Stuffed Vine Leaves

MayaOryanIMG_8508-RPhotography Serge Oryan

Stuffed vine leaves are as easy as a salad to make! It has to be easy since this recipe was among the first ones I learned. In fact you combine all the ingredients same as you do for a salad, drizzle the olive oil and the lemon juice and start the stuffing. The rolling is not that complicated!

An authentic traditional recipe, prepared just like my mom and her mom before her. Stuffed vine leaves are really moreish, these juicy little bites, melting soft in the mouth are best consumed as an appetizer or as a main dish.This dish is one of the essential plates in Lebanese mezze. Because it’s vegetarian, it makes it a popular staple during the Lent period.

Full with nutritious ingredients, this meal is a heart-healthy choice for almost anyone. According to the nutrition data, Grape leaves are low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol and Sodium. They are also a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Niacin and Iron, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6 and Folate. They can provide your body with beneficial nutrients, from Calcium, Magnesium, Copper, Manganese to omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. What’s not to like about that!

 One last note, if using canned grape leaves, rinse the leaves gently with warm water and use, while fresh grape leaves have to be soaked in hot water for 10-15 minutes before using.

Ingredients

  • 250g grape vine leaves
  • 1½ cup uncooked short grain rice
  • 4 cups parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup white onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cups tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup chickpeas, canned or cooked
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sweet pepper
  • 1-2 Potatoes, sliced in circles
  • Water
  • 2-3 tomatoes slices in circles

Preparation

To prepare the stuffing, combine uncooked rice, parsley, mint, onions, tomatoes and chickpeas in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and toss gently.

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, layer the potatoes slices as one layer.

Open flat the grape vine leaf, shiny side down, spoon inside the parsley rice mixture and roll tightly, closing the sides first. Arrange in pan placing the rolls closely one to the other. To finish, top with a layer of tomato slices and strain the reserve stuffing liquid over all.

Place a large plate on the top of the rolls to keep them holding together. Cover with water and cook over low heat for about 40 minutes.

Let cool and serve with yogurt. Garnish with lemon slices and mint leaves.

Note: You might finish the stuffing before the leaves, or the leaves before the stuffing. I tried to be as close as possible to the quantity of the ingredients, but it varies from one size of leaf to other and depends on the amount of stuffing you use in each roll.

 

Pomegranate Moscow Mule

Moscow Mule

Photography Serge Oryan

When I think of a refreshing and light drink to sip while watching the clock countdown to midnight, I make myself a red Moscow Mule.

Pomegranate juice is a brilliant addition to the classic recipe. It’s a fantastic compliment to ginger beer while pomegranate arils make it pop up with Christmas colors. Holiday heaven!

Mules has definitely been my favorite cocktail during 2015, it’s traditionally served in copper mugs, but apparently customers can’t stop snatching them from bars, that a lot of places are replacing their attractive cups with glasses.

Still cool for me:) I love the ginger-spicy and pomegranate-sweet mixture and here I am celebrating tonight in style. Cheers everyone to a fresh beginning!

And this is what to mix
Makes 2 drinks
Ingredients
• ½ cup vodka
• 1½ cup ginger beer
• ½ cup pomegranate juice
• Juice of 1 fresh lime
• Pomegranate arils, to taste
• Fresh mint, for garnish

Directions
Combine vodka, ginger beer, pomegranate and lime juice. Stir. Top with ice cubes or crushed ice if desired. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and mint and enjoy.

Cranberry Stollen

Stollen.jpg

I love our Christmas family gatherings and all the good food that comes in between. This year I wanted to change from my ginger cookies giveaways and made cranberry bread instead. What’s better than a Stollen recipe!

The origin of this bread is German and traditionally baked during Christmastime. Sweetened with honey and packed with dried fruits, this recipe contains no sugar. I wrapped each loaf with Christmas papers and twines, the presentation and the taste were amazing.

Merry Christmas to all and happy baking during the holidays!

Follow me on Instagram @oryanmaya

Ingredients

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup dried raisins

¼ cup fresh orange juice

1 tbsp cointreau        

 

1 tbsp active dry yeast

¼ cup lukewarm milk

2 tsp honey

1 cup all-purpose flour

 

½ cup/100g unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup honey

1 large egg, beaten

1 tbsp grated orange zest

½ cup peeled, slivered almonds

3 to 4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

 

2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

2 tbsp granulated sugar

2 tsp ground cinnamon

 

Preparation

  1. Place the dried fruits in a bowl and drizzle with orange juice and liquor. Stir the mixture to coat and set aside.
  2. In another bowl sprinkle the yeast with warm milk and wait until it rises and makes a good head of froth (about 10 minutes). Add honey and flour and set aside for another 15 minutes.
  3. In the mixer bowl, add the cranberries and raisins, the yeast mixture, butter, honey, egg, orange zest, almonds and salt. Start mixing adding the flour gradually, half cup at a time until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl and is smooth and elastic.
  4. Wrap the dough in an oiled plastic film and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in volume.
  5. Knock back the dough and divide into 2 portions. Shape each portion into an oval; alternatively roll the dough in one large loaf without dividing it. Glaze with melted butter and sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon.
  6. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper, place carefully the dough, cover with tea towel and leave again to rise for another 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  7. Preheat the oven to 185 degrees C/ 365 degrees F for 10 minutes. Place the dough in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. If using thermometer the internal temperature of the bread should reach approximately 90 degrees C (190 degrees F).
  8. Remove from the baking sheet and place on a rack to cool.

Freekeh, A Festive Recipe

Freekeh-MayaOryan

Just when I finally learned how to regularly incorporate quinoa in my cuisine, another new grain starts surging in popularity, loaded with nutritional and healthy benefits, containing more protein and double the amount of fiber as quinoa. I’m talking about FREEKEH!

