Salmon Teriyaki

Back home in Tennessee I used to be a frequent visitor at the Japanese restaurant where I would order shrimp and steak teriyaki. Luckily for me its easy to re-create these delicious dishes at home. You can serve this Japanese favorite with rice or noodles and to make it an authentic Japanese dinner go ahead and serve some Asian tea at the end of the meal. Teriyaki Sauce: 1/3 cup soy sauce 1/4 cup sugar 1 tablespoon brown sugar 3 garlic cloves, minced 1 teaspoon ginger, freshly grated 1/3 cup water 2 tablespoons corn starch salmon: 1 tablespoon olive oil 4 4-6 ounce salmon fillets, skin removed salt and pepper to taste 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, diced 1. In a 9-inch skillet on medium heat, add soy sauce, sugars, garlic and ginger. Dissolve corn starch in water in separate mixing bowl and then add to the rest of the mixture. Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce reaches desired thickness. 2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash and pat salmon fillets dry with paper towel. Generously sprinkle both sides with salt and black pepper. 3. Heat oil in a non-stick, oven-proof skillet over high heat. Once oil is hot, lay fillets (non-skinned-side-down) in the skillet. Pan sear the salmon on the one side until golden, about 2-3 minutes. Once golden, gently flip fillets over and brush generously with teriyaki sauce. Transfer skillet to the oven and roast for 6-10 minutes, or until the fish is tender and flaky. Careful not to overcook the salmon. 4. Remove the salmon from the oven. Drizzle left-over teriyaki sauce over salmon, and garnish with parsley. Yields: 4 servings


Focaccia has always been one of my favorite breads with its crispy golden outside and moist and soft insides. You can eat this bread alone, dip it in olive oil or bake with with toppings such as peppers, tomatoes or olives. You can even make a pizza with it. I stuck with one of the most classic Italian recipes with this one. Also common is the practice of dotting the bread. This creates multiple wells in the bread by using a finger or the handle of a utensil to poke the unbaked dough. As a way to preserve moisture in the bread, olive oil is then spread over the dough, by hand or with a pastry brush prior to rising and baking. In the northern part of Italy, lard will sometimes be added to the dough, giving the focaccia a softer, slightly flakier texture. 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon white sugar 2-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast 2 garlic cloves, diced 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1 teaspoon dried thyme 1/2 teaspoon dried basil 1 pinch ground black pepper 2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for topping 1 cup water 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese 3/4 cup shredded Mozzarella 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt 1. Start by proofing the yeast. In a small bowl add yeast, sugar and enough warm water to cover, stir and allow to sit until frothy, about 5-10 minutes. 2. In a large mixing bowl add flour, salt, garlic, oregano, thyme, basil, 2 tablespoons oil and water. Mix until well combined. Knead dough for 5 minutes. Add some oil onto hands and carefully cover the dough ball with oil, not working into the dough. Place back into bowl. Cover and sit in a warm place for 30 minutes. 3. Pre-heat oven to 450F. Place a pan of water onto bottom rack for extra moisture. Punch dough down. Brush oil generously on a baking sheet or stone. Place dough onto pan making a round or rectangle shape. Evenly press fingertips all over dough. Cover and allow to sit until oven is ready. 4. Brush oil on top of dough. Sprinkle top with garlic salt, Parmesan cheese, Mozzarella and black pepper. Place into hot oven and bake for 13-15 minutes until bread is golden. Yields: 12 servings

