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Cooking in Dresses: Fresh Spring Garden Lunch

Ladies and gentlemen, we proudly present 'Cooking in Dresses', a new column on The Kill showcasing two of our most favorite things ever: eating and getting dressed.

We teamed up with Beirut-based chef Rayya Danielle (more about her below) to bring you a fresh menu you can re-create yourself for a beautiful Spring day lunch.

To get all that done, we spent one gorgeous Sunday afternoon at Rayya's mountain house in Abadieh, wearing our pretty dresses (see where we got them from below), and watching how she prepares everything. Truth be told, the best part was getting to eat it all at the end - and everything was delicious, absolutely mouth-wateringly delicious.

Here are a few snaps we took that day, the menu & recipes, as well as more info about our dresses - all beautifully photographed by the amazing and meticulous Nadim Kamel.

 

Follow us on Instagram for all our behind the scenes snaps: @raghunter

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This is officially the first of many similar features coming up including brunch menus, a non-traditional feast for Ramadan, and dinner party menus.

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Meet Rayya Danielle

We met Rayya a couple months ago at a common friend's birthday party. A couple cocktails later, we were bouncing ideas of how we could collaborate, bringing fashion and food together. And here we are today.

Rayya Abou Ezzeddine, also known as “Rayya Danielle”, runs her own home bakery supplying desserts and confections to homes and restaurants throughout the country. She caters small private functions and conducts private and public cooking classes. The most curious thing about Rayya is that she is completely self-taught. Her friends call her the 'chemist' because she conjures up recipes in her head according to how she imagines ingredients would work well together. It's pretty fascinating if you ask us.

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We recommend you check out her blog, Rayya Danielle, to stay tuned to what she's been cooking lately. That includes more photos, recipes as well as entertaining ideas. Best Ever Chocolate Cake, anyone?

Get in touch with Rayya now to schedule an event, place orders or for any culinary needs: Mobile: 76-686230 | E-mail: rayya@rayyadanielle.com

Fresh Spring Garden Lunch Menu

Alright so here goes, the menu is comprised of 6 recipes for: Smoked Salmon Millefeuilles, a Tuscan Kale Caesar Salad, a Pesto Pasta Salad with Shrimp, assembling the perfect Cheese Platter, a Strawberry Tart, and a Lemon Spritzer.

We suggest you bookmark this page to keep the recipes handy!

Smoked Salmon Millefeuilles

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Makes 12 sandwiches

Ingredients 350 grams cream cheese, softened ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons crème fraiche ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh chives ½ teaspoon chopped tarragon 16 slices of rye bread 350-400 grams smoked salmon

Method 1. Combine cream cheese, crème fraiche, chives and tarragon in a bowl.

2. Spread one side of the bread with 1 to 2 teaspoons of the cheese mixture then top with about 10 grams of salmon.

3. Spread both sides of another piece of bread with the cream cheese mixture and stack on the other. Top with a slice of salmon and finish building sandwich by spreading cream cheese on one side of another piece of toast and place coated side down on the salmon.

4. Repeat using all the bread, the place sandwiches on a baking sheet and place in freezer for about 30 minutes (this will make cutting the sandwiches much easier).

5. Remove from freezer and slice off the crusts and cut each sandwich into thirds making 2 -3 rectangles, for a total of 12 sandwiches. Serve at room temperature.

Tuscan Kale Caesar Salad

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Serves 6

Ingredients 2 tablespoon mayonnaise, Hellman’s or Kraft recommended 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 1 teaspoon capers 3 cloves garlic 75 grams (3/4 cup) Parmesan cheese, grated ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for prepping kale 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 1 head curly leaf kale, you can also use Tuscan kale or dinosaur kale ¼ cup pomegranate seeds 2 cucumbers shaved

Method 1. Put all ingredients, EXCEPT the olive oil and red wine vinegar, in a food processor and process until blended. Slowly mix in the oil, and then mix in the vinegar. If too thick, add just a little water.

2. Taste dressing and add any of the above ingredients to enhance the flavors you want. Refrigerate dressing if not using immediately.

3. Clean and chop kale and mix together in bowl with a tablespoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of salt. Massage kale with your hands and place in fridge for at least 30 minutes (this helps release the bitterness of the kale).

4. Remove kale from fridge and toss with half of the dressing. Top with shaved cucumbers, pomegranate seeds and additional grated Parmesan cheese if desired. Serve other half portion of dressing on side.

Pesto Pasta Salad

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Serves 4-6

Pesto Ingredients ¼ cup pine nuts 2 tablespoons minced garlic ¼ cup olive oil 2 cups fresh basil leaves ½ cup fresh mint leaves ½ cup grated Parmesan Salt and pepper to taste

Pesto Method 1. In a food processor, puree the nuts, garlic and 2 tablespoons olive oil until smooth.

2. Add the basil and mint and pulse until the leaves are minced.

3. Add the Parmesan cheese and pule until combined.

4. Finally, drizzle in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive to finish. Pulse and taste. Season with salt and pepper.

Pasta Ingredients 250 grams tri color pasta, fusilli preferred 1 kg fresh or frozen large shrimp, shelled and deveined Prepared Pesto (above) ½ cup diced sweet yellow pepper ½ cup diced sweet red pepper ¼ cup, minced purple onion 1 cup tiny peas, fresh or frozen ¼ cup toasted pine nuts ½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved Handful of fresh herbs such as thyme, parsley and mint ¼ cup olive oil 3 tablespoons lemon juice Salt and pepper to taste

Pasta Method 1. Bring a large pot of salted (1 teaspoon salt) water to a rolling boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. This should take about 8 minutes.

