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Saturday, 18 September 2010

Steak Wraps - The Slimmer's Version

Serves 4 | Easy | cal per 1 whole roll 180
Steak Wraps - The Slimmer's Version

This recipe is intended for slimmers. 
Often, 'Slimming Regimes are confused with 'Healthy'. Two separate things, but often mixed as one. Healthy is a reference to food that is full of essential nutrients, which is in a good and safe condition, usually Organic. Healthy is also used in reference to super foods, which are highly packed with vitamins, essential fatty acids and other essential nutrients. Eating Healthy, usually refers to eating all food types, ensuring your body gets all the nutrients it requires to function properly, have energy as well as grow for younger age groups.

With that said, slimming regimes are diets following strict instructions, designed for weight loss. Healthy food does not necessarily lead to weight loss (although a healthy lifestyle hardly causes weight gain issues). Slimming Regimes can be healthy in the case of obesity or even for general weight management. However, these regimes stop being healthy when they are done frequently as they deprive the body of many essential nutrients, especially in diets omitting specific food types and so on.

Unless these are recommended by a qualified and certified practitioner, slimming diets are best left alone. Many people have fell in the 'slimming' trap and ended up with issues way beyond weight management, and many have gone through life-threatening challenges and eating disorders (check this link for more info on unhealthy eating practices), therefore, do be careful and make sure to consult with a qualified practitioner, better yet your family physician before taking on any slimming programme.

With that said, if you are watching your diet, incorporating daily healthy eating with an occasional "eating less richly" on days following a big party, weekend or trip :) then this recipe is for you on those days.

Photo by OBE Organic Beef Halal
This version of the Steak Sandwich is excellent, you will hardly notice the difference from the original one! It is very different though in content of fat, carbs, GI and is definitely way less rich. So just because you had been enjoying one too many good bites lately, doesn't mean you have to stick to lettuce! This sandwich allows you an equal taste and similar experience, however less calories to stick around those AHA areas!!

I have even offered these rolls for my clients' events, when I was catering, whenever they requested healthy options! Everyone asked for the recipe afterwards. Give it a taste and see for yourself.
If you do not wish to go full low carb then use a whole wheat baguette instead or your preferred bread. An excellent idea to use leftover steaks.

You Need
Photo by OBE Organic Halal Beef
500g beef steaks, trim all visible fat off the fillet and slice
1 large onion, sliced thinly
1 large green capsicum, sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 chili, finely chopped (optional)
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
Salt & Black Pepper to taste
1/2 tbsp shredded cheese of your choice
Low fat or 99% fat-free whole wheat Tortillas
Classic Yellow Mustard

In a small bowl mix together oil, vinegar, crushed garlic, chili (if using) salt & pepper, mix well.

Slice the fillet and place in a bowl, top with the oil mixture and rub to coat. Heat some spray oil in a large skillet and stir onions & capsicums until tender. Add the meat and stir till it is done (the amount
of time depends how well done you want the slices to be. If you like your meat less done, then just sear to brown on all sides.

Place 1 tortilla round on a heated pan and heat it up a little. Top with the hot meat and onions then immediately top with the shredded cheese to allow it to melt before the meat cools down. you can then top with mustard if you wish and thin slices of gherkin pickles (optional).

Roll and enjoy alongside a garden or leafy salad.

Absolutely Guilt-free!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

My Favourite Pecaned Banana Muffins

Serves 12  |  Easy

I just love Banana Muffins! Yummy!! Pecan is just about my favourite nut as well, so to me the combination is heavenly! Add to that a cup of black unsweetened coffee or a skinny latte, a nice book and I got myself the perfect afternoon!!!
Try it out and get in that mood.... The Good Life :))

You Need
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup buttermilk (or sour milk if buttermilk is not available*)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
300g self-raising flour
1 tsp DK Banana Cake Spice Mix or your prefered spice mix
1 large over-ripe banana, mashed
1 large banana chopped
1 cup roughly chopped pecans  you can substitute with walnuts if pecans are not available

*To make sour milk, place 1 tbsp lemon juice or white vinegar in a cup and top with milk to make 1 cup of sour milk. let stand for 5 minutes before using. The milk might slightly split because of the lemon, just stir before using.

