Mar 30, 2010


This is the story of a small round buttery & crumbly cookie known as ''ghraybeh'', pronounced 'gh-ray-bay'...just as it reads.
Ghraybeh is a sweet speciality well known in the Middle East, particularly Levant countries such as Syria and Lebanon. But it's one of those cookies I've always bought yet never thought of making at home. They are one of my all time favourites- something highly addictive about their soft almost silky-like angelic outer surface which with the first bite, melts into your mouth and transforms itself into a sensational rich texture which simultaneously just seems to evaporate into sweet crumbleness leaving a dreamy orange-blossom perfume on your tastebuds. It's a magical cookie indeed.

And what's even more magical about it is that it's made of three base ingredients- and can be adapted for vegans too.
Make them, share them... but I dare you to try resisting them!
Recipe for Ghraybeh (makes about 30 pieces)
150gr clarified butter
150gr icing sugar
300gr flour
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
Pistachios, almonds or pinenuts for decoration
Extra icing sugar on the side

Mix the butter, sugar and orange blossom water together until frothy and of a light colour. Add the flour, mix and then mix by hand for 5 minutes. Place dough in fridge for 30 mins. Preheat oven to 180C, shape little balls (about half the size of a golf ball) and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Top each ghraybeh ball with a piece of pistachio, almond or pinenut. Bake for 15-20mins, remove, and roll baked cookies in icing sugar (this is optional, but it adds even more magic!). Otherwise, remove, let cool and enjoy!

Mar 9, 2010


Can you believe it? I have been on a quest for black sesame seeds for ages, and I have not found any place that sells them here in Paris (unless I have serious issues with my eyesight?!) So the other weekend I hopped over to London and while walking through Brick Lane doing my supermarket inspection (yes, I have a thing for visiting supermarkets when I travel- especially asian/foreign type supermarkets) I finally found my black sesame seeds! Goodness, I didn't realize that I had to take the Eurostar to find some...

Anyway, so as usual, once the ingredient has made its way back to my kitchen, the next step is always "well, now what??" Of course I have seen plenty of recipes of black sesame ice cream, cookies and cupcakes coupled with matcha, so on and so forth (all of which I plan on testing out) but the truth is that I'm trying to go on a "sugar break" so I need to make something savoury out of these black sesame seeds...and preferably healthy too (plus I've been reading all the super health benefits black sesame seeds have!)

I am going through something of a vegeterian phase right now and so I love to munch on crackers- but not the buttery salty kinds, the organic-i'm-a-health-nut-kind, made from pumpkin, flax, sunflower seeds, so on and so forth.

It would be nice to try something a bit different though, no? What about healthy (at least I think they are) black sesame crackers? I did a little search on the net to find a recipe, and so I went ahead with Peter Reinhart's Four-Seed Snapper Crackers recipe that I found on Pascale Week's blog. A few variations and my crackers were ready to be crunched away!
Obviously you will need black sesame seeds for this recipe
And a mixture of pumpkin, sunflower, and flax seeds. Hurray for super (healthy) seeds!
Grind all your seeds until they become powdery
On their way to the oven..
And crunch away!

Recipe for Black Sesame Crackers (makes a LOT of crackers- you might want to half the recipe)
90gr mixture of seeds- make sure to include pumpkin seeds though.
60gr black sesame seeds
240gr whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon salt (5gr)
2 tablespoons honey (40gr)
2,5 tablespoons vegetable oil
15cl (150ml) water- maybe a bit more if necessary

1 egg whisked with 5cl water - note: I have a bad thing with eggs when they are used this way, so I replaced this with milk and it worked perfectly fine!
Black sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 150C. Grind the seeds mix and black sesame seeds together until it becomes powdery. Then add the flour, salt, honey and vegetable oil and grind again. Finally, add the water, mix, until you get a good doughy texture. Roll out thinly and cut into shapes, transfer cut out shapes on a pachment paper lined baking tray and brush crackers with the egg mix, sprinkle with black sesame seeds. Bake for 15 mins.