Taste of Beirut
Health Communications Inc.
Ethnic restaurants are popping up with more and more regularity but unfortunately we don't have a great Middle Eastern restaurant in our area so we need to make it at home, which we like to do because it's both healthy and flavorful.
Joumana Accad who was born in Beirut but now resides in Dallas has written a cookbook filled with recipes inspired by her home and her beloved grandmothers cooking.
This book has chapters devoted to types if ingredients found in Lebanese cooking and tips and tricks for things that can be done ahead to reduce time when actually preparing the meal. The recipes are beautifully illustrated and easy to follow.
We decided to start easy and work our way up so we made the molasses cake to start and it was divine, feeling confident we moved onto the pomegranate and milk pudding. We used vanilla instead of rose water since it's not a popular flavor with my family. We then decided that we were ready for entrees, and again starting easy, made the green beans and tomato stew and the spinach and ground beef stew.
We have many more recipes lined up and are excited to also try many of the dips and salads as well.
We love this book and are confident that any foodies who especially love Middle Eastern food would be thrilled with it as well!
Below is another amazing recipe found in Taste of Beirut:
This dessert is easy to prepare and looks impressive. It is inspired by a traditional milk and fresh orange juice pudding called balouza, which consists of milk pudding (muhallabieh) topped with fresh orange cream and served in individual ramekins.
Puddings are thickened with starch (cornstarch or wheat starch) and do not use eggs. The rule of thumb is: Use 1½ tablespoons of cornstarch for every cup of liquid. Use more, say, 2 tablespoons per cup, if you like the pudding to be thicker. Add sugar to taste, a drop of flavoring (orange blossom water and rose water), and you are done. I have added a bit of amardeen syrup to the clementine juice for a deeper flavor, but this is an optional step.
Amardeen is an apricot paste from Syria that is exported all over the world, primarily to Middle Eastern markets. It is sweet and tangy, with an intense apricot flavor. It used to be an after-school snack for kids in Lebanon before the invasion of chips. Amardeen syrup is also available in bottles (especially during the holy month of Ramadan when nourishing drinks are so crucial). If you’d like to add that enticing apricot flavor, then going with a bottled syrup is definitely easier. (The paste needs to be soaked in water overnight, heated up a bit, then mixed with water in a blender.)
This dessert is easy to prepare and looks good! The only slight difficulty lies in scooping out the clementine pulp delicately so as not to tear the shell. An easier option is to serve it in pretty glass cups, the traditional way (milk cream at the bottom). The deep orange color is a result of adding amardeen(apricot) syrup to the clementine juice. Amardeen syrup is found in all Middle Eastern groceries or online.
Its intense apricot flavor pairs very well with the milk cream and deepens
the taste of the clementine juice.
Put the clementine juice, amardeen syrup, and enough water to measure
2 cups in a saucepan over medium heat. Add ½ cup of the sugar and
¼ cup of the cornstarch and stir until the mixture thickens, adding
1 teaspoon of the orange blossom water at the end. Spoon into glass
cups or the hollowed-out clementines.
Place the milk, cream, remaining sugar, and remaining cornstarch in a saucepan. Stir over medium heat until thickened, adding the remaining orange blossom water at the end. Spoon gently over the clementine
cream. Cool, cover, and refrigerate.
Note: The amount of sugar can be altered without affecting the texture of the cream. The orange blossom water is a traditional flavoring (or rose water), but could be substituted with others, such as vanilla.
1 cup clementine juice (about 12 clementines)
½ cup amardeen syrup or 1 large piece of amardeen sheet, chopped up and soaked in ¾ cup of hot water overnight and pureed in a blender
¾ cup white sugar
¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons orange blossom water
1 cup whole milk
1 cup whipping cream
(or whole milk)