Although Lebanon is a small country but over the course of history many civilizations settled here bringing their own culinary creations and passing it on to us. Ottoman and Levantine cuisine has great influence on Lebanese kitchen and similarly, most dishes use olive oil, garlic, parsley and lemon. I love how Lebanese are rooted in traditions but also easily embrace modernity and move abreast. They developed an eclectic mix of food and made dining the center of every get-together, no matter what the occasion is. I wonder if this is gonna be ever the same after the confinement because of the covid19 virus. I can’t imagine Sunday without family reunions and summers without sunset drinks on the terrace.
Breakfast also includes marvelous options. From the savory list like manakish, kishik, balila or the sweet list, like knefeh, sahlab, honey areesheh cheese; Food here is taken seriously. Lebanon’s fertile soil grow flavorful produce, I think one has to taste it locally to really understand what I’m talking about. I was so happy with my foul mudammas this morning that I have been itching to share the recipe with you.
1 x 400g cooked broad beans or canned foul mudammas, drained
1/3 cup of water
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup tahini
1/3 olive oil
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 stem green onion, finely chopped
1 tomato, diced
½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
In a small saucepan, over medium low heat, place the broad beans with water and bring to heat.
Add lemon juice, olive oil, tahini, salt, pepper and cumin. Reduce to desired consistency.
Return beans to plate and top with tomatoes, green (or spring) onions and parsley.
Taste and adjust seasoning if desired and serve with bread.
TIP: I think spring onions or onions are essential in this recipe and don’t forget to drizzle with extra olive oil before eating.
Many 5 stars hotels in Turkey greet you with a cup of Sahlab or Salep at arrival. This drink was introduced to Lebanese by Ottomans. Originally it consists of milk and orchid flour, but now many cafés prepare it with milk, sugar and cornstarch. I personally use Sahlab mix, they are available in many brands in Lebanon and all over the world. You just mix it with hot milk and ready in a-snap-of-a-finger! Some add orange blossom water or honey, others top it with pistachios and shredded coconut, but I like it the way dad used to make it, sprinkled with cinnamon and served with kaak on the side.
This thick creamy drink has higher demand on cold winter days, just perfect to snuggle on the sofa with. but I love that during summer it can be found among ice cream flavors.
Sahlab is popular throughout the Middle East, and heard from my vegan friends that it can be done with soya milk.
If you can get Sahlab -Salep- fine powder, here below the recipe!
2 cups milk
1 1/2 tsp ground sahlab
pinch (or a bit more) of ground mastic
2 tbsp sugar
Dissolve the mastic in 1/3 cup warm milk. Set aside.
On a medium heat, pour the rest of the milk and bring to boil. Add the Sahlab by sprinkling gradually and stirring. Keep stirring for about 5 minutes.
Add sugar and stir. Transfer the mastic milk mixture and stir to form a thick creamy milk.
Serve hot sprinkled with cinnamon and with your favorite brioche or kaak.
1. In a blender, place beet and milk and blend until smooth.
2.Add egg, vanilla, sugar and oil. Blend to combine.
3. Add flour, baking powder, and salt Pulse a few times to combine.
4. Transfer batter to bowl.
5. Heat a nonstick pan over medium-low heat. Grease with butter and laddle 1/3 cup of the batter into the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, same as you cook pancakes. Repeat to finish all batter.
6. Pile the pancakes up to form a cake and decorate with icing sugar, fruits, sprinkles, … or serve separately like you do regularly. Bon Appétit!
1. Grate the potatoes manually or using your electric robot. Rinse grated potatoes until water is clear. Drain then squeeze using a tea towel to dry well.
2. Combine potatoes, onion, egg, flour, salt and pepper
3. In a large heavy skillet, heat about 1/4 inch of oil. I use kitchen metallic tongs to spoon about 1/2 cup potatoes into the pan in a flat thick layer. Around 3 “potatoes pancakes” can be cooked at a time.
4. Cook until a nice brown crust forms on the bottom, then flip over and brown on the other side.
Don’t you hate when you invite guests over and hear them cheering, drinking, having a blast while you’re stuck in the kitchen, running in all directions, heating dishes and making sure everything is perfect?
Thinking of this makes me have second thoughts about how much I truly love (or not) Christmas!
This is exactly the time when, I appreciate recipes like that. Recipes that can be done entirely the day before and requires minimum manipulation on the day of the event.
This tart requires no baking.
If using a round tin, then 20cm would be required.
The base can be done with Chocolate Oreo or Speculoos biscuits.
Crush biscuits in a food processor or in a plastic bag using a rolling pin.
As for the filling, semisweet chocolate can be replaced with dark chocolate and two more tablespoons of sugar, or use milk chocolate and omit the sugar.
For coffee lovers: caramel sauce can be replaced with 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder.
Merry Christmas food lovers!
Caramel Chocolate Tart
For the base
32 chocolate biscuits or Oreo Biscuits, crumbled
½ cup / 50g butter, melted
For the filling
150g semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups heavy cream
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp caramel sauce
½ tsp salt
25g corn flour
1/3 cup milk
To make the base In a food processor, pulse biscuits, butter and salt until you have a moist sandy mixture. Press biscuit mixture into a tart tin and refrigerate for 3 hours.
