Maamoul With Pistachios or Walnuts

Maamool-MayaOryan

It’s this time of the year where the neighborhood smells sweet. Housewives and women of the family would be traditionally gathering right now to bake batches of Maamool. The aroma sneaks out of the oven to reach every sense of smell around and makes one desire to eat Maamool instantly. Hopefully this ritual will never go out of style, as it adds excitement to this beautiful occasion.

Maamool is very popular in Lebanon during Easter and I’ve been asked for the recipe hundreds of times. I hope you will love it as much as I do and appreciate the artist behind this elegant treat. I think who ever invented it, did care about each of his taste buds. Who would have thought about the mix of this fragrant dough coming from the combination of the rose water and the orange blossom water. The result is a delicious cookie that melts in your mouth and the pistachio filling gives it a soft chomp. Impressive!

Maamoul With Pistachios or Walnuts

For 30 pieces

Ingredients

Maamoul Dough

  • 3 cups coarse semolina (ferkha)
  • 2 cups fine semolina (smeed naim)
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • 3 sticks/300g of butter, melted (and let cool down) I use Lurpak blocks
  • 100ml of rose water
  • 30ml/2 tbsp of orange blossom water
  • ⅙ teaspoon instant yeast

Nut Filling

  • 200g of unsalted pistachio nuts or unsalted walnuts
  • ¾ cup of regular sugar
  • 2tbsp of rose water
  • 3tbsp of orange blossom water
  • Icing sugar to decorate

Preparation

  1. Mix coarse semolina, fine semolina and sugar together.
  2. Add yeast and melted butter and rub with hands until well combined.
  3. Gradually pour WARM orange blossom water and rose water, kneading the dough gently with hands. Place the dough in a large bowl and cover with a wet kitchen towel. Let it sit for 1 hour at room temperature.
  4. To make the filling, combine all ingredients.
  5. Divide the dough in 2. Scoop walnut size of maamoul dough and flatten it on the palm of your hand, fill it with pistachios or walnut filling and make a ball. Repeat this step until you finish the dough.
  6. Press gently each ball into a traditional “Maamoul” mold to take shape and tap out on the baking sheet to drop out of the mould. If the dough is sticky, lightly flour the mold.
  7. In a preheated oven 200C/400F bake the maamoul cookies for about 15-20mn or until the sides are slightly golden.
  8. Sprinkle with icing sugar, while still hot. Let cool down and sprinkle again until fully covered.

My Valentine Red Velvet Cake

Valentine Red Velvet Cake

Kids had few days off school as part of their winter break and instead of taking them to a ski vacation we flew to sunny Dubai and stayed at one of our favorite resort Atlantis the Palm, where kids had an amazing time on the beach with mommy (myself hihihi)  and friends. We’re lucky to have so many friends living in Dubai, which always makes of our vacation an unforgettable one.

Back to my kitchen and to my baking passion, an old recipe of a red velvet cake shouted at me across the room to urgently make it; I was so powerless over its lusciousness and didn’t hesitate for a second.

I usually prefer dry cakes without any frosting on, but this combination of red velvet cake and vanilla cream cheese frosting is gorgeous and I’m sure once you try it you will stay hooked.

I had fun writing words with my children to top each slice of the cake, we wrote much more than we needed as some of them got broken while peeling them off the paper, but no one minded eating an extra piece of chocolate, they clearly have a sweet tooth like mommy.

Red Velvet Cake

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp red food coloring
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp baking soda

For the cream cheese frosting

  • 450g / 16 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 tbsp butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups icing sugar, sifted
  • Pinch of salt
  • 100g dark chocolate to make the toppers (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 185°C. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pan.

In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla.

Mix together cocoa powder and food coloring to form a paste and add it to the egg mixture.

Sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Add the flour mixture, gradually to the egg mixture, alternating with the milk, beat until well incorporated, making sure to scrape down the bottom of the bowl with a spatula.

Mix baking soda and vinegar together and add.

Divide batter into prepared pans. Bake 30-40 minutes, until cake springs back when gently pressed with finger.

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.

To make the frosting: Whisk together cream cheese and butter until smooth.

Add, sugar, vanilla and salt and beat on medium-high speed until well combined.

Spread the cream cheese over the top of one of the cakes and on top (bottom up). Now spread the remaining cream cheese to cover the cakes from all sides, and decorate if desired.

To make the toppers: Melt chocolate over a bain-marie and fill it in a squeeze bottle or a piping bag. Write words (like love, kisses, hugs, xoxo, valentine) on a wax paper and wait few minutes to cool. Once the chocolate is hard, peel it off the paper and insert it gently in the cream.

