Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad)

IMG_4570MayaOryan

Panzanella salad is one that I remember to prepare when I have a slightly stale French loaf. I love home-made croutons, and when flavored with garlic or cheese I can nibble at that all day long.

This salad uses simple ingredients, like tomatoes, red onions, basil and a couple of cucumbers to add some crunch. The sharp taste of the dressing is a good match and will appreciatively contrast with the croutons.

Don’t forget to pull out your best quality extra-virgin olive to make it!

 

Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad)

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup extra virgin oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 day old, loaf French baguette or Italian bread, cut in croutons size
  • 4 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cucumbers, diced
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup basil leaves, chopped

Dressing

  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar (or apple vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp minced shallot
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt, to taste

Directions:

 

  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
  2. Heat olive oil for 2 minutes, then drop the garlic inside and leave it to cool.
  3. Scatter the bread pieces on a baking tray and brush or drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the garlic olive oil. Place the baking tray in the middle of the oven and bake about 5-7 minutes on each side.
  4. Remove from oven and sprinkle with salt.
  5. To prepare the dressing; discard garlic cloves. Add vinegar, shallot sugar and salt to olive oil and whisk.
  6. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, basil and bread (croutons). Toss all in the dressing and serve immediately.

Apple Tart

AppleTartby Maya Oryan

It’s raining again and I’m kind of sick of it. I’m so happy I booked my vacation to sunny Dubai and this is my light at he end of the tunnel. By coincidence I read this morning an old post written by Ishita, a Dubai based blogger, whom I met 15 months ago at FBC. Her story conjured up a decade of tinsel memories lived in a city I still call my second home.

Back to the main task and through this mission of cooking from whatever available ingredients at home, I spot my red apples starting to loose glam. I thought, why not use my frozen piecrust and bake this no-fail easy recipe that anyone should give a try. The blend of cinnamon with fresh apples, tangy lemon, and vanilla ice cream makes of it a true delight in every spoonful.

And don’t forget each baked pie is a labor of love:)

Apple Tart

Ingredients

  • 250g/1 ready-rolled frozen shortcrust pastry (or pâte sablée), just thawed
  • 6 large red apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon (more or less, to taste)
  • 3 tbsp limoncello (if not available lemon juice}
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Caramel sauce, to drizzle (optional)

 Preparation

  1. Combine apples, sugar, cinnamon and juice in a bowl and cover. Allow to macerate for half an hour.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 180°C.
  3. Roll out dough on floured surface. Transfer to pie dish. Trim excess and flute the sides. Pierce crust all over with a fork.
  4. Arrange apple slices decoratively over the crust –pour remaining syrup over all.
  5. Brush the edges of the pastry with egg.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden. Drizzle with some caramel and serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream.

To prepare your own crust try Martha Stewart short crust dough

Chef Emile’s Vegetable Salad

IMG_4430MayaOryan

Last year, my daughter’s class, Grade III, at school had to present POLAND on International Day. I, of course, offered my help to cook Polish food to be presented at our stall. Some moms signed in their name in my group before I even announce myself as a contributor. Thank you for your trust;-)

Well my menu and especially the salad, turned out to be a hit as people kept on coming back for more.

I thought the best is to serve something cold like salad and cake, as it’s going to be a lot of people coming at the same time for tasting after the dancing show. There were 1200 visitors and maybe 12 stalls. Salatka Jarzynowa is a traditional Polish salad that is served during holidays. It is prepared with root vegetables like carrot, potatoes and celery root. This salad is best prepared one day before as it needs to mature and tastes really better the next day. This was really convenient as part of the savory menu.

The best version to make it is my dad’s recipe; I did mention that my dad was a chef and I sure learnt from him a lot of cooking. His recipe has always been a star dish! It’s so consistent that we can eat this alone. I remember how he decorates it with shrimps or cold cuts, and always place it side by side with the turkey on Christmas. This year’s dinner was at my sister, and dad showed up with THE SALAD and they were both more than welcome.

Emile’s 2 important tips are: to prepare the vegetable salad with only vegetables that are not juicy, and to never skip the honey in the dressing.

I hate when one’s look at this salad and tells me I don’t eat potato salad, am like it’s okay to venture once, it’s not only potato … my genius dad taught me how to add Emmenthal cheese, ham and apple and this is the tastier salad you can ever eat!

