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!

Lebanese Classic Rice pudding or Riz Bi Haleeb


Rice pudding was Kaia’s first favorite food. I used to cook it more when my girls were teething☺ I consider it more of a baby food than a dessert, because it reminds me of them sitting in their high chair enjoying eating Riz bi Haleeb.

It is an easy and simple recipe to prepare for the whole family. Every country around the world has its own version of rice pudding. I find the Lebanese recipe the best I’ve ever tasted. Perhaps, because of the use of the mastic gum that gives it a little of a light chewy feel and the aromatic fragrance of the orange blossom water.

Hope you and your kids enjoy this great old-fashioned dessert!


  • 3 cups full fat milk
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup short grain white rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp mastic powder, pound
  • 1tbsp orange blossom water
  • Unsalted whole pistachios, to decorate
  • Unsalted ground pistachios, to decorate
  • Pine nuts, to decorate


  1. Pour milk in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan, add sugar and bring to a boil.
  2. Add the rice and water. Stir well.
  3. Cook over medium heat for about 30mn or until the mixture is creamy, stirring constantly, making sure the rice doesn’t stick at the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the mastic powder and the orange blossom water and cook for another 15mn until thickened.
  5. Remove from heat. Spoon the rice evenly among serving bowls.
  6. Decorate with pistachios and pine nuts. Served chilled.

The Authentic Lebanese Fattoosh!

For some it’s Cats or Dogs, for others Rome or Paris, for me it’s Fattoosh or Tabooleh

I love Fattoosh salad, especially on a hot summer day. Last week we were blessed with sunshine and I had this salad for three consecutive days.

Fattoosh is a Lebanese salad, simple comme bonjour, there’s no secret on how to make it. The distinctive ingredients are sumac, purslane and toasted pita, while everything else is usual.

Crunchy and healthy! Enjoy it☺


  • ½ Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 3 Cucumber, diced
  • 3 Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 Green Capsicum, seeded and chopped
  • 3 Radishes, sliced
  • 2 sprigs Green Onions / Spring Onions, chopped
  • ½ cup Parsley, leaves picked
  • ½ cup Purslane, leaves picked
  • ¼ cup Mint, leaves picked
  • 2 loaves Lebanese bread / Pitta Bread, toasted or fried


  • 1 tbsp Sumac
  • ½ cup Lemon juice
  • ½ cup Olive oil
  • Salt, to taste


In a large salad bowl, mix together the lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, capsicum, radish, green onions, parsley, purslane and mint. Toss with the dressing, and serve with toasted (or fried) bread at the last minute.

Chicken Breasts with Parmesan and Mashed Vegetables

My day starts at the gym, and while my body is burning calories, funny enough, my mind is thinking: “What should I cook today?”

The competition is tough. I’m going to be in Dubai for a 4-weeks-shoot and my mom is coming to look after my daughters and cook few of her delicious food. God Bless my mom, she’s the best!

I really want Kaia and Axel to remember me cooking something they love before I travel and leave a tasty impression. My choice is Chicken Breasts with mashed potatoes, mashed carrots and mushy peas. It’s a fancy dish, healthy and colorful.

I love those recipes filed under Food Family, they make everybody in my house happy!

There’s something about the mashed vegetables that I love! (Trust me I still have all my teeth;-) It has to be the colors, not only the taste.

I melt in front of a plate with mashed potatoes, carrots and something green like peas or broccoli, it feels a lot like baby food but a pump of each color adds a lot to the presentation of the plate. Here you go, this is the food stylist in me speaking;-)

This dish is a crowd-pleaser and can be prepared for your family or for your guests. I hope you enjoy all four recipes!

Unfortunately I’ll have to drop off the radar on you for the following weeks, as I’ll be living in hotels and away from my beloved kitchen.

Chicken Breasts with Mashed Vegetables


  • 4 pieces / 500gms chicken breasts
  • ¼ cup sunflower oil, for frying
  • Pistachio and pumpkin seeds, to decorate


  • 1 cup / 250ml milk
  • 1 fresh lemon, cut in 4 wedges
  • 1 fresh apple, cut in 4 wedges
  • 1 tsp salt


  • ½ cup / 120 g plain flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup / 120 g dry breadcrumbs
  • 3 tbsp Parmesan, freshly grated
  • Salt and white pepper, to season


1.In a bowl or plastic container mix the marinade ingredients and soak the chicken for 2 to 3 hours.

2.Prepare 3 plates. Put the flour in the first plate, the eggs in the second and the mix of the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt and pepper in the third plate.

3.Take out the chicken from the marinade and toss them in the flour first. Dip in the egg second and roll in the breadcrumbs mixture to coat.

4.In a large frying pan heat the oil and cook the chicken breasts for 3–4 minutes each side or until golden and cooked through, turning occasionally.

5.Alternatively, it can be baked in the oven. Pre-heat oven to 200ºC. Place the chicken pieces on a greased baking sheet and bake for15 to 20mn.

Mashed Potatoes


  • 5 medium size potatoes, peeled and cut into big chunks
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • White pepper, to taste


1.Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil over. Add potatoes, and cook until tender.

2.Drain potatoes, and purée with a hand potato masher. Add butter, milk, salt and pepper, and mash until blended. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve.

Mashed Carrots


  • 500g carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 sprig of spring onion, washed and sliced (the white part only)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


1.Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil over. Add carrots and onions, and cook until soft.

2.Drain carrots and onions. Blend using a food processor. Add butter, sugar, stock, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve.

Mushy Peas


  • 500g frozen or fresh peas
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mint
  • Black pepper and salt, to taste


1.Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil over. Add peas, and cook until tender.

2.Drain peas, and purée with a hand potato masher. Add olive oil, sugar, mint, salt and pepper, and mash until blended. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve.