Peach Frangipane Tart

Photography Serge Oryan

Impress family and friends with this popular French dessert. Combine almonds and peaches to make one of the most iconic summer treats. This tart is perfect when fruits are seasonal and tasty.

INGREDIENTS

For the pastry:

  • 100g / 1 stick butter, cut into cubes
  • 225g plain flour
  • 25g icing sugar, sieved
  • 1 egg, beaten

For the filling:

  • 150g soft butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 30g plain flour
  • 1tsp almond extract
  • Canned or Fresh peaches, peeled and sliced.
  • For decoration:
  • Runny honey or peach jam, melted and sieved, for glaze
  • 25g untoasted almonds, peeled, flaked or halved

PREPARATION

In a processor, combine butter cubes, flour and icing sugar and process shortly like few pulses only. Pour in the beaten egg and pulse again until the dough starts to form a ball.

Wrap with cling film and chill. Sometimes the dough is immediately manageable, pending on the temperature of the butter or the room and you can skip the chilling part.

To make the filling in the same processor, cream the butter and sugar together, then gradually add the beaten eggs.

Add the ground almonds, flour and almond extract. Process for a few seconds until well combined. Place the mixture in the fridge, while you prepare the base.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry dough to fill in a 25cm tart mold. Use the rolling pin to level the edges. Spoon the filling over the base and decorate with halved peaches.

Baked Mac and Cheese

You’ll love this simple version of this classic recipe. I’ve seen versions of it with ham added, or vegetables, or béchamel sauce, … but NO! More ingredients mean more comments! My kids and their friends “and my friends” love it, just like that; a simple pasta recipe mixed in a creamy cheesy sauce and topped with chunky buttery Panko.

The “yumminess” lies between your choice of the rich cheddar cheese, the Panko coated with butter and the BAKING, to make all flavors blend together in its most delicious way.

Ingredients:

  • 500g macaroni (I used maccheroni)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups cooking cream
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Mozzarella, shredded

Topping:

  • ¾ cup Panko (or breadcrumbs)
  • 2 tbsp melted butter

Preparation:

  1. Cook pasta in boiling water according to package directions.
  2. Preheat oven to 200°C
  3. Butter a 9”x13” rectangular baking dish and spread cooked pasta inside.
  4. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with cooking cream. Mix.
  5. Stir cheeses together and layer over the pasta.
  6. In a small bowl pour the melted butter over the Panko and mix until well coated. Use it to top the macaroni and cheese.
  7. Bake for around 25 minutes. Serve hot.

Happy New Year 2022

Photography Serge Oryan

Happy New Year and best wishes filled with new experiences and joyous cooking.
May your path ahead in 2022 lead to successful and meaningful accomplishments.
From the heart @mayasingredients | Maya Oryan

Spicy Hot Chocolate

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After skiing in the wind for five hours straight, I was chilled to the marrow and all I could think of was my special spicy version of hot chocolate.

This chocolaty monster will make you swoon! Think of the cocoa and all the spices that contains this drink that promote cardiovascular health and boost the immunity. It is rich, I know, but absolutely marvelous!

Feel free to play with the amounts of the ingredients to suit your own taste:)

Stay warm!

Spicy Hot Chocolate

Ingredients

•2 cups milk (preferably almond milk)
•½ tsp ground cinnamon
•¼ tsp nutmeg
•¼ tsp chili powder
•2 tbsp brown sugar
•2 mini chili peppers
•3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
•¼ cup 70% dark chocolate, chopped
•Pinch of salt

Preparation
1. In a medium saucepan, bring milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, chili powder and sugar to a boil.
2. Slit the chili pepper lengthwise and stir in.
3. Whisk in cocoa powder, chocolate and salt, let simmer until mixture is frothy.
4. Discard the chili peppers and divide drink among 2 cups and garnish with mini marshmallows or cinnamon sticks if desired.

Loubieh Bi Zeit or Green Beans in Oil

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Loubieh Bi Zeit literally means “green beans in oil” and is a Lebanese traditional vegetarian dish. Many local dishes use olive oil I think because Lebanon produces fine olive oil and combined to many ingredients result into absolute indulgence.

I prepare this dish using fresh beans, tomatoes, garlic and onions. I love this old-fashioned simple version, I change nothing add nothing!

