Figs and Brie Cheese Quiche

 

Picture taken by my talented daughter Kaia:)

Picture taken by my talented daughter Kaia:)

One of my clients sent me a pack full of pastries; shortcrust ready rolled, puff cases, filo sheets, … asking me to give him my feedback about the quality of the product.

So I spent the week, eating tarts, quiches and samosas! Not that I’m complaining. I guess you should know by now that my love for baking is unconditional.

Ready rolled pie pastries are one of my much-loved ingredients, especially after a long day at work. I often line my pie dish, flute edges and then open the fridge and think about the filling. Recipes with shortcrust pastries are versatile and trouble-free. I don’t think it is said easy as pie for nothing;-)

I wanted to break away from routine ingredients so I started with a pesto rosso spread, topped it with some blue cheese, slices of brie, sprigs of thyme, and dried figs. The outcome was a hit through! I served it for some friends visiting in the evening and as soon as I saw their heads nodding I knew I had the green light to share the recipe with you all.

KaiaOnSet-LR

Ingredients

  • 1 Pack of Shortcrust Pastry or “Pâte Brisée”
  • 2 tbsp pesto rosso
  • 2 tbsp blue cheese, crumbled
  • 150g Brie cheese, sliced
  • ¼ cup fresh thyme leaves
  • 5 dried figs, sliced
  • 5 eggs
  • ½ cup low-fat milk
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Maple syrup to drizzle

Preparation

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C.
  2. Roll out dough on floured surface. Transfer to pie dish. Trim and flute the sides. Pierce crust all over with fork.
  3. Start by spreading the pesto on the crust.
  4. Distribute the blue cheese and decorate crust with slices of brie in a fan shape.
  5. Add thyme and figs.
  6. Beat eggs well. Add milk, pepper and salt. Pour over the filling and place pie dish on the middle oven rack.
  7. After 20mn, drizzle with maple syrup and place it back in the oven for another 10 to 15mn.
  8. Transfer tart to rack; cool 5 minutes.

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.

Orzo Summer Pasta

OrzoSaladbyMayaOryan

Today feels like summer and all I can think off is a refreshing, healthy summer salad. An Orzo Salad wins the listed options hands down. It is simple, light and packed with lemony flavors (and contains pasta… what’s not to love about it?) ;-)

I love Orzo (look for it on the pasta aisle), when tossed with Feta cheese, red onions and cucumbers it makes a beautiful hearty dish that keeps well in the fridge. It can be served as a side meal or it can be The Meal. Pull me a bowl out of the fridge on a hot day like that and I’m in heaven!

This whole scenario activated my drool glands; I rushed into the kitchen and like an artist in the making, I mixed cucumbers, red bell pepper, mukimame (shelled edamame), Feta and a touch of thyme leaves for fun.

Looking at my bowl and thinking you gorgeous creature, I’m so ready to dig in and enjoy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked orzo
  • 1 cup mukimame, cooked
  • 1 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves, picked and washed

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preparation

1. Cook orzo pasta according to package directions. Rinse with cold water

2. In a bowl, combine orzo, mukimame, cucumbers, feta, bell pepper, and thyme leaves.

3. Whisk together all the dressing ingredients and drizzle over the salad. Stir gently until all ingredients are well coated.

Kibbet La’teen or Pumpkin Kibbeh Balls

KibbehMayaOryanDubai is calling me again and I have to travel next weekend. My trips are getting closer with time and I’m kind of used to it now, it’s in the system!

It’s actually in the entire family’s system (laughing). My mom offers her baby-sitting services before she accepts any invitation from her friends. My husband waits until I come back to travel so we don’t both leave the kids at the same time. My sisters cook always a little bit more to send it to us and my daughters have always a wish list of gifts ready for me to get them when I travel. I’m so blessed!

Thank you all for your support and for understanding how much I love what I do.

Well, everybody knows that when I’m not styling food, I’m still very busy doing everything else. I’m much more productive than every woman I know who has no job. I don’t know if it’s my energy that keeps me on the go, or simply the guilt feeling that I’ve been away from my family to work and I have to make it up for them. I exercise every day. I cook two meals (stirring in one hand and whatsApp-ing with the other). I tend to be the perfect wife, the fit mom, the present friend and the career woman.

My friend says it’s my adrenaline, I simply think I’m well organized.

It requires nothing but good planning (and love life). I don’t want one day to look back and realize that I wasted my life only dreaming.

Those beautiful pumpkin kibbeh balls are a dream coming true. Well I’d be cheating on you if I say I made them, because my mother-in-law did. And as long as she is sending it to us regularly I doubt that I will try it any soon;-)

Pumpkin kibbeh balls are more popular during Lent and among vegetarians. For those of you who’d like to adventure in the kitchen, making this recipe, it’s somehow long but worth every effort.

