Saturday, March 20, 2010

Assyrian Kbeybatt or the Kubebeh

You will be amazed from the information you get tracing a word you read some where and then the word, takes it to another world where you discover million things hidden through time and what interest you, is from a small search you end up in a big encyclopaedia of information you never thought that it will be available for you online.

I wanted to do a research about the Assyrian food and in specific the Kbeybatt which is a popular Assyrian Dish. One of the Assyrian old books mentioned that the Kubebeh as it was pronounced by the Assyrian was part of their diet. It was prepared by mixing cracked whole wheat with some kind of flour, to gluttonize the dough and make it playable to stuff, and the stuffing was kind of chopped meat and onions and green herbs, and was cooked in hot boiling water.

This Kubebeh was served on the table of the Assyrian Kings around the 500s BC.
The Assyrian King Ashurnasirpal II added Lebanon and Syria as part of his Empire after Several campaigns 883-859 B.C. Ashurnasirpal II did not annex the Phoenician cities but instead only aimed to establish them as a source of raw materials for the Assyrian war machine. Iron was needed for weapons, Lebanese cedar for construction, gold and silver for the payment of troops; in the end however, Ashurnasirpal campaigns were only a short term success, the kingdom started to fall down after his death.
Kibbeh is another dish brought to us by the Assyrian Cuisine. the famous baklawa is also an Assyrian Dessert, and I did a posting about the origin of Baklawa with an original recipe of the Baklawa .
Kibbeh in our modern days is a mix of burghul (fine cracked wheat) and meat grind together using a mortar and a pestle and stuffed with cooked ground meat, chopped onion and pinenuts. The recipe has changed with time to more refined texture and ingredients…
I am going to share with you an old and still a popular recipe from the Assyrian Cuisine I hope you will enjoy it as we do, and becomes a favourite to you as well..

Ingredients for Kbeybatt:
2 cups of equal amount of Semolina and Fine Brown Burghul . Wash the burghul and don’t strain it add the semolina, salt and pepper cinnamon, and all spice, using your hand mix well to combine, dipping your hands in warm water to get a smooth combined dough and playable to use. Leave it aside, within minutes the grain will soak all the water, and you might need more water to reach a soft dough, able to work with it and stuff it.

500 Gms Ground beef or lamb or a mix of both
Large onion chopped
¼ cup or so chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper
couple spoons of Olive oil and butter

Start cooking your onions and when they welted add the meat and the spice and cook till the meat looses the red color (Most Assyrians stuff the Kbeybatt with uncooked stuffing its tastier as the meat cook inside the kibbee and flavour it but they add the boiling time with at least 7 extra minutes)
After you shape and stuff the Kbeybatt keep them on a towel till ready to boil.  Don't be shy with your stuffing.  If there is a leftover dough you can turn it into small balls , leaving a deep thumbprint for the dressing. 

In a big pot add cold water, salt and some bay leaves, boil the water, and when ready add the Kbeybatt, boil for 20 minutes or extra 7 minutes if you left the meat raw.
transfer them to a strainer and let them drain before serving them with homemade Greek Yogurt and fresh lemons juice.  As for the small kibbee balls, they can be boiled in the same water for 15 minutes, drain and serve them with lemon garlic and olive oil dressing (mash some fresh garlic and salt then squeeze fresh lemon juice and mix in the olive oil) they can be served as an appetizer or a vegetarian dish.

….. Yummy. Enjoy

1-Wash and soak the burghul
2-Add coarse semolina and spices
3-Turn to a playable dough
4-By dipping the finger in water helps to open and shape
5-open it with the shape of a triangle and as thin as you can
6-stuff it then close the two ends together to seal
Leave it on a towel till ready to boil , leftover can be covered and kept in the fridge

Friday, March 19, 2010

When Middle Eastern Cuisine meets Chinese Techniques

Since I posted the Lebanese Street Kaak Bi Semsem, I wanted to do an additional posting for the Date Stars Bread, which is very popular in Lebanon, its a sweet bread stuffed with dates and cut in the shape of a star, for the sweet tooth in us. You find these stars in every bakery in Lebanon, small to a multi stories ... You can buy them from the bakery when you purchase your pita bread, also the street vendors sell them beside the Kaak Bi Semsem.

I want to take this chance to thank my dear readers; the Kaak Bi Semsem is the highest hit in my blog, followed by homemade yogurt.

I like to do another posting for two more street breads, one for kaak Allete which is a round thick sponge bread stuffed with oregano sumac mix or Dakkah. The second one is the big Barazik, extra large sesame seeds crunchy cookies. All these breads are part of my childhood; and because my mom is very strict when it comes to our food and very concerned to what we are eating. We were not allowed to buy any junk treats or beverages from the stores. She will take us to the bakery for these breads, and we buy them fresh, our drink will be freshly squeezed orange juice or lemonade.

my head is full of her stories about the food preparation and sanitation. (do you believe that I didn’t taste hot dog until I came to Orlando; my dear friend John from work, brought me a hot dog sandwich and said your mom is not here watching, I want you to taste it, I did eat it, but to me, it’s was not the big deal every one go crazy about. When you think what kind of meat they used in preparing these dogs.

