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Wednesday, 28 September 2011

A Food Bloggers Morning @ TAVOLA means: Knife care - Japanese Food Presentation - Food Styling for Photography and more!


I have been holding on to the pictures I had taken at the Tavola Food Bloggers' Breakfast last Saturday, and everyday saying to myself: I have to blog this amazing event. Somehow, the week passed, and I never managed to find the time! At some point, I was trying to view and work on the pictures, and was dosing off in front of the screen, waking up, dosing off and so on! What an eventful week I had!


Last Saturday, Tavola invited food bloggers - along with some food professionals and food writers - for breakfast and demonstrations at their Jumeirah Beach road branch, in Plaza Centre. I was so excited about this event, as I would finally meet the UAE Food Bloggers, the very people whom I read and interacted with almost everyday, online. Now I was going to meet them in person! What an amazing pool of talented people these bloggers are! There are the avid foodies, the keen photographers, the loved caterers, the cake decorators, restaurant review writers... All together, representing a group of UAE Bloggers who have been keeping readers amused with their blogs. I was super excited about meeting each one of them, and delighted to finally put faces to names I have been chatting with for a while now! In person they are such lovely, friendly people whose welcoming attitude makes you feel right at home.


EVENT MENU
Breakfast - Coffee - Meet the Bloggers
Knife Care demonstration - by ZWILLING
Japanese Food Presentation Demo- by Wakami Saab
PRIZES Draw
Wilton Cake Decorating Courses - by Tavola
Food Styling for Photography Demo - by Fiona Archibold



Tavola, as always, never disappoints, never fails to delight. Walking into the Jumeirah Beach Road branch brings back so many memories for me. It reminds me of back when I was catering, as I used to shop there almost every week!! Especially in the cake decorating section, a small room located towards the back, that is more like my candy store! I would get the small cookie bags, the chocolate boxes, cake boards, cake stands, cookie cutters, food colourings, PME gumpaste and sugar craft tools...etc. Anything you need for cake decorating, candy or cookie making, is in that small room in the back! I would spend hours there! Then there is the rest of the store, which frankly is my absolute favourite! The shopping experience is so good, that I am transformed into a shopaholic in a second! From the best knife sets, to copper pots and pans, the store has everything you need to cook, and present your food in style! I have been using the cake stands and tiered platters forever, they even became kind of my signature look! You can see them everywhere on my facebook pictures, and you would have seen them at parties I catered, then you would see them again at my house when I would be hosting lol... And am always asked: "Where do you buy your beautiful stands and platters?" Here I tell you, check out TAVOLA, but beware because all the merchandise is beautiful!

Barley Salad cups with dates
We were welcomed with a delicious Buffet of savoury and sweet bites and coffee, catered by Bateel. The selection of food was obviously carefully chosen, and not only did the food look appetising, but it also tasted delicious.


Once breakfast was over, we were introduced to the ZWILLING Knives, and were introduced to the different knife types, their uses, how to handle your knives, care and even sharpen them using different tools: the honing steel rod, the stone and other specialised knife sharpeners. I even realised that Tavola have a knife care and sharpening service, which is great as this way, you can guarantee not to ruin your knife when sharpening at home!

The right angle to sharpen your knife using a sharpening stone
The Japanese are known for making some of the world's best knives. Their cuisine relies heavily on intricate knife skills from cuts of sashimi, to the artistic fruit and vegetable carving. An insight to which was demonstrated by Ms. Wakami Saab, Tavola's Retail Manager. In her usual poised and friendly approach, Wakami demonstrated how to transform a piece of fillet, into a wonderful Japanese Salad, that looked mouthwatering and was really very simple to prepare.





She explained the basics of Japanese Food Presentation; the use of colour and lines in the plating of food and how the Japanese always find inspiration in nature and demonstrate those inspirations in their presentation. She even demonstrated how to create a flower out of a piece of radish... & it goes like this:






Wakami then demonstrated an excellent snack for children's lunch boxes, that can also be transformed into an elegant cocktail Bite!! How Fab is that!! check it out:




Yes there is more!! She also showed us how good presentation can transform as simple a dish as a potato salad, into picture perfect deliciousness:


Also present at the Food Bloggers morning was Suzan, the writer of the cookbook 'When Suzan Cooks', who has generously offered 3 copies of her book to 3 lucky draw winners :) 


Tavola also offered some giveaways for draw winners. After receiving the gifts, we were introduced to Wilton's Cake Deccorating courses, which take place at this very TAVOLA store. The courses responsible for the ever growing UAE Cake Decorating community. These courses train you in the Wilton Method of cake decorating, from basic decorating skills like piping and buttercream flowers, to fondant and sugar paste, moving on to the more intricate gumpaste and modelling courses. If you are into cake decorating, these courses will satisfy all your decorating needs, and will help you start creating these fabulously designed wedding and celebration cakes.


