Homemade gatherings
Homemade gatherings
Homemade gatherings
Homemade gatherings
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  • Load image into Gallery viewer, Homemade gatherings
  • Load image into Gallery viewer, Homemade gatherings
  • Load image into Gallery viewer, Homemade gatherings

Homemade gatherings

Imagine the streets of Aleppo in May, when roses blossom, the city turns pink, street markets are filled with mountains of petals and rose flavored jams & syrups. From her orange kitchen in Boston, Mary brings back souvenirs of gatherings around the dining table.

Mary grew up in Aleppo, before moving to Beirut to study interior design. She remembers the excitement when she was a child waiting for strawberry season in Spring and oranges in December. 'It was all about food growing up.' This fondness for family gatherings with grandparents and cousins, the long lunches chattering around delicious platters got her into cooking. When she moved to Boston, eighteen years ago, with her husband, they first relied on take-away. She missed her family and realized that preparing homemade dishes, with the aromas of her native city, could bring her closer to home. She gathered recipes over the phone from her mother and grandmother and even flipped through the pages of cookbooks at the local library. Mary realized she wanted her two daughters to experience this heritage and started documenting her recipes for them, jotting down ingredients, and capturing each dish with a photo to remember it. It is during one of those big gatherings around her cooking, that her cousin snapped a photo and opened an Instagram page for her, From the Orange Kitchen.

At the moment, on her feed you will find pumpkin recipes, the season’s must-have. A velvety soup with aromatics sprinkled with toasted seeds, and bread filled with caramelized & spiced cubes of pumpkin. From her childhood she learned food is best when you eat it in season, and prefers to cook with fresh ingredients. Every week, she drops by her local farm or the farmer’s market to get her basics; tomatoes, peppers, herbs and whatever is ripe. During apple picking time, in September, Mary baked a spiced glazed apple cake with cinnamon. Her meat is also pasture raised, from a nearby organic farm she discovered during lockdown; whatever arrives in the box inspires her to figure out a menu for the day. When out of ideas, her go to will always be our traditional veggie stews with loubieh (green beans), bemieh (okra) or kousa (zucchini). She admits she now transmits the recipes to her daughters, the same way her grandmother did to her ‘add a little bit of that,’ no measurements needed. She finds her spices at specialty grocery stores in Boston, but every time she comes back home, to Aleppo or Beirut, she makes sure to bring cumin, dried mint, zaatar, her favorite Aleppo pepper and sahlab powder to prepare her pistacchio ice cream ‘that stretches.’ Beautifully captured on her feed, the plates are set in her orange kitchen, where the family sits together for dinner. She tells us laughingly that she is repainting her house this week, but the orange wall that inspired her page will not change.


 Mary shared with us her Phyllo dough & Labneh Tart recipe, which is set to become our new go to!

‘This recipe doesn’t have exact measurements, it’s more an idea than a recipe.’

You will need:

  • Phyllo dough sheets
  • Olive oil, or a mix of melted butter & olive oil
  • Zaatar 
  • Sumac
  • Labneh 
  • Tomatoes: baby tomatoes cut in half or chopped tomatoes
  • Herbs of choice, chopped (mint, oregano, and/or basil are a good choice)

You can use a tart pan with a removable bottom, a spring form pan, or even a muffin tin (to make individual servings)

1)      Line the pan of your choice with a sheet of phyllo dough, tucking the corners, and the extra dough.

2)      Brush the sheet/layer of dough generously with the olive oil and butter, and sprinkle it with the Zaatar mix. Repeat with a few sheets, to have a sturdy tart. Make sure to grease the pan, and to brush each sheet of dough with oil/butter and Zaatar.

3)      Bake in a preheated oven (375°F / 190°C), or follow the directions on the phyllo dough package) until the dough is fully cooked, crispy, and golden brown. Let it cool completely.

4)      In a bowl, mix the tomatoes with olive oil, sumac, herbs and season with salt.

5)      Right before serving, spread a generous layer of labneh on the phyllo tart shell, top it with the tomato and herb salad. You can finish it with some more herbs on top, or an extra sprinkle of Zaatar or sumac.