Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Middle Eastern Sugar Cookies (Ma'moul Abiad)

These cookies are made with clarified butter called ghee that gives them a distinct creamy flavor. You can find it in the refrigerated section with the regular butter at Whole Foods, but comes in a glass jar rather than in stick form. This recipe is kind of a commitment and I almost gave up on getting these right, but the end result was definitely worth the effort!

4 T & 1 tsp. powdered sugar
1/2 c. ghee at room temperature
1 c. & 1.5 T all purpose flour
unsalted pistachios - remove shells

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Mix powdered sugar and ghee in a large bowl using your hands. It will look like pancake batter (pale yellow & slightly runny). Add the flour and continue mixing by hand until the dough no longer sticks to your fingers. Cover the bowl with plastic and refrigerate briefly (about 10 minutes). Remove from the fridge and knead the dough gently with your fingers. Take a small piece of the dough and form a ball about the size of a ping pong ball. Flatten the ball until it is about 1/4 inch thick and place on an ungreased cookie sheet, and then press one pistachio on the center of the cookie. Do this for all remaining dough - should make about 12 cookies.

Bake at 300 degrees for 8-10 minutes until bottom of cookie becomes lightly golden. Remove pan from oven and allow cookies to cool on the pan for 10-15 more minutes so they can harden before you try to move them.

Note: I used parchment paper on my cookie sheet but that is not required.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


Serve with pita, spicy olive oil, roasted tomatoes and homemade chips.


Ground beef
Flat-leaf parsley
Grated red onion


This is pretty simple. Mix ingredients in a bowl. Season as if you are preparing hamburgers, and then add a couple tablespoons of parsley, red onion, and maybe a tablespoon of chopped garlic.

Lightly shape meat around a skewer until it forms what looks like a hot dog. Don't press meat too hard or it will get tough. Now just grill over high heat until done to your likeness.


This type of hand-made pasta is denser than gnocchi, and not made from potato. The indentation made in each piece, as with gnocchi, ensures even cooking and makes them look like little ears.


1 C semolina flour
2 C unbleached flour
1/4 t salt
3/4 C lukewarm water


Combine the semolina, unbleached flour and salt, and mound it a bowl and pour in 3 - 4 Tbls. water. Mix until the flour has absorbed as much water as possible without becoming hard or dry - not at all sticky. Knead vigorously until the dough is smooth and elastic. This may take 20 minutes. Form the dough into a ball and cover.

To make the 'little ears', pull off a handful of the dough (keep the rest of the dough covered). On a lightly floured board, roll the dough into a rope about 3/4 inch in diameter. Cut the rope into slices no more than 1/8 inch thick to form small circles of dough. Now put one of these circles into the cupped palm of your hand and, with the thumb of the other hand, press and turn the circle at the same time to form a dent in the center that will spread the dough a little on each side. It should look like a small ear, with slightly thicker ear lobes. Repeat with all of the remaining dough, placing the orecchiette on a lightly floured cloth as they are made.

The orecchiette are cooked in the same manner as fresh flour and egg pasta, although they take longer. Watch them carefully and taste frequently for doneness.


There's more to middle eastern bread than pita.


1 pkg yeast

3/4 cup warm water

3/4 cup warm milk

1 T sugar

1/2 T salt + 1 T olive oil

3 1/4 cup flour



Dissolve yeast in warm large bowl. Stir in milk, sugar, salt, oil and 3 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle. Turn dough onto generously floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 7 minutes. Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up. Cover; let rise in warm place until double, about 50 minutes. Punch dough down to release the gas, gather again and let it rest for the second time till doubled. Let the dough rest for a couple of hours or even more... divide to 8 equal parts.

You have several options for shaping the dough. You can either shape the dough into large rings or smaller loaves (resembling hamburger buns). To form a ring roll each piece of dough into a long snake several inches wide and press the ends together firmly to create a circle or oval loaf with a whole in the center.

