Find us at The Farmers' Market this season. Dima Sharif, Back To Land & Home.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

It is the season to be thankful - HARVEST SEASON UAE

I will start by wishing you all a very happy thanksgiving. So much to be thankful for and so much to be wishful for. Perhaps a more peaceful world and more light to shine on all of us in this coming year.

Moving on, it is the season to be jolly and absolutely thankful, The Harvest Season UAE!!

So are you ready for tomorrow?
It is the first day of the farmers' market season and tomorrow is the first day for The Farmers' Market on the Terrace. While I have always been a huge fan of the farmers' market this year I join them to sell my artisanal Organic Mooneh Essentials (find more details on this line and what is available including descriptions, product properties and suggested uses on this link).

I am hoping to see you there, so do drop by The Farmers' Market On The Terrace​ at its beautiful new location in Bay Avenue​ (behind the Executive Towers on SHK Zayed Rd) tomorrow and say hey, and sample all my products before you buy them.

I will also have Kaek Bisimsem (Sesame Coated Kaek) that will be sprinkled with my outstanding Organic Dried Zaatar Mix for an experience from times passed when we used to buy these off trollies strolling the streets! You are going to love it!

Note that The Farmers Market On The Terrace #TFMOTT is on every Friday from now until April. You can drop by anytime between 8 am - 1pm and buy your fresh, organic, local, beautiful and delicious produce straight from the farmers and my artisanal Organic Mooneh Essentials straight from me!
#Support Local 

Back to land and home 
See you tomorrow...

Friday, 20 November 2015

Stuffed Sardines & Outdoors Living

I love outdoor living, always happiest outdoors and I just happen to love Dubai this time of year because I can spend every minute out in the open Wall-less. Be it the beach, the many cafes and restaurants at all the walks we have in this city, it is simply gorgeous. Most of us are having BBQs, entertaining in the garden and some even picnic at the park or the beach and so I thought to give you one of my absolute favourite go-to recipe for such occasions. It is the glorious stuffed sardines which are very fast to prepare, fast to grill and super delicious to share with your friends, casually with sprinklings of lemon, some toasted bread, a side salad and your favourite beverage with a whole lot of chatting and connecting!

Living by the sea and having access to so much fresh fish and seafood it is really a shame not to enjoy this amazing food. However do keep a lookout on endangered, coded red fish types and do choose the greener types. Please do by all means stay away from Hamour, as it is really endangered. As your fish monger or fisherman for greener types and don't encourage the overfishing by buying the red types.

With that said, sardines are not always available, they are my fish of choice for perfection where this dish is concerned. And where I come from (Falasteen) is known for Sardines in the areas by the Mediterranean, a best loved choice always. This is why I am posting my Sardine recipe, however, you can substitute with the local Lady fish that is available everywhere in the Gulf, which also works just as well. You can also go for fresh Anchovies if you live in an area where anchovies are native.

Here you go the delicious recipe for you to recreate at home...

allow 4-5 pieces per serving

20 large Sardines
2 cloves garlic
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp anchovy paste
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Olive oil
lemon wedges

Start by shaving off the scales from all the pieces. Cut along the bottom side of the sardines to make an opening from the head to the tail. Cut off the back bone and discard along with the innards.
Rinse the sardines with cold water inside and out then rub everywhere with lemon wedges. Set aside.

Make the stuffing, In a bowl combine the chopped parsley, garlic, anchovy paste, egg, bread crumbs and season with sea salt and coarse black pepper. Mix well to combine all.

Fill the sardine openings with the stuffing.

In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil with sea salt and black pepper and brush the sardines with the seasoned oil.

Grill (works in the oven or on the BBQ) until the sardines are cooked through and the flesh flakes easily.

Serve with a side of salad, your favourite bread and lemon wedges.


Saturday, 14 November 2015

The Pizza Maker - Can one's passion for what they do be captured in images?

I was post processing some of the images I had taken over the past two weeks and when it came to 'The Pizza Maker' section, I remember thinking - as I looked through my camera's finder and closely watched every move that the pizza maker was doing - what amount of patience and passion for a profession is required for a person to do the same mechanical performance, day in and day out, tireless, without rest, at times over hundreds of times...! As I watched the pizza maker over three full days: performing, stretching, dusting, sliding, turning, pulling, slicing and serving; one by one, piece by piece... I found a form of beauty, one that I myself had to be very patient and very passionate to capture, because otherwise, it will have gone unnoticed!
And it is: The Pizza Maker's Passion

Without any more words, I will leave you with the images...
And will leave it up to you to decide whether or not passion can be captured in pictures.

And when the energy dropped, acrobats was the lifter of choice, here are some pics...

How much do you have to love what you do, to do this repetitive, mechanical, physical and demanding job, day in day out? There is way more to food and the ones who prepare our food than meets the eye, and I always find it best through my camera's finder!

What do you think? Do images capture sentimental dimensions?

Relative Links

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Quinoa with Porcini Mushrooms and Parmesan cheese

Who does not like to Quinoa these days? It seems to be the grain of choice everywhere. Here, I use Quinoa instead of rice and cook it very similarly to how I would cook a porcini Risotto, the outcome is a delicious twist on that most popular risotto. Also these days I am on a quest to eat less meats and try to have as many meatless meals as I can and this one is a very satisfying one where meatless is concerned. This dish if omitting the parmesan is an excellent vegan choice for your vegan family members and friends. The porcini enriches the flavour and makes up for the absent meals for the aspiring vegetarians!

This tasty concoction is perfect as a light and meatless lunch, perfect as a side to meaty foods, and works very well as a salad, especially for your BBQ's (now that Dubai's weather is more forgiving for outdoor meals). Give it a try and see how you are going to love it and be loved for making it ;)

Quinoa with Porcini Mushrooms
Serves 4 sides or 2 mains
Since fresh porcini mushrooms are not always available, you can use the dried porcinis instead.
Make a porcini mushroom stock and use it in cooking the quinoa. Just make sure not to go too heavy on the porcinis because they are very pungent and you still have some to be used in the dish.


3 tbsp olive oil
100g porcini mushrooms, chopped
If I have a wish, then its to live in a place where fresh produce is right
outside your door!
Love that lifestyle and that connection with land and seasonality.
1 small brown onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 springs fresh thyme
350g Quinoa
1.3 ml porcini stock
1/4 cup white wine or 2 tbsp white grape vinegar
Juice of 1 large lemon
Salt and black pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese

In a large bowl, mix together the porcini stock, wine/vinegar and lemon juice. Set aside.

In a large skillet, sauté the onions and garlic in the heated oil until translucent, then add the chopped mushrooms and thyme springs and season with salt and black pepper. Continue to sauté until the mushrooms are cooked through. 

Add the quinoa, and stir to coat. Gradually ladle the vegetable stock mixture into the quinoa, stirring after each addition until all the liquid is absorbed. Continue to ladle the stock and stir until all the liquid had been added and the quinoa is cooked through.

Transfer to a serving dish, discard the thyme springs and garnish the tops with fresh thyme leaves and freshly cracked black pepper. Top with grated parmesan cheese.

This could be served hot or cold as a salad. If you are not vegetarian, you can have this dish next to your choice of chicken, meat, or fish.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Concluding my Italian adventure this year with this amazing pasta dish in Sicilian flavour notes

Now that the Italian Cuisine World Summit 2015 is behind us, I am reflecting on my whole Italian adventure this year, which kicked off with a road trip in Italy and concluded on November 6th with the end of the summit. So I am posting my recipe for this fantastic pasta dish that reflects the key flavour notes of the one area that I still have not visited and looking forward to the most. An area I have been learning loads about and one worthy of my fully focused attention: The Sicilian region. I had learned that anchovies, black olives, tomatoes, onions...  are key flavour notes to the Sicilian kitchen, all are flavours I love and therefore have combined into this pasta dish that is inspired by one that I have enjoyed in one of the communal dinners I had the pleasure to be part of when I was in Florence.

