30 things to do in the kitchen before I turn 30

I turn 30 next October, so I thought it would be fun if I challenge myself into 30 things to do before my birthday.

 

I’ll work on 2 separate lists, because I need a cooking to-do-list to make my regular non-cooking list even more challenging (this one will obviously have items such as losing weight, reducing my cholesterol & triglycerides levels, etc).

 

Today, I am sharing my food list.

 

Eggs Benedict Picture

Eggs Benedict just like these (Le Pain Quotidien – Dubai)

 

  1. Prepare a Hollandaise sauce

On top of some eggs Benedict, bacon (or salmon) and a muffin. Because why not?

 

  1. Prepare Puff pastry at home

The cheat one (keeping the challenge realistic!).

 

  1. Pickle something

Maybe some Lebanese cucumbers. Or almonds. I love pickled almonds. Have you ever tried them?

 

  1. Prepare Jam

Strawberries for sure, once they are a bit cheaper.

 

  1. Prepare Chicken Madghout

Chicken Madghout is a Khaliji dish, very similar to Kabsa, but prepared in a pressure cooker.

 

  1. Prepare pancakes

Never made these at home (I prepared them at work though)… I always intend to prepare pancakes but change my mind at the last minute and opt for thinner crepes.

 

  1. Cook Boeuf Bourguignon

Following Julia Child’s recipe. Of course!

 

  1. Cook Pork Cassoulet

I already cooked Wild Duck Cassoulet once, but I so want to try the pork version, especially that I have a cast iron pot now.

 

  1. Cook Roast beef

It’s already in my freezer…

 

  1. Prepare a Thai curry

I fell in love with Thai cuisine during my last trips to Dubai, so I brought back with me all the spices I need to cook some delicious curries from scratch at home.

 

  1. Cook a Gigot D’Agneau Pleureur

Seriously. How beautiful is this recipe?

 

  1. Prepare a Blood orange cake

I should be doing this very soon, now that it’s the season.

 

  1. Try Oysters

I never did. I confess I always told everyone that I am not a big fan, to avoid trying them.

 

  1. Use Lavender in a recipe

Maybe in a milk pudding? Any other suggestions?

 

  1. Prepare 20 recipes using Moulinex Companion

I got it as a wedding gift and I used it today for the first time to prepare a Poulet Basquaise. Very practical for busy moms. And guess what? It’s dishwasher safe! I’ll be telling you all about it in upcoming posts.

 

  1. Prepare Kibbeh b Laban from scratch

I have to use all the kibbeh (that I did not prepare) that’s in my freezer first…

 

  1. Try a wine & chocolate cake recipe

I love wine and I love chocolate, so let’s combine them in one cake and see what we get!

 

  1. Cook One pot pasta

I really need to know how these taste. And why would anyone do this to pasta…

 

  1. Prepare a Lemon Meringue tart

For my pride.
 

  1. Prepare a Kodrat Kader cake

And succeed in taking it out of the mold. For more pride.

 

  1. Host a pizza night at home

One night. A vegetarian. A pepperoni. A four cheese. A Margherita. A Quattro Staggione. Heaven!

 

  1. Try rabbit

I’ve heard it’s pretty good…

 

  1. Reduce food waste

I’ve been throwing a lot of food lately. I think I can reduce it a lot by planning my meals more carefully, and more importantly, by buying less.

 

  1. Cook a Stuffed Turkey Breast

Stuffed the American way. Or even “à l’Orientale”.

 

  1. Bake a Brioche

With chocolate chips inside…

 

  1. Try Zucchini Flowers

Never knew these were edible until very recently!

 

  1. Bake cinnamon rolls

With extra cinnamon. And drizzle them with cream cheese frosting of course!

 

  1. Go for a new #30Days30Salads Challenge

Because I should get back to clean eating… and because we’re not eating much vegetables. I think spring is the best season for such a challenge.

