Desserts, Middle Eastern/Turkish

Kunafe – my version

So yesterday I made the best kunafe I’ve ever made. After learning the basics from cleobuttera and from others, I decided to combine a few recipes and my own judgement.

Lesson 1: the mould to use is important. I remember the very first time I made kunafe a few years ago, I used a glass dish. Bad idea. The bottom didn’t crisp and I ended up with a very soggy dessert.

Lesson 2: the cheese. You can’t use salty cheese here. I remember once I used a saltier dish and nope, the kunafe was weird. Sweet and salty here is not the combination you want.

Lesson 3: filling the kataifi pastry up the edges. The second time I made the kunafe, I had a run of blackened cheese around. It was not a pretty sight.

So with all of these mistakes, I learnt from them and made a kunafe that was gone in minutes. I use now only a springform metal round pan. I use butter and yesterday, a little bit of colouring. I filled the pan up the edges slightly so when I put the filling in, it won’t leak out.

For the filling: one whole bottle of English clotted cream mixed with one whole pack of ricotta cheese. Mix well. Add to the kataifi in the pan. Top with shredded mozzarella and then cover with more kataifi pastry, and then bake.

Once baked, quickly pour sugar syrup all over the hot kunafe. And then decorate.

I decorated with crushed pistachios and dried flowers.
Look at that cheese pull!

This is a great dessert for when you have guests coming over. Make one this weekend!

Looks so pretty on the table!

Middle Eastern/Turkish, Salads and Vegetables, Sides, Snack

Borek pies

My version of borek pies is so quick to make and delicious too! I usually make them into spring rolls but because I was too impatient with the dough and it broke, I just turned them into pies.

The filling simply consists of Turkish white cheese or just use feta cheese, a package of frozen spinach, Greek yogurt, one egg and spices (I just used smoked paprika, black pepper and salt). Lots of melted butter and nigella seeds on top.

I love the Turkish white cheese compare to feta because these white cheese is creamy!
Put filling in the pastry…
…And then cover with more phyllo pastry. brush with olive oil and sprinkle nigella seeds.
Bake till golden brown.
Remove from pan, let it cool a bit and then cut.
Last thing to do is to eat!

Bread and Batter, Middle Eastern/Turkish

Yemeni Honeycomb Bread

A friend of mine who’s living in Jeddah told me about the existence of this bread. It is soooo delicious that I’ve made it twice.

It’s called honeycomb bread because it looks like one. And basically, it’s a cheese bun loaf but with a sweet sugary syrup over it.

The recipe is simple. For the dough, it’s just 2 cups plain flour, two teaspoons yeast, two teaspoons baking powder, about 30ml melted butter, 1/2 tsp salt, 3 tablespoons sugar, 150g Greek yogurt. This yogurt is my addition the second time baking and boy, did the dough turn out perfect! So soft and delicious!

For the sugar syrup, melt 1 cup of sugar to 1/2 cup of water. Boil for ten minutes then stir in 1/4 tsp of rise water and 2 tablespoons of runny syrup.

I used my trusty Kitchen Aid mixer and when all is incorporated and kneaded (the more you let the machine do its thing, the softer the buns going to be), let the dough rise till double in size. Then gently punch it down, and form about 19-20 small balls. Fill each ball of dough with cream cheese and place it in a circular pattern inside a well greased 9 inch pan. Any round pan will do, but don’t use Pyrex glass!

I really am such a lazy photographer. But as you can see here, the dough is so soft! Space them slightly apart but close enough because after this, leave it to rest and rise a second time.
Look how fat they’ve become! Lovely! After the second rise, brush the tops with a mixture of egg and milk. Sprinkle nigella seeds. If nigella seeds prove to be too strong and earthy, just use sesame seeds. But I love the intense flavour from the nigella seeds. Then bake in the oven at 180 degrees Celcius fill the buns are browned. For my oven, this took about 25 min.
Fresh out of the oven. While it’s still hot, brush generously all over with the sugar syrup. I’ve seen in YouTube videos some people poured the syrup all over and there’s even a version where they poured condensed milk all over. I cannot. I don’t particularly have a sweet tooth, so the brushing generously method works fine for me and the family.
I used a loose bottom springform pan so it was easy to remove
I brought this over to my sister’s for teatime treat.
As you can see from the caption there, I should have added more cheese for some of the individual buns, some had a lot, some had just a bit too little. 😁

This is a keeper and I would definitely be making this for guests during teatime treats!

