I thought I would post a picture of how the labneh looks once the yoghurt is strained. Also to say that there is less liquid lost with St Helen’s goat’s yoghurt: 1 kg yoghurt yielded 950 g labneh. And finally to say that I have adjusted the recipe for kishkeh in the previous post. I had suggested too much burghul. In fact, you only need 2 tablespoons fine burghul for 300 g labneh.



I am delighted to be taking part for the first time in Menu for Hope 6, where you can make an online bid in an effort to raise money for the United Nations World Programme’s Purchase for Progress program, which assists low-income farmers to raise crops and support their local economies.

This is our sixth year raising money and in the past, donations have topped $92,000. With your help, in 2009, let’s take it over that mark!

There are some truly amazing prizes, gathered from across Europe and the UK, including French and Italian chocolates shipped right to your door, cookbooks, a shiny-new standing mixer, and for those of you visiting Europe this year, or living here, you’ll find wine tastings and culinary tours…and tons more! Please go to David Lebovitz for more information on these prize and to Chez Pim for US and other prizes.

For a donation of just $10 per entry, you’ll have a chance to win fabulous bid items from all over the world. You can make as many donations as you wish; the more you enter, the more chances you’ll have of winning. Here is my contribution:

modern_mezze_uk.jpg medstreetfood2.jpg fifthquarter2.jpg

A Cookbook Collection and London Cooking Class

I am offering a cooking class for 2 in London, and I will also give signed copies of some of my books: The Fifth Quarter about using offal, a first edition of Mediterranean Street Food (as well as a paperback copy), and a  copy of the hardback of Modern Mezze, with recipes for irresistible appetizers. Cooking class must be taken before December 1, 2010 and take place at a mutually-agreed upon date. If you’re unable to take the class, please contact me for information on getting the books shipped to anywhere in Europe.

Bid item code: EU27

To Bid
1. Choose a bid item or bid items of your choice from our Menu for Hope main bid item list, when it’s posted.

2. Go to the donation site at Firstgiving and make a donation.

3. Please specify which bid item you’d like in the ‘Personal Message’ section in the donation form when confirming your donation. You must write-in how many tickets per bid item, and please use the bid item code.

Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a bid item of your choice. For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for EU01 and 3 tickets for EU02 – 2xEU01, 3xEU02.

4. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match.

5. Please check the box to allow us to see your e-mail address so that we can contact you in case you win. Your e-mail address will not be shared with anyone.
And please pass this post along to friends and others via links on your blog and via social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook. You can use the Share This button below.


sprinkling aleppo pepper

In a few hours, another World of Flavors conference will start at the CIA (Culinary Institute of America). The theme this year is street food and comfort food and as some of you know, I love street food and am constantly on the lookout for fun street food scenes wherever I go, not only to watch but also to taste, if the conditions are right that is. Regardless, I find it hard to resist anything that looks good on the street especially if I am in Aleppo, my favourite city, where you see people eating on the street throughout the enchanting souks.

On a recent trip there, I was spoiled for choice. As I walked through the vegetable market opposite Bab Antaki, I came upon a lone gentleman tucking into the best looking kebab I have seen on the street. I asked if I could snap him, or more to the point if I could photograph what he was eating and he was very gracious about my interfering with his meal. Then, right by the Bab, I stopped at an incredibly popular falafel stall where the vendor had piles of fresh mint on the table which his customers picked by the handful to stuff in their mouth with every bite of their sandwich. Sadly, I never got to take any pictures. It was just too crowded. Then there was a vendor I had never seen before who was making kibbeh sandwiches — he announced very proudly that his mother had made the kibbeh. Again no snapshots but this time because the display was not very pretty. But here are a few shots of the delicious kebabs my lone gentleman was eating.

And later this afternoon, I’m hoping to be able to take a few shots of some Adana kebabs being prepared by Chef Musa Dagdeviren from Ciya, together with Chef Necdet Kaygin and Chef Burak Epir which I will post in the next couple of days.

tearing a piece of bread to pick up the meat with

kebab on the street 5 copy

kebab on the street 7 copy


Back in May, I wrote about my culinary tour to Syria and at the end, I posted a recipe for a classic Aleppine dish, cherry kababs but it wasn’t until the recipe was reproduced in Gulf Air magazine, alongside a piece on Halabi restaurant at the Four Seasons in Damascus, that my great friend, Pierre Antaki, saw it. He wrote to me horrified at the idea that I had added pomegranate syrup to the cherries and asked where I had gotten this information. I guess Andrew Humphreys, my lovely editor at Gulf Air, had not included my introduction to the recipe explaining who had given it to me. I was mortified. So, I told Pierre that I would write to his sister, Lena Toutounji, who has the best table in Aleppo, to get her recipe which I would publish to correct the mistake. Here it is again, without the offending pomegranate syrup. I have to say, I love her touch of pressing a lone pine nut inside each meat ball. So refined, but then all her food is.

Lena’s Cherry Kababs


500 g lean minced lamb
½ teaspoon 7-spice mixture (or allspice)
½ tablespoon sea salt
handful of pine nuts
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon plain flour
1 kg fresh sour cherries, pitted (or 500 g dried sour cherries soaked overnight in 2 cups water)
2 to 3 pita breads, opened at the seams and cut into medium sized triangles

1. Mix the meat with the spices and salt to taste. Make small meat balls, pressing one pine nut inside each.

2. Sauté the meatballs in the butter and transfer to a sieve to drain off the excess fat.

3. Add one teaspoon flour to the butter and stir it for a minute or so. Add the pitted cherries. Season with a little salt and stir for a few minutes.
Let the cherries simmer on low heat until cooked.

4. When it is time to serve the kababs, Add the meat balls to the cherry sauce to heat them through and serve over torn pieces of pita bread.

I didn’t ask Lena if she garnishes her kababs like I was told to do with toasted pine nuts and chopped parsley — the photogrpah is from when I tested them with the other recipe. I’ll do that when I return to Syria in the fall and will report back. Until then enjoy, with or without the garnish.