The Roof at Four Seasons Beirut

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What I love the most about Beirut in summer, is to watch the sun slipping below the horizon, with a frosted drink in one hand and cool music playing in the background.

With sweeping views of Downtown Beirut and the Mediterranean sea, “The Roof” perches on the Four Seasons Hotel’s 26th floor, offering a unique menu of tapas and an impressive cocktail list.

This chic rooftop lounge is a great spot to chill out enjoying some local glamour and lounging around with an A-list celebrity clientele and a live DJ spinning tracks.

Yesterday, I woke up craving for their Asian-inspired tasty bites so in the evening I slipped into one sexy dress and headed there with Serge and some friends. As soon as we arrived, we ordered a refreshing bottle of rosé to start with, while our eyes focused on that world-class sunset. We were lucky to have the manager Rita Bou Antoun on duty to visit our table and recommend a concoction from The Roof tailored menu, to inspire appetite and generate fun conversations.

Everybody around seemed to have fun, even though the venue is more of a lounge area than a party place, nevertheless some guests were swinging and dancing on the live tunes of DJ David Maouad. He was so good that turned the setting into one high-end playground for rich and famous hanging there and transforming an ordinary summer day into a terrific evening.

Finally not only the views were sensational but also the ambiance, the refined delights and the fascinating dessert. Thank you The Roof for making every night out here a most treasured experience. Can’t wait to go back!

Orzo Mozzarella Salad

OrzoMozarrellaSalad

This recipe is inspired from the salad of my awesome friend Sandrella.

I have a lot of awesome friends but none of them has her get-up-and-go astonishing characteristic. None of them is the gym freak to drive 1 hour in the morning, because this is where her favorite PT trains. None of them travels 4 times a year with 3 kids on different adventurous vacations. None of them runs her overseas business while baking her children sophisticated cake recipe or spending the day driving them from and to activities or play-dates.

I congratulate you my friend, not only because your food has been labeled as inspirational, but also because your vitality is contagious.

I surround myself with friends who have great sense of humor, extraordinary dreams and great ambitious. This helps to focus my energy in a positive direction. Being positive attract positive people, they somehow gravitate toward me.

In Oprah’s book What I Know For Sure, I like her chapter on gossip. She first talked about a truth Maya Angelou passed on to her: “I’m convinced that the negative has power—and if you allow it to perch in your house, in your mind, in your life, it can take you over,” she said. “Those negative words climb into the woodwork, into the furniture, and the next thing you know, they’re on your skin. A negative statement is poison.”

Oprah writes: “We live in a culture obsessed with gossip—who’s wearing what, who’s dating whom, who’s entangled in the latest sex scandal. What would happen if we declared our homes, our relationships or our lives gossip-free zones? We’d probably be surprised at how much time we’d free up to do the work that’s most significant—building our dreams rather than tearing down others’. We’d fill our homes with a spirit of truth that would make visitors want to kick off their shoes and stay awhile. And we’d remember that while words have the power to destroy, they also have the power to heal.

I did this salad on Saturday for some of my beautiful friends. We had dinner, chatted and laughed out loud. No one was making any effort to incorporate humor into the atmosphere, the energy was there, circulating light and carefree.

Always find the best in others, it’s necessary to living the good life.

 And now back to some serious talk of ORZO MOZZARELLA SALAD and this is how I make it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked orzo
  • 1 cup red cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup yellow cherry tomatoes, full or halved
  • 12 mini mozzarella balls
  • ¼ cup black olives, pitted and sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp pesto
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
  • Olive oil, to taste
  • Coarse salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp oregano

Preparation:

  1. Cook orzo pasta according to package directions. Rinse with cold water.
  2. In a bowl, combine orzo, red and yellow cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil and black olives. Toss with pesto until ingredients are completely coated. Add olive oil, salt and oregano and toss again.
  3. Decorate with pine nuts and serve.

NOTE: I made my own pesto: Slice very thin a quarter cup of fresh basil. Crush basil inside the mortar with 1 tablespoon of pine nuts and 1 garlic clove. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of grated parmesan and stir.

 

Tenderloin Strips Easy Version

Beef Tenderloin-MayaOryan

I learned this recipe from my sister Hala. She has a whole repertoire of delicious recipes that can be ready in half an hour. She, like many working women has little time to spend in the kitchen and big concern about giving her family the right healthy food.

When she first gave it to me, I thought it was too simple to be good, but it turned out to be one of the juiciest and most flavored beef strips recipe, I cook.

It’s a family meal! When it’s on the menu: NO complains, everyone is eating happily. I usually add carrots to the mushrooms, too bad this time I didn’t, they would have added some color to the photo. When I was cooking this morning, I had no intentions to take pictures, I decided only when I saw the kids’ friends eating and asking for a second serving. Then I said: “Let’s shoot and share!”

This recipe can be done with rice or mashed potatoes, it can also be prepared as a festive dish, trust me, your guests are going to love it.

Tenderloin Strips Easy Version

Ingredients:

  • 1kg beef tenderloin, cut into strips
  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 200g mushrooms, sliced
  • ¾ cup Ketchup
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • ¾ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups basmati rice

Preparation:

Marinate in the refrigerator, beef strips with ketchup sauce, soy sauce and olive oil, overnight.

Melt the butter in a large heavy bottomed pot and add the onions and the garlic. Sauté for few minutes or until the onion starts to wilt and the garlic starts to turn golden.

Add the meat in batches and cook for 2-3 minutes or until it starts to brown on all sides, add the marinade, season with salt and pepper and let it simmer, with the lid on, until the meat is tender and the liquid is reduced and reaches a thick consistency.

Finally, add the mushrooms and let it simmer on medium heat for about 5 minutes.

Cook the rice according to package instructions and serve hot with beef strips.

Note: Since the marinade has a big amount of soy sauce, which is high in sodium, better not to add too much salt.

Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad)

IMG_4570MayaOryan

Panzanella salad is one that I remember to prepare when I have a slightly stale French loaf. I love home-made croutons, and when flavored with garlic or cheese I can nibble at that all day long.

This salad uses simple ingredients, like tomatoes, red onions, basil and a couple of cucumbers to add some crunch. The sharp taste of the dressing is a good match and will appreciatively contrast with the croutons.

Don’t forget to pull out your best quality extra-virgin olive to make it!

 

Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad)

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup extra virgin oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 day old, loaf French baguette or Italian bread, cut in croutons size
  • 4 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cucumbers, diced
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup basil leaves, chopped

Dressing

  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar (or apple vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp minced shallot
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt, to taste

Directions:

 

  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
  2. Heat olive oil for 2 minutes, then drop the garlic inside and leave it to cool.
  3. Scatter the bread pieces on a baking tray and brush or drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the garlic olive oil. Place the baking tray in the middle of the oven and bake about 5-7 minutes on each side.
  4. Remove from oven and sprinkle with salt.
  5. To prepare the dressing; discard garlic cloves. Add vinegar, shallot sugar and salt to olive oil and whisk.
  6. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, basil and bread (croutons). Toss all in the dressing and serve immediately.

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

Ingredients

  • 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)

 Preparation

  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

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.