Sunday, April 23, 2017


Come enjoy a time sharing as we gather this coming Sunday at 2:00 in the Common Ground Cafe at Autumn Ridge Church to show slides and give a short presentation on our recent trip to the Holy Land. You will have a chance to ask questions, meet those who have gone and sample Middle Eastern sweets and Turkish coffee. All are welcome!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Knafeh recipe with step by step directions and photos.

Knafeh Farek
Knafeh is the quintessential Palestinian dessert in Jerusalem. In fact, versions of Knafeh are found all over the Arab world. The variations in recipes are endless, but in Jerusalem, Jaffar Sweets is arguably the King of Knafeh. A trip to Jaffar is a must as we make our way through the Arab Shuk in the Old City of Jerusalem. Being a former pastry chef, I easily become obsessed with recreating favorite desserts and after some considerable research and a failed attempt, I believe I have come very close to Jaffar’s version of this neon orange, sweet, cheesy delight. Many recipes call for the use of shredded phyllo pastry but Jaffar favors the use of a pastry preparation called Ferek. Without further ado, here is my step by step directions for Knafeh Ferek.

Ferek Pastry:
2 cups ground semolina flour
1 cup yellow corn meal
1 cup melted butter
1 cup boiling water
1 Teaspoon vanilla

Cheese Filling:
1 pound whole milk Ricotta cheese
1 pound shredded Mozzarella cheese

Simple Syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 Teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Clarified butter and Knefeh color
4 Tablespoons clarified butter
1 Tablespoon Knefeh color (found in Middle East specialty stores, or use orange food color)

     Prepare the Ferek pastry by first mixing the semolina flour, corn meal and melted butter until well combined. Add the boiling water and vanilla and mix until smooth. Pour out onto two sheet pans lined with parchment and spread thin. Bake at 350 until very lightly browned and crumbly. Once cool, grind to a course meal texture in a food processer and set aside.
     Prepare the cheese filling by combining the ricotta and shredded mozzarella cheese in a food processer until somewhat smooth. Place in a glass bowl and warm slightly in the microwave stirring often. This mixture should be just slightly above room temperature.
     Prepare the simple Syrup by combining all and bringing to a rolling boil for 5 minutes.
     Prepare the clarified butter and color by combining and then brush the bottom of a 12 inch round pan with the tinted butter including the sides.
     Preheat oven to 350. Assemble the Knafeh by adding about ¼ cup warm water to the Ferek pastry crumbs and mixing well. The mixture should hold together when you squeeze it. Place ½ of the Ferek on the bottom and ¾ inch up the side of the pan. Pat the pastry in well. Add the cheese by placing small round dollops over the entire surface and patting it down until level and smooth. Add remaining Ferek pastry crumb and pat down well. Cover and bake for 22 minutes, remove cover and bake an additional 22 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Invert pan onto a serving tray. This maneuver takes courage and traditionally you shout out “Bismillah” which means “in the name of God”.
Brush on ½ of the syrup and pass the other ½ to be added after serving. This dessert must be served warm. You can successfully reheat in the microwave. Garnish with ground pistachios.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Weight Loss In the Holy Land

Roman Toilets at Ceasaria Maritima

Hani and I spending quality time together while using the facilitates. 

St. Peter Fish at the Pagoda Restaurant in Tiberius

Lunch that can bite you back. 
Fabulous hospitality. One of the owners blessed us with a song at our table. 

Jameed in the Old City Shuk (Market)

Jameed  literally "hardened" is a Jordanian food consisting of hard dry yogurt made from goat's milk. The yogurt is kept in a fine woven cheesecloth to make a thick yogurtSalt is added daily to thicken the yogurt even more and the outside of the yogurt-filled cheesecloth is rinsed with water to allow any remaining whey to seep through. After a few days of salting the yogurt, it becomes very dense and it can be removed from the cheesecloth and shaped into round balls. It is then set to dry for a few days. It is also often referred to as "rock cheese". This hardened cheese is then used as a base for many dishes including the Jordanian national dish Mansaf - Lamb cooked in Jemeed sauce with rice.