• Millet Tabbouleh

    Our love for Middle Eastern food continues with this delicious tabbouleh made with millet berries.  We’ve never had millet berries before but it’s kind of like bulgar and cous cous.  The kiddos tried tabbouleh for the first time and devoured it!

    You can easily substitute bulgar or cous cous for the millet.

    Recipe adapted from War Eagle Mill.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 c. millet berries
    • 2 c. water
    • 3/4 c. parsley, finely chopped
    • 1/3 c. mint, finely chopped
    • 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
    • 4-5 green onions, diced
    • 1 1/2 c. tomatoes, diced
    • 1/4 c. olive oil
    • 1/4 c. lemon juice
    • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 tsp. pepper

    Directions:

    1. Bring 2 cups water and 1 cup of water to a boil; cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.  Uncover and fluff with fork and let cool.
    2. Place parsley, mint, cucumber, green onions and tomatoes in a large bowl.
    3. In a small bow, stir together olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
    4. Add cooled millet to bowl with veggies and combine; then add the dressing mixture and toss to coat.
    5. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

    Millet Tabbouleh:

     

     

  • Tzatziki aka Grecian Sauce

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    A good tzatziki makes any kebab sandwich or schwarma sandwich even more delicious.  I first had tzatziki at Albasha (when we lived in Baton Rouge), except at Albasha it’s called Grecian Sauce.  Whatever you want to call it, it’s worth making.

    We made chicken kebabs and served the chicken in a pita with some chopped tomatoes and onion then topped it with the sauce.
    We had some sauce leftover and made fish the next night….and oh was this sauce d’lish on fish!!!

    Ingredients:

    • 8 oz plain Greek yogurt
    • 1/2 of an English cucumber, shredded and strained
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 TBSP chopped fresh dill (or more if you like)
    • 1TBSP chopped fresh mint (or more if you like)
    • 1 TBSP lemon juice
    • salt & pepper to taste

    Directions:

    1. Mix everything in a bowl.
    2. Serve.

    Tzatziki aka Grecian Sauce:

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  • Chicken Shawarma

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    Chicken shawarma is so good.  If you’ve never tried it, seek out your nearest middle eastern restaurant and try some.  If you’re like us and live somewhere where there are no middle eastern restaurants, this recipe comes close to some of the yummiest shawarma sandwiches I’ve ever had (be mindful that bad shawarma is just that, bad.)

    I sauted the chicken until all the liquid was cooked off, then let the chicken get a nice golden crust.  This crust simulates real shawarma taken right off the rotisserie spit, so I would definitely do this step.

    Recipe adapted from the July 2008 issue of Cooking Light.

    What you need:

    • Chicken marinade, below
    • Garlic sauce, below
    • Pitas, warmed
    • Pickles, optional
    • Lettuce and tomatoes, optional

    Chicken Marinade:

    • Juice of one juicy lemon
    • 1 tsp. curry powder
    • 2 tsp. olive oil
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
    • 2 tsp. olive oil

    Directions:

    1. Add lemon juice, curry powder, 2 tsp. olive oil, salt, cumin and garlic in a zip top bag.
    2. If chicken is frozen, allow to thaw just a bit so you can slice nice thin strips of chicken.  If your chicken is already thawed, put it in the freezer for 15 minutes or so until it’s frozen enough to make nice thin strips.
    3. Add chicken to marinade, and let marinate for 20 to 30 minutes.
    4. Heat nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add chicken mixture and saute.  It won’t take the chicken much time to cook, but continue cooking until all liquid as cooked off and the chicken begins to get a crispy brown crust.

    Garlic Sauce:

    • 1/2 c. plain yogurt
    • 2 TBSP tahini
    • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced

    Directions:

    1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

    Assembly:

    • Take a warm pita, put chicken, garlic sauce and any toppings on (pickles, lettuce, and/or tomatoes).  Enjoy!

    Chicken Shawarma:

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  • Falafel

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    Falafel is so darn good, and these are really delicious.  Don’t fear the ingredient list…even though there are a lot of ingredients, it is not hard to prepare these.  We did find it much easier to fry them as discs instead of balls.  The recipe is adapted from Marlena Spieler’s Complete Guide to Traditional Jewish Cooking.

    One of the best Middle Eastern restaurants I have ever been to is Fadi’s in Houston, and that’s where I learned that pickles are absolutely yummy on a falafel sandwich and a schwarma sandwich.  Trust me it’s good…go on and give it a try!