Beat egg and 2 teaspoons water with fork. Brush each ring with egg mixture and sprinkle generously with sesame seeds. Place loaves, sesame seed side up, on parchment paper. Cover loosely; let rise until double, about 30 - 1 hour. Cover with plastic to keep them moist.

Heat oven to 450F . When the oven is ready, lower the heat to 400F . Bake the Ka'yek for 20 to 25 mimutes or until golden brown and puffed.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Crisp Rosemary Flatbread

Easy. Really bad for you. Delicious. We saw this on the Blue Ridge Baker.

1 3/4 cup unbleached white flour
2 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil
coarse sea salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees fahrenheit and place baking stone on middle rack.

Combine flour, rosemary, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Incorporate the water and olive oil. When the dough comes together, knead it 4 or 5 times. Divide dough into 3 equal pieces and roll them out one at a time. Roll out no more than 1/8". Place a piece of parchment on top of each round and gently lift up the parchment with the round attached. Fold the parchment back on itself with the dough. This step is necessary because the dough will be too thin to move to the parchment with your hands. Lightly brush top of each round with additional olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt. Slip the dough with the parchment onto the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden brown.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Enchiladas Verdes

We've tweaked this recipe a few times, and we're still working on it. Its not hard to find good enchiladas in Chicago, considering the number of authentic Mexican restaurants. Still, we want to learn how to make them ourselves when we don't feel like going out. This recipe comes from (guess who?) Rick Bayless.

Enchiladas Verdes

3 garlic cloves, peeled
1-2 fresh hot chiles, stemmed and quartered
1 1/2 pounds (10-12 medium) tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and cut into quarters
3/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups chicken broth
red onion or shallots, thinly sliced
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (rotisserie or grilled works nicely)
12 corn tortillas
3 tablespoons Mexican crema, sour cream, heavy cream, or creme fraiche
1 cup crumbled Mexican queso fresco, or shredded melting cheese like chihuahua or Monterey Jack

Blend the garlic an chiles in a food processor. Add the tomatillos and cilantro, and process until smooth.

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Add the puree and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture has reduced to the consistency of thick tomato sauce, about 7 minutes. The more you cook down the base, the richer and sweeter the tomatillo sauce will be. Add the chicken broth and simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes.

Lay out the tortillas on a baking sheet and spray or brush lightly on both sides with oil, then stack them in twos. Slide the tortillas into the oven and bake just long enough to make them soft and pliable, about 3 minutes. Remove from the oven and stack them in a single pile; cover with a kitchen towel to keep warm.

Stir the crema (or its replacement) into the sauce. Taste and season with salt, usually about 1 teaspoon. Spread about 1/2 a cup of the sauce in large baking dish. Dip each tortilla into the sauce, fill with chicken, roll up and place seam side down into the dish. Repeat, placing the tortillas neatly in the dish. Cover the tortillas with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with melting cheese (if you decide to use it). Bake for 10-15 minutes, until cheese is melted. Top with queso fresco, scallions, and sliced red onions (or shallots).

Friday, February 19, 2010

Creamy Parmesan Polenta

Polenta is one of my absolute favorite things to eat, and in my opinion it appears way to infrequently on restaurant menus. Why is that? It is super easy to make and is a perfect side dish in the winter -- Try serving it with these braised beef short ribs! You can buy polenta in the bulk section at Whole Foods if you just want to buy one cup at a time.

4 cups water
pinch of salt
1 cup yellow corn meal (coarse)
fresh ground pepper
1 tbsp butter
1/4-1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Boil water in medium sauce pan. Pour in the cornmeal, whisking constantly until combined. Bring polenta mixture back to a boil then turn heat to low to keep polenta at a simmer (large bubbles will form).

Stir occasionally and cook about 60 minutes or until polenta tastes creamy. If it starts getting too thick to stir add a little more water in 1/3 c increments. I added 2/3 c to mine. Add salt and pepper to taste. After 20 minutes remove from the heat and stir in butter and cheese.
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