mamoul4_wordsMa’amoul are small shortbread cookies traditionally filled with dates, pistachios or walnuts and the dough is flavored with orange blossom or rose water. They are popular in Levantine cuisine (Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon). These are so delicious, the whole thing melts in your mouth with great textures and flavors. One thing I know for sure about Maamoul, you can never stop at just one!

When you buy Maamoul in Middle Easter markets, they are usually decorated with a kind of pastry pincer to make an attractive pattern. Presumably this is to hold the confectioner’s sugar they are sprinkled. I find that pricking the tops with fork in a regular pattern accomplishes the same thing.


Date Filling:

2 C pitted dates, finely chopped

2 Tbsp water

1/2 C pecans, walnuts or pistachios finely chopped

1/4 tsp cardamom


1 3/4 C all-purpose flour

12 Tbsp (1 and 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter – use vegan butter if you want it vegan

2 tsp rose water  or orange flower water

2 tbsp milk

Confectioner’s sugar for finishingmamoul2

Set the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven  and preheat to 350 degrees.

For the Filling: Put the dates and water in a medium saucepan over low heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally  and reduce, stirring often until the consistency is thick and jam-like. Spread the filling out on a plate and combine the chopped nuts and cardamom.

For the Dough: In a bowl or a food processor fitted with  steel blade, place the flour and butter and pulse about a dozen times or until it’s finely mixed in. Take the cover off the machine and put the rose water and milk. Pulse again  until the dough just forms a ball. Scrape the dough onto a floured surface, then press it together and roll it into a cylinder 15 inches long. Slice the dough every 1/2 inch to make 30 pieces of dough. To form, roll a piece of dough into a sphere then insert an index finger into the sphere to make a hole. Use your thumbs to enlarge the hole so that the dough becomes a little cup. Fill with a spoonful of the filling then close the dough around the filling.

Place each cookie seam side on a parchment lined cookie sheet. After all the cookies have been formed , press each gently to flatten it and use a fork to pierce the surface in a decorative design. Bake the cookies for about 20 to 25 minutes, making sure they remain very white. They should take on no color at all. Cool on the pans on racks. Dust heavily with confectioners’ sugar just before serving. Store the cooled cookies between sheets of parchment paper in a tin or plastic container with a tight fitting lid.mamoul5



Hmmm, Macarons…they are just beautiful. The colors. The fillings… well the possibilities are endless.

macarons_final1-001Here are the cast of characters:

1.Almonds. I’ve made wonderful macarons with either slivered blanched almonds or almond meal. I’m a big fan of Bob’s Red Mill almond meal/flour , however if you are making a big batch it’s economical to buy slivered blanched almonds and do the processing yourself. Blend in your food processor for a few minutes and then sift the mixture through a medium sieve and then reprocess anything left behind.

2. Powdered sugar- I use starched powdered sugar, I heard powdered sugar are not suited for Macarons but it is near impossible to find the non-starch ones in retail stores here in the U.S.

3. Egg whites (Aged) -I separate my eggs and leave the whites in a bowl on the counter covered lightly with a paper towel for at least 24 hours.

4. Favorite Filling- There are so many ways to fill macarons. Fruit fillings, ganache, butter cream. Here are some example.

Bittersweet Ganache
9 oz bittersweet chocolate
8 oz heavy cream

White Chocolate Ganache
9 oz white chocolate
4 oz heavy cream



Overall, after testing several batches of macarons under different condition I found that temperatures in the range of 275-320°F for 15-30 minutes produced the best results. It really depends on your oven, I did mine at 320°F for the first 15 minutes of baking. Then lowered it to 300 for 10 minutes.

2yields 50 (100 shells) macarons (feel free to divide it for fewer cookies)
120g almond meal
200g powdered sugar
100g egg whites
30-35g granulated sugar
food coloring gel

Line 2-3 heavy gauge aluminum baking sheets with parchment or silicone liners (more on this below). Prep a piping bag with a round tip (I use a Ateco #11 for most of my macs, though I’ll occasionally use a #804 for larger macarons). I place the bag into a tall drinking glass (or stout glass) and cuff the bag’s opening over the top, this makes the bag easy to fill hands-free.

Weigh out almond meal and powdered sugar and sift together to remove any clumps. (If you own a food processor, I highly recommend blending the ingredients and then sifting.)

