Thursday, January 7, 2010

Dayem Dayem - Merry Christmas to All - Happy Epiphany

Epiphany is a Christian feast day which celebrates the revelation of God made man in the person of Jesus Christ. It falls on 6 January or, in many countries, on the Sunday that falls between 2 January and 8 January. Since the Julian Calendar, which is followed by some Eastern Churches, is at present 13 days behind the Gregorian Calendar and the revised Julian Calendar, 6 January in that calendar corresponds at present to 19 January in what is the official civil calendar in most countries. On this feast, Western Christians commemorate principally the visitation of the Biblical Magi to the Baby Jesus, i.e., his manifestation to the Gentiles;Eastern Christians commemorate the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, seen as his manifestation to the world as the Son of God. It is also called Theophany especially by Eastern Christians.

The observance had its origins in the Eastern Christian Churches, and was a general celebration of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ It included the commemoration of: his birth; the visit of the Magi or Majous as we call them in Arabic, ("Wise Men", as . were Persian priests) to Bethlehem; all of Jesus' childhood events, up to and including his baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist; and even the miracle at the Wedding of Cana in Galilee.(Turning the Water to Wine - Jesus first Miracle in Cana - Lebanon) It seems fairly clear that the Baptism was the primary event being commemorated.

Some Eastern Churches in Eastern Europe and the Armenian Orthodox continues to celebrate January 6 as the only commemoration of the Nativity.

On this Holy Day, the Earth and everything on this earth is blessed... specially the water. On the 1200 am hour Jesus visit the earth and bless his creation. I witnessed this blessing one year, long time ago, when I was still living in Beirut, I went to attend the Midnight Mass with my younger brother Simon , in the Middle of the ceremony, the Church Bells started ringing loudly and strongly, the women were rejoicing by making voices of celebration (lililililililiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii) every one ran outside to see what was going on from the priest, the elderly people were running infront of us, the whole parish were outside, to our surprise we saw the branches of two big trees in the yard of the church are all the way down to the ground , I am talking big thick branches, the priest started praying and the Mass was continued outside in front of the two big tree. I will never forget this glory date and the heavenly feeling every time I remember it.

Two years ago I made a starter dough, and till this date I am still using the same starter, building and adding more flour and water...I use my starter in all my pastries and bread....

Lebanese Sweet Pancakes - Katayef stuffed with walnuts and Ashta


4 cups of all purpose flour sifted
1 cup semolina
2 tsp of yeast
4 cups of warm water + 1 cup of warm milk or you can go 50/50
1 tsp ground mahleb (Middle Eastern Stores)
2 tbsp of sugar
1 tsp of salt


add the yeast and sugar to the warm , cover and let it rise in a warm place.
Add the milk to the flour with the salt and mahleb stir to combine. When the yeast rise
add it to the mixture and stir with a wooden spoon , the mixture has to be liquidy, and not
thick other wise it will not rise and bubble when you cook them, leave to rise for one hour.

Using a tefal or non stick pan, or pancake pan add 2 tbsp or so of the mixture in the medium hot pan and let it bubble and dry, if the pan is too hot the pancakes bottom will burn before they cook, the heat has to be medium low, try with one and see ( # 4) keep stirring , if you want you can use either an ice cream scoop of the 1/4 size measuring cup.... spread a clean towel on a tray and cool your pancakes.

Walnut Stuffing:
2 cups of chopped walnuts
3tbsp of sugar
1 tsp of rose water + 1 tsp of orange blossom water
mix well and stuff your pancakes

stuff the cooled pancakes, and try to close the ends to obtain half a moon, if the pancakes are too dry to close, dip your finger with some water and lightly run it around one edge of the pancakes.

Cheese Stuffing:

1 cup of fresh Ricotta Cheese
1 cup of fresh mozzarella cheese
or 2 cups of sweet Akkawi cheese cut into cubes
2 tbsp of sugar
1 tsp each of rose water and orange blossom
mix well and stuff your pancakes, bake in preheated oven till brown. Drizzle with cool syrup.

Clotted Cream Stuffing (refer to my recipe with Ousmaliyeah)

Cooking: using canola or vegetable oil fry your pancakes ,let them drain on paper towel then dip them in a cool syrup

Syrup: 3 cups of sugar, 2 cups of water cook to thicken add juice of half a lemon stir and when it thickens after 10-12 minutes, take it off the heat, add one tbsp each of rose water and orange blossom

option: you can make you katayef smaller the size of a golf ball, and stuff them with Ashta -Clotted Cream , leaving the katayef half open to show your stuffing, and on top you sprinkle chopped pistachios and a tsp of rose flower jam

I hope you give these Pancake or Lebanese Katayef a try you will be hooked.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Orange Cake with a Twist

I guess every one has his favourite recipe for an orange cake. Mine is a very simple recipe , was my late Aunt Juliette favourite cake... Every time I like to do a simple cake with lots of flavours I return to this recipe , also it became a hit at the North Bay Farmer's Market (the customers were used to lemon cake flavour and not to the orange)

This time I made the cake and played with the recipe and took it to the next level, (this is a habit of me, playing and testing recipes all the time)

Original Recipe:

2 cups of flour
1 1/3 cup of sugar
2/3 cup of orange juice (pls use fresh for real flavour)
2 extra large eggs
1/2 cup of butter (my aunt used Crisco)
1/4 cup of water
1 tbsp of orange rind
2 tsp of baking powder
bake in a preheated 375F oven for 30 - 35 minutes

the twist:
instead of 1/4 cup of water I prepared orange curd and used 1/4 cup
instead of tbsp of orange rind, I added a cup of candied citrus which were prepared earlier for the fruit cake
bake at preheated 350F oven for 50 minutes or until it tested done

I leave you with the photos.... the flavours are awesome, spongy texture, rich, beautiful color and the candied citrus gave it the extra bite of orange in your mouth with I love so much....
the original recipe is awesome by itself, but if you like to get a richer flavour try the new twist...

