Kunafa is described as a Bahraini cheesecake.  It is actually made with noodles and cheese. It is a common dish throughout the Middle East and is believed to have originated during the Ottoman Empire.  In Bahrain they color the desert with food coloring.

The noodle is kataifi dough.  It is described as shredded phyllo dough.  I don’t find it in grocery stores ,and research if I can make it from scratch.  It seems this is not suggested, so I find a Middle Eastern grocery store that isn’t too far from me, but it is small and cramped.  I’m not sure where I would find it so slowly search through the aisles and find it in the refrigerated section.  I’m excited that I found it, so I can make this dish.

First step is to soak the mozzarella overnight and then to mix the cheeses together. .

Then I make the syrup.  It is just boiling water, sugar, and lemon juice together.  I don’t use the rose water.  I actually remember I had a noodle dessert with rose water at a Middle Eastern restaurant once.  I thought it tasted like soap and later discovered that is what the rose tastes like.  So, I have found that I don’t like floral flavors like rose and lavender, it tastes like perfume to me.


Next I mix together the food coloring to make orange.


Well it is still fairly red, but maybe when I mix it with the butter it will lighten to be more orange.

Nope it is still really red!  Oh well it will do.  Then I run the bottom of the pan with the colored butter.

Chop up the noodles and soak them in milk and butter.

Add 2/3 of the noodles to the bottom of the pan

add the cheese

then top with remaining noodles and bake.

While it is baking I grind the pistachios to decorate the top.

It comes out of the oven and I flip over to plate.

It is still more red than orange and a bit messy, but I will decorate it with the pistachios. The picture from the original recipe has a beautiful pattern from the pistachios.  I try and get creative and make polka dots, but I’m not really skilled enough to make it come out.  So I go with this pattern and it isn’t really that pretty, but will do.

The cake is interesting.  The cake is not sweet and so the syrup is needed to make this feel like a desert.  The noodles and the cheese are good, but I’m not blown away by it.  It actually is a bit bland.  However I liked the butter food coloring idea.  I may use that again for something else.

Well that’s a picture of me before the whole cancer chemo experience.  I was celebrating on of my 40 birthday’s.  I highly recommend celebrating yourself 40 times.  It makes every day feel special and man I needed it going through all my treatments.  Well the next step in the treatment was to get a PET scan so they can figure out if I am stage III or IV.

I went in for my CT and PET scan.  The first part is that they make me go to a room and cover me in blankets.  I’m not sure how they knew I was cold, but I felt all snuggly.  Then they gave me some soapy looking water to drink.  Figuring out that I don’t like the taste of soap I am relieved that it is a sudsy drink, but doesn’t have any perfume flavor.  I had an hour to drink it.  So I sat in my snuggly chair drinking this odd drink.

After an hour they came to get me and took me over to the scanner.  There they positioned me, so my arm was over my head.  I’m still recovering from the surgery, so the position is painful!  I manage to hold it for the 15 minutes as they do the CT scan, but let them know I can’t do it for the 30 minute PET scan.  So for that I comfortably get my arm to the side and they image away.  I will explain my results with another recipe.  Go out and celebrate something!




Original recipe can be found here

  • 1 lb  Mozzarella
  • 2 cups granulated white sugar
  • 1 cup  water
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 Tbsp  unsalted butter (melted) – for the pan
  • 1/4 tsp of red and yellow food coloring ( if you can find orange use a 1/2 tsp of that)
  • 1 lb kataifi shredded dough
  • ½ cup  milk
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter (melted) – and lukewarm
  • 15 pistachio (ground)
  1. Desalt the mozzarella if salty.  Cut the cheese into 1 inch (2.5 cm) cubes and soak in cold water, in the refrigerator overnight.  Change the water twice.  After soaking, rinse with cold water then drain and pat dry using paper towels.
  2. Shred the mozzarella and combine with the ricotta or cottage cheese.
  3. Using medium heat, boil the sugar, water and lemon juice for 10 minutes.  Let it cool down completely.
  4. Butter and colour the bottom and the sides of a 10 in. round, 2 in. deep pan with 1 tablespoon melted butter and ½ teaspoon kunafa pastry colouring.
  5. Cut the kataifi dough into 4 equal pieces.  Add the milk and lukewarm butter.  Make sure that there are no lumps and that the kataifi is fluffy.
  6. Place ⅔ of the kataifi in the pan.  Press down and along the sides of the pan.
  7. Place all of the cheese.  Level and press down.
  8. Cover with the remaining ⅓ of the kataifi.  Press well with the palms of your hand or use a spatula.
  9. Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 40 minutes.
  10. Let the kunafa cool down for 10 minutes before inverting it into a large platter or cake stand.
  11. Decorate with ground pistachios.
  12. You can pour the cool syrup over the entire kunafa or pour on individual servings.

