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.

Beef Steaks in Herbed Marinade

ImageGrilled steaks are perfect deals when I have little time to spend in the kitchen. Especially when I have them marinated overnight. The juicy flavor of the meat is enhanced with a marinade of Mediterranean herbs and olive oil.

And here below how I make it! It’s no more a secret recipe:)

Ingredients

  • 4 pieces / 200gms beef steaks
  • Pam spray

Marinade

  • 1 cup / 250ml olive oil
  • 3 tbsp grape vinegar
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs, plus 2 more for garnish
  • 1 handful fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 fresh lemon, cut in 4 wedges
  • 1 tsp salt

In a shallow dish, combine all the marinade ingredients and soak steaks inside. Cover and let stand for at least 2 hours.

On a medium-high heat, oil a stovetop griddle or a grilling pan and place the slices of steak to grill. Cook around 5 minutes per side or to your liking, turning once only. Move to a serving plate and cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 5 minutes.

Garnish with rosemary and serve with salad, potato mash or grilled vegetables.

Hummus with Meat

Hummus b-lahme

Hummus b-lahme

I’m traveling again this weekend and was trying all this week to finish everything in my fridge before going.

I have Hummus leftover, it’s a shame to throw it, no? I decided to fry some meat and pine nuts, and this fabulous recipe is the result.

Hummus is a very Lebanese appetizer -we even have a news website called hummus nation- known for being a healthy meal especially for vegetarians around the world. I haven’t met one vegetarian from anywhere in the world who hasn’t heard about Hummus. They might not heard about Lebanon, but they sure know Hummus hehe;-)

I wonder who had this idea to top the Hummus with meat!

Might be a disappointing story for vegetarians, but for meat lovers out there, I promise this combination is a delish! Eat it with pita bread and remember to open your eyes☺

Ingredients

To make the hummus

  • 2 x 410g cans chickpeas (a.k.a Hummus or Garbanzo Beans), drained
  • 5tbsp Tahina (sesame paste)
  • 4tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1tsp salt
  • 4tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more to drizzle
  • 1tsp sumac (optional)

To make the topping

  • 1tbsp butter or cooking oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3tbsp pine nuts
  • 200g ground beef or cut in small pieces
  • 1 tsp 7 spices (if not available, use cinnamon and black pepper)
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses (optional)

Preparation

1.In a food processor, put the drained chickpeas with the rest of the ingredients (Tahina, lemon juice, garlic, salt and olive oil) and blend until you get a smooth paste. This is now Hummus.

2.To make the topping; melt butter in a frying pan and sauté the onion, add the pine nuts and fry for 2mn. Add the meat and cook for 10mn or until they are well done. Sprinkle with black pepper, cinnamon and salt. Add the molasses and stir until well combined.

3. Top the Hummus with meat, drizzle with more olive oil if desired and garnish with parsley. Serve with Lebanese (or pita) bread.

 

 

 

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.

Orange Marinated Salmon

OrangeMarinatedSalmon-Blog

As the weather gets colder around here, more hearty meals and soups have been dispatched from my kitchen.

Last week was really cold, temperature dropped to 5°C, schools were off because of the storm. We had many “Raclette” nights and casual dinners with friends and neighbors. After all who wants to be out in that rainy weather!

We simply enjoyed the laid-back inside with the fireplace on to warm up the atmosphere.

One of my favorite quick-fix meals is Orange Marinated Salmon. It comes together really quickly! It’s entirely stress-free and enormous success. Don’t you love that?

Serve it with Basmati rice, baked potatoes or Fettucine. This dish is a glam!

4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 4 salmon fillet (around 200g each piece)
  • 1/4 cup runny honey
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Preparation

  1. In a shallow pan, place fish as one layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper rubbing both sides of each fillet. Combine the rest of the ingredients and drizzle over the salmon to coat well all pieces. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Drain marinade. Lightly grease a baking dish with cooking spray and bake uncovered at 180°C or 350°F for 15mn to 20mn or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
  3. Serve with Basmati rice.

Note: If desired, reduce 1 cup of the marinade over low-medium heat until it thickens and serve it as a sauce. 

Vanilla Panna Cotta with Hershey’s Caramel Syrup

VanillaPannaCotta

This version of panna cotta is honestly the easiest ever. It doesn’t take long in the fridge before it’s ready to be served. It never goes wrong, especially when you use the full fat milk and the full fat heavy cream;-) I make it in small cups to reduce the amount of calories, well it’s applicable only if you resist a second serving, but can you?

If you don’t want to buy your caramel you can make your own, but this recipe is meant to be prepared, when you don’t feel like spending long hours in the kitchen and still want to get some credits at the end of lunch or dinner. Delicious!

Am sure you’ll like the results, especially with the addition of the Daim nuggets.

Ingredients

Panna Cotta

  • 1 ½ tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream

For topping

Preparation

  1. Sprinkle the powdered gelatin over the cold water and let soak for 5-10 minutes until soft.
  2. Pour the cream and the milk in the saucepan and heat until warm. Stir in the sugar and vanilla until dissolved.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the soaked gelatine and sour cream until smooth.
  4.  Pour into serving glasses (only half of 3/4 way) and refrigerate until firm. The time depends on the size of the glass, but be sure not to take it out too early.
  5. When the Panna Cotta has firmed, squeeze a layer of Hershey’s caramel syrup over each treat and decorate with Daim chocolate nuggets. Serve immediately or let set up in refrigerator.

