This week I've grabbed a few good cook books from the library and decided to really make an effort of using the recipes instead of hoarding scanned copies.
The first book drew me in from the lush red book cover, it was Nouha Taouk's Whispers from a Lebanese Kitchen. It sounded lovely and as I browsed through it I recognised a lot of the dishes that my mother in law serves. I had some yoghurt at home so I made up more laben. I also wanted to start with something very simple but tasty: the spinach pides or Fatayr as she has in her book.
Now it's pro-nounced F'toyeh by my husbands side though. I guess it depends which village you are from ; )
This is how they turned out. I didn't brush these with milk but the second batch I did and so they were more brown. I also made some ham and cheese pizzas for the kids. They weren't too bad but not as flavoursome as mother-in-law's ones. He told her I made them but they were a bit thick and she said to make the balls of dough after the first proving and to leave them for another 20mins, then roll them out flat. It seemed to do the trick because I made another batch today with added spices/peppers/mint and tomatoes to the spinach filling and they were really delicious.
Yesterday I also decided to make one of my favourite Lebanese dishes: Rice and Chicken or Riz a Shzesh (they all say chicken differently). It was so easy and tasty however the cinnamon was a bit overwhelming for me so lucky that I didn't use an extra teaspoon. I started the chicken stock and then you strain it into another pot to boil the rice in it. I used basmati rice instead of our usual jasmine. It came out light and fluffy. I used about two cups of rice and about 4litres of stock. By the time I remembered to check it, it came out perfect in my teflon pot. Then you shred the chicken and pan roast the pinenuts and almonds. It was really yummy even if a bit dry. I think my m-i-l uses ghee for the rice. Whoever came up with flaked almonds deserves a medal because it really makes the dish.
I am hoping that the other recipes prove to be just as good but I know that there are special extra bits which have not been passed on because these ladies do not use recipes and precise measurements. I will just have to hope for the best but it really is a nice book and includes the authentic nice dishes that I've tried already.