Bamia w Riz / Lamb and Okra Stew

MayaOryan-Okra with Rice

The Taste of Marjeyoun is a cookbook by Dina Bayoud Kohl and published by Tamyras. I was lucky enough to meet the author last October and purchase my signed copy of her book.

My dad’s lifelong love was his hometown Marjeyoun where he was born. Despite the fact that he moved to Beirut with his parents at a very young age, he always speaks fondly about his town, the people, the culture and the food.

Dina’s recipes are so authentic and easy to apply. They are like many Lebanese recipes exquisite and rich with healthy ingredients from pulses to vegetables to aromatic herbs like thyme, parsley and mint. I enjoyed trying many of them and results were always successful.

I particularly felt in love with the beef and okra stew recipe, healthy, refined and simply delicious. I may have changed a couple of steps on how Dina Bayoud Kohl makes it, but stayed loyal to the ingredients.

I’m reliving my dad’s tasty food with every bite I take! Live Love Marjeyoun:)

Ingredients:

• 2 tbsp vermicelli
• 2 cups long grain rice
• 800g Frozen Baby Okra
• 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
• 2 tbsp sunflower oil
• 2 medium Onions, finely chopped
• 5-6 Garlic cloves, crushed
• 500g Lamb meat, cubes
• 1tsp ground cinnamon
• 450g tomatoes, crushed
• 2 tbsp Tomato Paste
• ¼ tsp allspice
• Salt, to taste

Preparation:
1. Sauté the vermicelli in 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil then add the rice and cook according to package instructions.
2. In a large bowl drizzle lemon juice over okra and set aside.
3. In a large pot, heat oil and sauté onions and garlic for about 5 minutes or until wilted and golden, stirring constantly. Add the meat and cinnamon and brown for about 5-7 minutes.
4. Add the tomatoes over low-medium heat and 1 liter of water and let it simmer.
5. Add the okra, tomato paste, allspice and salt and cook covered for about 20 minutes or until the okra is cooked through. Uncover and simmer for another 10 minutes and until the sauce slightly thickens. Serve with vermicelli rice.

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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.

 

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.

Chocolate Fudge Brownies

Brownie-MayaOryan

I asked my friend what do you love the most about your diet? And the answer came: The Cheating Day!

I love her thinking;-)

Open candy bar, ice cream, chocolate, caramel, jelly beans, … They are all fair game! Whatever you’re craving for; pizza, cheeseburger, doughnut… No food is off limits. It’s the day you honor your body’s food wishes and stop counting calories. Isn’t that a genius plan!

A well-justified treat for being such a saint all week and sticking to your diet, so what can be better excuse to dig intuitively in my decadent, fudgy, naughty brownie cake. They taste as great as they sound, they are so addictive, am sure you’ll want to make a second batch before the first is finished.

I agree with you that there must be some law to stops bloggers from uploading tempting pictures of sweets and have mercy on those who are dieting, but this is why cheating meals are designed for, no?

Come on, give your body a break those brownies have never looked so appetizing!

Chocolate Fudge Brownies

Ingredients

  • 150g unsalted butter, melted
  • 150g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 100g milk chocolate, chopped
  • 1 ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces (or chocolate nuggets)
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • ½ cup walnut (optional)

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease 9×9 inch square pan.
  2. Melt chocolate in a medium saucepan over low heat and combine to butter. Cool 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in sugar, egg, zest, flour, chocolate pieces and milk.
  4. Spread mixture into pan and decorate with walnuts. Bake 25-30mn. Cover pan with foil bake for further 20 minutes. If the brownie wobbles in the middle, put back in the oven and bake for another 5 minutes or until the top has a shiny crust and sides are beginning to come away from the pan.
  5. Dust brownies with sifted cocoa powder if desired and cut into squares.

Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake

ChocolateCaramelCheeseCake

We had guests over few drinks last evening and the main topic of the conversation was my husband’s Harley Davidson collection. The same Vroomvroom talk went on and on until it was time for dessert… and all of a sudden the Vroom tone changed to Mmmmm Mmmmm Mmmmm.; My super hero Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake was served and made its way triumphantly to everybody’s thinking to change the subject from biking to baking.

I sat on my throne watching the last slice disappearing, and thinking I can’t be any happier!

This super easy “No Bake” cheesecake recipe is delicious to the eyes and to the taste buds as well. It is fabulous for parties or events. I hope you will try it and bedazzle your guests the way I did.

Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake

 Ingredients

  • 1 cup graham biscuits, ground
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 cups cream cheese (like Philadelphia)
  • 1 cup chocolate spread (like Nutella)
  • 6 tbsp icing sugar
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 tbsp caramel sauce
  • Chocolate sprinkles or chocolate chunks

Preparation

  1. Mix the biscuits, the butter and sugar until you have a moist sandy mixture. Press into a 20cm round cake and refrigerate.
  2. Beat together 1 cup of the cream cheese, chocolate spread and 3 tablespoons of the icing sugar until well combined.
  3. Top the biscuit base with the cheese mixture and place in the fridge to chill for 1 hour.
  4. Beat together the rest of the cream cheese, the whipping cream, and the milk until smooth. Add the rest of the icing sugar and the caramel sauce and continue beating until combined.
  5. Top the chocolate layer with the caramel cheese mixture and place in the fridge to chill for 2 hours.
  6. Decorate with chocolate sprinkles or chocolate chunks and serve chilled.

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.

Cream of Broccoli

BroccoliSoup-MayaOryan

Last week, my husband had to travel to Dubai for few meetings, so the kids and I excitedly tagged along, since I also had a one-day shoot for Al Marai brand and my daughters had a long weekend at school.

I found it a great opportunity to spend quality time together and with our beloved “Dubaïote” friends.

From airport to my meeting, kids didn’t mind at all playing around in the big studio and mess with the cameras.

It’s true that I had to work the next day but this in fact was an invitation from heaven to them to Candylicious where they could buy all the sweets they crave for, that Mommy (myself) never allow it and Daddy APPROVES it occasionally. In the evening Axel’s tongue was so green that I had to brush it and Kaia had candy wrappers inside her clothes. Gosh!

I’m blessed with friends like Zeina, Roula, Angy and Fares! During the day we roamed around playing areas, aquariums, the wildlife park and kids places and in the evening my friends offered to baby sit my children so we had the chance to club and celebrate Valentine like honeymooners☺ Dubai you are my kind of getaways: I LOVE YOU!

Family+Collage

Back to reality, I usually come back with batteries fully charged and energy overloading but this time I got back and my heart still there, wish this trip was a little bit longer I really need a break, I’ve been shooting commercials every week since September.

So with the little energy I have, on this week’s menu was soups and salads.

I cooked Cream of Broccoli. I used fresh broccoli, home made stock and skimmed milk, which made my soup a hearty meal to enjoy in front of the fireplace.

Tip: This can also be served in a tea cup as a starter for guests.

Cream of Broccoli

Ingredients

  • 450g fresh broccoli florets, cooked in boiling water
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ cup warm vegetable stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • Salt & White pepper, to taste
  • 50g Feta (optional)

 Preparation

  1. Melt butter in a saucepan and sauté onion until lightly brown and wilt.
  2. Add the cooked broccoli and stir for 2 minutes. Add the warm stock and simmer for approximately 5 minutes.
  3. Off heat, purée mixture into a blender.
  4. Stir in milk and simmer for 3 minutes. (Add milk or stock until desired consistency).
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Decorate with feta cheese and serve.