And finally, it was the talented and inspirational, Fiona Archibold - Food stylist. I cannot tell you enough about how nice it is to watch Fiona at work, doing what she does best. From her tool belt, with which i was smitten, to her tool boxes, props, to the actual food to be styled. She is a full on artist whose company is always inspirational.

Fiona, talked about food styling basics, tricks, props, backgrounds... She demonstrated a beautiful Boeuf 
Bourguingnon:



Then moved on to demonstrate a creamy Pasta Presentation with Shrimps


Finally the beautiful Quail Presentation with the vibrant Pomegranate, which she made look Divine!



What more can I tell you about a rather interesting morning, full of inspiration and food?! I can only say, Tavola have exceeded all expectations, and have delighted us with an event so tailored to this group's interests and needs, just as their store is perfectly tailored to all those who love life, food, fashionable homes and living well :)
Thank you TAVOLA for a wonderful morning, we could not have asked for more!! & Thank you Kari Heron for organising this fabulous event, you are a star!! :)
I leave you with some more pics... Enjoy xx










:)

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Deep Fired Goat's Cheese with Lavender Honey + Win a KENWOOD Deep fryer!!


Photo from the restaurant Alta, NY
by: the girl who ate everything
Lavender and goat cheese are a classic combination that can never go wrong. However - because Lavender is a highly aromatic, very perfumy as well as a pungent flavour - there is an art as to how much lavender! The idea is to accentuate and never to over power the goats' cheese. 

This classic recipe of deep fried Goat's Cheese with Lavender Honey, is seriously good! No I mean, really really good! You are going to love it. The Lavender honey sauce is just Divine, and it pairs very well with this cheese as well as other types of cheese, so you can use it as an accompanying sauce for your cheeseboard. This recipe is very simple to prepare, but the results are amazing.

You can serve these cheese balls at a cocktail party, as an 'Amuse Bouche' for dinner guests, as a snack, on a cheese platter, or even as a salad!! Just lay a bed of assorted leaves on a plate, top with deep fried goat's cheese, and use the lavender honey sauce as an emulsifier for your Salad dressing; as simple as that!! 


For Making the 
Breaded Goat's Cheese Balls
You Need

240g Goat's cheese, brought to room temperature
1 large egg
1/2 cup flour
2 cups bread crumbs
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt & black pepper to taste
4 tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds, roughly ground

For Lavender Honey Sauce
You Need

4 tbsp honey
3 tbsp Dried lavender flowers
1/2 cup hot water
30g butter, chopped

A day ahead Start by steeping the lavender flowers in 1/2 cup hot water. Cover the cup tightly with nylon wrap and leave to steep and infuse over night.

On serving day using a melon baller, scoop out the flesh of the goat's cheese. You want the size to be 'bite-size'. Roll the cheese into a ball, and set over a lined tray with baking paper. Let rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the honey sauce: using a sieve, drain the infused lavender water, reserving the liquid and discard the lavender flowers. Place honey in a sauce pan, add 3 tbsp of lavender water to it, stir to mix. Place the saucepan over medium heat, and gently heat continuously mixing, for about 7 minutes - without bringing to a boil. Once heated through, and well incorporated, add butter pieces, one at a time mixing well after each addition - until butter is no longer visible. And repeat, till you have used all the butter. Remove from heat, transfer to serving jug and set aside.

In a flat dish, mix together the bread crumbs, garlic powder, salt & black pepper, as well as pumpkin seeds until all are combined. Place the flour in another flat plate, and prepare egg wash: whisk together 1 large egg with 1 tbsp water (room temperature) until well incorporated. Place the three items on work surface ready to dip and coat the cheese balls.

Once the cheese balls have rested for 20 minutes, remove from fridge and roll in the flour to cover, dust off any excess, then dip in egg wash, then roll in prepared bread crumbs mixture. Repeat the process twice for each cheese ball, to ensure a thick crust has formed to protect the goat's cheese as its frying. Place on a lined tray with baking paper. Finish all cheese balls this way.

