Fattoush Salad

lebanese fattoush salad - paramount fine foods - restaurant

lebanese fattoush salad by lebanese paramount fine foods

So, I have a bit of a girl confession. I tend to be one of those people that rarely orders salad when I’m dining out. I know. Given the dining stereotype, that may be a strange thing to admit…or not if you’re not in favour of that stereotype ;)  I just find that I make delicious salads at home and tend to order things when I’m dining out that are tedious for me to make (like sushi) and things I have yet to sample.

That said, this particular salad is one that I always — always! — order when I’m out eating at Middle-eastern restaurants. Fattoush is a Lebanese salad made with lettuce, vegetables, herbs and — the best part — toasted or fried pita bread, which act like croutons in this salad. The dressing is tart and wonderful with the addition of lemon and sumac (a reddish-purple powder which is tart and come from a fruit plant) This version if from an amazing lebanese restaurant “Paramount Fine Foods” and it doesn’t disappoint!

lebanese fattoush salad

The vegetables should be cut in large, rustic chunks (about 1-inch). You can use any colour bell peppers you have: red, yellow, orange — or a combination of all! The recipe calls for 1 radish but I’ve added 2 small radish and I’ve increased the amount of cucumber used for extra freshness!

lebanese fattoush salad (2)

This is a fantastic way to utilize stale pita. (You can also bake these up as a snack and dip them in hummus!) The restaurant deep-fries their pita chips but I prefer to bake mine. I’m often a proponent for frying-being-better-than-baking when it come to some delicious little savoury things, but I find that baking these chips gives them the wonderful flavour of the olive oil and makes them super crispy!

lebanese fattoush salad (3)

You’ll have to decide how much lemon you want in the dressing (1/4 cup to 1/2 cup) and remember to add it slowly and taste along the way. I found that adding 1/4 cup of lemon juice which the restaurant’s recipe called for, was too tart for my likely so I’ve decided to add 1/8 cup instead. Sumac gives fattoush its distinctive tart/sour taste as well so when the lemon and sumac mix, the tartness of the dressing is almost twice as much so mix your dressing carefully to avoid too much acidity. Also, you can use fresh or dried mint, but I find dried mint actually tastes more authentic in this salad. 

fattoush saladlebanese fattoush salad (8)

Fattoush Salad

Pita Chips
1 pita bread (about 10 inches/25 cm)
Extra-virgin olive oil

Salad
5 cups     romaine lettuce, chopped (1 jumbo romaine heart)

1     tomato, chopped (or 10 cherry tomatoes, cut in half) 
1     red, yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
3-inch (5-cm) piece     English cucumber, halved, thinly sliced in half moons
2     small radish, halved, thinly sliced into half moons
1 tablespoon     red onion, minced
1/2 cup     curly parsley, finely chopped (about a quarter of a bunch)
1/8-1/4 cup (30-60 ml)     fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons (30 ml)     extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons (10 ml)     ground sumac
2 teaspoons (10 ml)     dried mint (or very finely chopped fresh mint)

Pita Chips: Carefully separate the pita into 2 large circles. Place on top of each other on cutting board. Cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) squares. Alternatively, use clean scissors or cooking shears to cut the pieces of pita. Spread the pieces in a single layer on baking sheet lined with foil (to make for easier clean-up). Drizzle with olive oil. Bake in preheated 375°F (190°C) oven 6-7 minutes or until browned and crisp. Set aside to cool the pitas. (Store in airtight container if not using immediately.)

For the Salad: In medium mixing bowl, combine romaine, tomato, bell peppers, cucumber, radish, onion and parsley. Toss well.

In small bowl, whisk lemon (add the 1/8 cup first then taste – if the lemon is very acidic, there is no need to add the other 1/8 cup). Then add the oil, sumac and mint. Add to salad; Toss well. Add pita chips. Toss well. Serve immediately so the pita will remain crispy.

Yield: 4 to 6 side servings

Veal Scallopini with Saffron Mushroom Sauce

veal scallopini with saffron mushroom sauce (8) - Copyveal scallopini with saffron mushroom sauce (7)

There is something decadent and sophisticated about a beautiful saffron sauce which is delicately flavoured. What’s more decadent is pairing that sauce with veal scallopini to create a beautiful and elegant meal. This dish is completely worthy of any she-she Italian restaurant and is a wonderful meal to serve on a special occasion! The cream in the sauce is certainly not conducive to the diet-conscious but, hey, we all require a little decadence from time to time! This is super easy to put together but your guests will think you spent hours making it. This elegant dish will instantly give you rock-star status in the kitchen!

veal scallopini with saffron mushroom sauce

You’ll have to pound the chicken to about 1/4 of an inch thick. The meat will become tender and will cook in no time. 

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PERFECTLY POACHED EGGS — Experimenting with many techniques and tips to achieve egg-poaching perfection!

perfectly poached eggs (13)

perfectly poached eggs (12)

There are few things which incite fear in a home cook as much as poaching a simple egg. Google searches on how to poach an egg will yield considerable results with varying techniques and tips on how to poach an egg to perfection. Should vinegar be added to the water?; should you create a whirlpool vortex in the water?; should you put the egg in cling wrap?; should you add salt to the water?… and the list goes on.  I’ve poached many an egg in the past but, I have to admit, that my poached eggs are not always perfect. So why the sudden inclination to perfect my egg poaching technique? Because I’m always in search of perfection when it comes to cooking and so…why not? ;)

In the pursuit of egg-poaching perfection, I deferred to the likes of Heston Blumenthal, Gordon Ramsey, Jamie Oliver and countless others chefs who know a thing or two about poaching an egg. I’ve tried out all their recipes, techniques and tips to master the poached egg and here are my results.

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1. FRESH EGGS: First things first. You MUST start with a fresh egg. Unless you get your eggs straight from a chicken, it can be hard to tell if your eggs are fresh or not even with the expiration date listed on the egg carton. (You can rely on the ‘Julian date’ – a three digit number on the carton which indicates the day of the year the eggs were packed, but if you’re like me, I discard the egg carton after I purchase them so I can’t rely on that.)

One simple way to know if your egg is fresh is to fill a clear bowl or measuring cup with water and gently drop your egg in it. If the egg stays on it side (see above photograph) it is fresh. If the egg stands on its head (i.e. not on its side) or starts to float, it is may still be good to cook and eat but not great for poaching. There’s a small air pocket inside an egg and when the egg is not as fresh, the air pocket grows as the inside of the egg shrinks, causing it to float. Eggs which are not fresh will have watery egg whites which will cause your egg whites to float to the top of the pot when poaching and creating a spindley mess on the surface, leaving you with more of a poached egg yolk and not so much egg white!

perfectly poached eggs (9)

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