Tag Archives: culture

Arayes, A Delicious Middle Eastern Meat-Stuffed Pita

Prepping for Arayes
prepping for Arayes
Ground Sirloin
Ground sirloin
Arayes with side of hummus
Arayes with side of hummus

Arayes are a very popular street food in the Levant region, and a crowd pleaser. They are easy to make, and  very tasty.  The word Ara’yes in Arabic is the plural word for Arous, meaning bride.

If you are a meat lover, and looking for something quick and satisfying, look no further. I’ve got the perfect dish for you, it’s called Arayes.  It’s a meat-stuffed pita dish that can be made on a week night, if you are pressed for time.

Serves 6-8 with a side dish, based on your appetite
Level of difficulty: Easy This recipe can easily be divided in half.

Ingredients:

  • 4 lb ground beef sirloin *
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup flat-leave parsley, chopped
  • 6 garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice  *
  • 1/4 tsp. coriander *
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg *
  • 1-2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • Pita Bread *
  • Lemon, juiced 


    Preparation:

    1) In a large frying pan, over medium-high heat, heat up olive oil. Saute the onions for 3 minutes. Add garlic, sauté an additional 2 minutes. Add meat, salt, pepper, allspice, coriander, nutmeg.  Pan fry for about 10 minutes on high, depending on what material you’re using. Be careful not to burn the bottom, stir occasionally. It will render some liquid, but will dry up.2) Add tomato paste, and more oil if necessary. Keep stirring, add fresh parsley. Adjust seasoning to your taste. Remove.

    3) In the meanwhile, warm up pita bread in the broiler, but you can also grill them for a more authentic version. Stuff the pita bread with meat,  garnish with parsley, and sprinkle lemon juice on top.  Hummus.Tabbouleh, or Fattoush Salad make wonderful side dishes for this lovely meal. The choice is yours! Visit the links to get the recipes.

Cook’s notes:

1)Traditionally, lamb meat is used in this dish, but ground beef or ground turkey work well also.

2) You can substitute the coriander, nutmeg and allspice for a spice called 7 Spices. It can be  found in Middle Eastern specialty stores.

3) Buy large pita bread and cut in half or use the small ones.

Have fun in your kitchen!

Gina,  Foodiewinelover 

My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles 

 

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Cinco De Mayo Avocado Salad

Avocado Salad

Avocados

It’s Cinco de Mayo,  time to celebrate Mexico’s independence. There are a varieties of food and drinks associated with Mexico. Tacos, Tamales, Tostadas, Guacamole, Margaritas, Tequila, and more. Avocados are widely used in Mexico to make guacamole, a delectable avocado dip. However, today, I am sharing with you a simple, and yummy Cinco de Mayo Avocado Salad. If you’ve never had avocados, you are missing out on some yumminess. They are delicious and very healthy for you. They contain good fat, the one that doesn’t clog up your arteries. However, keep in mind, eating too much of it will make you gain weight.

I spent my childhood in the West Indies, Haiti, where my parents owned a business. We had 2 large avocado trees, needless to say, I grew up on avocados. Those varieties were the big ones, and very tasty. It is also a big staple in the Caribbean culture, and part of their daily diet.

There are many ways to prepare avocados, you can make guacamole, or stuff them with shrimp salad. I often make a lovely salad that’s easy to prepare, and adds beautiful color to a plate.

When choosing avocados, make sure they give a little to the touch, if they are hard, it simply means they are not ripe yet. You can buy them to make at a later time, but don’t wait too long as they ripen quickly. There are many varieties, but the most common one is Hass, sometimes marketed as Haas Avocado. Here is a link from Tasty Kitchen showing you how to safely open and peel an avocado:

http://tastykitchen.com/blog/2010/02/how-to-open-an-avocado-and-keep-all-10-fingers/

Servings: 3-4       Level of Difficulty:   Easy

Ingredients:

  • 2 Haas Avocado (From California), cut up in pieces, or diced
  • 2 – 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • Salt & black pepper to taste

Preparation: 

1.) Follow instructions how to open the avocados safely. Next, cut them lengthwise, then chop them in small pieces, or dice in equal sizes. They don’t need to be perfect (unless you’re a perfectionist)

2) Add all the remaining ingredients, mix well. Chill for at least an hour.

Serve as a delicious side dish.

Tip: You can substitute the vinegar with lime juice for a different take. It will come out equally delicious.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!!! Ole!

Buen Provecho y Salud!

 

Costa Rica, Paradise in Central America

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Enjoying the spectacular view of the mountains and the Pacific Ocean

Somewhere in Central America, there is a little paradise called Costa Rica, meaning “rich coast”.  In 2009, it was ranked the greenest country in the world.  It has enchanting rainforests, beautiful tropical birds and adorable monkeys, indigenous to the region. Education is a main priority in Costa Rica, it has a literacy rate of 96%.  The main language is Spanish, however, many people speak English as a second language.The people are warm, and always welcome you with their characteristic phrase, Pura Vida. It literally means pure life and is used as a greeting to wish you “good living”. Part of their food culture is this condiment called Lizano sauce.  It has a sweet, smoky flavor with some tanginess, and makes everything taste better. I always bring a bottle back with me to the US.  They put it on a variety of food,  including their traditional breakfast called Gallo Pinto. It is considered their main breakfast dish of rice and beans mixed together with onions and bells peppers.  This condiment is a staple in every household, and restaurants across the country has it displayed on their table.  Part of their diet includes lots of local fresh fruits and delicious veggies. They also like fresh seafood, chicken and meat. There are many traditional and flavorful dishes, and I always relish them during my visits. This country is known for its delicious coffee,  Cafe Britt.  You will also find more affordable ones at  the supermarkets. 

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Rice with Chicken and veggies
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Delicious Fried Fish
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Seafood Ceviche
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Chicharon, Fried Pork Skins, very traditional
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Shopping in Nosara, a world-renowned yoga retreat

The first time I went to Costa Rica was in 2001, I attended a beautiful wedding held on top of a mountain overlooking the gorgeous views of San-Jose, the capital.  During that trip, I visited the volcano Arenal, and swam in the Hot Springs. I also took a rainforest lift ride, and was amazed by its beauty and vastness.  I fell in love with this enchanting country. I’ve been back four times since my first visit.  Guanacaste is one of my favorite provinces, and it’s located on the Pacific Coast. It’s a 5-6 hour drive from San-Jose. I have also flown on a twin-prop plane which takes about 30 – 45 minutes. I usually stay in a beautiful house, perched on a tall mountain, overlooking the breathtaking views of the pacific ocean. I have also stayed in beautiful resorts and hotels, but, will share more details in future blogs.  Real Estate has skyrocketed in the last ten years, as more and more americans are retiring there, or making it a second home. However, it is still very affordable to live there.

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Unspoiled beaches in Guanacaste ~ Playa Carrillo

I can never get enough of Costa Rica, a small country packed with delicious food, panoramic views, rich cultures and great adventures. I go there to relax, and have fun with loved ones.  I think I’m ready for another trip soon! I hope you have enjoyed this journey with me, and learned something new and interesting about beautiful Costa Rica.

Pura Vida!