Entries Tagged as 'middle eastern'

Kibbeh a la Canarygirl

There is this Lebanese restaurant that we go to called El Monte Lí­bano…my gosh they make the best kebbehs (they call them “kipes”) I have ever tasted!  I have made kibbeh at home for years, and it’s really pretty easy.  You can make them bite sized, as I’ve done here, or in more of a meat pie form.  I tend to like the individual ones better, though, because the leftovers freeze and reheat really well.  Usually when I make kibbeh, it’s part of a whole menu of appetizer type bites…including falafel, hummus, lebne mixto, kebabs, tabbouleh or shirazi, and whatnot else…Who doesn’t like to taste a bit of everything when they’re eating?  And these things are all bite sized, so you can taste all of the dishes without stuffing yourself to maximum capacity (you know, unless you *want* to lmfao).  I don’t claim to make kibbeh in it’s most authentic state…no….I don’t.  But I will tell you this.  It’s darned good.  So, whatcha waiting for?  Get your aprons on and prepare to get your hands dirty. :D


First, you’ll want to get all of your ingredients for the “shells” ready:

kibbeh ingredients


1 1/2 pounds (3/4 kilo) ground beef or lamb
1 cup small bulgur, plus enough water to cover
1/2 of a large onion, finely minced
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste


First, add just enough water to cover bulgur in a small bowl. Allow to rest while you add the rest of the ingredients to the meat.
Then add soaked bulgur to the bowl and mix all ingredients very well.


Use your hands and sort of knead the meat mixture until everything is very well combined (about 5 minutes).


Cover and reserve while you make the filling.



1/2 pound (200 grams) ground beef or lamb
1/2 onion, minced
2-3 cloves garlic minced
a splash of olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground ginger
salt and pepper to taste
a small bunch of mint, minced
a small bunch of cilantro, minced
1 packet pine nuts (about 1/4 cup)


In a medium sized saute pan, saute onion and garlic in a splash of oil.
Add meat and brown.
Drain off excess grease.
Add seasonings and lemon juice and toss around for a few minutes.
Remove from heat and add herbs and pine nuts.
Cool until easily handled.


Now, preheat the oven to 425ºF/200ºC, (I bake rather than fry, but if you prefer, heat a substantial amount of oil in a deep fry pan instead) and line a baking sheet with parchment.
Take about 2 tablespoons of the “shell” mixture and form a small bowl in the palm of your hand, then fill with cooled filling. Like this:


With your free hand, grab another tablespoon or two of the shell mixture and, pressing on the side of the bowl, form a sort of cover for the kibbeh.  Pinch edges together to seal, and press with your hands to smooth the surface.


Place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining ingredients.


Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until browned. (alternatively, deep fry until browned, about 10 minutes)

Quinoa Tabouleh…Tabbouleh…Tabouli…Tabuli —look, spell it however you want to! :P lol

As you’ve probably realized from my posts, Middle Eastern food is one of my favorites. There is such a rich variety of dishes, and many of them are easily converted to a gluten free lifestyle (if they’re not already naturally so). Tabouleh salad is one of those easily converted dishes. By substituting Quinoa for the bulgur wheat, you have a delicious alternative. Quinoa when cooked properly has a very similar texture to bulgur, and tends to absorb the flavor of the dish it’s incorporated in, much like bulgur.

quinoa tabouleh


2/3 cup quinoa
1 1/3 cup water
1 medium onion, minced
2 cups chopped parsley
1 cup chopped mint
3 tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
juice of 2 lemons
salt to taste


In a small saucepan, heat quinoa and water to boiling.
Boil 2-3 minutes, then cover and reduce heat to low.
Allow to cook about 12 minutes, or until most of the water is absorbed, trying to avoid lifting the lid as much as possible.
Remove from heat and allow to rest untouched for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork and allow to cool.

Nutty Basmati Pilaf

Recently, my blogger friend, Elly, did a five question interview with me. One of the questions she asked was, “What would your husband or kids say is their favorite thing you make?”  It was then that I realized that I hadn’t posted one of my hubs’ favorite recipes yet!  Whaaaa?  How did that happen?  Hubs loves….no…*loves*  Middle Eastern food, and one of the things he asks for fairly frequently is this rice.  It is such a simple preparation, but so incredibly tasty.  You can change up the nuts, add dates, lamb or whatever else to suit your own tastes, but this is the basic version of the recipe. :)



1 1/4 cups basmati rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, minced
2-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin (for gluten free, as always be sure all of your spices are certified gf)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 bay leaf
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup nuts (pistachios, cashews, slivered almonds), roughly chopped
salt and pepper
2-3 tablespoons chopped cilantro (to garnish)
sumac to garnish

Wash rice in a sieve under cold running water until water runs clear.
Place rice in a bowl with fresh cold water, and allow to rest 30 minutes.
Drain well.
Heat oil in a larger sautee pan, and lightly sautee the onion and garlic until translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the rice, cumin, cumin seeds, coriander, cardamom and bay leaf.
Toss rice to coat well with the seasonings, and lightly sautee 2 minutes.
Add broth, and season with salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low.
Allow to cook 10 minutes. (Do not lift lid.)
Remove from heat and allow to sit 5 minutes before lifting lid.
Fluff rice with a fork, then add nuts and cilantro and toss to combine.
Garnish with cilantro and sprinkle with sumac.

