Makhlouta

Food Styling by Maya Oryan - Photography by Serge Oryan

Food Styling by Maya Oryan – Photography by Serge Oryan

Mornings are the worst when one is sick. I still have the cold and waking up in the morning with a persistent cough and a very dry throat.

My beloved husband came to bed this morning, with some freshly squeezed OJ and told me: “I cooked Makhlouta for the kids and you”.

I guessed he was cooking Makhlouta as I heard the pressure cooker whistling;-) It’s still awesome news, no! He knew I was too sick to enter the kitchen. How sweet of him!

I love how he didn’t say lunch or dinner, he said Makhlouta his favorite meal -and mine- on a cold winter day like today.

Makhlouta is a Lebanese traditional stew that means “mixed” because it consists of a mixture of pulses and beans. There’s no straight recipe, it can be any kind of 5 to 7 pulses and grains. Open your kitchen cabinet or check your pantry and take a handful of every grain you have there.

I grew in the heart of the city and my parents never cooked Makhlouta for us, while my husband grew in a Lebanese village called Baskinta situated at an altitude of 1250 meters above sea level. The winter in Baskinta is cold and snowy, so many dishes are pulses based and Makhlouta is a meal you can eat twice a week. Now that we are married, anytime I ask him what to cook, his answer would be anything with whole grains.

Makhlouta is loaded with fibers and protein, its simple ingredients makes of it a very easy vegetarian thick soup.

This recipe uses pinto beans, garbanzo beans, lentils, whole wheat, brown rice and cracked wheat but feel free to use any 5 to 6 variety of your choice like broad beans, white beans, red kidney bean. The most common is to use brown lentils, but this recipe uses a mix of 3 colors lentils as we had an organic mix in our pantry.

NOT ONLY HE COOKED FOR ME, BUT HE ALSO TOOK THIS BEAUTIFUL, MOUTH-WATERING PHOTO! SERGE YOU’RE A TREASURE!

Makhlouta

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup mixed 3 colors lentils, washed and drained
  • ¼ cup brown rice, washed and drained
  • ¼ cup Burghul or cracked wheat, washed and drained
  • ¼ cup whole wheat
  • 6 cups of water
  • 1 cup pinto beans, soaked in water overnight
  • 1 cup chickpeas (garbanzo beans), soaked in water overnight
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • Salt to taste
  • Cumin (optional)
  • Extra virgin Olive oil, to drizzle

 Preparation

  1. Drain and rinse the beans and the chickpeas. Place it in a pressure cook, cover with water and let cook.
  2. In a separate pan, heat the oil and fry the onion until wilt and brown.
  3. Add lentils, rice, burghul, whole wheat and water and bring to a boil.
  4. Add the cooked beans and chickpeas, with their water, stir in tomato paste. Season with salt, and cumin if desired, and simmer until everything is tender.
  5. Before serving, drizzle with olive oil and enjoy.

Tip 1: If you’re not using a pressure cook, place the beans in a saucepan, cover with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer. Let it cook until tender; this might take a little over an hour, depends on how fresh are the dried beans.

Tip 2: While soaking the beans, you may rinse and change the water after a couple of hours, if you want. Use a lot of water as the beans will grow in size and volume.

 

Thai Coconut Soup with Shiitake Mushrooms and Noodles

MayaOryan-IMG_3894

It has been really cold outside the last couple of days; winter has definitely arrived, temperature has dropped, and the wind is whipping up rain, thunder and grey sky.

Since I have the cold, I feel that there’s nothing better than cocooning inside my home and cozying up to the fireplace while sipping home made hot chocolate or a hearty warm soup.

Being sick is not fun especially when your nose is so congested that all food seems tasteless. I was craving for spicy meals and intense flavors when this recipe came to my mind.

It was ready in no time mostly because I had all the ingredients available. I love this soup, it’s creamy, flavorful and easy to prepare. Add chicken and it will become a complete meal.

Enjoy!

Thai Coconut Soup with Shiitake Mushrooms and Noodles

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 1 thumbed-size piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp Thai red curry paste
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • ¼ cup green onions, sliced (green part only)
  • ½ cup shiitake mushrooms fresh or in a jar, sliced
  • 100g noodles
  • Juice of 1 fresh lime
  • Salt, to taste

Preparation

  1. Heat oil and cook ginger and curry paste for 1 minute.
  2. Add chicken stock, fish sauce, brown sugar and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the coconut milk, carrots, green onions and mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are soft, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add noodles and cook for further 2 minutes. Stir in lime juice and season with salt. Serve hot.

Creamy Hot Chocolate With Cinnamon

Hot Chocolate by Maya Oryan

My Christmas shopping started in Paris, I was there just 2 weeks before Christmas, it was the perfect time of the year to visit the city and enjoy its chic boutiques, festive decorations and fairy lights.

I stayed in the 16th arrondissement, not too far from Trocadero and Eiffel tower, despite the cold weather I made sure to walk every day outside and take a hot chocolate break in one of the Parisian gourmet cafés to warm my hands and satisfy my taste buds.

Paris is where the best hot chocolate is found! Enriched with a little cream or milk, Parisian hot chocolate is served thick, velvety and rich. The luxury comes from the excellent quality chocolate concoctions they add.

