Chef On A Mission - A preview (watch the full episode on November 7, 12:55 pm KSA Time, on Fatafeat)

Sunday, 31 October 2010

DK 2010 members promotion

Celebrating the End of the great year 2010
with 2010 members of DK
I am so happy that Dima’s Kitchen and the DK approach to food and cookery is becoming increasingly popular and loved by many. The feedback of all those who have recently joined my group and started following my blog is huge! The questions that I get, the feedback, the comments are all much appreciated and give me support to continue growing in the direction that enables you to benefit more, and me to develop and grow. I try my best to reply to all your cooking questions and inquiries in a timely manner and hope you understand that with the blog, courses, catering and publishing my first cookbook I cannot help a little bit of delay when it happens, but nonetheless will eventually get back to you.

I am delighted see that more and more are becoming into the kitchen and cooking. I enjoy nothing more than the classes, getting to know many of you and helping you own your kitchens and helping you bond with your families - at least partly - through your food. I am blessed in that way and I am grateful to all of you for supporting me and enabling me to achieve my dreams through your belief in my kitchen, courses, blog and most importantly my approach to food preparation.

It is always my belief that ‘when you take, you must give back’, and I like that through this blog I get to have the chance to give some back. We have offered our first DK giveaway a month ago, and are now offering 5 giveaways to be won on draw! But in order to start this process we need to have become 2000 members in the group Dima’s Kitchen. Once we reach 2010 members, we can start the process of draw and winning. So please go ahead and invite everyone to join our group, through which everyone can get updates about DK services, news, new products, releases...etc. Ask your friends to invite their friends so that we can get to 2010 members fast. This is will be happening lots here at DK, we will continue looking for ways to be of more benefit to you. We will be offering lots of giveaways, offers and promotions so everyone can be a winner! Go ahead, spread the word, and let us see how many more giveaways we can add :)

I would like to thank our wonderful Sponsors who have actually made this happen. Their support and belief in DK is greatly appreciated and I look forward to all our mutual projects together. We would also like to welcome any new sponsors who would like to join our little community and explore ways to do projects of mutual interest together. Just give us a shout and we will have everything ready in a jiffy.

The DK 2010 members promotion sponsors are:

- The famous TAVOLA shops that offer an unmatched kitchen, baking and tableware shopping experience. The reason why I need a financial controller :)

- The young, colourful and creatively brilliant Craft Studio- Dubai. The craft Studio offers the much-needed creative learning experience for kids in a fun and safe environment, where even the parents will enjoy. Creative thinking and creative learning is just as important as academic learning. It equips people with tools to facilitate their lives and livelihood options. We therefore appreciate your presence in Dubai, Craft Studio :)

- The ever so young, rested and beautiful results of Eternel MedSpa’s services. Their extensive treatment list, which offers medical and aesthetic treatments will leave you feeling younger, more beautiful and rejuvenated for sure. The best way to wipe up a busy stressful life’s effects and look your best anytime! Who doesn’t want that :)

- The funkiest, trendiest and healthiest watches ever by IO?!ION! You will definitely turn some heads with these colorful funky watches. You will have everybody asking where you got them, and they glow in the dark making sure that you are noticed even when its pitch-black! What more can a watch do :)

Thank you again for being part of Dima’s Kitchen’s promotion, for your support and generosity.

The Giveaways:

1. AED 1000.00 By DK. (equivalent of US$ 270.00)

2. A free book “the Everlasting Cake” with the purchase of any KAISER bakeware by TAVOLA. Just show the cashiers at TAVOLA your DK Trainee or loyalty card and you will get your free book.

3. A 25% discount on a birthday organised by The Craft Studio Dubai.

4. A free workshop for 1 child at The Craft Studio Dubai.

5. An AED 500.00 voucher from Eternel MedSpa.

6. A free watch from IO?ION!

Once we are coming closer to our target 2010 members I will be sending you instructions to entering the draw. So lets get to it and start inviting people to Join Dima’s Kitchen :)

PS please join the facebook fan pages of our sponsors to keep them bringing more giveaways and to thank them for the ones they already offered and increase your chances to win a giveaway. You can find links for their fan pages on DK fan page in the favourite pages section.

Good luck,
Love Dima

Saturday, 30 October 2010

The Making of DK interactive & animated Halloween Cake

So it's Halloween again!!

DK Halloween Cupcakes &
 Cookies 2010
The usual is seen everywhere, the cats, bats, ghosts, witches... When it came to designing this year's main DK Halloween cake, I decided to add the extreme element and make it an interactive cake :) Honestly, because I felt bored recreating the same themes and also because I wanted to show my clients that a cake can be so much more than just tiering, and 3D toppers. While all that is great a cake can do more and that is the approach I wanted to take with this year's theming.

