Lebanese Food / Wine and Culinary Traditions

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

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Becoming a Vegetarian... Becoming a Vegan

I woke up early this morning. It's Sunday ... The man who brings me my brown bread for the children's weekly sandwiches can only come on Sunday morning at 8:00!!! It's hard but what can I do? For now, and for years, this has been my only choice. I do bake bread at home but it's not enough to feed the children the whole week. I take bread very seriously and bread coming from the Bekaa Valley made with wholesome ingredients produced for a good cause (to help needy children) is definitely worthwhile.

So folks, I've decided to become a vegetarian. It's been two weeks that I have not eaten meat or chicken. I feel good about this choice. I have more energy and I feel better as a person.

Looking into the matter carefully. I searched the internet to see the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan.

Here is what I found:

The difference between a vegan and a vegetarian is that vegans eliminate all animal products from their diet, including dairy and eggs. (It will come, I'm sure!)

Those following a vegan lifestyle generally do not wear leather and avoid products made from animals such as wool, silk and down. Vegans' tremendous compassion for animals is an abiding, overriding conviction in their lives. (I never wear leather, and have been sensitive to this issue for a long time).

Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish or poultry but they tend to consume dairy products and eggs. Lacto-vegetarians consume dairy products but not eggs, ovo-vegetarians eat eggs but not dairy products and lacto-ovo-vegetarians eat eggs as well as dairy products. Vegetarians also do not eat products that contain gelatine or other meat-based products.

The vegan point of view is that animals are not here to be exploited by man, and that commercialization of animals necessarily involves a fundamental, inhumane component and lack of respect for basic life.

From a nutrition standpoint, the only difference is that vegans need to take a B12 and amino acid supplement, since they have no dietary source of these nutrients. You can get all the nutrients you need on a lacto-ovo (eggs and milk) vegetarian diet without supplements.

Luckily for me, the Lebanese diet is very vegetarian. In fact, I can eat almost everything without meat, except of course kebbeh made with meat. Vegetarian kebbeh substitutes are as flavorful.

I'm convinced for the animals,  for the planet, for my health, always knew it would made perfect sense...

I read a book which just made everything so right ( Kathy Freston's, Veganist).

It's an important book, everyone should read it.
Lebanese cow in spring....she's a vegetarian and look how strong she looks!

To recap:

Veganism is a philosophy and lifestyle whose adherents seek to exclude the use of animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose. Vegans endeavor not to use or consume animal products of any kind. Vegans do not consume meat, eggs, milk or any food that is derived from animals.

Vegetarianism is the practice of a diet that excludes meat (including game and slaughter by-products; fish, shellfish and other sea animals; and poultry). There are several variants of the diet, some of which also exclude eggs. Vegetarians do not eat meat or fish. Some do consume dairy and some vegetarians consume eggs. Lacto-vegetarian: eating dairy products. Ovo-vegetarian: eating eggs. Do not eat gelatin or other animal by products.

Wish me luck on my new diet, a diet for life full of empathy for my fellow friends (animal kingdom) for I know that they feel everything and understand all...

It takes one person at a time to make a difference.

Thank you God for showing me the way...

Thank you mom for leading me there with your books and food philosophy.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Into the Wild Quote

Make a radical change in your lifestyle & begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances & yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, & conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, & hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new & different sun. If you want to get more out of life, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security & adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning & its incredible beauty.” — Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Khebz w Meleh ma3 Barbara - Bread & Salt with Barbara

A video clip made by Independent Productions for a new show we are working on called Khebz w Meleh ma3 Barbara (Bread and Salt with Barbara). The basic idea is breaking bread, sharing food and friendship with people from Lebanon from all communities alike, while keeping our Lebanese culinary heritage alive. Toufic Trabulsi, the director of the video, was able to capture the essence of what I cherish the most in an artistic visual that makes me dream. I am very grateful. I hope one day to be able to find a suitable TV station, sponsor who will be interested to pursue this project. This is where my job stops!... too much of a dreamer to think about something called money and sales ...

