As an avid baker, if there are two ingredients, I use a lot, they are butter and buttermilk. Both derive from the same main ingredient – heavy cream. So, I decided why not show you guys a quick tutorial how to make the homemade versions of both butter and buttermilk. The homemade butter is very creamy and so tasty. They are both incredibly tasty and easy to make. The best part is this process only requires one main ingredient! You honestly cannot get better than that in terms of recipes to try.
Thanksgiving is coming up soon! I’m so excited about that because it’s by far my favorite holiday. The combination of family, football, and of course, food makes it pretty hard to top. When we talk Thanksgiving, obviously we’re talking turkey. But, one of the other main staples of the day is the mashed potatoes. It’s a perfect side dish to mound your chicken, turkey, and biscuits on.
There are so many different ways to make mashed potatoes. It’s incredibly versatile. It’s also very easy to make and the perfect complement to your main dishes. However, despite being easy to make, it’s also pretty easy to mess up if you’re not careful. The last thing we want is blandly undercooked, overcooked, or over mashed gummy mashed potatoes.
Roasted potatoes are a wonderful side dish. When done right, they are divine. Slightly crispy, fluffy on the inside and full of flavor. Roasted potatoes that are poorly done are the worst. They’re overcooked and mushy or they’re undercooked and hard as a rock. They lack flavor and they lack texture. You won’t get any of that with this recipe. It all starts with the right potato. The ideal potato for roasting, in my opinion, is the yellow flesh variety. When roasted, it’s fluffy and creamy on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside. It’s pure potato flavor, making an awesome canvas for the herbs and parmesan. Look no further than this recipe if you finally want delicious and perfectly cooked roasted potatoes.
Kafta is a Lebanese staple for a reason. Beyond being extremely delicious, it’s also extremely easy to make and extremely versatile. It comes together quickly and only requires a few ingredients. Oh yeah and the added bonus…it’s very healthy! Earlier in my blogging days, I shared our kafta recipe, but it was for kafta in pita. This is yet another way you can make kafta. It’s sauteed or pan-fried in olive oil until seared and cooked through. We then turn the heat off and add in lemon juice so an olive oil-lemon sauce forms. It’s beyond delicious and the kafta ends up being tangy, juicy, and tender. Just one of the many ways you can make and serve kafta.
If I said “Lebanese food” to you, what is the first thought that comes to mind? Lebanese food is known as a flavorful, yet very healthy cuisine. I know I’m biased, but it’s my favorite cuisine, with Italian being not too far behind. One of our most well-known dishes is chicken shawarma. Both beef and chicken shawarma have become trendy food items over the last few years. Their popularities have grown exponentially, especially in the U.S. during this past decade. They’re tasty, widely accessible, and a great on-the-go snack.
Many of you have probably had a shawarma at your local restaurant. Let’s admit it, some have been better than others. So, why leave it to chance, when you can just make it at home? This is my mom’s recipe for authentic Lebanese chicken shawarma. It’s much easier to make than you think and it’s beyond tasty. Juicy and tender flavorful chicken wrapped in pita slathered with garlic sauce. It’s the way to go moving forward.
Last week, I shared my mom’s Lebanese chicken noodle soup recipe with you. Well, this week I’m bringing you another one of mom’s recipes. I’m going to show you how to make this dish that typically accompanies the chicken noodle soup in our household. Tidbeha is a Lebanese rice dish that consists of cooked basmati rice cooked in onions with minced beef, garnished with slivered toasted almonds (optional). It’s a wonderful variety to the normal rice or rice pilaf we make. It’s a comfort dish, so flavorful and easier to make than you think.
If you know me, you know biscuits have always been my kryptonite. I shared a recipe for two-ingredient biscuits many months ago. It’s a wonderful recipe, but it’s made with sour cream only. There is no shortening or butter in them. There is no buttermilk in them. So, as wonderful as it is, it’s certainly not traditional. I’m going to be sharing a real traditional southern recipe within the next few months, but this is also a great recipe to have in your repertoire. Not exactly what you’re southern grandmother would make, but still delicious nonetheless. I love these biscuits. They’ve become my go-to, because it takes the stress out of biscuit making. It produces light, tall, fluffy biscuits that would make your grandma proud.
There a few golden rules to remember when making biscuits:
Okay, so the first key with biscuits is to begin with cold tools and ingredients and to keep them cool throughout the process.
The second key is when you cut the biscuit out, you should NOT twist. Just go straight down and up.
The third key is that a fluffy biscuit is produced with a cake pan that allows you to put the biscuits close together. If you want a crispier exterior, use a bigger pan or a baking sheet. That way the air can circulate around the biscuits, which will give them the crispier exterior.