This meal is refreshing, tasty and healthy, the combination of ripe tomatoes and green beans gives it a sweet flavor with a bit of acidity.

Classic!

Ingredients

  • 1kg flat green beans (a.k.a helda beans), washed
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 7 garlic cloves
  • 400 g ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • ¼ tsp Lebanese seven spices
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Fresh herbs for garnish

 Directions

  1. Top and tail the beans and cut into even-sized pieces.
  2. Fry the onions over medium-high heat until golden. Add the whole garlic, the flat beans, the pepper and the salt and sauté for 2-3 minutes or until the beans are a vibrant green.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir.
  4. Cover with water and simmer on low-medium heat for about 25 minutes.
  5. Remove the lid and add the tomato sauce. Continue cooking until the liquid evaporates and the tomatoes form a thick coating around the beans.
  6. Garnish with parsley, coriander or mint and serve at room temperature with fresh onions and flat bread.

 

 

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!

Le Choux A La Creme

MayaOryan-IMG_9842-RLast week I came back home to find a beautiful gift from POLYGEL HOME BAKER waiting for me on my desk office.

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A jam-packed goody bag has always an enjoyable impact on me, especially when it’s from a brand that I love. I rummaged through the bags to find many baking accessories, party items, 65% dark INAYA chocolate from Cocoa Barry ideal for my ganache, Spanish almond flakes and a lovely cake mould that I will try soon. But the one item I was thrilled about the most was the star cream, which is a ready mix to make crème pâtissière. I’ve been craving for a choux a la crème for a while and this came handy at the right time.

I love choux because the dough on its own is not too sweet so it really goes with any flavor you fill in. It can be catered to your liking. The most popular is to have a custard cream inside, but some recipes include caramel, coffee, strawberries, banana,… so the options are really unlimited.

The choux a la crème and éclair dough are the same, they are just piped in a different way. I prefer the choux pastries because it’s a bite size treat picked up and devoured in a single mouthful. These little sweets dole out an irresistible dose of rich flavor and will soon become your next favorite treat.

As per the rest of the items found in my goody bag, I know now I have few weeks worth of testing and evaluation. Checkout Polygel Home Baker website, many of their fabulous products can be ordered online.

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The recipe for: Choux a la creme

Makes around 50

Ingredients:

  • 100g / 1 cup butter, diced
  • 300ml water
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 3-4 eggs, lightly beaten

For the filling:

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 200C/400F. In a medium size pan, melt the butter with water and bring to simmer.
  2. Add the flour and the sugar, whisking constantly and remove from the heat and continue beating until the mixture forms a paste that doesn’t stick to the pan. Let the paste cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the eggs a little at a time and beat until you have a glossy smooth dough.
  4. Using two teaspoons (I prefer piping), place blobs of the dough onto the lined baking sheet, leaving space between them as they will puff up. If you use a piping bag, dip your finger in water and flatten down the little tips on the top.
  5. Bake the buns in the middle rack of your oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden. Leave to completely cool on a rack.
  6. To make the filling, mix 350g of Laped Starcream Vanilla (crème pâtissière) with 1 liter of cold milk and whip for 3 minutes until glossy and fluffy or use the whole pack (400g) with 1 liter of water and whip vigorously.
  7. Fill the choux pastries with the chilled mixture of crème pâtissière and dust with Laped Powdered Sugar, ideal for usage in pastries and decorations.

 

Note: Alternatively, you can fill these choux with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or any other filling of your choice.

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.

 

Fried Caulifower and Tahini Dip

Fried Cauliflower

Nothing can beat this amazing vegetarian appetizer! Served as a snack or as a side dish, it’s crisp, tasty and easy to make. The homemade tahini dip a.k.a tarator is the perfect accompaniment to this straight forward recipe. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 kg cauliflower, cut into florets
  • Vegetable Oil for frying

For the Dip

  • ½ cup tahini (tahina or sesame paste)
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp water
  • Pinch of salt

Preparation

  1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to boil, and blanch the cauliflower for 8-10 minutes. Remove from water. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Place the cauliflower in and fry for 5-6 minutes or until it turns golden brown. Transfer to a plate lined with wax paper or paper towel to drain.
  3. To make the dip, combine tahini, lemon juice, water and salt. Stir until well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning to liking.
  4. Serve cauliflower and dip as an appetizer.

P.S. Can also be served in pita bread as a sandwich.

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.