Culinary moment in Madrid

Four days in Madrid is not enough to get all the flavours of this addictive city. However it is certainly enough to give you a taste to come back for more. One restaurant is worth mentioning; El Imparcial Madrid. Created few years ago in the previous location of the newspaper El Imparcial Madrid (keeping the name was a genius decision), the restaurant is barely noticeable from the streets as the front shop is actually a concept store,  mixing cultural events with books, posters, gift items and so on. We would never have experienced it should our landlord not have recommended it.

Entering the place takes you through displays of funky books and artifacts. The stuff that looks good in a shop but looses parts of its charm once you take them home (am amazed at how attractive and cleverly displayed these places are).

To access the restaurant you take the beautiful stairs up to the first floor, greeted by eclectic decor on walls and hanging artifacts.

The restaurant is divided into one main large very lit room and several antichambres for more cosy environment. All furniture seemed to be taken from another era. Retro style. Mirrors. Gold bordered tables. Plush chairs. Round marble tables. Windows offering cosy view of the street and loads of light into the space.

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The welcoming and gorgeous setting makes it difficult to dislike the rest of the experience. The food menu is charming, with traditional spanish items such as Patatas Bravas, and Ceviche, but with a little twist transforming it into a delightful and urban feel. Nevertheless not an extraordinary culinary experience. The price bracket is correct, dishes ranging between 6-18 €. I would recommend to stick to the many starters and Hits dishes as they offer a myriad of flavours (in comparison to the extensive pizza list that were normal and a bit flavourless.). Our selection of dessert fell on a delicious crème brûlée with red fruits (2 tiny blackberries !).

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Ceviche de corvina con guacamango

A definite must when you visit Madrid, especially if you fancy places with a modern but retro twist and excellent wine.

Spain. Madrid. New building of the newspaper El Imparcial (The Impartial). Engraving. Colored.
Madrid. New building of the newspaper El Imparcial (The Impartial). Engraving. Colored.; Private Collection; (add.info.: Private Collection); Source: Bridgeman Images.

Back when it all started in 1908.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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{bake} easy yummy date cake

Baking makes me think of other things…

Let me explain…

Living these days in Lebanon is worrisome. We are in the middle of an unknown era where each hour can change the lives of too many. Having experienced war since my 5th birthday (born and brought up in Beirut), waiting for the next car bomb to explode brings fearsome and very annoying memories to the surface. Mind you, i am lucky in so many ways but today my life is about raising two beautiful children and making the best decisions to ensure that they at least grow up with some sense of security and carefree moments.

So I turn to baking. Because baking is about smells, textures, the anticipation of flavours melting in your mouth, the mixing of ingredients who by magic turn into rewarding comfort food.

So here is what i baked this morning:

ready to be tasted
ready to be tasted
served with white tea! a treat...
served with white tea! a treat…

DATE CAKE

ingredients:

185 g dates (without stones) and cut into smaller pieces.

1 tsp baking soda

2,5 dl boiling water

90 g softened butter

115 g brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence (or powder, works fine)

2 eggs

185 g flour

1,5 tsp baking powder.

how to:

The making is quite easy and forward.

In a bowl add the dates, the boiling water and the baking soda. Let it rest for 15 minutes while you make the rest of the cake. This will soften the dates and makes it easier to mix with the dry ingredients.

In another bowl, mix  with a mixer (or by hand with a wooden spoon, that will make you burn extra calories!) the softened butter with sugar and vanilla. It should become a light brown homogenous dough. Add one egg at a time, and mix well. Then sift half of the flour and add it to the dough, by mixing with a wooden spoon (here i suggest avoiding the electrical mixer, as it will remove the fluffiness of the dough). Add half of the date mixture. mix again. then add the rest of the flour, the baking powder and the date mix.

Give it one last blend by hand(spoon) and pour into a greased cake pan, any form will do. I am using the round one with the whole in the middle. the result is beautiful.

Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 35-40 minutes, in the middle of a pre-heated oven.

When baked let it rest for 10 minutes before you remove it from its form.

Sift white powered sugar sprinkle over the cake!

done!

Bon appetit!!!

{cookies} by Leelou

lemon cookies

choco cookies

The idea was to make quick chocolate cookies from one of my recipe books; the choice fell on “how to be a domestic Goddess” by Nigella Lawson the great cake maker. I found a recipe that involved less than 5 ingredients, took 30 minutes to make including the baking, and less than 10 minutes to eat!

