Taste The Difference

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Pickle-Seasoned Roasted Eggplant Salad, Dressed in Palestinian Olive Oil & Sumac

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Pickle-Seasoned Roasted Eggplant Salad

This beautiful salad is delicious and pairs well with everything! Next to grilled meats, fried foods, grain pilafs or even on its own, this colourful salad is packed with nutrients and flavor.

The use of the pickles here not only adds a layer of delicious to the flavor but also help your stomachs cleanse and really good for you as according to USFDA the health benefits of pickles include a good supply of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, contribute to modest diabetes control, improved digestion, liver protection, a supply of probiotics, and the ability to heal ulcers. What more can we ask from a salad!

  • Serve this salad at BBQs it pairs very well with those BBQ’d lamb/beef cubes.
  • You can pour the salad over a bed of assorted lettuce and add crumbles of goats’ cheese on top for a heartier meal.

3 DS Pickled Organic Cucumbers, finely chopped
¼ cup finely chopped DS Pickled Organic Turnips
250g organic mini cherry tomatoes (whole or halved) 3 onion springs, finely chopped
½ cup toasted pine nuts
1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
For roasted eggplants 2 large eggplants, peeled and cubed (you can keep the skin if you wish)
2 tbsp DS Organic Olive Oil
1 tbsp Organic Sumac
a pinch of Organic Salt

For Palestinian Olive Oil & Sumac Dressing
¼ cup DS EV Organic Olive Oil
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp Sumac
½ tbsp. dried mint

Roast the eggplants until golden. Set aside to cool. 

Mix all the remaining ingredients together with the roasted eggplants and dress with the sumac dressing. Serve cold.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Food Photography & Styling Workshop 2015 (All the details & "The Surprise")

Here we go again, it is time to announce this year's Food Photography & Styling Workshop! :))

Pencil down the dates for the 2015 Workshop (October 7 - 8) as it promises to be an exciting and an invigorating two days!

As ever, the workshop is limited to a small intimate group of 10 participants. Make sure to book your seat now as we tend to sell out early!

As you guys know one of my annual highlights is the the food photography and styling workshop that Meeta K. Wolff and I hold here in Dubai. Not only do I get to meet many of you and learn what you guys do, nor only do I get to do what I love the most: telling you more about food and cooking, but also simply because this workshop is just plain old fun with food and photos in the company of passionate foodies, photographers and my very close group of food industry friends (all that I love).

If you are new to my blog and not familiar with this workshop here are some details:

Meeta K. Wolff is an amazing food stylist and photographer based in Germany. She has her unique style of photography and styling and can produce mouthwatering images of food in utterly beautiful sets and often creates different moods with her pictures. My single most preferred thing about Meeta is her ability to understand the requirement behind a shoot, and understanding her client well enough to translate their thoughts and concepts into beautiful images. This is why I had chosen Meeta as the photographer of my cookbook, which will be launched this fall. Meeta and I have worked on many projects together and she and I just click. We are like identical twins! We think alike in most and we have so much fun throughout that we both see this workshop as a fun get together!

This workshop is an intensive 2 days hands-on training exercise in all things food photography. From cooking techniques for photography (including tips, Do's and Don'ts) to styling and creating capturing sets and backdrops for your shoots, to the actual photography (techniques, mastering camera, natural light, creating mood shots to even having your pictures almost speak!..) furthermore including post processing and workflow management. Then there are the inspirational sessions (focused on creativity, finding inspiration and hitting target with objective photography). There really is not a thing that we had left out! We cover it all and in just 2 days, giving you all the know how's required, the support needed to master these skills and the techniques and materials to help you get your creative juices flowing so you can make best use of all your newly acquired skills.

Who Attends? Any Pre-requisites? Is it for me?
This workshop is the heaven for photographers who are looking to add food photography to their portfolios, food photographers looking to hone those photography skills, food stylists trying to find their bearings in the food styling jungle, Bloggers who know without good photography blogs and social networks won't realise their full potential and food writers who wish to add immaculate photography to visually aid written texts and for restauranteurs, hospitality professionals, PR professionals as well as photography hobbyists who happen to like shooting food. I mean who today is not taking pictures of food?!

With that said no skill level is a prerequisite to this workshop. Yes all skill levels are welcome to join, because the 2 day journey takes us all through the whole process of photography and styling allowing everyone to fit in. The practice and assignment sessions are opportunities for everyone to practice and get support during and feedback after the sessions. All you really need to bring along is your passion for taking great photos, your camera and yourself!

