Traditional Cheesecake, just like my father likes it

I dedicate this post to all those who missed Soraya and asked me to write again, to my dear friends, to this month and to all the random things that happened in my life that made me want to write again.

This post comes after a long leave and a text saying “Would you share your cheesecake recipe?”… So my answer to you dear Nada is here.

Took from my iPhone almost half way through

Took from my iPhone almost half way through. I didn’t expect to share it.

This recipe doesn’t take a lot of work, but stays a lot of time on your mind. You have to remember to remove the ingredients from the fridge in advance because all the ingredients have to be at room temperature. Also, it will take quite some time in the oven.

Ingredients:

For the crust

The crust here is quite thin. If you like it a little thicker you can multiply the portions by 1.5

. 85g of butter at room temeprature

. 200 g of biscuits (digestive or any other dry biscuits you have at home)

. 1 Tablespoon of brown sugar (you can use white if you ran out of brown sugar)

. 1 pinch of salt

. Optional: Cinnamon

For the cheesecake filling

All the ingredients here must be at room temperature

.  1.4 Kg of cream cheese (Philadelphia) (it’s a lot but worth the taste)

. 1 cup of sour cream (it’s easier to find than we think)

. 1 and 3/4 cups of sugar

. 1/2 cup of flour

. vanilla (I use vanilla extract but you could use the powdered one)

. 5 eggs

. zest of one lemon

Procedures:

. Preheat the oven at 180 C

. Butter the pan (make sure your pan is a good one, because the mixture than will come later is quite liquid)

. In a food processor (Magimix for us Lebanese) add the biscuits and mix until sandy, then add the butter, the sugar and the salt. Let is mix until all the ingredients have blended in properly. The texture should be wet and sandy.

. Poor the crust in the pan. With the back of a glass, flatten the crust until all side are equal and place the pan in the oven for 15minutes.

. In a big electric mixer: Mix the cream cheese until it is soft, then add the vanilla. Then add one third of the sugar, then one third of the flour, and then one third of the cream cheese, then one or two eggs. Do this 3 times until all the ingredients have blended in.

. Finally add the lemon juice and the lemon zest.

. Optional, but very recommended: Wrap the pan with aluminium foil (to avoid water from coming in). Pour the mixture in the pan (on top of the biscuits). Then place the pan in a roasting  pan and add boiling water (Bain Marie). This way the cheesecake pan will sit in a bigger pan (or deep tray)half-filled with water. The steam created will keep the air in the oven moist and humid to prevent the top of the cake from drying out and cracking.

. Bake for 45 minutes at 180 C, then reduce the heat to 170 C and bake it for another 40 minutes (or even more sometimes) until the top of the cake is golden brown.

. Run a long thin knife around the cheesecake as soon as you remove it from the oven.

. Let the cake cool completely. Remove it from it’s pan, then place it in the fridge for at least 5 hours. I like to serve it the next day.

. Forget to count the calories and enjoy it with people you love!

Sweet kisses,

My Random October Week-End Felt Like Christmas

lights play

Christmas, apart from being a very important day for us christians, it also is a feeling! And this feeling I have been walking with for the past 3 days… It’s this feeling of love, appreciation of life and happiness… It’s about sharing food, enjoying the wine and having that one-too-many extra glass, about sharing secrets with the best friends, honest thoughts with new ones, big hopes with the dreamers and stupid laughs with those that can, like us, laugh at themselves…

I wish I were able to properly write why is it I am right now sitting and sharing my week-end when my to-do-list doesn’t fit on two post-its anymore… It is probably because this week-end, me and everyone around me, were all happy and I am doing my best to share this happiness.

These last few days, I received a baking pan from the cousin (I will try to use it tonight), a blow-dryer from the one I once thought I would never have anything to share with (and today I know which is her favorite wine, her secret dream and her shoe issues), a lucky ring from an amazing woman/friend/designer/person (let’s call her “amazing” during this post), an adorable cooking book from a brilliant photographer, a charming notebook where I will write all my sweet recipes and much more…

I have been offered my friend’s favorite bottle of wine, two long coffees (I barely drink coffee) that came with 4 hours of long discussions and again a glass of wine and much Love! I patiently chose two bathrobes for my friends, forgot to fix myself, left home in the mornings and didn’t come till after diner, happily sat in the same place from 7Pm to 1Am, and looked a bit ridiculous. Still, I think if I were to spend my week-end again, I would spend it the the exact same way

I’ve received love and I hope I gave some too…

Love Always,

Yesterday’s Deserts Class at Kitchenlab

Take Away DesertsThe deserts I baked at Kitchenlab and brought back home

Yesterday Jessica and I took a deserts class at Kitchenlab in Beirut… Each one took back home the yummy deserts you see her on the table.

