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In the world of Therapy, cooking and having a positive entourage have always been recommended to boost serotonin levels and increase relaxation and happiness. Over time, I have found that baking cakes have the superpower of calming me down, bringing me to impressive levels of serenity – something I didn’t know I was capable of, being the anxious person I am.

cooking in group | breadonbutter

In the past year, I was lucky to make new friends who love cooking and food as much as I do. Since I’m prone to sharing my recipes and not greedily keep them in a secret notebook, I’ve engaged in a new venture: gathering people around our stove. I find it so much fun and gratifying to have friends over with their favorite ingredients and recipes to cook all together and learn from each other. Laughs are also guaranteed!

cooking in group | breadonbutter

Based on these good times and on the atmosphere of family meals and children wandering around the cook in the kitchen to learn and get a taste of what’s cooking, we had our first cook-off not long ago. Hisham from Cookin5m2, Sarah who owns Dulce n’ Banana, Maya who writes Playing With Fashion, Betty who’s the great photographer behind BetKet Photography, Sleiman who’s the one behind K-frame, and of course my husband and favorite Chef Jean, were all here to lend a hand in a meal we all had together. Hisham made a delicious chicken pot pie, Sarah made a special apple crumble and we all worked to concoct entrees of all flavors and genres.

cooking in group | breadonbutter

Food has a lot of meaning. Whether it’s culturally, ethnically, or religiously, it brings people together. Baking, cooking a meal, shopping for the food and certainly sitting down together and socializing is a pure pleasure of life.

Cook-offs are not only meant to give a chance to meet new people, but also to discover food and ingredients that people might not have come across before. Also, everyone can leave with leftovers and a new recipe.

In the future, I’d love to bring experienced winemakers, brewers, bakers, butchers, etc. to teach others tricks and techniques.

The main focus of cooking in group is on socializing, learning to cook and to cook together, learning about new ingredients and types of food, maybe even how to shop for food before learning how to cook it.

The cook-off affected all of our moods positively. Having this meal gave us greater satisfaction because we cooked it together.

Cooking has therapeutic value physically, cognitively, socially and intrapersonally. Physically, cooking requires good movement in shoulders, fingers, wrists, elbow, neck, as well as good overall balance. Adequate muscle strength is needed in upper limbs for lifting, mixing, cutting and chopping. Furthermore, sensory awareness is important in considering safety while dealing with hot and sharp objects.

This is the therapeutic value noted by the University of Alberta.

Here are more photos of our cook-off if you’d like to see. There will be other cook-offs organized so if you wish to participate, all you have to do is send an email to: breadonbutterblog@gmail.com ! 🙂

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Photos were all taken by the great Betty from BetKet Photography.

Dining table and chairs from Dfouny Technotel  – available for rent

cooking in group | breadonbutter

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I’ve been watching people cook for as long as I can remember. Writing down kitchen tips and hints is known to be my thing and I still carry my old-fashioned notebook in every kitchen I visit (it’s actually almost full now and I panic at the idea of buying a new one and starting afresh).

One of the dishes I watch being cooked every single year is the Turkey my mom (Christina) makes on Christmas day. What I love the most about it is that she names it differently every year after someone who brings luck.

Turkey is not usually my thing as I mostly think it’s a dry meat that makes me full a few bites through. However, and I’m not saying this because it’s my mom, the turkey she makes is never dry. She even succeeded in making people who could never imagine having it for a meal fall in love with it. It’s so tender and juicy you can’t help not having at least a bite of it, accompanied with its special rice and grilled chestnuts of course. You can check the nutritious advantages of chestnuts in this post by Carla Mourad.

turkey | breadonbutter

So after years of observations and questioning, I bring you tips to make the best out of your turkey this Christmas!

