Thursday, March 19, 2015

Mini Pommes Anna

Pommes Anna is a classic French dating back to 19th century, it only calls for four ingredients; thinly sliced potatoes, melted butter, salt and pepper! A very simple recipe, yet delicious!

The potatoes are layered originally into a pan, then baked in the oven or fried on the stove. The result is a circular potato cake that may be cut into slices. The tender and crispy golden layers of potatoes make a perfect side dish.

Well, according to Wikipedia, “The dish is generally credited with having been created during the time of Napoleon III by the chef Adolphe Dugléré, a pupil of Carême, when Dugléré was head chef at the Café Anglais, the leading Paris restaurant of the 19th century, where he reputedly named the dish for one of the grandes cocottes of the period. There is disagreement about which beauty the dish was named after: the actress Dame Judic (real name: Anna Damiens), or Anna DesLions".

This simple recipe is all in the preparation and presentation, and the use of thinly sliced potatoes, that's the key to success. This is why I recommend a mandolin, but a veggie peeler will do the trick. In general, the dish is cooked in a copper or cast iron omelet pan, but when I saw the recipe at Bakers Royal, I thought it was a great idea to minify them. Naomi used her muffin tins to bake them, here I used my ramekins.

Ingredients: (makes 12 Mini/Individual Pommes Anna)
2 lb. bag of petite Yukon gold potato
5 tbsp of butter, melted
1 tbsp of salt
11 tsp of black pepper

Heat oven to 325ºF. Lightly butter walls of muffin wells.

Wash and peel potatoes. Slice potatoes as thin as you can with a knife or use vegetable peeler to get paper thin slices.

Placed sliced potatoes in a bowl and toss with melted butter. Start in the center and form the first layer by overlapping each slice in a circular pattern. Lightly sprinkle layer with salt and pepper. Arrange second layer working in the opposite direction of the first. Lightly sprinkle layer with salt and pepper. Continue layering potatoes in opposite directions, sprinkling with salt and pepper along the way until pan wells are filled to the top.

Cover top of pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for about another 15 minutes until edges start to turn golden brown. To remove, cover the top of pan with foil and turn it upside down onto the foil. Tilt the pan with one corner and carefully lift a small opening of foil in the opposite corner to drain any excess butter. Transfer released Mini Pommes Anna to platter and serve.

Pommes Anna

Ingrédients: (pour 12 Mini Pommes Anna)
2 lb. bag of petite Yukon gold potato
5 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
1 ½ tablespoon of kosher salt
2 teaspoon of black pepper

Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly butter walls of muffin wells.
Wash and peel potatoes. Slice potatoes as thin as you can with a knife or use vegetable peeler to get paper thin slices. Placed sliced potatoes in a bowl and toss with melted butter. Start in the center and form the first layer by overlapping each slice in a circular pattern. Lightly sprinkle layer with salt and pepper. Arrange second layer working in the opposite direction of the first. Lightly sprinkle layer with salt and pepper. Continue layering potatoes in opposite directions, sprinkling with salt and pepper along the way until pan wells are filled to the top.
Cover top of pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for about another 15 minutes until edges start to turn golden brown. To remove, cover the top of pan with foil and turn it upside down onto the foil. Tilt the pan with one corner and carefully lift a small opening of foil in the opposite corner to drain any excess butter. Transfer released Mini Pommes Anna to platter and serve.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Potato kibbeh - kibbet batata

For the potato: 
1 ½ kg potatoes
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
20 cl milk
4 tbsp butter, melted
½ cup breadcrumbs

For the stuffing:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
14 oz (400 g) minced meat (beef or lamb)
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp allspice
salt to taste

Boil potatoes in water until it is cooked. Drain and keep to cool then peel and mash. Mix the mashed potato with salt, black pepper and milk. Set aside.

Brush an oven tray with 2 tbsp melted butter and sprinkle with half the bread crumbs. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saucepan and sauté onion for 2 minutes. Then add the minced meat and fry for 5 minutes or until brown in color. Add the pine nuts and spices. Stir for few seconds or until all are well combined then set aside.

Spread half the quantity of the mashed potato over the prepared oven tray. Spread the stuffing evenly over the potato then the rest of the mashed potato on top.

Sprinkle the remaining bread crumbs on top and spoon over the remaining melted butter.

Bake in a 400ºF (200°C) preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until top is golden in color.

Kebbé de pommes de terre

Pour les pommes de terre: 
1 ½ kg pommes de terre
1 càc de sel
1/4 càc de poivre
20 cl de lait
4 càs de beurre
½ tasse de chapelure

Pour la farce:
2 càs d'huile 
2 oignons, hachés 
400 g de viande hachée
2 càs de pignons de pin, toastés  
¼ càc de poivre noir
1 càc de 4-épices
sel selon goût

Faites bouillir les pommes de terre. Égouttez et écrasez les. Mélangez-les avec le sel, le poivre et le lait. Réservez.

