Showing posts with label Lebanese Cuisine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lebanese Cuisine. Show all posts

Friday, February 4, 2011


Kibbeh Picnik collage 3 bis
Lebanon. This name sounds very poetic, don't you think? Pronounce this unique, bewitching word and you'll get me phantasizing about refined and dreamlike dishes with exhalirating aromas and fragrant perfumes, antique temples still standing triumphantly even when in ruin, glorious ancient empires full of mystique (Phoenician, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Macedonian, Roman & Byzantine), busy markets with stalls exploding with fresh veggies, fruits, spices, dried fruits and exquisite desserts, gorgeous sunny landscapes, snowy mountain tops, flat desertic plains, luscious pine tree forests and postcard-like coastlines, small coffee shops and restaurants crowded with men and women casually enjoying a delightful meals and sipping on their coffees or arak, and hospitable as well as frindly people who open the doors of their homes to visitors and happily share their meal with you. All of that might not be very accurate or the same in reality, but it is nonetheless what this complex country inspires me...

One thing I am sure of though is that the Lebanese rich gastronomic traditions have a lot to offer for gourmets like me and there is no doubt about the reasons why this place's cuisine is venerated all around the world. It's deliciousness is incomparable. Absolutely no myth here. If you already know the century-old Lebanese cuisine, then you know that I'm not lying and if you have never tasted it, well I can only assure you that you must immediately remedy this situation as you most likely have missed out on a fabulous experience.

Every time I plan to prepare a yummy dish for the weekend, I in
variably pick up one of my Middle Eastern cookooks and leaf through it's page while drooling. For me, that kind of is synonymous of culinary enlightment and extreme epicurian pleasure. I am constantly amazed by the recipes hailing from that region of the globe. But there is no mystery to why I am attracted to such wonderful exotic eats. I am crazy about spices, lamb, poultry, pilafs, mezze, dips, sticky and nutty desserts, flat breads and bulghur. Such goodies have a drug-like effect on me.

Being a really well-organized foodie who behaves like a squirrel (a stock freak) I always make sure that my cupboards and freezer are garnished with a vast array of ingredients (tons of spices, grains, legumes, pastes, sauces, herbs, cans, meat, etc..). In that way, it leaves me the opportnity to cook or bake more or less anything I want without having to run out to the supermarket.

As my pantry is a treasure trove just like Ali-Baba's cave and it hides many gems, I had no problem putting together one of Lebanon's national dishes, a "Kibbeh" that I had spotted in Claudia Roden's excellent book "Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon". Thanks to my tendency to accumulate goods I had everything at hand. The ground lamb meat was in the freezer, a bag of pine nuts that needed to get used was sitting on my dried fruit shelf, a bottle of pomegranate molasses was carefully kept in the sauce section of the counter next to the oven, a packet of bulghur was stocked in my IKEA cart and both the cinnamon as well as the allspice were waiting for me in the spice cabinet. Perfect!

The name "Kibbeh" derives from the Arabic word "kubbah" meaning "ball". This delicacy is one of the Levantine cuisine's most
widespread dishes and can be found in Syria, the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Egypt, the Arabian Penninsula, Armenia, Israel, Latin America (Brazil,Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Honduras or Mexico - imported by the Syrian & Lebanese dispora) and Cyprus. This course is made with bulghur (sometimes even with rice), meat (also fish, pumpkin or potatoes) and spices. There are different varieties (vegetarian, balls, oval-shaped, patties that are either baked, cooked in broth, yoghurt, bitter orange juice or fried and there's even one version that is very similar to tartare and consists of raw meat), but the most common of them is the torpedo-shaped croquettes that are stuffed with minced beef or lamb and are deep-fried.

Making "Baked Kibbeh" for the first time was no big deal for me, thanks to my food processor and my years of experimenting with cooking. The preparation required no particular skill and was not messy, long nor complex. It was quite straightforward and idiotproof, but what came out of the oven was far from being plain or simple.