This workshop is also a fantastic opportunity to network and meet like-minded, passionate and creative people. Not only will you get to know fellow participants, but you will also meet some of Dubai's most celebrated and inspiring food figures, and some of the people behind the most celebrated food brands in the city. You get to learn what's new and hip in Dubai's food scene (from the food tour to the foods you will get to sample to the goodie bags you'll take home and even through some of your fellow participants as the group almost always includes some of Dubai's prominent foodies).

#FotoDubai15 what's happening this year?

Once again we will be hosting the workshop at The School of Culinary and Finishing Arts - SCAFA situated at the Jumeirah Lake Towers. We will have exclusive access of the professionally equipped kitchens where there will not only be the several cooking demos but also SCAFA's labs provide the ideal space for our photography and styling sessions with lots of natural light, individual workstations and presentation room. We will also enjoy relaxed meals and chill-out at their own restaurant Scafé. 

I have a very big surprise for you during this workshop! Perhaps you guys will be the first ever to purchase my cookbook! You definitely will be the first ever to see this debut cookbook! I will also be giving you a full sampler of my all new range of Organic Mooneh Essentials to take home. And we will be having a full session talking "Product".

Russell Impiazzi of Lafayette Gourmet also returns on our team as our permanent Dubai workshop supporters since the very first workshop in April 2012. Lafayette Gourmet will be generously supplying all the food and ingredients for the cooking, styling and shooting sessions over the course of the 2 days. Russell will create his signature Finale Surprise Dinner for our delegates with a very "wild" theme.

Baker & Spice Dubai too are supporting #FotoDubai15 and will be providing the first day's Meet & Greet Brunch. Their wholesome, delicious and all round good food is best loved here in Dubai and you will get to taste the flavours Dubai is always raving about. They are also providing many foods for the shoots and for snacking as well as filling up your goodie bags with their amazing snacks.

There is much more to be announced closer to the date. We look forward to spoiling you with many more surprises and highlights, an exceptional and a relaxing meal by the beach, a food truck as our photography prop, and a goodie bag filled with delicious, beautiful and on-trend goodies to take home.

Here is the schedule for this year's workshop sessions and activities. Take a look and press register to book your seat. See you in October!


Dubai Food Styling & Photography Workshop

Day one - Wednesday 7th October 2015
  • Brunch by Baker and Spice
    Meet and Greet Brunch and Introduction
  • Photography Fundamentals & Techniques by Meeta Wolff
    Capturing the perfect shot: Mastering the camera, harnessing and understanding natural light, finding your focus, the angles etc.
  • Styling Techniques by Meeta Wolff
    How to style your shot: composition and placement, creating a mood/atmosphere, the importance of props, color, texture etc.
  • Styling demo & the secrets of a food stylist by Meeta Wolff
    Free-Style Photography Exercises - Group Work
  • Effective Product Shots by Dima Sharif What does a client look for and what is expected from the photographer. Tips and feedback from a client’s perspective
  • Dinner on the beach - a feasting menu of a different kind.
    We’ll enjoy a dinner watching the sun set in the Arabian Gulf while enjoying a fun and relaxing meal by the beach.

Day two - Thursday 8th October 2015

  • Enhancing your Images with Lightroom by Meeta Wolff
  • Cooking demo and cooking techniques by Dima Sharif
  • From Land to Fork by Dima Sharif
    A traditional lunch menu featuring dishes from Palestine
  • Intensive work on assignment - Group work
  • Evaluation, discussion & critique on assignment
    Constructive feedback, discussion and critique on exercises
  • Wild” Finale Dinner prepared by Russell Impiazzi

Further details for the announcement:
Event Price: AED 2675 (ca. €645)

  • 2 day food styling, photography and cooking demo sessions with Meeta & Dima
  • Wednesday: Meet & Greet Brunch, coffee break and Dinner;
    Thursday: Lunch & Cooking Demo, Finale Dinner
  • Snacks and beverages during the workshop
  • Transport to and from the off-site assignment
  • All material/equipment is provided for the shooting /styling sessions

: SCAFA School of Culinary and Finishing Arts, Jumairah Lakes Tower, Dubai, UAE
Website: http://scafa.ae/
Limited to 10 participants
Payment: Full payment upon registration, no refunds

Please Note: The organizers reserve the rights to modify the programme should the need arise. Presentations and main workshop language will be in English (instructors speak German, Arabic and Hindi and is aimed towards beginners, novice and advanced level participants).

