Best Lebanese Recipes for Easter, a glass of ice water, and a word of thanks

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It has always struck me that the first thing that happens whenever someone walks up the front steps and enters the home of anyone in my family, they are welcomed with a tall glass of ice water. It’s our pineapple, our refreshment. As my father used to say: don’t even ask them. Just put the glass out there, and watch what happens (they’ll drink). That he anticipated a need was a simple, but true, satisfaction.

Many of you have been here at Rose Water & Orange Blossoms from the start, and a great many of you have just walked up the front steps recently. Old and new friends, welcome. Thank you so very much to everyone who last week found this place worthy of a vote (and the time that took) in Saveur’s Best Food Blog Awards—there were so many great blogs in the running, and in the end, we won!  Your support means the world to me, and I am honored every day to share in our love for fresh and heritage Lebanese recipes, good stories, and beautiful photography—it’s my way of handing you a tall drink of water, in hopes you’re refreshed, in hopes you’ll come back often.


I’ve been enjoying hearing from cooks around the country who are planning their menus for Easter, and asking about Lebanese recipes to make for their families and friends. People like my Aunt Louise have already rolled at least a good hundred grape leaves and put them in the freezer, so when it’s go time, they’re ready. She’s putting out a spread, as she always does, that is not just a feast, but a serious feat, given all of the dishes she makes.



How cool is it that spending Easter with my soon-to-be in-laws, as I will this year, is so much like spending it with my own family (miss you all). As my mother says, because Dan and I are both Lebanese and come from such similar families, we “speak the same language.” And yes, I call Dan’s mother Aunt Louise. But he is not my cousin. No, not even a little bit. She is an aunt by affection, not blood, and I’m quite content to keep right on calling her that after the wedding. Don’t you think so?! It’s fun making people wonder, anyway.

So the menu, for a meal that falls anytime after 11 a.m.—for us, holiday meals always take place at about 2 p.m. One meal for the day, but with plenty of grazing before and again in the evening. Here is something of what goes on in the kitchen at Aunt Louise’s (her menu, believe it or not, is far more extensive). It’s not unlike what went down at Aunt Hilda’s (that’s a blood aunt, my father’s sister), and then not surprising that the two of them were best friends. They spoke the same language, too.

Grape Leaf Rolls, Vegetarian or Meat & Rice
Always, at every big meal.

 Spinach Fatayar
Some work. Worth it.

Pink Deviled Eggs with Yogurt and Mint
Not a tradition here, but maybe time to start one.

Lamb Lollipops with Fresh Mint Sauce
One of life’s great pleasures. 

Kibbeh Sahnieh
We’ll also eat it raw, the favorite. 

Za’atar Roasted Potatoes
A mid-winter, mid-manuscript discovery for me this year. It’s here to stay. 

Fattoush Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
Big and crunchy. 

White Asparagus with Pistachio Oil
For the spring we wish we were having in Michigan. 

Ka’ik Spiced Sweet Bread with Rose Water Milk Glaze
Aunt Louise’s specialty of the season.

Lemon Meringue Tart, the Most Extraordinary
My specialty of the season.

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  1. Maureen says:

    I just discovered your site while looking for traditional Lebanese Easter recipes. (I too am a Lebanese Maureen, but it was my DAD who liked the name.)

  2. Rob says:

    Congrats on your recognition, Maureen! Outstanding! Language…so valued and important in a relationship. I am so happy for you and Dan. And water…the only thing I’ve ever put in my body during long runs over 20 miles. It certainly refreshes….Happy Easter, young, wise lady.

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Thank you very kindly RTR, and Happy Easter to all of you!

  3. June says:

    I’m new to your blog but not new to Lebanese food. My first visit to Beirut was in 1964 when my husband and I spent Christmas vacation while stationed in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia. After that, we returned several more times. I still yearn for the hospitality, the warmth, the beauty and the glorious food of Lebanon. Thank you for your writing which reminds me of all I experienced.

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      What wonderful memories you have of Lebanon, June–thank you for your kind words, and it’s a pleasure to welcome you here.

  4. topdoc10 says:

    Even though I have my grandmother’s handwritten Kibbeh recipe, I keep coming back to your blog for that extra tip, or to get a sense of just how long this is REALLY going to take. The anticipation of some good comfort food makes me wildly optimistic regarding the time spent. Your award is well deserved and your blog always makes me nostalgic for the great family cooks who are no longer with us.

