Julie Taboulie’s Lebanese Kitchen
Authentic Recipes for Fresh and Flavorful Mediterranean Home Cooking
Cookbook Review by Linda Kissam & Adrianne Morrison
Sauces and seasonings make all the difference in the flavors that define how food tastes, and preparation techniques with ethnic food combinations create the adventure of eating. So what do your taste buds imagine when they hear “Lebanese”— Mediterranean? Middle-Eastern? Lamb, mint, grape leaves, eggplants, Tahini, couscous, nuts, rose water? And what can you make with these ingredients? Find out from Julie Ann Sageer as she artfully shares memories of her childhood and family recipes in a gorgeous new cookbook, Julie Taboulie’s Lebanese Kitchen ($29.99).
Finesse is the key word for Julie’s recipes. Most ingredients are familiar, but the spices are specially combined, the preparation steps a bit different, and the results spectacular. These are not recipes for the novice cook but follow the steps and you’ll feel secure in Julie’s knowledge of Lebanese cooking, comforted by her words and definitely inspired.
Gift this beautiful cookbook to yourself, sit down and read through it by turning to the introductory thoughts of each chapter and recipe. When you’re ready, shop the ingredients and experience Lebanese food the way Julie does. If you avoid the mint, you’ll miss out on the full flavor. Serve in stoneware or use fun bowls and plates to mix-up your usual dinner table. This cookbook does not include a photo of every dish, but the photography will spark presentation ideas and whet your appetite for new dishes. Keep an eye out for that special serving platter. Get those inherited plates down from the top shelf and find that tablecloth you never use. Savor the food you’ve prepared, remove your shoes, and feel transported to another place and time when you dine — this time to Lebanon. We gave the book five out of five stars.
Learning that Chef Julie has a cooking show, I immediately searched my DISH and selected “Record when Available.” Thinking it will be fun to follow-along with her cookbook in hand, I skipped over to YouTube and sure enough, Julie is there cooking her “mama approved” dishes. I love cooking with a friend, but if you find yours are all otherwise engaged, make Julie your new best cooking buddy. She won’t disappoint.
Here’s a teaching moment for your children to practice some of the Lebanese dining etiquette.
“Once the food is served follow your host’s lead as he or she may invite everyone to begin serving themselves at the same time or may request that either you [as guest] or the elders be served first. Try a bit of everything offered as turning down food is rude. If you finish your first serving, expect to be offered a second helping; turn this invitation down at first, and only after your host’s insistence should you accept more food. Eat as the locals eat; in some settings this means eating in the continental style (knife in the right hand, fork in the left), but for other foods and on other occasions, you should eat with your right hand; only touch your food with your right hand. As you finish your food, leave a bit on your plate to show there was more than enough and place your fork and knife together in the 5:00 position.”
Love the succulent and exotic tastes of Lebanese food? Never had Lebanese food? Been waiting for a cookbook on Lebanese food that is easy to follow and makes sense? You’ll find Julie Ann Sageer’s new cookbook to be a great resource for you. Beautifully photographed by Alexandra Grablewski, you can see what success looks like with each recipe. You’ll get a nice dose of the author’s childhood and culture as a bonus, making the book that much more interesting.
Authentic recipes await you such as Fatteh Hummus (Warm Chickpea-Pita-Chip Dip Bowl, Sitto’s Batata Salata (Julie’s Grandmother’s Potato and Fresh Herb Salad) , Kibbet Rahib (Lemony Lentil and Swiss Chard Soup with Bulgar Wheat Bites) and Siyediyeh (Salmon and Saffron Rice Stew). Vegetarian, pescatarian and gluten free recipes are also included.
Author Julie is the host of the Emmy-nominated Cooking with Julie Taboulie and the upcoming Julie Taboulie’s Lebanese Kitchen, airing on PBS nationwide. Born in Central New York and raised in Finger Lakes, she shares her recipes and lifestyle in a warm engaging fashion. She is often asked if “Julie Taboulie” is her real name. The simple answer is no …or not legally, however she feels, “…it might as well be.” She was given the nickname at a very early age by her uncles after noticing her obsession with the dish.
Julie was assisted by Leah Bhabha. Leah is a cookbook co-author, recipe tester, and food writer who has written for numerous publications including The Guardian, Food & Wine, Marie-Claire, and Food52 You may find her article, “6 Healthy Foods that Will Bring You Good Luck in the New Year” fun and informative http://www.marthastewart.com/1507356/healthy-foods-bring-you-good-luck-new-year
Take a test drive of this cookbook through this flavor filled recipe compliments of Julie and St. Martin’s Press.
Sautéed dandelion greens with caramelized onions
Author’s Note: While dandelion greens have only recently become popular in the United States, they have long been an essential ingredient in Lebanese cuisine. Each spring in Mama’s garden I can hardly wait to see these gorgeous greens arrive. The minute they sprout in her garden, Mama knows to tell me, and we pick and prepare them that very day. Although Hindbeh is a side dish, my family and I often enjoy it as a main course simply scooped up with some warm Arabic bread, such as Khebez Arabi (page 205). Sautéed with sweet Vidalia onions, olive oil, and salt, Hindbeh is a must-make, quick side that is especially good with soups like Kibbet Raheb (page 60), egg dishes like my herb omelet Ejjeh (page 110), and Bayd b Halyoun, an asparagus and egg scramble.