The apple pie is the one I liked least, but I liked the fact that apricot jam was put on top of the pie. It goes really well with it. As for the pound cake, I liked its texture a lot. But I would like to find some other ways of presenting it. The cookies tasted like magic. And the chocolate lava cake, I have no clue. My mouth was already full of sugar… I couldn’t taste anymore. My taste buds weren’t intact =).

I will adapt some of these recipes to my taste and will then share my version of it with you…

Kisses,

Soraya

 

I Cooked for Myself! Crepes with Salmon and an Asparagus Salad

I very rarely cook for myself! I tend to think food always tastes better when shared! Thank God everyone I love enjoys yummy food as much as I do (some even more, hard to believe but true ;) ).

The Dinner I cooked for meLast Saturday on my Kitchen Table

Last Saturday and right after a morning of photo shooting I decided to cook for myself. I had spent the morning staring at a model posing with her perfect body for Lebelik with Hassan’s beautiful dresses. Needless to stay her beautiful pictures did not stop me from going to the supermarket straight after the shoot! I wanted to cook a Salmon Crepe Gratin, and I did….

Here is how:

Ingredients for the crepes (for 6-8 crepes) (I used the recipe of my sweet crepes because the paste doesn’t have a lot of sugar anyway. It tasted really good):

  • 1 ¾ cups of flour
  • 2 cups of milk at room temperature
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 TBL of vegetable oil
  • 1 TBL of sugar
  • One pinch of vanilla
  • One pinch of salt

Ingredients for the Béchamel Sauce:

  • 50 g of butter
  • 50 g of flour
  • 50 cl of milk
  • salt and white pepper  (optional)
  • nutmeg (optional)

Other ingredients:

  • 2 salmon filets cut into strips the size of a finger
  • 30 cl (or a bit more depending on preferences) of cooking cream
  • grated cheese (optional) I didn’t use any in my recipe but for the cheese lovers you can grate most of the yellow cheeses on top of your gratin before baking it.

Procedures for the crepes:

  • Whisk the milk + eggs + sugar
  • Sift together the flour + salt + vanilla
  • Add the milk mixture to the flour and mix
  • Add in the oil
  • Let the mixture rest for 2 hours minimum or up to one day in the refrigerator
  • Preheat a medium sized pan over medium heat and brush it with vegetable oil or butter. Cook your crepe until the center is lifted by pockets of air. (The crepes should be a little bit under cooked because they will later stay in the oven for 20minutes)
  • Flip your crepe with a spatula or for the most adventurous ones try flipping it without spatula just by giving your pan a little push :)

Procedures for the Béchamel:

  • On a low fire, in a medium pot let the butter melt.
  • Still on a low fire, add the flour and mix for two minutes until well combined.
  • Remove the pot away from the fire and add the milk (slowly, and keep on stirring). Once the milk is completely incorporated, but the pot back on the low fire and mix for about 10 minutes or until the béchamel takes the desired texture.
  • Let is cool a bit.

Salmon Crepes Before Going to the OvenThe gratin before going to the oven in one mould and the cut edges in the smaller one

Procedures for the Gratin:

  • Preheat the oven at 180C.
  • In each crepe put two tablespoons of béchamel and two salmon stripes. Roll them like a sandwich.
  • Place the crepe in the mould. If the crepes is too long for the mould cut the edges.
  • Repeat with the other crepes and place them close to each other.
  • Once all the crepes are places close to each other. Pour some cooking creme in strips between each crepe. It will give your gratin a delicate moist texture.
  • For the cheese lovers you can put some grated cheese on top of your gratin before putting it for 20 minutes in the oven.
  • Once out, cut some dill on top of your gratin just to give it a little bit of colours.
  • Serve with a salad or asparagus.

Crepe au Saumon en Gratin from Louise Doumet AlbumThe colours are not very vivid but it tasted super good! And it doesn’t feel heavy at all…

Asparagus and Eggs from Louise Doumet AlbumJust Asparagus and Eggs

That same day I also baked biscuits in the shape of little feet for my new friend Shadi. He is 40 days old!

