Your Favorite Top 11 from 2011

I have so many favorites posted here (and so many more to come!), but these were the recipes that you, my fellow gourmands and friends from 119 different countries, kept coming back to in 2011.  You all know what you like, and I like that!

Au revoir 2011! Here’s to another year of enjoying good food, good wine and good life with all our loved ones in the best of health!


# 11 – Golden Persian nibbles: Ikra (eggplant caviar) and farci-carrot

I say golden, because, well… just look at them! Vibrant, glistening, and shamelessly tantalizing the palate. Spring is in the air (everywhere I look around) – I just can’t get enough of the local organic veggies piled mile high. They’re so fresh, I can actually smell the fresh soil. For a food lover, this is pure inspiration!

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# 10 – Syrian Mujadara – brown basmati, lentils, caramelized onion pilaf

…scented with cinnamon and cumin, then topped or folded with fried or caramelized onions, this is one of the most simple, and flavorful vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes on my Syrian-inspired menu.

The key to this dish, as in most successful dishes, is …

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#9 – Syrian-inspired cinnamon dusted nuts layered flaky pastry

Buttery, flaky pastry dough encasing layers of sweet, cinnamon-dusted walnuts and pecans – need I say more? Working with all that pastry dough for my Classic Apple Pie, motivated me to use up the last of the nut-mixture I’d made for my Karabij Halabi. So glad I did! Sinking my teeth into one of these rolls is like taking a palatable plunge into titillating texture heaven.

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#8 – Damask rose petal jam

The sweet strong fragrance of the Damask Rose petals is highly intoxicating not to mention delicious…Growing up, though, all I knew about this rose was its full flavor in the form of a preserve spread on crispy pita and accompanied by Tel Paneer (authentic string cheese – recipe to be posted soon) cucumbers and fresh mint.  This jam is also delightful spread on a slice of pound cake, a scone, or sourdough toast with mascarpone cheese or fresh ricotta.

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#7 – Rustic hunter-style braised chicken in red wine, tomatoes, mushrooms and peppers

What do you make on a lazy Sunday afternoon when it’s grey ‘n misty out? A rustic braise, of course! Rustic essentially means that I feel lazy and just want to chop, cut, and cook hunter-style then later tonight, eat like one – in a big bowl with a generous hand torn wedge of crusty-chewy bread and wash it down with a couple of glasses of a rich dry red wine. Serious comfort food my friends.

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#6 – Choux puff profiteroles with Chantilly cream and chocolate ganache

“Choux” BTW means cabbage in French. These pastries are called choux because they sort of look like little cabbages don’t they…like Brussels sprouts? Be sure to keep on hand my Pâte à choux recipe and technique refresher I posted earlier. The key techniques for making a choux pastry are:

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#5 – Croissant au beurre recipe and technique

From my first journey to the Côté d’Azur, I have been spiritually absorbed by  fallen in love with the sheer experience of enjoying a good French croissant au beurre. Flaky  golden on the outside, soft, buttery  chewy on the inside – far from the doughy-bready type that’s sold in most bakeries across North America.

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#4 – Lebanese sweet eggplant preserve

Surprisingly delicious, this eggplant preserve will take on the texture of figs. Filled with walnuts or almonds, and preserved in a cinnamon and cloves scented sweet syrup, this preserve was a big part of our home staple while I was growing up. It’s a must try for a true gourmand and culinary explorer.

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#3 – Persian khoreshs: lape, lubia and beef

Persian cuisine is well known for its lavish, exotic dishes including “khoresh or khoreshs” which refers to a type of stew that’s traditionally served alongside “chelo polo” or steamed basmati rice. Persian cuisine is world renowned for the variety of their khoreshs. It’s the basis of their culinary repertoire. And thank goodness for that. Once you experience the comfort and richness of the flavor profile, you’ll quickly know why…and come back for more.

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#2 – Chorek The Armenian Brioche

The texture, flavor and experience of chorek is a cross between brioche, Easter bread and challah.  It’s great as is with a cup of your favorite java/tea or you can add layers of flavors by incorporating some dried fruits like currants, raisins, figs, oranges, cranberries or chocolate chips.  The recipe may seem laborious, but I assure you that the results are well worth it.

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#1 – Karabij Halabi: Syrian cinnamon ‘n nuts semolina cookies

It’s 16°C overcast and misty here in Vancouver this morning. Makes me want to snuggle under a warm blanket with a good book and a steaming cup of tea. As I lie back and enjoy the solitude that only comes with Sunday mornings, the warm feeling that washes over me brings back feelings of nostalgia and the earthy aroma of cinnamon.

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…and the subject I’ve receive the most queries for is… The Food Pairing Guide!

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