I then figured that such a recipe could be amended a bit, which is where my Leelou creative instinct gets a kick! what if I substituted the cocoa with a totally different flavor? I couldn’t go that wrong, especially that the base was proven to be good.

So here is the original recipe from Nigella Lawson, and next my adaptation;

You need:

2 cups self rising flour (if you have normal flour, then add 1 tsp Baking powder)

2 Tablespoon Cocoa powder

1 cup + 2 tbsp soft butter

7  tbsp sugar

a pinch of salt (I added this to give it an extra punch!)

  • Heat the oven at 200 degrees Celsius.
  • Mix flour, cocoa & salt together and set aside.
  • Cream the butter and sugar (either with a mixer, or the old fashion way; by cutting the butter in tiny bits in the sugar, then working it with a wooden spoon until it gets creamy ) add the flour mix to it and work the dough into a ball.  Make small balls out of the dough (walnut size) and place on a baking sheet. Then with the back of a fork press down the balls a bit; it will give them a flatter look and stripy design once baked.
  • Bake for 10-15  minutes. Cocoa cookies become very dark, and it can sometimes be difficult to see if they are done;that is why  I always take one out of the oven, let it rest for a minute on a cold surface and taste the consistency before removing the rest of the cookies. Place the cookies on a cold surface to cool down before indulging them!
  • Keep in an air tight container (preferably metal box; it keeps them crunchy).

Lemon and ginger version:

  • Substitute the cocoa powder with zest of a whole lemon and 2 cm grated fresh ginger.
  • If you do not find fresh ginger, use dry ginger instead; 1 tsp will do. Follow the recipe as above.

I am sure those of you who are venturous would like to try this recipe with other flavors; cinnamon spices, licorice, coffee are among interesting ones. The base of the recipe is so easy, even a child can make it. Try to be bold and let me know how it turns out!

Happy baking!

Make {Sunday Crêpes }

amazing crepes from Leelouz husband!

Leelouz World

crepe fromage-001

crepe 2-001

Sunday morning is the day we make crêpes (thin pancakes)! Usually my husband makes them, but this time it will be me as he is away on a business trip and won’t be back before tomorrow…:(

The recipe is quite simple and needs 5 minutes to prepare. However I remember my mother placing the batter in the fridge for half an hour, to rest she said, but I am not a patient person, and I frankly don’t think it makes any difference in the taste, only in its consistency, it becomes a bit thicker while standing!

So for the ingredients: (for approximately 8 crêpes)

1 egg

1/2 cup brown flour (any kind would do, buckwheat flour…)

1/2 cup white flour (I like mixing these because it gives a nicer, thicker and healthier texture)

2 cups milk

2 tbsp melted butter

pinch of salt

pinch of sugar

Whisk all the ingredients…

View original post 188 more words

Leelouz cookbooks {a passion}

It is no secret that I collect cookbooks, more than fifty stacked in my library or shelves around the house and in all languages (mainly English, but French Danish and Arabic should account for some). The funny thing is that I love buying them, looking at them, browsing each one of them and dreaming of making all recipes during a month (project that never really saw the light!), but if you ask me how many recipes I have tried from those books I would say a mere 5%? meaning 2-3 recipes per book? that is even a bit exaggerated…

My last acquisition “The jewelled kitchen” by Lebanese Bethany Kehdy made me realize what a treasure i had lined up on my shelves and that it was about time to explore them one by one…Huge and impressive task you may say.. well, this blog should have a new direction or at least a fresh input so why not start with my passion?

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I will tell you how I am going to proceed with this journey, and will be sharing my views and feelings as I cook along those books. My inner secret is to be able one day to created my own cookbook (yes) and this journey is definitely going to provide me with a load of material on the how’s, do’s and don’ts… I must confess that my current work at Hachette Antoine publishing house is yet another step towards my secret dream…writing and publishing…the creation of a cookbook is not as it looks (i am experiencing this first hand with my colleagues); it is a very hard and long road where several people must be working in tandem and harmony to be able to give us readers an enticing and inspiring book. Every single entry in a cookbook should be well dosed, controlled, checked and tried! every picture has hours of work behind it (involving up to 5 persons if the cookbook’s budget permits it, more of this in my next post about my food blogger workshop with Bethany Kehdy and co.).

