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Makroutah and Muttabaq

Makroutah and Muttabaq

Makes about 25–30 large or 45 smaller biscuits

Dough

  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 450g plain flour
  • 150g fine semolina
  • 150ml olive oil
  • 150ml melted butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 11⁄2 tbsp milk powder
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 7g instant yeast
  • 1⁄2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds

Date paste:

  • 750g pitted Medjool dates, chopped
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Place the fennel seeds into 180ml hot water and leave for 10 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse.
  2. Combine all the ingredients for the dough, along with the drained fennel seeds, together in a bowl. Knead the mixture for about 3–4 minutes, then place in a clean bowl and leave to rise for about 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180C Fan (200C/400F/Gas 6).
  4. Place the chopped dates in a pan with the olive oil, butter and cinnamon and heat gently over a medium to low heat until the dates form a paste, about 10–12 minutes. Once they have broken down, use a spoon and mash them even more, then place on a tray to cool down.
  5. Cut the dough into 3–4 pieces and roll out onto a floured surface to create rectangles around 1.5cm thick. You can cut it into 2 pieces, which will result in larger biscuits – it’s totally up to you.
  6. Once the dough has been rolled, layer the date paste all over it, then roll from the longest side to form logs. If you wish, you can use a rolling pin to roll the date paste into a thin layer between two sheets of Cling Film before placing on to the dough; this just makes it easier to work with. Cut the logs to form biscuits, about 1.5cm thick, and place on a baking sheet.
  7. Bake for about 20–30 minutes, depending on the size of your biscuits. You want them to brown slightly on the top, but not too much. Serve with a hot cup of sage tea and enjoy!

Muttabaq

Serves 6–8

Ingredients

  • 500g halloumi
  • 500g ricotta cheese
  • 1 x 270g packet of filo pastry
  • 150g unsalted butter, melted
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 300ml water
  • 2 lemons (juice and peel)
  • 1 tablespoon ma’zaher (orange blossom water)
  • 4 tablespoons crushed pistachios (optional)

Instructions

  1. Soak the halloumi in a bowl of water for 1 hour to remove any excess salt. Rinse, drain and pat dry and then grate into a bowl.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200C fan (220C/425F/Gas 7).
  3. Mix the halloumi and ricotta together in a bowl.
  4. Take 2 sheets of filo at a time and cut them into squares. Use a pastry brush to brush each square with butter and then layer 2–3 on top of each other. Spoon some of the mixed cheese into the centre and then fold the edges over to seal in any shape you like as long as they are closed – it doesn’t have to be perfectly sealed though as it’s always good if some of the cheese escapes and bubbles through when cooking.
  5. Place the parcels, sealed side down, on a baking tray. Bake for 15–18 minutes until golden.
  6. Meanwhile, to make the syrup, pour the water into a saucepan, add the sugar and bring to the boil. Let it continue to bubble and reduce over a high heat. Add the lemon peel. When the mixture has reduced by half, add the lemon juice, then take it off the heat and leave it to cool slightly.
  7. When the pastries are out of the oven, pour over the syrup, scatter with pistachios, if using, and serve while the pastries are still hot.

Tip: You can also use Akkawi cheese for this recipe, which is more traditional, but can be harder to find.

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