 

  1. Watch all the food movies I downloaded

The list includes Babette’s Feast, La Grande Bouffe, The Lunchbox…

 

  1. Cook & Eat healthier

This might not mean a lot after all the above, but seriously, I should try. Reduce the amounts of oil and cream. Avoid butter and Ghee (and that clarified butter that’s in my fridge!). Maybe cook healthy for the whole week and have a cheat day. Avoid ready-made sauces. And fast food of course!

 
So, anything you think I should add to my list?

Chocolate Mendiants Recipe

Chocoate mendiants picture

Why not prepare your Christmas chocolates this year?

Today was my first successful attempt to prepare chocolate mendiants, a delicious French Christmas dessert.

I tried it once before, using a spoon, and my mendiants were hideous. Today, I used a piping bag, and I think that they’re way better. Not perfect, of course, since I am just a passionate beginner, while working with chocolate requires some techniques and material that I don’t have.

The traditional mendiants use raisins, hazelnuts, dried figs and almonds. But recipes nowadays vary, and all nuts and dried fruits are allowed. You can choose the ones you love most!

Christmas mendiants picture

Yumm

You can also replace dark chocolate with milk chocolate or white chocolate, or do a mix of the 3 and you’ll have a beautifully decorated tray!

I used some Callebault chocolate buttons for the first time, and it was perfect. The buttons melt in no time, and you get a very smooth result. And the taste is excellent, of course. I will be using them again.

Now, let’s check the recipe!

Chocolate mendiant picture

Decorated and ready!

Chocolate Mendiants Recipe

Yields 36 mendiants

Ingredients

  • 300 g dark baking chocolate, chopped (or better, chocolate buttons)
  • Pistachios
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Raisins
  • Dried cranberries
  • Dried cherries

 

Method

  1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Melt 200 g chocolate chips in a bain-marie (a double boiler). Once melted, add the remaining chocolate, wait for 2 minutes then stir until all chocolate has melted. Fill in a piping bag.
  3. Pipe 6 small 4cm diameter circles onto the parchment paper.
  4. Decorate each circle with the dried fruit and nuts by gently laying them on top of the chocolate.
  5. Repeat process of creating more decorated chocolate circles. Reheat the chocolate if needed.
  6. Allow all the mendiants to set for about 30 minutes before removing from the parchment paper. Store in an airtight container.

Top 10 Salads to Prepare this Christmas Eve!

Did you start planning your Christmas Eve Menu? If you’re still confused about which salad you should be preparing to your guests, here’s a list of the best salads that I made this year, and that I think you can go for! Note: they are perfect for buffets as well, and most of them can be served in individual verrines or jars for some additional mood.For the recipes, just click on the titles.

So, what are you waiting for?

  1. Crab and mango salad
Crab and mango salad picture

The perfect combination of flavors

This salad remains one of my favorites! A bit time consuming though, so I recommend you prepare the crab on the night before and leave it in the fridge in a container. I love the combination of mango and crab, but what makes this salad so special is definitely the sesame oil and mayonnaise dressing!

2. Smoked tuna salad

Smoked Tuna salad picture

A must-try for all sushi lovers!

A 5-ingredient salad (including the dressing!)… You gotta love it! Sushi lovers will be more than happy with it, and for those who are not familiar with smoked tuna, well, why not try it?

3. Pear blue cheese salad

Pears and blue cheese salad Recipe picture

One of my favorite salads!

A refined salad for blue cheese lovers! Your guests will surely appreciate the mixture of flavors: honey, blue cheese, pears and walnuts. You won’t regret trying it! Just make sure whomever will be present is a fan of blue cheese though…

4. Asparagus salmon salad

Asparagus Salmon Salad Picture

Perfect for Christmas 🙂

A delicious salad for smoked salmon lovers! You will certainly love the combination of flavors: salmon, goat cheese, asparagus, avocado and pomelo! A must-try!

