Hors D'oeuvres

Falafel Varenyky

Lebnaese Varenyky

A few years ago, I found this beautiful, mostly plant-based food blog, called The New Baguette. After many years of following her on Instagram, I finally messaged Alex, who runs The New Baguette, hoping that we could collaborate on fun recipes together. After bouncing a few ideas with each other, Alex told me about varenyky, Ukrainian stuffed dumplings.

I have always been intrigued by dumplings from different cultures. Empanadas from Mexico. Mandu from Korea. Sambousek from Lebanon. Ravioli from Italy! They are all basically savory fillings, wrapped in a dough, and living in Greenpoint, I eat my fair share of Polish pierogis.

Alex is Ukrainian, and when she introduced me to her take on traditional varenyky with potato filling and fried onions, I immediately thought of ways to add my Lebanese twist — falafel!

We decided to have fun with the recipes by making different falafel fillings with different doughs. Since it was our first time making this together, we weren’t sure how these would come out, but we were pleasantly surprised how delicious they were. Herbaceous, fresh flavors of falafel fillings worked so well with chewy, crispy dough.

For Basic Falafel Varenyky, I kept things simple but added a bit of turmeric to the dough for extra color. The falafel filling is a standard falafel recipe, so if you want to make falafels, you can simply omit the dough and fry the filling alone. Just like making dumplings, you add the filling and close the dough into a half-moon shape and pinch the ending so that they are stuck together. It’s super easy and no need to feel intimidated!

Now you have the basic version, have a little fun by adding different flavors and mix & match! Alex and I made two other varieties, inspired by the original.

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These varenyk are great as they are, but they are even better with flavorful dipping sauce. Alex has a great recipe, cilantro-lime tahini dressing, which pairs so well with these varenyk. It’s tangy, bright, and just full of flavors!

Sesame Kibbeh + Beet Yogurt

Sesame Kibbeh + Beet Yogurt

Kibbeh is an essential dish to lebanese cuisine. There are various different forms, and techniques used to make kibbeh. You can bake it, fry it, or grill it. Make it into balls, stuffed and baked, or crispy and flat. During my last trip to Lebanon I learned how to form the kibbeh balls. They look like footballs - I might not be an expert yet but I tried!

The beet yogurt steals the show - it is refreshing and delicious, complimenting kibbeh so well. Use it as a dip for your next mezze spread! 

Total Time: 40 minutes
Serves: 5-6 people

Kibbeh:

  • 1/2 cup fine bulgur

  • 1 onion, peeled

  • 2 tbsp buharat-7 pepper seasoning (cumin, coriander, clove, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, black pepper)

  • 1 lb lamb, ground

  • 1 lb beef, ground

  • 1/2 cup white sesame seeds, roasted

  • 1.5 tbsp kosher salt

Beet Yogurt:

  • 2 cups greek yogurt

  • 3-4 roasted or boiled beets

  • 1/2 lemon, juiced

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 tbsp kosher salt

INSTRUCTIONS

Kibbeh:

  1. Preheat your oven to 450F. 

  2. In a medium size bowl, soak the bulgur with lukewarm water for 10 minutes.  

  3. Place the onion and 1 tbsp of buharat in a food processor and pulse for 60-90 seconds or until well-minced.

  4. In a large bowl mix the ground beef and ground lamb with the onion mixture, the remainder of the buharat, salt, drained bulgur, and sesame seeds.

  5. Mix well and until fully combined. 

  6. Drizzle olive oil on a sheet tray and form footballs with the meat mixture, by pinching the ends. Put the finished, football-shaped mixture on the sheet tray.

  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

  8. Serve with the beet yogurt dip.

Beet Yogurt:

  1. In one easy step, add all the ingredients into a food processor and mix well until well combined! Taste for salt – and adjust seasoning.

  2. Garnish with roasted pumpkin seeds.

  3. Cheers!

Salted Tahini Chocolate Tart (GF)

Salted Tahini Chocolate Tart (GF)

I spent some time last week in the kitchen with the wonderful Rachel Simons - one of the three brains behind my favorite tahini, Seed and Mill! We used my background as the inspiration for this gluten free dessert. With an oat gluten free crust, tahini, and dried rose petals this is the perfect chocolate bite! We made this tart two ways: a large tart you can serve at your next dinner party, or mini tarts to accompany your coffee. Check out Rachel's amazing work right here!!

