Easter Cookies – Kaak al Eid or Kaakét Tetta Rose

Kaaket Tetta RoseWe all have at least one favorite gran’s recipe. Some have passed to us directly and others thru our parents. One of my favorite nana’s recipe, is her Easter cookies.

I can’t think of my Tetta without remembering her jokes and joyous laughs. She passed away 16 years ago and I still remember the way she asks, as soon as she sees me, Shou Eikhir nikteh? What is the last joke? My grandma was a very educated person, she moved to Ashrafieh (in Beirut) when she was very young. Mother to 4 children she always found time to make crosswords and read car magazines (yes cars!). I’m sure if “internet” was even a word at that time she would have been the first of her generation to download whatsap and write quotes that starts with KEEP CALM. She was outgoing and loved life and everybody I know enjoyed her stories and never ending list of proverbs.

Back to her secret recipe and the smell that wakens loads of memories and brings warmth to my heart, I’m honestly very appreciative to my sister who sourced the recipe out and shared it with me on a piece of paper, Xeroxed from the original copy which, is written in Arabic by Tetta Rose herself.

Since it’s my blog’s third anniversary, I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate!!

Luscious cookies, boasting a full array of flavor and texture, they are moist and rich transporting you to a-melt-in-your-mouth bliss.

Those cookies are traditionally treated to special holidays like Easter or in my modern word they are treated for special events like a 3-years-of-blogging celebration. I’m so proud that I made it till here!

The original recipe uses ghee, but please feel free to substitute it with butter while keeping the quantity same. Am sure this recipe will be a hit through, especially among the members of my family, their eyes will widened as soon as they read the title.

I wish for Lebanese to keep this tradition alive and will continue to make kaak for Eid.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups coarse semolina (Ferkha)
  • 300g/1 ½ stick butter (or ghee), melted
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp “Mahlab” (found at Middle Eastern spice shops)
  • ½ tsp instant yeast

Preparation

  1. Mix coarse semolina and flour together.
  2. Add yeast and melted butter and rub with your hands until well combined.
  3. Add sugar to milk and whisk until dissolves. Add mahlab and whisk again.
  4. Gradually pour milk, kneading the dough gently with hands. Place the dough in a large bowl and cover with a wet kitchen towel. Let it sit for 1 hour at room temperature.
  5. Divide dough into 2 balls. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each ball to an approximate thickness of 1/4 inch (6 mm). Dip cookie cutter in flour before cutting out shapes and transfer to baking sheets.
  6. Bake cookies 10 to 12 minutes (depending on size) or until edges are firm and cookies are dry to the touch. Do not let cookies color.

Cool on sheets 1 minute; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

ITALIAN APPLE CAKE

ItalianAppleCake-MayaOryan

It is said that we spend around the third of our life sleeping; I would love to know how much am I spending mine baking.

I love baking. Whether it’s sweet or savor, my pupils just grow larger in front of almost any kind of food coming out of the oven.

Yesterday I baked an apple cake and witnessed it coming out my kitchen triumphantly smelling like heaven.

I had my family over for my yearly Christmas party. I love our get-together, it’s warm and joyful. Kids were delighted with all the new gifts waiting for them under the Christmas tree and we, “grown-ups”, were happy drinking and eating merrily. A day to remember! Also was my cake☺

My daughters Kaia and Axel

My daughters Kaia and Axel

ITALIAN APPLE CAKE

Ingredients

  • 100g butter (at room temperature)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour, sifted
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 4tbsp milk
  • 3 sweet apples such as gala or golden, cored and sliced (skin on)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1tbsp limoncello

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 180° C. Butter and flour a 22cm round cake pan.

2. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, add eggs, vanilla, flour, baking powder and salt.

3. Pour milk gradually while mixing and scraping down the bowl with a spatula as you go.

4. Pour the batter in the cake pan and decorate with the apple slices arranging them close together and overlapping on top of the batter.

5. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle this over the apples. Drizzle with limoncello (or lemon juice).

6. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Check early, cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

5. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack.

6. Serve with vanilla ice cream if desired.

Love Bananas?

Maya Oran-Banana Muffin

I want to share this recipe on my blog for the sake of its amazing taste. The outcome is lush and moist muffins. They are by far the easiest to make and super healthy. It uses, whole-wheat flour, All-Bran cereals, skimmed milk and a tiny amount of butter. Children relish them. I baked a dozen of Banana muffins today and their aroma permeated my kitchen. Mmmmm!

My conscience

-Wake up!! (snapping fingers) 

I have to confess that as a food stylist I have to be embarrassed of how those muffins look like. They don’t rise like other do and the texture is a little lumpy. Well let’s say it’s more authentic like that:) But I do promise you a flavorful snack/breakfast, not too sweet but truly delectable.

Banana Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup All-Bran® cereals
  • 1 ½ cup skimmed Milk, at room temperature
  • 1 cup Whole-Wheat Flour
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • ½ stick / 50gm Butter
  • ¼ cup brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Honey
  • 1 Egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 ripe Bananas, mashed
  • ½ cup Raisins

Preparation

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180ºC
  2. Soak All-Bran cereals in milk for about 10mn.
  3. Mix flour, salt, baking powder.
  4. Cream sugar and butter. Add Honey and egg. Mix well.
  5. Stir in the soaked milk gradually alternating with the flour mixture.
  6. Fold in the bananas and the raisins.
  7. Divide the batter into the muffin cases and bake for 20-25 minutes until toothpick inserted in the center of one of the muffins comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes and remove from pan to a wire rack to cool entirely.

