These little nut-filled cookies take different shapes. Our recipe makes "1/2 moons." Other are "full moon" shaped and pressed into a decorative mold (photo, bottom right).
Dough: preheat oven to 350. Mix together semolina* and spices. Using a large mixer bowl, beat butter 30 seconds, add half of the flour mixture, and blend well. Add remaining half of flour mixture, alternating with 2 T water. Beat till all is well mixed.
Filling: Combine nuts with sugar and set aside.
Cookies: Separate dough into 12 pieces and flatten each piece into 2 1/2" circle. Drop tsp. of nut mixture into center and fold over into little half-moon shapes. Pinch edges together and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove to a rack, cool, and sprinkle with confectioners sugar.
* Use the quick cooking Farina.
Tips & Glossary
Many of the ingredients used for Middle-Eastern cooking may not be in your spice shelf, but you can find them at Mid-Eastern food stores. So to avoid frustration, make a list of the items you need before trying out the recipes.
Toss any old, even unopened, spice jars because they’ve probably lost their distinctive flavors. Put them on your shopping list.
Bulgur Wheat: wheat grains that have been par-boiled, dried, and de-branned. Bulgur has a high fiber content and wonderfully nutty flavor.
Cardamom: related to ginger. Pods (green, brown, or black) are the best way to store the spice, although high-quality ground is readily available. A equivalency: 10 pods = 1½ tsp. ground cardamom.
Coriander: aka cilantro, Chinese, or Mexican parsley. Fresh leaves and dried ground seeds are used in Mid-East, Asian, Indian, and Mexican cuisines.
Cumin: related to parsley and carrot plant; an important ingredient in chili powder. Used especially in curries, but also in Mid-Eastern, Mexican and Asian dishes. Cumom has an earthy, peppery flavor.
Deep Frying: oil must be hot enough; otherwise food will be soggy and greasy. Use a deep-fry thermometer to ensure proper temperature is reached. When cool, oil can be strained, refrigerated, and re-used.
Filo: aka phyllo; paper-thin sheets of raw, unleavened flour dough. Purchase frozen in any grocery store and follow directions on package for thawing. When working with one sheet, keep others covered with a damp towel to prevent drying out.
Rosewater: distilled from rose petals and used to flavor Mid-Eastern and Asian cooking. You can make your own—but why? Purchase it at Asian or Middle Eastern food stores.
Semolina flour: made from hardy durum wheat. A yellowish flour, it's used in Asian and Mid-East cooking (couscous). In the U.S., it's Farina, a breakfast cereal.
Tahini: paste from ground, hulled sesame seeds. A major ingredient in hummus and other Mid-Eastern and Asian foods, you can purchase at most grocery stores.
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