Oven Baked Egg, Potato & Shallot Frittata

What I love most about weekend brunches is the uninterrupted and relaxed time I get to spend at the brunch table with my family and friends.  An unlimited supply of organic Guatemalan coffee, fresh orange juice mimosas, and a healthy spread of breakfast foods.  All that takes some time to make.  When a lazy Saturday comes by, and I don’t want to put in the effort to make a huge spread, I defer to an easy, but delicious oven baked frittata.

OVEN BAKED EGG, POTATO, AND SHALLOT FRITTATA

POTATO AND SHALLOT HASH

3 Yukon Gold Potatoes
2 Shallots
2 tablespoons organic Butter
1 tablespoon fresh Thyme
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Piment D’Espelette – you may use Cayenne or Paprika instead
1 tablespoon organic Butter to grease baking dish

THE FRITTATA

8 large organic Eggs
3 tablespoons Italian Parsley – finely chopped
2 tablespoons Feta Cheese
1 tablespoon Heavy Cream or Half & Half
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Piment D’Espelette – you may use Cayenne or Paprika instead
1 cup grated Havarti Cheese

ON THE SIDE (OPTIONAL)

Uncured Hard Salami (no nitrates or nitrites)
Whole Wheat English Muffins – toasted and buttered

Begin the potato and shallot hash by thinly dicing the potatoes. In a large enough sauté pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium high heat, and add the diced potatoes. Allow the potatoes to caramelize and brown, then turn the heat down and cover them; let them steam for about 7 minutes, or until they are mostly tender. Thinly slice the shallots, and add them to the sauté pan with the potatoes. Add the salt, pepper, piment d’espelette, and fresh thyme to the pan. Cook the mixture for another few minutes, until both the shallots and potatoes are completely tender, then transfer to a greased oven safe dish.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, crack 8 eggs, and add the Feta cheese, salt, pepper, piment d’espelette, cream, and finely chopped parsley. Whisk well, then add the egg mixture to the potato hash in the greased baking dish. Top the egg and potato mixture with the Havarti cheese. Place the baking dish in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until you achieve the desired frittata consistency.

Meanwhile, place the salami in a sauté pan over medium high heat for about 2 or so minutes on each side. This will allow all the fat to melt, and will make the salami slightly crispy. Place the cooked salami on a paper towel, so the excess grease can be absorbed. I am not a fan of having a greasy piece of meat. Toast the English muffins and butter them. Remove the frittata from the oven, and allow to rest for a couple of minutes, before you cut it into individual sizes and plate it.  Sprinkle a little of the chopped Italian parsley on the frittata slices.  Plate the salami and English muffins. Serve and ENJOY!


Mna’eesh Bi Za’atar – Breakfast Wild Thyme & Olive Oil Flat Bread

Mna’eesh bi za’atar make up a very important and essential part of a Lebanese breakfast.  In Lebanon, most people buy them from their local bakery, as they are made fresh daily.  When I was a kid, I remember that on the weekends, some people send their kids (as I was sent a few times) or go themselves and take their own za’atar mixture to their local bakery.  They have the baker use his dough and their za’atar to make the mna’eesh.

In the US, it is not easy to find already made mna’eesh, so most Lebanese tend to make them at home.  One of my favorite things about visiting my parents are my mom’s freshly made mna’eesh that she bakes very early, every morning of my visit.   She gets up around 5:30 am to begin the process.  When she starts baking her addictive mna’eesh between 6:30 and 7:00 am, the intoxicating aroma fills the house and seeps into my room, gently awakening me.  They always smell so good!  Why is everything tied to our mothers so amazing?  I guess, it just is …

THE DOUGH

3 cups all purpose Flour – plus a little extra for dusting
1 teaspoon coarse Salt
1 teaspoon Sugar
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil – plus a little extra for finished dough
1 – 1 1/2 cups warm Water – depending on humidity
1 pkg rapid rise Instant Yeast – about 2 1/4 oz

*You may use regular active dry yeast, but you will have to proof the yeast in the warm water and sugar before you add it to the flour, salt, and olive oil.  I like using rapid rise, because it is much easier and takes less time for the dough to rise.

Combine the flour, salt, yeast, and sugar in a stand mixer, and turn it on low.  Add the extra virgin olive oil, and slowly add in the warm water.  Start with a cup; should you require more, add a little drizzle at a time.  If your dough is too moist, add more flour.  Turn the stand mixer to medium low and keep kneading the dough for about 5 – 8 minutes, until it is smooth and pulls away from the bowl.

