Orange Blossom Popsicles

qashta

My chocolate qashta pops were so good that I could not wait to try some new recipe using qashta. Qashta is a thick cream, you can buy in the Middle East that is used in Arabic sweets or ate alone. You can find all kinds made by big brands next to the condensed and evaporated milk here in Saudi. Since qashta already has a creamy sweetened flavor, adding sugar is not nessecery. I decided to leave the flavor intact while adding a few small ingredients and wow this one ended up being my favorite yet.

2 (170 gram) cans of qashta
1/4 cups milk (I used full fat)
2 tablespoons orange blossom water
6 dates, chopped (I used dates that are half ripe and half not)

1. In a mixing bowl add, qashta, milk, orange blossom water and dates. With a hand mixer mix, well.

2. With a small spoon, carefully fill popsicle molds to the top. Place tops, then place in freezer overnight.

Yields: 6

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Ajwa Al Madinah

ajwa-dates

The Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasallam said, “If somebody takes seven Ajwa dates in the morning, neither magic nor poison will hurt him that day.” (Sahih Bukhari: Vol 7, Book 71, Number 664)

Aisha reported Allah’s Messenger sallallahu alaihi wasallam said, “The Ajwa dates of Aliya (village near Madinah) contain heating effects and these are antidote in the early morning.” (Sahih Muslim: Book 23, Number 5083)

BENEFITS OF DATES The Al Ajwa Dates are rich in minerals like Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium, Fiber, Proteins & Vitamins.

Because of the above hadiths I like to buy ajwa dates. I usually buy all of my dates from Al Awani Dates which is one of the largest date companies here in Saudi. Unfortantely, they are also the most expensive dates on the market. For 400 grams the ajwa is sr60 when the same size of the sukary is only sr20. Ajwa dates are dark, have lines, not too soft and are pretty sweet.

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Algerian Kaak

algerian-kaak

This recipe is exciting to me since it marks the first recipe for the MENA Cooking Club. This month’s country was Algeria and the host was Asmaa from Halal Home Cooking. Asmaa has been a dear friend of mine for several years now. She lives in her homeland of England and is married to an Algerian and together they have three beautiful kids. Just like me and a lot of you she is learning how to cook her husbands favorite foods from his country.

Asma chose – for a savory dish and Algerian Kaak for the sweet one. The Algerian Kaak recipe she used is from the blog La Petite Paniere and is the dish that I decided to make this month. In MENA we are allowed to use the hostesses chosen blogs recipe and make any changes that we may want. North African kaak usually contains anise and fennel, which are actually my two least favorite spices so I opted for my favorite in their place which is cardamom.

I looked over a few recipes to see what the base ingredients were for Algerian Kaak and wrote one that would make a smaller batch. As you see my kaak is also a bit lighter in color which is due to not using anise and fennel. I also replaced the usual oil for olive oil to make it a bit healthier. I made half of mine without sesame seeds sprinkled on top and half with. These were delicious and perfect for a Ramadan treat in the evening with coffee.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon yeast
1 egg
1/2 cup warm water + 2 tablespoons
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
2 tablespoons roasted sesame seeds plus more for topping
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water

1. In a small bowl, add yeast, 1 teaspoon of sugar and 2 tablespoons of warm water, mix and allow to sit for 5 minutes. It will be frothy.

2. In a large mixing bowl, add flour, sugar, baking powder, cardamom, orange blossom water and mix. Add olive oil and yeast mixture, mix well. Add sesame seeds, egg and a small amount of water until a dough has formed.

3. Mix well with hands and knead for 5 minutes, then shape into 13 balls the size of small eggs. Carefully roll each ball into a strip about 6 inches long and then press ends together to form a circle. Place each cookie on a nonstick baking mat on a cookie sheet. You can make decorations on top by using a knife to make slits. Cover and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 350F.

4. In a small bowl, add egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of cold water, mix. Carefully brush the tops of the cookies with this mixture. If using more sesame seeds on top sprinkle. Place in the oven and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes until golden.

Yields: 13 cookies

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