Fry at 170C setting for 2 minutes or until deep golden colour is achieved. Do not keep them for a long time in the oil, or the cheese will burst and melt! Drain the fried cheese balls on paper towels.

Place the fried cheese balls on serving platter, and drizzle with Lavender Honey Sauce. Keep the honey jug close by for top off if needed.

Serve warm.

I don't know about you, but am making some for me tomorrow!!! Yumm!!!






As you may have heard, I have a giveaway for one lucky winner!! :)
So if you are feeling lucky or want to try your luck at winning a KENWOOD DEEP FRYER from Dima's Facebook Fan Page just follow these instructions, and you might be the lucky winner :)





  1. You must be a fan of the facebook page: Gastronomy by Dima Sharif
  2. You must browse 'DimaSharif' Blog and vote for your favourite recipe. You can vote for any recipe posted before august 2011.
  3. Comment to the thread on facebook fan page naming the recipe you have chosen as your favourite.
That's All :))
Winner will be announced on Oct 10th :)) 
Good luck!



About the deep fryer, Using the Kenwood Deep fryer makes frying a whole lot easier and less messy! It is very convenient, easy to use and takes away the mess that results from deep frying in a pan!! No more oil spatter all over, no more guessing of oil temperature and definitely no more frying smell at your home!! How Fab is that??
The fryer has adjustable heat levels to properly cook different foods, ensuring spot-on results every time. This is really going to become your best loved gadget... So make sure to get in on the action and follow the instructions for a chance to WIN this fabulous fryer :)


I hope you enjoyed today's post. This recipe is one of my all time favourites, you will love it too once you try it. Do let me know what you think as you know I love to hear from you :))

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Thursday, 22 September 2011

Pad Thai

Serves 2  | Super Easy



All cuisines are great, and the more cuisines you know, the more creative you can become in the kitchen. The thing about your palate is, it needs practice! The more varieties and flavours you taste the more mature and knowing your palate becomes. When it comes to being creative, and developing the ability to come up with new recipes and flavours, your palate is your best friend. It is therefore worthwhile to approach food with an open mind, and a willingness to try all things new. Getting to know a variety of cuisines will also develop your techniques, and skills as different cuisines use different cooking methods. For those used to cooking traditional  local food, Asian cuisine provides a new playground. Asian cuisine is so diverse and rich. From produce, to flavours, to cooking methods: it is a foodie's practical haven! Besides the technical part of Asian cooking, the cuisine is delicious, especially when done right. By that I mean, the quality of home-cooking, rather than that of the chain's - commercial quality - which tends to be full on MSG and other ingredients that mask the tastes of the better quality offerings of this cuisine.
So go ahead, and experiment with new cuisines, try out new techniques, dedicate some time to learn something new. And what is more rewarding than food? Trust me, you will love it.

Pad Thai - one of my earliest introduction dishes to Thai food - is not only enjoyed throughout Thailand, but is also celebrated throughout the world. It is one of Thai foods best loved offerings. I love digging into these classic sour, sweet and spicy noodles. After a long day working, tucking into a Pad Thai in front the TV is the ultimate unwinding exercise. When cooked at home, Pad Thai is so much better than that taken out. It is customary to use dried shrimps in Pad Thai, but I prefer my Pad Thai with fresh shrimps instead. But feel free to use the dried shrimps, or even chicken if that is your preference. You can also keep it all vegetarian!

Tamarind water, or Tamarind Concentrate

Often in Asian cooking you will have to use Tamarind water or Tamarind concentrate. If you do not have access to pre-prepared Tamarind water/concentrate, or if like me, you prefer to cook from scratch, then here is how it's made:


Tamarind Water
2 tbsp Tamarind stacked with seeds or 1 tbsp paste without seeds
1/4 cup water
Place all in a bowl, and soak for 10 minutes. Squeeze the Tamarind with your hands repeatedly to incorporate, removing the seeds if any. Once the mixture has incorporated, strain reserving the liquid and discarding the fiber.

