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Archive for the ‘orange’ Tag

World Peace, a step in the right direction

It is difficult to write about my experiences in Syria knowing that the country is on the brink of civil war and chaos. It breaks my heart. I also realize that not writing anything won’t necessarily make things better, either. And giving up on my blog — the thing that used to bring me so much happiness — is the last thing I want to do.

mise en placemise_en_place

I want to keep today’s post short with the promise that I’ll be back again soon. I won’t disappear like I did before, you have my word. Thank you to all those who nudged me (physically and electronically) and encouraged me to continue writing. It may have taken me a while, but I’m here.

creaming processmixing

Today’s recipe is not one that I learned on my Fulbright in Syria, although I still have plenty of those to share with you, too. This is a recipe that I’ve come across many times on some of my favorite food blogs: World Peace Cookies. It even made it to Saveur’s list, Recipes that Rocked the Internet. Given all that is going on, I thought this was the perfect time to try such an alluring cookie.

sift for clumpssifting

Pastry Chef Pierre Hermé originally developed these cookies for a restaurant in Paris, and Dorie Greenspan introduced them to the world in her book, Paris Sweets . The original name for the cookies was Sables Korova, or Korova Cookies, named after the restaurant off Champs Élysées that Pierre Hermé created the recipe for. It was not until Dorie’s neighbor tasted these these ultra decadent, chocolate-intense cookies that the name changed to what we know today. Dorie’s neighbor was convinced that a daily dose of these is all that is needed to ensure planetary peace and happiness; thus the new name was born.

chocolate: the ‘peace’ in ‘world peace’adding_chocolate

I used Dorie’s recipe, except I took the liberty to add a pinch of orange zest to the dough; the combination of orange and chocolate makes my heart swoon. You could always leave that addition out if you’d like. The point is, these cookies are amazing any way you prepare them. They are crumbly and chocolatey and even if they don’t bring world peace immediately, I’m fully convinced, as was Dorie’s neighbor, that they are a step in the right direction.

refrigerate dough (in logs)logs
cookie doughcookie_dough
freshly bakedsheet_tray
World Peace Cookiesworld_peace_cookies1
cold milk: enabler of world peace world_peace_cookies2

World Peace Cookies

yields approx 36 cookies


  • 1 1/4 cups (175 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (30 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons or 150 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (120 grams) (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 ounces (150 grams) bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips
  • zest of half an orange*(not in original recipe)

Putting them all together

  1. Mix together the butter and sugars in a stand mixer on medium speed until the mixture becomes pale and creamy. You can also use a hand mixer. Add the salt, vanilla extract, and orange zest and mix for a couple more minutes.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda and add to the butter and sugar mixture. Pulse a few times at a low speed to incorporate the flour and prevent it from spilling. Add the chocolate chunks and mix on low speed for 30 seconds, or until the flour is fully incorporated. Do not overwork the dough; the dough should still look and feel crumbly. Divide the dough in two and form into logs approximately 1.5 inches in diameter. Roll each log in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours (you can refrigerate the dough for up to 3 days or freeze the dough for 2 months).
  3. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C). Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  4. With a sharp thin knife, slice the logs into disks that are 1/2 inch thick. Don’t worry if the disks crack as you cut them, just squeeze the bits back together. Arrange the sliced disks on your baking sheets, making sure to leave about an inch between each cookie.
  5. Bake the cookies for 12 minutes. Note that they will still be soft and won’t look done, but that’s how they should be. Cool the cookies on a cookie rack and serve warm or at room temperature. Make sure to store leftover cookies (if there are any) in an airtight container.

