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Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Impress this New Year’s with My 5 Classic Cocktail Party bites!!

So it’s New Year’s, and it’s a PARTY!!!

I always prefer serving cocktail bites at parties. Canapes, mini bites and finger foods are delicious little pieces of flavour that are impressive, and irresistible. I also prefer these as I find they allow for conversation instead of being so occupied on a buffet or cutting through a seated dinner! Bites never fill you up to the point of feeling heavy, which allows for movement and dancing (basically partying) instead of feeling heavy and loaded with a rich dinner! Light, delicious and guilt-free treats that keep on coming and allow for chats - what more can any party food offer?

Cocktail food can be finger foods, plated food in mini portions (that are easy to eat in 1 or 2 bites), dips and sticks or skewered food. It can be a mini sandwich, tartine, canapé, soup and/or salad! It is totally up to your imagination to create foods in mini bites, and there is no limit to the varieties you can come up with. To get you started here are Dima’s Kitchen’s 5 Basic Cocktail Bites, which have always been crowd pleasers :) Make these this New Year’s Eve and you will want to serve them at every occasion..

New Potatoes with Caviar
Makes 20-30 cold bites

Check my post Caviar for more on this delicacy, the different types and origins..

You need
20 small unpeeled red or yellow new potatoes (steamed with salted water. Use coarse sea salt. 15-18 minutes)
4 tbsp crème fraiche
2 tbsp Beluga, Osetra or Sevruga caviar
Fresh chives for garnish

Steam and prepare your potatoes, by slicing a thin slice off the bottom to create a base to keep the potatoes in place instead of roll over. Then halve the potatoes and slightly hollow out the centre with a melon scooper.

Spoon about ½ tsp of crème fraiche over the hollowed centre. Top with ¼ tsp caviar and place the ends of 2 chives into the crème fraiche.

Serve immediately.

Mini Shrimp Cocktails
Serves 28 cold bites

Shrimp Cocktail is a classic! It is a staple in any recipe collection. Everyone likes Shrimp cocktails so they are crowd pleasers. I have given this shrimp cocktail a slight kick with the use of hot sauce and horseradish, give it a try for a twist on the classic.

You Need
750g medium shrimps, peeled with tails intact and deveined
1 ½ liters fish or shellfish stock

For The Sauce
½ cup tomato puree
2 ½ tsp prepared horse raddish
½ tsp hot sauce
½ tsp salt
Squeeze of ½ a lemon
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley

Make the sauce by placing all ingredients in a bowl and mixing well until combined. Place 1 tbsp sauce in small shot cups or half fill martini glasses with the sauce. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Prepare the shrimps by peeling, deveining and rinsing them with cold water. Pat dry and refrigerate till ready to serve. Right before serving, bring fish stock to a boil and cook shrimps in boiling stock for 3 minutes, until pink. Do not overcook.

Drain shrimps and place 1 shrimp in every shot glass. Alternatively, place shrimps around the edge of some martini glasses with tail facing outwards. Place prepared martini glasses in the middle of the tray with some napkins for pass around service.
Serve immediately.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Melon
Makes about 48 cold bites

Vegetables and fruits wrapped with Prosciutto or bacon are always a treat. The juices from the bacon or prosciutto will flavour and moisten the fruit or vegetable. The crispiness of it adds a much appreciated texture. I really enjoy these wrapped parcels and find them great for nibbling as well.

You Need
1 large honeydew melon seeded, sliced (or balled, optional)
Prosciutto slices about 150 g

Using a melon baller (if going for balls), scoop the melon into balls making about 48 balls. Cut strips of prosciutto enough to wrap around balls but not totally concealing the melon.

When ready to serve, wrap a strip around each ball and secure the prosciutto with a little skewer. Do not refrigerate after wrapping, as the prosciutto will be soggy otherwise.

Every Party Staple, Smoked Salmon Blinis
Makes about 40 cold bites

Blinis are Russian mini savoury pancakes that can be a base for many toppings. Traditionally Blinis are made out of buckwheat, but you can make these from any type of flour. This is a classic topping, but use Blinis as a white Canvas and paint it with your creativity...

