• Almond and Fig

Updated: Jun 18


Ingredients



1 package frozen phyllo dough thawed For the filling 1 bag frozen spinach thawed 1 cup crumbled feta 1 red onion minced (you can sautée it or leave it raw) Salt and pepper to taste A few grates of fresh nutmeg Zest of one Lemon 2 tsp sumac 2 tbls pine nuts Nigella seeds or sesame seeds and flaky salt (optional) Olive oil for brushing

Filling: Squeeze the spinach until all the water comes out you can do that using a couple of paper towels. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg, sumac, feta, pine nuts, onions, lemon zest.

Directions:


Take 1 sheet of filo dough (make sure to cover the remaining sheets with a clean kitchen towel to prevent them from drying) Cut the sheet of phyllo into 3 even strips and brush with olive oil. Fold each strip in half creating a double layer. Place one teaspoon of the filling along the short side of the rectangle and roll creating a cigar ha! Brush the top with olive oil and add a Sprinkle of nigella seeds and flaky salt on top if you want to be fancy u know. Brush, fill, roll and repeat until you are done it goes by so fast. Line the cigars in a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in a 350 oven for about 20 min until golden and crisp.



Dipping Sauce: 1 cup Greek yogurt 1/4 cup crumbled feta Juice and zest of one Lemon A drizzle of olive oil Whirl all ingredients in a blender or a mixer until smooth and fluffy Tip: Phyllo dough gets soggy after it sits out for a while just reheat in a toaster oven and enjoy

* These cigars are freezer friendly. Freeze them in a one sheet pan until frozen solid. Once frozen, pack in a freezer reusable bag. Don't defrost, reheat in a 350 oven until crisp and heated through 15-20 minutes.





Okra stew or in Arabic is called Bamieh is a traditional Palestinian stew. There are also other cooking variations found all throughout the Arab world. Sometimes this stew is prepared with meat usually lamb, simmered in tomatoes, and spices. But I always prefer the vegetarian version; bamieh stewed in olive oil.

The bamieh pods in Palestine are often so tiny compared to the okra I find in the states. In the summer time till early fall my mom would only buy okra baladieh (local) often grown in Jericho.

My early memories of okra consist of my mother frying fresh tiny okra pods in oil until they are crispy golden. She always piled them high on a paper lined tray to catch the excess oil. But before you know it, we had munched on most of them. This preparation was also to preserve the okra to freeze for the winter months. Although I love this stew but okra straight out of the fryer is super delicious with a dusting of coarse salt and a squeeze of lemon juice. My grandmother’s Version always had tender lamb pieces simmering in the tomato broth because my grandfather loved it that way. This type of okra stew was often served alongside a bowl of white fluffy rice. Or mopped with warm pita bread.

I love recipes like this one because they are minimal, and they are still cooked the same way our grandparents cooked them. so simple and fast and often cooked using local seasonal ingredients.

If you are scared to try okra because of the slime factor. Well, you came to the right place. I am going to share with you all you need to know about how to cook a slime free okra and I hope that this technique will encourage you to try this delicious and comforting stew.

But If you don’t like okra at all and I can’t convince you, no worries you can try a similar recipe; my green beans stewed in tomatoes and olive oil.

Finish the bamieh stew with a generous drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of cilantro to wake up all the stew flavors and since we used coriander in the dish the green cilantro will add a nice flavor.



Bamieh bi el zeit

Okra in olive oil

Cook time: 60 minutes

Serves: 3-4

Ingredients:



2 pounds fresh okra (you may substitute for frozen then thawed)

4 cups fresh tomatoes chopped or a 28 ounce crushed tomatoes

2 onions thinly sliced

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1 tsp ground

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or half a cinnamon stick

4 tablespoons olive oil divided plus more for finishing

4-5 cloves garlic minced

Fresh cilantro (optional)

Jalapeños or red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions:


Trim off and discard the stem ends of the okra pods. Don’t cut too much or too close into the flesh.



Wash and pat them dry.

Tip: Drying your okra can help reduce the slime factor.

Preheat the oven to 425

Toss the okra with 2 tbls of olive oil.

Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.

Add your okra to a baking sheet pan and roast in a single layer.

Toss half way through the cooking process to make sure the okra is roasted on both sides.

About 8-10 minutes the okra will become softer and a bit caramelized.


In the meantime in a heavy pot, sauté the onions, garlic and jalapeños if using in 2 tbls of olive oil until translucent about 5-8 minutes tossing frequently so they don’t burn.

Add the cinnamon stick, spices, and the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes release their juices and caramelize a bit. About 8-10 minutes on medium heat


Add the roasted okra and make sure it’s coated in the tomatoes. Depending on how juicy your tomatoes are add a bit of water if sauce gets too thick.

Cook for an additional 10 minutes on low heat.

