When we were in Paris last year, a former co-worker of mine said you must go to this Lebanese restaurant down the street. It has the best Lebanese food outside of going to a Lebanese house for home cooked meals.

Now, we’re from New York, where you can really get the best of any cuisine you want at any time of day. So we were a bit skeptical.

Of our 4 nights in Paris, we ate at this restaurant 2 of them (1 night we ate with my husband’s family and the remaining night we ate steak frites at a cafe, because, you know, Paris.)

The dish we absolutely fell in love with (and ate both nights) was Fatteh.

Fatteh originated in the Middle East and consists of toasted pita bread or flatbread as the foundation for other ingredients such as lamb, yogurt, vegetables and chickpeas.

The fatteh we had was composed of toasted pita, roasted eggplants, toasted pine nuts and chickpeas and hot yogurt. I can’t explain how warm and comforting and unctuous this dish was. Especially on a rainy winter evening in Paris.

So last night I was feeling nostalgic and I decided to try and recreate the dish. Sort of

I left out the eggplant because I’m assuming they used the wood fire oven to get it to be so roasted and charred and delicious. And I haven’t figured how to recreate that at home. Yet.

So for this you will need

  • 1 7oz container full fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt
  • handful of pine nuts
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Toasted pita or vegetables for dipping

So I built mine as more of a dip, but when we got it in the restaurant the warm yogurt was in the center of the pita bread, with enough edge on the pita bread uncovered by the yogurt for grabbing and eating.

Improvisation at work here.

Start by preheating your oven to 350 (to toast the pita bread)

Meanwhile, toss a handful of pine nuts in a dry skillet and heat on low heat to toast.


After 5 minutes or so, add your rinsed and drained chickpeas and minced garlic and continue to cook on low to medium heat.



While the chickpeas warm, toss your pita bread in the oven, then in a bowl, mix together the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice and salt (to taste).



Add a tablespoon or two of hot water to thin the mixture a bit and to warm it.




Add the toasted pine nut, chickpea and garlic mixture to the now warm garlic.






Serve with pita and/or vegetables (I used cucumber).



Dig in with a warm, crispy triangle of pita.


I don’t know what Shawarma is, but I wanna try it!





We’ve been on a comic book/ action movie kick lately and last night was a Thor night.

I was trying to figure what to make for dinner that would be fitting when watching the story of the god, and bam! It hit me like Thor’s hammer! (Only not really, because I wouldn’t be conscious to write this post if Thor’s hammer hit me.)


If you’ve seen Avengers, you know the scene at the end where they’ve just saved the planet and are all sitting around eating shawarma.

Tony Stark, after almost dying, gets up and rambles on “Alright. Hey. Alright. Good job, guys. Let’s just not come in tomorrow. Let’s just take a day. Have you ever tried shawarma? There’s a shawarma joint about two blocks from here. I don’t know what it is, but I wanna try it.”

And so, off for shawarma they go.

Shawarma is seasoned meat, chicken, beef or lamb, that is seasoned and then cooked on a rotating spit. The term also refers to the sandwich or wrap made with that meat.

Now, I don’t have a spit in the apartment, so this was made in the oven. But with the seasoning mix, you still get the flavor.

SO let’s start with the spices. I’m usually not one for a spice concoction, but trust me, you need it if you want this to have that Middle Eastern flavor.

In a small bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon each of smoked paprika, ground ginger, and coriander and one teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and all spice.

This spice rub is good for 1 pound of meat. If you’re making more, adjust accordingly.


I decided to make chicken shawarma pita sandwiches. This is a great weeknight dinner because the chicken cooks in about 20 minutes, during which time you can chop up the toppings for the pita pockets. This is a build your own dinner night, which we tend to do a lot, so I’m going to share our topping bar, but feel free to adjust to your tastes.

To get started, preheat the oven to 350.

Place your washed and dried chicken in a foil-lined baking dish. You can use breasts, but I used 1 pound of these tenderloins. They’re thinner so they cook faster. Which means we can get to Thor battling Loki faster.