Don’t overwork the dough. That means don’t over-mix or overwork the dough.
Now that we have those out of the way, let’s get started:
First, you want to cut the shortening and butter into 1/2″ and 1/4″ pieces. Wrap them well and freeze them for about an hour.
Sift together the dry ingredients and place them in a wide, but shallow bowl. Place that bowl in the fridge for about an hour.
Butter your 8″ cake pan really well. I’m using an 8″ cake pan because it will yield soft and fluffy biscuits. If you want crispier biscuits, use a baking sheet or a 9 or 10″ cake pan. This will allow the air to circulate so that the exterior will be crispy.
After the tools and ingredients have been in the fridge and freezer for about an hour, take the dry ingredients and fats out of the fridge. Begin by tossing the butter pads in the flour until well coated. Smash each piece between your thumb and index finger until each piece is done. Repeat this process with the shortening. The ending mixture should look like well crumbled feta. Place this mixture in the fridge for about five minutes.
After five minutes, remove the bowl from the fridge. Use a rubber spatula to form a well in the middle of the mixture. Add cold buttermilk into the well. It will overflow. That’s okay. Mix until just moistened. Don’t over-mix!
Use a rubber spatula, that should have been in the fridge for a while, to pour this mixture onto a lightly floured surface. I use a silicone mat, but you can use a marble slab or a wooden cutting board. I don’t recommend plastic. It will stick way too much at that point. Lightly flour the top. Using well-floured hands, pat out into a round. Use a well-floured dough cutter to fold the dough in thirds. Pat into a round and fold into thirds again from the other side. Pat into a round and do this step one more time. Pat into a round.
Use a well-floured 2 1/2″ round cutter to cut the biscuits out. Cut as close as possible starting at the edge. Do an down and up motion to cut out the biscuits. Do Not TWIST! This will prevent the biscuits from rising, so make sure to avoid twisting.
Use a mini spatula to move the biscuits to your prepared pan. Place in the fridge for five minutes.
Take out of the fridge and dab the tops with melted butter.
Bake at 425°F for 10-14 minutes until golden brown. Out of the oven dab the tops with melted butter.
After dabbing the tops with butter, remove the biscuits from the pan by turning the pan over onto a plate or surface. Serve warm!
See how I do it:
- 2 cups White Lily flour + more for flouring surface and dough
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into 1/4" pieces
- 1/4 cup chilled shortening, cut into 1/2" pieces
- 1 cup buttermilk
- Softened or melted unsalted butter for brushing.
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Prepare your cake pan, pizza pan or ovenproof skillet. Butter the pan liberally.
Sift together the salt, baking powder and two cups of flour in a bowl. The bowl should be wide and not too deep.
Scatter the 1/4" size chilled butter over the flour and work in by rubbing fingers with fat and flour, like a snapping motion. Continue doing this until they are medium-sized round pieces, like well-crumbled feta cheese.
Do the same with the 1/2" size shortening pieces.
Shake the bowl occasionally to allow the larger pieces of fat to show themselves, so you can rub them out.
After this, place the bowl in the fridge for about five minutes.
Take the bowl out of the fridge and make a deep well in the center of the flour with the back of your hand. Pour 3/4 cup of buttermilk into the well and reserve 1/4 cup of buttermilk to the side.
Stire with a rubber spatula, using broad circular strokes to quickly pull the flour into the milk.
Mix until JUST combined. The dry ingredients should be moistened and the dough should begin to pull away from sides of the bowl. If there is some flour remaining on the bottom or sides of the bowl, stir in one to four tablespoons of the reserved 1/4 cup buttermilk. Just enough until the dough is shaggy and wettish. If it becomes too wet, add a bit more flour when shaping the dough.
Lightly sprinkle board or other clean surface with the reserved flour. Turn the dough out and sprinkle the top lightly with flour. With floured hands, fold the dough in half and pat dough out into 1/3 to 1/2" thick round, being mindful of the amount of flour your using. Flour, if needed, and fold again in half. If the dough is still clumply, repeat folding procedure.
With well-floured hands, pat dough out into 1/2" thick round for normal biscuit, 3/4" for tall biscuit and 1" for giant biscuits.
Brush off any visible flour from top and sides of biscuit. For each biscuit, dip a 2 1/2" round cutter into reserved flour and cut out the biscuits. MAKE SURE YOU DON"T TWIST THE CUTTER. Go up and down, don't twist. Start cutting out at the outer edge and cut very close together.
Scraps may be combined to make additional biscuits, but they'll be tougher than the first batch.
