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My Kitchen, Your Recipe: Candi Redmond's Koobey and Tabouleh

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By Mary Alice Holt

Candi Kayrouz Redmond of Rineyville sent me her family’s recipes for Koobey and Tabouleh a couple of months ago, but because fresh mint was an integral part of the Koobey recipe, I knew I would have to wait until spring (or Kentucky Derby time) to make it.

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These recipes are Lebanese — Candi’s father was from Becharre, Lebanon; her mother was Italian. Candi calls herself a plain, old-fashioned cook, but she says her husband, Eric, likes to try new things and loves to spice things up.

The day Candi sent the recipes would have been her mother’s 70th birthday. Sunday was the day for her mom to cook and was a special time for the whole family.

In the Lebanese culture, lamb is used more often than beef, and Candi said most of her family would use lamb in the recipe for Koobey, but she prefers beef.

The Koobey is the main dish, and the Tabouleh would be the salad to serve with it. Candi suggests that if you have a sweet tooth and want a dessert to go with the meal that you try warm Dutch apple pie topped with ice cream.

Candi said her family is spread out now, but they have a reunion every September. She plans to share this column with her family, show them she’s trying to expand and let them know how proud she is to be part of a family that’s so “kind, caring and loving to other people.” She said, “This is what I was taught and live with, and it’s great.”

Candi had warned when she sent the recipes that the Koobey is “hot.” She said her grandma always said ingredients cooked the meat. Her grandmother would always put it in a long loaf-style pan, and, using her hand, would make a cross indentation in the meat. The Koobey can be fried or baked using olive oil. It should be served with olive oil, which Candi said helps decrease the hotness for those who don’t like it seasoned with red pepper.

I made some mistakes when I made the Koobey. For one thing, I really don’t like “hot” dishes. So when I got to the end of the recipe where I was supposed to season with salt and black pepper to taste, I wasn’t sure what to do because I was afraid to taste it, especially raw. So I just sprinkled a little salt and pepper in the meat. The finished product, while it was a little “hot,” was really underseasoned, which was completely my fault. I got online to look up similar recipes, and found most recipes for Kibbeh (which is how it is frequently spelled) call for 1 to 2 teaspoons of salt and about ½ teaspoon of pepper with that amount of meat. Also, it says to serve it with olive oil. The ground steak I had bought had very little fat in it, so I poured a little olive oil over the meat after I took it out of the oven; I think it would have done even better if I had poured the olive oil over it before baking it because it was a little dry (my fault again because of the meat I bought). Also, the “bugada” called for in both recipes is usually called bulgur. They carry the Red Mill brand of bulgur at both Kroger stores, usually in the natural foods section.

Mary Alice Holt can be reached at 505-1751 or at maholt@thenewsenterprise.com.

Lebanese Koobey or Kibbi (or Kibbeh)

1 pound ground round steak (or lamb)

A handful of fresh parsley

A handful of fresh mint

1 teaspoon allspice

2 tablespoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon cumin

1 large green pepper

2 small onions

1 ½ cups bugada (bulgur, fine, cracked wheat)

Salt and black pepper to taste

6 red hot peppers (or add 1 tablespoon of ground red hot pepper)

Soak the cracked wheat (covered with water) for about 30 minutes. Squeeze water out thoroughly, with your hands. Using a meat grinder, grind the round steak and seasonings, adding a little of each vegetable in the grinder with the meat so it goes through the grinder better; add the cracked wheat mixture and hand mix well (Note from Mary Alice: I don’t have a meat grinder so I just did it all in my food processor). Add the seasonings and hand mix well again. Then grind for a second time. Taste. You may need to add more cumin or hot pepper to taste. You can either fry or bake this; if you bake it, bake it in a 350 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until done.

Serve with olive oil and with a Lebanese salad, Tabouleh.

Serves 10

Tabouleh

2 bunches of fresh parsley

1 medium onion

2 green onions (tops only)

Handful of fresh mint

3 medium tomatoes

2 cucumbers, peeled

Juice of 2 lemons (about ½ cup)

2 tablespoons allspice

1 tablespoon cumin

1 cup of bugada (bulgur, fine cracked wheat)

5 ounces of olive oil

Salt, pepper to taste

Cut up all the vegetables in fine, small pieces. Cover the fine cracked wheat with water and soak about 30 minutes, then squeeze the water out. Mix all ingredients together, chill and serve.

Serves 6 to 8