Mansaf – Middle Eastern Lamb Dish

Mansaf – Middle Eastern Lamb Dish

mensaf Mansaf, Fatiyeh, or Fatihah this traditional middle eastern lamb stew in yogurt sauce is a big part of Arabic cuisine.  It is a favorite dish for large gatherings including weddings and engagement parties.  In short it plays a large part in Middle Eastern hospitality.

In my experience folks in the Arab world are very hospitable and generous. Rolling out a huge tray of Mansaf is a sign of respect and welcome to anyone visiting an Arab home whether it be in Jordan, Dubai, Europe, or America.

But of course this traditional dish has several names depending on the country or even city one is in.  In most countries like Jordan and Lebanon it’s called Mansaf; it’s the same dish Palestinians from the West Bank call Fatiyeh or Fatihah and those who hail closer to the larger cities call Mensaf.  Whatever it’s called it’s basically the same dish with a few regional additions to the toppings.

So what is Mansaf?  It’s a dish typically made with Lamb that’s simmered in a yogurt sauce made from reconstituted “Chisitch/Kishk/Jameed” (fermented or dried sheeps’ milk yogurt.)  Then the meat and sauce are served on a bed of torn unleavened bread like Shrak or pita and rice.  The whole dish can be topped with fresh parsley and sprinkled with toasted pine nuts; or as I’ve been taught by some of my Palestinian husband’s friends a ring of fried onions and tomatoes.

Really the secret ingredient, or not so secret, is the Chisitch.  Okay it’s not the easiest thing to get your hands on.  I usually get the dried balls of Chisitch from my husband’s relatives who travel to and from the Middle East or my sister-in-law who actually makes it!  I’ve also been able to buy it from a market in Oman during one of my trips there.  But you might be able to find it at a middle eastern market where it’s usually called Kishk or Jameed.  It’s available in liquid or powder form.  Or you can believe it or not order it from Amazon by clicking this affiliate link!   

If all else fails and you simply can not get a hold of Chisitch/Kishk/Jameed then use Buttermilk!  Yes the carton you find in your grocer’s diary section.  Good old fashioned buttermilk, the stuff you can use to make Buttermilk pancakes and biscuits!

If you’re using balls of chisitch from where ever you must reconstitute it – meaning soak the balls in water overnight, then place all of it in your blender until it is liquified.  You might need to add water to the blender to get the liquid you need.

If you’re using powdered kishk or jameed then dissolve it in water.  Obviously the easiest one to use would be liquid jameed or buttermilk.

Whichever one you use the real secret is to keep the jameed or kishk liquid from curdling when you add it to your meat.  To do that you must temper it by slowly stirring the liquid into a little bit of lamb broth.  This brings the temperature of the jameed up to the temperature of the stewed meat.

To season this dish I use my Lebanese 7 Spices Mix Click here for that recipe!

So if you want to try this yummy dish at home scroll down for my recipe.  It’s pretty fussy, it takes me a whole afternoon too make it!  This recipe is for a fairly small tray, you can double or triple it if you need to make a large tray for more people.

By the way Mansaf or Fatihah is traditionally eaten with one’s fingers right off the serving tray.  The polite and proper way to eat this dish is to use your fingers to take bite-sized portions from the tray and pop it in your mouth.  You take portions only from the meat and rice that is directly in front of you; respect other diner’s tray space.  That’s how it’s traditionally eaten; at our house it’s served family style with a serving spoon used to spoon a portion on to each person’s plate and we uses forks and knives.

 

