Ah… the food of Lebanon, now there’s a challenge I will gladly take up since I adore Lebanese food and it is hard to find here in Frankfurt, Germany. Cooking something for the Monthly Mingle is also compensation for not being able to attend the Taste Lebanon Culinary Tour which Beth and Chris lead this past month.
Memories of my stays in Beirut both for work and prolonged for pleasure, quickly filled my head with their wonderful mix of cultures, decay and hope, and of course flavors and fun. Walking, clubbing, dancing, eating – and the great wish to travel on and discover the rest of this exciting country.
The decision between sweet and savory was difficult since all the Lebanese food I usually cook is savory but I wanted something that would reflect the spices I so adore in the Middle East. I paged through books and searched online, and pondered… and then I came across a recipe from EatingWell Magazine from the May/June 2007 issue called “Apricot-Bulgur Pudding Cake with Vanilla Sauce” and decided that I would “doctor” it up and see what happened. And that is what I did and it is a dream come true!
I added cloves, cardamom, pistachios, sesame seeds and chili flakes, and replaced the vanilla sauce with a bittersweet orange anis sauce that is the perfect accompaniment. So here it is all you lovely ladies and gents: my entry for Taste Lebanon monthly mingle.
P.S. The name Simone was given to honor special friends who traveled on one motorcycle named Simone from Saudi Arabia to France this summer and whose pictures also reminded my of my wonderful times in Beirut.
Enjoy Bulgur and Apricot Cake “Simone” with Orange Anis Sauce…..yuuummmmm
Bulgur and Apricot Cake “Simone” with Orange Anis Sauce
- ½ cup (140 grams) chopped dried apricots – I used the softer kind
- 1/3 cup of granulated sugar (75 grams)
- 1 teaspoon of orange zest
- 1 cup (240 ml) of fresh squeezed orange juice
- 2 cloves
- 2 cardamom pod opened and seeds removed – separated
- 1 cup (110 grams) bulgur
- 2 large eggs separated
- 2/3 cup (160 ml) low-fat or lactose-free milk
- 25 grams of chopped pistachios
- 1 pinch of chili flakes
- 4 turns of fresh pepper from the mill
- 10 grams of roasted sesame seeds
- 1 TBSP of pomegranate sour syrup
- 2 TBSP of brown sugar
Putting it together:
- Combine apricots, sugar, zest, orange juice, 1 clove, the seeds of 1 cardamom pod and the water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat, cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until apricots are very soft.
- Stir in the bulgur and increase the heat, returning the mixture to a boil. The move the pot to the smallest flamer and simmer, stirring often so the mixture doesn’t burn or stick for 15-20 minutes until the bulgur is tender and the mixture resembles sticky oatmeal. Remove from the heat and let cool.
- You may stop here and continue the next day. Place the mixture in a closed container and keep cool.
- Place the pistachios, sesame seeds, chili flakes, fresh ground pepper, 1 clove and the seeds of 1 cardamom pod in a small frying pan without fat. Warm on low heat shaking the pan occasionally so as not to burn the ingredients max. 5 minutes until it is warm and fragrant. Remove from the heat and let cool. Pulse 2-3 times in a coffee grinder or similar tool so that the mixture combines but is still chunky and not too fine.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C. Grease either a star-shaped form or an 8-inch/20 cm square pan.
- Whisk the eggs and the milk in a bowl until well mixed. Add the bulgur slowly, whisking to combine. Add the nut mixture and the tablespoon of pomegranate syrup.
- In another bowl beats the egg whites until stiff. Using a spatula, fold the egg whites into the bulgur mixture, stirring only to evenly combine it. Using the spatula pour the mixture into the greased pan. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of brown sugar over the top.
- Place the filled cake form in a roasting pan or casserole pan and pour very hot tap water into the roasting pan or casserole so that the water come about half way up the sides of the cake form.
- Place in the oven and bake at 350 F or 180 C for 35-40 minutes until the cake is puffed and golden brown. While the cake is baking make the orange anis sauce.
- Carefully remove the cake pan from the hot water, transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
- When cool or barely lukewarm, invert the cake onto a serving dish. Serve the individual pieces of cake with orange anis sauce poured over the slice.
- 4 small to medium sized “juicing” oranges
- 2 cloves
- 2 ½ tablespoons of powdered or icing sugar – separated
- 1 teaspoon of orange blossom water
- 1 anis star
Putting it together:
- Squeeze the oranges if possible with a machine since you can get all the bittersweet juice.
- Pour into a small saucepan and add the cloves, and anis star. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the sugar, whisking to combine. Bring to a boil once more.
- Turn down the heat to very low and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes stirring occasionally.
- Add the last ½ tablespoon of sugar, stir and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and cool.
- Pour it into a small pitcher and serve it slightly warm or cold with the cake. Pour the sauce over the individual piece of cake.
Yummmmmmm – enjoy!!