Juicy Christmas Turkey

Christmas Turkey - MayaOryanPopular restaurants and catering companies get more than a 100 orders of turkey each on 24 and 25 December every year. They start baking turkeys weeks before and store them in freezers. On same day, it’s stuffed, plated and delivered. No wonder I never liked it!

The secret to a juicy and flavored turkey is to be cooked on same day. It’s not complicated at all. It just takes time in the oven. It’s an easy recipe and is always a hero dish for main events like Christmas.

I like to use a lot of fruits in my recipe to flavor the turkey; it blends nicely with sautéed peas, carrots and sweet potatoes. Delicious!

If you buy a frozen bird, allow at least 24 hours to thaw. And when you take it out from the oven, remember to let it stand for about 30 minutes before carving.

Happy holidays to all!

Ingredients

  • 1 (5 to 6kgs) turkey
  • 1 orange, cut into wedges
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 1 apple, cut into wedges
  • 6 dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried sultanas or cranberries
  • 2 sticks of cinnamon
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 1/2 cup of parsley
  • 3 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 1/2 stick (50g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 oven bag size Large
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat stir 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the cinnamon, the bay leaves, the onion, the carrots and the parsley, until the onion is cooked and the carrots are tender. Discard cinnamon and bay leaves and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.
  3. To make the turkey: Start with discarding neck and giblets. Rinse the turkey with the wine (or apple juice) over the sink. Don’t rinse with water.
  4. Mix the oregano, salt and pepper to the butter. Rub the butter mixture all over the turkey and between the turkey breast meat and skin.
  5. Put one tablespoon of flour in the oven bag and divide the remaining ingredients (orange, lemon and apple wedges, apricots, sultanas, rosemary and onion mixture) to place some in the main turkey cavity and some in the oven bag.
  6. Tie the legs together to hold the shape of the turkey. Put the turkey inside the bag and seal in. Place the turkey inside a roasting pan and position the pan on the lowest rack in the oven. Put 3 cups of water in the pan.
  7. Roast the turkey for 40 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 175 degrees C. And then cook again for about 21/2 hours or according to the weight of the turkey and the manufacturer’s instructions. Remove from oven. Take off the turkey of the bag and return it to the pan. KEEP THE LIQUID TO MAKE THE GRAVY.
  8. Pour 1 more cup of water into the pan. Continue roasting the turkey about 1 hour longer or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 75 degrees C to 80 degrees C or until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with a skewer.
  9.  Transfer the turkey to a platter and tent with foil. Let stand 30 minutes while preparing the gravy.
  10. To make the gravy: Strain the turkey pan juices from the roasting pan through a sieve and into a 4-cup glass measuring cup; discard the solids. Spoon off the fat from atop the pan juices. Add enough chicken broth, about 1 to 2 cups, to the pan juices to measure 4 cups total. Melt the remaining butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the broth. Simmer until the gravy thickens slightly, whisking often, about 10 minutes. Season with mustard, salt and pepper. Serve the turkey with the gravy.

It is becoming to look a lot like Christmas!

Gingersnaps

Gingersnaps

Don’t we all, at some point of our life, have met someone who, from the first time, was stamped in our memory?

Last June, I flew all the way to Abu Dhabi just to watch Madonna’s concert. It was a huge thing to me. I love her songs, her performance and every bit of her show. Being standing close to the stage in the front row, felt like I was partying with the Queen of Pop and I was really happy to finally see her!!

On my way back home, I watched movies on board and barely gave attention to the girl sleeping in the seat next to me, until just before we landed we started a conversation. Traditionally it started with the where are you from question, and funny enough I found out that she was at the concert too, she lives in Lebanon just a stone’s throw away from my house, her girls are in the same bus with Kaia my daughter, she’s also in the advertising business and loves cooking!! All I can remember is that we kept on answering me too, me too:) It’s true I haven’t seen her since, but we do exchange messages on Whatsapp occasionally and the last time we did she asked me for the Gingersnaps recipes.

Mmm… one of my favorite too! Especially, the traditional Swedish recipe, the cookies are very thin and spicy. The dough is not sticky and very enjoyable to work with. I use black treacle or carob molasses, very popular in the Lebanese kitchen. I like to combine 2 kinds of sugar to have a nice brown color, but if one brown sugar is used it will not make any big change on the outcome. Warming up for Christmas!

This one goes to you Joumana! Enjoy it!

Ingredients

  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup black treacle
  • ½ cup drinking water
  • 150 g (1 ½ stick) unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups all-purpose-flour, sifted
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of salt

Preparation

1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C.

2. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, treacle and water and heat until it starts boiling.

3. Add the butter and stir constantly over low heat until it is completely melted. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool.

4. Blend in the spices.

5. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Add to the mixture a little at a time and mix well to a smooth consistency.

6. Refrigerate overnight.

7. Sprinkle flour on a working surface and roll it thin. Cut into desired shapes and place them on a lined baking sheet or a greased cookie sheet.

8. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Let the gingersnaps cool on the cookie sheet.