This is a seriously good pasta dish that you guys are going to love, it is decadent and very easy to prepare, also very fast, which comes in handy especially when you have a period where you are very pressed with time. I am focusing more and more on meatless cooking, as I have recently read that red meats are believed to be associated with increasing the chances of developing cancer tumours, but also because consuming so much meat is not the best practice for your body nor does it help the case of sustainability or the environment. And while this has a very small amount of anchovies therefore not exactly vegan, it is a very conscious dish where the environment is involved, and this of course is guaranteed when your choices for pasta, tomatoes and other ingredients are conscious and thoughtful choices. Why not? This earth is ours to give back to and be grateful for.

Before I run into the prep and the recipe let me share you some of my latest news.
DS Organic Mooneh Essentials
It is a matter of days for the farmers' market season to kick off in Dubai and it is the season I love the most. Yes because the weather is gentler on all of us, and outdoors are again an option, but mostly because this is the season for fantastic local flavours to spread on our tables. And as you may already know, it is the season when I produce the products for my Organic Mooneh Essentials, which are seasonal organic foodstuffs that are made during the season and sold at the farmers' market on the terrace. I also have some other organic mooneh items that are made using the seasonal produce of this region, as you know while Dubai generously gives us produce, there are missing ones that a pantry is never complete without. Like my small batch organic extra virgin olive oil (produce of Jordan) and the hand made Organic Zaatar Mix that I am introducing this season which is made following my family's ancient recipe (also the produce of Jordan), the revenue of which is going to support 5 Palestinian families in the Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan. (I will dedicate a post for these in the coming few days).
So I am hoping that I will see you at the market, and have you taste these fabulous, honest, made with love products and hopefully like them enough to fill your pantry with them :)

DS Cookbook
We are still in the final phase, how I hate how things take forever here to be finished, especially when the delay is not mine nor in my control! But this book has a life of its own, as I had come to learn and I had promised myself to enjoy the journey not just the destination, and so I am. It is very near, because it really is done! But you know books get reviewed and approved and am waiting for mine to be done with that. As soon as it is, it will be sent from my heart to your hands and I honestly can hardly wait.
Good news is, it is going to be soft launched at the ProChef Awards this November 11th!!! so if you have made it to the list of that party, then you will get to see it and know it closer :)) After that it will be a few weeks and in your homes  (I hope) :))

DS Latest Video Recipe
I had recently shot a video with Al Alali for a lasagne recipe with a twist, where I used lasagne sheets and rolled them similar to a cannelloni and filled the with a pumpkin and walnut filling, cooked them in a parmesan sauce and served them with a balsamic reduction! I am telling you it is to die for!! As agreed by the 7+ people who tasted the dish that day! watch the video and see how I made it, then really try it because it is fantastic. The video is both in Arabic and English so all of you will enjoy it.

Now here is the Pasta recipe for the top picture in this post

Fidelline or Fettuccine  with Sundried Tomatoes, Anchovies & Olives
Serves 4
Fideline or Fettuccine Pasta 
400 g sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped.
100 g baby plum tomatoes, peeled and halved
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp tomato paste
4 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
2 tbsp baby capers, rinsed
¼ cup pitted, and halved black olives
1 small bunch basil, use only the leaves and break them by hand

¼ cup olive oil
Salt & Black pepper to taste
Parmesan Shavings for garnish


Cook the pasta until al dente.

In the meantime prepare the tomato sauce.
·      Place the olive oil and crushed garlic in a medium sauce pan and sauté until the garlic starts to brown.
·      Add the halved baby plum tomatoes and sauté stirring and pressing the tomatoes to release their juice. Carry out for 3 minutes.