With it's complex and refined flavors, this Middle-Eastern meatloaf is extremely palatable. The meat base is soft, moist and meatilicious, and is crowned a sweet, sour, savory onion and pinenut topping. This "Baked Kibbeh" can be served hot or at room temperature as a mezze (cut in small pieces) or main dish, and makes a grandiose potluck or picnic dish that will be wolfed by adults and kids alike. With the leftovers you can even create a scrummy sandwich (use pita, fattoush breads or baguette Parisienne and add the spread of your choice - yoghurt, "Tarrator Sauce", "Baba Ganoush" or "Hummus").

Kibbeh Picnik collage 4 bis
~ Kibbeh Saniyeh ~
Recipe adapted from "Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon" by Claudia Roden.

Serves 4.

Ingredients For The "Baked Kibbeh" Base:

2/3 Cup (160g) Fine-ground bulgur
1 Medium white onion, cut into quarters
1 Pound (500g) Lean ground lamb (lean & boneless cubed leg of lamb)
1 Tsp Sea salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 Tsp Ground cinnamon
1+1 Tbs Vegetable oil (to grease the pan and the top of the kibbeh)
Ingredients For The "Onion & Pine Nut Topping":

1 Pound (500g) White onions, sliced (half-moon)
3 Tbs Extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 Cup (50g) Pine nuts
Sea salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 Tsp Ground cinnamon
1/3 Tsp Ground allspice
3 Tbs Pomegranate molasses
Method For The "Baked Kibbeh" Base:
1. Cover the bulgur with water and let rest 10 minutes. Drain well.
2. In a food processor, purée the onion, then add the meat, salt, pepper, and cinnamon. Blend to a fine paste.
3. Add the drained bulgur and blend again in order to get a smooth, homogenous a
nd soft paste.
4. Preheat the oven to 190° C (375° F). Oil a 26cm (10inch) diameter tart pan/dish and then press the paste into the bottom of the pan/dish with your hands.
5. Flatten and sm
ooth the top. Rub with 1 tablespoons oil.
6. With a pointed knife, cut the kibbeh into 6 wedges through the center, and run the knif
e around the edges of the dish to release them.
7. Bake the kibbeh in the preheated oven for about 30-40 minutes, until browned.

Kibbeh 4 copy bis
Method For The "Topping":
8. Meanwhile, fry the onions in the olive oil until they are golden brown, stirring often.
9. Add the pine nuts. Stir-fry until lightly golden.
10. Salt and pepper to taste, then add the cinnamon, allspice and the pomegranate molasses.
11. Continue cooking and stirring for about 1 minute.
12. Spread the onion mixture over the top of the kibbeh and serve.


You can replace the pinenuts by 2/3 cup (90g) shelled walnuts, broken into pieces.
If you wish, you can also add 2 tablespoons raisins that have been previously soaked in water for 15 mi
nutes and drained (in case you are using the raisins, ommit the pomegranate molasses) or add 1 tablespoon sumac to the onion topping (then ommit the pomegranate molasses).

Serving suggestions:
Serve hot or at room temperature, alone or with a salad, a dollop thick yoghurt,
"Tarrator Sauce", "Baba Ganoush" or "Hummus".


Kibbeh Picnik collage 2 bis
~ Kibbeh Au Four ~
Recette tirée et adaptée du livre "Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon" de Claudia Roden.

Pour 4 personnes.

