Category Archives: Breakfast



Thank goodness that Thanksgiving is over.

Don’t get me wrong — I love Thanksgiving! Coming together with family and friends to express thankfulness for all of the happy moments and important lessons and miraculous happenings of the preceding year is a beautiful tradition. And, hey, the food isn’t too shabby either. But sometimes it gets to be bit much.

The problem is that Thanksgiving food is just too good. After my umpteenth serving of buttery mashed potatoes and turkey doused with gravy and creamy green bean casserole, all I want to do is curl into a ball and hibernate until spring.

But unfortunately, finals have thwarted that plan.

Since I am not hibernating, I might as well take full of advantage of this time of year. Between Thanksgiving and the winter holidays, these few weeks are “the eye of the storm” — the time to make light, delicious recipes before the seemingly eternal food coma commences.

This means salad galore. Luckily, I have just the recipe! Tabbouleh is a lovely Mediterranean salad consisting of diced tomatoes and onion, tender cracked bulgur wheat, mint, and loads of chopped parsley, tied together with a deliciously tangy lemon-and-olive-oil vinaigrette. This salad is light. refeshing, and incredibly satisfying. Served with a light fish or grilled chicken breast and some warmed homemade pita, there simply is no better food for this holiday meal oasis.



December 6th, 2014



  • 2 cups bulgur (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch mint, finely chopped
  • 1/2 yellow or red onion, finely diced
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp peper
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt (to taste)




Pour the chicken broth and water into a large saucepan and bring to a simmer.


Dump the bulgur in, give it a good stir, and turn off the heat. Move the saucepan over to another burner to let it cool.


Leave the saucepan uncovered for 30 minutes to an hour, until the bulgur soaks up all of the delicious, flavorful broth and takes on a paradoxically chewy-and-tender texture.20141124_174009

While your bulgur is soaking in the chicken broth Jacuzzi, go ahead and be proactive by washing and chopping the parsley, tomatoes, green onions, mint, and onion.

And while you’re at it, please do the parsley and mint some justice by chopping them properly. That is, use a rocking motion with a very sharp knife (as you should always do with knife work) to keep the herbs crisp and prevent them from browning at the chopped edges.

Trust me, it makes a huge difference!


When your bulgur has cooled completely and looks dry, you know it’s ready!

In a large bowl, collect the bulgur, parsley, tomato, green onion, mint, and onion.

Grab your fancy salad tongs too.

You’ll need ’em.20141124_181139

In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper together.

As a general rule, oil should always be the last ingredient added to a vinaigrette to promote optimal emulsion.

Drizzle in the oil, and give it another whisk. Taste to make sure it is as delicious as you know it is.

At first, pour only 3/4 of the vinaigrette into the dry salad ingredients. Toss to combine, and taste. If the tabbouleh needs it, add the rest of the vinaigrette in.

The purpose of adding the vinaigrette in stages is to prevent soggy tabbouleh. Really, nobody wants that.

Look at you! You just made tabbouleh from scratch! Give yourself a pat on the back, and, most importantly, enjoy!

Notice: The winter season starts on December 21st, which means that there are only 15 days left to reach The After School Special’s fundraising goal for UNICEF’s Children of Syria fund. If you like what The After School Special is doing to help support children in need in Syria, please consider donating to the fundraiser by clicking the button below:

Syria Donate Button

Thank you so much for your generosity!

Harissa: Syrup-Drenched Semolina Cake

20141011_185020Before you call me crazy, let me clear something up: no, this dessert has nothing to do with harissa, the spicy North African chili paste. You see, harissa is also the Arabic name for a deliciously fragrant cake consumed all throughout the Middle East, particularly in Syria.

This cake, also called basbousa, was an extremely popular treat throughout the reign of the Ottoman Empire, and rightly so — the semolina flour adds an addictive nubby texture and sunny flavor while a douse syrup, called attar, keeps the cake moist while permeating it with fragrant sweetness. Although traditionally served with breakfast, harissa is definitely decadent enough to stand up against any dessert. This recipe will become a mainstay in your kitchen — unique enough to impress guests and delicious enough to keep them coming back for more!

The first step to make harissa is creating the attar, just like many other Middle Easter dessert recipes. The recipe for attar is incredibly simple, and can be found here.

If you try out this recipe for harissa and enjoy it, please consider donating to The After School Special’s fundraiser for children in Syria, or spread the word about it to friends and family!

Without further delay, the recipe:

Harissa — Syrup-Drenched Semolina Cake

October 13, 2014


  • 2 cups fine semolina flour
  • 1 cup butter or ghee, melted
  • 3/4 cup milk or yogurt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 1 cup attar (rose simple syrup, recipe here), separated
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds (optional)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt (if using unsalted butter)


Preheat the oven to 400F.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the semolina, sugar, baking soda and salt together.


Stir the melted butter in until all of the dry ingredients are moistened. The clumpy mixture should look and feel like wet sand.


Stir the milk and 1/4 cup of attar into the mixture to make a batter. Add more milk as necessary until the batter takes on the loose consistency and sunny, golden color of polenta or thick grits. Pour into a greased 9×9 baking dish. At this point, you can decorate the cake with almonds (or pistachios, coconut, etc) if that suits your fancy.


Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the cake takes on a beautiful golden brown hue and passes the toothpick test.


While the cake is still hot, pour the remaining attar all over, using a spatula to smooth the syrup over every square inch and into every nook and cranny. The cake will absorb all of the syrup, becoming plump and just perfectly sweet (as the cake itself contains but a small amount of sugar).


Wait for the cake to cool completely before cutting. The inside will then have set itself up completely, and a crunchy sweet crust will have formed on the surface.


The final product: a rich, dense, moist cake with a distinct cornbread-like crumb and a sunny, golden yet nuanced flavor. It is no wonder that Syrians are so fond of harissa.

If you enjoyed this recipe, please consider donating to my fundraiser for children in Syria and spreading the word. Together, we can make a difference!

Syria Donate Button

 {click the UNICEF button to donate to The After School Special’s fundraiser for children in Syria}