Notes: Recipe adapted from Paris Sweets by Dorie Greenspan.


if not world peace, then happiness, for sureempty_glass


Glasses filled with wine, bursts of laughter, plenty of food to nibble on – this, to me, is the Mediterranean way of life. Even though there is no way I can convince my boss to let me take a siesta in the middle of the day, I can still lead a Med lifestyle vicariously through the food I make. This month I’m entering Jenn’s popular Royal Foodie Joust, where bloggers have to strategically incorporate three featured ingredients into their entries. Kittie, last month’s winner, chose to feature whole grains, ginger and citrus. YUM!

mise en place
mise en place

I decided to make a traditional Middle Eastern salad called Tabbouleh alongside citrus-marinated swordfish spedini (Italian word for skewers).  I snuck some grated ginger into the swordfish marinade, used bulgur wheat in the salad and incorporated citrus into both dishes.

parsley bouquet
parsley bouquet

In order to get most of the leaves from the parsley (and not a lot of the tough stems) you want to bundle little bouquets of parsley and mince the leaves ultra fine with your sharpest knife. I remember for large social events and holidays, all the women in my family would gather in the kitchen to chop mountains of parsley and exchange juicy gossip. 

lemon juice + olive oil dressing
tabbouleh dressing

Now that we’re on the subject of Tabbouleh, I want clear up the common misconception that Tabbouleh should have only a tiny bit of parsley and a TON of bulgur wheat – NO! The only reason many (non-authentic) restaurants go heavy on the bulgur is because it’s a lot cheaper and quicker than chopping up all that parsley. And don’t try to whip out your fancy food processor here… nope, it’ll only make parsley pesto and that’s a totally different post.

swordfish skewer
swordfish skewer

When it comes to fish, I don’t like to overdo it with too many harsh herbs and spices. I purposefully chose a combo of clean flavors – specifically, basil, mint, lemon & orange zest, ginger, olive oil, salt & pepper. Let them all mingle in the fridge for a couple hours before throwing the fish on the grill. 

swordfish spedini, tabbouleh & olives
swordfish spedini, tabbouleh & olives

Next time you want to take a break from life and jet off to the Mediterranean, invite friends over for some tapas, mezze, antipasti, whatever you want to call it (small food?) and open a nice bottle of wine. It’s lots of fun and definitely my preferred way to host. Spread the Med LOVE!

tabbouleh salad
tabbouleh salad


yields approx 10 small servings


  • 3 cups parsley, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp bulgur, fine-ground*
  • 2 tbsp water, lukewarm
  • 1 cup scallions, finely chopped
  • ½ qt. cherry tomatoes
  • 100 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 100 ml lemon juice (approx 1/2 cup)
  • ¼ cup mint, minced
  • pinch of allspice
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • salt, to taste

Putting them all together

  1. Soak the bulgur in lukewarm water (until all the water is absorbed).
  2. Finely mince parsley with a sharp knife (make sure parsley is completely dry before chopping)
  3. Prepare the rest of the vegetables by chopping them as well (they don’t need to be as finely minced as the parsley). 
  4. At this point you could store everything in the refrigerator (well covered) for up to a day.
  5. To assemble, toss soaked bulgur wheat, minced parsley and prepped vegetables in a large bowl. Whisk olive oil, lemon juice and spices together and pour over salad.
  6. Wash some hearts of romaine to serve alongside the tabbouleh and enjoy!

* My supermarket carries fine-ground (aka #1 ground) bulgur in the bulk and ethnic isles, but if yours doesn’t, Dayna’s Market will gladly deliver.


swordfish spedini
swordfish spedini

Swordfish Spedini

yields approx. 10 small skewers


  • 1.25 lbs swordfish
  • 1 lemon, zest
  • 1 orange, zest
  • 2 tbsp ginger, grated
  • basil, chopped
  • mint, chopped
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Putting them all together

  1. Soak bamboo skewers in water.
  2. Cut swordfish into 1 inch cubes
  3. Marinade with the rest of the ingredients in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  4. Skewer the cubes and grill (or broil) for a couple minutes on each side.  Until the inside is no longer translucent. 
  5. Serve with lemon wedges

notes If you can’t find swordfish, you can make this dish with any hearty fish that can hold up being skewered and grilled. Tuna is a great fish that comes to mind.  Measurements for the marinade don’t have to be exact, just use what you’ve got.  



