Monday, July 29, 2013

Nadine's Tomato Sauce: One sauce, Many Uses

Homemade tomato sauce
I use tomato sauce more than the average family because our favorite food is from Middle Eastern and Italian cuisines. Both cuisines call for a tremendous amounts of tomato sauce and I have a great tomato sauce recipe that I use for pasta dishes, pizza, lasagna, eggplant dishes etc...
You are going to say that there is a big array of canned and jarred tomato sauces ready for use. My answer to your question is "Do you know me?" I like to make everything from scratch if possible, besides, I find that the store bought tomato sauce lacks depth and flavor. I never met one that I liked. Let me know if you have a favorite.
I use tomatoes when they are in season for my sauce or canned diced tomatoes the rest of the year.
We also use the tomatoes from our garden when in season. Delicious! I talked about them here.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Simple Arabic Salad سلطة عربية

Simple Arabic Salad is an oldie but goodie kind of salad. It probably exists in every cuisine but has a different name. It is basically my go to salad when the main dish requires lengthy preparation. However, the secret to the success of this simple salad is the use of fresh ingredients. This is a summer salad by all means. Look for the best seasonal red tomatoes and fresh cucumbers. I beg you, do not make this salad from greenhouse tomatoes and cucumbers. I make this salad almost everyday in the summer when my tomato plants are full of red ripe tomatoes. I also use fresh mint from my garden. Nothing, N.O.T.H.I.N.G. tastes better than the tomatoes you plant. Mine are organic as well.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sour Cherry Kabab: Kabab bil Karaz كباب بالكرز

Sour Cherry Kabab 

Sour Cherry Kabab or Kabab bil Karaz is a specialty dish from Aleppo, Syria. Aleppo is a city with heritage and history. It is located at the end of what was the silk road. It was a crossroad of my cultures such as Greek, Roman, Ottoman, Armenian, and French.  I never visited Aleppo and it is one of my major regrets. I visited Syria many times and love every Syrian city and village that I visited. For some reason, every time we visited Syria, we postponed Aleppo because we ran out of time.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Ayran: A refreshing cold yogurt drink لبن عيران

Have you ever had a yogurt drink called Ayran. It is a very common drink in Lebanon, Syria and Turkey. The Turkish ayran is very foamy. It is my favorite summer drink and my go to diet drink. I love to drink Ayran with meat pies, kafta and chicken or on its own. I make my own 2% organic yogurt, here I show you how I do it. It is delicious, nutritious, low in calories, high in protein and calcium and refreshing. It is also prepared in 30 seconds. What is not to love about it!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Qater: Middle Eastern Simple Syrup قطر

Qater is the sweetener of Middle Eastern desserts. Most of Middle eastern desserts such as Baklawa/Baklava, Kunefe, Namoora, Halawet el Jibn, Qatayef etc...dont contain any sugar, but are rather bathed in this sweet and aromatic thick liquid. Simple Syrup is basically sugar and water thickened over heat flavored with natural Middle Eastern aromas such as orange blossom water, rose water, cinnamon and cardamom. It is also served on the side of the dessert in case some prefer their dessert on the extra sweet side.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Osmaleeye bil Jibne or Turkish Kunefe عثملية بالجبن

I love Arabic sweets and desserts...much more than I like cakes and cupcakes. I love the flavors of pistachio, orange blossom water, rose water and Qater (Simple Syrup). Arabic sweets are usually served in Ramadan to end the fast breaking meal (iftar). In my house, we prefer to keep Arabic sweets for special occasions such as having people over for Iftar or any other party. Osmaleeye (which means Ottoman in Arabic عثملية/عسملية) is often served in Lebanon with Ashta (clotted cream) but in Turkey it is served with cheese.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Forth of July Fireworks Cookies

Happy Forth of July! Every year, my in-laws rent a beach house around the Forth of July week and we all meet up and have our yearly reunion. It is a lot of fun, especially for Alya who is suddenly surrounded by all the cousins and second seconds. Being the youngest, she is the center of attention and  she really enjoys the company. In fact, she does not want anything to do with us, as in her dad and myself. 

Every year, I make a cake to celebrate all the july birthdays