Beurrez un plat allant au four avec 2 càs de beurre et saupoudrez la moitié de la chapelure. Réservez.

Pendant ce temps, faites chauffer l'huile dans une sauteuse et faites revenir l'oignon haché 2 mn. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saucepan and sauté onion for 2 minutes. Ajoutez la viande haché et faites reveenir environ 5 mn jusquà coloration. Ajoutez le sel, les épices et les pignons de pin. Mélangez et réservez.

Répandez la moitié de la purée dans le plat allant au four, ajoutez la farce de viande dessus, puis répandez l'autre moitié de purée.

Saupoudrez la chapelure et ajoutez les 2 càs de beurre fondu.

Enfournez à 200°C environ 20-25 minutes ou jusquà ce que le dessus soit doré.

Monday, September 1, 2014


I cannot say enough about falafel, those gloriously seasoned fried balls are a staple of Middle-Eastern food. Falafel, is thought to be originated from Egypt, where the dish is widely known as ta'amiya in the Cairo dialect. Falafel were eaten for Lent by the Copts of Egypt. They’ve since made their way through the Middle East in various guises, most popularly in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.
In case you've never tasted them, falafel is a vegetarian dish, made from a mixture of ground chickpeas and/or fava beans, rolled into walnut-sized balls or patties and deep-fried until browned and crisp on the outside, yielding to a fluffy interior.
Some recipes call for fava beans instead of chickpeas, or half fava beans half chickpeas, or only chickpeas. Now, the common theme is that dried beans should be soaked in cold water overnight but not cooked, they are only ground into a paste.

In Lebanon, falafel are wrapped in pita bread along with chopped herbs, pickles and a tahini sauce. If you ever go to Beirut, your first stop would be at Sahyoun, a ten square meters shop opened in 1935, and always packed with customers, night and day! Actually, the shop can't be missed as there's always a crowd of hungry people hanging around outside, munching their falafel or picking up a sandwich or a bag of falafels.

The other day, I decided to make my falafels so I surfed the net and inspired myself from many sources. My homemade falafel turned delicious, gorgeously crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. It was my first attempt at doing them, but next time it will be a combination of chickpeas and fava beans in order to find if it's a better flavor combination and texture.

Ingredients: (makes 14 falafel)

400 g (14 oz) chickpeas, soaked overnight
3 tbsp roughly chopped fresh parsley
3 tbsp roughly chopped fresh coriander
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 large onion, chopped
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp ground black pepper
1½ tsp salt
3 tsp plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
vegetable oil (for deep frying)

Tahini sauce (Tarator):
1 lemon, juiced
85 ml (5½ tbsp) water
125 ml (8½ tbsp) tahini (sesame paste)
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed

Soak beans in water for 24 hours, then drain well.

In a food processor, mix chickpeas, onion, garlic, spices, herbs and rind until a fine paste forms.
Stir through flour, baking powder, and salt. Refrigerate until chilled (15 minutes), then roll the mixture into walnut-sized balls.

Preheat oil in a deep-fryer or large deep-sided saucepan. Deep-fry falafel in batches, turning occasionally until golden and cooked through (3-5 minutes), remove with a slotted spoon, drain on absorbent paper and keep warm. Serve with a tahini sauce, pickled chillies, parsley, mint, tomatoes and flat-bread.

For the tahini sauce, alternately add lemon juice and water to the tahini until it has a creamy, yogurt-like consistency. Add the garlic, and season with salt to taste.

Ingrédients: (app. 14 falafel)
400 g de pois chiches
3 càs de persil haché
3 càs de coriandre hachée
2 gousses d'ail, pelées et écrasées
1 oignon, haché
½ càc de coriandre en poudre
½ càc de quatre-épices
½ càc de cumin
½ càc de piment de Cayenne
½ càc de poivre noir
1½ càc de sel
3 càc de farine
½ càc de poudre à lever
Huile végétale pour frire

Sauce tahini (tarator):
Jus d'un citron
85 ml d'eau
125 ml de tahini
1-2 gousses d'ail, écrasées

Faire tremper les pois chiches toute une nuit dans de l'eau froide. Bien égouttez.

Mettez les pois chiches, l'onion, l'ail, les épices et les herbes dans un mixer et réduire en une masse assez homogène, mais granuleuse. Ajoutez du sel, la poudre à lever et la farine, mélangez le tout et laissez reposer au frigo pendant 30 mn. Puis, daçonnez des boules avec la préparation.

