White Beans Salad

White Beans Salad

Hello World! Isn’t it a beautiful day or is it just me! Kids are at school, which makes it much more easier for me to concentrate on blogging and to stare at my screen and finish typing one whole sentence without being interrupted.

As much as I look forward for the school bus arrival in the afternoon, I SOMETIMES look forward for its departure the next morning. I must sound like a terrible mom, but it’s only when they’re at school that I enjoy my time guiltlessly! I can sense a lot of like-mindedness here, yes?

I can train 2 hours at the gym instead of 1, and when I go with Serge, I know that in between the reps we can leisurely chat, make plans or even exchange stories about Kaia and Axel.

Yesterday’s main topic was “beans”! Since meat is not right up my alley, Serge makes always sure that I’m at least having my share of pulses instead.

It’s kind of obvious, with so many healthy recipes on my blog, that I love healthy food, such as beans. They are very popular in my kitchen especially around this season with every grocer I visit, displaying elegantly his Aysha Khanum beans boxes. As the summer comes to a close, Aysha Khanum or shell beans (a.k.a Cranberry beans) are harvested. Beans inside the pods are now ready and plump. One variety is white while the other is white and blotched with red color; for the record, those red spots disappear once the beans are cooked.

During the last days of summer, I buy a lot of fresh shell beans, divide them in portions and freeze them for winter. It’s so easy to do; the pods open right up, releasing four to five beans each, I place all uncooked in freezer bags. The advantage is that they cook much faster than dry beans and taste much better.

My kids favorite white bean recipe is Fassolia bi Lahme, kind of a bean stew cooked with red sauce, meat chunks and served with rice on the side. I prefer the white bean salad, that probably you don’t need a recipe to make it, but I couldn’t help but share, especially after gazing at this gorgeous photo that I enjoyed styling while Serge was setting his camera and lightings. While on the surface this dish seems so simple in reality delivers some serious flavor!

P.S My Instagram account is @oryanmaya

White Beans Salad


  • 2 cups / 450g white or cranberry beans
  • or 1 can 450g of cooked white beans (washed and drained)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 crushed clove of garlic (optional)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Fresh chopped parsley, to garnish


If using fresh shell beans, place them in a pressure cooker and cover with water (the water should come 1 to 1½ inch above the beans level). Cover and lock the lid. Let it cook over high heat for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook for further 10-15 minutes. Release the pressure and wait for the cooker to cool entirely. Open carefully and drain. Alternatively use regular saucepan, cover with water and cook until beans are soft and tender.

If using dry beans, soak overnight and cook as per previous instructions inside a pressure cook, but for about 50-60 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and drizzle over the beans. You can adjust the dressing to taste.

Garnish with parsley and serve with Lebanese pita bread and spring onions.

Your Lebanese husband will never tell you that your food tastes better than his mom’s

Apricot Jam

Apricot Jam by Maya Oryan

Photography Serge Oryan

I have to admit, that no matter how hard I try, it’s never better. It happened to my mother before me and to her mother before. For some reason most of the men will never give their wives this pleasure. There’s always GOOD… BUT… – you could have added more saltor reduced saltthe pieces of vegetables are too bigit’s not juicy enough it’s still crispyI prefer short grain rice, etc. My friend made a whole list and a calendar to keep a track of her husband’s daily comments and she is one of the best cook I know;-) So why men can never make an exception to a couple of meals and let their wives enjoy this privilege!! I know my husband will never do that. He goes bragging telling everybody that my food is delicious, but when it comes to one of the recipes that his mom cooks, then the best I can do is a tie for first place. A compliment for him is when he tells me, it’s not better, it’s same. WE ARE EQUAL IN THE CONTEST! I have to say that I’m writing this blog and laughing out loud, because deep inside I know that the apricot jam I did last week finished in 5 days, and here I am doing my second batch. While my mom’s in law apricot jam jars “who happens to be the same taste” are still lying on the shelf waiting for mine to be exhausted first. So in my dead heat struggle somehow I managed to share the recipe with you with the exact amount I used, nevertheless I’d like to highlight the following:

  1. Any traditional apricot jam recipe uses at least 600g to 900g of sugar for each kilo of fruits. I never use this much especially if the apricots are ripe and sweets. Also because I always make a little quantity to consume within the next couple of weeks.
  2. I learnt that French warm the sugar in the oven for 7-10 minutes and throw it warm on the fruits; you may want to try that.
  3. Most of the recipes uses 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, so feel free to add it if you like.
  4. Some housewives crush few pits and add the kernel inside to the confiture while boiling.
  5. Remember, to make a good jam, use nice firm ripe fruits and not green or overripe fruits.