Finish the dish with a nice drizzle of olive oil. And top with fresh cilantro.

Okra seems to scare some people away, I don’t know if it’s the texture or the slime factor. Well these few cooking tips might change your mind about cooking and enjoying okra.

For a slime free okra:

  1. Choose small tender pods

  2. Cook the okra whole just remove the tough stem.

  3. Fry or like I did here in the recipe roast your okra. Not only this step will add lots of flavor but it will help with reducing sliminess tremendously.

  4. Cooking okra in something acidic like tomatoes will also reduce the sliminess.

What Is Okra?



Okra is a fruit, though often mistaken for a vegetable. The light green seed pods are cooked whole or sliced, so preparation is extremely easy, and it can be cooked in so many ways. However, choosing the right cooking method, such as frying, grilling, sautéeing, and pan-roasting, can reduce or prevent it from becoming slimy.

It contains mucilage, a substance that acts as a natural thickener when heated. While this is beneficial to dishes like gumbo, it also produces the sliminess so often associated with okra.

What Does It Taste Like?

Okra has a mild, almost grassy flavor that is uniquely okra. While it's sometimes compared to the taste of eggplant or green beans, its texture gets more attention. Okra is crunchy when cooked quickly but becomes almost mouthwateringly tender when slow-cooked.

Serve with fluffy white or brown rice or mopped with warm pita bread.


This cake is inspired by the fig and yansoon (anise) jam my Teta made growing up for her mooneh (pantry). And my Sidos (grandfather) almond and fig trees that lined our garden. My Teta and Sido are not only the inspiration of this cake but all the work I do on Almond and Fig hence the name of my blog.


This combination of flavors of anise in Arabic called "yansoon" is inspired by tetas jam. She loved infusing her fig jam with aniseed and often walnuts. At Teta's Jam was always a staple on her breakfast table all throughout the year. In the summer there would be an apricot jam with apricot kernels, then figs in late summer and fall and citrus jams in the winter.

Anise has the most delicate and subtle flavor. The anise seeds in this cake are steeped in the milk and ground anise is added to the actual cake. The olive oil makes this cake rich and fruity while the figs offer a refreshing sweet flavor. The flavors in this cake take me home to Palestine, to Teta and Sidos house.

Recipe notes:


1. Anise taste:

Anise has a licorice flavor that is sweet, and very aromatic.

Anise is not the same thing as fennel or star anise. Although fennel and anise do have a similar flavor, and the plants are somewhat similar looking. Anise and fennel are from the same family of plants but they are a bit different.

2. Anise Extract: To make your own Anise extract see below


Prep time: 15 min

Total time: 1 hour

Serves: 6-8

Ingredients:


2 cups sliced figs

1 tbls coarse ground anise seeds or seeds that you can grind in a spice mill yourself

2 bags of anise tea or two Tsp dried anise seeds

3/4 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tsp of anise extract (see note how to make your own)

3/4 cup almond milk or any milk of your choice

1 cup AP flour

3/4 cup almond flour

1/4 cup sliced raw almonds

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

Directions:



  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a 9-inch cake pan with a circle of parchment paper and brush sides and bottom with a bit of olive oil and dust with flour so cake doesn't stick.

  2. Add 2 bags of anise tea or 2 tsp of anise seeds to the milk and warm through. Steep for 15 minutes. Strain the anise seeds and cool the anise milk, before adding to the eggs so they don't scramble.

  3. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, add the sugar, anise milk, anise extract if using and olive oil. Whisk together until smooth.

  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, almond flour, ground anise powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until it’s combined. Don’t over-mix.

  5. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Top the cake with the sliced figs until you cover the top. Add the sliced almonds. The fruits will sink ever so slightly creating delicious dimples of fruit into the cake once cooked.

  6. Bake the cake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35-45 min.

  7. Let the cake cool in the pan until cool enough to handle about half an hour.

  8. Invert the cake onto a cooling rack and let it cool completely before slicing.

  9. Serve with whipped cream flavored with anise extract, or I love to serve it with sweetened plain yogurt with anise extract, and a drizzle of honey.

How to Make Your Own Anise Extract



To make this extract you need 3 simple ingredients: Anise seeds, a sterilized

jar and alcohol.

Vodka has the most neutral flavor, but you can also use bourbon, brandy, or rum. There's no need to use a top-shelf or high-proof alcohol when making extract. An inexpensive 40% (80 proof) alcohol will work great.

  • Sterilize a 8-ounce glass jar.

  • Add 2 teaspoon of anise seeds (crush them slightly to release their natural oils) to the jar, then add 8 ounces of vodka

  • Seal the jar tightly and store it someplace cool and dark for 8 to 12 weeks.

  • Then strain out the seeds and store the extract in a glass jar in a dry cool place.



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