Loubieh Bi Zeit or Green Beans in Oil

Maya Oryan - Loubieh Bi Zeit.JPG

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

The RoofA.jpg

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.

Honey Tahini Cookies -(feat.video tutorial)

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I always wanted to post one of my recipe videos but kept on postponing thinking that it might be boring; until today, I was watching this recipe with my little daughter when she told me “this looks super easy, lets make some straight away!”

Not only I was happy that it took her only once to watch the video and wanting to try the recipe out, but also I was encouraged to upload my video and not to be nervous anymore about it.

If you love Halawa (Halva) you will love these cookies. They are both crisp and chewy and totally easy to make. The combination of Tahini and honey tastes like Halawa and who wants to resist this flavor.

These cookies will be your new favorite!

Honey Tahini Cookies

Makes 30

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick / 100g butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup tahini (I used Al Wadi Al Akhdar tahini)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp orange blossom water
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. In a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy.
  2. Gradually add the tahini, honey and orange blossom water.
  3. In a medium size bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt together. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour to tahini mixture, combining well until forming a dough.
  4. Chill in the refrigerator for about an hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 170°C or 350°
  6. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Using your hands, take a walnut size of dough and shape into balls. Arrange them on the cookie sheet at least 2 inches / 5cm apart. Dip the tines of a fork in flour and gently press a crisscross pattern into each ball. Dip fork in flour after every cookie to avoid sticking.
  7. Bake in the middle rack of the oven for 13-15 minutes or until the cookies begin to show cracks.

Maamoul With Pistachios or Walnuts

Maamool-MayaOryan

It’s this time of the year where the neighborhood smells sweet. Housewives and women of the family would be traditionally gathering right now to bake batches of Maamool. The aroma sneaks out of the oven to reach every sense of smell around and makes one desire to eat Maamool instantly. Hopefully this ritual will never go out of style, as it adds excitement to this beautiful occasion.

Maamool is very popular in Lebanon during Easter and I’ve been asked for the recipe hundreds of times. I hope you will love it as much as I do and appreciate the artist behind this elegant treat. I think who ever invented it, did care about each of his taste buds. Who would have thought about the mix of this fragrant dough coming from the combination of the rose water and the orange blossom water. The result is a delicious cookie that melts in your mouth and the pistachio filling gives it a soft chomp. Impressive!

Maamoul With Pistachios or Walnuts

For 30 pieces

Ingredients

Maamoul Dough

  • 3 cups coarse semolina (ferkha)
  • 2 cups fine semolina (smeed naim)
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • 3 sticks/300g of butter, melted (and let cool down) I use Lurpak blocks
  • 100ml of rose water
  • 30ml/2 tbsp of orange blossom water
  • ⅙ teaspoon instant yeast

Nut Filling

  • 200g of unsalted pistachio nuts or unsalted walnuts
  • ¾ cup of regular sugar
  • 2tbsp of rose water
  • 3tbsp of orange blossom water
  • Icing sugar to decorate

Preparation

  1. Mix coarse semolina, fine semolina and sugar together.
  2. Add yeast and melted butter and rub with hands until well combined.
  3. Gradually pour WARM orange blossom water and rose water, kneading the dough gently with hands. Place the dough in a large bowl and cover with a wet kitchen towel. Let it sit for 1 hour at room temperature.
  4. To make the filling, combine all ingredients.
  5. Divide the dough in 2. Scoop walnut size of maamoul dough and flatten it on the palm of your hand, fill it with pistachios or walnut filling and make a ball. Repeat this step until you finish the dough.
  6. Press gently each ball into a traditional “Maamoul” mold to take shape and tap out on the baking sheet to drop out of the mould. If the dough is sticky, lightly flour the mold.
  7. In a preheated oven 200C/400F bake the maamoul cookies for about 15-20mn or until the sides are slightly golden.
  8. Sprinkle with icing sugar, while still hot. Let cool down and sprinkle again until fully covered.

My Valentine Red Velvet Cake

Valentine Red Velvet Cake

Kids had few days off school as part of their winter break and instead of taking them to a ski vacation we flew to sunny Dubai and stayed at one of our favorite resort Atlantis the Palm, where kids had an amazing time on the beach with mommy (myself hihihi)  and friends. We’re lucky to have so many friends living in Dubai, which always makes of our vacation an unforgettable one.

Back to my kitchen and to my baking passion, an old recipe of a red velvet cake shouted at me across the room to urgently make it; I was so powerless over its lusciousness and didn’t hesitate for a second.

I usually prefer dry cakes without any frosting on, but this combination of red velvet cake and vanilla cream cheese frosting is gorgeous and I’m sure once you try it you will stay hooked.

I had fun writing words with my children to top each slice of the cake, we wrote much more than we needed as some of them got broken while peeling them off the paper, but no one minded eating an extra piece of chocolate, they clearly have a sweet tooth like mommy.

Red Velvet Cake

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp red food coloring
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp baking soda

For the cream cheese frosting

  • 450g / 16 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 tbsp butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups icing sugar, sifted
  • Pinch of salt
  • 100g dark chocolate to make the toppers (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 185°C. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pan.

In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla.

Mix together cocoa powder and food coloring to form a paste and add it to the egg mixture.

Sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Add the flour mixture, gradually to the egg mixture, alternating with the milk, beat until well incorporated, making sure to scrape down the bottom of the bowl with a spatula.

Mix baking soda and vinegar together and add.

Divide batter into prepared pans. Bake 30-40 minutes, until cake springs back when gently pressed with finger.

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.

To make the frosting: Whisk together cream cheese and butter until smooth.

Add, sugar, vanilla and salt and beat on medium-high speed until well combined.

Spread the cream cheese over the top of one of the cakes and on top (bottom up). Now spread the remaining cream cheese to cover the cakes from all sides, and decorate if desired.

To make the toppers: Melt chocolate over a bain-marie and fill it in a squeeze bottle or a piping bag. Write words (like love, kisses, hugs, xoxo, valentine) on a wax paper and wait few minutes to cool. Once the chocolate is hard, peel it off the paper and insert it gently in the cream.