Your Lebanese husband will never tell you that your food tastes better than his mom’s

Apricot Jam

Apricot Jam by Maya Oryan

Photography Serge Oryan

I have to admit, that no matter how hard I try, it’s never better. It happened to my mother before me and to her mother before. For some reason most of the men will never give their wives this pleasure. There’s always GOOD… BUT… – you could have added more saltor reduced saltthe pieces of vegetables are too bigit’s not juicy enough it’s still crispyI prefer short grain rice, etc. My friend made a whole list and a calendar to keep a track of her husband’s daily comments and she is one of the best cook I know;-) So why men can never make an exception to a couple of meals and let their wives enjoy this privilege!! I know my husband will never do that. He goes bragging telling everybody that my food is delicious, but when it comes to one of the recipes that his mom cooks, then the best I can do is a tie for first place. A compliment for him is when he tells me, it’s not better, it’s same. WE ARE EQUAL IN THE CONTEST! I have to say that I’m writing this blog and laughing out loud, because deep inside I know that the apricot jam I did last week finished in 5 days, and here I am doing my second batch. While my mom’s in law apricot jam jars “who happens to be the same taste” are still lying on the shelf waiting for mine to be exhausted first. So in my dead heat struggle somehow I managed to share the recipe with you with the exact amount I used, nevertheless I’d like to highlight the following:

  1. Any traditional apricot jam recipe uses at least 600g to 900g of sugar for each kilo of fruits. I never use this much especially if the apricots are ripe and sweets. Also because I always make a little quantity to consume within the next couple of weeks.
  2. I learnt that French warm the sugar in the oven for 7-10 minutes and throw it warm on the fruits; you may want to try that.
  3. Most of the recipes uses 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, so feel free to add it if you like.
  4. Some housewives crush few pits and add the kernel inside to the confiture while boiling.
  5. Remember, to make a good jam, use nice firm ripe fruits and not green or overripe fruits.

Apricot Jam Yield: 3 jars, 370g each Ingredients

  • 1 kg fresh ripe apricots; cut in half and pits extracted
  • 450g / 2 cups brown sugar

Preparation Place the apricots in a big salad bowl and cover with sugar. Let it rest for 7-10 hours, preferably in the fridge if the weather is hot. In a heavy based saucepan transfer the apricots and bring to boil for 10mn. Reduce the heat to low and remove any scum from the surface. Let it simmer for about 25mn or until a small amount of the juice gels on a chilled plate. Ladle carefully in jars and keep refrigerated. Consume within 3 weeks.

Maya’s Ingredients 4th Anniversary

MocchaDrinkbyMayaOryan Four years ago I started a blog thinking that this will be a great idea to document all my favorite recipes and have them all in one location. This idea developed since tremendously and instead of a cooking book, I ended up with an address book filled with contacts of friends from all over the world. I’m blessed to have so many followers and so many clients interested in my cooking and work as a food stylist. It’s this Blog that took me this far! I had people assisting me on shoots just because they know “Maya’s Ingredients”, I met fresh graduated photography students who knows my name because I was introduced to them as part of their course at college and I was invited to speak about Food Styling and Food Blogging at several events and TV shows because my Blog and website made it so easy for every one to find me and view my work. I’m thrilled, …no overwhelmed:) I’m happy and I will have a toast to you, thank you for passing by and hope to see you often. This elegant drink can be put together in 3 quick steps. Serve it in martini glasses or shot glasses and say CHEERS!

Vanilla Vodka – Espresso Drink Ingredients

  • 1 cup Vanilla Vodka
  • ½ cup Cold espresso
  • ¼ cup Tia Maria
  • Wedge of Orange
  • 1 tbsp cocoa
  • Pinch of cayenne

Preparation Combine vodka, espresso and Tia Maria liquor into a shaker filled with ice and shake well. To serve, rub the rim of a martini glass with an orange wedge and dip into the cocoa cayenne mixture. Pour drink inside and enjoy. Cheers!