Halloween is a wide-ranged theme, and the horror element is a great concept to adopt into the first animated cake, especially that this type of cakes are not yet done in Dubai so it is easier to start a trend on such a forgiving occasion. I wanted however to keep the original and best loved concepts of the bats, ghosts, cats, and skulls as to not throw everyone way off guard. Also had to stick to the haunted house and graveyard theme, as requested by my client, so in the end "something old something new" became the theme for this year's Halloween :)

Other designs made this Halloween
With that said, I had chosen to go with freaky, strange and somewhat disturbing instead of the cute cartoonish style. After all this cake was catering for a party for adults. I know this is not everyone’s cup of tea, but luckily Michelle was open to the idea and loved the final outcome. But if you want to carry out an interactive cake or an animated cake yourself you can still do that with a more cartoonish and friendlier approach. At the end of the day, it is all about pleasing your guests/clients.

This concept can also be adopted into birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers… of course it will have to go with the rest of the theme and style of the party instead of a freak show!

Original Design

When designing the cake, I wanted to include these extreme elements: Fog on a mirrored surface to depict Bloody Mary scenes, the most common music and sounds of old-horror-movies, a lighting effect and a rotating 3D statue of a person inside the haunted house who can be seen as victim or predator depending on the rotation and the light.

I managed to include all elements except for the fog as I was not able to get hold of some liquid nitrogen as it turned out it is only sold to hotels or something of the sort! The original design was also a castle, but I ended up with only a house instead, as I was worried the top might break during transport and ruin the occasion, as my client was picking up the cake herself. All in all, it went well, and for the short time I had to work on it (exactly 2 daysfrom order to finished) and all the details of it I think it was remarkable. The cake managed to shock and surprise everyone who saw it. Which means it has done the job it was designed for.

And it was really my first ever animated cake!

This cake's Extreme elements:
Changing light Colours, Rotating 3D Statue inside the haunted house with automated 
horror music and noises ending the show with an automated threat lol
Let's talk cake now..

The base of this Halloween cake is a chocolate cake, the filling is Hazelnut spread, the cover is chocolate buttercream. The cookies are sugar cookies, and the cupcakes are both vanilla and chocolate with swirls of chocolate buttercream.

I will let the pics tell you the details, but before I go I would like you to know that I can customize this to any theme, occasion…etc so go ahead and try having an animated, interactive cake on your next occasion…

Of course, I will not show all of the behind the scenes, have to keep that for my trainees :) But you get the drift.

watch the video at the end of the post.

Pastillage house structure, gum paste character
with chocolate detailing

The details

Final test for light, rotation, sound and music
Making Cupcakes and adding cookies

One side

The finished Cake

when it gets darker

 Happy Halloween !!!!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Creole Cuisine of the Mauritian Islands - Chicken with Coconut Milk

How amazing is Africa. It is beautiful and abundant in everything. Everything about this great continent is colourful, alive and unique to its character. From nature, to the food to people, everything over there is distinctive and diverse.
I Love Africa!

Mauritius is one spot over there that I find to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. I think it is an earthly window to heaven. It is beautiful! The white sandy beaches, being caressed with the intense turquoise ocean, backed with the ever so green Volcanic Mountains, kissed by a strong sun, then showered with extra cold rain drops making the whole experience so surreal... Funny because every time I think of Mauritius I remember it exactly like it was yesterday! I even remember how the whole place smelled like: It literally smelled like vanilla!! It is remarkable!

Mauritius is home for numerous sugar cane, tea and vanilla plantations and produces several other things like cocoa and coffee beans. It is also home to some real good RUMs made out of sugar cane. It is therefore originally rich with flavours. When it comes to cooking the Mauritians are known for their Creole cuisine. Creole cookery reflects the full-flavoured combination of the best of French, Spanish and African cuisines, and intermingling amongst those cuisines while being very much influenced by Asian flavours due to the Asian Immigrants who have made homes over there. Derived from previous colonial influences Mauritian creole cuisine had been evolving through the years to what is now specific to the Mauritius. Usually tomato-based, seldom creamy, yet the few cream-based dishes are just divine as they are based on coconut milk. I find coconut milk to add that depth of flavour with an intensity of the exotic, especially when spicy. The combination of sweet and hot makes it so appetising and keeps your palate asking for more. Coconut Stews and curries are usually served with steamed white rice in the Mauritius, which adds a comfort factor eventually rounding up the flavours and experience into a fully satisfying one.

When I was at Mauritius I stayed at the Hilton Resort in Flic en Flac, a very relaxing spa resort atmosphere in one of Mauritius quieter neighbourhoods. The Chef was creating brilliant Creole dishes all the time, but this one was just great! I had to have the recipe, so he very generously agreed to share it with me. There you go many years later I share a little piece of my Mauritius with you...

Creole Spices: Mild Curry spice mix, Powdered Saffron, Hot Curry Spice Mix, Hot Chili Powder....
You Need
4 Chicken breasts (washed & pat dried), cubed or largely sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 can Coconut Milk or fresh coconut milk
2 Cinnamon leaves or if not available Sticks
1 tsp Turmeric
Salt & Black Pepper to taste
1” Ginger root, crushed
Spicy Masala
Handful of chopped coriander
Can add chopped green chilis if desired for more spicy flavour

In a large Bowl place chicken cubes, salt, pepper, Masala, Tumeric, Garlic & Ginger and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil, add chicken, cinnamon leaves or sticks and stir to seal chicken. Once sealed add coconut milk and stir to mix. Bring to a boil, reduce and let simmer for 10 – 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Transfer to serving dish, sprinkle with chopped coriander. Serve warm with Steamed white rice and enjoy. I close my eyes and think of the Mauritian Islands every time, takes me right back :)

Which Cuisine did you come across while Traveling? Has any cuisine influenced your everyday cooking by trying to fuse its flavours into your own cuisine? Share with us, we love to hear your experiences...

