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So here we go! First day back to normal after all the holiday (beautiful) madness and emotional rollercoaster that comes with this time of year.

New year, new us? Well, I don’t really think so. I’m kind of happy with my current me; I don’t really want to be a new me; this must mean I’m doing SOMETHING right, doesn’t it? I’m truly grateful for everything I have and don’t want things to change.

Due to popular demand, I am writing the recipe of a delicious Christmas Tree cake I made for Elle et Vire’s Bake a Smile Christmas campaign. Baking usually makes me happy and peaceful. This time, it was twice the satisfaction because this cake was meant for people in need. Elle et Vire teamed up with Order of Malta Lebanon to help spread the Christmas spirit by baking as many cakes and cookies to offer and make people happy during this festive season.

The literal meaning of ‘sobremesa’ is “over the table”. This untranslatable Spanish word designates the time spent in conversation right after a meal. It can be with friends, family or even business partners.

In Mediterranean cultures, sobremesa is something that is practiced with absolute spontaneity. That time spent around the table chatting about life is one of my favorite things in life. Picture everyone full and happy, discussing interesting topics and deep revelations.

For me, December is sobremesa. Friends are back in town, families reunite, and new friendships are made. It all happens around some table, sometime in December. The Holidays and twinkling lights open up our hearts and minds, bringing out the good in us.

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes like to imagine a dinner between friends before it happens. I imagine the conversation and its direction. I imagine talking about my friends’ plans for the next year, or about life’s big changes. I imagine discussing my sister’s job or fitness resolutions, my husband’s entrepreneurship journey or even my own career and travel goals.

2015 has passed by at the speed of light. We’re at a political and technological turning point. Technology is growing faster than us and we’re all growing up so fast. So let’s live this month like it matters more than anything. Let’s make the most of it and be ready for the new year to come.

Until Christmas, every post I write will include a topic for your Sobremesas. Conversation is something we should hold on to and avoid technology taking it away.

So, what will you be talking about this Christmas?

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It’s of general opinion during this time of year that food we love and usually eat moderately shall be eaten in excess and irrationally. A few days ago, a group messaging conversation was created amongst our group of friends to discuss the New Year’s Eve menu. Nothing healthy is really included so this made us think about ideas for healthier party foods. Since kale is now available (all year round) in Lebanon and is considered one of the top Superfoods to make you live longer (click here for all 7), Kale Crisps seem like a tasty option.

The Kale Crisps recipe is really easy. All you need is:

kale crisps | breadonbutter

How to make it:

  1. Cut the kale into small chunks (the size of crisps)
  2. In a bowl, mix the almond butter and peanut oil
  3. Dip each kale crisp in the bowl, then place them on a baking sheet

kale crisps | breadonbutter

kale crisps | breadonbutter

  1. Place in the oven for 7 minutes or until dry

And serve!

kale crisps | breadonbutter

Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables you can find as it holds a lot of benefits. To name a few, it’s full of fibers, antioxidants and calcium, protecting you from cancer, weight problems and osteoporosis.

Are you a fan of kale? If so, how do you eat it?

 

If you’re a cook at heart, you surely know about the food network. Their portfolio of cooks and chefs is the most fascinating and diverse. Naturally, I have my favorites, and Giada de Laurentiis is unquestionably one of them. Italian by origin and Emmy Award winner for outstanding Lifestyle host, this woman fascinates me and inspires me.

A few days ago, Jean showed me this delicious ricotta lemon cookie recipe to try at home, knowing how much I love baking. Turns out it was a recipe from Giada on the foodnetwork.com. So I had to try it right away! And then of course, give it a Christmassy feel. So here goes!

Ricotta Lemon Cookies Recipe

What you’ll need:

ricotta lemon cookies | breadonbutter

For the Cookies:

  • 2.5 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 100 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 250 g ricotta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • The zest of 1 lemon

For the Glaze:

  • 1.5 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsps lemon juice
  • The zest of 1 lemon

How to make it:

Make the cookies:

1) In a bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder and set aside.

2) In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy.

3) Add the eggs one by one, mixing in between until combined.

4) Add the ricotta, lemon juice, and lemon zest and beat to combine.