Ingrédients Pour le "Kibbeh":

160g de Boulghour fin
1 Onion blanc (moyen), coupé en quatre
500g de Viande d'agneau hachée maigre (ou du gigot d'agneau désossé et coupé en cubes)
1 CC de Sel de mer
Poivre noir moulu, selon goût
1 1/2 CC de Cannelle en poudre
1+1 Cs d'Huile végétale
Ingrédients Pour La "Garniture Aux Oingons":

500g d'Oignons blancs, coupés en demi-lune
3 CS d'Huile d'olive extra vierge
50g de Pignons de pin
Sel de mer, selon goût
Poivre noir moulu, selon goût

1/2 CC de Cannelle en poudre
1/3 de Tout-épice en poudre
3 CS de Mélasse de grenade

Méthode Pour le "Kibbeh":
1. Recouvrir le boulghour avec de l'eau et mettre de côté pendant 10 minutes. Bien égoutter.
2. Dans
un mixer, réduire l'oignon en purrée, puis ajouter la viande, le sel, le poivre et la cannelle. Mixer afin d'obtenir une sorte de pâte.
3. Ajouter le boulghour égoutté et mixer à nouveau afin d'obtenir une pâte collante, homogène et fine.
4. Préchauffer le four à 190° C. Huiler un moule à tarte de 26cm et presser (avec les mains) la pâte dans le moule.
5. Bien applatir et lisser le dessus. Peindre avec 1 CS d'huile.
6. A l'aid
e d'un couteau pointu, couper le kibbeh en 6 tranches égales (comme pour une tarte) et passer le couteau dans les bords afin de les libérer.
7. Cuire le kibbeh dans le four préchauffé pendant 30-40 minutes, jusqu'à ce qu'il soir doré.

Kibbeh Picnik collage 5 bis
Méthode Pour La "Garniture Aux Oingons":
8. Pendant ce temps, faire frire les oignons dans l'huile d'olive tout en remuant de temps à autre,
9. Ajouter les pignons de pin. Continuer à cuire jusqu'à ce que les pignons soient dorés.
10. Saler et poivrer, puis ajouter la cannelle, le tout-épice et la mélasse.
11. Cuire encore penadant 1 minute tout en remuant.
12. Etaler la garniture sur le dessus du kibbeh et servir.

Au lieu d'utiliser des pignons de pins, vous pouvez préparer ce plat avec 90g de noix , grossièrement concassées.
La garniture peut aussi être faite avec 2 CS de raisins secs qui ont été trempés pendant 15 minutes et égouttés avant utilisation (dans ce cas, omettez la mélasse
) ou bien il vous est aussi possible d'ajouter 1 CS de sumac (dans ce cas aussi, omettez aussi la mélasse).

Idées de présentation:
Servir chaud ou à température ambiante et accompagner avec une salade ou du yaourt à la grecque, du
"Baba Ganoush" ou du "Hummus"..

Kibbeh Picnik collage 1 bis

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Teapot Picnik collage 1 bis
A few weeks ago I was contacted by the famous "Le Palais Des Thés" (read more about them) who asked me if I was interested in reviewing a few of their teas. Since I love tea and had heard a lot about them and I had a peek at their wonderful showcase at my favorite local store (Manor) there was no way I was going to refuse that offer. It is a great opportunity for me to discover new products...

When I was still living at home my parents bought many expensive Chinese teas from a Vietnamese of Chinese origin who travelled a lot around China in order to find rare blends (Pu Erh, Wu Long, White Cloud, etc...) and buy beautiful teapots that he sold in his little boutique/tearoom. In that way, I was brought up to appreciate good quality teas and not get fooled by the commercial brands that make you believe they sell the best teas on the market when in fact they only offer low-grade teas.

Well, for me tea is made to be savoured and not drunken like any other vulgar drink. One needs to take his/her time, sit comfortably, be in a positive mood, freehimself/herself from the grip of the stressful modern world and open his/her senses. Drinking tea can be compared to meditation. As a matter of fact tea gives you a sense of enlightenment - an almost "light" sensation where you feel open to the world. It enhances the feeling of well being, makes you feel more relaxed and more receptive to your inner self (keeps you open and clear) and clearly enhances your meditation experience. No wonder that in Asia (China and Japan mainly - tea ceremonies) it has always been used in close relationship to meditation.

