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  • Carlos Sarmiento

A taste of Lebanon - Trio of sauces, tomato salad, beef kebabs, lentil rice & 2016 Chateau Kefraya


(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento) My early memories of discovering (and loving) Lebanese cuisine were in my early years living in Venezuela.


It was usually on Sundays after church that my family and I would go the same Lebanese restaurant. I was instantly (and still am) hooked to the culture, music, food and now…wine.


Riad el Solh, Beirut, Lebanon

(Photo: Christelle Hayek)


In my pursuits of discovering, tasting and featuring new wines, I have always wanted to explore fine Lebanese wines. Enter, Chateau Kefraya.


The story began in 1946, when Michel de Bustros, founder, chairman and CEO of Château Kefraya, initiated the construction of a Château on top of a Roman hill overlooking today a wine growing domain located in the community of Kefraya at the heart of the Bekaa Valley.


Long before us, the Romans had discovered the virtues of this clay limestone terroir, rising up to 1100 meters above sea level, which cannot be more favorable to planting vines.

(Baalbek, Lebanon)

(Photo: Fred Nassar)


Thriving with a rich heritage, noble grapes are planted and dedicated solely to blended wines. This exceptional terroir is maintained daily by a sustainable and eco-friendly viticulture.


The essence of Château Kefraya imprinted in each bottle embodies a particular soul meticulously combining tradition and terroir.

Chateau Kefraya vineyards, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

(Photo courtesy of Chateau Kefraya)

Their wines are present in more than 40 countries and recognized internationally through more than 200 distinctions.

Since day one, the motto SEMPER ULTRA, which in latin means “Always better, Always higher”, goes hand in hand with the constant development and evolution of Château Kefraya.

It’s slogan: “A terroir, a soul, a great wine“ sums it up perfectly.


Let‘s get cooking!

Menu:

Trio of sauces with Pita bread…

Hummus (chick pea creamy sauce)

Baba Ganouj (roasted eggplant creamy sauce)

Tzaziki (yogurt-garli-spice sauce)


Tomato-Feta Mediterranean salad


Grilled NY Strip Beef kebabs with sweet peppers and red onions.


Mujadara rice (rice with lentils and charred onions).


Wine pairing: 2016 Chateau Kefraya - Grand Vin de la Bekaa (Bekaa Valley, Lebanon)


Serves 6


Ingredients Hummus:

  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas or 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas

  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice, 1 large lemon

  • 1/4 cup well-stirred tahini

  • 1 small garlic clove, minced

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • Salt to taste

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons (30 to 45 ml) water or aquafaba (water from the can of chickpeas)

  • Dash ground paprika, for serving


Baba Ganouj:

  • 2 pounds Italian eggplants (about 2 small-to-medium eggplants*)

  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, more if necessary

  • ¼ cup tahini

  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing the eggplant and garnish

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus extra for garnish

  • ¾ teaspoon salt, to taste

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin


Tzaziki:

  • 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt

  • 1 cucumber, peeled and grated (drain some of the liquid)

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • Juice and zest of 1 large lemon

  • 1 tablespoon of fresh mint, finely chopped

  • Sea salt & cracked black pepper (a pinch of each)

Mujudara:

  • 4 medium cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

  • 1 ¾ teaspoons fine sea salt, divided

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 5 cups water

  • 1 cup brown* basmati rice (regular, not quick-cooking), rinsed and drained

  • 1 cup regular brown or green lentils**, picked over for debris, rinsed and drained

  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 medium-to-large yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced

  • ½ cup thinly sliced green onions (from 1bunch), divided

  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, divided

  • Plain whole-milk or Greek yogurt, for serving


Kebabs:

  • 6 (1 pound each) NY Strip beef steaks, fat trimmed and cut in 1 inch cube.

  • 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, finely chopped

  • Sea salt, cracked pepper, ground sage, oregano (to taste)

  • 1/4 cup of extra Virgin olive oil

  • 9 to 12 mini sweet peppers (assorted colors), cleaned, deveined, seeded and cut in 1 inch pieces.

  • 1 large red onion trimmed and cut into 1 inch sized piece.

  • Extra Virgin olive oil for drizzling vegetable kebabs.


Pita bread (white, whole-wheat or combination)


Directions

Hummus:

  • In the bowl of a food processor, combine the tahini and lemon juice and process for 1 minute, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then process for 30 seconds more. This extra time helps “whip” or “cream” the tahini, making the hummus smooth and creamy.


  • Add the olive oil, minced garlic, cumin, and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the whipped tahini and lemon juice. Process for 30 seconds, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then process another 30 seconds or until well blended. Open, drain, and rinse the chickpeas. Add half of the chickpeas to the food processor and process for 1 minute. Scrape sides and bottom of the bowl, then add remaining chickpeas and process until thick and quite smooth; 1 to 2 minutes.


  • Most likely the hummus will be too thick or still have tiny bits of chickpea. To fix this, with the food processor turned on, slowly add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water until you reach the perfect consistency.


  • Taste for salt and adjust as needed. Serve hummus with a drizzle of olive oil and dash of paprika. Store homemade hummus in an airtight container and refrigerate up to one week.


Baba Ganouj:

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack in the upper third of the oven. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent the eggplant from sticking to the pan. Halve the eggplants lengthwise and brush the cut sides lightly with olive oil. Place them in the prepared pan with the halved sides down.

