Walking into great big Arabic Patisseries as a child was akin to walking into a toys ‘r’ us store. I would run down the long isle of pastries with a selfish grin on my face, wondering what I would choose. But it was the humble short-bread that never failed to please. The firm sugary biscuit would melt as it touched my lips. It was a family fave! But what was even better was when Mum made a batch of her own at home. Eating searing hot shortbread still to this day has to be one of life’s greatest pleasures!
Mum’s Middle Eastern Shortbread:
1 cup Samneh (margarine and butter boiled, with the foam skimmed off the top; basically clarified butter but normal butter will work too)
1 cup Pure Icing Sugar
2 cup plain flour
Pine nuts or Pistachio nuts to garnish
Mix all ingredients in a bowl and shape into round crescents.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes and then bake in a 170 degree oven for 10 minutes. Leave to cool before serving (But I never do, its better searing hot!)
Nothing says Arabic food like Arabic bread. A meal is never ever complete without it! But unlike the arabic bread that we find in Sydney that is flat and soft, the bread that I found in Jerusalem was thick and rough, burnished over an open flame. As a kid I remember emergency calls from my Teta to my Mum, begging her to pick up 10 bags of arabic bread on our way to Teta’s house. Bread in my grandparents household was some what a security blanket. It was something that took my grandparents back to when they were young and living in Palestine. It made them remember coming home to steaming hot bread, fresh out of their mothers wood-fired ovens that immediately satisfied.
Lugging our colossal luggage bags down the cracked and jagged streets of The Old City has to be one of the most exhausting arrivals that I have yet experienced. But once checked into our hotel food was on my mind. Gushing into the first half-descent restaurant found, we demanded the most popular item on the menu. And out it came. Or should I say out they came; mountains of flat bread, freshly pickled olives, chillies and gherkins, shredded red and green cabbage, tomato and chilli salsa, tahini salad. And that was just the starter.