On a clean board, sprinkle some flour and transfer the dough to the floured board.  Roll into a ball and place in a greased bowl.  Drizzle a tiny bit of extra virgin olive oil to coat the dough.  Cover with plastic wrap and leave it a warm place to rise for about an hour to an hour and a half.

MNA’EESH BI ZA’ATAR – WILD THYME AND OLIVE OIL FLAT BREAD

1/2 cup green Za’atar – preferably Lebanese za’atar
1 tablespoon Sumac
1/4 cup Grapeseed Oil
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pinch of Salt (optional)
Previously prepared Dough

Allow me to begin by stating that this will be the easy way to make mna’eesh.  Instead of taking the time to make them beautifully round, as tradition dictates, I am going to make one large rectangle; after which, I will cut said rectangle into individually sized small squares / rectangles.

Now that the dough has risen, very lightly oil a sheet tray, and gently spread the dough with your fingers to cover the full surface of the sheet tray.  In a small bowl, mix the za’atar, sumac, grapeseed oil, and extra virgin olive oil together.  Taste the za’atar mixture to make sure that it is seasoned well.  If you are making your za’atar mixture fully from scratch, you will need to add salt and sesame seeds.  I, however, get my za’atar imported from Lebanon for the most part, or Jordan, if the Lebanese variety is unavailable.

Scoop the za’atar and oil mixture onto the dough, and spread it all over.  Allow the za’atar covered dough to sit for about 5 – 10 minutes, as you preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place the man’ouchi (singular for mna’eesh) or za’atar flat bread in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until you achieve the desired crust color and texture.

Now that your man’ouchi is out of the oven, cut it into individual squares using a knife or a pizza cutter.  Plate the mna’eesh and serve them with a plate of freshly cut tomatoes, white onions, cucumbers, fresh mint, and olives.  I always make some Earl Grey with my mna’eesh; they go so well together.  But when I visit my parents, my dad always has Ayran on hand that he has made himself.  Ayran is a cold plain yogurt drink with salt that is thinned out with some water.  It is the drink of choice for most, when having this breakfast … Unless you have some freshly picked tomatoes.  A tall cold glass of freshly juiced tomatoes goes even better with the mna’eesh.  Whichever you decide on, ENJOY!


Oven Roasted Chicken & Avocado Sandwich w/ Sundried Tomato Spread

I LOVE sandwiches; I love them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  What I love about them is there are no rules.  Unlike most pastries and traditional cuisines, sandwiches can be made however you want, with whatever you want, as long as something is sandwiched between two pieces of something or laying on a piece of something … preferably freshly baked or toasted bread.  Think of all the possibilities!  Growing up in my parents’ household, sandwiches were a staple.  In Lebanon, my breakfast and lunch would consist of labneh, or some sort of cheese, or even za’atar sandwiches with tomatoes, cucumbers, mint, and olives, all wrapped in pita bread (Lebanese style).  I remember my dad ‘s AMAZING sandwiches that he continues to make on a daily basis.  He uses all kinds of Lebanese, Greek, Italian, and French cheeses and cured meats with all kinds of vegetables, herbs, pickles, and extra virgin olive oil or European butter, depending on the ingredients of the sandwich, and places each layer delicately in freshly baked and lightly toasted small French baguettes.  DELICIOUS!!

For this recipe,  I had leftover marinated chicken breasts from a dinner party I hosted the night before.  So, I decided to oven roast them, and use them as the main protein in a sandwich or two.  The marinade consisted of extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, orange juice, orange zest, little turmeric, coriander, fresh thyme, salt, and freshly ground pepper.  I baked the chicken breasts in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 35 – 45 minutes.  I let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes, before I did anything else with it.

OVEN ROASTED CHICKEN AND AVOCADO SANDWICH WITH SUNDRIED TOMATO SPREAD

THE SANDWICH

2 Baguettes or loaves of Ciabatta Bread
2 marinated and oven roasted Chicken Breasts
2 Kumato Tomatoes
2 cups Baby Spinach – loosely packed
2 Avocados
1 Lemon
1/4 cup Cilantro leaves
1/2 – 1 cup Sundried Tomato spread – recipe below
Sea Salt
Freshly ground Black Pepper

SUNDRIED TOMATO SPREAD

3/4 cup Sundried Tomatoes* – packed in oil preferrably
1/3 cup Olive Oil Mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1 clove Garlic
2/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pinch of Sea Salt
10 grinds fresh Black Pepper

*If you choose to use loosely packed sundried tomatoes, make sure you rehydrate them first, by placing them in VERY hot water for a few minutes, before you drain them and blend them with the rest of the ingredients. 

