Phew that was a bit of a mammoth evening. I began cooking at 5pm, and sat down to eat 2 and a half hours later…not something I could attempt on a normal day! Today was Lebanese Feast day, so I did make extra effort, preparing 4 different mezze type dishes, all of them going a bit wrong in their own special way (except for the chicken, which I will definitely make again).
I’d also made a cheese scone earlier in the day – feeling a bit peckish at lunchtime and reading scone recipes was making my mouth water, so I went ahead and made it. It came out of the oven looking pretty darn delicious…
…but then it was still raw in the centre. Back in the oven, realising that I’d not rolled it flat enough at the beginning so it needed some pretty epic cooking to firm up the centre. Still, it came out alright in the end, if a little crusty on the outside.
And so we come to the Lebanese Feast time. My Mr is from Lebanon originally, and although he was adopted when he was nearly 7 and brought over to England, he still has very strong memories of his life there. When we went back a few years ago, I fell in love with the place as well, the food in particular.
NOM. Just to clarify – I didn’t make these foods, they were what we ate during our stay in Lebanon. You don’t know hummus til you’ve eaten it in (one of) its home countries.
Anyway, onto the adventure that was cooking Lebanese at home. I have to say that I’ve learnt a fair amount about what not to do, and also to use my brain a bit and not just follow a recipe blind. First thing to start with was the marinade for the chicken.
Lemons…LOTS of lemons…
Garlic, paprika, lemon juice, olive oil and a squidge of tomato purée, mix it together and add the chopped up chicken. Leave it for an hour or so. Next: hummus.
The recipe book had said that you need tahini, which is said was ‘sesame oil’…but tahini is like a sesame paste thingy, which I decided to make as well. Which would have been all lovely if I hadn’t got my quantities a bit skewed. I was like ‘yeah, that’ll be fine’ once the paste was made, but realised (too late) that there was FAR too much sesame-ness in relation to the other ingredients, namely the essential one: chickpeas. An extra tin of chickpeas helped, but I’ve learnt my lesson: next time, follow Jamie Oliver and engage brain to check things. And use your nose – if it smells a bit strongly of something that makes you gag a bit, it’ll probably have the same effect when eating it!
More hummus than intended…and plenty of cooking mess 🙂
I also did ‘loubieh bi zayt’, which is beans in oil. Basically, throw some onions and chopped up green beans into a heated frying pan with oil, soften a bit, add a couple of diced tomatoes, some garlic and some tomato purée, then put in some water and leave to simmer on a very low heat for 45 mins.
The final dish was tablouleh, which is a salad dish made of mainly parsley alongside a bit of lettuce, mint, tomatoes and couscous. This is usually a really refreshing part of the meal, but bad judgement on my part rendered it almost inedible…oops. Apparently letting couscous absorb the juice of 5 lemons makes it sour? Who knew…! Classic example of not really thinking through what I was doing.
Everything else was ready on the table, all waiting for the pièce de resistance…shish taouk!
Skewer the chicken pieces and put into a hot oven til cooked. And here everything is in it’s finished loveliness.
Loubieh bi zayt
I won’t lie, it could’ve gone better, but the chicken was absolutely delicious, and actually really easy to make. If I’d got my hummus ratios right, I’m sure it’d have been delightful too. It was edible enough, hopefully my mum will enjoy it..!
So that was a much longer post than I anticipated, hopefully my next cooking endeavour post will be slightly more succinct. On the menu tomorrow: Tomato and Basil soup and then getting started on a cheesecake to have as my birthday cake on Wednesday…bring it on!