Hello 2013

Wow! Is 2012 really finishing? What a year! It was one of the best years of my life on many levels, especially the professional one.

I got the chance to be on national TV several times. The highlight of my appearances was as a judge on TOP CHEF – Middle East season 2.

I gained more than a thousand fans on my Facebook page and hundreds of followers on my blog. This month I was nominated  for 3 blog awards.

1-The Super Sweet Blogging Award by http://carlasueeatsweet.wordpress.com/

2- The Liebster Award by http://jeleff2014.wordpress.com/about/

3- The Very Inspiring Blogger Award by http://cupcaketravels.wordpress.com/

super-sweet-blogging-award21w6451 VIBthe-liebster-award For each nomination I have to answer few questions, I promise to do it next week. I just wanted to write a quick post before the year ends (in exactly 4 hours) and run to my guests who are waiting for me, at my house, in front of the fire place.

I’ve experienced great pleasure and success with blogging this year and expanded my clients list and worked on new amazing brands. To name a few Zaatar w Zeit, Al Wadi Al Akhdar, Pain D’Or, Knorr, Maggi, and many more.

I worked as a food stylist on more than a cooking show and have plans to be part of more than a cooking show next year. I’m so excited for the upcoming year!!

I wish you all and your families  a very happy new year and a lot of delicious food:) May God grant all your wishes.

With love / Maya

January 14, 2013: My daughter is back to school and I’m ready to start the year with a whirl of energy and a long to do list.

Top on my list is to thank, one more time, all my fellow bloggers for their nominations. It took me a while to write this email and I’m honestly not sure if I have met all the rules. I don’t think I need another stress in my life, please ignore any deviations to the rules I make:)

I start with Carla Sue from Eat Sweet by Carla Sue and the Super Sweet Blogging Award, for that I think I have to answer 5 questions and nominate 5 bloggers.

1. Cookies or Cake?  Cake (no frosting, icing or whatsoever).

2. Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate (proudly).

3. Favourite sweet treat? Chocolate.

4. When do you crave sweet things the most?  In the afternoon.

5. If you had a sweet nickname, what would it be? It’s easier to give others a sweet name. I don’t know what would I be! Brownie? Caramel?

Lucky bloggers are:

  1. Cook Book of Trial and Error – http://cookingrookie.blogspot.com/
  2. Petit4chocolatier - http://petit4chocolatier.wordpress.com/
  3. Life is a moment – http://2dois2be.com/
  4. Profiteroles & Ponytails – http://profiterolesandponytails.wordpress.com/
  5. Karista’s kitchen – http://karistaskitchen.com

I would like to thank again Jillian for his Liebster Award nomination and nominate another 5 friendly blogs.

  1. Farmgirl school - http://farmgirlschool.wordpress.com/
  2. Tonette Joyce Food Friends Familyhttp://tonettejoycefoodfriendsfamily.wordpress.com/
  3. Cat Chat – http://opcatchat.blogspot.com/
  4. Bucket List Publications - http://lesleycarter.wordpress.com/
  5. 5-Danielle Khairallah Sarcasmaniac – http://daniekh.wordpress.com/

For my last nomination for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award I am bound to link back to the blog that nominated me http://cupcaketravels.wordpress.com/, I’m not sure if for that I have to nominate anyone too:)

Cheers!

Vanilla Panna Cotta with Hershey’s Caramel Syrup

VanillaPannaCotta

This version of panna cotta is honestly the easiest ever. It doesn’t take long in the fridge before it’s ready to be served. It never goes wrong, especially when you use the full fat milk and the full fat heavy cream;-) I make it in small cups to reduce the amount of calories, well it’s applicable only if you resist a second serving, but can you?

If you don’t want to buy your caramel you can make your own, but this recipe is meant to be prepared, when you don’t feel like spending long hours in the kitchen and still want to get some credits at the end of lunch or dinner. Delicious!

Am sure you’ll like the results, especially with the addition of the Daim nuggets.

