Ghraybeh (Middle Eastern Shortbread Cookies)

Very delicate Middle Eastern cookies that melt in your mouth…

These cookies have the ability to transport me back to my childhood, there is something about their creamy like texture and the way they just melt in your mouth… it’s incredible! I remember having these cookies around since I was a little kid, either store bought or home baked by my Mum… And we still bake or buy them from the store from time to time… They come in different shapes, but taste is always amazingly the same.

They’re also incredibly easy to make, they consist of few ingredients, and once you try them you will fall in love! They consist of either butter or ghee (I used Crisco All Vegetable Shortening, Butter Flavor), flour, powdered sugar, and pistachios! To bake these tasty middle eastern cookies you start off by mixing the butter/ghee with the powdered sugar using your hand, then add the flour and mix until it’s well combined. The dough should be nice and soft that will not stick to your hands (If you like vanilla you can add 1/2 tsp vanilla to the mixture). Place the dough ball in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for about an hour. (If you decide to use butter, then you have to brown the butter by placing it in a saucepan on medium heat until the butter is golden in colour, let it cool for 5 minutes then combine with the powdered sugar etc…)
Take it out of the refrigerator then let it rest for 10-15 minutes. Gently knead the dough for a few seconds. Start shaping dough balls that weight about 6 grams each, place on wax paper on a baking tray, flatten and press a pistachio into each cookie! Bake for 10-15 minutes at 150c. But be careful as this depends on what kind of oven are you using, and they can get burnt easily!To make sure that they’re ready to come out the oven, check the bottom of a cookie, it should be golden in colour!

After you take them out of the oven make sure to give them enough time to cool down because the cookies are very delicate and they break easily.
Serve with a cup of unsweetend tea or coffee.
Ghraybeh Recipe
Serving: 30 cookies
Ingredients
  • 60 grams powdered sugar (but this depends on how sweet do you like them, if you in general like sweet cookies, then add 40 more grams)
  • 125 grams ghee/butter
  • 250 grams all purpose flour
  • pistachios
Instructions
  1. First you need to mix the ghee/butter with the powdered sugar by hand. Then add the flour to the mixture and mix until it’s well combined. The dough should be nice and soft and should not stick to your hands.
  2. Place the dough ball into a bowl, cover with a plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
  3. After you take it out of the refrigerator, let it rest for 15 minutes. Gently knead the dough for a few seconds and start shaping dough balls (each should approximately weight about 6 grams), place it on wax paper on a baking tray, flatten it using your hand and press a pistachio into each cookie.
  4. Bake in a preheated oven at 150c for 10-15 minutes (but this depends on what kind of oven do you use, when done the bottom of the cookies should be golden in colour but be careful as these cookies burn very easily).
  5. Make sure you give the cookies enough time to cool down because they’re very delicate and are easy to break.
* Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
* I personally have never tried making these cookies with butter but I know that butter should work as well.
* Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links which means that I will earn a small commission if you purchase through those links, I have used all of the products that listed and recommend them because I liked them.
الغريبة

المكونات:
٦٠ – ١٠٠ غرام سكر بودرة (حسب الرغبة)
١٢٥ غرام سمن أو زبدة
٢٥٠ غرام طحين
الطريقة:
نضيف السمنة الى سكر البودرة ونخلطهم بواسطة اليد. ومن ثم نضيف الطحين ونخلط جيداً لتصبح العجينة كثيفة.
نضع العجين في وعاء ونغطيه بالنايلون وندع العجين يرتاح بالثلاجة لمدة ساعة. بعد مرور ساعة نخرج العجين ونعجنه لعدة ثواني ومن ثم نبدأ بتكوين كرات من العجين، وزن كل واحدة يجب أن يكون ٦ غرامات تقريباً. نضع كرات العجين على صينية مغطاة بالقصدير ونضغط كل واحدة باليد بلطف لتصبح دائرية الشكل. نقوم برص حبة من الفستق الحلبي في منتصف كل حبة للزينة.
بعد تسخين الفرن نضع الصينية فيه لمدة ١٠-١٥ ثانية على درجة حرارة ١٥٠. بعد اخراج الصينية من الفرن ندعها تبرد جيداً قبل التقديم حتى لا تتكسر.

