Black olive “not bagel” bialy and a sad farewell

When I first started blogging (and even to this day) I occasionally got the comment: Oh you can’t trust the cyber world! People are all fake! you don’t know who you are dealing with behind that screen! Try as I may to explain to people who have never written or for that matter faithfully followed a blog over months or even years,they can’t understand the fact that there are friendships and connections that you can form in the cyber world that are just as precious as the ones you form in the real world.

These people think that you need to interact with a person face to face in order to get to “know” them, but what they miss is the fact that “knowing” a person does not actually come from seeing them, it comes from noticing the little details about them that make them unique human beings.

“I prefer to explore the most intimate moments, the smaller crystallized details we all hinge our lives on.”

Rita Dove

The goodness of heart, ethics and mentality of a person do shine through even in the cyber world. The words they use, the stories they tell  and the actions that they take.The memories they hold dear, the way they reach out to you with kindness when they don’t have to, it all paint a vivid picture of who they really are.

I have said this on a numerous occasions before and will say it again, my life is so much richer because of blogging, and because of all the amazing human beings that I have crossed paths with on this journey, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

Spiced espresso pumpkin bread.jpg

One of those amazing human beings is the wonderful lady that I have had the pleasure -and the honor-of being assigned her blog for this month. Sally Newton.

I first met Sally through her blog “Bewitching kitchen” years ago and ever since day one I have had the deepest respect for her on both the culinary and the personal level. Her passion, cheerfulness, and general attitude towards life shine through in every post. Just seeing her blog’s name in my inbox puts a huge smile on my face, I click through knowing that I will love every word, every story and every recipe because I just know that she does it from the heart with a deep rooted passion.

I have learnt so much from Sally’s blog, her attention to details and the way she breaks down a recipe and comments on it always make me smile because I can see the brilliant scientific mind that she has through them. You see, Sally is a biochemist who has so much love and dedication to her work in the research on iron transport by bacteria (Didn’t I tell you that the person you are shines through in the smallest details and the simplest tasks that you do?).Just to give you a small example, I have toyed with the idea of trying my hand at making sourdough bread but I could never work up the courage to do it. If it wasn’t for Sally and her wonderful collection of sourdough recipes I would have never taken a walk on the wild side 🙂

I do have to say that with time and the more posts I read, the deeper my respect for Sally has grown. The unapologetic way she takes on life, embracing the setbacks, getting back up and facing the challenge again and again with a smile and with determination always left me in awe.

But the reason why I can proudly call Sally a friend is her kindness that has touched my life on numerous occasions. Whenever problems in the Middle East reached a new high and took over the headlines I was sure to find a kind email from Sally checking in on me. Her warmth and kindness when she did not have to worry about me or write to me warmed my heart and managed to add a ray of sunshine to my day no matter how sad or gloomy it may be and for that I can never thank her enough.

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When I got the email with the assignment for  November and saw Sally’s blog URL, I wish you could have heard the huge YEEEEEEES and seen all the dancing that went on here!!

You see, this is going to be the very last Secret Recipe Club post. Sadly the people behind this wonderful group have decided to shut it down because the number of participants has been on a steady decline. I was heartbroken when I heard the announcement because I have loved every minute of every assignment and I will dearly miss the rituals of the SRC. The excitement when I see Susan’s name (our group leader) in my inbox knowing that her email brings a cheerful friendly intro and a new assignment. The thrill of exploring my assigned blog, the negotiations with the kids (they always want to go for cookies and cake and I always want to go for bread and salads lol), the huge sigh of relief when I finally make and photograph the recipe , the suspense of waiting for reveal day curious to see who got my blog, what did they decide to make.
If there was one thing that could ease the sorrow of the SRC ending, it would be getting Sally’s blog as the final assignment!!
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I don’t think I have ever bookmarked or made this many recipes from a single blog in such a short period of time before!!

I made her Baked Shrimp and Feta PastaCashew Cream Sauce , Pumpkin Espresso LoafTomato Sourdough, and Black Olive Bialy!

I sadly only managed to take pictures of two of these recipes because my kids had their midterm exams and I was really tight on time but I can happily tell you that each and every one of those recipes was a huge success, the kids and I loved them so much and we’ll definitely be making them again and again.

I will be sharing the black olive bialy recipe today and the pumpkin espresso loaf tomorrow on my regular posting day  because each of these amazing recipes deserves their own blog post.

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Bialy -if you are not familiar with it- is a chewy bread that is the distant cousin of a bagel if you will!
they’re Polish, by origin (from an area called Bialystok). In terms of looks bialys are quite similar to bagels but instead of the central hole in a bagel, bialys have a depression that is filled with onions and poppy seeds. Another marked difference is that bialys are only baked as opposed to being boiled then baked as is the case with bagels making them easier to prepare, more chewy and they pack a bigger flavor punch because of the onion topping.
This particular recipe is even easier because it requires very little active working time! You prepare the dough the night before with very little kneading. Allow it to rest overnight in the fridge then all you have to do the next day is shape it, top it with onions and voila! Fresh olive infused chewy bread heaven.
My whole family LOVED the bialys. I split them, spread them with some pesto, topped with halloumi cheese and tomato slices and they were honestly the best sandwich I have had in a while.
I used very soft black olives that I had in the fridge and they sort of melted into the dough. That gave the dough a darker color but the flavor was beyond amazing as it really infused the dough with nutty olive flavor
Update: Before getting to the recipe, I need to explain that I have no intentions what so ever to stop blogging. So many of my wonderful readers sent me messages and emails expressing their sorrow that I won’t be blogging any more. I think the title of the post might have been a little misleading. The farewell is for the secret recipe club only. You are stuck with me and my recipes for a long time 🙂 That being being said, I deeply appreciate all the messages and emails, it feels good to know that all of you care so much about chef in disguise  