Chauffez l'huile pour la friture et faites cuire quelques falafels à la fois jusqu'à ce qu'ils soient bien dorés (environ 5 minutes). Retirez-les et égouttez-les sur du papier de cuisine. Servir chaud avec de la sauce tarator, du persil, des feuilles de menthe, de tomates et de pain pita.

Pour la sauce tahini, mixez les gousses d'ail avec le jus de citron, le Tahiné, l'eau et une pincée de sel.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Chicken with cheese and pesto

I know I am not keeping my promises and I know some of you are really wondering why I am not blogging anymore... but believe me there's no more free time. Life is hectic between work, raising a child, meeting up with friends... but I know deep down inside that you all forgive my absence... Here is a dish I made last saturday at my parents house. We had a big dinner, I couldn't though take pictures when it was out of the oven because it was dark and anyway there was no time, it was devoured in seconds.
I hope you will like it, it's a really easy dish to prepare, for the working moms out there who want it to be more easy, you can use a ready made pesto sauce...

Ingredients (4 persons):
4 chicken filets
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
pitted and chopped olives
1 tomato sliced
1 pepper sliced
1 cup shredded cheese

Pesto sauce:
1 cup fresh basil leaves
2 garlic cloves
3 tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt
2 tbsp pine nuts

Make small cuts in the chicken filets, season them with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a pan and brown the chicken fillets on both sides. Place in a baking dish.

Prepare the pesto sauce: In a food processor, mix all the ingredients until you have a smooth sauce.

Spread the sauce on top of the chicken fillets.  Place the tomato slices on top, then the pepper slices. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top.

Place in a preheated oven at 180ºC (350ºF) 10 to 15 mn or until cheese is melted.

Serve with fries, rice or pasta.

Ingrédients (4 personnes):
4 filets de poulet
3 cas d'huile d'olive
sel et poivre
des olives dénoyautées et coupées
1 tomate coupée en lamelles
1 poivron coupé en lamelles
1 tasse de fromage rapé

Sauce pesto:
1 tasse de basilic
2 gousses d'ail
3 cas d'huile d'olive
2 cas de pignons de pin

Faire de petites coupures dans les filets de poulet, assaisonner de sel et de poivre. Chauffer l'huile d'olive dans une poêle et faire dorer les filets de poulet des deux côtés. Placer dans un plat allant au four.

Préparer la sauce pesto: Dans un robot culinaire, mélanger tous les ingrédients jusqu'à ce que vous avez une sauce onctueuse.

Étendre la sauce sur les filets de poulet. Placer les tranches de tomates sur le dessus, puis les tranches de poivron. Saupoudrer le fromage râpé sur le dessus.

Placer dans un four préchauffé à 180ºC 10 à 15 mn ou jusqu'à ce que le fromage soit fondu.

Servir avec des frites, du riz ou des pâtes.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Chef Salad and an announcement!

You may be wondering where I have been all this time!! It’s been months (!!) since I’ve posted on Chicho's Kitchen! It’s the longest break from food blogging that I’ve ever taken, and I’ve been feeling guilty about it.
It all started back right after we moved back from Paris, and I started working full time. Unfortunately, my blog was the first to suffer.
Since then, I’ve had trouble getting back into it. With each week that passed, my blog began feeling like an old friend with whom you’ve lost contact for so long that you feel awkward about calling again. So much time has passed—where should I start? Should I pretend like nothing happened?

Back in the fall, I received big news too: I’m pregnant! For the first few months, I was feeling really drained. When I was working, it felt like I was on autopilot, going from one task to the next. Slowly, I lost the will to do the things I used to live for: cooking and food blogging.
Besides working, I did everything that I usually do, except blogging. Suddenly, thinking about my next post was the least of my worries, and taking pictures of the dishes didn’t seem so important anymore.

So slowing down has been feeling really good, but now, it feels like the break has been long enough.

Now I am a mom of a 3 months cute little boy called Sari with a full time job. But I promise you that I will make a comeback, and my blog will return with fresh, new recipes. This post is my commitment to getting back into the game!!

4 cups torn iceberg lettuce
4 oz (115g) cooked ham, chicken, turkey (about 1 cup)
4 oz (115 g) Swiss, cheddar, American, or provolone cheese (1 cup)
2 hard-cooked eggs, sliced
15 cherry tomatoes
1 can of corn
Chicken breasts sliced and grilled

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp oregano

In a large bowl, place the iceberg lettuce, add the corn, the cherry tomatoes.
Roll the ham with the cheese inside. Place them on top of the salad.
Add the grilled chicken slices.

Mix the dressing ingredients. Season with salt.

