4 Must-Try Recipes From Dubai-Based Chef Lidija's Kitchen

BY Lidija Abu Ghazaleh / Jun 12 2018 / 16:26 PM

Dubai-based Canadian catering chef and blogger Lidija Abu Ghazaleh shares a few of her favourite recipes from Lidija's Kitchen

4 Must-Try Recipes From Dubai-Based Chef Lidija's Kitchen
Photography by Aasiya Jagadeesh

Quinoa Salad with Dates, Pomegranate & Pecans

• 1 cup of dates, pits removed and sliced
• 1 cup of uncooked quinoa
• 2 cups water
• ¾ cup pomegranate seeds (from one medium pomegranate)
• ¾ cup pecans, roughly chopped
• 1 cup cooked chickpeas
• 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
• 2 spring onions, sliced (white and green parts)
• 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
• 2 tablespoons fresh dill
• ¼ cup olive oil
• Juice of ½ a lemon
• Salt & fresh black pepper to taste

Rinse your quinoa under cold water and drain well. Add quinoa, a pinch of salt, and 2 cups of water into a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low, and continue cooking for 13-15 minutes. Turn off the heat, let stand for 5 minutes and fluff with a fork.
Allow quinoa to cool.
Place the quinoa into a large bowl. Add pomegranate seeds, pecans, chickpeas, onion, parsley, and dill. Toss all the ingredients well. Add the olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper, and toss again until all the ingredients are beautifully incorporated throughout your quinoa. Garnish with the roasted fennel. Taste, check for seasoning and enjoy!

Lentil Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash & Maple vinaigrette

• 1 cup of brown or French lentils, picked over to remove any debris
• 3 cups of water
• 600 grams butternut squash or pumpkin, seeds removed, peeled, and cut cross-wise into ¾ inch slices
• 1 tablespoon honey
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• Salt and pepper
• 1 small red onion, thinly sliced or finely chopped
• 2 spring onions, white and green parts, sliced (optional)
• 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped

• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• ¼ cup of maple syrup
• Juice of ½ lemon

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C (400 degrees F)
In a pot large enough to allow the lentils to expand, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add the lentils, cover, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 20-30 minutes until tender. Let cool slightly.
Toss pumpkin slices with honey, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, or until they start to brown. Flip over and roast until cooked through and slightly brown on the exterior, 10-15 more minutes. Remove from the oven. Cut into cubes when cool enough to handle.
To make the vinaigrette, whisk together olive oil and maple syrup. Stir in the lemon juice.
Toss the lentils with the vinaigrette, parsley, red onion, and spring onions. Season with salt and pepper.
Give it a taste, add more seasoning if necessary. Add the cubed pumpkin and toss.  Serve at room temperature.

Filet Mignon with honey-balsamic glaze & pan-roasted potato cakes with lamb’s lettuce and green beans

For the honey Balsamic glaze
• 1 cup balsamic vinegar
• ¼ cup honey
• 1 teaspoon unsalted butter (optional)

In a small pot, heat balsamic vinegar until it starts to boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer for five minutes or until slightly reduced.
Add the honey, and continue to simmer until the mixture has turned into a thick glaze, about 7 to 8 minutes. Be careful not to over-boil as this can easily burn.
Remove from heat, stir in butter if desired. Serve beside the meat. 
The glaze can be stored, covered, and refrigerated for up to two weeks. Let sit at room temperature to loosen the glaze, and reheat slightly over low heat if necessary.

For the meat
• 2 pieces of beef tenderloin, approximately 225 grams – 2 to 3 inches thick
• Maldon salt or sea salt
• Cracked black pepper
• Olive oil
• Unsalted butter


Note – If you like your meat cooked more than rare, preheat your oven to 200 C (400 F).
Remove meat from the refrigerator 30-60 minutes before cooking. 
Generously sprinkle salt and black pepper on all sides of the filet mignon.
Heat a heavy bottom ovenproof skillet or cast iron pan over high heat. Place a teaspoon of olive oil and a small nob of butter on the pan, just around the surface where the meat will touch. *Be careful not to coat the entire pan with oil and butter as it will smoke.
Place the meat on top of the butter and olive oil. As soon as you place the meat on the pan, put a bit more butter on top of the meat and let it melt. Let it cook, undisturbed, for 2 to 3 minutes. Do not be tempted to move the meat around or you will loose the beautiful sear!
Flip over with a pair of tongs or a spatula onto the other side, and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Your meat should have developed a beautiful, crusted, seared exterior.
You can sear the sides by placing the piece of meat on its side for 30 seconds, until you have a nice crust, repeat on the other side(s) until you have the exterior seared. If you like your meat very rare, remove the meat from heat at this point and let it rest for at least 5 minutes before cutting into it.
If you like you meat cooked, read on.
Remove from the pan heat. Carefully place it in the middle rack of your oven (do this with oven mitts as your handle will be extremely hot. I have learned the hard way). 
Bake for: 3 to 4 minutes for medium rare, 5 to 6 minutes for medium, 7 to 8 minutes for well done.
Remove from the oven. Transfer to a plate and let sit for at least five minutes before slicing into it. Serve immediately with honey balsamic glaze and roasted garlic mashed potato cakes.