  • Roast the eggplant until the interior is very tender throughout and the skin is collapsing, about 35 to 40 minutes (this might take longer if you are using 1 large eggplant). Set the eggplant aside to cool for a few minutes. Flip the eggplants over and scoop out the flesh with a large spoon, leaving the skin behind.

  • Place a mesh strainer over a mixing bowl, then transfer the flesh to the strainer and discard the skins. Pick out any stray bits of eggplant skin and discard. You want to remove as much moisture from the eggplant here as possible, so let the eggplant rest for a few minutes and shake/stir the eggplant to release some more moisture.

  • Discard all of the eggplant drippings, drain and wipe out the bowl, and dump the eggplant into the bowl. Add the garlic and lemon juice to the eggplant and stir vigorously with a fork until eggplant breaks down. Add the tahini to the bowl and stir until it’s incorporated. While stirring, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Continue stirring until the mixture is pale and creamy, and use your fork to break up any particularly long strings of eggplant.

  • Stir in the parsley, salt and cumin. Season to taste with more salt (I usually add another ¼ teaspoon) and more lemon juice, if you’d like a more tart flavor.

Tzaziki:

  • Mix yogurt, grated cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, freshly chopped mint. Add pinch of sea salt and cracked pepper. Mix again, cover and store in refrigerator for at least one hour.

Mujudara:

  • In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, combine the garlic, bay leaves, cumin, 1 ½ teaspoons of the salt and about 20 twists of freshly ground black pepper. Add the water and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.

  • Once boiling, stir in the rice and reduce the heat to medium. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat as necessary to maintain a controlled simmer, for 10 minutes.

  • Stir in the lentils and let the mixture return to a simmer. Cover again, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the rice and lentils are tender, about 20 to 23 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, warm the olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s warm enough that a slice of onion sizzles on contact, add the remaining onions. Stir to combine.

  • Stir only every 3 minutes or so at first, then more often once the onions at the edges of the pan start browning. If the onions are browning before they have softened, dial down the heat to give them more time. Cook until the onions are deeply caramelized and starting to crisp at the edges, about 20 to 30 minutes. In the meantime, line a large plate or cutting board with a couple paper towels.

  • Using a slotted spoon or fish spatula, transfer the onions to the lined plate and spread them evenly across. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt over the onions. They’ll crisp up as they cool.

  • When the lentils and rice are done cooking, drain off any excess water (if there is any) and return the mixture to the pot, off the heat. Lay a kitchen towel across the top of the pot to absorb steam, then cover the pot and let it rest for 10 minutes.

  • Remove the lid, discard the bay leaves, and smash the garlic cloves against the side of the pan with a fork. Add about ¾ths of the green onions and cilantro, reserving the rest for garnish. Gently stir and fluff the rice with a fork. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.

  • Transfer the rice and lentil mixture to a large serving platter or bowl. Top with the caramelized onions and the remaining green onions and cilantro.


Kebabs:

  • Place cubed steak pieces on a large, deep bowl. Season evenly with salt, pepper, ground sage and oregano (to taste). Mix well.


  • Add fresh parsley and olive oil and mix again. Next, arrange beef cubes on grilling skewers.


  • Arrange onion and sweet pepper pieces on grilling skewers and lightly drizzle olive oil on them.

  • Grill beef kebabs to your preference, turning once (3-5 minutes per side for medium-rare, 5-7 minutes for medium, 7-10 for medium-well).


  • Grill vegetable kebabs until they begin to charr. Quickly remove them from grill.


Pita bread:

  • Serve pita bread at room temperature and/or warm slightly in oven or on the grill right before serving.


Serve it up!

Alas you have finished cooking up a storm and the food is ready for the big feast!

Believe me, once you and your guests try these amazing dishes you’ll admit to yourself that making these dishes from scratch are so well worth it.

The plating for these dishes are quite simple...family style on platters.

Bon appetit! Enjoy!

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)



Hummus

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)



Baba Ganouj

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)



Tzaziki

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)



Tomato-Feta Mediterranean salad

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)



Tomato-Feta Mediterranean salad

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)



Tomato-Feta Mediterranean salad

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)


Beef kebabs

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)



Beef kebabs

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

Mujadara rice

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)



Mujadara rice

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)


About the wine... After a series of 20 labels featuring the canvas of Lebanese female artists, Château Kefraya designs a new bottle that captures the heritage of its very first historical wine.


30 year-old vines spread over 22 hand-harvested hectares give birth to this wine of character. The best grapes of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvèdre are aged in oak barrels for 18 to 24 months. 2016 Chateau Kefraya - Grand Vin de la Bekaa (Bekaa Valley, Lebanon)

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)



(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)


Tasting notes:

Combining power and elegance with silky tannins, the Château Kefraya is characterized by subtle notes of cherry, spices, leather and vanilla.


Grapes: 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Syrah, 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cinsaut


Alcohol: 14.5%


Food pairing: A very versatile wine that pairs wonderfully with grilled or roasted meats, spice-based dishes and cheeses.

Accolades:

”Best of Show Lebanon” & Gold Medal

2021Mundus Vini (Germany)


For more information, visit: http://www.chateaukefraya.com/en/kefraya


Special thanks to the wonderful team at Chateau Kefraya for this unique opportunity to experience and pair this lovely wine. —————————————————————


Decorative wine bottle collar drip ring by: https://dripstosips.com

(Special discount promo code: CFW15)

Lebanon sunset

(Photo: Farhat farhat)

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