Monday, December 29, 2008

Sweet Treat - Nougat or Torrone

Hello every one, I Wish you and your loved ones Wonderful Holiday full of love , Joy and Good Health. May the dear Lord bless us all in the coming new year

Since it’s the Holiday Season, the kids are around, or maybe some family members are visiting, how about a Sweet Treat for every one.

Almond Nougat (you can use any kind of nuts)

We need heavy duty stand mixer machine, edible rice paper or wax paper, candy thermometer.

1 cup blanched hazelnuts
2 x 4 1/2 oz packages blanched whole almonds

1/2 cup ground almonds
2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup honey
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup water
2 egg whites
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp pure almond extract
1/4 cup butter, softened


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Add hazelnuts and whole almonds to cookie sheet. Toast until golden, about 10 minutes.
Add sugar, corn syrup, honey, salt and water in a heavy bottomed saucepot (3 quart). Over medium heat, stir mixture until sugar dissolves. Continue cooking, without stirring until syrup reaches the hard ball stage, reading 252 degrees F. on a candy thermometer.
Meanwhile, in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites at high speed until stiff peaks form.
While mixer is on, in a thin steady stream, pour ¼ cup of hot syrup over egg whites, beating at high speed until mixture is stiff enough to hold its shape, about 5 minutes.
Continue to cook the remaining syrup to brittle threads, reading 315 to 318 degrees F. on a candy thermometer.
While mixer is on, in a thin steady stream, pour remaining hot syrup over egg whites, beating at high speed until mixture is stiff enough to hold its shape. Add vanilla and almond extract and butter, beating again for about 5 minutes. Stir in toasted nuts and ground almonds with a wooden spoon. Transfer mixture to a buttered 11 x 7 x 1 ¼-inch pan covered with a sheet of rice paper or wax paper, Smooth the mixture evenly with a spatula. lay another sheet of edible rice paper over the nougat and let it set over night or till the next day. if it is a particularly humid day, refrigerate until firm.

Loosen edges of candy with a knife. Invert nougat on cutting board. Cut into pieces. or logs .

wrap in wax paper and store in airtight container.

Edible Rice paper to be used in the bottom of a greased tray, and on top of the candy.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Chestnut Bûche de Noel - Yule Log

Chestnut Bûche de Noel - Yule Log

Yield: 12-14 servings


3/4 cup Cake flour
3/4 tsp Baking powder
1/4 tsp Salt
5 Eggs
3/4 cup Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla extract

Chestnut Filling:

1/2 cup superfine sugar
1 egg yolk
1 pinch salt
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
2 tbsp heavy cream
1/2 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
30 whole cooked chestnuts
2 tbsp butter
4 tbsp heavy cream
1/3 cup powder sugar

Mocha Silk Frosting:

1 1/4 cup powder sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp Instant coffee
5 1/3 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tbsp corn syrup
1 tsp Vanilla extract
2 tbsp heavy cream


Have ready a clean lint-free dish towel and preheat oven to 400 F.Prepare 12"x18" jelly roll pan by greasing it, lining bottom and sides with wax paper, or parchment paper, and greasing the paper.
Bring eggs to room temperature and separate. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat yolks until thick and pale. Gradually add 6 T sugar, beating well after each addition. Mixture should fall in thick ribbon when beaters are lifted. Add vanilla and beat again.With clean dry beaters, beat egg whites until foamy. Gradually add remaining sugar, beating constantly, until whites stand in firm, glossy, moist peaks. Fold 1/3 whites into yolk mixture to lighten it, then fold remaining whites in too.Gradually fold dry ingredients into egg mixture; fold in gently but thoroughly.
Spread batter evenly in prepared pan, making sure to get it into the corners. Put pan into oven immediately. Bake 10-12 minutes, just until cake is golden on top and tester comes out clean. Do not overbake. Remove from oven; working quickly, cover jelly roll pan FIRST with clean towel, then with inverted cookie sheet. Turn over pan, towel, and sheet to turn out cake. Remove jelly roll pan; peel off wax paper. Slide towel and cake onto counter; cake is wrong side up. Cut off any crisp edges, fold one end of towel over short end of cake, and roll cake in towel. Place rolled cake seam side down on wire rack or cookie sheet to cool completely.

Chestnut Buttercream Filling:

Combine sugar, egg yolk, salt, vanilla, and cream. Using an electric mixer, beat for 8 minutes at medium speed. Without washing beaters, cream butter until light. Add yolk mixture a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating well after each addition. Set basic buttercream aside.Using a food processor, puree chestnuts with butter, cream, and powdered sugar. Stir chestnut puree into buttercream, blending thoroughly. If necessary, thin with a little more cream to bring to very spreadable consistency.

Mocha Silk Frosting:

Powder instant coffee by placing in plastic bag and crushing with rolling pin. Mix together sugar, cocoa, and coffee. Add remaining ingredients and beat for 1 minute at medium speed. If necessary, add a little more cream to make frosting easy to spread.