    Ingredients:

    • 1 1/3 c. dried chickpeas
    • 4 c. water (enough to cover the chickpeas)
    • 8 TBSP bulgar
    • 1 large onion, finely chopped
    • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 5 TBSP fresh parsley, chopped
    • 5 TBSP cilantro, chopped
    • 3 TBSP ground cumin
    • 1 TBSP ground coriander
    • 1 tsp. baking powder
    • 2 tsp. salt
    • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
    • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
    • 1 tsp. curry powder
    • 3 TBSP water
    • 6 TBSP flour
    • Vegetable oil for frying
    • Pitta bread
    • Top with Grecian sauce, below, and pickles

    Grecian Sauce (I call it this, because it reminds me of the Grecian Sauce at Albasha’s in Baton Rouge, LA.  This recipe is adapted from The Spanish, Middle Eastern, & African Cookbook:

    • 1/2 cucumber, finely chopped
    • 1 small onion, finely chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 1/4 c. parsley, finely chopped
    • 2 c. plain yogurt
    • 1/4 tsp. paprika
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • fresh mint, optional
    • Directions: Combine all ingredients in a bowl then top falafel

    Directions:

    1. Place chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with water; let soak overnight.
    2. Drain chickpeas and grind in a food processor.  Put ground chickpeas in a bowl and stir in bulgar, onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, ground cumin and coriander, baking powder, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper, and curry powder.  Add the water and let stand for about 45 minutes.
    3. Stir the flour into the falafel batter (add more flour if too thin and add more water if too thick).
    4. Heat oil in a deep pot for frying the falafel.
    5. Using wet hands shape falafel into discs.  Add the falafel to the hot oil in small batches (no more than 2 to 3 in the pot) for 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden brown.  Remove the cooked falafel and let drain on paper towels.
    6. Take a pita bread, place falafel in pita, add some pickles and Grecian Sauce.

    Falafel:

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  • Hummus

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    We make a hummus recipe that is super tasty, but you definitely have to plan ahead. The dried chick peas have to soak over night and then they cook for nearly 2 hours. I was wanting hummus last night, but I wanted to make a super fast hummus. It turned out quite tasty.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans
    • 1/3 c. tahini
    • Juice of 2 lemons
    • 2 garlic cloves
    • 4 TBSP olive oil
    • 1 TBSP parsley
    • Salt to taste
    • Olive oil for drizzle
    • 1/4 tsp. sumac

    Directions:

    1. Combine garbanzo beans through salt in a food processor until all ingredients are combined and the hummus is creamy.
    2. Put hummus into a bowl, drizzle some olive oil on top, and sprinkle the top with sumac.

    Hummus:

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  • Garlic Sauce

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    By far the finest Middle Eastern cuisine is Fadi’s in Houston. When we lived in Houston we ate there quite often. We have yet to find any restaurant anywhere that even comes close to the taste and quality at Fadi’s.

    Two of my most favorite items there are vegetarian stuffed grape leaves and chicken kebabs. The chicken kebabs and sandwiches come with this delicious garlic sauce…kind of like a super garlicky mayo.

    Last night we prepared some Middle Eastern food for dinner. We didn’t have the time to make proper kebabs, so we just grilled up some chicken, and I made some garlic dip, and a super fast hummus.

    The garlic dip recipe comes from Anissa Helou’s Lebanese Cuisine cookbook. The dip was excellent!

    Ingredients:

    • 8 garlic cloves
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 1 egg yolk
    • Juice of 1/2 lemon
    • 4 TBSP olive oil
    • 1 TBSP yogurt

    Directions:

    1. Chop the garlic, add the salt to the garlic and with the back of your knife, make a paste by adding pressure to the knife as you run the knife over the garlic. The salt acts as an abrasive and helps the garlic turn into a nice paste.
    2. Whisk the egg in a mixing bowl and then add the garlic paste. Stir in the lemon juice, then slowly whisk int he olive oil; then add the yogurt.
    3. Use the garlic sauce as a dip for grilled chicken.

    Garlic Sauce:

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  • Tabouli Salad

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    At the grocery store today we found this tabouli mix.

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    I usually don’t buy packaged mixes, because they tend to be loaded with sodium, but this mix has very very little sodium. So I decided to give it a try, and it was excellent!

    Ingredients:

    • Bulgar package mix (has parsley and onion in it)
    • 2 c. cold water
    • 1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 1 cucumber, chopped
    • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
    • 1/3 c. canola oil
    • 1/2 c. lemon juice
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1 tsp. black pepper

    Directions:

    1. Bulgar: Add bulgar mix and cold water, and let soak while prepare the rest of the salad.
    2. Veggies: Combine the tomatoes, cucumber and onions together.
    3. Dressing: In another bowl, combine the canola oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
    4. Add veggies and dressing and mix well. Refrigerate at least 4 hours in a covered container.

    If you can’t get this mix, I think the following recipe will approximate it quite well.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 c. bulgar
    • 1 c. boiling water
    • 1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 1 cucumber, chopped
    • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
    • 1 c. fresh parsley or a mixture of parsley and mint, chopped (you can add less parsley if you prefer)
    • 1 shallot, finely chopped
    • 1/3 c. canola oil
    • 1/2 c. lemon juice
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1 tsp. pepper

    Directions:

    1. Bulgar: Pour boiling water over bulgar, and cover while you prepare the rest of the salad.
    2. Veggies: Combine the tomatoes, cucumber, green onions, shallots and parsley together.
    3. Dressing: In another bowl, combine the canola oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
    4. Add veggies and dressing and mix well. Refrigerate at least 4 hours in a covered container.