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Home-made Chocolate Spread & the 'Halloween Special' Course

Super Easy
Is there anything better than toasted bread with home-made chocolate spread?

"Be Careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint."   -  Mark Twain

A little chat before we dive into the succulent world of the chocolate spread... How about you make yourself a cup of coffee, or tea and hang out with me and my blog for a while this evening? I know some of you already do that;) Yes that is what my trainees have told me today. They said: "We hang out with your blog"! How cool is that?!

Today was the last session of the 'Halloween Special Course'. What fun was this course?! It went so well and we had some great gooey gruesome fun! In this course I showed participants how they can carry out the Halloween theme on food. We did cookies, cupcakes, Cake pops and all their decorations. We even worked out many Halloween themes and styles, colour schemes and lots of food-presentation ideas...

 'Halloween Special Course' by Dima Sharif

It is funny how towards the end of every course I kinda get a little sentimental! I mean they all come here saying, I don't know this, I don't know that, I can never do this, it never comes out right, or I just have to tell you that baking is not a strength of mine... then they leave here with fabulous creations that they made themselves! You can see it grow on them, and you can see them get more confident, and I could not be more proud of each one of them. But the real sentiment is that we get used to seeing each other every day. I get used to having them over, working with them, chatting, sharing and forming what eventually becomes more of a support group, a friendship or even a sisterhood. The last day of every course, is always sentimental! And evidently for myself and them!

Cupcakes & Cookies from 'Halloween Special' Course by Dima Sharif

When I first started these courses, I was thinking more along the lines of helping others to discover the rewards of cooking. Little did I know that I was the one who will be helped to discover the rewards of sharing - of completely and totally sharing the recipes, the secrets, the tips and the inside information... The best reward of all is witnessing the very moment all this clicks for one of the trainees and she finds her passion :) Priceless!

Meringue ghosts and yukky fingers from 'Halloween Special' Course by Dima Sharif

These courses have taught me a lot and I have come to appreciate them way beyond being another thing I do. These groups and every person in it had taught me something, had shared something with me and had made all the hard work, the prep and the classes real worthwhile. For that, I am grateful to everyone who joined my classes and who will join in the future :)

I have sold out today on all DK Courses for 2010 ... YAY!!

So thank you all for your continued support and admiration for my kitchen and everything that comes out of it. Hearing the reviews and the feedback makes me even more grateful to all of you!

Meringue fingers springing out of earth! from "Halloween Special'
Course by Dima Sharif

At the end of this hectic day, I came to unwind with a new post and thought what am I going to share with you today? Then decided to go for a better looking and softer food. I have been looking at gruesomeness for a long time, that all I want is something soft and smooth on the eye!  

And what better food than chocolate to ease the ye, sooth the soul and please the palate? I am sharing with you today a Home-made Chocolate Spread (Home-made Nutella if I may lol) because at the end of the day, and despite our differences we are all the same. Nutella Kind of expresses that because I am not sure if there is anybody who did not enjoy Nutella or a chocolate spread while growing up. I am sure that most of us still do (have a chocolate spread) as an occasional treat. So here is how this super delicious spread is made...

Home-made Chocolate Spread Sandwiches

Both kids and grown-ups will enjoy this very simple recipe. Store it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks. Use as spread, dip or to frost cakes...etc Don’t be taken back by the amount of butter, that is what gives it the spreading consistency.

You Need
1 can Condensed sweetened milk
225g butter, melted
4 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted
2 tbsp Hazelnut Essence, or vanilla essence (optional)

Put all ingredients in blender and blend until fully incorporated. Place spread in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
As simple as that!

Hope you enjoyed this post and that you will give this recipe a try. It is Super easy!! So there is No excuse, give it a try and indulge in the goodness :) Spread your love and share this website with your friends. Also do leave me a comment before you go, I love to hear from you :))

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Chocolate MudCake & Dark Chocolate Ganache

Serves 12  | Easy
Serve this luscious rich chocolate cake toppd with Chocolate Ganache and fresh fruits. The fresh fruits cut away from the richness and lend their freshness and tang creating a wonderful balance on your palate, making this cake irresistible.

