Barbecue season is heating up

Independence Day is but the opening shot for a summer of sizzling cookouts.

Israeli kebab (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Israeli kebab
(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
When I prepare meat for my family’s barbecue, I make sure to use fresh ground beef. Also, I love preparing fresh homemade pitot on the taboon (you can bake them in your oven at home, too). I’m also going to teach you how to make homemade tehina, one classic, and also a green tehina, which includes herbs that change the color slightly.
If you plan on cooking your kebabs on wooden skewers, I recommend soaking them in water for at least 20 minutes beforehand. This way, they won’t burn while the meat is cooking on the barbecue.
In addition, you can round off the meal with a couple of fresh salads made with spicy peppers, homemade humus and harissa.
Of course, no meal is complete without dessert, so I’ve added one of my favorite brownies recipes, which are chock full of chocolate and love.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.
These can be cooked on a barbecue or on a ridged grill pan in your kitchen. They can be made long and thin, or like small hamburgers.
Makes 20 large kebabs
■ 1 kg. ground beef
■ 10 sprigs parsley, chopped finely
■ 150 gr. mutton fat, ground
■ 10 sprigs coriander, chopped finely
■ 2 onions, grated and drained of liquid
■ 1 tsp. cumin
■ 1 tsp. salt
■ ½ tsp. ground cardamom
■ ½ tsp. bahara
t ■ ½ tsp. black pepper
■ ½ tsp. spicy paprika
■ ¼ tsp. cinnamon
Directions: Mix all the ingredients together and form elongated kebabs or round patties. If you’ve made elongated kebabs, press them onto kebab sticks. Grill them on all sides.
Homemade pitot
Makes 14-16 pitot
■ 1 kg. white flour, sifted (you can also use spelt or bread flour)
■ 1 Tbsp. salt
■ 1½ tsp. dry yeast
■ 1 to 2 tsp. sugar (golden or brown)
■ 3 Tbsp. oil (or olive oil) ■
3½ cups water, at room temperature
Directions: Pour the flour into a large bowl. Add the salt and mix. Add the dry yeast and mix with your hand. Add the sugar and mix well.
Add the oil and half of the water. Mix until well blended. Continue kneading the dough and gradually add the rest of the water. Knead dough until it’s very sticky.
Put your hand in water and twist the dough in a half circle with the other hand.
Hold onto the edge of the bowl and turn the bowl back in the other direction. This is the best way to knead the dough. From time to time, you can get your hand wet so that the dough doesn’t stick too much. Knead dough for 8 to 10 minutes until it’s nice and soft.
Alternatively, you can prepare dough in a mixer with a dough hook. Mix dough at slow speed for 10 minutes until it becomes a ball and separates from the side of the bowl. You can add a few drops of water if needed.
Cover the bowl with a damp towel and leave it in a warm place for 60 to 90 minutes so that the dough can double its volume.
Place a baking stone in the oven and heat the oven to 250° an hour and a half before you plan to bake the pitot.
Place the dough on a floured work surface. Cut the dough into 14 to16 pieces, depending on how large you want the pitot to be. Roll each piece into a ball and place them on a floured tray. Cover them with a towel and let them rest for 10 minutes.
Roll out each ball into a flat circle.
Place the dough circles on the baking stone. Wait for 30 to 60 seconds until the pita expands and then remove it from the oven. Do the same with the rest of the pitot.
If you’re baking in an electric pot, place two or three circles of dough on the metal rack inside the pot. Cover the pot and wait for 30 seconds. If the pita expanded and is golden brown with dark brown spots, carefully flip it over. If not, wait another 15 seconds and then check again. After you’ve flipped the pita, wait for 20 seconds and check it. When the pita is browned on both sides, remove it from the pot and place it on a towel to cool down. Make all the pitot in this fashion.
The pitot soften a bit once they cool down, so you should plan to wait 30 minutes before serving them.
Green tehina
You can upgrade classic tehina by adding vegetables or herbs. For example, you can add cooked beets to make purple tehina, or cooked red pepper to make red tehina. Below, you’ll see I’ve added herbs to make green tehina.
Makes 8 to 10 servings
■ 1 cup high quality raw tehina
■ Salt and pepper to taste
■ Juice from 1 to 2 lemons (depending on how sour you want it to be)
■ 1 cup water
■ 8 cloves garlic, crushed
■ 1 bunch parsley, chopped finel
■ 8 sprigs of nana, chopped finely
Directions: In a bowl, add the tehina, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Mix well. Gradually add the water while stirring until it reaches the desired thickness. (Some people like it watery, others like it thick.) Add the herbs, stir, and adjust seasonings. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge.
■ 250 gr. bittersweet chocolate 50 to 60% cocoa, chopped into squares
■ 250 gr. butter (can substitute oil, margarine or coconut oil if desired)
■ 1 cup sugar
■ ½ cup brown sugar
■ 2 to 3 drops quality vanilla extract
■ 1 tsp. rum or brandy
■ 4 large eggs
■ 2½ cups flour, sifted
■ ½ tsp. salt
■ ¾ cup walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts, chopped coarsely
■ ½ cup coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate, or chocolate chips For sprinkling on top:
■ ½ cup powdered sugar
■ ¼ cup chocolate chips Directions: In the microwave, melt the chocolate with the butter and white and brown sugars.
Alternatively, you could use a bain marie. Remove from flame or take out of microwave and mix well. While mixing quickly, add vanilla, rum or brandy, and eggs. Mix until well blended.
While mixing, add the flour, salt, nuts and chocolate chips. Mix well.
Pour batter into a greased pan (for best results, use baking paper) and spread to fill corners.
Bake for 30 minutes at 180˚. Let cool completely.
Cut off dry edges. Cut into 5 cm. x 5 cm. squares. Place in cupcake holders and sprinkle with powdered sugar and chocolate chips. Store brownies in an airtight container until serving.