Mediterranean Pizza

The fresh flavors of the Mediterranean have always been one of my favorite. You know the lemon, feta, za'tar and sumac. Ahh, I could make anything out of those ingredients and be content. Homemade pizza dough is something that I am extremely picky about I mean its not easy to get that perfect dough at home after all. I have been taught that extra olive oil is defiantly the key. It makes the dough rise perfect and cook moist. dough: 3 cups all purpose flour 1 tablespoon yeast 2 tablespoons olive oil + more for topping 1/2 tablespoon sugar 1 cup warm water topping: 3/4 pizza sauce 1 cup cubed feta cheese 1/2 cup capers 1/2 cup sliced green Spanish olives 3/4 cup shredded mixed cheese 3 teaspoons za'tar 3 teaspoons sumac 1. In a small bowl add yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup of the warm water. Carefully stir. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes until froth appears. 2. In a large mixing bowl add flour, olive oil and yeast. Carefully add water a little at a time until dough consistency forms, mix well. Add olive oil around the outside of the dough ball (not working in). Cover bowl and allow to sit in a warm place for at least an hour or until doubled in size. 3. Pre-heat oven to 400F. Place dough on a non-stick baking mat and roll out until dough is the same size as a rectangle baking sheet. Press dough all over with fingers. Cover baking sheet with olive oil and generously brush all over. Add dough onto baking sheet. 4. Using the same pastry brush carefully brush pizza sauce on top. Sprinkle with shredded cheese, olives, capers, feta, za'tar and sumac. Brush edges with more olive oil. 5. Place into oven and cook 20-30 minutes until crust is golden. Yields: 1 pizza

Saudi Coffee

 While Al-Qahwa is a symbol of hospitality throughout the Arabian world, in the Arabian Gulf hospitality is incomplete without Al-Qahwa. It is served day and night, at all social gatherings, offices, parties, weddings and condolence visits. Anything sweet such as dates are served with the coffee.

Al-Qahwa is served by a moqahwai or by the youngest person at the gathering, or perhaps by the host, depending on the occasion and the social rank of the host. The server should always hold the dullah with his left hand and the fanajeen stacked in his right. Using the left hand to deliver or receive at item is considered bad manners. Serving should always start with the guest of honor or the person highest of rank and age of the people present. It is a sign of respect to be offered the first finjan and a nice gesture to offer the cup to the next in rank or the eldest. When serving you should pour enough coffee to fill the cup slightly more than one third, but definitely less than half as over filling indicates that the server is not hospitable and would like the guest to leave as quickly as possible.

This is my mother in laws recipe so it as authentic as it gets. Saudi coffee which is also known as Arabic gulf coffee is made with green coffee beans which just mean they have been lightly roasted. You can grind them at home but I have mine ground fresh at the store.

4 cups water
1-1/2 heaping teaspoons ground coffee
3 teaspoons cardamom
1 teaspoon coffee mate creamer (powder)

1. In a coffee or tea pot on high heat add water and coffee. Bring to a full boil until top is frothy. Boil for 2 more minutes.

2. In a flask or coffee pot add cardamom and creamer, pour coffee into. Stir then serve in Arabic coffee cups.

Yields: 6 servings

Chai Nana

The first person that ever made me mint tea (chai nana) was my husband right after we got married. I had never tried very much variety of tea so this was all new to me. I immediately fell in love with it. This is such a refreshing drink that it goes well for morning or evening. You can add fresh mint leaves inside the tea cup or around it for a pretty garnish. Saudis have this drink quite often and it also is known to settle tummy problems.

4 cups cold water
4 black tea bags
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
sugar to taste

1. In a teapot on high heat boil water. Add tea bags and mint leaves, allow to sit for 5 minutes. Remove tea bags, serve.