Apricot Jam Yield: 3 jars, 370g each Ingredients

  • 1 kg fresh ripe apricots; cut in half and pits extracted
  • 450g / 2 cups brown sugar

Preparation Place the apricots in a big salad bowl and cover with sugar. Let it rest for 7-10 hours, preferably in the fridge if the weather is hot. In a heavy based saucepan transfer the apricots and bring to boil for 10mn. Reduce the heat to low and remove any scum from the surface. Let it simmer for about 25mn or until a small amount of the juice gels on a chilled plate. Ladle carefully in jars and keep refrigerated. Consume within 3 weeks.

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


  • 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)


  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

Lebanese Lentil Soup – Aadass bi Hamod


Lebanese lentil soup is a meal in itself, packed with lentils and potatoes and often enjoyed with the addition of toasted bread. A hearty, healthy and warm bowl of this soup is the perfect solution on a rainy and cold day.

Lebanese Lentil Soup

Serves 4 • Preparation Time 20 minutes • Cooking Time 35 minutes


  • 1 ½ cups lentils, washed and rinsed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 450g / 1 bunch of fresh Swiss chard, washed and chopped coarsely
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ cup onions, chopped
  • 2 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • Olive oil, to taste


  1. Bring a medium size pot, of 1L, of salted water to a boil and add lentils to half cook.
  2. Add potatoes and cook for 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add chards and cook for another 5-7 minutes.
  4. Heat oil and sauté coriander and onions in a separate skillet until wilt. Add to lentils.
  5. Adjust seasoning to taste. Add lemon juice off heat and while soup is still hot. Serve.
  6. This is a healthy and tasty vegetarian soup that can be served with toasted Lebanese bread (pita), if desired.

Lahm Bi Aajeen Bouchée or Meat Pie

LahemBi Aajeen

Last Christmas, during our annual family party, my dad, who worked closely with chef Antoine Hajj, offered for each one of us, a copy of his book: Maa’kool Al Hana.

A quick note for my western readers; Chef Antoine is a Lebanese celebrity chef who has a TV show and the author of the cooking book Maa’kool Al Hana; an approximate of 600 pages cooking book!!

We all loved dad’s Christmas gift. Especially that it had a personalized dedication inside from Chef Antoine himself.

Mom, sisters and I (second one from left) holding our Christmas gift

Mom, sisters and I (second one from left) holding our Christmas gift

During this past year I tried many recipes from the book, but the one I want to share with you today is a recipe that several readers have requested. It is The Lebanese Meat Pie or Lahm Bi Aajeen.



  • 3 cups all-purpose-flour (+ 3tbsp extra to flour the surface)
  • 1 cup / 100g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1½ tbsp (7g) instant yeast
  • ½ tsp (5g) salt
  • ½ cup water


  • 350g lamb minced meat (I used beef)
  • 100g onion, finely minced
  • 2 (300g) tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp (30g) pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp (30g) pomegranate molasses (I used Al Wadi Al Akhdar)
  • 1 tsp (10g) salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp cinnamon


  1. In a bowl, pour butter over flour, add yeast and salt and mix using your hands or a food processor.
  2. Add water gradually and knead until the dough is consistent. Cover with a tea towel and let it rest for half an hour.
  3. In a deep bowl add meat, onion, tomatoes, pine nuts and pomegranate molasses, season with salt, pepper and cinnamon and combine well.
  4. Flour your work surface and flatten the dough to 5mm (1/3 inch) thickness. Cut in into 10cm circles. You can use a cup if desired or take balls of dough the size of eggs and press each into a round by hand.
  5. Place the dough on a floured baking tray and spread two tablespoons of meat mixture into the centre of every circle.
  6. Pinch together the two opposing ends of the circle and then the two opposing other ends, to make square shapes, leaving the top open.
  7. Heat the oven at 200°C. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until meat is fully cooked and the dough turns crisp and golden.






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.



  • 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


  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.

Quinoa and Chickpea Salad


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!


  • 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


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.