Weigh out the egg whites into a large mixing bowl (stainless steel or copper), if you’re using stainless feel free to add a pinch of salt, 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or couple drops of lemon juice to help strengthen the whites. If you’re using copper you need not and should not add any additional acid (more on this below).

Weigh out the granulated sugar. (Often I’ll use homemade vanilla sugar for this.)

Begin beating the eggs on low speed. What you’re doing here is unraveling the egg white’s proteins (these are what will capture the air bubbles you whisk in), they’re bundled up and you need to gently unwind them. A light touch does this far better than scrambling them on high speed. Once the egg whites are very foamy, begin sprinkling in the sugar as you beat. Increase the speed to medium, if necessary, and beat the meringue to stiff glossy peaks. (If they start looking grainy, clumpy or dry… uh… you’ve gone too far.)

Add the food coloring (for the full recipe it usually takes 2-4 drops of gel, for a half batch 1-2 drops does the trick) and mix.

Add about 1/4 of the almond/sugar mixture and fold in until no streaks remain. Continue to add the almond mixture in quarters, folding until you reach the proper batter. (More on this below)

Pour the batter into your prepared piping bag and pipe rows of batter (dollops a little bigger than a quarter) onto the baking sheets, giving them space to spread.

Tap the pan on the counter to bring up any air bubbles and quickly pop them with a toothpick.

Allow the cookies to rest on a level surface for 15-30 minutes. Until they are no longer tacky to a light touch. If you have problems with burst shells, you may need to allow them to rest longer or double stack your baking sheets to provided better insulation from the bottom.

While they rest, place an oven rack in the lower 3rd of your oven and preheat to 275-320°F.

Bake the cookies for 16-30 minutes. (Cooking time varies, experiment on what works for you)macarons2


Things that do not make good macaron fillings: Anything moist, runny or unstable!

You want your filling to stay put and not break down while your cookie matures. Wet fillings will dissolve your cookies. I’ve seen pastry cream, plain whip cream, and other moist ingredients recommend as fillings. These will result in the sad discovery that your cookies are, or are beginning to become, icky sludge.

If you must use wet filling, skip the maturation and eat them ASAP.


This is really important. Try not to judge the quality of your macarons until they’ve finished maturation. It fixes a whole host of evils. Small hollows disappear, dry insides can become moist again, the texture improves and of course the flavor, maturation really makes a difference there.

Generally 1-3 days in a loosely covered container in the refrigerator does the trick. The more moisture in the filling, the quicker it will mature. Mascarpone, cream cheese, curd-based, caramels and some butter creams will mature first, followed by white chocolate ganache and then chocolate ganache.

Always bring the macarons to room temperature before serving.

Semolina, Coconut and Orange Marmalade Cake

Semolina soaked in syrup are very popular all over Middle East. Moist cakes are my favorites and this recipe I adapted from the cookbook (Jerusalem) did not disappoint. This Semolina and Coconut and Orange Marmalade Cake, is moist, light textured and aromatic. Semolina,Orange Marmalade3aSemolina,Orange Marmalade6


Semolina,Orange Marmalade5¾ cup sunflower oil
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
½ cup orange marmalade
4 eggs
grated peel of one orange
1/3 cup superfine sugar
¾ cup shredded dried coconut
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup + 1½ tbsp semolina
2 tbsp ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
To serve: greek yogurt with one or two drops orange blossom water (Note: I have found that different brands of orange blossom water are stronger than others so add only a bit, taste and add more if you wish).

Semolina,Orange Marmalade2

Soaking syrup:
1 cup superfine sugar
½ cup + 1½ tbsp water
1 tsp to 1 tbsp orange blossom water, to taste

1. Whisk oil with orange juice, marmalade, eggs and orange peel until marmalade dissolves. In a separate bowl whisk flour with semolina, almonds and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until well combined. Mixture should be runny.
2. Divide batter between two 1 L loaf pans (or one large loaf pan) that has been greased and lined with waxed paper. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 45 to 60 minutes for small cakes or 60 to 75 minutes for larger one or until a meat thermometer inserted into the middle of the cake reads 185F.
3. When cakes are almost baked, place sugar and water for syrup in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add orange blossom water to taste. As soon as cakes are done, start brushing them with hot syrup using a pastry brush. Do this a few times allowing syrup to soak in. Be sure to use all the syrup.
4. When the cakes have cooled down remove from pans and cool completely. Serve with Greek yogurt flavoured with a few drops of orange blossom water if you wish.Makes 2 cakes

