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

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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.

A Month to Celebrate

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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!

Stuffed Vine Leaves

MayaOryanIMG_8508-RPhotography Serge Oryan

Stuffed vine leaves are as easy as a salad to make! It has to be easy since this recipe was among the first ones I learned. In fact you combine all the ingredients same as you do for a salad, drizzle the olive oil and the lemon juice and start the stuffing. The rolling is not that complicated!

An authentic traditional recipe, prepared just like my mom and her mom before her. Stuffed vine leaves are really moreish, these juicy little bites, melting soft in the mouth are best consumed as an appetizer or as a main dish.This dish is one of the essential plates in Lebanese mezze. Because it’s vegetarian, it makes it a popular staple during the Lent period.

Full with nutritious ingredients, this meal is a heart-healthy choice for almost anyone. According to the nutrition data, Grape leaves are low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol and Sodium. They are also a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Niacin and Iron, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6 and Folate. They can provide your body with beneficial nutrients, from Calcium, Magnesium, Copper, Manganese to omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. What’s not to like about that!

 One last note, if using canned grape leaves, rinse the leaves gently with warm water and use, while fresh grape leaves have to be soaked in hot water for 10-15 minutes before using.

Ingredients

  • 250g grape vine leaves
  • 1½ cup uncooked short grain rice
  • 4 cups parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup white onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cups tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup chickpeas, canned or cooked
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sweet pepper
  • 1-2 Potatoes, sliced in circles
  • Water
  • 2-3 tomatoes slices in circles

Preparation

To prepare the stuffing, combine uncooked rice, parsley, mint, onions, tomatoes and chickpeas in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and toss gently.

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, layer the potatoes slices as one layer.

Open flat the grape vine leaf, shiny side down, spoon inside the parsley rice mixture and roll tightly, closing the sides first. Arrange in pan placing the rolls closely one to the other. To finish, top with a layer of tomato slices and strain the reserve stuffing liquid over all.

Place a large plate on the top of the rolls to keep them holding together. Cover with water and cook over low heat for about 40 minutes.

Let cool and serve with yogurt. Garnish with lemon slices and mint leaves.

Note: You might finish the stuffing before the leaves, or the leaves before the stuffing. I tried to be as close as possible to the quantity of the ingredients, but it varies from one size of leaf to other and depends on the amount of stuffing you use in each roll.

 

Pomegranate Moscow Mule

Moscow Mule

Photography Serge Oryan

When I think of a refreshing and light drink to sip while watching the clock countdown to midnight, I make myself a red Moscow Mule.

Pomegranate juice is a brilliant addition to the classic recipe. It’s a fantastic compliment to ginger beer while pomegranate arils make it pop up with Christmas colors. Holiday heaven!

Mules has definitely been my favorite cocktail during 2015, it’s traditionally served in copper mugs, but apparently customers can’t stop snatching them from bars, that a lot of places are replacing their attractive cups with glasses.

Still cool for me:) I love the ginger-spicy and pomegranate-sweet mixture and here I am celebrating tonight in style. Cheers everyone to a fresh beginning!

And this is what to mix
Makes 2 drinks
Ingredients
• ½ cup vodka
• 1½ cup ginger beer
• ½ cup pomegranate juice
• Juice of 1 fresh lime
• Pomegranate arils, to taste
• Fresh mint, for garnish

Directions
Combine vodka, ginger beer, pomegranate and lime juice. Stir. Top with ice cubes or crushed ice if desired. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and mint and enjoy.