Baklawa B Ashta ~ Phyllo pastry dough cups filled with Lebanese semolina cream

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Baklawa B Ashta ~ Phyllo pastry dough cups filled with Lebanese semolina cream

Read my Summer 2017 Issue:

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There’s something so special to me about serving my guests their own personal pastry made just for them to delight in after a delicious meal. It’s simple to make your own phyllo pastry dough cups right at home, and you can’t beat the freshly baked taste of this flaky dough layered between the pure taste of clarified butter—I call it “liquid gold.” My some-kind-of-wonderful phyllo dough dessert cups are filled with luxurious Lebanese semolina cream, then topped with fresh seasonal blackberries and red raspberries, and finally drizzled with orange blossom syrup, making for the perfect sweet-treat to indulge in during the summertime season.

Make the phyllo dough cups: Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Remove 6 sheets of the phyllo dough from the plastic wrapping and box, and unroll the sheets onto a smooth, dry, and clean surface, keeping the plastic wrapping underneath. Rewrap the rest and refrigerate for future use.  Dip the pastry brush in the clarified butter, and lightly grease the bottom and side walls of a standard 6-cup cupcake pan or muffin tin.  Take a piece of phyllo dough, working with one sheet at a time, and lay it in front of you. Generously brush the entire phyllo sheet with clarified butter, and layer the next sheet of dough directly on top. Lightly smooth the phyllo sheet with the palms of your hands.  Brush the entire sheet with clarified butter, and repeat with 4 more phyllo sheets, placing each on top, then buttering from the edges of the sheet and working your way to the center, to cover the entire bottom surface of the sheet.  Using the rim of a small bowl or glass, cut out 6 small rounds, approximately 3 inches in diameter, by cutting around the bowl or glass using a sharp paring knife.  Place each round into the center of each buttered cup in the pan, gently pressing down in the center of the dough with your fingertips, and form the dough inside each cup.  Lightly brush the bottom and side walls of the phyllo dough cup with clarified butter, and place in the center rack of the preheated oven to bake for approximately 12–15 minutes until the pastry is light golden brown.  Immediately remove from the oven and allow the phyllo dough cups to completely cool and set shape before removing from the pan.  Make the Lebanese semolina cream: In a medium pot over medium-high heat, combine the heavy cream, semolina, and granulated sugar, and whisk together so the semolina dissolves into the cream.  Continuously stir until the mixture begins to thicken and bubble, about 12–15 minutes, making sure the mixture does not stick or burn at the bottom of the pot.  Once the mixture comes to a boil and has turned into a creamy consistency, immediately turn off the heat, cover with lid, and set aside.  Make the orange blossom syrup: Combine the sugar, lemon juice, and water in a medium pot over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil, uncovered, then immediately reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15–20 minutes until the syrup begins to thicken. Keep a close eye on the syrup, and make sure it remains clear in color and does not begin to brown or turn yellow.  To test the thickness of the syrup, dip a wooden spoon into the pot; the syrup should visibly coat the spoon. Let the syrup cool slightly on the spoon, then, using your index finger, swipe the syrup and squeeze it between your thumb and finger. It should feel sticky and thick, and once you release your finger and thumb, there should be a thin, stringy line of syrup between your two fingers.  Turn off the heat and allow the syrup to cool slightly but remain warm, 5–7 minutes.  Once the syrup has cooled, gently stir in the orange blossom water, then taste it; there should be a faint essence of the orange-blossom-flavored water.  Cover the pot and set aside at room temperature until ready to use. Don’t let it cool completely!  Fill each phyllo dough pastry cup with the warm semolina cream, and set in a small dessert plate or bowl.  Top with fresh berries and lightly drizzle with the warm orange blossom syrup and serve.           

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Strawberry Syrup for Cocktails & Sodas!

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Strawberry Syrup for Cocktails & Sodas!

I’m channeling my Scandinavian heritage for this fabulous syrup that can be used to enhance your favorite SUMMER SIPPERS! I developed this recipe for my friends at Sons of Norway’s Viking Magazine. Read about my Summer Sippers story HERE.

I love this syrup served with soda… maybe add dark rum, or over shaved ice (and maybe a dash of vodka), or on vanilla ice cream!

In a small saucepan combine sugar, water and strawberries.  Bring to a boil and stir well until the sugar is dissolved.  Let it simmer for 5 minutes.  Cool and use an emulation blander to make it into a smooth syrup.  To make the shaved ice run the ice though the shaved ice maker into a cup, top with syrup.  Serve with sliced rest strawberries on top.  To make a cocktail simply add 2 cl rum to each glass and serve.                                     