Monday, January 4, 2010

Walima Challenge - Representing the Moroccan Cuisne

Hello every one, Happy New year to all my friends and readers, hoping that this year will bring us all peace, joy and prosperity.

December Walima Challenge is Representing the Moroccan Cuisines and its hosted by our two lovely and talented friends Touria from and Sabah from

Morocco or the Kingdom of Morocco (Al Mamlaka -Al-Magribiya) translated to the Western Kingdom, is a country located in the north Africa with an area just under 447,000 square kilometres.
Rabat is the capital and Casablanca is the largest city.Morocco has a coat on the Atlantic ocean that reaches past the straight of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean sea. It is bordered by Algeria to the east, Spain to the North and Western Sahara to the south.

Several Arabic and Berber dialects are spoken in Morocco and the population is largely homogenous.The Moroccan Cuisine is one of the diversified cuisines in the world. It is a mix of Berber, Spanish, Moorish, Middle eastern, Mediterranean and African Cuisines.

1)Moroccan-berber cuisine:The Moroccan Cuisine has been influenced by the native Berber cuisine which differs from one area to an other within North Africa.the principal Berber food is:-couscous-Tajine wich is a very diversified dish-Mechoui or lamb barbecue-Harira which is a famous Moroccan soup during Ramadan.-Bread made with traditional yeast

2)Moroccan-andalusian cuisine:Andalisuian cuisine has also ifluenced Moroccan Cuisine. Moriscos or (Muslim refugees) who were expelled from Spain during the spanish inquisition brought with them their civilisation. the famous Moroccan andalusian dish is Pastille which is a wedding dish made of chicken and almonds. Besides pastille, a lot of Moroccan pastries are based on andalusian pastry such as almond coockies.

3)Moroccan-middle eastern cuisine:As Moriscos, Political refugees left baghdad in the middle ages and settled in Morocco, bringing with them traditional recipes that are now common in Morocco but Forgotten in the middle east. There is a striking similaritiries between 12th centry collection of recipes by Al-Baghdadi and contemporary Moroccan dishes. A signature characteristic is cooking fruit with meat like quince with lamb or apricots with chicken.

4)Moroccan-jewish cuisine:Jewish cuisine has also influnced Moroccan Cuisine. The Mizrahi's style is still well noticed in salad starters Made by marinated olive and vegetable.

Moroccan Cuisine is based on the use of different spices but the most characteristic feature is the use of powder ginger in different tajines. Olive oil is also a characterestic of Moroccan Cuisine as it is the case of all the Mediterranean cuisines.Chicken is the most widely eaten meat in Morocco. The most commonly eaten red meat in Morocco is beef; lamb is preferred as it is the basic ingredient in making tajines. the Moroccan tajine can also be made with fish and vegetables.The most popular drink is green tea with mint which is accompanied with different Moroccan pastry.

Ingredients :
- 1 pound couscous
- 1 pound meat (beef), you can use chicken or lamb.
- 2-3 carrots
- 3 zucchini
- 3 tomatoes
- squash
- 1 big onion
- parsley & coriander
- chickpeas
- 2 Tbs vegetable oil
- 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp turmeric, pinch pf saffron- water
optional :- 1/2 tsp smen (butter ghee)
Steps :
Heat the oil at medium temperature, add chopped onion and the meat.After 15 min, add chopped tomatoes, parsley, coriander and the spices, let cook 10 min, add water, let cook 1hour.
To prepare the couscous :
Add some water and fluff it up with your hands, let it soak.
After the meat has cooked 1 hour, place couscous in the steamer pot and let steam 20 min.Remove couscous from the heat, let it cool, add water, fluff it with your hands, add salt and oil, if you want, you can add smen (butter ghee).Put couscous to steam another 20 min.Add carrots to the meat, after 10 min, add zucchini, squash, chickpeas, let cook.To serve, place couscous first, then the meat, the vegetables and the sauce.
If you don't have a couscous pot, you can follow the same steps using a microwave.To make it easy for you, click on the pictures to watch the videos.

Ingredients :
- 3 3/4 cups flour
- 2 stick melted butter (230 gr)
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1 cup sugar
- a pinch of salt
Steps :
Mix flour, sugar, salt, butter, oil, mix until the mixture becomes sandy.Form small balls, flatten them a little bit, place in a baking sheet.Bake in a preheated oven at 380 F, 20 min.The cookies should keep their white color. TEAIngrediens :The ingredients depend on the size of the teapot.- handful of fresh mint- 1 1/2 tsp green tea- 4 tsp sugar- boiling waterSteps :Put the green tea into the teapot, add about 1/2 glass of hot water, rinse the tea,pour into glass #1, pour one more time 1/2 cup into glass #2.Pour out cup #2, add the mint, sugar, and glass #1, then fill the pot with boiling water, stir.Bring to boil on stove about 2 min.

whipping the butter and sugar for 10 minutes is the secret to a light cookies

The baked Ghriba

Moroccan Shortbread Cookies

Refreshing fresh Mint Tea
I like to mention that the fresh mint tea, is a refreshing drink winter and summer, also is soothing drink which helps in digestion, or stomachache and taste great.