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease the holes of 12-hole muffin pan as well as the tops of the pan to allow for easy release of baked muffins. You can line the holes with paper cups if desired, or not.

In a small bowl mix together eggs, buttermilk & oil until combined. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, place flour, spice mix, brown sugar and mix to incorporate. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients, and stir till well combined. Add mashed banana and mix. Then fold in banana pieces and pecans.

Using an ice-cream scooper, scoop 1 heaped scoop for each hole. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden and toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the centre.

Happy Baking! And let me know what you think :)

Lemon Poppyseed Muffin

Serves  12 |  Easy

Muffins are most people's best loved snacks, most eatery's breakfast menu must haves! I mean who can blame good old muffins for making it to the top charts?! They are after all super delicious. A bread between cupcakes and breads, muffins offer the best of both worlds!

Muffins can be sweet or savoury. There is an infinite number of combinations that you can use to create wonderful muffins, it is really a matter of what you like. From general flavours like plain citrusy muffins to specific flavours like Lemon Poppyseed Muffins, whatever you get in there can only make it better! That is why muffins allow for experimentation and your own signature creation. So for an experimental cook this is one huge lab... and if you are into trying out and creating your own recipes, this is a good place to start.

You Need
125g butter, softened
150g caster sugar
2 eggs
300g self-raising flour
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon rind
2 tbsp poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease the holes of 12-hole muffin pan as well as the tops of the pan to allow for easy release of baked muffins. You can line the holes with paper cups if desired, or not.

Place all ingredients except poppy seeds in a mixing bowl and mix with an electric mixer on low speed till just combined. Mix on medium speed just until mixture changes in colour. Do not over-mix or you will end up with taugh muffins.

Using an ice-cream scooper, scoop 1 heaped scoop for each hole. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden and toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the centre.

Happy Baking!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Neat Hot Beverages for Gourmet Entertaining

When entertaining, or on occasins, I like to offer my guests a variety of beverages even, when it comes to traditional beverages like Coffees & Teas, I always like to go that extra step and think of what beverages go with which desserts, food or snacks.

I remember on my first Baking Course, it was a pleasant surprise and the talk of one session how I was offering different flavour teas with the different cakes we baked to show my trainees how they can pair flavours, and offer a variety of tasting experiences by changing the accompanying beverage. This has the same effect on my guests too :)

There is always the traditional hot beverages, which are great and at times nothing else would do. But these beverages like food, can be layered in flavour, and enhanced for a new experience or a specific pairing with desserts. It is all about experimenting with flavours, textures and being open to new combination. I am posting some of these stylish beverages here to help you offer your guests that something extra special when entertaining.

Here are some of my favourite Neat Hot Beverages for Entertaining: some as they traditionally are, and others as I like to serve them ;)

Traditional Arabic Coffee from
the Levant | Ahweh Sada

Traditional Arabic Coffee from the Levant 
(Ahweh Sada)

My favourite thing about this coffee is that you can prepare it in advance, place it in a thermos and it will be ready to serve all day, any time during the day. Better yet is that this specific coffee lends itself very well with bites that are extra sweet, like any date dessert, honey desserts, milk chocolate based desserts and Arabic Sweets as it's flavour is somewhat bitter.

Arabic coffee has 2 versions, this is the black version of the levant; not the light coloured spiced coffee of the gulf which I love but not very familiar with how its made!

Where I come from, this coffee is traditionally served at occaions and events like weddings, eids, big banquets, funerals, formal events...etc It is also the welcome drink that is offered by the Beduins as a token of high respect and welcome.

Interestingly, there are also traditions as to how this Arabic coffee is handled. Arabic coffee has to be offered hot, not just warm. Traditionally served in a special Arabic coffee cup like in photo and the coffee is held in a special thermos called 'Dalleh'. Usually the Dalleh is held with the left hand, and the cups stacked in the right hand. The coffee is poured till half full. Once finished you usually shake the cup to signal that you are done and do not wish for a refill. Love traditions!! :)

Traditional Coffee Service

So if you are not familiar with this coffee give it a try and see how you like it. Serve this coffee with extra Sweet Desserts!

