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.

Let’s Hangout!

 

FaçadeWhen you go to a restaurant what would you ask for more than a great food, nice atmosphere, big and lit space and a good service?

Well the Hangout restaurant has it all!!

The Hangout opened in December 2012 and since, it has made an indelible mark on Gemmayzé dining scene.

When I got an invitation to visit the restaurant for lunch along with other food bloggers, I surely replied: Hell Yes!

At my arrival I was welcomed by one of the owners Selim Heleiwa. Listening to him describing the restaurant brings many fond memories about our childhood. The place is an old Lebanese house from the late nineteenth century, beautifully restored, spacious and friendly. I certainly admired the little collection of cooking books on display.

To kick off we were presented with some Salmon Tartar, Fried Mushrooms with Halloum, Sahen el Teta (goat labneh, home made butter and organic pickles), fresh bread and a Goat Cheese salad. The cheese balls have an apricot fruity taste served with a slice of bread, iceberg, olives and sundried tomatoes. The dressing is so yummy that I ate all and will definitely order this one again!!

The Hangout cellar holds around 2000 bottles of wine with the finest Lebanese vintages as well as wines from around the world.

I had a glass of wine from Selim’s recommendation for this week Château Khoury Rosé de Rêve 2011.

The cellar with an 80% selection of the best Lebanese wine
The cellar with an 80% selection of the best Lebanese wine

I spent an epic two-hours at The Hangout, tasting and enjoying an array of delicious food. Everybody around was sharing the same experience and expressing how much the Gourmet Burger, the Côte de Boeuf and the Beef Stroganoff are delicious and flavorful.

I was offered a fresh mango juice with a hint of cardamom flavor I don’t know if this was on the menu, but I will sure ask for it upon my next visit along with the best Pain Perdu in town.

Everything on the menu was so creative and no wonder the restaurant is increasingly growing in fame so fast.

… in short, The Hangout is a breath of fresh air and just the kind of restaurant we’ve been waiting for.

The Salad Bar!

The Salad Bar!

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. 

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.

Chinese Noodles with Sesame Seeds and Tahini

Here comes this time of the year when summer is over and big amounts of money has been spent on vacations and tuition fees and little money is left for my grocery budget. TIME TO CLEAN UP MY PANTRY!

What’s in here? Huge quantities of sauces that I never use, a stock of noodles that I forgot about and some canned vegetables expiring soon.

Concentrating on the noodles, I kind of created the following dish, it’s not one of those secret recipes that have been running in the family from one generation to other, nor a recipe I learned from some celebrity chef I worked with, it’s just a kind of inspired-by-the-moment recipes that turned out to be delicious and got the cheer of the audience*.

A true simple recipe that came together quickly like a magic meal. Hope you try it and enjoy it as much as we did.

*Audience as in Serge, Kaia and Axel

Ingredients

  • 1 pack of soba noodles
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tbsp fresh root ginger, grated
  • 2 sprigs green onions, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 can whole sweet corn, drained
  • 1 cup baby carrots
  • 1 cup baby asparagus, each sprig cut in 3
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup castor sugar
  • ¼ cup tahini paste
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup toasted sesame seeds
  • ¼ fresh coriander, chopped
  • ½ cup toasted peanuts
  • ¼ cup cabbage, shredded

Preparation

  1. Cook the noodles according to directions on package. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a wok or a large frying pan, stir-fry the ginger and garlic on a medium heat, for 2-3 minutes then add the green onions.
  3. Increase the heat to high and stir-fry the bell pepper, for 3 minutes.
  4. Add the carrots, the baby corn, and cook for a further 3 minutes.
  5. Finish with the asparagus and stir-fry for a further 2 minutes.
  6. Drizzle with lemon juice and transfer to a large saucepan.
  7. In a measurement jug or a bowl, mix together the soy sauce, sugar, tahini paste and rice vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over the vegetables and add the noodles.
  8.  Toss all together to mix and add the coriander then sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and peanuts and garnish with cabbage. Serve immediately.

Kishik porridge or Kishk

I came back from the gym to find out my handsome man making breakfast! Isn’t it great to have someone cooking for you! I’m so blessed I know! Not only the pictures he takes for my blog are amazing but he also loves cooking!!

My beautiful girl and petite adorée Kaia is back to school, and this means longer mornings for me to finish all those piled up tasks and to take pictures of food right before I eat it:)

Thursday, September 20, 2012. The Oryans breakfast menu is Kishik soup.

Lebanese Kishik powder is made from wheat (burghul) fermented with yogurt (laban). It’s a 10-days-process, that till now many of the Lebanese, especially living in the village including my mom-in-law Laure, prepare it every year in September as part of their pantry (mouneh) ingredients for winter. It’s cooked in many ways, my favorite is Kishik samosa style or Kishik porridge.

My share of kishik was delivered yesterday and Serge couldn’t wait to cook some. It’s one of his favorite food! It’s another staple in our house. He only makes it for breakfast, but many will eat it for lunch or dinner. I love it without the meat since it has always been a breakfast meal for me. A true delight!

Thankfully, my hubby is finally sharing his recipe!

