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!☺

Awwamaat on Saint Barbara’s Day

AwwammatbyMayaOryanOn Saint Barbara’s day or Eid-il-Berbara, Lebanese children disguised in costumes roam the streets, knocking on the doors, collecting candies and treats and singing Heyshleh Barbara. A yearly celebration very similar to Halloween, but celebrated on the 3rd of December.

The Lebanese story says that Saint Barbara escaped her pagan father who refused to let her convert to Christianity. She disguised herself in different costumes (thus the tradition of dressing up and wearing masks) to hide from her father who was persecuting her.

I grew up in a neighborhood where they gave coins on Saint Barbara’s day instead of sweets. Can you imagine what a happy child I was on that day!

My dad used to cook “awwamaat” (or ouwaymet) as a traditional food for the occasion. A true delish!

Awwamaat are small balls of dough, the size of a walnut, deep-fried to a golden browned crisp and then soaked in sugar syrup.

I fondly remember my dad in the kitchen frying these doughnuts, while I’m waiting for him to finish to gobble it all up. There’s no way to eat just one!

Other sweets for the occasion include Atayef, they’re like pancakes stuffed with walnut and a rich cream called Ashta, and sweetened boiled barley.

Awwamaat are also part of the traditional celebration of Ghtas, Christ’s baptismal night, but were mostly famous at our house on Barbara’s feast. The perfect treat to enjoy on that day!

And this is how my dad made them:

Middle Eastern Awwamaat on Saint Barbara’s Day

Ingredients:

Donuts

  • 3 cups flour
  • ¼ tsp dry yeast
  • 2 ½ cups water, lukewarm
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Oil for deep frying

Syrup

  • 2 ½ cup of white sugar
  • 1½ cup water
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2tsp rose water

Preparation

1.To make the syrup, dissolve sugar in water, add the lemon juice and bring to a boil. Remove the foam on the top. Simmer for 10mn while gently stirring and until it becomes thick. Add rose water and set aside to cold.

2.To make the dough, mix flour and sugar in a large bowl. Dissolve yeast in warm water and slowly add it until dough forms. Knead well. Cover the dough with a wet cloth and leave to rise 1 to 2 hours.

3.Heat oil and drop mixture using a wet teaspoon or form ball shape with hands and drop in oil. Remove from oil when golden brown and drain on absorbent paper. Dip with syrup when still warm. Serve hot or cold.

Traditional Style Meghleh

For Chloe and Ella

My close friends Carole and Elie recently have been blessed with two beautiful girls! Newborn babies are like angels with their tiny fingers and tiny everything:) What an amazing feeling, incapable of expressing in words. I know, because I’m a mother of 2 girls too. My love for Kaia and Axel is growing bigger every day. They are my whole world! They make my heart melt away especially in the morning when they come to our bed with their messy hair on their faces and cute nightdresses.

“I’m so happy for you Carole, your heart will melt away too when Chloe will hold to your pinky and when Ella will start squeezing you tightly. I wish them a happy life, God bless them and let them always be healthy, safe and sound”.

Now back to our Lebanese heritage, Meghleh is the dessert we offer when relatives and friends are over to congratulate parents for the birth of their baby. It is also served on Christmas to celebrate the glorious birth of Jesus Christ.

A powder rice based treat spiced with cinnamon, caraway and aniseed powder. A very special taste different from any other dessert I know and full with flavor sensations. I love it more when topped with nuts, it makes it look more appealing and taste delish.

My kitchen today is a far better place with the smell of Meghleh cooking!

Welcome Chloe and Ella, this one goes for you!

Traditional Lebanese Meghleh

Ingredients

  • 1 cup powder rice
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 7 to 8 cups water
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon ground
  • 1 tbsp aniseed powder
  • 1 tbsp caraway powder

To garnish 

  • Coconut powder
  • Walnuts (soaked)
  • Almonds (soaked)
  • Pine nuts (soaked and peeled)
  • Pistachios (soaked and peeled)

Preparation

  1. In a large saucepan dissolve rice powder and sugar in water, add spices and bring to a boil stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until mixture thickens or about 15 to 10 minutes.
  2. Spoon the mixture evenly in serving cups.
  3. Serve cold, covered with grated coconut and nuts. (It’s better to garnish just before serving)

Another Lebanese Dessert, the Snayniyeh!

Lebanese are very special when it comes to languages. I, like many Lebanese, speak to my daughter in French, send her to a school where she learns English and Arabic and lives in a country where the spoken language is Lebanese.

Gulf countries have a translation for every foreign word while we Lebanese have our own mishmash of languages, we don’t mind speaking 3 languages in one sentence; if it’s a computer then let’s call it a computer and not “hassoub”, and if French call it Filet, don’t think hard, everybody knows what Filet de boeuf is. I love this! It’s not complicated!

So when Kaia, asks me: “Mom what is cheese in Arabic?”, I proudly answer: “Jibneh”, but if she asks: “What is Cheese Cake?”. I answer: “It’s Cheese Cake!” Who knows what Gateau jibin is!

This morning she asked: “What is Snayniyeh in French?” I said: “It’s Snayniyeh!”. “And in English?” I answered: “Also Snayniyeh!”. She smiled and said: “It’s funny!

Fair enough, no? Italians have Tiramisu and Panna cotta we Lebanese have Snayniyeh and Meghleh. Why try calling it anything else!

Every name hides a little story behind. Snayniyeh is derived from “snan”, which means teeth in Lebanese and this scrumptious dessert is usually prepared to celebrate the appearance of a child’s first tooth. A sure phenomenal event for every mom!

I love our traditions! Meghleh to celebrate the birth of a child, Snayniyeh for teething, Maamoul for Easter and Awwamat for Ghtas (Christ’s baptismal night), isn’t it sweet☺

The name Snayniyeh put a smile on many faces as it brings back sweet memories! It’s simple and healthy and this is how I make it.

Ingredients

  • 1cup hulled wheat, washed and rinsed (in Arabic ameh ma’chour)
  • 1lt water
  • 1 large pomegranate, peeled and seeded
  • 3/4cup icing sugar
  • 1/2cup orange-blossom water
  • 1/2cup pistachios, soaked in water for about 1 hour
  • 1/2cup almonds, soaked in water for about 1 hour
  • 1/2cup walnuts, soaked in water for about 1 hour
  • 1/2cup sugared chick peas

Preparation

  1. Cook the wheat in boiling water for an hour or until tender and all the liquid has been absorbed.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in icing sugar and orange-blossom water.
  3. Mix with the pomegranate seeds.
  4. Scatter the rest of the ingredients on the top and serve hot or cold.