Mediterranean Cheeseboard

Mediterranean Cheeseboard

I fell in love with putting together boards from cheese and charcuterie one to get things started to a colorful fruit one to end the feast. My clients LOVE seeing my boards, and they always request one for their party! It’s a perfect way to showcase seasonal, colorful ingredients that will impress the crowd. After being inspired by so many great ones on Instagram, I am excited to share the beginning of my ongoing How To Make Your Own Board series.

I created this beautiful Mediterranean Cheeseboard to kick off. I used Mediterranean cheese, such as halloumi, feta, and labneh, along with fresh, seasonal ingredients, like scallions, cherry tomatoes, and strawberries! It can feed the crowd on a budget, is super versatile (feel free to swap in and out whatever you want!), and is perfect for summer entertaining!

Also, this is vegetarian-friendly so it will please everyone! A gorgeous centerpiece at the party that can feed the crowd. I mean, what else can you ask for more?

I hope this cheeseboard has inspired you to have fun and create your own gorgeous boards, and I will continue to share more boards here and my IGTV channel so that YOU can be the new queen of entertaining.

Riz a Jej (Lebanese Chicken & Rice)

Riz a Jej, Lebanese Chicken & Rice

This traditional Lebanese chicken and rice dish is one of my favorites. Flavorful, seasoned rice, topped with juicy chicken and studded with nuts—it is, for me, the purest definition of comfort food. I have so many memories around this dish with my grandmother, so I wrote a sweet story around this for Food52. Hope you all get to taste my grandmother’s simple Lebanese chicken and rice dish.

PHOTO BY JULIA GARTLAND

Total Time: 1 hour
Makes: 4-6 people

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tbsp butter

  • 1 tbsp EVOO

  • 1 cup onion, chopped

  • 2 lbs ground beef or lamb

  • 2 cups long-grain white rice

  • 2 tbsp salt

  • 4 tbsp bahārāt (seven-pepper spice)

  • 4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken

  • 5 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade)

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1/2 cup cashews

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts

  • 1/4 cup silvered almonds

  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds

  • 1/4 cup pistachios

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. MAKE RICE: In a large pot, add the butter, olive oil, and onion and cook for 5 minutes until the onion softens. Make sure the onions don’t brown. Add the ground meat and cook, stirring regularly, for 10 minutes until the meat starts to brown. Add the rice, salt, and 2 tablespoons of the bahārāt to the pot, and cook for 2 minutes as you're stirring and coating the rice with the spices. Add 4 cups of chicken stock and bay leaves to the pot and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until the rice is fully cooked.

  2. MAKE CHICKEN: In a medium-sized pot, add shredded chicken and remaining 2 tbsp bahārāt. Mix well until fully seasoned. Add remaining 1 cup of chicken stock to the mixture and bring it to a gentle simmer on a low heat. This process will keep the chicken moist and flavorful.

  3. TOAST NUTS: Set the oven at the 450°F. In separate batches, toast each nut in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes until lightly golden. Once toasted, mix all the nuts together. Set aside.

  4. ASSEMBLE: To assemble, place the rice mixture on a serving platter and cover with shredded chicken. Garnish with toasted nuts.

Garlic-y Labneh (Labneh bi Toum)

Labneh bi Toum

Labneh: a creamy, tangy Middle Eastern yogurt strained until extra thick. It’s sort of a cross between whipped cream cheese and sour cream—but better. Lebanese people eat labneh with chips, chicken, kibbeh, fries. I shared my love of laBneh and how I used to watch my grandma making it in the kitchen, growing up on Food52. Hope you fall in love with labneh as much as I do.

PHOTO BY TY MECHAM

Total Time: 24 hrs
Makes: 1 pint

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 pounds non-fat Greek yogurt

  • 2 garlic cloves, grated or finely chopped

  • 1 lemon, juiced

  • 2 tsp kosher salt

  • Extra-virgin olive oil

  • Dried mint (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Line a large strainer with cheesecloth, and set into a large bowl.

  2. In a large bowl mix the yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, and salt, until fully incorporated.

  3. Place the yogurt mixture in the cheesecloth, and cover it by bringing the edges of the cloth towards the middle. Let drain in the fridge for 24 hours.

  4. After 24 hours, squeeze any excess liquid and place into an airtight container, or serve immediately, garnished with olive oil and dried mint, alongside warm pita and olives.

Blackberry Basil Soda

Blackberry Basil Soda

Here is a fun, spring drink for your next brunch or backyard party since it’s finally getting warm to sit outside. The basil brings the freshness and herbaceous flavors to the drink while blackberries give this drink such a cool, deep purple color.

If vodka is not your thing, you can replace with gin, or even tequila. Have fun with this drink! Play with different ingredients like lemon or lime to add a burst of zing. Basil is not your thing? Make thyme or rosemary simple syrup instead. Possibilities are limitless!

Total Time: 15 minutes
Makes: 1 pitcher

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 pints blackberries

  • 1 bunch of basil

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 cup vodka (or gin)

  • lime-flavored sparkling water

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Put blackberries in a blender with 2 cups of water until it becomes a juice consistency. Set that aside.