2. Over medium heat, in a large sauté pan, place the shrimp and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté the shrimp about 2-4 minutes or until pink. (Do not over cook the shrimp or they will be tough and chewy).

3. Once the pasta is done, drain the pasta, place in a large bowl and add the pesto to it. Toss well to coat evenly.

4. Add the peppers, onions, peas, pine nuts, cherry tomatoes, fresh herbs, olive oil and lemon juice and mix to combine. Taste pasta salad and season with salt and pepper as needed.

5. Place sautéed shrimp on top of pasta and serve.

The Cheese Platter: Making the Perfect Selection

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When selecting what variety of cheese you will serve on your platter, try to include a variety or combination of textures and flavors. For example aged cheddar, soft Camembert, a firm Manchego or a blue cheese such as Gorgonzola make a nice selection. Pick at least one familiar cheese for your guests enjoy such as goat cheese. Here are some tips:

1. Always offer a selection of breads or crackers to accompany the cheeses. Using white and dark bread along with bread sticks gives your guests many pairing options.

2. Adding fruit preserves, honey or spicy mustards to your platter will compliment all cheese plates.

3. Assorted dried fruits or fresh fruits including figs, apples and grapes help create and delightful and delicious spread following the meal.

Strawberry Tart

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Serves 12

Ingredients 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 3 tablespoons sugar 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 6 tablespoons (80 grams) cold unsalted butter, diced 2 tablespoons cold shortening (I recommend Crisco) 1/4 cup ice water 2 cups Crème pâtissière, recipe follows 4 cups (500 grams) whole strawberries, hulled and halved 1/3 cup strawberry jelly

Method 1. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a small bowl and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.

2. Put the flour mixture in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the butter and shortening and pulse about 10 times, or until the butter is crumbly or the size of peas.

3. Add the ice water slowly through the feeding tube and process until the dough comes together.

4. Place dough on a well-floured surface and form into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill the dough for at least 30 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.

6. Roll out the dough and fit into 4 (11.5 cm) mini tart tins or 1 (35x11 cm) rectangle tart tin or 1 (23cm) round tart tin. Do not stretch the dough when placing it in the pans or it will shrink during baking. Cut off any access dough from the top by rolling the pin across the top of each pan.

7. Line the tart shells with a piece of buttered aluminum foil, butter side down, and fill them with baking weights, dried beans or rice. Bake for 10 minutes.

8. Remove the beans and foil, prick the bottom of the shells all over with a fork, and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

9. Once tart shell has cooled completely, fill the shells with the Crème pâtissière (recipe below).

10. Next, arrange the berries decoratively on top of the cream. You can use whole berries and place them in lines or concentric circles, alternately you can cut the berries in half.

11. Melt the strawberry jelly with 1 teaspoon of water in a saucepan to make a glaze, then brush the top of the tarts with the glaze.

12. Remove tart from tin place on a platter and serve.

Crème pâtissière Ingredients 1 1/2 cups milk 1/2 cup whipping cream 4 egg yolks 1/2 cup granulated sugar 2 Tablespoons corn starch 1 teaspoon grated orange zest 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or Grand Marnier

Crème pâtissière Method 1. Combine the milk, cream and zest in sauce pan and cook over medium heat, bringing the mixture almost to a boil.

2. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar until almost pale yellow and thick, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the cornstarch and beat until well combined.

3. Slowly add the hot milk/cream into the mixture while beating until all is incorporated.

4. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat stirring constantly until it thickens completely.

5. Immediately pour the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl and stir in the vanilla or Grand Marnier if using. Place plastic wrap directly over the cream and chill.

Lemon and Mint Spritzer

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Serves 6

Ingredients 1 cup lemon syrup, recipe below 4 cups sparkling water 24 crushed or muddled mint leaves ½ cup pomegranate seeds ice

Method 1. Fill a glass pitcher with ice and add the crushed mint leaves. Pour in 1 cup of lemon syrup and 4 cups of sparkling water.

2. Garnish with a twist of lemon.

Lemon Syrup Ingredients 1 cup sugar 1 cup water 1 ½ cup fresh lemon juice

Lemon Syrup Method 1. In a small saucepan, combine the 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of water and bring to a boil.

2. Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves.

3. Pour the syrup into a heatproof bowl and let cool to room temperature, then stir in the 1 1/2 cups of fresh lemon juice.

4. You can make ahead, the syrup keeps indefinitely.

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The Dresses

We are all wearing dresses from Label Queen, one of our favourite multibrand boutiques right here in Beirut. The dresses are all from their newest Spring/Summer 2015 collection (see full store details below).

Narina's Dress

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Brand: Asilio | Price: $400 | Sunglasses are $70 by Le Clou

Serene's Dress

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Brand: Alice McCall | Price: $500 | Sunglasses are $70 by Le Clou

Rayya's Dress

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Brand: Peggy Hartanto | Price: $740

Label Queen Address: 741 Saifi Village, Beirut | Telephone: +961 1 992009 | Whatsapp: +961 3 686712 | Label Queen Facebook Page | Instagram: @label_queen | Snapchat: label-queen

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A team of writers constantly on the hunt for everything and anything there is to know about local fashion.

  • Christine Abi Assi

    Where can you find the sunglasses brand Le Clou ??

    • http://www.raghunter.com The Raghunter Team

      Hey Christine,

      They are available at Label Queen in Saifi Village!