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Text © Suzanne Husseini 2010 Photography © Petrina Tinslay 2010 Food stylist: Alison Attenborough
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ISBN: 978 1 86063 298 3
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when suzanne cooks
Photography by Petrina Tinslay
I long for my mother’s bread, my mother’s coffee, my mother’s touch… – Mahmoud Darweesh
To my father, who taught me to be a proud Arabian. To my mother, thank you for the love you put in every meal. Your love lives on in my kitchen.
Where does one begin to thank the many people who had a hand in making this dream of mine a reality? I like to call them my dream team. Thank you Jonathan Griffiths for setting this dream in motion. For my dear friend Perla Lichi for your continued love and support and for showing me there is more to a number than you think. Many thanks to Wakami Saab for your neverending generosity. For Najat Al Sayyed, you are truly a special friend. Thank you Maria Norman for never giving up and being so supportive. For Stephanie Mahmoud whose joy and enthusiasm makes it an absolute pleasure to work with her. The saying goes that a picture is worth a thousand words. Truly the stunning photography speaks volumes. Petrina, thank you for capturing my food in the most beautiful way. And to my food stylist, extraordinaire, Alison Attenborough. Thank you Leanna Maione for your hard work and also for keeping tea time alive. My appreciation to all the Motivate team whose excitement for this book made it a wonderful experience. Many thanks to Simona Cassano, Therese Theron, Urvashi Kadam, Cithadel Francisco and Charlie Banalo. I am grateful for the generosity of so many people from various stores who offered us gorgeous props for the photo shoot. Thank you Bloomingdales, Tavola, O de Rose, Harvest Home, Zara, Asala, Geneviève Lethieu, Perla Lichi Design. Thank you Jane Hodges, Maram Borno, Sundos Shaikhly, Victoria Crick, Tarek Tawil, Erika Oliveira, Kathy Santiago, Lucy Taylor, Caroline, Denise Roig and Josephine. Then there are my ‘Girls’, Tala Duwaji, Gaby Tulipano and Lana Makhzoumi who were always ready to taste and critique my food. Thank you my dear friend Jehanne Aswad for always being there. Thank you Nadine Qonso for the privilege of wearing your beautiful one of a kind jewellery at my photo shoot. Thanks Anne, Jenny, Stephanie and Melanie for your encouragement. I have been so fortunate to have met so many wonderful people in my life. Thank you to all of my friends I’ve made along the way who have graced my table. Cooking for you has been a true joy. My heartfelt thanks to all of the fans of my show 'Sohbe Taibe'. Your kind words and continued support have meant so much to me. A big hug for my dear son Mahmoud who tirelessly worked with me and put up with my endless tweaking. Thank you to all of my family for your love and encouragement. My neverending love and admiration to you Ahmed, for managing to keep up with all of my dreams. And to my children Eman, Mahmoud and Mimi who are the reason why I cook with love.
acknowledgements contents introduction breakfast
Cheese and Za'atar Flatbread Halloumi/Feta Cheese Bread Rolls Aubergine Omelette and Tomato and Mint Salad Middle Eastern Baked Eggs and Crispy Pitta Wedges Fried Halloumi Cheese Chickpeas with Yoghurt Topping and Pitta Croutons Za'atar Croissants Ricotta-Filled Crêpes with Mango and Rose Syrup Fava Bean Dip Fried Eggs (Arabic Style), Spicy Sausages and Hash Browns (Arabic Style) Date and Orange Scones and Mascarpone Spread Labneh Three Ways Fresh Thyme Stars 10 12 16 20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 36 38 40 42 44 46 48 50 52 54 56 58 60 62 64 66 68 70 72 74
Baba Ghanouj Beetroot and Purslane Salad with Citrus Dressing Hummus Roasted Cauliflower with Citrus Tahini Sauce and Roasted Red Pepper Dip Poached Fish in Tahini Sauce with Caramelized Onions Exotic Watermelon and Cheese Salad Mutabbal Beitinjan Kofta (Meatballs and Sweet and Sour Cherry Sauce) Tabbouleh and Kibbeh Tartare Fried Kibbeh Shells and Cucumber and Yoghurt Mint Salad Braised Green Beans and Tomatoes Herb and Nut-Crusted Labneh Balls Baby Okra and Sautéed Tomatoes
Sambousek Two Ways Citrus and Almond Shrimps Wrapped in Knafe Pastry Spicy Chicken Wings with Fresh Hot Tomato Salsa Green Salad with Fried Halloumi, Grapes and Pomegranate Dressing Lemony Braised Stuffed Vine Leaves with Mini Courgettes Moussaq’aa Shamandar (Beetroot) Dip Spinach-Filled Filo Triangles Grilled Aubergines and Pomegranate Dressing
76 78 80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 100 102 104 106 108 110 112 114 116 120 122 124 126 128 130 132 134 136 138 140 142 144 146
