Posts Tagged ‘Middle Eastern’

Kibbee and Bits

grow_your_own_logo-2009-bldgMy sister-in-law, Jennifer, is of Lebanese descent and when we were visiting one time, she showed me a cookbook she had – “Kibbee ‘n’ Spice and Everything Nice: Popular and easy recipes for the Lebanese and American Family,” by Janet Kalush. I was looking through it and talking about how much I like to try new things, and she gave me the book right there. Thanks again, Jen! 🙂

She also mentioned that kibbee is one of her favorite foods; I hadn’t heard of it before, but I tried it at Azar’s, a local Mediterranean restaurant, and liked it a lot. So I finally tried making it myself.

This is a variation of Lebanon’s national dish. The traditional way to make kibbee is to make the meat mixture shown below, then make another meat mixture to use as a filling; then the kibbee is baked or fried. I skipped the filling (this extra step is probably why I hadn’t made it earlier) and grilled them instead. You have to be very careful when grilling these; the bulghur wheat makes them a bit fragile. But it works!

btw, Dan kept calling it Kibbee and Bits, so here we are: Kibbee with bits of grilled potato 🙂

Kibbee Patties (spiced ground beef or lamb with bulghur)

1 cup finely ground bulghur wheat
1/2 medium onion, or one small onion
3/4 tsp. kibbee spice (see below)
2-1/2 tsp. salt
1 lb. finely ground beef or lamb
2 rounds of pita bread
tzatziki sauce (cucumber/yogurt sauce)

Kibbee Spice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tbsp. crushed dried mint (I used fresh mint from the garden, then dried it in the toaster oven at 200 degrees for 15 minutes)
1-1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Combine thoroughly in a small bowl; transfer to a spice bottle and keep in a cool, dry place.

For Kibbee

Rinse the bulghur wheat in cold water twice and drain. Cover by half an inch with fresh water and let soak. Finely mince the onion in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl and add the kibbee spice and salt; combine thoroughly. Add the ground meat to the bowl and mix completely by hand.

Squeeze excess water from the bulghur wheat and add to the meat mixture. Mix by hand until well blended. Add ice water if necessary, to maintain a soft consistency.

Form meat into eight 3-inch patties, and press in the center with your thumb to form a dimple. Grill 3-4 minutes on both sides until cooked through.

To serve: Serve kibbee patties over tzatziki sauce or in pita pockets. To serve in pita pockets, briefly grill pita rounds to warm them a bit; cut in half. Put a few tablespoons of tzatziki sauce in each pita half and place two kibbee patties on top of sauce. Serves 4.

This is my contribution to Grow Your Own, the food blogging event that celebrates growing and preparing our own food. It was originated by Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes and is hosted this time by Andrea herself.

If you count the cucumber in the tzatziki, I used three ingredients from my garden in this meal: cucumber, onion and mint.

Kibbee patties ready for grilling
Kibbee patties ready for grilling

Kibbee with tzatziki sauce and grilled potatoes
Kibbee with tzatziki sauce and grilled potatoes

Couscous with Grilled Veggies and Champagne Vinaigrette

I really really love this recipe. I am a vinegar fiend, for one thing, so I love the vinaigrette, and it’s healthy – couscous, veggies and herbs – it uses grilled veggies, which are heavenly, and it makes use of lots of fresh herbs from my garden. Later in the summer, when I have my own peppers, I’ll be using those, too. This goes great with any grilled meal, and can be served warm or at room temp.

Couscous with Grilled Vegetables and Champagne Vinaigrette

1/2 cup couscous
1 cup chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, peeled and sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and quartered
1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and quartered
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and quartered

1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 tbsp. fresh thyme, minced
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

Chop one onion slice. Heat 1 tbsp. EVOO in a saucepan and saute the chopped onion and minced garlic for a few minutes. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add couscous, stir, and turn off heat. Let sit till broth is absorbed and couscous is tender.

Insert toothpicks sideways into remaining onion slices, to hold them together on the grill. Toss onions and peppers with 2 tbsp. EVOO, salt and pepper. Grill 8-10 minutes or until tender. Dice into 1/4-inch pieces.

In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, thyme, half the parsley, salt and pepper. Whisking constantly, drizzle olive oil slowly into the bowl. Combine grilled vegetables with couscous, drizzle with dressing and toss to mix thoroughly. Sprinkle with remaining parsley.


Dinner at Azar’s

(This one’s for you, Eric 😉 )

My friend Barbara and I had dinner at Azar’s tonight, our favorite Middle Eastern restaurant with the attached market. Need some fabulous feta? Terrific tabouli? The best baklava? This is the place to find them.

I had a kefte wrap – a hotdog-shaped piece of hamburger mixed with spices, cooked, and wrapped in a pita with pickles, hummus, tomato, and Azar’s famous Mama Lina Sauce. I also ordered an appetizer of stuffed grape leaves, to bring home to Dan for his dinner, along with half of my sandwich (they’re huge!). Barbara had seafood kebab, beautifully grilled and served with saffron rice. Great meal. We skipped the baklava, since I, at least, overindulged a bit during our vacation to Michigan last week.

Eating there reminds me of my trip to Turkey in 2001, with my mom, aunt, uncle, and two couples who are friends of theirs. Our tour guide in Istanbul said that, because the Ottoman Empire covered practically all of the Middle East and parts of Europe and Africa, for hundreds of years, most modern-day countries in those areas claim lots of the same recipes, such as hummus and tabouli, as their own. In fact, the recipes came from the Sultan‘s kitchen and were spread by the Ottoman army throughout its territory. For example, stuffed grape leaves in southern Europe became stuffed cabbage.

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