I have to thank my mom for her care and concern about our safety, and what we put in our mouth, and because of her, I do every thing I like from scratch, knowing what I am using in my food, and going to my body.

For these yummy breads, I used the Hokkaido Milky Bread Recipe, instead of the additional Rye Flour I used Whole Wheat, and doubled the recipe and made the Stars, and the Brioche, which I stuffed with pastry cream and dark chocolate.

To make the date softer and easy to spread I warmed it with a spoon of butter and added some cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg, I like the spice flavour in the date and it’s a good vehicle to add spices. You can use your preference.

When I took the brioche out of the oven the cream and the chocolate were oozing out of the dough, burning hot, I didn’t dare taste it. Beside it was almost midnight, I don’t want to eat and sleep… This morning I am enjoying a very nice cup of coffee with one of these babies… and All I can leave you is my photos to drill……………

Dear Readers do you have special bread or treat from your childhood days you like to share about.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hokkaido Milky Buns and new Bread Technique

As you know I am always in search of new bread recipes and more new techniques and when I saw Angie’s recipe for Hokkaido Milky Buns, I knew immediately that I have to try this recipe and the new technique, which is called Tangzhong Starter, which is cooked roux starter.

The Tangzhong Starter is a mixture of one part flour and five part of water by weight, cooked for couple of minutes to bring out the gelatinization of the starch in flour. What makes the bread baked with this kind of starter difference is Starch Gelatinization, which helps to engage more water, namely more water will be absorbed, to provide characteristic softer, more elastic-textured bread. Moreover, the bread will have long-lasting freshness.

Tangzhong Starter - Angie's Recipe here

50 g Bread flour

250 ml Water

In a bowl, whisk together the water and the flour until the mixture is well blended and lump free. Stir the mixture while it cooks over the medium heat to reach 65C/150F. It takes about 2-3 minutes.

Remove from heat and cover loosely with plastic wrap to prevent from drying. Store the starter in the refrigerator after completely cooling down. To use the starter, measure out the amount called for in a recipe and let it warm to room temperature. Unlike sourdough starter, this special Tangzhong starter doesn't improve its flavour with age. So it's preferably to use up in 3 days.

Hokkaido Milky Buns or Loaf

300 g All-purpose flour

50 g Rye flour

30 g Milk powder

120 g Tangzhong-Water Roux Starter

55 g White sugar

14 g Fresh yeast or three teaspoons dry yeast

5 g Salt or one tsp

1 Egg

30 g Milk

50 g Crème Fraiche/or sour cream

30 g Soft butter, diced


Place all other ingredients, except butter, in the mixing bowl with a dough hook and stir over the low speed until the ingredients incorporate. Adjust speed to medium and continue to beat. When a dough ball starts to form, cut in the butter. Low down the speed to knead until the butter has blended into the dough. Increase the speed to medium again and knead until the dough has become very smooth and elastic.

Shape the dough into a ball and transfer into a large greased mixing bowl. Roll it around so the dough gets coated with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or damp cloth. Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Punch down the dough to release the gas produced during the proof and divide it into 3 even portions, each about 240 grams. Round up and let rest for 15 minutes.

Press out the gas of each dough and roll out into an oval shape. Fold it into thirds, overlapping them in the center, press the dough down firmly. Turn over and roll out into a 30-cm long strip. Turn over and roll up each to a column shape. Or you can divide the dough into 12 portions and shape each into a ball. Place them in a 30x11x8-cm loaf pan. Let the dough rise up to 2/3 full.

I turned the dough into 6 buns and rolled them like small baguettes and buns and double brushed the face with egg wash to give them a deep golden color.

My note: preheat the oven at 450F and when its ready put the baking tray in and lower the heat to 350F , it’s a trick I learned it by myself, and it works great in anything you are baking… the bread will take around 30-35 minutes …

All I can say, that I baked the bread around 11 pm last night, and I couldn’t resist the smell coming from the kitchen and I can hardly wait to have a bite of this bread. It was

Hot, amazingly delicious, spongy with layers and layers of spongy dough, taste like a rich brioche … I truly encourage you to try this bread and this new technique, Still have half of the starter in the fridge and iam going to try another recipe with it.

