Project Food Blog Challenge #2: The Classics

September 24, 2010 By: Serena

I’d like to offer all of you a big thank you for voting for me during Project Food Blog‘s first challenge.  Thanks to your support, I am one of the 400 food bloggers to advance to the next round!  For this next challenge, I’ve been tasked with “tackling a classic dish from another culture” that is outside my comfort zone.

I knew immediately which dish I wanted to tackle.


If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll remember that I recently had a fabulous Lebanese meal at ilili. Given the chance, the only thing I would have changed about the meal was the dessert.  My eating buddy claims that the traditional preparation of the dessert, kanafe, is his favorite dessert in the world.  Unfortunately for me, the kanafe at ilili was prepared in a more contemporary manner.  A representative from the restaurant actually left a comment inviting us back to try a traditional preparation, but when I responded, I never heard anything back from her.  Well, no time like know to take matters in my own hands, right?

So now, I attempt to make a classic preparation of kanafe, which to some people, is the best dessert in the world.  No pressure, huh?

My first step was finding some unique ingredients, which necessitated a trip to the specialty store Kalustyans.

 

 

After browsing the aisles and aisles of spices and ingredients the uses of which I could only conjecture, I picked up my foods – rose water, shredded phyllo dough,  and nabulsi cheese.   I was good to go!

I also borrowed my friend’s cookbook (which was only used as a guide – I got the real deal recipe verbally through him) – as well as some coloring that is traditionally used.

Okay, THEN I was good to go.

Kanafe is basically a mix of shredded phyllo, layered with nabulsi cheese.  Nabulsi is a bit difficult to find; even my friend who makes it regularly substitutes a mixture of ricotta and goat cheese with honey.  I was lucky enough to find nabulsi at Kalustyans – so I was well on my way to making this dessert as authentic as possible!

Although the recipe in the book seemed a bit complicated, the process to make kanafe was pretty straight forward.  First, I needed to break up the shredded phyllo – I had only worked with layered phyllo before, so working with phyllo that looked like dried noodles was a new experience!

After I thoroughly shredded the phyllo, I added butter and mixed the phyllo again to coat it completely:

 

I then lined a pie dish with half of the phyllo, added the nabulsi cheese, and covered with the remaining phyllo:

 

I popped it into the oven to bake for an hour, and that was that – easy enough, right?  Meanwhile, I made the traditional rosewater syrup to pour on top of the kanafe with sugar, water, lemon juice and rosewater:

…and allowed the syrup to cool.  Once the kanafe was browned and ready, I ran a knife around the edges of the plate to loosen it, and slid it on the plate:

And now the piece de resistance – the red kunafa coloring.  I didn’t want to use too much, since I had borrowed it from my friend – so just a sprinkling, along with some crushed pistachios, made for a pretty garnish.

I then added the final touch – the rosewater syrup:

And I had done it!  An honest-to-goodness, authentic kanafe (top picture).  And it was scrumptious!!

I had never made Lebanese cuisine before, so it was totally unfamiliar to me.  However, I loved using all of these new-to-me ingredients and browsing specialty food stores (one of my favorite past times!).  As to whether this is indeed the BEST dessert in the world – I still reserve my vote.  But is it up there? You bet.

Let me know in the comments if you’d like the recipe!

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26 Comments to “Project Food Blog Challenge #2: The Classics”


  1. Ali @ His Birdie's Nest says:

    What an interesting dessert and great choice for this challenge! I LOVE rose flavor desserts & cheese, so I'm pretty sure I would like this dish :) I'll have to give it a try when I'm allowed to eat gluten again in 2 mos ;-)

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  2. Congrats to you! So exciting. I hope you advance again!!

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  3. Congrats on making it to the next round! And good job on this dessert. It looks yummy!

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  4. That sounds so easy to make.
    Yay for round two! WOOHOO!

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  5. Congrats on the advancement… Great post… i'll be voting when it opens! :-)

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  6. Wow…very interesting indeed! I have no idea how to imagine what that would taste like! It certainly does LOOK cool though!

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  7. Congrats on your advancement! The kanafe looks interesting, I'll haveta discover my way to some Lebanese food some time.

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  8. Chic 'n Cheap Living says:

    Great job, it looks scrumptious!

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  9. We Are Not Martha says:

    Wow! I've never even considered making kanafe, but this looks wonderful! Nice job and good luck! :)
    Sues

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  10. I love it! This is awesome. I love this dessert and it looks like you had a great time making it. You have my vote!

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  11. You did a beautiful job! This is one of my favourite desserts. You'll laugh, but at my mom's deli an accident once resulted in our eating kanafeh with canned cherry pie filling – and it was GOOD! Best of luck with PFB!

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  12. Healthy Mamma says:

    Excellent job and beautiful pics! you have my vote! p.s. Ghee is easy enough to make should you decide to make Lebanese or Indian food again. Good luck on PFB!

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  13. I agree that is may not be my favourite dessert ever. But it is my favourite Middle Eastern dessert. Congratz on tackling it! :)

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  14. Amanda (The Culinary Passport) says:

    This looks awesome! You have my vote :)

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  15. crispy, aromatic, delicious.
    You have one of my votes (see my post here: http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/2/view/869)

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  16. I've never heard of this before but it looks lovely! The rosewater syrup is a nice way to finish it. Good luck in this round!

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  17. CrystalsCozyKitchen says:

    Using new and foreign ingredients is so exhilarating isn't it? Looks absolutely wonderful – I would love to taste this!
    I voted for you – Good luck!

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  18. Interesting dessert!

    Voted for you and good luck with PFB :)

    I would like to invite you to participate in my giveaway
    http://atasteofkoko.blogspot.com/2010/08/mini-pistachio-tea-cakes-40.html

    Here is my entry for PFB http://www.foodbuzz.com/project_food_blog/challenges/2/view/1039

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  19. Katie@Cozydelicious says:

    Wow! How fun! Your kanafe looks amazing. What a fun dessert to tackle. You totally ahve my vite!

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  20. The Cilantropist says:

    This dessert looks so cool I have never seen anything like it! I would love to try it… Definitely worth a vote, I think you did a fantastic job with this challenge thinking outside the box. :)

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  21. Love this dish..looks amazing!

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  22. yum!
    I saw this on the food network the other week on "Best Thing I ever ate"

    I'm having a giveaway on blog, love for you to enter!
    http://atasteofkoko.blogspot.com/2010/10/ghirardelli-luxe-milk-chocolate.html

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  23. Hay ..
    You did a great job … it looks really delicious … but a lil advice .. next time try making it on the stove top and also .. add a little mozzarella cheese along with the nabilsi cheese.. this makes it more oozy … if you want more info .. check out my blog post on it …
    Good luck with the PFB challenge …

    Laila .. http://www.lailablogs.com

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  24. Wonderful! Great job!
    One of my favorite dessert!

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  25. Hey! Just stopping by to let you know we're giving away a signed Sandra Lee cookbook with 1,001 recipes over at Chew on That! We’d love for you to enter! The giveaway ends on Halloween, so hurry over! :)

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  26. Hi, I sent you a message, not sure you go it.

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