I was never much of a soup maker, but in recent years I have become an avid soup maker. Soup can be so delicious. So warming, so surprising, so comfort food. You know onion soup, but this is a great Arabic variation.
We know asparagus from traditional preparations. In our restaurant we also prepare them in the Middle Eastern way. In this case with a delicious spicy lima bean puree and a fresh crunchy hazelnut pesto. The asparagus is still deliciously crispy but cooked through, straight out of the oven. Sensational, nothing less.
This is not ‘an easy does it’ soup. It keeps you busy. And as it should be, you will be generously rewarded for that. It is a delicious soup. The orange subtly surprises you. The substance is delicious. It looks amazing. In short, go make that soup. Do not hesitate.
Kibbeh is a household name in the Middle East. It is a dish with a bottom and top layer of bulgur with ‘something’. In this case, this is squash. And between those two layers there is something delicious. In this recipe, these are macadamia nuts and caramelized onion. It’s a very tasty dish, surprising when you cut it open (hence this photo) and your table mates will go wild.
Leek is such a comfort food. In this dish, some guests do not even recognize the leek. If I were leek, I would take that as a compliment. That is how it is meant. The combination with the tomato, the crunchy almonds and the surprising Arak (Arabic variant of Ouzo/Pernod) makes it a dish where the fingers point to approvingly during dinner.
In the summer of 2021, we had lunch at the plant-based restaurant ONA near Bordeaux, which has a Michelin star. With our coffee and tea we got ‘miel de pisenlit’. Honey from dandelions. Honey?, I asked. In a plant-based restaurant? But no bee was involved in this honey. It was so delicious that I really wanted to make it myself. Had to wait a year for the dandelions to return. Now it’s time. And the result is astonishingly delicious. Honey that isn’t technically honey, but it tastes like it and is truly delicious.
Leek is of course delicious anyway, if properly cooked. Bulgur is delicious anyway, provided you choose the right coarseness for the dish. Seven-spice powder is a wonderful powerhouse in any case, provided you do not use too much and not too little of it. All in all, a delicious dish. And also quick and easy to make.
I do not know why. You wrap something in filo dough and it immediately becomes spectacular. In the end it is a simple dish, but it does not look and taste simple. Spinach becomes the star of the dish, filo dough plays a modest but not unimportant role. All in all, the combination is fatally delicious and a stunning picture on the table.
As a guest at the restaurant said recently, “You get a spoon with something brown on it and you think, ‘Okay.’ And then you take a bite and you think: ‘woh’. That’s in short what you should think about this lentil puree. Tasteful, lovely. Can be eaten at room temperature or warm. As an appetizer or part of a mezze or menu. And the crispy fried red onion gives just that little bit of bite that you would like to have with it.
You have to admit it, green beans are just a really boring vegetable. Not interesting at all. Too soft quite quickly. Overcooked really. Really boring. Unless, of course, you do something extraordinary with them and they become the center of your feast. The French often serve them with some butter and some crushed garlic. I do this all the time as well. This is a variation on that theme, but next level.
Orange with fennel and red onion. Not very obvious, until you taste it. Then you understand completely. Perfect combination, brings out the best in each other without one ingredient dominating. Delicious.
I don’t know what you’re thinking when you read this, but I immediately thought: ai ai ai, this is probably one of the best soups ever. And that’s exactly what it is. Hands down. In the restaurant I never make enough of this soup. Guests all want a second serving. If it is up to them of course. It is so surprising. So delicious. The next day you still think about that soup. You start talking about it. You want to make it yourself. That kind of soup.
Using the so called white gold for a salad. Yes, I also had to cross a threshold. But, I’m making this salad from ‘broken’ asparagus. And unfortunately, or in this case fortunately, that sometimes happens. So in this case, we turn the negative into something great. This salad brings out everything in an asparagus that makes it so delicious.
From my open kitchen in the restaurant I am in contact with all the guests. I once made this dish as a starter. Bit exciting, broad beans may not be an easy vegetable. That’s what I thought. But the guests were blown away? How do you get this so delicious? Is it really just this and that? Can’t be true, right? Well it is. Try it yourself.