Freekeh, (frikeh, fah-reek or farik) is obtained from wheat that is harvested while the grains are still green, soft and immature. They are gently roasted so only the chaff burn and not the seeds. After roasting the wheat is thrashed and rubbed -thus the name in Arabic fareek, which means rubbed. Grains inside are too moist to burn and the result is a smoky, nutty wheat with a distinct taste.

Recipes passed from one generation to another, have always a special place in our hearts especially if it brings along all the wonderful souvenirs from our childhood.

My dad’s hometown is Jdeidet Marjeyoun, located in the south of Lebanon, where freekeh is part of the town’s culinary heritage. He cooked us meals using Freekeh only on special occasions. For a long time I somehow forgot about this grain, until recently I started to use it more often, and just like my dad “on special occasions”!

This festive recipe brings joy to my guests and family, tasting delicious and looking outstanding. Can easily combined with your favorite chicken recipe, beef or lamb. I chose today to cook it with vegetables and top it with salmon.

The wait is over, time to knock out old recipes and try something different and bedazzling, this Christmas!

Vegetables and Smoked Salmon Freekeh

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium size white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups frikeh, washed and soaked at least 1 hour
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup zucchini, diced
  • ¾ cup carrots, diced
  • ½ cup artichoke bottoms, diced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Thyme leaves (optional)
  • Smoked Salmon, to garnish

Directions:

1.In a medium saucepan, heat oil and sauté the zucchinis, the carrots and the artichokes until cooked. Season with salt.

2.In a separate heavy bottomed pan, melt the butter and add the onion, stirring occasionally, until soft and transparent. Add in the freekeh and cook, for 2 minutes.

3.Add wine to the softened onions and cook until the liquid has evaporated off.

4.Pour in 1 cup of boiling water and cook, stirring occasionally with a fork, until liquid is almost absorbed. Repeat this process until freekeh is thick and creamy; the freekeh should still have some chew to it. Season to taste.

5.If the freekeh is still hard. It has to be cooked with additional boiling water.

6.Once the freekeh is cooked, mix in the vegetables and finish with 1 cup of stock. Let simmer a couple of minutes until it is entirely absorbed.

7.To transfer this meal into a festive dish, put freekeh in a small serving bowl and top it with thyme leaves. Cover the bowl with a dinner plate and flip it swiftly upside down. Decorate it with smoked salmon and lemon wedges and serve immediately.

 

Honey Tahini Cookies -(feat.video tutorial)

IMG_5765

I always wanted to post one of my recipe videos but kept on postponing thinking that it might be boring; until today, I was watching this recipe with my little daughter when she told me “this looks super easy, lets make some straight away!”

Not only I was happy that it took her only once to watch the video and wanting to try the recipe out, but also I was encouraged to upload my video and not to be nervous anymore about it.

If you love Halawa (Halva) you will love these cookies. They are both crisp and chewy and totally easy to make. The combination of Tahini and honey tastes like Halawa and who wants to resist this flavor.

These cookies will be your new favorite!

Honey Tahini Cookies

Makes 30

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick / 100g butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup tahini (I used Al Wadi Al Akhdar tahini)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp orange blossom water
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. In a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy.
  2. Gradually add the tahini, honey and orange blossom water.
  3. In a medium size bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt together. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour to tahini mixture, combining well until forming a dough.
  4. Chill in the refrigerator for about an hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 170°C or 350°
  6. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Using your hands, take a walnut size of dough and shape into balls. Arrange them on the cookie sheet at least 2 inches / 5cm apart. Dip the tines of a fork in flour and gently press a crisscross pattern into each ball. Dip fork in flour after every cookie to avoid sticking.
  7. Bake in the middle rack of the oven for 13-15 minutes or until the cookies begin to show cracks.

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

Two-Potato Gratin

Two-Potato Gratin IMG_4645

Hello storm, you’re wild and angry, violent and reckless and I don’t seem to like you! I’m nothing like ready for cold obviously; a powerful storm with violent winds and heavy hail and rainfall is ripping through Lebanon leaving me with limited desire to step out.

Meantime schools are shut and my daughters are, with all the kids of the neighborhood, celebrating the happy occasion. My doorbell kept on ringing, kids in kids out, …well if I look at it from the bright side, it was a good exercise for me especially that I skipped gym this morning;-)

So it was almost lunchtime and I still haven’t decided on what to cook! I went roaming in the kitchen when my sight fell on potatoes. Since I didn’t have enough of gold potatoes to make a large dish of gratin enough for guests and us, I added sweet potatoes! Results were gorgeous and crunchy. Yummm!

I have decided to eat more vegetarian food during January and I proudly add this recipe to my meat-free repertoire. I added a dash of curry to it while the cream was simmering and some parmesan cheese on the top before baking, that I don’t mention in below recipe, but now that I reveal it you may want to try it with curry or even chili for some spicy flavor.

Two-Potato Gratin 

Ingredients

  • 2 kg potatoes (half sweet potatoes and half gold), sliced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup Emmenthal cheese

Preparation

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6. Butter a shallow ceramic baking dish.
  2. Pour the cream in a large saucepan, add salt, pepper, nutmeg and heat to boiling over medium-high heat. Add potatoes and drizzle with olive oil and let simmer for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Remove pan from the heat. Use a slotted spoon to transfer half of the potatoes, layer them and sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Top with the remaining potatoes; pour the cream mixture and sprinkle with the Emmenthal cheese.
  4. Bake for 40-45 minutes until gorgeous and golden on the top.