Good old-fashioned strawberry milkshake

After a long day at work, shooting an advertisement for a fruit-flavored yoghurt brand, I brought home a huge load of left over fruits, including a rather big amount of strawberries. While taking a look at this excessive batch of strawberries, my mind immediately started a screening of all the possible recipes I have stored inside it. The result: 1 ITEM FOUND. Strawberry Smoothie!

It was then thought that who could deserve a better drink than this one after a tiring day of running around the set and standing in the kitchen for hours!

A Strawberry Smoothie can be made from strawberries only. I’d like to add to it a cup of skimmed milk and a banana. If the strawberries are not sweet enough on their own, I usually add a dash of honey. My daughter Kaia prefers it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream instead of the milk with no banana.

Refreshing!

Strawberry Smoothie

For 1 person

Ingredients

  • 10 fresh strawberries, hulled
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 5 ice cubes, crushed
  • 1 banana (optional)
  • 1 tsp honey (optional)

Preparation

 

Put all the ingredients into a blender and mix the lot until smooth. Add sugar or honey to taste.

Chocolate Banana Cake

The first time I ate a chocolate banana cake was at a friend’s place. When I asked her for the recipe, she told me that it was a ready mix box that she bought in Poland :( Very disappointing!

I simply fell in love with that cake and wanted to have more of her delicious dessert. When I got back home, the next thing I found myself doing was looking online for Chocolate Banana cakes recipes. Then, after baking this cake several times, I ended up making my own “flattering” recipe. Why flattering, you might ask?  ‘Cause I swear that anyone who tried this cake immediately asked me for the recipe!

Whenever I’m invited to a dinner or a gathering and I feel like leaving a good impression, I bake a chocolate banana cake and bring it along. Splendid! It makes it even more flattering when my “Hero cake” gets so many compliments or when I receive indirect compliments through the ones addressed to my husband Serge, such as “niyelak” i.e. lucky you :)

Genius!

Before you start with the preparation, you need to know that ripe bananas have more flavor and a good quality of milk chocolate makes a lot of a difference (I often use Galaxy chocolate plain milk).

This cake is very moist, hopefully you will try it and love it.

Chocolate Banana Cake

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup oil or 50gms/half stick butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 small mashed ripe bananas
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 cup chocolate chips or chocolate chunks

Preparation:

 

  • Pre-heat oven on  180 degree C.
  • Beat butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
  • Add bananas. Beat well
  • Add dry ingredients; flour, baking soda and baking powder. Blend.
  • Add milk and mix.
  • Pour batter in a pre-greased baking pan and add chocolate chips on the top of the batter and push it gently with a toothpick. Do not let it sink.
  • Bake for 45-50 minutes.


A Fishy Story

When I crave for meat, it’s fish. I lived in Dubai for 10 years where the fish is fresh and abundant. My husband, who loves to eat healthy food (and you will hear this a lot!), fancies a baked fish at least once a week. So along the years we unintentionally became pescetarian. [Seriously? No!]

For those of you who are not familiar with the word; Pescetarian is a vegetarian who will eat fish.

The true version behind my story is that meat and chicken (with the exception of the Christmas Turkey) were aliens to my kitchen. They never made it to my fridge until I had my first daughter Kaia. Before that I almost never stopped by the butcher. Hamburgers, tenderloin, chicken fahita, … were gourmet dinners to treat ourselves when we go out to restaurants:)

I baked fish, steamed fish, barbecued fish and trust me, as complicated as it seems, fish is one of the quickest meals to prepare. ONE, It’s healthy (this one goes for you babe). TWO, impressive if you have friends over. THREE, delicious!

One of my favorite kinds of fish is the SEA BREAM, because of their mild and white meat. It can be found in various parts of the world and is ideal for grilling. One of these fish weighs around 350gms and can be grilled whole, head and all.

For me it’s enough to rub my fish with salt and pepper, and then stuff it with sliced onions and tomatoes. Lay it in a baking pan with lemon wedges and bay leaves, drizzle it with oil, and cook for 35mn. Tasty!

