Monthly Archives: October 2011

Gulf Cupcakes with Cardamom Buttercream

Cupcakes are the new booming business all over the Gulf region. Here in Riyadh we have just had two open around the same time in the past month and another few about to open up, yea were a little slow here. One thing that I cannot believe is that none of these shops have made a cupcake especially for the Gulf. Actually, I have never seen one anywhere! I really wanted to make a cupcake just for the Gulf that showcases all its beautiful and traditional flavors.

My outcome was perfection with this cupcake. The batter was as light and fluffy as the frosting, which alone makes me happy. Instead of the usual vanilla extract that bakers tend to use I switched it out with rose water that has fresh orange saffron soaked into it. I added freshly ground cardamom and plump sukary dates into the mixture and topped it with a sweet and fluffy buttercream that was made using rosewater and cardamom. I wanted to eat the frosting alone it is quiet delectable.

Please do not forget to go and vote for Ya Salam Cooking for the top halal food blog, I just need the top 10 and I am okay. Thank you!

2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon rose water
pinch saffron
5 tablespoons butter, softened
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
4 dates, chopped

Cardamom Buttercream Frosting:
1/2 stick butter, softened
1 teaspoon rose water
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk (maybe a bit more)

1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. In a small bowl add rose water and saffron, allow to soak. In a large mixing bowl add sugar and butter, with a hand mixer beat until fluffy. Add egg, mix well. Add flour, baking powder, salt, cream, and milk , combine well being careful to not over mix. Fold in dates and rosewater/saffron mix.

2. Place 8 cupcake liners into a pan and fill each cup with 1 heaping tablespoon of batter. Bake for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool.

3. Meanwhile, make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl add butter and rose water, lightly beat until fluffy. Add cardamom and sugar. Add 1 tablespoon milk and mix until light and fluffy. When finished pipe on using your favorite tip onto cooled cupcakes.

Yields: 8 cupcakes


Koulourakia is a traditional Greek cookie served throughout the holidays. All over Greece you will find these popular cookies also made into other various shapes but the most popular is the twist. Like many desserts in Greece the Arabs also have a version of this cookie which is made practically the same way. Arabs refer to this cookie as kaak malih. You can also use sesame seeds for the topping or not. I like to do half and half. Koulourakias are defiantly one of my favorite cookies, when I was studying in Chicago I would go to the Greek fair yearly and I always could not wait to get my hands on these. These buttery cookies are perfect along side a cup of strong coffee.

2/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon orange juice
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/3 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
sesame seeds, optional

1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add 2 eggs; beat well. Beat in orange juice and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or until easy to handle.

2. Roll dough into 1-1/4-in. balls. Shape each into a 6-in. rope; fold in half and twist twice. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets.

3. In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg with a bit of water; brush over dough. Sprinkle cookies with sesame seeds. Bake at 350° for 7-12 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Allow to cool.

Yields: about 3 dozen

Shrimp and Basil Pasta

I love pasta especially delicate ones like this that are fresh and healthy without all the extra sauces. Extra virgin olive oil mixed with lemon juice and fresh garlic makes a beautiful sauce for pasta as well as salads. Throw in some fresh herbs like basil and cilantro and wow what a flavor for your palate. Please remember that shrimp take only a minute or two to cook anything left in the pan longer than that just taste tough and rubbery everything a shrimp should not be.

1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 (8 ounce) package angel hair or spaghetti pasta
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 pound large shrimp – peeled and deveined
2 large tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon paprika
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 scallion, sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Cook paste per package directions. In a large bowl add shrimp, garlic, half of olive oil, cilantro, basil, salt, paprika and lemon juice. Mix well and allow to marinate at least 15 minutes.

2. In a large saucepan on medium heat add 1 ladle of pasta water. Add remaining olive oil, scallions and tomatoes. Cook until tender about 5 minutes. Add shrimp allowing to cook until pink.

3. Add pasta into pan and combine, serve.

Yields: 4 servings

Homemade Chili’s Salsa

I love good salsa and I am pretty picky when it comes to the ones I eat. I have to have fresh vegetables, a bit of a chunk but not too much and some heat. No doubt about it Chili’s restaurant has some good salsa, we all know that. Luckily for all of us this salsa is easy to make at home and for a much better price. You can make cut up some corn tortillas and dry them for fresh chips or use your favorite nacho chips from the store.

2 (15 ounce) cans tomatoes and green chilies (reserve juice of 1 can)
4 teaspoons diced jalapenos
1/4 cup diced onions
3 cloves fresh garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon sugar
squirt of lime juice

1. In a small food processor add both cans, juice from 1 can, jalapenos, onions, garlic, cumin and sugar. Gently pulse being careful not to puree. Place salsa into a bowl, cover and refrigerate. When your about to serve salsa squeeze the juice of lime onto top.