Founder of keystomykitchen.com
29-year-old Lara Ariss, founder of cookery blog Keystomykitchen.com, is based in Beirut, Lebanon. Lara previously worked in the advertising industry, but took a break from the corporate world a few years ago to pursue her dream of mastering French cooking. She attended Le Cordon Bleu in London where she studied French basic cuisine and did a pastry course as well. She’s currently busy building up her name as a culinary personality in the region.
About the blog
My kitchen is a playground that I venture into to cook, eat, and unwind. It’s the perfect setting for recreation and creativity, for alchemy and adventure. Keystomykitchen.com allows me to share what comes out of my kitchen – fun stories, simple ideas, and tested recipes that are lovely yet straightforward, and fine-tuned a hundred times. On my blog, you will find improvised recipes that have materialised with meals, as well as ones that have come from friends, family and cookbooks. I like honest recipes that don’t deceive or disappoint. The recipes found here are meant to make your adventures in the kitchen more fun, and you will find everything from cakes, breads, pastries and cookies (I did specialise in pastry!), to salads and roasts – with beautiful professional photography. I also carry stories from my foodie travels on the blog.
My insider tips for Beirut
I love having a light lunch at Dar Bistro and Books, mouthwatering burgers at The Happy Prince, freshly baked thin crust pizzas at Pizza Margherita, and Saturday brunch at the renowned French Bistro, Couqley.
My instant snack fix
Greek yoghurt with orange zest, honey and a handful of granola.
All-time favourite restaurant
Ottolenghi in London. I love the freshness of the ingredients they use, as well as the combination of colours and the way they combine all sorts of ingredients together. My favourite dishes there are roasted chicken with thyme, green beans salad with hazelnuts, carrot cake, and their popular caramel and macadamia cheesecake.
Nutella – straight from the jar!
Crème brûlée – I’m a huge fan of custards. I love the richness of the dessert, and the caramelised sugar layer on top.
TIPS FROM MY KITCHEN
Never bake with chocolate that contains lecithin as it ruins the flavour of the chocolate in the dish.
Place eggs in a bowl of warm water, if they have been stored in the fridge, before using them.
Always rest cheesecake batter in the fridge for a few hours before baking, to let the flavours blend more.
Food is…a source of ageless pleasure and fun. It brings people together, and is the world's common ground.
Spruce up a dish by: Mixing sweet and savoury flavours. I find the taste of chicken rather bland so I always incorporate dry fruit and honey when cooking with it, and make dishes like roasted chicken with rosewater and prunes.