Archive for August, 2012

What I’m Serving this Eid

August 17th, 2012 16 comments

Tomorrow I will begin preparing my date-filled ma’amoul. I make these pastries every Eid and only at Eid time, something I have been doing for many years. Mine are made with an all-flour dough (no semolina), which is not so different from American pie dough… aside from the rose water. I load them with high-quality dates and stamp them out with a mold.

For some Eids, I have made more than a hundred of these little babies. You can find my step-by-step recipe for date-filled ma’amoul here.

Meanwhile, last year for the first time I stepped out of my rut tradition and made nut-filled ma’amoul—which I love just as much, especially the pistachio-filled pastries (below).

Then again, the walnut-filled ma’amoul (below) are pretty swell, too. You can find my illustrated recipe for nut-filled ma’amoul here.

This year I plan to make loads of ma’amoul to put in tins and give to neighbors and the men who run the dukan (little grocery store) by my house. I will also serve them to guests who come to my home over the Eid holiday— friends and my husband’s family. But what to serve the ma’amoul with?

Arabic coffee, of course!

I’m not talking about dark Turkish coffee, but the pale coffee served in tiny handle-less cups, made from greenish coffee beans and scented with cardamom, rose water and saffron. This is the standard welcoming beverage served in Dubai and the Arabian Gulf (with some regional variations). It’s the classic Eid beverage, elegantly served in an Arabian-style thermal flask. You can find my recipe for Arabic coffee here.

In addition to nuts, fruit and fatayer, I’m going to serve something new: rose lemonade—just to have something different up my sleeve. Find the easy recipe for rose lemonade here.

I also plan to prepare and serve date truffles (below) as an Eid sweet for the first time this year. After I stuff myself with ma’amoul, I can switch to this (somewhat) healthier option. Find the date truffle recipe is here.

So far, I’ve only mentioned food served to guests. We also have a tradition for breakfast on the first morning of Eid. For me, the high point is American coffee and homemade cinnamon rolls. I prep the cinnamon rolls the night before (typically around midnight) and put them in the oven Eid morning. You can find the recipe I use for Overnight Cinnamon Rolls from Williams and Sonoma.

Yes, I admit, my Eid is very heavy on the sweets and desserts. What about the main course, you might be wondering… Well, that we eat in a restaurant!

Question: What are you preparing/serving/eating/drinking this Eid?

Date Truffles

August 15th, 2012 19 comments

These are a lovely and easy little sweet to prepare. Made with dates, pistachios and shredded coconut, these truffles are a healthy alternative to date-filled pastries. Also, this is a delicious way to use up leftover dates from Ramadan.

The recipe is adapted from a similar one in Flavors of Morocco by Ghillie Basan.

Date Truffles

Makes about 20 small truffles

1½ cups (200 g) unsalted shelled pistachios

1½ cups high-quality dates, chopped

2-3 Tablespoons orange blossom water

1 Tablespoon honey

1cup dried, finely shredded coconut (unsweetened sticks the best)


  1. Toast the pistachios in heavy skillet or on baking sheet in moderate oven (350°F/175°C) until they emit a nutty aroma (about 5 minutes).
  2. Pour the shredded coconut into a shallow bowl and set aside.
  3. In a food processor (or with a mortar and pestle), grind the pistachios. Add the dates and mix or grind to form a thick paste.
  4. Transfer the pistachio-date paste to a bowl. Using your hands, mix in the orange blossom water and honey. (This can get very sticky.)
  5. One by one, shape into small even-sized balls and immediately roll in coconut while the ball is still sticky. Gently roll until completely coated in coconut. Repeat with the rest of the paste.
  6. Arrange truffles on a serving dish or place in miniature fluted paper cases. Store in airtight glass container in refrigerator for up to a week. Serve at room temperature.

Note: If you don’t care for coconut or you want more variety, try rolling the truffles in cocoa, chocolate sprinkles or finely chopped pistachios or almonds.

Question: Do you like to cook with dates? If so, what do you like to prepare?

Rose Lemonade

August 15th, 2012 7 comments

I first tasted a rose drink at the Dubai boutique O’de Rose. It piqued my interest in rose-flavored beverages. Then I read about rose lemonade on the blog Peace of Iran. Ah, I thought: Rose syrup, that’s what I need.

Not to be confused with rose water, rose syrup is thick and sweet and often bright pink. I found two varieties at the Spinney’s grocery next door. One is a hot pink and made in India. The other is more “natural” and from Lebanon. I like them both for different reasons.

If you can’t find rose syrup in your area, you can make your own. However, if you don’t have organic rose petals handy, you can make a simple version with rose water.

Rose Lemonade

Serves 4

2 cans (300 ml each) sparkling mineral water or soda water (chilled)

juice from 2 lemons

2 Tablespoons rose syrup


Mix ingredients in pitcher and taste. For a sweeter drink, add more rose syrup. For a tarter drink, add more lemon. Add ice and serve in decorative glasses. Can easily be doubled, tripled or halved.

This is a festive and feminine beverage to serve guests at holiday time or any time.

Question: Do you use rose syrup in your cooking? If so, for what?