Tuesday, 24 June 2014

A Gourmet Lebanese Safari with a little pineapple

Ella, Les and I enjoyed a fabulous Lebanese Gourmet Food Safari (her wonderful birthday present to me!) in Sydney last Saturday. I can't rave about it enough and would recommend you all go on that or one similar when in Sydney or Melbourne. We were guided by an energetic and enterprising young Syrian Australian, Sharon Salloum, who's the chef at the Almond Bar in Darlinghurst and author of “Almond Bar,100 delicious Syrian recipes”.

We were bused around butchers, bakers, grocers, nut roasters, pizza cafes and sweet shops in Canterbury, Lakemba, Punchbowl and Greenacre. Many of these were family businesses. A lovely lunch with a wide variety of dishes was served at Al Aseel in Greenacre.

Baalbek Bakery in Cantebury.
Sharon’s knowledge of Middle Eastern cuisine, family anecdotes, information on ingredients and enthusiasm for the food customs of her heritage were highly inspiring.
Plus there was more than enough food to taste at each stop! Everything was delicious!
Although pineapple didn’t appear to feature often in Lebanese cuisine we did spot these dried pineapple at The Nut Roaster in Lakemba (note the inexpensive price)
and cakes at Five Star Sweets in Greenacre. This last stop was a treat for our eyes as well as our taste buds! Yummy baklawa!

A Gourmet Safari is definitely an ideal present or something to experience with friends. We’re thinking we’d like to try an Italian Safari next. Whose birthday is coming up?
The Taste of Beirut Website, recipe from Chef Guillaume Gomez, Elysée Palace, Paris, France.

Lebanese Fresh Pineapple Cake

1 pineapple, extra-sweet; 300 g sugar, divided; 200 g flour; 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder; a pinch of salt; 3 large eggs; 100 g of melted unsalted butter; 1/2 vanilla bean (can replace with pure vanilla extract)

First step: poaching the pineapple (can be done one day ahead to meld the flavours)
1. Cut and peel the pineapple, making sure no knobs remain. Cut off the core and discard. Dice all the remaining pineapple flesh evenly in small pieces. Place in a bowl.
2. Place the vanilla bean in a flat surface and smooth out with the blade of a knife; cut in half lengthwise and scrape off all the seeds.
3. In a large pot, place 1/3 of the sugar and 2 1/2 cups of water and the vanilla seeds and bean; bring to a boil and when it starts boiling, stir until the sugar is dissolved, then add the pineapple pieces, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
4. Place the pineapple pieces in a bowl, cover with the syrup and let the mixture cool. Remove the vanilla bean, wash and dry and keep for another use.

Second step: Making the cake batter
1. Place the three eggs in the mixer bowl; start mixing, adding the remaining sugar gradually. Mix until the mixture is turned pale yellow.
2. Sift the flour and salt into the egg mixture, gradually at first, until the flour mixture disappears into the egg mixture; add the baking powder to the cake batter. Add the melted butter slowly until the butter is incorporated. Add the drained pineapple pieces to the cake batter, folding gently to mix throughout.
3. Butter a non-stick cake mold and pour the batter into it. Bake in a preheated 180°C oven for about 30 minutes or until the cake is golden and puffed up. (Insert a toothpick to check if the cake is ready).
4. Remove from the oven and prick the cake all over with the toothpick; pour the pineapple syrup on the cake; let the cake absorb the syrup and cool. Serve.

1 comment:

  1. That cake looks delicious - cakes with things tipped over them (especially syrup and/or alcohol) are what I image I will be eating in heaven. I love you photo of the pita bread too - amazing.