As a matter of fact, I find it downright offensive that restaurants want to charge you upwards of $5 for a small bowl (bowl is a generous description, it’s more like a soy sauce-sized bowl) of olives. Crazy right? I mean olives are such a staple of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern diets. We have at least two massive jars full of green and black olives. And I frequent Wegman’s olive bar at least once a month. They have these green olives stuffed with all sorts of things. I’m talking cheese, garlic, almonds (those are my fave).
So my neighbor, Mr. A, who is this amazing older gentleman who basically owns our neighborhood, moved out a few years ago and held a yard sale of sorts with all the things he wouldn’t be able to take with him to his new, smaller, home. Mr. A’s wife was an amazing cook (god rest her soul) and a lot of the things Mr. A was getting rid of were Mrs. A’s kitchen gadgets and appliances. My mom got her hands on their 1960s Dutch oven and it’s gotta be one of the best things we’ve gotten (Etsy is currently selling the “vintage” model for a lot more than we got ours for).
Super convenient because I woke up one day thinking “I have to make Rosemary Green and Black Olive Bread, ” oh yea! And I want it crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. After much research, I found that crispy bread can be accomplished with lots of wait time and baking it in the Dutch oven. You’ll notice that you have to wait at least 10 hours for the dough to rise. This is essential. Literally every Dutch oven recipe out there makes you wait. Which is fine … I’m sure you have plenty of other things to do. The wait is well worth it, because this Rosemary Green and Black Olive Bread is to-die-for. Perfect with some Labaneh or dipped in olive oil.
In a small bowl, use a spoon to mix together water and dry yeast. Cover and let stand for 10-15 minutes (it’ll get really bubbly)
In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt
Add the water and yeast mixture to the flour mixture
Using a wooden spoon, mix until well incorporated (or you can use the knead attachment on your stand mixer to knead on low until a shaggy dough forms. See notes.)
Coat your hands in flour and shape into an oval
Place in a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and put in a warm draft-free place (usually an un-warmed oven works) and wait 10-18 hours (or overnight) until the dough rises.
In a medium bowl, toss together the olives and rosemary
Heat oven to 450 F. Place your Dutch oven in the oven uncovered and heat for 30 minutes (see notes)
Meanwhile, place the dough on a floured surface and press the dough flat. Sprinkle about 1/3 of the mixture, and fold the sides over the dough to hide the mixture, press again to flatten, add another 1/3 and fold the sides over again. Do this until you've used all the mixture. Then continue to knead until the olives are incorporated, add more flour to your hands if needed.
Cover and let rest for 30 minutes, until doubled
Place the dough in the heated Dutch oven and cover with the lid
Bake for 30 minutes
Remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes until browned
Remove from Dutch oven and place on a cooling rack
Cool completely before slicing
*Shaggy Dough is when the dough is formed, but still very floured and looks a little bit like a shaggy dog (that's where the name comes from)
**If you don't have a Dutch Oven, you can use a deep oven-proof skillet or an oven-proof soup pot
I just can’t believe summer has come to an end already! It seems like it just wasn’t long enough this year. I mean, really … where did summer go? We’ve just crossed the Labor Day Weekend threshold (the Official End of Summer, at least that’s when all the swimming pools close), and my tan game slowly degraded as summer went on. In my defense, that’s because I was busing filling my weekends up with adventures of the non-culinary type. I had my fair share of BBQs, laying by the pool, and sitting outdoors basking the summer evenings, shisha in hand.
So for summer to end so abruptly (and yes, I will say abruptly since even Labor Day Weekend was rainy and cooled off so much it was almost too cold to swim) was such a disappointment.
To transition, albeit with difficulty, to pre-fall I baked up mini Spiced Cardamom cakes in my With a Spin cake molds. I learned some valuable lessons about silicone cake molds, most importantly that you have to wait until the cakes completely cool before taking them out of the molds, otherwise you’ll end up with a crumbled mess. Not to worry! I used those Spiced Cardamom Cake scraps to make Spiced Cardamom Cake pops covered in pink, white and semi-sweet chocolate. So in reality, they didn’t go to complete waste.
Spiced Cardamom Cake is best enjoyed with a steaming cup of coffee (or tea).
Incase you were interested in my fun-packed summer, here’s a recap of some of the summer adventures:
It’s a little later than midsummer and my tan game has been going strong. Okay, it’s actually been fairly weak in comparison to past years, but with Ramadan falling smack-dab in the middle of summer it really put a dent in my tanning plans. Not to mention, it’s been pretty rainy overall. Not ideal for catching those much sought after rays. I still have another solid month before I declare summer officially over and I’m going to take full advantage with pool and beach time, and BBQs, of course.