Fruits and Biscuits form Louise Doumet AlbumI ate the fruits and offered the biscuits to my new friend!

Today I attended a deserts class…I hope to share the pics tomorrow on my blog…

NB: I honestly cooked this because someone very dear to my heart loves this meal and I wanted to try it first! Now I  can easily put a smile on his face =) …

PS: My mom ate several halves of the gratin, which means she first tried a piece of one crepe! Then she liked it! Then wanted to make sure she liked it! Then thought it wasn’t heavy! And when only one piece was lest she thought it’s stupid to keep a little half alone! I took it as a good sign… =)

Love always,

Soraya

Cooking for Friends

Dear Ayla,

I am posting these pics for you just because I promised I would! The thing is, I had in mind to take pics of all the plates I had prepared but the truth is, I forgot. When the pasta was ready and still in the kitchen I took one picture of it, and promised myself I would do the same with the other plates, but as I was preparing the rest it slipped out of mind… So you will see here some iPhone pics with a-less-than-averge lighting.

I am sorry for the quality of these pics.

pasta from eataly cooked the way the chef recommendedRavioli, tomatoes and dried basil

letuce and nuts saladLettuce salad

parma ham and melonParma ham and melon

Red Berries Tart for friendsRed Berries Tart (the recipe was already posted a while ago, it’s one of my father’s favourite deserts)

madelaines et petites bouchees au chocolatMadelaines and little chocolate cake bites (These are also some of our kitchen’s classics)

Ici cream cake designed at homeRose Loukoum and Pistachio ice-cream (I bought the ice-cream and presented it like this) I remembered to take the pic too late =(

I wish I had pics of the full menu… But don’t worry I’ll see you in the gym this afternoon and will be able to tell  you all about my diner.

Kisses,

Soraya

Lemon Tart: A Fresh Summer Desert

My cousin loves lemon tarts, so I promise her that I would try every recipe I have in to order to propose to her the one I find to be the best. And since I don’t particularly fancy lemon tarts, the fact that I love this one is a very good sign…

So here you are dear cousin:

For the dough (for one big tart):

You can use digestives and butter. I call this the lazy version and it consists of:

  • 250 g of digestive biscuits
  • 100 g of melted butter

Put the biscuits in a plastic bag and roll over them with a rolling pin until crumbs are all broken into tiny pieces (almost powder-like texture).  Poor the biscuits in a large bowl and add the melted butter over the biscuits. Mix well. Then transfer into the baking pan, press firmly down into the pan evenly and refrigerate for 45 minutes.

But I prefer using this dough: (It’s the pate sablee I use for all my tarts. I love it!)

  • 450 g of butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 800 g of flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pinch of vanilla
  • 1 pinch of salt

Procedures for the Dough:

  • Butter the pan and add some flour for the dough not to stick on the baking pan.
  • Mix the butter with the sugar.
  • Sift the flour then add it to the mix.
  • Then the egg (with a pinch of salt on top of the egg).
  • Then the vanilla.
  • Mix them well with a dough blender or with your hand.
  • Shape into flattened disk, wrap in plastic foil and refrigerate for an hour.
  • Remove it from the refrigerator and flatten it with a rolling pin and place it in the baking pan.

For the Lemon Mixture (for one big tart):

  • 75 g of corn flour (Maizena)
  • 110 g of sugar
  • 120 ml of lemon juice
  • 60 ml of orange juice
  • 250 ml of water
  • 80 g of de butter (cut in cubs)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • zest of one green lemon, one lemon and one orange (or more depending on the taste)

Procedures:

  • Mix the corn flour and the sugar in cooking pot.
  • Add the juices (lemon and orange) and water and mix until well combined.
  • Put the pot on the fire (strong fire) and stir until the mixture starts boiling and it becomes stronger.
  • Reduce the fire and keep on mixing on a slow fire for one minute.
  • Remove from heat and add in the pot the butter and keep in mixing until fully melted. Add the egg yolks and the zest.
  • Let it cool for 10 minutes before using it.

Procedures for Tart:

  • Spread the mixture evenly on the dough with a spatula.
  • Cover and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Lemon Tart with Meringues Before the OvenLemon tart with the Italian meringues before I started browning them

For the Italian Meringues:

  • 1/3 cup of water
  • 5 egg whites
  • 280 g of sugar

Procedures:

  • In a pot, boil the water and the sugar.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer on high speed, add the sugar whites and mix well until it starts looking like snow.
  • Then on medium speed add the sirup (prepared with sugar and water).
  • Mix (on medium-to-high speed) until the mix starts getting cooler and until the texture becomes stronger. It does not have to be liquid. It has to have a creamy texture)
  • Put the meringue mix in the pastry bag and use it to create the design you like on top of your tart.
  • Use carefully a blowtorch to brown the edges of your meringues.

