Habibi Burger

Look here, Habibi. You know when you wake up sometimes and drag yourself to work, knowing that you will have one of those all day long boring meetings that just strips the humanity out of you? Well, if you ever find yourself in that situation, I have the best remedy for you: A cheese-stuffed habibi burger.

This burger is truly something to look forward to just devour the second you get home. Here’s what this burgers checks:

Juicy ☑
Flavor ☑
Greasy ☑
Gigantic ☑

You don’t believe me? Fine, take a look yourself:

Oh what now? You want to get your hands on this monstrosity? I thought so. Alright, roll up your sleeves and let’s get right into it:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb 75% fat ground beef. ( I dare you to say that’s too fatty.)
  • 1 cup of chopped parsley
  • 1 cup of chopped green onions
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp (or more) black pepper
  • 1 tsp all spice. (Please tell me you know what this is and have it in your kitchen. God damn it. Go get it.)
  • 1 cup of your favorite shredded cheese.

Let’s do this:

  1. Grab a big bowl and throw in everything except the cheese.
  2. Seriously roll up your sleeves if you’re wearing a long sleeve shirt. It’s about to get messy.
  3. Use your god given beautiful hands to mix all the ingredients together. If I catch you using a fork, a spoon, or any other tool to mix this because you’re afraid your hands will get dirty, you will lose your Habibi title. Yeah, I’m serious!
  4. Once everything is mixed in well, you should have a huge beef patty that smells like heaven on earth.
  5. Add a touch of olive oil to smooth everything out.
  6. Now, cut that patty into two. Flatten each one of them as much as possible, but don’t make it too thin. Otherwise you will poke holes into them and that’s no bueno. Yes, I know one word in Spanish.
  7. Add the cheese on top of one of the patties and keep it in the center and away from the edges.
  8. Carefully grab the other patty and add it on top. Now make sure the edges are nice and sealed up. It should look like a one, cohesive, huge patty.
  9. Get your cast iron skillet. You haven’t bought one yet? Bye.
  10. Heat up your skillet to medium high and add a touch of olive oil. Let it sit for few seconds until the oil is nice and hot.
  11. Gently place the beef patty into the skillet. If you just throw it in there, it will probably break and the cheese will fall off, and you will create the biggest mess in your life.
  12. Take a minute to enjoy that sizzle. Oh, and please don’t touch the damn patty once it’s in the skillet. Let it sit there for a minute or two to get a nice and crispy.
  13. Flip it, very carefully, and let that side get nice and crispy.
  14. At this point you want to check the doneness of the burger. With your index finger, lightly touch the top-center of the burger. If it’s too soft, it’s too rare. If it’s too firm, you burned it. You want somewhere in between: not too soft, not too firm. No rocket science here.
  15. Take out the burger and let it rest for few seconds.
  16. Slice it in half as you see in the video. Enjoy the views!
  17. Build up your burger with either lettuce or kale, tomatoes, and raw onions.
  18. Devour!
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Garlic Ginger Shrimp and Sautéed Veggies

Garlic Ginger Shrimp

Shako mako Habibi?! I’m not teaching you that again. If you forgot, go here and practice god damn it.

Ok so let’s talk flavor because this dish is all about that and then some! The aroma alone that you get from sautéing garlic, onions, and ginger all together in a pan with some olive oil will make your mouth water like a puppy waiting for a piece of chicken.

Yalla! Let’s get down to business. Ugh, you know what “yalla” means, right? Dude. Okay, real quick. “Yalla” could mean “come on”, “hurry up”, “let’s go”, or “let’s do this”. A very useful word, so memorize it.

  • 1 lb raw shrimp. Please do us all a favor and don’t cook an already cooked shrimp.
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 medium size onion
  • 3 medium size tomatoes
  • A dime size of ginger
  • Mushrooms
  • 6 sliced carrots
  • 1 can of baby corn
  • Handful of snap peas
  • Some broccoli florets
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder

Let’s get cooking, shall we?