Aside from not having stable internet for an entire week, nothing irks me more than to have to deal with the providers to come fix the problem.  The customer “care” service probably qualifies as some sort of psychological warfare/torture; what with the annoying elevator music loops during hold and the machine constantly reminding you, “you’re call will be answered in the order it was received, please hold for the next available representative.”  It’s enough to make any sane person go mad!

As I’m writing this post the internet problem has finally been resolved, but the past few days have not been pleasant. To help ease my discomfort, I turned to baking. I didn’t want to make cookies or brownies… I needed something bright; something that would be sure to lift my spirits.

mise en place (dough)
mise en place

I needed fruit tarts.  To me, plump berries and fresh fruits epitomize summertime. For the regular shortbread crust, I gussied it up with some finely ground pistachios. It takes away from some of the bland flour taste and adds a tasty nutty undertone. I brought those pistachios with me from Aleppo – a Syrian city internationally renown for its pistachios. Of course, once these babies run out, that doesn’t mean I’ll stop making this amazing nutty crust.  High quality pistachios work just as well. 

crumbly buttery flour
crumbly buttery flour

I use my food processor to form the crust because it cuts the butter into the flour perfectly. You pretty much want to end up with tiny beads of butter running throughout the flour.  The dough will seem a bit dry, but that’s perfectly normal.  Once it just barely comes together, you’ll want to wrap it in plastic wrap and throw it in the ice box to chill out for a bit.

poke, poke, poke!
docking the dough

Once it’s chilled you can easily roll the dough out into your favorite tart molds.  I like these little ones because I could quickly convince myself to go for seconds since they’re so darn tiny.  Don’t dwell on the amount of butter in the dough – just look at the pretty specks that the pistachios leave.  

beans, beans their good for your tarts
beans, beans their good for your tarts

I couldn’t resist with the title of this photo. After poking the dough with a fork so it doesn’t rise while baking, throw some dry beans on top to secure the job.  This will also prevent the crusts from browning too much while you’re blind baking them.  Now on to the pastry cream.

mise en place (pastry cream)
mise en place

Pierre Hermé is a culinary genius.  I adapted this pastry cream recipe from his collection and can say without a doubt that it is one of the best pastry creams I’ve made at home.  I infused mine with some grated orange zest and a vanilla bean.

the possibilities are endless
mise en place

I usually don’t like to toot my foodie horn, but these tarts were so yummy.  I even went on to make another batch (this time with an almond-infused pastry cream) and they were all so good.

fruit tarts
mise en place

Part of the fun was assembling the tarts and coming up with neat little designs.  You seriously can’t go wrong with such pretty fruit, though. So make sure to make some fruit tarts (or anything with fruits) before summer’s long gone. For the Ausies and Kiwis reading this post, sorry for the tease… soon your summer will come and we’ll be the ones keeping warm with soups and stews.


Is Cardamom the new Cinnamon?

This entry is dedicated to Karen, my brunch-loving friend who will always have a soft spot for Oreos!

Has anyone else noticed this? Cardamom is everywhere now; in blogs, recipe books and other food-driven media. For centuries, Middle Easterners used this unassuming pod to flavor teas, coffees and the occasional desserts. Now, the humble cardamom pod has been given the 90210-celebrity treatment and is making its way to pantries around the world. If you need to see it to believe it, you could check out these blogs featuring delicious cardamom Christmas cookies and cardamom roasted cauliflower for yourself.

Sweet or savory, I love the lemony fragrance that Cardamom brings to the table.  The idea of pairing cardamom with french toast came to me when my friend Desiree told me of this exquisite cardamom crème brûlée she had tasted in a restaurant.  The way she described the fragrant cardamom undertone that the dessert carried through made me eager to experiment some more with the spice. I figured both, French Toast and Creme Brûlée, are custard-based so the cardamom pairing should adapt well.

