baking

Orange Blossom Osmalieh

Orange Blossom Osmalieh

A client recently asked me to make this traditional Lebanese dessert, osamlieh. I was scared at first, but I was also excited to make something new. So, I went to my go-to modern Lebanese cookbook The Jewelled Table, which had an authentic recipe for osamlieh. I added my own twist by mixing orange blossom water from my grandfather, which I brought back from Lebanon. This recipe seems daunting at first (I was too!), but it’s really simple once you get to the assembly.

It’s essential to use kataifi, a shredded phyllo pastry, for this dessert. It not only gives the foundation to hold the floral rosewater cream filling, but also adds crispy, crunchy textures to balance everything else. This dessert is definitely a showstopper with little efforts.

Total Time: 40-45 minutes
Serves: 6-8 people

INGREDIENTS

Osmalieh

  • 2 cups kataifi, shredded phyllo pastry

  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, cubed

  • 1 cup canola oil, divided into 1/2 cup

Mascarpone cream

  • 2 cups mascarpone, room temperature

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • 1/4 cup confectioners sugar

  • 2 tbsp rosewater

Orange Blossom Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 lemon, juiced

  • 2 tbsp orange blossom water

INSTRUCTIONS

Osmalieh

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.

  2. Defrost your shredded filo pastry for about an hour.

  3. Divide the filo pastry into two equal amounts.

  4. In two 9-inch round cake pans, fill half cup of neutral oil in each. Spread the bottom of the oiled cake pan with shredded filo. Press down evenly so that the filo pastry is compact and flat.

  5. Dot the cubed butter on top of the pastry throughout.

  6. Bake them in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the pastry gets crispy and golden brown. After 15 minutes, make sure you rotate the pans for even browning.

  7. After baking, let them cool in the cake pan for 15- 20 minutes until the pastry is set. Once it’s set with the circle shape, take the dough out from the pan and place them on a wire rack or a paper towel to drain all the excess oil.

Mascarpone cream

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk heavy cream, confectioner’s sugar, and rosewater until it reaches a medium peak.

  2. In a separate mixing bowl, spread & fold the mascarpone with a spatula until it’s silky, and spreadable.

  3. Start folding the whipped cream into the mascarpone, 1/3 at a time, until it’s fully incorporated.

  4. Put the cream mixture into a piping bag (or a ziplock bag). Place it in the fridge until you are ready to assemble.

Orange blossom simple syrup

  1. In a small pot, add water, sugar, lemon juice, and orange blossom water over medium heat. Let it cook for 15 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and reduced a little bit. Let it cool.

Assembly

  1. Place the bottom half of cooked filo dough on a serving base.

  2. Using a star-tipped piping bag, pipe the mascarpone cream on the filo base until it’s fully covered by making a circular motion. You need to do this twice to have two layers. The cream layer should be thick.

  3. Place the other layer of filo dough on top of the cream. Press down very gently to make a large cream sandwich.

  4. Decorate the top with more mascarpone cream and zested and crusted pistachio.

  5. Serve the orange blossom simple syrup on the side. Enjoy a slice with your afternoon coffee.

Apple Cider Donut Holes with Tahini Glaze

Apple Cider Doughnut Holes with Tahini Glaze

I recently sat next to Ben Mims, who introduced me to my new favorite kitchen gadget. It cuts cooking time in half and makes everything crispy with no hassle or oil — IT’S AN AIR FRYER!

After I purchased his book, Air Fry Every Day: 75 Recipes to Fry, Roast, and Bake Using Your Air Fryer, right away, Ben helped me decide which air fryer to purchase; I went ahead with the multi-functional one that combines a convection oven and air fryer because that suits my catering business. I have not stopped using and experimenting with it since I purchased it. I’ve made everything from fried chickpeas to baked muffins!

Inspired by his Apple Cider Doughnut Hole recipe from the cookbook, I came up with this tahini glaze. The glaze adds that nutty, sweet flavors to the crisp, doughnut holes and those toasted sesame seeds on top add a satisfying crunch.

If you are still debating whether you should get an air fryer or not, I highly recommend it. It changed my life! And, check out Ben’s incredible cookbook!

Total Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 10 mini doughnuts

INGREDIENTS

For the doughnut holes:

  • 1 1/2 cup AP flour

  • 2 tbsp sugar

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 1 tsp kosher salt

  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/4 cup buttermilk, chilled

  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

  • 1 egg

  • Oil spray

Tahini Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

  • 2 tbsp tahini

  • 2 tbsp water

  • A pinch of salt

  • Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

To make the doughnut holes:

  1. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon until well combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, apple cider vinegar, and egg until combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry mixture and stir with a spatula or hands until the dough just comes together.

  2. Scoop out 10 to 12 balls onto the air fryer basket, spaced evenly apart, and spray with oil spray. Air-fry at 350F until the doughnut holes are golden brown and fluffy, about 6 - 8 minutes. Transfer the doughnut holes to a wire rack to cool.

To make tahini glaze:

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the powdered sugar, tahini, water, and a pinch of salt until smooth and coats the back of a spoon.

Assembly:

  1. Dip the doughnut holes in the tahini glaze, then sprinkle sesame seeds.

  2. Let them stand until the glaze sets before serving.

Lemon-Semolina Almond Cake

Lemon-Semolina Almond Cake

I recently came across Ottolenghi’s Semolina-Lemon Syrup Cakes, and it reminded me of my grandmother’s semolina cake; she used to make it for me all the time when I was growing up!

Inspired by Ottolenghi's recipe, I added rosewater to simple syrup for a Middle Eastern touch to this cake. The cake, paired with candied lemon slices and drizzled with rosewater simple syrup, has a coarse texture, making it a wonderfully versatile dessert. Whether you want to eat this with a scoop of ice cream or with a cup of coffee for breakfast, this lemony cake will be your new favorite!

Total Time: 1 hr 30 minutes
Serves: 8 - 12 slices

INGREDIENTS

Lemon-Semolina Almond Cake:

  • 1 cup almond flour or almond meal

  • 1 cup semolina flour

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 1 tsp kosher salt

  • 3/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 2 lemons

  • 3 large eggs, beaten to blend

Rosewater Simple Syrup:

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 lemon, juiced

  • 2 tbsp rosewater

Candied Lemon:

  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced

INSTRUCTIONS

Lemon-Semolina Almond Cake:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.

  2. Grease a loaf pan and line with parchment paper. Sift together the almond flour, semolina flour and baking powder on a medium bowl. Add salt to the mixture and whisk everything to combine.

  3. Using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk oil, sugar, and lemon zest from 2 lemons together, about 3 minutes. With motor running, gradually add eggs one at a time, beating to incorporate, about 1 minute. Add dry ingredients and juice of 1 lemon and whisk everything to combine, about 1 minute.

  4. Transfer batter to prepared loaf pan. Place the cake on the middle rack, and bake until golden brown, approximately for 60 minutes. Lightly press the top of the cake to test — it should feel lightly springy when done. Let cool for 20 minutes or so in pan before removing and transferring to a cooling rack.

Rosewater Simple Syrup & Candied Lemon:

  1. In one easy step, combine water, sugar, juice of 1 lemon, and rosewater in a pot. Cook it over medium-heat until the sugar is fully dissolved, for 4-5 minutes.

  2. Add thinly-sliced lemon to the simple syrup, and cook it on medium-low heat for 10-12 minutes until the lemon is tender.

  3. Transfer candied lemon to a wire rack.

Assembly:

  1. Drizzle rosewater over a cake. Garnish the cake with candied lemon slices on top.