Al Eqaili

Eqaili is the adjective of Uqal, which is the round shaped woolen rope used to hold the Qhutrah on the head. The name of Eqaili is derived from the round shape of the cake. In older days, due to unavailability of ovens, the Eqaili used to be baked in a covered pot placed on charcoal. When the Eqaili was almost baked, some of the hot charcoal was placed on the pot to brown the top of the Eqaili. This small golden treat may look simple but it is anything but. Jam packed with classic Gulf flavors this dessert will be gone before you blink being not only being a great sweet but perfect for breakfast and brunch as well. 1 cup all-purpose flour 6 eggs 2/3 cup sugar 1/2 tablespoon ground cardamom 2 tablespoons rose water Pinch of saffron threads 1 teaspoon vanilla 1/2cup dates, stoned and cut in half 2 tablespoons sesame seeds 1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. In a small bowl add rose water and saffron, allow soaking. 2. In a large mixing bowl add eggs, cardamom, vanilla and sugar. With a hand mixer beat until fluffy. Add flour and rose water mixture. Continue to mix until thoroughly combined. Add dates, stir. 3. Grease a round cake pan (15 cm). Carefully add cake batter into pan. Sprinkle top with sesame seeds. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. To make top golden place under broiler for a VERY short time until color is obtained. Yields: 1 cake

Al Roz Al Zerbian

Zerbian chicken is a wonderfully fragrant Saudi dish. Turmeric and cilantro give the dish a fresh look and taste while the simple spices keep up with Saudi traditions. This dish is usually created using a whole chicken but really my family and I enjoy the breast so that is usually what I use. Please remember when cooking Arabic rice NEVER remove the lid once you place it on the pot. The steam is what actually cooks the rice as it sits. Once the rice has finished small holes will appear all over the top of the rice, this is why I use glass lids. 4-6 boneless and skinless chicken breasts, cubed 2 cups basmati rice 1/4 cup chopped cilantro 1 large white onion 1/4 teaspoon turmeric 2 tablespoons sunflower oil 1/3 cup yogurt 4 cardamom greens, bruised 1 tablespoon fresh ginger sliced 1 small cinnamon stick 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 1/2 teaspoon cumin 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts 1. In a 4-quart saucepan on high heat add 1 tablespoon oil, rice, cilantro, 1/2 of onion and water. Bring to a full boil then reduce to low and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle some parts of rice with turmeric, cover and allow sitting for 10 minutes. 2. Meanwhile, in a sauté pan on medium heat add remaining oil. Add chicken and remaining onion allowing to fully cooking until chicken is no longer pink and onions are tender. Add cardamoms, ginger, cinnamon, pepper and cumin, mix well. 3.Add rice and yogurt into the sauté pan, combining all ingredients well. Allow to cook on low for 10 minutes covered. Place al roz al Zerbian on a serving dish and sprinkle pine nuts on top. Yields: 4-6 servings

Rabbit Cacciatore

Rabbit is a normal meat ate in the South and was something I have had quite a lot of in my life. I never actually had to pay for it before coming to Saudi since back home everyone just kills their own (I have a lot of hunters in my family). When I did come to Saudi I noticed that most of the grocers carry nice and large rabbits as well. My husband had never tried it so one night I surprised him with it and he loved it. Now rabbit is something that I cook quite often for my family. Many people are scared to try rabbit but I will be honest with you I have never met one person who has tried rabbit that did like it. It has such a delicious taste and did I mention all the meat is white with NO fat. The rabbits here are already cleaned which I thank God for. I always slice up the kidneys and liver and fry them with a bit of flour, salt and pepper for my husband he LOVES it. These things are pretty common in Saudi to eat. I thought I would make a nice Italian style rabbit with a side of rice and vegetables and it was delightful. 1 (2-1/4 pounds) rabbit, cut into 6 to 8 pieces 1/2 teaspoon pepper 1/2 teaspoon pepper 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1 tablespoon dried thyme 3/4 cup flour 5 tablespoons olive oil juice of 1/2 lemon 1/4 cup water 1 small white onion, diced 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 tomatoes, cubed 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 2 bay leaves 12 black olives 1. In a medium sized bowl add flour, salt, pepper, thyme and garlic powder, mix. Coat each piece of chicken into flour mixture evenly and lay aside on a plate. 2. In a saute pan on medium heat add olive oil. When oil is hot carefully lay each piece of rabbit. Cook on each side until golden brown then sit aside on a plate. 3. In the same pan add onions and garlic. Cook until tender then add water and lemon juice. Place rabbit pieces back into pan and add tomatoes, parsley, bay leaves and olives on top. Cover and allow to cook for 30 minutes.

