Lurpak Baking Studio: Tips & Tricks For Perfect Sweets!

I was invited to attend the “Lurpak baking studio” last Thursday, so I went with a colleague of mine to discover some new recipes and baking tricks. The cooking class was held in Soufra Daiemeh offices, and it was led by Paul Frangie, a Dubai-based celebrity chef who was born to a Lebanese father and Dutch mother.

Chef Paul kneading the dough

Chef Paul kneading the dough

During the class, we were introduced to the new Cook’s Range products, and we used them in the recipes that we prepared. But I still don’t understand why Lurpak is only launching 3 out of 5 products in Lebanon.  Both clarified butter and baking butter will be interesting for any foodie here!

Anyway, we prepared 4 desserts on that day: shortbread cookies with dried apricots and white chocolate, chocolate cupcakes, baklava and banana pancakes.

The recipes should be shared with us soon, so I’ll share them with you as well, but let’s talk about the techniques and tips that we learned during the class for now!

With Chef Paul Frangie who happens to be a model as well :)

With Chef Paul Frangie who happens to be a model as well 🙂

Shortbread cookies

First of all, we prepared the shortbread cookies. I loved the idea of adding dried apricots and white chocolate, but I’d get white chocolate chips to avoid the hassle of chopping the white chocolate.

Shortbread cookies roll picture

Shortbread cookies rolls, ready to chill

Preparing the dough was not an easy job, because you need to incorporate the cold butter to the dry ingredients in order to have sand consistency. This should be done with the tips of the fingers, to avoid warming the butter with the hand palms, and, believe me, you won’t get the right consistency before your fingers hurt. It happened to all of us!

Shortbread cookies picture

The dried apricots add a twist to a classic recipe

Once the dough is ready, it should be rolled in cling film without touching it, again, to be chilled in the fridge and cut afterwards. Making perfect round cookies was not an easy task at all, and the final results that we all got were not very satisfying… I think it take a lot of practice to get to the perfect shortbread cookies.

Chocolate cupcakes

Our second recipe was chocolate cupcakes, frosted with chocolate buttercream. Preparing cupcakes is not an unusual task for me, but I could still learn some new stuff.

Chocolate cupcakes in molds picture

Cupcakes are ready… let the fun begin 😉

First of all, the Chef used some silicone trays: no need for paper cups, and no need for greasing. Once out of the oven, the cupcakes were safely removed from the mold. I use individual silicone molds, but since they are ribbed, I can’t skip the paper cups. As for the metallic trays, they always need greasing.

chocolate cupcakes on rack picture

Oh! They need to cool before we frost them!

When is a cupcake ready? To make sure your cupcakes are ready, press their top with your finger. If they bounce back, then you can remove them from your oven. As simple as that!

How do you prepare your chocolate buttercream? If, like me, you use chocolate, butter and sugar, you should consider adding some cream. The result is way better!

Chocolate cupcakes picture

When you have no tips to pipe, you do the spiky cupcakes 🙂

Once you fill your piping bag, you need to make sure there are no air bubbles, so you should give the bag a good squeeze over the frosting bowl to remove any unwanted bubble.

Baklava fingers

That was the most interesting recipe, even though it was the easiest.

I’ve done baklava in a tray before, but I never tried finger baklavas, which was the recipe we did all together.

I remember preparing baklava would take forever since you have to melt butter and brush every pastry sheet (and you usually use a minimum of 10 sheets). But this time, we were saved by the new Lurpak mist!

Baklava fingers picture

Baklavas finger, right out of the oven

Preparing the sweets was very easy: you take one phyllo (or filo) sheet, spray it with the butter, cut it into four, stuff it and roll it. Yeah, that simple!

Careful, the baklava sheets are very fragile! They should be thawed before using them, and then they should be manipulated with caution. If a sheet breaks, get rid of it. Unused sheets should be covered all the time with a damp cloth.

Once ready, spray your baklava fingers with more butter and bake until golden and crispy, then soak in syrup while they’re still hot. Voila, they’re ready!

Banana pancakes

Once done with the baklava, we started whipping the pancake batter prepared with mashed ripe bananas. Once we got the right batter consistency, we cooked our pancakes then stuffed them with Kashta, honey, bananas and strawberries. I think that was too much banana for me. For next time, I wouldn’t use them for the stuffing. But Kashta was an excellent stuffing idea!

Kashta Pancake picture

It’s all about how you decorate your dishes!

It was a very fun morning, I enjoyed all the cooking and new tips, and I left with more of the new range products that I’ll be using soon, for a full review of each product!

