Hope you are doing well! I just wanted to start with an announcement of a fun new cooking class Wednesday, March 4th at Draeger’s Market in Menlo Park! The menu will feature these goodies:
Arugula Salad with Roasted Carrots, Chickpeas, Feta and Tahini with Mint and Honey Dressing
Creamy Hummus with Garlicky Mushrooms and Pine Nuts
Chicken Shawarma Wraps with Middle Eastern condiments—tahini sauce, vinegared onions, sliced lemons and tomatoes
Knafe—sweet melted cheese sandwiched between buttery phyllo dough, topped with a sweet syrup and pistachios
This class makes a great gift, date night, girl’s night out, or heck just come solo and enjoy some fresh middle eastern food with me!
Registration details for the class HERE
During this time of year I admit I am running ragged, and I feel the tension in the air wherever I go here in California. People are rushing around, driving crazy, getting pushy with their shopping carts, traffic jams and long lines everywhere, and all I want to do is carve out some sanity in my day. One way I do this is by baking and giving away goodies to people I care about. The methodical act of measuring, stirring, sifting, baking and all of the scents that goes with this activity is so comforting and a great escape from the daily grind. And when I get nostalgic thinking about my childhood, these cookies come to mind…
Ka’ak bi yansoon are a far cry from your average chocolate chip cookie. Crumbly, nutty, and tender to the bite, these cookies pair perfectly with strong coffee or tea. You can literally feel the licorice flavor of anise melting in your mouth with a hot beverage. I used to eat these cookies while hanging out with my grandparents or great aunties, listening to their stories. My family believed the ground anise seed in these cookies could soothe the stomach, so my grandmother would give me these cookies when I had a stomach ache. Being occasionally mischievous, I would fake a stomach ache to get these cookies as a treat. However there is actual scientific fact to back up the beneficial properties of anise, as this herb is used for a plethora of medicinal applications. The seed and oil of the anise seeds are used by apothecaries to make medicine to soothe upset stomach, intestinal gas, runny nose, insomnia, constipation and nausea.
While traditional anise cookies use butter or ghee, I found that avocado oil yields a more tender texture. Avocado oil might cost more than other seed oils, but cold pressed avocado oil is more of a whole food. Sunflower, canola, and corn oils tend to be highly processed, loaded with hexane and other chemicals. While this recipe uses eggs, if you are allergic to eggs you can use a flax “egg” consisting of 1 tbsp of ground flax seeds along with 2 ½ tbsp of water. Whisk together before adding to the batter.
Aside from any health benefits, these cookies simply remind me of quality time with family. When I crave the old days of conversing with my grandparents’ generation, I make these cookies to force myself to slow down and remember those special times. Perhaps conversation cookies is a more apt title for these comforting biscuits.
And now…the recipe below. Enjoy and hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!
Sesame Anise Cookies (DIRECTIONS IN VIDEO ABOVE)
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 2 tbsp ground anise seeds
- 1 tsp turmeric (optional–this was not on the video but it’s a great addition)
- 3 cups flour (or more if the dough is too sticky)
- ½ cup sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup cream