Today was Lebanese day!  Lebanon has 8 athletes participating in the 2016 Summer Olympics.  I will admit that one of the reasons that I chose Lebanon was because Klinger, a character from M*A*S*H, often talked about being of Lebanese descent.  Yes, I'm a geek and I'll own that!

For dinner we had Lebanese rez bel hummos and baklava.  While I enjoyed the process, I am really tired of standing!  It took quite a while to make the main dish and I could come up with several ways to make it go faster, but we wanted to make it as authentically as possible.  My oldest helped me make the baklava.  I think we may have overcooked the syrup a little bit as it got much harder once it was poured on than I thought it would get.  Still tasty, though!

The Verdict:
Everyone liked the rice & beans.  I was the only one who wasn't enamored.  There was just a little too much cinnamon for me - which is interesting because I love cinnamon usually.  The baklava was good. Almost like a hard candy, though.

Lebanese Rez bel Hummos (original recipes from Lebanese Recipes)
  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 cup ghee 
  • water
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 tsps salt
  • ¾ cup dried chick peas, soaked overnight
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ¾ cup orzo
  • 1 cup rice
  • ½ cup slivered almonds

In a large saucepan, brown the chicken in ¼ cup of the ghee. Add 8 cups of water, half the onions, the garlic, cinnamon stick and 2 tsp salt.  Bring to the boil, cover and continue to cook until chicken is tender enough for the meat to fall off the bones. (This took about an hour) While the chicken is cooking, drain the soaked chick peas and place in a large pot with 4 cups water. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer vigorously until just tender. (This took about 30 minutes) Drain and set aside.

In another saucepan, lightly brown the almonds in a little ghee. Remove and set aside.

Brown the ground beef in the same sauce pan.  Stir in the cinnamon, black pepper and the remainder of the onions and salt, and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from saucepan and set aside. Place the remaining ½ cup of ghee in the same saucepan and sauté the orzo until golden brown. Add the rice and sauté for a few more minutes.

Remove the chicken from the pot and allow to cool. Pour 5 cups of the boiling broth from the cooked chicken over the rice (make up quantity with water if necessary). Bring to the boil and add the cooked meat and onion mixture and the cooked chick peas. Stir well, cover, and turn down heat to simmer and cook until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed – approx 20 minutes. Turn off heat and allow standing for further 10 minutes.

Serve the chick pea and rice mixture on a platter, garnished with the almonds and pieces of the chicken.


Phyllo dough sheets
Butter to grease phyllo dough
1 cup almonds
1 cup walnuts
1 cup hazelnuts
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon and a little of cloves
1 TBSP Rose water
2 c. sugar
1 c. water
A few drops of lemon juice
1 tsp rose water

Preheat oven to 350F.  Spread nuts into a single layer on a baking sheet.  Roast for 10-15 minutes until fragrant. Remove from oven and let cool.  

Once cool, finely chop the nuts.  I used my food processor for this step.

Mix nuts with cinnamon, cloves. Add 1 TBSP rose water and mix. Set aside.

Brush baking dish with butter. (a 9x13 casserole dish would work well - we used a baking sheet and it wasn't as easy as it could have been)

Layer 8 pieces of phyllo in the dish, brushing each piece with butter before adding the next (keep the remaining dough covered with a damp towel).

Place the filling mixture over the dough.

Layer the rest of phyllo on top, brushing each with butter before adding the next. Brush the top piece with extra butter.

Use a sharp knife to cut the baklava to make strips, about 1 1/2 inches wide. Then make diagonal slices, about 1 1/2 inches apart, to create a diamond pattern. Garnish each slice with almonds.

Bake for 30 minutes in a preheated oven at 450 degrees F for the first 5 minutes, then the rest at 350 degrees F.  Remove from oven.

While baklava is cooling, make the syrup.  Combine the sugar, water, lemon juice and rose water and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Allow to boil for 10 to 15 minutes or until it thickens slightly. Don't overcook! Pour over the baklava; let soak, uncovered.

Garnish with some chopped nuts (we used walnuts)

Recut the lines to ensure the pieces of baklava are separated and serve.

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