I started drawing recipes a few years ago to make them easier to follow, both for my own sake and to spread the love of cooking around, and they have proliferated beyond control. I focus mostly on simple recipes requiring little to no exotic ingredients or kitchen gadgets, with the occasional jazzy number. A notable exception are traditional recipes, which tend to be slow and labour-intensive; all the more reason to make them more accessible through a pictorial treatment.
Here is the full list of my recipes posted to date, and you can also use the tags in the margin to look for specific requirements. Nearly all the recipes are vegetarian, so there is no tag for that. Sahtein!
Pizza & Flatbreads
Sides and Salads:
Stews and Soups
Cookies & Bite-sized
Pantry Basics & Preserves:
This is different from the inimitable “rabtet khubz” (bag of bread) from the bakery, but identical to the hot, puffed bread that is brought to the table straight from the oven at a restaurant.
A language note: “khubz” is just the Arabic word for “bread”, any kind of bread. It doesn’t mean this specific type unless you specify “khubz arabi”. “Khubz franji” is French bread, for instance. “Khubz marquq” is the traditional, super thin Lebanese mountain bread. And so on. Some people drop the general word in conversation (sometimes innocently, often pedantically) as if it were a technical term—don’t.
The dough used here is the Basic Pizza Dough, though you can substitute your favourite. Let the dough rise while you’re slicing and caramelizing the onions.
Mana’eesh (plural of man’oushe) are Lebanese street food at its best and come in a number of classic varieties you can order from tiny bakeries at every street corner. This one is a lighter version of the cheese type, which is normally made with fatty akkawi cheese (not easily found abroad anyway but mozzarella is close enough, though much less salty). I often fall back on this super easy recipe when I need to make food for a lot of people, or to take food with me, and it is always really well received. You can make a highly transportable version by spreading 4 circles thinly, spreading cheese on half and closing the other half over, calzone style (pinch the edges to seal). Then you can hike, climb and tumble all you like and the topping will stay put.
This recipe works particularly well with the Basic Pizza Dough, although you could use whatever dough you prefer, with or without yeast.
A favourite, made using the Basic Pizza Dough. If I have mushrooms on hand I slice a few and add them before topping with cheese.
This pizza takes some work, but it’s so worth it—a crowd pleaser every time. Its various steps don’t need to be made in one go: the leeks can be prepared 1-2 days ahead and refrigerated, and so can the cheese mix (so can the flavored oil, but that only takes 5 minutes so there’s little point).
It can be made with any dough; the Basic Dough makes for a thicker crust that is more filling (I’d still spread it somewhat thinly), but it can equally be made with a thin crust, lighter and quicker to make. Either way, half-baking it before adding the toppings ensures it bakes fully. Also, it’s far easier to eat this if you make smaller pizzas, as done here, rather than one large.
The feta makes it very savoury; if you prefer a milder taste, use ricotta instead.
This is my go-to pizza/flatbread dough recipe when I want a thick soft crust and I have time to let it rise. Sometimes I only leave it for 1/2 hour and it’s still just fine: I’ll prepare it first, put it somewhere warm while I prepare the other ingredients, and then get on with it. If it affected the result, I never noticed!
As shown below, you can freeze the dough when it’s ready, for future use. This is useful if you made more than you need, but it needs to thaw overnight, so it’s not really a time-saver. On the other hand, if you use baking powder instead of yeast, you have a thin-crust dough that’s ready to use immediately. In this case, make sure to spread it thinly.
These are quite nice and quick to prepare. Any fresh herbs could be substituted for the mint, and the spices can be equally tailored. I haven’t tried a baked version yet, but I imagine it would work nicely and be a bit lighter.
I had no idea how easy pretzels are to make until I tried. These are incredible fresh out of the oven, and it’s great to be able to customise one’s toppings. They also keep well till the next day.
The panweer can be replaced with a different firm cheese, such as halloumi, but in that case don’t add any salt. Use firm tofu instead to make it dairy-free and vegan.
This drink is an old Lebanese tradition, but little-known to city dwellers nowadays.
This is more than a dessert: in Lebanon it is traditionally prepared to celebrate a birth and also for Christmas (because baby Jesus). Ground caraway and even aniseed are not regular fare in Western supermarkets but you’ll find it in spice shops, Middle-Eastern shops, and if all else fails, try eBay, or just grind the whole seeds, which seem to be more common.
I’ll admit that this is not my favourite, but I love making it for friends who just had a happy event, and it is meant to be good for the mother after giving birth, with all these energy-packing nuts.
This cake which probably originates in Nicaragua is popular all over Latin America. Whole milk can replace the cream in step 6, especially if you’re planning on frosting the cake with whipped cream!
A traditional orthodox Christmas dessert from Bulgaria, oshav is relatively austere, but delicious and certainly a healthier option. Sugar can be left out altogether as the fruits’ own sweetness is drawn out.
The Slovak Christmas Eve supper consists of twelve meatless dishes representing the twelve Apostles, and these bread balls sweetened by honey are one of them. It seems however that they predate Christianity, and in the central European Pagan tradition were made around the winter Solstice to communicate with the ancestors.