You Need
500ml boiling water
1 tbsp Turkish Coffee powder + 1tsp extra
2 tbsp Nescafe or any instant coffee granules
1 tbsp ground cardaon
4 whole cardamon seeds

In a pot, place boiling water, coffee, coffee granules & ground cardamon and bring to boil stirring. Lower the heat, and let simmer for 15 minutes. place in Thermos with the cardamon seeds. Close thermos and serve hot. Reheat when needed.

Cafe Blanc
(White Coffee)

This is a wonderful  beverage, as it does not include cafeine for those who do not wish to consume any. It is a great digestive drink, which mkes it perfect after heavy meals. Its light and airy aroma is refreshing and great for evenings and afternoons. Serve this drink with Arabic sweets, Pistachio cake, Spice cakes and alongside rice or bread puddings. The aromas are fab! 

You Need
1 ltr Boiling Water
1 tbsp Orange Blosssom water

Boil Water in a tea pot, remove from heat. Add Orange blossom water and stir to mix. This beverage is traditionally served in Mini Clear Crystal tea cups, but can also be served in clear white tea cups.

To Flavour Cafe Blanc
Add lightly crushed cardamon seeds to water and bring to a boil, remove and add Orange Blossom water.
You can also add Rose water as well as orange blossom water.
You can add 1tsp ginger powder to boiling water, then add the orange blossom water.

Spiced Tea
Because this tea is spiced, and in order not to overwhelm the flavours of dessert, it is best paired with cakes, and desserts that are simple in flavour, like shortcakes & sugar or vanilla cookies for instance. After all the idea behind pairing is for the flavours to enhace each other and the overall eating experience, without competing with or overwhelming each other! This tea is also well balanced against Orange sponges and bread puddings.

You Need
500 ml Boiling water
2 sachets plain tea
2 cinnamon sticks
4 whole cloves
1 cardamon seed
2 whole star anis
1 tsp vanilla

Bring all ingredients except tea sachets to boiling, add sachets, reduce heat & simmer 2 minutes.
Srain and place in a tea pot. in serving cups, place 1 cinnamon stick and 1 star anis, pour  tea over and serve immediately.

Spiced Fruit Tea
Smelling like a bunch of freshly picked fruits or like a walk in the forrest, Fruit Teas and their aromas can really stimulate your imagination! Just adding a little spice to them intensifies the whole aromatic experience leaving you in for a treat. This is almost dessert on its own!! Serve this tea with vanilla or chocolate sponges. It is also great with Angel Food Cakes especially almond & Honey Angel Food Cakes.

You Need
500 ml boiling water
150 ml Cherry or Grape juice
150 ml Orange juice
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 cinnamon sticks
4 whole cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 sachets plain or vanilla tea
fresh fruits to garnish like raspberry, apple, thinly sliced oranges... (optional)

Boil all ingredients to a boil, reduce heat & simmer for 3 minutes. Strain and place in  large tea pot. if using fresh fruits to garnish then place them in serving cups then pour the tea over immediately before serving.

Apple Tea
Apple tea is the perfect beverage for pairing with most desserts. To emphasise the apple flavour serve this tea with apple desserts. To enhance with a layer of apple flavour non existent in the dessert, serve this tea with spice cakes or cookies, or plain desserts like vanilla sponge, vanilla cookies, and cream or honey desserts. Any dessert with cinnamon tones is perfect with this tea. This is a perfect beverage in that sense!

You Need 
500ml boiling water
2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp apple sauce
2 plain or vanilla tea sachets

Bring all ingredients excepy tea sachets to boiling, reduce heat & simmer covered for 10 minutes. Add tea sachets, and let the tea steep. Strain into a tea pot. For light coloured apple tea, don't let tea steep for too long or not at all. Place fresh sliced apples in serving cups & serve immediately.