Ingredients

Stuffing

  • 2 tbsp frying oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 cups Swiss chard, chopped
  • ½ cup chick peas
  • 200g chopped walnuts
  • 50g toasted pine nuts
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp ground cumin (optional)

Meatballs (kibbeh)

  • ½ kg fresh pumpkin, boiled, pureed and drained in a sieve for 10 hours.
  • 1 onion, minced in a processor
  • 280g bulgur wheat
  • 120g plain flour
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1 tsp all spice
  • 1 tsp dried basil

Preparation

  1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, sauté the onion until brown and soft. Add Swiss chard, chickpeas, walnut and pine nuts and fry. Turn off the heat, add seasoning, lemon juice and set aside.
  2. Process onion, pumpkin purée and bulgur wheat. Add seasoning and flour, mix and let it cool in the fridge for at least 1 hour. If mixture is too hard add few drops of water.
  3. Moisten your hands and form kibbeh mixture into egg-size balls. With your index finger, make a hole on one end of the oval ball and spoon one tablespoon of filling inside and pinch the end to seal.
  4. Fry the kibbeh in cooking oil in batches or if desired, roast it in oven for about 25mn.
  5. Place the kibbeh on a serving dish and serve with cucumber yogurt salad.

Lamb Chops with Three Mustards

LambChopsbyMayaOryan

Yesterday was the last Sunday before Lent, or Ahad Al Marfa3, and is traditionally celebrated in our and many families across Lebanon by a gathering over lunch. The food preparation included the entire family and each one showed up –and off- with one of his famous recipes.

There is no traditional food on this day, but the menu did include all kind of meat since most of us abstain from eating meat during Lent.

So we sat feasting on Kibbeh, grilled seafood, barbecued chicken and I offered to bring lamb chops cooked in three mustards.

Well the best part after eating was skyping with my brother and his family who, live in Canada, we raised our glass in a toast to them and together laughed our heart out.

Keep smiling and cherish life!

 

Lamb Chops with Three Mustards

 Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 6 tbsp spring onions, finely sliced (white part only)
  • 6 lamb chops
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp English mustard
  • 1 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • ½ cup fresh cream
  • Kosher Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preparation

1.Melt butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until wilt and starting to brown.

2.Season the lamb chops on both sides with kosher salt and pepper. Place it in hot skillet, and cook for 1 minute on each side.

3.Add the wine and cook the meat for further few minutes until opaque or desired degree of doneness.

4.Add the 3 mustards and stir well to coat the lamb chops.

5.Stir in the fresh cream and cook until it starts to bubble. Do not allow to boil.

6. Arrange the lamb chops on dinner plates. Top with the sauce or serve on the side.

Raheb Salad or Grilled Eggplant Salad

BatenjenRaheb

My husband has been away for the past 10 days, so little action since he’s gone. Taking it easy, sleeping more, working out more, (cooking less), playing with the kids and drawing together, volunteering for school where I can see my girls in class and all the things I love and I miss doing.

Next week is going to be a busy week for me more photo shoots and more food styling.

LIVE Broadcasting from the gym, writing this post after my 5km run and feeling proud!

I present you “Batenjein Raheb”!  A vegetarian Lebanese dish, made of grilled eggplant mixed with olive oil and lemon juice, seasoned with salt and topped with fresh parsley, tomatoes, cucumber and pepper.

I don’t remember when did I shot this picture with Serge but am happy to find it because it’s one of my favorite salads especially during Lent, which is starting on Monday.

I love this time of the year, a time of prayer and reflection for many, and a period when people are closer to God. During their fast they abstain from eating meat and vegetarian meals come more in fashion. The Raheb salad for me is easily a main course especially when eaten with bread. I sure prefer to grill my eggplants at home and eat them fresh, but for those who have little time in the kitchen, grilled eggplants come also in jars and are very tasty.

Raheb Salad or Grilled Eggplant Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 kg eggplant
  • ½ cup Olive oil
  • ½ cup Lemon juice
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cucumbers, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • ½ cup parsley, chopped

Preparation

1.Pierce the eggplant with a fork, cover with foil and char grill over the stove burner on all sides. This will take around 15-20 minutes pending on how large is the eggplant. Alternatively, it can be grilled inside the oven on a baking tray for about 30 minutes.

2.Remove from heat and allow to cool.

3.Peel and scoop out the grilled pulp and discard charred skin. The pulp can be sieved to reduce the water.

4.Place the pulp in a bowl and mix with olive oil, lemon juice and salt.

5.Layer with peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes and parsley and serve.

Cream of Broccoli

BroccoliSoup-MayaOryan

Last week, my husband had to travel to Dubai for few meetings, so the kids and I excitedly tagged along, since I also had a one-day shoot for Al Marai brand and my daughters had a long weekend at school.

I found it a great opportunity to spend quality time together and with our beloved “Dubaïote” friends.

From airport to my meeting, kids didn’t mind at all playing around in the big studio and mess with the cameras.

It’s true that I had to work the next day but this in fact was an invitation from heaven to them to Candylicious where they could buy all the sweets they crave for, that Mommy (myself) never allow it and Daddy APPROVES it occasionally. In the evening Axel’s tongue was so green that I had to brush it and Kaia had candy wrappers inside her clothes. Gosh!

