Technique: How to prep oranges for candied peel

The OCD-afflicted among us are going to enjoy the organized manner in which it’s best to peel citrus for candying. I have never been one to indulge in the wreckless abandon of tearing off the skin of an orange willy nilly until the fruit is naked. No, I give myself little gold stars on each…

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Lebanese talami bread; ask and you shall receive.

Last Thanksgiving was my first one away from my family. That may sound wacky to some given that I’m not exactly a kid, but for the Lebanese among us it probably sounds about right. Our families tend to stay close, tight knit, which has its rewards (and, of course, its challenges). My plan to stay…

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Technique: How to proof yeast

There was one aspect of culinary school that could, if you wanted, be compared to law school: every week officially, and every day casually, we were asked by our instructor Frances to recite what we knew about the various concepts and methods we were learning. There weren’t any torts, but there were tortes, along with…

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Ingredient: Flour

Get ready, because we are baking bread this week. Chewy, airy, crisp-on-the-bottom talami. Bread baking enjoys a longstanding, deep tradition in my family. The women always baked by the tons, every week, to have bread on the table for their families each day. Now the rest of us weakling next-generation bakers are just trying to…

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Hummus bi Tahini, with a secret ingredient

A few years ago, I went to a luncheon of the Chicago Culinary Historians at Big Bowl Asian restaurant. The inspiration for the restaurant, along with the very popular Wow Bao restaurants in Chicago, is Bruce Cost, who was the speaker for the luncheon that day. Bruce has been a major force in bringing the…

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Technique: How to prepare dried chickpeas

I feel guilty every time I open a can of chickpeas. That’s because I know that starting with dried chickpeas is more economical and no doubt healthier, and it’s what my Sitto always did. She never, ever used canned. I never, ever used dried. That is, until recently, when I got the hang of preparing…

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Ingredient: Chickpeas

I know: it ain’t no cut-out sugar cookie with royal icing. Call it garbanzo bean, chickpea, or the Arabic hummus—this member of the legume family shows up with some frequency on the Lebanese table. And rightfully so. Chickpeas are super healthy, high in protein and fiber. The peas are just that—seeds of a pod, also…

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Can we talk sugar?

I have something important to tell you. It’s important to me, and may not be quite so to you, but I need to get it off my chest. You know I love Lebanese cuisine and all flavors Middle Eastern. That my grandparents on both sides were all Lebanese immigrants. And that I grew up in…

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