All these drinks enhance and bring up the flavours of your desserts. They help you stay hydrated, as well as impress your guests, so give them a try. Don't be afraid to come up with your own signature hot drink too!

Here it is my collection of the best loved hot beverages, that are neat and fit for gourmet entertaining.  Do you have a special hot beverage that you like to serve when entertaining? Do you change the teas you serve according to flavor pairings with desserts? Has this post inspired you to try and serve different teas to pair with different desserts? Share your thoughts with me, I love nothing more than hearing from you... Leave me a comment :)

It's December and Dima's Kitchen Dedicates all posts to helping you entertain at home with ease and style :) Keep checking, as I will post lots of festive food and drinks throughout December ;)

Become a fan of Dima's on Facebook and connect with her there...

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Thursday, 9 September 2010

Basic & Refreshing Cold Beverages - Essential for any Party

What party happens without some real good beverages? Not every party has to offer food but parties must offer beverages! Most parties offer Alcoholic Beverages, but for those who wish to have an alcohol free event, or thinking of their guests who do not drink then Non-alcoholic beverages are just as attractive. Heck; you can even have these virgin beverages set up on a bar, with a bar tender asking your guests whether they want the drink, stirred or shaken?!! Why not, Have fun and live fully!

If you are throwing a party and wondering what non-alcoholic beverages to offer; here are some party essential beverages for you to impress with! Along with the loaded version for those who will include the alcohol. 
This Collection of Cold Beverages is also good for home and home hospitality, not just big parties :)

Dima's Tips Use Juices instead of water in making the ice cubes; This way you will get more attractive & colourful ice cubes that will not water-down your drinks. For a super simple drink; top juice ice cubes with Soda water and you got yourself a sparkling juice drink already :)

Fresh Lemonade
Basic Lemonade or Limeade
Serves 8
Who doesn't like lemonade? Is there anything ever as refreshing as lemonade on a hot day? A beverage that pairs well with all food, an excellent option for outdoor intertaining, or just an afternoon refreshment in the garden, you will want to know how its done, as you will be serving it lots....

You Need
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups Sugar
Lemon or Lime Peel Shavings
1 1/4 cups Lemon or Lime Juice
Ice Cubes

To make the Limeade or Lemonade Base
In a saucepan, (create a simple sugar syrup) heat & stir water & sugar till sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let stand for 20 minutes. Add peel & juice to sugar syrup; pour into a glass bottle, cover & chill for several hours before serving.

For each glass of served lemonade, fill serving glass with ice cubes. Combine 1/2 glass water, & 1/2 glass lemonade or limeade base and stir till well blended. Pour lemonade over ice & serve.

Lemonade Spritzer
Dima's Tips   for a Lemonade Spritzer, use sparkling water instead of still water. Very refreshing by the pool, or on hot summer days. For an Alcoholic Lemon Spritzer use Champagne instead of Sparkling water.

Pink Lemonade
Pink Lemoade
Serves 8

You Need
2 cups sugar
9 cups water
2 cups fresh lemon juice
2 cups cranberry juice, chilled
Fresh Cranberries or Raspberries for Garnish
Lemon & Lime thin wedges for Garnish

In large container, combine sugar, water, lemon juice and cranberry juice. Stir till sugar dissolves completely. Pour into Pitcher, serve over ice.

Dima's Tip For An Alcoholic Pink Lemonade Add a shot of Vodka, Limoncello, or Tequilla to the drink.

Simple Party Punch

Simple Party Punch
Serves 25 small punch servings

Nothing screams PARTY like Fruit Punch. Spiked or Virgin, this drink definately sets the mood for a party. Here are 2 ways to make Fruit Punch; Both are simple to make, but the second one is more on flavour. Give them a try :)

You Need
2 ltrs chilled Berry blend concentrate (concentrated juice of mixed berries)
2 ltrs chilled Citrus blend concentrate (concentrated juice of mixed citrus fruits)
4 ltrs chilled Ginger ale
Ice Cubes or Ice ring

Place all juices, ginger ale and ice in Punch Bowl. Garnish with thin slices of orange, whole raspberries & strawberries. Guests can help them selves & pour glasses straight from the bowl.

