Originally published in The Northern Light
One might wonder how Genevieve Fayette, with her seemingly French last name and fair features, grew up eating kibbeh and dolmas.
Fayette’s grandfather Jim, the son of Lebanese immigrants, was born and raised in Vermont. Jim’s parents changed their Arabic name Fayad to the more Americanized and accepted Fayette when they came to America from what is now Lebanon in 1908.
He kept his Mediterranean culture alive by learning to read and speak in Arabic and more importantly by cooking the food of his parents home.
In the 1960s Jim and his wife decided to adopt the son of a French Canadian and Irish Jew who they named James. Father of Genevieve: James stuck out at family gatherings with his fair skin and features. Although he looked different from the rest of his Lebanese cousins, James was as much a part of the culture as they were. Lebanese food was served weekly in Jim’s house.
“If your house smells like cumin and allspice that’s the smell of my childhood,” James Fayette said.
James has since shared his adoptive culture with his children through food.
Fatayer, which is pronounced fa-toy-ah, makes a nice snack or appetizer. Genevieve notes that meat can be used to fill the dough for a more substantial dish.
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
3/4 cup olive oil
2 pounds spinach
4 medium onions
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
A pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1. In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast over lukewarm water and let the yeast bloom. This takes roughly ten minutes and should be frothy.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. Add in oil, yeast with water and stir until the dough comes together. Once the dough is combined, knead until smooth and elastic. Cover the dough in a bowl and let it rest for 1 to 2 hours.
3. Take the spinach and heat over a large pan on medium heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cook the spinach until it’s wilted. Take off heat and let cool. Squeeze out any excess moisture from the spinach.
4. Finely chop the onions and place in a medium-sized bowl. Stir in the spinach, salt, paprika, black pepper and cayenne. Let sit.
5. To make the dressing, take a small bowl and combine lemon juice and olive oil. Add to rest of stuffing.
6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or spray with cooking oil.
7. Once the dough has rested, divide in half. Roll out one-half of the dough until nearly 1/16 inch thin. Use a 4-inch wide circle cutter to cut the dough into circles.
8. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of each circle. Pinch together three ends of the circle over the center of the filling. Seal down one side, then across the other side to form a pyramid shape. Place on the prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining circles. Bake in the oven until golden for 15 to 20 minutes.