Mulberry Jam and Scones

SconesMulberries-MayaOryan

When we were young we used to go camping at an elevation of 1,550 meters (5,090 ft) in Faqra, Lebanon. Two things I still remember from that splendid location; playing around the ruins of the Great Temple of Faqra, where the earliest civilizations worshiped their God. And a bountiful Mulberry tree that got me in trouble with mom every time I lay my hands on (and return home with purple fingers and stained clothes). I was nut for those sweet little berries and it was well worth every garment my mom ditched;-)

As messy as it may get, I still impatiently wait for my share of mulberries that my mom-in-law sends us seasonally. Mulberries have high levels of protein and iron and help loosing weight by blocking sugar. We all don’t mind that last point, no! The second batch I received was almost overripe so I found a good use of them; squeezed some to make syrup “sharab toot” and preserved the rest as jam.

While the mulberries were boiling to make jam, I thought to myself having this under my belt now, it sure tastes better with rich, flaky, soft scones. Sitôt dit sitôt fait, and the scones were baking in the oven.

MulberryJamOnFire

… later when mulberry jam was served with scones, I should probably had someone hiding the plate from me because it was kind of hard to stop eating!

And this how I make it:

Mulberry Jam

Ingredients

  • 1kg fresh ripe mulberries
  • 750g sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

Preparation

  1. Pull all the stems of the fruits and put them into a large saucepan.
  2. Heat it over medium heat and crush the berries to squish out the juice.
  3. Bring it to a boil then add the sugar and lemon juice.
  4. Reduce the heat and stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves.
  5. Bring it back up to the boil for a few minutes and then bottle and seal the jam.

Scones Recipe

Preparation Time: 10 minutes – Cooking Time: 15 minutes 

Ingredients

  • 3 cups / 350g self-raising flour
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • ¾ cup / 85g butter, diced
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg beaten
  • ¾ cup / 175 ml milk
  • 50g sultanas
  • Self-raising flour for dusting

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 220°C. Mix the self-raising flour, sugar and the butter into a large bowl; rub in butter using your fingers until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  2. Whisk together the egg, the milk and the vanilla; reserve 2 teaspoons for glazing.
  3. Add the sultanas and the egg mixture to the flour kneading gently to a dough.
  4. Press dough out on a floured surface to 2cm thickness and cut out the scones out with a round 6cm cutter.
  5.  Glaze with the beaten egg and place the scones 2 cm apart on a baking tray into the oven for 10-12mn.
  6. Let it cool on a wire rack while covered with a clean tea towel for a soft scone result.

These are best served slightly warm and homemade mulberry jam.

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.

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.

Kibbet La’teen or Pumpkin Kibbeh Balls

KibbehMayaOryanDubai is calling me again and I have to travel next weekend. My trips are getting closer with time and I’m kind of used to it now, it’s in the system!

It’s actually in the entire family’s system (laughing). My mom offers her baby-sitting services before she accepts any invitation from her friends. My husband waits until I come back to travel so we don’t both leave the kids at the same time. My sisters cook always a little bit more to send it to us and my daughters have always a wish list of gifts ready for me to get them when I travel. I’m so blessed!

Thank you all for your support and for understanding how much I love what I do.

Well, everybody knows that when I’m not styling food, I’m still very busy doing everything else. I’m much more productive than every woman I know who has no job. I don’t know if it’s my energy that keeps me on the go, or simply the guilt feeling that I’ve been away from my family to work and I have to make it up for them. I exercise every day. I cook two meals (stirring in one hand and whatsApp-ing with the other). I tend to be the perfect wife, the fit mom, the present friend and the career woman.

My friend says it’s my adrenaline, I simply think I’m well organized.

It requires nothing but good planning (and love life). I don’t want one day to look back and realize that I wasted my life only dreaming.

Those beautiful pumpkin kibbeh balls are a dream coming true. Well I’d be cheating on you if I say I made them, because my mother-in-law did. And as long as she is sending it to us regularly I doubt that I will try it any soon;-)

Pumpkin kibbeh balls are more popular during Lent and among vegetarians. For those of you who’d like to adventure in the kitchen, making this recipe, it’s somehow long but worth every effort.

Ingredients

Stuffing

  • 2 tbsp frying oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 cups Swiss chard, chopped
  • ½ cup chick peas
  • 200g chopped walnuts
  • 50g toasted pine nuts
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp ground cumin (optional)

Meatballs (kibbeh)

  • ½ kg fresh pumpkin, boiled, pureed and drained in a sieve for 10 hours.
  • 1 onion, minced in a processor
  • 280g bulgur wheat
  • 120g plain flour
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1 tsp all spice
  • 1 tsp dried basil

Preparation

  1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, sauté the onion until brown and soft. Add Swiss chard, chickpeas, walnut and pine nuts and fry. Turn off the heat, add seasoning, lemon juice and set aside.
  2. Process onion, pumpkin purée and bulgur wheat. Add seasoning and flour, mix and let it cool in the fridge for at least 1 hour. If mixture is too hard add few drops of water.
  3. Moisten your hands and form kibbeh mixture into egg-size balls. With your index finger, make a hole on one end of the oval ball and spoon one tablespoon of filling inside and pinch the end to seal.
  4. Fry the kibbeh in cooking oil in batches or if desired, roast it in oven for about 25mn.
  5. Place the kibbeh on a serving dish and serve with cucumber yogurt salad.

ITALIAN APPLE CAKE

ItalianAppleCake-MayaOryan

It is said that we spend around the third of our life sleeping; I would love to know how much am I spending mine baking.

I love baking. Whether it’s sweet or savor, my pupils just grow larger in front of almost any kind of food coming out of the oven.

Yesterday I baked an apple cake and witnessed it coming out my kitchen triumphantly smelling like heaven.

I had my family over for my yearly Christmas party. I love our get-together, it’s warm and joyful. Kids were delighted with all the new gifts waiting for them under the Christmas tree and we, “grown-ups”, were happy drinking and eating merrily. A day to remember! Also was my cake☺

My daughters Kaia and Axel

My daughters Kaia and Axel

ITALIAN APPLE CAKE

Ingredients

  • 100g butter (at room temperature)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour, sifted
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 4tbsp milk
  • 3 sweet apples such as gala or golden, cored and sliced (skin on)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1tbsp limoncello

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 180° C. Butter and flour a 22cm round cake pan.

2. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, add eggs, vanilla, flour, baking powder and salt.

3. Pour milk gradually while mixing and scraping down the bowl with a spatula as you go.

4. Pour the batter in the cake pan and decorate with the apple slices arranging them close together and overlapping on top of the batter.

5. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle this over the apples. Drizzle with limoncello (or lemon juice).

6. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Check early, cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

5. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack.

6. Serve with vanilla ice cream if desired.

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.