Monday, July 6, 2009

The best food in life is homemade.

Well, I'm laid up in bed with the most horrific Earth shattering cramps and two gallons of water (I love water.) I won't be doing a whole lot today but I'd like to give you some recipes that I'll be using at my wedding reception!

The Restaurant Dilemma:


My favorite restaurant in California is La Mediterranee in Berkeley. "I love La Mediterranee. I've been going to la Mediterranee since 1999 and I love it. It's my favorite Middle Eastern restaurant in California. The food, especially the Middle Eastern Plate with the Pomegranate Chicken is to die for. I do wish they'd take the chickpeas out of the Chicken Cilicia and Spanakopita though. Luckily, my mom, after lots of trial and error is able to make everything on the middle eastern plate at home and I have her recipes so I make those dishes at home for a fraction of the cost. When I don't feel like cooking though, I go to La Mediterranee for those dishes. Just a suggestion - the Avgolemono and Fava bean soups aren't that great but the mushroom soup = heaven.

Although the food is wonderful, the waitresses suck. (The busboys are good though) I can count on terrible service when I go there. It's just a given. They're too busy chatting between themselves to notice customers. I don't know how many times I've had to get up from the table to go find the waitress to say, "hey, we need the bill" or "here's my debit card" because they never come pick up the tab. I don't want to wait around for 20 minutes after my meal is finished for the waitress to finally come with the bill. Also, I hate having to wait 15 minutes to get a refill on my drink... just a water.

I've only had one really bad experience (Jan. 2009) at La Mediterranee in 10 years so I can't say that it's terrible. I was sitting at the bar waiting for my to-go order (because I didn't want to put up with the crap waitresses that night) while my fiance stood next to me (lack of seating) and all of the sudden, a wine glass in the top rack somehow spontaeously combusts over my head and the head of the guy eating his dessert next to me. There was glass all over me, the floor, in the guy's dessert and wine. The waitress just said, "wow, that's never happened before" and she wisked the guy next to me's plate and wine glass away. She didn't replace his food (he had a substantial amount on his plate and his glass was full) She never apologized or anything. Me, the guy sitting next to me, and a busboy cleaned up the glass. It was ridiculous.

Despite the terrible waitresses, I highly suggest La Mediterranee as their food is delicious - just get your food to go though. Great, delicious food - consistently bad service.

3.5 stars (yes, the service and wait staff brought the rating down that much.)" (From my own Yelp review)

Like a lot of people, my fiance and I are sick of spending loads of money to go out to dinner only to experience sub-par service. My mom and I spent I don't know how long perfecting our "copy cat" recipes (and leaving out all the garbanzo beans that are in the originals) so now we can have the Middle Eastern plate foods for 8-12+ people for the price of 3 meals + appetizer would cost if we ate out.

My Inspiration:

Here's La Mediterranee's Middle Eastern plate:

From left to right: Hummus, rice pilaf, chicken pomegranate, spanakopita, lavash sandwich, chicken cilicia, pineapple, and munster cheese. Avgolemono soup (Center)

The Recipes:

Here's my family's recipes for our versions:

Hummus:

