You’re the Chips to my Burger

On that hot day I made burgers and burger buns from scratch, I made some potatoes and beet chips. It was so hot it was unbearable to keep clothes on with the oven and 2 fryers operating in the five square meters kitchen. I was working with nothing but my short shorts and undershirt on to catch the sweat dripping from my arms.

Stop visualizing my buns! I’m here to talk about my chips

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Homemade Burgers and Buns

Raise your hand if you love burgers.

Any burgers

Any meat stuffed between two buns

Fine, vegetarian burgers too

I have only one condition, don’t say you like McDonald’s

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I’ve had delicious burgers around town, but as you know, I am a fan of DIYs and homemade goods. When I make thing I want to brag about, I’d rather not take shortcuts in the major elements, or else I’ll come clean, confess and share the shame.

Now let me brag a little. I made burgers. I made the buns, and I made the patties. In fact, mom shaped them. I still take a little distance from touching red meat so I used her hands and help.

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The Buzzfeed Clean Eating Challenge and Cauliflower Steak with Lentils

Cauliflower Steak with Lentils - Dinner

Cauliflower Steak with Lentils – Dinner

I have (somehow) completed week 1 of the Buzzfeed Clean Eating Challenge. I’ve been following the daily preparations since last Saturday evening when I bought the veggies and greens, washed them and packed them accordingly. It felt good; less bloated, less stomach rumbling or discomfort after eating, better bowel movements, fewer hunger storms because of stomach satisfaction and a general feeling of well-being.

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Mushroom Farfalle and Quick Spinach Salad by Jamie Oliver

How many times have you drooled over what is being cooked in a TV show but you were too lazy to cook it, memorize it, or even write it down? It feels like the sight, the virtual drooling and the imagined smell are just enough. Clearly it’s not. But shamelessly I often stick to the pretty visuals. 

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One night I watched Jamie Oliver cooking something in his show ‘Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals’. Have I missed the time when he declared war on Rachel Rey? Will she strike back with 5-minute meals cooking show? I hope not. I can imagine her opening a can of food, heating it on the stove, because it takes more time than a microwave, and serving it. I bet she’d call them gourmet dishes as well. Who knows! Continue reading

Maamoul; stuffed Easter cookies

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After posting about Kaak Asfar, I promised to share another Easter speciality; and since i am a man of my word, here it is: Maamoul. This is an annual recipe we enjoy making, or try to stay away from as much as possible but we fail. The process is as good as the final product. For those who are not familiar with Maamoul, it is fragrant semolina cookies shells stuffed with slightly sweetened ground dates, pistachios or walnuts with aromas of rose water and orange blossom water. 

Maamoul is only made as an Easter delicacy by middle easter christians. Taking into consideration the Lebanese sweets shops and brands war over who ruled the billboards, maamoul has got good exposure in the past couple of years. Still, maamoul is scary for all those health freaks and those with health issues. Dietitians warning you how much calories one cookie has, your trainer informing you about how many hours on the treadmill you need to burn one cookie, or your cholesterol-filled heart and arteries from the fat you eat all year long scream at the sight of a maamoul cookie are what keep people away from this annual traditional cookie. It is so desired yet very much hated. Have you given its feelings a thought? Have you? HAVE YOU? Is that how you treat the guest that only comes once a year?

EAT THOSE COOKIES. I know you want to.
We still have some (a month after easter) if you want, and they are still as good as fresh ones sealed in an airtight container.

Mom, my sister and Zakiyé making maamoul during the holy week

Mom, my sister and Zakiyé making maamoul during the holy week

There was a time when everyone used to make their own maamoul. Those who didn’t know how, used to pay someone to make them a batch. Nowadays, most people prefer to buy a kilogram “mshakkal” (assorted) avoiding the lovely hassle around making maamoul and the aromas that fill the house, and the neighborhood as you walk in the streets, and for the sole reason of presenting it to guests visiting during this blessed period. 

In the old days, the whole week before Easter was reserved for Maamoul making. Each day, a group of neighbors and friends gather at the house of one of them to help her. The next day they help another. By the end of the week, each one of them gets a good fun and company for a week and a batch of  maamoul. This is what our old neighbor Zakiyé tells me. Zakiyé used to work as a cook for a wealthy family in Beirut. Even now, they still call her, apart from the regular check-up calls, asking her to help them with Maamoul. 

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