It has always struck me that the first thing that happens whenever someone walks up the front steps and enters the home of anyone in my family, they are welcomed with a tall glass of ice water. It’s our pineapple, our refreshment. As my father used to say: don’t even ask them. Just put the glass out there, and watch what happens (they’ll drink). That he anticipated a need was a simple, but true, satisfaction.

Many of you have been here at Rose Water & Orange Blossoms from the start, and a great many of you have just walked up the front steps recently. Old and new friends, welcome. Thank you so very much to everyone who last week found this place worthy of a vote (and the time that took) in Saveur’s Best Food Blog Awards—there were so many great blogs in the running, and in the end, we won!  Your support means the world to me, and I am honored every day to share in our love for fresh and heritage Lebanese recipes, good stories, and beautiful photography—it’s my way of handing you a tall drink of water, in hopes you’re refreshed, in hopes you’ll come back often.

 

I’ve been enjoying hearing from cooks around the country who are planning their menus for Easter, and asking about Lebanese recipes to make for their families and friends. People like my Aunt Louise have already rolled at least a good hundred grape leaves and put them in the freezer, so when it’s go time, they’re ready. She’s putting out a spread, as she always does, that is not just a feast, but a serious feat, given all of the dishes she makes.

 

 

How cool is it that spending Easter with my soon-to-be in-laws, as I will this year, is so much like spending it with my own family (miss you all). As my mother says, because Dan and I are both Lebanese and come from such similar families, we “speak the same language.” And yes, I call Dan’s mother Aunt Louise. But he is not my cousin. No, not even a little bit. She is an aunt by affection, not blood, and I’m quite content to keep right on calling her that after the wedding. Don’t you think so?! It’s fun making people wonder, anyway.

So the menu, for a meal that falls anytime after 11 a.m.—for us, holiday meals always take place at about 2 p.m. One meal for the day, but with plenty of grazing before and again in the evening. Here is something of what goes on in the kitchen at Aunt Louise’s (her menu, believe it or not, is far more extensive). It’s not unlike what went down at Aunt Hilda’s (that’s a blood aunt, my father’s sister), and then not surprising that the two of them were best friends. They spoke the same language, too.

Grape Leaf Rolls, Vegetarian or Meat & Rice
Always, at every big meal.

 Spinach Fatayar
Some work. Worth it.

Pink Deviled Eggs with Yogurt and Mint
Not a tradition here, but maybe time to start one.

Lamb Lollipops with Fresh Mint Sauce
One of life’s great pleasures. 

Kibbeh Sahnieh
We’ll also eat it raw, the favorite. 

Za’atar Roasted Potatoes
A mid-winter, mid-manuscript discovery for me this year. It’s here to stay. 

Fattoush Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
Big and crunchy. 

White Asparagus with Pistachio Oil
For the spring we wish we were having in Michigan. 

Ka’ik Spiced Sweet Bread with Rose Water Milk Glaze
Aunt Louise’s specialty of the season.

Lemon Meringue Tart, the Most Extraordinary
My specialty of the season.

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