Dulce de Leche Pionono

Pope Pius IX was also referred to as Pio Nono. This dessert is thought to be named after him. The Pionono is a sponge cake that is rolled with various fillings and is popular in spain, south America, and Philippines. I’m going to stuff mine with Dulce de Leche, which is popular in Argentina.

The first step is to make the sponge cake. I have been doing a lot of baking, but sponge cake requires whipping the ingredients, which I haven’t done before.  I’m a bit nervous, but willing to take on something new. With my handy mixer I get to use the whip attachment to make the batter.



Spread it in a pan over my sili bake mat and bake. Success! It comes out a light thin sponge cake. It’s a little brown on the edges and not a perfect square but I have a knife to help clean things up.



On to make the Dulce de Leche. The recipe is simple: dump the ingredients in a pan and stir. I stir



and stir




and stir



after about 30 minutes of stiring I grab a chair, sit down and continue to stir.



Finally I start to see some difference after 45 minutes of stirring, but it is not done until you can form lines in the sauce and they don’t disappear. So I keep stirring.



After an hour of stirring, my right arm is now noticeably larger than my left.  Lines form and stay, so I’m calling it done.



Now after all this work the recipe wants you to lighten the Duce de leche with some whipping cream, sigh… why couldn’t just stop stirring at 30 minutes ago and get the same consistency. I know, I know , there is some magical flavor with the caramelization. I add the whipped cream that the recipe says and find that it is really watery. Next time I would skip this step or add a fraction at a time to make sure it is just spreadable.  However I’m not going to stir for another hour to re make it. So this is what I have.

Flip the cake out of the pan and spread with powder sugar.



Spread the duce de leche



Then roll



As I suspected the filling is way to watery and just seeps out. My hour and sore right arm are frustrated with what seems to be a mess.




I let the Pionono chill for a few hours and I make a caramel sauce to top on the cake and make a caramel icing with butter and powder sugar and pour over the cake.


Cut and serve. It is decadent. The caramel icing is buttery and rich, the cake is light and soaks up the dulce de leche. It is definitely delicious, but I’m not sure the hour of stirring is worth it.





Dulce de Leche

Orginal recipe can be found here

  • 1 (14 ounce) can of condensed milk (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 (12 ounce) can of evaporated milk (about 1 2/3 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Place the evaporated milk and the condensed milk in your heaviest pot. Add the cinnamon sticks, baking soda and a pinch of salt.
  2. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Stir steadily with a wooden spoon or heat-proof spatula so that the mixture does not stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.
  3. Continue to stir until the mixture is making large bubbles, is very thick, and is a golden caramel color. It’s very important to stir constantly at this point to prevent burning.
  4. Lift the spoon out of the pot and drizzle some of the caramel sauce over the surface. If it forms a ribbon that does not disappear after 10 seconds or so, it is ready. Takes about 1 hour.
  5. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove cinnamon sticks and stir in the vanilla and the corn syrup.
  7. Let cool completely.


Caramel frosting

Original recipe can be found here

  1. In large saucepan, melt butter over low heat until it starts to brown, about 4 minutes. Watch it carefully as the butter can burn quickly.
  2. When butter is light golden brown, add brown sugar. Bring this mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Boil and stir for 1 minute until thickened.
  3. Remove from heat and add milk. Beat with wire whisk until smooth.
  4. Add vanilla and beat again.
  5. Then add powdered sugar until desired spreading consistency; the frosting should be pourable.


