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The Perfect Baba Ghanouj Recipe

By | lebanese food, lebanon food, Recipes, Uncategorized | 33 Comments

The Perfect Baba Ghanouj Recipe

To reach the goal of baba ghanouj perfection
For the eggplant fruit you must have affection
This Lebanese dip is destined to be great
So don’t settle for something second rate
Start off with fruit that are heavy and shiny
While not too big and not too tiny
Pierce holes in the skin so as not to explode
While preparing them as we are told
These unnecessary explosions during preparation
Give good Middle Easterners a bad reputation

To cook them you’ll need a charcoal barbecue
For neither gas nor heat beads will do
If you wish to get that authentic flavour
Think charcoal an ingredient you should learn to savour
The eggplants must grill, their skins must burn
So that deep, rich smokiness they truly earn
When they give up their form, go limp and sag
Put them in a bowl covered with a plastic bag
They’ll continue to soften, the smokiness will infuse
Into the flesh until the heat would diffuse
Then take them out, peal and drain them well
Do not rinse with water as it will break the spell
Those small specks of black are a desirable thing
For the story of charcoal they will loudly sing

Once well drained and cool, you’re ready to proceed
Throw the eggplants into a bowl, cover with sesame seed
That has been pressed into tahini. It’s true Lebanese
Tahini is best, so only use that please
Two tablespoons per medium fruit you’ll require
And the juice of half a lemon to give some fire
But remember that lemon juice is only there
To compliment the creaminess of the tahini affair
The taste of lemon juice should not be intrusive
Its existence must remain elusive
Crush a bit of garlic with a teaspoon of salt
Before you use too much, you really must halt
In the same way the lemon’s used discretely
The garlic’s existence should almost completely
Be hidden, it’s there just to balance the fruit
A heavy hand and garlic turns into a brute

It’s really that simple, needing no herb nor spice
But here’s my most important piece of advice
Mix only with a fork and not a blender
For machines destroy the textural splendor
Season to taste, adjust as you wish
And there you have it, the perfect dish

Eton War – A Lebanese Take on a Traditional Mess

By | Recipes, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

A celebration of what is truly good about Summer, Eton Mess is the ultimate expression of the season in a jumbled mess of ripe, intensely red fruit and richly satisfying milkiness. Strawberries and cream with crunchy meringues in between. It doesn’t get much better than that.

This one however, is not an Eton Mess, but rather a Lebanese take on British tradition. And since the Lebanese are prone to turning a mess into something much more serious, I’ve decided to call this invention an Eton War.

In my opinion, the ingredient that replaces cream in this recipe is going to become one of the hottest items in the kitchen’s repertoire in the years to come, once western chefs are switched on to it – at which point, sadly, it will stop being thought of as a traditional Middle-Eastern ingredient, and the world will think it’s a molecular gastronomist’s invention. The ingredient is called natef, and it rocks. It is made by boiling soapwort which extracts its saponin content, and then by whipping the liquid which foams up into a cloud of whiteness. The foam is neutral in flavour and can be given sweetness by using a heavy sugar syrup. This is gently added to the mixture as you continue whipping, like you would with an Italian meringue. The mixture becomes glossy and velvety as the sugar syrup is added. The texture that results is unlike anything you’ve ever tried. It’s thicker and silkier than cream, more luscious and truly unique. A sweet, delicious shaving cream is the closest description I can give you.

To continue with the theme, I macerated the strawberries in orange blossom water and used pistachio meringues – pistachios are traditionally paired with natef in a dessert called karabij halabiyyeh. The result is different to an Eton Mess, but equally as crave inducing.

Soapwort can be found at traditional Chinese herbalists. For more detail on natef, including step-by-step instructions on how to perform this miraculous transformation, read Anissa Helou’s post here.

the(sydney)magazine showcase gala dinner

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I thought I’d turn your attention to an event coming up this weekend. On Sunday, the (sydney) magazine is organising a dinner with a group of some of the best Middle-Eastern chefs in the world to take place at The Ivy Room. The complete list of chefs is below, and I am so excited to see Joe Barza, Kamal Mouzawak, Greg Malouf and Anissa Helou representing Lebanon. These ten chefs will probably never be cooking together again, so this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to try Middle-Eastern food prepared with theĀ  highest level of skill, right here in Sydney. Are you going to meet me there? Hurry and get those tickets and leave a comment to let me know you are coming.

