Sweets for my sweet, sugar for my honey

Muttabaq (2)

Well, not just for Big Man, but for some dear friends who came to visit recently. Time for desserts, sitting around after a meal chatting until the candles burn down, sipping coffee and eating “just one more little piece” even though the waistband is straining a little.

To be honest, most of my girlfriends are not big dessert eaters. Not for any health or diet reasons, we’re just more fans of all things savoury. A good compromise was found once more in the pages of Jerusalem, the cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. I decided to make Muttabaq, a delicious dessert made with layers of buttery filo pastry and filled with creamy cheese.

If you want a look at the original version, hope over to see how Chaise Longue of Olives and Artichokes made it.  I decided to add a little Chica twist of my own.


  • 1 packet of filo pastry
  • 100g melted butter (the original recipe calls for about 50g more but I found I didn’t need it all)
  • 2 x 250g packs of ricotta (Check out Chgo John’s method if you want to make you own)
  • 1 x 250g pack of mascarpone (the original recipe calls for goat’s cheese but I have a goat’s cheese hating pal)
  • A large handful of chopped pistachios

Then my additions

  • About a dozen fresh dates, finely chopped
  • About half a cup of chopped walnuts
  • The grated rind of an orange
  • A tablespoon of icing or caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

Using half the packet of filo, place layers of pastry in a deep baking dish brushing with melted butter between layers. Cut off any edges that curl up the side of the dish. Mix together the cheese, orange rind and sugar and spread over the pastry. Sprinkle over the dates and walnuts and then place the remaining pastry over the top in layers, brushing again with butter as you go. Tuck the outside edges of the top pastry section under the bottom half, brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle over the pistachios. Cut into squares, without cutting right through to the bottom

Muttabaq Pistachios (1)

Bake for25 mins approx. at 225 degrees (or a hot oven) until golden brown. Meanwhile make up a lemon sugar syrup using 250g sugar, 90mls of water and the 3 tablespoons of lemon juice.

When the pastry comes out of the oven, pour over the sugar syrup (it seems like a lot but just keep going). Serve just warm but it’s also good cold.

To accompany the Muttabaq I made a Moroccan inspired dish of sliced oranges sprinkled with chopped mint, pomegranate seeds, rosewater, sugar and cinnamon. Very pretty and fresh.

Oranges & Rosewater (1)

We talked for hours, we reminisced, we laughed…now that’s what I call a perfect evening. And now I wish all of you and your loved ones peace and joy over Easter and I hope you all get to enjoy some wonderful food, time and laughter together.


52 thoughts on “Sweets for my sweet, sugar for my honey

  1. Estoy encantada con este pastel!
    Si tuviera todos los ingredientes lo haría de inmediato…Pero es tarde para que salga a comprarlos ahora…. Lo haré la semana que viene….
    ¿Ves? Estoy pensando en voz alta ! Para decirte que tu receta es súper!
    Felices Pascuas para ti y Big Man , de tu amiga ” milanesa” ( ya que estamos hablando de cocina…..)

  2. It looks wonderful and so does the Moroccan fruit dish – muttabaq is delicious, isn’t it, and your addition of dates and orange peel must have made it even better!

    1. I think it’s a dish that probably to purists isn’t muttabaq when you start playing around with it…but it lends itself to many other flavours! My dad made ricotta last night and today we’re making it again for Easter 🙂

  3. Oh, wow, Tanya! A lighter take on the cream-cheese filled sweet rolls we see around here at Easter…Sounds incredible.
    I find that I want sweets less and less, too…But with the little one around, we’re still making them 🙂

  4. Both dishes look fantastic, Tanya, but that cheese-filled dessert is something to behold. What a nice dish to present to friends who’ve stopped for a visit! They must have been thrilled. I’ve got plenty of lemon juice — just made some Limoncello — so I need to make some ricotta. i do want to make this dish.
    Thanks for the mention, Tanya, and I hope you and Big Man have a most Happy Easter!

    1. Ooh, bet that limoncello is soo good! We made this again this weekend with my dad’s home made ricotta and my mum’s candied lemon peel 🙂 Hope you had a good one too….

      1. This is slightly different from traditional mutabak. Here mutabaq is usually filled with nabulsi cheese or with nuts and it is usually made with a special dough not filo but that is what I love about the recipes I am seeing from Jerusalem, they are an easier, simpler take on old favorites

      2. Yes, in the programme he shows a fried version of a beautiful hand made dough (and simple cheese filling)…love the various interpretations of traditional dishes!

  5. Happy Easter to you too and thank your for more gorgeous deliciousness. I love this dish though haven’t had any for years. I might have to try making some 🙂

  6. fabulous, I have never seen anything like this.. I long for those evenings with old girldfriends, they only happen when i go home to NZ but oh they are a joy… c

  7. Wow, wish I’d been a guest at that table! That combo in enough to make a dessert lover out of anyone. 🙂 I especially love the pastry and I have a whole package of phyllo left in the freezer, hmmm. And love the tip about cutting the portions before baking, much less of a mess with phyllo. Great recipe and a nice finish with the fruit!

  8. I just told another blogger who was just on her way out for a massive birthday breakfast with an old friend “memories are made of calories…NO-ONE ever remembers a breakfast of juice and water crackers!” You just made “memories” there girl! Oh MAN these look good and I don’t like sweet things either…cheese on the other hand…cheese calls me (sometimes from deep sleep 😉 ) and Steve is a cheese hog of old. I think I am going to have to make some of these and give most of them to the neighbours (do you think it will make up for the 2 crowing roosters that we can’t catch? 😉 )

    1. You are SO right….juice and crackers just don’t make for special memories! I too am a cheese fiend. I know that some people can’t sleep if there is uneaten chocolate in the house, well, I’m a bit like that if we have some fabulous cheese 🙂 Think you’d probably enjoy this (can you make it with vegan cheese? Not sure how much choice you have) but I am sure the neighbours would be more than happy to overlook the crowing roosters. We’re lucky, back in Spain, everyone has roosters and most of our neighbours also have very noisy donkeys. The country is NOT a quite place!

      1. Sounds like we should up and move to Spain…I have “Victor Meldrew” for a neighbour on one side and “Ma Kettle” on the other…I MUCH prefer Ma Kettle 😉

      2. Believe me, the Kettles are FAR better than the Meldrews! Our neighbours up the back are more Margo and Jerry than anything else and “Victor” has managed to scalp his 2 acre property to within an inch of it’s life. He spends his life whipper snipping (strimming) everything on the ground down to dirt and peering and tutting over our fence because we have piles of wood, chickens and various “projects” on the go outside the shed that he simply can’t bear looking at… no barren wasteland here! ;). Glad is our Ma Kettle and she is gorgeous. At 90 she is quite benign but she is out in the garden, chopping wood, mowing the lawn and walking around her property and we adore her :). We don’t deal with Margo and Jerry up the back because they have the worst qualities of the pair and none of the endearing qualities so we just “forgedaboudem!” :). We are probably considered the local freaks…probably seen as The Clampetts ;)… only no oil 😉

      3. What a fantastic picture you paint of your neighbours..will have to send you a story I wrote about ours…it’s a bit cruel in a tongue in cheek way 😉 When I first read your message I read that “Victor Peed over your fence” instead of “peered”!!1

      4. Peeing, as anyone who lives on a property and has the ability to loll about with their elbows on a fencepost with a straw in their mouths watching the natives interacting, is a sign of ownership. If Victor next door was to pee on his boundary lines, I recon it would be entirely “him” to a “T” 😉 I would love to read your story :).

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