Unroll cooled cake, leaving it on towel; don't worry about the cake looking deflated, it will perk up soon. Spread 1/2 cup frosting evenly over cake, all the way to the edges. Spread 2 cups filling over thin layer of frosting, pushing generous amount into curved end. Roll up again, without towel but using it to help roll. Place cake, seam side down, on cake plate or tray.Remove any excess filling from ends and seam edge. Refrigerate for 1 hour to firm filling.Trim and discard (or eat!) a thin slice from one end of chilled cake; cut and reserve wedge from other end. Spread a small amount of filling on top center of cake and press reserved wedge on it to make the "knothole."Frost entire cake with remaining frosting, building frosting up around sides of "knothole." Do NOT cover knothole top! Work frosting as far under roll as possible. Repeatedly draw narrow metal spatula lengthwise through the frosting to simulate rough texture of bark. Snip pieces of angelica into leaf shapes and cut glace cherries in half to make log decorations. And add Maroon Glace around the sides,
Also you can make mushroom meringues and add them, sprinkle the cake with shredded chocolate and powder sugar.

Chestnut Puree

Chestnut Dessert Puree
(Makes about 8 cups thick puree)
4 pounds large, heavy chestnuts (watch out for worm holes)
4 cups water, more if necessary
3 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, split
Optional: non-fat milk or cream (to thin the puree)
1. Halve chestnuts with a heavy knife or cleaver. Place in a very large skillet or saucepan and add enough water to cover them. Boil for about 10 minutes or until the shells can easily be removed.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
3. Remove chestnuts, a few at a time, from the water. Peel off shell sand husks, then place nuts in a large heavy saucepan. Add water,sugar, and vanilla bean to the pan and stir to mix in the sugar. The liquid should just cover the chestnuts. (Add more water if it doesn't.)
4. bake chestnuts uncovered till tender ,depending upon dryness of the nuts. Stir nuts and keep adding water if necessary, until they are very tender and the syrup is very thick.
5. Let chestnuts cool completely in the syrup, then puree them in batches in a food processor or blender, adding milk or cream if you want to have a thinner puree. Press the entire mixture through the fine disc of a food mill. Divide the puree among 1- or 2-cup freezer containers. Seal, date, and freeze.

note: You can cook the chestnut on the stove, they require attendant, and stirring often, so the heat distributed evenly and doesn't stick to the bottom of the saucepan.

Maroon Glace

This is a home made recipe for candied chestnuts if you cannot find it in your local store.

Its delicious and easy if you follow the instruction.

Score a cross or x on the brown shell of the chestnuts with a sharp knife and bake them for about twenty minutes at 250 F. ( if you have a non stick pan you can do that on top of the stove) This will make them easier to peel. Let them cool for couple of minutes to enable you peel them without burning your hands. Remove the outer shell and the brown membrane as carefully as possible, being sure to leave the chestnut whole. If you got broken pieces, chop them and add them to the frosting.
Boil the chestnuts for twenty minutes and let them sit in the hot water for half an hour afterward. This softens the nut, and lets it soak up the sugar later. Taste one; they should be soft.

While the chestnuts are soaking, prepare the sugar syrup in a separate saucepan. For each measure of chestnuts that you are making, add one measure of water and one and half of sugar to a large saucepan. Place the mixture over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. With a candy thermometer, take the temperature of the syrup. When the syrup reaches 230-235F “thread stage,” add the chestnuts to the syrup. The thread stage is also the point at which a bit of the sugar syrup will spin a thread between the thumb and forefinger when it is plunged suddenly into a cup of ice water: don’t stir the chestnuts, let them cook in the syrup.
The goal now is to bring the chestnuts slowly to the “soft ball stage,” at 235-240 F, and to keep them there for about fifteen to twenty minutes. The mixture will continue to boil, which is not a problem, but do not let it get hotter than 240 F. If it does, just take the pot off the heat for a minute or so , then bring it back, to the stove.
Some recipes say that you should re-apply the syrup again to the nuts by repeating the above procedure, by ladling syrup over them, or even by baking it onto them as a final step. I find that these steps either break them up too much or else have no real effect on the finished product. In other words, you’re done. Drain them using a colander and store in the refrigerator .

Monday, December 22, 2008


Layali Lubnan - Lebanese nights
8 cups of cold milk
1/2 cups semolina
2 eggs
2 tbsp rose water + orange blossom water
¼ tsp of ground mustikah gum(optional)
4 cups granulated sugar
2 1/4 cups water
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice

1 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup finely chopped pistachio nuts

Pour the milk into a large saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat, and slowly pour in the semolina in a steady stream, stirring continuously. Continue to stir and cook until the mixture thickens and boils for 1 to 2 minutes.
Mix the eggs with the flavouring, Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the eggs and rose water, return the pot to the heat and stir so the eggs cooks and combined well with the rest of the ingredients. Pour the mixture into a 9x13 inch serving dish, or into individual cups. Allow the pudding to cool slightly, and then cover with plastic wrap directly on the top. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 5 hours or overnight.
Heat 1/2 cup of the sugar, plus 2 tablespoons of water in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, don’t stir , let the sugar dissolve and turns to light golden brown, immediately remove from the heat and stir in the rest of the water. Do not worry if the mixture bubbles and hardens a bit, it will dissolve. Return the pan to the stove, and stir in the remaining sugar until dissolved. Add the lemon juice, to the sugar syrup, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and chill. The syrup will keep for a month if refrigerated in a sealed container.
To serve, whip the whipping cream with sugar until fluffy, chill before you use it. Spread a thin layer of whipped cream over the pudding sprinkle with chopped nuts. Cut into squares and serves with the caramel syrup poured over it.