Happy 2nd Blog Anniversary!

Devil'sChocolateCake-MayaOryan

It’s two years now since I posted my first post on this blog!

Two years and some hundreds of followers later! Two years and I’m still enjoying blogging more every day. I have no plans to stop now it’s just the beginning! ♥

Through blogging, I became a much more skilled and knowledgeable cook. I learnt about various food cultures and inspirational eating habits. I’ve come to know, virtually and in reality, many other amazing bloggers. And I have been part of wonderful food events.

Thank you all for your LIKES and SHARES and COMMENTS. And mostly thank you for keeping coming back you’ve been a great support to me.

Can’t wait to eat a piece of the cake, it’s one of my favorite chocolate cakes recipes.

Devil’s Food Cake 

Ingredients

Serves 10 to 12

  • 300g / 3 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ tsp Salt
  • 1tsp Baking Powder
  • 1tsp Baking Soda
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ¼ cup hot water
  • 1 cup buttermilk or sour cream, at room temperature

For the Frosting

  • 200g / 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup icing sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 6tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6tbsp hot water
  • 300g semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius / 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.

2. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl; set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and hot water.

3. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about three minutes.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla and cocoa powder mixture, scraping down the bowl with a spatula as you go.  Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat well, then beat in half of the buttermilk. Beat in another third of flour mixture, then second half of buttermilk. End with the last third of the flour mixture, beat until well combined, making sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula.

4. Divide batter evenly between the cake pans and place them in the preheated oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Check early, cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

5. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pan, and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate Frosting

1.Whisk together cocoa powder and hot water until smooth.

2. With an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and salt on medium-high speed.

3. Reduce heat and slowly add melted chocolate and cocoa powder mixture. Mix until well combined.

Vintage Memories of Childhood Food

Biscuit w Raha-M.OryanBiscuit Gandour 555, Unica, Ras el Abed, Dabké, Tutti Frutti, Choco Prince, Babol!

There’s no way you lived in Lebanon and haven’t got fond memories of at least one of these iconic food brands!

Some of them got a makeover, changed their name, but most of them are still on the rise and refuse to die out.

By chance, I went to the grocer last day where I spotted the famous green and red box of Lucky biscuits, or is it 555? I call it “Biscuit Gandour” and I consume it exclusively with Turkish Delight. However, I bought one box of biscuits and one box of Turkish Delight!

As soon as I reached home, I proudly displayed my little treasure on the dining table where everyone can notice it. AND EVERYONE DID NOTICE IT☺ And everyone tucked into the biscuits and the delights, or should I say into the feast of reminiscences?

Somehow, “Biscuit and Raha” (Biscuits and Turkish Delights) not only triggers happy memories but is still considered as an enjoyable and tasty treat. I introduced it to my daughters Kaia and Axel and watched them munching their share with indulgence and joy.

I know for sure, that many of you are still loyal to nostalgic food where simple treats like “Biscuit w Ra7a”, sounded like a real feast. I can feel your taste buds drawn to the past; to some of your favorite old-fashioned food, you no longer eat. I don’t know how many hearts belong to vintage food, but I know my heart does!☺

Strawberry Jam

MayaOryanStrawberryJam

Who among us has never stopped in front of a street vendor mouth-watering over fresh oranges, roasted chestnuts, fluffy cotton candy, and the list is endless!

I love the way in Lebanon, street food merchants display their goods. When a fruit or a vegetable is in season, here they are, conveniently scattered everywhere, making sure you bump into one of them before you reach home. No matter what direction you’re driving in! And the best part about it, Sweet Heaven, you don’t have to leave your vehicle; Free Car Delivery!

I think best sellers in Lebanon are fresh fava beans (a.k.a. broad beans)!

Fresh peas, Greengage plums (janerik), loquat (akidinye), are quite popular as well, and very dear to every Lebanese’s heart:)

As for me I felt for strawberries yesterday. Small, aromatic and intensely sweet! The smaller ones are more tasteful than the large ones. I let my nose be my guide and look for fragrance rather than color. A sweet aroma is the best indication of good flavor. And at this really affordable price, why not buy a large quantity to make some jam that kids can enjoy and mommy can show off with her super easy recipe without using a pectin;-)

Ingredients

  • 1 kg fresh strawberries, hulled
  • 600g / 2½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

Preparation

Place the hulled strawberries in a big salad bowl and cover with sugar. Let it rest for 10 hours, preferably in the fridge if the weather is hot.

In a heavy based saucepan transfer the syrup without the strawberries and bring to boil for 10mn on a low flame.

Add the strawberries and the lemon juice and cook for about 25mn or until a small amount of the juice gels on a chilled plate.

Pour carefully in jars and keep refrigerated. Consume within a month.

Yield: 3 to 4 jars, 370g each

Tip: If desired, one extra cup of sugar can be added to increase the quantity and sweeten the flavor.

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.

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.

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)