Homemade Yogurt

While fresh plain yogurt is widely available in the Middle East it may not be as easy to obtain in the Western countries so I thought I would show you all a simple recipe for making it at home. I have made this several times and it worked out flawlessly each time. There is something special in making something yourself, isn’t there? As I told you all before yogurt is a pretty popular staple here in Saudi. We eat it with every meal practically and I personally adore in plain with a bit of honey drizzled on top for suhoor.

I always use full fat milk and yogurt starter because they are much creamier but you can use what works best for you. If you would like much thicker yogurt you can reduce the milk to 3 cups instead of the 6.
6 cups milk
3 tablespoons yogurt
1. In a 4-quart saucepan on medium heat add milk bring to a full boil then reduce to simmer and allow to cook for 3 minutes.
2. Allow milk to slightly cool until mixture is no longer hot just warm. Mix 3 tablespoons of starter yogurt then add to the milk, stirring mixture with a wooden spoon. Cover with a lid then wrap entire pan in a towel to keep warm.
3. Allow to sit in a warm place for 8 hours not disturbing. When finished refrigerate overnight then serve.
Yields: 6 cups


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


I love the light and fresh taste of this Greek fava bean stew. This would make a great lunch or side dish for dinner. When soaking fava beans make sure to add a pinch of baking soda in the water and allow to soak overnight then remove the shells before cooking. Its also very important to make sure the olive oil you buy is cold pressed. Be weary of a lot of olive oil from Spain as most do not use the cold press method and the olive oil is extremely harmful when heated.

1 lb 2 oz dried fava beans
1/2 cup olive oil
2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
 1 teaspoon cumin
4 bay leaves
pinch of salt and pepper
2 cups water

1. In a 2-quart pan on high heat boil the beans for 30 minutes, strain.

2. In a 2-quart saucepan on medium heat add olive oil. Brown the onions, add the tomatoes, parsley, cumin, bay leaves, salt and pepper, cook for 5 minutes.

3. Add the beans to the water and simmer until thickened. Serve.

 Adapted from mezze Modern

Olive Paste

My husband and I had an amazing olive paste served with bread while dining one evening so this was something I wanted to recreate for us at home. Choose quality olives and olive oil from a gourmet or olive shop. The mixed version is much better than just choosing one of the olives. This paste is perfect with bread, a snack or even on top of a salad and its completely healthy. Make sure to pulse it because you do not want a smooth paste rather one with some texture intact.

1-1/2 cups Greek Black Olives
1-1/2 cups Spanish Green Olives
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove

1. Combine all ingredients in the food processor and blend for a few seconds until slightly pulsed.

Yields: 3 cups