This pudding is simple, light and white for successful pure New Year
1/2 cup short grain rice, (Arborio rice or Egyptian round rice)
4 cups homogenized milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon each of rose water and orange water (or vanilla)
¼ tsp of ground mustikah gum (optional - sold at Middle Eastern Stores)

Combine rice, milk, and cook over medium heat, stirring almost constantly until it boils. Lower the heat and let it boil gently until it thickens, stirring every few minutes. Add sugar and cook until sugar dissolve; use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture. Add the flavoured water and the mistakah gum.

To check if the pudding is cooked, dip your wooden spoon in the hot pudding, and turn it and draw a line with your finger on the back of the spoon, if the line stays still and did not move, the pudding is cooked. Shut the heat, add the mustikah and the flavoured water, stir to combine and then serve in separate bowls.
Serve cold.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Choose your food - Your body will thank you(Part I of Healthy Eating

All fruits are stellar sources of nutrients, but strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries stand out from the pack.
They're high in vitamin and fiber content.
They're an excellent source of antioxidants, compounds that protect our bodies from the stress of day to day living. The antioxidant anthocyanin has tripled the stress-fighting power of vitamin C and is known to block cancer-causing damage as well as the effects of many age-related diseases.
They give your memory a boost. The antioxidants in berries are believed to enhance brain function.
Fresh berries are kind to the waistline; they are naturally high in water and low in calories. Dried berries also provide excellent nutrition, but since most of the water is missing, their calories are more concentrated and you’ll usually wind up eating more of them.
Stock up on fresh berries in the summer, when they’re plentiful and inexpensive. Freeze them in small plastic bags to get an antioxidant blast year round. Stir berries into yogurt, sprinkle them on cereal or blend them in smoothies.

We all know citrus fruits are loaded with vitamin C; one orange has a whole day’s requirement. But that's not all citrus fruits have to offer.
Citrus juice contains Flavonoids, a phytonutrient that lowers the body's production of cholesterol, inhibits blood clot formation and boosts the bang of vitamin C.
They’re also loaded with soluble fiber which lowers cholesterol, maintains healthy blood sugar levels, and helps you to manage your weight.
That explosion of scent that erupts when you grate a citrus peel is produced by limonene, oil found in the peel that might inhibit a variety of cancers.
Oranges and grapefruits are in peak season during the winter. Their bright flavours are a perfect antidote to a cold, dreary day. Lemons and limes, available year-round, are especially welcome during summer’s heat.

Stock your fridge with a rainbow of vegetables and you'll have a natural pharmacy in your kitchen.
Orange and yellow-hued veggies like winter squash, carrots and sweet potatoes and leafy greens contain carotenoids, a pigment our body converts to vitamin A. Eating lots of these vegetables will help maintain healthy skin and hair, protect against prostate cancer, promote healthy vision and even provide protection from sunburn.
Lycopene, the plant chemical responsible for the ruby red of tomatoes and watermelon, is believed to fight cancer and promote heart health.
Green vegetables like broccoli and spinach are sky-high in potent anti-cancer compounds like sulforaphane and quercetin.
Although garlic and onions may lack the vibrant colors of other vegetables, they contain diallyl sulfide and saponins, compounds that add distinctive flavours to our recipes and fight cancer and heart disease.
There’s no such thing as a bad vegetable. In addition to their phytonutrients, they are packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber, and are a crucial component of any healthy eating plan

Whole grains are often in the news these days, and for good reason.
They’re delicious, inexpensive and packed with protein, B vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Grains contain many of the same antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables.
Research shows a diet high in whole grains may help prevent heart disease, some cancers, obesity and diabetes.
Look for grains in their least processed form, and try to eat them everyday. Some immediate benefits you might notice are stable blood sugar, less hunger between meals, and better weight management. Sure, cooking whole grains can sometimes take a little longer to prepare than their quick and instant counterparts, but the benefits and flavour of whole grain are worth the extra effort.

All fish are great sources of protein and low in saturated fat. But cold-water fish, like salmon, mackerel and herring, are premiere sources of omega-3 essential fatty acids. These are fats our bodies can’t produce, so it’s essential we include them in our diet. Omega-3s offer many benefits.
They reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
They minimize the symptoms of arthritis and inflammatory diseases.
They contribute to healthy skin and hair.
They may help with depression.
Don’t love fish? You can get your omega-3s from flaxseed, walnuts, almonds and grass-fed beef, although the oils are of a lesser nutritional quality than the those found in seafood.Salmon is an easy fish to obtain. Most grocery stores and many restaurants carry it. It's also easy to cook. The high fat level makes salmon perfect for grilling, roasting or sautéing without sticking or drying out. Although wild salmon can be pricey, it has an amazing flavor and higher levels of omega-3s than farm-raised fish. Look for fresh wild salmon in spring and summer, and farm-raised salmon year-round.