Tangzhong Starter

I wish you can smell this bread


Thank you very much my friend for a great bread recipe... I am trying another one.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Daoud Bacha Stew or Kabab Hindi and some cookies

Oatmeal Cranberry Coconut and Walnut Cookies
Melting Moments with citrus flavour

I got the recipe for the Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies from my friend Rosa from Rosa YummyYums

Oatmeal Coconut Cranberry Walnut Cookies

2 1/3 Cups All purpose flour
2 Tsp Baking powder
1 1/2 Tsp Baking soda
1 Tsp Ground cinnamon
1/5 Tsp Ground cloves
A pinch Ground nutmeg
1/2 Tsp Sea salt
3 Cups Quick cooking rolled oats - I used original oats
8 oz (2 sticks/1 cup) Unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 1/2 Cups Light brown sugar
1/3 Cup Granulated sugar
2 Large eggs *** I added three eggs
2 Tsp Pure vanilla extract
1 Cup Grated coconut, unsweetened
1 Cup Walnuts, roasted & chopped coarsely
1 Cup Dried cranberries, chopped coarsely
Mix the butter and the sugar , then add the eggs one by one then the dry ingredients and nuts.
preheat the oven at 375F , bake for 12-15 minutes depend on your oven.
I used an ice cream scoop and got 32 cookies out of this recipe.. Rosa got around 66 cookies, seems she made them smaller.... these are amazing cookies and adding the extra egg kept the cookies soft crumbly and they didn't get hard till the last one...

Daoud Bacha
Lebanon was part of the Ottoman Empire for over 400 years, Daoud Bacha was one of the Mouttasarefieh Leader he was a bad ruler and divided the Country and created a conflict between the Christian Maronite and the Muslim Duruz in Mount Lebanon.
I am not sure if this dish was created in his kitchen, or it was one of his favourite.

500 gm extra lean grind lamb meat or beef
1 kg of fresh tomatoes chopped
50 gm of toasted pine nuts
2 large onions thinly sliced
1 ½ head of garlic sliced
2 heads of green pepper
½ cup butter of less
Salt, black pepper, Lebanese seven spices
1 cup of beef stock or water,
Tomato juice to be used later
* juice of one lemon or couple spoons of pomegranate molasses (optional)

Grind the meat in a food processor add salt, pepper and seven spices (you can see the recipe in an old posting) using your hand mix the meat thoroughly with the spices to combine, turn them into medium size meat balls.
In a non stick skillet melt the butter and fry the meatballs, in batches, and drain on paper towel. Add the onions and when halfway done add the sliced garlic and the green pepper turn until they welted. Add the chopped tomatoes, pinenuts, and cup of stock or water, and cook for ten minutes, add the meatball and continue cooking until the sauce thickens.
* If you like your stock with a hint of sour you can add the pomegranate molasses or lemon juice stir and cook for extra 5 minutes.

In case the tomatoes are not juicy enough you can add some of the tomato juice, continue cooking until the meats are cooked, and the sauce is thickened. Serve over rice pilaf or burghul pilaf with some of the sauce as well.
Its delicious , simple to prepare . Enjoy.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Alsace Onion Tart

In the Alsace region, conviviality and good-nature are the ingredients for a great, friendly evening. That is why it is not surprising that Alsatian people like both good food and good wine! Indeed the Alsace region of France is one of the country's smallest regions but it boasts mouth-watering specialties. This French North-East region – that shares borders with Germany – perpetuates the traditional gastronomy of France that is now renowned worldwide.


For pastry

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons ice water

For filling

  • 4 bacon slices (1/4 lb), cut crosswise into 1/8- to 1/16-inch-wide strips
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 lb onions, halved lengthwise and very thinly sliced crosswise (10 cups)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup crème Fraiche or heavy cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Special equipment: a pastry scraper; an 11-inch tart pan (1 1/4 inches deep) with a removable bottom; pie weights or raw rice


Make pastry:
Blend together flour, butter, shortening, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Drizzle evenly with 4 tablespoons ice water and gently stir with a fork (or pulse in processor) until incorporated.

Squeeze a small handful: If it doesn't hold together, add more ice water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, stirring (or pulsing) until just incorporated, then test again. (Do not overwork mixture, or pastry will be tough.)

Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 6 equal portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion. Gather dough together with pastry scraper and press into a ball, then flatten into a disk. Chill dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.

Roll out dough on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a 14-inch round and fit into tart pan. Trim excess dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang, then fold overhang over pastry and press against side to reinforce edge. Lightly prick bottom with a fork and chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F.

Line chilled shell with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake until pastry is set and pale golden along rim, 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights and bake shell until golden all over, 10 to 15 minutes more. Transfer shell to a rack. (Leave oven on.)

Prepare filling while shell bakes:
Cook bacon in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer bacon with a slotted spatula to paper towels to drain and pour off bacon fat. Add butter to skillet and cook onions with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper over moderate heat, stirring, until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Cover surface of onions with a round of parchment or wax paper (or cover skillet with a tight-fitting lid) and continue to cook, lifting parchment to stir frequently, until onions are very soft and pale golden, about 20 minutes. Stir in bacon, then remove from heat and cool 10 minutes.

Whisk together crème Fraiche, eggs, nutmeg, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl, then stir in onions.

Fill and bake tart:
Pour filling into tart shell, spreading onions evenly, and bake until filling is set and top is golden, 25 to 35 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cooks' notes:

* Dough (as a disk or fitted into tart shell) can be chilled, wrapped in plastic wrap, up to 1 day. Let disk stand at room temperature 20 minutes before rolling out. ·Tart can be baked 1 day ahead and cooled, uncovered, then chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before serving.

** Tart can be baked in muffin pan and served as an appetizer instead of first course.

*** Source