Intro to Middle Eastern Cooking

kebabClass Date: September 13, 2016   6:30pm – 9:00pm

For an easy, fun, and delicious meal off your beaten track, why not try Middle Eastern? This demo class is an introduction to some classic dishes from the region that aren’t always well known here. I’ll show you how to make:

  • Hummus – So easy to make, and so much better homemade, why buy?
  • Baba Ganoush – Rich, flavorful, creamy and smoky eggplant salad. Sneak some veggies into your kids’ meals.
  • Kebab – Classic Middle Eastern grilled meat, with unique herbs and spices.
  • Mejadra – Elegant, but simple and easy, rice and lentils. A great side dish for this meal, and a great main course as leftovers (or for your vegetarian/vegan guests).
  • Turkish salad – Ketchup? You’ve got to be kidding! This is a terrific condiment and spread that goes great with grilled meats and more.
  • Israeli salad – Fresh and vibrant, Israeli salad keeps you healthy and adds tons of flavor to the rest of the meal.
  • Semolina Cake – You know you’ve always wanted to know what to do with semolina. Here’s the answer, and it’s better than you imagined.

The class is conducted in my kitchen over a glass (or three) of wine, and is 2 to 2 1/2 hours long. I’ll demonstrate how to make everything, and you can help if you want to participate. Of course, there will be generous samples of everything we make. You’ll take home recipes of everything we cook in class and the satisfaction of a delicious meal.

By the way, this class happens to be gluten free 🙂

Class is limited to 15 participants.

For more details and to register click here:


Paleo Turkey Meatloaf

The original recipe for this meatloaf is taken from Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa). I love the original version, but made a few changes to fit it to Doron’s Paleo diet. I omitted the breadcrumbs and the ketchup, switched thyme with oregano (for the heck of it), changed the amounts of the ingredients to suit my needs, and…here is my Paleo version

1 large onion, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 lb ground turkey
2 eggs
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons salt
1teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon dried oregano

Heat the oil in a sauté pan and sauté the onion until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 340F.

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients, including the sautéed onion, and knead until the turkey mixture is well incorporated.

Arrange the meat on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil, and using your hands, shape it into a long loaf. You may need to wet your hands when shaping the loaf, in case the mixture is sticky.

Bake for an hour for a moister meatloaf, or for an hour and 20 minutes for a drier loaf.

paleo turkey meatloaf

Tilapia with Sun-dried Tomatoes

Tilapia is one of the most common fish and maybe the most affordable one, sold in supermarkets in Florida. It is very delicate and somewhat blend in flavor, which makes it perfect to combine with bold flavors such as sundried tomatoes


8 fillets of Tilapia
2 hipping tablespoons sun-dried tomato paste (recipe follows)
2 tablespoon olive oil
salt and black pepper


Cover a baking sheet with tin foil and preheat the oven to 380F.

Sprinkle the fillets with salt and pepper on both sides.

In a small bowl, mix the tomato paste with the olive oil.

Coat each fillet with the mixture, on both sides, and place it on the baking sheet.

Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes.

This dish goes well with white rice or mashed potatoes, and some braised greens.



Sun-dried Tomato Paste

This paste is very versatile and can be used in many dishes.

Of course, you can always find ready-made jars of sundried tomato paste at your local store. But it doesn’t taste the same as the fresh, homemade version, and most probably, it has preservatives in it, which you might want to avoid.


1 (28 ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained
6 cloves garlic
1 cup olive oil
leaves from 2 sprigs of oregano
leaves from 2 sprigs of basil
salt & freshly ground black pepper


Place the tomatoes in a medium bowl.

Add some boiling water to cover the tomatoes. Leave for half an hour, then drain. This softens the tomatoes and gets rid of some of the packing oil.

In a food processor, combine the tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, herbs and seasonings.

Puree until smooth.

Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.


Kubbeh in Beet Soup

This recipe is one of the beloved kubbeh dishes in traditional Jewish Iraqi cuisine. Iraqi jews pronounce it Kubbah. I’ve had it a few times in Israel, at friends’ houses or in restaurants, but never made it myself until now. I’ve made other kubbeh dishes that I’ve learned to make from my grandma and mama. The process is very similar. The difference, really, is the filling, and the soup in which the dumplings cook.

Just like many other great Middle-Eastern recipes, this is a multi-step, involved dish. The result, though, is so worth the effort!


For the dough:
One portion of kubbeh – Middle Eastern Dumplings recipe

For the filling:
1 lb ground beef
1 large onion peeled and quartered
2 cups parsley leaves
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
½ teaspoon baharat for cooking (check out recipe or buy in Middle-Eastern stores)

For the Soup:
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
3 medium beets
1 tablespoon chicken soup powder
6 cups water
½ tablespoon tomato paste
3 tablespoons sugar
1 flat teaspoon citric acid or lemon juice from 1 lemon
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

Iraqi beet koube soup filling


To make the filling, place the onion and the parsley in a food processor and mince them. Transfer to a medium size bowl. Add the meat and the spices and knead well to incorporate all the ingredients. Make tiny balls out of the meat mixture, and place them on a tray. The balls will be used later to fill in the dough, to create the koube dumplings. Last time I made koube, I had some leftovers of the meat mixture. I used that to make delicious beef croquettes.

