Old School Middle Eastern Recipes with Some Modern Day Twists

Month: September 2019

Apple Spiced Oat Cake with a Tahini Maple Crumble

Apple Spiced Oat Cake with a Tahini Maple Crumble

This cake is all the fall things. Granny Smith apple is shredded and folded into both ground oats and flour creating a delicious and tender apple cake. Not to mention, the nutty tahini and rich sweetness of the maple in the crumble is a perfect […]

Iraqi Red Rice

Iraqi Red Rice

“What color rice would you like for dinner?” a question frequented by our mom. Options were white, brown, red, and yellow. Besides brown rice, our rice colors are not based on the type of grain, but the broth we used. Always using basmati, of course. […]

Soft Pretzels

Soft Pretzels

It’s that time of year – the leaves are starting to change color, football is on nearly ever day of the week it seems, and pumpkin spice lattes are back! It’s fall! And what better way to kick-off the Oktoberfest season then with Soft Pretzels. I had the distinct pleasure many years ago of attending Oktoberfest in Munich, and I must say it was one of the best experiences of my life. It was pure fun meeting, singing and dancing with people from all over the globe all the while enjoying pretzels the size of your head and German Beer in steins about the same size!

Reminiscing about by my time at Oktoberfest, I was inspired to recreate the “Bretzel” (as the Germans call it) one fall day a few years later. It has been a staple of mine every since, making at least once a year for Superbowl. I make them in a more modest “snack” size to be enjoyed by many. As the dough needs some time to rise, it is best to start on a fall Saturday afternoon, let the dough rise overnight, and finish up Sunday morning to enjoy eating during your Sunday football watching. Hope you enjoy – Go Bears!

Soft Pretzels

Prep Time1 hr 30 mins
Cook Time8 hrs
Course: Appetizer, Snack
Keyword: dough, football, Oktoberfest, Pretzels

Ingredients

  • 2 cups warm water 105-110 degrees
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar packed
  • 2 packages rapid rise yeast (1/4 ounce/packet)
  • 6.5 cups unbleached bread flour
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup beer pale ale style is best
  • 1/2 cup baking soda

Instructions

  • Cut stick of butter into small pieces
  • In a medium-sized bowl, mix together warm water, yeast and 1/2 cup of packed brown sugar, let sit until foamy (around 10 minutes)
  • In the electric mixer bowl, combine flour and course salt. Then add small pieces of butter and mix with hands until mixture is crumbly.
  • Add yeast/water mixture to bowl and continue to mix with hands until water is absorbed and dough becomes shaggy-like.
  • Mix the dough in the electric mixer using the dough hook attachment at medium speed until tight and smooth looking. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
  • After refrigerating, roll dough out into a 14×12 inch rectangle. Cut dough into around 12 strips (1 inch wide by 14 inch long). (for 24 pretzels reduce size to 1/2 inch wide).
    Pretzels
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with rack in upper third. While oven is warming up, work with each strip of dough, one piece at a time, to form the desired pretzel shape. (To form the shape: evenly roll out the cut strip so as to form a snake, cross each end of strip over the other at about 1/3 of the way down on each end forming a tear drop like shape, then attach the cross point down at the base of the tear drop and press thumb down at the connection point to make sure it attaches/sticks.

  • Lightly spray two baking sheets (9×13) with cooking spray. In a wide stockpot, combine 8 cups water, baking soda, beer, and remaining 1/4 cup packed brown sugar; bring to a simmer over medium-high. Simmer pretzels, one at a time, about 30 seconds each, if they float to the top after a few seconds, hold them under surface of water. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. (You can gently reshape pretzels if they become misshapen.)
  • Add any desired toppings to pretzels (for example, pretzel salt, cheese, seeds, etc.) before putting in the oven. Bake pretzels for 5 minutes then rotate baking tray and bake for another 4-6 minutes until darker brown.
  • Let cool slightly, but serve warm. Serve with various types of mustard and dipping sauces.
Baklawa

Baklawa

Baklawa (baklava in Greek) is the quintessential Middle Eastern dessert. In this version of baklawa, spiced walnuts are nestled between layers of buttery phyllo dough and finished with a heavy hand of delicious honey. The outcome is a blissfully sweet dessert that without fail puts […]

Not Your Average Pasta Salad

Not Your Average Pasta Salad

This pasta salad is not your average pasta salad. It’s bold and got some flavor! The vinaigrette is a blend of fresh mint and parsley, red wine vinegar, pomegranate molasses, olive oil and a little Fresno chili pepper. These ingredients pierce through the pasta, sweet […]

Baba’s Potato Chips

Baba’s Potato Chips

Growing up, we had a deep fryer and used it for one sole purpose, Baba’s potato chips. Especially on fall weekends, it was always a treat to see Baba cutting potatoes and watching the golden deliciousness coming out of the bubbling fryer. Just add a little salt and pepper, ketchup and hot sauce, and you got yourself a nice crunchy snack. These potato chips are the perfect compliment to a nice fall Sunday of football viewing.

If you do not own a deep fryer, do not fret! You can still use a heavy bottom pot filled with oil to fry the potatoes to their perfect golden color.

Some pro tips from Baba himself:

  • After soaking the potato chips, make sure pat them dry. You do not want any excess water getting into the hot oil
  • No thermometer? No problem! You can test the temperature of the oil by adding a drop of water to the pot. If the water sizzles and bubbles, the oil is at a good temperature to add the potato chips.
  • Add hot sauce to your ketchup… because why not?! Tabasco it is!

Baba’s Potato Chips

Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Course: Appetizer, Snack
Servings: 2 people

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp salt
  • 5 cups water
  • 4 russet potatoes (small is preferable)
  • 6 cups vegetable oil
  • ground pepper

Instructions

  • Thoroughly wash potatoes
  • Cut both ends off of the potato to help ensure all potato slices are of similar size. About 1/2 inch from each end should be enough. Repeat for all potatoes
  • Thinly slice the potato into potato chip disks. The slices should be about as thick as a coin/quarter. Repeat for all potatoes
  • Combine salt and water into a large bowl
  • Place all potato slices into the bowl and allow to soak for 5-10 minutes
  • Remove potato slices from bowl and allow to dry in between 2 sheets of paper towels. Use more paper towels to pat dry if your potatoes are still very damp. It important that your potatoes are dried thoroughly before adding to the oil
  • Place 6 cups of vegetable oil into a heavy bottom pot (or your deep fryer). The number of cups depends on the size and width of your pot. If your pot is wide, you should use less. Please use your discretion in this step
  • If using a deep fryer: Set oil temp to 350F. Place slices in fryer. You want to add enough potato slices to allow each slice to have their own space to fry. Do not over stuff your fryer
    If using a pot: Heat oil over medium/high heat. Start frying when oil reaches 350F. Place slices in the pot. You want to add enough potato slices to allow each slice to have their own space to fry. Do not over stuff your pot
    If you do not have a thermometer, you can test the oil by adding a drop of water to the oil. If the water sizzles and bubbles, that means the oil is at the right temperature.
  • Fry slices until they become golden brown chips
  • Take slices out of the fryer using a heatproof strainer or slotted spoon
  • Place chips on a paper towel to remove any excess oil
  • Toss the chips in a bowl with salt and pepper to taste