·      Season with salt and black pepper and add the sundried tomatoes and stir to mix. Continue to cook stirring often until the tomatoes are all soft.

·      Add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate, add a little water if the sauce appears too dry.
·      Bring the mixture to a boil and remove from heat.

·      Stir in the capers, anchovies, olives. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
·      Fold in the broken basil leaves, reserving some for garnish.

Fold the cooked pasta into the tomato sauce and make sure to coat all very well.
Plate and sprinkle with the reserved fresh basil leaves and parmesan shavings.

 Relative Links

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Dubai goes fierce-competition for the title 'Dubai's Best Risotto 2015'

Dubai’s top Italian restaurants compete 
for the title: “Dubai’s Best Risotto” in the World Risotto Contest

Today is the final competition for the title “Dubai’s Best Risotto” and it is taking place live at the Speciality Food Festival, where the chefs will compete in front of the watching eyes of a panel of jury and the attending guests who will then taste the risottos and mark the whole process and finished dish to decide the winner of this year’s Competition. 

This 'Dubai's Best Risotto' journey concludes today, but for the chefs it was a road that started in the beginning of 2015, having decided to go for the competition they have been at work honing their skills, creative concepts and preparing to win their restaurants the bragging rights of serving the city's best Risotto. 

The Qualifications:
From the early morning hours, on Sunday 25th October, at the Emirates Academy for Hospitality Management, an assembly of chefs, judges, photographers and organizers were all getting ready for what would be a day full of action. It was the qualification day for the World Risotto Contest, organized by the Italian Cuisine World Summit. 

While the judges sipped on their morning coffee and discussed the criteria of their upcoming verdicts, the chefs were in the kitchen, each on his/her station, unpacking their ingredients starting to make stock, grate cheese, prepare the many steps to what each believes is their best ever risotto. Soon after that, one by one, started plating and passing their finished plates of their “winner” risotto to the judging panel to taste, critique and mark.

Besides the heat known to reside in professional kitchens, the heat of competition was also on high. Each chef of course wants to qualify and so the kitchen was packed with energy, stirring, sautéing, boiling and plating, it looked to the eye like a time lapse of movement that one could not notice the passing of time and is left at awe for these brilliant chefs manifesting their passion and love for what they do and love for their ingredients and pride in what they serve.

The level of talent present in that kitchen was very high, and each one of the chefs served a beautiful, aromatic and flavorful dish. They were all great that the judges declared it was a very close call and it boiled down to details in the end.

“The Italian restaurants in Dubai are definitely heading in the right direction. The quality of Italian cuisine present in the city is very high and the chefs have done a wonderful job especially under such pressure. There’s been a very broad spectrum of flavours in the risotto qualifications today and I am very pleased with the standard.” Said Chef Michael Kitts, Director of the Culinary, Emirates Academy for Hospitality Management.

The four restaurants shorted listed for the final competition are:
  •          Bice Mare: Chef Giovanni Cortese – “Sapori del Passato”.
  •          Roberto’s: Chef Mohamed Farouk Nasr – “Risotto ai Porcini Freschi”
  •          Segreto: Chef Sampath Wajira – “Carnaroli with foie-gras, hazelnut and truffle honey”
  •          Eataly: Chef Gardini Davide – “Risotto Terra Mia”

The Jury Panel selecting the finalists are:
  • ·      Chef Michael Kitts, Emirates Academy for Hospitality Management
  • ·      Chef Luther Maitland, SCAFA, School of Culinary And Finishing Arts
  • ·      Chef Uwe Micheel, President of Emirates Culinary Guild
  • ·      Mrs. Maria Luisa Panzica, Italian Food Expert
  • ·      Mr. Maurizio Pelli, Food Writer and Private Chef. President of the Jury

All participating Restaurants in the Risotto Qualifications: Segreto, Casa Mia, L’Olivio, Bice, Bice Mare, Prego, Positano, Roberto’s, Eataly, Per Te, Sapori di Bice, Toscana, Cavalli.