Mansaf
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Mansaf
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Place meat in large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil.
  2. While meat boils fat will come to the surface. Skim off fat and discard. Continue this process until fat stops forming on the surface.
  3. Strain meat and set aside while you thoroughly wash out the pot. Dry pot before proceeding.
  4. Heat 1 Tbs. Olive Oil in pot and add 1 portion of chopped onions. Cook onions until they start to soften.
  5. Add meat and Lebanese 7 Spices Mix and stir well. Cook until onions become translucent.
  6. Add beef broth to cover meat. Bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 2 hours.
  8. Meanwhile you can prepare other parts of the dish.
  9. Heat remaining Olive Oil in frying pan and add remaining chopped onions. Cook until onions start to soften.
  10. Add garlic to pan and cook about 1 minute stirring constantly.
  11. Add chopped tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are soft and juices start to come out. Salt & Pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
  12. Melt 2 Tbs. Butter in saute pan and toast pine nuts until they start to turn golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
  13. About 30 minutes before stew is cooked prepare rice by first melting remaining butter in pot.
  14. Add Vermecelli and saute until pasta starts to turn golden brown.
  15. Add dry rice and saute another minute.
  16. Stir in about 4 cups of water to cover the rice. Cook covered over low heat for 20 minutes or until rice is cooked. Let rest at least 5 minutes to absorb any remaining water.
  17. Check you meat. It should be tender and falling off the bone.
  18. If meat is cooked turn down heat very low.
  19. Remove about 1 cup of broth from pot to temper your jameed or buttermilk.
  20. Slowly pour liquid jameed or buttermilk into that broth. Stirring only in one direction as you add the jameed. This is tempering the jameed. It is very important that you stir as you combine the liquids and stir only in one direction to keep the jameed from curdling.
  21. Once the jameed is tempered using the same procedure slowly add the tempered jameed into the pot of stew.
  22. Simmer on low heat for about 20 Minutes.
  23. Meanwhile prepare your serving tray. Break up the bread into pieces and place pieces on to the tray.
  24. Cover bread with rice.
  25. Place meat on the rice. Pour yogurt sauce (liquid you cooked meat in) over the meat and rice.
  26. Spoon tomato mixture around the meat.
  27. Sprinkle with pine nuts and serve.
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Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

Everyone loves Chocolate Chip Cookies.  It’s the world’s most popular cookie!  Last week I shared the recipe for The Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie.  It is one of my favorites!  But sometimes I get a craving for more chocolate and that’s when the Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies come in handy.  They are simply delicious!

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I’m sure you’ve seen them at Starbuck’s and other retail bakeries.  I think there are even some packaged ones by Pepperidge Farms.  But nothing comes close to my Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies.  They’re definitely chocolaty but the white chocolate morsels I add give it that extra yum!  They like crunchy brownies with a kick of delicious white chocolate.  They go great with a cold glass of milk!

I use a chocolate cookie dough, milk chocolate chips, and white chocolate chips, that’s why they’re a triple treat!  I use the best ingredients I can find to make these cookies, skimping is not an option.  I use Guittard Unsweetened Cocoa Powder or Vallrhona Cocoa Powder.

Another tip for making bakery quality cookies is to have the proper tools.  In this case to make really good looking (and tasting) cookies you’ll need a measuring cups and spoons, mixing bowls, an electric mixer (a standing mixer is easier but costlier so a hand mixer works too), a 1 Oz. Scoop (they make the cookies all the same size) and a Silicone Baking Mat (or you can use parchment paper, either one works well, but the mat ends up cheaper in the long run and is definitely more eco-friendly).  I know it seems frivolous to buy these things specially if you don’t bake often.  I remember back in the day when we really didn’t have the extra money to spend on them (they were much more expensive then) I used to make do with whatever I had.  But these days with online shops and big box stores baking equipment has become much more affordable!

But you don’t have to rush out and buy mats, scoops, and whatever.  Use what you have or borrow from a baking friend or your mom!  Just make sure you use the best ingredients that you can find, that’s the most important thing!


Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies
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Servings
2 Dozen
Servings
2 Dozen
Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies
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Servings
2 Dozen
Servings
2 Dozen
Ingredients
Servings: Dozen
Instructions
  1. Cream butter and sugars together using medium speed of an electric mixer
  2. Beat in egg and vanilla
  3. In a small mixing bowl mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder
  4. Mix into egg mixture - dough will form
  5. Stir in milk and white chocolate chips
  6. Pre-Heat oven to 300 degrees
  7. Using 1 Oz. scoop or a 2 tbs. measure drop a ball of dough onto a silicone mat or parchment covered baking sheet about 3" apart
  8. Gently flatten each ball with the back of a spoon to make a 2" circle
  9. Bake for 25 minutes - do not over bake
  10. Remove from oven and let cool on sheet for 5 minutes
  11. Transfer to cooling racks and let cool completely
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The Chocolate Chip Cookie

The Chocolate Chip Cookie

A chocolate chip cookie, the ultimate comfort food.  Who can resist them? But do you know its history?  Most of us don’t and it’s really quite interesting no matter which version you believe!

For starters the chocolate chip cookie is a true American concoction that came to be quite accidentally when its original baker ran out of Baker’s chocolate, or nuts.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Ok back in 1930 a dietician named Ruth Graves Wakefield and her husband Kenneth purchased a Cape Cod style house in Whitman a town between Boston and New Bedford,  Massachusetts.   The house was originally built in 1709 and was used by travelers to rest, change horses, have a meal, and pay any tolls needed to use the road.  Ruth and Kenneth soon turned their home into a lodge which, with a nod to its past, they named “The Toll House Inn”.

Now Ruth was a skilled baker and soon drew in visitors from all over the northeast.  Many came to sample her delicious baked goods.  One of her favorite desserts were Butter Drop Do Cookies and her recipe which dated back to colonial days called for Baker’s chocolate.  So one day in 1937 Ruth was making these Butter Drop Do Cookies and found herself lacking the chocolate, so she chopped up a bar of Nestle’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate into tiny pieces thinking that the chocolate would melt and spread throughout the dough.  When it didn’t the chocolate chip cookie was born!  Well that’s one version; another version is she ran out of nuts and substituted the chopped chocolate; still another version claims she accidentally dropped a bar of chocolate into the dough and it broke into tiny morsels.  Whatever the version it’s all part of chocolate chip cookie history!

The new cookies were a hit and Ruth called them “Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookies”.  Her recipe was published in news papers all over New England and the sales of Nestle’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate bars rocketed.

Then in 1939 when “Betty Crocker” (she was a fictional character who had a radio show) featured them on her radio series “Famous Foods from Famous Eating Places” the chocolate chip cookie went big time!  Ruth being a shrewd gal approached Nestle’s and struck a deal, they could print her recipe on all their semi-sweet bars and later bags in exchange for a lifetime supply of chocolates.  Lucky lady!

In the 1940’s Ruth sold Nestle’s the name “Toll House” and the cookies were widely known as Toll House Cookies.  Nestle lost the trademarked rights to the name in 1983, Toll House is now legally the generic name for a chocolate chip cookie.

The cookie has become the most popular cookie worldwide and is the official cookie of Massachusetts.  As for Ruth and hubby they sold the Toll House Inn in 1966 and it burned down on New Year’s Eve 1984.

So now you know its history.   I’m sure you also know many versions of the chocolate chip cookie recipe have popped up, you may even have your own, I know I do!  But have you ever tried The Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie?  It’s one of our favorites!  You can order it for dessert at their Mariposa Restaurant where you get a boxed set of 3 cookies and a recipe card, very cute!  Or you can buy the giant sized cookie at their Bistro.  And you can also buy tins of them from the Neiman’s gourmet food department at Christmas time.  We do all 3!  A box of 3 from the restaurant costs $6, the giant cookie at the Bistro is $5, and a tin of them will set you back about $20+.

But Neiman’s is nice enough to share their recipe, remember the boxed set at Mariposa comes with a recipe card.  So if you don’t feel like shelling out $5 or more for a cookie or two; or if you’ve never tried the Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie then read on because I’m sharing it today!


The Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie
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Servings
2 Dozen
Servings
2 Dozen
The Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie
Print Recipe
Servings
2 Dozen
Servings
2 Dozen
Ingredients
Servings: Dozen
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  2. Cream the butter with the sugars using an electric mixer on medium speet until fluffy - approximately 30 seconds
  3. Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract for another 30 seconds
  4. In a mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients and beat into the butter mixture at low speed for about 15 seconds
  5. Stir in the espresso coffee powder and chocolate chips
  6. Using a 1 oz. scoop or 2 Tbs. measure, drop cookie dough onto a gr eased cookie sheet about 3" apart.
  7. Gently press down on the dough with the back of a spoon to spread out into a 2" circle
  8. Bake for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned around the edges. Bake a bit longer for crispier cookies.
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Delicious Chicken Marsala

Delicious Chicken Marsala

Chicken Marsala

I have been in search of the perfect Chicken Marsala for years.  I think one of the best ones I’ve had was at the Trevi Italian Restaurant in the Forum Shops in Las Vegas.  I’ve yet to find something similar and believe me I’ve tried it at many different restaurants.

Since I can’t exactly fly off to Vegas every time I’ve a yen for Chicken Marsala I did the next best thing.  I wend in search of the best Chicken Marsala recipe I could find.  I’ve actually found several that were pretty good, but with a bit of tweaking here and there I was able to come up with this delicious recipe which everyone in my family loves.  In fact it’s good enough to serve company which is what I did when my daughter’s in-laws came to visit.  They loved it too!