Snapshot from Byblos - Lebanon - Summer 2013

Monday, April 1, 2013

Garlic Cilantro Shrimp Pasta

Light and refreshing... this is how I describe this pasta dish. So what could be better than an easy tasty meal to prepare on a day off... I whipped this pasta dish in like half an hour, and we devoured it in less than 20 mn :) I guess we were a bit too hungry!
We were off Friday and Monday, a long weekend i was longing for a long time ago. Sometimes you just need this break from work and routine just to recharge your batteries and go back with full energy. It was a perfect timing as the weather was so beautiful and the sun was always there to cheer us up.
Well, enough dreaming... tomorrow back to work... :( snif snif

500 g (1 lb) pasta linguine
1 1/2 kg medium shrimps, peeled & deveined
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 tbsp of lemon juice
a big handful of chopped cilantro
salt and pepper

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the chopped cilantro and cook. Add the shrimps and cook almost until pink. Add the lemon juice.

In a large pot cook the pasta in a boiling salted water. Drain.

Add the shrimps to the pasta. Season with salt and pepper. Toss and serve.

Pâtes aux crevettes à l'ail et à la coriandre

500 g de pâte (type linguine)
1 1/2 kg de crevettes moyennes pelées
6 gousses d'ail émincées
2 cas d'huile d'olive
1 cas de jus de citron of lemon juice
une grande poignée de coriandre ciselée
Sel et poivre

Dans une grande poêle, versez l'huile d'olive, ajoutez l'ail et laissez cuire jusqu'a légère coloration. Ajoutez le coriandre et laissez cuire. Ajoutez les crevettes et puis le jus de citron.

Faites cuire les pates dans de l'eau bouillante salée. Egouttez.

Versez les crevettes sur les pates. Assaisonnez de sel et de poivre. Mélangez. Servez.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Quinoa Salad

This is a very healthy and delicious salad. Today, people appreciate quinoa for its nutritional value. Quinoa is considered a superfood. Protein content is very high, yet not as high as most beans and legumes. Furthermore, it is a good source of dietary fiber and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten free and considered easy to digest.

This quinoa salad is a toss together of cucumbers, tomatoes, onion, avocado, red bell pepper... Enjoy.

1 cup uncooked quinoa, well rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
1/3 cup sliced red/white onion
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 medium tomatoes, cut into chunks
3 medium cucumbers, cut into chunks
2 avocados cubed
2 red bell peppers cut into chunks
1 beetroot cooked and cut into cubes
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
1 tbsp toasted pine nuts

Put the rinsed quinoa, salt and water into a pot and bring it to a boil. Cover and simmer gently until the quinoa absorbs all the water, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Place into a large bowl and fluff up with a fork to help it cool more quickly.

When the quinoa has cooled, transfer it into a large bowl. Add the vegetables. Add the toasted sesame seeds and pine nuts. Season with olive oil, salt, and lemon juice. Serve at room temperature.

Salade de Quinoa

1 tasse de quinoa
1/2 cac sel
2 tasses d'eau
1/3 tasse d'oignon rouge ou blanc
2 cas de jus de citron
2 tomates, coupés en dés
3 concombres, coupés en dés
2 avocats, coupés en dés
2 poivrons rouges, coupés en dés
1 betterave coupée en dés
1 cac de sesame grillés toasted sesame seeds
1 cas de pignons de pin grillés

Faites bouillir de l'eau salée et déposez le quinoa.Couvrez et laissez cuire à feu doux jusqu'a absorption complète de l'eau, 10 a 15 mn. Placez le quinoa dans un saladier, et laissez refroidir.

Lorsque le quinoa refroidit, ajoutez les légumes coupés. Ajoutez les graines de sésame et les pignons de pin. Assaisonnez d'huile d'olive, de sel, et de jus de citron. Servez.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Chocolate chip brownies

I am so lucky to be enjoying a cool front this week. The weather is now wonderful! The temperature has slowly dropped especially at night, and I am so loving it. Fall is right around the corner. I cannot wait till it’s cool enough to wear leggings, sweaters, & boots. I know we all like to bake when the weather starts cooling down too, when you want to warm up your kitchen with scrumptious desserts and cakes. Lebanon's climate is characterized by a hot and virtually rain-free summer, reaching a high temperature of 35°C in August.

This Saturday I woke up around 9 o'clock. I was dreaming about baking something. I wanted something quick so that I can enjoy my morning coffee on the balcony. I didn't want to spend long hours in the kitchen whipping up a cake that will be devoured in 3 hours... :)

So I thought about brownies... but not any brownie... a double chocolate brownie with chocolate chips... Brownies are among my favorite treats, they're dense and fudgy.
These brownies have chocolate chips and melted chocolate in the batter which makes them doubly delicious.

8 oz (225 g) semi sweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup (170 g) unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup (200 g) sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs
pinch of salt
1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
Approximately 1/2 cup chocolate chip

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line a 9×13 inch baking dish with parchment paper.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heat proof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring often. When chocolate is melted and smooth, remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and combine with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each. Add the salt and flour and stir until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and use a spatula to spread it evenly. Sprinkle the chocolate chip onto the brownie batter.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the edges appear crispy but a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs. Let the brownies cool to room temperature.