Use a metal spatula or scrapers to move biscuits to your prepared pan. Bake on the top rack for about 10-14 minutes or until lightly golden brown. After six minutes in oven, rotate pan then continue baking for about four to eight minutes.
When biscuits are finished and right out of the oven, brush the tops with the softened or melted butter.
Turn the biscuits out upside down on a plate and enjoy hot.
Biscuits are best fresh and day of. No exceptions. Sorry. Use unsalted butter. If you only have salted butter, decrease the salt in the recipe to 1/4 teaspoon. Keep everything cold throughout the process.
I’m the type of gal that hates wasting food. There already is a food crisis in many parts of the world and I do what I can to avoid contributing negatively to that already huge issue. I find that bread is one of the most common foods that goes to waste. I totally blame the bread companies. They stuff way too many slices of bread in the packaging. Even for a family of five, it’s too much. There is almost always a few slices that get left over or are on the verge of being no longer edible. Lucky for me, there are many ways to use up leftover bread. I decided I’ll show you two ways this week.
This is my first way. Croutons. I haven’t bought croutons in many, many years now. Why would I? They are extremely easy to make. All you need is some leftover bread and a few more ingredients and you’re well on your way to some delicious, crispy, homemade croutons.
I typically free my leftover bread before I use it. This is strictly because I usually notice the bread out of the blue. I place it in a freezer bag and pop it in the freezer. Freezing the bread gives me some time to figure out what I’m going to do with it. It’s like it pulls a Zack Morris and stops time. It’s really cool and it’s why the freezer is your friend. Typically, if you have a soft piece of bread, freezing it can help in the drying out process. Stale bread is key in the two recipes I’m going to show you, including these croutons. If your bread is still moist after freezing them, then you can always toast it on very low heat in the oven for a few minutes. If your bread is stale to begin with and you want to make these the same day, then no need to freeze! Just get started on ’em from the get-go.
I’m starting with some leftover French bread I had in the freezer. It’s probably two cups or two and a half cups of bread. This isn’t intended to be an exact recipe, although you can use it as so. It’s really a tutorial to show you what you can do with the leftover bread.
I place my bread pieces onto a sheet tray covered with a silicone mat. You can cut the bread into small little squares, but I don’t find it necessary. As long as you can fit the pieces in your mouth, it doesn’t have to be uniform and perfect. These are homemade croutons after all. Try to eliminate as many crumbs as you can, as those are too small and they’ll likely burn.
Drizzle olive oil over the top of the bread pieces. Sprinkle over some Italian seasoning, rubbing through your fingers to release the essential oils. Sprinkle a very small pinch of salt and grate some Parmesan or Pecorino over the top. You can eliminate the salt completely if you add cheese. Toss everything together on the tray. Drizzle a bit more olive oil on top.
Bake at 450°F for about 10 minutes. Check on it at the five minute mark.
Sprinkle some more Parmsean over the top and move to a bowl or storage container. Now you have them ready on hand for whenever you make salads or you can eat them as is for a great snack.
See how I do it:
- 2 1/2 Cups Stale Bread
- 1 Teaspoon Italian Seasoning
- 3-5 Tablespoons Olive Oil (be slightly liberal with it)
- 1/4-1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan or Pecorino (use half before cooking and half after)
- salt to taste (may not need with cheese added)
Toss everything together on a silcone mat or parchment covered sheet pan and bake at 450°F for about 10 minutes. Check on them at the five minute mark.
Out of the oven, grate more Parmesan or Pecorino on top. Croutons should be golden brown and crispy.
I'd ditch the salt completely if you're adding Parmesan or Pecorino. Recipe is not specific, because you don't have to have exactly 2 cups of bread. Use up whatever you have on hand. The amounts of everything else will obviously change if the quantity of bread changes. The key here is to start with stale bread. Also, don't over do it. It's easy to use too much cheese, oil, salt or seasoning. You can always add more, but you can't take it out. The oil is really used for color and flavor, but also to re-moisturize the stale bread. You be the judge of how much more or little you need.
When I first started this blog, one of the first recipes I posted was hummus. The truth is at the time, my mom was in Lebanon and I was trying to wing it. I wrote down her recipe, but something got lost in translation and it didn’t equate to hers. While mine tasted great, the texture was off. I always said that I’ll revamp the recipe to the correct one eventually. Well, it’s time.
If you hate hummus, then I don’t understand you. If you haven’t tried it because you think you don’t like chickpeas or you don’t like “look” of it, then slap yourself in the face. You’re really missing out.
