Modern Middle Eastern Food With the Sweet Pillar Food Bloggers

California Cooking
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Friends, foodies and bloggers Nadia Hubbi and Deana Kabakibi started Sweet Pillar Food as a passion project.

Their blog, Sweet Pillar, strives to preserve their Syrian culture with family recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation. Nadia and Deanna add their own modern spin to these delicious dishes that they grew up eating.

They joined Jessica in the kitchen to make their award-winning tahini shortbread cookies and, shakshuka, a middle eastern tomato stew deliciously spiced with poached eggs.

Visit Sweet Pillar’s website or Instagram page for more recipes and insight from the bloggers.

This segment aired on California Cooking With Jessica Holmes Episode 58.

Tahini Shortbread Cookies


  • 3/4 cup of salted butter
  • 1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons of white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of carob molasses
  • 1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons of tahini
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt (I add an additional 1/8)
  • 1/2 cup of sesame seeds (use black sesame to pop color)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180C). Prepare a parchment lined baking sheet.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar until they are light and fluffy.
  3. Add tahini and mix well. Add molasses until evenly combined.
  4. In a separate bowl add flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine.
  5. Gradually add to the butter mixture. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for 30 min.
  6. Fill sesame seeds into a bowl. Take a tablespoon of dough (I use a scale at 25 grams per cookie), roll into a ball and roll in the bowl of sesame seeds until fully covered. Press ball down on baking sheet to flatten (or leave as a ball to have more dome shape). Repeat.
  7. Bake for 9 to 12 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool before transferring or they may break.



  • 1 to 2 red and yellow bell peppers, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup of yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 28 ounce of crushed tomato
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon of paprika, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • Parsley for garnish


  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, put 1 tablespoon of oil and add onions. Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until translucent. Add bell peppers and cook until they just start to soften about 3-5 min. In the last 1 to 2 minutes, add garlic and stir well.
  2. Add can of crushed tomato, cumin, paprika and salt. Stir well. Lower heat so it’s simmering and create 6 indentations for the eggs. Crack an egg into each indentation and cover the pan with a lid so the steam cooks the top of the eggs for about 10 minutes. Check the eggs after 5 minutes to make sure the yolks aren’t cooking through if you like them runny. You can also put the pan (oven safe) in the oven at 350 degrees until the eggs cook about 10 min.

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