Store the brownies in an airtight container at room temperature 3 to 4 days, or in the fridge for 1 week.

Brownies aux pépites de chocolat

225 g de chocolat 60% cacao, coupé en dés
170 g de beurre, coupé en dés
200 g de sucre
2 cac d'extrait de vanille
4 oeufs
une pincée de sel
125 g de farine
1/2 tasse de pépites de chocolat 

Préchauffez le four à 180ºC. Chemisez un moule carré.

Faites fondre le chocolat et le beurre au bain marie. Lorsque le chocolat et le beurre ont fondu, retirez du feu et laissez refroidir quelques minutes. Ajoutez le sucre et l'extrait de vanille. Mélangez avec une cuillère en bois. Ajoutez les œufs, un à un, tout en mélangeant bien après chaque ajout. Ajoutez le sel et la farine et mélangez.

Versez la préparation dans le moule en lissant la surface avec une spatule. Saupoudrez les pépites de chocolat dessus. 

Enfournez 25 à 30 minutes, ou jusqu'à ce qu'un cure-dent inséré au centre du brownie en ressorte
avec des grumeaux et non pas complètement propre. Laissez refroidir complètement. 

Vous pourrez conserver ces brownies 3 à 4 jours dans une boîte hermétique ou au frigo pour une semaine. 

Sunset in Chnaniir, Lebanon

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Stir-fried chicken & noodles

The term lo mein means “stirred noodles”. Lo mein noodles are usually stirred with a sauce made from soy sauce and other seasonings. Many vegetables can be mixed in and roast pork, beef, chicken and even shrimp are often added.

This dish is ideal for a weeknight dinner, or when you feel like a simple meal. A melange of colorful and crispy vegetables make this dish wholesome and very tasty!

Ingredients: (serves 4)
4 packs instant wheat noodles (100 g each)
1 green pepper, cut into strips
1 red pepper, cut into strips
1 yellow pepper, cut into strips
1 big onion, sliced
2 carrot, julienned
2 cups cabbage, shredded
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1-2 tbsp of soy sauce
salt to taste
sesame oil

In a large nonstick skillet or wok, heat 2 tbsp of sesame oil, toss the chicken and the ginger and stir-fry for 5 minutes or unitl browned. Remove and keep warm. Stir-fry peppers and carrots in remaining oil for another 5 minutes. Add cabbage, onions and garlic; stir-fry 3 minutes longer or until vegetables are crisp-tender.

Meanwhile, bring salted water to boil in a pot. Add the noodles and cook for 2 mn only. Place them in cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain.

Stir the noodles into vegetable mixture. Return chicken to the pan; cook and stir until heated through.
Add the soy sauce, season with salt and mix.

Nouilles sautées au poulet et aux légumes

Ingrédients: (4 personnes)
400 g de noodles (nouilles asiatiques)
1 poivron vert, coupé en lamelles
1 poivron rouge, coupé en lamelles
1 poivron jaune, coupé en lamelles
1 oignon, coupé en lamelles
2 carottes, coupé en julienne
2 tasses de chou, coupé en lamelles
3 filets de poulet, coupé en lamelles
3 gousses d'ail, émincées
2 cac de gingembre frais, émincés
1-2 cas de sauce soja
sel, selon goût
Huile de sésame

Dans une grande poêle anti-adhésive ou dans un wok, faites chauffer 2 cas d'huile de sésame et faites sauter le poulet avec le gingembre pour 5 mn ou jusqu'a ce que le poulet soit cuit. Réservez. Dans la même poêle, faites revenir les poivrons et les carottes environ 5 mn. Ajoutez le chou, l'oignon et l'ail. Faites revenir le tout environ 3 mn jusqu'a ce que les légumes soient cuits.

Pendant ce temps, faites bouiller de l'eau salée et faites cuire les noodles environ 2 mn. Placez les ensuite dans de l'eau froide pour stopper la cuisson et égouttez.

Ajoutez les noodles aux légumes. Ajoutez le poulet, laissez cuire qlq minutes.

Ajoutez la sauce soja et assaisonnez de sel. Mélangez.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Cajun shrimps & rice

Cajun seasoning is a very versatile spice that is both smoky and spicy. It blends well with a variety of different foods and brings out the natural flavor of meat and poultry. Cajun seasoning is a blend of spices such as paprika, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, dried oregano and dried thyme.

This recipe is very simple, fast and can be whipped together in no time. You only have to chop some vegetables, cook the rice and throw in the prawns. I got some cajun spices from Paris, cause I was afraid I won't find it in Lebanon. I haven't checked if it's available here. I know I should!