  1. The Size: Your turkey has to be small – i.e. be a maximum of 6 kilograms, so it doesn’t get too dry. The bigger the turkey, the drier it will be. If you must make a bigger quantity for a larger party, 2 small turkeys are better than a big one
  2. The Seasoning: While the turkey is still raw, scrub it with a mix of : 7 spices, coarse salt and lemon juice. Then, rub it well with a mix of Dijon Mustard and Moutarde a l’Ancienne de Dijon (grain mustard)
  3. The Resting Period: Let the kneaded turkey rest in the fridge overnight or even for a whole 24 hours, covered hermetically with aluminum foil
  4. The Roasting: On D day, be careful with the cooking process. The first thing to do is to roast the turkey in a pre-heated oven, uncovered for an hour, on high heat. This allows it to caramelize and bring out its flavors
  5. The Cooking Time: After the 1 hour of roasting, cover the turkey hermetically with aluminum foil and cook it for 4 to 5 hours (depending on its weight – each kg counts for 1 hour) on very low heat
  6. The Juicing Process: Do not leave it for 4 to 5 hours in a row! Take it out of the oven every hour, uncover it and juice it with its own juice. Take advantage to set some of the juice aside for the sauce later
  7. The Hermetic Cover: Make sure to close it hermetically. No particle of air should come out from or enter the turkey dish!

To sum up, the most important factors to pay attention to, are:

  • Extremely low oven temperature
  • Mustard and Spices
  • Airtight cover
  • PATIENCE! After all, it is 6 hours of dedication to a pretty fat bird 😉

Do you make your own turkey? Any other tips?

As promised last week in the Christmas menu ideas sponsored by AZIZ Delicatessen (click here), the second part of this collaboration is all about cheese, cold cuts and their pairing with the appropriate wine. Over the years, I’ve discovered that not all families roast a turkey and cook a whole lot of stuff to have for their Christmas meals. Some of them go for a simple cheese and wine party with delicious bread of all kinds. For those people, here is the best menu inspiration AZIZ brought us.

Cheese and Wine Christmas Menu by AZIZ Delicatessen

Cold cuts

cheese and wine | breadonbutter

Choices: The cold cut platter can include the following: Parma ham of your choice (it can be smoked or crudo which is my favorite), 2 or 3 kinds of salami (depending on the number of people), sliced turkey breast, chorizo (also one of my all time favorites), and a type of cold cut sausage. Just head to the cold cut side of any AZIZ branch and choose your favorites.

cheese and wine | breadonbutter

Drink with: Bordeaux red wines, Grapes: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The brands you can find at AZIZ are Les Granges de Civrac 2010, Ronan by Clinet 2010, Cossieu Coutelin 2009 and many more.

Cheese Platter

cheese and wine | breadonbutter

A good Saint Maure de Tourraine (a delicious unpasteurized French cheese made from full fat goat’s milk you won’t regret) with a Red Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2011 or a White Cuvée Clémence

Chèvre affiné (a type of goat cheese) with a Mercurey La Framboisière 2011

Brie de Maux with a White Chateau Carbonnieux 2010; Brie aux Truffes with a Chateau Tour du Pin 2010, or any Brie of your choice with a White Chablis 2012

Brique de Brebis with a Chateau De Terrefort Quancard 2009

A nice Saint Felicien cheese with a Blason de L’Evangile 2010

A great camembert (recipe on this link) with a Clos Marsalette 2009

Roquefort or any Blue Cheese with a White Riesling Grand Cru 2011

A Comté cheese with a Red Chateau Haut Condissas 2009 or a White Sancerre 2012

Parmesan with Amarone della Valpolicella 2009

And finally, a Burrata Mozzarella with a Chianti 2012

cheese and wine | breadonbutter

Which menu will you be choosing this Christmas? We’d love to know 🙂

 

I frequently visit AZIZ Delicatessen, one of the most famous delicatessen houses in Lebanon. Known for its high-quality exceptional food products, Aziz has never lost its quality and can always be trusted.

aziz delicatessen | breadonbutter

 

 

When we walked in the Kantari branch one evening to get wine for a night in with friends, I saw Aziz Junior 🙂 , a friend of my sister’s. In our conversation, I asked if I could get some tips for the coming holidays, what for the different menu musts and the best way they could be paired with wine, champagne, and other drinks. And that’s why I bring you today the first part of ideas for your Christmas menu, brought to you by one of the country’s most renowned delicatessen houses, AZIZ. First things first, let’s start by summarizing the essentials of a Christmas table.