5. Russian salad

Russian salad picture | picture of olivier salad

A delicious mixture 🙂

This is surely not the Lebanese way of serving Russian salad! They do add a lot of ingredients you didn’t know about, and that make this salad oh-so-special. Perfect for buffet parties!

6. Caprese salad

Caprese Salad Picture

Yumm!

Very easy to prepare, this salad is perfect if you’re short on time! The dressing will be ready in a minute. All you need to do is to wash your tomatoes and basil! And did you notice its colors? No other salad would fit Christmas better, no?

7. Panache salad

Picture of Panahe Salad

For the most conservative

Meet Lebanese’s favorite salad for Christmas (and all occasions). I do admit that it’s good, and if you’re scared your guests might be too conservative, you might want to prepare it as a safe choice. You can always prepare a funkier salad along with this one for the most daring 😉

8. Ensalada de Gallina

Venezuelan Chicken Salad Recipe Picture – Ensalada de Gallina

Try it!

This salad is usually prepared for Christmas in Venezuela, and I personally think you could give it a try! It’s perfect comfort food, and has a high potential for becoming one of the kids’ favorite dishes!

9. Prosciutto and Nectarine Salad Recipe

Prosciutto and nectarine salad picture

Delicious!

A salad just like the ones I love! Cold meat, fruit and cheese. Could I ask for more? The walnuts add a nice touch and the whole combination is a success. I could have this salad every day…

10. Fig goat cheese salad

Fig and goat cheese salad recipe

A beautiful creation!

This salad is just perfect for any occasion! Replace the figs with dried ones if it’s hard to find fresh figs in this season, and get ready for the compliments 😉

Hazelnut Praline Buche de Noel Recipe

Hazelnut praline Buche de Noel Picture

Ho Ho Ho!

Christmas started early this year. On Sunday, my sister wanted to prepare a dessert, so I suggested she makes a buche de Noel. After some research, she decided to go for a recipe from a cookbook we have “Cette année, je fais la bûche” (Larousse) for the cake.

As for the buttercream, she chose Magnolia’s vanilla buttercream. But we needed hazelnut praline powder that we did not have. So I told her, why not do it yourself? It’s very easy but you need to be careful and avoid sugar burns.

If you don’t have any praline, you can use this recipe: lightly toast a cup of hazelnuts then skin them. Put sugar in a saucepan with 2 tbsp of water. Cook on medium heat until mixture boils, then reduce heat and leave for 4 minutes. Add the toasted hazelnuts, stir to coat well and leave for one additional minute.  Spread on a baking sheet and leave to cool. Once cool, process then until powdered.

The buche was amazing, but adding the salt is a must! I only helped with rolling it. I really recommend that you try it for Christmas this year, in case you’re looking for an alternative for the traditional chocolate Buche de Noel!

Buche praline cut picture

You can add some more buttercream if you want

Hazelnut Praline Buche de Noel Recipe

Serves 8

Ingredients:

To prepare the roll:

  • 3 eggs
  • 100 g powder sugar
  • 2 pinches instant yeast
  • 100 g flour
  • 40 g hazelnut praline powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp whiskey
  • 1 tsp fleur de sel sea salt

To prepare the buttercream:

  • 1/3 cup (75 g) unsalted butter
  • 2 – 2.5 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 5 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp fleur de sel sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 40 g praline powder

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C. In a bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar, whiskey, salt and vanilla using an electrical mixer for 5 minutes, until mixture doubles in volume.
  2. Add the yeast and the flour, sifted, and the praline powder. Mix by gently lifting the batter using a spatula.
  3. Spread the batter using a metallic spatula on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper until 5 mm thick.
  4. Bake in the center of the oven for 12-15 minutes.
  5. Take the cake out of the oven and flip it on a wet kitchen towel. Delicately remove the parchment paper then roll the cake with the wet towel. Leave to cool.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the buttercream: Place the butter in a mixing bowl. Add half of the sugar and then the milk, salt and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until creamy, around 3 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar until you get the desired consistency.
  7. Add the praline powder and mix.
  8. Open the rolled cake. Spread 2/3 of the cream inside and roll again. Decorate with the remaining cream. Sprinkle with some more praline powder. Refrigerate before serving.