Drizzle the chicken with vegetable oil and the spice mixture and bake for about 20-25 minutes. When it’s done, the chicken will take on an orangey reddish color from the spices. Shred the chicken into bite sized pieces, small enough for pita stuffing.


Then, it’s just a matter of laying out your spread. We used whole wheat pita pockets, shredded cabbage, tomatoes, cucumbers, hummus, and yogurt lemon sauce (squeeze the juice of one lemon into a small container of Greek yogurt, add a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt). 


Cut the pita in half, open up the pocket and stuff away.


Hey, saving the world works up an appetite!

Ok. Watching the super heroes save the world works up an appetite. Sort of.

Adrenaline. Or something.



Hummus – Meme’s Secret

Remember yesterday when I told you that I can never get food to taste quite like meme’s?

Well, that was a tiny fib. I can get one thing right.


I’ve told you before about my love of tahini. Hummus is probably the most common introduction most people have to the sesame seed paste.

Nothing compares to homemade hummus. There are some store brands that are okay in a bind, but once you make it yourself, you will never be able to dip your carrots and celery sticks into the plastic tub again.

This is a ridiculously easy recipe. For a while though we couldn’t get it to taste like meme’s.

Granted, meme’s recipe was something like garlic a lil bit of lemon, a lil bit olive oil, some tahini, some pepper and the chickpeas. And fresh lemon juice. My lil bit would always be different from her lil bit.

But no matter what we did, it wasn’t quite right. It was delicious, but not quite right.

Until the day that meme told us her secret. She had been holding out on us.

So here it is. How meme makes hummus

Into the cuisinart (meme calls it a cuisinart not a food processor.) So into the cuisinart

2 cloves of garlic

3 tablespoons tahini

olive oil (enough to make the mixture smooth. this is an add and blend and add if you need more ingredient)

juice of half a lemon

a few grinds black pepper

1 can chickpeas, rinsed, and here’s the trick. reserve the liquid the chickpeas are in. Add maybe one or two tablespoons to the mix. Trust me.


Blend it all up in the cuisinart. Serve with carrots, celery, cauliflower, warm pita, use it as a sandwich spread. This is a great healthy snack or a great way to start a meal if you’re tired of salad.


I promise you, once you make it, you’ll never buy it again. And bonus, it’s way cheaper to make it yourself, so the money you save can go into paying for the itty bitty city kitchen. You may even be able to buy a new gadget for your kitchen!

If you can find the room for it.

I say meatball, you say kebab- an Italian girl makes a Middle Eastern Meal

I love Italian food. It’s what I grew up with, it’s what my mother cooks, it’s the smells of home.

But I have a very culturally diverse palate. Mexican, Brazilian, Chinese, French, you name it. Since dating my boyfriend, my appreciation for Middle Eastern flavors has really grown.

I always loved Greek salad and kebabs and gyro and falafel and hummus. (I really like food in general and there’s very little I’ll say no to.) Then I ate homemade hummus and babaganoush and tabouli and my mind was blown. And no salad will ever hold a candle to his dad’s.

What meme makes in her kitchen is magic. I had never had a stuffed grape leaf (dolma) I really truly loved until I had hers. Instantly addicted.

Thankfully, meme always sends us care packages. Because much as I try, mine never tastes quite like hers.

Also thankfully, there is an amazing Turkish restaurant near us that makes food that tastes almost, almost, like meme’s. We even brought meme there. It has the meme seal of approval.

So if we’re really having cravings, we have that down the street.

But I was away from itty bitty city kitchen yesterday. I had a lovely trip to D.C. with my coworker for a day in our office there, but you know I hate eating out two days in a row.

I’m a good cook. I’ve watched meme in the kitchen. I can do this.

I’m going to tackle one of my boyfriend’s favorites. He’s had a rough week. And a rough week surely calls for Adana Kebabs.

Adana Kebabs are essentially minced meat (lamb, beef, veal, whatever, though lamb is traditional) with some vegetables and seasonings that is mixed and formed into logs, skewered and then grilled.

I’m switching it up and baking mine since there is no room in my city kitchen for a grill, but I’m working with all the Middle Eastern ingredients, so the flavorings should be similar enough to make up for the lack of grilled taste.

