Sweet Pillar & Co.’s Nadia Hubbi Gives Us Her Story and Some Ramadan Chocolate

Everyone who knows me also knows that I love chocolate— as many women do. I’m not, however, a lover of all chocolate. In fact, I’m not a fan of chocolate companies who fool consumers into thinking they’re getting real chocolate when in fact they’re getting a hefty dose of things like high fructose corn syrup or unhealthy fats and oils added to it to make it cheaper and just higher quantities of it.

It takes people who respect the pastry arts and the consumer to really put out a high quality dessert that is special and beautiful at the same time. I like that about Nadia Hubbi, founder of Sweet Pillar & Co., a California-based company selling chocolate covered dates and traditional ma’amoul cookies artfully crafted in the same way her Syrian grandmother used to make them.

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Date and Walnut Tart

Dates are also the perfect baking fruit- they freeze well, they don’t make your baking products soggy and they add just the right about of sweetness to a dessert. Below is a deliciously simple tart recipe adapted from one of my favorite and most-used cookbooks, Mediterranean: A Taste of the Sun in Over 150 Recipes by Jacqueline Clark and Joanna Farrow.

The original recipe calls for a few things I didn’t have or didn’t have time to make, such as the homemade pastry dough. Instead, I buy a good quality one with very few ingredients, all of them natural and healthy and then freeze the crust for times like these.

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Tabbouleh (Parlsey & Bulghur Salad)

Tabbouleh, or Parsley Salad, is one of those dishes just packed with nutrition: high fiber bulghur (semi-cooked and dried whole wheat), fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and parsley, beautiful golden olive oil and the best sea salt you can find. Fresh lemon juice finishes it off, giving you a side dish that’s light enough for a late iftar or an early-morning suhoor if you are one to incorporate salads into those meals.

 It may or may not be traditional to make tabbouleh in the way I describe below, so if you’re a tabbouleh traditionalist, I’m curious to know how you simply must have yours. I’m mostly focused on the high-quality, fresh and hydrating ingredients in this dish because they help me get through a long fast when paired with protein, fruits and other healthy things.

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Zucchini & Walnut Dip

One of my dearest friends now lives far away from me, across the country. We stay in touch when we can and pick up our conversations where we left off the last time. What’s so wonderful about this friendship is the feeling that no matter how much time or physical space between us, there is … Read more

Homemade Yogurt Cheese

When I began this blog, one of the first recipes I shared with everyone was for homemade yogurt. If you have a yogurt maker, the recipe is ideal for going beyond yogurt to making yogurt cheese, commonly known as labneh in the Middle East. If you don’t want to make it yourself,  just start out with a good quality store-bought yogurt.

Labneh is wonderful as a spread or dip any time of day, even breakfast. It’s smooth and thick, a bit tart and most commonly topped with olive oil and zattar {thyme & oregano}. I love it with pita bread and olives, but at times I even use it on tacos when I don’t have sour cream- my kind of fusion food.

Nowadays labneh is normally bought commercially, but it’s so easy to make yourself at home. All you need is yogurt to start out and then top with what you like best, or nothing at all. Here’s my no-fuss way of making it.

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Hummus Cups

It’s been an eventful couple of weeks around here. I’ve been visiting farmers’ markets everywhere I can here in Chicago and back home in Ohio. Did you see all the lovely produce I was able to capture? Needless to say, I’ve been busy with travel, family and my work here in and on My Halal Kitchen. I’ve met some wonderful people and gotten to know about … Read more

Halal in Cleveland

For a city not ranked as one of the largest in the U.S., Cleveland has a lot to offer in the way of halal foods. There’s an area on Cleveland’s west side that is home to a large Arab-American population, many of whom are of Palestinian descent and Muslims who seek out halal foods. Within … Read more

Dates & Cream Iftar

Ramadan Mubarak! Muslims all over the world are embarking on another blessed month of fasting from food and drink (pre-dawn to sunset) in order to re-focus on what is spiritually important in their lives. Although they’ll  be breaking the fast in different ways around the world, according to their own particular and culturally desirable tastebuds, one food that … Read more

Caramel Sesame Candy

Though I’m not particularly a fan of candy, I do love anything with sesames seeds or honey. Additionally, it’s a common traditonal sweet  in both Italian and Middle Eastern cuisine, two of my favorites. This recipe is my version, which is softer than the harder candies found at ethnic grocers. While watching an episode of Lidia’s Italy, I got … Read more

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