Jan 04 2011

Jenelle’s Lebanese Kitchen

Posted by Jenelle in #blog12daysxmas, Life in New York / 3 Comments

Today I set about cooking a Lebanese feast of food in our little kitchen and it was so relaxing. It is nice to mix up normal midweek meals and being home at the moment means I can do things like this… LOVE IT! In case you didn’t know, from mum’s side of the family I am 25% Lebanese. Which means it is the perfect excuse to cook Lebanese food!

Today’s menu for dinner was –

Tabouli.. if you are a regular reader you know my strong feelings about tabouli!
Cabbage Rolls (Malfouf Mehshi)
Beans and tomatoes (Lubiyeh)
Lebanese Rice Pilaf

What I love is these recipes, while they take a lot of time and work – they are worth it. The tastes are amazing and it is so healthy – you really can’t go wrong! Mmmmm!

So first, I started making the cabbage rolls which take the most time.

I made the stuffing – which is very lean, very good quality beef (or you can use lamb), rice, tomatoes and some spices.

Preparing cabbage rolls

Preparing the cabbage leaves was the most difficult. I cored a whole cabbage and placed it in a pot of boiling water, then after two minutes, took it out, peeled off what leaves I could and then put it back in. It isn’t the easiest task hand peeling a boiling whole cabbage but it was a nice adventure!

Cabbage cored Boiling the cabbage

I cut the main stem of each of the leaves out of them – as having the core there makes them diffcult to roll. This lined the bottom of the pot so they don’t stick.

Lining the pot with cabbage stems

The cabbage got smaller…

Getting down the end of the cabbage

I then set about stuffing and rolling the leaves and filling the pot.

Stuffing the leaves

I put a few cloves of garlic down in with all the rolls.

Garlic cloves get placed in the pot

Then I had a mix of canned tomatoes and water that I poured slowly over the rolls. This is the liquid they would stew in. Note – in the end it was way too much liquid. I took some out and after speaking to mum made a little mix of some tomato paste and sugar that I poured in to make up for the watery consistency.

Pouring the tomato/water mix over the rolls

The little plate held down the rolls to stop them from popping up. Our dinner plates were a little too snug and I didn’t want to get it stuck in there so opted for a smaller plate instead and it was fine.

Plate to keep the rolls in the liquid

Set it to cook for an hour –

Let it cook for an hour

After the hour I squeezed in some lemon juice… and it is beautiful as is!

Squeeze over lemon juice

For the beans I sauteed some onions in the pan with a fair bit of extra virgin olive oil.

Cooking onions

Once it was all soft and sweet I added some crushed garlic, spices and the fresh beans that I had prepared. I cooked these until they became bright green.

Adding garlic, spices and the fresh beans

Then tipped in a can of tomatoes. This cooks and cooks and cooks – they have to be overcooked as it is more of a stew than side of blanched beans with a crunch. Easy? You bet!

With tomatoes poured in

For the tabouli, I cheat and instead of hand cutting I use the food processor as it is so much parsley and it makes it so fine.

Finely chopped parsley

Then I also process half an onion as it makes it so fine so you get the onion flavour without chomping on bits of raw onion through it.

Finely chopped onion

Tomatoes were then finely chopped and added.

Chopping tomatoes

Then I put in the salt, pepper and a dash of chili powder.

Adding salt

A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Adding olive oil

Then the secret, you put in the bulgur wheat but not a whole lot of it. Earlier, I poured boiling water over it and let it sit until it was cool and then rinsed it in cold water and drained it.

Bulgur wheat

Then a big splashing of lemon juice.

Lemon juice

And here is how it looks at the end…

Finished product!

For the rice, I put some butter in a saucepan and then sprinkled in some orzo and stirred this in until it turned a golden brown.

Orzo and butter

I then poured in some long grain rice.

Adding rice

Stirred this with the orzo until it was coated in buttery goodness.

Stirring until coated

I then poured in a mix of chicken stock and boiling water.

Adding stock and water mixture

I let the rice come to a boil and then put a lid on it and let it simmer untouched for 20 minutes.

Simmer away

Then, I turned off the heat, lifted the lid and used the fork to fluff it up. Done! The rice is a great side as it soaks up the juice of the cabbage rolls and the beans!

Using a fork to fluff

All of the dishes were absolutely delicious. Here is Bill hamming it up for the camera before he even had Tabouli on his plate! It was all delicious with lots of leftovers.. mmmmm!

A very happy husband!