The December 2016 Daring kitchen challenge was to make Dutch Oliebollen (commonly called Dutch Donuts). Traditionally, these little sugar dusted apple and raisin studded spheres of bliss are  eaten throughout the winter months in the Netherlands but particularly on new year’s eve.

I have missed so many daring kitchen challenges this year. I was determined not to miss this final challenge! But more importantly, a very dear friend of mine is from the Netherlands. When I saw the title of this challenge I just knew I had to make it, for her, so Margret if you are reading this, this post goes out to you.

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Growing up,the only association between pumpkins and desserts for me was  in the form of the traditional candied pumpkin that is usually served in the winter as a filling for a special kind of Palestinian bread called zalabia. You see, pumpkin in my book was associated with savory recipes like pumpkins and lentils in tomato sauce,and pumpkin frittata.It wasn’t until I started blogging that I was blown away by all the sweet possibilities!

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Isn’t it funny how a certain smell, flavor or image can conjure up a world of memories?

Somehow it is never the elaborate recipes or the fancy meals, it is a bowl of soup in your mum’s kitchen on a cold day, a cup of peach icetea across the table from a dear friend, a fresh loaf of bread from your grandmother’s oven, the cookies you made for your kids’ class and stayed up till 2 in the morning decorating and packing them, the salad you made for your best friend and forgot the parsley.
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By the time you read this, I will be in Amman. We’re finally going home for a 3 week visit. To say that I have been counting down the seconds is such an understatement. It’s been a whole year since I have last seen my friends and family and I miss them all terribly .As an added bonus the weather forecast predicts 46 C in the UAE while it Amman it will be 27C in the day and 19C at night! Yay!

I will be posting pictures of my trip on Instagram and I will share pictures and tidbits in my upcoming posts, do stay tuned.

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Since it is the first Monday of the month, that means it is time for our secret recipe club reveal.My assignment for this month was Thyme for cooking by the lovely Katie. I loved going through Katie’s blog. She spent 1 year in Ireland,  7 years in Andorra  and 8 years in France. Her travels gave her a unique outlook on food and life in general .

When I was a kid, before globalization and the internet (yes , that statement does make my kids giggle and makes me feel old) whenever we had a special occasion and  we wanted to  buy desserts for it, the options were simple: Baklava, muhalabia, layali lobnana, eish al saraya , awwameh or another item from a long list of traditional Arabic desserts. These desserts were sold by specialty stores who displayed them in the most tempting ways. Sure they sold the occasional cake and some cookies  but these were never that fancy nor tempting when compared to the extravaganza of Arabic delicacies on display.

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Image from Hebron times

My favorite dessert, as a child was these little white rolls you see in the next picture. They are , velvety and almost melt in your mouth. Delicately flavored with orange blossom water, the creaminess from the filling is beautifully balanced by the nuttiness of the pistachios. They are  little clouds of bless. There weren’t that many places that sold these little beauties, so whenever we passed by one of the stores that did, my dad would buy me some

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When I posted the batheeth recipe, I promised you more recipes from the UAE and the Arabic peninsula and this is the first in a series coming your way over the next few weeks.

I have to admit that the popular Emirati recipes are growing on me, be it batheeth, Masoub, karrak tea or the long list of rice and spice dishes that are so popular here.

Today’s recipe is one that my kids got me to try. After a cultural day at school they came home super excited about masoub, logaimat and khameer bread (I know this sounds like gibberish now but I promise to dedicate a post to each and every one of these recipes)

Masoob by chef in disguise

Knafeh has got to be the recipe I get the most questions about and requests for! and that’s no wonder because  it is one of the most addictive Arabic and middle eastern desserts.

What I try to explain to most people when they ask me is that knafeh is not a single dessert. It is actually a broad category of desserts. There is knafeh naameh (which means smooth knafeh and that refers to the texture of the dough used to make the crust), knafeh khisneh (rough knafeh)-both the naameh and khisneh are filled with cheese-, knafeh othmanieh (Ottomali Knafeh) which is filled with ashta or cream, knafeh asabe3: rough knafeh dough  formed into mini logs filled with cheese or cream ,and last but not least,today’s recipe: Arabic knafeh or Gazan knafeh which is filled with walnuts and spices.

Knafeh ghazawieh (Arabic knafeh)