Sunday, December 9, 2012

Festive Lebanese baba ghannouj for the holidays from alice's kitchen: traditional lebanese cooking

Beautiful, ruby-red in-season pomegranates bejewel baba ghannouj for your festive holiday table! recipe in alice's kitchen: traditional lebanese cooking! their sweet tartness are a perfect complement to our smokey baba ghannouj

see the book for the recipe and my blog post for great photos of the process. remember, our holiday sale on alice's kitchen: 5 books for $75 including free shipping via media mail. order before december 15! email me for details.

enjoy, many blessings, and happy holidays and happy cooking!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Holiday season special offer of Alice's Kitchen Lebanese Cookbook!

5 cookbooks for $75 including media mail shipping! offer begins today and ends on December 15 so they will arrive in time for your holiday gift giving!

give the gift of love: Alice's Kitchen: Traditional Lebanese Cooking. as my beloved mother alice affirmed: Dear, if you make it with love, it will be delicious!

so spread the love and order your gift copies today. your friends will love you for it!

signed and personalized copies make it an extra special gift.

to order you may pay via paypal (, send me an email, or send a check to my post office box.

linda sawaya
po box 91192
portland, OR 97291

wishing you happy cooking, and happy holidays!

with love and many blessings,

Saturday, October 20, 2012

alice's kitchen: traditional lebanese cooking will be at PORTLAND LAMB JAMB Sunday, October 21

shish kebab (laham mishwe) and kafta are classic Lebanese lamb dishes detailed in alice's kitchen: traditional lebanese cooking, and previous blog posts are linked for your perusal.

the occasion for revisiting them now, is the PORTLAND LAMB JAMB, a fundraiser for hungry children in which i will be presenting alice's recipes to an audience that loves lamb. the event is on Sunday from 2 to 5 pm in portland, oregon. alice's kitchen has 41 pages of lamb recipes and features 5 pages on how to properly cut a leg of lamb so the flavor is excellent. most lebanese cookbooks do not have this information, while alice's kitchen uniquely does! folks who say they don't like lamb would benefit from mama's teachings here. if the fat is not properly trimmed, according to mama, it gives a bad flavor. so the secret is here (in the book!!)
additionally, as described in the cookbook, in my parents' village of Douma, the butcher prepared the lamb cuts for specific dishes on order and delivered them! but in LA when i was growing up, mama had to become the butcher, as the meat dept. of A & P didn't know laham mishwi from kafta.

so we have mama to thank for this wisdom! 

lamb was not an everyday feature of our diet, and when it was included, traditionally small bits of meat were eaten with rice and lots of vegetables. this is why alice's kitchen is loved by vegans and vegetarians as well!

happy cooking! see you at PORTLAND LAMB JAMB!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Alice's Kitchen will be at Portland's Wordstock Book Festival this weekend!

If you're in portland this weekend, please come by the convention center for a great book festival, wordstock, and visit me at booth #815. i will be there signing copies of alice's kitchen: traditional lebanese cooking and The Sweets of Araby, a book for which i illustrated and designed the cover, as well as doing interior illustrations, published last year by Countryman Press, and named a NY Times Notable book for 2011. it is a delightful book with recipes and stories based on the tales of the 1001 Arabian Nights.

my beloved mother, alice, joined me at Wordstock in 2005, when they had a cooking stage and the revised and expanded edition of AK had just been published. it was such a joy to share the stage with mama; the audience loved her, and she was honored by the line of people waiting for us to sign their books.

this weekend i'll be selling the books at a special price, and will be sharing some of my summer dried do stop by! mama will be with us in spirit! reminding us: Dear, if you make it with love, it will be delicious!

and if you are too far away, you can order copies through my website or amazon. happy cooking!

Friday, October 5, 2012

LEBANESE COOKING DEMO by linda sawaya in vancouver, washington October 17!

fall and harvest greetings to all!

i have been busy this summer and posting a lot of food and cooking images to my TWITTER (@lindasawayaART) and FB, so if you'd like to follow either or both of those, you will see what i've been up to.

i do plan to continue posting here, just found the iphone/instagram so instant, it made it possible in an otherwise very busy period!

OCTOBER 17, wednesday from 1:30 to 2:30, i will be doing a FREE cooking demo at CHUCK'S PRODUCE, a very wonderful store i just discovered. will be demonstrating how to make a quick and FABULOUS hommous b' tahini and baba ghannouj!

sign up with them soon, as their classes fill up quickly! and come and learn how to make the best hommous and baba in the pacific northwest!

of course i'll be signing and selling Alice's Kitchen: Traditional Lebanese Cooking too! please come by and visit, taste, and pick up some gift copies of your favorite Lebanese cookbook!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

labne—creamy, healthy lebanese yogurt one step!