I’m blessed with friends like Zeina, Roula, Angy and Fares! During the day we roamed around playing areas, aquariums, the wildlife park and kids places and in the evening my friends offered to baby sit my children so we had the chance to club and celebrate Valentine like honeymooners☺ Dubai you are my kind of getaways: I LOVE YOU!

Family+Collage

Back to reality, I usually come back with batteries fully charged and energy overloading but this time I got back and my heart still there, wish this trip was a little bit longer I really need a break, I’ve been shooting commercials every week since September.

So with the little energy I have, on this week’s menu was soups and salads.

I cooked Cream of Broccoli. I used fresh broccoli, home made stock and skimmed milk, which made my soup a hearty meal to enjoy in front of the fireplace.

Tip: This can also be served in a tea cup as a starter for guests.

Cream of Broccoli

Ingredients

  • 450g fresh broccoli florets, cooked in boiling water
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ cup warm vegetable stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • Salt & White pepper, to taste
  • 50g Feta (optional)

 Preparation

  1. Melt butter in a saucepan and sauté onion until lightly brown and wilt.
  2. Add the cooked broccoli and stir for 2 minutes. Add the warm stock and simmer for approximately 5 minutes.
  3. Off heat, purée mixture into a blender.
  4. Stir in milk and simmer for 3 minutes. (Add milk or stock until desired consistency).
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Decorate with feta cheese and serve.

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.

Quinoa and Chickpea Salad

MayaOryan-QuinoaSalad

My first encounter with QUINOA was only few years ago. Before that, I never heard of it.

My Peruvian friend told me that it has been around for centuries, and I thought of myself, what a goose!

When I googled QUINOA, I found out that it is a whole protein and is packed with dietary fiber, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. This grain is gluten-free and has seen an increase in popularity in gluten-free diets. So gifted!

-Quinoa and I can sure be pals.

And all of a sudden, every restaurant I know has a quinoa recipe on his menu, and every Lebanese recipe has been exposed to the Quinoa factor; Tabouleh with quinoa, Falafel Quinoa, Zucchini stuffed with quinoa, Halloumi quinoa salad and many more.

Ever since, I geared up and Quinoa became a staple in my pantry.

One of my favorite Quinoa recipes that I’d like to share today, as it’s also going on my Christmas menu this year, is Quinoa and Chickpea Salad. And here how I make it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked as per packet directions
  • 400g chickpeas aka garbanzo beans, cooked and peeled (or canned in brine)
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 medium red pepper, diced

For the vinaigrette:

  • 4 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • ¼ cup Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Honey
  • 1tsp Dijon Mustard
  • Salt, to taste

Directions:

Basically, 1 cup of quinoa is cooked in 2 cups of water. Boil until all water is absorbed.

In a salad bowl, mix all 4 ingredients.

Whisk together the sauce’s ingredients until thickened and drizzle over the quinoa-chickpeas mix. Combine well and serve.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Thyme & Feta Quiche

RoastedTomatoes&FetaQuiche

ONE OF MY FAV’ OF ALL TIME…

May I just start by saying you’re not going to mess this up! This quiche will definitely make it to my Christmas table this year as part of the starters menu; It’s a star dish. I don’t remember how our love story started but I confess an affair. Classy, sexy, elegant, and yes I’m still talking about the quiche, it’s one of my favorite of all time.

The tomatoes become flavorful once roasted. So please do not skip this step. You will love love love the contrasting tastes of the sweet roasted tomatoes, piquant balsamic vinegar and tangy Feta cheese. You may also need to check the tomatoes while cooking because the time of roasting may vary depending on their ripeness and the oven temperature. Use any aromatic available herbs while roasting; oregano, rosemary, basil or bay leaves. Make sure that you strain the tomatoes before you top the puff pastry, or you will end up with a mushy crust.

Many friends have requested this recipe, I’m so happy to finally publish it and with a worthy picture of it. Enjoy it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 (230g) puff pastry
  • 800g (around 60 pieces) cherry tomatoes, cut in 2
  • Dried Basil, to sprinkle
  • 200g Feta cheese, diced
  • 1 cup fresh thyme leaves, washed and picked
  • 4 tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Honey
  • Sea salt and fresh black pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Place the cherry tomatoes in a shallow roasting pan, (choose a large pan, where tomatoes are not too crowded), sprinkle with salt, coarsely fresh pepper, oregano and drizzle with olive oil. Transfer to a pre-heated oven and roast for about 20mn or until they are wilted and the skin starts to wrinkle. Transfer to a colander to drain.

2. Meantime, roll out dough on floured surface and transfer to a rectangular (12cm x 35cm) tart pan. It is also possible to make the quiche in a round tart pan. Pierce crust all over with fork.

3. Top crust with Feta, thyme and tomatoes. Combine balsamic vinegar, sugar and olive oil. Whisk vigorously and stir over the tomatoes.

4. Bake quiche in the middle of the oven, for about 20-25 minutes or until crust is golden. Transfer to rack; Cool 10 minutes.