Party Fruit Punch for Many
My Mum's Fresh Fruit Party Punch For Many
Serves 60 Punch Glasses (cut recipe in half for less quantity)
There was never a party at ours that did not include this fruity super zesty Punch!! My mum always made this one, and all our guests raved about it :) Place in a large crystal bowl for a fancy presentation and invite your guests to pour up :)

You Need
350 ml Orange juice concentrate
350 ml Lemonade concentrate
1.350 ltrs unsweetened pineapple juice, chilled
4 ltrs Ginger ale, chilled
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 cups sugar
8 cups water (if using fresh juices instead of concentrates, do not add these 8 cups)
2 ltrs Sparkling water
Fresh Strawberries, halve lengthways
Fresh Orange wedges

In a large container, combine Lemon & Orange concentrate with 8 cups of water. Stir to dissolve. (if using fresh juices instead, just combine juices without the water) Stir in Lime juice & Sugar till sugar dissolves. Cover & chill for 4 hours.

Right before serving, pour 1/2 the juice mixture in a punch bowl, add ice cubes. Pour unsweetened pineapple juice, 1 ltr sparkling water, 2 ltr ginger ale and stir gently to combine.  Garnish with your chosen fruits.

Chuncky Party Punch
During Party Pour the rest of the ginger ale & sparkling water when punch levels drop. Always place punch cups & ladel right next to the punch bowl.

Dima's Tips you cn use any fruits you like to fill a punch bowl. You can even make it chunky, by adding roughly chopped fruits or fruit wedges. You can use stoned appricots, peaches, grapes, cherry halves...etc

For an Alcoholic Party Punch: Add 750 ml Vodka & use Champagne instead of Sparkling water.

Sparkling Summer Berry & Lemonade
Serves 8

You Need
1.5 ltrs Sparkling water
250 ml Pink Lemonade (recipe above)
Zest of 2 lemons
fresh mint Leaves to garnish
2 cups Fresh Raspberries (can use strawberries, blackberries or blueberries insteadl)

In a large Pitcher, stir all ingredients except Mint Leaves & Sparkling Water. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
Right before serving, Slowly pour the sparkling water into pitcher. Stir gently with a long spoon.
Add ice cubes to Champagne fluted glasses and pour drink into glasses allowing berries to fall into the glass. Top with extra zest & mint leaf.

Dima's Tips  for an alcoholic beverage, use 125 ml Limoncello and reduce pink lemonade to 175 ml. Use Champagne instead of Sparkling water.

Serves 8
This is very refreshing in summer when you need to cool down the heat and stay hydrated. It is tastey, and the use of scooped out watermelon makes it appetising to the eye as well...

You Need
8 cups Fresh watermelon juice
2 Cups Fresh Orange Juice
2 Cups Pineapple Juiceon Juice
Watermelon Scoops (scoop using a melon baller)
Mint Leaves for garnish, optional
10 cups ice

Combine all ingredients, except Watermelon scoops, in a large bowl cover & chill for several hours.
Add ice & watermelon Scoops before serving. Garnish with mint leaves if desired.

Dima's Tip  For an alcoholic beverage add a shot of Vodka. You can also inject Watermelon with Vodka before scooping & blending.

Remember, Beverages, do not need to be alcoholic to be impressive. Presentation is Key!
Always be 'The Host With The Most' Think of your guests who do not drink, and serve them beverages just as impressive! Hope this post has inspired you to make some cool beverages to serve when entertaining.

What beverages do you usually serve your guests? Have you tried any from this collection above? Share with us, we love to hear from you :)

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Iced Teas Cool You Down, But the Right Ones Help You DETOX!!