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Green Garlic Scrambled Eggs Recipe

image

When I was in the village’s market last weekend, I found some green garlic. I thought it would be interesting to get some and experiment with a new ingredient this week.

Green garlic, also called spring garlic, is garlic harvested before cloves have begun to mature. It looks like spring onions, and you can find it in the market starting March.

It is used as a substitute to regular garlic in all the stews, and can be eaten raw in salads as well. The immature bulbs and the green stalks are both edible.

I’ve only tried spring garlic with scrambled eggs previously, and it was really delicious, so it was natural that I prepare it for dinner on the first night back in Beirut.

Green Garlic Scrambled Eggs Recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • Butter Spray (or regular butter)
  • 3 spring garlic
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Method:

Chop the green garlic. Heat a pan and spray it with butter. Fry in the garlic for 3-4 minutes. Crack the eggs directly into the pan and gently break them using a wooden spoon. Season them with salt and pepper. Cook them to your preference.

Picking My Fruits And Vegetables

When you grow up in a village, it’s very hard for you to get used to the tasteless fruits and vegetables that you find in the supermarkets in Beirut.

My father and his family have worked in the agriculture field for years, and dad is still very picky when it comes to choosing the fruits & vegetables that he buys.

Souvenirs Souvenirs

My grandparents, both from my mother and father’s side – used to grow a lot of fruits & veggies in their own gardens, so, during all our childhood, we always had the best fresh products!

In addition, people in my region are known for their generosity, so you would rarely leave someone’s house without tons of fresh gifts, just picked form the garden! Today, you can still see that, but much less unfortunately, because people stopped working in agriculture for more profitable jobs.

Vegetables basket picture

Fresh & Colorful

For example, I rarely visit my mother’s uncle without leaving with a whole pack of 30 fresh eggs (that’s his main business), cherries when it’s the season, delicious jams prepared by his wife, keshek, kaak for Easter…

I remember my (maternal) grandma had a huge green plums tree, and we grew up climbing that tree to get the best fruits that were always above our reach as children.

She always grew artichokes, and I still remember how delicious they were! All the relatives coming from Beirut would ask her to prepare some when they used to visit her.

She also had strawberries – strawberries that are organically grown have a complete different taste than the commercial ones. We used to help her pick mint, eggplants, marrows, lettuces, parsley, spring onions… from the garden and despite she had a big one, she also used any empty milk container to plant flowers.

She had a grapes’ arbor outside the house so we always had the best grapes and vine leaves. She was an exceptional woman.

From my paternal grandparents’ side, where memories are way less, I only recall the persimmon tree from which I had the best “kakis” ever (that’s how we call them in my village), and two different cherry trees that were stolen every year before we could enjoy them.

Today, I still ask my father to get me vegetables with him from the village. He shops from the most expensive market there, but everything there is exceptional. Friends sometimes make fun of me when I tell them that even bananas, avocados, oranges and lemons are better there, since they are coastal fruits and should be better therefore in Beirut. But they truly are. Anything I buy from here is spoilt or rotten after 3 to 4 days (except for cabbage and endives, to be fair), while a bunch of mint from the village could last for more than a week!

When buying oranges form here, they become all rotten after 3 days! This is not acceptable! Oranges that I buy from the village last up to 2 weeks! And this applies to everything else, sadly.

Pick of the week

I was in the village yesterday, so I went shopping myself: eggplants, carrots, potatoes, onions, lemons, watercress, rocket leaves, beetroots…

One out of the many things that any foodie can enjoy while shopping in the village is certainly the wide choice of non- commercial herbs that you can occasionally find, depending on the season, and your luck of course.

Yesterday, I found two treasures: green garlic – it’s the season for that, and a new herb that I’ve never heard of, called “fedriyye”. I tried to find it online to be able to translate it, but it’s not mentioned anywhere.

I’ve tried green garlic previously with scrambled eggs and it’s really exceptional. As for the “fedriyye”, I was told it is used in frittatas, so I got some and I’ll be trying it soon! Stay tuned!

Strawberry Tart Recipe For Mother’s Day

Strawberry tart Picture

Delicious!

Happy Mother’s day!

I always say “every little occasion should be celebrated”. And it looks like the people behind Lurpak do believe that as well because, for Mother’s day this year, they launched their “FromLurpakWithLove” campaign, aiming to celebrate all women: mothers, grandmas, wives and daughters.

Receiving some cooking products for Mother’s day might be meaningless to a lot of people, but it can make any foodie smile especially if sent with a letter that says: “there’s no better way to celebrate special women in our lives than to whip up a feast in their honor”.

