Batenjan Makdous (Preserved Eggplants in Olive Oil)

It is the season of Autumn, and now is the right time for preparing the Mouneh (pantry). A few weeks ago I showed you how to prepare preserved meat, Awarma.  Now I’m going to show you how to preserve eggplants, using a recipe I learned from my mother-in-law years ago. It takes about ten days for the Makdous to have been pickled properly. After it has been prepared, the eggplants can be eaten as a appetizer, side dish or can even  be put in a sandwich alone. You will find many ways to enjoy it by playing on your own. Personally, I like to eat it for dinner with labneh (yoghurt) and cheese on the side; it makes for a lovely and easy to prepare dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg baby eggplant
  • 200 grams whole nut
  • about 15 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon rock salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili paste (optional)
  • about 4 cups olive oil

Preparation:

  • Wash the eggplants, remove the stem
  • Place the eggplants in a pot full of water, leave it on fire for about 10 minutes (not more); the skin of the eggplants when tested should be soft
  • When the eggplants are cooked place in a strainer and wash with cold water. Make a small slit lengthwise in the eggplant, sprinkle with salt, put them back in the strainer, slit facing down, place a weight over them and leave it for about two days. This helps any remaining water to come out of the eggplants

  • Meanwhile, prepare the filling by roughly crushing the nuts and mixing it with garlic, salt and chili paste if desired
  • With you thumb widen the slit, fill each eggplant with a spoon from the nut garlic mixture

  • Place the filled eggplants in a jar, turn the jar upside down on a plate at a certain angle to release the remaining water, leave it for 2 days until no more juice comes out from it

  • Return the jar after 2 days to upright position, and fill it with olive oil. After five days the eggplants are ready to be consumed

ET VOILA.. C’EST TOUT! 🙂

Awarma (Preserved Meat a La Libanaise)

The winter season in Lebanon is very cold, especially in the mountains. Back in older times, villagers used to preserve the meat cultivated in the summer to cook it during the cold season. Awarma can last for one year when kept in the fridge. Although people are no longer isolated enough to worry about it, especially in the city,  Awarma is still found in many homes. It is usually cooked with egg, kishk or even over hummus.

It is very important that everything you use for cooking is very dry. Make sure to keep away from water while cooking and preserving.

Ingredients:

  • 1 kilo lean beef, cut into very small cubes (about 1/2 cm)
  • 1/2 kilo sheep fat, (the best part is the fat found in the tail area, but if not available, you can use other part)
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper or seven spices

Preparation:

  • In a pot, and on a low fire, place the fat and let it melt very slowly; when the fat is halfway cooked, add half the salt
  • When the fat is completely melted, add the meat, and cook stirring always, to allow the meat to cook evenly
  • Season with salt and pepper, cook on a low fire until the meat is well cooked
  • When cooked, place the meat in jars, and keep in cold dry place. You can refrigerate it also.

After it is prepared, you can store it for several months. It is best eaten alongside something else. I prepared it with scrambled eggs 🙂

ET VOILA..C’EST TOUT..

Melon Jam

Melon Jam is not very popular. For me however, eating it reminds me of fond memories from my childhood. When I was young, I used to go to my grand parents home often; one time, when I had arrived at their house, I could smell something very special cooking… but I couldn’t recognize it. Curious, I went to the kitchen and saw my grand mother peeling melon with the help of my mother and aunts, preparing sugar and other ingredients. That was the first time I saw anyone making Melon Jam.

Now, I make it for my own children and I feel the same way I felt when I saw how they made it for the first time. Today I am sharing this recipe with you. Trust me, you will love the nice aroma it makes.

A serving suggestion: Enjoy it with toast (as seen in the picture) or with croissant, crepes… Everything tastes better with this jam.

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg melon peeled and seeds removed
  • 700 gs granulated sugar
  • 100 ml red vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 vanilla pod
  • 1 teaspoon butter

Preparation:

  • Cut the melon into small cubes
  • In a casserole, mix the melon with sugar and vinegar and bring it to a boil, stirring constantly
  • Add the butter, the ground cinnamon and the half vanilla pod, cut lengthwise
  • Let it boil for 15 mins
  • Lower the heat and let the jam cook for about 25 mins, stirring often
  • Remove the vanilla pod
  • To check if the jam is ready, place a drop of jam in a cup of cold water; if it forms a ball then the jam is ready
  • Place the jam in jars, close them and place them upside down for 10 mins

ET VOILA.. CES’T TOUT! 🙂

Apple Jam

In the old days in Lebanon, people used to store their food in what we call in Arabic, a “Mouneh” or another term for the Lebanese Pantry. In the villages, these pantries were made usually under brick structures –  prove the equivalent of today’s fridges. Since fruits are not all available all year around we used to make jams from all kinds of fruits to enjoy them even out of season.

Today I made apple jam. Apple, known for its vitamins and minerals is an ideal jam for the cold winters in the mountains in Lebanon, and since some would grow apples near their homes, it was common to find them in the Mouneh of people’s village homes.

I would like to share with you my mother’s recipe for apple jam, which my mother herself took from her mother.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg of yellow apple
  • one  lemon
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Preparation:

  • Wash the apples, peel them, remover the seeds and cut into quarters
  • Cut the lemon and rub the apples so they wont turn black color
  • Put the apples in a casserole, cover it with 3 cups of water and boil until it becomes tender
  • Remove the apples and put aside. Add the sugar to the boiling water with the cinnamon stick and let it boil for 5 minutes
  • Put the apples back to the water and let it boil on a medium heat fire
  • Reduce the heat and and let it simmer on a very low fire until the color of the apples turn like honey color and it thickens also like honey consistance
  • If the apples get dry before it reaches the desired color, you can add a little bit of water.
  • Put the apple jam in a jar, when it becomes cold close the jar tightly.

ET VOILA.. C’EST TOUT.