Jasmine and Fire by Salma Abdelnoor – Giveaway

Last June, I was offered 2 copies of the memoir Jasmine and Fire, one book for me and one book to giveaway.  I read my copy in few days and got busy all summer with trips and food styling jobs leaving blogging behind.

The book is about a Lebanese/American food and travel writer Salma Abdelnoor who decides to leave her New York life style for a year to live in Lebanon and reconnect with her roots. The book captivated me with every single word. I never thought that seeing Lebanon through Salma’s eyes would make me love this country more than I do. She opened my eyes on many Lebanese exclusive details, which I forgot how unique they were, and touched my heart with her stories on our long-lasting beautiful traditions, particularly our extraordinary food culture.

This is a book for all Lebanese and Lebanese originated to read and enjoy.

I’m so excited to offer you one copy. To enter the draw, send a message to my facebook inbox and include your name and country of residence. The deadline to enter the draw is Wednesday October 10, 2012 at 11:00am local time. The winner will be notified through his Facebook account.

All the best

Kishik porridge or Kishk

I came back from the gym to find out my handsome man making breakfast! Isn’t it great to have someone cooking for you! I’m so blessed I know! Not only the pictures he takes for my blog are amazing but he also loves cooking!!

My beautiful girl and petite adorée Kaia is back to school, and this means longer mornings for me to finish all those piled up tasks and to take pictures of food right before I eat it:)

Thursday, September 20, 2012. The Oryans breakfast menu is Kishik soup.

Lebanese Kishik powder is made from wheat (burghul) fermented with yogurt (laban). It’s a 10-days-process, that till now many of the Lebanese, especially living in the village including my mom-in-law Laure, prepare it every year in September as part of their pantry (mouneh) ingredients for winter. It’s cooked in many ways, my favorite is Kishik samosa style or Kishik porridge.

My share of kishik was delivered yesterday and Serge couldn’t wait to cook some. It’s one of his favorite food! It’s another staple in our house. He only makes it for breakfast, but many will eat it for lunch or dinner. I love it without the meat since it has always been a breakfast meal for me. A true delight!

Thankfully, my hubby is finally sharing his recipe!

Much love, Maya xx

Kishik porridge

Ingredients

▪    2 tbsp olive oil
▪    1 tbsp butter
▪    1 medium onion, chopped
▪    2 cloves garlic, crushed
▪    ½ kg lamb, ground (optional)
▪    2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
▪    1 potato, peeled and diced small
▪    1 cup kishik (found at stores who sell Mediterranean food)
▪    4 cups water
▪    Salt to taste
▪    ½ tsp white pepper

 Preparation

  1. In a pan, heat olive oil then melt the butter. Add the onions and sauté until soft and golden. Add chopped garlic and cook for another 3-5mn.
  2. If you’re cooking kishik with meat this is when you have to add it. Add meat to the pan and cook for 10mn. Add pine nuts. Stir. Add potatoes and sauté until tender.
  3. Lower the heat, add Kishik and water and stir well. Season with salt and white pepper.
  4. Stir thoroughly. Cook until the soup is thickened.

Artichoke ragoût with Rice

I opened my freezer to put some ice cream inside and realized that I can’t because it’s packed with Al Wadi Al Akhdar frozen vegetables. I recently was offered the whole range of their products and worked on more than 60 recipes for the re-launch of their website. I’m lucky I know to work on such a quality and tasty brand, but here’s what I encountered: food jam in my freezer!

I wasn’t planning to cook dinner! I was up at 7am, went to the gym, got back with full energy and worked like a happy busy bee, thinking of finishing my day with a nice warm bath and watching TV series in bed. So I stared at my freezer wondering either I eat the entire ice cream and work out an additional hour the next morning (Nope!) or forget about watching TV and cook something easy using some of those veggies.

It didn’t really take me time to decide, I’ve immediately chosen 2 bags of artichokes bottoms, one bag of baby carrots and some frozen coriander. In my recipe here below, I recommend using fresh vegetables, but if you were like me looking for a simple recipe that can be ready in no time, frozen vegetables are always my choice after fresh, especially on busy evenings.

My mom cooks this yakhne – like we Lebanese call a stew- with meat cubes and no coriander in it. It is also delicious, but since I prefer vegetarian meals, this is my version with an extra squeeze of lemon juice just before removing from heat.

