February Issue

I received my Sisters Magazine February issue this week and was delighted to see my cakes got a page all to themselves. I love the monthly themes the editors have me doing they are all so different and unique. 

Olive Bread

It’s weird that I grew up never trying an olive. Olives are just not something Southern people eat that is unless you count the canned ones. Actually the canned ones were the only olives that I had ever tried and the reason that I hated olives. Olives are popular pretty much everywhere else in the world including here in Saudi. About a year ago I took the plunge and tried real ‘fresh’ olives. I mean it was pretty weird that I loved the taste of olive oil yet did not like olives, right? I instantly fell in love with green and black olives from Spain, Black olives from Greece. Saudi has olive bars everywhere and you can try and buy all of them. Long story short I now LOVE olives and I love using them in recipes hence this crispy yet soft golden Italian loaf.  

12 ounces all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 ounces warm water
1 teaspoon yeast
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 black olives, stoned and quartered

1. In a large mixing bowl add flour, salt, yeast and thyme. Make a well in center and add water and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

2. Mix to a dough consistency and knead for 10 minutes. Place the dough in a large oiled plastic bag. Seal and leave in a warm place for one hour or until doubled.

3. Turn out the dough on a floured surface and knead lightly. Flatten with your hands. Sprinkle over the olives and knead in top. Shape dough into a long oval and place on a greased baking sheet. Cover and leave to rise for 45 minutes.

4. Pre-heat oven to 375F. Drizzle over remaining oil. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden.

Yields: 1 loaf

Al Zalabiyah

Al Zalabiyah is a popular gulf favorite especially during Ramadan. This sugary sweet is served with Arabic coffee. Many people add a few drops of food color to obtain a bright color. Red, orange and yellow are the traditional colors used. Fresh saffron can be used to obtain a natural golden color. 

 2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 cups + 2 tablespoons warm water
Pinch saffron
3 tablespoons rose water
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
Sunflower oil for frying
2 cups sugar syrup

1.      In a small bowl add yeast, sugar and 2 tablespoons of warm water. Allow to sit for 5 minutes until frothy. In another small bowl add rose water and saffron and allow sitting for 5 minutes as well.

2.      In a large mixing bowl add flour and cardamom. Add rose water and yeast mixture. Carefully add water until a buttermilk consistency forms. The mixture should not be too thick or thin. Mix well removing any lumps. Cover with a damp towel and allow sitting in a warm place for 1 hour.

3.      In a large sauté pan on medium heat add 6 cm of oil, enough for frying. Meanwhile, pour sugar syrup in a medium sized bowl and prepare a large platter or strainer. In a small spout or funnel pour batter into small spiral circles quickly. Allow to cook until golden on each side.

4.      Remove from oil, roll in sugar syrup and allow excess syrup to drain.

Yields: 2 dozen

Rocky Road Cupcakes

The combination of chocolate, marshmallows and almonds in these sweet cakes is a taste of pure indulgence. I wanted to make these cupcakes grown up on the inside yet fun for my son on the outside. We worked together making the homemade flag toppers. I used a saved bag, glue and some toothpicks. And the great thing is that you can save them to use over again. 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature 1/2 cup sugar 2 eggs 1 cup self rising flour 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder 3 tablespoons milk 1 ounce white chocolate chips 1 cup mini marshmallows 2 tablespoons silvered almonds frosting: 3-1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped 1/2 cup heavy cream 3 tablespoons almonds 1. Preheat the oven to 350F. 2. Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy, then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Sift the flour and cocoa powder into the mixture and fold in. Stir in the milk, followed by the chocolate chips, marshmallows and almonds. 3. Spoon the mixture into the paper liners and bake for about 8 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. 4. To decorate, put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a saucepan until almost boiling, then pour in the chocolate and let melt for about 5 minutes. Stir until smooth and creamy, then let cool for about 30 minutes until thick and glossy. 5. Spread the chocolate mixture over the cupcakes and decorate. Yields: 12 adapted from Cupcake Heaven


