Recipe: Lebanese Beef and Potato Stew

Lebanese Beef and Potato Stew

This is an authentic Lebanese recipe that will hit the spot if you're in the mood for something stew-y and warm. This stew can be eaten on its own or in true Lebanese style, with pita bread. This recipe calls for allspice and cinnamon, which adds a nice subtle spicy taste.

Beware of the imitation allspice that is sold in some grocery stores. The real stuff is a dried unripe fruit from the Pimenta dioica tree native to Mexico and Central America, and not a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

The name allspice was coined in the 17th century because the taste resembled the combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

This recipe yields 4-6 large servings.

Lebanese Beef and Potato Stew
- 1 large onion, diced
- 0.5kg ground beef
- 5 small potatoes, peeled and cut in quarters
- 4 Chinese eggplants, peeled and cut in quarters
- 2 hot house tomatoes, chopped
- 4 carrots, peeled and cut in 2 inch pieces
- 1/3 cup of basmati rice
- 3 Tbsp of tomato paste
- 4 cups of water
- 1/8 - 1/4 tsp all spice (depends on your taste)
- 2 large pinches of cinnamon
- salt + pepper to taste
- extra virgin olive oil

1. Sprinkle the eggplant with salt and let it sit until it starts to release water. Approx 5-15 minutes. Pat the eggplant dry with a paper towel. This gets rid of the bitter taste in the eggplant. In an oiled pan, pan fry the eggplant until soft.

2. In an oiled casserole pot, saute the onions until translucent (approx 3 minutes). Add the ground beef and saute until the beef is 3/4 of the way cooked.  Add the potatoes and carrots and saute for another 3-5 minutes to blend the flavors.

3. Add water, tomato paste, tomatoes, all spice, cinnamon, salt and pepper and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the rice stir well and then lay the eggplant softly into the stew. Simmer for another 25 minutes. Once the eggplant is added, do not stir the pot too much as it will break the eggplant.

4. If you find the stew is not watery enough, add more water. Season with more salt and pepper if needed. Serve hot with bread or rice.

Slow Cooked Goodness at Robz, Ottawa

BBQ Beef Sandwich
BBQ Beef Sandwich on a Potato Roll

Great food for good value is hard to find these days. Robz, just 5 weeks old, is proving that it is still possible. For just 5 dollars, you can get an awesome meal that will leave you full and satisfied, with absolutely no fuss.

The focus is home made slow cooked meats, free from any processing and preservatives. Pulled pork, BBQ beef, slow roasted beef, slow roasted back bacon, and the list goes on... All of their sandwiches come with coleslaw and a dill pickle slice.

Owner and cook Robert Johnson learned the tricks of the trade at several steak houses, the most recent being The Crazy Horse in Kanata. Robz is located in a strip mall on Carling, which is in the space of a former Chinese take out joint. You may notice woks sitting on top of the stove, which are now cleverly used as meat smokers.

You won't be disappointed with the food. And with the affordable prices, this is easily a place you can go back time and time again.

Beef and Cheese Sandwich
Beef and Cheese Sandwich with Side Salad, Coleslaw and Pickle

Robz, Ottawa

1679 Carling Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Telephone: 613-792-1987

Robz on Urbanspoon

Three Muses. Strong Women. Kitchen Items.

We love how a painting inspired by women and kitchen tools can turn into something so artistic and peculiarly beautiful. Three Muses. Strong Women. Kitchen Items. was created by Miami artist Robyn West.

When Robyn was 13, her grandmother moved in with them and brought all sorts of old farm kitchen items. She became fascinated with the tools and what it stood for. To her, they represented strength, both phsyical and emotional. This piece has been shown around the U.S., and when the iconic Philip Pearlstein saw this painting, it made him chuckle. Now that's something to brag about.

Imagine the different conversations this piece would stir up if it was hung up in your kitchen.

This piece and other work can be viewed at her Etsy shop smilingrobyn.

Edgar, Ottawa (Gatineau)

Edgar, Ottawa

Edgar is truly a gem. The moment you walk in, you'll feel a great vibe. Although the staff and menus are in French, you won't be judged if you prefer to speak English. The staff at Edgar are incredibly friendly and extremely attentive to their customers.

Here is how it all started. A few years ago, Marysol Foucalt, now owner of Edgar, was known as a food blogger at her blog She Eats Bears. Then in 2010, she decided to open up a restaurant. With her years of experience in the food industry combined with a lot of dedication and hard work, Edgar instantly became a success. So much so, she has opened a second restaurant, Odile, just a few minutes from the original restaurant.

Brunch is a must here. Their menu is small (just like the place) and changes weekly. The dutch baby crepe souffle with pork belly and apple compote is a great choice if you want salty and sweet. If you don't feel like brunch, their soups, sandwiches and pastries are always available. Try the beignet du citron, you won't regret it. Oh, and their coffee is good. Really really good.

