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What do you do with phyllo dough when you’re craving baklawa but you’re allergic to tree nuts? Use peanuts! This is probably my favorite made-up dessert. I had a guest coming and totally pulled it out of my right brain at the last minute. She loved it and so did I. It’s hard to go wrong with chocolate and peanuts. And it’s really not a difficult dessert. I hope you try it! Ingredients: 1/2 package phyllo dough (abt 25 sheets) 5 tbsps sugar 1.5 cups chocolate chips 1 cup chopped

I learned this on the balcony in Kayfoun. My grandmother sat facing the sun. My aunt came to find me. “Tayta is coring the zucchini. You can learn from her,” she said. Heritage is as much nostalgia as tradition. I sat at one corner of Tayta’s small table and she pointed at the ingredients, naming them one at a time. “Riz, benadoura, cousa, wara’ ‘anab, milleh . . .” We never could communicate in sentences, but we both spoke food in any language. I used to regret that I was unable

This is similar to the Turkish Shells recipe I posted awhile back, but it’s the Lebanese version. I’ve toned down the garlic a bit. In Lebanon, this has a bite that stays with you for days. Pair it will Tabbouleh to help with garlic breath. A nice garlic bread or other toasted bread makes a lovely accompaniment. Also a tasty pairing: roasted chicken. Serves 6 Ingredients: 1 box spaghetti or noodle of your choice 1 large container yogurt, preferably Greek or full fat 4-5 cloves of garlic, finely smashed (get

This famous Lebanese salad is a great addition to any afternoon or evening meal. It’s good cold or at room temperature. I’ve even known some to eat it warm! Serves 10-12 Prep Time: 30 minutes 2 bunches parsley 3 scallions/spring onions 3 small tomatoes 1/4 cup bulgur or quinoa 7-8 branches mint juice of 1 and 1/2 lemon 1/4 cup olive oil 1/2 tsp allspice 1-2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp black pepper Wash and drain bulgur and let stand for 30 minutes OR cook quinoa and allow to cool. Wash

It took me a long time to get this one right. I had it several times in Lebanon, but could never recreate the tangy taste without sumac, but it is good without the sumac if that’s an ingredient you can’t find. 1 lb fresh spinach 1/4 cup chopped onion 1 tsp minced garlic 1/2 tsp cumin pinch salt 1 tbsp olive oil 1-2 tbsp lemon juice, depending on your tastes 1/2 tsp sumac salt and freshly ground pepper to taste Heat olive oil in sautee pan. Add onions, garlic, and

If there is a salad I miss, this is the one. Yes, I could make it without the bread, but what’s the point? That crouton-like crunch, the way the bread soaks up the dressing, the beautiful mix of texture and flavor in your mouth . . . Well, I don’t know that I can do this salad justice. It only take a few minutes to throw together. This is the type of dish you can throw grilled chicken on top of and feel like you’ve had a gourmet meal. Another

My aunt made this for me when I was visiting Lebanon in 2003. It was hot hot hot, even up on the mountain. I think she could see how much I wanted something more than the Tang-like powdered mango drink they kept feeding us. She got a whole bunch of oranges, lemons and a knife and set to work. Ingredients: 5 lb bag oranges 3 lb bag lemons 2 cups sugar Wash and cut up lemons and oranges into small pieces–rinds on. Put them in a huge bowl with the

Aunt Ghada made this chicken more than any other protein, and I never wrote the recipe down. What was I thinking, there in the little wicker chair tucked into the corner of the kitchen? I hunched there with a notebook and pencil between the stove and the spices every day for nearly two months and never recorded the instructions. How many other recipes must I have missed? If I had it to do all over again. . . I can only hope that I get another two months in her

My best friend Martha makes this tea that can wash all my stress away in just one sip. Maybe it’s because the tea is made with anise seed, the base for licorice. Yensoon (anise) is what I was given to drink when I experienced stomach upset in Lebanon. In addition to having calming properties (it put me to sleep the first time I drank it), it also greatly relaxes the stomach. This recipe doesn’t use enough anise to knock you out. Martha brews it with a decaf green tea. Add some sugar

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