BEIRUT: Local chef Mohammad Naccache, better known by his professional alias Chef Mood, has been throwing seasonal, local ingredients into his bread recipes, which he’s spilled to The Daily Star along with some other healthy springtime fare.
Better to leave the butter and jam in the fridge for Chef Mood’s approach to baking. Stuffed with fermented bulgur wheat, sun-dried tomatoes and cheese, his novelty loaves pack enough flavor to stand on their own.
With a knack for combining trendy superfoods with traditional Lebanese flavors, Chef Mood’s brunchy spring menu features in-season local flavors such as bread stuffed with strawberries and halloumi cheese. He also suggests a sweet and salty bread made with halawa – a crumbly mixture of tahini and sugar – and paired with local olives.
“When I’m walking or driving, I suddenly think ‘This will be so yummy.’ Directly, I will go and do it,” Chef Mood said. “Cooking is a form of art.”
The sweet and savory “cake breads,” as he calls them, are part of a collection of treats he’s providing clients with this spring. Chef Mood’s favorite recipe is a savory loaf made with kishik, a powder blend of fermented bulgur and dried yogurt. All of his recipes start with a basic baguette dough, but he encourages bakers to experiment with alternative ingredients such as rice flour and coconut or soy milk.
Chef Mood made his television debut this month on MBC’s morning show, “Good Morning Arabs,” on which he prepared a cheese and rocca salad sandwiched between layers of red apple. An advocate of versatile, protein-rich quinoa, he offered a different sweet and salty apple salad featuring the South American supergrain mixed with raisins, bell peppers and balsamic dressing.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 28, 2014, on page 2.