orange blossom water

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Coffee: White or black



For those of you who dread the jolt that caffeine-laden Turkish coffee inflicts, there is  white coffee. White coffee is offered at get-togethers in Lebanon and it is simply boiled water with a few drops of orange blossom water (to taste) and sugar (optional).

In Lebanon there are a few major Turkish coffee providers (offered […]

By |January 22nd, 2012|Drinks|33 Comments
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Spiced brioche rolls

There is a very traditional sweet bread/cake in Lebanon that used to be sold in the streets of Beirut by cart vendors; this cake is called sfoof and has a very distinct bright yellow color due to turmeric in the batter.

Apparently, turmeric is a very beneficial spice and I had been looking for […]

By |July 16th, 2011|Sweets|28 Comments
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Mini-kadaifi cakes


If you walk into a pastry shop in Beirut (specializing in Arabic sweets), a good third of all pastries will be made with this dough, called kataifi or shredded phyllo dough. I saw  once  how this dough is made: A batter is piped through hundreds of minuscule little holes onto a hot griddle which […]

By |June 21st, 2011|Sweets|33 Comments
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Sweet vermicelli pasta (Sh’ariyeh be-sukkar)


In the Lebanese kitchen, capellini or vermicelli pasta is used on a daily basis to make our rice and pasta pilaf. This is a sweet version I read about in Ina’am Atalla’s Simply Lebanese. Mrs Atalla recalls how this dessert used to be her mother’s standby when people would drop by for a visit […]

By |May 20th, 2011|Sweets|25 Comments
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Sweet bulgur (Smeedeh Hamra)


Rummaging through the kitchen cupboards at my parents’ house can yield interesting discoveries: I found a jar that contained  a viscous, caramel-colored paste. Can you guess what it was?

I called  the jar’s donor, Um Elias,  mountain-dweller, mother of six and seasoned farmer.

Her answer was: ” Debess el-enab, from your grapes!” i.e.


By |October 13th, 2010|Salty|35 Comments
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Rice pudding with geranium leaves (Muazzabeh)


Geraniums are very popular in Lebanon; even the most modest home will adorn its doorsteps or balcony with a pot filled with these cheerful flowers; as a kid, I would  secretly pluck  the petals of our potted geraniums with a girlfriend: the idea was to blot  them onto  our 10-year-old lips hoping to […]

By |July 22nd, 2010|Sweets|35 Comments
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Date losanges


If you happen to be visiting someone in Beirut,  chances are you will be served this; its rich, sweet and smooth taste belies its utter  simplicity. A dear friend Yola Oudaimy (her son is my daughter’s boyfriend) offered me a tray one time; had to have it, over and over again; especially  with […]

By |July 15th, 2010|Sweets|38 Comments
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Holy bread


It may seem strange to some of you not familiar with the Near East to be eating holy bread as a snack, but here  it is sold in grocery stores as well as used in religious service; I am starving, having spent all day driving around; I walked into the grocery store in town, […]

By |June 26th, 2010|Sweets|33 Comments
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Shredded phyllo with clotted cream (Ossmaliyeh bel Ashta)


This is a homestyle version of one of the most popular desserts served in traditional Lebanese restaurants and pastry shops in Beirut. It comes either in a large pie format or in individual servings.

It is composed of a super crispy base of fried or oven-toasted shredded phyllo  dough, topped with unsweetened ashta or […]

By |May 31st, 2010|Sweets|73 Comments
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Lebanese cream (Ashta)


Ashta, our Lebanese cream is the foundation for all pastries; yet it does not contain cream.

Sure, there was a time when ashta was pure cream. Nowadays, it is made with milk (frequently powdered milk in Lebanon), fresh American-style  toast and flavorings!

The result: a clotted cream that tastes fresh and light, without any cream

Such […]

By |May 30th, 2010|Sweets|120 Comments