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.

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.