Cocoa contains flavonoids, antioxidant-rich pigments that relax blood vessels and promote cardiovascular health, but also if consumed in large quantities it can expand my waistline, therefore I like to flavor my drink with cinnamon or vanilla and drink it in an espresso-size cup.

Traveling with my lifetime friend Nidal!!

Time for a selfie with my lifetime friend Nidal!!

Creamy Hot Chocolate With Cinnamon 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or cow milk)
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon (or more)
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup 70% dark chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt (preferably fleur de sel)

Preparation

  1. Bring milk and cinnamon to a boil. Let simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.
  2. Whisk in vigorously cocoa powder, chocolate, sugar and salt, until mixture is frothy.
  3. Divide among 2 mugs and garnish with mini marshmallows or cinnamon sticks if desired.

Lebanese Lentil Soup – Aadass bi Hamod

MayaOryan-IMG_3904

Lebanese lentil soup is a meal in itself, packed with lentils and potatoes and often enjoyed with the addition of toasted bread. A hearty, healthy and warm bowl of this soup is the perfect solution on a rainy and cold day.

Lebanese Lentil Soup

Serves 4 • Preparation Time 20 minutes • Cooking Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups lentils, washed and rinsed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 450g / 1 bunch of fresh Swiss chard, washed and chopped coarsely
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ cup onions, chopped
  • 2 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • Olive oil, to taste

Preparation

  1. Bring a medium size pot, of 1L, of salted water to a boil and add lentils to half cook.
  2. Add potatoes and cook for 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add chards and cook for another 5-7 minutes.
  4. Heat oil and sauté coriander and onions in a separate skillet until wilt. Add to lentils.
  5. Adjust seasoning to taste. Add lemon juice off heat and while soup is still hot. Serve.
  6. This is a healthy and tasty vegetarian soup that can be served with toasted Lebanese bread (pita), if desired.

Chicory salad – Hindbeh bi Zeit

MayaOryan-Hindbeh Bi Zeit

Lebanese meze is rich in vegetarian dishes. It is an array of sampling size dishes, mostly falling into the same “healthy” bracket, as most recipes contain vegetables, nuts, olive oil, fresh herbs and seeds.

The most popular dish is hummus, but there are also fattoosh, tabouleh, baba ghanouj, fateh, falafel, shankleesh, goat labneh, grilled halloum and many more. So if you prefer vegetables over meat, it’s definitely worth visiting a Lebanese restaurant where vegetarian dishes are served in abundance.

Hindbeh bi zeit is one typical example of salad also falling in the meze category and using simple fresh ingredients. It can be quickly prepared at home. If you can’t find chicory in your region try to look for dandelions, both will result a light and simple salad, tangy with lemon juice and garnished with crisp onions.

Chicory salad – Hindbeh bi Zeit

Serves 4 – Preparation Time 20 minutes – Cooking Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of fresh green chicory, washed and chopped coarsely
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup onions, sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • Olive oil, to taste

Preparation

  1. In a large pot, heat oil and add onions to fry. Let cook until golden. Reserve some for garnishing.
  2. Add the chicory and mix until well incorporated.
  3. Season with salt. Let cook, on low heat, for about 10 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat and drizzle with lemon juice.
  5. Serve at room temperature with olive oil and lemon wedges.

Another variation of the recipe  you can add sugar while frying the onions or make caramelized onions instead. You will love this salad with toasted pine nuts as well; sprinkle a handful at the end of your preparation.

Chocolate Fudge Brownies

Brownie-MayaOryan

I asked my friend what do you love the most about your diet? And the answer came: The Cheating Day!

I love her thinking;-)

Open candy bar, ice cream, chocolate, caramel, jelly beans, … They are all fair game! Whatever you’re craving for; pizza, cheeseburger, doughnut… No food is off limits. It’s the day you honor your body’s food wishes and stop counting calories. Isn’t that a genius plan!

A well-justified treat for being such a saint all week and sticking to your diet, so what can be better excuse to dig intuitively in my decadent, fudgy, naughty brownie cake. They taste as great as they sound, they are so addictive, am sure you’ll want to make a second batch before the first is finished.

I agree with you that there must be some law to stops bloggers from uploading tempting pictures of sweets and have mercy on those who are dieting, but this is why cheating meals are designed for, no?

Come on, give your body a break those brownies have never looked so appetizing!

Chocolate Fudge Brownies

Ingredients

  • 150g unsalted butter, melted
  • 150g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 100g milk chocolate, chopped
  • 1 ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces (or chocolate nuggets)
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • ½ cup walnut (optional)

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease 9×9 inch square pan.
  2. Melt chocolate in a medium saucepan over low heat and combine to butter. Cool 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in sugar, egg, zest, flour, chocolate pieces and milk.
  4. Spread mixture into pan and decorate with walnuts. Bake 25-30mn. Cover pan with foil bake for further 20 minutes. If the brownie wobbles in the middle, put back in the oven and bake for another 5 minutes or until the top has a shiny crust and sides are beginning to come away from the pan.
  5. Dust brownies with sifted cocoa powder if desired and cut into squares.

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.