You Need
40 Blinis
500g Smoked Salmon strips
200g sour cream
2 tsp chopped dills
Finely chopped capers to taste
Peel of 2 lemons
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh dill springs

In a small bowl, combine sour cream, chopped dill, lemon peel and finely chopped capers. Spread sour cream mixture on blinis and top with a rolled salmon slice. Top all with a mini dill spring. Serve at room temperature.

My Best Loved Stuffed Mushrooms
Makes 24 room temperature bites

Mushrooms, cheese, butter, garlic... are you getting the picture? It doesn't get any better! I have never made these and did not receive a shower of compliments and requests for the recipe! They are really good, and will delight everyone!

You Need
24 button Mushrooms, peeled and stems removed
¼ cup bread crumbs
¼ cup butter
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 cup finely chopped spring onions
1 cup finely chopped mushrooms (use stems from whole mushrooms)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt & black pepper to taste
A dash of Oregano

In a medium saucepan heat the butter and add spring onions, garlic, and mushrooms. Cook till softened but not browned add bread crumbs, oregano, salt & pepper stir till all are well incorporated. Add Parmesan cheese and mix well. Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place peeled mushroom caps in a single layer on a baking dish. Fill caps with 1 tsp filling, top with grated mozzarella. Bake uncovered in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until mozzarella is melted and slightly browned. Serve at room temperature.

This Collection of Cocktail Bites will guarantee you a load of compliments and will impress your guests. You will definitely want to serve them again!! Do try them out this New Year’s, and see for yourself how they transform your party into an elegant bash.

 If you would like to learn more Hors D’oeuvres and cocktail bites, check out Dima's COURSES and learn a variety of mouth watering Canapés, cocktail bites and all there is to know about throwing the cocktail bash of the year :)

Stay in touch, and let me hear from you, do leave me a comment before you go, I love noting more!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

The Easiest, Yummiest & Most Addictive Rocky Road

Including a Christmas Hat Parade, and some creative foods by the mums of DBS :)

The Easiest, yummiest and most Addictive Rocky Road

It is definitely that time of year! The celebrations, the gifts, decorations… everyone is in the mood to party and celebrate! I was at school yesterday helping organize the Christmas party alongside teachers and other mums. It was so nice and inspiring! The craftiness and creativity of the mums is wonderful and so inspiring! The children had a homework to make Christmas hats that are creative, and the most creative one will win a prize! You should have been there! The hats were amazing!! So creative! You should have also seen how creative the mums were with the fruit skewers, table set ups and decorations!! Really wonderful stuff! I have put below some pics for you to enjoy, just to get an idea of what I am talking about!!

While there, Leigh shared with me her renewed fascination with Rocky Road, and how it reminds her of back in the day at Christmas time! She asked if I had a good recipe that she can prepare at home, and I thought this is a good one to blog!! I mean who doesn't like a slice of good old Rocky Road?? So here is the recipe, especially for you Leigh, and for all of you who would like to put a delicious slice out for Santa on Christmas Eve!!!

Be warned though, these are very simple to make but very addictive! I dare not bake these nowadays!

You need
345 g 45% chocolate or milk chocolate
140 g 70% chocolate or dark chocolate
125 g unsalted butter
90 g mini marshmallows
90 g digestive biscuits, cut into small pieces
60 g glace cherries, chopped (you can substitute with Maraschino Cherries if preferred)
60 g peeled chopped almonds

In a large bowl, mix mini marshmallows, broken digestive biscuits, chopped cherries and chopped almonds.

In a heavy saucepan, mix milk chocolate, dark chocolate and butter. Heat on low, stirring, until the chocolates melt and mixture becomes smooth. Do not boil!

Add the chocolate mixture into the Marshmallow mixture folding to incorporate. Transfer into an 8-inch square tin. Press down with a spatula. Place in the fridge to set about 2 hours.

Once the mixture is set, cut into squares. You can go for mini squares – bite size – or mega squares for jumbo size!