Chocolate Stout Cake

Photography Serge Oryan

Photography Serge Oryan www.sergeoryan.com

I don’t remember having a cake with beer inside until few months back when I was in New York City. My friend insisted that I try some, telling me that it doesn’t taste like beer at all. She was right it doesn’t taste the beer, but the stout inside adds a twist that calls you for a second bite and more. It’s moist, unlike you might be thinking it’s not bitter, but does have a deep tang.

I browsed few recipes online, all very similar. Most use sour cream, but I prefer the fresh organic yogurt I get straight from the farm. I used Almaza Lebanese beer, which I love, but you can use Guinness or your favorite dark beer.

I baked this same cake twice this week, and every single bite was a true dose of happiness!

Ingredients:

  • 100g / 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 ½ cup dark beer
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of Salt

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 185°C. Grease and flour a cake pan.
  2. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, beat butter, beer, and milk. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Add yogurt and mix until incorporated.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Fold the dry flour mixture, gradually in the wet beer mixture, making sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake 40-50 minutes, until cake springs back when gently pressed with finger.
  6. Let cool in pan on rack.

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.

Passion Fruit Lemonade

LemonadePassionFruit-BlogWhen I was living in Dubai, I never ran out of passion fruit. It used to be available all year round and at a very reasonable price. During the decade I lived in the UAE, I tried passion fruits in baking, in desserts, in juices, in smoothies and it has quickly became one of my favorite exotic fruits.

Until I moved to Lebanon, I never found nice, purple, juicy passion fruits, and if I do find in the imported fruits section, it will not be for less than 25$/per kilo!! Yesterday I got lucky with some local, organic passion fruits, smelling like heaven. Finally we started to grow them locally and the price dropped to 2$/per kilo.

I hurried home to make my most refreshing passion fruit lemonade recipe. Summer is here and it’s very hot! Freshly squeezed lemon juice and passion fruit pulp, came to my rescue in this hot climate, tasting like an exotic vacation in a martini glass.

For a lazy version, buy fresh lemonade and scoop out pulp of passion fruits inside your glass. I’m sure this soon will become a hit at your parties. Smile and cheers!

Ingredients

  • 1½ cup fresh lemon juice (2 to 4 lemons)
  •  3 cups cold water
  •  ½ cup sugar
  • 6 passion fruits, cut in two

Preparation

In a jug, combine water and lemon juice and stir in sugar until dissolved. Scoop out pulp of the passion fruits with a teaspoon and stir it in. Add ice cubes if desired and serve.

Figs and Brie Cheese Quiche

 

Picture taken by my talented daughter Kaia:)

Picture taken by my talented daughter Kaia:)

One of my clients sent me a pack full of pastries; shortcrust ready rolled, puff cases, filo sheets, … asking me to give him my feedback about the quality of the product.

So I spent the week, eating tarts, quiches and samosas! Not that I’m complaining. I guess you should know by now that my love for baking is unconditional.

Ready rolled pie pastries are one of my much-loved ingredients, especially after a long day at work. I often line my pie dish, flute edges and then open the fridge and think about the filling. Recipes with shortcrust pastries are versatile and trouble-free. I don’t think it is said easy as pie for nothing;-)

I wanted to break away from routine ingredients so I started with a pesto rosso spread, topped it with some blue cheese, slices of brie, sprigs of thyme, and dried figs. The outcome was a hit through! I served it for some friends visiting in the evening and as soon as I saw their heads nodding I knew I had the green light to share the recipe with you all.

KaiaOnSet-LR

Ingredients

  • 1 Pack of Shortcrust Pastry or “Pâte Brisée”
  • 2 tbsp pesto rosso
  • 2 tbsp blue cheese, crumbled
  • 150g Brie cheese, sliced
  • ¼ cup fresh thyme leaves
  • 5 dried figs, sliced
  • 5 eggs
  • ½ cup low-fat milk
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Maple syrup to drizzle

Preparation

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C.
  2. Roll out dough on floured surface. Transfer to pie dish. Trim and flute the sides. Pierce crust all over with fork.
  3. Start by spreading the pesto on the crust.
  4. Distribute the blue cheese and decorate crust with slices of brie in a fan shape.
  5. Add thyme and figs.
  6. Beat eggs well. Add milk, pepper and salt. Pour over the filling and place pie dish on the middle oven rack.
  7. After 20mn, drizzle with maple syrup and place it back in the oven for another 10 to 15mn.
  8. Transfer tart to rack; cool 5 minutes.

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.

Ingredients

Stuffing

  • 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

Preparation

  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.