MAKES 6 SERVINGS
½ tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon sea salt
2 bunches fresh dandelion greens, thoroughly washed, stemmed, and coarsely chopped into 2-inch pieces
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large Vidalia onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
In a large pot, bring 8 cups of water and the ½ tablespoon of the salt to a boil. Add the chopped greens to the boiling water, pushing them down so they are fully submerged. Boil the greens, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes, making sure to periodically push them down so they blanch evenly. While they are cooking, fill a large mixing bowl with ice cubes and cold water. After about 15 to 20 minutes, test the tenderness of the greens by rubbing a stem or two between your fingers. If they are slightly squishy, then they are cooked.
Immediately remove the greens from the heat, drain, and transfer to the ice-water bath to stop the cooking process and set the color.
While the greens are cooling, combine the 1/3 cup of the olive oil and onion slices in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and sauté, stirring occasionally, until caramelized to a golden brown color, 10 to 12 minutes; do not burn.
When the onions have caramelized, reduce the heat to low. Drain the cooled greens in a colander, and squeeze as much excess water as possible with your hands. Add the blanched greens to the sauté pan, pulling apart the small clumps with your hands. Stir into the caramelized onions to combine, season with the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and sauté until the greens are heated through. Taste, and add additional seasonings as needed.
Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and serve warm, at room temperature or cold.
Taboulie tip! Boiling the dandelions removes the bitterness and tenderizes the greens.
Spiced chickpea fritters
Copyright © 2017 by Julie Ann Sageer and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin.
Author’s Note: If you’re reading this, my guess is you’ve probably had a falafel before. These hearty, golden-brown chickpea fritters have gained popularity in the U.S. in recent years, and you can see them popping up in fast casual sandwich spots and Middle Eastern restaurants alike. But once you make falafel (which means “pepper” in Arabic) from scratch, you’ll never go back to store-bought. I like to serve these crunchy yet moist goodies with warm pita, tangy Tahini Dressing, herbs, and a sprinkling of Kabis Lefet. Good luck having time to wrap them up in pita, though, they usually get snapped up way before that!
You will need to start this recipe a few days in advance, as the chickpeas must soak for 48 hours.
MAKES 6 SERVINGS (45 TO 50 FRITTERS)
2 cups dried chickpeas
3 teaspoons baking soda
6 garlic cloves
2 medium yellow onions
1½ teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
1½ teaspoons ground coriander
1½ teaspoons sweet paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 cups vegetable oil, for frying
Two days before you plan to serve the falafel, place the dried chickpeas in a large mixing bowl and cover generously with cold water. Stir in 1 teaspoon of the baking soda, cover and set aside at room temperature to soak overnight. The baking soda will soften the chickpeas and balance the acid levels.
The following morning, drain the chickpeas, rinse, and return to the bowl. Cover completely with cold water, add 1 teaspoon of baking soda and soak overnight once again.
The next morning drain the chickpeas from the water, rinse, and lay out on paper towels or on a large, clean kitchen towel to thoroughly dry the chickpeas. You should have about 4½ to 5 cups. Make sure they are completely dry to make well-formed falafel.
While the chickpeas are drying, finely mince the garlic and onions in a food processor. Add the chickpeas in two batches and finely grind into a coarse meal, pausing periodically to scrape down the sides of the food processor bowl. Test the consistency by forming a small ball in the palm of your hand and squeezing it together. The ground chickpeas should be grainy and stick together with no lumps.
Transfer the falafel mixture to a large mixing bowl, add all the salt, black pepper, cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne, and red pepper flakes and mix well. If necessary, run a fork throughout the mixture to blend the spices evenly. Then, sprinkle in the remaining 1 teaspoon baking soda and fluff the mixture with a fork; this will help the falafel to rise. Set aside.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Line a second baking sheet with paper towels. Set both baking sheets aside. Pour the vegetable oil into a large, deep frying pan, and place over medium heat until the oil registers between 350°F and 375°F on a deep-fry thermometer and begins to sizzle.
Meanwhile, using your hands, roll the falafel mixture into 1 tablespoon-size balls and gently press down to flatten slightly. Transfer the falafel to the parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Using a slotted spoon or skimmer, carefully lower and release the falafel balls into the hot oil and fry in batches of five to six at a time, submerging them completely in the hot oil. Let them settle into the oil, untouched, for 1 minute and then carefully turn them over and fry for 1 minute more, or until golden brown and crispy on the outside. Using a slotted spoon or handheld strainer, immediately remove the falafels and transfer to the paper towel–lined baking sheet to drain excess oil. Cover with aluminum foil to keep the falafel hot. Make sure the oil temperature remains constant throughout the frying, checking it periodically.
Serve hot with your choice of Lebanese accompaniments.
Copyright © 2017 by Julie Ann Sageer and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin.