TASTE OF BEIRUT is the culmination of years of travel and research by Chef Joumana Accad in Lebanon and really brings the tastes and flavors of that rich, cultural region to her readers.  “I moved back to Lebanon three years ago in order to soak-up the culinary scene and gather all the information I needed for my cookbook. While there I cooked weekly in Beirut with established master cooks, learning tips and techniques to successfully prepare traditional dishes.”

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Chef Joumana Accad specializes in bringing the flavors and tastes of this delicious region to American tables. Through her popular food blog, www.TasteofBeirut.com, she has shown thousands of home cooks how healthy and delicious the cuisine of her native Lebanon is.  In her debut cookbook, TASTE OF BEIRUT (HCI Books/September 2014; Softcover/$18.95), Joumana brings to life the rich, complex, and delicious flavors of the Middle East, sharing her heritage through exquisite recipes and anecdotes, teaching anyone from newbies to foodies how to master traditional Lebanese cuisine. With over 150 recipes inspired by her Teta (grandmother) in their family’s kitchen, Joumana captures the fabulous flavors of her homeland and makes them completely accessible to home cooks.

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 Recipes include:
  • Kibbeh in a Tahini Citrus Sauce (Kibbeh Amabiyeh)
  • Ground Meat and Potato Hash (Mfaraket al Batata)
  • Spiced Fish, Beirut-Style (Samkeh Harra Beirutiyeh)
  • Lebanese Couscous (Moghrabieh)
  • Chicken Bites with Dukkah
  • Beet Hummus (Mama dallou’a)
  • Eggs Poached in Tomato Stew (Beyd Bel-Banadoura)
  • Kafta Sandwich
  • Chicken Bites with Dukkah
  • Kibbeh Balls in Citrus-Tahini Sauce (Kibbeh Arnabiyeh)
  • Classic Tabbouleh Salad
  • Stuffed Pumpkin (Titoumi Dolma)
  • Baklava (a speedy ten-minute version!)
  • Pomegranate and Milk Pudding
  • Anise Rings (Kaak Bel-Yansoon)

Watch Joumana in action as she demonstrates her easy and delicious Spinach Turnover recipe from the book.

Semolina Cheesecake
(Knefeh Bel-jeben)
Makes 8 Servings
 
This cheesecake is a widely popular breakfast item. Neighborhood pastry shops usually prepare it, however, this recipe is easy to make at home. The only caveat is that the cheese needs to be desalted. To do this, cut the cheese into slices, place it in a bowl covered with tap water for 15 minutes, and then drain the water, refilling with fresh water. Continue this operation for a couple of hours or until no taste of salt remains. Drain the cheese thoroughly on paper towels. A good cheese for this cake is a fresh mozzarella or akkawi, its Lebanese equivalent, or one called sweet cheese, which is sold at Arab grocers specifically to make this cake.
Ingredients:
3 cups semolina (fin­e or a mixture of coarse and ­fine)
1 teaspoon instant dry yeast
1 cup clarified butter
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons orange blossom water (or you can substitute rose water)
2 pounds akkawi (sweet cheese) or desalted fresh mozzarella cheese
Syrup:
1 ½ cups white granulated sugar
¾ cups water
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon orange blossom water
1 teaspoon rose water
Directions:
Mix the semolina, yeast and butter in a mixing bowl. Add the milk and orange blossom water and mix until a dough forms.
 
Cover the bowl and set aside overnight.
 
Preheat the oven to 375F. Spray or line a 9″ baking pan with parchment paper. Divide the dough in half and spread one half over the bottom of the pan. Cover the surface with the cheese slices. Cover the cheese with the remaining dough. 
 
Bake the cheesecake about 25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with syrup.
 
Note: If the dough is too stiff, moisten it with a few drops of orange blossom water and knead it for a few minutes until it becomes malleable. If unable to source semolina flour, you can substitute cream of wheat sold in all supermarkets in the US.
For the Syrup:
In a saucepan, melt the sugar in the water over medium heat. Do not stir the mixture until it starts boiling. Skim off any froth that accumulates on the surface.
Simmer the syrup for 10 minutes or so, adding the lemon juice and flavorings at the end of cooking. The syrup should be getting thick; test it by placing a drop on the counter and check it to see if it is rather stiff.
Recipe may be reprinted with the following credit:
Recipe from Taste of Beirut by Joumana Accad
HCI Books/September 2014