Middle Eastern sweets and savories

CHICAGO Every Wednesday this month, ABC7's Hungry Hound has sampled Polish cakes, Italian cookies and Swedish marzipan. Today, in honor of Christmas, we travel to the Middle East and return to the traditional sweets and savories like the ones we found at a new Lebanese bakery in Albany Park.

There are plenty of Middle Eastern bakeries in the city. But few - if any - that really focus on the traditions of Lebanon. Tannourine Bakery and Sweets, named for a village in the hills of Lebanon, they're hoping to recreate the flavors from back home.

"Like in Lebanon, when you walk into a bakery and sweet place, you'll have the baklavas, you'll have the different kind of pies, you'll have the fresh pastries, you'll have the fresh bread," said Issam Matar, Tannourine Bakery & Sweets.

And to achieve that, it helps to have two bakers with nearly 80 years of experience between them. Freshly-baked pita is of course a priority.. here, dough is proofed, portioned, rolled out and then baked in a special oven. After about a minute, the discs inflate and puff up.. they're removed from the oven just before becoming blistered.

Savory beef pies arrive in two sizes: either tiny squares, called sviha.. or large discs, called lachmajeen.

Triangular-shaped spinach pies have the perfect ratio of filling to dough.. and one of the best savory items is the most simple: round, soft, thin dough is liberally brushed with a za'taar spread; it's a spice blend of sumac, oregano and sesame, plus olive oil to assist in spreading it around the top. Baked for just a few minutes, the finished pies are hard to resist.

With so much emphasis on savory items, don't forget about the sweets. Their baklava is hard to beat.

"The Middle Eastern, Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanian, Israeli baklava is different from the Greek baklava. Ours is dry, it's not as juicy, it's not as wet, and we have more than 50 kinds of different baklavas - not just the diamond-shaped one."

Loaded with either pistachios or nuts, surrounded by phyllo dough in various forms, sweetened with honey, these Lebanese sweets will be hard to resist, especially if the bakers are feeling generous.

"This is stuff you only will find in Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine."

Another great Middle Eastern option is the middle eastern bakery in Andersonville at the corner of Clark and Foster.

Tannourine Bakery & Sweets
4806 N. Kedzie Ave.



also mentioned:

Middle Eastern Bakery
1512 W. Foster Ave.


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