I had secretly been dreaming of owning this beautiful cookbook by my dear friend, Hadia. When one day, out of the crystal blue, she asked me if I’d like to have a copy! I couldn’t believe it! I was so excited and thankful, after a very awful day, that I think I actually cried! 🙂 Hadia’s Lebanese Style Recipes was on it’s way! (I think I pinched myself, too! 😉 )
Well, we had some kind of mishap during the shipping from Canada, and the book never made it here. (Obviously, someone else liked it quite a lot, too). But the always kind and extremely generous Hadia, had her very helpful son, who’s currently attending college in Montreal, send a second copy!! Bless her heart!!
(*Click on photo below to go to Amazon to purchase Hadia’s cookbook!)
I first met Hadia on Facebook after seeing one of her elegant dishes shared on a friend’s cooking page. When I went to visit her FB page, Hadia’s Lebanese Cuisine, to see more of her recipes, I was absolutely floored!! Her photos are nothing short of stunning! And her recipes not only include Lebanese-style food, but she also enjoys making and creating dishes from all over the world! When I saw that she was an author of her own cookbook, and even took all of her own photos for the book as well, I hoped that by Christmas we’d be back on our feet so that I could BEG Santa for a copy.
Well…Christmas came early this year. 🙂
When the second book arrived, (safe and sound this time!), I couldn’t put it down!! Every single page was so beautifully done and her dishes and tablescapes so vibrantly full of brilliant colors, that your eyes just feast on every carefully planned detail! You can’t hardly wait to turn the page to see what’s next!! I spent many afternoons pouring over each and every recipe, marking pages with little pieces of paper torn from my spiral notebook. And by the time I had gone through her book 3 times, I had over 30 pages marked!
Well, though I would’ve LOVED to have made them all for this post, I kinda thought that 30 might be a wee bit too much. 😉 So, I planned out a nice, intimate dinner for my husband and I to be enjoyed out on the deck, and chose to make a lovely, summer supper al fresco for two, instead!
I started our evening with a pretty salad that I made from what I already had on hand, arranged nicely on a large plate to be shared, including Hadia’s light and refreshing Mayonnaise Dressing! There are only 6 simple ingredients to this refreshing, and lightly tangy dressing, and it went beautifully with the salad ingredients that I had chosen! I even made some pretty little turkey and roast beef “roses”! Our dinner al fresco was off to a fabulous start!
(*Note: The only thing that I did differently, due to our commercial mayonnaise containing air from being whipped, was to only add 2 Tbl. water instead of 3, and that worked perfectly! You may want to use more or less, depending on what brand you are using, and to achieve whatever consistency that you desire. I used Hellmann’s).
*Pictured below is Hadia’s
“Vegetable Salad with Mayonnaise Dressing”, page 51!
Moving right along to the main course! Since it was picture perfect weather, I definitely wanted to grill our entree, (which turned into two, because I simply couldn’t narrow down my picks any further!), and chose to make two different kabobs! I wanted a casual, but party-like atmosphere, and anything cooked on a stick just makes it even more fun, doesn’t it? I wanted to choose 2 entrees that are popular where Hadia is originally from, Beirut, and when I saw her middle eastern Shish Tawook (Chicken Kabobs), and her Grilled Kafta Kebobs (ground beef or lamb), my heart leapt! I knew that they would be absolutely perfect, and they sure were!!
My hubby let me know immediately – – without speaking a word – – that the dishes I had prepared and grilled were authentic. That each had brought back memories for him of searching out food vendors in the early hours of the morning when he was in the Navy. And he said, that BOTH kabobs, were spot-on! He was teary-eyed. And I was, too, as he tasted small bites, taking in not just the food itself…but you could see in his eyes, that he was reliving the streets that he walked on. The people that he spoke with as the sun rose. Thousands of miles from home, yet welcomed each day and greeted with a smile and conversation that one would have on any given morning right at your own kitchen table – – with not strangers – – but friends he just hadn’t met yet. And he opened up a bit about his experiences there. I felt so grateful for every word he spoke of it.
*Shish Tawook (Chicken Kabobs) pictured below and found on page 218!
Both the chicken as well as the beef skewers were outstanding!!!
And SO much fun to make!!
*Grilled Kafta Kabobs pictured below and found on page 273!
My hubby is a lover of anything banana, and ever since I first saw Hadia post this intriguing and unique recipe for Fried Banana Balls (Akara), I have always wanted to make them, and kept her recipe in my back pocket of things to make SOON!! I knew that I would love them, and couldn’t wait to see my hubby’s reaction….believe me, when I say, his eyes rolled back (and I was lucky to get to try a few!) 😉 They were DELICIOUS, and such a perfectly fun, and festive dessert to slowly savor after a fantastic dinner!
*Akara (Fried Banana Balls) pictured below and found on page 299!
Lastly, and almost like a second dessert, we finished our romantic dinner for two, with sips of sweet Watermelon Juice! Cool, refreshing, and a perfect ending to our evening!
*Watermelon Juice pictured below and found on page 433!
Hadia, who is originally from southern Lebanon, has 3 sons, and she and her husband currently live in Kinshasa, Congo! She and her family have traveled extensively, which is how she has gained unlimited knowledge and learned to cook so many diverse cuisines! As a little girl, playing “school” with her dolls and dreaming of being an English teacher, I think that she has also accomplished that dream, too. I cannot thank her enough for generously sending me her fabulous cookbook, (twice!), and teaching me how to cook authentic Lebanese dishes, and my husband thanks her as well. Not just for the wonderful dinner that I made for us, but also for bringing back the memories he has of being in Lebanon so many years ago.
Thank you so much dear friend!
(*All food photos in this post were taken by me).
- 1 lb. 10 oz. chicken breasts, cut into large bite-sized chunks, (approx. 3 regular-sized chicken breasts)
- 1 (8 oz.) cont. whole fresh white mushrooms
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1" squares
- 7 cloves garlic, crushed, finely chopped or run through a garlic press
- ¼ tsp. white pepper
- 1 tsp. regular table salt
- 1 Tbl. ketchup
- 5 Tbl. white vinegar
- ½ tsp. ground powdered (or grated fresh) ginger
- 2 Tbl. tomato paste
- ½ cup canola or vegetable oil
- In large bowl, add marinade ingredients and whisk to mix.
- Stir in chicken, coating well. Gently fold in peppers and mushrooms being careful not to break up mushrooms. Cover and chill overnight, or a minimum of 6 hours.
- Thread chicken pieces onto skewers alternating with mushrooms and peppers as desired, placing onto a small baking sheet, pan or plate. Pour any extra marinade over skewers. (Let rest at room temp while grill is heating).
- Preheat grill and cook chicken kabobs on oiled grates for 15 - 20 minutes with lid closed, turning occasionally, or until done and no longer pink inside.
- Serve with a garlic dipping oil (page 70 in Hadia's book), garlic butter sauce, or garlic mayonnaise.