Old Fashioned Fudge

Fudge was a treat I always looked forward to growing up. It seems all Southern women know how to make a good fudge. Their are so many various recipes out there for fudge and this is a dessert that you can practically do anything with. I enjoy many flavors from peanut butter to vanilla. This recipe is pretty easy just make sure you get your sugar hot enough. That was always my problem anyway. 3 cups sugar 2/3 cup evaporated milk 3/4 cup butter 1 (12 ounce) bag chocolate chips 1-1/2 cup marshmallow cream 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 1. In a 4 quart saucepan on high heat add sugar, milk, and butter; heat to boiling. 2. Stir constantly about 5 minutes over medium heat or until mixture reaches soft ball stage (238 degrees) then remove from heat. 3. Add chocolate chops, marshmallow cream and vanilla. Stir vigorously until well blended. 4. Pour into greased 13 x9x2 inch buttered pan. Cool. Cut into squares. Yields: 3 pounds

Loster Ravioli

I have always had one food weakness and that is lobster ravioli, my favorite dish. If you live in the Middle East you should be able to find the ravioli at Lulu's and in the states stores such as Trader Joes. How can you not love everything about the soft fresh pasta filled with white luscious lobster? When making this dish my goal was to have a light yet flavorful sauce to add on top. Shrimp stock is something I keep when I have it and use later which is perfect for times like this. A light cream based sauce goes hand in hand with seafood. 1 (8 ounce) package lobster ravioli, cooked per package directions 2 tablespoons butter 2 garlic cloves, diced 1/4 teaspoon white pepper pinch saffron 1/4 cup shrimp stock 1/4 cup heavy cream small handful of shredded mozzarella 1. In a 9-inch skillet on medium heat add butter, garlic and white pepper. Cook until butter has melted and garlic is tender. Add shrimp stock and saffron. Cook until comes to a slight boil. 2.Add cream and mozzarella, stirring until thickened. Pour over lobster ravioli and serve. Yields: 1-2

Fajita Avenue

Fajita Avenue Dabab St., Suleimania Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Tel. No. 01-464-4999u My family and I live near Fajita Avenue so we were excited when a new Mexican restaurant was opening up. You see Mexican food is one of my most loved cuisines that the world has to offer. The decor of Fajita Avenue is nice and modern. The service is pretty good as well. Unfortunately the food is not that great. We ordered the nachos you see above for an appetizer and I was completely repulsed when I found out that was ketchup squirted all over the top. The chips were dry and stale on top of that. When the main course of mixed fajitas came I was still hoping for the best but the meat was extremely over cooked and dry. And they brought us two tortillas for a family fajita meal. I absolutely hate to keep asking for a tortilla every time we want to make a fajita. Sadly, the fajitas at ApplesBee's which is an American restaurant is MUCH better. No way, would I visit this establishment again until they get some REAL Mexican recipes and cooks that actually know how to cook.

Crab Cakes

I have loved crab cakes as far as I can remember and was able to get some beautiful fresh crab meat imported from France this weekend so this delicious recipe was on my mind. I used to small falafel maker to shape my cakes into mini rounds that would go perfect on top of the crisp green salad I made. What a great mix might I add. Of course you can use your hands or any other tools you may have to shape yours small or large. 1 pound crab meat 1/3 cup breadcrumbs 3 scallions (green and white parts) 1/2 red bell pepper 1/4 cup mayonnaise 1 egg 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard 4 garlic cloves 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon paprika 1 teaspoon dried thyme sunflower oil for frying 1. In a small food processor pulse crab meat until ground. Do the same for the scallions and pepper. In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients, except for the sunflower oil. Shape into patties. 2. Heat oil in a saute pan over medium heat. When oil is hot, carefully place crab cakes, in batches, in pan and fry until browned, about 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully flip crab cakes and fry on other side until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Yields: 4-6 servings