Tres Leches Cake

The Tres Leches Cake is a popular Spanish recipe. The cake is a yellow cake or even a sponge cake that is soaked in three different milks, hence the name. You can eat this cake alone or with an icing of your choice. I find that a basic homemade whip cream icing works wonderfully well. Although you will be tempted to eat it the day you make it you will be greatly satisfied if you choose to wait the next day as the recipe states. This is a pretty easy cake to make as well. Make it one day and finish it the next. cake: 5 eggs 1/3 cup milk 4 tablespoons butter 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 cup all-purpose flour 1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar milk sauce: 1/2 can (6 ounce) evaporated milk 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk 1/2 cup heavy cream frosting: 1 cup heavy cream 1 tablespoon sugar 1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. In a large mixing bowl add eggs, milk, butter, vanilla, flour, baking powder and cream of tartar. With a hand mixer mix until smooth and frothy. In a 13inch x 9inch baking pan pour batter and cook for 25-35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from the center. 2. Meanwhile, in a medium sized mixing bowl add evaporated milk, condensed milk and 1/2 cup cream. Whisk together and place in fridge until needed. 3. When caked has cooked and cooled carefully poke holes all over. Pour milk mixture all over the cake. Place in the refrigerator over night. 4. In a steal bowl add 1 cup heavy cream and sugar. Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. With a hand mixer on high mix until peaks form. You can frost each piece or entire cake. Yields: 20 servings

Chicken and Dumplings

This is my moms recipe so it is about as Southern as you get. I have seen and tasted the dumplings made in little thin strips, they just do not compare to the real dumplings like we make in Tennessee. Many people do not think a soup or stew is even a main course but there is no way anyone will leave the table filling hungry after a bowl of this. This is also a meal that still taste excellent after it is refrigerated and re-heated not that you will have any left over. 1 can cream of mushroom soup 1 can cream of chicken soup 5 chicken breast, boneless and skinless, diced 2 cans water 2 cans chicken broth 3 cups milk 1 bay leaf salt and pepper to taste dumplings: 2 cups all-purpose flour 3 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons shortening 1. In a 4 quart pan on high heat add cream of mushroom and chicken soup, milk, chicken, water, bay leaf and chicken broth. Allow to come to a full boil then reduce heat to low. Allow to simmer until chicken is done about 45 minutes. 2. In a large mixing bowl add flour, baking powder, salt and shortening. Mix until course. Carefully add enough water to get a dough, about 1/2 cup. 3. After chicken has cooked raise heat back to high when soup is boiling take 1 tablespoon of the dumpling mix and place into the soup. Repeat this until dough has finished. Reduce heat to medium. DO NOT stir for 10 minutes. Cook covered for 10 minutes. Carefully stir and cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Sprinkle top with salt and pepper. Yields: 5 servings

Quaker Soup

Quaker soup is the most popular Ramadan soup served in Saudi. You can also substitute lamb instead of the chicken in this dish. The hint of cumin leaves a distinct smoky flavor while the cardamom reminds you of its Middle Eastern roots. Mastika is widely used in Arabic cooking as a thickener such as flour in western countries. 4 chicken breast, boneless and skinless, diced 2 tablespoons butter 3 mastika 1 cup quick cooking oats 2 tablespoons tomato paste 2 chicken bouillon cubes 6 cups water 1/2 tablespoon cumin, ground 8 green cardamoms 1 small onion, diced 2 garlic cloves, smashed salt and pepper to taste parsley for garnish 1. In a 4 quart pan on medium heat add butter, garlic and onions, cook until tender. Add chicken, cumin, cardamom, mastika, salt and pepper allowing chicken to turn white on all sides. Add tomato paste, chicken bouillon and oats and water. Bring to a full boil then reduce heat to low for and allow to cook for 45 minutes covered. Sprinkle fresh parsley on top of each serving. Yields: 12 servings

Walnut Cake

This traditional Albanian dessert is everything and more you could ask for in a cake. It is not to sweet at all which can be a big turn off for most people when eating cake. Toast your walnuts in the same pan as you make your cake and do not rinse it. As the walnuts toast they extract a beautiful oil that taste amazing mixed in with the batter as your cake cooks. I bet you can not eat just one slice of this cake! cake: 2 cups flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon allspice 1/2 cup butter, softened 3/4 cup sugar 2 eggs 1/2 cup plain yogurt 1/3 cup laban 1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped syrup: 3/4 cup water 1 cup sugar 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice 1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. In a large mixing bowl add flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, 3/4 cup sugar, butter, eggs, yogurt and laban. Mix well with a hand blender. In a 9x13 inch baking pan add walnuts and roast for 5 minutes in pre-heated oven. 2. Place toasted walnuts on chopping board and chop. Add walnuts to batter, mix well. Spray the same baking pan with cooking oil then add batter. Cook for 30 minutes. 3. Meanwhile, in a 2-quart saucepan on high heat add water, lemon juice and 1 cup sugar. Bring to fill boil then reduce to low and simmer for 15 minutes occasionally stirring. Set aside and allow to cool. After syrup has cooled pour all over the top of cake and serve. Yields: 12 servings