Mtabbal (Eggplant dip)

It’s the silky, lemony, garlicky, smoky, eggplant dip…


This is a very popular Middle Eastern dish that is prepared from Roasted eggplants, garlic, tahini (sesame paste), lemon, and a pinch of salt!

You will always find Mtabbal in any restaurant in Jordan, Syria, or Lebanon as a part of the traditional Middle Eastern Mezza. It’s usually served as a side dish, in the Middle East people usually start with Mezza which is basically a table that is full with different sides dishes, some are served warm while other dishes are served cold. Mtabbal has recently became one of my favourite! People enjoy Mezza while sipping drinks and happy chattering and only after that the main dish is served.

This is much simpler than it looks, basically you have to roast an eggplant, mash it, add tahini sauce, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. And voila you’re done! There are many ways to roast an eggplant
  1. You can roast it by placing it directly over the stove top and turning it side to side until it turns dark black and pulp is soft and tender
  2. Bake it in the oven by making holes in the eggplant using a fork, then wrap it with foil and bake for 45-50 minutes
  3. Slice your eggplant in half then place it on a baking tray and bake for 50 minutes

Mtabbal Recipe
Serves: 1 medium bowl
Ingredients
  • 1 fresh eggplant (aubergine)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp tahini (sesame sauce)
  • juice of a lemon
  • a pinch of salt
  • olive oil
  • summaq (optional)
  • parsley or mint leaves (optional)
Instructions
  1. First you need to roast the eggplant by placing it directly over the fire on your stove top. Roast it for about 15 minutes by turning it from side to side until it’s black and the pulp is soft and tender.
  2. Once the eggplant is done, you need to peel off the skin, and then mash it using a fork or a potato masher.
  3. Add minced garlic, salt, and juice of a lemon, mix. Then add the Tahini sauce (which is made by mixing the tahini paste with cold water and lemon juice – unless you have used all of the juice in the previous step)
  4. When serving, drizzle with a little bit of olive oil, and garnish with Summaq and parsley or crushed mint leaves. Serve warm or cold with pita or taboun bread.
* Roasted eggplants freeze very well and can stay in the freezer for up to 6 months.

المتبل

المقادير:
١ باذنجان
٢ ثوم مدقوق
ملعقتان كبيرتان طحينة
عصير ليمون
ملح
زيت زيتون
سماق
الطريقة:
  1. نشوي الباذنجان على النار لمدة ١٥ دقيقة
  2. نقوم بتقشير الباذنجان ومن ثم نهرسه جيداً
  3. نخلط الباذنجان المهروس مع الليمون والثوم والملح والطحينة
  4. نضف زيت الزيتون الى الطبق الجاهز ونرش السماق ونزينه بالبقدونس أو النعنع

The Cherry Notebook

This post is going to be a bit different to the ones that I usually make… Last may, I have received an incredibly beautiful gift from a dear friend whose name is Nurka, and she also lives in one of the most beautiful cities in the world Moscow! (HOW COOL IS THAT?!)
She’s one of these friends that supports my cooking/baking/photography/blogging interests, and when she sees something that she likes, she appreciates it and lets me know that she does like it! (and that makes me very happy knowing that someone actually likes my work) Yeah she’s amazing I’m telling you!
So her gift to me was this stunning recipe notebook, which was customised and handmade especially for me, in Moscow, by Tash.
The design is very unique, there is a little cherry cupcake right in the centre, the title is the word “recipes” in Russian, to close the notebook there is a little crochet flower with a cute button on the right. As well as a super cute raspberry, a cherry, pink flowers, little green buttons, a spoon and a bow on the left.