Mudcake is also a good base for cake decoration as it is firm enough to hold its shape, and is threfore easier to manage especially if you are a beginner in decorations. Most my trainees find it easier to layer, level and fill mudcakes in comparison to sponges. Both are good bases, and since this is a seductive velvety rich cake, I thought I will post it here for you to try yourself :) If you are more into the flavours than the look and do not wish to decorate with flavour altering material such as sugar paste | Fondant or Marzipan then below is a Ganache recipe for you that will help you achieve the shiney finish like the look in the picture. You can use Ganache as a filling too. In the filling you can also add chopped fresh fruits for extra tang and a gorgeous layer of colour in betee cakes. As we say at DK Courses, these are the basics, and there is no limit to what you can do from there... So here you go:

Chopped Chocolate
You Need
675g dark eating chocolate, chopped
400g unsalted butter, chopped
1 ¾ cups (260g) plain flour, sifted
1 ¼ cups (310ml) water
1 ¼ cups (275g) firmly packed brown sugar
4 eggs
½ cup (75g) self-raising flour, sifted
1 ½ tbsp instant coffee granules (optional)
1/3 cup coffee flavoured liqueur (optional) if not using then use 1/3 cup strong coffee instead (you can do without the coffee if ou prefer.

Preheat oven to 325°F 300°F for convection ovens. Grease 9" square cake pan or round pan. Line with baking paper and set aside.

In a large saucepan combine: chocolate, butter, coffee, the water & sugar. Stir over low heat until smooth. Cool mixture for 15 minutes. Whisk in sifted flours, eggs & liqueur. Pour mixture in prepared pans. Bake 2 ½ hours. Cool in pan completely. Turn cake.

Make dark chocolate Ganache, & spread all over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle top randomly with berries: Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and/or cranberries.

For Dark Chocolate Ganache
Spoon this versatile chocolate icing over a single cake layer on a wire rack so the excess can drip off. Transfer the cake to a platter once Ganache sets. Ganache can be used as filling if thickened, or poured over baked goods as glaze.
You Need

1 cup heavy or whipping cream
360g dark Chocolate, Chopped
In a medium saucepan, bring whipping cream just to boiling over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add chocolates (do not stir); let stand for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Cool for 15 minutes. Spoon evenly over desired cake layers.

Here are some Cakes covered with Poured Chocolate Ganache for you to get an idea of what can be done with this amazing chocolate Glaze...

Cake Covered with Poured Chocolate Ganche
Topping Buttercreamed cake

Cakes Covered with Poured Chocolate Ganche
Topped with Chocolate Tiles to create Mosaic effect

More Mosaic Effect
Cakes Covered with Poured Chocolate Ganche

Ganache is one of those amazing icings that can be poured, piped, spread with an offset spatula and even at times molded. Give this recipe a try and see for yourself how it works out. If you get interested and want to learm more join Dima's Chocolate Truffles Course and learn all there is to know about Chocolate, and ganache :)

What is your favourite experience with chocolate? Would love to hear your love for chocolate .... Don't shy away, leave a comment :))

Thursday, 21 October 2010

A Coffee Morning with The Ladies & A Crêpe Suzette

I finally got the time to get together with the ladies this morning. It was a wonderful gathering and just great catching up with the girls :) The best thing about these get togethers is that you get to see the inner greatness in all of these wonderful women who would stop at nothing to support their families, loved ones and children. You get to hear the great things that they silently do each and every day to provide the best in their homes without the slightest bit of expectation for anything in return. They just simply Give! There is power to unconditional love! And that is the kind of love that makes these women so capable of giving, making them the makers of homes, the makers of each one of us and all to follow.
Funny enough they do not even realise the enormity of their giving and its greatness! They just simply do it, and feel the need to continuously improve it and add to it! They are the true HEROES...

We all want our diners to be
On another note, among the things that came up, was a discussion about 'Complaints in Restaurants': Who are with, and who are against? It seems that some people are comfortable complaining about the food they order in a restaurant if it was not good, or if it was not the same as they have had before in the same restaurant. While others are very uncomfortable, and would just have it, thinking that they don't want to be 'difficult'.
My personal take on this is that it is OK to complain in restaurants for several reasons: Firstly it's a head up for the Chef. Chefs or cooks want their diners to enjoy the food they prepare! None of us likes to deliver something unsatisfactory to our diners. On occasions some Cooks stop being so motivated, or maybe going through something that eventually effects their cooking. A complaint mayact as a reminder to those that they need to step it up and get back in shape. Also in some occasions the problem may be a misunderstanding. You may order a blueberry pancake, but get a buttermilk pancake instead! Most probably this was the mistake of the waiter's. So instead of having the food and vowing never to return, try telling your waiter as maybe they can fix this miscommunication. I also believe that when you are paying for a service, you are expecting to get that service, and it should be up to standards.

With that said though, you need to make sure that you are being fair before complaining, and that your complaint is in place. You canot expect a 'fine dining' experience from a simple fresh juice kiosk! So you cannot exactly complain there about the use of plastic serve-ware! It will also be rediculous to complain about the use of white sauce in a Fettuccini Alfredo, because you think it should be with tomato sauce! Therefore do express your concern when dining out, should there be any. Most eateries welcome the criticism as they care about their customers' satisfaction, and will most probably work on fixing it. Do also be nice about it.