Speaking of BBQs … I’m a pretty traditional girl when it comes to BBQs. I love burgers, hotdogs, the occasional T Bone steak and on special occasions grilled fish. I’m not a grill master myself. I leave that job to my brother. He has a handle on it, and not to mention he rarely lets anyone else get involved when he’s manning the grill. It must be a guy thing. Manning the BBQ used to be my dad’s thing. It was pretty much the only kind of “cooking” he could do. That was before my brothers grew to be two times his size, and he passed it on to them, with just a little micromanaging. He is the dad after all. Now, he just sits back, snacks on chips and dip and waits for his sons to do all the work while he enjoys the fruits of his labor — raising them to be solid men. As for me, I’m in charge of prep work – also a duty I’ve inherited from my mom. Aside from marinating chicken and forming burgers, I like to make Arabic Potato Salad. It’s a delicious no-mayo alternative to (what we call) American Potato Salad.
I have this obsession with popcorn. This wasn’t always the case, but over the years, I’ve developed this serious obsession with light, crunchy, slightly salty (usually white cheddar flavored) popcorn. My mom used to make popcorn almost weekly. She’d mix some dry corn kernels with vegetable oil in a pot over the oven and I’d wait around the kitchen listening to the kernels popping against the sides of the pot. Sometimes, the popcorn would overflow onto the stove. She’d toss the popcorn with salt, and I’d run off to watch my favorite TV show with a bowl of mom’s simple stovetop popcorn.
Over the years, my mom stopped making stovetop popcorn. Mostly because it was a lot easier to just buy a bag of microwave popcorn. It wasn’t until a few years ago I discovered SkinnyPop popcorn. Aside from the fact that it’s low calorie — major selling point for me — it’s also made with simple ingredients. It tastes like my mom’s stovetop popcorn, without all the work. I was sold! Not to mention, it also comes in my favorite flavor … white cheddar. I could have cheddar popcorn every day and be the happiest person in the world. Some days, I even forego a nutritious lunch for a whole bag of low calorie cheddar popcorn. Don’t tell my mom …
Guys! It’s summer time, which means lots of free time, friends, family, BBQs and tons of summer fruit. This month, I’m super excited to announce that I’m collaborating with some fabulous food bloggers and food-stagramers to bring you recipes inspired by our favorite summer fruit, Peaches!
If you haven’t tried grilled peaches, you’re in for a real treat! They’re perfectly warm and sweet. Add a touch of sweet eshta cream and top with orange blossom syrup for sweet Middle Eastern inspired goodness. You can swap out the sweet eshta cream for your favorite ice cream (I recommend vanilla) and top with cinnamon and walnuts. I’ve used eshta before in a strawberry eshta cream tart. The trick to the thicker consistency, is heating it up with some corn starch, whisking and then refrigerating to harden a bit. If you don’t follow these steps, you’ll be left with a thinner liquid … which isn’t necessarily bad, depending on what you’re using eshta for.
So fire up the grill this summer, and add Grilled Peaches and Cream with Orange Blossom Syrup to your cookout menu. I promise this dessert will not disappoint.
Don’t forget to look at other peach recipes from these fabulous food bloggers, and check #summerlovespeaches on instagram.
Grilled Peaches and Cream with Orange Blossom Syrup
Yield: 4 servings
4 peaches, sliced in half and pitted
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 can Eshta cream
1 teaspoon Corn Starch
2 teaspoons Orange Blossom Water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
For the Peaches
Half the peaches, and remove the pit
Brush the peaches with butter and place on the grill, cut side down
Cook until charred and softened (about 4 to 5 minutes), flip the peaches over and grill on indirect heat for another 5 minutes
Remove from heat and set aside
For the Cream
In a small saucepan, mix together the eshta, orange blossom water and cornstarch until combined.
Heat over low-medium heat and stir constantly until the eshta thickens, about 5-7 minutes.
Remove from heat and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes
For the Syrup
In a small heavy saucepan, combine sugar, water and lemon juice
Bring to a boil over medium high heat
Reduce heat to low, add 1 teaspoons orange blossom water and simmer for 10 minutes (until the syrup thickens. You can test this by dipping the end of a spoon. If it coats the end of the spoon, it's ready)
Scoop the chilled cream into each half of the peaches. Sprinkle with cinnamon, and chopped walnuts (optional), then drizzle with orange blossom syrup
I don’t have anything against mayo. I just really don’t like store bought potato salad. I think it’s more about the fact that despite potato salad being a savory food, the store bought kind is just too sweet. I just can’t understand it. I’m telling you, my taste buds get confused. Does anyone else find it odd that a lot of foods in America, as compared to Europe and the Middle East tend to be on the sweeter side. It’s like they add sugar to everything. Have you ever had store bought three-bean salad? It’s sweet! Completely mind-boggling to me. That’s why I prefer that homemade too. Europe and the Middle East do it right. They keep savory foods savory and completely separate from any sweetness. That’s the way I think it should be.
One of my favorite family BBQ is staples is Arabic Potato Salad. Yea, that’s what we call it. The recipe is something my Tayta taught my mom and it’s just kind of stuck. It’s a no-mayo alternative and has no sweetness included.
Summer Sundays were the best when I was in elementary and middle school. After an Arabic tutoring session with my aunt, we’d either have a huge Arabic-style brunch, or a family BBQ. Dad was master of the BBQ. Since then, my brothers have taken over. It was the best! Mom would prep the meats, usually marinated chicken, or steaks and some sides. Green salad, Arabic Potato Salad and corn on the cob. Everyone got together including my aunt and Tayta.