Hummus is great with meats, fries, pita and the list goes on. It’s very versatile as a side dish. If you’re not familiar with hummus, which let’s be honest, it’s super commercialized now so how can you not be, then allow me to tell you more. It’s a delicious Middle Eastern dip made from chickpeas and tahini. In fact, “hummus” literally means chickpeas. Being Lebanese, I grew up with it at dinner table, at barbecues and all big family events. I was blessed you could say. Hummus has really caught on recently in America. We’ve got million dollar corporations making their own versions of hummus. I’ve seen so many different varieties too. I’ve seen stuff like red pepper hummus, black bean hummus, so on and so on. To me, that stuff isn’t hummus. Yeah, I’m sure you can grind up everything along with chickpeas in the blender and call it hummus. But to me, there’s only one true hummus. It’s the one I grew up with and still eat till this day.
This recipe is super easy and so freaking delicious. I promise you, once you make your own hummus, you won’t go for the prepackaged stuff ever again.
So you can technically make this with the canned chickpeas, but it’s much better with the dried ones. Place about 1 lb of dried chickpeas in a large tub with cold water and the baking soda and let it sit overnight.
The next day, drain the water and wash the beans well. Then move the beans to a pressure cooker, which is ideal. Cover the beans with water about 3/4 of the way up the pot and cook until it steams or until the beans are tender, but not overdone. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, use a pot, cover the beans 3/4 of the way and cook for about 2-3 hours, covered, medium low heat until tender, but not overdone. Once they’re cooked, strain the water and move to a new bowl and leave it to cool for 10 minutes.
First, you want to make this in a blender, not a food processor. I don’t know if this is one of those Arab myths, but my mom swears that it’s creamier if you make this in a blender instead of a processor. First place whole garlic cloves into the blender, then place about 4 cups or 30-35 ounces of the cooked chickpeas in there. (You can make more batches with the rest of the chickpeas or you can do what my mom does. She freezes the cooked chickpeas, once they cool a little more, by placing them in storage bags. They last months in the freezer and you can pull them out and enjoy as you go.)
Place the lemon juice, salt, tahini and water in the blender and mix.
Stop mixing after a minute or two and scrape. Continue mixing for another couple of minutes and scrape again.
If you find the mixture is too thin, add more cooked chickpeas, a cup at a time. If you find it too thick, add some more lemon juice and water.
Either way, give a taste after the second mixing and decide if it’s fine or if it needs more lemon juice or salt.
It’s really as simple as that!
Pour the hummus into a storage container and let it cool for at least an hour before serving.
There are so many ways you can garnish this. You can use chickpeas, paprika, parsley, mint, radishes, etc.
One thing that is not optional, is you MUST serve this with olive oil on top. Lots of it. That’s the way it’s intended to be eaten. Sorry, not sorry Gordon Ramsay. We just didn’t put olive oil on top, because this hummus was meant for my brother’s party at school and we didn’t want to put it on too early. Anyways, enjoy!
See how my mom makes it:
- Night before you want to make, place 1 lb of dried chickpeas in a tub with cold water and a teaspoon of baking soda. Let it sit overnight.
- The next day, move the beans to a pressure cooker filled with cold water filled 3/4 way full. Cook until the steamer goes off or until tender, but not overcooked. If you don't have a pressure cooker, use a regular pot filled 3/4 full with cold water and cook for 2-3 hours until tender, but not overdone.
- Once cooked, strain the water and move the beans to a different bowl. Let it cool for about 10 minutes.
- 3-5 cloves (if cloves are smaller, add 4-5, if they're smaller, add 3-4.)
- 4 cups or 30-35 oz cooked chickpeas ( Set aside the rest. You may need it if you find the mixture too thin. Freeze the rest in storage bags.)
- 1/4 cup cold water (more if need)
- 1 teaspoon salt , add more if needed to taste
- 5 tablespoons lemon juice, add more if needed to taste
- 2 large regular kitchen tablespoons tahini
Combine the garlic cloves, chickpeas, water, salt, lemon juice and tahini in a blender and mix for a minute or two.
Stop the blender and scrape with a rubber spatula. Mix for another minute until thoroughly blended.
Stop the blender. Taste. If it needs more lemon juice, garlic or salt, now is the time to add it.
If you find the texture to be too thin, add a cup of cooked chickpeas that you have to the side. If you find the texture too thick, add more lemon juice and water.
Store covered in the fridge for about an hour before serving.
Garnish with anything from mint, chickpeas, parsley, radishes, paprika, etc. Serve with olive oil and pita!
Store in a container covered, refrigerated for about a week.
The key to good hummus is adjusting. Make sure you taste and add more garlic, lemon juice or salt if needed. Tahini is not needed for a flavor adjustment. Make sure you assess the texture. It should be nice and creamy. Not too thick, not too thin. Adjust if needed!