Friday, May 14, 2010

Bread Painting

  Bread is becoming a big passion to me; I always search for new recipes, and bread techniques, to improve my skills. Artisan Breads are one of my favourite, I love toasted crunchy bread... I prepared my Artisan bread dough yesterday and let it rest in the fridge overnight, and this afternoon I used the dough to do some sandwich breads and an asparagus pie which I will post later.
Couple of days ago I spotted a nice painted bread at La Table de Nana then from there I ended at Chef Tess posting about her bread painting techniques check her site and see the wonderful breads she makes.
ne thing I need to add, my bread making is improving a lot, but oh my I do need to work on my painting skills. I had so much fun this evening with making my bread. I used ½ tsp of cocoa + ½ tsp coffee diluted in tsp of water then added some egg yolks, seems my mix was a bit on the runny side side, and the color came darker than expected. Its okay for a first trial, I need to do more practicing to master the technique.  I leave you with some photos

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pickled Eggplant & Green Pepper in Olive Oil - Makdous Batinjan wa Fleifleh


Makdous المكدوس‎   are oil cured eggplants. Part of Levantine cuisine, they are tiny, tangy eggplants stuffed with walnuts, red pepper, garlic, olive oil and salt and chilli pepper.

And the Beqaa Region is famous for the best produce and this type of pickles are famous in that Region, especially in Baalback Area.  Even the eggplant growing in that part of Lebanon taste meatier and tastier than the rest.

Lebanese Mountain Villages are well known for their food specialties. As winter takes hold, villagers resort to their pantries for preserved delicacies.   As I mentioned before my mom was born in a small town outside Baalback called Fakha, like every woman there , they spend the summer preparing all kinds of Mouneh , by preserving their vegetables turning them into pickles or drying them on a thread to be dehydrated in the cold snowy winter.  The fruits are preserved into jams, compote or dried, the fresh beans and legumes are dried, and the wheat berries are turned into burghul or freikheh and or grounded into flour.  Meat are preserved with its fat and kept in jars to be used during the winter cold days.

This Makdous Recipe or Pickled Eggplant is a specialty to the Baalback region, and I learned this recipe from my mom’s cousin who became one of the best professional Makdous makers ever.  Every year she prepares more than 100 jars, mostly are given as house gift and every one waits for his/her gift when she returns from the village.
Pickles are a staple in the Lebanese Cuisine we eat them with our food like a side dish.
the eggplant and green peppers are usually served with a vegetarian dishes or in a pita sandwich.  I hope that you will be encourage to give these pickles a try , you will not regret at all.


Makdous Batinjan - Eggplant cured in olive oil


1- boil enough water to cover the eggplant
2- add the eggplant and cover with a towel to avoid turning them dark
3- boil for couple of minutes only
4- make sure a bowl of ice water is ready
5- move the eggplant from hot to ice water to stop cooking
6- when cool leave in the colander cover with a tray over them and weigh with some food cans to drain all the water - leave for three days
7- stuff the center with a mix of minced garlic, toasted walnut, kosher salt and red chili
8-add them in the jar and turn the jar upside down for another three days, or until no more water is running out (leave then on the counter not in the fridge)
9- stand the jar up and fill it  with good quality olive oil, yes you might need couple of litres .  close tightly
10- the makdous will be ready within 3 1/2 weeks
11- choose small round purple eggplant for pickling.  The flesh is white, barely has any seeds
enjoy with your meal, or as a sandwich Amazing flavour

Pickled Green Pepper

preparing the green peppers similar to the eggplant.
1- boil the water then shut the heat, wash clean the heart either by opening the bottom or the top... i did the top, as i choose a long peppers.
2-leave the peppers in the boiling water for couple of minutes only, then move to colander to drain
3-the stuffing: garlic mashed (you need at least two big heads for each recipe) one cup or more toasted walnuts, and red chili depends on your taste, kosher salt around tbsp.
4-stuff the peppers and stack in the jar then turn the jar upside down for three days to drain. 
5- Turn the jars up and cover with pure olive oil, close and let it
ferment for at least three - four weeks...

I used Italian Green Peppers as I have a problem digesting the round green peppers.
You can try any kind of green pepper for this recipe, even hot peppers will work

If you like to use the vinegar method of pickling eggplant this is the recipe:

1- clean the top of the small eggplant by taking the hat off.
2- boil in water for couple of minutes with a towel over them (the towel will prevent the eggplant from turning dark)
3- quickly turn them into ice water to stop the cooking, you might need to change the water 
4-add 1/4 cup of white vinegar in the bottom of 1 1/2 ltr jar .(in Lebanon we use white wine or red wine vinegar or apple cider all home made so the acid amount is higher than what you get in the store) 
5- boil some water (i usually fill the jar with tap water then measure the amount to make sure how much i need and it takes less when its filled with pickles.  Measure the water , boil it and add from 2-3 tables spoons kosher salt and let it cool completely. 
6- Fill the jar with the cooled eggplant over the vinegar, add the cooled water to cover the eggplants, and cover the jar tightly and leave to ferment for three to four weeks.