful people who make an honest living working very hard. Maurice is passionate about his work. It currently shows. I have visited Maurice and his bees many times during my journey. It is an amazing experience. His story is featured in the Mouneh book with information concerning honey and the yearly Lebanese honey calendar. In a nutshell, honey is the mouneh of the bees and we are profiting from all their hard work. Instead of sugar, I add a teaspoon of honey everyday in my morning coffee - it makes it so much more special. You can visit Maurice and his family every Saturday at Souk el Tayeb in Downtown and every Tuesday at the Earth Market in Hamra, opposite of Bread Republic.

Bees feed off these beautiful scented orange blossoms
Roula Sidnawi, every week works very hard to make the show happen
Simply incredible
This baby goat took me for her mom
The LBC crew wearing the protection gear
In action!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

International Museum Day

The University of Balamand cordially invites you to the celebration
of the International Museum Day (IMD 2011) at the Permanent Ethnographic Exhibition,
Goat House - Main Campus - Al Kura, on May 18th 2011, at 4:30 p.m.
Theme of the International Museum Day:

Museum and Memory
4: 30 p.m. Visit of the Photo Exhibition Dr. Houda Kassatly

5: 30 p.m. Signing of books
Dr. Houda Kassatly
Mrs. Barbara Massaad
Mrs. Noor Majdalani

6: 00 p.m. Concert by Soprano Ghada Ghanem accompanied by her Oriental
Chamber Music Orchestra who will be performing o ld forgotten
songs from our musical oriental heritage.

7:00 p.m. Reception

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Today in Zghorta ...

Simply amazing
I'm so lucky to be able to meet so many wonderful people
A family of seven children, here are a few
Suzanne Doueihey and I with the hmarr!