I hope you like Rocky Road too, because then I know you will love this recipe :) Do try it out and Be prepared for the shower of compliments! Take a look below and check out the Creativity of DBS MUMS! Leave me a comment before you leave and let me know what you think of the recipe and the hats :) 

Creative Food By DBS Mums

Celebration Food for DBS by Dima's Kitchen

Karma's Festive Cupcakes

Festive Cupcakes for Foundation 1

Nael's Christmas Cake for Y2D

DK Christmas Cookies 2010 

Creative Christmas Hat Parade!

Thank You DBS for making the festive season very creative. The kids are really having a great time! And also great hats off for the lovely crafty MUMs of DBS :)

Friday, 10 December 2010

A Collection of Festive Beverages: Hot Chocolate Variations, Eggnog, Mulled Wine & Glogg!

Some Warm & Cold Beverages For the Festive Season and the rest of winter!!

I miss winters! The cold weather outside, the rain and the smell of earth after rain! The layers of clothes, and cosy dimmed indoors. The fireplace, real thick socks, roasted chestnuts and a good book, all make for the perfect unwinding treat for me! Growing up in the harsh winters of Amman, I never took much joy in the cold weather. Now, living in Dubai, I actually miss that whole winter experience! I never realised this during the time living in Amman, but weather change is actually good for you. The rejuvenation, the sense of change and moving forward are all reflected by seasonal change. The produce and therefore food choices change as the seasons turn. All these are things we miss when living in areas of moderate climate change.

I know many of you are living in areas where it is getting colder by the minute, so here are some beverages that can keep you warm and help you unwind! For the rest of us, we can still enjoy a cup of hot chocolate any time too! Who doesn’t like chocolate? You can serve these really good beverages to anyone, and you will be serving them a treat! Don’t forget to leave a cup of Santa too!

Hot Chocolate
Serves 6
Hot chocolate is succulent, it is indulgent and seductive!!! This gush of creamy smoothness, makes every sip a treat. The aromas of cocoa are known for their theraputic and healing properties that they are used in Aromatherapy oils. This is pure goodness in a warm cup to keep you company on those cold days, or when its "Me Time".

You Need
60g 60% dark chocolate, coarsely chopped or 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
1/3 cup sugar
4 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp instant coffee granules (optional)
Whipped Cream (optional)
Mini Marshmallows
Cocoa Powder for dusting

In a medium saucepan combine chocolate, sugar and ½ cup of the milk. Stir over medium heat until mixture just comes to boiling. Stir in the remaining 3 ½ cups of milk and coffee granules if using for a Mocha flavour. Heat through, but do not boil.

Remove from heat. Add vanilla. If desired beat mixture with rotary beater till frothy, and top with whipped cream or mini marshmallows.

Dima’s Tips If topped with whipped cream sprinkle with chocolate sprinkles or shavings. If desired use a heart-shaped stencil and dust with cocoa powder to make a heart on top.
For a lower fat version, use skimmed milk and darker chocolate. Use honey, instead of sugar or you can use sugar substitutes (just note that these substitutes are not very healthy)!

Spiced Hot Chocolate
Serves 6
Spice up your hot chocolate and add that extra layer for a an even more seductive effect!

You Need
60g 60% dark chocolate, coarsely chopped or 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
1/3 cup sugar
4 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon
A pinch nutmeg
A pinch cloves
Whipped Cream (optional)
Mini Marshmallows
Cocoa Powder for dusting

In a medium saucepan combine chocolate, sugar and ½ cup of the milk. Stir over medium heat until mixture just comes to boiling. Stir in the remaining 3 ½ cups of milk and spices. Heat through, but do not boil.

Remove from heat. If desired beat mixture with rotary beater till frothy. Top with whipped cream.

Dima’s Tips You can sprinkle with chocolate sprinkles or shavings. If desired use any shape stencil and dust with cocoa powder to make a shape on top.
For a lower fat version, use skimmed milk and darker chocolate. Use honey, instead of sugar or you can use sugar substitutes (just note that these substitutes are not very healthy)!

My Favourite
White Hot Chocolate
Serves 4
Serve this creamy luscious warm drink anytime! Everyone will love it. This is a Dima’s Kitchen Favourite!