My mother and my former mother-in-law could make the most delicious asparagus soup, in my opinion. And for years I have been trying to make that delicious soup. Without luck. It just didn’t have what it should have. Until now. All of a sudden. Totally unexpected. Carelessly almost. This soup does not resemble that of the mothers(-in-law), but it is incredibly tasty anyway. Better? Yes, even better maybe. Party time.
Asparagus. When they are in season I can’t get enough of them. Joris is born and raised in the asparagus region of the Netherlands. We always get them from Annie in Olland. It was time to prepare them with a hint of Middle East. And that’s exactly what we did. Joris didn’t stop raving about it, he liked it so much. Mission accomplished.
I love pearl couscous. The structure of it, the little balls in your mouth, just hard enough, but also just soft enough. They take in the taste of what’s around them nicely. Delicious with this spinach and semi-dried tomatoes. Also delicious at room temperature the next day as a salad.
Falafel is, of course, incredibly tasty on its own, if it is made with the right recipe, and if it is made with love. Part of a mezze. In a pita bread with salad and some hummus. But when you cut them open and fill them with some delicious mixture, they almost take on a royal allure. You can fill with hummus, with muhammara, with a yoghurt/cucumber filling… the possibilities are endless.
Comfort food to the max. Creamy. Nutricious. A little bit spicy but not too much. Enough bite. Yogurt at its best. Soup in a slightly different way. But in a way you ‘should’ have it more often. Because it is so good.
Now, there’s comfort food and comfort food. This is the ultimate version of it. And just what you expect from comfort food, it takes hours and hours for it to be at its best. But then, but then… Lima beans, the dry ones, become so very soft after spending all these hours in the pan. You can hardly imagine that they can get so soft at all. It is the secret of adding olive oil in the water. Patience. Endless soft boiling water. And then dip with some spicy shatta, crispy red onion and tasty flatbread until you drop.
Tabbouleh is really one of the great classics in Lebanese cuisine. There are of course variations on the theme and this is one of them. Incredibly soft in taste, surprising with its different flavors that are incorporated. A feast for the eyes and the other senses.
This is a wonderfully flavorful dish. Lentils, rice, great spices. And the spiciness of the baked eggplant gives the whole dish a great lift.
Paella, the colour, the smell, the taste and the great mouthfeel. Everything comes together here. Every bite tastes slightly different. Simply delicious. And it is an eye catcher of course. As a pleasant extra.
Look, za’atar and I, it’s simply a love affair. Unconditional love. Until death do us part. And if you also put it on delicious crunchy home-baked crackers, you get a glimpse of paradise. According to myself that is.
Dips, sauces, spreads … I love them. With vegetables, on a cracker, just like that… this is one of them. Delicious, surprising also because of the dried mint in it. You don’t expect that. If you don’t know it’s in there…
I can never eat enough spinach. In every variation, this is my all-time favorite vegetable. In this pie, spinach doesn’t attract all the attention, but more than enough to please me. The caramelized onion and walnuts make it a festive little dish. It’s a winner. Delicious as an appetizer, snack or side dish.
If you love garlic, and have a little bit of patience, this is totally your recipe. You can serve this as a dip, or use it with vegetables, for example. It is a very classic Lebanese dip/sauce that is often standard on the table. Just for the sake of it. Simply because it cannot be missed.
Sometimes you think that lentils can no longer surprise you. That you now know them from all sides. And believe me, I like lentils so much that I put them on the table very often. This is a new variant. And one that we had two days in a row, we liked it that much.
I’m not a bread eater. I don’t really like bread. With the exception of a warm crispy ‘kaak’ and this bulgur bread. This is really exactly what I’m looking for in a loaf of bread. My eyes widened, my head nodded approvingly, I was in my own delicious world full of taste sensation for a few minutes before I realised again that I was sitting at the table with others. That kind of bread.
It’s always a bit difficult when it comes to pies. As long as the dough is good. Exactly soft enough. Just crunchy enough. Evenly. And the filling also matches the amount of dough. In that regard, these pies simply score a 10. In every way really. Just super successful as a dish. Or it can also be served as a snack.