Tea pot Picnik collage 2 bis
So, in order to fully appreciate the teas I was given to sample, I tried to find the best moments possible in order to reverently to get my pretty Chinese clay Yi Xing teapot and mini cups out. I did not want to rush the testing session and decided to spread it over a few days.

I must say that I was really not deceived by the teas I tested. All were divine, unique and I had a great time experimenting with them. The "Le Palais Des Thés" blends are extraordinary, refined, out of this world and are processed from first-class teas. A real experience!

An insight on the teas I tested:

Thé Des Sherpas Picnik collage bis
Thé Des Sherpas
Unfermented whole leaf green tea from Darjeeling (Northern India/Himalaya).
Fresh and scented. It's taste brings reminds of roasted chestnuts.

Théophile Picnik collage bis
Whole leaf green tea mixed with flower petals.
Inspired by oriental traditions, wonderfully exotic, with intense fruity accents of lychee and mango and delicate floral notes of lotus and roses.

Thé Bao Zhong Picnik collage bis
Bao Zhong Impérial
Semi-fermented whole leaf tea from Taiwan.
Flowery, verdant, mild and almost peppery taste that evokes narcissus and jasmine flowers.

Thé des Concubines Picnik collage bis
Thés Des Concubines
Whole leaf green and black teas from China with rose petals and pieces of fruit.
Refined, delicate with rich, fruity notes of cherry, mango and vanilla.

Thé Genmaicha Picnik collage bis
Whole leaf green tea from Japan.
Very refreshing, thirst quenching and delicious. Has a delightful flavor of roasted rice and Bancha tea.

Thé Aux Fruits d'Eté Picnik collage bis
Thé Aux Fruits d'Eté
Whole leaf black tea from Yunnan with the natural extract of Na-she (a fruit from the South of China which's flavour is similar to that of the pear while it has the appearance of a small apple) and marigold petals.
Fresh, slightly smoky and subtly perfumed.

Thé Des Amants Picnik collage bis
Thés Des Amants
Whole leaf red tea with Rooibos bush, apple, almond, cinnamon and vanilla with a hint of ginger. Sensual, sweet, voluptuous, fruity and lighty spicy.

Read the interesting blog "Discovering Tea".


As I wanted to take the sampling even further, I thought that it would be a wonderful idea to bake a treat that would be flavored with one of the "Le Palais Des Thés" teas...

Middle East pastries are mostly enjoyed with a good cup of black tea (or coffee) I thought that instead I could make a Lebanese treat aromatized with tea. After a little research on Cherine's gorgeous blog "Chicho's Kitchen" I came upon the speciality that I was going to bake: "Namoura" (see my 2006 post about that speciality also called"Basboussa" in Egypt or "Revani" in Greece or Turkey), a heavenly dessert made with semolina and imbibed with a luscious syrup. Just the right dessert to celebrate both the Eid or Rosh Hashanah (Eid Said Mubarak & Shanah Tova!!!)...

Cherine's recipe uses a syrup that is flavored with orange blossom water. I chose to perfume mine with one of the "Le Palais Des Thés" fruity teas. I wanted a flavor that would be very Middle Eastern in flavor, so I thought that the "Théophile" tea would be the perfect choice as it's got strong and intoxicating floral accents that remind me of ancient Syrian rose gardens.

"Namoura" is a tantalizingly exquisite cake. It is fluffy and divinely moist in texture, wickidly sweet like honey, is subtly perfumed and has a delicate buttery aroma.

NAMOURA Picnik collage 1 bis
~ Namoura With Tea Syrup ~
Recipe adapted from "Chicho's Kitchen".