You Need
2/3 cup chopped plain white chocolate
3 cups light cream
1 stick cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp almond extract (optional)
A pinch nutmeg
A pinch of cloves (optional)
A pinch ground cinnamon

In a medium saucepan combine ¼ cup light cream, chocolate pieces, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir over low heat until chocolate is melted. Add remaining cream and cook, stirring until heated through. Remove from heat. Remove and discard cinnamon stick. Stir in vanilla and almond extract. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Serves 8
Yes! What is Christmas without some good old-fashioned Glogg? Glogg is the Nordic version of Mulled wine usually made with claret or aquavit with spices, orange peel, raisins and sugar. I have worked this recipe with more available spirits, but do try the original claret or aquavit if available. Serve home-made Glogg this Christmas and let your guests enjoy a merry time!

You Need
1 750ml bottle dry red wine
½ cup raisins
½ cup vodka or gin
1/3 cup sugar
Large stick of cinnamon, broken
2 cardamom pods, cracked
6 whole cloves
2 whole allspice pods
2 tbsp orange peel
¼ cup blanched whole almonds

Dima's Tip  Do not peel the white bits under the orange skin as they are bitter. Make sure to get only the orange peel.

In a large saucepan, stir together wine, raisins, vodka and sugar.

Make a small bouquet garni  (a spice bag: a small double-thick 100% cotton cloth place), place orange peel, broken cinnamon stick, cloves, allspice pods, cardamom pods in the centre of the spice bag and bring the corners of the cloth towards the centre and tie it closed with a string. Add spice bag to wine mixture.

Heat mixture to simmering but do not boil. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove spice bags and discard. Just before serving, stir in almonds.

Mulled Wine
Serves 6
Not only does Mulled wine, pair really well with Christmas menus, but nothing beats and afternoon in the crisp outdoors sipping on mulled wine... When making Mulled wine the aromas of the Christmas spices, and orange will scent your home for days! Nothing beats this :)

You Need
1 bottle Burgundy or your preferred red wine
6g Demerera sugar
1 cinnamon stick
18 whole cloves
3 star anis
freshly grated nutmeg
1 bay dried leaf
1 orange, sliced into 6 thick slices
6 cinnamon sticks for garnish

Press whole cloves into the skin of the orange slices as shown in picture.

In a saucepan, on medium heat, place all the ingredients except the 6 cinnamon sticks. Heat the mixture gently, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Turn the heat off.

If desired, you can now add 60 ml of gin for extra kick, or skip this and stick to just the wine. Taste the sweetness, and add extra sugar if you like it sweeter.

Pour into serving glasses, garnish each with fresh cinnamon stick, serve warm!

Serves 6
Although not exactly a hot drink; but since it’s the festive season, I thought I would include this classic Christmas drink recipe for you.
For a non-alcoholic version omit the rum & the bourbon. Increase milk to 2 1/3 cups instead!

You Need
4 egg yolks, beaten
2 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp light rum
2 tbsp bourbon
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch ground nutmeg
Pinch ground cinnamon
Pinch ground cloves

In a large saucepan, combine the egg yolks, milk and sugar. Cook stirring over medium heat till mixture coats the back of a metal spoon without slipping off. Remove from heat, and place in a bowl of ice and water stirring for 2 minutes, to cool it quickly and stop the cooking process. If you do not do that, you will end up with curdled eggs inside!

Stir in whipping cream, rum, vanilla, cloves and cinnamon. Cover and chill for 4-24 hours. To serve sprinkle each serving with nutmeg.

Dima’s Tips For different presentation, you can whip some whipping cream to soft peaks, and pipe it over the top of eggnog into a swirl. Sprinkle with nutmeg.
For Lower Fat Eggnog use skimmed milk and half-and-half instead of full fat milk and whipping cream.

And there you have it! A collection of the best winter drinks for you to enjoy at home during the festive season, and then some! What are your most preferred festive beverages? Has this post inspired you to prepare some of these really good beverages this Christmas? Share your inspirations with me, I love nothing more than hearing your stories... 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 ;)

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Pictures from International Desserts Course

Here is what we have been up to in Courses by Dima Sharif
From International Desserts Course Pics!! :)

Baking the MOLTEN!