Who doesn’t love a good charcuterie board? You have delicacy after delicacy carefully presented in stunning patterns; you almost feel guilty digging into one. Almost.
In this month’s Foodbeast Recipe Challenge, the crew was tasked with building a stunning charcuterie board that went beyond deli meats and cheese.
Foodbeast Theresa Tran, inspired by some posts in popular Facebook group Subtle Asian Traits, decided to create a Banh Mi Charcuterie board she endearing names “Shark Coochie.”
The board is stacked with various Vietnamese proteins: cha lua, cha chien, xa xiu, pickled carrots/daikon, cilantro, cucumbers, Vietnamese mayo, pate, jalapeños, and sliced French baguettes.
Other innovative boards include Oscar’s Seacuterie board filled with fresh seafood offerings, Ramy’s Lebanese board, and Ashley’s sweet and spicy FOODBEAST board. Check out the video above to see all these incredible builds!
The countries of Lebanon and Mexico are some 7,700 miles apart, yet their people have a rich, intertwined history, particularly when it comes to their food. Today is not a history lesson — it’s a field trip, an off-menu discovery at Irvine, CA-based Falasophy: Lebanese Quesadillas!
When we think quesadilla, our mind conjures up images of corn or flour tortillas, filled with cheese and griddled until crispy.
Today, I caught up with Lebanese-owned Falasophy as I had learned that they were serving off-menu items people were calling “Lebanese Quesadillas.” The gist? They were stuffing cheese into thin, oversized pita breads, filling them with Lebanese and greater Middle Eastern ingredients, and searing them off to delicious fold-over matrimony.
I’ve had Falasophy before, but hadn’t had any of these “Lebanese Quesadillas” before, so I dug into em:
Street Shawarma Quesadilla
The first one I saw owner Rashad Moumneh, aka the Chief Falasopher, fold over, was an homage to the ultimate Lebanese street comfort food, the chicken shawarma wrap. It starts on a pita slathered with their housemade toum (garlic sauce), freshly shaved shawarma chicken, avocado slices to remind ourselves we’re in Southern California, thin French fries (the ultimate pro move in shawarma or kebab wraps), grilled corn seasoned with za’atar, spicy sambal sauce, candied pickled jalapenos, and a generous amount of cheese to bind everything together. I’ve had these flavors separately, but when cheese and toum have melted together, you’re hard pressed to find a more punchy and memorable flavor experience.
The second quesadilla I tried utilized Armenian flavors. In this pita, a walnut and red pepper paste called Muhammara lines the walls. Additionally, a seasoned kafta meat is spread across the surface area of the pita, topped with sumac and plenty of cheese to glue it all together.
Nutella & Cheese Quesadilla
This particular quesadilla is already a favorite on the Falasophy menu, but still seems to twist my friends’ necks when I tell them about the combination: Nutella + cheese + pita bread. The combo is decadent, the textures work, it’s crispy, and when you get the perfect bite — a mouthful of Nutella, stretchy mozzarella, powdered sugar, fresh mint leaf, and crispy pita bread — you’ll wonder why you hadn’t done this before.
All three of these Quesa-pita creations are available at Falasophy’s Irvine, CA location, inside the Irvine Spectrum complex. They’re technically “off the menu,” so you’ll want to tell the person ringing you up that you want a Lebanese Quesadilla, and tell them what flavors you want.
Irvine Spectrum Center, Irvine, CA 92618
Lebanon has been turning up their fruit cocktails on ten with mouthwatering additions of thick smoothies, fresh almonds, honey, ground pistachios, and ashta, a unique clotted cream that’s got the right amount of sweetness. Considered a street food staple for the Lebanese, a one of a kind shop in Los Angeles has captured this refreshing treat and expanded on its delectable possibilities.
Fruzion, with two locations in Chatsworth and Glendale, CA, is serving up Lebanese fruit cocktails in a variety of iterations, whether they be in a fruity smoothie form or paired up with savory crepes filled with gooey Nutella. The medley of fresh fruits in this Lebanese favorite is a welcome respite from the typically sweet and overly sugary desserts and snacks available to Americans.