The following is the text from the Sydney International Food Festival Site. Click here for direct link. The price on the website says $250, but if you go here, you can get it for $175!!

the(sydney)magazine showcase gala dinner

To celebrate the World Chef Showcase’s Middle Eastern theme, the(sydney)magazine presents the Showcase Gala Dinner.

Some of the top names from around the Middle East will cook at The Ivy Room alongside some of our most talented locals.

Ten chefs – including the fabulous Yotam Ottolenghi from London’s Ottolenghi food stores; Musa Dagdeviren, who owns three celebrated restaurants in Istanbul; and Kamal Mouzawak, who founded the first farmers’ market in Beirut – will each create a dish on the night.

Melbourne stars Greg Malouf (MoMo) and Ismail Tosun (Gigi Baba) will also dazzle you with their dishes.

Taste the best of the Middle East, traditional and modern:

1. Joe Barza, The Chase, Beirut

2. Musa Dagdeviren, Ciya, Istanbul

3. Kamal Mouzawak, Tawlet Souk el Tayeb, Beirut

4. Anissa Helou, Middle East food expert and cooking teacher

5. Yotam Ottolenghi, Ottolenghi, London

6. Greg Malouf, MoMo, Melbourne

7. Somer Sivrioglu, Efendy, Balmain

8. Ismail Tosun, GigiBaba, Melbourne

9. Lauren Murdoch, Pastis, Sydney

10. Alfie Spina, Ash St Cellar, Sydney

The cost includes a 10-course banquet, including all wine.

When: October 10, 7pm-11.30pm.

Cost: $175 (see above)

Bookings & Enquiries
Phone: 0292403000

The Foodies’ Guide to Sydney 2011 Features The Food Blog!

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“Fouad Kassab’s Lebanese heritageĀ  means you get an articulate expert’s views of Middle Eastern food, from the etiquette of eating Lebanese bread to a recipe for muhmmara[sic], a roast capsicum dip. He explores the culture of food and offers the occasional restaurant review too.” The Foodies’ Guide to Sydney 2011

On Friday, I received one of the most wonderful of surprises: a message from Billy Law letting me know that The Food Blog has been featured in this year’s fantastic publication, The Foodies’ Guide to Sydney 2011. Today, I took Lainy and Sara for our first family trip to a shopping centre and managed to sneak away from the battering prams to get myself a shiny copy of the guide from the newsagents’. I glowed as I rustled through the pages to find the mention, delighting in reading every word. I was so proud I even showed the write-up to the check out girl, who was suitably impressed. The guide has highlighted five of Sydney’s food blogs and I am honestly speechless that mine was one of them. It certainly is something when a publication mentions you. I mean, someone has spent real money printing this book, and decided to commit some of that ink budget on me! I am also super pleased with the write-up itself; whoever wrote it really showed an understanding of the spirit of what The Food Blog is about. Here’s a big thank you to the good folk from The Foodies’ Guide to Sydney.

Truly, I’m over the moon. This blog has given me so much. Because of it, I’ve had the incredible opportunity to be a restaurant reviewer for the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide 2010 and 2011, the Good Pub Food Guide 2011 and Cheap Eats 2011; I’ve hosted my own radio segment on SBS, I’ve been interviewed on ABC Radio and I’ve met some seriously, seriously cool foodists.

But as I reflect back on the 4 years this blog has been breathing for, I realise, I’ve only kept going because of your kind words. Dear reader, your comments and encouragement have always been the motivation for me to continue expressing myself, so that I share my culture and heritage with you. And so, I want to take this opportunity to thank you. For being there.

P.S. Congratulations to A Table for Two, Elegant Sufficiency, Grab Your Fork and Inside Cuisine on their mention. Sydney Food Blogs ROCK! (feeling uneasy about my generalisation) Go Sydney Food Blogs!

P.P.S The Foodies’ Guide to Sydney graphic has been adapted from the original on Kate Gibbs’ wonderful blog, The Kitchen Inc.

Spring Time in Picton

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These are photos from the weekend that just passed. Picton is greener than ever and as you can see, the plum blossoms are quite the sight. Come Christmas, the trees will be bearing sweet, heady fruit, ready to be mixed with vodka and sugar for the winter months to come.

Wysteria in bloom

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Rosemary flowers and picket fence

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Rosemary flowers

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Plum blossoms

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