VDP: Arish

Monday, October 3, 2008

Looks a lot like ricotta, but it’s not. It’s Arish or Arishah. It is a Lebanese staple and is ridiculously easy to make and versatile. I made this batch because I found myself with about a half-gallon of homemade yogurt that was starting to turn too sour. In case you are wondering, I made a whole gallon about a week ago and figured we’ll eat what we can and make Arish with the rest. So, keep this in mind if for some reason you are an overzealous yogurt purchaser.

The list of ingredients to make this delectable product includes: yogurt. That’s it. Just yogurt. Plonk it in a pot and heat it slowly until it curdles and separates. It should take maybe 20 minutes, depending how fast you are heating it. Let it cool slightly then dump it in a cheese cloth lined colander. Once it drains for a few hours or overnight, you’ll end up with something the texture of soft cream cheese, but a bit grainier. It will taste a bit similar to ricotta, but not exactly, it is definitely tangier and creamier.

It is delicious to eat as any other fresh cheese. Here, for dinner, I topped burger buns with some of it with salt, pepper, olive oil and a handful of arugula.

What else can we use Arish for? On toast, with sugar or honey, in small turnovers that can be fried or baked, crumbled on salads, or in the form of Shanklish. What’s that? It’s a topic for another post.

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VDP: Saj (Mountain) Bread with Labneh and Greens

Saturday, July 6, 2008

I’ve written before about Saj bread (or Lebanese Mountain bread) in more detail in my post about Labib, the wonderful little pie shop in Beirut. So, I am not going to repeat the same info again. Suffice it to say that I got a major craving for this delicious bread and I had a good bit of homemade Labneh on hand, the thick drained yogurt.

I still had some of the Pain al ‘ancienne in the fridge and I could not have asked for a better dough fit for this preparation. I have an old wok that I use as a make-shift (a bit ghetto, I know, but it works) saj. I invert it on top of my largest stove burner and voila! A mini saj. I make a quick rough dough circle of the dough, ‘rough’ is the key word here, and place it on the hot upside down wok. A minute later I flip it over and cook it for another 20 seconds. That’s it.

I served these babies topped with the drained yogurt, olive oil, salt, arugula and olives. For me, it can hardly  get any better than this.