Now call me crazy, but doesn’t that sound like a meatball? Some ground meat with some stuff in it to add to the flavor? So it’s a log shape instead of a ball shape. Details, details.

This isn’t totally the traditional way, but hey, I’m an Italian girl from Jersey making kebabs.  Kebabs, meatballs. Same thing!

I used

  • 1 pound ground beef (you can use lamb. Grocery store didn’t have any today)
  • small green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/3 white onion, diced
  • handful of parsley, chopped
  • paprika
  • all spice
  • salt and pepper

Throw all of the ingredients in a bowl


and mix until well combined.


Form the mix into sausage-shaped logs. I almost said mini meatloaves, but meatloaf is one of the few foods I cannot stand, so I will not draw that comparison.

Lay out the meat logs (haha meat logs, don’t know why but that makes me laugh) on a foil-lined baking sheet.


Pop in the fridge for a bit to set up.

When you’re ready to cook them up, remove from fridge and let them come to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 400.

I’m making a side dish of paprika roasted cauliflower over couscous.

For that, throw cauliflower florets into a foil-lined baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and douse with paprika.


Roast for 40-45 minutes. The cauliflower takes on a golden orangey hue.


The kebabs will take about 20 minutes to cook, so throw them in with the cauliflower about halfway through its roasting time.


Whip up some tzatziki and some quick cook couscous, or warm up some pita bread and yemek!

(That’s eat in Turkish!)

Not bad for an Italian girl from Jersey.



When I made falafel, I told you that the tahini was optional.

I said this because not everyone is a fan of tahini or even knows what it is.

But I’m slightly obsessed with it. Even before I started dating my Greek Armenian boyfriend, even before I had his meme’s homemade babaganoush and hummus, I was in love. With tahini, not him. I love him, but I’m talking about my love of tahini right now.

It’s enough to dedicate a whole post to it.

Tahini is like peanut butter that’s made with sesame seeds instead of peanuts.

That’s all it is, is ground sesame seeds and oil. You can make your own if you’re feeling adventurous. http://mideastfood.about.com/od/dipsandsauces/r/tahinirecipe.htm

It’s nothing exotic or crazy, though it does play a large role in the unfamiliar to most flavors of middle eastern food.

But I have one word for you, you who are wrinkling your nose at tahini.


Tahini plays a huge role in hummus. There’s a hummus craze right now if you haven’t noticed. Long a staple at the middle eastern table and a key player in any mezze spread (think Greek version of Italian antipasto), hummus has made its way to our grocery shelves, to our diet menus and to our daily routines. Carrot sticks and hummus. I bet someone in your office brings that for lunch.

Hummus is essentially chickpeas, garlic and tahini.

Tahini has such a complexly rich flavor. It’s more intense than peanut butter, a tad smoky even. It’s a flavor that can’t be substituted.

I have a minor love affair with tahini. I’ve always loved the flavor, but even more so recently. I’ve always loved peanut butter. Slathered on celery, melted on a warm English muffin, straight from the jar. But sometimes peanut butter gives me a tummy ache.

Sad. I know.

Craving my usual celery peanut butter snack but being wary of how it would affect my stomach, I grabbed the tahini from the fridge. Brad’s Organics makes great tahini and it even comes in a jar that resembles peanut butter packaging. Great if your kid has a peanut allergy and doesn’t want to feel left out or different.


I dipped the celery in the tahini and it was love at first bite. Carrot sticks, cucumber sticks, pita bread. So good.

Tahini makes a fantastic salad dressing. A tablespoon of tahini, some lemon juice and some black pepper is a nice change to your usual side salad. Use it as a sandwich spread. Mix with tuna fish instead of mayo and stuff in a pita with some sprouts for a Middle Eastern twist on the typical tuna sandwich.

If you’re getting bored with the typical flavors of your kitchen, try tahini and bring a little Middle Eastern flair to your lunchbox.

It’s a great item to have in your itty bitty city kitchen arsenal because it has a long shelf life and it’s extremely versatile.

Most importantly, though, it’s delicious!

(That’s eat in Greek!)