  1. First thing first, chop the onions and garlic very finely. If you have a garlic press, use it.
  2. Grate your ginger and set it aside. If you don’t have a grater, it’s not a big deal. Just do your best to chop the ginger very finely.
  3. Chop the tomatoes and red pepper
  4. In a hot skillet, add some olive oil and throw in your onions, garlic, and ginger all together. Let that cook for a few minutes, or until the onions start catching a little bit of a brown color. WARNING: the smell here is going to be too damn good.
  5. Now add the tomatoes and red pepper. We are building a sauce if you haven’t noticed.
  6. After you start seeing some juices in the pan, add in your turmeric, curry powder, chili powder, and salt and pepper. Let that simmer for a few minutes.
  7. Add a quarter cup of water and gently stir everything together.
  8. Now go ahead and add in your shrimp. Enjoy watching these bad boys get baptized in all these flavors. Those are going to be holy shrimps!
  9. Shrimps cook fairly quickly. So keep an eye on them. Once they switch from dark grey to pink, they are all set.
  10. Take out everything and put it in a separate bowl. Keep all the leftover sauce in the skillet. DO NOT wash that skillet yet, please!
  11. Put the skillet back on the burner. Add some more olive oil, and then dump all your veggies in. The leftover sauce in the pan will make these veggies taste like heaven on hearth.
  12. Let the vegetables cook for about 30 minutes on medium heat. Stir occasionally to make sure everything cooks evenly.

And you are ready to eat Habibi! A glass of red wine with this meal goes a long way so treat yourself.

 

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Lemon Glazed Chicken with Butternut Squash

Fancy stuff! Not really, but to say that it’s good would be an understatement. This meal is perfect if you’re trying to impress your special somebody before you “Netflix and Chill”…wink wink.

Okay Habibi, let’s get down to business:

  • Chicken, duh. You could use any kind of chicken. I used chicken thighs because I love how they suck up all the spices so easily. AND they’re pretty cheap.
  • One butternut squash
  • A bunch of asparagus
  • A lemon
  • Some good ol’ kosher salt
  • Some black pepper
  • Give it a kick with some red pepper
  • A little bit of onion powder
  • Some olive oil

Got everything? Dope. Let’s prep:

  1. Put the chicken in a big bowl and add all the spices, slice and hand-squeeze the lemon (because you’re a boss), and drizzle with olive oil.
  2. Mix everything together and set the chicken aside to marinate for a few minutes.
  3. Now the fun part: cutting the butternut squash. This SOB is really hard to cut so make sure to use a sharp knife and be very careful. Here’s a a good tutorial so you don’t slice your fingers off.
  4. After you cut the squash into cubes, put it in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, add salt and pepper, and put it in a pre-heated oven to 400 F degrees.
  5. The squash is going to take a while to cook. About 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the cubes. So feel free to crack a cold one or pour you some wine and chill for a little bit.
  6. Now, lets prepare the asparagus. Okay I really don’t need to tell you how, damn it. Just add olive oil salt and pepper. Done? great, next!
  7. Let’s cook that chicken, habibi. Get your cast iron pan (not going to say this again. You need one of those.) Get the pan nice and hot, put a little bit of canola oil in, and add the chicken. Take a minute and enjoy that sizzle.
  8. Ok, pro tip: do not move that chicken. Let it sit there for a few minutes so it gets a nice golden crust. Flip the chicken, and do the same on the other side. To make sure the chicken is cooked all the way through, just be patient lol. You don’t need thermometers or anything. Just let it sit there and cook, flip every once in a while, and keep an eye on it. No rocket science here.
  9. After about 30 minutes since you put the squash in the oven, check in on it. Flip these cubes so they cook evenly. I’m not a big fan of setting up an exact cooking time. Just keep an eye on it and make sure it doesn’t burn.
  10. Last step: Asparagus. Super easy. You have two options here:

A) Add the asparagus to the pan after the chicken is done cooking. That way the asparagus gets all these chicken flavors. This is what I prefer.

B) Put the asparagus in a cooking sheet, and slide it in the oven for about 10 minutes. Remember the oven is really hot, and asparagus cooks very quickly.

And voila! Dinner is served. Take pictures, post them on Instagram with the hashtag #habibisknowbest and brag about your cooking skills.

