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It takes a slightly fresh weather and comfort food cravings to come up with the idea of cooking a nice chicken curry. The dish is full of flavors and leaves you completely satisfied with your meal. I always thought these kinds of dishes needed a basic recipe that the cook could play around with. The choice of spices, vegetables, proteins, and the level of spiciness are completely subjective. So here is a recipe you can use as a base and then manipulate according to your preferences.

I don’t know if some of you can relate, but some dishes get me confused as to how I will be serving them and how I prefer to eat them. With or without cheese on top? Do I melt the cheese before or put it on top as a final touch and enjoy a stronger taste? Do I mix the caramelized onions in or do I just let them add a crispy taste with each bite? So confusing, don’t you think?

It is particularly hard to work in an environment that doesn’t resemble you. Even though you still find colleagues with whom you develop affinities and become friends, the environment can still be bad for you. It usually is a bad environment when you feel like you don’t belong or like it doesn’t reflect your personality.

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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Don’t forget to tag us if you try our recipes and tips: #breadonbutter

Mother’s Day is fast approaching so it got me thinking about the kind of food my mom cooks at home. The first thing that pops into mind is her famous beef stroganoff. She knows how much I love it and surprises me with it when I’m having the worst days and pop by for a visit. I can smell it when I enter their house and it just makes the happiest girl!

Today, I was lucky to have lunch at home. Since everyone, including my mom, was busy, I decided to make myself a healthy version of beef stroganoff. I had some serious doubts at first since I decided to use yogurt instead of cream, but it turned out to be delicious and guilt-free 🙂 Here’s the recipe.

Healthy Beef Stroganoff

What you’ll need (for 2 persons)

  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 500 g lean beef, sliced
  • 8 medium fresh white mushrooms, sliced
  • 500 g fat free plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp corn flour
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red or white wine
  • Chili powder, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

How to make it

  1. Melt the corn flour in the warm water and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, heat the canola oil (on low heat).
  3. Add the diced onions, beef and sliced mushrooms. Toss until the meat is cooked while seasoning with salt and pepper, then set aside in a bowl or plate.
  4. In the same pot, add the yogurt and melted corn flour and stir until it thickens.
  5. Add the beef mixture, season with salt and pepper, and stir for 30 seconds.
  6. Add the mustard and tomato paste and mix until combined.
  7. Season with more pepper and chili powder, add the wine, and stir until you obtain the preferred thickness.
  8. Bring to the boil then let it simmer for 2 minutes and turn off the heat.

And you’re done! You can choose to have it with brown rice or a fresh green salad (that’s if you want to cut carbs on that specific day).

healthy beef stroganoff | breadonbutter

healthy beef stroganoff | breadonbutter

Bon Appetit! 😉

Click HERE to follow our foodie and travel journey on INSTAGRAM @breadonbutter_

and HERE to get your daily Breadonbutter news on FACEBOOK

Don’t forget to tag us if you try our recipes and tips: #breadonbutter

Most of you must be aware by now that Jean is one of Bibayti’s co-founders. This amazing platform, similar to La Belle Assiette in France and the UK, aims at gathering profiles and menus of Chefs (amateurs or professionals) for people to choose from when they organize a brunch, lunch, or dinner at home.

Jean is also a Chef on the platform and I’m his helper and dessert person.

A few weeks ago, we got to cook dinner for 24 people in Saida. It was the craziest food experience I ever had (after the Beirut Street Food Festival saga), and I thought I’d share the recipe of the Pesto Bruschetta we made that night.

Pesto Bruschetta Recipe

What you’ll need (for 6 persons)

  • 6 small to medium tomatoes (make sure to choose them red and juicy), diced
  • 3 cups of fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 5 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6 medium slices of bread (the kind you prefer) – I chose a whole-wheat country bread

How to make it

  1. In a bowl, mix the tomatoes and garlic
  2. In a small blender, place the basil leaves, 4 Tbsp of olive oil and 1 tsp of salt and blend until you get the texture of a pesto sauce
  3. Add the sauce to the tomatoes and garlic and mix
  4. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste
  5. In an oven dish, place the bread slices with a sprinkle of olive oil on top and heat them in the oven until golden
  6. Take the bread out of the oven and distribute the tomato mix evenly on top of the slices
  7. Serve and enjoy!

 So, what’s for dinner? 🙂

Click HERE to follow our foodie and travel journey on INSTAGRAM @breadonbutter_

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Don’t forget to tag us if you try our recipes and tips: #breadonbutter

A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure to attend a lunch at Mymouné (a Lebanese brand of all-natural specialties) in Ain el Kabou, Lebanon to celebrate their 25th anniversary. Apart from the wonderful ambiance and setting, the food was really excellent. The reason for this is that everything was cooked by Michelin-starred Chef Greg Malouf using Mymouné products. From the rose petals infused yogurt to the delicious shawarma, passing by a delicious freekeh, that day kept our tummies busy. The highlight of the day was when we actually got to meet Greg Malouf and have a little chat. He then happily agreed to answer some of my questions about his life and background.

greg malouf | breadonbutter

Greg Malouf is a Lebanese Chef born in Melbourne that was honored with a Michelin Star. He is widely known for his Middle Eastern cuisine and opened his own restaurant, Clé Dubai, last year.

I hope you enjoy reading as much as we did! Here goes.