    Tabouli Salad:

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  • Southwestern Falafel with Avocado Spread

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    This recipe comes from the Cooking Light, September 2007 issue. It was delicious! I couldn’t find pita bread in our local store, so we used tortillas and they worked really well. The recipe as is yields 4 patties, but I made smaller patties which yielded more patties. The patty recipe was just enough for 2 adults and 2 kids, so if you’re really hungry or serving more people, double the recipe. The recipe below reflects the changes (like doubling) I will make next time I make this dish.

    Ingredients:

    Patties:

    • 2 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
    • 1 cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
    • 1/2 cup finely crushed baked tortilla chips (about 3/4 ounce)
    • 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
    • 2 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
    • 2 large egg whites
    • Olive oil

    Spread:

    • 1 mashed peeled avocado
    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped tomato
    • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
    • 2 tablespoons fat-free sour cream
    • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt

    Remaining Ingredients:

    • Pitas or Tortillas
    • Thinly sliced red onion
    • Lettuce of mixed greens

    Directions:

    1. To prepare patties, place pinto beans in a medium bowl; partially mash with a fork. Add cheese and next 6 ingredients (through egg whites); stir until well combined. Shape bean mixture into oval patties, about 1/2 inch thick.
    2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add patties to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until patties are browned and thoroughly heated.
    3. To prepare spread, combine avocado and next 6 ingredients (through salt), stirring well. Place patty/patties in each pita/tortilla half. Spread about 2 tablespoons avocado spread over patty in each pita half; top with onions and greens.

    Southwestern Falafel with Avocado Spread:

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  • Chicken Kebabs and Spinach Pie

    Super Bowl Sunday proved to be a Mediterranean feast day. We had chicken kebabs, spinach pie, grilled zucchini and rice. It turned out fantastic! The kebab recipe is from A Taste of Persia, and the spinach pie recipe is from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food.

    Chicken Kebabs

    Chicken:

    4 boneless chicken breasts cut into 1.5 inch pieces

    Marinade:

    1 tsp ground saffron threads, dissolved in 2 TBSP hot water

    1 cup fresh lime juice

    2 TBSP olive oil

    2 large onions, peeled and thinly siced

    2 TBSP plain yogurt

    2 tsp salt

    2 tsp freshly ground pepper

    Basting:

    2 TBSP butter

    1/2 tsp salt

    1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

  • In a large glass bowl with cover, combine 1 tsp saffron water, the lime juice, olive oil, onions, yogurt, and salt and pepper. Beat well with a fork. Add the pieces of chicken and toss well. Cover and marinate for at least 6 or up to 48 hours in the refrigerator. Turn the chicken twice during this time.
  • Spear the chicken on skewers.
  • In a small saucepan melt the butter and add the remaining saffron water, lime juice, salt, and peeper. Mix well and keep warm over very low heat.
  • Grill and baste.
  • Spinach Pies:

    Dough:

    1 tsp active dry yeast

    pinch of sugar

    About 1 cup of lukewarm water

    3 cups of bread flour

    1 tsp salt

    1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • Dissolve the yeast with the sugar in 1/2 cup of the warm water. Leave in a warm place for about 10 minutes, until it froths.
  • Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and mix in the oil. Add the yeast mixture and a little at a time, just enough of the remaining warm water so that the dough holds together with your hands. Knead vigorously for about 10 minutes, until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and is smooth and elastic.
  • To prevent a dry crust from forming on the surface, pour 1/2 TBSP oil in the bottom of the bowl and roll the dough around in it to grease it all over. cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for about 1.5 hours, until doubled in bulk.
  • Spinach Pies: makes about 50, but you can easily half this and the dough recipe
    Filling:

    2 lbs. frozen leaf spinach, defrosted

    1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

    1 onion

    4 TBSP sumac

    Juice of 1 lemon

    1 cup of pine nuts or chopped walnuts (optional)

    salt and pepper

    1. Put the spinach in a colander and press out the water, then squeeze the leaves between your palms to get rid of any remaining liquid. Coarsely chop the spinach and mix in a bowl with the rest of the filling ingredients.
    2. Punch down and knead the risen dough. Divide into 4 or 6 balls for easier handling. When rolling out one ball, keep the remaining ones wrapped in plastic.
    3. Roll out each ball on a lightly floured surface, and keep turning over the dough and dusting underneath with flour so that it doesn’t stick. Roll out as thinly as possible. Cut the sheet into 1.5-2 inch rounds with a pastry cutter. pick up the scraps, roll them into a ball, and roll out again to make more rounds. Take each round and roll out again, then pull out and stretch until it is paper-thin and about 3-3.5 inches in diameter.
    4. take each pastry round, lay it flat on one hand, and put a TBSP of filling in the middle. (1) Shape into the traditional 3 sides and bring them together over the filling. (2) Pinch the edges together, making thin, ridged joint in the shape of a 2 sided start and losing the pies. (3) Place th pies on a lightly oiled baking sheet and press down a little to flatten their bases.
    5. Bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

    Rice: prepare rice and then sprinkle sumac on top to serve.

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    Chicken Kebab Recipe:
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    Spinach Pie Recipe:
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