A Night in Tunisia at Nancy’s Candy & Spice, Lawrenceville, GA

Cooking class with Nancy







Cooking class with Nancy



Cooking class with Nancy












Good evening everyone. It has been awhile since my last blog post and I must get back to consistency. Earlier this week  I had the pleasure to host a trial run of cooking class  in a joint venture with Nancy Abuaisheh of Nancy’s Candy and Spice located in Downtown Lawrenceville, Georgia.  It’s a delectable shop filled with the scent of aromatic spices from all over the world along with the best tasting sweets that will leave your mouth and senses craving for more.  We had an awesome time sharing and celebrating our passion for food, cooking, friends, fellowship and life. I presented two recipes for the guests that were received with enthusiasm, appreciation and sincerity. I featured a winter green salad with feta cheese, pistachios and chickpeas with lemon vinaigrette. The next recipe is a Mediterranean Cous Cous infused with Saffron and Pomegranate. Here are the recipes from last night.

Winter Garden Salad with Field Greens, Feta, Pistachios with Herb Vinaigrette

  • 2 bags (5oz.) of Organic Field Greens (chilled)
  • 1 can  of chickpeas (rinsed)
  • 3 oz. pistachios (roasted, salted and shelled)
  • 3 oz. fresh feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tbsp. of fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 bottle of herb vinaigrette (good quality)
  • 3 tbsp. of fresh lemon juice
  • 2 oz. of fresh lemon zest
  • Fresh grind sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
  • Add diced tomatoes and sliced English cucumbers (optional)

First place field greens in large bowl. Add chickpeas and pistachios and set aside. Do not mix. This is your salad base. Next take herb vinaigrette (shake vigorously) and place in small bowl. Add chopped oregano, feta cheese, lemon juice and zest with salt and pepper to taste. Whisk everything together for a minute or so.  This is your flavor profile. Add the flavored vinaigrette to the salad base and toss with your hands lightly for a few minutes until greens are coated with vinaigrette. Add a bit of salt and pepper to bring the flavors out. Plate up on chilled salad plates and serve with warm crusty French baguette or warm pita bread. Serve immediately.

Mediterranean Vegetable Cous Cous infused Saffron and Pomegranate

In this recipe if pomegranate is not available use pomegranate juice and add a few ounces in the cooking process with the aromatic vegetables.

  • 1 medium eggplant ( small diced and burped***)
  • 1 small red onion, diced small
  • 1 each of red, green and yellow pepper (small dice)
  • 2 oz. of EVOO
  • 1 pomegranate or 2 oz. of pomegranate juice
  • 1/3 bunch of chopped cilantro
  • 3 each of fresh mint and oregano, chopped
  • ½ tbsp. of cumin and turmeric
  • (1 lb. box) of cous cous
  • 1 qt. of vegetable or chicken broth
  • Cracked black pepper and sea salt to taste
  • The key to the recipe is to build flavor and texture with the cous cous as the highlight

Before cooking the cous cous which takes just a few minutes cook the aromatic vegetables and set aside.

Add EVOO in to medium heated skillet. Add onions, peppers, herb mix and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add eggplant and cook and sauté for additional 3-4 minutes until eggplant begins to take on some browning on each side. Add pomegranate juice and turn off heat and stir liberally to enhance the flavor. Add salt and pepper. Set aside.

In medium pot heat broth and heat to boil about 4 minutes. Add saffron (or turmeric) with ground cumin and stir in for a few seconds.   Add cous cous in a steady stream and quickly stir for a few seconds like you would polenta or cream of wheat. Add additional fresh herb mix about 2 to 3 tablespoons. Place lid on top and remove from heat for 3-5 minutes. Take lid off and fluff cous cous with a fork. Add cooked vegetables and mix with wooden spoon for a few minutes.  As an option you can add diced dried apricots or dried cranberries for an added texture and natural sweetness. Serve immediately.

The burping of the eggplant which means adding salt to the diced eggplant before application will extract the excess of water and moisture within the eggplant that will make the eggplant hold its firmness rather than rubbery and soggy.

We had a great time! If you’re looking for some sweet treats to cap off an evening or Friday stop by Nancy’s Candy & Spice and tell her that Chef Donnell referred you for a special treat. She has some awesome candies. The eggnog coated almonds are to die for amongst her many sweet treats.  So stop by, its worth the trip.  She’s located in downtown Lawrenceville on West Crogan Street next to Dominick’s Italian Restaurant.

Nancy’s Candy & Spice

Nuts, Fried Fruit, Candy and Spices

186 West Crogan Street Lawrencville, GA 30045

770-910-7927 store


Look for the next post soon!



Hummus: What you dont know now you know!


It seems that the western world of recent years has become infatuated with this basic and simple  food/meal.  To some its a dip for a vegetable crudite at a party, to others its a vegetable spread for sandwiches and to others it has become an alternate protein source to vegans and those who want to replace animal protein in their daily diet. When you visit the prepared foods or ethnic sections in your local market  you see it presented in many varieties from traditional, greek, black bean, cilantro and lemon,  red pepper, spicy, kalamata olives, sun dried tomato, etc. and the list goes on and on. This food staple is nothing new to the world, only new to us in the U.S. with the onslaught of highly visible marketing of every type of food based company on the planet.  But to those of us who really value, treasure, and pay homage to foods origin, culture and practical  everyday uses its simple. We prepare it in its original form. That’s right, the traditional way: chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, tahini (ground sesame seeds),  olive oil, a bit of paprika, salt, and cumin, whirl it up in a food processor and viola! break out the pita bread, kick your feet up on the couch or the lounge chair and enjoy the afternoon.