So what characterizes my collection of cookbooks? see for yourself:

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a bit of everything really… love Nigella (its is obvious, have 3 of her books), Ramsay Gordon (even if his character seems a bit amplified on TV), and The naked chef (you have to be as quick as Jamie O when trying out his recipes!)… William Sonoma was also a discovery, and the book most used on those shelves must be The soup Bible (a must have in every kitchen if you love soups…). This book has probably food stains on more than one page!

What about you? Do you also have a passion of cookbooks? if yes I would love to hear about it… my library is definitely not complete yet!

Here is a peak on what my next post will be about (today’s menu, inspired by “The Jewelled Kitchen”)…

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See you next week!

Eat @ Le Telegraphe de Belle-Vue (Bhamdoun area)

When my husband tells me to go to Bhamdoun for dinner, my first reaction is lethargy! Bhamdoun is a summer resort for Beirutis, escaping the draining and humid heat of  the city during the months of July and August. A retreat. But not a quiet retreat during these months, as the city of Beirut transplants itself in the cooler shades of the Mountains…That is why I am not very fond of those crowded places. Nevertheless I give my skeptic mind a rest and tell him “yalla” (a Lebanese version of OK in Arabic!), and Friday night we venture with some friends at the quest of “Le TELEGRAPHE de Belle-Vue“, a newly opened gourmet restaurant in the vicinity of the old city of Bhamdoun.

{photo from le telegraphe facebook page}
{photo from le telegraphe facebook page}

l telegraphe map

30 minutes away from Beirut, Le Telegraphe meets you with its charm, its quietness and a garden full of lovely colorful flowers.

The place is cosy, adorned by its two meter long rustic wood table mixing conviviality with elegance, and a lovely fire-place with a myriad of orange and red candles . The table is set for us, and we are the only privileged guests of the restaurant. As mentioned, the place is newly opened and the summer season has barely begun.

garlic detail from our dinner
garlic detail from our dinner
lovely wine, lovely atmosphere
lovely wine, lovely atmosphere

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The wine is exclusively created for the restaurant, from the neighboring winery “Chateau Belle-Vue”. Exquisite taste, matching perfectly the refined main dish (we chose lamb shanks and duck breast).

Le Telegraphe is a place to explore sooner than later, especially that an adjacent two floor building is finishing its construction, offering for the interested a delightful place to spend few days. A bed and breakfast is opening its doors in the very near future.

le telegraphe resto

To connect with the crowd of  “Le Telegraphe”, join their Facebook page or just hit the roads and try it out one lovely evening!

Make {Sunday Crêpes }

crepe fromage-001

crepe 2-001

Sunday morning is the day we make crêpes (thin pancakes)! Usually my husband makes them, but this time it will be me as he is away on a business trip and won’t be back before tomorrow…:(

The recipe is quite simple and needs 5 minutes to prepare. However I remember my mother placing the batter in the fridge for half an hour, to rest she said, but I am not a patient person, and I frankly don’t think it makes any difference in the taste, only in its consistency, it becomes a bit thicker while standing!

So for the ingredients: (for approximately 8 crêpes)

1 egg

1/2 cup brown flour (any kind would do, buckwheat flour…)

1/2 cup white flour (I like mixing these because it gives a nicer, thicker and healthier texture)

2 cups milk

2 tbsp melted butter

pinch of salt

pinch of sugar

Whisk all the ingredients in a bowl.  The batter should be liquid. Heat a frying pan very well, and pour 1/2 cup of the batter (or less if you want them thin) on the very hot pan (first one might stick to the pan, you can avoid this by adding a little bit of oil or butter to the pan). Cook 1-2 minutes, flip over the crêpe and cook for 1-2 more minutes. I like the crêpes to be golden and crispy.

For salty crêpes, serve with either cheese (i used goat cheese), ham, or even a slice of smoked salmon. For sweet crêpes, nutella is the favourite in our house, but I personally prefer a squash of lemon with a dash of sugar, or a teaspoon of marmalade…Be creative, try out your favourite flavors…If you have some crêpes left, wrap them in aluminum foil and keep them in the fridge.

Extra trick: something I learned from my husband; add 1 or 2 tbsp “zaatar” (Lebanese mixture of dried thyme and sesame seeds) to the batter, this will add a totally new flavor, the crêpes will be flavored, salty and crunchy.

Enjoy!