I couldn’t wait to start the baking. And even if I knew that I won’t be able to share any dessert that I will prepare with my stepmom who was diagnosed with diabetes lately, and who is currently struggling to lose some weight, I still wanted to celebrate all the good things left, so I baked a tart, I decorated it with strawberries, spring’s first fruit, and I enjoyed it with my sister over a good movie.

The tart was just delicious. If you’re expecting a very sweet dessert, this recipe is not for you.

For the crust, I used a recipe from Anahid’s famous cookbook and I replaced 1/4 cup of flour with the same quantity of crushed almonds. I also added 10 g butter because I felt it needed it. I used a 30 cm tin, but I should have used a smaller one. Anyway, the crust was excellent.

For the butter, I used the Lurpak blocks, part of the new Cook Range: separate blocks of 50g each, making it easier to measure and to soften for baking.

As for the pastry cream, I took a recipe from a French cookbook “Le grand cours de cuisine – L’atelier des Chefs”. This was very different from all the recipes I tried previously: no butter, less sugar, and it uses flour instead of corn flour. Do not taste it when still hot, you will hate it. Allow to cool, refrigerate and then try it. It’s delicious: very light – unlike all the recipes I did before, and, most importantly, you can’t feel the eggs! That was probably because of the vanilla pod that I used for the first time in such a recipe.

I got vanilla pods a year ago from the spices market in Dubai, and I hope I’ll be going there soon to have the chance to visit the market again and buy some saffron, vanilla pods, cardamom, cloves, curry and loumi (spices there are much stronger!).

For the strawberries, try to get some even-shaped strawberries. I made the mistake of not buying two punnets, so I ended with a tart that did not really satisfy me. If you’re in Lebanon, then you surely know what I mean: in the same punnet, you’ll have some extra large bloody red ones in the front, covering some small unripe half green strawberries in the back…

And if try it and you think the tart is not too sweet, all you need is to dust with some powder sugar… Yummy!

Strawberry tart image

A must-try

Strawberry Tart Recipe

Serves 8

Ingredients:

To prepare the dough:

  • 3/4 cup powder sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup ground almonds
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 135 g butter at room temperature

To prepare the pastry cream:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 50 g powder sugar
  • 30 g all-purpose flour

To decorate:

  • Strawberries

Method:

  1. To prepare the dough: combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and mix until all ingredients form into a ball. Remove the ball, knead it with your hands for 3-4 minutes, then cover in plastic film and refrigerate for an hour.
  2. To prepare the pastry cream: split the vanilla pod lengthwise into two halves. Heat the milk with the vanilla pod in a small saucepan until milk starts t boil. Meanwhile, cream egg yolks and sugar in a big bowl. Add flour and beat the mixture again, then add some of the boiling milk and beat vigorously until you get no more lumps. Add the remaining milk and mix until cream is homogeneous. Return cream to saucepan and boil for 2 minutes only. Cover tightly with plastic film (there should be no contact between sauce and air) and allow to cool completely before refrigerating for 1-2 hours.
  3. To bake the crust: preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Roll out the dough and fit into a tart pan (around 25 cm diameter). Cut off excess dough with a knife. Line the tart tin with a piece of buttered aluminum foil, butter side down, and fill it with dried beans or rice. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the beans and foil, prick the bottom of the dough all over with a fork, and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside to cool completely.
  4. To assemble: fill the tart shell with the pastry cream and decorate with strawberries according to your taste. You can dust with powder sugar for a more sweet dessert.

Maple glazed ham steak recipe

Ham steak picture

Homemade ham steak with side salad

Another new product I tried this week: ham steak from Jones Dairy Farm (imported). Once again, prices were reduced because they were near to their expiry date. I looked online for a recipe, et voilà, I found this maple glazed ham steak recipe, so I decided to try it!

I served it with a very simple salad, prepared with iceberg lettuce, mint leaves, strawberries and dried cherries, with a balsamic vinegar dressing.

I loved the result, and I am planning to do some again soon, while my sister didn’t really like the ham steak. In all cases, if you’re a fan of pork and specially ham, or if you’re willing to try something new, here’s the recipe!

Maple glazed ham steak recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 ham steaks
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp vinegar

Method:

Mix the maple syrup, Dijon mustard and vinegar in a small bowl.  Preheat a pan. Brush 1 side of the ham steaks with the mixture and drop in the pan, glazed side down. Brush top as well. Cook for 4-5 minutes, brushing it from time to time, until evenly browned from all sides.