Kofta Sandwiches and Spicy Roasted Potato Wedges Lemony Garlic Chicken with Rice and Yoghurt Sauce Arugula Salad with Grilled Aubergines and Sweet Pomegranate Dressing Cauliflower Fritters with Yoghurt and Mint Dip Baked Kibbeh and Fattouche Falafel Sandwich with Tahini and Parsley Dip Grilled Fish with Date and Rice Pilaf and Spicy Tomato Salsa (Dakkous) Kofta Burgers and Yoghurt, Cheese and Mint Sauce with Matchstick Potatoes Warm Shawarma and Arugula Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette Creamy Lentil Soup Sea Bass Wrapped in Vine Leaves and Citrus Potato Salad Meat-Filled Mini Aubergines and Creamy Yoghurt Sauce Rice and Lentil Pilaf and Lemony Cabbage Salad Meat or Aubergine Flatbreads Lemony Lentil Soup with Swiss Chard Caramelized Onion Tart with Sumac Roast Chicken and Arugula and Thyme Salad
Barbecued Chicken and Burghul and Freekeh Pilaf Jute Mallow and Chicken Stew and Vermicelli Rice Stuffed Baby Courgettes in Herb Yoghurt Sauce Baby Okra Stew and Layered Fragrant Rice Pilaf Shawarma (Lamb or Chicken) Maqlouba (Meat and Rice with Aubergines) Braised Stuffed Cabbage in Lemon Garlic Sauce Meat-Filled Pasta in Herb Yoghurt Sauce (Shish Barak)
Walnut and Herb Stuffed Salmon with Spicy Tahini Sauce and Rice Tabbouleh Herb and Pistachio Crusted Rack of Lamb and Arugula and Tomato Salad Roast Chicken with Rice, Fruit and Nut Stuffing and Arabian Garden Salad Ground Lamb in Tahini Citrus Sauce Shish Kebab and Shish Tawouk, Freekeh and Fresh Tomato Pilaf and Beetroot and Fresh Thyme Salad Stuffed Peppers Stuffed Vine Leaves, Courgettes and Lamb Cutlets Braised in Lemon Juice Fish and Rice Pilaf with Caramelized Onions, Spicy Tomato Salsa (Dakkous) and Mixed Citrus Salad
148 150 152 154 156 158 160 162 164 166 168 170 172 174 176 180 182 184 186 188 190 192 194 196 198 200 204 205 206 207
‘A Thousand and One Nights’ Pistachio Ice-Cream Sweet Semolina Cake Chocolate-Filled Cardamom Cookies Cheese or Walnut-Filled Crêpes Umm Ali (Arabian Bread Pudding) Baked Baklawa Cheesecake Baklawa Sesame and Pistachio Biscuits Arabic Shortbread Knafe Pastry with Cheese Pistachio, Walnut and Date Pastries (Maamoul) Date Pastries Rice Pudding with Date Compote Fruit Salad Milk Pudding with Apricot Compote Date filled 'S' Cookies Spiced Ricotta-Stuffed Dates
conversion charts cook's notes basic recipes glossary
My family emigrated to Canada when I was very young. I remember arriving in the middle of the winter and seeing snow for the first time. A new beginning, where I had to learn a new language, make friends and get used to wearing mittens and boots. While all of this was challenging at times, my constant comfort was coming home to a kitchen filled with the most enticing smells, lovingly created by my mother. Our kitchen was the heart of our home. She would pack my school lunch with sandwiches made from homemade pitta bread, filling them with hummus (which was not yet a household word in North America!), labneh, falafel and za'atar. My classmates, being curious, wanted to know where I was from. “You tell them you are Arrrrabian,” my father advised, accentuating the ‘r’. But this answer only made them want to know more. The questions followed: “Is your father a sheikh?”, “Does he have camels?”, “Is he rich?”. They were relentless. I was only too happy to invite these inquisitive friends home for lunch. They tasted my mother’s cooking and, of course, loved it. The teasing eventually stopped, my 'exotic' lunches became a hit and soon I was filling daily requests for falafel. I learned at age seven that we all share one thing and that is a love for food. Much has been written about the legendary hospitality of the Arabs and our love of good food. Eating is an integral part of our life. We take it very seriously. For us, the age-old tradition of breaking bread is an honourable experience. This cookbook is my passionate attempt to showcase the diverse cuisine I grew up with, a cuisine that encompasses the Eastern Mediterranean, North Africa and the Middle East, a sophisticated food culture that has evolved over hundreds of years and was deeply influenced by the great Persian and Turkish civilizations. Situated at the crossroads of the spice route, Arabic cuisine naturally flourished and spread: the Arabs of long ago took their newly found ingredients – pine nuts, aubergines, pistachios, sugar, sesame, saffron, cinnamon, rice – and their farming and irrigation skills to places like Spain and Sicily. Sicilian cooking still uses so many Arabic ingredients and methods. Recently, I’ve been struck by how many well-known TV chefs are now looking to the Middle East for inspiration, incorporating ingredients such as sumac, harissa, tahini, saffron, rosewater and pomegranate syrup.
