Baba Ghannouj

Baba Ghannouj, or “Baba” for short, is almost identical to hoummos in terms of the ingredient list save one critical substitution: that of eggplant for chickpeas, which results in a completely different flavor profile. The best, most delicious Baba is made with charred eggplant—the more charred the better. Let your eggplants grill for as long as possible to allow the smoke to seep inside the vegetables. When you’re ready to serve your Baba, diced tomatoes   make for a nice garnish.

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Big Steve’s Tangy Hoummos

You should know that we have a bit of a hoummos skirmish going on in the Kalil family. Stephen continues to prefer a basic recipe that straddles the line between Israeli and Lebanese hoummos, while Big Steve’s tastes are trending as of late toward a creamier hoummos with a bit of tang thanks to the addition of yogurt. Our family’s difference of opinion is just a battle in the much greater “Hoummos War” between Israeli and Lebanese -style variations, though. One is more Tahini-centric while the other features stronger notes of lemon and garlic, but without a doubt, both are delicious…and the same goes for Stephen and Big Steve’s preferred recipes.

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Stephen’s Traditional Hoummos

You should know that we have a bit of a hoummos skirmish going on in the Kalil family. Stephen continues to prefer a basic recipe that straddles the line between Israeli and Lebanese hoummos, while Big Steve’s tastes are trending as of late toward a creamier hoummos with a bit of tang thanks to the addition of yogurt. Our family’s difference of opinion is just a battle in the much greater “Hoummos War” between Israeli and Lebanese -style variations, though. One is more Tahini-centric while the other features stronger notes of lemon and garlic, but without a doubt, both are delicious…and the same goes for Stephen and Big Steve’s preferred recipes.

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Tabbouleh

Here’s the thing about Tabbouleh: while some think of it as salad and others refer to it as meze, in our hearts (and kitchen) it’s nothing short of an art form. As Gail says, “There’s an art to Tabbouleh because it’s all done according to taste. It’s important to taste as you mix so that you can compensate for the flavors of the tomatoes, which are always shifting according to the season, as well as the parsley—each bunch tastes a little different.”

Our chief artist in residence at Steve’s Backroom was always Therese, who mixed each batch by hand. Whenever we make this dish we think of her standing on her stool in front of a huge bowl of Tabbouleh, the scent of lemon brightening up the kitchen as she sifted the ingredients through her hands until the flavor was just right.

To recreate this masterpiece there are a few things you’ll need to remember: Touch your Tabbouleh. Taste your Tabbouleh. And, never, ever let a machine come near your Tabbouleh.

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Fatoosh

This isn’t your run-of-the-mill side salad. This is Fatoosh—a vegetable packed, Toasted Pita topped salad that only requires a mixture of spices and olive oil in the way of dressing. A signature element of this composed salad is the special cut of each vegetable, which ensures the perfect blend of crunch and tang in every bite. You can add chicken or salmon for an extra punch of protein.

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Fool Mudammas

Put those tongs away. Fool Mudammas is a stacked bean salad that doesn’t require any mixing to deliver delicious layers of flavor. The proportion of this recipe works perfectly as an appetizer for up to four dinner guests, or as a filling meal for one.

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Lebaneh Yogurt

Whether it’s combined with Kibby to create Kibby Lebanieh, used as a dip for Zahtar Bread, or simply paired with pita bread (a combination Big Steve considered “brain food” during his school days), the tangy taste of Lebaneh is unmistakeable. Beginning with a good full-fat yogurt is the key to success here—stop by The Pantry for more information about the Bulgarian-style brand we recommend. Other tools you’ll need at your disposal: cheesecloth  a colander, and weights of some sort. No need to get too fancy…a stack of kitchen plates works just fine.

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Zahtar Bread (Mana’eesh)

Zahtar Bread is a style of Mana’eesh, a savory flatbread. Our version is spice-laden and, according to Kathleen, perfectly suited to bearing the weight of a dollop of Lebaneh. If you were to travel to Syria or Lebanon in search of this dish, you would find women stretching dough across a sage, an apparatus similar to an upside down wok with a flame underneath. This Zahtar Bread has been adapted for baking in an oven and requires the same Basic Dough that forms the base of our Meat Pies and Spinach and Lemon Pies.

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