Enjoy the recipe - comment below and let me know if you try it out!

Photos by Edouard Massih & Rachel Simons

Total Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 10-12 people

Gluten Free Oat Crust:

  • 1.5 cup old-fashioned oats

  • .75 cup almond flour

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

  • 1/2 cup honey

  • 1 tsp kosher salt

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Tahini Chocolate Filling:

  • 11.5 oz dark chocolate chips

  • 11.5 oz milk chocolate chips

  • 2 cup heavy cream

  • 1/4 cup tahini

  • 2 tbsp rosewater

Salted Topping:

  • Flaky sea salt

  • Any nut & seeds (pistachio, pistachio seeds, almonds, sesame seeds)

INSTRUCTIONS

Crust:

1.    Preheat the oven to 350F. In a food processor, pulse the oats, whole wheat flour, butter, honey, salt, and cinnamon until ground and wet sand like. 

2.   Press the crust mixture into desired tart shell. Bake until golden brown, and crispy about 25-30 minutes (10-15 min for mini).

3.    When ready, transfer to a wired rack and let the crust cool. 

Filling:

1.      Pour the cream into a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. 

2.     Place the chocolate into a large bowl, and pour the cream over it. Let it sit for 2 minutes until the chocolate has softened are start mixing the chocolate mixture. 

3.     Add tahini, and rosewater. Mix until chocolate has been fully incorporated, and the chocolate filling is thick and smooth. 

4.     Pour the chocolate filling into the tart crust, tap the tart against the countertop to pop any air bubbles. 

5.     Place the tart in the fridge, and let chill for 1-2 hours. 

6.     To serve: When ready let the tart come to room temperature for 20 minutes. Slice the tart with a warm knife, Finish with sea salt, nuts, and seeds. 

Cheers!

 

Mini Man'oushe

Mini Man'oushe

The traditional and best way to start your morning in the Middle East is with a man'oushe in hand. A man'oushe is a flatbread that is normally made with zaatar, and finished with fresh veggies rolled up and eaten like a sandwich. If you get it at the right place, fresh out of the oven - it is to die for. Crunchy, simple and delicious. I decided to make this breakfast essential into a mini hors d'oeuvre to add to my spring menu! With different toppings and sauces this can be catered for any event or client! 

The dough recipe is from David Lebovitz' website !!

Enjoy the recipe - comment below and let me know if you try it out!

Photos by Edouard Massih

Total Time: 2 - 2.5 hours
Serves: 4-5 people

Dough:

  • 1 cup tepid water (slightly warmer than room temp)

  • 1 tsp active dry yeast

  • 1 tsp sugar

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 2.5 cups (350g) AP flour

  • 1.5 tsp sea salt

Za'atar Topping:

  • 1/4 cup za'atar

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • salt to taste

Pizza Topping:

  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce

  • 1 cup shredded cheese

  • 6-8 sliced mushrooms

INSTRUCTIONS

Dough Making:

1.    In a stand mixer bowl, activate the yeast by sprinkling it over the water along with the sugar. Let sit in a warm place until the yeast starts to bubble, about 10 minutes. 

2.   Using a dough hook attachment, stir in the olive oil, flour and salt. Mix on medium-high speed for 5 minutes - until the dough becomes a smooth ball, but is sticky when touched by your finger. The dough should start pulling off the edges of the mixing bowl.

3.   Cover the dough in the bowl with a kitchen towel, and let it rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled in volume - about 1.5 hours. 

4.    When the dough has doubled in volume, roll it out onto a lightly floured countertop, and divide the dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece of dough out, until the dough starts to resist. Cut the dough into small circles with a circle cutter. Then roll again to stretch the mini circles. 

Topping & Baking:

1.      When ready - preheat the oven to 450F. 

2.     Line a sheet tray with parchment paper, drizzle with olive oil, and start lining up the man'oushe circles the parchment paper. 

3.     In a small bowl, mix the za'atar and extra virgin olive oil to make the za'atar spread

4.     Spread the za'atar mixture on half of the man'oushe circles, and spread tomato sauce on the other half.

5.     Finish the pizza man'oushe with a little cheese, and a slice of mushroom. 

6.     Bake the man'oushe for 5-7 minutes or until golden, and crispy. 

7.   Serve warm, or cool down and freeze for later use. 

Cheers!