Watch some videos from previous workshops below or you can watch on youtube on this link.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Introducing "Dima Sharif Organic Mooneh Essentials – Back to land and home"

(Mooneh is Arabic for Pantry)

“Dima’s pickles won’t engulf the mouth with acid. Her artisanal recipes are all about preserves with complex flavours that draw on local, seasonal, organic vegetables, first press organic olive oil, and organic seasonings and spices.”

I am kicking off my new brand of foods with this range of Organic Mooneh Essentials. This is a line of products that preserves organic seasonal local produce when in season (available in plenty and in best quality) either by means of fermentation, jamming, drying or saucing…

The range is focused on being 100% organic. As you already know and have been reading on my blog I am a huge supporter of eating organic and of organic farming and farmers simply because organic farming is the only method of producing healthy, chemical-free, non-hazardous produce that not only does not harm our health but also does not harm our environment in the process (find all my #GoOrganic posts on this link). I believe this to be both a responsibility that we all share towards ourselves and our earth as well as a legacy to leave behind for future generations as the last thing we want to do is leave them a dead earth because of our recklessness and mindless choices. As such it is only natural that my food brand is 100% organic.

With that said, the process of producing food is one that involves a lot of hard work. Especially true to actually growing produce. The farmers who work very hard to produce our food do so with great love, and also with a lot of hard labour. They are the ones to whom the phrases “product of love”, “made with love” or “giving a little of themselves in the process of making the food” really apply.
They do work with love as without it no plant is ever nurtured to give and without continuously pouring this love over the tiny springs no plant will bear fruit, then without this love, no fruit will make it to our tables. Therefore these farmers do give a little of themselves, perhaps a whole lot, and one thing for sure their job is not the easiest, nor the safest bet. Organic farming is very much affected by environmental conditions, for instance the weather; whether cooler or hotter than usual can effect the yield and quality… among many other factors. These farmers continue however to put their resources, hard work and love into their farms and produce to ensure that we have local organic food to savour with our loved ones. Those farmers who made a conscious choice to farm organically for all the reasons above are ones I want to express appreciation for, and therefore wherever possible my choice and priority is local produce. Wherever that is not available as is the case with olives for instance then my choice and priority is the highest quality organic produce in this region.

On the same hand, it goes without say that this range is highly seasonal, depending only on what is in season, harvested in its natural season, preserved in the same season and lasting for as long as it lasts until the next season. Therefore the range will offer different varieties with the different seasons and some varieties will not be on offer once their season is over. As such when you see something you like go for it and grab your jar before it runs out. Furthermore, my whole range is artisanal: handmade, individually packed and made in very small batches. This is not mass production, it is the exact contrary of that both in philosophy and production. I often expressed on my blog how our modern lifestyles and the whole globalization of goods had altered food and food production to accommodate mass production. So much so that we can hardly tell what we are eating. Modern-style foods are very often tasteless and we are mostly incapable of telling the difference between the different foods (they almost taste identical, mostly of cardboard). I want to taste a cucumber in the cucumber pickle, and a turnip in the turnip pickle. I want to taste lemon in the lemon chili pickles not the waxed layer and food colouring. Nor do I want to taste the medicinal, chemical artificial flavouring that makes both the taste and colour of the food laboratory like rather than table worthy. And therefore I had made it my mission to create a range of Organic Mooneh (pantry) Essentials that brings back that good old natural flavour into our kitchens and tables.

"Going 'Farm To Fork' with this concept allows me to encourage all of us to rethink and bring back the eternal and original tie between land and home."    - Dima

Please note,

This is just a soft launch for you and I to test these products, the official launch will be this fall in line with the launch of my cookbook from which this whole concept is inspired, both of which naturally bound. I will be posting more information and details about the brand, the concept, the inspiration, the tie with my cookbook and a whole lot more here blog so make sure to drop by often and check the posts out and learn more.

As ever your support and feedback are always much appreciated. And here your patience too until the official launch!

Friday, 19 June 2015

Thank your hosts, make the effort worthwhile

A perfect Ramadan gift for your family, friends and colleagues. Now available at The Change Initiative.

Perhaps one of the hardest things in Ramadan is cooking while fasting! Not only are you hungry, tired and low on energy, but when you cook you start craving the aromas around you! However during Ramadan, cooking seems to be the single most activity we do! Gatherings never stop and the tables have to be spread with fabulous foods and we all know food does not magically appear! No host/ess minds appreciation and feeling guests are delighted with the effort made, so why not express thanks and give them something they will love, and will even help them add more flavour and variety to their tables? 

