Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Tantalising Lebanese Cooking!

Tantalising Tastebuds with Lebanese Cooking!

Another jaunt across town to Putia Restaurant at Banyo, a suburb I spent some time in as a kid, visiting my Oma & cousins. Putia is well worth the visit, very relaxing pretty location & the food is Delicious

Putias' Menu is based on very fresh, seasonal & local produce.Chef Dominique Rizzos' passion comes from her Italian Heritage,cooking Italian Cuisine but referring to her food as Mediterranean. It's an Organic Passion for Food & Dominique is a genuine, beautiful lady. 

So an introduction to the equally lovely lady Ada Daher! Ada describes herself as a home cook & like myself, loves cooking up a Storm for her Family. 

Again another culinary journey to a Mediterranean destination, Lebanon. After a browse through the established vegetable & fresh herb garden, I relaxed in the ambiance of the outdoor setting covered by a huge Poinciana Tree.

Beginning with a refreshing drink of home-made Lemonade & fresh herbed Punch, we were introduced to the other guests, donned aprons up then introduced to the order of the night. Starting with preparation, of ingredient of recipes that we would use later in the class. 

First preparing the dough for Honey Puffs, then the dough for the Spinach Pastries. Syrup for the Sweet Cheese & Honey Puffs.

The preparation of the vegetables next, slicing eggplant & frying. Chopping florets of cauliflower to fry for another dish. We all shared in the prep. Back at our work bench, we washed spinach & parsley, then chopped it finely. Plenty of garlic & onions, some lemons freshly juiced, sultanas,  pine nuts & Feta for the pastries. This mix could easily pass as a salad. 
The finished pastry reminded me of a similar one a friend made in smaller crescent shaped pastries filled with olives.

Frying up sliced Eggplant & mince for Scheik el mihshi. 

Fried Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce & Prawns.

Making Tahini was interesting, as the sesame paste gets thicker as you add the liquid. Knowing when to stop adding the liquid is the key. 
The Mediterranean recipes often call for Honey & Sultanas in the savoury food. Greek friends of mine always have finger food, such as the crescent shaped olive filled pastries, egg& sultana savoury pastries, Taramousalata (greek caviar dip)! YUM, YUM, YUM...

Halawat El jibni, Sweet Cheese, was a very interesting process & delicious. 
A first for me was eating Honey Puffs,
 scoops of gooey pastry dropped into hot oil,
 cooked then dropped into the sugar syrup prepared earlier. 
Apparently, a heavier texture compared to greek honey puffs 
& I thought similar to a doughnut pastry. 

But once again very enjoyable. 

Time to put together the Pasties with spinach & feta filling.
Having prepared the dough earlier, rolling it in a log, covered & resting it, we sliced it into pieces then learned how to roll, the thickness kneaded (needed), we filled the pastry with the prepared spinach mix & a scoop of soft feta. The pastries were then baked for 10 mins in the oven.

After layering up the Sheik el mihshi, eggplant, cooked lamb mince, tahini sauce, finely chopped tomatoes & parsley, then the Cauliflower with Tahini & Prawns, it was nearly time to taste the food.

When we started, I thought, pastry, deep frying, sweets, aahh, BUT it was a very well balance meal & delicious. 


Most of the flavour in the class was from garlic in the tahini sauce. I tasted the cooked mince & found it didn't have any seasonings in it & had wondered, why not use cumin or a spice, BUT the Tahini sauce added all the flavour it needed. A beautiful balance of flavours.

Thank you Dominique & Ada for a lovely night off.  
Now  a new meal, I cooked for a lunch with limited ingredients, that fell in with my Healthy Eating. 
Eggplant, Haloumi Cheese, Spinach, Capsicum & a drizzle of lemon juice. A finger food, I picked up the section, curved the eggplant & bit into the layers. 
Prep: Peeling the eggplant & sliced, fry it in butter, along with the capsicum & haloumi, layer & eat. 

Buon appettito!