Tag Archives: Desserts


There is a popular Middle Eastern dessert called “Basboosa,” which is typically a cake-like dessert made from semolina.  Some people like it with cream, others with sugar syrup, others with nuts.  What I am about to give you is closer to a pudding than a cake, although I was thinking of basboosa when I made it.  This dessert is more Arab-inspired than Arab-authentic, with hints of India in the spices, but has always received positive reviews from my neighbors, so I call it a winner!


  • 1 c. water
  • 1 1/2 c. milk
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3 cardamom cloves or 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 1 c. finely ground semolina*

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the water, milk, sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger to a boil.  Remove from heat and remove cinnamon stick and cardamom cloves, if using.

In a separate saucepan, melt the butter and add the semolina, stirring constantly until the semolina is lightly browned.  Add the milk mixture slowly (and watch out for the steam as you pour it in).  Stir constantly and cook over low heat until the mixture becomes thick.

Pour the mixture into a glass dish (I find a pie pan is the right size) and let it cool.  Eat it as is, or it’s also very good with a little plain yoghurt if you want to cut down the sweetness.

*Semolina is “the coarse, purified wheat middlings of durum wheat used in making pasta, and also used for breakfast cereals and puddings.”  It is also the basis for couscous.


Look! Pictures!

One thing about temporary living is that it makes me hesitant to buy much in the way of food products that are not highly multifunctional or will not be consumed fairly quickly.  I hate throwing things away; when we left The Oldest City in the World (our previous residence) and came to Hillside (our current city), I smuggled along over a dozen plastic baggies of spices, a plastic tub of red lentils, and two partially-used bags of bulgur and semolina.  Oh, and the obvious: tea, coffee, and sugar, because in what are already stressful situations like moving, it is best not to upset the body with unnecessary caffeine withdrawals.

Thus, meals that require few ingredients while still meeting my Ideals of Eating (another post for another day) are key.  This lovely vegetarian dish fits the bill perfectly and is easy to make in large batches.  Below is the recipe, as found in The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Ms. Roden, with notes about my modifications and suggestions in italics.

Bulgur with Cheese and Eggplants

  • 1 eggplant, weighing about ¾ pound, cut into 1-inch cubes (If you wanted to up the vegetable intake, I think zucchini and green or red peppers would be nice additions)
  • Salt
  • 1 ½ large onions, sliced
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 cups coarse-ground bulgur, washed in cold water and drained
  • 3 ¼ cups boiling water or chicken stock
  • Pepper
  • 7-9 ounces halumi cheese, cubed (I couldn’t find halumi, so used kashkaval instead; I think mozzarella would also work fine)

Sprinkle the eggplant generously with salt and leave in a colander for ½ hour to degorge its juices.  Then rinse, and dry with paper towels.

Fry the onions in 2 tablespoons oil till golden.  Add the bulgur and stir.  Pour in the boiling water or stock, season with salt and pepper (I also added about 2 teaspoons allspice), and stir well, then cook on very low heat, with the lid on, for about 15 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed and the bulgur is tender.

Fry the cubed eggplant briefly in hot oil, turning the cubes so that they are lightly colored all over.  Lift out, and drain on paper towels.   (I am terrible at frying food—see the picture below for what happened to half my eggplant cubes.  If you had a functional oven and didn’t mind the heat, I think roasting would be a satisfactory substitution for cooking the eggplant and whatever other vegetables you might choose to include.)

Stir 4 tablespoons oil into the bulgur.  (I didn’t add any extra oil; I think it would make the dish too greasy.) Add the cheese and the eggplant and gently fold them in.  Heat through with the lid on until the cheese is soft.  Serve very hot.

For dessert?  Something cold, of course, and bonus points if it comes in groovy flowered glasses 🙂

That's a Chocolate Banana Milkshake, if you can't tell.


So, between grated apples and chopped apples in the previously mentioned cake recipe, I say go with chopped. The batter turned out a teeny bit drier that way (I would add a spoonful of apple sauce–if I was in America and had applesauce), but the apple flavor was much more pronounced. I ate fully 3/4 of the cake by myself…


As the heat continues (highs remaining above 100 for the next week) I am struggling to find ways to keep us eating.  Since it started heating up in April, Hungry Husband and I have both lost substantial amounts of weight, and although neither of us are sickly skinny I am trying to find ways to put light, tasty, and high-calorie foods in our diet.

So, I bake.  Having the oven on for an hour is…mmm…not so pleasant, but the resulting cakes and cobblers are tasty and easy to eat whenever we want a little something something.  For some reason I bought a kilo of green apples last week, and after trying to eat one I discovered it was too sour for me to eat on its own, making the remainders prime candidates for a pie or cobbler.

And this little treat is what we’ve been eating for the past few days.  The first time I made it, I grated the apples in my nifty food processor, a little gadget that I have wanted for a long time and have loved using these past few weeks.  I’ve got another in the oven right now, but I chopped the apples by hand instead of grating them.  We’ll see if one way is preferable over the other.


  • 2 apples, peeled (I didn’t do this) and chopped or grated
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 125 g. melted butter (I didn’t melt the butter, either)
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. mixed spice

Combine all ingredients, and bake for 40 minutes at 350 F.  After you take it from the oven, brush the top with butter and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.