5) Add the dry ingredients and mix well.

ricotta lemon cookies | breadonbutter

6) On an oven tray, place a baking sheet and spoon”how much” the dough on top, evenly and leaving a bit of space between each so they don’t stick together later.

ricotta lemon cookies | breadonbutter

ricotta lemon cookies | breadonbutter

7) Bake for 15 minutes or until golden on the sides then let them rest and cool 20 minutes.

ricotta lemon cookies | breadonbutter

Make the glaze:

1) Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest and stir until combined and smooth.

2) After the cookies have cooled, spoon the glazing on top and let it harden for 2 hours.

ricotta lemon cookies | breadonbutter

ricotta lemon cookies | breadonbutter

Have it with a dark coffee or mint tea!

ricotta lemon cookies | breadonbutter

ricotta lemon cookies | breadonbutter

 What do you think? 

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 🙂

 

These caramelized nuts are proof that us cooks just love coming up with our own stuff. Getting ready-made dishes is just not enough anymore and with time, we become addicted to trying things out by ourselves. Jean, our beloved guest Chef here on Breadonbutter, fits this description exactly. He slowly became the type of cook who can’t even think of not making his own ingredients and recipes. So yesterday, he decided to make his own caramelized nuts recipe on a cheese and wine night in, and he brought to it a delicious twist. I found it to be an excellent addition to the holiday Christmas treats around the house and a great idea for elegant and tasty party food when you’re hosting a party.

Here’s the recipe of these delicious Christmas treats.

What you’ll need:

christmas treats | breadonbutter

– 2 cups of raw pecan

– 2 cups of raw almonds

– 2 cups of raw walnuts

– 0.25 cup of maple syrup (the purest the better)

– 2 tbsp olive oil

– 2 tbsp mixed herbs: rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano

– 0.25 tsp cayenne pepper

– Salt and Pepper

How to make it:

1) Preheat the oven at 180 degrees celsius

2) In a bowl, mis the raw nuts with the syrup, olive oil, herbs and cayenne pepper

caramelized nuts | breadonbutter

3) Spread the tossed nuts on a baking sheet and bake them for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until brown

caramelized nuts | breadonbutter

4) When they’re out of the oven, season with salt and pepper and toss them until cooled

caramelized nuts | breadonbutter

You can make them and use them for 2 whole weeks, provided you reserve them in an airtight container.

A very easy recipe that brings a twist to your Holiday food traditions! 🙂

caramelized nuts | breadonbutter

caramelized nuts | breadonbutter

What do you think?

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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 

 

On Monday, in the 11 perfect food lovers Christmas gift list, the very first item was a nice and efficient foodie book. I promised a list of great foodie books to offer this Christmas. So here are 10 of them I’d thought I’d classify according to every cook’s personality. There you go:

BreadOnButter’s List of 10 foodie books to offer this Christmas:

To: The classic cook who loves to make things from scratch:

Julia Child – Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volumes I & II

Great Foodie Books To Offer This Christmas | breadonbutter

To: The modern woman who loves hosting parties:

Des Recettes Pour Recevoir – Hachette Cuisine

Great Foodie Books To Offer This Christmas | breadonbutter

To: The one who likes to cook unusual but easy things:

Donna Hay – Seasons

Great Foodie Books To Offer This Christmas | breadonbutter

To: The healthy cooks who love adding flavor to their dishes:

Jamie Oliver – Cook With Jamie

Great Foodie Books To Offer This Christmas | breadonbutter

To: The oriental fusion fan:

Orient Express – Silvena Rowe

Great Foodie Books To Offer This Christmas | breadonbutter

To: The lovely baker with a fun edge:

Lily Vanilli – Sweet Tooth

Great Foodie Books To Offer This Christmas | breadonbutter

To: The inspiration-seeker:

Beirut Cooks – Pascale Habis

Great Foodie Books To Offer This Christmas | breadonbutter

To: The Entrepreneur:

A Delicious Life – New Food Entrepreneurs

Great Foodie Books To Offer This Christmas | breadonbutter

To: The amateur Chef:

Joel Robuchon – The Complete Robuchon

Great Foodie Books To Offer This Christmas | breadonbutter

To: The ambitious on-the-way-to-culinary-school Chef:

The Professional Chef – The Culinary Institue of America

Great Foodie Books To Offer This Christmas | breadonbutter

 

I’m actually searching for a new cookbook. Any other recommendation?