Iced Teas are fabulous, love yourself some Iced Teas and you are in for a treat. Not only are they very refreshing, but also can help you detox! Yes that's right :) Look at it this way, green tea is known for its detox agents; if you add the ingredients that are known to have detox characteristics like cranberries, blueberries, ginger and citrus fruits then you are enhancing the process. Furthermore, Iced Teas can help you with your diet. Iced Teas are a perfect snack; both healthy and refreshing (if you keep sugar intake low)

Now that Ramadan had fallen into a hot month of summer, it is important to rehydrate. There is no better way to do that than drinking lots of water of course. But these appetising, refreshing and detoxifying Iced Teas help you rehydrate and detox at the same time. Here are some recipes for you to enjoy, and am sure you will love them. My friends like to come over and have these, so will yours :)

Dima's Tips :) 

Iced Teas are commonly sweetened using Sugar Syrups. If you must sweeten your tea, then a healthier sweetener is honey. When having it in a restaurant, then ask for unsweetened Tea, and a serving of honey on the side.

One beautiful way to dress your ice cubes is to put fruits or edible flowers in the water before freezing. This way your ice-cubes will look gorgeous and add colour to your drink.

You can use fresh fruits instead of juice to make the ice cubes
Above used Raspberries instead of cranberries 
Detox with Cranberry Iced Tea
Serves 5 
You Need
3 cups water
4 Green Tea bags
1 Mint Tea bag
2 cups cranberry juiced into ice cubes
Fresh Mint Leaves
Fresh Cranberry mini branches

Bring water to a boiling and remove from heat. Add Green Mint Tea bags. Cover saucepan and let it steep for 10 minutes. Remove and discard tea bags. Cover and chill for 2 hours. Transfer tea to a pitcher, add cranberry juice ice cubes. garnish with fresh mint and cranberries.
Chill remaining tea for up to 2 days.

My Favourite for Entertaining:
Detox Raspberry Iced Tea
serves 6 
You Need
2 cups fresh Red Raspberries
4-5 Tea bags
5 cups boiling water
1 cup Fresh Raspberry juice (sieve using cotton cloth for clear juice)
1 cup fresh raspberries, extra for serving

Place 2 cups raspberries and tea bags in a large heat-proof glass container. Pour boiling water  over them then cover and let steep for 5 minutes. Remove and discard the tea bags. strain berries from tea and discard them. Chill for several hours.
To serve, place tea over ice in a large pitcher or Punch bowl, add 1 cup fresh raspberries just before serving. Garnish with fresh mint leaves on top.

My Personal Choice:
Iced Green Tea with Ginger
Serves 12 

Ginger is definitely one of the top 10 detox foods. It boosts your immune systemme and helps your  body get rid of the toxin build up. But the best thing about ginger as I see it, is that it helps increase your body's metabolism especially when it comes to fat burning :) So I make sure to include ginger in as many things I can, especially in my snacks. A snack to aid keep weight gain at bay and stay healthy too.

You Need
12 cups water
1/4 cup Honey
Fresh Ginger, peeled & thinly sliced (about 3 inches)
12 - 16 green Tea Bags
Key Limes or lemons quartered
Orange Peel Strips
Fresh Strawberries

In a large saucepan, combine honey, water & ginger. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer, covered for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add tea bags, cover and let steep for 5 minutes. Remove & discard the tea bags. Strain & discard ginger from tea. Transfer to a large pitcher or punch bowl. Cover & chill for several hours.

To serve, you can alternate strawberries, lime quarters, orange feel & mint on skewers and place them in serving glasses with ice & pour over the iced tea. Or place all those in the punch bowl with iced tea & ice and leave it up to your guests to fill their glasses.

Refreshing :)

Do you have a favourite Iced Tea Recipe? 

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Coffee Syrup Cake

Serves 12  |  Easy

Coffee in deserts is not everyone's cup of tea! But for those who like a bit of coffee in their desserts, then this one is your answer. A cake that is drenched in coffee syrup, offering the best of the two worlds! This is a super moist and super flavoursome cake that will have you coming for seconds...