Yields: 4 servings

{small batch} Chocolate Cupcakes

My son and I love to bake together and we were both craving chocolate in a bad way so we decided to make a night weekend of it and make some fun chocolate cupcakes. We went and stocked up on extra sprinkles because he would be doing the decorating and of course we need plenty of supplies for that. I only have a 6 cup pan so it took longer than I wanted (note to self BUY a larger cupcake pan). My little guy fell asleep while I was baking so after I finished I saved the decorating for the next day. When we got up I frosting and he decorated and I have to say he did a fabulous job. Not only was he my decorator he also mixed it all for me the previous night. We had a really great time together making these cupcakes and an even better time eating them. 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature 1 cup sugar 3 large eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/4 cup sour cream frosting: 1 cup confectioners' sugar 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup butter 2 tablespoons milk 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners. 2. Into a medium bowl, sift together cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each, then beat in vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with sour cream and beginning and ending with flour. 3. Pour batter into cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. 4. Meanwhile, whisk together confectioners' sugar, cocoa, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat 1/2 cup butter until light and fluffy. With mixer on low, gradually add cocoa mixture, scraping down side of bowl as necessary. Gradually beat in 2 tablespoons milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Beat frosting until light and fluffy, about 30 seconds. 5. Cool in pan 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then spread with frosting using a table knife or small offset spatula. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Yields: 2 dozen Adapted from Martha Stewart

Halloumi Pasta with Pink Sauce

Its no secret that I am obsessed with cheese anymore is it? And well pasta to for that matter. Okay, well any carbohydrates to be honest with you. I am just a naughty, naughty gal. I love white and red pasta sauce so I thought hey why not combine the two with some of my other favorite things and this little pasta is what I came up with. This dish is perfect alongside a crisp green salad and some crunchy bread. 7 tablespoons butter 4 garlic cloves, minced 2 cups heavy cream 1 teaspoon white pepper 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese 3/4 cup mozzarella-cheddar mixed cheese 1/4 cup red pasta sauce 12 ounces of pasta, cooked per package directions 1 package halloumi cheese, cubed 1/2 tablespoon dried parsley 1 scallion, sliced 1. In a 9-inch skillet on medium heat add 2 tablespoons butter and 1 garlic clove. Add halloumi cooking until golden, about 5 minutes. 2. Meanwhile, in a saute pan on medium heat add remaining butter and garlic. Cook until melted then add pepper, Parmesan and cream, and red sauce, mix well. Mix until thickened about 3 minutes then add shredded cheese and parsley. Mix until melted then remove from heat. 3. In a large bowl or serving platter toss pasta, cheese and sauce together until well combined. Sprinkle scallion on top. Serve. Yields: 4-6 servings

Al Rangenah

Originally Persian. This is a very delicious and rich dessert. I prefer to use sukary dates which are soft and sweet. The soft exterior goes perfect with the crunch inside and the topping is a perfect mix to tune down the sweet taste of the dates. Arabs love to have this dish with Arabic coffee to sugar the taste. This dessert is usually served in a large baking dish however I think its much more elegant to serve in individual small baking dishes. Make sure your dishes are oven proof. 1 cup all purpose flour 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 2 teaspoons ground cardamom 24 fresh dates, stoned 12 walnuts, cut into half 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, almonds or pistachios dash ground cardamom 1. Pre-heat oven to 350. Place a walnut half inside of each date. Carefully arrange in 1 large baking dish or several small ones. Bake for 15 minutes. 2. Meanwhile, In a saute pan on low heat add flour. Stir until color turns beige and a delicate aroma arises. Avoid burning flour. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add butter and 2 teaspoons of cardamom. Whisk continuously until mixture is well combined. 3. Carefully pour mixture over prepared baked dates. Sprinkle top with chopped nuts and cardamom. Yields: 6 servings

Chai Haleeb

An Arabian Gulf popular rich and sweet hot tea drink. Usually served for breakfast or dinner with khoubiz al tanoor. In the older days, when cheese, jam and cereals were not known, chai haleeb and khoubiz were the daily breakfast and dinner for most people. 1 tablespoon black tea 3-1/2 cups water 2-1/2 cups milk sugar to taste 5 whole green cardamoms 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom 1. In a 1-1/2 quart saucepan on high heat add water and milk, bring to a full boil. Add tea, sugar and cardamom pods. Reduce heat to low-medium until sugar has dissolved then reduce heat to low. 2. Add ground cardamom and stir. Serve. Yields: 6 servings

