Kanafeh Na’ama (Middle Eastern Sweet Cheese Pastry)

Kanafeh is one of the oldest desserts in the world, according to Wikipedia it was mentioned as early as the first millennia anno domini in the Levent countries. But this is when it really strikes you how old the Middle Eastern culture is, and not just a thousand years, but sixty thousand! Our primitive ancestors came out of Africa and settled here for the first time. The existential crisis begins to set in, why am I even here? What is the point of being alive if I am so insignificant? Is there a God? Just relax and ignore these thoughts for another day. This ancient part of the world has given us farming, language, civilization, religion, and most importantly: recipes! Kanafeh has a couple varieties, this is na'ama which is made with baked semolina flour. The other variety is made using shredded dough called kadayif and I will make it soon. Its hard to explain what this recipe is to someone who has never had it, it is like an upside down cheese cake but the cheese is like really gooey, and you have this dish really hot.

Chicken with Creamy Spinach Sauce

So I was looking at my fridge and the only thing in it was a couple chicken thighs, an almost empty container of sour cream, and a bag of frozen spinach. I sat and wondered what I could make and the only thing that came to my mind was this recipe. This is one of those recipes you can whip up on a moment's notice with minimal ingredients to serve to your un-welcomed dinner guests so they can be on their way. But what if you don't have any dinner guests? What if you have no one who ever comes to your place because you are such poor company and your cry yourself to sleep because of the loneliness? Then stay strong my friend, neither do it. Just make this dish, post it on social media, or better yet, start a blog.

Chicken Masala

Indian foods have a lot of aromatic spices and this dish is no exception. "Masala" literally means spice. I really like this dish and order a variant of it when ever I go to Indian restaurants, but the biggest issue I have with them are they are drowning in orange colored oil. This is the beauty of cooking at home, you can customize the recipe however you want AND it is cheaper. For the price of one serving at a mediocre restaurant, you can make an entire dinner for four (or four meals meals for yourself). The special ingredient for this recipe is cardamom, its distinct taste gives a floral aroma to the dish.

Sauerkraut (Fermented Cabbage)

Ever bought a cabbage, used about a quarter of it since you only cook for one person at a time, and then wonder what to do with the rest? Or have you ever had a craving to eat sour cabbage after a week? Then you're in luck, sauerkraut is the perfect remedy for these two specific occasions. This is the easiest fermentation possible, the bacteria are already present on the skin of the cabbage and all you have to do is leave it in heavily salted water to wash the taste of poverty from your mouth. You will need jars to make this.

Kompot

I know what your're thinking; "I could go for some Polish heroin right now". But unfortunately that is not the Kompot I am teaching you how to cook. This sweet or bitter drink is of Eastern European origin and is especially popular in Slavic countries due to its functionality. You can drink it hot in the winter or cold in the summer, or the other way around if your are a serial killer. This is a useful drink for us broke people because it utilizes all those fruits you take, but can't finish, from your neighbor's backyard. Kompot can be made with almost any fresh fruits like apples, apricots, berries, grapes, etc, but should be made from what is growing in your garden or what you can steal from your neighbor's garden for that home-grown taste. I am making this with blueberries, cherries, and strawberries because there was a sale at Tops. I had apples but I've found that they dissolve completely into the Kompot leaving a very murky look.

Baklava (Middle Eastern Nut Pastry)

Baklava is a classic Middle Eastern dish, even more Middle Eastern than that forty something year old guy trying to get girls at a college bar. Make this for your terrorist-y friends and they will embrace you with open arms into their community. Baklava requires a lot of time and you don't really understand what that means till you've tried to make this damn dish. Phyllo dough is like thinner than paper and can't support its own weight and breaks just by looking at it. Half way through you will want to give up on life and want to be like the dinosaurs, extinct. But you've already come half way, so might as well finish it. But after it is done and you've waited a minimum of 6 hours, you'll have a taste of heaven and forget all the hardships until the next time you decide to make this dish. Baklava is made from a mixture of nuts, its best to use equal parts almonds, walnuts, and pistachios, but pistachios are expensive so I just used almonds and walnuts.

Japanese Teriyaki Chicken

Teriyaki means to grill something and then shine it with soya sauce. It was commonly used for fish in Japan but has expanded to white meats like chicken and pork. My recipe slightly modifies the grilling process and suggests to shallow fry it for an added texture and let the chicken sit in the sauce for a long time to absorb the flavors and become tender. The key to this recipe is to get the perfect soya sauce to honey ratio, luckily for me I was able to infiltrate a gang of chefs in Tokyo with my knowledge of Toriko that they just gave it to me. Sounds like I'm say spewing random words, but that is exactly how it happened.

Tandoori Chicken (Indian Chicken Roast)

A tandoor is a type of oven, imagine a big pit lined with bricks with an open fire below. It is used to make a variety of flatbreads or roasting meats in South and Central Asia. Tandoori chicken originated from the Indian Subcontinent and quite obviously needs to be roasted in any kind of oven. I'm obviously referring to Gordon Ramsay's pan fried abomination, but it's not the like this is the first time the English have shown complete disregard for Indian traditions. This recipe requires a lot of South Asian spices which might not be readily available from Dollar General (your regular grocery and clothing store) and require a lot of investment. I have all of them because I cook a lot of Indian food and this method is much cheaper in the long run, but if you are just making this once to impress that Indian girl who friend-zoned you ages ago then I suggest you go to your local Indian store and purchase a single box of ready-made Tandoori Masala. Shaan is by far the best tasting and only costs $1.25.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

This sweet and sour chicken is a weird combination of food, but it wasn't always so. These damn Western spies took the traditional Chinese sweet and sour sauce, which is a mixture of vinegar and honey, and forged something so ridiculous but tasty. As the name suggests in the Western influenced recipe, we add a sweet component (the pineapple) and a sour component (cooking wine or soya sauce) to the chicken and peppers. You may be tempted to swipe that pineapple from your neighbor's retirement fruit basket for this recipe but don't! The best results come from the canned variety since it already comes with pineapple juice. A lot of people use ketchup to get the strong red color of this food, but I really advise using sirachi or any chili garlic sauce since it will taste a hundred times better.

Ramen (Japanese Noodle Soup)

Every person who is broke knows what instant ramen is, how to cook it, and when to eat it. I'm making a fancier version for that special occasion you have more than a dollar in your pocket or for when you're tired of eating that 35 cent a pack, three-for-a-dollar, Top Ramen which is probably all the time. I always think about  the immoral lyrics of Filthy Frank when ever I cook ramen, here they are: "We got chicken and beef to boost the manhood; Anybody want a piece of me will have to get this ramen first; Start with the shrimp and then the fire; If you're fully blazed then this shit'll get you higher; Thirty-five cents a pack, three for a dollar; Unbelievable pricing that's the future of a blue collar worker; And I'm talkin' bout ramen; This shit'll fill you up when you're feeling like an African" This song perfectly symbolizes what instant ramen is and how it has helped our young professional progress in society. I am using shrimp in my recipe, but it can be done using almost any cooked protein.