Choose your Food - Part II of Healthy Eating

The inexpensive legume family, which includes beans, peas, peanuts and lentils, has priceless benefits.
Legumes are rich in folic acid, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc and antioxidants.
Their high protein and complex carbohydrates provide steady energy that lasts for hours.
They are especially high in soluble fibber, and a daily serving of cooked beans may lower blood cholesterol by as much as 18 percent, decreasing the risk of heart disease.
Most legumes also contain protease inhibitors, compounds thought to suppress cancer cells and slow tumour growth.
And then there are the robotics in beans, substances that aid in beneficial bacteria growth in the intestine.
All legumes, and especially soy, are important in vegetarian diets for their high protein content.
Best of all, beans taste great, dried beans have a superior taste and texture but they take longer to cook. Canned beans offer a quick alternative and most of the same health benefits. Rinse canned beans with water before cooking and you’ll remove as much as 40 percent of the sodium used in processing.

Although high in calories, nuts often enable people to maintain or lose weight. A small handful eaten between meals or added to salads, grains or vegetables gives a sense of satiety and results in less total food intake. Nuts have great nutritional benefits, as well.
Almonds, pecans and pistachios are rich in protein.
Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids.
Toss sesame seeds in a meal for extra calcium and vitamin E.
Sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds are particularly good sources of phytosterols, also known as plant sterols, which promote heart health.
Since nuts are high in fats, they can easily become rancid. Store them in the freezer to extend their life. Nuts are also delicious, so it’s also a good idea to practice portion control. Measure out small portions and take care to not eat them mindlessly from a large container.

Protein is an important part of every diet and is found in many different foods. Lean protein, the best kind, can be found in fish, skinless chicken and turkey, pork tenderloin and certain cuts of beef, like the top round. Low-fat dairy products like milk, yogurt, ricotta and other cheeses supply both protein and calcium.
Protein is crucial for tissue repair, building and preserving muscle, and making important enzymes and hormones.
Lean meats and dairy contribute valuable minerals like calcium, iron, selenium and zinc. These are not only essential for building bones, and forming and maintaining nerve function, but also for fighting cancer, forming blood cells and keeping immune systems robust.

Tea is the second most popular drink in the world (water is the top choice). Although most people think of tea as a soothing and delicious beverage, it possesses a remarkable wealth of antioxidants. All teas, whether black, green, oolong or white, are harvested from the leaves of a variety of plant known as the camellia sinensis. The primary distinction between the different teas is the amount of fermentation they undergo. Black teas are the most fermented, white teas the least. Herbal teas are not technically teas since they do not include camellia sinensis leaves.
All true teas contain polyphenols, powerful antioxidants believed to protect against heart disease, certain cancers and stroke.
The various levels of fermentation affect teas in different ways. Recent studies have shown drinking green tea might boost metabolism, oolong teas can lower blood sugar, and black teas can promote oral health.
Tea contains half the caffeine of coffee.
Tea is not just for drinking: it has been used for centuries in marinades and as a flavouring agent in dishes.

Choose Your Food - Part III of Healthy Eating

Olive oil is a staple in any kitchen. It's the base of many salad dressings and is also used as an ingredient in sauces and marinades; as a dip for bread; and for sautéing, roasting, frying and baking. Extra-virgin olive oil can be used as a condiment when drizzled over a bowl of pasta or platter of roasted vegetables.
Olive oil is an excellent source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that may lower the bad cholesterol and raise the good cholesterol.
It contains Vitamin E and antioxidants.
It's an excellent replacement for unhealthy saturated fats like butter.
Extra-virgin olive oil has the highest concentration of Vitamin E and antioxidants. Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil on uncooked dishes, where its assertive flavour will complement your finished dishes. Lighter olive oils like those labelled pure, refined or light contain lower concentrations of nutrients but withstand higher temperatures required for cooking.Although olive oil has great health benefits, it also has a lot of calories. It’s 100 percent fat, and like all liquid oils, contains about 120 calories per tablespoon.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Siyadiyeh - Fisherman's Rice

Siyadiyeh – Fisherman’s Rice

Before I proceed with this recipe I would like to give you an idea about the coastal cities of Lebanon, situated on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea , since the early days the Phoenician who are the original people of Lebanon , loved the sea, sailing and travelling all over the world, to trade, and explore. To this day the passion of sailing and travelling and exploring the world is part of our history. As well as enjoying easting fish and seafood.

Every coastal city in Lebanon has its unique seafood recipes which they are proud of.

This recipe originated in Tyre, and the people in Tyre (Sour) prepare this dish using a whole salt water fish, due to the convenience and keeping the flavour I am going to share a simple version of this recipe I hope you will try it one day, because I am sure you will not regret and it will be one of your favourite.

recipe for 4 servings
1 1/2 pound of firm salt water fish fillets (Cod)
2 large onions sliced
1 ½ of Basmati Rice
1 ½ cup Fish stock (you can prepare it by boiling the bones and head of the fish)
2 tbsp of fish sauce
1 ½ cup of water
1 heaping teaspoon of cumin powder
1 tsp of caraway powder
½ tsp of cinnamon
3/4 tsp of black pepper
1 tsp of salt
couple bay leaves
 ½ cup Canola or grape seed oil for frying
for decoration: toasted or fried nuts

1-Wash your fish and pat dry, then sprinkle with salt and pepper, add 1/2 cup of flour in a plate and
dip the fish in the flour on all sides.  Heat the oil to 360F and fry the fish on both side till golden brown, and move them to a plate with paper towel.
2-Slice the two onions and fry them in the same oil till golden. And move them to the same plate
3- Pick the rice and wash , and drain it from water.
If you have more than 1 1/2 tbsp of frying oil in the pot drain and save only 2 tbsp to toast the rice the rest of the oil is not needed , ( I throw it in the bathroom as it may block the sink)
4-Toast the rice on a gentle heat; keep stirring so it doesn’t stick