You Need
3 eggs
150g butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup self-raising flour, sifted
1 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/2 tbsp strong coffee (prepared coffee like esspresso, or a strong instant coffee)

For Coffee Syrup
You Need
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup water
3 tsp instant coffee powder

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a fluted tube pan and set aside.
Beat eggs in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer about 7-8 minutes (till thick &creamy). Gradually add the sugar, beating well after each addition, till dissolved. Fold in sifted flour & cocoa powder. Then fold in melted butter & coffee.
Pour into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 35- 40 minutes. Once done, remove from oven and stand in pan for 5 minutes. Stand a wire rack on a tray, line the rack with baking paper. Turn cake onto baking-paper.

Prepare Coffee Syrup  combine syrup ingredients in a saucepan. Stir over heat but do not boil. Keep stirring till sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil, remove from heat; transfer to a heat-proof jug.

Pour hot coffee syrup over cake (standing on baking paper lined rack). Reserve 1/4 cup syrup to serve on the side with the cake for extras.

Dima's Tips   when it comes to baking cakes, be very precise with measurements and follow the recipe fully. This is what determines baking success or failure.
You can prepre this cake in individual portions. Use shaped mini pans, like flowers, layers...etc as they allow for sauce to layer up. Can be found in home stores, and kitchen accessories stores. A simple mini sized pan will also do. Top the mini cake with 3 candied coffee beans for garnish ;)

Are you with or against coffee in desserts? Let me know what you think, leave me a comment...

Monday, 6 September 2010

Date & Nut Crunchy Bars

Makes 35 squares | 25 bars   |   Easy

Not Only are these bars scrumptious but they are also super simple to make. Bars are a fantastic snack anytime, and they are one food item that the whole family will enjoy! These are perfect for school snacks as well (you might have to remove the nuts though as some children are allergic and can end up tasting your child's treat), so stock on and slip one in your kid's lunch box for a yummy snack :) If placed in a nice container and tied with a ribbon, it will make a nice gift to a friend or neighbour.

For the Base
You Need
125g finely crushed cornflakes
75g butter, softened
50g caster sugar

For the Topping
You Need
175g milk or dark chocolate, roughly chopped
25g butter
125g dates, finely copped
50g chopped pecans or walnuts
1 tsp vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 375 F.
Place cornfakes in a bowl, add butter and rub with the cornflakes. Add the sugar and mix well. Spoon mixture into a greased baking tin lined with baking paper. Spread evenly. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. remove, and cool.

Heat chocolate and butter over a double boiler until melted and incorporated. Remove from heat & add chopped dates, nuts and vanilla essence.Spread evenly over base.
When topping starts to harden, score roughly with a fork, and when it has completely hardened, cut into pieces (squares or bars).

Happy Baking :)

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Blueberry Swiss Roll

Seves 12  |  Medium 

I love Blueberries! Can't think of how many times, I said that!!

Anything blueberry is always good. It is an excellent fruit for desserts, baking, ice cream making and having on its own any time! When baked, I just love how they burst and their juices just soak the batter around them. Goodness!!

Blueberries are very healthy too, as they are full of anti-oxidents and are always used in detox diets. They do wonders for your skin, and are full of vitamins. I find that blueberries are elegant, delicious and very healthy; therefore I like to use them whenever I can.
Here is one way with blueberries.....

You Need
5 eggs, seperated
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup cake flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp melted butter

For Blueberry filling
You Need
1/2 cup fresh Orange juice
1 1/2 tsp orange zest
1 1/2 cups blueberries, rinsed
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
3 tbsp corn starch
1 1/2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp Grand Marinier (optional)

For Cream Filling
You Need
2 cups Whipping Cream (plain, unsweetened)
1 cup Icing Sugar, sifted
scrapings of 1/2 vanilla bean

To Prepare the Sponge for Swiss Roll Preheat oven to 350F.
In an electric mixer mix: 5 egg yolks, 1/4 cup sugar, 1tsp vanilla essence until pale and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes). Fold in the 1/2 cup flour.

In a seperate large bowl, beat 5 egg whites with 1/2 tsp salt to soft peaks. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and beat till whites become glossy.

Gently fold whites mixture into yolks mixture till no streaks remain visible. Fold in melted butter. Gently Pour into prepared rectangular baking sheet (Swiss Roll Baking Sheet). Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.