Christmas Table Essentials

The classic starters mainly involve Foie gras (THE Christmas classic), an acquired taste that comes with time, as well as smoked salmon, caviar, cold cuts and cheeses (part 2 will be all about the cheese and charcuterie, so stay tuned).

aziz delicatessen | breadonbutter

 

aziz delicatessen | breadonbutter

For the main meal, most houses cook a nice turkey for Christmas. Some, like my mom, name it after a Saint or someone who brings luck throughout the year to come. In other houses, lamb meat, duck, or fish is cooked as the main dish. You can combine the turkey with one of the latter, like a nice honey duck or fish.

Last but undeniably not least, come the desserts and pastries. We all know the ones we prefer: Buche, Mont Blanc, Pavé aux marrons, Marronier, Profiteroles, Meringues, and typical French pastries like tarts, éclairs, etc. A pure delight.

In collaboration with AZIZ Delicatessen, I’m sharing with you today 3 different menus you can make this Christmas (or order from AZIZ catering).

Menu 1

 Starters

Foie Gras platter

Smoked Salmon platter

Caviar

Quinoa and shrimps salad

 Mains

Turkey with vegetables

Sea food Paella

Cooked ham with fruits

Desserts

Buche (either chestnuts, praliné, moka or the regular chocolate one)

Aziz also offers the mix of the 4 tastes

Mont blanc

  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Menu 2

Starters

Foie Gras en terrine

Caviar

Salmon cake (sushi cake)

Endives salad

Mains

Venison Leg

Roasted duck with orange, served with tagliatelles

Green curry shrimps

Desserts

Chestnut pavé

Chocolate Buche

   ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Menu 3

Starters

Sep or Asparagus Tart

Cold cuts platter

Black and white truffles linguines

Spinach sprouts, pecan nuts, pears, cranberry and blue cheese salad

Mains

Capon with vegetables

Lamb leg, apples and pineapples, marinated in honey

Thai style shrimps, mango sauce

Desserts

Marronier

Fruit Tarts

  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Of course, you can add to it all potatoes in the oven, quiches (I promise an easy recipe real soon) and salads.

But, what counts the most is the combination of all this food with the fitting drink. So let’s pair your menu with the dishes’ drinks, as per Aziz’s recommendations.

The Foie Gras (Jean Larnaudie)

You can choose from a variety of flavors, like duck foie gras, Foie gras de canard, Foie gras d’oie, Foie gras de canard truffé, Foie gras d’oie truffé, Foie gras de canard au torchon, Foie gras d’oie au torchon, Foie gras en terrines.

It is best paired with sweet wines. The best sweet wine you can find at AZIZ is Les Sauternes or Alsatian wines like Gewürztraminer Selections de Grains Nobles and Gewürztraminer Vendanges Tardives .

Foie Gras is also delicious when paired with wine jam (also Sauternes) or fig chutney.

The smoked salmon

It can be paired with white or red wines. More specifically, if you’re looking for the best brands, you can go for:

  • In white wines: Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre or even a south african Cape Heights.
  • In red wines : AZIZ’ famous Crozes Hermitages 2011 Les Allegories or Saint-Joseph Hermitage 2012.
  • It also works very well with the full-bodied wine from Chile, the Montevista Carmenere 2010.

The Caviar

When it comes to caviar (Beluga Royal is the type you can find at AZIZ), you can have it with Vodka on the rocks.

For wine lovers though, dry white wines should do, more specifically Chardonnay and Semillon grapes. One brand you can choose is Chablis or Ch. Carbonnieux 2010

The Lamb Meat

If you choose a menu with lamb meat as a main meal, you can shop for a variety of Red wines, ideally cahors and wines from the Rhone Valley.

