In honor of the upcoming 58th Annual Lebanese Dinner at Vicksburg’s St. George Orthodox Church, Ellis Nassour shared these recipes from the cookbook, “The Women of St. George Present T’ai Bien: A ‘Delicious’ Collection of Lebanese Recipes.” (T’ai bien translates as “tastes good”).
Tabouli (Cracked Wheat and Vegetable Salad)
1 c. bulgur (cracked wheat)
4 c. water
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 bunch parsley, chopped
8 springs fresh mint, finely chopped (or 3 tbsp. dried mint)
4 large tomatoes, peeled (optional) and chopped
Juice of 4 lemons or ½ c. lemon juice
½ c. olive oil
½ tsp. cinnamon
Soak wheat in water for about 30 minutes or until soft. Squeeze wheat thoroughly dry. Mix ingredients. Delicious served in leaves of lettuce or tender grape leaves.
2 ½ c. bulgur (cracked wheat)
2 lbs. lean double-ground lamb (traditional) or beef
2 large onions, finely grated or ground
1 tbsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. red pepper (optional)
¼ tsp. cinnamon
Prepare wheat accordingly. In large bowl, mix and knead ingredients, folding over frequently and gently squeezing through fingers. Keep a bowl of ice water handy in order to keep hands wet.
Hoshwee (stuffing for fried or raw kibbee or the middle layer for baked kibbee)
2 lbs. double-ground beef or lamb
1 ½ sticks butter or margarine
2 large onions, finely chopped
¾ c. pine nuts
Salt, black pepper, red pepper and cinnamon to taste
Lightly brown pine nuts in butter or margarine. Remove pine nuts and set aside. Brown meat in butter or margarine. Add onions and seasoning. Stir, then flame-sautee on low slowly until onions are translucent. Add pine nuts and cook another minute.
For baked kibbee: Pre-heat oven to 375°. Grease/oil baking pan and layer a half-inch of kibbee on pan bottom. Spread hoshwee, adding more pine nuts, if desired, and do a final half-inch layer. In the middle, in a finger hole, add a tablespoon of olive oil. With a knife, create diamond patterns or squares. Bake until golden brown (45 minutes to 1 hour). All kibbee recipes, raw or cooked, can be frozen. Before baking or frying, stuffed raw kibbee a la steak tartar is delicious.
Preparing bulgur (cracked wheat) for recipes: Rinse wheat in a bowl of cold water several times. Use three cups of water for each cup of wheat. Soak for 30 minutes. Drain well through a fine strainer or, in the tried-and-true Lebanese fashion, squeeze fistfuls by hand to remove excess water. Bulgur is sold in three types: No. 1 – fine grind; No. 2 – coarse grind; and No. 3 – mixed grind.
Mishee Malfoof (Stuffed Rolled Cabbage)
2 medium or 1 large head of cabbage, par-boiled and prepared
1 lb. ground beef or lamb (1 can of chickpeas [garbanzos] can be substituted)
2 c. rice
1 c. melted butter or margarine
Salt pepper and cinnamon to taste
Seasoning for water:
6 cloves of garlic, quartered
½ to ¾ c. lemon juice
Salt, pepper and cinnamon to taste
Water, as required
Preparation of cabbage leaves: Remove core and place cabbage, core end down, into boiling water. With a long fork and/or tongs, remove leaves from the cabbage heads as they loosen. Allow leaves to remain in the water, cooking until tender, for 3-5 minutes. Remove, drain, and cool. Remove hard stem. Cut large leaves in half.
Filling: Add butter and seasonings to rice and mix well. Add meat. Mix by hand-squeezing until meat and seasoned rice are “bound.” Set aside.
Cabbage leaves: Evenly distribute 1 to 1 ½ tablespoons of filling along the edge of the leaf. Roll firmly, cigar fashion, leaving ends open.
Preparation: Line bottom of large pot with the heavy outer leaves. Add eight pieces of garlic. Lay rolls side by side. After first layer, lay next in the opposite direction. Continue alternating each layer. When finished, lay more heavy leaves on top. Add seasoned water to cover. Place an inverted plate over leaves. Cook, covered, over medium heat for 30 minutes. Add lemon juice. Cook 10 – 15 additional minutes.
(Note: Can be baked in oven. Preheat oven to 450°. Put rolls into a deep casserole using same layering method. Add seasoned water. Bake until water boils. Decrease heat to 350°. Cook until done, about 30 minutes. Add lemon juice during the final 15 minutes.)
Ma’mool (Nut-Filled Pastry)
2 c. butter or margarine, melted
5 tbsp. flour
1 large package Cream of Wheat
¼ c. sugar (or more to taste)
1 c. milk (low-fat is OK)
1 package dry yeast
1 lb. coarsely ground walnuts or pecans (optional: mix in ¼ to ¾ c. sugar)
Pre-heat oven to 400°. Pour hot melted butter over flour, Cream of Wheat and sugar. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Heat ½ c. milk and pour over mixture. Mix and set aside one hour. Warm remaining 1/2 cup of milk and mix with yeast. Combine mixtures. Mix and knead until it holds together. Break into rounded one-and-a-half-inch pieces. Pat into desired shape (round, square, triangle or crescent). Add nuts. Place piece of same shape on top. Work pastry to seal well. Unbaked ma’mool should be firm. Place on ungreased baking sheet and design each with fork tines. Bake 18 minutes or until lightly browned. Coat with powdered sugar while hot. Ma’mool can be frozen.
To order the T’ai Bien cookbook (42 pages, 120 recipes), send $10 to: Cookbook, Women of St. George Orthodox Church, 2709 Washington St., Vicksburg, MS, 39180