Lebanese inspired dinner

The days are like the tasty chocolates that Carolina anxiously snacks on while doing her school work. They’re being digested at unbelievable rates! Where are they all going!

In many ways, this is a good sign, I guess. I’ve been busy, and yet, because my professional future is so far up in the air at the moment all of my activities seem to be enjoyed in vain. And so, despite increasing my exercising, eating well, hiking in the Adirondacks, and filling up on cinematic and literary goodies, I find myself a bit tense.

Anyways, the holidays are approaching, which means family and friend time in Toronto. In the meantime, I’ll keep on being active while enjoying the rather good life I lead despite the underlying tension.

Today’s post is about last night’s dinner. I love variety. I like the idea of buffets(although most offer bland and old food), I like the idea of eating with groups and sharing dishes, of picking at hors-d’oeuvres and experimenting with flavors, textures and smells. I very much enjoy eating at the small Lebanese restaurants in the city, where they’ll put together a dish of sliced chicken pieces, of beef or lamb, falafels, humus and garlic mayo, tabouleh, olive oil doused eggplant, and rice or potatoes. They’ll usually have more choices and, most often, the flavors are bright and pungent. They use a lot of beans and lentils and most of their meat is cooked on a large skewer that slowly rotates around a heat small that cooks it to perfection and allows the fat and juices of the meat to accumulate in the meat that rests below. There’s not much fat in the process and when I have a large plate of Lebanese food both my stomach and my body feel satiated in a healthy way.

a mix of lebanese inspired dishes

I wanted to make something quick and simple and avoid meat. There’s a small company in Montreal that makes Lebanese take home snacks that include humus and falafels. I made sure to have some of both. I also bought these very large and thin savory crepes that you can wrap food in. At home I cut some eggplant and large chunks of garlic and sauteed both in a love of olive oil, finishing it off in the oven for the desired sweetness. I toasted pine nuts and added some to the dish. I also bought local freshly made ricotta that I seasoned with some fancy olive oil, ground pepper and spicy Chilean chilli flakes. I bought those rice balls wrapped in vine leaves and added them to the table. I grated some carrots and mixed in toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds, raisins and herbs in order to add to the variety. And finally I made a salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, mint, parsley, confit lemon and olive oil that was amazing.

Confit lemon is my new and current favorite ingredient. I bought a bunch of lemons to make lemon juice about 2 months ago and put the skin and zest in a glass container with thyme, water, sugar and salt and let it accumulate flavor in the fridge. I recently decided to test the results and was very pleasantly surprised. The flavor is bright and exciting, salty with a nice balance of lemony acidity and bitterness. Fantastic. Marc Cohen, chef at Lawrence, used some in a lamb dish he was making a few weeks ago. It added a wonderful depth of flavor to the dish’s broth.

The rest involved sitting down and pigging out at the various dishes and flavors that lay before Carolina and I.

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