Tag Archives: flatbread

Mama Ghanoush: Unpretentious Lebanese Food

Spinach Flatbread
Spinach Flatbread


A few friends and I were planning to go to Mama Ghanoush, a new Lebanese restaurant in Kip’s Bay last week, but, as the city shut down in preparation for the storm of the century, we decided to go to flat top on Amsterdam instead.

Mama Ghanoush was still on my mind and so a few days later I made the trip down. The name of the restaurant is a play on the name of the eggplant appetizer found in almost every Middle Eastern restaurant, baba ghanoush.
Coming up to the place from the street, you see the name Mama Ghanoush, written with a few Arabic letters. Entering the restaurant, you hear Arabic pop music, and you are greeted with friendly staff. Wooden tables, soft green and blue pillows, clay vases, and a billboard filled with  postcards, postage stamps, and photos of the ‘greats’ of Lebanese and Middle Eastern music give this place a rustic, Mediterranean feel.
The menu, not too large, offers a great selection of mezza (Middle Eastern small plates), flatbreads, and the traditional grilled meats like shawarma and kebab.
Because it was very cold outside, I ordered a lentil soup, which turned out warm and comforting, but, garnished with lemon juice and parsley, it was not too heavy. I then ordered a spinach flatbread, not very traditional as far as I know, but very delicious. The bread was topped with a spinach and feta mixture, similar to what you’d find in the Greek spanakopita. The star of this dish, though, was the bread. Thin, and beautifully charred, it was crunchy on the edges and warm and soft in the center.
I left Mama Ghanoush satisfied, refreshed, and ready to walk out into the biting cold. I’d definitely recommend going to Mama Ghanoush, for some light, authentic, and unpretentious Lebanese food.

Family Catering

Croque-en-Bouches with Mixed Berry and Crème de Cassis Sundae

A couple months ago, my mom told me that she had offered to cater a party for my grandma as a birthday gift and that I was invited to be her catering partner. The catering “service” would include brainstorming, preparing, plating, and serving a five-course, gourmet menu to eight hungry and self-claimed foodie guests. I was 100% on board.

So as soon as I got back home from my end-of-the-spring-semester activities, my mom and I started to prepare for the event. We worked on developing a few dish ideas by looking through all of our recipes from books, Word documents, online bookmarked pages, and collaged cutouts from magazines. We discussed and debated, and about a zillion ideas later, finally put them together into a cohesive and appetizing menu. A shopping list was written and a few days before D-day we began the incredibly long (and tiring) process that was the cooking.

However much time and energy it might have taken, the final result was well worth the effort that it took to develop the menu and then make it a reality—with a few exceptions of course. The gazpacho and avocado mousse with two Parmesan crisps was a much-enjoyed appetizer, but the tomato and avocado lollipops served alongside it, for example, were more of a failed experiment in molecular gastronomy than anything else. Visually, they were perfect, but their rubbery texture and imbalance between the flavorless avocado and acidic tomato was definitely a turnoff. At least we had the delicious and popular pancetta-wrapped fig skewers (stuffed with goat cheese and drizzled with honey) and grilled eggplant dip served with rosemary flat bread to wash it down. Not to mention the paired rosé, whites, and port that my dad served throughout the meal.

Eggplant and Pepper Dip

Food successes and failures aside, the best part about this catering event was, oddly enough, everything but the taste of the food. I loved watching people decipher the menus we’d printed out when we brought out the mini croque-en-bouches and mixed berry sundaes, or listen to the “oohs” and “ahs” and diplomatic “very interestings” in reaction to tasty or not-so-great dishes. It was a time- and energy-consuming endeavor, and I am so glad that everything turned out well (or almost). But more so than that, it was amazing to experience the meal coming together and to then present and share it with my grandma and her closest friends and relatives.

Recipes: Provencal Fougasse; Truffles

The Recipe of the Week: Provencal Fougasse:
Nothing makes me feel better than making bread in the wintertime! Bread
warms the whole house/dorm and gives me that fuzzy feeling inside :)
Try this recipe the next time you want fresh bread:

3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp. rosemary, chopped
1 tbsp. oregano, chopped
1 tbsp. basil, chopped
1/4 C olive oil
2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 3/4 C warm water (105-115 degree)
4 1/2 C flour
1 tbsp. salt

1. In a small saucepan, combine garlic, rosemary, basil and olive oil Bring
to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat
and allow to cool.
2. In a separate, large bowl, combine yeast and warm water. Allow to rest
for 5 minutes, until foamy. Once yeast has become foamy and the oil-herb
mixture has cooled, combine in the large bowl with the flour and salt. Mix
together with a wooden spoon until a rough mass comes together. Turn out
onto a floured surface and knead for 5-7 minutes, until elastic and no
longer sticky.
3. Turn out into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic. Allow to rise
for 1.5-2 hours.
4. Punch down the dough. Turn onto a clean work suface. Cut in half and
shape each piece into a loose ball. Cover and let rest 5 minutes.
5. Dust two sheet pans with flour. Roll out each dough ball into a rectangle
about the size of one sheet pan. Transfer each rectangle of dough to each
sheet pan and spread the dough to fit the pan. Cover dough with a dry
kitchen towel and allow to rise for 30 minutes.
6. After rising, bake in the lower third of the oven, one sheet at a time,
at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes each.
7. Transfer to racks and allow to cool. Eat with some delicious cheese or

The Dessert of the Week: Truffles

10 oz. of bittersweet chocolate
1 C heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. Amaretto, Orange Liqueur, or other liqueur of your choice
1/4 C cocoa powder

1. Place bittersweet chocolate, in small pieces, in a small glass bowl. In a
small saucepan, bring cream, sugar, and vanilla to just under a boil. Pour
the hot cream mixture over the chocolate and mix with a fork until the
chocolate melts and becomes satiny. Stir in the butter and liqueur while the
chocolate is still hot.
2. Place the glass bowl of chocolate ganache into the fridge. Allow to cool
and harden for 3 hours to overnight.
3. Once the chocolate ganache is hardened, scoop out into small truffles and
roll in the cocoa powder. Serve.