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Foul B Toum ~ Lebanese fresh fava bean and garlic dip

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Foul B Toum ~ Lebanese fresh fava bean and garlic dip

Read my Summer 2017 Issue:

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I absolutely love the large vivid green beans, as they remind me of my childhood days when I would pluck and shuck them with Mama in our homegrown garden in the early summer months. Today, you can find these big bulging beans fresh at farmer’s markets and farm stands, and you can’t beat the vibrant taste and substantial texture when they are in season. I was searching to create new fava bean recipes and some new spreads to add to my repertoire of mezza (small plate) dishes, and my fava bean dip has become one of my favorites. You’ll love the bright and clean flavors of favas along with the simplicity of this plant-based dish that delivers with deliciousness and nutritiousness!

Bring water to a rolling boil in a large pot over high heat and season with ½ teaspoon of salt.  Reduce the heat to medium and maintain a steady simmer. Submerge the beans in the hot water and cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes until tender but still bright green.  While the beans are cooking, fill a large mixing bowl with cold water and ice cubes. Once the beans are cooked, drain them and transfer to the ice-water bath to stop the cooking process and set the color.  Drain the favas from the ice-water bath and remove the outer skins by gently squeezing each bean with your fingertips; the skin should pop right off. Don’t worry if the beans split in half!  Using a food processor, add the garlic cloves, the cooked beans, and process until smooth, pausing periodically to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.  When the beans are smooth add in the lemon juice and season with the remaining salt to fully incorporate. With the food processor running, slowly stream in the olive oil until a creamy consistency forms.  Transfer the fava bean dip to a small serving bowl.  Serve cold with my homemade sesame seed pita chips, cracked green olives called zaytoun, and hard-boiled eggs.                                   

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EJJEH ~ Lebanese fresh-herb omelet

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EJJEH ~ Lebanese fresh-herb omelet

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Ideal for breakfast, brunch, or a light lunch, ejjeh especially entices me in the spring and summer, when I can use Mama’s fresh herbs from her glorious garden and the brown, white, and green organic eggs from our free-range chicken coop.

Preheat the oven to 350°F degrees.  Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl, and poke each yolk with a small knife EJJEH FOLLOW US @SWEETPAULMAGAZINE SWEETPAULMAG.COM 151 or fork to break open. Vigorously whisk the eggs until the whites and yolks are completely blended together, then add the cream or milk and whisk until soft and smooth.  Fold in the scallions and all of the herbs, and season with salt. Then add the flour and whisk until it has completely dissolved. The mixture should be slightly substantial with small bubbles on the surface.  Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium-low heat in a small sauté pan (preferably copper) or a cast-iron skillet.  Once the butter starts to foam slightly, ladle about 1 cup of the egg mixture into the center of the pan. Lift the panhandle and gently swirl the pan in a circular motion so that the egg mixture coats the bottom of the pan.  Allow the mixture to set for about 10 seconds, then gently run a silicone spatula around the side walls of the pan, slightly lifting the omelet’s edges so they do not stick.  When the omelet turns light golden brown, after 2–3 minutes, flip over by sliding the spatula under the center and swiftly turning it.  Cook for an additional 2–3 minutes, then transfer to a baking sheet and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.  Continue to make omelets with the remaining egg mixture by adding 1 tablespoon of butter for every two omelets. You should have 6 omelets.  Place the pita bread pockets onto two large baking sheets on the center and top racks of the preheated oven, and bake for approximately 5 minutes, just until the bread is warm but not toasted. Immediately remove from the oven.  Spread the remaining butter on the bottom of each pita pocket.  Lay each omelet on top of each pocket, roll into a wrap sandwich or slice into triangular wedges, and serve warm or at room temperature.                           

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Kibbet Raheb ~ Lebanese lemony lentil and Swiss chard soup with bulgur wheat bites

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Kibbet Raheb ~ Lebanese lemony lentil and Swiss chard soup with bulgur wheat bites

Read my Summer 2017 Issue:

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I love to make this hearty, lemony soup with soft bulgur bites as a warming springtime or summertime dinner, lunch, or brunch, and I’ll often make a big pot of it on a Sunday so I can warm it up and soothe my soul all week long in the summer.