As it seems the ladies all are in favour of Crêpes. I have therefore promised them to blog the Crêpes suzette recipe here so they can prepare it at home. So here we go:

Crêpes Suzette
Regular & Flambé

Crêpes are pancakes. They belong to the pastry- breads category. They are made by cooking a thin batter sparingly in a very thin layer. Crêpes are cooked in a frying pan or a special Crêpes pan. The batter is usually prepared in advance, and left to rest so that the flour swells and any air bubbles created during preparation have time to dissipate. After standing a little liquid can be added if batter has become too thick. This 'Standing & Thinning' Procedure ensure the batter doesn't rise, and is instead cooked into a perfect even thin layer.

Crêpes are usually made using Wheat orBuckwheat flour. Liquids are usually water, milk or beer. Just bear in mind that beer makes Crêpes rise slightly. Also the use of eggs, lends itself to the liquifying process. As a general rule, Crêpes batter must always be or pouring consistency. They are usually fried in oil or butter, and can be made either savoury or sweet.

A crêpe Suzette is a sweet crêpe flavoured with tangerine and coated with a tangerineflavoured sauce. The sauce is used to mask the Crêpes and is made using tangerine juice and Curaçao in addition to melted butter & sugar. Many recipes have come about and different people prepare it differently but for the classic recipe:

For the batterYou Need2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3 eggs
1 cup milk
a pinch salt
Juice of 1 tangerine
1 tbsp Curaçao
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and make a well in the middle. In a seperate bowl mix all dry ingredients well together. Add dry ingredients into the well you created in the centre of the flour mixture. Mix all to a thin batter, let stand at room temperature for 2 hours.

For Tangerine ButterYou Need1/4 cup melted
Juice and zest of 1 tangerine
1 tbsp Curaçao
4 tbsp caster sugar

Mix all ingrdients well together to create tangerine butter.

To Assemble crêpe Suzette
Make some thin crêpes in heavy-based frying pan by lightly greasing your frying pan and heating it. Remove the pan from the heat add 2 tbsp batter. Lift and tilt your pan to spread batter into a thin layer. Return pan to heat and brown on 1 side only. (you can use specialised crepe machine and spread the batter using the crepe scraper)

Coat your crêpes with Tangerine butter, fold them in 4 (they will look like a triangle), returning them to the pan to reheat them. (you can - if you like - refry folded crêpes in a little bit of Tangerine butter).

Arrange the cooked crêpe-folds on a warmed plate slightly over lapping each other. top with tangerine rind and a little melted tangerine butter. You can also serve these crepes with a side of ice cream.

For flambé Suzettes:
Please be careful when attempting a flambé, Alcohol is highly flamable. keep your face away from  the pan when lighting the alcohol. If in doubt, it is better not to use this method. This is totally optional and suzettes can be served without flaming them.

Use 1 0z Cointreau. Add the alcohol to the folds when you are refrying them. To add the alcohol, carefully pour it to the side of the pan, and never the middle in case it lights up, then you can simply move your hand away. Let the alcohol warm up for a couple of seconds, then light using a long lighter or by tipping it ever so slightly to the side till alcohol catches fire. Once the alcohol had evporated it should go off on its own.

Place overlaping on a warm ed plate and serve.
So there you go ladies, Crêpes Suzette :)

You can pile crepes on top of each other and serve as a cake - these are usually sliced like cakes.

Hope you like this recipe. It is a retro recipe that was very famous back in the day. Just because it is retro, does not mean it is not super delicious! In fact, it is really flavoursome and must be brought back to the kitchen. Do let me know what you think of Crepe Suzette :) Leave me a comment before you go...

Come back again soon for more... Meanwhile enjoy these crepes

Sunday, 17 October 2010

From Sctach - Home Made Italian Basil Pesto

Makes 3/4 cup pesto
Basil Pesto can be made into a thick paste or
a thin sauce for dpping depepnding the amount of oil you use
This spring bright green sauce is wonderful with Pasta. It is great as a base to pizzas instead of the Tomato sauce, especially if topped with grilled chicken strips, mushrooms and Parmesan cheese. This makes for an amazing green pizza, full packed with freshness and great flavours - a change from the regular tomato sauce-based pizzas. Pesto is also great as a snack with some cherry tomatoes, roasted or fresh. Try it with rice cakes for an extra healthy snack. Pesto can also be used as dip for cocktail parties, with olive, cherry tomatoes and baby buffalo mozzarella rounds.... This sauce is also good with grilled meats as well as a dressing for some salads... There is really no limit to what you can do with Pesto.

Fresh Basil
Contrary to common belief, Pesto is not hard to make at all, it is in fact on of the simplest things. It does not require Chef status to master! so go on and get your jars ready. This recipe will make enough to chill or freeze for another time. Instructions for canning are also included here :)

You Need
1/4 cup Extra Virging Olive Oil
1/2 cup toasted Pine nuts
2 cups firmly packed fresh Basil Leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
3 cloves garlic, crushed
pinch salt
black pepper

In a food processor, combine oil, nuts, basil, cheese, garlic, and salt. Cover and process till almost smooth. Scrape thesides and process one more time to make sure no big chunks remain. Add black pepper to taste.

Image from the purple foodie . com / Pesto Jar
Canning Pesto
If you are not using Pesto immediately, and for long time storage, you need to sterilize your jars. Boil 3 small airtight jars and covers to sterilize them. Pour the Pesto inside the sterilized jars, top the pesto with Olive oil so non of it is exposed to air. Close the lid tightly. You can now store your jars in the fridge or even freeze them.