Today, I want to present to some and introduce to others… Hummus (HOOM-uhs)! It  has been  said that hummus was originated from the Middle East. The Greeks, Arabians and the Israeli’s all lay claim to its origin as their own. But according to historical information, hummus most likely originated from Ancient Egypt in which  originated some 7,000 years ago in Egyptian culture. Chickpeas were abundant  in the fertile regions of the Middle East and commonly eaten. The Greeks and Egyptian were traders for centuries.  Greek and Arabian  cuisine share many similar foods items in their cuisines.  Some of the food items are stuffed grape leaves, baklava and tabouleh which are quite similar with specific differences of regional and local ingredients that are used. Many foods crossed over  during historical periods especially during the height of the Ottoman Empire. Hummus is also a part of several Middle Eastern cultures like Syrian/Yemen , Lebanese, Israeli and Palestinian. In Syria its one of the most popular dishes which is traditional eaten with falafel, kibbe and tabouleh. In  Israel its  a common part of the every day meals. Its popular because its made from ingredients that follow the Kashrut which is the Jewish dietary laws which hummus can be combined with both meat and dairy meals. In Israel it has been elevated  to become a “national food  symbol” and consumed more than twice as much as the neighboring Arabic countries, according to figures by Tsabar Salads, a hummus manufacturer in Israel. In Palestine hummus has been a long staple food, often served warm (see I told your so earlier), with  bread for breakfast , lunch or dinner. Its usaually garnished with olive oil, “nana” mint leaves, paprika, parsley or cumin.  Today its popular throughout the Middle East, Turkey, North Africa, Morocco and in Middle Eastern cuisine around the world. Chickpeas were widely eaten in the regions in which they were often cooked in stews and other hot dishes. The earliest know recipes for a dish similar to hummus bi tahina (when tahina is added to hummus) are recorded in cookbooks published in Cairo in the 13th century. A cold puree of chickpeas with vinegar and pickled lemon with herbs, spices, and oil, but no tahini or garlic, appears in the Kitāb al-Wusla ilā l-habīb fī wasf al-tayyibāt wa-l-tīb. This is very interesting to me because the historical background of a particular food item can be claimed by one or several cultures, but once you found out its earliest primitive origins can really be eye opening to many. I think we will all be surprised to where certain food really originated from. That’s why I chose to write, explore, comprehend and share the historical and cultural aspect of the foods and cuisines that we treasure from all around the world.


A traditional Middle Eastern meal is spread before the family and guests. This is where hummus makes its grand entrance to the affair as a dip or spread. It is the highlight of the food festivities as  a starter or appetizer of the culinary delicacies that are to be presented before the hungry guests that would induce a great sense of conversation and fellowship through the dining experience. So you see hummus is more than a bunch of mashed chickpeas  with lemon juice, spices and seasoning mixed in a bowl and served cold. Traditionally speaking its prepared and served at room temperature so the true flavor and essence can be captured  by the palate with the silkiness of texture, strong, yet subtle hints of fresh garlic and lemon juice, favorable olive oil and nutty profile of tahini (sesame seed paste). Its traditionally served with pita bread, a staple bread of the Middle East.  This starter wins  and outweighs the competition which is usually Potato Chips and sour cream and onion dip by a long shot! The reason being when its made properly with freshest and best quality ingredients  you can’t help but go back and get some more time after time.


Actually I made a small batch yesterday evening after having a taste for it for about a week. I was in the store earlier this week picking up a few things and I was in the deli/prepared foods section and saw several brands of hummus and put a few in my basket and then picked up some pita chips (my favorite brand that I will not reveal). I thought this would take care of my midday and late evening snacking with some baby carrots and  celery sticks. As I continued shopping through the store it hit me that I can make my own for less than half the price of the two 8oz. tubs and two bags of pita chips (that’s half filled with air) that would cost me over $10! That’s not a snack price, that’s  meal price! So what did I do? I went back to the deli section and put everything back for those who may want to enjoy with some of the additives and whatnot and picked up some a pack of traditional pita bread went over to the canned vegetable aisle and got two cans of chickpeas and off to the check out counter. All the other ingredients I have at home in the fridge and the pantry. I was on my way to some real food happiness! Food is happiness to me just like some good music, your favorite outfit, pair of shoes or song. Good food makes me feel at ease, at peace with me, the world and those around me.


If you live or visit Metro Atlanta drive out to Loganville and  visit Athenas Greek Cuisine & Mediterranean Bakery, 706 Athens Hwy. 78, Loganville, GA 30052 770.554.7400. I know the owner and the food is exceptional! I buy my hummus and tabolueh there if I don’t make my own. Also  visit the Mediterranean Grill with two additonal locations around metro Atlanta; http://www.mediterraneangrill.com/  2126 North Decatur Road, Decatur, GA 30033 404.320.0101. The owner is a former chef They have great portion sizes and the lunch combination plate is very good. Its well know amongst the local business and Emory university crowd!

Follow my new blog as I explore the culture, history and significance of food!


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