Add the spices and stir well so they can toast with the rice, after couples of minutes you can tell that the rice is toasted add ¾ of the fish and onions to the rice mix gently so the fish doesn’t break, or you can use another clean put and start building the fish in the bottom then the onions then the rice add the fish stock and fish sauce, and cover the pot and cook until rice is done.  Leave the rice to rest at least ten minutes before turning the pot into a large serving plate. (put the large round plate over the pot and turn the pot over the plate , leave it couple of minutes so everything falls in the plate).
toast or fry the nuts with a spoon of the frying oil, till golden brown and sprinkle over the platter. 

I serve the Siyadiyeh with shredded cabbage salad .

Monday, December 15, 2008

Original Assyrian recipe for home made baklawa dough

I am proud that my Syriac ancestors left behind this recipe which was the birth of a gourmet dessert. I heard from several people who are still using this old recipe, it taste better than the one prepared with phyllo. I need to give it a try one day and see the difference.

Dough for two large baking pans
. Six egg whites slightly beaten
. Five pounds of flour
. Two egg yolks
. 1 tbsp salt
. 1 tbsp baking powder
. ½ cup rendered butter
. 7 cups of more water

Sift flour, salt, and baking powder into large pan. Push dry ingredients to one side. In other side of pan, add water, egg whites, egg yolks, and butter. Work flour into liquid gradually until mixed. Knead thoroughly. Dough should be of soft consistency.
Cut and shape into balls the size of an orange. Roll in cupped hands until smooth. Dust with cornstarch and set aside for a few minutes. Pat out each ball to inch thickness then stretch out tissue thin and place directly into generously buttered baking pan. These sheets of dough may also be dried before placing into baking pan.
Place 25 sheets of dough in pan, brushing butter between each sheet. Do not butter top sheet. Spread nut filling and cover with 22 sheets.

Note: For each tray of Baklawa use 2 lb. of Commercial Dough

History of Baklawa - Bak-la-wa

The Origin : Like the origins of most recipes that came from Old Countries to enrich the dinner tables of dessert lovers, the exact origin of baklava is also something hard to put the finger on because every ethnic group whose ancestry goes back to the Middle East has a claim of their own on this scrumptious pastry.
It is widely believed however, that the Assyrians at around 8th century B.C. were the first people who put together a few layers of thin bread dough, with chopped nuts in between those layers, added some honey and baked it in their primitive wood burning ovens. This earliest known version of baklava was baked only on special occasions. In fact, historically baklava was considered a food for the rich until the mid-19th century.

In Turkey, to this day one can hear a common expression often used by the poor, or even by the middle class, saying: "I am not rich enough to eat baklava and Borek every day.”
Regional Interactions The Greek seamen and merchants traveling east to Mesopotamia soon discovered the delights of Baklava. It mesmerized their taste buds. They brought the recipe to Athens. The Greeks' major contribution to the development of this pastry is the creation of a dough technique that made it possible to roll it as thin as a leaf, compared to the rough, bread-like texture of the Assyrian dough. In fact, Greeks coined the name “Phyllo,” which means "leaf" in the Greek language. In a relatively short time, in every kitchen of wealthy households in the region, trays of baklava were being baked for all kinds of special occasions from the 3rd Century B.C. onwards. The Armenians, as their Kingdom was located on ancient Spice and Silk Routes, integrated for the first time the cinnamon and cloves into the texture of baklava. The Arabs introduced the rose water and cardamom. The taste changed in subtle nuances as the recipe started crossing borders.

To the north of its birthplace, baklava was baked and served in the palaces of the ancient Persian kingdom. To the west, it was baked in the kitchens of the wealthy Roman mansions, and then in the kitchens of the Byzantine Empire until the fall of the latter in 1453 A.D.

The Perfection:In the 15th Century A.D., the Ottomans invaded Constantinople to the west, and they also expanded their eastern territories to cover most of ancient Assyrian lands and the entire Armenian Kingdom. The Byzantine Empire came to an end, and in the East Persian Kingdom lost its western provinces to the invaders.

For four hundred years from 16th Century on, until the decline of Ottoman Empire in 19th Century, the kitchens of Imperial Ottoman Palace in Constantinople became the ultimate culinary hub of the empire.The artisans and craftsmen of all Guilds, the bakers, cooks and pastry chefs who worked in the Ottoman palaces, at the mansions of Pashas and Viziers, and at Provincial Governor (Vali) residences etc., had to be recruited from various ethnic groups that composed the empire. Armenian, Greek, Persian, Egyptian, Assyrian, and occasionally Serbian, Hungarian or even French chefs were brought to Constantinople, to be employed at the kitchens of the wealthy.

