Category Archives: Food

Bethany Kehdy’s The Jewelled Kitchen Is The Telegraph’s Cookbook Of The Week

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I like food blogs and I’ve been following for a couple of years now Bethany’s website [DirtyKitchenSecrets]. I love how passionate she is about her job and the amount of time and effort she puts into every post she writes. I’ve also had the chance to talk to her on several occasions and was supposed to meet her in Lebanon but it didn’t work out (hopefully on her next trip).

In case you’re still wondering who Bethany Kehdy is, She’s a Lebanese-American who grew up in the Lebanese mountains and spent a lot of time as a child “watching and learning via osmosis the art of Middle Eastern food preparation, cooking and preserving from my grandmother, dad and aunties”. She started DirtyKitchenSecrets back in 2008, launched Taste Lebanon culinary journey across Lebanon, has been featured in dozens of websites and publications and is a proud ambassador of Lebanese cuisine in the world.

She’s also one of the people behind the awesome “Taste Lebanon” video that went viral and helped portray a great image of Lebanon and Lebanese Food.

[YouTube]
Meet Bethany Kehdy

The only thing missing in Bethany’s career was a cookbook and she recently launched her debut cookbook entitled “The Jewelled Kitchen” after 2 years of hard work. The book was selected as the Cookbook of the Week by The Telegraph and here’s what they had to say about it:

Kehdy is a Texas-born former Miss Lebanon whose blog, Dirty Kitchen Secrets, offers a robust reinterpretation of the food of the Middle East and north Africa, designed for modern living. This book is a by-product – a collection of recipes for things such as freekeh with lamb and rhubarb, spiced squid, lentil and tamarind pilaf, and stuffed quinces. Evaporated milk pudding is based on the Middle Eastern milk flan muhallabiah.

I always wanted to learn how to cook and I think I am going to start with Bethany’s book. I’ll try make some Muhallabiah which doesn’t look that complicated (I hope).

Evaporated milk pudding
Serves 4

200ml milk
200ml evaporated milk or unsweetened condensed milk
40g caster sugar
3 tbsp cornflour
Large pinch ground cardamom
Rosewater
1 tbsp Arabic coffee or espresso beans, or dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 tbsp pistachios, finely chopped
Put the milk, evaporated milk, sugar, cornflour and cardamom in a heavy-based saucepan and whisk to combine. Put the pan over a medium-low heat and bring to the boil, whisking continuously until thickened. When the mixture coats the back of the spoon, remove from the heat. Pour the mixture through a fine sieve into a pouring jug.

Add a few drops of rosewater and leave to cool for 10-15 minutes. Pour the mixture into glasses or bowls, cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge until set (2-3 hours). To serve, sprinkle with the coffee beans and the pistachios.

I am passing by Librairie Antoine today to see if they have the book and get it. You can order the book or download the Kindle edition on [Amazon].

How To Spend One Day In Lebanon: Day2

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Lebanon is considered one of the oldest wine-producing countries in the world, with the majority of the vineyards located in the Beqaa Valley. These vineyards are worth visiting and the full-day schedule I am proposing is suitable for families, couples, groups of tourists or just a group of friends.

Day2: Chtaura (Massabni or Hedwen) -> Chateau Ksara -> Chateau Kefraya or Massaya -> Zahle (Saydit Zahle) -> Beirut

1- Waking up:
It is preferable to leave around 8:30 – 9:00 am for that trip as you could encounter a lot of traffic if you’re late and driving on the Dahr el Baydar road is quite dangerous with all the crazy and reckless trucks and vans.

2- Breakfast at Hedwan or Massabni
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Try to skip breakfast (or eat lightly) at the hotel or wherever you are staying as there are two breakfast places that you have to try on your way to the Bekaa.

Hedwan and Massabni both have some of the best Labneh you could ever taste. Try also the Ricotta and honey sandwich. They all come in Markouk bread and you could eat 1 or 2 easily if you’re hungry. Both are located in Chtaura and visible on the highway.

3- Chateau Ksara
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After having breakfast, head to Chateau Ksara for a visit of the caves and some wine tasting. The caves are very old and were found by the Jesuit Fathers and well maintained back in the 19th century. The whole visit shouldn’t take more than an hour, but is very informative. If you want more details on how to get there and visiting hours, check Ksara’s website [Here].

4- Chateau Kefraya or Massaya

Chateau Kefraya

Head back to Chtaura and then either to Chateau Kefraya or Massaya. Both are much bigger and more commercial than Ksara, are situated next to the vineyards and offer tourists an open buffet with open wine and arak in their restaurants and venues, as well as other activities. I honestly have only been to Kefraya only but few friends have told me about Massaya as well.

Note: As mentioned in my review of Chateau Kefraya, the rides to the vineyards are a bit boring as there’s nothing really worth seeing, so if you insist on going, I recommend you choose the shortest ride.

All the information you need on Kefraya and Massaya are on their websites respectively [Kefraya] [Massaya].

PS: If you are a wine lover, buy your bottles at the above mentioned venues as they are cheaper than the market.

5- Quick Visit to Zahle, Saydit Zahle Church
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After being done with lunch, you have two options here:
1- Go visit Zahle and spend the night in one of the city’s hotels.
2- Make a quick visit to Our Lady of Zahle and head back to Beirut before it gets dark.

If you select Option2, make sure you get some proper rest at Kefraya or Massaya (just by lying down in the gardens) because the road to Beirut is long and tiring. I’ve done it a million times and still find it annoying.

6- Back in Beirut

Picture taken from Zaitunaybay.com

By the time you are back in Beirut, you will have to rest for a couple of hours before heading back out. A walk on the Zaytunay bay if you’re in Beirut would be nice afterwards, followed by drinks in Gemmayze, Mar Mikhail or Hamra. If you are a Shisha lover, you will find plenty of cafes in Beirut and outside it serving them.

If you are staying in Keserwan, you can also do the same by walking in the Jounieh Souks.

Transportation:
I would recommend for such a trip (If you don’t have cars) to rent a van or mini-bus or taxi, depending on the number of people going. You can ask your hotel or any taxi company for such a service and they will be more than happy to assist you.

In case you missed Day1, you can check it out [Here].