Friday, April 11, 2008

Family Food

Last night was "Lebanese Dinner" at my sister's house. (We're a bit Lebanese, if you're wondering how we picked this cuisine.) It was so fun! I, of course, took no photos, because I was too busy cooking. And eating. And eating and eating.

I brought the dessert, a simple, rustic cookie called Gahk. (Not gak, which I just googled, and is slang for street methamphetamine.) My cousin gave me her "Sithou's recipe" (Sithou means grandmother) and they're made of flour, sugar, baking powder, eggs, raisins, milk, vanilla and margarine. (I think at some point they must have been altered, since my family came from the mountains of Lebanon, and I'm pretty sure margarine was not naturally-occurring there)...but anyway, they're easy. The recipe makes about 5 dozen. The cookies themselves are made by rolling small handfuls of dough into snakes and then creating rings. They look like donuts. They're probably just as healthy, too. But so good with a glass of ice cold milk!

One sister prepared the main dish, Fthoia (that's our pronunciation, but other Lebanese people have commented on our accent in the past.) Fthoia are dough triangles filled with ground meat; historically lamb, now often beef, cooked with chopped onions and pie nuts (snubel). Also historically deep fried, but we baked them for our arteries' sake.

Both the Gahk and the Fthoya really should be put together while sitting around the table with friends or family, gossiping and chatting, and made in large batches.

My other sister brought hummus and tabbouleh and Syrian bread, and my parents brought laham b'anadora, which is lamb and onion in tomato sauce. And we had a salad of tomato, onion, and mint. So good.

Here's the gahk recipe:

Sithou's Gahk, courtesy of cousin Kerri

5-6 C flour

5 sticks margarine at room temp (my cousin recommended Blue Bonnet)

1 tbsp baking powder

1 C sugar plus extra

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

0.25 C milk

1 C raisins

Blend all of the ingredients except the flour.

Once blended, add the flour, a little bit at a time, until the dough doesn't stick to your hands--then it's perfect.

Roll a small amount of dough into a snake shape, then shape into a ring, pressing the edges together.

Dip in the extra sugar to coat all over.

Bake at 300 for 20-25min, or until just about to brown on the bottom.

My Notes:

With this last batch, I used more like 6.5 C flour, I think atmospheric conditions might have some effect on the recipe.

I like more raisins-1.5-2C.

Use about, I don't know, maybe a quarter cup of dough per cookie.

The snakes should be approximately 0.75 inch in diameter, and should make a circle approximately four inches in diameter.

These cookies are a bit dry, hence the deliciousness with a cup of cold milk--so be careful not to over bake. The tops do not brown, so watch the bottoms.

My cookies took more like 30 minutes, but my oven is not particularly reliable.

If you try them, let me know what you think!

Oh, and here's a picture. I read the blog and realized that you probably have no idea what I am talking about!

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