Dulce de Leche de Pionono

Orginal recipe can be found here

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup almond flour (optional) or 1/4 cup additional all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 cup dulce de leche
  • Confectioners sugar
  • 1 recipe caramel frosting
  1. Line a 11″ x 17″ jelly roll pan with wax paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Sift the flour with the salt, almond meal, and baking powder, and set aside.
  3. Place the egg whites in a bowl of a standing mixer and beat until soft peaks form.
  4. Add 1/4 cup of the sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Transfer beaten egg whites to a clean bowl.
  5. Add the egg yolks with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar to the mixing bowl, and beat until pale yellow and tripled in volume, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the vanilla and mix well.
  7. Fold the dry ingredients gently into the egg yolk mixture until just blended, then carefully fold in the egg whites. Spread batter evenly into the prepared jelly roll pan.
  8. Bake cake until it is golden and just starts to spring back to your touch, about 8-10 minutes. Do not overbake, or it will be difficult to roll.
  9. Loosen the edges of the cake by running a knife around them, then turn cake out onto a dish cloth that has been dusted with confectioners sugar. Peel off the wax paper, and dust top of the cake with more confectioners sugar. Let cake cool.
  10. If dulce de leche is thick Place cold whipping cream in a large bowl and beat until medium-firm peaks form. Whisk 2 tablespoons sugar and a touch of vanilla. Whisk in 1/8 of a cup at a time until dulce de leche is easily spreadable.
  11. Unroll cake and spread dulce de leche mixture over the cake. roll cake, wrap with saran wrap, and chill for 1-2 hours or overnight.
  12. Once the cake is thoroughly chilled, unwrapped.
  13. Prepare caramel glaze
  14.  While the icing is still warm, pour it over the cake, letting it run down the sides until covered.
  15. Chill cake until ready to serve.


Tortell is a Catalana King Cake. It is often filled with marzipan, but can also be filled with Crema Catalana.  It is typically served on January 6 at the finish of Twelve days of Christmas. It usually is served with two hidden prizes. One is a figurine of the three kings and the other is a dry bean. The one who gets the three kings is to get good luck for the year, much like our Mardi gras King Cake; and the one who gets the bean pays for the kings cake or does the dishes.

It takes two days to make Tortell. The first day you make a starter dough and let that rise.



It is a small little dough. While that is rising I make a batch of Crema Catalana for the filling.  Then I make a second dough and add back in the first dough.



You let that rise. Depending on when you want to serve the cake you can shape it and keep over night to rise. Or do that shaping later. As they serve this for a holiday feast most recipes recommend shaping and leaving in the refrigerator over night. I am serving this for dinner, so I do the shaping in the morning.

I’m to roll out the dough into a circle. I have my trusty Sili-Mat, but still no luck getting a circular shape. I really think the issue is with me.



Slather on the creama Catalana.



Then roll!



I made a mess. Well thats okay nothing a paper towel can’t fix!



Now shape it back into a circle. Traditionally this is done with a crown in the middle, but I didn’t stop at my local burger king to get one. So I use a handy bundt pan.



Its a little mushed on one side hopefully none notices. Now let it rest for a bit.



Aha! It rose enough that the weird shape is gone. Now to decorate. Okay there was some wine served between when I decorated and it rose some more. Oh well looks good.



Into the oven and then the result. Great. The cake is flaky with a bit of weight. The crema catalana is amazing. The candy melted and made a mess of the oven, but the cake is good and we cleaned the mess while it was still warm, so easy to clean.



Well this concludes Andorra for me. It has been a great experience with some ups and downs. My favorites being Bacalao EsqueixadaPa amb TomaquetTrinxatCreme Catalana, and Fideuà.  My next country is Angola.





Original recipe can be found here

  • 1 packet yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm whole milk
  • 1/2 cup bread flour
  • 2 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tablespoon cold butter
  • 3 1/8 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoon milk powder
  • zest of half a lemon
  • zest of one orange
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 beaten egg
  • candied fruit
  • powdered sugar
  • Crema Catalana
  1. In a bowl, combine yeast with warm milk. Let stand 10 minutes.
  2. Add the flour and stir until dough is smooth and elastic.
  3. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let stand for one hour.
  4. In a bowl or kneading machine, put flour, milk powder, sugar, salt, cinnamon, vanilla, the zest, the cold butter and lightly beaten eggs. Kneed for 2 minutes.
  5. Add in dough and knead for 10 minutes.
  6. Leave in a bowl and cover with a floured tea towel and place somewhere isolated from drafts, such as the oven, until tripled in volume (~2 hours)
  7. Roll out dough in a circle.
  8. Spread crema Catalana in the middle of the dough.
  9. Roll the dough into a tight pipe and shape into a circle. There should be a hole in the middle and work the crown so that the dough remains evenly distributed.
  10. Line a tray with greased parchment paper, and shape the dough. Paint the dough with a beaten egg.
  11. Let it rise in an unheated oven until it doubles in volume (overnight is fine).
    When it has doubled in volume, again paint with beaten egg and decorate with candied fruit and sugar.
  12. Cook in a preheated oven at 180 ° C (350ºF) to be blonde (about 20-25 minutes). (I would have just put the heat on low.)
  13. When it is cooked, remove from oven and let cool to room temperature.