1/2 teaspoon instant dry yeast
250 ml water
150 g pitted Kalamata olives, diced
25 mL olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
550 g bread flour
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 Tablespoons poppy seeds (see notes)

1.In a bowl add  250 ml of  warm water, yeast , the minced olives, olive oil and salt.

2.Add the flour

3.Mix till you get a firm dough,(You may need a little more water for the dough to come together)

4.Refrigerate for 24 hours or more (up to three days).

5. Place the onions into a non-stick pan and dry fry them for a few minutes until soft but still pale, scrape them into a bowl with the poppy seeds, and leave in the fridge.

6.Take the dough out of the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature.

7.Divide the dough into ten pieces (use a scale to get equal pieces) and shape into balls.

8. Leave covered for an hour to rise at room temperature.

9. Pat the balls out to about 4 inches diameter, and firmly indent the middle area, leaving a very thin and wide skin of dough in the center.

10. Heat the oven to 450F (232 C), place the rack in the middle

11.Line a baking tray with parchment paper, and lay five bialys on it, well spaced. Press 1 tsp of onion/poppy seed mixture in the center, with wet fingers.

12.Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until puffed and just beginning to get dark, then repeat with the remaining five pieces.

Notes: I could not find poppy seeds so I used some of my everything bagel topping with the onions to give them flavor


خبز البيالي هو نوع من الخبز الشبيه بالبيغل و لكن تحضيره اسهل بكثير.تعود اصول هذا النوع من الخبز الى بولندا.
عاده ما يتطلب تحضير البيغل سلق العجين بالماء قبل الخبز و لكن خبز البيالي لا يحتاج الى هذه الخطوه الاضافيه. كل ما عليك فعله هو خلط المكونات في اليوم السابق لليوم الذي تودين خبز البيالي فيه و في اليوم التالي ببساطه اخرجي العجين من الثلاجه و شكليه و اخبزيه و استمتعي بالخبز المشبع بنكهه الزيتون
للحصول على افضل النتائج استخدمي الزيتون الاسود الطري نوعا ما لانه غني بالنكهه و لانه يتمازج مع العجين بسهوله اكبر

تستخدم الوصفه الاصليه بذور الخشخاش مع البصل و لكن بامكانكم استبدالها ببذور القزحه او الشيا  كما و بامكانكم اضافه اكليل الجبل للبصل لاعطاءه المزيد من النكهه لو احببتم
بامكانكم الاستمتاع بهذا الخبز كمرافق للسلطه او الشوربه. انا شخصيا قدمته كسندويشات صغيره بعد ان دهنته بالبيستو و حشوته بجبن الحلوم و البندوره.

خبز البيالي بالزيتون و البصل

1/2 ملعقه صغيره خميره فوريه

250 مل ماء دافئ

150 غم زيتون مزال البذور و مفروم

25 مل زيت زيتون (حوالي ملعقه كبيره و ملعقتين صغار)

1 ملعقه صغيره ملح

550 غم طحين

1 بصله مفرومه ناعم


1.في وعاء نضيف الماء و  الخميره و الزيتون و زيت الزيتون و الملح

2. نضيف الطحين و نخلط حتى نحصل على عجينه متماسكه (قد تحتاجون للمزيد من الماء)

3.نضع العجين في الثلاجه لمده 24 ساعه (بامكانكم ترك العجين في الثلاجه حتى 3 ايام)

4. نضع البصله في مقلاه غير لاصقه بدون زيت و نقلبه حتى يذبل ثم نرفعه عن النار و نتركه ليبرد
بامكانكم اضافه  حبوب القزحه، بودره الثوم او بذور الشيا للبصل لاعطائه مزيد من النكهه

5. نخرج العجين من الثلاجه و نتركه ليعود لدرجه الحراره الغرفه

6.نقطع العجين الى 10 قطع (بامكانكم استخدام الميزان اذا اردتم التأكد من ان كل القطع بنفس الحجم)

7.نشكل العجين على شكل كرات و نغطي قطع العجين و نتركها لمده ساعه

8.نسخن الفرن لحراره 232 مئويه و نضع الرف في الوسط

9.باستخدام الابهام نضغط على وسط العجين لنشكل حفره صغيره في وسط كل كره من العجين

10. نجهز صينيتين للخبز و نغطيهما بورق الزبده و نضع 5 كرات من العجين على كل صينيه

11. نضع ملعقه كبيره من البصل في مركز كل كره من العجين

12. نخبز العجين حتى يصبح القاع ذهبي اللون ثم نضع الخبز تحت الشوايه حتى يتحمر السطح