Ground walnuts can replace the poppy seeds; in which case, skip step 8!
In Hungary, the day-old, dry bread used for this recipe is kifli, a crescent-shaped bread roll (npothing to do with a croissant!) but any stale bread will do. It’s actually a good way to use bread left over from the holiday meals, if you’re happy to have it for Boxing Day instead, or it can be a way to use bread for breakfast similar to pain perdu (French toast).
The poppy seed roll is traditional all over Central and Eastern Europe under various names, such as cozonac in Romania, magonmaizite in Latvia, wienerbrød in Denmark, etc. The poppy seeds can be substituted with finely chopped walnuts (skip 6-7).
Christmas in Italy? Forget the panettone and have a go at this decadent fig cake from Sicily for a change. It is genuinely a meeting of cultures, as a Middle-Eastern influence can clearly be discerned in its list of ingredients.
These cinnamon starts are allegedly THE German Christmas cookie. The vanilla sugar that is required is simply a way of adding a vanilla flavour without using liquid. You can make your own (well in advance) by simply placing a vanilla pod in a jar and filling it with sugar, which after a few weeks will be infused with the spice.
Also known as finikia, these cookies are closely related to Lebanese maakaroun, though the latter are far less elaborate. They are an essential part of a Greek Christmas, but leftovers will comfortably last for a few weeks after, thanks to being soaked in syrup! Do not refrigerate, as that makes them harden.
This “sweet porridge” is traditionally served in Armenia from New Year’s Eve up to Christmas, which falls on January 6 in the Eastern tradition. Plan ahead, as it needs to thicken overnight. Replace the honey with sugar to make it vegan.
Ghraybeh are widespread in the Levant, but in Palestine are made specially for Christmas.
Note that the finished shortbreads are quite brittle and should be handled with care!
This “Christmas nougat” dates back to the turun of Moorish Spain. This variety is made with only three ingredients, and as it contains only honey and no sugar, the result is not too hard. You can add some extra flavour in step 6 such as orange blossom water or cinnamon.
Apparently Cuba has its very own, unique Christmas cookies, and they’re a piece of cake to make.
These Scandinavian treats used to contain a lot of pepper, hence the name; the spices were toned down with time. While heart and star shapes are popular, the traditional shapes comes straight from the pagan past: pigs, goats, horses and people.
Here’s an Old World alternative to eggnog, a Dutch seasonal tipple that is thick as custard! You can drink it (with a spoon), or use it as a cake filling, or ice cream topping, and so on.
Christmas in Provence is famous for its thirteen desserts, symbolizing Christ and the twelve Apostles. The exact items tend to vary from place to place or even family to family, but they typically include nuts, dried and fresh fruits, calissons (marzipan-like candy), quince paste, black and white nougat, and the crown of them all, the sweet bread known as pompe à huile.
Here’s a lovely change from toppings such as maple syrup, that you can make from local honey and, this time of year, poppy seeds from the garden.
This is probably one of the first desserts I used to make as a child! So simple to make. If you’d rather cut down on fat, you could leave out the knobs of butter and serve with yogurt instead of a drizzle of cream.
An Italian dessert, known in France as sabayon. Surprisingly quick to make, and you can use frozen berries, after thawing them.
Don’t throw away the egg whites! You can whip them up with leftover vegetables or cheese into a lean omelet.
A light and subtly spiced Indian dessert. Although it needs to be made ahead, or even the previous evening, that takes only a few minutes!
This is a very rich dessert that involves no added sugar at all. Other fruits can be used, for instance raspberries go equally well with dark chocolate. The heavy cream can actually be replaced with coconut cream, which whips equally well, if you like the additional coconut taste. You can also replace the butter with coconut oil to really minimize the dairy/animal fat (you’ll only be left with what the chocolate contains). Either way, pour into small cups as you won’t need a big portion to feel satisfied.
Another classic Lebanese dessert that I’m sure is also known to other cultures under other names. It’s understated, which is really nice, not too sweet, and you can always play around with the flavour, for instance replacing the orange blossom water with vanilla extract, or lemon extract, amaretto and so on. I have not tried it with non-dairy milk but I think it would work, as the rice powder is the thickener. It won’t thicken a lot in step 3, but after a night in the fridge it will be thick enough to eat with a spoon.
It’s amazingly simple to make your own delicious fresh lemon curd, or any citrus curd you fancy: orange, blood orange, grapefruit… With the bigger fruits, you’ll only need 2-3T of the juice (which is the average yield of a lemon).
Crumbles are wonderfully easy and forgiving, and you can use almost any fruit. Apricots in particular have a honey-sweetness with a tangy accent that have me hooked!
One of the promises I made regarding this blog is there would NOT be paragraphs of Proustian moments (or dozens of photos) before you can get to the recipe. Instead I give you the root of all Proustian moments — the madeleine itself! Such a lovely little cake, not overly sweet, and very, well, French. It does dry out after the first day, and that makes a big difference, so I only make them for gatherings. Madeleine are usually made in specialized baking tins to give them their scallop shape, but mini cupcake tins work just as well, or use regular-size cupcake tins and underfill them.