Start with the sundried tomato spread by placing all the ingredients in a good blender, and blend them well.   I like my spread to have little tiny bits of sundried tomatoes left in it for a little bit of texture.  Remove the sundried tomato spread from the blender into a bowl, cover, and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes for the flavors to adequately integrate.

Slice the chicken breasts, tomatoes, and avocados into medium slices, and place them to the side.  Slice the baguettes or ciabatta loaves lengthwise, and spread the sundried tomato spread on one or both sides of the bread.   Start by layering the spinach, followed by the chicken, tomatoes, and avocado slices on each loaf.  Top the sandwiches with salt, pepper, and cilantro leaves.  Finish with a generous squeeze of lemon juice for extra freshness, and to keep the avocado slices from oxidizing and turning brown.  Slice each sandwich down the middle, and serve with Salt and Vinegar chips (my favorite) or a side salad, if you so choose.  Again, since there are no rules for sandwiches, you may omit, replace, or add anything you prefer to this edible creation.  I just hope you enjoy your sandwich!


Traditional Lebanese Hommos – Hummus

Here we are again, discussing a traditional Lebanese food that is becoming very popular in the West.  I have blogged about the Lebanese mezze / mezza quite a few times in the past (tabboulehftayer bi sbanekh, baba ghannouj, and kibbeh).  As Lebanese cuisine becomes more and more popular in the United States, more and more people are finding out about what constitutes a traditional mezze spread.  There are so many Lebanese restaurants popping up all over Dallas.  This is very exciting to me!  However, the only area of concern is do these restaurants cater to the masses, or do they remain true to the traditional cuisine of Lebanon?  I have to say that for the most part, most cater to the masses … to my slight disappointment.  Hommos is one of those foods that people seem to make into many variations.  Interesting as that may be, there is nothing quite like the traditional and original version.  Authentic and traditional Lebanese hommos does not vary from the following ingredients: garbanzo beans, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and extra virgin olive oil.  For to us, traditional hommos is king of the Lebanese mezze.

TRADITIONAL LEBANESE HOMMOS (or HUMMUS)

1 cup dried Garbanzo Beans (or 3 cups canned)
2 cloves Garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
2 large Lemons (about 8 tablespoons)
1/4 cup Tahini (Sesame paste)
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil – plus more for garnish
2-4 tablespoons cooking liquid (optional)
1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian Parsley – for garnish
1/2 teaspoon Paprika – for garnish

Begin the night before by soaking the dried garbanzo beans in cold water overnight.  The next day, place the rehydrated beans with 6 – 8 cups of cold water in a large pot, and cook them until the beans are soft.  Drain the beans, reserving some of the cooking liquid, in case you need to thin out the hommos later.  If you are using canned garbanzo beans, make sure to rinse them thoroughly in cold water, and drain them.

Place the beans in a food processor, along with the salt.  Grate the garlic with a microplane, or mash it with a mortar and pestle, then add it to the beans.  Run the food processor to roughly chop the beans.  Add the tahini and lemon juice to the chopped beans, then run the food processor again.  While it is still running, drizzle the extra virgin olive oil, until everything is thoroughly combined.  If the hommos is too thick to your liking, add a couple of tablespoons of the cooking liquid and process, until you reach the desired consistency.


Choosing the right Tahini is crucial to the flavor of your hommos.  Most tahini brands have a little bitterness to them, which I do not like.  If the one you have tastes good to you, then use it.  If not, see if you can find a good tahini without any bitterness to it.  I always use a Lebanese brand, Tarazi, that I buy from my local Middle Eastern store.  I love it!

Now that you made the hommos, place it in a covered container and in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.  This will allow the flavors in the hommos to marry, and will make it easier to plate.  Once you are ready to plate, remove the hommos from the refrigerator, and place it in a bowl or a shallow plate.   Garnish with some paprika, finely chopped Italian parsley, and a little extra virgin olive oil.  Serve with Lebanese pita bread as part of a mezze, an appetizer, or a side dish to a lovely meal.