These chefs contributed enormously to the interaction and to the refinement of the art of cooking and pastry-making of an Empire that covered a vast region to include the Balkans, Greece, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Persia, Armenia, Iraq and entire Mesopotamia, Palestine, Egypt, North Africa and the Mediterranean and Aegean islands. Towards the end of 19th Century, small pastry-shops started to appear in Constantinople and in Major Provincial capitals, to cater the middle class, but the Ottoman Palace have always remained the top “Culinary Academy" of the Empire, until its end in 1923.Here, we must mention that there is a special reason for baklava being the top choice of pastry for the Turkish Sultans with their large Harems, as well as for the wealthy and their families. Two principal ingredients, the pistachio and honey, were believed to be aphrodisiacs when taken regularly. Certain spices that were added to baklava have also helped to fine-tune and to augment the aphrodisiac characteristics of the pastry, depending on male or female consumer. Cinnamon for females, and cardamom for males, and cloves for both sexes.From 18th century on, there was nothing much to add to baklava has already perfected taste and texture. There were however, some cosmetic modifications in shaping and in the presentation of baklava on a baking tray (called Sinii). The Phyllo dough (called Youfka) which traditionally was layered, and cut into squares or triangles were given a "French touch" in late 18th century. As the Empire began opening itself to the Western cultural (and culinary) influences. the General Manager (Kahyabasi), of the Imperial Kitchen, didn't miss the opportunity to hire Monsieur Guillaume, a former pastry chef of Marie Antoinette, who in exile at the Ottoman Turkish Palace after learning how to bake baklava, created the "dome" technique of cutting and folding of the baklava squares which was named "Baklava Française" (French Baklava) after the nationality of its creator.
Based on the above history it is clear that Assyria is the origin of the Baklava.The Assyrian empire stretched from Southern Lebanon in the south to the Zagros Mountains in the north (bordering present day Iraq and Iran) and included areas of present day Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq. The heartland of Assyria is the area that is now dominated by the Kurds.Baklava, in fact has been the sweetest unifying dessert between all the countries of the Middle East and the Mediterranean Sea. Each country makes it its own way but they are all sweet and sticky.Lebanon has been the leader in promoting Baklava throughout the world. Lebanese baklava bakers such as Samadi were the first to Franchise it in the Gulf region, Europe and throughout the Middle East.
As Lebanon continues to promote this dessert, it will become the ultimate original Baklava.Turkey and Greece therefore should stop this crazy Baklava war, because they both copied the dessert, but Lebanon did a better job at copying.they continue to add:" since Lebanon was at one time part of the Assyrian empire...perhaps Lebanon was the origin of this dessert and the Assyrians copied it from us and then passed on the recipe to the Turks and Greeks!!” it’s a good one Here are some instructions and pictures to teach you how to handle and use all kinds of the phyllo pastry, when you learn the techniques many recipes will be very simple to prepare. Even you can create your own recipe from kind of dough and stuffing and shaping.
I encourage every one of you who never tried working with phyllo either the sheets of the shredded, to try it, trust me, you will be proud of your work.
The sky is the limit to your imagination and creativity

Sunday, December 14, 2008


During the old days the Kibbee used to be prepared in a mortar and pestle, and up till this date the people who live in the country still use the old methods in preparing their food. The flavor of the kibbee prepared in a mortar has a better texture and flavour than the kibbee prepared in an electric food processor. its a labor and a reward flavour.
pounding the meat in the mortar with a pestle to break all the tissues and make it smooth, then you add soaked burghul and you pound it again, until the mixture become very smooth .

There are several kinds of Kibbee with the way you prepare it and cook it, you can prepare it as balls either you fry it in hot oil, or you brush it with little fat and bake it over the charcoal , also you can stuff it with meat and suet and bbq it and the fat inside it will cook it through.
also the same kibbee balls after they are fried you can cook them in a boiling sauce or stock or hot yogurt. As well the dough can be devided intro two parts, in a buttered tray you spread the kibbee in the bottom of the tray, dipping your hands in water to flatten the first layer in the bottom then you spread the stuffing on top , then add the second layer of kibbee on top and dipping your hand in the water to smooth it and make it level and one thickness. then cut it into diagonal shape don't dip the knife too deep to reach the bottom layer, only you are making a design

add clarified butter over the kibbee and around 1/4 cup of olive oil, you might think its too much fat to cook the tray, but you need to have enough fat for baking, other wise it will come out dry and break apart when you slice it. When it bakes you can take it out of the oven, and put another tray over it and drain all the excess fat, before the kibbee rests and soaks it. The kibbee takes around an hour in a 375F hot oven to turn golden brown.

KIbbeh Kras Mikliyeh - Fried Kibbee Balls

the ingredients of the Kibbee are a mix of bulghul or cracked wheat and meat, and the stuffing ground meat and spices, the kibbee then shaped into balls and fried.
See the following pictures for instruction.

cook the stuffing before adding the pinenuts which can be toasted in another frying pan and then add it to the mix.

Dip your finger in water and start making an eggshell, fill it with the stuffing .

The egg shell should be the same thickness and the thinner the better, you can achieve that by practice. if the kibbee breaks when working with it, just dip your finger with water and gather it together.

then dip your finger again in water and start closing the egg

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Makes 30 to 40 small cookies
3/4 to 1 cup hazelnuts or almonds
3/4 to 1 cup (16oz) bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup fresh brewed espresso, room temp.
2 dry espresso coffee grounds
Bake nuts in 350 oven until toasted. Wrap in towel and remove the skins. Grind nuts and chocolate in seed grinder. Save a handful of nuts and chocolate to add to dough. Set aside. Cream butter, sugar, and eggs in a bowl, add cooled espresso and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in another bowl and add to cream mixture. Mix until blended. Fold in nuts and ground chocolate. Add dry espresso coffee. Mix dough with hands or in a food processor. Divide dough in half. Place two 14? long rolls on oiled sheet pan. Space about 2 in. apart. Bake in 350 oven for 30 minutes or until brown. Let cool on rack or in the refrigerator. Cut slices at a 40 degree angle and place in an upright position back on the cookie tray and return to oven for another 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool. Store in an air tight container until served.

