Monday, April 9, 2012

Making the Kanafe

Yesterday part of our family got together for breakfast at a diner fairly close to our house so we decided to walk.  It was lovely out and I just love the feel of Spring.  Anyways, we were walking home when we remembered there was this tiny little International Market & Deli we have been meaning to go to for the last 4 months right next to where we had breakfast.

We popped on it and were not disappointed.  It says International but they mainly specialize in Middle Eastern/ Mediterranean food.  They sell gyros at lunch time but have a little grocery section as well.  I was so excited to find Pomegranate Molasses less than a mile from my home!

But the most exciting part of the trip was that they carried all the ingredients to make Kanafe, a traditional Palestinian dessert.  The three ingredients in the center are crucial to Kanafe: Akkawi, a white brined cheese (Nabulsi cheese can also be used), food coloring, and shredded pastry dough. 

Basically the shredded pastry dough is mixed with melted butter.  The recipe I had called for clarified butter but I skipped that part since it wasn't cooking at an overly high temperature I didn't see the need.  Then you press part of that mixture into the bottom of a buttered baking dish prepped with the food coloring.  I think this would look and taste just fine without the food coloring; next time I might just skip it.  Next you put a layer of the crumbled Akkawi cheese blended with shredded mozzarella and a touch of sugar and orange blossom water. You are supposed to use rose water too, but I realized too late I don't have any but the orange blossom gave it plenty of flavor.  Finally you top it with more of the shredded pastry/butter mixture.  You bake it and then invert it onto a plate, drizzle copious amounts of orange blossom simple syrup over top, sprinkle with pistachios and there you have it!  It's rich but not too sweet (I cut way back on the amount of syrup and butter they said to use and thought it tasted just grand).
The gentleman at the shop looked totally shocked when I told him I was making Kanafe.  "How do you know the Kanafe?" he asked.  I can't wait to go back and tell him how well it turned out.  Also, the Akkawi cheese is going to be a staple in our fridge from now on.  I crumbled it over a salad last night and it is very similar to mozzarella so I want to try it on flat bread as well.  Even just slices of it paired up with a crisp apple sounds delicious. 

We ate this last year when we were at the Global Shopping Village in Dubai.  I know my version bends some rules of the traditional, but that's how I roll: I am unburdened by culinary rules!

1 comment:

  1. Looks like you had fun making this. Kunafe is actually supposed to be orange. :) Use a fraction of the food coloring next time & I think you'll be pleased.
    Also, using clarified butter gives it a more authentic Middle Eastern flavor, but if you are happy with the results then that is what counts!... BTW, That's great about the shop next to your house.