Grilled Chicken in Garlic Tomato Sauce

A couple of months ago, the retail discount store Happy asked for a collaboration. The deal was to create affordable recipes using their products to promote their line of products.

I will be sharing the recipes here, IN VIDEO!


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Spaghetti alla Puttanesca, Prostitute’s Spaghetti with a Twist

It is one of those weeks where you don’t feel like cooking but you have to eat.
It is one of those times when everyone is out of the house and no fresh ingredients are available.
You don’t feel like buying any fresh ingredients only to rot in the fridge before anyone uses them.
We’re all out and away all day. What to eat?

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What to eat? The eternal question of my life’s journey! A journey filled with ups and down, and existential shit like this post. What’s life? What’s food? Do you eat to live or live to eat?
I decided to go against what my mom used to tell me and go by the Live To Eat motto.
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Sprouts, A Month of Excellent Vegan Food

Four weeks.

A quick setup for an existing space, but designing a new menu and testing it, then going on with it. Sprouts came to life in less than a week and it fully was operational.

Twenty three dinners and six brunches of solely vegan food. The menu is designed to fill you up on nutrients rather than bread (if you came hungry and could not resist nibbling on the delicious bread, I lift the responsibility off my back) with dishes that focus on pulses, grains, beans, and of course vegetables. Cooking vegan is a lot harder than vegetarian cooking or cooking with meats. You need to bring up the flavor with cooking techniques and spice blends, and the main ingredients themselves. It is challenging, and i think I played the challenge well.

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Soujok & Mixed Bean Stew, and Counting my Blessings

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When your life takes an unexpected turn and gives you a lot to think about and process, sometimes you are left with your thoughts, overworked from the craziness of things in your head at one moment. Early this year I was an employee working from 8 to 5 in an office, on a desk, behind a screen, endlessly clicking the mouse before the bell rings announcing the day’s end. I had an opportunity that seemed to bright, and too got to be true. I knew I would be dumb and regret it if I didn’t take it. So I jumped.
In the past five months, my life matched my soul; floating, figuring things in the ether, finding it’s calling. I’ve cooked, managed the restaurant, sous chef-ed, catered at a gala event as part of the Bi Bayti team(you can hire me to cook at your home now!), cooked in the mountains for more than 50 person each time, got my name and work printed (read my interview on one8one magazine here, and buy the latest issue of The Carton to read my entry), and I went on TV.  Continue reading

Autumn Secret and Balsamic Roasted Cherry Tomatoes on Labneh

This summer, I tried as much as possible to stay away from Beirut. The first step was — ironically — to land a job IN BEIRUT. A few days later, I came to the conclusion that staying in Beirut is not an option for me. I did not want to move there, I did not want to spend all of my day there, and definitely not my life. I had to look for a hideout.

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My weekends, and almost every spare moment I had, I rushed with my friends to escape, to run as far as we could from Beirut. We took shelter in the mountains, Lebanon’s high peaks with green hills and the many fruit trees (I am painting a picturesque scene that is not always the case everywhere, Signed Mr. Realist) all under the blue summer sky.
The Wild Saga squad was born.
We took the mountains as our sanctuary, the starry sky as our blanket, the grassy earth as our bed, the plastic tents as our shelters, and the whole outdoors as our toilet and shower. Very poetic!

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Almost every weekend was spent camping with a very nice group, resulting from a mutual desire to run into the arms of mother nature. I – the person who was so very shy and not so receptive of getting exposed to insects and night creatures as well as not having a proper toilet and shower — have enjoying our camping trips so much I kept asking for more. I never expected myself to.

Our fascination with our last camping spot that we all fell in love with got us so much requests to reveal the location and have people join us. We felt attached to it we didn’t want anyone else to have a piece of it. But once we got rid of our selfishness, we decided to invite people over and let them share the rural life in an Eco-friendly manner. One Sunday, we all gathered and planned a day; the menu, the seating, the directions, the materials, the activities,… everything.

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The whole aim was to introduce Eco-tourism to the village. The event was Eco-friendly because Tamara, Environmentalist, was making sure we follow the guidelines of Eco-tourism outings. We picked our produce from the land, we bought whatever we couldn’t get from nearby shops to support their businesses, the trash was sorted, and we used to produce and the products produced by the hosting family to support their work in the land and help in their sustainability. Tamara, Roy and Bruno handled the decor among other tasks while I handled the food with their help of course.

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On the menu:

Cumin Tabbouleh
Zaatar and watercress salad
Labneh with roasted cherry tomatoes with balsamic vinegar
Balila (chickpeas with garlic and cumin)
Mdardara (lentils and rice with fried onions)
Green beans with garlic, lemon, and oil
Man’oushe on saj (flat pies with different fillings baked on a dome-shaped skillet)
Homemade Arak and Mulberry syrup
Pyramid juice boxes for nostalgia purposes (and I got excited to smash the empty boxes with my foot to make noise)
Halawe and biscuits with Lebanese loukoum for dessert

A chill day among the apple trees, under the blue sky, with some haze creeping up the hills is the Secret of our Autumn. The best way to spend an Autumn Sunday.

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Balsamic Roasted Cherry Tomatoes on Labneh

served 6-8 persons as appetizer

Ingredients

  • 500g Labneh (strained yogurt)
  • 1 pack cherry tomatoes (plastic basket)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Procedure

  • Turn the oven on and set the temperature to 150ºC
  • Wash and clean the cherry tomatoes
  • In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, salt, oil, and vinegar
  • Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lay the tomatoes with the liquid
  • Roast for an hour and a half, stirring occasionally to maintain an even roast
  • Serve warm on labneh
  • Serving suggestions: on a toasted piece of bread, or spread the labneh in a plate and top with the tomatoes and more olive oil and some mint

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Big thanks to Patrick Abdel Sater for the amazing photos