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Mountain area Jbeil

Mountain area Jbeil

Salma helping a fisherman along the corniche

Salma helping a fisherman along the corniche

Most cities by the sea posses a certain kind of beauty. Beirut is one of those cities. Like a beautiful woman who is aware of her looks and awaits for no adoration, there is blue wherever you look; a clear sky that is adorned with the beautiful blue Mediterranean sea.

It was a brief trip we took- luckily there was enough time to visit a mountain area an hour outside Beirut called Jbeil. The latter was really the high light of our trip. Jbeil had an exciting street life with bars scattered around and little churches placed in various areas.

What was striking about the food we had in Lebanon was how fresh the fruits and vegetables were. Unglamorous pool side dishes like fatoush salad and grilled shishtaouk were excellent. We tried a fusion restaurant called Casablanca– I had a shiitake spring roll dipped with minted soya sauce with grilled Asparagus. imageimage imageLast day in Beirut my daughter, dad and myslef decided to venture into down town- riding in a taxi in Beirut is fun- sometimes taxi drivers can be moody and rude- but the guy that we rode with was witty and we laughed a lot at his jokes- of course he completely ignored our request to not light up a cigarette in the car because we had a child with us. All in all it was a happy and short trip and i have to say it felt safe to be there- even though it was empty of tourists.image

April was a busy month with part of it spent in Jordan. Spring in Jordan is a wonderful time of the year when the air is cool, gentle sun and most places you look at are carpeted with a beautiful green. As soon as we arrived, my good friend Lara told me of a picnic they are arranging forty minutes outside Amman in Madaba. On our little picnic I met a fellow food blogger from Chef Sally Jane– Image of Sally on the barbecue below, cooking her meats. She just moved to Amman and you can visit and see her own view/perspective and experiences of Jordan. One of the heighlights of our Picnic is the Syrian Sheperd we met. The children loved his flock of Sheep.

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IMG_7063IMG_7057IMG_7061 Another rewarding accomplishment in April was my first published article in Food E Mag. I will post here all my future articles for this wonderful e publication.

Even though our trip was a short one we still managed to do lots and cook more than we do in Dubai as we get more people stopping by to eat. Below are images of the organic market on Fridays in Wild Jordan Cafe. It is a fun gathering for the children. We get our organic eggs and vegetables from the north mountains of Ajloun. I cooked a few things that week like Magda’s Greek Rivani cake. We also got to buy strained goat yoghurt. We roll them into balls, dry them in the fridge and preserve them in olive oil. Labneh balls are a daily staple for us. We smudge it on morning toast or spread inside sandwiches.IMG_7245IMG_7190

IMG_7242IMG_7247IMG_7233 IMG_7237IMG_7215IMG_7238 Then we cooked few extra things like Greek Vegetable Briam, my grand mother’s Circassian Gash Bitt which I will post about later. Both vegetarian dishes and both delicious. The Gash Bitt is basically lentils cooked into a paste then garnished with hot chilli pepper oil. Very warming and spicy, suitable in the winter months. There were also wild rice stuffed peppers with potatos and foul medames and tuna salad with sausages for dinner one night. Deserts were the fruit crunch and banoffee pie. IMG_7348IMG_7239IMG_7336IMG_7266IMG_7260IMG_7406We visited a newly opened Palestinian Embroidery Museum in Jordan called Tiraz- it was fascinating to learn about the stitches women wove into their dresses to mark the different stages of their lives. Each village and town had its own distinctive design, colors and textures.

IMG_7310FIMG_7312IMG_7311Finally few items in my kitchen this month are three, each 3 kg Valrhona chocolates from my supplier in Jordan. These go into all sorts of deserts and in particular the chocolate scotch bars from Celia’s recipe. Even since my grand mother past away I’ve wanted to take/keep some of her kitchen items so finally gathered the courage to go into her home and take them.  IMG_7420IMG_7419  IMG_7421And last but not least I leave you with some images from walking around Amman on a friday morning. If you are wondering about other kitchens around the world please visit Celia’s.IMG_7317 IMG_7315IMG_7193

