The last month has been an absolute whirlwind. I went from planning and celebrating my 30th birthday – which was amazing, by the way – to hoping on a plane straight to Dubai for a week then Amman for a second week. I was able to spend just enough time in my own kitchen to whip up a not-too-sweet Candied Orange Semolina Cake, before jetting off to Lyon for a work trip filled with meetings (and lots of chocolate croissants). Unfortunately for me, I came down with the flu for the entirety of the trip, so I wasn’t able to fully appreciate the food capitol for all it has to offer. For those who follow Measuring Cups Optional on Instagram, my stories offer a first look at all my food and travel adventures.
I successfully ate my weight in delicious food everywhere I went. In Dubai, there was barely time to sleep between site seeing, indulging in a lavish Turkish Bath, spending afternoons catching rays at the hotel pool. With little effort, I came back a few shades darker. Baking for a few hours in 102F temps has that effect on my pale skin. Mom and I spent an afternoon walking through the gold and spice souks… and the malls are–as imagined– bigger, better and 5 star. Of course, the tourist in us couldn’t resist the desert safari, where I rode an ATV and we went dune bashing in an air-conditioned SUV, stopping just in time to catch the sunset.
Amman was more laid back. I finally caught up on some sleep, discovered a handful of hipster restaurants/cafes and took in endless views of the city — and shopped, of course, for all the Arabic-inspired things I wanted to take home. Mom and I treated ourselves to a day at the Dead Sea, where we scheduled simultaneous salt scrubs, mud wraps and massages. By the end of the trip, I needed a vacation to recover from my vacation. Especially since I knew I’d have hundreds of messages waiting for me in my work inbox. The inbox did not disappoint.
A week later … I was off to the food capitol of the world, Lyon. As much as I wanted to fit in restaurant hoping between work meetings, my body decided to give up on me. I came down with the flu and had to settle for chocolate croissants, baguette sandwiches and the occasional dinner out (when I could actually keep food down).
I’m finally back in my own bed, and in my own kitchen… for a while at least. And now that I’m the road to recovery (I’m still dealing with the remnants of a raspy voice), I’m so looking forward to sharing some new recipes over the next few weeks.
Saint Augustine said it best “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”
Until the next adventure …
Candied Orange Semolina Cake
For the Cake
- 3 cups fine Semolina
- 3/4 cup Unsalted Butter, melted
- 3/4 cup Sugar
- 1 cup plain Greek Yogurt
- 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 2 cups Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
For the candied Oranges
- 2 navel oranges cut to 1/8 inch slices
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- Extra sugar for sprinkling
For the Syrup
- 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
- 1 cup syrup from candied oranges
- 2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice
For the Cake
- Mix the semolina, the sugar and the butter in a large bowl. Use your hands to corporate the butter with the other ingredients until mixed well.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the yogurt and the baking soda
- Wait a few minutes until the yogurt doubles in size, about 5 minutes
- When the yogurt has doubled, pour the yogurt on top of the semolina mix
- Use your hands to work the yogurt in the with semolina
- Press the batter into 2 greased 9" cake pans
- Bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes until it's a light brown color, but not burnt
- Remove the cakes from the oven onto a cooling rack
- Pour the syrup over the cake while its hot so it can absorb all the way though.
- Cool for 1-2 hours before serving
- Top with candied oranges
For the candied Oranges
- Wash and dry oranges, then slice into 1/8 inch slices
- In a medium skillet, stir together the water and sugar. Continue to stir until the sugar is no longer stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- bring to a boil over high heat.
- Once the water is boiling, carefully place the orange slices in an even layer and boil for 20 minutes over medium-high heat, making sure to flip the slices throughout the boiling process. You'll notice that the water will turn into a thick syrup.
- Remove from the syrup, and place on a cooling rack. Sprinkle both sides with granulated sugar to prevent sticking
- Cool the candied oranges for at least 1 hour before using or storing in an airtight container
- Repeat until you've candied all the orange slices.
- Reserve the syrup for the cake
For the Syrup
- In a volume measuring cup (or medium pitcher), mix together 1 cup of the reserved syrup from the candied oranges with 2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice and 1 tablespoon orange blossom water. Combine well.
- Once you take the cake out of the oven, pour the syrup over the cake, making sure to cover the entire surface. The semolina cake will absorb the syrup.