In the meantime, make the soup. In a large soup pot, heat the oil and sauté the onions. Cut the beets into quarters, place in a food processor and puree them. Alternatively, you may quarter the beets and slice them into thins slices. Add the beets to the pot and stir well. Add 6 cups of water, bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.

While the soup is cooking, make the kubbeh balls according to instructions in the Kubbeh – Middle Eastern Dumplings recipe, using the above meat filling.

Back to the soup, add the tomato paste and the spices, and stir well. Very gently, add in the koube balls, moving them gently occasionally, using a wooden spoon, to make room for more koube balls to be added.

Iraqi beet koube placed into soup


Once you have all the dumplings in the soup, cover the pot and simmer for 45 minutes.

Iraqi beet koube balls in pot

Bon Appetit!



Lemony Lentil Soup

Lentils of all kinds are abundantly used in Mediterranean, Middle-Eastern, as well as Indian cuisines. They are incorporated into different kinds of dishes, and eaten by everyone, especially by people who are vegetarian and/or poor. In fact, lentils have a reputation of being poor people’s food (not that it changes anything to me). Being rich in protein, lentils are a great substitute for meat, and adding to that their low price, they are a great choice for people who try to cut down or avoid meat altogether. Whether you are vegetarian, don’t feel like having meat, or just LOVE lentils (like me), you’ll be happy to know that I have many lentil recipes up my sleeve, that I can’t wait to share in this blog.

To start, this lemony lentil soup is a soup that I make at home pretty often. I love the combination of the red lentils with the lemon, garlic, and the green herbs.

One bowl of this thick satisfying soup, is a whole lunch for me. It satisfies both my appetite and my soul 🙂


2 cups red lentils
8 cups water
2 tablespoons chicken flavored soup powder
¼ cup olive oil
1 onion diced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
4 celery stalks, diced
¾ cup chopped cilantro
Salt and black pepper
Juice from 2 lemons


In a large saucepan, combine the lentils, the water, and the soup powder. Cover and bring to a boil. Remove the lid, skim the foam on top, and cook for 30 minutes on low heat.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a sauté pan, and sauté the onion until golden. Add the garlic, celery, and cilantro, and sauté for 5 minutes.

Add the onion-herb mixture into the saucepan with lentils. Add salt and pepper and cook for 15 more minutes. Add the lemon juice and cook for 5 more minutes.

Lemony Lentil soup



Chelow – Basic Persian Rice


Persian people love their rice grains long and not sticky. They also like eating their rice with a crispy bottom. In fact, the bottom, Tah Dig, is the favorite part of the rice dish. Tah Dig in Persian means the bottom of the pot. Persian cook’s expertise is often judged by how good their Tah Dig is.

Cooking rice Persian style is art. It is a multi-step process of removing the starch and steaming the rice, which results in grains that are separate from each other and are perfectly cooked. There is a reason for every step in the process, so don’t be tempted to skip steps or take short-cuts. The result will not be the same.


3 cups long-grain white basmati rice
5 teaspoons salt
8 cups water
½ cup oil or butter
1tsp saffron threads dissolved in 5 tablespoons of boiling water for an hour
½ cup water
2 tablespoons yogurt (optional)
2 medium russet potatoes sliced into 1/2inch slices (optional)
1 teaspoon turmeric (optional)



Place the rice in a large bowl and cover with tap water. Mix it using your hand to separate the starch from the rice grains. Discard of the water and repeat the process two more times.

Cover the rice in the bowl with warm water and 2 teaspoons of salt and leave for 3-5 hours. The salt helps keep the rice grains from breaking, and helps in separating them from one another. Drain the rice well.

In a large non-stick pot, bring 8 cups of water and 3 teaspoons of salt to a boil. Add the rice and cook for 8 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir the rice twice while cooking, to loosen clumps of rice.

Drain the rice in a large strainer and rinse it with lukewarm water.

Return the pot to the stove and let all the remaining water in it evaporates. Add ¼ cup oil. Once oil is hot, add the rice to the pot by mounting it in an upside-down cone shape. Using the tip of the wooden spoon, make 4-5 holes around the pot to allow water to steam.

In a small bowl, mix ½ cup water, ¼ cup oil and the saffron water. Drizzle it over the rice in the pot. Place a clean towel on the inner side of the pot cover, and cover the pot, folding the ends of the towel on top of the lid. That will ensure that steam doesn’t escape the pot.

Cook over low heat for about 45-50 minutes. DO NOT open the lid during cooking time. Remove from the heat, and still keeping the pot covered, let it cool down for 10 minutes.

If you would like to make the Tah Dig, there are two ways to make it, with and without potatoes.

After you drain the half cooked rice, heat ¼ cup oil in the pot. In a small bowl mix 4 heaping tablespoons of rice with half the saffron water, and 2 tablespoons of yogurt. Spread it to cover the bottom of the pot and press it down. Mount the rest of the rice on top, shaped as an upside-down cone, and continue as specified above.

Alternatively, if you want to add potatoes, heat ¼ cup oil in the pot together with 1 teaspoon of turmeric. Once the oil is hot, cover the bottom of the pot with the potato slices pressed against each other, and let it fry on high heat for 3-4 minutes.

Add the rice and yogurt mixture and spread it on top of the potatoes, pressing the rice down a little. Add the rest of the rice on top, shaped as an upside-down cone, and continue as specified above.