Ingredients

Panna Cotta

  • 1 ½ tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream

For topping

Preparation

  1. Sprinkle the powdered gelatin over the cold water and let soak for 5-10 minutes until soft.
  2. Pour the cream and the milk in the saucepan and heat until warm. Stir in the sugar and vanilla until dissolved.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the soaked gelatine and sour cream until smooth.
  4.  Pour into serving glasses (only half of 3/4 way) and refrigerate until firm. The time depends on the size of the glass, but be sure not to take it out too early.
  5. When the Panna Cotta has firmed, squeeze a layer of Hershey’s caramel syrup over each treat and decorate with Daim chocolate nuggets. Serve immediately or let set up in refrigerator.

Juicy Christmas Turkey

Christmas Turkey - MayaOryanPopular restaurants and catering companies get more than a 100 orders of turkey each on 24 and 25 December every year. They start baking turkeys weeks before and store them in freezers. On same day, it’s stuffed, plated and delivered. No wonder I never liked it!

The secret to a juicy and flavored turkey is to be cooked on same day. It’s not complicated at all. It just takes time in the oven. It’s an easy recipe and is always a hero dish for main events like Christmas.

I like to use a lot of fruits in my recipe to flavor the turkey; it blends nicely with sautéed peas, carrots and sweet potatoes. Delicious!

If you buy a frozen bird, allow at least 24 hours to thaw. And when you take it out from the oven, remember to let it stand for about 30 minutes before carving.

Happy holidays to all!

Ingredients

  • 1 (5 to 6kgs) turkey
  • 1 orange, cut into wedges
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 1 apple, cut into wedges
  • 6 dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried sultanas or cranberries
  • 2 sticks of cinnamon
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 1/2 cup of parsley
  • 3 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 1/2 stick (50g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 oven bag size Large
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat stir 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the cinnamon, the bay leaves, the onion, the carrots and the parsley, until the onion is cooked and the carrots are tender. Discard cinnamon and bay leaves and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.
  3. To make the turkey: Start with discarding neck and giblets. Rinse the turkey with the wine (or apple juice) over the sink. Don’t rinse with water.
  4. Mix the oregano, salt and pepper to the butter. Rub the butter mixture all over the turkey and between the turkey breast meat and skin.
  5. Put one tablespoon of flour in the oven bag and divide the remaining ingredients (orange, lemon and apple wedges, apricots, sultanas, rosemary and onion mixture) to place some in the main turkey cavity and some in the oven bag.
  6. Tie the legs together to hold the shape of the turkey. Put the turkey inside the bag and seal in. Place the turkey inside a roasting pan and position the pan on the lowest rack in the oven. Put 3 cups of water in the pan.
  7. Roast the turkey for 40 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 175 degrees C. And then cook again for about 21/2 hours or according to the weight of the turkey and the manufacturer’s instructions. Remove from oven. Take off the turkey of the bag and return it to the pan. KEEP THE LIQUID TO MAKE THE GRAVY.
  8. Pour 1 more cup of water into the pan. Continue roasting the turkey about 1 hour longer or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 75 degrees C to 80 degrees C or until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with a skewer.
  9.  Transfer the turkey to a platter and tent with foil. Let stand 30 minutes while preparing the gravy.
  10. To make the gravy: Strain the turkey pan juices from the roasting pan through a sieve and into a 4-cup glass measuring cup; discard the solids. Spoon off the fat from atop the pan juices. Add enough chicken broth, about 1 to 2 cups, to the pan juices to measure 4 cups total. Melt the remaining butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the broth. Simmer until the gravy thickens slightly, whisking often, about 10 minutes. Season with mustard, salt and pepper. Serve the turkey with the gravy.

It is becoming to look a lot like Christmas!

Gingersnaps

Gingersnaps

Don’t we all, at some point of our life, have met someone who, from the first time, was stamped in our memory?

Last June, I flew all the way to Abu Dhabi just to watch Madonna’s concert. It was a huge thing to me. I love her songs, her performance and every bit of her show. Being standing close to the stage in the front row, felt like I was partying with the Queen of Pop and I was really happy to finally see her!!