Mediterranean Halloumi Salad

Halloumi cheese is one of my all time favorite cheeses. I love the natural taste and flavor of sheep's milk which pairs perfectly with most things. You can eat this colorful salad alone or serve it with fresh pita bread. 1 package Halloumi Cheese, diced 2 garlic cloves, sliced 2 tomatoes, diced 1 green bell pepper, sliced 2 cucumbers, peeled and sliced 1/2 cup green Spanish olives 3 teaspoons zatar 1 teaspoon sumac 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped 1 scallion, sliced olive oil 1. In a 9-inch skillet on medium heat add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add cheese, garlic and zatar. Cook until cheese is lightly golden. 2. In a medium sized bowl add pepper, cucumbers, tomatoes and olives. Pour cheese mixture into bowl. Mix well. 3. Sprinkle mint, scallions and sumac on top of salad. Drizzle with olive oil. Yields: 4 servings

Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I am personally not a big fan of eating dark chocolate straight however when combined in desserts that is an entirely different story. I absolutely adore the way dark chocolate taste in recipes and this cookie recipe is one of those. You should have smelled my house after they cooked it smelled like a bakery for a full day and I was loving it. 1 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 pound good-quality dark chocolate: 4 ounces coarsely chopped and another 4 ounces cut into 1/4-inch chunks 1/2 cup chocolate chips 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter 1 1/2 cups sugar 2 large eggs 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1. Begin by chopping one of your 4 oz. chocolate bars into chunks. Meanwhile, prepare your double boiler by filling a medium sized pot with a little water. Fill about 2 inches from the bottom. Then place your pot on the stove top at medium/high heat until water begins to boil, lower your heat to medium/low so that the water is at a low simmer. A simmer is a less aggressive boil containing very small bubbles. Put the chocolate and butter in a large bowl and place on top of the pot so it sits comfortably and the heat from the water is trapped in between the pot and the bowl. Whisk the chocolate and butter until it has completely melted. This method gently heats and melts your chocolate and butter together. Remove the chocolate from the pot and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. 2. Meanwhile, combine your flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Whisk until combined and set aside. In an electric mixer, combine the melted chocolate mixture, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed until the ingredients are combined. Reduce speed to low and gradually mix in the flour mixture. Beat until thoroughly mixed. 3. Meanwhile, chop your other 4 oz. chocolate bar into little 1/4 inch chunks. Add the chocolate chunks and chocolate chips to your batter. Manually stir them into your batter. 4. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Grease 2 cookie sheets with butter. With a spoon, drop the batter, spacing 2 inches apart. Your dough should be about 1.5 inches in diameter. Bake for 15 minutes or until cookies are flat, soft, and surfaces have cracked. Allow to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then serve and enjoy! Yields: 2 dozen

The Noodle House

Centria Mall, Olaya Street with Tahliya Street, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Tel: +966 1 2939969

At The Noodle House, which is in downtown Riyadh, you can marvel at the gigantic doors and an amazing view of the city. The Noodle House, in contrast, has an open area between the dining room and the kitchen, but no other particularly striking visual flourishes. Its aesthetic is uncluttered, almost monastic.

The Noodle house presents a wide array of various Asian dishes. Apart from being an excellent restaurant, it’s a brave one. It has chosen to be more obscure, more pure and more true to Asian culinary traditions, including some that aren’t especially well known beyond connoisseurs of Asian cooking.

As each dish arrived gorgeously composed, meticulously accessorized my palate and eyes were immensely satisfied throughout my experience. At the end of my meal I was greeted with fried ice-cream, mango pudding and my favorite chocolate Sumatra. What a beautiful arrangement of flavors to end a meal.

The service is simply spectacular at this establishment. The head and sous chef came out to meet and greet me and answered any questions I may have about the restaurant, recipes or themselves.

The Noodle House doesn’t come cheap, especially not the roasted duck and seared salmon, which is as terrific as it should be. There is a great attention to detail and it spans every facet of a meal. It’s just wonderful and I was promised the same royal treatment by the chefs any other time I may come. The Noodle House marked all three points in this picky foodies book food styling, taste and service.