Lebanese adventures and recipes for the soul
For the Nevada Appeal
This January we took a family-roots tour to meet relatives and friends in the village of my great grandfather. The village of M’tein is on Mt. Lebanon and it is there we spent unforgettable time learning the ancient/new cultures with the Abboud/Nacouzi and Hani families.
Hannah Daou, a resident of Carson City made introductions for us to her family in M’tein, whom we met, stayed with and enjoyed memorable hours in the kitchen with. Enjoying our meals with these wonderful people and the family exchange was the focal point of every day and we are going to share some of the dining fare with you.
The impact of spending time with the younger generation and their pride in sharing stories about their country’s customs, politics and current events and their curiosity about the United States was heart warming and something we will forever treasure.
The lush terraced landscape lends itself to the most fabulous produce – apples, grapes, olives and the biggest cabbages (the size of a large pumpkin) we have ever seen. The aroma of the spice markets and the sweet flavors in the local pastry shops made exploring each village a treat. In the local butcher shop meat is about two items, lamb or chicken, cut to order. The various forms of flatbread are endless. We enjoyed one shop in particular with its wood fired oven that made to order flatbread topped with za’atar and olive oil or with fresh local yogurt and tomato. Two items, that’s all, no substitutions.
The trip would not have been complete without a trip to Beirut near American University where they take street food to another level. Falafel sliders, shawarmas, both chicken and lamb, like none other we have ever had – not even close – and other gastronomic delights. As they say in M’tein “eat, Honey, eat.”
Fattoush, peasant Salad
This is basically a finely sliced or diced chopped salad.
1 cucumber sliced in half, quartered and sliced to 1⁄4 inch thickness (little wedges)
2 firm but ripe roma tomatoes chopped into small pieces
3 stalks finely sliced green onions
2 heads of romaine hearts (remove exterior leaves); use only light green leaves cut into 1⁄2 inch ribbons
5 red radishes halved and sliced
1 celery stalk thinly sliced
1 firm but ripe avocado diced
1 bunch Italian flat-leaf parsley rinsed and finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into small slices
1⁄3 cup extra virgin high quality olive oil
1⁄8 cup fresh squeezed lemon
1⁄8 cup pomegranate juice
4-5 mint sprigs shredded
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Thoroughly mix and add to salad and toss vigorously without crushing ingredients.
Option: Traditionally this salad is made with croutons from toasted flatbread or pita bread. Cut into 1⁄2-inch squares and put on cookie sheet rubbed with olive oil. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until crisp in a preheated 350 degree oven. Trader Joe’s carries both types of bread and your local grocery regularly carries pita bread.
11⁄4 tablespoons kosher salt or sea salt
1⁄2 cup olive oil
juice of 2 lemons; save the rinds for marinade as well
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 chickens cut 8 ways: 2 breasts cut in 4 pieces, 2 thighs and 2 chicken legs or buy your chicken pre-cut
Soak chickens in this marinade for a minimum of 3 hours in a covered bowl in the refrigerator.
To a 12 quart soup pot half full with boiling water add 1 tablespoon of salt and the chicken pieces removed from the marinade. Bring the pot back to a boil for 15 minutes. Carefully remove chicken from the water and place on dry towels. Baste chicken with some of the reserved marinade, salt and pepper. Place on a broiling pan and set oven on broil. Broil chickens for 20 minutes. You can also place chickens on preheated barbecue if you prefer for 20 minutes as an alternative. Put chicken in serving bowl and add 1⁄4 pound of melted butter and squeeze juice of 1 whole lemon, toss and serve.
This is a popular side sauce for poultry and bread.
While chicken is cooking, use 2 large heads of garlic or 12-16 cloves and place in blender or food processor. Add 1 teaspoon salt, juice of 1 lemon (hold the seeds), and 1⁄2 cup olive oil. Blend thoroughly until it becomes like a thick sauce not like a paste. You may have to add a little more olive oil.
In closing we hope you enjoy these great recipes as much as we did, but the best way to enjoy is with family and friends. We recommend a nice dry wine such as a sauvignon blanc.
Note: Lebanon and Turkey have a great wine growing tradition influenced by French settlers, so French style is best. Finding wines from these great regions is an almost impossible task in Northern Nevada. And as always enjoy, enjoy.
• Charlie Abowd is the owner and chef at Adele’s. He and his wife, Karen, have lived in Carson City since 1980. Charlie is a fourth-generation restaurateur.