You can ask for the following while shopping at Aziz: Ch. de Chambert 2009 (cahors); Chateauneuf du Pape 2010, Les Choregies (Rhone Valley) – For Burgundy lovers, their famous Nuits Saints Georges 2011 Domaine Faiveley.

The Duck

The duck should be paired with Red wines, ideally with Ch. de Valandraud 1999 and 2000. Ch. Beauregard 2006 , Ch. Clinet 2003.

The Fish

It is known to all that fish or dishes like Seafood Paella are to be paired with white wine. Sancerre, Chablis, Meursault, and M de Minuty are just a few brands to choose from.

The Turkey

Now for the most consumed dish at Christmas, the Turkey shall be eaten accompanied by Red wines from “Premieres cotes de Bordeaux” and “Cotes de Blaye”. Brands to look for are Ch. De Paillet-Quancard 2009 and Ch. D’Aiguilhe 2010

Dessert and Pastries

Ideally, they are had with Champagne. At AZIZ, they have 2 of the most delicious champagne brands there are: Billecart-Salmon And Joseph Perrier.

aziz delicatessen | breadonbutter

aziz delicatessen | breadonbutter

 And there you have it!

 Of course, all you need to do is go there and ask for the great advice they all know how to give.

However, if you’re not hosting a Christmas party at your house but going around several ones to visit family, you can combine foie gras with their assorted wines and chutneys and take them as a gift to your host. You can do the same with dessert and even add a nice Cognac bottle (Delamain) for warmer winter nights.

aziz delicatessen | breadonbutter

What is the item you buy the most from AZIZ Delicatessen? And anything to add to these ideas?

You can visit their website here and facebook page here for more information. Also, follow them on instagram: @azizdelicatesse

Click HERE to follow our foodie and travel journey on INSTAGRAM 

 

As a cook, the essential thing to have in your kitchen is a cupboard full of herbs and spices to go with any kind of meal. I found this infographic that shows the best way to use all kinds of herbs: as complements, with recipe ideas and which flavors they go with. Enjoy! My personal favorites are rosemary and coriander. What are yours?

Infographic using herbs when u cook Breadonbutter

Afterwards, they always had tea in the kitchen, much the nicest room in the house ― Flora Thompson

linas-kitchen-part-1-breadonbutter

When cooks come together, the kitchen becomes only action and camaraderie. After all, good food and a warm kitchen is the essence of making a house, a home. So when Lina – a friend of my mom’s I’ve grown up to love – agreed to welcome me in her kitchen and sniff around, I was delighted! With a great, positive and fun personality, Lina is also a great cook. She has the gift of a mixed cultural background and thus the gift of a wide recipe index. I spent an entire morning in this sweet kitchen, photographing her tools, her spices and objects. She then taught me 2 recipes I will be sharing in the second part of this Kitchen Tour tomorrow. For now, here are my favorite things in Lina’s kitchen.

It all started with a delicious cup of coffee and fresh mini croissants.

coffee-linas-kitchen-breadonbutter

overview- lina's kitchen breadonbutter

In Lina’s kitchen you can find all kinds of spices, a snack bar, a breadmaker and all the flour in the world, and beautiful Picasso mirror coffee cups.

spices-linas-kitchen-breadonbutter

 

snack-corner-linas-kitchen-breadonbutter

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breadmaker

The detail to absolutely memorize is the beautiful kitchen top made from slate (Ardoise in french)

ardoise-top

The object to dream about is this pastel yellow Kitchen Aid mixer

kitchen-aid-and-toold

kitchen-aid-1

kitchen-aid-and-cupboards

And here’s a preview of Lina’s Kitchen Tour Part II, tomorrow on Breadonbutter 🙂

preview-part-II-linas-kitchen-breadonbutter

 

Hoping to inspire you, always.