These jars are a good idea for small home-made gifts to give to your friends, neighbours, hosts...etc. Just top the cover with a nice cloth and tie with a nice ribbon. Pesto is a gift from the kitchen that is always appreciated.

For Simple Pesto Pasta Dish
Cook 180g Pasta like spaghetti, linguine, or fettuccine according to package instructions. Toss with 1/4 cup Pesto. Top with roasted cherry tomatoe halves and grated parmesan cheese, you can also top with grilled chicken strips. Serve warm.

Hope I inspired you to start making your own pesto instead of only buying store bought ones. Making your own is so good and you can make sure to add that extra bit of cheese and black pepper! Yum..
Don't forget to leave me a comment and let me know what you think....

Quick Chick-pea Stew for 7-day Detox Diet

This recipe is for the stew mentioned in the 7-day detox diet. Don't increase the portion size of this recipe according to how hungry you think you are. It is designed to satisfy you the way it is.

You Need
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 cardamon pods
1medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
400g canned chopped tomatoes
420g canned chick-peas
475ml water

Gently Heat a tbsp of olive oil in a medium saucepan, add the spices and cook for  minute, add the onion and garlic, soften for 5 minutes. tir in the tomatoes,chickpeas and por in the water. Simmer 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally until the sauce is thickened.

Salad Recipes for 7-day Detox Diet

Pak Choi

These are the Salad Recipes mentioned in the 7-Day Detox Diet. Stick to the quantities and the recipe. They are designed to help your body detox, improve the works of your digestive system and kick start your metabolism.

Please remember to consult with your physician before going on any kind of diet. I am not a medical expert, and have not designed this programme. I have come to learn about it, and only sharing it with you. Do consult your doctor before taking it up.

Broccoli and Tomato Salad with Tofu or Tuna
You Need
Juice 1/2 lemon
25g Tofu, cut into cubes or 50g canned tuna, flaked
50g broccoli florets
4 cherry tomatoes, halved
Black pepper
Fresh Thyme leaves

Mix up a marinade of lemon juice, thyme leaves, and black pepper in a small bowl. Add tofu or tuna.
In a nother bowl add broccoli & tomatoes then scatter the tofu or tuna with the marinade on top. Drizzle with 1 tsp olive oil.

Pepper and Pak Choi Salad with Tuna or Tofu
You Need
Juice of 1/2 lemon
A pinch of Garam Masala
25g Tofu cut into bite size pieces or 5og tuna flaked
1/2 red or yellow pepper, cut into strips
1 small head pak choi shredded
1 tbsp grated carrot
black pepper

Combine lemon, Garam Masala in a small bowl. Season with Freshly Ground Pepper. Add Tofu or Tuna, set aside for few minutes.

Put the perppers and pak choi in bowl and toss in a dressing of olive oil & balck peper. Top with carrots. Spoon over Tuna or Tofu with their marinade.

Avocado or Cold Salmon with Watercress Salad
You Need
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
A handful of watercress, rocket, lettuce or any other green salad leaves
A squeeze of lemon juice
4 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 Avocado Sliced or cold Salmon

Toast the cumin seeds gently in a small heavy-based saucepan fo 1 minutes, then remove from heat.
Dress the salad leaves with toasted cumin seeds, lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil and freshly ground black pepper. Add tomatoes, mix well and serve.

These Salads are good to have even without following a detox programme. Give them a try, they are good for your body and full of antioxidents.

Soups for 7-Day Detox Diet

I have posted the 7-day detox diet yesterday and here are the soup recipes mentioned in it.

These soups are an integral part of the 7-Day Detox Diet for several reasons. The Clear Soup is a highly concentrated cleansing drink rich in minerals. It is designed t help improve workings of the digestive system as quickly as possible, and will be used throughout the week to increase your fluid intake.

The othe 2 vegetable-based soups provide your body wth a high degree of easily absorbed nutrients, together with vital fibres and liquid. They will also kick start your metabolism with a better digestive health.

These 3 soups are very easy to prepare,even by the most inexperienced cook, and can be stored in the fridge for up to one week. Make these soups 1 day ahead of starting the 7-day detox diet. If you work, or need to be out all day, put your daily portions in a thermos and take the soups with you.

Clear Soup
for the 14 snacks in the 7-day detox diet (remember to use only organic vegetables)
You Need
3.5 ltrs (6 pints) water
4 carrots, roughly chopped
1/2 head celery,roughly choppd
1 medium onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 bay leaves
4 springs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
4 whole cloves
6 black peppercorns
6 springs parsley
large handful fresh leaf spinach, coarsely shredded
juice 1 lemon
1 tsp dijon mustard
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 lemon and ginger herbal drink bags (optional)

Put all ingredients, except the lemon juice, dijon mustard, freshly ground black pepper and herbal drink bags in a large pot. Bring to boil and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

Strain the liquid into a lare bowl and throw the vegetables. Return broth to pot and stir in the rest of the ingredients. If using herbal drink bags, leave them to brew for about a minute, then discard them (these are optional but the ginger is very good or the digestive system and helps you burn fat. They also add a refreshing flavour to the soup).  Store the soup in the fridge for the duration of the 7-day diet.