I leave you with some pics from the qualifications....

Good Luck to the finalists!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Dubai competes again for the title 'Dubai's Best Pasta 2015'

Dubai’s top Italian restaurants compete in Pasta Premiere League 
for the title: “Dubai’s Best Pasta”

Today at the Speciality Food Festival, the finalist pasta chefs who qualified on October 24th are gathering to compete live in the Finals of the Pasta Premiere League. From the Early morning, they will prepare their stations, cook their best Pasta dish for a panel of jury and voting audience hoping to win the title, Dubai's Best Pasta. This will mark the conclusion of a journey they have started at the beginning of 2015, preparing in order to win their restaurants the boasting rights of serving the city's best pasta.

The competition started on Saturday 24th October, where 15 of the top Italian restaurants were competing to qualify for the Final of the Pasta Premiere League. Watch the qualification video on this link. This competition is organized by the Italian Cuisine World Summit as part of the program of its 7th edition taking place in Dubai (27 October - 5 November 2015).

The qualifications took place at the Emirates Academy For Hospitality Management. This was the first round of competition to shortlist the 5 restaurants that will compete in the finals, which will take place on Friday 28th October 2015, at the Speciality Food Festival – World Trade Centre 27-29 October). This competition is definitely another highlight of this year’s Speciality Food Festival, as attending guests will get to watch the finalists compete live for the title, and will also get to taste the pasta. And if that was not enough, then attendees will also get a say in who wins as they will vote for their favourite!

The level of talent present at the Emirate’s Academy kitchen that morning was outstanding, and each one of the chefs served an impressive dish and some even awed the jury. They were all so closely rated that the judges declared it was a very close call and it boiled down to “what was missing rather than what was present”.

“It is easy to impress the judges with adding more things on the plate, more decorations, more ingredients, the use of flowers…etc. But what really matters in the end is the soul of the dish. It is the simplicity of the dish that matters, because Italian Cuisine is a simple cuisine and not built on complexity as is the case with some other cuisines. That is what makes all the difference in the critique and judging criteria.” Said the President of The Jury, Maurizio Pelli who is a an Italian Food Writer and private chef.

The five restaurants shorted listed for the final competition are:
  • Toscana, Chef Sciotti Michele – “Pasta linguine cacao and pepper with Sicilian red prawns and lime”
  • Roberto’s, Chef Sameera Namal – “Spaghetti cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) revised (carbonara)”
  • L’olivo, Chef Aigerim Aitbayeva – “Mazara’s red prawns, baby calamary spillo, Bronte’s pistachio sauce and borrage”
  • Per Te, Chef Shiyas – “Tagliatelle with pigeon ragout, pinenuts and celery di piccione”
  • Casa Mia, Rozario Clifford – “Linguine ‘risottate’ with seafood

The Jury Panel selecting the finalists are:
  • ·      Mr Stefano Ferretti, Academia della Cucina Italiana - Dubai
  • ·      Chef Gianluigi Gerosa, VP Culinary Development at Kerzner International
  • ·      Chef Michael Kitts, Emirates Academy for Hospitality Management
  • ·      Mr. Maurizio Pelli. President of the Jury, Food Writer and Private Chef
  • ·      Mrs. Maria Luisa Panzica Italian Food Expert

Today, not only will the panel of jury include more members, but also attending guests who will watch the final competition will also be tasting the pasta and vote for their favorites. 

All participating Restaurants in the Risotto Qualifications: Alta Badia, Segreto, Casa Mia, L’Olivo, Cavalli, Bice, Bice Mare, Frankie’s, Prego, Positano, Roberto’s, Eataly, Per Te, Sapori di Bice, Toscana.

Good Luck to the 5 finalists!


I will leave you with some pics from the qualifications...