Thursday, December 10, 2009

New Awards

I am happy and honored to receive this Award from two lovely ladies : my friend Heni and from my friend Joumana

I already spoke about myself and the things I like, but if I can add one wish:
"find a treasure with lots of money, to buy food and water and help the hungry people around the world , and bring beautiful smiles to the sad faces this Christmas.

In return I like to give this award to Seven Bloggers:

1- Mona Saboni from
2- Nisrin from
3- Touria from
4- Afaf from
5- LisaMichele from
6- Samira from
7- Mag from

Monday, December 7, 2009

Phoenician Gourmet: A Flower Cookies - For Peace

Phoenician Gourmet: A Flower Cookies - For Peace

A Flower Cookies - For Peace

Our friend Rosa of is organizing an event called "Pastries For Peace" . Hoping that one day the Muslims and the Jewish will live in peace and harmony.
Anybody can participate. The the deadline is extended till the 15th of December 2009. Just send your links to grandchampatgmxdotch.

Flower Cookies

I saw this recipe at Mona Saboni's blog Mona is a member of the Walima Club, her blog is in Arabic, and full of delicious Middle Eastern Food.


1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1/4 cup of milk
1/2 cup of semolina
1 egg
1/4 cup of unsalted butter
tsp of vanilla
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp of vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 cups of flour (depends on the flour and the mix, you need enough to make a cookie dough)


1 cup of water
2 cups of sugar
juice of 1/2 of lemon
cinnamon sticks, cloves


ground walnuts, almonds, pistachios or even Kashta or pastry cream or Marscapone cheese


In a pot prepare the syrup , add the spices , when it starts to boil add the lemon juice and lower the heat , let it simmer for 8 minutes. cool completely before using.

In a food processor or by hand add the wet ingredients stir, then slowly add the semolina flour and mix to combine, add enough flour to make a nice smooth cookie dough... knead by hand to combine. Wrap the dough in a plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for at least one hour or overnight...

On a floured board, knead the dough , roll very thinly, using a round cookie cutter cut 5-6 circles, and stack them one half way on top of the other....Roll from the last circle up gathering the sides , cut in half to get two flowers, try to open the ends as much as you take the shape of a flower. You can stuff them between the layers of the flowers with your desired nuts or cream stuffing... I added the nuts before rolling the circles , making sure each centre has some .

Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 15-18 minutes or until then start to turn light brown, drizzle them with the cool syrup... Let them cool before you move them to a platter.

The cookies are not overly sweet , they have a crumbly texture which I like . delicious, and fit for any party or wedding reception.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Walima November Challenge Representing the Lebanese Cuisine