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I love cooking and posting simple recipes that are so quick to cook and yet savoury and wholesome. Foul Medames aka Ful is an Egyptian vegetarian dish made of fava beans and is the epitome of wholesomeness. The most common way to cook these beans is to find the canned variety. I find that the Ma Ling chinese canned Foul to be great in taste and texture. After rinsing, just boil in half a cup of water on medium heat for 5-10 minutes. What makes this dish special is all the stuff that you will add inside and on top of it once it is cooked. I usually boil it with one crushed garlic and 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder and once I feel the beans are soft, I remove off the heat add salt, crushed black peppers and mush half the beans with a fork. I pour in one cup lemon juice, 1/3 cup olive oil and mix it all up. I start layering the cut up vegetables on top: chopped onions, baby ripe tomatoes, parsley, green peppers and green thai chillies (heat from the cooked beans soften the vegetables ever so slightly yet remaining raw and crunchy. I did not write up a specific measurement as you really should add what suits your taste. When I make this I usually use two canned beans and therefore one crushed garlic per can and half teaspoon cumin per can. So the whole lemon is for two cans. Again what brings out the flavour of the beans is the lemon, olive oil and fresh vegetables you add. It is usually dipped and eaten with pitta bread, using your hands! Bon Appetit.IMG_6664IMG_6665

IMG_1130There are certain cooking steps I do when a simple pasta pomodoro is in order. Water has to be salted, oiled and boiling before I drop my spaggheti in. My friend Eugenia used to tell me that the water has to taste like the sea. I know that this will not be waisted as the same water will be used to thicken the sauce. When you cook a pasta as simple as this one, ingredients must speak for themselves. Freshly picked quality ingredients. Yes there are times where I would use tinned tomatoes but not today.I wanted a sweet and light tomato sauce. Not too red but rather pink and viscously mixed with the finest olive oil and wine. So I boiled the tomatoes briefly and sieved through a food mill. I got a light sauce that resembles Gazpacho in consistency. I crushed 3 small garlics and sliced three more very thinly. Placed them in the pan with the cold olive oil and some fresh dried chili flakes. Usually I fry the garlic lightly and as soon as a whiff of it comes out I drop in my tinned tomatoes. Today I simply infused the oil with the garlic and chillies and brought it to a gentle heat. I used some sun dried tomatopaste and a cube of brown sugar to bring all the tastes together. Once the base of the sauce was concocted I dropped the freshly milled tomato juice, dried oregano, red wine, one cup of salted pasta water and the pasta. The latter was hardly cooked as I wanted it to cook in the sauce. It was the lightest and tastiest pasta I have eaten!. Bon Appetit.IMG_1125IMG_1127

IMG_6207 Everything comes out of something right? We get inspired by people, some of us even copy each other (you know who you are). Basically it is rare for someone to simply invent something out of nothing..So Sally in My Custard Pie has inspired me to get back to souping few times a week! She took part in a London Foodie blogger #Jump15. Basically they follow this healthy plan of having soup for lunch everyday. With this inspired healthy foodie plan, one is meant to get into juicing fruits and veggies in the morning, soup for lunch and dinner is what ever you have cooked. I guess it is a way of thinking about what you are eating and increasing greens and fruits. I lasted on it for five minutes. It just didn’t work for me I have to say. I was very hungry way too early in the morning just after my juice and right after my lunch of soup. So I think it suits people whose blood sugar level are stable and have the discipline to wait for supper to have a proper meal. So even though it didn’t fully work for me I loved that I got to make soup few times a week and think of all the things one can do with fruits and vegetables.IMG_6213 Method Boil the corn cobs after washing, in salted water for 30/40 minutes. I used that water for the soup later. Fry the onions, cubed red peppers, cubed celery stalks, celery leaves for 10 minutes in one table spoon half olive oil half grape seed oil. Once everything has softened and cooked scrape the kernels off the cobs and fry with the rest of the vegetables for another 10 minutes , until all cooked and tender. This is when I like to add some seasoning like salt/pepper, half a vegetable cube and add boiled water. Let it all boil for a good 40 minutes ad let it sit and cool down before you liquidate it into soup. I garnished the whole thing with diced red peppers, toasted corn and Plain large doritos and parsley.IMG_6198

Ingredients

  • 3 large corns on the cob, scarped
  • 1 litre salted water
  • 1/2 organic vegetable cube
  • half a large pepper
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 tall peeled cubed celery stalks
  • 1.5 table spoon olive oil/grape seed oil
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