Tomato & Rosemary Soup
for 3 meals on days 1, 2 and 3
You Need
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celeray, sliced
1 carrot, diced
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 400g can chopped plum tomatoes
1 spring fresh rosemary
Juice 1/2 lemon
1 ltr fresh organic vegetable stock (sodium reduced, you can use OXO vegetable cubes with 1 ltr water)
1 ltr water extra
50g shredded fresh spinach leaves
1 medium head pak choi, shredded

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions, celery, carrot & garlic and cook gently over medium heat till they begin to soften. Stir in the tomatoes and add the rosemary and lemon juice. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add stock and simmer for 15 minutes or so until the vegetables are cooked but not soggy.
Stir in the Spinach, pak choi and cook fr 2-3 minutes longer or till they wilt. Remove the rosemary and season with freshly ground black pepper. Divide into 3individual portions and sto in the fridge.

Chunky Vegetable Soup
for the 3 meals on days 4,6 and 7
You Need
1 tsp each: caraway and cumin seeds
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic,crushed
200g pumpkin, peeled and cut into small cubes
1/2 small green cabage, shredded
1 small head broccoli, broken into florets
1 stick celery sliced
1 small carrot diced
1.5 ltr fresh organic vegetable stock (sodium reduced, you can use OXO vegetable cubes with 1.5 ltr water)
1 bay leaf

Put the seeds in a small pan an toast over a medium heat for a few minutes, until lightly browned. Gently heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large pan and soften the onion and garlic for 5 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables and the toasted seeds. Heat them all together with the oil for another 5 minutes or so. Add just enough stock to cover the vegetables and simmer for 10 minutes. add the remaning stock and bay leaf, season with black pepper and simmer for about 20 minutes until all the vegetables are cooked. Divide the soup into 3 portions and store in the fridge.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

7- Day Detox Diet. Live a Healthy Life. WHY NOT???

I am sharing this story hopefully to inspire those who have adopted bad habits to quit them, and adopt new healthy habits...
There will be cooking involved lol

I have quit smoking 6 months ago! After many years of this terrible habit, quitting was not easy at all, in fact it could be just about the hardest thing I have ever done. The cravings, the mood swings, and also the emotional stress were tremendous! But hey I survived it, and feel better than I ever did since I started this terrible habit. All it took was 2 weeks! Then it was FREEDOM!

I feel young again, and reay to take on the world... I am sure you all know the PROs and CONs so I will not go there... But I will tell you: I have heard it before and it did not register. Now I am living it: I feel better than I did in years, I can't believe I was doing the very thing that made me feel worse! So for those of you stuck with this habit, do challenge yourself and quit, no one says it is easy, but if I could do it, so can anyone, those who know me know this much.

Allen Carr's EASY WAY, really helped me put things in perspective, but then I had to do the work. A few weeks of hard work are nothing cmpared to the rewards. Buy that book and take the first step into a new life where you are FREE! And I mean: really FREE.

With that said, it seems that since I quit smoking, I took up eating lol. I mean I am always surrounded by all this great food, the varieties, the smell, the yumminess... pople's celebration foods, dinners, lunches, cocktail bites, sweets, chocolates, cakes, cookies and the courses and their creations.... it is really hard to resist, so i did not! I have gained so much weight, and kept telling myself it is ok. At the end of the day, what is a weight problem compared to a smoking problem? Well no, I do not want to be overweight! So I decided to take matters into my own hands, and get back on the track of healthy livng. Afterall, that is why I quit smoking.  To be healthy, and live a healthy life...

** pleasse consult with a professional dietician, or check with your physician which detox diet or any diet plan suits your body before following any specific plan. The idea is to be healthy, not to risk your health, and bodies are different. The below mentioned diet is not my creation and is devloped by dieticians and diet prfessionals. I am not a medical expert and cannot recommend any diets or diet plans to suit your body. 
This detox plan is here to show you the types of food that help your body detox, and help you eat healthy, in order for you to use them in your daily cooking. Use it as a guideline to incorporate with your daily food, instead of following the plan to the dot. Unless you consult with your doctors and they recommend you follow it. **

To kick start my diet, and to get rid of all those toxins that have been building up for so long in my body, I am starting with a DETOX DIET followed by healthy eating and the good old excercise regime, and I shall be back in no time.

For those who wish to know: Detox, short for detoxification, is the body's natural, ongoing process of neutralizing or eliminating toxins that are built through the invironment or the food we eat. A detox diet is minimizing the amount of chemicals ingested, by the use of organic food and eating foods that are full of antioxidants, also foods that provide the vitamins, nutrients that the body needs. As well as detoxification foods, such as high fiber foods and water, that draw out and eliminate toxins by increasing the frequency of bowel movements and urination.

