Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

November Challenge is Representing the Lebanese Cuisine

Our November Challenge is hosted by Joumana from and I will host the savoury dish as Amal is very busy with her new Art Studio, Please check it out she has beautiful paintings for sale.

Walima November cooking challenge will represent the Lebanese Cuisine. Talking about Lebanon which comes from Laban or the high White Mountain, this also reflects our food and what a coincidence that both recipes have dairy

Sweet Challenge:The Bread of the Seraglio ( Aysh el-Saraya)
1 round loaf white bread, about 8 inches in diameter, 1 day old
9 ounces golden superfine sugar
4 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
scant 1/2 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
1 tablespoon rose water
1 3/4 cups Lebanese clotted cream or Ashta 2 tablespoons pistachios, ground medium-fine
Cut off the crust of the bread and keep for bread crumbsSlice off the top of the white bread to get one flat slice about 1 1/2 inch thick and put it in a round serving dish about the same size as the bread.Tear the rest of the bread in thick pieces and use them to fill the gaps in the dish.
Put the sugar, water and lemon juice in a deep frying pan and place over medium heat. Bring to the boil and cook, stirring constantly, so that the sugar does not crystallize in places, for about 20 minutes or until it is caramelized.Towards the end of the cooking time, measure 7 ounces of water and bring to a boil in a teakettle. When the sugar is caramelized, start adding the water gradually without taking the sugar mixture off the heat. Be very careful, because the sugar will start spluttering and you could burn yourself!Pour the boiling syrup all over the bread and transfer the soaked bread to the pan. Place over medium heat and cook pressing the bread with the back of a spoon to mash it and make it soak up the syrup.Clean the edges of the serving dish and slide the bread back onto it, spreading it evenly across the dish. Let it cool then cover the bread entirely with cream.
Chill then cover with pistachios right before serving.
Clotted cream or Ashta:
2 slices of white bread without the crust
2 cups half-and-half
Cut the bread in small pieces and place in a saucepanPour the cream or half-and-half over the bread Bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring often.Cool then refrigerate. It should keep for 4 to 5 days. Makes 1 pint.Makes 4 servings.Source: Lebanese Cuisine by Anissa Helou
Our Savoury Dish will :

Lebanese Style Sheesh Barak

1 ½ kg of plain Greek style yogurt or home made
1/2 quantity of Ajeen or basic dough recipe
3 cloves garlic, crushed with a dash of salt
1 cup finely chopped fresh mint (if fresh is not available use couple spoons dried)
½ kg (16 oz) ground meat (either beef or lamb)
3 medium sized onions, finely chopped
¼ cup fried pine nuts
1 tspn salt
¼ tspn ground allspice
¼ tspn ground cinnamon
2 tbls butter

Basic Dough or Ajeen
(this is used in many savoury pastries)
1 kg (32 oz / 5 cups) plain flour
1 ¼ cups warm water
½ cup olive oil
½ cup vegetable oil
2 tbls salt
2 tbls sugar
Sift the flour into a working surface.Mix in salt and sugar. Make a well in the centre.Pour olive oil and vegetable oil in the well.Mix the dry ingredients into the liquid.Add water gradually. Knead the dough into a ball (if the dough is too stiff add some water).Knead the dough on a floured working surface until it is smooth and elastic this can be done in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, or in a food processor.Form the dough into a ball and put into a lightly floured bowl, covered with a damp cloth. Leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.

Cooked Yogurt
1 1/2 kg of plain Greek Style Yogurt
or home made you can check my blog for home made yogurt (you can check my blog for homemade yogurt)
2 tbls cornstarch
1 tspn salt
1 cup water + 1 beaten egg (or egg's white)
Strain yoghurt using a smooth colander into a pot. Add egg or egg's white.Dissolve cornstarch in 1 cup of water. Stir into cold yoghurt for 2 minutes.Place on medium heat, stirring constantly until it boils.
Preparing the Sheesh Barak
Roll out the dough with a rolling pin to about 1 cm thickness. Using a round cookie cutter (medium size), press over dough to get equal rounds.
Fry onion in shortening till color changes a little. Add meat, salt, allspice and cinnamon. Stir occasionally and fry for 7-8 minutes. Add pine nuts and Mix. Drain the mixture as butter would affect closing the pastries.
Spread the round a little with your fingers. Place 1 tspn of the filling on it. Fold over one end to make a semi-circle. Press edges down to seal. Take the two ends from the straight side, bring them together to make a small ring. Press well.
Repeat till rounds are done.You will have left over dough , (this is the best part) roll the remaining dough in thin rope and cut into diagonals. Place the stuffed dough and the cut pastries in a tray with parchment, Bake in a hot oven (400F) for 10 minutes or until golden. During this time prepare and cook the yogurt and when it starts to boil add the baked pastries to the boiling cooked yoghurt one by one. Let it boil over low heat for 10 minutes or till pastries are cooked.
Note: The egg and the cornstarch are there as stabilizers so that the yogurt won’t separate.Make sure to cook the yogurt on medium low heat , high heat could ruin the sauce.
In a separate skillet you’ll want to quickly sauté the garlic and mint in one tbsp extra virgin olive oil and add it to the Sheesh Barak. cook for another 2 minutes .
Serve hot in bowls, or you can serve with it Lebanese Rice Pillaf with Vermicelli.
I am attaching a link to Tony Tahhan Step by Step recipe preparation
This is the link to my homemade Yogurt