This dish has become one of my favorite, and I try to include it on our menu as often as I could. If you like cajun seasoning, then you have to try it out.

In case you don't find cajun spices, you can make your own: Here is the recipe: 3 tablespoons paprika, 2 tablespoons ground red pepper, 2 tablespoons dried thyme, 2 tablespoons dried oregano, 2 tablespoons onion powder, 2 tablespoons garlic powder, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, 1 tablespoon black pepper, 1 tablespoon sugar. Store this Cajun spice mix in a sealed jar for up to three months.

1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tsbp extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp Cajun seasoning
1 kilo large shrimps, peeled and deveined, tails intact
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 big onion, chopped
1 1/2 cup basmati rice
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)

Start by cooking the rice. Keep aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat some olive oil and sautee the onion and garlic over medium heat until translucent.

Add the cajun seasoning and the shrimps and cook stirring until the shrimp begin to curl. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the chopped tomatoes and cook until the sauce is reduced by half. Now add the cooked rice and mix until all combined. (You may need to add some water but I didn't as the tomatoes were juicy.)

Stir in the parsley and serve with lemon wedges if desired.

Riz aux crevettes aux épices Cajun

1 càs de beurre
2 càs d'huile d'olive
3 gousses d'ail, émincées
2 càc d'épices Cajun
1 kg de crevettes
Sel et poivre
3 tomates, coupées en dés
1 oignon, haché
1 1/2 tasse de riz basmati
3 càs de persil haché
Tranches de citron, pour servir (optionnel)

Faites cuire le riz. Réservez.

Faites chauffer le beurre et l'huile d'olive dans une grande poêle, environ 1 mn. Ajoutez les épices Cajun et les crevettes. Laissez cuire. Assaisonnez de sel et de poivre.

Ajoutez les tomates et l'oignon. Laissez cuire tout en mélangeant jusqu'à ce que la sauce s'épaississe. Ajoutez le riz cuit.  Laissez cuire à feu doux environ 3 mn. (Ajoutez de l'eau si vous trouvez nécessaire).

Ajoutez le persil et servez avec des tranches de citron.

Pour realiser le melange cajun. Vous melangez 2 cuillères à soupe de paprika, 2 cuillères à soupe de piment rouge moulu, 2 cuillères à soupe de thym séché, 2 cuillères à soupe d'origan séché, 2 cuillères à soupe de poudre d'oignon, 2 cuillères à soupe de poudre d'ail, 1 cuillère à soupe de gros sel, 1 cuillère à soupe de poivre noir, 1 cuillère à soupe de sucre. Conservez ce mélange d'épices Cajun dans un bocal fermé pendant trois mois

Inspired from Food Network Magazine

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Apricot crumb bars

This was a good year for apricots and a colleague has a tree that¹s packed. So a month ago, she picked a few, just enough for us to eat at lunch breaks and for her to offer me a jar. I took the jar home and promised my colleagues that I'll make crumb bars with apricot jam filling. But as you know, summer time is always full of activities, family and friends come from abroad and unfortunately I find little time to spend in the kitchen. I had hundreds of messages requesting the crumb bars and I was always making excuses and nagging about the fact that there's no time to bake, I'm such a bad liar :).
Yesterday, I finished work and headed home directly. I confess I was tired and all I wanted was a good cup of coffee on the balcony as the sun goes down, but I said I'd probably have to make those crumb bars and surprise the girls. The results were excellent, they loved them and requested for more!! Oops!!!

Ingredients: Makes 16 squares

2 sticks (225 g) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp  salt
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup apricot jam or preserves

Heat oven to 350°F (180ºC). Grease an 8-inch square baking dish.

Combine the flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and mix with your fingers until crumbly. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and mix until the dough comes together but is still crumbly.

Use your fingertips to press half of the dough evenly into the baking dish, pushing the dough up about 1/4 inch around the edge.

Spread the apricot jam evenly over the crust. Crumble the remaining dough over the top. Bake until golden, about 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before cutting.

Ingrédients: 16 carrés
225 g de beurre froid coupé en dés
250 g farine
65 g sucre
55 g sucre roux
1 cac de levure chimique
1/4 cac de sel 
1 jaune d'œuf
1 cac d'extrait de vanille
1 tasse de confiture d'abricot

Préchauffez le four à 180ºC. Beurrez un moule carré.

Mélangez la farine, les 2 sucres, la levure et le sel dans un saladier. Ajoutez le beurre et avec vos doigts mélangez jusqu'à ce que le mélange soit granuleux. Ajoutez le jaune d'œuf et l'extrait de vanille et mélangez jusqu'à obtenir la consistance d'une sorte de «crumble».

Étalez la moitié de la pâte dans le moule.

