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celebrating St Barbara’s with a hearty Burbara

 

 

St Barbara’s day is celebrated by Christians in the Levant countries of Palestine, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, on the eve of the 3rd and on the 4th of December in honour of St Barbara, one of Christianity’s first martyr saints.

St Barbara’s legend, which is commonly believed to have originated in Baalbek – Lebanon, tells the story of a 3rd-century daughter of a rich pagan who against her father’s will converted to Christianity. Defying her father brought suffering and pain upon her. And in her attempt to hide from her father, Barbara had to disguise wearing different masks. The legend tells of wheat growing around her to help her hide from her father who eventually was the one to behead her.

To commemorate St Barbara’s legend, people put on masks and grow wheat seeds on this special day. They also prepare a beautiful wheat pudding for the occasion called Burbara.

Burbara recipes might differ from one region to another but it is basically cooked wheat that has aniseeds, cinnamon, and sugar added to it. Its topping can vary but usually consists of almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pomegranate and dried fruits such as apricots and raisins. This heart warming dessert is a beautiful celebration of history, values and tradition.

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almond & milk pudding

There must be a thousand ways to enjoying almonds, a sacred nut in different mediterranean and central-asian cultures. From nibbling immature green almonds dipped in nothing but salt (a most delightful treat) to using them in dessert making and even stew cooking, possibilities are endless! And it can be as simple as a one-ingredient recipe. For instance, ice-cold blanched almonds is a favourite yummy Lebanese mezze. As for me personally, I tend to use almonds in most of my cooking and my pantry is never short of them (you can check my previous almond recipes for more almond inspiration 🙂

I hope you get to try making this pudding as it is so easy to prepare and is incredibly yummy. And you can always prepare it ahead of time and keep it refrigerated till ready to serve.

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date & nut balls

 

Sometimes, all we really need is an old fashioned recipe that is easy to make yet rich in taste and texture (oh well, maybe in calories too!). And these beautiful date & nut calls are exactly what is needed today.

I first came across the idea of date balls many (and I mean many) years ago when I was still a student in elementary school. Only then I remember the teacher calling them “Hnayneh”, or something like that, and they contained butter-sautéed bread crumbs instead of the nuts. Till this day, I still remember how tasty they were.

Unfortunately however, I don’t know where these beautiful little bites originate from as it seems this recipe, or variations of it, can be found in different Arab countries. (more…)

almond and pistachio coated chocolate truffles

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The Recipe

Pistachio coated dark chocolate truffles:
160 g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
4 tbsp double cream
1/4 cup shelled pistachio, finely chopped

Almond coated milk chocolate truffles:
160 g milk chocolate, broken into small pieces
4 tbsp double cream
1/4 cup almonds, finely chopped

To make the pistachio coated dark chocolate truffles:

  • Mix the chocolate and double cream in a heat-proof glass bowl placed over a double boiler. Stir the chocolate and cream often till chocolate has completely melted and has well combined with the cream.
  • Once chocolate has melted, pour the mixture into a smaller bowl and allow to cool completely at room temperature before refrigerating for about 2 hours. By then, the mixture would be bit firm.
  • Take small amounts of the mixture, about a teaspoon, and form them into small balls. Dip the chocolate balls into the chopped pistachio before placing them on a tray covered with baking paper.
  • Once you have prepared all the truffles, refrigerate them for about half an hour before serving them. Or you can keep them refrigerated for a few days, in an airtight containers, till ready to serve.
  • Allow the truffles to set at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving them.
  • Apply the same steps to make the almond coated milk chocolate truffles. Enjoy!

Bon Appétit!

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orange & almond pudding

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This most refreshing and delicious orange recipe is quite easy and quick to prepare. Literally, it just takes minutes to make! And seconds to devour 😉

Despite the few and simple ingredients of this dessert, there is something quite enchanting about its oriental taste. And I do hope you get the chance to try it.

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For the Recipe

Ingredients

400 ml fresh orange juice
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 cup ground almond
2 tbsp corn starch
2 tbsp pistachio, roughly chopped
Pour most of the orange juice (keeping about 1/4 cup aside) and sugar into a medium saucepan and place over medium hear stirring often till sugar dissolves entirely.
Add the ground almond and stir often till the mixture starts to simmer. Lower heat.
whisk the corn starch into the remaining orange juice before adding it to the mixture in the pan. Cook till the pudding becomes to get thicker.
Divide among individual serving bowls and allow to cool before serving the pudding sprinkled with some pistachio.

Bon Appétit!

The Smooth World of Chocolate Mousse

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Chocolate Mousse

Smooth, rich and intense, chocolate is basically a beautiful & magical ingredient that turns everything into, well, chocolate! And for this mousse recipe, I combined milk and dark chocolate. But feel free to use either of the two chocolates on their own (I would recommend dark chocolate in this case), and indulge, diving into the smooth world of chocolate mousse!
Just keep in mind, that the mousse is best prepared one day ahead so it gets enough time to set and be ready for serving the day after.


For the Recipe

Ingredients

1 tsp vegetarian gelatine
2 tbsp water
250 g mascarpone cheese
120 ml double cream
50 g caster sugar
1 tsp good quality vanilla extract
50 g milk chocolate
50 g dark chocolate
A handful of pistachio, roughly chopped

  • Mix the two chocolates and melt them in a heatproof bowl over a double boiler. Leave aside.
  • Sprinkle the gelatine over the water in a small heatproof bowl. Stir the gelatine, then stand the bowl in a small pan of simmering water. Keep stirring till gelatine has dissolved completely. Remove from the pan and allow to cool.
  • In a medium bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese, sugar and vanilla using a hand held electronic mixer. Once mixture is smooth, beat in the double cream. Stir in the gelatine followed by the melted chocolate. Stir till mixture well combined.
  • Divide the mixture into 4 – 6 small serving cups (I used small oriental tea glasses), then sprinkle with pistachio.
  • Refrigerate over night and keep refrigerated till ready to serve.
  • Enjoy!
            Bon Appétit!