Friday, August 29, 2014

New blog location on my website! Alice's Kitchen: Traditional Lebanese Cooking has a new website and blog page!

Please visit my newly redesigned cookbook website and blog page…click here for the link! First post is making Lebanese pickled turnips! 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

lebanese nachos a la linda dalal sawaya: colorful, festive, nutritious, and tasty! gluten free and vegan!

new creation a la linda sawaya: lebanese nachos! this is a gluten free, vegan recipe for my lebanese take on nachos. the inspiration for this came for a local (portland, oregon) soon-to-be-published cookbook.

garbanzo beans sautéed with garlic and salt along with sprouted french lentils and tahini sauce provide the protein. additional toppings of shredded red cabbage, green onions, cucumber, tomatoes, sweet peppers, and avocado make this a totally festive presentation.
the entire assemblage is sprinkled with sumac and has citrus overtones. it tastes fabulous! 

the chips are made of a yeasted dough that is a combination of garbanzo bean and oat flour, with ground sesame and golden flax seeds, rolled thin and baked until crisp.

as a creative artist, i took great delight in creating a new recipe adapting a mexican favorite to lebanese traditions and making it gluten free and vegan as well. it was an exciting process bringing my culinary skills to complement my traditional lebanese culinary roots. and the result was totally yummy!

more precise recipe to come soon. stay tuned!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

happy new year! new, faster way to make holiday baklawa (baklava)!

this holiday season i made baklawa for taste samplings at Camamu Soap's Holiday Bazaar—small pieces would be just right. i decided to make a tray of rolls cut into bite sized pieces, faster (for me) than making a big tray of baklawa and cutting it into typical diamond shapes knowing it would be easier to lift each one out of the tray to serve.
i started out putting parchment on my baking sheet and then placed three sheets of filo dough that i generously brushed with butter on the top sheet. next i spooned a long row of the walnut/sugar/orange flower water mixture about 1/2" from the edge and began to carefully roll up the nuts like an oriental carpet, brushing butter every couple of rolls and at the end, to be sure the filo was well covered.
with a sharp knife i cut the rolls into one inch pieces, and then continued the process until i filled the tray, using up all  the filo and the nut mixture.
occasionally, i used two sheets of filo instead of three, to be sure the filo and nuts would end up with no leftovers. and it did!

immediately after baking the cold simple syrup with orange flower water and lemon juice is drizzled over the hot pastry and left to cool. it came out fabulously...fully detailed recipe of course is in alice's kitchen!

wishing you all the best and many blessings this New Year!

Monday, December 9, 2013

fig tree variety nursery source in the u.s.

in doing some research about cedar trees, i discovered a link for a U.S. nursery supplying a great variety of fig trees with lots of information. it is called Trees of Joy. here's the link:

they also sell pomegranate, persimmon, and jujube, which i tasted for the first time in our lebanese village, douma!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Alice's Kitchen will be at Camamu's Alchemists' Bazaar on saturday, december 7, 2013!

if you are in the portland area, please join us in Sellwood for a wonderful holiday bazaar with fabulous locally made gift choices: soaps, salves, scarves, art prints, ceramics, and much more at Camamu Soap!

i will be making some Lebanese treats from alice's kitchen for your pleasure to taste and will be signing cookbooks for people on your holiday list, who love Lebanese food! Ahlan wa sahlan!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Alice's Kitchen: Traditional Lebanese Cooking will be at the Wilsonville Festival of the Arts Sunday, June 2 in the Literary Plaza

Linda Dalal Sawaya will be sampling fig-filled cookies at the Wilsonville Festival of the Arts on Sunday, June 2 in the Literary Plaza as she signs and sells copies of Alice's Kitchen: Traditional Lebanese Cooking! I will also have a few copies of The Sweets of Araby, a dessert book that I illustrated with stories from the 1001 Arabian Nights, published by Countryman Press!

Be sure to mention you saw my blog post for a special discount on cookbooks! And be sure to taste a fabulous lebanese fig cookie and say hi!

It looks like a great arts festival and the weather will be perfect!

blessings and happy cooking!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

rare spiral-bound, lay flat Alice's Kitchen: Traditional Lebanese Cooking available!

i just found a box of spiral-bound, lay flat copies of my 2005 edition of Alice's Kitchen printed to fill orders while waiting for my big printing of the newest edition. if you would like a chance to win a free copy and are on FACEBOOK, please LIKE my cookbook page!

the 100th person to LIKE my page will receive a signed copy of the book with free shipping in the U.S.!

if you're not on FB, or would just like to buy one of these rare copies, send me an email, and i will tell you how to order one. the price is $30 including priority mail shipping in the U.S.

i use my lay flat copy all the time in the kitchen, since it is so much easier to use. the perfect bound books are what bookstores and libraries prefer, which is why the majority of the books were printed with a spine.

Lenten blessings and happy cooking! be sure to enjoy the many Lenten (vegan) recipes in Alice's Kitchen: Traditional Lebanese Cooking by Linda Dalal Sawaya.

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!