Semolina,Orange Marmalade1

Clementine & Almond Syrup Cake

Yesterday, I picked a huge bag of oranges, tangelos and clementines in a nearby farm. This morning I juiced the oranges, ate the tangelos and thought about baking a cake with clementiine. Glad I did, using this wonderful recipe from my new cookbook. It tastes amazing!. I like how this cake bursts with flavor, it’s comforting and relaxing. The ground almonds makes this cake very memorable and it gets moistened further with clementine and lemon syrup. I did not glaze it with chocolate, it’s certainly good on its own.

I will never stop singing the praises of this Clementine and Almond Syrup Cake.  I’ve told you before and I’ll tell you again: It’s so darn amazing! Try it!

ALMOND_CAKE4 (1)Clementine & Almond Syrup Cake
Recipe Source: Adapted from Jerusalem

3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp/200g unsalted butter
scant 2 cups/380g granulated sugar, divided
grated zest and juice of 4 clementines
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 1/2 cups/280g ground almonds
5 large free-range eggs, beaten
3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp/100 g all-purpose flour, sifted
pinch of salt

Chocolate Icing (Optional)
6 tbsp/90g unsalted butter, diced
5 oz/150g good quality dark chocolate broken up
2 1/2 tsp honey
1 1/2 tsp Cognac

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Lightly grease a 9 inch/24cm springform pan with butter and line the sides and bottom with parchment paper.
Place the butter, 1 1/2 cups/300g of the sugar, and both zests in the stand mixer fitted with the beaten attachment and beat on low speed to combine everything well. Do not work the mixture too much or incorporate too much air. Add half the ground almonds and continue mixing until combined.
With the machine running, gradually add the eggs, stopping to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl a couple of times as you go. Add the remaining ground almonds, the flour, and the salt and beat until completely smooth.

Pour the cake batter into the pan and level it with an offse spatula.

Bake the cake for 50 to 60 minutes. Check to see if it is ready by inserting a skewer into the center. It should come out a little bit moist.

When the cake is almost done, place the remaining 1/3 cup/80g sugar and the citrus juices in a small saucepan and bring to a boil (the juices should total about 1/2 cup/120 ml). When the syrup boils, remove it from the heat.

As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, brush it with the boiling syrup, making sure all the syrup soaks in. Leave the cake to cool down completely in a pan before you remove it. you can serve it as it is, garnished with orange zest strips, or store it for upto 3 days in an airtight container.

If you wish to ice the cake, it is recommended to do it on the day which the cake will be served. Put the butter, chocolate and honey in a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure the bowl does not touch the water). Stir until everything is melted, then immediately remove from the heat and fold in the Cognac. Pour the icing over the cooled cake, allowing it to dribble naturally down the sides without covering the cake completely. Let the icing set and garnish the center of the cake with the orange zest strips.

Stuffed Portobello with melted Taleggio

This is such a wonderful vegetarian dish and easy to prepare. This recipe calls for Taleggio, a mature cheese from Northern Italy. It has a strong aroma and it melts evenly and smoothly so it’s really is the best choice for this dish. If you can’t find this kind of cheese you can substitute Fontina or even Mozarella.

Portobello _Slaw2

Recipe adapted from my favorite chef and cookbook author Yotam Ottolenghi from London.

You’ll need:

4 large portobello mushrooms

6 tbsp olive oil

salt & black pepper

1 celery stalk finely diced

1 small onion diced finely

2 garlic cloves

1/4 c grated Parmesan

1 tbsp tarragon leaves chopped

4 tbsp coarsely shredded basil leaves

3 1/2 oz Taleggio sliced (or Fontina or any good soft cheese)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Place the mushrooms, stalk side up on the baking sheet and drizzle over a little oil and some salt and pepper. Roast for about 15 minutes in the oven until the mushrooms begin to soften.

Meanwhile heat up 2 tbsp of the oil in a saute pan, add the onion, celery and cook in low heat for 5 to 10 minutes or until soft but not brown. Stir every few minutes. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and garlic and just cook for a few minutes. Remove from the heat and let it cool down.

