Lebanese Shish Taouk: now this is an amazing recipe

Who could resist beautifully grilled cubes of chicken – known as Lebanese Shish Taouk – that are marinated in yogurt, lemon juice, tomato puree, loads of garlic and exotic spices.

It’s time for the MENA (Middle Eastern & North African) Cooking Group. This monthly group has for goal to help us discover the culture and cuisine of the countries found in these parts of the world. The host of the month will choose a savory and a sweet dish from the country and the members pick one dish to make. Get your luggage ready as we are exploring Lebanon this month.

Lebanese Shish Taouk

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Grilled Shrimp Saganaki Stuffed Tomato

Summer is still playing hide and seek here in Montreal. Last weekend was hot and scorching, this weekend sunny but much cooler. As long as it is sunny I am happy. In Canada we had a long weekend too so I thought it was a perfect opportunity to get some of my foodie friends together for a simple BBQ dinner. An excuse to have the seasonal BBQ baptismal.

I do feel bad a bit for my friends because they did not get to taste my earlier meal, my amazing grilled lunch. There just was not enough to go around. How a propos to submit this recipe for the Creative Cooking Crew’s June theme – “what are you bringing to the BBQ?”. Turns out I did not bring my Grilled Shrimp Saganaki Stuffed Tomato to the BBQ but kept it all for myself.

Grilled Shrimp Saganaki Stuffed Tomato

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Beet and Blue Grilled Cheese Bites

“You’re invited to a Thanksgiving dinner party. Please bring an appetizer for guests to have with a cocktail before dinner”. What a fun little theme for this month’s Creative Cooking Crew! How many holiday meals have you ruined because you stuffed your faces with too many appetizer before the actual diner? Come on don’t be shy put your hand up in the air. Even more so now because the family is finally getting more creative than the stand-by tuna ball, crudites and ham rolls. Well we have not served these in years already, thankfully. But I am sure my Beet and Blue Grilled Cheese Bites would be a welcomed change to the mix.


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Grilled Lime and Bitters Chicken

A friend once invited me to dinner at her brother’s new house, maybe 10 years ago. I do remember the gorgeous setting of the backyard. There was lush vegetation all around, pretty wind chimes and birdhouses. I have fond memories of that evening. Its was a beautiful summer day and of course a barbecue meal was in order. He made this chicken, it was the best grilled chicken I ever ate. So flavorful, fragrant and intensely delicious. They gave us a photocopy the recipe from a cookbook or magazine and I made it a few times back then and forgot about the recipe. I wish I would remember what was the side dish to the chicken at that dinner party, I know I took down that recipe too but memory fails me.

Well I had a craving and I was having my parents over for lunch on a beautiful Sunday afternoon for my father’s birthday. It did not take long to dig out the recipe. I cannot give you a source, all I know is that is was on page 52-53 of the barbecue section, as indicated in the photocopy. Just as wonderful as I had remembered!

Ξ Grilled Lime and Bitters Chicken Ξ

1 chicken cut into 4 pieces or 4 chicken breast
1/3 cup lime juice
1 Serrano pepper, thinly sliced
2 green onions, chopped
2 tbsp Angostura Bitters
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 ground pepper
a pinch of ground cloves

Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Cover the chicken with the marinade and let stand in the fridge for a few hours or even overnight. Remove chicken from fridge and let it come to room temperature prior to grilling. Drain and set marinade aside. Grill the chicken on the barbecue for about 5-8 minutes per side (meat thermometer should read 165 F), basting the meat with the marinade regularly. Serve with a side of your choice.


Vacation Eatz: Washington DC

Trying to figure out how to summarize my food pics from my vacation was an overwhelming task. So much to share, it would have taken 12 posts and 85 pics minimum if done individually! I decided to condense stuff over a few posts instead, have brief descriptions and do photo collages. I hope you enjoy this Vacation Eatz series!

I do want to try my hand at some recipes or explore some of the food’s background once the Vacation Eatz series is done. We always say that but we end up with a zillion other projects. So I am writing it down now here and you, my reader, can hold me to it that way lol. They are not exotic recipes at all, more your traditional Southern American staples. But for me they are exotic as they are not part of my food habits. So recipes/explorations to come in the future are:

  • She Crab Soup
  • BBQ as in the NC pulled pork version (I know different sauces, I’ll pick one)
  • Mac and Cheese
  • Fried Chicken
  • Grits
  • Banana Pudding
  • Indian Taco
  • Cornbread
  • Hush Puppies
  • Fried Green Tomatoes

Now let’s start the trip. My first stop was Washington DC for a day and I slept 2 nights at a friend’s house in Alexandria Virginia. It was so awesome to catch up with her, it had been 7 years since we last saw each other. I kind of wish I had stayed there longer…it went by too fast.

When she suggested Maryland crab as being a must I was not going to argue with her lol. We took a walk in Old Town Alexandria (which is just too pretty) and went to The Warehouse Bar & Grill. I am warning you right away…not a cheap place lol. But hey it’s a vacation treat. The walls of the restaurant are covered in caricatures of patrons. No one famous, no idea who drew them…but it is a unique and cool decor.

I had the She Crab Soup and the All Lump Crabcakes plate. My heart stopped a bit at the price of the entree, $28.95, but you only live once. The soup was amazing and very filling, so much so I had little room for the main dish. I stuck to the crabcakes mostly which were awesome with nice big chunks of crab meat. The veggies were plain enough anyways. What is lump crab? Lump crab is the extra large portions of meat that come out of a crab body. In other words you get chunks of crab flesh…not just torn apart little pieces. In my research online for this it is apparently common for commercial crab to be pasteurized but connoisseurs say it is to be avoided.

My friend works in DC so I hopped in the car with her in the morning. I spent the morning seeing lots of outdoor stuff like the Lincoln Monument, the White House from afar, the Capitol, and more. Funny enough you can’t get near the White House without getting a reservation 6 months prior but Obama’s veggie garden is right by the street lol…it’s the pic in the middle. It was so hot though I decided to spend the afternoon in the Smithsonian Museums. But first I had to have lunch.

The Smithsonian neighborhood is not a restaurant hub area at all. But I asked the cashier in the American Art History to recommend a place. She suggested the cafeteria in the National Museum of the American Indian. The Mitsitam Native Foods Café was a great discovery portal into the indigenous cuisines of the Americas. It’s set up like a food court with 5 counters representing the different cuisines: Northern Woodlands, South America, the Northwest Coast, Meso America and the Great Plains.

I ended up having an Indian Taco which was made with Buffalo Chili and a fried bread. This recipe I have already made at home and posted about it here. I also got for dessert a Guava tapioca pudding. Yes I like tapioca lol. I have to say for a museum cafeteria the food was good but again the bill !!!! 20$ for a taco, a dessert and a juice. Me thinks DC would not welcome a Cheap Ethnic Eatz group to well.

Tune in tomorrow for more of my DC foodie adventures with Julia Child’s kitchen,  space food and Thai cuisine!

Ladies Free Food Nights

One of my foodie partner friends and I went on a secret mission. Much time was spent investigating and analyzing the content of the secret document found on the following blog post of Le Monde de CathIN.

This was a matter of culinary security. Discretion was essential. Lives depended on it. Fake identities were created. The mission:

Test out the Wednesday Night’s Free Food
with the purchase of a Bond themed martini at the Bond Lounge

My secret identity was Fatima Blush of Never Say Never Again. Sexy Fatima is SPECTRE’s assassin and Max Largo’s key hench woman. She also has a massive ego complex — 007 is saved from her only by his special pen. Here is the identity profile along with a Dr William martini.

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