Black Treacle Cake

Photography Serge Oryan

Photography Serge Oryan

This is one of those recipes that just came together in my head in 3 minutes.

1. I wanted to bake a cake.

2. I didn’t want it to contain eggs, milk or butter.

3. A cake that uses black treacle.

You may wonder, what’s the occasion? I have friends visiting me tomorrow.

Why no eggs – no milk – no butter? Because during Lent many friends abstain from eating meat and dairy, therefore my guests will have no reason to say no to my cake.

Why black treacle? Well for the simple reason that I still have a bottle since Christmas and I want to finish it;-)

The resulting DELICIOUS cake had a dark color, strong flavor and viscous consistency. The combination of treacle and aniseed is the secret to this succulent cake. There’s something flavorful about this blend that lights up my mood even on bad days. For some the taste of treacle, might be very strong and for those who love this taste, close to licorice if I may say, will fall in love with this recipe.

You can always use milk instead of water or if desired, use half milk and half water. You may also substitute the black treacle with date molasses. And if you decide to use all-purpose-flour then I suggest you add 2 teaspoons of baking flower. Many options can be explored but my one-advise is not to skip the aniseed addition!

Black Treacle Cake Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups self-rising flour
  • 2 tbsp ground aniseed
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups black treacle
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • ½ cup slivered almonds

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. In a bowl, mix flour and aniseed. Add oil and stir to make a paste.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine treacle and water. Add gradually to the flour paste and mix.
  3. Grease a cake mold and pour batter. Make sure it’s flat and even. Sprinkle with almonds.
  4. Bake for approximately 40-45 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool for 15 minutes in the pan before transferring to a plate.

Chocolate Stout Cake

Photography Serge Oryan

Photography Serge Oryan www.sergeoryan.com

I don’t remember having a cake with beer inside until few months back when I was in New York City. My friend insisted that I try some, telling me that it doesn’t taste like beer at all. She was right it doesn’t taste the beer, but the stout inside adds a twist that calls you for a second bite and more. It’s moist, unlike you might be thinking it’s not bitter, but does have a deep tang.

I browsed few recipes online, all very similar. Most use sour cream, but I prefer the fresh organic yogurt I get straight from the farm. I used Almaza Lebanese beer, which I love, but you can use Guinness or your favorite dark beer.

I baked this same cake twice this week, and every single bite was a true dose of happiness!

Ingredients:

  • 100g / 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 ½ cup dark beer
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of Salt

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 185°C. Grease and flour a cake pan.
  2. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, beat butter, beer, and milk. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Add yogurt and mix until incorporated.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Fold the dry flour mixture, gradually in the wet beer mixture, making sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake 40-50 minutes, until cake springs back when gently pressed with finger.
  6. Let cool in pan on rack.

Caramelized Onions Tartelettes with Black Olives

MayaOryanIMG_4347

I baked many tartelettes during the holidays some sweet and others savory. I involved caramelized onions with tarts, poultry and oriental recipes, it always adds to my meals an intense, roasty, lightly sweet taste close to jazz.

When onions are cooked slowly, all the natural sugars in, caramelize, without the slight addition of sugar.

Mini tarts are bite-sized and enticing. They work as an appetizer on a cocktail party or a casual gathering with friends. The puff pastry is crisp and each tart is carved with love.

I sometimes make two batches; one with feta and olives and the other with goat cheese and figs. Once you know how to make you tart shells an endless variety is found on the blogosphere. Enjoy the recipe below with friends or relatives and hope it results with echoes of smiles and happy bellies.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, leaves
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 250g / 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • ¼ cup feta, crumbled
  • ¼ cup black olives, pitted and halved

Preparation

  1. Melt butter with oil in a skillet over low-medium heat. Add onions and thyme, and cook (without stirring) 7-10 minutes, or until onions are golden.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 180°
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry, and cut out 7cms circles and place onto the baking dish. Pierce dough with a fork.
  4. Spoon feta cheese in the center of each circle. Top it with onions. Decorate with olives.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the dough starts to rise and turn golden color.

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