"Levantine cuisine is the traditional cuisine of the Levant, known in Arabic as the Bilad ash-Sham. This region shared many culinary traditions under the Ottoman Empire which continue to be influential today. It covers the modern states of Syria, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Northern Iraq, Palestinian territories, and parts of southern Turkey near Adana, Gaziantep, and Antakya (the former Vilayet of Aleppo). Aleppo was a major cultural and commercial centre in this region. Perhaps the most distinctive aspect of this cuisine are mezze including tabbouleh, hummus and baba ghanoush." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levantine_cuisine)

Menu for the week of July 1

Sunday - (Grilling steak - dry-aged for 4 days in the fridge)

Monday - Eating out at America Eats' last week

Tuesday - Fattoush Salad

Wednesday - Burgers and corn for July 4

Thus - Grilled spiced eggplant

Fri - Brick Chicken

Shakshuka - tomato/chickpea with egg

From Bon Appetit halved (still serves four) and with some modifications:

3 T olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 jalapeños, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained (or 1 can chickpeas)
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 14-ounce can tomatoes (diced or whole+hand-crushed), juices reserved
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste
3/4 cup coarsely crumbled feta

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (2 votes)

Wheat Berry, Fennel, and Pomegranate Salad

I modified a Bon Appetit recipe, and it was delicious. The original recipe called for quinoa, but only having wheat berries in the pantry, I substituted. And frankly, I think the wheat berries were better because they provided more texture and toothsome-ness that quinoa would have. The only other change I made was dropping the dill. I don't particularly like it, and even though Jon does, I made it when he wasn't home!

Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a side

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil

Wheat Berry Salad
Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

Apricot Couscous

1 cup couscous
1 small red onion, small dice
1 1/2 cups chicken stock, warm
1/4 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup whole almonds toasted, coarsely chopped
2 scallions green parts only
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped plus leaves for garnish
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
pinch of lemon zest
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Apricot couscous
Your rating: None Average: 3 (2 votes)

Dolmades (Stuffed Grape Leaves)

We really enjoy the vegetarian dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with rice and other sundies) from Eastern Market, and so we thought we'd try and make them ourselves. We found grape leaves in brine at the supermarket and went from there. While I do enjoy cooking "projects," I have to admit that this one is pretty labor intensive. It's delicious, but undertake with caution.

I cobbled together the recipe from online sources.

Makes about 40 dolmades.

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (2 votes)

Yogurt Dips

I never met a yogurt dip I didn't like. Seriously. If there's ever one on a menu, I order it. I will slather it on everything, especially middle eastern and mediterranean foods.

Instead of proliferating pages and pages of yogurt dip recipes, I've decided to collect them all here. In most cases, the dips will be better on the second day once the flavors have had a chance to marry.

Shallot Yogurt Sauce/Dip
Your rating: None Average: 4 (2 votes)

Mediterranean Style Hummus

Adapted from a blog that apparently isn't public anymore.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

Drinker's Choice

In Austin, there used to be a fantastic Turkish restaurant called Ararat - one of Austin's best kept restaurant secrets (that everyone knows). They had bellydancing all weekend and live bands during the week, and some of the best middle eastern food you'll find. It was a small place with rug-covered walls that was always jam-packed.

Drinker's Choice
Your rating: None Average: 4 (3 votes)

Brick Chicken

2 large or 4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1-2 two-sided breasts)

2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons coriander
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Olive oil

Toast spices in a medium saucepan over low heat until fragrant.

Rub the blended spices all over the chicken. Marinate for up to 4 hours or overnight.

Heat a large cast iron skillet (or other heavy oven-proof pan) over medium heat.

When hot, add a 2-count of extra virgin olive oil and place the chicken in the pan.

Brick Chicken
Your rating: None Average: 4 (2 votes)

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