At the beginning of every League of Kitchens class, students are greeted with a lunch spread. Our included spinach pie, herbal tea, flatbread with kishk (the open one center-bottom), and more.
Once in the kitchen, Jeanette put us to work prepping the lubiyeh, or green beans stewed with tomatoes.
More Lubiyeh Prep
We also chopped up some tomatoes for the dish. These tomatoes are tossed with red pepper paste, tomato paste, sugar, Aleppo chili, and salt.
Starting the Lubiyeh
First, whole garlic cloves are thrown in the pot. "The flavor is best," Jeannette says.
Jeanette washes her rice in several changes of water to remove excess starch.
Once the green beans braised until tenderness, about 25 minutes in, we added the tomatoes to the pot.
Pro Tip #1: Use an old mustard squeeze bottle for dispensing salt.
Mujaddara, a lentil and rice porridge, is a staple of the Lebanese kitchen. Traditionally, it is served with malfood, a type of coleslaw.
Fried Onion Oil
Jeanette fried strips of onions in a skillet, added the onion frying oil to the pot, and then tossed the fried onions on top before serving.
To make the maamoul, semolina shortbread cookies, Jeanette first made a dough by mixing semolina, sugar, spices, yeast, and semolina for four hours. One of these spices is mahlab, a bittersweet powder of ground cherry pits.
In the kitchen, we made three fillings: walnuts with rose water, sugar, cinnamon, and orange blossom; pistachio (pictured) with the same; and a date paste.
Filling the Maamoul
Here a cookie is being pilled with our pistachio mixture.
Each cookie gets its own shape of mold so you can tell them apart after they're baked.
Jeanette showed us how to press our balls of dough into the mold, whack them against the table to free them, and...
...A beautiful (unbaked) cookie!
Ready to Go
Once the cookies are baked, they're dusted with powdered sugar. They're only mildly sweet, a sharp contrast to the syrupy confections you'll find at Middle Eastern confectionaries.
For her baba ghanoush, Jeanette chars her eggplants over an open flame for a flavor that's superior to roasting.
They didn't stand a chance.
We cleaned the eggplants of their skins.
Into the Blender
And Jeanette tossed them in the blender!
The Aesthetics of Baba Ghanoush
So that's how they do it.
Seasoning the Baba Ghanoush
"In Lebanon, we put olive oil on everything," Jeanette says. The two bowls of baba ganoush were otherwise seasoned, respectively, with Aleppo pepper and pomegranate molasses.
Making Salatet Malfoof
Jeanette showed us how to make salatet malfoof, a raw cabbage and tomato salad seasoned with sumac, aleppo, dried mint, lemon juice, and vinegar.
In final form.
All ready to eat.
Rice and Beans
This is roz bil shaghrieh, rice cooked with vermicelli and butter, topped with our green beans.
Dinner Is Served
Dinner included a few dishes more than we made, including bulgar kibbeh and stuffed grape leaves.