Poached Eggs with Sausage and Bacon
Forestier - poached eggs, Toulouse sausage, mushrooms, bacon, potatoes and brussel sprouts.

Huevos Rancheros
Huevos rancheros - tortilla, eggs, salsa, guacamole, black beens, cheese, potatoes and side salad

Beignet du Citron
Beignet du Citron

60 rue Bégin
Gatineau, Quebec, Canada
Telephone: 819-205-1110

Edgar on Urbanspoon

Doodle Bread

Obama Doodle Bread

If you're a big doodler, then you're gonna love Doodle Bread. A UK based company, Doodle Cook has made it easy to be creative with your bread using their easy shape kits. Doodle with cocoa, tomato & beetroot, spinach & rosemary and blueberry flavors. You can now admire your work in every slice of bread you serve.

Happy US Thanksgiving!

Romney Doodle Bread

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, Columbus

Jeni's Ice Cream, Columbus

Who would have known that one of the best ice cream shops in America was situated in Columbus Ohio?

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams are inspired by the flavors and tastes around her, and ice cream is the medium she uses to bring it to life. That is why you will see a lot of flavors that are inspired by the Mid-West, where she spent most of her life. Who can resist flavors like sweet corn and black raspberries (surprisingly delicious), wildberry lavender and Queen City cayenne (chocolate with a generous amount of cayenne pepper - the first flavor Jeni ever made that will make you wonder, is it hot or cold?).

Jeni's Ice Cream
Sweet Corn and Black Raspberries and Queen City Cayenne Ice Cream

Starting with a pure milk and a heavy cream base laced with corn starch and cream cheese to keep the ice cream silky smooth and free of crystallization, each pint is hand made, using the freshest ingredients.

The story of how she got to where she is is really an inspiring one. One that required a vision, hard work, dedication, and the right people entering her life at the right time. A lot of her experience comes from working at French bakeries where she learned that you don't need a lot of sugar to make something taste good, and of course, everything tastes better when made from scratch.

If you can't get to her ice cream shops easily, home delivery of her ice cream is available if it doesn't take more than 2 days of transit. All of her products are well insulated and packed in dry ice so that your ice cream doesn't melt by the time it arrives.

Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream At Home

If Jeni's is just completely out of reach, you can always experience her ice cream in book form. Her wonderful book, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home, shows you how easy it is to make quality ice cream at home, providing over 100 of her splendid recipes.

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams
4747 N High Street
Columbus, Ohio, USA
Telephone: 614-294-5364

Jeni's Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

Borough Market, London

Borough Market, London

The Borough Market is one of the largest and most popular food markets in London and should be on everyone's checklist of places to go if visiting the city. It is located right beside the Southwark Cathedral, on the South end of the London bridge.

Southwark Cathedral
Southwark Cathedral

The Borough Market is also the oldest market in London, dating back to the 13th century. It was once a place where people flocked to grab fresh produce, but it has since expanded to over 100 stalls offering butchered meats, artisan food products, fresh bread, and hot meals from food vendors.

We recommend fresh oysters from Richard Haward's Oysters, a snack at the beef curtains stand, an unpasteurized mozzarella di bufala cone at the Parma Ham and Mozzarella stall, or a hot baguette sandwich from The Guildable Manor.

Here are the market hours:

Wholesale Market: Mon to Friday 2AM - 8AM
Lunch: Mon to Wed 10AM - 3PM
Full Retail Market: Thurs 11AM - 5PM, Fri 12PM - 6PM, Sat 8AM - 5PM

Borough Market
Borough Market

Cured Meats
Parma Ham

Baked Goods
Fresh Bread and Pastries

Unpasteurized Buffalo Mozzarella
Unpasteurized Mozzarella di Bufala Cones

Beef Curtains
Beef Curtains


Beef Baguette
Hot Beef Baguette with Harrisa

Borough Market, London

Teacup Ring

This tea cup ring, created by Kay of Ruby Robin Boutique, caught our attention with its charming details and beautiful colors. This kawaii miniature ring features a delicate floral bone china tea cup set with a slice of lemon and two handcrafted chocolate chip cookies. It's amazing how so much detail can be packed into such a little package.

Kay creates all sorts of vintage inspired jewellery in her studio in Cork, Ireland. When you set eyes on her creations, you'll be mesmerized by its beauty and delicate charm. Influenced by her family who owned a craft shop and earned their living from crafts, Kay started making things at a very early age. She tried different things throughout her life - such as dragon figurines, face painting and dress making - until she finally decided that jewellery making was her true passion.

Flour + Water, San Francisco

Flour + Water, San Francisco

It's been 3 years since Flour + Water first opened its doors, and the restaurant is still going strong.