NB: We borrowed the song from singer Feyrouz (one of the most prominent Lebanese singer), as this is a "pilot". We will not use it on the show, as it is not ours to keep. We will be working on a single later.

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Time for Change

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."

I'm Ginger

Friday, April 12, 2013

Leaving a Trace

“The only thing of importance, when we depart, will be the traces of love we have left behind.” ~Albert Schweitzer.

Barbara Meats the Fish

Ruby red beetroot infused salmon
A few days ago I was invited by founder of Meat the Fish, Karim Arakji and Reem Azoury (chef consultant) with a very interesting group of people.  Reem and Chef Mohamad Naccache, better known as Chef Mood cooked for us a very delicious meal that I simply could not resist to share with you my beloved readers. Carlos Khachan took care of the wine. We started with a French wine (Saveur de Midi, Corbiere, 2011 made with carignen, and black grenache grapes then we continued with a Lebanese wine (Domaine de Baal) produced in Zahleh from cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah grapes. Last but not least, champagne was served - Charles Weiss. Perfect!
Ruby red, beetroot infused salmon, crudo
Organic salmon sashimi with ginger teriyaki dressing
Mini crab cakes with wasabi mayo
Ginger & garlic stir-fried kale
Oven-roasted brill in wine & lemon Sauce
Squid ink freekeh risotto with mushrooms
Cod fillets, rolled with pine nuts and watercress
Jumbo shrimp, in ginger and peanut sauce over citrus basmati rice
Lemon cauliflower mash
Cinnamon & Brown Sugar Apple Cake

  • 1 Box fresh crab meat 450 Gr. picked free of shells
  • 2 Tbsp. Mayo
  • 1 Tbsp mustard
  • 1 lightly beaten egg
  • 1 small finely chopped red onion
  • 3 Tbsp. previously sauteed yellow onion, cooled
  • 1/4 cups finely chopped parsley & cilantro
  • Chives, if you find any, add around 4 Tbsp.
  • Panko 1/4 cup
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Canola oil for sauteing

  1. Pick through crabmeat to make sure all shells are out, and keep refrigerated.
  2. Saute finely diced yellow onion, till deep caramel color is reached, set aside, till cool or at least at room-temperature
  3. Finely chop red onion
  4. Finely chop all herbs you are using
  5.  Whisk egg
  6. Place crabmeat in a bowl, add all ingredients except egg & panko. Mix gently with a fork until well incorporated. Taste and adjust seasoning now. This is how your crabcakes will taste when you cook them.
  7. Add egg & panko, mix well
  8. Have a sheet pan ready, and start shaping them by placing mixture inside ring. You decide whether you want them mini for an appetizer size, or larger for a nice dinner portion.
  9. Place tray covered with plastic in fridge for at least 2 hours, or overnight. When you take them out to cook, gently take each crabcake and dust it with extra panko so when you cook them, you develop a nice crust.
  10. When you are ready to cook them, place a large non-stick skillet on the heat and add enough oil to cover the base. Once the oil is hot, slide them gently and make sure not to overcrowd your pan, they should not touch each other. After a couple of minutes, flip them with a narrow steel spatula. Let them cook another minute. You need to cook them on medium heat to get a nice brown crust.
  11. Slide tray into pre- heated oven, let them cook for another 6-8 minutes.

A good way to hold the crabcakes until you are ready to serve them, is to keep them in the oven at the lowest temperature. Do not hold for more than 30 mins. or they risk getting dry.

To serve:

Serve with your favourite greens and a wasabi mayo or, on a soft hamburger bun with MarieRose sauce & lettuce. A good accompaniment is to make cole slaw or a potato salad.

Serving: If you are making mini crab cakes, 1 box will serve 6.
If you are making larger ones, you will get around 4 cakes.
If you are making more than amount provided, double or triple.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Horeca 2013 - Atelier Gourmand

It's that time of year again HORECA 2013. Come and join me at Atelier Gourmand where I will host some amazing people. We'll simply cook, talk and eat!!!!