This hamper is packed with delicious flavours in a colourful variety of ingredients and condiments that will complement the flavours of every Ramadan Menu. All the ingredients, and even the packaging is all 100% natural, and as you already know, my jars are made using recycled glass, so rest assured we are being all round good with this hamper ;)

Give thanks and make the effort worth it this Ramadan. 

Part of Dima Sharif Organic Mooneh Essentials 'back to land and home'

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

New Conversations!

Wishing you all a peaceful month filled with love and light. Hoping your tables will be filled with blessings, heartfelt chats, surrounded by loved ones and of course delicious food!

For the first time, since I started blogging, I am not having a Ramadan Special this year! My table is very full and so much on my plate, but I am hoping to still make it to your tables through the many recipes I have posted on this blog and the many cooking tips and explanations. Also by heart, through the many menus of food for thought already on this blog. However by food through my new line of Organic Mooneh (pantry) products that are now available at Baker and Spice, and The Change Initiative. Do pick your organic pickles and outstanding limited edition olive oil and allow me to contribute to your Ramadan flavours with this very mindful range

I will also be delighted if you take me along with you when visiting your family and friends by grabbing our beautiful Ramadan hamper from The Change Initiative or a fabulous basket from Baker and Spice... 

This year as you can see I am all about taking the conversation and thoughts back to land and home... Whether by this new line of organic pantry essentials, by my upcoming cookbook or through the many activities I am taking part in... So stay tuned and listen to my conversation, perhaps watch it and at times see it or read it... Most importantly savour it and reflect... Because as ever it is all about mindfulness and mindful choices. 

Stay tuned as more to come and I will be telling you more about the all new brand Dima Sharif

I will be on the Radio (Dubai eye with Suzanne Radford over the next couple of Thursday's in the morning) so do tune in and let me hear from you.

Ramadan Mubarak to all of you :)

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Now taste the recipes you are going to own this fall (when my cookbook is launched)!

How would you like to go out and dine on a menu that I have designed and cooked for you myself? Well you guys will get to do just that this May! 
I am so happy to announce that I have teamed up with Lafayette Gourmet to bring you my pop up kitchen featuring a menu of Modern Palestinian Cuisine that is inspired by my upcoming cookbook which will be launched this fall. 

check this out...

Inspired by my soon-to-be-launched cookbook, I thought to give you a taster of the recipes you are going to own once the book is released. Drawing on the traditional and historical Palestinian cuisine recipes and their stories, which I extensively explore in the book, I thought that with such a perfected base your cooking can go a long way and wanted to demonstrate that. Where better to do so than with the chef whose style and fascinating modern take on classics are too known to introduce? Chef Russell Impiazzi, Lafayette Gourmet Culinary Director, whose work I admire, has been tremendously supportive. Besides hosting this pop-up kitchen, his understanding, vision and direction allowed me to bring this vision to life and to translate the future of those ages old recipes into beautiful plates to be served for you to savour. So We have been at work the past week giving old and some forgotten traditional Palestinian recipes a face lift fit for their new and modern life.
“Working with Dima on this project has been a real journey of unique flavors, Palestinian cuisine is new to me, as I am sure it will be to a lot of foodies, so it has been a fantastic opportunity to be able to learn the real secrets behind an amazing culinary culture'' says Culinary Director and Chef Russell Impiazzi. Watch his interview in the video below.

Watch Chef Russel as he talks pop up menu...

A modern translation of traditional & historical Palestinian recipes
 that I have delved into and in depth while writing my
soon-to-be-launched cookbook
In creating this menu I have drawn inspiration from the culinary history and tradition of Palestine. Building on authentic, very old recipes; I am bringing these and some forgotten foods back to life in a fashion fit for today's dining experience. 

As ever, Lafayette Gourmet are supplying top quality ingredients. We are choosing local and seasonal produce wherever possible and are even going for Palestinian olive oil, spices and other Palestinian produce in the cooking of these exquisite concoctions.

The menu includes an array of starters, mains and desserts including classics, best loved concoctions and all-time favourites such as the popular Musakhan and Knafeh as well as the very traditional Madlooqa and many other varieties. We also have some vegetarian and vegan options too!

We are very excited about sharing this delicious, beautiful and soulful adventure with you so make sure to be there and let us hear your feedback :) Starts this May, from the 7th to the 17th, at Lafayette gourmet in Dubai Mall from 12:30 pm to 10 pm. 

Make sure to say hey when there ;)