Archive for March, 2010

Kafta Meshwi – A Barbecue Must Have

March 27th, 2010 Leave a reply »
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Moving on to serious business: Lebanese grills…

Kafta Meshwi
(aka. grilled minced meat on skewers, also spelled kofta, kufta) is an extraordinary dish that both adults and kids love. After watching my 3 year-old and 18 months-old nieces gobble it as if they hadn’t eaten in days, I knew I had found a treasure: how to make kids eat healthy food at a barbecue (instead of chips & peanuts). Kafta Meshwi is a must-have at any barbecue.

Kafta Meshwi can be presented in a few ways: as meatballs or as a long strip on skewers. Here is a recipe for kafta meatballs…

Preparation phase: 15min (not including grilling)
Servings: 8 BBQ skewers

Kafta Meatballs

Ingredients: 1 pound of ground beef or lamb, ½ onion, 1 cup of parsley (about ½ bush), 1 tablespoon of Lebanese 7 spices, pinch of salt. Optional: peppers, onions, mushrooms to place on skewers

1. Place the wooden skewers in a tall cup or vase with cold water. This will prevent the skewers from burning too quickly on the grill
2. Cut the onion and parsley into very small pieces.
3. In a mixing bowl, place all of the ingredients: ground beef or lamb, chopped onion & parsley, Lebanese 7 spices and salt


Kafta Preparation

Making Kafta Meatballs:
4. Now, roll up your sleeves and dig in. Mix all of the ingredients with your hands until well blend
5. Then, make small compact meatballs
6. Optional: if you wish to add veggies to your skewers, cut them into large pieces: peppers, mushrooms, onions etc…
7. Place the meatballs & veggies on the skewers just like you would place pearls on a string. Poke the meatball with the skewers and let it slide slowly. If your meatball is not compact enough, it will break & fall. Then, place the skewers gently on a plate.



Raw Kafta



Grilling: Grease the grill with oil spray and place the kafta gently on the grill at medium heat. When one side becomes dark brown, slowly turn the kafta over. Make sure the kafta does not stick to the grill. If you don’t have a grill, broiling the kafta in the oven also works – but don’t forget to turn them over so the meatballs cook on all sides.


Kafta can also be cooked on a plate in the oven with tomatoe sauce. That is called kafta bil sanieh, as opposed to kafta meshwi which is on the grill. To be continued …


Have you ever had kafta? Tell us about it…

Guacamole – A Great Dip for Grills

March 22nd, 2010 Leave a reply »
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Guacamole is not a Lebanese dish, but it is one that I make to accompany Lebanese grills. As spring is just around the corner here in sunny California (and I hear on the east coast too), I have decided to showcase all of my Lebanese barbecue tips, starting with this terrific dip. Guacamole is a great accompaniment to Shish Taouk, Kafta Meshwi, Kibbeh just like Humus and Babaghanoush.Here is my famous Guacamole recipe.

Estimated time: 20min
Servings: 8 (medium-size bowl)

 

Guacamole
 

 
Ingredients: 3 ripened avocados, 2 tomatoes, ½ onion, 3 tablespoons of crème fraiche or sour cream, 1 lemon, ½ tablespoon of paprika & salt to taste. A little bit of crushed garlic - maybe 1 clove - is optional

1. If the avocados are too hard and unripe, place them in a brown bag until they become soft. Then peel & cut the avocados into small pieces. Place the avocados in a mixing bowl and mash them using a fork into a smooth purée
2. Add 3 tablespoons of crème fraiche or sour cream and mix well. You can make Guacamole with Lebne, a Lebanese cream, but the dip does not taste the same
3. Press 1 lemon and add the juice to the mixture
4. Cut 2 tomatoes and ½ onion into small dices and add to the avocado dip
5. Add ½ tablespoon of paprika as well as some salt for taste and mix well
6. Decorate with a little bit of paprika on top
 

The other day, I needed to make guacamole for a party but my avocados were too green and I had no time to wait until they ripened. So I used a food processor and it worked very well, except that my guacamole became a perfect purée with no chunks of avocado - which is of course the best part of a hand-made guacamole – chunks of avocado. If you use a food processor, make sure not to process the tomatoes & onion. These should be added after you have processed the avocado, the crème fraiche and lemon juice.

 

So, how do you usually like your guacamole dip?

 

Crêpes – A Mardi Gras Tradition

March 1st, 2010 Leave a reply »
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Although Crêpes are originally from France, they are very common in Lebanon. Two weeks ago was Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), a celebration with parades, parties and big meals. In France, the tradition is to eat crêpes. When I was young, I loved crêpes so much that I established a new Sunday-night tradition: crêpes and hot chocolate. I have baked crêpes since my childhood and have perfected this long-lasting family recipe.

Crêpes are not hard to make, but there is a clear technique required to perfect the art of crêpe making. It may have taken me 1 hour to cook my first crêpe, but now it takes me 15min to make the batter and 15 more to cook about 20 crêpes (while handling 2-3 pans on the stove). Here is my trick.
 
Preparation phase: 30min
Resting phase: 2hrs or more
Cooking phase: 1hr for 15-20 crêpes

Servings: 20 crêpes

Crêpe Desert

Ingredients: 2 cups of flour (white or whole wheat), 2 cups of milk, 3 eggs, ½ cup of beer (or water), 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a pinch of salt

Preparation Phase – making the batter (~ 30min)

1. Place 2 cups of all-purpose flour (white or whole wheat) in a mixing bowl and create a small well. Then add three eggs in the middle as shown below

Crêpe Recipe 1

2. Slowly pour 2 cups of milk into the center of the mixing bowl. While pouring, whisk the mixture slowly in the same direction (either clockwise or counter-clock wise, do not switch from one direction to the next and back…). This will help blend the flour and the milk.

 
Crêpe Recipe 2

3. When the flour, eggs and milk are well blend, you will still find small lumps of flour. Do not panic, the lumps will go away during the resting phase. Add ½ cup of beer (or water), 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Whisk together

Resting Phase (~ 2hrs)

4. Cover the mixture and place it in the refrigerator for 2 hours or more – the longer, the better

Cooking Phase (~ 1hr)

5. When you are ready to cook the crêpes, take the mixture out of the refrigerator. You will see two layers: the flour and milk will be separated from the beer/water & oil. Blend the mixture into a smooth cream
6. Heat a lightly oiled frying pan over medium heat. Then scoop about ¼ cup of batter onto the pan. Tilt the pan in a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly. As a rule of thumb: the thinner the crêpe, the better it tastes
7. When the borders of the crêpe turn light brown, flip the crêpe over and let it cook on both sides. Make sure to grease your pan after cooking every 5 crêpes, or the batter will stick to the pan

Crêpe Recipe 3

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My Favorite Toppings

Salty Crêpes:
- Ham & Cheese
- Turkey/Chicken & Cheese
- Smoked Salmon with Sour Cream, Capers & Lemon Juice

Sweet Crêpes:
- Fruits (bananas, strawberries etc…)
- Nutella
- Whip Cream
- Ice Cream
- Sugar / Honey / Maple Syrup

** Feel free to contact me or leave a comment if you have any questions about the ingredients and recipes.