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.

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.

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.

Beef Steaks in Herbed Marinade

ImageGrilled steaks are perfect deals when I have little time to spend in the kitchen. Especially when I have them marinated overnight. The juicy flavor of the meat is enhanced with a marinade of Mediterranean herbs and olive oil.

And here below how I make it! It’s no more a secret recipe:)

Ingredients

  • 4 pieces / 200gms beef steaks
  • Pam spray

Marinade

  • 1 cup / 250ml olive oil
  • 3 tbsp grape vinegar
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs, plus 2 more for garnish
  • 1 handful fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 fresh lemon, cut in 4 wedges
  • 1 tsp salt

In a shallow dish, combine all the marinade ingredients and soak steaks inside. Cover and let stand for at least 2 hours.

On a medium-high heat, oil a stovetop griddle or a grilling pan and place the slices of steak to grill. Cook around 5 minutes per side or to your liking, turning once only. Move to a serving plate and cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 5 minutes.

Garnish with rosemary and serve with salad, potato mash or grilled vegetables.

5 Reasons to Summer Detox

3 x detox juices

 

Aloha from the beach!

Here I am, lying in the sun having the time of my life while a breeze blows gently my hair.

I had a hectic month! Loads of photo-shoots and sleepless nights! I can’t believe that I’m spending this day being lazy without my phone ringing with reminders.

In the middle of this mayhem some parts of my life went off-track including my healthy eating habits. It was time to decide to give my body a break and start a cleansing diet. What could be more convenient than having a neighbor who owns the leading cleansing juicing business in Lebanon under the name of 5 a day☺!

Five bottles of juice were home delivered every morning. The juices were as fresh as a daisy. At the beginning, I asked for the 3 days plan, thinking that it’s way far than I can handle, but it turned out to be no MISSION IMPOSSIBLE and extended my program to 5 days. This scheme is designed to eliminate craving, remove toxins from the body and kick-start a healthy eating plan.

Here you go top 5 reasons to start a summer detox:

  •      Weight Loss
  •      Increase Energy
  •      Boost Metabolism
  •      Improve sleep
  •      Glowing Skin

Today is day 5! I can feel both my metabolism and immune system giving me a pat on the back, saying Way to go Maya!

If you want your system to give you the same pat on the back, it’s now the time to start a detox. Alternatively if you live in Lebanon I recommend you try 5 a day juices, your body skin and overall health will benefit and it will help you feel and look your sexiest!

Nourish your body with below healthy drinks recipes or try my Green Power Juice recipe posted earlier.

Carrot-Pineapple-Orange Juice

  • 1 cup pineapple cut into pieces
  • 4 carrots
  • Juice of 2 oranges
  • 1 thumb-size piece of ginger (optional)

Romaine-Apple-Spinach Juice

  • 2 cups romaine hearts
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 green apple

 Strawberry-Pomegranate Juice

  • 1 cup strawberry
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds
  • Juice of 1 lime

Green Power Juice

GreenJuicebyMayaOryan

Might be choking for some people, but I don’t drink coffee. No black coffee, Turkish coffee, Espresso, Cappuccino, NOTHING!

But I do drink a lot of healthy juices. It’s an excellent way to get my daily serving of fruits and vegetables. I almost juice vegetables every day and keep the juice fruits as a treat (because without the fibers fruit juices are high in sugar).

A green juice is part of many detox diet and can cleanse your digestive system. Vegetables are easy to digest. This juice is a valuable factor in helping your body so energetic.

When we eat, our energy is focused on our digestive system to break down the food in our stomach. When we are not digesting our energy is doing other jobs like trying to heal and rejuvenate our body. No one wants an exhausted body all day long. It’s good to give your body a break and feed him light snacks:)

Green juices are really yummy and easy to prepare. I read somewhere Green Juice Recipes for Beginners. Well how difficult it can be to throw few pieces of vegetables in the chute of your juicer!!

You can make any combination you like. Peas, pepper, kale, cabbage, lettuce, carrot, beetroot, celery, fennel, …

All green plants have Vitamins A and C, which are important co-factors for calcium absorption. Vegetables contain many nutrients and among my favorites, are:

Cucumbers: Mildly diuretic. Great source of B vitamins and can lower blood cholesterol.

Spinach: Oxalic acid contents of leaves hinders absorption of iron and calcium. Contains large amounts of antioxidants and beta-carotene. High in folate.

Broccoli: High in fibre, antioxidant vitamins beta-carotene and C, which help against heart disease. Its phytochemicals have important properties, especially against cancer.

Parsley: High source of antioxidants, folic acid, Vitamins A and C, which help control blood-cholesterol, prevents constipation, protects the human body from free radicals mediated injury and from cancers.

Ginger: A well-known anti-nausea remedy; ideal for travel and morning sickness. Also stimulates circulation and aids digestion.

GreenJuiceNotebook-WhiteTo make my juice sweeter I sometimes add an apple, and here is one of my favorite combinations.

  • 2 Lebanese cucumbers
  • 2 cups of fresh spinach
  • 1 green apple, peeled
  • A handful of parsley (optional)
  • 1 thumb size piece of ginger, peeled
  • ½ lime

Put all ingredients through your juicer. Spice it up with ginger and squeeze lime into juice, if desired. Have straight away and enjoy.

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!☺