On my way back home, I watched movies on board and barely gave attention to the girl sleeping in the seat next to me, until just before we landed we started a conversation. Traditionally it started with the where are you from question, and funny enough I found out that she was at the concert too, she lives in Lebanon just a stone’s throw away from my house, her girls are in the same bus with Kaia my daughter, she’s also in the advertising business and loves cooking!! All I can remember is that we kept on answering me too, me too:) It’s true I haven’t seen her since, but we do exchange messages on Whatsapp occasionally and the last time we did she asked me for the Gingersnaps recipes.

Mmm… one of my favorite too! Especially, the traditional Swedish recipe, the cookies are very thin and spicy. The dough is not sticky and very enjoyable to work with. I use black treacle or carob molasses, very popular in the Lebanese kitchen. I like to combine 2 kinds of sugar to have a nice brown color, but if one brown sugar is used it will not make any big change on the outcome. Warming up for Christmas!

This one goes to you Joumana! Enjoy it!

Ingredients

  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup black treacle
  • ½ cup drinking water
  • 150 g (1 ½ stick) unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups all-purpose-flour, sifted
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of salt

Preparation

1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C.

2. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, treacle and water and heat until it starts boiling.

3. Add the butter and stir constantly over low heat until it is completely melted. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool.

4. Blend in the spices.

5. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Add to the mixture a little at a time and mix well to a smooth consistency.

6. Refrigerate overnight.

7. Sprinkle flour on a working surface and roll it thin. Cut into desired shapes and place them on a lined baking sheet or a greased cookie sheet.

8. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Let the gingersnaps cool on the cookie sheet.

Awwamaat on Saint Barbara’s Day

AwwammatbyMayaOryanOn Saint Barbara’s day or Eid-il-Berbara, Lebanese children disguised in costumes roam the streets, knocking on the doors, collecting candies and treats and singing Heyshleh Barbara. A yearly celebration very similar to Halloween, but celebrated on the 3rd of December.

The Lebanese story says that Saint Barbara escaped her pagan father who refused to let her convert to Christianity. She disguised herself in different costumes (thus the tradition of dressing up and wearing masks) to hide from her father who was persecuting her.

I grew up in a neighborhood where they gave coins on Saint Barbara’s day instead of sweets. Can you imagine what a happy child I was on that day!

My dad used to cook “awwamaat” (or ouwaymet) as a traditional food for the occasion. A true delish!

Awwamaat are small balls of dough, the size of a walnut, deep-fried to a golden browned crisp and then soaked in sugar syrup.

I fondly remember my dad in the kitchen frying these doughnuts, while I’m waiting for him to finish to gobble it all up. There’s no way to eat just one!

Other sweets for the occasion include Atayef, they’re like pancakes stuffed with walnut and a rich cream called Ashta, and sweetened boiled barley.

Awwamaat are also part of the traditional celebration of Ghtas, Christ’s baptismal night, but were mostly famous at our house on Barbara’s feast. The perfect treat to enjoy on that day!

And this is how my dad made them:

Middle Eastern Awwamaat on Saint Barbara’s Day

Ingredients:

Donuts

  • 3 cups flour
  • ¼ tsp dry yeast
  • 2 ½ cups water, lukewarm
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Oil for deep frying

Syrup

  • 2 ½ cup of white sugar
  • 1½ cup water
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2tsp rose water

Preparation

1.To make the syrup, dissolve sugar in water, add the lemon juice and bring to a boil. Remove the foam on the top. Simmer for 10mn while gently stirring and until it becomes thick. Add rose water and set aside to cold.

2.To make the dough, mix flour and sugar in a large bowl. Dissolve yeast in warm water and slowly add it until dough forms. Knead well. Cover the dough with a wet cloth and leave to rise 1 to 2 hours.

3.Heat oil and drop mixture using a wet teaspoon or form ball shape with hands and drop in oil. Remove from oil when golden brown and drain on absorbent paper. Dip with syrup when still warm. Serve hot or cold.