There is also a thread bookmark with a little cherry at the end which is great as it helps me find the page where I last left it.
A close up to the pretty detailing on the left. I really like the crochet work, it adds a lot to the cover. And where did they even get this little spoon from? I love it!!
Now I gotta say that I’m sort of obsessed with this Notebook, whenever I go to a TV show, or have a photography shoot I take it with me! It’s like my lucky notebook. ❤
Inside the notebook there is a little pocket with a cute pattern of colourful kettles, which may come in handy to keep all the recipes that I already have written on little pieces of paper!
There are 5 separators in the notebook, in the picture above is one of them. If you would like to see them all, you can go on Tash’s blog by clicking here.
Nurka also happens to be a very talented person that enjoys scrapbooking, crafts, and blogging. To check her work out click here, she also made two gorgeous handmade cards for me before, so I will be making quick posts about them later to show you guys how amazing is her work.

Nurka & me in Moscow January 2013.

To read Tash’s post about my notebook…

Кулинарная книга “Вишенка”

Regular Atayef (Middle Eastern pancakes)

Ramadan Kareem to all of my amazing readers that observe the holy month of Ramadan!
Today I’m sharing with you an amazing Ramadani Middle Eastern dessert that is only served during the holy month of Ramadan in the Middle East! There is something wonderful about dishes that are only served during holidays or special times! And once you try the Atayef – you will fall in love! I can guarantee you that!

Atayef (Qatayef قطايف) are usually prepared by street vendors in the streets of Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Morocco, and Egypt. They are also sold in bakeries nowadays, and some people prepare them at home. They’re very popular, it’s like you MUST have Atayef during Ramadan 🙂
Atayef are very similar to pancakes, they’re made with flour, semolina, yeast, milk, baking powder, salt, sugar and you can also add vanilla or rose water if you like. They’re usually fried on a non stick pan with no oil, but only fried from on side and folded which is very interesting because they’re just like thin pancakes with 2 sides, one is lace like, and the other side is velvety since it’s not fried on that side and is filled with bubbles!
So today me and my Mum went to a local bakery in Madaba, Jordan – to watch how traditional Atayef are made! It was very interesting because I got to see the technique and how the baker was working with great skill and speed.

Mutaz (the guy in the red) was making regular Atayef, I don’t know how he did it but all of them were exactly the same size! and then Tareq (the guy in the white) showed me how to make a giant Atayef!! I mean, how awesome is that?! I’m going to try and make this at home but then I need a giant pan to fit! The giant Atayef are stuffed with cream and are not folded, they just cover one with another piece. 
There are three kinds of Atayef:
  1. Regular Atayef: they’re usually bigger in size, crunchy from the outside, filled with either nuts (Walnuts, pistachios, or almonds) with cinnamon, or with white cheese (Ricotta can work) and then deep fried and soaked in (or drizzled with) a sugary rose water syrup or less commonly is baked with a little bit of oil and then drizzled with the syrup.
  2. Atayef Asafiri (or mini Atayef): they’re usually smaller in size, and have a soft exterior, served without cooking or frying, and are commonly filled with cream and pistachios. Fillings for this kind of atayef can be fun, you can stuff them with Nutella, fresh fruits, butter, you name it!
  3. Giant Atayef: they’re huge (look at picture above), usually filled with cream and nuts, but it can also be stuffed with white cheese and then drizzled with sugary syrup!
The technique is very important, it is very simple but you have to read the instructions carefully to understand it. You may need 1/2 – 1/4 cup more or less in the recipe that i’m sharing with you as it depends on what kind of flour and semolina you’re using. The batter is sort of thin but the best way to know if you need to add more water or not is by cooking your first atayef. If you get loads of bubbles that means that your batter is perfect, but if you don’t then you may need to add more water to the mixture.This is a common mistake when it comes to making Atayef (see picture below – not enough bubbles).
To prepare the mixture, place all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix. Then add the liquid ingredients gradually to the dry mixture and whisk to insure that the mixture is properly mixed. Place in a warm place, cover with a damp cloth, allow your batter to rest for 15-30 minutes. 

