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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!☺

Strawberry Jam

MayaOryanStrawberryJam

Who among us has never stopped in front of a street vendor mouth-watering over fresh oranges, roasted chestnuts, fluffy cotton candy, and the list is endless!

I love the way in Lebanon, street food merchants display their goods. When a fruit or a vegetable is in season, here they are, conveniently scattered everywhere, making sure you bump into one of them before you reach home. No matter what direction you’re driving in! And the best part about it, Sweet Heaven, you don’t have to leave your vehicle; Free Car Delivery!

I think best sellers in Lebanon are fresh fava beans (a.k.a. broad beans)!

Fresh peas, Greengage plums (janerik), loquat (akidinye), are quite popular as well, and very dear to every Lebanese’s heart:)

As for me I felt for strawberries yesterday. Small, aromatic and intensely sweet! The smaller ones are more tasteful than the large ones. I let my nose be my guide and look for fragrance rather than color. A sweet aroma is the best indication of good flavor. And at this really affordable price, why not buy a large quantity to make some jam that kids can enjoy and mommy can show off with her super easy recipe without using a pectin;-)

Ingredients

  • 1 kg fresh strawberries, hulled
  • 600g / 2½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

Preparation

Place the hulled strawberries in a big salad bowl and cover with sugar. Let it rest for 10 hours, preferably in the fridge if the weather is hot.

In a heavy based saucepan transfer the syrup without the strawberries and bring to boil for 10mn on a low flame.

Add the strawberries and the lemon juice and cook for about 25mn or until a small amount of the juice gels on a chilled plate.

Pour carefully in jars and keep refrigerated. Consume within a month.

Yield: 3 to 4 jars, 370g each

Tip: If desired, one extra cup of sugar can be added to increase the quantity and sweeten the flavor.