Much love, Maya xx

Kishik porridge

Ingredients

▪    2 tbsp olive oil
▪    1 tbsp butter
▪    1 medium onion, chopped
▪    2 cloves garlic, crushed
▪    ½ kg lamb, ground (optional)
▪    2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
▪    1 potato, peeled and diced small
▪    1 cup kishik (found at stores who sell Mediterranean food)
▪    4 cups water
▪    Salt to taste
▪    ½ tsp white pepper

 Preparation

  1. In a pan, heat olive oil then melt the butter. Add the onions and sauté until soft and golden. Add chopped garlic and cook for another 3-5mn.
  2. If you’re cooking kishik with meat this is when you have to add it. Add meat to the pan and cook for 10mn. Add pine nuts. Stir. Add potatoes and sauté until tender.
  3. Lower the heat, add Kishik and water and stir well. Season with salt and white pepper.
  4. Stir thoroughly. Cook until the soup is thickened.

Artichoke ragoût with Rice

I opened my freezer to put some ice cream inside and realized that I can’t because it’s packed with Al Wadi Al Akhdar frozen vegetables. I recently was offered the whole range of their products and worked on more than 60 recipes for the re-launch of their website. I’m lucky I know to work on such a quality and tasty brand, but here’s what I encountered: food jam in my freezer!

I wasn’t planning to cook dinner! I was up at 7am, went to the gym, got back with full energy and worked like a happy busy bee, thinking of finishing my day with a nice warm bath and watching TV series in bed. So I stared at my freezer wondering either I eat the entire ice cream and work out an additional hour the next morning (Nope!) or forget about watching TV and cook something easy using some of those veggies.

It didn’t really take me time to decide, I’ve immediately chosen 2 bags of artichokes bottoms, one bag of baby carrots and some frozen coriander. In my recipe here below, I recommend using fresh vegetables, but if you were like me looking for a simple recipe that can be ready in no time, frozen vegetables are always my choice after fresh, especially on busy evenings.

My mom cooks this yakhne – like we Lebanese call a stew- with meat cubes and no coriander in it. It is also delicious, but since I prefer vegetarian meals, this is my version with an extra squeeze of lemon juice just before removing from heat.

“The food was ready in 45 minutes and Serge enjoyed a homemade dinner when he arrived! It just really can’t get any better than this!”.

Ingredients:

  • 500g frozen artichokes bottoms
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic gloves, minced
  • ½ cup fresh coriander, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • Juice of one little lemon

Preparation

  1. In a bowl combine artichokes, potatoes and carrots. Dilute the flour in the water and pour in.
  2. In a large pot, heat the oil and cook the onions, until golden.
  3. Add the garlic and the coriander, stirring frequently.
  4. Stir in the vegetables coated with flour. Season with salt and peppers. Cover with water and simmer on low heat until cooked well.
  5. Drizzle with lemon juice and serve with short grain rice and Lebanese flat bread.

French Lentil Salad

Is that for real that 3 months have passed since my last blog or it’s just my eyes! Gosh! What a busy summer… and how fast it finished!

Every year before the Holy month of Ramadan I get very busy with food styling jobs and this year as usual I got the chance to work on numerous brands I love. I had photo shoots every week since June.

But work is not the only reason to blame my disappearing, yes you guessed Vacation!

This year we went to beautiful Mallorca and sunny côte d’Azur. Delicious Paella and original Niçoise Salad! On our last night, we booked a table at La Petite Maison restaurant in Nice where they serve the best lentil salad ever and where my inspiration is for this recipe.

I fell in love with Nice! Maybe because there are a lot of similarities in their nature and our’s in Lebanon (they both lie on the Mediterranean sea) or simply maybe because I needed a vacation so much that I enjoyed every moment I spent there.

I’m sharing few pictures with you!

Ingredients

For the lentils:

  • 1 ½ cup red lentils or French green Lentilles du Puy
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 bell pepper orange or red, diced
  • 1 red apple, peeled and diced
  • 5 small radishes, diced
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, cut in 4 each
  • 1 sprig of green onion, finely chopped (only the green with a little of the white bulb if desired)
  • Parsley, to garnish

For the vinaigrette:

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup tbsp red wine vinegar apple vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard

Preparation

1. Wash the lentils. Transfer to a saucepan with boiling water, add salt and cook until the lentils are tender (about 20-25mn). Do not overcook. When ready, drain and set aside.

2. To make the vinaigrette whisk all the ingredients together.

3. In a salad bowl, mix together the lentils, the vegetables and drizzle with the sauce. Decorate with parsley and serve,

Serve at room temperature.

The cafés – Nice

At the beach – Nice

Mallorca’s blue sea

Mallorca – August 2012

Lebanese Classic Rice pudding or Riz Bi Haleeb

Image

Rice pudding was Kaia’s first favorite food. I used to cook it more when my girls were teething☺ I consider it more of a baby food than a dessert, because it reminds me of them sitting in their high chair enjoying eating Riz bi Haleeb.

It is an easy and simple recipe to prepare for the whole family. Every country around the world has its own version of rice pudding. I find the Lebanese recipe the best I’ve ever tasted. Perhaps, because of the use of the mastic gum that gives it a little of a light chewy feel and the aromatic fragrance of the orange blossom water.

Hope you and your kids enjoy this great old-fashioned dessert!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups full fat milk
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup short grain white rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp mastic powder, pound
  • 1tbsp orange blossom water
  • Unsalted whole pistachios, to decorate
  • Unsalted ground pistachios, to decorate
  • Pine nuts, to decorate

Preparation

  1. Pour milk in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan, add sugar and bring to a boil.
  2. Add the rice and water. Stir well.
  3. Cook over medium heat for about 30mn or until the mixture is creamy, stirring constantly, making sure the rice doesn’t stick at the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the mastic powder and the orange blossom water and cook for another 15mn until thickened.
  5. Remove from heat. Spoon the rice evenly among serving bowls.
  6. Decorate with pistachios and pine nuts. Served chilled.