Blessed with amazing loving friends is life’s main ingredient. My world is surrounded with close by friends, far away friends, young friends, old time friends, and friends of all sizes and my children are my best friends.
Every year and at around this time of the year (mid July-end July), I celebrate the friendship of my first two gentlemen. My third gentleman is a special unique ingredient by himself. My daughter is another sweet ingredient,a tough cookie I say!
So today, and even though my first two gentlemen live far away by distance but closest by heart, I celebrate their birthdays by preparing a favorite dessert and a favorite appetizer in which both are addicted to.
Halawet al Jubun, my first gentleman’s favorite, is a Levantine unique Arabic dessert rich in cheese and rose water and Lahm B’ajeen, my second gentleman’s favorite, is a middle eastern meat pizza topped with pomegranate sauce and pine nuts. Both sooooo addictive.
On this day I say Happy Birthday my friends, Happy Birthday sweet hearts, Happy Birthday my gentlemen and many many happy returns!
Halawet al Jubun (means sweet cheese)
For the cheese dough:
1 cup fine semolina
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/3 cup rose water
1/2 cup chopped pistachio
For the filling:
16 oz ricotta cheese
For the syrup:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp rose water
1 tbsp orange blossom
First prepare the syrup. In a saucepan, combine sugar and water. Stir till completely dissolved. Bring to a boil. Add 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice. Cook for 7 minutes on low heat. Add rose water. Let cool. Set aside
In a saucepan, dilute water and sugar and bring to a boil. Add the semolina slowly and continue stirring on low heat. Add the shredded mozzarella and continue stirring until you form a stretchy dough of cheese (about 15 minutes)
Add the pistachio and the rose water and remove from the stove.
Place the dough between two plastic wraps and roll the dough with a rolling pin.Cut the dough into medium logs and fill the dough with cheese. Roll the dough and cut into medium squares or rectangles. Be creative and enjoy the process.
Serve your Halaweh on a plate with a drizzle of syrup, a handful of pistachios or rose petals. Place in the fridge for two hours.
Lahm B'ajeen (meat pies)
For the dough:
3 cups flour
3/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup olive oil
Pinch of salt
1 tsp yeast
1 tbsp sugar
By hand, food processor, or kitchen aid, mix all the dry ingredients first then add the water and the olive oil. Mix until the dough becomes elastic and soft.
Cover and rest for 1 hour
For the topping:
1pound ground beef
1/2 tsp black pepper
Pinch red pepper
2 tbsp sumac
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
4 tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
1/3 cup plain full fat yoghurt
*1/3 cup of olive oil to flatten the dough. Place oil in a flat bowl
Place all ingredients*(except olive oil) in a food processor and pulse 5 pulses to create a fine mix of meat filling.
Heat oven to 375 degrees F
Time to work with the dough. Shape dough into small balls. Arrange dough on a flat surface/kitchen counter. Flatten each dough by dipping your palm in oil and pressing your palm on each circle. Brush olive oil on a baking pan. Arrange meat pies on pan.
Fill the circles with meat mix. Bake for about 15 minutes.
Sprinkle with roasted pine nuts, yoghurt, or half a cup of mixed tabbouleh salad (optional)