Hersheys Mini Kisses Peanut Blossoms

HERSHEY'S MINI KISSES Peanut Butter Blossoms
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup REESE'S Creamy Peanut Butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Additional granulated sugar
1-3/4 cups (10-oz. pkg.) HERSHEY'S MINI KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates

Instructions:1. Heat oven to 375°F. 2. Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until light and fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to peanut butter mixture, beating until well blended. 3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet. 4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately place 3 chocolates on top of each cookie, pressing down slightly. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. About 4 dozen cookies.
(recipe and picture courtesy of Hersey)

Melting Moments Cookies

Melting Moments Cookies Recipe:
1 1/2 cups (210 grams) all purpose flour
1/2 cup (60 grams) cornstarch (corn flour)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (30 grams) powdered (confectioners or icing) sugar
1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (110 grams) powdered (confectioners) sugar, sifted
Melting Moments: In a medium sized bowl whisk together the flour, cornstarch and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least one hour or until firm.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
When dough is firm, form into 1 inch (2.54 cm) balls and place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets spacing about 1 inch apart. Bake for about 12 - 14 minutes or until the edges of the cookies start to brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, line another baking pan or tray with parchment or wax paper. Sprinkle about half of the confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar onto the bottom of the pan and then place the slightly cooled cookies on top of the sugar. Put the remaining sugar in a fine strainer or sieve and then sprinkle the tops of the cookies (or you can just roll the cookies in the sugar).
These cookies store very well. Place in an airtight container between sheets of wax paper and they will keep a couple of weeks.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Slice and Bake Ginger Waffers

(picture & recipe from Gifts from the Christmas Kitchen)
Yield: Makes about 4-1/2 dozen cookies
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/4 cup light molasses
1 egg
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups all-purpose flour
1. Beat brown sugar, butter and molasses in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. Add egg, ginger, orange peel, salt, cinnamon and cloves; beat until well blended. Stir in flour until well blended. (Dough will be very stiff.)
2. Shape dough into 2 logs, each about 1-1/2 inches in diameter and 8 inches long. Wrap each log in plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 5 hours or up to 3 days.
3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut dough into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Variations: Dip half of each cookie in melted white chocolate, or drizzle cookies with a glaze of 1-1/4 cups powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons orange juice. Or, cut cookie dough into 1/8-inch-thick slices and bake. Sandwich melted caramel candy or peanut butter between cooled cookies.

Christmas Cookies - continues

Choco-Coco Pecan Crisps Cookies
makes about 6 dozen cookies
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped pecan ( in this recipe I used walnuts)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup flaked coconut

cram sugar and butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy, beat in egg and vanilla. Combine flour, pecans cocoa and baking soda in small bowl until well blended, add to creamed mixture, blending until stiff dough is formed. Sprinkle coconut on work surface. Divide dough into 4 parts, shape each part into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, roll in coconut until thickly coated, Wrap in plastic wrap, refrigerate until firm, for one hour or up to 2 weeks for longer storage. ( the cookies can be freeze up to 6 weeks)
Preheat oven to 350F , cut rolls into 1/8 inch thick slices, lace 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets with parchment, bake 10=13 minutes to until firm, but not overly browned. Remove to wire rack to cool.

Semolina Cookies

Black sesame seeds (kalangi) adds a nice aromatic flavour to the cookies


1 kg of Semolina flour
320 gm of granulated sugar
300 gm of sweet butter
2 teaspoons quick rise yeast
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground mahleb (found at Middle Eastern Stores)
1/4 cup black sesame seeds (optional)
1/4 cup rose water
1/4 cup orange flower water
½ cup warm water

1. In a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Stir in sugar, continue stirring to dissolve sugar. Do not boil. Remove from heat and let cool slightly,
2. Measure flours into a large bowl. Add melted butter, spices, and sesame seeds; stir slowly for about 10 minutes to thoroughly blend ingredients. And the Semolina soaks all the butter sugar mixture and turns to crumbly texture. Cover and let it rest for an hour or two.
3. melt the yeast in ½ cup of warm water, and when its ready add it to the mix and start kneading so it incorporate and mix well , add 2 tbsp of rose water and orange blossom in a small bowl, and dip your hands in the flavored water and knead the dough , if more liquid needed add more of the flavored water. Cover and let it rest for 3-4 hours, it will rise slowly.
4. Prepare 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut the dough into small balls, and using the palm of your hand to roll the dough into a 5 inches long rope and I inch thick, make a wreath shaped cookie, pinching the ends together. Place on a baking sheet. When you have filled a baking sheet, cover the cookies with a clean towel and leave it on the table overnight to rest the dough.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Bake cookies in the preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Note: Mahleb is a Middle Eastern spice made from ground black-cherry pits. Used to flavor baked goods with a subtle, sweet/nutty taste, can be found at Middle Eastern Stores.
as well as Rose water and orange blossom, also come see me at the Downtown North Bay Farmer's Market

