Not Just Any Lemon Cake!

I love lemon cakes and lemon tarts and although I’ve made lemon cupcakes before,  I haven’t made a cake that ends with a sweet lemon syrup being poured over it! The perfect balance between sweet and citric. I found this recipe in Elle magazine November issue, it was provided by Daniele Gerkens for whom I couldn’t find a website, blog or link. But here’s the recipe (I changed a little in the original recipe) for this SUPER JUICY lemon cake.

Ingredients:

- 15og butter, melted
– 175g sugar
– 4 eggs
– 250g flour
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 1/2 tsp baking soda
– Zest of 3 lemons

- Juice of 3 lemons
– 150g of icing sugar or caster sugar

Method:

Preheat the oven to 375F/180C.

1. In a bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar well. Add the butter. Whisk again.

2. Add the 3 dry ingredients gradually and mix the batter until it is silky smooth.

3. Add the zest of the lemons.

4. Pour the batter in your cake mold (I used a loaf pan) and pop in the oven for 45 minutes.

5. While the cake is baking, make the syrup by mixing the icing sugar with the lemon juice.

6. When the cake has properly baked, take it out of the oven, poke it with a skewer several times in several spots and while it is still hot pour the lemon syrup all over.

7. Let the cake cool before you take it out of the baking pan and serving.

Chai Masala

It was cold outside and we were gathered with a group of friends in our living room discussing  our favorite books and listening to music. I got up to prepare hot drinks for everyone and asked for specific requests. Some wanted hot chocolate, others wanted tea with cinnamon and a few chose mocha; however, R. was in a special drink mood and so he asked for chai masala. Chai masala, I thought, mmm… I’d like to try my hand at making that from scratch. And I did! With all modesty, here’s a very successful recipe for chai masala or spiced tea with milk.

CHAI MASALA (for 2):

- 2.5 cups water
– 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
– 2 cinnamon sticks
– 1 tsp crushed cardamoms or cardamom powder
– 5 cloves
– 3 whole black peppercorns

- 1 Tbsp black loose tea
– 2 Tbsp brown sugar (or 1 heaped Tbsp white sugar)
– 1/2 cup hot steamed milk (or to taste)

Method:

1. Pour the water in a small coffee pot or rakweh (check Taste of Beirut coffee post and see the rakweh she used to make coffee) and add the 5 spices. Bring to boil then lower the heat and simmer for ten to twelve minutes.

2. Now raise the heat, put the loose tea in and the sugar and stir. Count to ten and then turn off the heat.

3. Using a strainer, pour the tea into coffee cups and then add hot milk. Adjust the sugar to taste.

Very easy to make using fresh spices that you would probably find in your pantry right now! Get up and get warmed up with a cup of chai masala!

Super Moist Chocolate Cake with Banana and Hazelnut

My dear friend Maria is an avid baker and she enjoys a juicy homemade cake more than anything. I saw the recipe for chocolate muffins on her blog and decided to try it in a cake form. No kidding, a super moist cake with a hint of  banana and a great consistency.

Ingredients:

- 115g flour
– 4 Tbsp dark cocoa powder
– 1 tsp baking powder
–  1/2 tsp baking soda
– 1/4 tsp salt

- 2 eggs
– 1/2 cup caster sugar
– 100g of butter, melted
– 1 tsp vanilla

- 2 ripe bananas mashed

- 30g hazelnut powder (I ran a handful of hazelnuts in the food processor and took 30g of the result)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. In a bowl, mix the first five dry ingredients.

3. In another bowl, whisk the eggs and then add the sugar and whisk well. Add the butter, whisk some more.

4. Gradually, add the dry ingredients from the first bowl onto the egg mixture in the second bowl. With a spatula mix everything well.

5. The mixture will be dry, so add the mashed bananas and mix well. Then, add the hazelnut powder.

6. Pour the batter into a loaf pan or a cake tin and pop in the oven for 30 minutes. Test with a skewer before taking out.

ENJOY! Thanks Maria :)

 

 

 

 

Fish Biryani

It is almost winter and spicy dishes are always enjoyed more during cold seasons, so to welcome this beautiful time of year I made this fish biryani for lunch today. The rice came out very fluffy and spicy, you can almost taste every single spice that I used. Very aromatic.

FISH BIRYANI (for 2)

Ingredients:

- 2 white fish fillets, whatever is available in your country
– 1 Tbsp olive oil
– Black pepper, salt & coriander seeds

- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
– 2 Tbsp vegetable oil (I use Canola)
– 10 whole cloves
– 5 cardamom seeds
– 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
– 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
– 1 tsp garam masala
– 1 thin cinnamon stick
– 2 little dried chili
– 3 cups of hot water

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 400F.

2. Season the fish fillets with the olive oil, salt, black pepper and crushed coriander seeds (crush them under the knife).

3. Place the fillets in a pan and toss in the oven until they’re cooked. Turn over to the other side half way through.

4. In a pot over medium heat, pour the vegetable oil and start frying the onions. Add in all the spices. Stir well. The onions will now start smelling aromatic and will turn very dark in color. As the onions are frying, soak the rice in warm water.

5. When the onions turn translucent, drain the rice and wash it well under running water. Then, put the rice over the onions and stir well until all the rice becomes well coated with the spices and it turns yellow (because of the turmeric powder).

6. By this time your fish should be ready. Take our the fish fillets from the oven (discard any liquid they might have let out) and place them nicely over the rice in the pot. The fish should cover all of the rice and should form a nice layer of fish. Pour the 3 cups of hot water over the rice and fish, bring to boil and then lower the heat the minimum and cover. Let cook for 20 minutes.

7. After 20 minutes the rice should be done, it should have absorbed all of the water. It will be yellow and it will smell delicious!!

To serve it in a presentable way, scoop the rice first into the plate and then decorate with the fish fillets. ENJOY!!

Room of Silence – Berlin


Image

While walking around in Berlin, R. and I ran into the banner above, which immediately caught our attention. We pushed the door in and were greeted by a silent middle-aged man behind a desk surrounded by complete silence. We asked if the Room of Silence was open for anyone and whether it was for free. The silent man spoke, “of course,” he said. We pushed another door that led to a room as small as a regular living room with chairs lined in theater-style. We took two adjacent seats and just sat in silence for five minutes. I did a 5-minute relaxation session, abdominal breathing and all, and R. sat there with his thoughts in total silence.

The Silent Room

We were beyond thrilled by the possibility of escaping the hustle and bustle of the city with just one push of a door. What a brilliant idea. We totally disconnected from everything outside, from the pain in our legs, from the plans for the rest of the evening and from the world. Read below for a description of the Room of Silence, Berlin:

The following description is taken from Berlin101 website.

The “Room of Silence” is located in the north side of the Brandenburg Gate. It is inspired by the meditation room in the UN building in New York. The room was opened in 1994, and offers the people passing by a chance to sit down in silence, meditate, rest and so on, and is decorated with abstract pictures. We can tell you it is indeed a very relaxing, positive experience.

Opening Hours: Apr-Oct 11:00 -18:00, Nov & Jan-Mar 11:00 -17:00, Dec 11:00 -16:00.