To make the filling In a saucepan, on low-medium heat, pour the chocolate chips and the cream and stir until the chocolate melts. Add sugar, caramel and salt. Stir to well combine.
In a small bowl, whisk corn flour and milk together and, off the heat, add to the chocolate mixture and mix. Return sauce over low heat and keep stirring 5-7 minutes or until sauce thickens. Leave to cool 15 minutes.
Take out the base-lined tart tin, pour the chocolate mixture evenly on the top and return it to the fridge to chill overnight.
April is for me a month to celebrate; Kaia turns 11 and Axel turns 6 and my youngest baby Maya’s Ingredients turns 5!
Yes, Five years ago, my baby blog was born!!
Like any child, he needs attention, warmth and care. He kept me awake at night reading him stories. He made me wake up early answering his inquiries. He tested my photography skills and made me follow him with a camera. He became so popular that he made me famous:)
My baby blog has followers and friends from all around the world. He is established on the blogosphere and has a fine reputation.
To celebrate I prepared a giant bowl of fruit salad soaking in orange juice, just by adding a drizzle of honey and a handful of pine nuts, I made it taste like the best fruit salad ever.
No recipe directions to follow! Combine at least 4 to 5 varieties of your favorite fruits chopped. Add fresh orange juice. Drizzle some honey and decorate with raw pine nuts.
Enjoy it fresh and Happy anniversary to Maya’s Ingredients!
My Christmas shopping started in Paris, I was there just 2 weeks before Christmas, it was the perfect time of the year to visit the city and enjoy its chic boutiques, festive decorations and fairy lights.
I stayed in the 16th arrondissement, not too far from Trocadero and Eiffel tower, despite the cold weather I made sure to walk every day outside and take a hot chocolate break in one of the Parisian gourmet cafés to warm my hands and satisfy my taste buds.
Paris is where the best hot chocolate is found! Enriched with a little cream or milk, Parisian hot chocolate is served thick, velvety and rich. The luxury comes from the excellent quality chocolate concoctions they add.
Cocoa contains flavonoids, antioxidant-rich pigments that relax blood vessels and promote cardiovascular health, but also if consumed in large quantities it can expand my waistline, therefore I like to flavor my drink with cinnamon or vanilla and drink it in an espresso-size cup.
Time for a selfie with my lifetime friend Nidal!!
Creamy Hot Chocolate With Cinnamon
2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or cow milk)
¼ tsp ground cinnamon (or more)
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup 70% dark chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp brown sugar
Pinch of salt (preferably fleur de sel)
Bring milk and cinnamon to a boil. Let simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.
Whisk in vigorously cocoa powder, chocolate, sugar and salt, until mixture is frothy.
Divide among 2 mugs and garnish with mini marshmallows or cinnamon sticks if desired.
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
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
1 tsp (10g) salt
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp cinnamon
In a bowl, pour butter over flour, add yeast and salt and mix using your hands or a food processor.
Add water gradually and knead until the dough is consistent. Cover with a tea towel and let it rest for half an hour.
In a deep bowl add meat, onion, tomatoes, pine nuts and pomegranate molasses, season with salt, pepper and cinnamon and combine well.
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.
Place the dough on a floured baking tray and spread two tablespoons of meat mixture into the centre of every circle.
Pinch together the two opposing ends of the circle and then the two opposing other ends, to make square shapes, leaving the top open.
Heat the oven at 200°C. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until meat is fully cooked and the dough turns crisp and golden.
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.
… 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:
1kg fresh ripe mulberries
2 tsp lemon juice
Pull all the stems of the fruits and put them into a large saucepan.
Heat it over medium heat and crush the berries to squish out the juice.
Bring it to a boil then add the sugar and lemon juice.
Reduce the heat and stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves.
Bring it back up to the boil for a few minutes and then bottle and seal the jam.
We had guests over few drinks last evening and the main topic of the conversation was my husband’s Harley Davidson collection. The same Vroomvroom talk went on and on until it was time for dessert… and all of a sudden the Vroom tone changed to Mmmmm Mmmmm Mmmmm.; My super hero Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake was served and made its way triumphantly to everybody’s thinking to change the subject from biking to baking.
I sat on my throne watching the last slice disappearing, and thinking I can’t be any happier!
This super easy “No Bake” cheesecake recipe is delicious to the eyes and to the taste buds as well. It is fabulous for parties or events. I hope you will try it and bedazzle your guests the way I did.
Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake
1 cup graham biscuits, ground
½ cup butter, melted
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 cups cream cheese (like Philadelphia)
1 cup chocolate spread (like Nutella)
6 tbsp icing sugar
½ cup whipping cream
½ cup milk
2 tbsp caramel sauce
Chocolate sprinkles or chocolate chunks
Mix the biscuits, the butter and sugar until you have a moist sandy mixture. Press into a 20cm round cake and refrigerate.
Beat together 1 cup of the cream cheese, chocolate spread and 3 tablespoons of the icing sugar until well combined.
Top the biscuit base with the cheese mixture and place in the fridge to chill for 1 hour.
Beat together the rest of the cream cheese, the whipping cream, and the milk until smooth. Add the rest of the icing sugar and the caramel sauce and continue beating until combined.
Top the chocolate layer with the caramel cheese mixture and place in the fridge to chill for 2 hours.
Decorate with chocolate sprinkles or chocolate chunks and serve chilled.