You will find many aseeda recipes throughout the Gulf area. In Bahrain the dough is ate with sweet eggs, in Libya the dough is filled with honey and in Saudi and Yemen you will find a lamb or chicken broth. The dough is not an easy thing to make and you usually have to try a few times before you get it just right. It takes constant watch and work to make. The end result should look and feel like play dough. I would suggest trying to watch a few videos on YouTube if you have never watched anyone make it. Aseeda is typically make the way I have made it with the broth in the dough in Yemen however in Saudi the dough is usually served on the side and pieces are added to a bowl of the piping hot broth. dough: 2 cups all-purpose flour 3 cups water 1 cup boiling water 1 tablespoon yogurt 1 teaspoon salt 1-1/2 tablespoon sunflower oil broth: 1 chicken, cup up 1 onion, diced 6 cardamoms, bruised 4 tablespoons sunflower oil 2 cloves garlic, smashed 1/2 teaspoon cumin 1/4 cup cilantro, diced 4 cups water salt and pepper to taste 1. In a 4-quart saucepan add 3 cups water and salt. Bring to a full boil. Add oil, yogurt and flour. Continuously stir the mixture quickly with wide/flat wooden spoon.Add more flour if any water is left. 2. Remove from heat and keep stirring until it softens. Add some of the boiled water to the dough and let it sit for 10 minutes. Beat the mixture until it softens and and becomes thick, the consistency of soft play dough. You should mix for several minutes adding water if needed. Place back onto heat on medium heat mix more about 20 minutes, add more water and allow to further cook until the side start pulling from the pan. 3. Shape into a small mound in a bowl. Create a small bowl with the bottom of a ladle. 4. Meanwhile, make broth. In a large saucepan on medium heat add oil, garlic and onions. Allow to cook until tender. Add chicken pieces, cardamom and cumin. Add water ans bring to a full boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and allow to cook for 45 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. 5. Add broth into dough. Serve.

Vanilla Coffee Creamer

When I was back home a cup of coffee was not complete without Coffee Mate vanilla creamer however since moving to Saudi it can be hard to find since great things seem to come in bulk and are quickly gone until next time. I have started relying on nestle powder coffee creamer and found that I have become quiet attached to the taste. I decided to try to make some sort of replica of my favorite vanilla creamer in a small amount. This recipe is actually pretty close and what I love the most about it is that it does not have all those nasty preservatives and other weird ingredients’ that we do not need. You can make a larger amount if you will use it I personally prefer a smaller amount since I am the only coffee drinker in my home.

90 grams condensed milk
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.      In a small jar add condensed milk, milk, cream of tartar and vanilla. Tightly close the lid and shake until well combined, refrigerate.

Bint Al Sahn

Bint Al Sahn (“Daughter of the Dish”) is a traditional Yemeni dessert consisting of light, flaky dough topped with sesame seeds and honey. Yemenis make this golden dessert in all sizes some making an unbelievable amount of layers. I ranged this recipe down to fit my small family using a smaller pan and only 16 layers. Traditionally a special pan is used and actually makes the process much easier. The pan looks like a large cake pan. I would think using a dough machine to make really thin layers would be idea but I myself have never worked with one and I make my bread the old fashioned hand with my hands and a rolling pin. Typically the topping is golden which is a result of the egg wash however I used the last of my eggs for the bread so I was not able to get the golden topping.

After I made this dessert my husband walked in and knew what it was right away and was surprised that I had made it. His best friend growing up was Yemeni and he said the maid made it for them quite often. He grabbed some kiri cheese to have with his and I told him he had to make every dish into a Saudi dish lol. Saudis love bread, honey and kiri. And I think this sweet dish will easily be loved by everyone you share it with.

3 cups all-purpose flour
4 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar

black sesame seeds
egg yolk, beaten

1. In a small bowl add yeast, water and sugar. Allow to sit for 5 minutes until frothy. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl add flour, salt, yeast mixture, eggs, mix well. Add 1/4 cup of butter and knead well until a dough consistency is formed. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes.

2. Pre-heat oven to 400F. Divide the dough into 16 small golf ball sized balls. Grease the bottom and sides of a cake pan. Roll each dough so thin you can see through it and a size that will spread into the pan your using (10-12 cm). Place dough into pan, stretching the side carefully. Brush each layer with remaining butter until finished. Brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

3. Bake for about 20 minutes until cake is golden, Drizzle honey all over the top of the cake and serve.

Khoubiz Mehala

Khoubiz Mehala is an old traditional Bahraini bread which is usually baked in a special clay oven built in the ground. This delicious lightly sweetened bread is usually served alongside halawah and qahwah. This is the perfect recipe to showcase the true flavors or the Gulf region and what I love most about it is that is not to sweet. I love baking these little golden rounds at night so that my husband can have them for breakfast, he adores them.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon yeast
1/2 cup plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1 egg, beaten
2/3 cups pitted dates
1/2 cup boiling water
pinch saffron
1 tablespoon rose water
1 tablespoon sunflower oil

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1. In a small bowl add yeast, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1/4 cup warm water. Sit aside for 5 minutes until frothy. Meanwhile in another small bowl add dates and 1/2 cup boiling water and in another small bowl add saffron and rose water.