For the Roasted Garlic mashed potato cakes

• 500 grams potatoes (for boiling) – washed, peeled, and cut into quarters
• 1 small head of garlic
• ¼ cup of cream
• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C.
Snip off the top of the first ¼ of your garlic crosswise (the garlic cloves should be slightly exposed while leaving them intact in their skin). Wrap tightly in aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until tender (this can be done in advance if you like).
Meanwhile, start boiling the potatoes.
Boil your potatoes in a large pot of boiling water until tender. Drain and put into a large bowl.
Heat the cream until just under the boiling point.
Squeeze half the garlic out of the skin and add to the potatoes (the remaining garlic an be saved for another use, or spread on your beef once cooked). Add the hot cream, butter, salt and pepper.  Mash with a fork until the ingredients have been incorporated and the potatoes are relatively smooth.
Set the potatoes aside to cool a little, then shape into cakes that are roughly 1½ inches high.
Heat a heavy bottom pan over medium high heat. Add olive oil, then the potato cakes. Cook until the bottom of the cakes are golden brown. Using a spatula, carefully flip over onto the other side and cook until golden brown.  Serve immediately with the filet mignon and balsamic glaze.

For the lamb’s lettuce (mâche) and green beans

• 250 grams fine green beans
• 1 small bunch of mâche
• Juice of 1 lemon
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• Maldon or sea salt

Bring a pot of water to the boil with a fat pinch of sea salt.  Add the green beans, and blanch for approximately three minutes until cooked through. Drain, then place the beans in a bowl filled with ice water to stop the cooking process.
Dressing – whisk lemon, olive oil, and salt together in a bowl.
Divide the dressing in two. Toss half the dressing on the mâche and used the other half for the green beans. Serve with the meat.

Passion Fruit Meringue Tarts

For the Passion Fruit Curd

• 1 cup fresh passion fruit pulp
• 6 large egg yolks (keep 3 egg whites for the meringue, recipe below)
• 2 whole eggs
• ¾ cup caster sugar
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Whisk all the ingredients together in a heat proof bowl. Place the bowl over a pot filled a quarter of the way up with simmering water (the water should not touch the bottom of the bowl).
Stir the egg yolk passion-fruit mixture constantly until it starts to thicken. Be careful not to over cook or you will be left with scrambled eggs!
Remove from heat. Quickly stir in four tablespoons of butter.
Strain the passion fruit curd through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl.
Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the passion fruit curd to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool to room temperature before filling your tarts.
The curd can last well covered in the refrigerator for up to a week.

For the Meringue * you will need a candy thermometer and a small chef’s blowtorch

• 1 cup + 2 tablespoons caster sugar
• ¼ cup water
• 3 extra-large egg whites

Heat the water and 1 cup of the sugar over high heat until a candy thermometer reads 220 degrees F/104 degrees C)
Meanwhile, whip the egg whites until foamy, about 1 minute. Add the sugar, and continue to whip until soft peaks form. In a slow steady stream, gradually add the sugar syrup. Continue to whip the egg whites until they are thick and glossy and have cooled to room temperature (7 to 10 minutes).

For the pastry

• 250 grams all-purpose flour
• 1/8th teaspoon salt
• 100 grams unstalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
• 80 grams icing sugar
• 2 large eggs
• 2 teaspoons water

Put flour in a large bowl and combine with salt.  Add the butter and sugar.  Using your hands, lightly combine all the ingredients together
Put your butter, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  Using a standing or a handheld mixer, mix the ingredients until just combined. Add the eggs and mix until combined.  Gradually and half the flour, pulse to combine.  Add the water, and the remaining flour.  Pulse until the mixture holds together.
Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for one hour.
Preheat your oven to 180
Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough until approximately 1/8th of an inch thick.
Carefully divide the dough amongst your tart moulds, while pushing the pastry onto the bottom and sides of the moulds.  Use a rolling pin to cut off the excess pastry on the rim.
Prick the bottom of the dough several times with fork. Line the tarts with aluminum foil or parchment paper and baking beans or rice.  Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.  Remove the foil or paper and the beans, and bake for 10 to 15 more minutes until lightly browned.  Set to cool before filling with passion fruit curd and meringue.

To assemble your tarts:
Spoon the passion fruit curd into each tart shell. Pipe or pile meringue on top. Carefully brulé the meringue until it is lightly golden.
Serve immediately.

All rights reserved and copyrights belong to Lidija’s Kitchen. Read our interview with Chef Lidija here.