labne (labneh, labni) is a simple yogurt cheese easily made from homemade or store-bought yogurt. it is a staple of Lebanese cuisine that i grew up with in Alice's Kitchen. the Arabic word for yogurt, laban, from the same root as name of the country Lebanon (lubnan), meaning White One, referring to the Lebanese mountains, especially the typically snow-covered Mt. Lebanon.
sitto (my grandmother) would make the laban (yogurt) as a first step, making the sign of the cross over the milk and starter to bless it. the next day when the yogurt was ready, some was kept for eating, while a quart was saved to make labne.

three items: a teaspoon of sea salt, a quart of full-fat yogurt, and a cloth bag, which mama made from white cotton sheets is all that is needed. the reusable bag is a 8 x 9 inch rectangle with a drawstring at the top. a large coffee filter could be used instead. i learned by reading packaged yogurt labels that reduced or non-fat yogurt has lots more carbs.
to one quart of yogurt, mix in one teaspoon of sea salt until thoroughly combined. turning the bag inside out so the seams are on the outside makes it easier to remove the labne from the bag at finish. wet the cloth bag with cold water and wring out. pour the salted yogurt into the damp bag, tie the top so a corner of the bag is at the bottom, and hang over the sink to drain overnight.

salt draws the water (whey) from the yogurt, making labne, a creamy tart cheese that is a superb substitute for cream cheese or sour cream and has more protein and less sugar and carbohydrates than unstrained yogurt.
 above: full bag of laban draining overnight to make labne. below: labne ready to serve!
once reduced of whey, the quart of yogurt makes a pint of yogurt cheese, labne!
drizzle with olive oil and refrigerate!
traditionally labne is served with bread and olives for breakfast, or a light supper. it's an ingredient in the filling of Lebanese meat pies (sfeeha), and is eaten with stuffed grape leaves, kibbe bil sineyeh, and is a staple of a typical Lebanese mezza. white and creamy, nutritious and tart, it is great on crackers or as a base for a dip.

i haven't tried making it with now readily available goat milk yogurt, which was likely done in the old country, so will add this to my next experiment list! check back for results!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

chestnuts roasting on an open fire!

it's still officially winter; it snowed just this week in my portland garden. and although i took these photos in the Christmas season and it's now Lent and daffodils are budding up, the forget-me-nots, snowdrops, primroses, and Lenten roses are all blooming in my garden, it seemed best to post these chestnut roasting photos now instead of waiting for next Christmas!

raw chestnuts! ready to roast like they do on the streets of new york or rome and sell in rolled up newspaper cones! or like they do in lebanon, where my parents came from!
make an X in the top with a sharp knife. this is how my dad cut the raw chestnuts to roast over a fire or under the gas broiler so they'd cook inside and be easy to peel.

now they're ready to put in the broiler of my gas stove for just a few minutes until they turn golden brown and split open.
you know they're done when the X's curl and open up.
let them cool enough to peel and eat while they're still warm and you're in for an amazing texture and nutty flavor—chestnuts roasted over an open fire.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

gorgeous persimmons for the season, to ring in the new year! fuyu and hachiya what to do with them?

growing up in a lebanese-american family in los angeles, persimmons, known in arabic and some other languages as kaki, (from their latin botanical name: Diospyros kaki) were a luscious winter treat with unique flavor and texture. my parents brought home the hachiya variety which must be very soft before they're eaten, otherwise, we learned the hard way—the mouth suffers.

the flatter fuyu variety, which i came to know while living in the bay area some years ago became a winter favorite as they can be eaten like an apple when firm, sliced into slivers to add color and sweetness to a winter salad in lieu of out of season tomatoes, or dried, and have a fabulous fragrance.

what to do with them? we lebanese just eat them fresh and raw. they're super sweet. the fuyus make excellent dried fruit, known to be eaten by the chinese at new year's. 
here, i've made a rather unlikely combination by pairing fuyus with a habanero chili goat cheese dip i made for a party. other than the cheese being goat cheese chevre, this is not lebanese, but it was such a pleasure to photograph these sumptious succulent fruits. and my dip was raved about at the holiday dinner party with a mexican theme.
the sweetness of the persimmons plays off the spicy flavors of the dip and saltiness of the the corn tortilla chips. the colors served in blue glass and ceramic bowls are an artist's dream of complementary colors. 
on top the garnish is a sweet yellow chili pepper which i also added to the habanero chevre mixture in the food processor, along with a bit of lemon juice.
my home grown habanero chiles were roasted over the flames of my gas stove top and then cooled, peeled, and blended with the chevre. in the photo is a tiny habanero that shriveled up.

the hachiya can be only eaten when ripe
the firm slices of fuyu on the left, and the soft, succulent ripe hachiya on the right after i've taken my taste of it.
my friend andrea has a most gorgeous fuyu persimmon tree in her portland garden, pruned like an umbrella. standing under it full of leaves with the fruit still green was a marvelous experience that felt like an abundant blessing. 

the fruit ripens after the leaves have fallen. here's andrea's photo of her tree with her chicken coop beyond that inspired me to plant my own fuyu persimmon tree which i did just in time for the new year. may it be a blessing to us all! thanks to andrea's inspiration and heavenly garden.
enjoy and many blessings and peace in the new year! happy new year and happy cooking!