Old School Middle Eastern Recipes with Some Modern Day Twists

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Fennel and Black Seed Savory Scones

Fennel and Black Seed Savory Scones

It’s FALL! Now’s the time to nest and get your hygge on! These savory scones are the perfect treat to pair with your butternut squash soup, Fall Salad, or of course with a nice cup of tea.

We partnered with Spicely Organics to make this recipe with our signature Middle Eastern twist. When I saw black seeds on Spicely’s website, I was excited to make a recipe using them, especially because black seeds (nigella) are a bit difficult to find in American grocery stores.

The main inspiration for this scone was Kakat’ Claire that my Tata made for us when we were younger. It is such a unique recipe that showcases wonderful flavors in a simple way. Creating this recipe made me feel nostalgic of my Tata and her pantry of spices. When I opened the bag of Spicely’s black seeds, the smell immediately brought me back to her kitchen. I hope you get the homey feels after trying this recipe. It’s definitely flavorful and close to my heart, so I hope you enjoy!

Fennel and Black Seed Savory Scones

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 1/2 tsp Spicely black seeds (nigella)
  • 2 tsp Spicely fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp Spicely sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 1 egg (cold)
  • 1/2 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp lebne
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Instructions
 

  • Heat oven to 375F
  • Prepare baking sheet by covering with parchment paper
  • In a large bowl add flour, sugar, garlic powder, black seeds, fennel seeds, sesame seeds and salt
  • Sift in baking powder into large bowl
  • Whisk ingredients together
  • Cut butter into small cubes. Add to the flour. Using a fork or pastry cutter integrate the butter with your flower until turns into a meal texture. It is ok to have some butter clumps. You want to make sure that butter is kept cold during this process
  • In a separate medium-sized bowl, whisk egg, cream, lebne, and olive oil. It is important to keep your ingredients cold, so do not pull them out of the fridge until you are ready to combine together
  • Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Save about 2 tsp of wet ingredients to top the scones. Mix wet and dry ingredients together until just combined
  • Separate the dough into 7 equal sized scones and form dough into scones while on the pan. You do not want to work them too much with you hands as it is important to continue to keep ingredients cold
  • Using a pastry brush, take the wet ingredient mix you saved and brush the top of each scone with the wet mix
  • Sprinkle black seeds and fennel on to the top of the scones
  • Place scones in the middle rack of the oven and allow to bake for 15 mins. Scones are ready once the top starts to golden
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Sumac and Grilled Onion Focaccia

Sumac and Grilled Onion Focaccia

There is nothing like biting into soft, crunchy focaccia bread fresh from the oven. I love this homestyle bread, and it’s not a difficult one to make. We even added a muskhan twist to this Italian classic by topping with grilled onions and sumac. The sumac gives this bread such a lovely tangy flavor and would pair nicely with any Middle Eastern classic like kebab or bamia.

Bread making can definitely be a daunting task, so I thought I would help out with some tips for those taking this on for the first time:

  • Add flour to your dough slowly. I like to add about a half cup at a time to ensure that all the flour is fully incorporated.
  • Do not over add flour. Each brand of flour and water from different sources impact the dough. If you add flour and your dough is looking fully saturated, then don’t worry about starting to knead your dough 1/2-1 cups of flour earlier than kneaded (get it? 🙂 )
  • Knead your dough to get the bounce back. Kneading is important to allow the gluten to form in your dough. Kneading fully (along with oil) will give your dough a light fluffy texture inside and a nice crisp on the outside.
  • Dough needs time to rest. I have baked dough right after it has finished rising but it doesn’t get as fluffy or full of flavor. If you have time try to make the dough a day in advance before baking.

Sumac and Grilled Onion Focaccia Bread

Prep Time 14 hrs
Cook Time 25 mins
Course Appetizer, Bread, dinner
Cuisine Italian, Middle Eastern
Servings 12 servings

Ingredients
  

Bread

  • 2 cups warm water 100 F
  • 1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp instant active yeast
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 5 1/4 cups flour

Topping

  • 1 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 small onions
  • 4-5 heads of garlic
  • 4 tbsp sumac