Lemon Tart almost doneLemon Tart just done!

Lemon Tart with meringues (italian and french)Lemon Tarts, one with Italian meringues and the other getting ready to be toped with french meringues

Lemon Tart in the making with meringuesLemon tart naked getting ready for her meringues

Lemon tart doneLemon Tart with the Italian Meringue

NB: The recipe of the french meringue will be posted very soon…

Kisses,

Soraya

Rome! From the Eyes of an Architect’s Cousin

The cool thing about having a big family is that we can always find what we need amongst those surrounding us! Thank God I have a big family and a cousin architect… This cousin of mine lived in Rome for 6 months, so she suggested I also try to discover the modern-art side of the city! I thus ended up enjoying Renzo Piano’s Auditorium Parco della Musica (a multi-functional music amphitheatre recalling ancient greek and roman theatres) and Zaha Hadid’s Museum of XXI Century… They are both situated in the north of Rome where the 1960 olympic games took place.

But what I was most happy to see are two exhibitions that were, one showing Andy Warhol’s path, and the other Frida Kahlo’s life and its representation in her art.

frida kahlo quirinaleFrida Khalo’s exhibition in the Quirinale

Frida Kahlo in Quirinale Rome

The cool thing about my visit to the Quirinale is that we were there on the day of the commemoration of Frida Kahlo’s death (the 13th of July 2014).

Going Down the Stairs to leave the expo in the QuirinaleA Charming view of Rome, going down the stairs to leave the exhibition 

Piazza Del QuirinalePiazza del Quirinale

Frida Khalo’s life fascinates me because her immense love for her husband and for her art were the two main pillars that helped her go through her many sickness and handicapes. Whereas Andy Warhol holds a special place in my heart because of his ability to use simple and everyday materials and turn them into art pieces. He also sometimes reminds me of my brother with his multi-tasking abilities, his interest in many subject, and his pioneer spirit when it came to using computer programs for art purposes. 

Andy Warhol InspirationsBecause Warhol started as a commercial illustrator generating advertising materials, everything around him was an inspiration and a way to make money (which he believed was an art as well).

Andy Warhol in Pallazzo Cipola RomeElizabeth Taylor by Andy Warhol

My favourite part of the Andy Warhol exhibition in the Palazzo Cipolla was the area that showed all the polaroids he took of his friends, celebrities or faces he liked to keep a memory of these exact moments with all their genuine aspects. (I unfortunately have no pictures of it.)

Andy Warhol and Mao Tse TungMao Tse Tung by Andy Warhol

Cute Story: Hugh Grant bought one of Elizabeth Taylors’ paintings by Andy Warhol after two drunken days for 2 million Pounds, and sold it some time later for 13 millions. The artistic world thought he was an art connoisseur… He confessed being drunk that day! Anyway that extra alcohol glass made him 11 million pounds richer!

Artistically yours,

Soraya

PS: In both exhibitions we weren’t allowed to take pictures, I still illegally managed to take some with my iPhone !(A part of me feels bad for taking those pics, and the other part is happy they turned out ok and I can share them with you).

Rani Zakhem in AltaModa in Rome

My trip to Rome continues with this post about Rani Zakhem and his successful first Runway show in Rome during the AltaModa week… The walk to get there was absolutely fantastic, and needless to say the show as enchanting as this beautiful city and definitely full of charming surprises with floating dress, glittery materials, soft materials and many clapping hands and happy faces!

Rani Zakhem On our Way to his Show during AltaRomaWalking to the Complesso Monumentale Santo Spirito (where the show happened)

Rani on Our Way to the EventGetting closer to the venue

Rani Zakhem on our way to the Fashion ShowJust some random beautiful Roman art on the streets of Rome

Once we got there, the excitement of the press and the emotion of Rani’s family were both very visible! This is Rani’s first runaway show and everyone seemed very curious and impatient!

