This weekend I had the privilege of cooking for my brother-in-law and his partner, plus some cuddles with my beautiful blue-eyed Nephew. I think spending time with family is so important and what could be a better way to do it then over a home cooked meal. I love cooking for my family in my way it’s telling them that they are important to me, my way of saying I love you. When I cook for my family or anybody for that matter I put my heart and soul into it and I give a little piece of me in all my meals. It is so nice to sit around the table with family and a good meal and catch up, find out what everyone has been up to, to share our stories, have a laugh and most importantly enjoy each others company.
So I went for a Lebanese theme for my dinner party, I marinated a beautiful boned leg of lamb in garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, oregano and thyme and then put it onto the spit to cook away. The main meal was good old lamb-Yiros, served with (all homemade of course) hummus, baba ghanouj, garlic sauce, tabbouleh, and salad on fresh lebanese bread from our favourite Lebanese bakery. These I will talk about and give recipes for in part 2 of my Lebanese dinner party. I just couldn’t help myself and went for desserts first.
So onto desserts: I made two desserts as my oldest son has braces and can not eat nuts, so there was a choice and I think in the end we all had a bit of both, besides my son ( poor thing, he is very much over having braces!!!!!!). Dessert number one was baklava. Traditionally baklava is made in large pans with many layers of phyllo pastry and chopped nuts, typically walnuts or pistachios and before baking it is cut into pieces (either triangles or rectangles) and then covered with a sweet sugar syrup. I opted to make baklava rolls little individual cigar shapes filled with walnuts, drizzled with syrup and garnished with ground pistachio nuts.
Dessert number two was a Lebanese rice pudding. Now rice pudding is a universal dish served in may countries, what makes this one different is the addition of orange blossom water. It is very different from the British influenced rice pudding that I grew up with, A pudding with milk, egg, sultanas, a generous amount of sugar and a dash of lemon essence ( my Dad makes a very nice rice pudding garnished with nutmeg). This Lebanese version of rice pudding is very light and not too sweet, it is almost palette cleansing.
- 1 Pkt phyllo pastry
- 1 cup coarsely ground walnuts
- 1/3 cup finely ground pistachios
- 125g melted butter
- 7 drops of orange blossom essence or 1 tsp orange water
- 2 tsp sugar
- optional a pinch of ground nutmeg,ground cloves, ground cardamon
- 1 cup sugar use can use either brown or white sugar I used brown with gave it the darker colour
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp orange blossom water
- pre heat oven to 180º
- combine ground walnuts with sugar and orange blossom essence
- place 1 sheet of phyllo pastry on work bench and lightly brush with melted butter, place another sheet on top again brush with butter, repeat 2 more times so you have in total 4 sheets of pastry
- cut the pastry in half length wise so you have two even pieces
- place 3-4 tsp of walnut mixture along the short edge of the pastry and roll up tightly
- continue on with step 2-a4 until all ingredients is used up
- cut the baklava rolls into 4-5 even pieces depending on how large you want them
- place into a buttered baking tray and brush the rolls with butter
- place into oven bake for 30 minutes until baklava is a light golden brown.
- while baklava is baking place sugar and water into a small panon medium heat stirring occasionally
- once it comes to the boil add lemon juice, reduce heat and simmer for 10-165 minutes, once done add orange blossom water and allow to cool
- after baklava is baked and still hot pour a few tablespoons of sugar syrup onto the rolls and sprinkle with pistachios
- allow to rest for 45-60 minutes
- serve at room temperature.
LEBANESE RICE PUDDING RECIPE:
- 4 cups milk
- 10-14 tsp sugar more if you like it sweeter
- 1/2 cup rice
- 2-4 tablespoons cornflour
- 2 teaspoons orange blossom water
- cinnamon sugar to garnish
- pistachios to garnish I left these off my sons
- Rinse rice and let dry I did this by laying it flat out on a plate
- mix corn flour with a little cold water to make a runny paster
- boil the milk sugar and rice on low heat for about 15 minutes or until rice is tender
- when rice is soft add orange blossom water and cornflour mix boil stirring continuously for another 5 minutes until pudding thickens, I added the cornflour a little at a time so as not to make pudding to thick like jello. But it is personal preference how thick/ thin you like it
- once pudding has reached desired thickness pour into cups/bowls let rest a few minutes before garnishing with cinnamon sugar and pistachios
- refrigerate and serve cold
These recipes have been sourced and adapted from the blog Mamas Lebanese Kitchen (www.mamaslebanesekitchen.com)