Ingredients For The "Cake":
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
1 Cup All-purpose flour
A pinch sea salt
1 Cup Fine semolina
1 Cup Ground almonds
1 Cup Unsalted butter, melted
1 Cup Whole milk
1 1/3 Tbs Baking powder
2 Tbs Tahini
Blanched almonds for decorating
Ingredients For The "Syrup":
2 Cups Castor sugar
2 Cups Water

4 Tsp "Théophile" tea (Le Palais Des Thés)

For The "Cake":
1. In a big bowl, mix together the flour, the salt, the s
emolina, the ground almonds and the baking powder.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together the milk,
the melted butter and the eggs.
3. Add the milk/butter/egg mixture to the flour/semolina mixture and mix well.
4. Grease a 25cm (10 inches) round baking pan with 2 tbsp of tahini and pour the batter in.
Using a knife, score the top of the batter into equal squares and place a blanched almond in the middle of each square.
6. Bake in a preheated oven at 180° C (350º C) for 30 to 45 minutes or until slightly brown on top.

NAMOURA Picnik collage 2 bis
Method For The "Syrup":
Meanwhile bring the water to a boil and infuse the tea for about 5 minutes. Sieve well.
8. In a saucepan, mix the sugar and flavored water together and bring to a boil. Let simmer until it forms a sticky syrup.
9. Let the syrup cool completely.
10. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, pour the cold syrup over.
11. Cool the cake on a rack and then cut the squares.

12. Serve.

If you don't want to use tea, then add 2 Tbs orange blossom water to the water/sugar mixture (mix the water & sugar & orange blossom, then bring to the boil and simmer).
This cake is very breakable when fresh. I recommend that you leave it a few hours in the fridge before serving. In that way you'll have clean slices.

Serving suggestions:
Eat this cake at any time of the day and accompany it with some good tea.


NAMOURA Picnik collage 5 bis
~ Namoura Et Son Sirop Au Thé ~
Recette adaptée du blog "Chicho's Kitchen".

Ingrédients Pour Le "Gâteau":

2 Oeufs légèrement battus
1 Tasse de farine blanche
1 Pincée de sel marin
1 Tasse de Semoule moyenne
1 Tasse de Poudre d'amande 1 Tasse de Beurre non-salé, fondu
1 Tasse de Lait entier
1 1/3 CS de Poudre à lever (levure chimique)
2 CS de Tahini
Amandes blanchies pour la décoration
Ingrédients Pour Le "Sirop":
2 Tasses de Sucre
2 Tasses d'Eau
4 CC de Thé Théophile" (Le Palais Des Thés)

Méthode Pour Le "Gâteau":
1. Dans un grand bol, mélangez la farine, le sel, la semoule, la poudre d'amande et la poudre à lever.
2. Dans un autre bol, mélangez le lait, le beurre fondu et les œufs.
3. Ajouter le mélange aux oeufs au mélange farine/semoule et bien mélangez.
4. Graissez un moule rond de 25cm avec le tahini et versez la préparation dedans.
5. Avec un couteau, entaillez des carrés et déposez une amande au centre de chaque carré.
6. Faites cuire dans un four préchauffé
à 180º C pendant 30 à 45 minutes ou jusqu'à ce que le gâteau soit légèrement doré.

NAMOURA Picnik collage 3 bis
Méthode Pour Le "Sirop":
7. Pendant ce temps, portez l'eau à ébullition et ajouter le thé. Laisser infuser pendant 5 minutes et tamiser.
8. Mélanger le sucre et le thé, puis portez à ébullition. Faire mijoter jusqu'à ce que le sirop soit épais.
9. Stopper le feu et laissez le sirop refroidir.
10. Sortir le gâteau du four et recouvrez-le de sirop froid. Le laisser s'imbiber.
11. Le couper en carrés. Faire refroidir le gâteau sur une grille.

Si vous ne voulez pas parfumer votre Namoura avec du thé, alors ajoutez 2 CS d'eau de fleur d'oranger au mélange eau/sucre (mélanger le sucre, l'eau et l'eau de fleur d'oranger ensemble, porter à ébulltion et faire mijoter).
Ce cake est très friable quand il est frais. De ce fait je vous recommande de le conserver au frigo pendant quelques heures avant de la servir. Il sera plus présentable.

