Walnut-Pecan Maple Bars

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The two best pies I’ve ever had are my sister’s infamous pecan pie and San Francisco’s now-shuttered Mission Pie’s walnut pie. Sadly, I’m a little baking-challenged and my attempts to make pie always leave something to be desired, but these easy bars deliver all the satisfaction of pie without the fuss. A little bit walnut, a little bit pecan, these maple bars are the best of both worlds.

If you don’t have a square baking pan, you can substitute a 9-inch cake pan instead. Also, good luck getting these to last more than a day.

Walnut-pecan maple bars

Ingredients:

Crust:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted room temperature butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon salt

Filling:
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup whipping cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1. Make the crust: Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Butter 9x9x2-inch metal cake pan. Using a hand-held electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, and egg yolk in bowl to blend. Add flour and salt; beat until moist clumps form. Gather dough together. Press dough over bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of pan. Bake crust until golden, about 20 minutes. Cool.

2. Make the filling: Combine maple syrup, brown sugar, whipping cream, and butter in medium saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring until butter melts and mixture is smooth, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat; mix in vanilla and nuts.

3. Pour filling into crust. Bake bars until filling is bubbling in center, about 15 minutes. Cool bars completely in pan on rack (filling will become firm). Chill 1-2 hours. Cut into 16 bars.

Palestinian-Style Potatoes with Spiced Eggs

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Crispy potatoes, creamy spiced eggs, and a handful of herbs make this an easy breakfast I can’t stop thinking about. Adapted from Baladi, this dish is Palestinian, but it reminds me of an equally delicious potato and egg dish my baba makes that’s greater than the sum of its parts: crispy-on-the-outside-but-creamy-on-the-inside potatoes and perfectly cooked eggs. Comfort food at its best.

This recipe serves two but quantities can easily be doubled.

Palestinian potatoes with spiced eggs

Ingredients:

2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 shallot, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
Pinch of paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper
4 eggs
2 teaspoons chopped cilantro
Flatbread, to serve (optional)
Salt
Black pepper

1. Parboil the potatoes in a pan of boiling water for 5 minutes; drain.

2. Heat the oil in a pan and saute the potatoes until lightly browned. Add the shallots and garlic until softened, then add the spices and mix to combine.

3. Separate the ingredients in the pan into four portions and crack and egg on top of each. Move the mixture around over low heat and gently stir together. Try not to overscramble the eggs so that you have bigger pieces of cooked egg.

4. Season with salt and pepper, add the cilantro, and serve warm.

Persian Mulberry and Hibiscus Chia Seed Jam

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My parents have a giant shahtoot (Persian mulberry) tree and every year, we look forward to staining our fingers (and our clothes) from picking the juicy, crimson berries. This year, I used some to make a fresh, not-too-sweet and super healthy jam. Paired with hibiscus, this jam comes together in minutes and is bound by chia seeds. I use sugar very sparingly here, so this is a jam that won’t keep forever, even in the fridge. (Don’t worry, it won’t last long anyway.)

Persian mulberry and hibiscus chia seed jam

Ingredients:

1/3 cup dried hibiscus flowers
1 1/4 pound (about 1 1/2 pints) Persian mulberries
4 tablespoons chia seeds
4 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sugar

1. Put the hibiscus in a heatproof bowl and cover with 1/2 cup boiling water. Let steep for 10 minutes. Strain to remove the dried flowers, pressing down to release their flavor.

2. Put the mulberries in a saucepan and slowly heat, roughly crushing the berries with the back of a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer gently for about 10 minutes, until the juices have run. Stir in the chia seeds and hibiscus water, then cook for another minute. Add honey and sugar, tasting to adjust if needed. Remove from heat and set aside to cool and thicken. Cover and store in the fridge.

Ghalayet Kousa (Sauted Zucchini)

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Sorry guys, this is a zucchini blog now. Iranian ghaliyeh kadoo, meet your Palestinian cousin, ghaleyet kousa. Just as delicious a zucchini dish, ghalayet kousa is a little mintier, a little spicier, and sans turmeric. If you love zucchini like I do, you’ll be making this easy dish all summer long.

Ghalayet kousa

Ingredients:

1/2 cup olive oil
6 zucchini, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 serrano chili, minced
1 teaspoon dried mint
Salt

1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the zucchini and saute for 3 or 4 minutes. Add the garlic and chili and let the zucchini cook down, stirring occasionally. Season with salt.

2. After about 10 minutes, add the mint and mix with the zucchini. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Mutabal Kousa (Zucchini and Yogurt Dip)

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I first made this Palestinian zucchini, yogurt, and tahini dip last summer when we had way too much zucchini on our hands and didn’t know what to do with it. One bite of the creamy dip flecked with garlic, lemon, and mint, and I was hooked. So naturally, I ended up making this a hundred or so times last summer — and plan on doing the same this year, too. Like Iranian ghaliyeh kadoo, you can serve mutabal kousa with flatbread, or if you’re like me, you can eat it straight out of the bowl.

Mutabal kousa

Ingredients:

1/3 cup olive oil
4 or 5 zucchini, cubed
1 garlic clove, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
1 serrano chili, minced
1 teaspoon dried mint
Salt
Flatbread to serve

1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and saute the zucchini with 1 teaspoon of salt, until golden grown. Remove from the heat.

2. Smash the zucchini in a bowl with a fork to achieve a chunky texture. Add the garlic, lemon juice, tahini, yogurt, and salt, if needed.

3. Add the chili and dried mint and mix to combine. Serve cold or at room temperature.