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      What a treasure, your grandmother’s handwritten recipe. I’m so glad to know that my recipes compare and are a help. Thanks for writing and please stay in touch!

  5. Josephine says:

    Congratulations, félicitations, e auguri for your award! I adore Lebanese food anyway but the way you present it has a certain touch — a glass of cool water — that is uniquely yours, and very very inviting and satisfying. Chukran and Happy Easter …

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Many, many thanks to you!

  6. Pam Ogle says:

    Happy to hear you will be getting married soon. God gave you the time to learn about cooking at the culinary school, start your blog, and became a fantastic photographer. Now God wants you to enjoy the next phase of your life with Dan. Blessings to you both!

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      How beautifully said, Pam! Thanks so much!

  7. Tom | Tall Clover Farm says:

    Maureen, you know it’s a good menu, when the reader feels full before even taking a bite. Thanks for sharing the amazing recipes. I look forward to delving into your world of wonderful Lebanese cooking!

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Thanks so much Tom!

  8. Marlene Abood Hatton says:

    Many, many congratulations – you deserve it!

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Thank you Marlene!

  9. Julia Issa-Ghantous says:

    Congratulations Maureen! I love your blog and your recipes.

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Thanks so much Julia!

  10. Celine says:

    Yay! Congrats on such a deserved and exciting honor! Happy Easter dear cousin and we’ll toast to your accomplishment soon. Love you.

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Happy happy Easter Celine–you are the best! Thank you!

  11. Roger Toomey says:

    Does your family tell the Easter story through the colored eggs?

    Red is the blood of Christ
    White and brown are the colors of the linen cloth he was wrapped in.
    Yellow is the sun rising on Easter morning
    Orange is the rock that was missing from the front of the cave.
    Green is the new life coming from the dead of winter–Life returns to the dead.
    Purple is the color of the King.
    Blue is the sky into which He would rise.
    Multicolored is the Holy Spirit that was promised.

    One person holds an egg with an end up and another takes an egg and hits the egg of the holder. Thereby symbolically breaking open the grave. The person hitting says: “He has risen” “The person holding the egg says: “Indeed He has risen”. Then they turn the eggs over and change positions. The person that cracks two ends of the other’s egg wins. A little game with a message.

    1. Maureen Abood says:


  12. Anne Cashill says:

    Dear Maureen, Congratulations on this special honor and recognition. You deserve it. You are massively talented. Happy Easter to you and Dan. Love, Anne

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Thank you Anne! Love to you and Jose Vido!

  13. Jia Hamud says:

    Congratulations on the well deserved recognition. I love reading your blog and finding recipes for favorite Lebaneses dishes along with the stories.

    My mother did commit some to writing, but most of her cooking, and of coarse my grandmother’s, were from memory, taste, feel, and scent. I can replicate many, but your blog is invaluable. Keep up the great writing and cooking. We all know Lebanese cuisine is the best!

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      I’m so glad to have you here, Jia–thanks for sharing and for your kind words!

  14. Ann Henricksen says:

    I knew your Father Camille and Fred Abood. I worked with your Dad on the Grand Opening of the Lansing Civic Center. He was a great leader and Fred invited Jennifer Abood over to his office and gave us many hints on fundraising ideas when we were on the “Twilight in the Garden” Committee for Kresge. Tootsie Panayotou and Louise Shaheen sing your praises. Congratulation on your upcoming wedding to Dan. Everyone tells me it is the perfect match. Live in loving harmony. I will enjoy your blog.

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Welcome Ann! What a wonderful note–I love hearing stories about my dad, and all of those dear people. Thank you too for your kind words about Dan and me. We are thrilled! Please keep in touch!

  15. Diane Nassir (my maternal grandmother was an Abood (Jamileh) from Ammun Leb. says:

    Blessings and Happy Easter dear Maureen!

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      And to you and yours, sweet cousin.

  16. Mary M-S says:


  17. Pat Abood says:

    Congratulations, dear Maureen, on the well-deserved award!

    And congratulations for winning yourself a place at Aunt Louise’s Easter table! I am jealous!

    Wishing all a blessed and happy Easter!

    Aunt Pat

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Thanks so much Aunt Pat–looking forward to your return to Michigan! Happy Easter to you and Jim!