Lebnan, Le-b-nan that means the White Mountain, once called "The pearl of the middle East,” is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, Israel, and Syria. At one time or another Phoenicians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Arabs, European Crusaders, Ottomans, and French all ruled and had influence over the land and its cuisine. The Cuisine of this Ancient Land is diverse and steeped in history; Lebanon is a culinary and cultural Crossroads. Lebanon is located on the Eastern most shore of the Mediterranean in the Fertile Crescent, where Western Civilization is said to have begun. Both the Eastern and Western influences in its cookery are apparent. It combines the sophistication of European Cuisine with the excitement of Eastern Spices.
The food of the entire Mediterranean region is a celebration of life; it is fresh, flavorful, diverse and invigorating. The Lebanese proudly admit that the genius of their food is its simplicity, and that the food was a product of both the earth and the sea. Also the natural bond that all of the Mediterranean cuisines share, from the tip of Spain to Lebanon “the same waters equally splash all of the countries around the Mediterranean".Lebanese cuisine is the richer and the finest in the Middle East and any other Arab countries due to their milder climate, and indeed, any cuisine is dependent upon climate and geography. Lebanese Cuisine is considered a very balanced, healthy diet. The Cuisine of Lebanon is the epitome of the Mediterranean diet. The country’s cuisine characterized by the use of a wide variety of fresh ingredients which include olive oil, herbs, spices, fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, grains, fresh fish and seafood; animal fats are consumed sparingly. Poultry and red meat and usually lamb, is eaten more often, either grilled, baked or sautéed in olive oil or butter, cream is rarely used other than in a few desserts. Vegetables are often eaten raw or pickled as well as cooked.Though its mainstream popularity is relatively new, the Cuisine is not; the Cuisine of Lebanon has been in the making since pre-biblical times. The influence that Lebanon has had on the world is totally out of proportion to its size; culinary contributions from this tiny Country have had the greatest impact on modern Middle Eastern cuisine.
Our November Dessert Challenge is hosted by Joumana from , Joumana choose Eish El Sarayah . I hosted the savoury dish choosing Sheesh Barak with homemade yogurt.
Sweet Challenge:
The Bread of the Seraglio ( Aysh el-Saraya)
1 round loaf white bread, about 8 inches in diameter, 1 day old
9 ounces golden superfine sugar
4 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
scant 1/2 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
1 tablespoon rose water1 3/4 cups
Lebanese clotted cream or Ashta
2 tablespoons pistachios, ground medium-fine
Cut off the crust of the bread and keep for bread crumbsSlice off the top of the white bread to get one flat slice about 1 1/2 inch thick and put it in a round serving dish about the same size as the bread.Tear the rest of the bread in thick pieces and use them to fill the gaps in the dish.Put the sugar, water and lemon juice in a deep frying pan and place over medium heat. Bring to the boil and cook, stirring constantly, so that the sugar does not crystallize in places, for about 20 minutes or until it is caramelized.Towards the end of the cooking time, measure 7 ounces of water and bring to a boil in a teakettle. When the sugar is caramelized, start adding the water gradually without taking the sugar mixture off the heat. Be very careful, because the sugar will start spluttering and you could burn yourself!Pour the boiling syrup all over the bread and transfer the soaked bread to the pan. Place over medium heat and cook pressing the bread with the back of a spoon to mash it and make it soak up the syrup.Clean the edges of the serving dish and slide the bread back onto it, spreading it evenly across the dish. Let it cool then cover the bread entirely with cream.Chill then cover with pistachios right before serving.
Clotted cream or Ashta:
2 slices of white bread without the crust
2 cups half-and-half
Cut the bread in small pieces and place in a saucepan
Pour the cream or half-and-half over the bread
Bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring often.Cool then refrigerate. It should keep for 4 to 5 days. Makes 1 pint.Makes 4 servings.Source: Lebanese Cuisine by Anissa Helou
Lebanese Style Sheesh Barak
1 ½ kg of plain Greek style yogurt or home made
1/2 quantity of Ajeen or basic dough recipe
3 cloves garlic, crushed with a dash of salt
1 cup finely chopped fresh mint (if fresh is not available use couple spoons dried)
½ kg (16 oz) ground meat (either beef or lamb)
3 medium sized onions, finely chopped
¼ cup fried pine nuts
1 tspn salt
¼ tspn ground allspice
¼ tspn ground cinnamon
2 tbls butter
Basic Dough or Ajeen
(this is used in many savoury pastries)
1 kg (32 oz / 5 cups) plain flour
1 ¼ cups warm water
½ cup olive oil
½ cup vegetable oil
2 tbls salt
2 tbls sugar

Sift the flour into a working surface.Mix in salt and sugar. Make a well in the centre.Pour olive oil and vegetable oil in the well.Mix the dry ingredients into the liquid.Add water gradually. Knead the dough into a ball (if the dough is too stiff add some water).Knead the dough on a floured working surface until it is smooth and elastic this can be done in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, or in a food processor.Form the dough into a ball and put into a lightly floured bowl, covered with a damp cloth. Leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.
Cooked Yoghurt

1 1/2 kg of plain Greek Style Yogurt
or home made you can check my blog for home made yogurt (you can check my blog for homemade yogurt)
2 tbls cornstarch
1 tspn salt
1 cup water + 1 beaten egg (or egg's white)PREPARATION:
Strain yoghurt using a smooth colander into a pot. Add egg or egg's white.Dissolve cornstarch in 1 cup of water. Stir into cold yoghurt for 2 minutes.Place on medium heat, stirring constantly until it boils.
Preparing the Sheesh Barak
Roll out the dough with a rolling pin to about 1 cm thickness. Using a round cookie cutter (medium size), press over dough to get equal rounds.Fry onion in shortening till color changes a little. Add meat, salt, allspice and cinnamon. Stir occasionally and fry for 7-8 minutes. Add pine nuts and Mix. Drain the mixture as butter would affect closing the pastries.
Spread the round a little with your fingers. Place 1 tspn of the filling on it. Fold over one end to make a semi-circle. Press edges down to seal. Take the two ends from the straight side, bring them together to make a small ring. Press well. Repeat till rounds are done.
You will have left over dough , (this is the best part) roll the remaining dough in thin rope and cut into diagonals. Place the stuffed dough and the cut pastries in a tray with parchment, Bake in a hot oven (400F) for 10 minutes or until golden. During this time prepare and cook the yogurt and when it starts to boil add the baked pastries to the boiling cooked yoghurt one by one. Let it boil over low heat for 10 minutes or till pastries are cooked.
Note: The egg and the cornstarch are there as stabilizers so that the yogurt won’t separate.
Make sure to cook the yogurt on medium low heat , high heat could ruin the sauce.
In a separate skillet you’ll want to quickly sauté the garlic and mint in one tbsp extra virgin olive oil and add it to the Sheesh Barak. And cook for another 2 minutes .
Serve hot in bowls, or you can serve with it Lebanese Rice Pillaf with Vermicelli.
I am attaching a link to Tony Tahhan Step by Step recipe preparation
1- Mix the corn starch and cold yogurt (I didnt use the egg)
2- Keep stirring on low
3-When the yogurt started to thicken
4- Add the baked Sheesh Barak
I like to eat it warm .
Baking the Sheesh Barak in the oven gives it a nice texture