My last request, please don’t open cans and throw in this salad, it only tastes better when you make it with fresh ingredients. How long does it take to chop little vegetables and let it boil for 10 minutes.

I really hope you enjoy this recipe and consider making it during holiday celebrations. As I said, it is best to prepare one day before serving.

For a fancier look, store it in a round container in the fridge, and just before serving, turn it upside down on a flat round plate and decorate with salami, cheese, salmon or shrimps.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh potatoes, diced and cooked al dente
  • 1 cup fresh carrots, diced and cooked al dente
  • 1 cup fresh (or frozen) peas, cooked
  • 200g Emmenthal cheese, diced
  • 200g Ham or turkey ham/ slices of ½ inch thick, diced
  • 200g Granny Smith apples, diced
  • 2 tbsp gherkins pickles, sliced (optional)

Dressing:

  • 4 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Pinch of salt

Preparation

  1. To cook the potatoes, boil water and cook potatoes 7-10 minutes until cooked but still hard.
  2. Cook carrots and peas same as potatoes, and each one separately. Please don’t cook all together in same pot because the time of boiling varies for each one.
  3. Set aside to cool.
  4. Combine cheese, apples and pickles. Add to potatoes, carrots and peas.
  5. Mix all the ingredients of the dressing and toss in the salad. Combine well gently. I use a rubber spatula not to mash the vegetables. Refrigerate.

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.

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.

Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake

ChocolateCaramelCheeseCake

We had guests over few drinks last evening and the main topic of the conversation was my husband’s Harley Davidson collection. The same Vroomvroom talk went on and on until it was time for dessert… and all of a sudden the Vroom tone changed to Mmmmm Mmmmm Mmmmm.; My super hero Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake was served and made its way triumphantly to everybody’s thinking to change the subject from biking to baking.

I sat on my throne watching the last slice disappearing, and thinking I can’t be any happier!

This super easy “No Bake” cheesecake recipe is delicious to the eyes and to the taste buds as well. It is fabulous for parties or events. I hope you will try it and bedazzle your guests the way I did.

Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake

 Ingredients

  • 1 cup graham biscuits, ground
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 cups cream cheese (like Philadelphia)
  • 1 cup chocolate spread (like Nutella)
  • 6 tbsp icing sugar
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tbsp caramel sauce
  • Chocolate sprinkles or chocolate chunks

Preparation

  1. Mix the biscuits, the butter and sugar until you have a moist sandy mixture. Press into a 20cm round cake and refrigerate.
  2. Beat together 1 cup of the cream cheese, chocolate spread and 3 tablespoons of the icing sugar until well combined.
  3. Top the biscuit base with the cheese mixture and place in the fridge to chill for 1 hour.
  4. Beat together the rest of the cream cheese, the whipping cream, and the milk until smooth. Add the rest of the icing sugar and the caramel sauce and continue beating until combined.
  5. Top the chocolate layer with the caramel cheese mixture and place in the fridge to chill for 2 hours.
  6. Decorate with chocolate sprinkles or chocolate chunks and serve chilled.

Passion Fruit Lemonade

LemonadePassionFruit-BlogWhen I was living in Dubai, I never ran out of passion fruit. It used to be available all year round and at a very reasonable price. During the decade I lived in the UAE, I tried passion fruits in baking, in desserts, in juices, in smoothies and it has quickly became one of my favorite exotic fruits.

Until I moved to Lebanon, I never found nice, purple, juicy passion fruits, and if I do find in the imported fruits section, it will not be for less than 25$/per kilo!! Yesterday I got lucky with some local, organic passion fruits, smelling like heaven. Finally we started to grow them locally and the price dropped to 2$/per kilo.

I hurried home to make my most refreshing passion fruit lemonade recipe. Summer is here and it’s very hot! Freshly squeezed lemon juice and passion fruit pulp, came to my rescue in this hot climate, tasting like an exotic vacation in a martini glass.

For a lazy version, buy fresh lemonade and scoop out pulp of passion fruits inside your glass. I’m sure this soon will become a hit at your parties. Smile and cheers!

Ingredients

  • 1½ cup fresh lemon juice (2 to 4 lemons)
  •  3 cups cold water
  •  ½ cup sugar
  • 6 passion fruits, cut in two

Preparation

In a jug, combine water and lemon juice and stir in sugar until dissolved. Scoop out pulp of the passion fruits with a teaspoon and stir it in. Add ice cubes if desired and serve.