Middle Eastern Lemonade

8 lemons
3/4 cup sugar, or to taste
1 teaspoon orange blossom water, or to taste
generous 1/4 cup freshly chopped mint

water (or seltzer) and ice cubes Squeeze the juice from the lemons and sweeten to taste with the sugar. Add the orange blossom water and the mint, and stir or shake well together. Pour a little into a tall glass and fill with water or soda and ice.

Finjan Erfeh Tea

Finjan erfeh is served to guests who have come to see a newborn baby.

6 cups water
1 1/2 tablespoon anise seeds
3 sticks cinamon
2 cloves, whole
2 pieces ginger root
walnuts for garnishment
sugar as needed for taste

Bring water, anise seeds, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon to a boil, then allow to steep on low in a teapot or pan for 10-15 minutes. Strain, and pour into cups. Sugar can be added for taste once poured.
with walnuts if desired.

Anise Tea

Anise tea is very popular in the Middle east. It is sometimes used medicinally to sooth a stomachache or to relieve gas.

3 cups boiling water
2 teaspoons whole anise seeds, or 2 teaspoons dried anise leaves
2 tea bags

1. Boil 1-1/2 cups water with anise seeds. In another pot, boil 1-1/2 cups water. Add tea bags. Steep both for 10 minutes. Strain anise water into pot with tea. Pour into serving cups. Add lemon and honey if desired.

Cheese Kunafa

Kunafa is traditionally eaten during Ramadan. A good cheese Kunafa is about as hard to find as a needle in a haystack but this recipe is it; you will never bother with anymore. An easy trick to browning your Kunafa is to sit the cake pan on the oven eye for a few seconds to lightly brown after it is taken from the oven. In addition, it is a good idea to shred some of that pastry with your hands unless you want huge strings that are not easy to work with. You can even cut it into small pieces if you have the time.

For the syrup:
1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon orange blossom water or rose water

1. On low heat, add sugar, water, lemon juice and flavored water. Stir until thick. Allow to cool in refrigerator.

Cheese filling:
1 pound mozzarella
1/2 pound ricotta
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons orange blossom water or rose water

1. In a food processor add mozzarella, ricotta, sugar and flavored water, mix well. Set aside.

1 pound of defrosted Kataifi (knafi)
2 sticks of unsalted butter, melted
Pistachios to garnish

1. Place kataifi in a large bowl with butter, mix and untangle strings with hands. In a 10-11 inch pie pan, place half of pastry in the bottom. Add cheese filling, pressing down with hand, add remaining of pastry strings. Bake in a 325 F over for 45 minutes.


2. After pastry has baked, place the pan on the stove eye for a few seconds to make top brown and not pale. With a butter knife, go around kunafa, place plate on top and flip. Decorate with nuts. I grind mine in a processor. You can get creative now. I add the sugar syrup before and after. However, I sit most of it on the table and let people decide how much they want.

Yields: 8 servings

Adapted from Arabsque