Répartissez la confiture d'abricot sur toute la surface de la tarte et saupoudrez le dessus des «miettes» de crumble (l'autre moitié de la pâte). Enfournez pour 35 minutes. Laissez refroidir 10 mn avant de couper en carrés.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sfouf with molasses (Sfouf bi debes)

Carob pods are mainly found in Mediterranean countries. Evergreen carob trees can generally grow wherever citrus or olive trees are grown, meaning a warm, dry climate. The pod's fruit is technically a legume and commonly used as a chocolate alternative, but it has many applications in the food industry.

Carob was first used thousands of years ago. Even the Bible has references to carob. It was once believed that John the Baptist sustained himself using the carob bean, so carob is also referred to as St. John's bread.

In the cuisines of the Middle East molasses is produced from several kinds of foods such as carob, grapes, dates, pomegranates, and mulberries. Carob molasses is a thick syrup made by soaking milled carob pods in water which is then boiled down into a very rich and delicious natural sweetener. In Lebanon, carob molasses was traditionally used as an alternative to sugar. We mix it with with tahini (sesame paste) and eat it as a dessert.

I have already posted a recipe about Sfouf, the yellow semolina cake, but today it's sfouf with molasses, a very healthy cake that accompanies tea or coffee.

2 cups semolina flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp anis powder
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup carob molasses
1 cup water (or milk)
1 tbsp tahini 
a handful of raw sesame seeds

Mix the semolina, flour, baking powder and anis in a bowl.

Add the oil, molasses and water to the flour mixture and mix until well combined.

Grease a pan with tahini. Pour the sfouf batter and spread it evenly.

Preheat the oven at 350ºF (180ºC). Bake the sfouf 30 to 35 min or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool around 10 min before you cut it in squares.

Sfouf au mélasse

2 tasses de semoule fine
1 1/2 tasses de farine
2 càc de levure chimique
1 càc d'anis en poudre
1 tasse d'huile
1 tasse de mélasse de caroube
1 tasse d'eau (ou lait)
1 cas de tahini
une poignee de sésame

Mélangez la semoule, la farine, la levure et l'anis dans un saladier.

Ajoutez l'huile, la mélasse et l'eau graduellement et mélangez avec un batteur.

Graissez un moule avec le tahini. Versez la préparation. Enfournez 30 mn à 180ºC.

Laissez refroidir 10 mn. Coupez en carrés.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Monk's Salad (Salatet el Raheb)

This Lebanese mezze is called Batenjan El Raheb which translates into English as the monk’s salad, a dish obviously popular with and derived from the Christian community. It's a very simple and light salad consisting of eggplants, peppers, onion and tomatoes. It can be thought as a tahini-less baba ghannouj and as a result is even lighter in taste.

Ingredients (serves 4):
4 eggplants
1 medium-size tomato - finely diced
1 medium onion-finely diced (or spring onions)
1 green pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, mashed
3 to 4 tbsp of olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
a handful of parsley, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp sumac

Preheat the oven to 425ºF (210ºC). Prick the eggplant skin all over with a fork. Place them on a baking dish and bake them until the skin blisters black, about 45 mn. Remove from the oven and when cool enough to handle, peel the skin and place the flesh in a sieve over a bowl for about 10 mn to drain excess moisture.

In a mortar, mash the garlic with the salt until mushy.

In a bowl, mix the eggplant with the garlic using a fork. Add the lemon juice and mix.

Spread the eggplant in a salad bowl, top them with the onions, green peppers, tomatoes and parsley. Drizzle the olive oil and sprinkle some sumac.d pour over the salad.
Serve with pita bread.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Chocolate cake for Father's Day


In Lebanon, we celebrate Father's day on the 21st of June, and not like the majority of countries on the third Sunday of June. It is said that Lebanon and the whole area used to celebrate mother's day on the third Sunday of May, and consequently father’s day on the third Sunday of June (I guess daddys got jealous) just like the rest of the world still does today… but anyway, since Jammal Abed El Nasser came to Power in Egypt, he or his Party chose to alter that so we stand out of the pack and not follow the west and chose the first day of Spring and Summer to be Mother’s and Father’s day respectively…

So last week we made a dinner for my father, we were gathered all in my parents house for this special occasion. My dad has turned 70 years old last May... I can't believe how time is flying and I can't stand watching my parents getting older day after day. It's weird how we used to think when we were teenagers; we always wanted to grow up sooner and now all that we want is to stay young wishing that we can turn off the time and freeze the moment we live in.

While I was living in Paris, all I was afraid of is losing my parents. I wanted to see them and enjoy their company but I couldn't... miles and miles were separating us... but now I'm here and I want to cherish every moment with them... 

Sadly time really changes everything, but I can only hope it's not their love for me that's changing!