Mediterranean Stuffed Tomatoes

When choosing tomatoes make sure you pick firm tomatoes that can stand up on their on. Also the larger ones you choose the more fillings they can hold so keep that in mind. Garnish these pretty bright red tomatoes with fresh cilantro and you will have a gourmet salad in no time. 4 large firm tomatoes 2 small cucumbers, peeled and finely diced 1/2 cup feta cheese, finely cubed 1tablespoon olive oil 1/2 teaspoon sumac 1.Carefully cut the tops from the tomatoes and with a spoon scoop out the insides. In a medium sized bowl add cucumbers, cheese, olive oil and sumac, toss. With a spoon fill tomatoes. Yields: 4 servings

Chicken With Be'chamel

I love this easy to make chicken covered in the mouthwatering French be'chamel. This meal taste fabulous served along with rice and vegetables. I always save my chicken broth after I have used it. That stuff is pure gold to me when cooking. You can cook about anything in it and it makes everything taste simply amazing. 1 large whole chicken,cut into 4 pieces 1 celery stalk, sliced 1 carrot, diced 1 small white onion, diced 1 bay leaf 6 green cardamom pods 1 recipe for be'chamel sauce click here 1.In a 8 quart pan add chicken, celery, carrot, onion, bay leaf and cardamoms. Cover chicken with water. Allow to come to full boil then reduce heat to low covered. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes. (Reserve chicken broth and place in refrigerator for later use.) 2.Turn oven broiler on high. On a baking sheet lined with foil place chicken pieces. Place under broiler and allow chicken to get crispy 5-10 minutes. Serve chicken with be'chamel sauce over it. Yields: 4 servings

Be'chamel Sauce

This is my master recipe for be'chamel. This creamy white French sauce taste perfect on a variety of things. I use it on top of several Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and European recipes just to name a few. 1-1/2 cups milk 1 small onion 1 bay leaf ½ teaspoon black peppercorns 4 parsley steams 1-1/2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons flour ½ teaspoon nutmeg salt & pepper to taste 1. In a 2 quart saucepan on medium heat add milk, onion, bay leaf, peppercorns and parsley allow to warm stirring continuously so milk does not stick to the bottom. Remove from heat and leave aside for 20 minutes so milk can absorb aromas. Pass through a strainer. 2.In a small skillet melt butter. Blend in the flour with a wooden spoon for 1-2 minutes to obtain a roux. 3.Remove from heat all milk and whisk continuously until thick. Return to high heat and allow sauce to come to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and allow to sit 1-2 minutes until the sauce will cling to the back of a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper.


3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons shortening
3/4 cup milk
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups flour
sunflower oil for frying

chocolate gaze:
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2-1/2 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup milk

1.In a large mixing bowl add eggs, sugar, shortening, milk, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, mix well. Gradually add flour mixing until sticky dough forms.

2.On a non stick baking may add flour to the bottom. Place dough and an abundant amount of flour near you and on your hands. Roll dough around until it is not so sticky.

3.In a Saute pan on medium heat pour 1 inch sunflower oil and allow to heat up. Make dough balls the size of lemons then shape in a round. Put a hole in the middle with anything small you may have that will work ( I used a kids medicine cup). Carefully add doughnuts into hot oil. Allow to turn light golden and very carefully flip until the other side is the same. Keep holes and fry those as well. Meanwhile, drain grease on paper towels and allow to cool.

4.To make the glaze you need a medium mixing bowl add cocoa powder, vanilla, powdered sugar and milk then melt butter and add that, stir well.

Yields: 9 jumbos

Ward el Sham

Ward el Sham is a very easy and tasty dessert from Syria. If you make your sugar syrup ahead you will have hardly any work to do what so ever with this one. This is a very popular Ramadan dessert. I love the taste of the fresh qashta with the sweet syrup and mixture of the crisp fillo. 20 sheets of fillo dough 1 (170 gram) can of qashta 2 cups butter, melted ground pistachios for decoration 1 teaspoon sugar 1 teaspoon rose water click here to make qastha at home click here to make sugar syrup 1.Preheat oven to 350F. In 8inch x 8inch baking pan with a pastry brush brush butter all over the bottom on the pan. Carefully cut dough in half or to the sizes that would fit your pan. Keep the fillo covered with a damp towel at all times. As soon as you take one, cover then back. 2.Place 10 layers of fillo into the pan butter each layer after you layer it. In a small bowl add qashta, sugar and rose water, mix well. Carefully spoon the mixture on top of the fillo leveling it. Continue to add remaining 10 layers on top of mixture making sure to butter all sheets in between. You can choose to cut the pastry with a pastry cutter before you place it in the oven you want, I usually do not. Place pastry in oven to cook for 30 minutes or until it becomes golden. 3.Remove from heat and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Add sugar syrup all over the top of the pastry allowing to stand to absorb. Decorate with ground pistachios. Yields: 9 servings