First of all a little background on Chicken Marsala.  I know it’s a classic Italian dish offered at many chain Italian restaurants like Magiano’s, Carabba’s, and Olive Garden.  Like I said everyone seems to have their own version of this dish!  But if you go to a local restaurant in Italy and asked for Chicken Marsala I’m pretty sure they won’t know what that is.  I can’t recall seeing this dish at any of the restaurants in Italy, sort of like asking for Fettucine Alfedo, they don’t have that there!

Chicken Marsala is actually an Italian-American dish that is more than likely a variation of the traditional Italian Scaloppina dishes of which there are many versions in Italy.  Chicken Marsala dates back from the 19th. Century and originated with English families who lived in Italy where Marsala wine is produced.

The dish is composed of thin slices of chicken breasts that are lightly floured and sauteed in a pan.  It is then covered with a sauce made from a Marsala wine reduction.  Some recipes call for the addition of mushrooms, herbs, and tomatoes.  Really the variations are many, but I prefer the simplest variation with just mushrooms so that I can savor the lovely Marsala sauce.

When I make it at home I prefer to serve it with a simple garlic mashed potato side dish, but you can also serve it with a side of Poor Man’s pasta; a simple yet tasty pasta dish.

 

Delicious Chicken Marsala
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Delicious Chicken Marsala
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Combine Flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a shallow dish.
  2. Melt 2 tbs. butter in the olive oil in a frying pan.
  3. Pat chicken dry with paper towel and dredge thru flour mixture
  4. Fry chicken breasts in oil butter mixture until both sides start to turn brown.
  5. Remove from pan and place in a covered dish or pan.
  6. Add 2 tbs. butter to the remaining oil and saute mushrooms until juices come out and mushrooms are cooked.
  7. Add wine, chicken stock, and garlic to the mushrooms and simmer about 10 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half
  8. Add heavy whipping cream and cornstarch mixture to the pan - it should slightly thicken. If it's too thick add up to 1/2 cup of wine to thin to desired consistency.
  9. Return cooked chicken to pan and spoon sauce over it.
  10. Cook on stove top until chicken is heated thru.
  11. Gently stir in 2 tbs. of butter.
  12. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.
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Butter Steak  Cubes Keto Friendly Recipe

Butter Steak Cubes Keto Friendly Recipe

butter steak cubesI’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that my husband has embarked on a Keto Diet plan which pretty much means I either make something Keto friendly just for him or find keto friendly recipes for the whole family to enjoy.  Since I’m not particularly fond of playing short order cook it is so much easier to make something that we can all have for dinner.  And so I’ve come up with this Keto friendly Butter Steak Cubes.

Butter Steak Cubes are real easy to make and they are really delish!  Everyone loves them!  I serve them with a tossed salad for hubby and sides like mashed potatoes, corn, and veggies for the rest of us.  My husband likes them so much I sometimes double the recipe so he can have leftovers for the next couple of days.

One thing though, if you want leftovers for lunch or whatever don’t over cook the steak.  In fact I usually cook them just until they turn slightly pink in the middle.  That way they can be reheated later.  If you over cook the meat they end up like jerky when reheated.  You definitely don’t want that!

Ingredients

4 NY Strip Steaks cut into 1″ cubes

1/2 Tbs. Cayenne Red Pepper

1 Tbs. Garlic Powder

1 Tbs. Onion Powder

1 Tsp. Sea Salt

1 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper

1/2 Tbs. Lemon Pepper

1 Tsp. Oregano

1 Stick Butter

3 Tbs. Olive Oil

1/4 Cup Fresh Parley Chopped

Directions

Combine Spices in a small bowl and mix well

Melt Butter in Olive Oil over med high heat

Add cubed meat and sprinkle spices over it

Toss meat in frying pan and cook until it almost reaches your desired “doneness”

Toss in chopped parsley and cook until done.

Serve right away with desired sides

butter steak cubes
Butter Steak Cubes
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butter steak cubes
Butter Steak Cubes
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Combine spices in a small bowl and mix well
  2. Melt butter in Olive Oil over med-high heat
  3. Add cubed meat and sprinkle spices over it
  4. Toss meat in frying pan and cook until it reaches almost your desired "doneness"
  5. Toss in chopped parsley and cook until done
  6. Serve right away with desired sides
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