For the detox, I have been advisd to use the 7 - Day Detox Plan, which is basically a diet that I follow srictly for 7 days. It is made in  way that helps the body detox as well as get you ready to start with your diet. I thought that a 7 day of strict dieting should set the mood and the pace for this effort and decided to go for it.
So here is how it goes:

Instructions and General Rules:
  • I must drink a minimum of 2 ltrs of water a day (the more the better).
  • I must eat no later than 7:00 pm
  • No Caffeine, Necotine, Alcohol or any other toxins (we are trying to ge rid of those)
  • Herbal teas are good for detox and can help quiet down the hunger, so use them when necessary
  • Use all Organic Foods
  • No fruits week because we don't want any sugars at all (fructose)
  • No meat week because of the ammonia produced during the breakdown of protein
  • Plan Meals ahead. Pack meals and snaks ready to go if need to be out of the house all day
  • Do shopping for ingredients at the beginning of the week, so that you have everything ready when cooking *Shopping List Below
  • Stick to the diet plan, do not improvise or substitute. Do not over eat.
  • When hungry, remmber it is only 7 days, and drink herbal teas :)
The plan:
 This must be done exactly as shown, with  exact method, ingredients and quantities mentioned.

Oats with
Yoghurt & Cinnamon
Day 1:
  • Warm water with juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tbsp porridge oats with 2 tbsp natural yoghurt a pinch of cinnamon
Mid Morning snack:
  • 200 ml Clear Soup **Recipe in Soups
  • 2 strips of red & orange pepper
  • 1 stick celery
  • Rye crips
  • Munch on 1 tbps Pumpkin Seeds
  • Broccoli &Tomato Salad **Recipe in Salads
Mid Afternoon Snack
  • 200ml clear soup
  • cottage cheese on 1 rye crispbread
  • 350ml Tomato Rosemary Soup with 2 tbsp mixed beans or 1 egg **Recipe in Soups 

Day 2:
Pumpkin Seeds
  • Hot water with juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 tbsp natural yoghurt with 1 tsp each:
pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, with a pinch of cinnamon
Mid Morning Snack
  • 200 ml clear soup
  • Hommus Spread on 1 rice cake
  • Vegetable Omlette ** Recipe in Detox
Mid Afternoon Snack
  • 200ml clear soup
  • 10 cashew nuts. 2 thick slices cucumber, 2 strips of pepper
  • 350ml Tomato Rosemary Soup OR
  • 100g white Fish Fillet cut into bite-size cubes

Rice Cakes
Day 3:
  • 1 boiled egg
  • 2 rice cakes
Mid Morning Snack
  • 200ml clear soup
  • Cucumber mint yoghurt with 2 oatcakes
  • 350ml Tomato & Rosemary Soup
Mid Afternoon Snack
  • 200ml clear soup
  • 1 small slice omlette with 2 chrry tomatoes
  • Quinoa with home-made Pesto ** Recipe in Italian & Rost Tomatoes

Day 4:
Pak Choi
  • Hot water with juice of 1/2 lemon
  •   Nutmeg Porridge
Mid Morning Snack
  • 200 ml clear soup
  • Home-made Pesto spread on 1 rice cake
  • Pepper & Pak Choi Salad with 50g tuna ** Recipein Salads

Mid afternoon Snack
  • 200 ml clear soup
  • 10 cashew nuts, 5 small florets of broccoli & 2 cherry tomatoes
  • 350 ml Tomato Rosemery soup

Day 5:
  • Hot water with juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp soaked linseeds with 3 tbsp natural yoghurt
Mid Morning Snack
  • 200 ml clear soup
  • Avocado Spread on 1 ryevita cracker with chopped tomato
  • 2 tbsp chickpea stew with a small salad ** Click here for Recipe

Mid Afternoon Snack
  • 200 ml clear soup
  • 1 can of  Tuna mixed with 2 tbsp yoghurt and celery or carrot sticks
  • 300g salmon fillet with Spinach

Day 6:
  • Hot water with juice of 1/2 lemon
  • watercress
  • Cinnamon Porridge
Mid Morning Snack
  • 200ml clear soup
  • Spinach&Yoghrt on 1 Oatcake
  • Avocado or cold Salmon with watercrss Salad
  • Chunky Vegetable Soup with Chickpeas or Prawns ** Recipe in Soups

Day 7:
  • Hot water with juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Scrambled Egg on 1 oatcake
Mid Morning Snack
  • 200ml Clear Soup
  • Tofu
  • 1 tbsp Hommus with raw vegetables
  • Chunky vegetable soup with Tofu
Mid Afternoon Sanck
  • 200 ml Clear Soup
  • Cottage cheese on 1 rye crsipbread
  • Stir fried vegetables with Marinated Tofu or Pumpkin seeds
Then I WILL HAVE MADE IT!!! :) So Should be Happy :)
Now I should continue my diet by eating healthy foods  and should be back ontrack in no time :) will keep you posted with the results ;)

Hope this inspires you to the kind of food that you should regularly consume. These ingredients are good for you, make sure to incorporate them in your daily intake. I really hope that you stop those bad habits, and take on a healthy lifestyle, you are better off and much happier this way :) Let me hear your thoughts, leave me some words of encouragement :))