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Coffee Rubbed Steak

My view on steak is simple: there is good and there is too damn good. This dish is TOO DAMN GOOD!

I was very hesitant to try cooking steak with coffee. But man I’m so glad I did! The smokey bark and flavored crust you get from this recipe is out of this world.

Here’s how to whip it up:

rib-eye steak (king of all cuts)
3 tbs ground coffee
A bunch of black pepper
A bunch of kosher salt
Some chili powder (I use an Ethiopian red pepper. It’s the best!)
Some brown sugar (you’re not making a cookie so please don’t use a lot)

Now:

  1. mix all the spices together and coat the steak really well. Then heat up a cast iron skillet (because all other pans suck) and add a little oil. Sear the meat on high heat for three minutes per side.
  2. Add butter and crushed whole gloves of garlic and begin basting the steak with the garlic flavored melted butter (yes I did use butter twice in a sentence. Go ahead, judge me.) Do that for about a minute on each side.
  3. Alright can we address the elephant in the room now? Steak doneness. Here’s the deal, habibi: there is only one way to eat steak and that is medium rare. Just feel the steak with your fingers and make sure it’s soft and not rock hard. No rocket-science here people. If you don’t see red when you cut the steak, you burned it.
  4.  Take that beautiful thing out of your skillet and let it rest for a bit. Gordon Ramsay does it and SO SHOULD YOU!
  5. Serve with your favorite veggies on the side. In this dish I made some sauteed potatoes and asparagus which I cooked in the steak’s butter multi-goodness that was left in the pan.

That’s all habibis. Give it a try and let me know how it is!

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The Story of a Habibi in America

My name is Taif
Taif Jany in Paris, France.

My name is Taif (like Knife but with a T) and I’m just a habibi who lives in the United States with a big appetite.

I was born and raised in Baghdad. When I was 16 years old my father was kidnapped on his way home from work. I was forced to flee Iraq with my remaining family and seek refuge in Damascus, Syria. We’ve never heard a thing about dad.

After spending about two years in Syria, I came to the United  States as a student. I went to school at Union College in Schenectady, NY and moved to Washington, D.C. right after graduation.

Being alone in America, away from my family and my favorite falafel stands, I was  forced to teach myself how to cook. This is mostly because I really missed my mom’s homemade food, but also I started craving Iraqi food in general. When it comes to food, Iraq (in my humble opinion) is the hub of food in Western Asia (YES, IRAQ IS IN ASIA! Bet you didn’t know that.) From world-famous sumac kebabs and lamb stews, to dolma and masgoof (grilled fish), Iraq is where it’s at!

That being said, I quickly learned that America is a place of abundance in many ways, and food ingredients is no exception. In the United States, I can access many items that we don’t have in Iraq. One in particular has forever changed my life. Let me tell you all about it.

During my very first day of school at Union College, brand new to the United States I went to the dining hall for breakfast with few folks I met during orientation. I was blown away by the amount and variety of food options they had there. However, only one food item stood out to me the most. It was a tray full of crispy red strips of meat. It looked so delicious I didn’t even bother asking what it was. My friends were also very insisting that I should give it a try. After I took the first bite, my friends were like “oh how do you like pork?” and I responded “this is the best thing ever what is it?” And that’s how I learned about BACON!

Very quickly, I was also brainwashed by America’s steak culture. If you ask any of my friends what I love to eat at any day and anytime, they would say steak. I don’t care what cut or shape it is, grilled, seared, or broiled, I love STEAK.

Infusing Iraqi flavors into America’s diverse food options makes cooking a very exciting hobby for me. I see it as a vehicle to bridge our cultures and end decades of misinformation. I firmly believe that Iraqis and Americans can benefit so much by learning about one another. Heck, we have so much in common: we are good looking, we are fun, and we love food.

My dad always loved the people of America and I now see why. His loss did not go in vain. It helped me adapt to and appreciate the people who are around me, no matter where I am.

I understand that not everybody here can relate to me being an Iraqi, and not everyone loves to cook or experiment different cuisines. However, I  know that food is the best way to get to know people and learn about their different backgrounds and cultures. Let’s eat!

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