Heat a non-stick pan on medium heat, then pour the batter using a spoon (for small Atayef pour 1 tbsp of batter, for medium sized ones add 2tbsp, and 1/4 cup for large ones).
The Atayef will start bubbling but make sure that you get loads of bubbles because if you don’t then it means that your batter is too thick. Each piece should take about 1-2 minutes until they’re done but that depends on the size of the atayef. When the last drop on the surface dries and stops being shiny, it means that they’re done (remove from pan immediatly). Transfer to a tea towel but make sure that you fold down the towel to cover, otherwise they will dry out really quickly (which can lead to Atayef that are difficult to fold and seal). 
You will also notice that the Atayef will get softer once they cool down, which is good because then they will be easier to fold and seal while you stuff them. If you don’t want to fill them right away, you can store them in an air tight container or a plastic bag to avoid drying, but I highly recommend that you stuff them in the same day.

Filling suggestions

1. White cheese – for example ricotta with a little bit of sugar and rose water.
2. Walnuts, cinnamon, cardamom, and sugar.
3. Almonds, cinnamon, cardamom, and sugar.

To stuff the Atayef, hold each pancake with your hand then add 1-2 tbsp of filling (but do not over stuff them) then fold the atayef so it looks like half a moon and press the edges together to seal.
Atayef can be either fried or less commonly baked.
To fry: heat corn oil (about 1cm) on a pan, then start dropping the stuffed Atayef and fry until the edges are slightly golden brown and crunchy, remove from pan and soak them in the sugary syrup for a few seconds (or drizzle them with it).
To bake: place on a cookie baking sheet, then brush the Atayef with corn oil. Bake on 200c until golden and crunchy. Drizzle with the sugary syrup.
The Syrup

Ingredients: 1 cup water, 2 1/2 cups sugar, 1 tsp lemon juice, 2 tsp rose water, 1 tsp corn syrup (optional).
Instructions: bring the water and sugar to boil then add the lemon juice, mix well. Lower the heat then leave it on low heat for 10 minutes. After you remove it from heat, add the rose water then let it cool completely before using.
I hope that this post will help you make perfect Atayef. If you try this recipe, please leave a comment and tell me how did they turn out. Enjoy! 🙂
Recipe is adapted from the amazing Chef Daad Azar Abujaber
Atayef Recipe
Serves: 30 pieces
Ingredients
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup semolina
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp instant yeast
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • a pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. To prepare the mixture, place all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix.
  2. Mix all liquid ingredients together, then gradually add the mixture to the dry mixture and whisk to ensure that the mixture is properly mixed.
  3. Place bowl in a warm place, cover with a damp cloth and allow batter to rest for 15-30 minutes.
  4. Heat a non-stick pan on medium heat, then pour the batter using a spoon to make circles. (for small Atayef pour 1 tbsp of batter, for medium sized ones add 2tbsp, and 1/4 cup for the large ones)
  5. The Atayef will start bubbling but make sure that you get loads of bubbles because if you don’t, then it means that you didn’t make the right consistency. Fix this by adding more water to the batter as it might be too thick. Each piece should take about 1-2 minutes until they’re done, but this depends on the size of the Atayef.
  6. When the last drop on the surface dries and isn’t shiny anymore, this means that the Atayef is done. Remove from pan immediately.
  7. Transfer to a tea towel, but make sure that you fold down the towel to cover the Atayef, otherwise they will dry out really quickly which can lead to Atayef that are difficult to fold and seal.
  8. Stuff the Atayef with the filling that you choose (cheese, walnuts, almonds, etc…) then either fry or bake them as explained above. Dip in syrup or just drizzle with it (for better results, soak warm Atayef in cold syrup)
* For vegan Atayef omit the milk and add water instead.
* You can freeze the Atayef in a plastic bag, they can stay in the freezer for up to 3 months.