Idées de présentation
Servir ce gâteau à toute heure de la journée, avec une bonne tasses de thé.

NAMOURA Picnik collage 4 bis

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Being a person who likes all kinds of spices and special flavors, I am very attracted to Middle Eastern food. I can really relate to the tastes found in this refined cuisine...

A few weeks ago, I went to a cool place called Yo'Mo Lounge which is situated on Geneva's left bank and has a a splendid view of the lake and English Garden (Jardin Anglais).

This unusual place positively suprised me and made a very good impression on me. I really enjoyed their fine East-meets-West (Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, European) cuisine which is presented in a stylish, aesthetic and stunning way, efficient service, friendly staff and their bright magical Alice-in-Wonderland-like setting as well as warm comfortable atmosphere. Very charming!

There, I ate the most exquisite falafel and kanafeh, and my friend Corinne had a wonderful fattoush salad and "Mouhalabieh" which was accompanied by Arabic coffee. This place totally inspired me and made me want to experiment a little with that kind of food. So, for a start, I decided to try making that luscious Lebanese milk flan called "Mouhalabieh".

This authentic Lebanese dessert is really delicious and quite easy to make. There's not much fussing around and the end result is fantastic. As it mostly made with milk, this delightful speciality has the advantage of being quite light, thus it is the perfect kind of dessert you'd want to eat if you've had a hearty meal. Not forgetting that it is also very refreshing, so it is a good summer option when served together with a fruit salad (strawberries, apples, oranges, etc...).

"Mouhalabieh" is a heavenly sweet treat that has an exotic as well as a delicate flavor and isn't overly sugary. It's flan-like and melt-in-the-mouth texture is extremely pleasant. It is definitely a pretty and sublime speciality that brings that wow factor to the table, but doesn't demand much energy and time to make. Perfect!

~ Mouhalabieh or Lebanese Milk Flans ~
Recipe by Bigmousse at "Le Palais Des Délices" (France) and adapted by Rosa @ Rosa's Yummy Yums.

Makes about 8 flans.

Ingredients for the "Flans":
4 Cups Milk (3.5 % fat)
1/2 Cup Cornstarch
3/4 Cups Castor sugar
1 Tbs Orange blossom water
1 Handful pistacchios, roasted and chopped
Ingredients for the "Syrup":
4 Tbs water
2 Hibiscus flowers (optional)
2 Tbs Rosewater
8 tbs Castor sugar

Method for the "Flans":
1. In a medium pan, mix together the milk, sugar and cornstarch. Whisk well until the cornstarch has been disolved.
2. While constantly whisking the mixture, bring to the boil, then lower the heat and cook for 1 minute more.
3. Once the mixture has thickened, remove from the heat and add the orange blossom water.
4. Pour the mixture into the small flan moulds.
5. Set aside, in the refrigerator, for about 3 hours.
Method for the "Syrup":
6. Very briefly boil the water and add the hibiscus flowers.
7. Remove from the heat and let infuse for about 30 minutes.
8. Mix together the hibiscus water, sugar and rose water, then bring to the boil and remove from the heat once the sugar has been entirely dissolved.
9. Serve imediately with the flans or let cool and put in the refrigerator in order to serve cold over the flans.

If you don't want to use a natural coloring like hibiscus flowers, just use the same quantity water and add red food coloring.

Idées de présentation:
Unmold the flans, drizzle the cold or warm syrup over them and sprinkle with the chopped pistacchios.
Serve with either tea, Turkish/Greek coffee or Arabic coffee.


~ Mouhalabieh ou Flans Libanais Au Lait ~
Recette par Bigmousse de "Le Palais Des Délices" (France) et adaptée épar Rosa @ Rosa's Yummy Yums.

Pour environ 8 petits flans.