Rani Zakhem Right Before the ShowRight Before the Show stared

Here are some of my favourite dresses:

Rani Zakhem Evening Dress in AltaRoma

Rani Zakhem Evenign Dress in AltaModa Rome

Rani Zakhem in Rome

Rani Zakhem Evening Dresses

Rani Zakhem Red Dress in Rome

Rani Zakhem Show in Rome

Rani Zakhem Evening Dress View from the back

And finally the wedding dress! It was cute hearing people behind me saying “Bello! Bello!”

When In Rome… Dream!

(I write this post to share my trip with my two amazing cousins that recommended great places and to everyone that doesn’t have cool cousins who lived in Rome.)

I think that every Italian city holds in it 3 cities: (I) The historical city and the old town, (II) The new city, and the local’s lifestyle, (III) My (or your ) city… Because most of the Italian cities are sexy in my opinion, they look classical but yet have a modern twist, they are charming and inviting without being completed naked, they are generous but will never give you everything they have… They just have it!

And Rome definitely has it! Those I see often know exactly what I mean by “It”; for the others, I hope that this post will explain a bit what I mean by “It/She/He has it” and will help you organise your next trip to Rome…

My favourite day in Rome started at Campo Dei Fiori where I bought truffles and balsamic vinegar. We then walked to Piazza Navona (that was sometimes used for water games back in the days when the three fountains flooded) to enjoy the colourful street paintings and get charmed by artists; and entered San Luigi Di Francesi to admire a Caravaggio painting.  The idea was then to have a coffee in the famous Cafe Eustacchio, but for whatever reason when walking pass it, we weren’t particularly attracted by it and decided instead to stop by the Terrace of the Grand Hotel Minerva to take some pictures… Next stops were the beautiful Pantheon  (that has the second largest Duomo in the world), The San Ignazio Church and the Door of the Chiesa de Gesu (unforunately the church was closed). By then it was time to stop for a Roman lunch… We then took the long way to the restaurant and passed by the Monument of Vittorio Emanuele II (Vittoriano). Roscioli is where my mum and I shared, on a small charming table, two glasses of Roman wine, yummy Italian carbs and, an hour and a half later, the desire to go back have some rest! (Even though if you go there I recommend you postpone your siesta a bit; the Via Dei Giubbonari is full of cute small italian boutiques that looked worth discovering…)

Thank God I have an energetic mother because after this long day she agreed to spend the night in Trastevere and watch the FIFA soccer game (for the 3rd position) in the Isola Tibernia where we stayed with friends for less than an hour in a charming open bar until it started pouring rain on us! It was worth the laugh and we gentily pitied those that were calmly enjoying the open cinema =).

Campo Dei Fiori Market Pasta RomeCampo Dei Fiori Market – Colorful pasta – Cute for kids

Da Vinci Experiences RomeExperiencing Da Vinci’s Inventions 

Navona PiazzaPiazza Navona 

Walking to the Pantheon RomeWalking to the Pantheon – Vespas and Roman art

View From the Terrace of the Hotel Miverne RomeView From Grand Hotel Minerva

San Ignacio Ceiling RomeSan Ignacio Ceiling

Walking in Rome, BeautyWalking in Rome…  Everything is beautiful 

Walking in RomeWalking in Rome

II Vittoriano RomeMonumento a Vittorio Emanuele II

Roscioli Restaurant Via Dei Guibbonari RomeRoscioli Restaurant – Vie Dei Giubbonari

Feeling when Walking in TrastevereTrastevere Vibe

Isola Tiberina Where I watched the FIFA game for the 3rd placeWhere I watched the FIFA game

I need to get back to work, hopefully tomorrow I will be able to post pictures of the rest of my trip!

Regretting I didn’t have my camera with me, I send you lots of warm bacis,

See you tomorrow,

Soraya

Morning Platters

For the past two months I got used to sharing my morning platters on Lebelik’s Instagram… This morning I realised that all my readers, and especially my father (who doesn’t have Instagram) are missing a little part of my morning little pleasures…

So here are 5 of my favourite platters:

Morning - Brunch PlatterMorning – Brunch Platter

Morning - Brunch Platter with CarrotsMorning – Brunch Platter with Carrots

Morning - Brunch Platter with Cucumbers Morning – Brunch Platter with Cucumbers

Morning - Brunch Platter with AnanasMorning – Brunch Platter with Almonds (We almost always have almonds)

Morning - Brunch Platter Lebanese StyleMorning – Brunch Platter The very Lebanese way =)

Kisses to all,

From my yummy kitchen,

Soraya