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!!!

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!

FRIENDSHIP & APPLES

One of the things i value most in my life (beside my family) is friendship. I adore having adorable and caring people around me. They make me laugh, they are good listeners, they are good to be with no matter mood or weather, they teach me things, they make me feel good about myself, they inspire me.

One of my oldest friend is Mette. I met her on the first day of university in Copenhagen, back in 1989 (yep, that long ago, but who is counting?!). I remember sitting beside her, on a table because they were no more chairs left. We both chose to study business administration, and to this day, i don’t really understand how we got there, because we are NOT business minded girls and will probably never be! Regardless, 22 years later, thanks to SMS, Emailing, Skype and facebook, 3800km separating us are not felt as a distance and our friendship has only blossomed and strengthened.

A month ago, she invited me over for dinner in her apartment in central Copenhagen, and asked me to pick as many apples as I could from her little cottage (that she gracefully lent us during our stay) and bring them over! We were going to make “apple chutney with chili”.

apples from the garden
old friends...
chutney in the making

We sat for hours, peeling the apples, cutting them, mixing on low fire the ingredients, chatting, preparing dinner, ate dinner and finally the chutney was ready to be put in jars. Because details are important, Mette printed labels-stickers for the jars! How lovely is that!

final product, ready to be eaten or given as gifts

Here is the recipe, I recommend it, since it is apple season, and even if apple pies are a treat, so is this chutney. It regrigirates very well and lasts for months if the lid is not opened. Apple chutney has a sweet and sour taste mixed with some chili. Delicious eaten with lamb meat or any other meat will do too!

Apple Chutney (for 1 kg apples)

1 kg, apples cut into dices

Chili (quantity depending on your likes, we used 2 small cut into thin rings)
300 g dried raisins
2-3 chopped onion
zest and juice of one lemon
20 g salt
5 slices of fresh ginger
200-300 g sugar
½ l apple vinegar
3-5 garlic cloves, pressed

Cook all ingredients except the chili until you reach a thick consistency (might take an hour or so).

Add the chili and taste. Cook few more minutes.

For best preservation; blanch in boiling water glass jars and their lid; remove the jars from the water, pour the chutney immediately into the jar, close very well. Keep in the fridge at least one week before using.

I realize that cooking marmalade, chutneys and other preserves is part of an old era. People seldom do those things today. We are all searching for quick fixes, for quick ways to cook, and yes, it is easier to buy at the grocery stores. But i wouldn’t trade for a million those hours spent chatting with a friend while the chutney was cooking slowly in the back ground…

Thank you Mette for all the good moments spent together this summer…:)

a to z / blog index

The world of blogs is indeed a world of its own. Everyday I stumble across few jewels, and sharing them with you is probably a good thing, no?

Today you will be able to visit blogs starting with A (a more creative way of indexing the blogs i like), some are in french, others in english, danish or even arabic (bear with me, it is worth it!).

A photo randomly picked from each blog with give you a taste of it. Hopefully this will be of inspiration for you!

A

artwork by Pete Goldlust, {Ajoure}

Ajoure is a blog about hand work, creative art, showing everything made by clever hands…the inspiration is endless…

um-kalthoum, by sehnaoui {art of the mideast}

Art of mideast is a great blog about artists in the Middle East. Such a collection is rare to find, and it is a delight to see the renaissance of “arabic” art…

3 dips by {anissa helou}

Anissa Helou is a food writer and cookery teacher, born in Beirut but living in London. She shares her passion for food with great recipes, stories and lovely photographs of food.

3 cooking sites…

 

I love food, who doesn’t?

lovely food...

 

Especially anything with CHOCOLATE!!!! or cakes, or pies…comfort food with a big C!

So, for the last years, I have been browsing the net for recipes, and wow, there are millions of them; recipes by known chefs, recipes by people like you and me, recipes gathered and creating stunning repertoires, recipes in french, danish, english…

And yes, i have tried many of them, tasted them, invited my friends to taste them; here are just a few of the sites that I use for the time being:

Cafe Fernando by Cenk, a food blogger from Istanbul, who loves food, cooks a lot, and shares the best with us, check him out.

The food network, a TV channel dedicated to food and famous chefs, many of my favourite like Nigela Lawson, Giada de Laurentiis, Barefoot contessa share their recipes on that site! Delicious!

Williams Sonoma has become an american food industry by itself: Started in 1956 selling french cookware in the US, became quickly famous and now sells cookbooks, cookware, decor, glassware, gives advice in monthly dinner plans, cooking tips and offers wonderful recipes (my favourite part!)…

Enjoy and more to come…