While the evolution of food traditions continues to fascinate me, this book is not meant to be an historical account of Arabic cooking. Rather, it is a collection of recipes I grew up with, the foods my mother cooked for our family, the dishes that brought comfort and joy to our hearts. One of the best skills I learned from my mother was to cook, as she would say, “with my eyes”, and to keep tasting along the way. She always allowed us to experiment in the kitchen, even if it meant making a mess. This gave me the confidence to cook with no fear. Even though my attempts weren’t always successful, she would taste it and say, "It is better than mine". She, incidentally, had an amazing talent for ‘cracking the code’ of any dish she tasted in a restaurant, recreating a better version of it at home the next day. Over the years of eating at my mother’s table, of teaching cooking classes, of gracing my own table with enthusiastic, food-loving friends, and of simply cooking for my own family, I’ve learned so much about other cultures, exchanged many recipes and simply savoured good times. This book is the result. The dishes that follow are divided into five chapters, ‘Breakfast’ being the first, followed by ‘Mezze’, ‘Lunch’, ‘Dinner’, and lastly ‘Dessert’. I want to share with you the foods and the times they are typically eaten. Use these recipes as a guide, but follow your instincts and your senses, too. Cooking is a delicious adventure!
Breakfast does not have to be complicated. It could be as simple as a perfectly fried egg sprinkled with tart sumac and fresh thyme with a bowl of olives on the side. Mornings are a nice time to do some light baking, whether it is scones sweetened with dates, savoury cheese buns or a perfectly baked egg nestled in sautéed spinach. The aromas will put a smile on anyone’s face. Listening to the sweet angelic voice of Fairouz while savouring a fresh cup of coffee is the way I start my mornings. I love laid back weekend mornings when breakfast is the main event. Breakfast at my mother’s table was always a medley of textures and flavours. And I've carried on that same tradition. Besides the choice of breakfast recipes in this section, also feel free to include many of the mezze dishes to your breakfast table.
Manakish Za'atar is a common snack all over the Arab world and can be eaten any time of the day. Basically it is a flatbread with a dry za'atar and olive oil topping. There are endless choices of toppings. Manakish is the generic name for these breads. I love to combine fresh thyme, spring onions, and tomatoes as an alternative topping. Caramelised onions, spinach, labneh, eggs and cheese are also delicious options.
Cheese and Za'atar Flatbread
Makes 8 small loaves 3 ½ cups flour 1 tbs salt 1 tbs sugar 1 tsp instant yeast 2 tbs olive oil 1 ¼ cups lukewarm water 1 cup za'atar ½ cup extra virgin olive oil 500 g akkawi cheese, or mozzarella or combination of both (any white cheese you like) In a large bowl mix the flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Pour in the oil and the water gradually. Mix to form a dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until the dough becomes elastic and smooth. Place in a greased bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Leave to rise in a draft-free place for 1 ½ hours until it doubles in size. Cut the dough into 8 equal parts. Dust with a little flour and cover with a towel. Leave to rest for an additional 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Combine the za'atar and olive oil to make the topping. Shred the cheese, mix together and leave aside. On a floured surface, flatten each ball and with a rolling pin roll into a circle of approximately 15–20 cm. Place on a greased baking sheet and spread the za'atar/oil mixture on some of the circles leaving a 1 cm border. Do the same for the cheese flatbreads. Use your fingers to spread the fillings evenly. Pinch and crimp the edges to create a decorative border. Bake in the preheated oven for 10–12 minutes until lightly golden. Serve hot.
I had a ritual of making these buns on Fridays as an afterschool snack for my children. Friends would pop in unexpectedly as I was pulling them out of the oven. The surprise visits became regular and always on a Friday. I later discovered that my son Mahmoud was spreading the word to come to our house to eat because “my mom makes so much food, plenty for everyone”. Well, he was right. And I always loved those moments in my kitchen with my children and their friends.
Halloumi/Feta Cheese Bread Rolls
Makes 12 rolls 2 cups flour ½ tsp salt 1 tbs sugar 1 tbs instant dry yeast 1 cup lukewarm water ½ cup yoghurt 4 tbs extra virgin olive oil 100 g halloumi cheese, shredded 50 g parmesan cheese, grated 100 g feta cheese, crumbled ½ cup fresh thyme chopped ¼ cup fresh mint, chopped 1 tbs olive oil ¼ cup sesame seeds Place the flour in a large bowl with the salt, sugar and yeast. Stir to combine. Add the water, yoghurt and oil and mix to form a dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Put back into the bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave to rise in a dark draft-free place for 1 ½ hours. Scatter all the cheeses and herbs on the dough and knead gently to incorporate. Divide the dough into 12 equal-sized balls and place side by side in a parchment-lined 30 cm baking pan. Cover with a damp cloth and leave to rise again for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 200°C. Brush the risen buns with olive oil, sprinkle sesame seeds on top and bake for 15 minutes until lightly golden. Serve hot straight from the oven.