Ingrédients pour les "Flans":
4 Mesures de lait
1/2 Mesure de Maizena (fleur de maïs)
3/4 Mesure de Sucre semoule/cristallisé
1 CS d'Eau d'eau de fleurs d'oranger
1 Poignée de pistaches grillées et concassées
Ingrédients pour le "Sirop":
4 CS d'Eau
2 Boutons de fleur d'hibiscus
2 CS d'Eau de rose
8 CS de Sucre semoule/cristallisé

Méthode pour les "Flans":
1. Dans une casserole mettre le lait avec le sucre et la fleur de maïs, fouettez pour bien diluer le tout et obtenir un mélange homogène, puis porter sur le feu en remuant avec une cuillère en bois sans arrêt pour que les grumeaux ne se forment pas.
2. Lorsque le mélange s'épaissit retirer du feu, ajouter l'eau de fleurs d'oranger et répartir dans des ramequins de service.
3. Mettre au frais pendant au moins 3 heures.
Méthode pour le "Sirop":
4. Chauffer l'eau et ajouter les fleurs d'hibiscus.
5. Eteindre le feu et laisser infuser pendant 30 minutes.
6. Mélanger l'infusion, le sucre et l'eau de rose, puis faire bouillir légèrement le tout quelques instants jusqu'à ce que le sucre soit dissous.
7. Servir immédiatement sur les flans ou mettre au frigo afin d'utiliser ce sirop froid.

Si vous ne voulez pas utiliser un colorant naturel comme l'hibiscus, alors utilisez la même quantité d'eau mais ajoutez un colorant rouge à votre sirop.

Idées de présentation:
Au moment de servir, enrober les flans avec du sirop tiède ou froid et décorer avec les pistaches concassées.
Servir avec du thé ou un café turque/grecque ou arabe.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


When I visited my new friend Corinne (foodblog reader and foodie), she gave me a pot that contained a quantity of fragrant "Za'atar", a speciality I love very much. I have already made my own before from recipes I found on the net, but I must say that this one is one of the best I have tasted so far as it's extremely well-balanced and delicate...

"Za'atar" is a popular spice mixture that originates from the Middle East (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Israel). It can also be found in Turkey or amongst the Middle Eastern Armenians and the Bedouins of North Africa. It is composed of dried thyme, roasted sesame seeds, sumac and salt. Different versions exist and certain "Za'atar" may contain additional spices such as savory, hyssop, oregano, cumin and fennel seeds. Each country has it's own recipe. "Za'atar" is used to season meat or vegetables, it can be sprinkled on "Hummus" (see my recipe), on "Labneh" (strained yoghurt/cheese), spread on a dough base in order to make a flat bread called "Manikish Bil Za'atar" and mixed with olive oil to create a spread/dip.

A little like the Lebanese, I decided serve it in association with ricotta cheese, thus recreating a dish that is quite similar to the original
"Labneh Bil Za'atar". This way of seasoning that mild cheese is absolutely wonderful. The spice mixture goes very well with the roundness of ricotta and gives it a great uplift. A magical association that doesn't lack freshness nor originality!

~ Ricotta With Za'atar ~
Recipe by Rosa @ Rosa's Yummy Yums

Serves 2-3 people.

250g Fresh ricotta cheese
2 Tsps Za'atar (see recipe)
3-4 Tbs Olive oil

1. Unmold the ricotta onto a dish.
2. Sprinkle the za'atar on top of the cheese.
3. Pour the olive oil over the cheese.
4. Serve.

Always use good quality olive oil.
You could replace the olive oil by pumpkin seed oil if you wish.
You may want to add a bit of salt if you find it too mild.

Serving suggestions:
Eat this cheese with bread ("Ekmek", "Bagels", "Challah", "German Partybrot", "Plain White Bread", "Baguette Parisienne" or "Tex Mex Cornbread").
You can also mix it to pastas, spread it on cucumber slices, use it as a filling for brick/phyllo rolls, etc...

Once again, Corinne, thanks ever so much for your generosity!