Random Fact: In France, French Toast is called Pain Perdu, which literally means Lost Bread.  This is because stale bread is traditionally used to make this dish and so it is a great way of using stale, or “lost,” bread.

This past weekend my friend Karen came to visit me in Ithaca now that it’s springtime no longer subzero. On Sunday we enjoyed the day together by climbing Cornell’s clock tower and making brunch.  It was the perfect time to try out the Cardamom French Toast that I had been meaning to experiment with. Here is how it went:

Orange Cardamom French Toast

(yields approx. 6 servings)


  • 6 slices of Challah bread
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. orange zest
  • 1 tsp. cardamom, ground
  • powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp. butter

Putting them all together

  1. Mix the milk, eggs, honey, orange zest and cardamom in a bowl.
  2. Soak Challah slices in egg mixture.
  3. Melt butter in a large nonstick saute pan and cook the slices until golden brown on each side.
  4. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve alongside your favorite brunch items.


Eliminating the Middle Stick

Special thanks to Elle of Feeding My Enthusiasms and Deborah of Taste and Tell for hosting this month’s cheesecake challenge from Jill O’Connor’s cookbook, Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey.

For me, cheesecakes fall under the small category of mystical foods. It might just be my over-indulging tendencies, but it seems like I can never say no to a slice of heavenly cheesecake, no matter how full I am. Of course, in order to make myself feel better before taking part in one of the seven deadly sins, I always preface my request by asking for a tiny slice (adding more and more diminutive adjectives relative to how stuffed I feel at the moment).

This is my second challenge for the Daring Bakers and, at first, I was ambivalent at the idea of making cheesecake. Upon reading the challenge, two annoying voices consumed my thoughts – one asked me to double the recipe while the other insisted that I halve it. Of course, there was no getting past the evil snicker behind the little devil persuading me to double it, so I fought my temptation and decided to half the recipe.

As a college student, I cut corners wherever I can. In fact, I’m the student who will buy used text books not to get extra booze money, but rather to buy myself Crate & Barrel’s hottest serving platters. By admitting to my (sad, but true) weakness, I hope you will all understand why I had to cut out the middle stick: buy me!

mise en place

When I was given the liberty to create my own flavor combination (so long as I preserved the basic recipe) I started imagining a whole range of possibilities and decided to go with the classic orange-chocolate duo. The chocolate, of course, is brought to you by yours truly, the ubiquitous Oreo cookie.

3-step mini Oreo crusts

Muffin tins are one of my favorite pans because they lend themselves perfectly for a variety of hors d’oeuvres (e.g. tapas), desserts or other tiny edibles. They also drastically cut down baking time, which I’m always a fan of. 

candied orange zest on top

After inverting them, I decided to garnish each cup with a basic cream cheese frosting (1 part cream cheese, 1 part powdered sugar, 1/4 part butter, dash of pure vanilla) and sugared orange zest. To make the sugared orange zest, all you have to do is rub the zest of an orange with some sugar until the sugar turns orange and the air around you begins to smell like an orange grove.

Cheesecake Cups

Cheesecake Cups

(adapted from Jill O’Connor’s recipe)

(yields approx. 24 cups)


  • 2.5 8-oz. packages cream cheese
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 15 Oreo cookies
  • 4 tbsp. butter, unsalted
  • Boiling water, as needed

Putting them all together

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Melt butter and set aside to cool. Use some of this butter to butter your mini muffin tins.
  3. Crush Oreo cookies and mix with melted butter. Add one heaping teaspoon to each cup and compact with your favorite shot glass.
  4. Process all the ingredients (at room temperature) in a food processor until smooth.
  5. Fill each cup and bake in a water bath for 10-15 minutes. They should be slightly jiggly.
  6. Run a knife around the edges, cover with plastic wrap and store in your freezer until ready to decorate.
  7. Decorate with your favorite Cream Cheese Frosting and top with sugared orange zest.