“The food was ready in 45 minutes and Serge enjoyed a homemade dinner when he arrived! It just really can’t get any better than this!”.

Ingredients:

  • 500g frozen artichokes bottoms
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic gloves, minced
  • ½ cup fresh coriander, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • Juice of one little lemon

Preparation

  1. In a bowl combine artichokes, potatoes and carrots. Dilute the flour in the water and pour in.
  2. In a large pot, heat the oil and cook the onions, until golden.
  3. Add the garlic and the coriander, stirring frequently.
  4. Stir in the vegetables coated with flour. Season with salt and peppers. Cover with water and simmer on low heat until cooked well.
  5. Drizzle with lemon juice and serve with short grain rice and Lebanese flat bread.

Traditional Style Meghleh

For Chloe and Ella

My close friends Carole and Elie recently have been blessed with two beautiful girls! Newborn babies are like angels with their tiny fingers and tiny everything:) What an amazing feeling, incapable of expressing in words. I know, because I’m a mother of 2 girls too. My love for Kaia and Axel is growing bigger every day. They are my whole world! They make my heart melt away especially in the morning when they come to our bed with their messy hair on their faces and cute nightdresses.

“I’m so happy for you Carole, your heart will melt away too when Chloe will hold to your pinky and when Ella will start squeezing you tightly. I wish them a happy life, God bless them and let them always be healthy, safe and sound”.

Now back to our Lebanese heritage, Meghleh is the dessert we offer when relatives and friends are over to congratulate parents for the birth of their baby. It is also served on Christmas to celebrate the glorious birth of Jesus Christ.

A powder rice based treat spiced with cinnamon, caraway and aniseed powder. A very special taste different from any other dessert I know and full with flavor sensations. I love it more when topped with nuts, it makes it look more appealing and taste delish.

My kitchen today is a far better place with the smell of Meghleh cooking!

Welcome Chloe and Ella, this one goes for you!

Traditional Lebanese Meghleh

Ingredients

  • 1 cup powder rice
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 7 to 8 cups water
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon ground
  • 1 tbsp aniseed powder
  • 1 tbsp caraway powder

To garnish 

  • Coconut powder
  • Walnuts (soaked)
  • Almonds (soaked)
  • Pine nuts (soaked and peeled)
  • Pistachios (soaked and peeled)

Preparation

  1. In a large saucepan dissolve rice powder and sugar in water, add spices and bring to a boil stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until mixture thickens or about 15 to 10 minutes.
  2. Spoon the mixture evenly in serving cups.
  3. Serve cold, covered with grated coconut and nuts. (It’s better to garnish just before serving)

French Lentil Salad

Is that for real that 3 months have passed since my last blog or it’s just my eyes! Gosh! What a busy summer… and how fast it finished!

Every year before the Holy month of Ramadan I get very busy with food styling jobs and this year as usual I got the chance to work on numerous brands I love. I had photo shoots every week since June.

But work is not the only reason to blame my disappearing, yes you guessed Vacation!

This year we went to beautiful Mallorca and sunny côte d’Azur. Delicious Paella and original Niçoise Salad! On our last night, we booked a table at La Petite Maison restaurant in Nice where they serve the best lentil salad ever and where my inspiration is for this recipe.

I fell in love with Nice! Maybe because there are a lot of similarities in their nature and our’s in Lebanon (they both lie on the Mediterranean sea) or simply maybe because I needed a vacation so much that I enjoyed every moment I spent there.

I’m sharing few pictures with you!

Ingredients

For the lentils:

  • 1 ½ cup red lentils or French green Lentilles du Puy
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 bell pepper orange or red, diced
  • 1 red apple, peeled and diced
  • 5 small radishes, diced
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, cut in 4 each
  • 1 sprig of green onion, finely chopped (only the green with a little of the white bulb if desired)
  • Parsley, to garnish

For the vinaigrette:

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup tbsp red wine vinegar apple vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard

Preparation

1. Wash the lentils. Transfer to a saucepan with boiling water, add salt and cook until the lentils are tender (about 20-25mn). Do not overcook. When ready, drain and set aside.

2. To make the vinaigrette whisk all the ingredients together.

3. In a salad bowl, mix together the lentils, the vegetables and drizzle with the sauce. Decorate with parsley and serve,

Serve at room temperature.

The cafés – Nice

At the beach – Nice

Mallorca’s blue sea

Mallorca – August 2012