Bread and Batter, Middle Eastern/Turkish, Snack

Turkish Braided Loaf

I was watching on YouTube the Turkish Food Travel video and she was making this beautiful braided bread. And I was thinking, why not? I could use some of the dough to make hotdog buns. But first I’ll try making this potato filling bread.

The dough was easy to assemble with a mixer. I bloomed one packet of yeast into 1/2 cup warm milk and 2tbsp sugar. And once bloomed, added the other ingredients: egg, olive oil, bread flour, salt. Leave the dough to double in size and then you’re ready to fill it with the filling.

For the filling, I boiled potatoes and then over a stove, stirred them with olive oil and garlic, smoked sweet paprika and since I had some kale, added that in too. Oh, and some leftover hotdog ends.

Take some dough out and then roll thin. I wished I had rolled the dough thinner but this turned out ok too. Then place the filling in the center.

Using a sharp metal pastry knife, make slits on each side and the just fold left right, left right, left right. The bottom part was tricky and I was disappointed when it unravelled in the oven. Brush with egg and the top with nigella and sesame seeds.
See how the bottom part got unlaced? Almost perfect.
See how gorgeous the braids are? If I just ignore the bottom part.
The kids loved it. Delicious! Next time I’ll roll thinner so less carby and perhaps try a meat filling. 😃

Dough Recipe

1. One packet of yeast

2. 1/4 cup warm milk

3. 2 tbsp sugar

4. 3 cups bread flour

4. 1/4 cup olive oik

5. 1 egg

6. 1/2 tsp salt

Desserts, Middle Eastern/Turkish

Kunafa : Ricotta cheese version

I’ve always wanted to make kunafa or kunafe. The first time I baked this it was a disaster because sometimes it’s not just about following a recipe, but about using the right tools to make it a success.

I discovered this Egyptian food blogger who has beautiful, absolute beautiful, pictures posted of her baking. Definitely a professional set up but besides being a pretty blog, her recipes look very doable and simple, especially for Asians who cannot get the right kind of ingredients to make Middle Eastern fare.

However, I still made a mistake. The mistake which I made when I first made kunafe two years ago was to bake it in a glass dish. No no no. Never again. What happened was the bottom layer did not get browned and the insides pastry were not crispy. So this time round, I used a baking pan. This time round, my mistake was not raising the kataifi or kadaifi (shredded phyllo) pastry up to the sides of the pan. The result? An ugly cheese line all around the pie. Sigh.

Cosmetics aside, the end product was fantastic and I’ll definitely be making this when guests come. If we can ever have guests this year… 😞

You can find the recipe and the blog site which I’m in love with Here

Ingredients for the filling: ricotta cheese, clotted cream, sugar and vanilla essence
Spreading the filling on to the kataifi pastry. This pastry has to be covered in ghee first. Make sure to raise it to the sides of the pan!
Ready for the oven. I got exactly two round pans and a ramekin dish to bring to work.
Remove only after the pastry is golden brown and shrinks from the sides of the pan. Pour the sugar syrup all over and let it sit for 10 minutes. After that, take a knife and go around the edges to loosen the pie.
See what I mean by the ring of cheese that is exposed? 😅

Decorate with rose petals and crushed pistachios. See what I mean by the ring of cheese? 😅

Top view of the kunafa that I brought over to mom’s.
Inside view of this delicious Middle Eastern dessert that we can’t get enough of.
Best eaten warm straight out of the oven. 💓