I’ve written about themed parties many times, I just loved themed events. But I don’t limit my themes to parties and events; I think it adds fun to family dinners and get togethers too! One of my favorite themed dinners is Middle Eastern night mainly because it ends with a favorite Middle Eastern dessert called Znoud El Sit!
What you may ask is Znoud El Sit. Well literally translated it means “lady’s arms”. I heard it was because the creamy sweet pastries are reminiscent of a lady’s creamy white fluffy arms, interesting I know. But what ever it translates to in my book it’s delicious! Its a crunchy pastry made from fried phyllo dough strips filled with a fluffy sweet cream and dipped in honey syrup.
I’ve included the recipe for Znoud El Sit in this post, but before I share it let me give you some ideas on how you too can have a Middle Eastern themed night.
First off it helps if you have a few items you would consider “middle eastern” such as colorful tablecloths, napkins, plates, etc. it would help set the stage, it not it’s ok. If you really want to you can run to Walmart or the dollar store and pickup some disposable items in the party section. You can download some middle eastern music too, think Aladdin! Candles in brass holders or lanterns help set the stage and the mood. All this is great if you have it but not really needed because in a real Middle Eastern get together the focus is the food. Here are a few ideas of things you can serve.
You can start off with a selection of “mezzes” or appetizers like Sundried Tomatoes and Peppers Hummus dip, Baba Ganooj eggplant dip, balls of falafel, tabouleh salad, arabic salad, and of course a selection of olives and pickles.
Tasty main dishes can be Shawarma, Mensaf, or Shish Tauok, or any type of kabob if you feel. like grilling.
Then of course it’s dessert time! The best part of the meal! So for a middle eastern themed night serve up a tray of Znoud El Sit!
This recipe is a bit fussy in that it involves 3 different things to prepare – the cream, the pastry, and the syrup. But you can make everything well in advance and store in the fridge or freezer depending on how far in advance you make it. To be honest I keep a supply of all these things, the pastry and cream in the freezer, and the syrup in the fridge. That way all I have to do is fry them when I’m hungry for some Znoud El Sit!
So here’s how to make this yummy dessert.
1 Quart Half & Half
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Corn Starch diluted in 2 Cup water
Place the Half & Half and sugar in a large pot over medium high heat until it starts to boil.
Slowly stir in the diluted corn starch. Your cream should start to thicken.
Stir constantly to keep the bottom from scorching and cook until it reaches the consistency of pudding.
Remove from heat and let cool.
You can use the cooled cream immediately or place in a sealed container and freeze for up to 3 months. Just be sure to thaw it out before using.
4 Cups Sugar
2 Cups Water
1 Tbs. Honey
Place the sugar and water in a large pot over medium high heat.
Stir until sugar is completely dissolved.
Stir in honey and cook until it starts to boil.
Turn down heat and cook until it starts to thicken, about 15-20 minutes.
Remove from heat and squeeze and stir in the juice from the lemon.
Cool and pour over cooked pastry or store in sealed jar in the fridge for up to a month.
Znoud El Sit
1 box Phyllo Dough Sheets cut lenghwise into thirds and sheets/strips separated – keep a damp cloth over the sheets so they don’t dry up while you work.
1 stick butter, melted
Ashta Cream (recipe above)
Oil for deep frying
Honey Syrup (recipe above)
Take two strips of phyllo dough sheets
and place on a board to form a cross.
Brush with melted butter.
Place a heaping tablespoon of cream in the center
Fold the “arms” of the cross over the cream
Brush with melted butter.
Fold bottom part of remaining strip over the folded arms.
Brush with butter then roll the rest to the end of the strip.
Repeat this process until you’ve used all the strips.
At this point you can deep fry all of the rolls until they are golden brown or freeze some of the unfried ones for later use.
Drain the fried rolls on paper towels then dip in syrup before serving. If you want to you can drop a dot of red cookie icing or red jam on top of each roll just to give it some color.