وصفة عجينة القطايف
المكونات:
١ كوب طحين
نصف كوب سميد (ناعم أو خشن)
كوب ماء
نصف كوب حليب
ملعقة صغيرة بايكنغ باودر
نصف ملعقة صغيرة خميرة فورية
٢ ملعقة كبيرة سكر
٢ ملعقة صغيرة فانيلا
رشة ملح
طريقة التحضير:
  1. في وعاء نخلط جميع المكونات الجافة معاً وفي وعاء آخر نخلط المكونات السائلة جيداً.
  2. نضيف المزيج السائل الى المكونات الجافة بشكل تدريجي مع التخليط جيداً. يجب أن تكون العجينة سائلة أن يكون صبها سهل لنجاح الوصفة.
  3. نغطي الوعاء بقطعة قماش ونضعه في مكان دافي لمدة ١٥-٣٠ دقيقة.
  4. نحمي المقلاة على حرارة متوسطة ونصب العجينة باستخدام ابريق أو ملعقة. لعمل قطايف عصافيري نحتاج ملعقة كبيرة من العجين. وللقطايف الكبيرة ربع كوب معياري.
  5. ستظر الفقاعات على الوجه (إذا كان عددها قليل هذا يعني أن علينا أن نضيف ماء إلى العجين)
  6. عندما تجف آخر فقاعة وأن الحبة أصبح لونها ذهبي من الأسفل هذا يعني أن الحبة جاهزة، ثم ننقلها الى قطعة قماش لتبرد وحتى لا تجف.
  7. يتم حشي القطايف فوراً ومن ثم تقلى أو تشوى. أو تغطى بكيس نايلون حتى يتم حشوها.
  8. تغطس القطايف بالقطر (يفضل أن يكون القطر بارد والقطايف ساخنة)
* يمكن حفظ القطايف في كيس نايلون وفي الفريزر لمدة ٣ اشهر.

Oatmeal-Rhubarb Porridge

let’s leave the processed cereals on the shelves and start praising real cereals like the old fashioned healthy Oatmeal!

Lately I’ve been obsessed with oats, especially the old fashioned large rolled oats! They’re healthy, tasty, and make a great energy booster! Rhubarb-Strawberry oatmeals are metabolism boosting, full of fiber, and antioxidants. it’s the perfect breakfast to begin your day with.

Back when I was a child I used to eat Porridge for every single morning for breakfast because my Mum is Russian and this is what Russians eat for breakfast! 🙂 So I decided to bring oatmeal back to my life. I love combining Oatmeal with a bit of cinnamon for a great taste and then fresh fruits for rich vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants.

The whole cooking process takes about 5 to 6 minutes, so if you’re in a rush you still can have tasty Oatmeal for breakfast, you can of course make this using the microwave but I personally prefer cooking on the stove for a thick and creamy texture!

Nutrition breakdown of Quinoa:

Per seving: 238 calories, 5.8g fat, 0 cholesterol, 37.9 g carbs, 8.2 g sugars, 5.9 g protein, 5.7 g fiber.
Oatmeal Rhubarb Porridge Recipe
Serves: 1 serving
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup rhubarb (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup almond milk (or rice milk, soya milk, dairy milk…)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • maple syrup or agave syrup or raw honey
  • seeds (optional)
  • chopped nuts (optional)

Instructions
  1. Combine rhubarb, oats, milk, cinnamon, and salt in a medium sauce pan. Then bring to boil, reduce heat and cover and cook with frequent stirring for about 5 minutes or until the rhubarb pieces are tender.
  2. Remove from heat and leave it covered for about 5 minutes. Then transfer to a bowl, top with a natural sweetener then sprinkle with nuts and seeds if desired. Serve warm.
More breakfast breakfast ideas







You will love these Apple Pancakes

You should also try the delicious french Crepes


Healthy Strawberry Jam is also amazing

And my readers #1 favourite recipe Classic Pancakes!