About Greg – I’m an Australian boy, through and through, but I was raised in a Lebanese family and my earliest memories are of my mum’s kitchen, and of being surrounded by women – my mum and grandmothers, aunties, cousins and family friends – all pinching my cheeks and urging me ‘Yallah! Tekkel’, as they thrust a stuffed vine leaf or sweet cookie into my chubby hand. Is it any wonder I became a chef?

During my training and early years in restaurants, the last thing I wanted to do was cook mum’s food, and I spent many years working in Europe and Asia honing my skills and expanding my repertoire. But I found that as time went by I was thinking more and more about those favourite dishes from my childhood: of stuffed eggplants and home-made tabbouleh, of creamy yoghurt cheese and smoky baba ghanoush, and my all-time favourite, kibbeh nayeh, a sort of lamb tartare, mixed with cracked wheat and spices.

I returned to Melbourne in the early 1990s, a time when Middle Eastern food was limited to the odd traditional Lebanese banquet-style restaurant or greasy kebabs and watery tabbouleh from grubby Lebanese takeaway shops. I was still relatively young and energetic and I had a crazy dream of recreating the flavours of my childhood in my own style of Middle Eastern restaurant: not traditional Lebanese dishes, but rather food which captures the essence of the Middle East and expresses it in the best western tradition.

How Greg knew he wanted to be a Chef – It was through sheer appetite and love of the family’s generosity and nurturing that drove me to my life’s work. I have a vague memory of mixing bathroom products whilst bathing as a kid. I guess that was my first interpretation of hummus.

How Greg gets inspired – Childhood memories of my Lebanese upbringing and travels through the Middle East are a major creative sources of inspiration. Lebanese cooking is essentially home cooking, so it doesn’t really require much in the way of tricky techniques. Dishes are handed down through generations and like every home cook it’s important to learn patience, too, as some of the very best Middle Eastern dishes take time (slow-cooked braises and tagines) and care (stuffed vegetables or pastries) to prepare.

His favorite ingredient – Too many to choose from, but yoghurt stands out as a favorite not only to cook with but to consume!

What makes a dish special to him – I have tried to forge a unique style of cooking that captures the essence of the Middle East and that is presented with a signature contemporary flair. Ingredients such as sumac, pomegranate molasses, preserved lemons, orange blossom water, haloumi and kataifi pastry, and spice blends such as ras al hanout and za’atar are the currency of their menus (and are sprinkled through more mainstream restaurant, bistro and café menus across the cities of Australia and, increasingly, the world). The dishes they appear in are exotic and Middle Eastern but vibrant, modern and Australian at the same time. For example, I might serve Egyptian eggs with bastourma and fennel salad; warm smoked ox tongue salad with fava beans, feta and coriander à la Greque; golden ras al hanout lentil and pumpkin soup with grilled scampi; and his own Rose of Damascus — layers of honeyed crisp filo with Turkish delight ice cream and toffeed strawberries.

About his favorite city – I love Melbourne. It’s where I grew up. Restaurants, cafes, bars and eateries are very much hidden so it’s really a haven for locals. Elegant, sophisticated and non-elitist can best describe the food scene.

I’m also in love with Beirut. I’ve been back many times and just feel the city has so many more things that are waiting to be discovered. I love to explore, to get lost in its narrow streets, and to assure myself that I am on the right path with Lebanese food culture.

His favorite book – Favourite cookbook: Claudia Roden inspired so many generations as her knowledge of Middle Eastern cooking is legendary she’s a true historian. She is Egyptian but spent much of her student life in Paris. She has written many wonderful books – some about recipes from her mother’s kitchen, and others tracing the history of dishes across time and geographies. A Book of Middle Eastern Food, published in the late 1960s is a classic, and since then I have read many of her other books and really come to admire her and her authentic and grounded approach to food. She inspires me – her traditional recipes evoke wonderful childhood memories for me.

 Secret hobbies aside from cooking – Music – classical, alternative & jazz. Design – crockery, fabric, prints & jewelry

About what he does during his free time – There’s not a lot of free time as I’m still very active in the kitchen. As it happens, I work many days straight and tend to head to the airport for a 3-4 day trip to a neighboring country.

About comfort food and guilty pleasures –  Any type of kibbeh, even if it’s leftovers from a previous meal. Guilty pleasure moves into the more elaborate as I have cholesterol issues cheese, especially white mould triple cream, terrines and pâté’s.

His favorite Lebanese dish – Warab Enab – meat and rice stuffed vine leaves cooked on top of lamb neck chops with mint, lemon and garlic. And always with natural yoghurt.

His favorite town/city/village in Lebanon – Hamra for its street food, Ashrafiyeh for its classiness, Gemmeyze for its night life, clubs, bars and Restaurants and of course Mount Lebanon, the Bekaa valley, Zahle and Baalbek.

If you had to choose between Beirut, the Lebanese coast or the mountains, which one would you choose? – I’m a city boy and need the energy and vitality of Beirut.

 A perfect day – A wedding day or the birth of a child.

Here are some pictures of the Mymouné lunch.

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Thank you so much Chef! 🙂

You can click here for more information about Clé Dubai and here for Greg Malouf’s website, to be published soon.

Click HERE to follow our foodie and travel journey on INSTAGRAM @breadonbutter_

and HERE to get your daily Breadonbutter news on FACEBOOK

Don’t forget to tag us if you try our recipes and tips: #breadonbutter

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