About Last Night

“I promised Wael to join him at the spinning class this evening, but I think I’m going to take a rain check, as I really don’t regret any of the calories that made their way –amusingly- to my hips through my sophisticated palate, over dinner last night. It will be like cheating on your husband with Jason Statham, will you really regret it? Naa!”.

1 day earlier

My husband and I left the car with the valet and entered RARE, a charming restaurant, nestled in Ashrafieh.

For its 10th anniversary the menu has been re-invented by The Chef Cynthia Bitar, daughter of Nazira Bitar, and graduated from Chef Paul Bocuse school in Lyon. The new menu features an indulgent selection of starters and main courses accompanied by a rich wine list and an exemplary service.

Our host Wael Haddad recommended I try the oven-baked tomato and goat cheese tart as a starter. It was impossible to resist this flavorsome piece of heaven, lay on a crispy golden pastry and served with a delicious side salad. A star dish!

Tomato,jpg

As for the main course, he suggested I have the oven-baked sea-bass with black rice calamari and chorizo. OMG! I it was so delicious I could lick the plate clean. What a creative combination of ingredients, a delectable choice worth every bite.

SeaBass

While clinking glasses with Cedric and Rania, -our friends- who joined us over this beautiful occasion, I stared with eyes wide open at Wael coming our way showing off with a banoffee pie, guaranteed to impress. Thumbs up!

I always wanted to eat at Rare restaurant, but was always postponing it, well in case there are other procrastinators out there looking for a one-of-a kind-meal, stop searching and book your table at Rare.

Below recipe was among my first posts and I proudly share it back!

Banoffee Pie Verrine Style

BanoffeePie1-Blog

Ingredients

  • For the base: 60g butter, melted
  • 250g digestive bicuits
  • For the caramel: 100g butter
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 1 can of Condensed Milk
  • For the topping: 4 bananas, sliced
  • Cocoa Powder, to dust
  • Chocolate curls, to decorate
  • Whipping Cream (optional)

Preparation

  • Place the biscuits in a plastic bag and crush using a rolling pin. Transfer to a bowl and add the melted butter and stir. Divide the mixture into 12 small glasses and press into an even layer. Chill the base while you make the filling.
  • In a non-stick saucepan place the butter and sugar. When the butter melts and the sugar dissolves add the condensed milk and stir continuously. Bring gently to the boil. As soon as it thickens, remove from heat and allow to cool.
  • Spread the caramel on the biscuit base evenly and chill for about 1 hour or until firm.
  • Slice the bananas, dust liberally with cocoa powder and layer over the caramel.
  • Finish with whipping cream and some grated chocolate. Serve.

Mulberry Jam and Scones

SconesMulberries-MayaOryan

When we were young we used to go camping at an elevation of 1,550 meters (5,090 ft) in Faqra, Lebanon. Two things I still remember from that splendid location; playing around the ruins of the Great Temple of Faqra, where the earliest civilizations worshiped their God. And a bountiful Mulberry tree that got me in trouble with mom every time I lay my hands on (and return home with purple fingers and stained clothes). I was nut for those sweet little berries and it was well worth every garment my mom ditched;-)

As messy as it may get, I still impatiently wait for my share of mulberries that my mom-in-law sends us seasonally. Mulberries have high levels of protein and iron and help loosing weight by blocking sugar. We all don’t mind that last point, no! The second batch I received was almost overripe so I found a good use of them; squeezed some to make syrup “sharab toot” and preserved the rest as jam.

While the mulberries were boiling to make jam, I thought to myself having this under my belt now, it sure tastes better with rich, flaky, soft scones. Sitôt dit sitôt fait, and the scones were baking in the oven.

MulberryJamOnFire

… later when mulberry jam was served with scones, I should probably had someone hiding the plate from me because it was kind of hard to stop eating!

And this how I make it:

Mulberry Jam

Ingredients

  • 1kg fresh ripe mulberries
  • 750g sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

Preparation

  1. Pull all the stems of the fruits and put them into a large saucepan.
  2. Heat it over medium heat and crush the berries to squish out the juice.
  3. Bring it to a boil then add the sugar and lemon juice.
  4. Reduce the heat and stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves.
  5. Bring it back up to the boil for a few minutes and then bottle and seal the jam.

Scones Recipe

Preparation Time: 10 minutes – Cooking Time: 15 minutes 

Ingredients

  • 3 cups / 350g self-raising flour
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • ¾ cup / 85g butter, diced
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg beaten
  • ¾ cup / 175 ml milk
  • 50g sultanas
  • Self-raising flour for dusting

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 220°C. Mix the self-raising flour, sugar and the butter into a large bowl; rub in butter using your fingers until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  2. Whisk together the egg, the milk and the vanilla; reserve 2 teaspoons for glazing.
  3. Add the sultanas and the egg mixture to the flour kneading gently to a dough.
  4. Press dough out on a floured surface to 2cm thickness and cut out the scones out with a round 6cm cutter.
  5.  Glaze with the beaten egg and place the scones 2 cm apart on a baking tray into the oven for 10-12mn.
  6. Let it cool on a wire rack while covered with a clean tea towel for a soft scone result.

These are best served slightly warm and homemade mulberry jam.

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.