8th June 2008

Arak Cookies

Arak Cookies

We had a Lebanese food fest at our friend Megan’s last night, and one of the items we brought were these delicious Arak cookies, adapted from a butter cookie recipe in Recipes and Remembrances from an Eastern Mediterranean Kitchen. The original uses orange flower water, but I thought they’d be delicious with the anise-flavor of arak. Boy was I right — the flavor level was right on: just a hint of licorice without it being overwhelming.

Lisa says:

These are so addicting…

Thad says:

Mmmmm… very good.

Chris says:

I think they’re awesome — they’d be great with pistachios.

Lisa says:

Then they’d totally be Lebanese…

Abbie says:

These are delicious — and I don’t even like arak!

Megan says:

Yeah, how’d you think to use arak in these? Genius!

Chris says:

I’m trying to make room in my belly for more, but the other 9 courses we had tonight are making that quite difficult…

Arak Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp arak
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Almond slivers

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter, sugar, and arak until the mixture is light and fluffy. With a wooden spoon, gradually mix in the flour.
Preheat the oven to 325F. Pinch off walnut-sized pieces of dough and roll them into balls. Arrange the balls 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Gently press to flatten each ball to make round cookies about 1 1/2-inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick. Sprinkle 3-4 almond slivers (or one pistachio) into the center of each. Bake the cookies at 325F 20 to 25 minutes or until they are firm to the touch. Don’t let them brown!
Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the baking sheets 5 minutes; sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

24 Cookies

posted in Desserts, Middle Eastern, Recipes and Remembrances | 6 Comments

4th April 2008

Lamb and Spinach Fatta (Fattet Sabanikh)

I’ve had a hankerin’ for lamb lately, so I made this layered dish featuring a spinach and lamb stew over broken toasted pita, covered with a mint-garlic yogurt sauce, and covered with roasted pine nuts! Not the most photogenic of dishes, but we both loved all the different flavors and textures. The recipe comes from Recipes and Remembrances from an Eastern Mediterranean Kitchen.

Chris says:

I’m happy about finally making a lamb dish… and this was actually pretty simple. It cooks for a while, but it’s mostly hands-off.

Lisa says:

This is really good… and the kitchen smells great!

Chris says:

I’m gonna happily get “fatta” by eating more of it.

Lisa says:

I like scooping up the stew with the toasted pita.

Chris says:

If “Middle Eastern Nachos” didn’t sound so unappetizing I’d call it that.

Lisa says:

I just call it delicious.

Lamb and Spinach Fatta (Fattet Sabanikh)
2 bunches of spinach (about 2 lbs)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 lb lean boneless lamb, cut into 1″ cubes
1/2 tsp Mixed Spices (4 parts ground cinnamon, 1 part each ground nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom)
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups water
juice of 1/2 lemon, more to taste
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 tsp Middle Eastern red pepper
2 6″ pita breads, toasted and broken into bite-sized pieces
Minted Garlic Yogurt Sauce (1 1/2 cups low-fat yogurt, crushed garlic, 1 tsp crushed dried mint)

Wash the spinach thoroughly, remove and discard the stems, roughly chop, and set aside.
Heat the oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until softened, stirring frequently. Add the lamb and saute, turning to brown on all sides. Add the Mixed Spices, salt, pepper, and water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer 1 hour or until the meat is tender and most of the water has been absorbed. If it has not, uncover and boil until the liquid is reduced. Stir in the spinach, cover, and simmer an additional 10 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, and adjust the spices to taste. Turn off the heat.
In a small skillet, melt the butter. Add the pine nuts and saute until golden brown, stirring frequently. Stir in the red pepper and remove from the heat.
To serve, spread pieces of the toasted pita in the bottom of a serving dish. Spoon the lamb and spinach stew over them. Cover with the yogurt sauce and garnish with the sauteed pine nuts. Dribble the red pepper butter remaining in the skillet over the top.

4 Servings.

posted in Main Dishes, Middle Eastern, Recipes and Remembrances | 5 Comments