1- Cook the Kashta
2- trim the bread and toast it in the oven
3- make the caramelized sugar and soak the bread
4- frost the bread inside out with the Kashta
5- decorate with toasted Pistachio

Late Posting - Daring Bakers Challenge for November

Some of you were wondering where is she hiding....
I was very busy last month, preparing and baking for couple of Christmas Craft Shows in town and area, after the shows I packed my suitcase and went to Toronto, on a business trip, it was successful, fun and I got to meet many interesting people and attending couple of Craft & Food Shows, also did some shopping for ingredients I cannot find in my area.

Time goes so fast when you are having fun.... I enjoyed every minute of my visit.

The Daring Bakers challenge for November was hosted by my talented friend LisaMichelle of
www.parsley,sage,dessertsandlinedrive . Lisa choose Cannolo from the Lidia's cookbook "my Italian-American Kitchen" and the Soprano Family cookBook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

Lidisano’s Cannoli
Makes approximately 22-24 4-inch cannoli
Prep time:Dough – 2 hours and 10-20 minutes, including resting time, and depending on whether you do it by hand or machine.Filling – 5-10 minutes plus chilling time (about 2 hours or more)Frying – 1-2 minutes per cannoli Assemble – 20–30 minutes
UPDATE: I learned that the addition of a little freshly ground or instant coffee to the shell dough is traditional in Sicilian style cannoli and gives the shells more flavor. I suppose you can add it along with the cocoa or in lieu of it.

2 cups (250 grams/8.82 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons(28 grams/1 ounce) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.06 ounces) unsweetened baking cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (approx. 3 grams/0.11 ounces) salt
3 tablespoons (42 grams/1.5 ounces) vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.18 ounces) white wine vinegar
Approximately 1/2 cup (approx. 59 grams/approx. 4 fluid ounces/approx. 125 ml) sweet Marsala or any white or red wine you have on hand
1 large egg, separated (you will need the egg white but not the yolk)
Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying – about 2 quarts (8 cups/approx. 2 litres)
1/2 cup (approx. 62 grams/2 ounces) toasted, chopped pistachio nuts, mini chocolate chips/grated chocolate and/or candied or plain zests, fruits etc.. for garnish confectioners’ sugar

Note – If you want a chocolate cannoli dough, substitute a few tablespoons of the flour (about 25%) with a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process) and a little more wine until you have a workable dough (Thanks to Audax).

2 lbs (approx. 3.5 cups/approx. 1 kg/32 ounces) ricotta cheese, drained
1 2/3 cups cup (160 grams/6 ounces) confectioner’s sugar, (more or less, depending on how sweet you want it), sifted
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon (4 grams/0.15 ounces) pure vanilla extract or the beans from one vanilla bean
3 tablespoons (approx. 28 grams/approx. 1 ounce) finely chopped good quality chocolate of your choice
2 tablespoons (12 grams/0.42 ounces) of finely chopped, candied orange peel, or the grated zest of one small to medium orange
3 tablespoons (23 grams/0.81 ounce) toasted, finely chopped pistachios

Note – If you want chocolate ricotta filling, add a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder to the above recipe, and thin it out with a few drops of warm water if too thick to pipe.

I made the dough and let it rest till the second day...since I don't have a pasta machine , I rolled the dough by hand and cut it small . Made my own Cannoli molds using rolled thick foil paper, its worked well.
I made my own Ricotta Cheese, drained it well, then whipped it to make it smooth, added couple of spoons of sugar, and candied citron and the cinnamon. vanilla (excellent flavours)
for decoration I used candied cherries and ground pistachios...
used the same stuffing for the chocolate adding some chopped chocolates and decorated with chocolate sprinkles.

Two doughs and Homemade Ricotta taste always better
Cannoli stuffed with homemade Ricotta, Candied Citron and decorated with cherries and pistachios

Chocolate Cannoli for my husband

for more ideas and flavours check Lisa's blog and the Daring Bakers Bloggers