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Posts Tagged ‘Arab-American’

Nut-Filled Ma’amoul ~ Easier than you think

November 4th, 2011 10 comments

Eid after Eid I’ve been making date-filled ma’amoul pastry, thinking the nut-filled pastry would too tricky. I imagined the nuts spilling all over and the pastries falling apart. So, I stuck with date filling.

Now I know better. The nut-filled ma’amoul are not only exquisite, but to my amazement, they are easier. No spills or falling apart. Think of time I could have saved! And all the pistachio-filled pastries I could have enjoyed!

Compared to the date-filled ma’amoul, the nut-filled ones are a breeze. It takes minutes to chop the nuts and mix them with some sugar and flavorings. Meanwhile, it takes hours to pit and shape the date ball fillers. If only I had known!

At Bit of Background

Ma’amoul are delicate little stuffed pastries that are served all over the Arab world for Eid and Easter. They have several fillings—dates, walnuts or pistachios—and they come in a variety of shapes. Sometimes they are made with semolina, sometimes flour. Last Eid I posted my recipe for date-filled ma’amoul.

I use a special wooden mold to shape my ma’amoul. I’ve noticed  that the round shallow molds are for dates, while oval molds are for pistachios  and deeper molds are for walnuts. Of course, if you don’t have all these shapes, just make do with what you have. If you don’t have any mold at  all—no problem. You can shape the ma’amoul in your hand with the tines of a fork.

For the nut fillings below, you can  use either granulated (caster) sugar or powdered sugar. The powdered sugar is less grainy. It’s all a matter of preference. The recipe below calls for rosewater, but orange blossom water can also be used. I suggest making both nut fillings, but you may have some nuts left over depending on the size of your pastries.

MA’AMOUL

Makes about 36 pastries (depending on the size of the mold)

Pastry Ingredients:

2½ c flour

½ lb. (two sticks or 200 g) unsalted butter

1 Tablespoon rosewater

4 Tablespoons milk

Sifted confectioner’s sugar for dusting the pastries

Pistachio Filling

1 cup chopped pistachio

½ cup sugar (granulated or powdered)

1 Tablespoon rosewater

Walnut Filling

1 cup chopped nuts

½ cup sugar (granulated or powdered)

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 Tablespoon rosewater

Method

1. Make the two nut fillings. Chop the nuts and mix in the sugar. If you don’t like a grainy texture, you can use powdered sugar. The tablespoon of rosewater will make the nut mixture moist and easy to shape. Add cinnamon to the walnuts.

2. To prepare the dough, begin by sifting the flour into a large mixing bowl. Work the butter into the flour with your hands or a pastry blender. Add rose water, followed by milk. Work the dough until it is soft and easy to shape.

3. Divide dough into four equal parts. Roll each quarter into about nine balls to make approximately 36 balls of dough—depending on the size of your mold.

4. Fill the dough balls with a spoonful of nuts. First, flatten a ball of dough with your thumb and make a hollow. Place the nuts into the hollow. Be generous with the filling. Pinch the dough back over the nut filling, making a ball shape. Do this with all 36 balls. You will probably have some nut filling left over.

5. Next press the filled dough balls one by one into the ma’amoul mold.

To snap the dough out of the mold, tap the tip of the mold against the edge of the counter with a firm quick movement. With the other hand, catch the ma’amoul and place it on an un-greased cookie sheet. Dust some flour inside the mold if it’s sticking. Don’t worry about imperfections. They will be covered up by the confectioner’s sugar.

6. If you do not have a mold, flatten the balls slightly and decorate the sides and tops by using a fork.

7. Bake in a preheated slow oven (350°F, gas mark 3) for 15 to 20 minutes. (Smaller pastries will require less time.) Baking ma’amoul is a delicate operation and requires constant attention. The bottom-side of the ma’amoul will be slightly browned, but the tops should appear soft and uncooked. If the pastry tops become brown, they will become hard and their taste will be spoiled. Upon cooling, the pastries will become firm.

8. Cool ma’amoul on a cooling rack. When they are cold, dust confectioner’s sugar over them. They keep for at least a week in a tightly closed tin. 

On Eid morning in the Arab world, it’s the custom to go visiting family, neighbors and friends. The host typically offers coffee and pastry, served up with some witty conversation. Some people may visit a dozen homes on Eid, stuffing themselves with coffee, sweets and the latest gossip.

Question: Have you made ma’amoul with nuts? What do you serve on Eid?  

 

Seattle Arab Festival 2011 ~ Photos by A Crafty Arab

October 31st, 2011 3 comments

The Seattle Arab Festival took place in early October at the Seattle Center. I was unable to attend, but I’m sharing photos from the event, thanks to Koloud ‘Kay’ Tarapolsi, who attended as a vendor, blog photographer and member of the Seattle  Arab community.

Koloud is a Libyan American who developed her brand A Crafty Arab to promote a positive image of Arab culture by creating jewelry, crafts, and handmade educational tools that are fun and colorful. She sells her items online, at local stores in the Pacific Northwest and at festivals such as the Seattle Arab Festival. (To find out more about A Crafty Arab, keep reading.)

Here are a few of Koloud’s photos from the Seattle Arab Festival 2011.

First is Koloud selling her crafts. 

The performance stage (below). So sad I missed this!

A Morocan-themed booth

A few of the food booths

Cafe Palestine

Booth with educational resources from AmidEast

Booth for the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace & Justice … A topic close to my heart.

One of the booths for kids. Yay!

Finally, a glimpse of the jewelry from A Crafty Arab.

More about A Crafty Arab

Kholoud created the brand A Crafty Arab in 2008 to strengthen Arab American heritage and language. She sells her handmade Arabic crafts and cards at A Crafty Arab. Below are a few examples of her crafts.

Blue Hamsa Earrings ~ Hand of Fatima

 Um Kulthuum pin (!!)

 Arabic “Ramadan Kareem” greeting card

 Arabic-themed light switch cover. So crafty!

Poster featuring the Arabic alphabet. A must-have for young Arabic-speaking kids.

More about Koloud ‘Kay’ Tarapolsi

Koloud left Libya with her family when she was 7 years old. Shortly afterwards, her parents were granted political asylum and allowed to live in the US. She grew up in Oklahoma, but moved to Seattle in 1992 after a friend sent her a postcard of Mt. Rainer. She started making handmade Arabic greeting cards when she couldn’t find any to give to friends. Soon she was getting requests and now also makes Farsi and Urdu cards. Trying to stay unique, she started adding humor to her cards and crafts. Koloud lives in Redmond, Washington, with her husband, 3 young daughters and a cat named Shems (Arabic for sunshine). Here is a 4-minute video of a TV show featuring Koloud. (It’s mostly in Arabic, but easy to get get the gist.)

Kholoud has A Crafty Arab Blog. You can also find A Crafty Arab on Facebook. In the Seattle area, you can find Koloud’s crafts at: Seattle Public Library Friend Shop (Downtown Seattle), Ventures (Pike Place Market), Al-Andalus (Greenwood), and Happy Delusions (Renton).

Enjoy!

 

Seattle Arab Festival

October 9th, 2011 4 comments

The Seattle Arab Festival is happening this weekend at the Seattle Center.  Sadly, I can’t be there. However, here are some photos from the last time.

dabke dancing

Booths representing various Arab countries

Palestine Booth

Palestinian Pottery

Arabic Food Stalls

Volunteers

This year’s event runs October 8-9, 2011 and is put on by the Arab Center of Washington.

Have you attended this festival or a similar event in your community?