Macadamia Nut Chicken

Deliciously aromatic yogurt sauce combined with a nice little crunch from the macadamia nuts….this chicken is great for a quick weeknight meal, since the prep can be done the night before.  The cumin, cilantro and ginger really give this dish some oomph….I like to add some cayennes too, but that’s me…spicy food rules in our house. ;)   I usually add the cayenne at the end though, so the kids can enjoy it too.

macamia chicken


2 pounds (1 kilo) chicken breasts, diced
4-5 cloves garlic
1 generous piece of ginger (about 2-3 tablespoons after mincing)
1 cup macadamia nuts
2 cups greek yogurt (or plain yogurt)
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 large bunch cilantro (about 1 cup or so)
1 bunch basil (about 1/2 cup or so)
salt and pepper to taste
ground cayenne to taste
***note: for Gluten Free, be sure that your spices are certified Gluten Free.


Using your food processor, mince garlic, ginger, cilantro, basil and macadamia nuts, scraping sides if necessary.
Add yogurt and spices, then season with salt and pepper.
Process until smooth.
Combine sauce with chicken, cover and marinate overnight.
Heat a small amount of oil over fairly high heat (I like to use the wok for this).
Toss chicken around, stirring constantly, until sauce begins to thicken (this should take about 20-30 minutes).
Serve over basmati rice.

Falafel: Take 2

So my last post was about needing some help with my oh so very sad attempts at falafel making….someone suggested this recipe from Epicurious, and I absolutely *loved* it!  I did make some changes (I can’t follow a recipe to the letter to save my life), so I’ll post the recipe as I made it.



1 1/2 cups dried garbanzos (chickpeas)
1 red onion, quartered
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cayenne
4 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon baking powder
2-3 tablespoons garbanzo (chick pea) flour
sesame seeds (about a cup or so)
sunflower seed oil for frying


Wash and sort garbanzos, and place in a bowl.
Cover with enough water to generously cover the beans.
Soak overnight.
Drain beans, and place in a food processor along with the onions, cilantro and seasonings.
Pulse a bit to break up the beans and onions, then process until the mixture is somewhat dough-like, scraping sides when necessary.
Add baking powder and enough garbanzo flour to make the dough hold its shape, and is no longer sticky when rolled.
Place falafel dough in a bowl, cover and refrigerate several hours. (I had leftover, and it was great the next day, too).
Roll dough into smaller sized balls, and flatten a bit with your hands.
Dip each patty in sesame seeds and remove to a plate.
Heat a generous amount of sunflower oil over medium heat (enough to come at least halfway up the patty).
Fry falafel patties about 4-5 minutes per side, or until nicely browned.
Drain on paper towels.
Serve with hummus, tahini sauce, yogurt or lebne, shirazi….whatever you like!

Maybe I should just move to the Middle East…

Yesterday we had Middle Eastern food yet again….This time I made samosas and falafel, with a side of hummus, a tomato and cucumber salad with greek yogurt and homemade onion and parsley pitas.  The samosas were excellent, (and easy thanks to my new toy!) the falafel, not so much…it was lacking flavor, and the texture was off. They were far too dense…like little hockey pucks with sesame coating. :P LOL  Does anyone have a tried and true recipe to share with me?  I need help in the falafel department!  While in the U.S. my organic grocer carried these wonderful box mixes for falafel (Near East brand, maybe?), so I never really had to make them from scratch until now….my attempts have gone from disasterous to less than perfect….I’m improving, but am open to any and all suggestions, please! :)   TIA! :)   See, that’s what makes cooking fun, I think…trying new things, sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t…sometimes mistakes are a blessing, and you come up with something fabulous that you may not have otherwise thought of…Other times we try our best to get something right to no avail.  I say, “Fuggedabaddit!” and just have fun, regardless. :)



1  lb (400 grams) ground beef (or lamb, or a combination of beef and lamb) 
1  tablespoon olive oil
1  small onion, minced 
1  clove garlic, mashed 
salt and pepper 
juice from 1 lemon
1/2  cup water 
2  teaspoons garam masala 
1 small bunch of mint, chopped (or about 2-3 tablespoons dried)
1  tablespoon cumin 
1/4  cup pine nuts 
wonton or dumpling wrappers (the amount varies depending on how full you fill your samosas, but about 25) 
oil (for frying) 


Heat oil in a fairly large skillet.
Brown garlic and onions a bit (3-4 minutes or until translucent).
Add beef, season with salt and pepper to taste, and brown.
Drain off excess grease.
Add lemon juice, water, garam masala, mint, and cumin.
Stir to combine and simmer until liquid has mostly evaporated.
Add pine nuts and stir to combine.
Cook 2 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Fill pastry with meat mixture, and seal edges by moistening the edges with water and pinching the edges together (or get a super cool pastry press and save yourself a lot of time!).
Heat oil over medium heat.
Brown the samosas for about 3-4 minutes per side, until golden.
Drain on paper towels.
Samosas may be frozen either before or after deep frying.
If freezing before, thaw and then deep fry as above.
If freezing after frying, thaw and reheat in 350º oven until heated through, about 10 minutes.

I’m going to go ahead and post a pic of the falafel anyway, even though it didn’t turn out that great…We all make mistakes in the kitchen…the key is to learn from them.  Becoming a great cook isn’t about perfection, it’s about trial and error, getting your hands dirty, making a mess and just having fun.  So, what the heck.  I’ll share my mistakes too. ;) :)



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