Once cool, add the Parmesan, tarragon and half of the basil to the mixture ans season with salt & pepper. If you are using Taleggio cheese, just add a little salt or skip on the salt, Taleggio is very salty.Pile up the filling into the whole mushrooms and top with the Taleggio slices. Return to the oven and cook for about 10 minutes or until the cheese melts and the mushrooms are tender.

Transfer the mushrooms to a serving platter and drizzle with oil and garnish with the remaining basil and serve right away with your favorite green salad. Enjoy!!!!

Portobello _Slaw1

Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Portobello, Fresh Apple with Balsamic Reduction

This is an unusual but charming combination of- Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Portobello Mushrooms and Fresh Green Apples, Red Chili Peppers, Green Onions, Goat Cheese in Balsamic Reduction- absolutely divine recipe I’ve adapted from my new cookbook “Jerusalem”.
Roasted Potatoes1
you will need
  • 4 small sweet potatoes
  • 5 tbs olive oil
  • 3 tbs (scant) balsamic vinegar (you can use a commercial rather than a premium aged grade)
  • 1 tbs superfine sugar
  • 12 green onions, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch segments
  • 1 red chile, thinly sliced
  • 1 granny smith apples cored and sliced
  • 1 portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Preheat the oven to 475°F / 240°C.
  • Wash the sweet potatoes, halve them lengthwise, and then cut each half again similarly into 3 long wedges. Mix with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt, and some black pepper. Spread the wedges out, skin side down, on a baking sheet and cook for about 25 minutes, until soft but not mushy. Remove from the oven and leave to cool down.
  • To make the balsamic reduction, place the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then decrease the heat and simmer for 2 to 4 minutes, until it thickens. Be sure to remove the pan from the heat when the vinegar is still runnier than honey; it will continue to thicken as it cools. Stir in a drop of water before serving if it does become too thick to drizzle.
  • Arrange the sweet potatoes on a serving platter. In a separate pan, cook the slice mushrooms by adding a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, cook until the mushrooms are softened. Heat the remaining oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and add green onions and chile. Fry for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often to make sure not to burn the chile. Spoon the oil, onions, and chile over the sweet potatoes. Dot the figs among the wedges and then drizzle over the balsamic reduction. Serve at room temperature. Crumble the cheese over the top, if using.Roasted Potatoes2

Cranberry Orange & Pecan Coffee Cake

It’s Christmas morning, and this coffee cake is just the perfect treat.


makes two 9×5-inch loaves

For the Cake:

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 cup granulated sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into medium chunks

2 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice

2 tablespoon orange zest

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups coarsely chopped fresh cranberries

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

For the Topping:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Cran_Cake3Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan.  Line loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving a few inches of overhang on each side.  Grease the parchment paper and dust with flour on all sides.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add chunks of butter and work the butter into the flour with your fingers.  Try to blend the butter into each bit of the dry ingredients.  The mixture will resemble a coarse meal.

In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla extract.

Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients.  Stir together to incorporate.  Add the cranberries and pecans and fold into the batter.

To make the topping combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips until crumbly.

Divide the batter between the two loaf pans.  Sprinkle each loaf with topping.  Place in the oven and allow to bake until the cake is golden brown and the center is cooked through.  Insert a skewer into the center of the cake to ensure that it’s cooked through, about 50 to 60 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for 15 minutes. Use the parchment paper to life the loaves from the pan and allow to cool further on a wire rack.

For the glaze I whisked together 1 cup of powdered sugar and just over a tablespoon of milk.  I drizzled it over the cooled coffee cake.

Cake can be stored, well wrapped at room temperature, for up to 5 days.


Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

Some things never change for me, I always want to eat a cinnamon roll. So, I made them today, now, I need you to come over here right now and help me eat these cinnamon rolls because if you don’t I’ll surely eat them all… on my own.

After 3 hours of prep, here it is, the perfect cinnamon roll…soft, moist and just the right combination of brown sugar and spices. It takes time but worth the wait. If you are in for a challenge to make these rolls from scratch, make it right now.

Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls 

(Adapted from Saveur October 2008)

For the Dough:

1 – 1/4oz package active dry yeast

1/2 teaspoon, plus 1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup milk at room temperature

2 Tablespoons light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 egg yolk

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted, plus more for kneading

3/4 teaspoon salt

8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan

For the Filling:

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

1/4 cup raisins

1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

2 Tablespoons maple syrup

4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the Icing:

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/4 cup buttermilk

Making the Dough:

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine yeast, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1/4 cup water heated to 115 degrees F.  Stir to combine and let sit until frothy and foamy, about 10 minutes.

