Saturday, November 29, 2008

Basbousa ... Semolina Cake


I like Basbousa on occasion. This is a tradition in most Arab countries and I have found that it is different in each home as well as in each country. This is one version.

1 1/2 cups of course semolina
1 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cups of unsweetened coconut
1/4 cups of sugar
1 cup of canola oil
lemon zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of yogurt at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream at room temperature
4 eggs at room temperature

Simple Syrup:
3 cups water
3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons orange flower water
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 and butter your baking dish.
Prepare the syrup first by boiling together sugar and water until light brown in color. 
Stir in the orange flower water and lemon juice. 
Set aside to cool in the refrigerator.
Beat together the eggs, oil and sugar until thick and creamy.
Add the sour cream and yogurt, vanilla extract and zest. 
Mix until well incorporated.
Add all of the dry ingredients.
Spread evenly in your prepared pan.
Bake until golden brown, 30-35 minutes.
Pour prepared cooled syrup slowly directly on the cake.
Cut into squares or diamonds and top with coconut or almonds.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Fudge Brownies

When I was a little girl one of the things I loved about the weekends was my Dad's Raisin Brownies. I have never tried then anywhere else, I don't know where he got the idea to put raisins into brownies, but boy are they good! I also added pecans and semi sweet chocolate chips just because I'm a chocolate freak, but you can omit both the nuts and chips and just use the raisins.

12 tablespoons of dutch cocoa powder
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of melted butter
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 ts vanilla extract
1/4 ts almond extract
pinch of salt if butter is unsalted
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup roughly chopped pecans
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

    Preheat oven to 350.
    Line your 9 by 13 with parchment paper, tin foil and butter and flour it.
    Place the butter in a medium sauce pan and brown it, then add the cocoa powder and whisk until all lumps are dissolved and you have a smooth sauce.
    Beat the eggs on high speed for no more than one minute, until foamy and slightly risen in volume.
    On low speed gradually add the sugar and beat just to mix.
    Add the vanilla, salt and chocolate mixture and beat until just barely mixed.
    Add the flour and very gently fold it in with a spatula.
    If you are adding the raisins, nuts and chips gently fold those in now.
    Spread out into your prepared pan and place in the oven for 30 minutes.
    The inside will still be soft, don't over bake.
    You can chill it in the fridge for an hour or so and they will cut perfectly!


    Saturday, November 15, 2008

    Caramel Almond Squares

    This is a great treat with tea or coffee. I really do love caramel and with nuts I think it's absolutely incredible.

    1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
    1/2 cup room temperature butter
    1/4 ts salt if using unsalted butter
    1/3 cup sugar
    1/2 ts vanilla extract
    1/4 ts almond extract (optional)

    Almond & Caramel Layer:
    1/3 cup water
    1 cup sugar
    1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
    7 tbs cold butter cut into tablespoons
    1/3 cup honey
    2 cups blanched roughly chopped almonds
    1 ts lemon extract

      First begin with the crust.
      Preheat the oven to 350 and butter your 9 by 13 baking dish.
      Beat the sugar, extracts and butter until light and fully. About two minutes on high.
      Add the flour and salt if using and mix until crumbly, about 20 seconds on low speed.
      Pat the dough into the prepared baking dish as evenly as possible. 
      The dough will stick a bit to your fingers, just work with it.
      After you have pressed it, prick the dough with a fork in several places.
      Bake until the sides are golden brown and the middle is lightly colored, between 15 and 20 minutes.
      Place on a rack to cool while preparing the caramel topping.
      Place the sugar and water in a medium to large saucepan. 
      Stir until all the sugar is melted and then bring to a rapid boil, don't stir the caramel, just lightly lightly move the pan around with the handle a few times while baking. (if you make candy using the same method)
      When it starts to brown, keep and eye on it, it goes pretty quick from this point.
      Once you have achieved a dark amber color take immediately off the heat and add the cream. 
      Stirring carefully as the caramel will bubble up quickly.
      Place the tablespoons of butter and honey and stir until melted.
      Add the nuts and stir until well coated.
      Gently pour the caramel onto the crust and evenly smooth it out.
      Place into the oven again until the caramel is bubbling and the almonds look toasted, about 15 minutes.
      Let cool in the pan and on a rack for at least one hour, two is better.
      Cut into squares or rectangles.


      Tuesday, November 11, 2008

      Chunky Chocolate Chip Cookies

      As at home as I can be ... warm chocolate chip cookies with a cold glass of milk.

      2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
      1 ts baking powder
      1 ts salt if using unsalted butter
      1 cup room temperature butter
      3/4 cup sugar
      3/4 cup packed brown sugar
      1 tbs vanilla extract
      2 large eggs room temperature
      2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
      2 cups chopped pecans

      Preheat the oven to 375
      Combine flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set to the side.
      Beat the sugars, vanilla and butter until thick and creamy on medium to high speed.
      Add eggs one at a time.
      Add the flour mixture slowly until well incorporated.
      Add the chopped nuts and chocolate chips.
      Spoon out by tablespoons onto your lined baking sheet, leaving a few inches for spreading.
      Bake between 9 to 11 minutes. Less for chewy cookies, more for crispy.
      Set aside to cool for a few minutes then transfer to wire rack until ready to eat.


      Sunday, November 9, 2008

      True Beauty ... fall aka autumn is my favorite season...

      "And it is He who spread out the earth, and set thereon mountains standing firm and (flowing) rivers; and fruit of every kind He made in pairs, two and two; He draweth the night as a veil over the Day. Behold, verily in these things there are signs for those who consider." (13:3)

      And We have made the heavens as a canopy well guarded: yet do they turn away from the Signs which these things (point to)! (21:32)

      "Greater indeed than the creation of man is the creation of the heavens and the earth." (40:57)
      "And the servants of the most gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, Peace." (25:63)

      "If any Muslim plants any plant and a human being or an animal eats of it, he will be rewarded as if he had given that much in charity." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, 8:41)

      Taking pictures is truly relaxing for me... I really did enjoy this day.

      Thursday, November 6, 2008

      Incredible Oatmeal Bars

      I have always loved oatmeal raisin cookies. So, I have tweaked the original recipe to fit my needs for a daily dose of chocolate.

      You don't have to make bars, you can spoon these out into individual cookies, cooking at the same temperature.

      1 cup of softened butter
      1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
      1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
      3 cups oatmeal
      1/2 cup sugar
      2 eggs at room temperature
      1 tbs vanilla
      1 ts baking powder
      1 1/2 ts cinnamon
      1/2 ts of salt if you are using unsalted butter
      1 cup raisins
      1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (optional)

      Preheat the oven to 350 and line your cookie sheet with parchment paper of foil and set aside.
      Cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about five minutes on medium high speed.
      Add eggs and vanilla and beat until well combined and creamy.
      Add flour, baking powder, salt if using and cinnamon. Mix well.
      Add oatmeal and chocolate chips if you are using them. Stir or mix until well incorporated.
      Press into your prepared pan using your hands. I wet my hands with milk because the dough is stiff, thick and sticky.
      Bake until golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.
      Place on a rack and let cool. Cut into desired serving sizes.