Whole Stuffed Chicken Recipe

Roasted Stuffed whole chicken Picture

The juicier chicken ever!

I have finally prepared a whole stuffed chicken!

I’ve been wanting to roast a whole chicken for a while now; I’ve already experimented with turkey last year (check the American style roast turkey recipe), and I loved it, but it took me almost 1 year to do it again with chicken!

The recipe is amazing. I never had juicier and tenderer chicken. The stuffing is delicious (very similar to the turkey), but the preparation is much easier, especially the garnish.

It took more time than expected to cook and brown. I had read that it should be ready in around an hour, but it needed more than 2. Not sure if it was because I prepared two simultaneously…

The sauce was delicious as well. And the vegetables… amazing! If you’re not a big fan of Turkey, or if you don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen until your dish is ready, this recipe can be a hit for your Christmas lunch or dinner! You can stuff the chicken in advance, and just cook it two hours before it’s time to eat!

I can’t wait to experiment with additional roast chicken recipes. Meanwhile, enjoy these #25DaysOfChristmas!

raw stuffed whole chicken picture

Ready to roast!

Whole Stuffed Chicken Recipe

Serves: 5-6

Ingredients:

  • 2 whole chickens, 1.3 Kg each
  • 2 whole lemons
  • 1 lemon cut into wedges
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Mixed spices
  • 25 g butter
  • Fresh sage

To prepare the stuffing:

  • 50 g mushrooms, cut into cubes
  • 50 g bacon (cubes)
  • 2 slices pain de mie, cut into small cubes
  • 100 ml cream
  • 2 tbsp dried cranberries
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • 50 g paté, crumbled with a fork
  • 1 granny smith apple cut into small cubes
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Mixed spices

To prepare the garnish:

  • 3 large carrots cut into 4, boiled
  • 12 mushrooms
  • 8 small potatoes cut in half
  • 50 g butter
  • 4 onions cut in 4
  • Fresh sage leaves
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

To prepare the sauce:

  • 2 tbsp flour
  • White wine

 

Method:
1- To prepare the stuffing: soak the bread in the cream in a big bowl. Leave aside. In a hot skillet, fry the bacon for a couple of minutes, then add the mushrooms and cook for another 2 more minutes. Remove from heat. Cut the apple into small cubes. Add the cranberries to the soaked pain de mie with the apples, the mushrooms and bacon, the sage, the crumbled paté and the parsley. Season with salt, black pepper and mixed spices. Leave aside.

2- Prepare your chickens for stuffing: rub with lemon wedges, vinegar, salt, black pepper and mixed spices from the inside and the outside without washing them.
Tuck the stuffing inside the cavity of your chickens. Using a kitchen needle and string, sew up the cavity with a few stitches and seal the cavity with a whole lemon.

3- To prepare the garnish: melt some butter and cook the whole mushrooms for 2 minutes, then remove from heat and cook the potatoes until red. Put the potatoes, mushrooms, carrots, onions and sage leaves in a roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper. Add the remaining butter to the pan. Place the chickens on top, breast side up. Cover with parchment paper. Cook at 200 C for 1 hour, then remove parchment paper, brush the chicken with butter and cook for another 30 minutes, until skin is crisp. Flip chickens once, and leave for an additional 30 minutes, until all golden.  Remove from oven and move chickens and veggies to serving dish.

4- In a small saucepan, add 2 tbsp of the remaining sauce from the roasting pan along with 2 tbsp of flour. Cook for 2 minutes then pour some white wine and mix. Gradually add more of the cooking juices and mix until you get a thick sauce. If you don’t have enough juices, you can add some chicken stock.

5- Serve your stuffed chicken with the sauce and enjoy!