Quinoa Porridge

Start your morning with a healthy refreshing Quinoa Porridge!
This recipe is full of fiber rich nourishing fruits, it’s also gluten free and non dairy!
As you guys may already know, I’ve been eating clean for a while now, and that helped me get in better shape, be more healthy and feel great about myself! Quinoa porridge with fresh seasonal fruits is a great way to start your day. Sure, old fashioned classic oats are very healthy and delicious, but for a change you have to try this recipe, and trust me, you will absolutely LOVE it!

Quinoa is a seed and not a grain. There are 3 kinds of quinoa, Black, red, and yellowish white quinoa. The black quinoa is firm in texture and takes longer time to cook, then there’s the red quinoa which is somewhat in between the black and the yellowish white quinoa but it’s also sort of crunchy, and white quinoa is the softest of these varieties and it also has the mildest flavour.
You can also find quinoa in other forms in stores, such as quinoa flour, quinoa flakes, and yeah quinoa pasta. Quinoa flour is great when it comes to baking, especially that it’s gluten free.

More reasons why I love quinoa: low in calorie, aids with weight loss, a natural antioxidant, gluten-free, good for the heart, brain and bones! energy booster, helps with migraines, good for your skin, fights stress, prevents breast cancer, lowers blood pressure, treats diabetes, and it’s also good for your teeth! Do you need any more reasons to try this recipe? 🙂
Nutrition breakdown of Quinoa:
Protein: 1 cup of cooked quinoa contains 8 g protein
Fiber: 1 cup of cooked quinoa contains 5 g fiber
Vitamins: B, E
Iron, Magnesium, Zinc, Copper, Phosphorus, Manganese, Omega-3, Antioxidants.
1 cup of quinoa needs 2 cups of water and makes 3 cups of cooked quinoa.
Quinoa Porridge Recipe
Serves: 2 servings
Ingredients
  • 300 grams Quinoa
  • 250ml almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp raw honey
  • raspberries
  • blueberries
  • almonds
  • seeds

Instructions
  1. Bring a pot of water to boil, then add the quinoa and cook until it’s done or the water evaporated. Then add the almond milk and the vanilla and let it boil for a couple of minutes with stirring.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in the honey, and add berries/fruits, then sprinkle with almonds, and seeds.
* If you’d like to add more milk or honey it’s up to your preference. You can also use almond or rice milk if you prefer.
Beautiful!

More breakfast breakfast ideas


My all time favourite Classic Pancakes recipe





You will love these Apple Pancakes


French Crepes are also great for a delicious breakfast!


And Healthy Strawberry Jam since strawberries are still in season!

Nescafe Cake

Four ingredients Nescafe cake…

This cake is common in the Arab countries, everybody knows what a nescafe cake is, but I’ve never had a nescafe cake anywhere in Europe. So I thought why not share this delicious, super easy recipe with you today!

This is quite similar to the classic coffee tiramisu, it tastes amazing and you only need 4 ingredients to make it: Nescafe, graham crackers (or any kind of tea biscuits), whipping cream, and condensed milk.

You have to dip/soak the tea biscuits in the nescafe and then layer your ingredients (soaked biscuits and cream), refrigerate for a few hours and serve!


Recipe adapted from Littlelifeofmine.com

Nescafe Cake Recipe
Serves: 12 pieces
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp Nescafe (in 1 cup of hot water)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 can condensed milk
  • 2 packs graham crackers (or tea biscuits)
  • cacao for dusting (optional)

Instructions
  1. Gently fold in the condensed milk in the whipping cream and set aside.
  2. Dip tea biscuits into Nescafe for a few seconds but before they start breaking, and layer them on a 9×13 dish.
  3. Spread whipping cream evenly on the biscuits then repeat with another layer of soaked tea biscuits, again spread whipping cream then dust with cacao powder if you wish.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours then serve cold. 
* for a stronger taste of coffee add more than 2tbsp of nescafe.
* You can make as many layers as you like.