Welcome, James!

Dear readers,

Please allow me to introduce a very special little man.

James John Adam Bowes.

James joined our family on Wednesday, November 14th at 12:50 in the morning, weighing 6 pounds and measuring 19 ½ inches. We are thankful for him and for how smoothly everything went. Okay, laboring for twenty-two hours and getting an epidural weren’t fun (I think I may have been the nurse anesthetist’s very first patient, argh…) but everything else was textbook perfect. We are also very thankful for your friendship and kind comments and emails along the way and as we welcomed our little bundle of joy.

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Halva Recipe

There is halva made from tahini and there is halva made from semolina. Which do I prefer? Very, very hard for me to say. I love both so much. The first one is hard and more candy-like, the second one is dense and bread pudding-like.

I’m sharing with you the semolina halwa today. Butter is warmed up until bubbly. Semolina is then toasted in it until golden. Honey-sweetened hot milk is stirred in and the mixture is left to thicken. The result is a delightful, rose-scented, purely Levantine delicacy that can be served with all kinds of delicious toppings. I like it slightly warm with fruit and a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.
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Stuffed Cabbage Leaves

This past weekend I cleaned and cleaned and organized and cleaned and organized and cleaned some more. My hand-wash pile is done, my rooms, closets and car are rid of all superfluities. Nesting?…highly likely, I suppose. The house looks almost like a temple but I know it won’t be long before my laundry is piled up again and my car has more empty water bottles than a recycling bin.

All that hard work made me feel like I was ready for D-day. It made me feel strong and worthy. It made me feel good. It also made hungry for something very hearty. I had all I needed to make stuffed cabbage leaves but those are no walk in the park. Making them is a multi-step process that could easily keep me on my feet in the kitchen for a good hour but I was supercharged with some sort of mysterious new energy. I would have made them even if I knew they would take longer. I knew they would be worth it.

There is making the sauce. Then there is cooking the rice, seasoning the meat, blanching the cabbage, stuffing the leaves and baking them. Had I planned ahead I would have had a couple of steps done beforehand, and this dish could have been a breeze. I know it has the potential for it.

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Pear Chocolate Amandine

Good thing I love blogging because it can be a lot of pressure. Pressure of time, creativity and pressure to always make new dishes. I have some favorite recipes on this blog and sometimes I just want to remake them but feel that I have to make something new for the sake of the blog. But you know what, I always end up with a feeling of satisfaction after stepping out of my comfort zone and creating something new. Marriage, friendships, parenting, jobs and most things we’re passionate about in life all come with a certain degree of pressure, don’t they?

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Preserved Lemon and Olive Chicken Tray Bake

The idea for this recipe came from a desire to make this classic Moroccan tagine easier and quicker so that you and I can enjoy it more often. The taste is not compromised the least bit by opting for a simple tray bake that’s cooked in 30 minutes.

Got some preserved lemon? Make this your next chicken dinner!

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Fall So Far…

I know I have done a poor toenail painting job. Don’t judge. I can barely reach my (swollen) feet these days.

I love fall.

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Cauliflower Gratin

Okay guys, I know cauliflower is not chocolate. I know it’s not something that people sit around daydreaming about but I did crave it a whole lot  lately. You see, I didn’t grow up eating steamed vegetables so when I think of cauliflower I recall it crisply fried, zestily pickled, braised in a tagine with savory tomato sauce or gratineed with béchamel sauce and cheese. It always made its appearance on our table in some exciting, perfectly crave-able form.

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Pumpkin Butter Recipe

If you have never made the marvel that is pumpkin butter, you completely should. I used to see it around the holidays at the Williams-Sonoma store, its thick consistency so appetizing, its deep color so vibrant it almost popped out of the jar. I could almost smell the heady spice aroma even though the jar was so hermetically sealed there was no aroma emanating from it whatsoever. I never took the time to think about what I would do with it; I just knew I would love it if I ever got my hands on it.

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Baked Oatmeal Recipe

In breakfast I trust. In a baked oatmeal breakfast I trust very much. Here is why.

Reason 1: I wake up excited knowing that I’m having it for breakfast. It gets me rushing out of bed and to the kitchen in a flash.

Reason 2: my daughter who would not normally touch oatmeal devoured her serving and asked for more! Behold her how eagerly she gobbled it up.

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Roasted Bacon-Wrapped Potato Wedges with Harissa

This recipe is a true crowd pleaser, the filling and manly kind you’d serve on football night and everybody would race to have the last piece. Those of you who have been reading this blog know I don’t watch football but I totally, completely would sit through the madness if it meant I would have these potatoes. But luckily, I don’t have to; this recipe is also good for a quiet everyday meal. We had it for dinner with a warm bowl of soup. We couldn’t possibly complain; we got our meat and potatoes. What’s not to like?


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