So, for Father's Day I made this cake because my dad is chocoholic, he has a particular weakness for chocolate. I used to buy him chocolate from Paris and he used to eat them before anyone else could even taste one!! And despite the wide range of sugary treats available here, he tends to favor chocolate above all other confections. So, what could be better than a chocolate goodness to cut on Father's Day?

For the cake:

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 
2 1/2  cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp Baking powder
1 1/2 tsp Baking soda
a pinch of salt  
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup whole milk 
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup hot water 

For the frosting:
100 g of milk chocolate
1/4 cup of butter
Some chopped hazelnuts

In a large bowl, sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla extract and beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Stir in the hot water. Mix.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Grease and flour your baking pan. Pour in the prepared batter and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes then frost the cake.

For the frosting: Double boil 100 g of milk chocolate with 1/4 cup of butter. Add the chopped hazelnut and mix.

Gâteau au chocolat 

Pour le gâteau:
225 g de farine
300 g de sucre glace
60 g cacao
1 1/2 càc de levure chimique
1 1/2 càc de bicarbonate de soude
une pincée de sel
23 cl de lait entier
12 cl d'huile vegetale
1 càc d'extrait de vanille
23 cl d'eau chaude

Pour le glaçage:
100 g de chocolat au lait
50 g de beurre
une poignée de noisettes hachées

Dans un grand saladier, tamisez la farine, sucre, cacao, levure, sel et bicarbonate. Ajoutez les œufs, le lait, l'huile et l'extrait de vanille. Battez environ 3 mn. Ajoutez l'eau chaude et mélangez.

Préchauffez le four à 180°C.

Huilez et farinez un moule a gâteau. Versez la préparation et enfournez 30 à 35 mn ou jusqu'à ce qu'un cure-dent inséré dans le gâteau ressorte propore. 

Laissez refroidir sur une grille environ 10 mn. Puis ajoutez le glaçage.

Pour le glaçage: Faites fondre au bain marie le chocolat et le beurre. Ajoutez les noisettes hachées et mélangez.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Baked Fish & Potatoes

Summer has officially started here in Lebanon, temperatures have been slowly rising. It's time for getting together with friends, enjoying outdoor activities, concerts, and welcoming the smells of barbecues that start drifting through the neighborhoods. 

This baked fish and potatoes dish is perfect for those summer nights, when you don't want to spend hours in the kitchen, and all you want to do is just sit and enjoy the beautiful weather!

Ingredients (serves 4):
4 fish fillets
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp dried coriander
1/4 tsp tumeric
1 tbsp oregano
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cardamon
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
5 medium potatoes, cubed
a handful of chopped parsley
a handful of chopped coriander
2 green onions, sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 cups of lemon juice
4 tbsp olive oil

In a bowl, mix all the spices together, the cumin, salt, dried coriander, tumeric, oregano, ginger, black pepper, and paprika. Distribute the mixed spices on the fish fillets. Rub them well with the seasoning.

Season the chopped potatoes with salt. Place them in a baking dish greased with some oil. Then sprinkle the potatoes with the chopped parsley, coriander, green onions, and garlic. Pour the lemon juice on top. Mix the potatoes a bit. Place the fish fillets on top. Sprinkle the olive oil evenly.

Cover the dish with aluminum and bake in a preheated oven at 350ºF (180ºC) for 45 mn. Remove the aluminum and continue baking another 10 to 15 mn or until the potatoes and fish are golden.

Poisson avec pommes de terre

Ingrédients (4 personnes):
4 filets de poisson
1 càc de sel
1 càs de cumin
1 càs de coriandre séchée
1/4 càc de curcuma
1 càs d'oregano
1/2 càc de gingembre moulu
1 càc de cardamonne
1/4 càc de poivre noir
1 càc de paprika
5 pommes de terre de taille moyenne, coupées en cubes
une poignée de persil haché
une poignée de coriandre hachée
2 oignons verts, émincés
1 gousse d'ail, écrasée
3 tasses de jus de citron
4 càs d'huile d'olive

Dans un saladier, mélangez toutes les épices; cumin, sel, coriandre, curcuma, oregano, gingembre,  poivre noir et paprika. Enrobez les filets du mélange d'épices.

Assaisonnez les pommes de terre de sel. Huilez un plat allant au four, déposez les pommes de terre et saupoudrez de persil et de coriandre hachées. Ajoutez les oignons verts et l'ail. Versez le jus de citron et mélangez. Déposez les filets de poisson au dessus puis versez l'huile d'olive.

Couvrez le plat avec une feuille d'aluminium et enfournez à 180ºC pour 45 mn. Enlevez l'aluminium et continuez de cuire 10 à 15 mn ou jusqu'à ce que les pommes de terre et les filets sont dorés.