Baked Fish

Ingredients

  • 4 fresh Sea Bream fish (cleaned, gutted and scaled)
  • Sea Salt and coarse pepper
  • 2 onions, cut in circles
  • 2 large tomatoes, cut in circles
  • 3 sprigs of rosemary
  • 1 lemon, cut in wedges
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • Olive oil, to drizzle
  • 1/2 cup of White Wine

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 220°C
  2. Wash fish, pat dry and place in oven dish.
  3. Liberally sprinkle salt and pepper over all parts of the fish and inside the body cavity.
  4. Top with onions, tomatoes, rosemary and surround with lemon, bay leaves and cinnamon. Drizzle with olive oil.
  5. Pour the wine inside the pan and cook for about 45mn or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Janssons frestelse – Going Swedish!

 I will never forget the “janssons” I had at my Swedish friends, I went back home obsessing about those layers of potatoes and onions.

Christy, our host, had always confessed that she and cooking go in different directions. Her love is for painting, but it turns out that she can manipulate food ingredients like she plays with colors. The fireplace, the mood and the table set, everything was so divine.

The mushrooms that she picked herself in the woods in Sweden were carried all the way from Stockholm to Beirut (to my tummy) to make her delicious mushroom soup recipe.

In general, I love any food that goes out of the oven, and that Janssons was a whole new experience. Three ingredients I never thought of combining together; POTATOES – ONIONS – ANCHOVIES.

Before trying that meal, if I heard the word ‘anchovies’ twice, I would pass out. Now I believe that if it’s from a good source and combined with the right ingredients, it adds a lot of flavoring and makes a beautiful dish.

If you are like Serge (my husband) and I, and you don’t like anchovies, you should try this dish and I’m sure it will change your whole perspective on sprats.

Thank you Christy!

 


Ingredients

  • 1.2 kg (2 lb) potatoes
  • 400 g (14 oz) onions
  • 1 small can of anchovies*
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • Salt – white pepper – black ground pepper
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Butter

*For more flavoring you can double the quantity of anchovies

Preparation

1. Peel the potatoes and cut them into strips like match sticks. Thinner than you cut for French fries. Peel and cut the onions into thin slices, sautéing them gently in a little butter without browning.

2. Grease a ovenproof baking dish and cover the bottom with a layer of potatoes, then add half the onions and all the anchovies. Try grinding fresh black pepper between the layers and sprinkle on a little salt.

3. Another layer of potatoes, then the rest of the onions.

4. Finish with a layer of potatoes.

5. Flatten the surface. Pour the cream on until it is almost visible through the potatoes. Place a few pats of butter on top and sprinkle with some breadcrumbs.

Bake in the oven [250C/475F] for about an hour.

Apple Crumble

One of the many things I love about Lebanon is that when you go and visit someone who has a house in the village with a garden, you always come back with a goody bag, and here I mean fresh fruits and vegetables “min el jnayneh” i.e from the garden.

My father in law, who by the way makes anything he puts his hands on turn green, is a fantastic gardener, and a very generous one as well. No one can visit him and leave empty-handed.

APPLES were my reward for taking the girls to play in his garden last Sunday (I’m a mom of 2 girls).

Granny smith, fuji apples, golden apples, and many more. But my favorites are the Gala apples, not only because of their fairy tale name but also because of their sweet taste.

Hands-on APPLE CRUMBLE

Ingredients

Crumble:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup brown Sugar
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 250 gms or and a half sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup of oats

Filling:

  • 450g/ or 5 to 6 apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1cm/in piece
  • 50g/2oz unrefined brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemoncello
  • 1 tbsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup of raisins (optional)

Preparation

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

2. Grease a rectangular oven dish with a knob of butter

3. Place the apples inside the dish and sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon and lemoncello.

4. Make the crumb topping: In a bowl, combine together flour, sugars, salt and oat. Pour warm melted butter over mixture and rub with your fingers to make large clumps or crumbs.

5. Sprinkle the raisins over the apples then spoon the crumble mixture on top.

6. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes until the crumble is browned and the fruit mixture soft.

7. Serve with vanilla ice cream