Basic Dough/Sweet Dough

These two master recipes can be used in making several different things. I love to use them when make rolls the most though. I use the sweet dough for things like cinnamon rolls and other sweet treats and the basic dough for more savory things. If you have a stand mixer you can use that just as well. Sadly mine will not work over here but I also love making dough in the processor, it works very well. And if you do not have those well just use your hands, you can not beat that anyway! Basic Sweet Dough: 1-1/4 cup warm water 1 tablespoon instant yeast ½ cup warm milk 2 tablespoons sugar ½ teaspoon salt 2-1/2-3 cups all purpose flour 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, soft 1 egg 1.In a food processor add flour warm water, yeast, milk, salt, sugar and egg. Pulse mixture until dough is soft. In a large bowl add a few drops of sunflower oil. Roll dough around in oil making sure its all covered. Place a towel over the bowl and leave in a very warm place for an hour or until doubled. Basic Dough: 1-1/4 cup warm water 1 tablespoon instant yeast 1/2 cup warm milk 1/2 tablespoon sugar 1 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons butter, soft 2-1/2-3 cups all purpose flour 1. In a food processor add flour, warm water, salt, sugar, yeast and the milk. Pulse to obtain a smooth dough. Add the butter and continue to process. If the dough is to stick which it should be add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time. In a large bowl add a few drops of sunflower oil. Roll dough around in oil making sure its all covered. Place a towel over the bowl and leave in a very warm place for an hour or until doubled. Punch down dough and leave for 30 more minutes.


Qashta is used in many Arabic desserts and many people eat it alone or with honey. It has a delicious thick and creamy taste. I have heard that you can make it by boiling full fat milk and allowing it to sit until the cream becomes solid on top. You could also substitute qashta for ricotta or cottage cheese although they really taste nothing alike it would work. This cooked version is what I think would work best in its place. You can substitute all rose or orange water instead but I think the two mix well together.

4 cups cream
1/4 cup water
5 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon blossom water
1 tablespoon rose water

1.In a 2-quart saucepan place cream, heat but DO NOT boil. In a small bowl add water and cornstarch, mixed until dissolved. Add to saucepan. Add sugar and mix with whisk until mixture has thickened. Remove from heat and add blossom and rose water. Allow to cool.

Yields: 8 servings

Sugar Syrup

This is my master recipe for sugar syrup which we will use many times within my recipes. If you live in the Middle East you can buy this already made but this is simple and you can all make it at home and have as well. This stores well in your fridge for later usage as well.

2-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon rose water
1 teaspoon blossom water

1.In a 2 quart saucepan heat sugar and water and bring to a full boil on high. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring. Stir in lemon juice and simmer for 1 minute. Set aside to cool then add rose and blossom water.

Yields: 4 cups

Smooth Sweet Tea

When I had first came across this recipe I was a bit taken back by the adding of baking soda as it’s not a thing we do in the South and as you know Sweet Tea is a Southern tradition. But with over 300 great reviews I had to give it a try. As soon as I took my first sip I was sold and knew I would never make sweet tea any other way. Since trying this recipe I have told everyone in my family how to get the best sweet tea with just a secret dash. Now that I am abroad I do not have to crave my momma’s sweet tea anymore because I can make even better myself. 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 2 cups boiling water 6 regular sized tea bags 3/4 cup white sugar 6 cups cool water 1. In a 2-quart saucepan boil 2 cups water. Remove pan from heat and place teabags and baking soda. Allow to steep for 15 minutes. Throw tea bags in trash and add sugar, stir until dissolved. In a pitcher add cold water then pour tea mixture in pan, mix. Refrigerate.

Kirmizi Mercimek Corbasi

When using red lentils they do not have to be soaked but be sure to clean them with water until the water is not cloudy. I prefer Maggi cubes when cooking especially when it comes to soups. I have also heard Goya is good but have never personally used them. This is a very filling soup and perfect for fatoor. 2 tablespoons butter 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes 1 cup red lentils, washed and drained 1 onion, chopped 1 small carrot, chopped 1 beef bouillon cube 3 cups water 1. In a 2-quart saucepan on medium high heat add butter, onion and carrot. Cook until onion is tender. Add lentils, red pepper, beef cube and water. Cook on medium heat for 20 minutes. 2. With a hand blender puree soup in the pan. Serve with parsley sprinkled on top and with lemon wedges.