  2. Make basil simple syrup by boiling 1 cup of sugar, basil, and 1 cup of water in a pot until everything is dissolved for 5-7 minutes.

  3. Combine 2 cups of blackberry juice, 1/2 cup of basil simple syrup, vodka, and sparkling water in a pitcher. Mix it well. Garnish the drink with extra basil and blackberries.

Chocolate Beet Cake

Chocolate Beet Cake

Inspired by this gorgeous cake from Martha Stewart Kitchen, I decided to bake this extra moist, satisfying, chocolate cake. It’s perfect for a dessert after a holiday meal — it has just right amount of decadence without being heavy and beet flavors in a fudge-y chocolate batter make all the difference.

Of course, I had to add my twist to the cake, so I added Greek yogurt, which made the cake even more moist.

Instead of a dark chocolate glaze, I made a white chocolate ganache because spring has sprung! Vibrant fruits, such as blood orange, kiwi, or pomegranate seeds, make fantastic garnishes.

Total Time: 3 hours
Makes: 1 9-inch cake

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 medium beets, trimmed, peeled, and cut into 2-inch chunks

  • 1/4 cup and 2 tbsp of Greek yogurt

  • 2 cups AP flour

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda

  • 1 tbsp salt

  • 2 large eggs

  • 3/4 cup warm water

  • 1/4 cup canola oil

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 12 oz white chocolate

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

  • 1 cup heavy cream

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Puree cooked beets and 2 tbsp of Greek yogurt in a food processor until smooth.

  2. Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk in eggs, water, oil, vanilla, and 1 1/4 cups beet and Greek yogurt puree.

  3. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment, and coat with softened butter or cooking spray. Pour batter into the pan

  4. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean with no crumbs for about an hour. Check in and rotate the pan after 45 minutes.

  5. Once it’s done, take the cake out of the pan and let it cool completely.

  6. While the cake is cooling, make the ganache by pouring hot, heavy cream to a bowl of white chocolate and butter. Whisk it well until it’s fully incorporated.

  7. Pour chocolate glaze over the top, and let it set about for 30 minutes. Garnish with slices of blood orange.

Arugula Pesto

Arugula Pesto

I make a bomb kale pesto, whenever my friends come over that's what they ask for. Every client of mine is always asking me to add my pesto to the menu somehow. After coming up with some fun Hors D'oeuvres using the kale pesto I decided to take it simple - so I made this for dinner and it was too good I couldn't resist posting it! I hope this becomes your go to grilled cheese. The best part about the pesto is that you can make it - freeze it - use it whenever!!

Total Time: 10 minutes
Makes: 1 pint

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups arugula

  • 1 cup basil, with stems

  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast

  • 1/2 cup walnuts, or pumpkin seeds (if allergic)

  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 lemons, juiced

  • 1 tbsp salt

  • 1/2 tbsp black pepper, freshly cracked

INSTRUCTIONS:

1.    In a food processor, add arugula, basil, nutritional yeast, nut, and garlic clove. Pulse until well combined. 

2.   Add lemon juice, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Pulse while drizzling the extra virgin olive oil. Pulse for one additional minute until all combined. 

3.   Taste and adjust seasoning. 

Tangy Spring Salad with Za'atar Chicken

Tangy Spring Salad with Za'atar Chicken

Happy April! Is that spring that I smell? My favorite produce season is back from bundles of asparagus to crunchy snap peas. I put together this seasonal menu that is so easy to put together, but breathtaking to look at. It won’t take a long time to have a taste of spring on your plate.

Make my goat cheese peppery dressing so that you can always jazz up your favorite spring produce with something super flavorful to get things started.

Pick up some fresh vegetables from a farmer’s market — asparagus, snap peas, and arugula are so in season right now! With those vegetables, assemble this raw salad.

Make my easy za’atar chicken to complete a plate!

If you guys make any of my recipes, feel free to tag me on Instagram (@edouardmassih) so that I can see that you are all as excited as I am about cooking in spring!

Za'atar Crusted Chicken

Za’atar Crusted Chicken

People are always asking me different ways to use my favorite seasoning of all time — za’atar. I have to say the quickest and the most efficient way of adding a ton of flavor to protein is making this za’atar marinade. Unlike other marinades that might require some time, this one just needs a good rub on your choice of protein, and it’s good to go!

I added extra sesame seeds for its texture, and you can use this marinade on anything you would like from tofu to shrimp. It is a perfect, simple dinner that will be your go-to recipe.

Total Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 4-6 people

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup za’atar

  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds

  • 1 tbsp salt

  • 1 lemon zested and juiced

  • 3 tbsp EVOO

  • 2-3 lbs of chicken thighs, boneless, skinless

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a medium sized bowl, mix all the ingredients besides chicken thighs until well incorporated

  2. Add chicken thighs and marinate for 15-20 minutes

  3. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

  4. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper and spread the chicken on there. Cook for 12-15 minutes, until tender but still juicy.

  5. Garnish with scallions and fresh mint.