2. In a a large mixing bowl add flour, oil, yeast mixture, rose water and egg, mix. In the bowl with dates and water, mash then add to flour mixture, mix well. Add the remaining water until you have a dough like consistency. Knead well. Cover in a warm place with a damp towel and allow to rise for at least an hour.

3. In a small saucepan on make topping. Add sugar, water and cardamom. Allow to come to a full boil stirring until sugar is dissolved and mixture is thick, about 10 minutes. Pre-heat oven to 400F.

4. Shape dough into small rounds and place on a greased or non-stick baking mat on a baking sheet. Brush tops with sugar mixture then sprinkle with seeds. Allow to bake until golden about 15 minutes.

Yields: 9

I've been published

At the end of the Summer I was approached by Sisters Magazine which is based in the UK and sold worldwide. The magazine asked me if I would be willing to work freelance with them monthly and I happily obliged. I received my first issue today and was so excited that I got a full two page spread as well as another page featuring a lamb recipe of mine. MashAllah the magazine is really nice and has so much great content in it.

Southern Lemonade

Growing up nothing made me happier than running to the fridge and getting some of my momma’s ice-cold lemonade. In the South we make lemonade a bit different from other people. We slice the lemons and allow them to marinate overnight in the water and sugar which makes a perfect combination that is not too sweet nor to sour. 8 cups cold water 3-4 lemons, washed and sliced 1 cup sugar 1. In a 4-quart saucepan on high heat add 2 cups of water and sugar, boil until dissolved about 2 minutes. 2. In a pitcher add lemon slices and remaining water. Pour sugar syrup on top, refrigerate over night.

Bread Baking Day #46 announcement

I am so happy to be hosting this year’s first BBD event which is also #47 on the list. I am old schooler when it comes to this event and have been baking along since it first started. Over the years I have found so many amazing people that also bake in these events, the bread they make is just spectacular. The BBD event of course was founded by Zorra and the lovely Cinzia hosted last month. A great thing about being the host this month is that I also get to come up with the theme for our baking endeavors. I really wanted to try something different and fun this month because let’s face it if you can bake it we have. Many of us love to travel and even if we are not able to we still imagine places that we would love to visit all over the world. That’s pretty much the theme for this month. This month’s theme is baking from a place you would love to visit. For example let’s say you have always wanted to travel to Nepal then I want you to discover some popular bread from the region and make it yourself. This should be a lot of fun. To enter here is what I am going to need from you. You can email all entries to yasalamcooking (at) gmail (dot) com and be sure to add BBD#46 in the subject line. Also include the following: Picture of your bread Your name Your blog name Post about it on your blog, with a link back to this post The country your dish hails from The name of your bread Your recipe should be in English Deadline for submission February 1st, 2012. Final round up will be on line on February 5th, 2012. Please feel free to promote the event by sticking the logo on your blog.

Al Zanjabel Ma Al Haleeb

I first had this warm drink right after I had arrived in Saudi. I had gotten a cold and my mother in law made me a flask. Zanjabel is what all Gulf Arabs use to cure a common cold or flu. Zanjabel means ginger in Arabic and as we all know all over the world ginger is a great cure for many things. In Saudi this recipe is made using only water however in countries such as Bahrain and Oman they use milk which I prefer. You can use sugar or honey to sweeten the drink if you would like. Honey is much better as it has many natural cures as well. Both ginger and honey have great medical uses in Islam. 5 (1 cm) root pieces, cleaned 3 cups milk 1/2 cup water Sugar or honey to sweeten 1. In a small saucepan on high heat add water and ginger. Allow to come to a full boil then reduce heat to medium and cook until a light yellow color is obtained. Strain the ginger from the water reserving just the water. 2. In another small saucepan on low heat add milk, cook until thoroughly hot. Add ginger water into milk, stir. Yields: 3-4 cups