Add remaining sugar, milk, light brown sugar, vanilla, egg, and egg yolk.  Beat with a wire whisk until well combined.  Fit the bowl onto the mixer, fitting with the dough hook attachment.  Add the flour and salt and mix on medium speed until the dough just begins to come together.  Turn the machine on medium-high and knead the dough for 4 minutes.

Add the butter and continue to knead for about 6 minutes.  The dough will the wet and sticky.  Place the dough on a well floured work surface, and knead about 1/3 cup all-purpose flour into the dough.  Don’t worry, the dough still might be a little sticky.  It’s ok.  Just set the dough to rest in a large greased bowl.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

While the dough rises, make the filling.  Combine the sugar, dark brown sugar, pecans, walnuts, raisins, cinnamon, salt and cloves in a large bowl.  Stir to combine.  Stir in the maple syrup.  Set aside.

When the dough has doubled in size, dump if from the bowl onto a heavily floured work surface.  Gently knead the dough until it is no longer sticky, adding more flour as needed.  I think I added about 3 Tablespoons of flour.  Work the dough for about 1 or 2 minutes.  Once it’s no longer sticky, place a kitchen towel over the dough and let rest for 5 minutes before you roll it out.

Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 10 x 10-inch square.

In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese with a knife until it’s smooth and spreadable.

Spread the cream cheese evenly over the dough square.  Fold the square into thirds like you would fold a letter to fit into an envelope.  Take the open ends of the rectangle and fold into thirds again, to make a smaller dough square.

Invert the dough so that the seam is face down and, using the rolling pin, gently roll it into a 10 x 20-inch rectangle.  You make find that some cream cheese sneaks through.  Be as gently as possible with the dough, but continue to work it until you reach the size you need.

Turn the dough so that the short sides are parallel to you.  You’re going to roll from the short sides of the dough.

Brush the top of the dough with half of the melted butter.  We’ll use the rest of the butter after the rolls are baked.

Pour all of the filling onto the dough.  Spread evenly, leaving a 1-inch boarder at one of the short edges of the dough so the roll can be properly sealed.  Lightly press the filling into the dough.

Using your hands, lift up the bottom edge of the dough and roll it forward into a tight cylinder.  Place dough cylinder seam side down on a cutting board.  Using a sharp, thin knife, trim off the uneven edges.

Cut cylinder into 8 equal slices.  Nestle the slices, cut side up and evenly spaced in a butter 9 x 13-inch (light colored) metal baking dish.  Cover pan with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to let rise for 2 hours.  You may also refrigerate rolls overnight.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Uncover the rolls.  If you refrigerated the rolls, let them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before baking.  Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Make the icing:  While the rolls are baking, whisk together the sugar and buttermilk in a small bowl until smooth.

Transfer the pan of cinnamon rolls to a cooling rack.  Brush with remaining butter.  Let cool for 5 minutes.  Dip the tines of a fork into the icing and drizzle over the rolls.  Serve immediately.

Ginger Ale (from scratch)

Unlike supermarket ginger ales, which are made with carbonated water, corn syrup, and ginger flavoring, this home-made ginger ale is made the old-fashioned way, with lots of fresh grated ginger, organic sugar and carbonated water.

Recipe here:

Homemade Ginger Syrup 

makes 2 cups ginger syrup

2 cups coarsely chopped ginger

2 cups granulated sugar

6 cups water

Place chopped ginger in a food processor (or blender in a pinch) and pulverize until well chopped.

Place ginger, sugar, and water in a large stock pot.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 1 hour to 1 hour and a half, until the liquid has reduced down by more than half.  You’re going from 6 cups of liquid to 2 cups.  The boiling syrup will become glossy and silky as it cooks down and nears completion.

Remove syrup from the flame and strain twice through a cheese cloth, or fine mesh strainer, into a large bowl.  Let syrup cool slightly before pouring into a bottle to store.  Cool completely before incorporating into drinks.

Ginger Ale

1 cup club soda

3 tablespoons ginger syrup (or to taste)

lime wedge

dash of bitters (optional)


Combine all ingredients in a glass over ice.  Stir with spoon to incorporate.  Enjoy immediately.  If you wanted to add bourbon… that would be delicious.