Dima's Tips We fold rather than mix so not to ruin the volume we worked on, so make sure you do fold and not mix as specified by recipe. When a recipe uses egg whites as a leavening agent, make sure to bake right after mixing and folding is finished, or it will deflate, and you won't achieve the desired results.
(To learn specific techniques, join Dima's Courses)

To Prepare Blueberry Filling Place Sugar, orange juice and zest in a saucepan. Cook stirring till thickened (about 5 minutes). Reduce heat. Stir in Blueberries, and simmer till the berries burst. Add butter and Grand Marinier if using. Remove from heat and cool thoroughly.

When the sponge baking is finished, immediately loosen edges of cake from pan, turn the cake onto a clean towel sprinkled with sifted icing sugar. Roll up the towel and cake into a spiral starting from the cake's short side. Cool on wire rack. Prepare Cream.

To Prepare the Cream Place vanilla seeds, cream and icing sugar in a large bowl and whip till cream thickens and doubles in volume.

Unroll cake; remove towel. Spread cake with whipped cream mixture. Top with Blueberry Filling. Roll up the cake and cut off the uneven edges. Place on serving platter. You can sprinkle cake with icing sugar and line the top with fresh blueberries.

Ice Cream Charlotte
Serving Suggestions Can be served on its own or with ice cream. Can also be used in preparing an ice cream Charlotte. Just slice the cake and line the sides & bottoms of a bowl with cake slices. fill centre with softened ice cream (vanilla and or blueberry). Cover all with cake slices. Place in Freezer till ready to serve. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutesbefore serving. Turn onto serving platter, top with fresh Blueberries.

For Busy Day Blueberry Roll  instead of preparing blueberry filling, just place fresh blueberries on top of cream filling. You can also fold in some fresh berries into cake mixture before baking. This recipe is a crowd pleaser and a great option for afternoon tea, try it out and impress :)


Thursday, 2 September 2010

My Mum's Best Ever Arayes Recipe - Meat Sandwich

Please click this link for this recipe in Arabic

Serves 5 large, 20 minis or triangles  |  Easy

I have always loved the day we had Arayes at home. I did not know how much I have missed that, till Mum made them this summer. The smell, just took me there... back in the years when I was back from school. As I opened the door, the house smelled of the nice aromas grilling in the oven. I would rush to the kitchen, to find Mum just taking them out of the oven. Perfectly on time, like she always knew what we wanted and when we needed it the most. I would look up to her always and think she is my hero. I had the same grin again this summer :))) Bless!

On a busy day, there is nothing yummier than these amazing little sandwiches of goodness. Easy to prepare and serve they make a very good meal for the whole family. Being finger foods, they are also popular with the lil ones :) just remember to not use chilis for the kids portion of it. Use Mini pitas instead of large ones (available at supermarkets) and you got yourself an impressively yummy platter for a cocktail party or an appetiser.

You Need
500g minced lamb (you can use beef but lamb is better for this recipe, keeps it moist and not dry)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium capsicum, finely chopped
1 large tomato, finely chopped
1 bunch parsley, finely choppd
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp red chilis in oil  (Shatta) found in most supermarkets in the sauces & pickles section
for extra spicy 1 gren chili, finely chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste

5 Pita breads or mini pitas

Preheat oven to 400F.
Mix all the chopped vegetables, herbs & seasoning. Add the minced lamb and mix till all ingredients are well blended.

Seperate bread layers, brush insides & out with seasoned olive oil. Place meat mix inside and spread on all of the bread. Top with another bread layer (keep insides of bread facing outwards). Fill all 5 Pita bread the same way.

Place on a baking sheet, and bake till browned and the meat is cooked through. Can be grilled with an elecrtic grill as well. the charred lines make it look even better :)
Serve hot (whole or cut into triangles) with hommus or yoghurt.

These Arayes are fabulous for cocktail parties too. Use mini Pita breads instead. Once grilled place on serving platter around a Hummus Dip or a Minted Yoghurt Dip. Divine!

Let me know what you think of these super yummy, super fast meat sandwiches, leave me a comment.