Flour + Water was recently named one of the Best Italian Restaurants in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure and there are few folks, if any, that would disagree with that.

The chef and partner, Thomas McNaughton, trained and worked at top notch restaurants in Europe and San Francisco (Gary Danko and Quince) before opening Flour + Water. He also trained at a pasta 'laboratory' in Italy to learn how to perfect the art of pasta making.

Their Neopolitan style wood fired pizzas are excellent, but their main focus is pasta and they do an outstanding job of it. A 7-course pasta tasting menu is available for $65 if you want to sample their different hand crafted pasta dishes.

Corn Tortelloni
Corn Tortelloni with Prosciutto and Chives

Don't understimate the amount of effort put into the planning of their pasta dishes. They are really well thought out, with each type of pasta perfectly complementing the sauce it is paired with. Their menu changes often but their agnolotti dal plin is a classic favorite, and their cappellacci dei briganti is a nice ode to the forgotten Italian brigands that existed until the mid 19th century.

Cappellacci dei Briganti with Goat Sausage
Cappellacci Dei Briganti with Goat Sausage, Rabe & Aleppo Pepper

Prosciutto Pizza
Proscuitto Pizza with Summer Squash, Thyme, Lemon & Fior de Latte

Melon & Grape Salad
Melon & Grape Salad with Pickled Shallots, Fresh Tarragon and Olive Sea Salt

Beans + Peppers
Wood Oven Roasted Butter Beans with Padron Peppers, Lardo & Bread Crumbs

If you want to learn more about different pasta shapes and what sauces they pair well with, check out The Geometry of Pasta. If you're at the restaurant, ask to see their copy while you wait for your meal.

Earlier in the Spring, the partners of Flour + Water opened up Central Kitchen (California cuisine) and Salumeria in the same Mission District area.

Flour + Water
2401 Harrison Street
San Francisco, California, USA
Telephone: 415-826-7000

Flour + Water on Urbanspoon

Steak Wear

Have you been searching everywhere for that perfect steak necklace? Look no further, TheSpangledMaker, an LA jewellery designer with a very quirky and fun style, has got the perfect one!

This steak necklace was inspired by Mark Ryden's series of paintings called "The Meat Show". The talented jewellery maker behind TheSpangledMaker has actually had a strange life long relationship with meat. Artistically, she appreciates the beauty of meat and is looking forward to making more pieces using different cuts of meat. However, the thought of ingesting it is a little scary for her, causing her to be an on and off again vegetarian for the past 15 years. Regardless, her quirkiness is definitely projected in her work, giving it a very unique style. Think the wackiness of Alice in Wonderland mixed with the surrealist style of Frida Kahlo and Mark Ryden.

Boys, if you're seeing this necklace and thinking you'd really like some steak cuff links, you're in luck. They've got those too!

Wholesome Chow Organic Gluten Free Baking Mixes

Wholesome Chow Baking Mix

Wholesome Chow's claim to fame is that they sell the world's ONLY certified non-GMO, organic gluten free and vegan mixes. Now that's a mouth full. Non of their mixes require any eggs, dairy, casein, gluten or wheat, and apple cider vinegar is what is needed to help their cakes and pancakes rise. Here are their products:

Organic All Purpose Baking Mix
Organic Vanilla Cake Mix
Organic Lavendar Cake Mix
Organic Chai Spice Cake Mix
Organic Chocolate Cake Mix
Organic Chocolate Lavendar Cake Mix
Organic Vanilla Frosting Mix

Couple Veronica Rains and Jeffrey Bailey started the company in 2010 with hopes to deliver high quality, great tasting, convenient baking mixes to those looking for gluten free and vegan choices. Now, they've got products in stores in over 15 states, and an online store for those that don't have access to the retail shops.

Their organic lavendar cake mix makes a super moist cake with just the perfect amount of lavendar.

Lavendar Cake

The pancakes have a chewy consistency. Add some honey, strawberries and vanilla to their pancake mix and you've got a great breakfast that will have your family and friends asking for more.

Wholesome Chow Pancakes

The Persian Banh Mi

Kookoo Sabzi Sandwich

I'd like to introduce you to the kookoo sabzi sandwich, AKA 'The Persian Banh Mi'.

A banh mi sandwich is a Vietnamese sub that is served in a French baguette and filled with meats, fresh veggies, pickled veggies and different spreads like butter, mayo and pork pate.

Although very little similarities between a Vietnamese banh mi and the kookoo sabzi sandwich, this sandwich totally screams Persian Banh Mi. Mainly because it is served in an elongated shaped bread with a standard set of condiments.

This really is a delicious sandwich and healthy too! Here is how you put it together.

1. Make the kookoo sabzi.

2. Grab a hoagie bun and slice it down the middle.

3. Spread labneh on the bun, put kookoo sabzi in between and add condiments like tomatoes, pickles and hot peppers.