Our very own Marc Kharrat took an understandably deep dive headfirst into these delightful fruit cocktails and broke down the juicy deets on what exactly makes them a fresh choice for snacking in the video above.
Inspired by the Lebanese dish Shish Taouk, a kind of marinated chicken kebab, we brought Josh Elkin to the FOODBEAST Kitchen and put our heads together to come up with a new take on the classic plate. We even consulted Lebanon’s premiere bad boy Marc Kharrat’s own mother to make sure the recipe was as authentic as possible.
Spices and all.
Here’s what you’ll need:
1 deep fryer or large pot
1 basting brush
1 melon ball spoon
3 liters of cooking oil
1 plastic bag
1 beaten egg
1 large peeled russet potato
⅓ cup of diced gherkins
⅓ cup of garlic sauce
1 pound of chopped chicken tenders
2 teaspoons of 7 spice
¾ cup of plain yogurt
⅓ cup of tomato paste
Juice of half a lemon
4 cloves of minced garlic
½ teaspoon of sumac spice
Here’s what to do:
Preheat cooking oil to 325 degrees F.
Slice the russet potato in half. Using the melon ball spoon, scoop out the inside flesh of the potato making sure not the pierce the sides of the bottom.
Fry the potato in the oil for about 2 minutes and then take it out. Boost the heat up to 350 degrees F. and fry the potato again until it becomes golden brown and crispy.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Combine the chicken, yogurt, tomato paste, garlic, 7 spice, and lemon juice in a plastic bag and mix well. Put it in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight for best results.
Add the chicken to a baking tray and cook it in the oven for about 30 minutes.
Line the inside of the potato cup with garlic sauce. Layer the gherkins followed by some chicken. Continue to layer until the cup is full.
A friend of mine was recently turned on to the simplicity of Arabic-themed breakfasts, a hodgepodge of pita bread, Lebni spread (yogurt with oil) and za’atar (a mix of dried herbs, sesame seeds, dried sumac, often times salt and other spices). While those ingredients are all fine and dandy by their lonesome (hit the above ingredients with a freshly sliced cucumber and you’ll be in Middle Eastern breakfast heaven), our friend Matt is one of the 99% who believe that everything can be made better through Sriracha.
Apparently this new dish is “the bomb.” For those up on their Middle Eastern cuisine, you’ll notice that most dishes aren’t traditionally complimented by a side of hot sauce, particularly Sriracha. But this new look might become part of my early morning breakfast routine!
This guest post for FOODBEAST is brought to you by UK Chef and Author John Gregory-Smith who just released his Mighty Spice Cookbook this past August, available at Amazon.com. John Gregory-Smith uses his well-traveled pallett to write recipes and features for the likes of Men’s Health, TNT Magazine and GQ.com. Best believe he’s got some interesting things to share:
In Beirut, I worked at a beautiful brasserie called Souk el Tayeb. Normally, I didn’t eat breakfast because I ate so much and so well during the day. One morning, however, I was so hungry that I asked the guys for breakfast, which turned out to be my new “breakfast of champions”: a freshly cooked flat bread, smothered in spices and filled with cheese and fresh mint. I was instructed to open it up and douse it with chili and lemon juice before tucking in. It was a wondrous culinary experience and here is my version. — John Gregory Smith
2 tablespoons dried thyme
11/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 large flour tortillas
7 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
7 ounces mozzarella, thinly sliced
1 large handful mint leaves, roughly
lemon wedges, to serve
1 Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Mix the thyme, cumin, allspice, chili powder, oil and a pinch of salt together in a bowl. Lay out the tortillas on an oven rack and brush the tops with the flavored oil. Divide the cherry tomatoes and mozzarella into four potions and arrange over the top of each tortilla.
2 Put the rack with the pizzas in the oven and cook 5 to 6 minutes until the bread becomes really crisp at the edges and the cheese melts. Scatter the mint leaves over and serve immediately with wedges of lemon to squeeze over the top.