Spread the lentils out in a single layer on a clean kitchen towel, and run your fingers through to ensure there are no small stones or impurities. Then rinse lentils in a fine-mesh sieve under cold running water and drain over the sink.  Transfer the lentils to a very large pot, and cover with 1 gallon (16 cups) of cold water. Place on the stovetop but do not turn on the heat.  Make the bulgur bites: Place the bulgur wheat in a large bowl, cover completely with 3 cups cold water, and set aside to soak and soften, about 20 minutes.  In a separate large bowl, combine all the remaining bulgur bite ingredients and mix together.  After 20 minutes, test the bulgur wheat by squeezing some of the grains between your fingertips; it should be soft and squishy, with no firmness. If it is still firm, continue soaking.  Once the bulgur has adequately softened, dip one of your hands into the bowl, and squeeze most of the water out of the grains over the bowl, leaving just a little bit of water so the bulgur will bind together. Sprinkle the bulgur into the large bowl over the other ingredients, working in handfuls until all of the bulger has been added in.  Using your hands, thoroughly mix all the ingredients together until they are well incorporated. Then, begin to knead the dough, plunging in your fists and flipping the entire mixture over until it comes together tightly. The dough should be sticky and moist, but not overly wet or dry. If the dough feels too wet, add additional flour by the teaspoon, and if it is too dry, add additional water by the teaspoon.  At this point, turn on the heat to medium under the large pot of lentils on the stovetop and cook, uncovered, watching for the pot to begin boiling.  Form the bulgur bites: Lightly flour a baking sheet or cutting board and set aside.  Lightly flour a large countertop or cutting board, and transfer the dough onto the surface.  Using your hands, mold the mixture into a large ball, and flatten it down by pressing with the palms of your hands, beginning in the center of the dough and working your way out, until the dough is uniformly ½ inch thick.  Using a dough cutter or sharp knife, slice vertically through the dough into 6 even strips, about 1-inch thick. Take each strip and roll it under your hands, left to right, to form a long, thin breadstick-like shape.  Then, using a sharp knife, cut across each strip horizontally, to create ½-inch cubes. Lightly roll them into balls, using the palms of your hands, and spread them out evenly on the floured baking sheet or board.  By now, the pot of lentils should be at a boil. Once the water is boiling, using a handheld strainer or large slotted spoon, carefully place the bulgur bites into the lentil liquid, adding them in small batches and tapping off any excess flour from the balls before placing them in the liquid.  Gently stir to ensure that the balls do not stick to each other. Then, turn the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 10–12 minutes, just until the bites have cooked through.  While the bites simmer, thoroughly rinse the Swiss chard leaves under cold running water and shake off as much excess water as possible.  Slice off the thick end and center stems and discard. Layer the leaves on top of one another, roll them up, and slice across the leaves with a sharp knife, creating 1-inch-wide ribbons. Add to the pot, season with the salt, and simmer for 10–12 minutes until the greens are cooked through.  Once the greens have cooked, add the garlic paste, lemon juice, and olive oil, and simmer for a few minutes more. Taste and add additional seasoning as needed. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley, and squeeze the juice of 1 lemon wedge. Serve hot with warm pocket pita bread.               

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Saiif Bazilla Salata ~ Lebanese summer-sweet pea salad

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Saiif Bazilla Salata ~ Lebanese summer-sweet pea salad

Read my Summer 2017 Issue:

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Sweet, buttery, and nutty mache lettuce leaves lend themselves so well to my and lovely Lebanese summer salad. Delicately layered with fresh clover sprouts, tender asparagus spears, fresh sweet peas, and slivers of peppery radishes then finished off with heaping amounts of fresh herbs, my sweet pea salad is a splendid standout for the season. Simply spooned with my cool and creamy cucumber-mint yogurt dressing, called khyar b laban, leaves the most luscious, lingering, and refreshing taste on your tongue that you will savor all summer long.

Pour the yogurt into a medium stainless-steel mixing bowl, and whisk until it is silky smooth.  Add the garlic, cucumber, mint, and salt to the yogurt, and mix together thoroughly. Taste and add additional seasoning if needed.  Cover the sauce with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving.  Spread the mache on a large flat serving platter and layer the clover sprouts over the small leaves by gently pulling the sprouts apart with your fingertips.  Place the asparagus tips on top followed by the peas and radishes. Spread the scallions, chives, and mint all over the ingredients and set aside.  Drizzle with the cucumber-mint-yogurt dressing and serve immediately.                                       

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