Cardamom,Saffron & Dates Klisha with Semolina Cookies

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas Cookies

A tray of Christmas Cookies
from left Lebanese Kaak made with Semolina Flour and spice.Orange ginger cookies with white chocolates. Choco-Coco-Walnuts cookies.Melting Moments.Peanut Kisses.Espresso Almond Biscotti

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Bread Dough for Fatayer

Bread Dough for Fatayer

3 cups of unbleached flour (you can mix white and wheat)
2 1/2 tsp of yeast
1 tbsp of honey or sugar
1/4 cup of olive oil or vegetable oil
1 tsp of salt1
1/4 cup of Lukewarm water

dissolve the yeast in the water adding the honey. Mix the oil with the flour and salt, rubbing the flour in your hands so all the oil will be distributed in the flour and soaked in, when the yeast riseadd it to the flour and mix well, until you have a nice soft dough (it takes around 10 minutes to turn the flour into a nice dough)cover the dough and let it rise in a draft free place. (Takes between 90 - 120 minutes for the dough to rise completely)

Fatayer - Savoury Vegetarian Pastries

Platter of savoury pastries , which includes Oregano Bread,Cheese and Spinach Fatayer.

I made my dough with 50% whole wheat flour as a healthy alternative, of course you can use white flour .

Mushrooms Galettes and a yummy Pizza.

Home made not delivery!!!!!

using your hands to create holes in the dough creating a base for the stuffing.

uy spreading the stuffing

the bread is resting.

You can make a large bread of small bite size breads

Oregano Bread - Continue

shape the dough into walnut size balls, let them rest before you roll them into small rounds
and stuff them.

Also the same dough can be rolled and stuffed then turned to a bagel.. It was a hit at the
Farmer's Market.

Savoury Pastries as part of Mezza

This is Called Saj - this is the element which we use to bake our lavash bread in Lebanon.
It is a metal round tray sit on another round heating element with leg, the heating element has holes and it works on propane, also if you want you can build yourself a brick fireplace to fit the Saj and bake your bread on it, you need to be a professional to control the fire, and make sure its working properly to get the perfect wood baked bread and pastries, other wise it will not bake properly or you burn the bread.

This is a gas element Saj, my mom puts it on the balcony outside and bread and oregano and cheese bread as a treat during the weekends.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Phoenician Gourmet Participating in a Christmas Craft Shows

During the month of November I participated in three craft shows in North Bay, as a baker and a caterer. It was my first year participating in something like this; I worked very hard and spent many nights baking till the early hours of the morning, making sure the food looks fabulous and the taste is excellent (you eat with your eyes first right!!!) . The preparation started couple of weeks before; I soaked 20 kg of dry chickpeas, boiled them, then froze them. Boxes of eggplants have been roasted and cleaned and also packaged in the freezer, couple of boxes of big red peppers were roasted cleaned and packaged in the freezer ( oh no…. I don’t have a commercial freezer, I have a big freezer, and thanks to my dear neighbor Linda who was kind enough to offer me a clean empty freezer in her basement, and also my in-law’s freezer, so I barely made it for the first show.

My food was a variety of Lebanese Dips (hummus, Baba Ghanouj, Mhamarah) around 40 jars of pepper jelly, the majority are red pepper jelly, and some with Jalapeno pepper and some a mix between red pepper and jalapeno .
Also I baked several dozens of Lebanese flat bread; also I prepared vegetarian savoury pastries which included Spinach, and Mushroom Galettes.
For dessert I baked a total of 40 pounds of Baklawa with different flavours and designs, also, I made Pecan Butter Tarts, and Homemade Mincemeat Pies, I made around 10 kinds of Christmas Cookies.
Two kinds of Fruit cakes the first with Homemade Marzipan and other is the traditional English Fruit cake which is wrapped with homemade marzipan and covered with royal icing frosting. Also I prepared 4 kinds of truffles, Black Russian truffle, Orange liqueur truffles, almond and brandy truffles and Kahlua truffle
Also double chocolate coffee beans bonbons and pecan caramel bonbons

These are some of the pictures which I took for the stuff I made :

Boxes of Christmas Cookies , Pecan Butter Tarts & Homemade Mincemeat Pies

more baking's

the tables are ready and full of delicious food

More dessert trays

we needed big bins to carry the dessert boxes.

Variety of Christmas Cookies

Traditional English Fruit Cake with homemade marzipan and royal icing on top

Traditional English Fruit Cake

Rich Fruit Cake with homemade marzipan

Truffles Variety including:black Russian,Brandy Truffle, Hazelnut Truffles, Orange Truffles, then Double Chocolate Coffee Balls, Kahlua and Pecan Caramel Truffles

Apricot & pistachios Baklawa

tray of Bird's Nests Baklawa

Coffee Baklawa

Bird's nests Baklawa

Chocolate fingers Baklawa

Blossom Baklawa Tray ready for the oven

Almond Baklawa

Cranberry and Nuts Baklawa

Blossom Baklawa

Traditional Baklawa with walnuts, almonds cashews

Holiday Decorations Stand

Hand Made Crafted wood decorations

Santa Was there too...