Keeping it traditionally Lebanese, Chef Philippe Massoud reminds us that "cooking is tasting." Don't forget the Baba Ghannouj
and be sure to keep your mezze authentic by sipping award winning Paumanok wine.
For more tips, tricks and techniques, as well as featured member promotions, check out BehindtheBurner.com!
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Hi I’m Caroline Alexa McBride. Welcome to New York’s hottest Lebanese Restaurant Ilili, which in Lebanese means “tell me”. After visiting Lebanon twice, I can assure you, there’s a lot to be said about this country’s remarkable cuisine. So let’s go behind the burner and meet the chef. We’re here at Ilili with the chef and owner Philippe Massoud. What are you making for us? Philippe: Well, we’re going to make a couple of dishes with, this one is one of my favorites, it’s Tabouli. We have parsley, tomato, onion, and bulghur which is cracked wheat. The most important thing is that we have to pick the leaves of parsley from the stems. The reason why you do that is because the stems are not as easily digestible as the leaves on their own. Most importantly you have to have a very sharp knife and you have to be very careful so that you don’t bruise the leaves. They have to be really cut with a knife that is very, very sharp. It makes the whole difference in how Tabouli is going to taste and how it is going to look. In cutting your Roma tomato, you want to cut the edges and then you want to go on a vertical and then you want to remove the core and the seeds from the inside of the tomato. We’re going to start with our parsley and mint mixture. A tablespoon of onion, bulghur, this is the cracked wheat, a cup to three quarters of a cup of diced tomatoes into the mixture, fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil. Now luckily we get our extra virgin olive oil from Lebanon. Cooking is tasting. If you don’t taste, you’re not going to know where your dish is going and you’re going to make disastrous mistakes and tasting resolves most of your problems if not all of them. Caroline: So cooking is tasting. That’s your mantra. Philippe: Absolutely. So now we’re going to work on another one of my favorite dishes, Baba Ganoush, and more specifically eggplant is very prevalent in the Lebanese diet. So what you do is you have your eggplant, and you’re going to poke it at least five or six times and the reason why you do that is that when you’re going to cook it, it will explode if you don’t poke it. And you don’t want to have an exploding eggplant in your kitchen. That would not be fun. Straight onto the open flame, now this is going to make your mess at home. But if you want to be an authentic and a purist cook, you have to do it this way and you got to clean up after yourself. Now that you have your eggplant taken out of the flame, it’s very important to let it sit a little bit, so that it kind of, you know like when you’re cooking meat, you want it to sit a couple of minutes so that the juices will all flow back in and the eggplant is very similar and this is how you attain the flavor that we need to make this Baba Ganoush. We’re going to use tahini which is really sesame paste. And there is some, throughout the United States, it’s being produced in California and in many other areas. Ours comes straight from Lebanon because again, we feel it’s important that we provide the authenticity that we promise to our guests. Caroline: This looks spectacular. What are we eating and why so many dishes? Philippe: Well Lebanese is, Lebanese eating or Mezze eating which is very similar to tapas eating is all about eating many bites of lots of food. And it’s accompanied usually either by wine, we’re actually drinking one of my favorite wines which is Paumanok Chenin Blanc. Paumanok is a vineyard that is in North part of Long Island in Riverhead. It’s owned by Charles and Ursula Massoud who are, who is my uncle and aunt. Caroline: Wait a minute. So your uncle has a winery. You’re an amazing chef. What’s going on in your family? So cheers with the Paumanok. (Softik.) Soktik. Philippe: Yes. Well you would say Softik to me. Softik is from a lady. Soktik is masculine. Caroline: Oh you’re very masculine so Soktik. Philippe: Thank you. Caroline: The wine’s a very nice fruity blend and it’s very fresh, it’s very dry, clean. It has a very nice taste that goes perfectly with this meal. Behind the Burner members can take advantage of our exclusive promotion to enjoy award-winning Paumanok wines. Stay tuned to Behind the Burner where we give you the tips, tricks and techniques that are lighting the culinary world on fire.