Serves 12
  • 19 ounces garbanzo beans (chick peas), undrained
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons ground sesame seeds or tahini
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Combine the 7 ingredients in blender on high. Turn off and scrape sides with spatula.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Chill then serve with pita bread.
Pomegranate Chicken
(I think my mom tweaked another recipe to make this.)
Serves: 4-6
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4-6 chicken breasts or 12-16 chicken wings (The size you'd use for hot wings)
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Place chicken in a shallow baking dish.
  3. Combine garlic and oil.
  4. Brush all over chicken.
  5. Bake 45 minutes, bast several times with pan juices, until skin is browned and chicken is cooked.
  6. In a small saucepan, combine pomegranate juice, wine, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar.
  7. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  8. Reduce heat to low and cook 5 minutes.
  9. Season with salt and pepper.
  10. Transfer chicken to a ziploc and deeply pierce meat with a fork in several places.
  11. Pour sauce over chicken.
  12. Let it sit in the bag with the sauce for a few hours in the refrigerator.
  13. Remove from bag.
  14. Garnish with pomegranate seeds.
  15. Serve at room temperature or slightly warm. (I like to eat it cold.)
Spanakopita
Serves: 8-12
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach (Thawed and squeezed dry of liquid)
  • 1 (8 ounce) package feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 1/2 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1 garlic clove (chopped)
  • 1 egg
  • cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper (ground)
  • 1/2 cup butter NOT MARGERINE! (melted)
  • 12 phyllo pastry sheets (9X13)
  1. Mix all ingredients well in bowl except Butter and Phyllo.
  2. Butter 4 Phyllo sheets and stack together.
  3. Place 1/3 of filling mixture in a long roll along the long edge of the Phyllo Sheet.
  4. Roll in log form.
  5. Cut log into 6 pieces.
  6. Place in buttered 9X13 pan.
  7. Repeat twice as above.
  8. Butter all the pieces with the remaining butter.
  9. Bake in a 350F oven uncovered until golden brown or approximately 20 to 25 minutes.
Lavash Sandwich
Serves 10
  • 1 piece lavash bread
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • 1/2 cucumber , in thin slices, should be cold
  • 20-25 mint leaves should be cold
  1. Spread cream cheese evenly over the lavash bread.
  2. Sprinkle with desired amount of garlic and onion powders.
  3. Layer the cucumber slices over the cream cheese.
  4. Layer the mint leaves of the cucumber slices.
  5. Roll up into a log.
  6. Slice into 1 inch wide pieces.
  7. Serve.
Chicken Cilicia
(Bear with me, the recipe my mom gave only listed ingredients and nothing else so I'm trying to do it from memory.)
Serves 8-12

(Homemade pita bread, black bean hummus, tabouli, spanakopita and chicken cilicia (on bottom, sans powdered sugar.)
  • 2-3 cups dark meat chicken meat, shredded
  • 1 c Chicken broth
  • 1/2 T Cinnamon
  • 1 t Nutmeg
  • 1 T Turmeric
  • 2 T Sugar
  • 1/4 c slivered Almonds
  • 1/4 c Raisins
  • 12 Phyllo pastry sheets
  • Butter, for brushing
  • Powdered Sugar, for garnishing
  1. Cook dark meat chicken in chicken broth until there is hardly any broth left.
  2. Add in spices and sugar, stir.
  3. Add in almonds and raisins.
  4. Butter 4 Phyllo sheets and stack together.
  5. Place 1/3 of filling mixture in a long roll along the long edge of the Phyllo Sheet.
  6. Roll in log form.
  7. Cut log into 6 pieces.
  8. Place in buttered 9X13 pan.
  9. Repeat twice as above.
  10. Butter all the pieces with the remaining butter.
  11. Bake in a 350F oven uncovered until golden brown or approximately 20 to 25 minutes.
Tabouli
Serves 6 (I like to make it with the least amount of Bulgar to keep it lower carb!)


  • 1/2 cup Bulgar wheat (even a third would work)
  • 2 cups water or chicken broth
  • 4 cups tomatoes , seeded and chopped
  • 1 bunch green onion, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and finley chopped
  • 1 cup onion , finley chopped
  • 5 cups fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Soak bulgar wheat in 2 cups of water or chicken broth let soak overnight or use boiling water and let soak 1 hour.
  2. Rinse and drain wheat in tea strainer and pour in large bowl.
  3. Add oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, stirring well.
  4. Add chopped veggies, mix well, cover.
  5. Refrigerate 3 hours, stirring a few times.
  6. Serve with pita bread.
I'm going to take a break right now. Hopefully you (or somebody else!) will enjoy these recipes.

More to come,
Ciao,
Bella

6 comments:

  1. I'm a veggie and hummus and tabouli are staples in our eating menu! Yours look delicious..you guys must be great cooks!

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  2. Wow thanks for all these great recipes!

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  3. DANG! I love these recipes! I am big fan of hummus, and I am excited to try these other dishes!

    I can't believe that they didn't replace the guy's food! That's insane!

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  5. Yummy!! I love hummus...I'm bookmarking!

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  6. Can I just say I love you & your mom!? I ate at La Med only once, almost 15 years ago & I have never forgotten the food! I have been searching the internet for these recipes when I get a craving but never had any luck!

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