Instructions
 

Focaccia Bread

  • In a medium-sized bowl, whisk 1 cup of warm water, sugar and yeast
  • Let bowl sit for about 5 minutes until top of water mixture is frothy (activating the yeast)
  • Add remaining 1 cup of warm water, 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp salt, 1 tsp garlic powder, and 1 cup of flour. Whisk until until all flour lumps are removed
  • Add each additional cup of flour one at a time and mix with a wooden spoon until each cup of flour is incorporated into the dough
  • All flour should be incorporated into dough. Use hand and knead in bowl if not all flour is part of dough
  • Once all flour is incorporated to the dough, and dough is no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl, knead dough on floured surface for about 5-7 minutes. You are done kneading if you press on the dough and it bounces back
  • Split dough into 3 equal parts (I like to do this so I can freeze some of the focaccia and save for later)
  • Lightly cover 3 medium sized bowls with olive oil
  • Place one dough ball into a bowl and move the ball around the bowl to coat the dough with oil. Repeat with each ball of dough in each separate bowl
  • To allow the dough to rise, cover each bowl with saran wrap and place in a sunny or well lit spot. Dough should not be in a cool area. Try to find a warmer humid environment, but in light should work well, too
  • Allow the dough to rise to be about double in size, about 1.5 to 2 hours
  • Prepare 3 round 8 inch baking pans by coating with olive oil (about 2 tsp)
  • Once dough has risen to double in size, add each to a baking pan. Stretch the dough to reach the sides of the pan, but be careful not to tear the dough. Cover the pan and dough with saran wrap and let rest in the fridge for 8-12 hours
  • After dough has completed resting in the fridge, remove from fridge. Turn oven on to 450 F and let dough rest outside of the fridge while the oven warms up (about 10 minutes)
  • Remove saran wrap from dough. Dimple your dough using your fingertips. Split topping into 3 equal parts and add on top of your dough, evenly distributing toppings and oil over dough's surface. Topping recipe below
  • Place all pans in oven in middle rack for 25-30 minutes. Pull out from oven when top is golden and slightly browned. Let cool and enjoy!

Sumac and Onion Topping

  • Add olive oil to medium saucepan
  • Thinly slice 2 small yellow onions
  • Turn heat on medium and add onions to olive oil
  • While onions are cooking, thinly slice 4-5 heads of garlic
  • Once onions have started to soften, add garlic slices to olive oil and turn heat on low. Allow pot to heat on low for about 5 minutes
  • Remove from heat, wait 10 minutes and add to storage container. Mix in 4 tbsp of sumac and store olive oil mixture (not refrigerated) until focaccia is ready for topping

Notes

I used 3 baking dishes because I like to freeze 2 cooked focaccias and save for a later date. You can use a large or XL baking pan if you want to serve all at once.
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Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad

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Hungarian Sour Cherry Soup (Meggyleves)

Hungarian Sour Cherry Soup (Meggyleves)

Sour cherry soup is a Hungarian summer time favorite. Over the years, I have heard about this famous soup from my boyfriend and his family. They recount summers spent around Lake Balaton and the surplus of sour cherries in the area. Sour cherries can be used to make compotes, desserts and, of course, sour cherry soup.

Sour cherries are not an item frequently seen on American shelves, so when I stumbled upon them at the Lincoln Park Farmers Market, I had to try them! My boyfriend’s mom was also excited by this unique Chicago find, and she taught me how to make it.

These cherries were a little bit smaller than the ones they use in Hungary. She described them more like the cherries that are found in the wild and line the streets waiting to be picked.

This soup is super flavorful and unlike anything I have had before. It’s spiced, creamy, and tart and the chilled temperature makes it perfect for summer. Just enjoy with a wine spritzer mixed with elderberry juice and you got yourself a taste of Europe this summer. Enjoy!

Sour Cherry Soup

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Course dinner, lunch, Snack
Cuisine Hungarian
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 2.5 L water about 9 cups
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 1 lemon peel remove white part of the rind
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 medium sized lemons, juiced
  • 800 g sour cherries sour cherry compote works as well, if you don't have sour cherries you can also use any red cherry, but may want to reduce sugar as these are sweeter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream

Instructions
 

  • Add water, cloves, cinnamon sticks, lemon peel and vanilla to a large pot and heat to a boil
  • While waiting for pot to boil add sugar and lemon juice
  • Allow the pot to boil for about 5-7 minutes
  • While waiting for pot to boil, remove cherry pits and stems if not done already
  • Remove pot from heat and add cherries
  • Add pot to heat and allow to boil with cherries for 7 minutes
  • In a medium bowl, mix flour and sour cream together. Add about 2 ladles full of soup to the flour and sour cream and whisk together, removing any lumps and blending the mixture together
  • Turn heat on low and add the flour and sour cream mixture to the soup
  • Add salt and let soup simmer for 5 minutes
  • Remove soup from heat and allow time for it to cool. It should be served cold, so you may want to prepare a day to a few hours ahead
Moroccan Roasted Vegetable Salad

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