Shrimp Pad Thai
You Need
A packet of dried rice noodles
250g fresh shrimps, shelled and deveined
1 tbsp Tamarind water
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp cooking oil
2 red shallots*, finely chopped
1 bunch Chinese chives, finely chopped
a handful of bean sprouts
1 egg
50g firm Tofu, cut into thin cubes, fried till golden
1 tsp white radish, shredded
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tbsp raw peanuts, toasted and roughly crushed
lime wedges
3 small spring onions, diagonally chopped.

*Red Shallots are similar to red onions - smaller and narrower. The difference is in the flavour, as they are sweeter than red onions, and not as sharp in the onion flavour. If you don't have red shallots, substitute with red onion.


If using ready to cook noodles, follow packet instructions. If using dried rice noodles, soak in water for 2 hours until soft, when ready to use drain.

Prepare the sauce: Simmer the sugar, tamarind water, and fish sauce on medium heat, until the sugar dissolves.

In a skillet, sprinkle a little bit of oil and place on range top. When the oil is hot stir fry the shrimps till just about changing in colour (1/2 coooked). remove from heat and place in bowl, to slow down the cooking process. Set aside.


In a wok and over medium heat, heat the oil, and fry the chopped shallots just until beginning to colour. Crack in the egg and stir to break the egg apart. Add the fried tofu and white radish. Toss to coat.


Add the drained noodles and stir fry, until the noodles are slightly coloured.

Add the prepared sauce and sprinkle with the red chili powder, toss to mix all. Simmer gently for about a minute. If wok content appears to be dry, add a little extra oil.


Add the half cooked shrimps, chopped chives and the bean sprouts, toss to mix, and cook stirring for 1 minute.

Pile the Pad Thai on serving plate, sprinkle with crushed peanuts, chopped spring onions and chives. Serve with a wedge of lime.

Devour!!





Hope you liked today's post and that you too, like me, love Pad Thai. If you do, I know you will try this recipe. If you have never tried Pad Thai before, then this is one Thai noodles recipe that you are going to love, so go for it and give it a shot, you will be happy you did.

Don't forget to leave me a comment, you know I love to hear from you :)


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Monday, 19 September 2011

Kitchen Buzz & a Quick How to Make Fondant


What is a kitchen without a propper Pantry?
& What is Dima's Kitchen without an extra pantry dedicated to
Flavours, Home-made Essences & Mixes?
This is my Flavours Bible!!
Boy, this week is buzzing! But today, was the cherry on top! I had the pleasure to lunch with the crew of Al Tayer Group, the very people behind many fashion stores in Dubai, auto dealerships, and of course the famous and best loved Bloomingdales, Harvey Nicols, Crate & Barrel, More Cafe, Almaz by Momo, Armani Cafe Dubai... among others. They have very exciting upcoming live demonstrations and events that are open for all to enjoy, which will liven up the scene in the city, so stay tuned and visit their stores to find out more! I know I will :)
To top an already full day with the cherry, I just been told that Dima's Kitchen blog will be the Featured Blog on Foodista! Yay :) hence the badge. Will tell you more once the feature is up, so stay tuned.

As you might already know, I have started yet another set of courses, beginning with "All About Cakes & Cupcakes". I am so excited about this course specifically, because joining me is another Dubai-based food blogger Kari Heron from Chef & Steward who is being trained in cakes & cupcakes and will be the judge through her own progress.

Kari with the freshly baked cakes
Also joining me is a Fashion Design student, discovering a passion for food and baking, let's see if we can convert the Fashionista into a baker! Or maybe mix both into a fashionable foodie; kind of like Isaac Mizrahi's Cake collection  (fall 2011), where food and fashion intermingled into one fashionable deliciousness.

Isaac Mizrahi's Cake collection (fall 2011)
There is also one passionate lady, taking this course in order to make dream come true and open up her Cakes Bakery back in Nigeria! She is actually going back to Nigeria, after the course and starting her own bakery :) How sweet is that?

Since I had been caught up with the course, some home works, kids going back to school, parents introduction sessions, reading assignments ...etc, I haven't had enough time to blog! I have been cooking up a storm though, and have been doing a lot of baking, of course! I have been taking lots of pictures as well, and will be posting the recipes ASAP :)

Keeping on the sweet note where we started, it has been requested that I post a Fondant Recipe -Referring to the paste made to cover cakes- for those who do not have access to ready-made fondant, or prefer home-made fondant to commercial types, so I have included the recipe here for you to try. But before I go to the recipe, let me tell you a thing or two about my Flavour Inspirations Pantry: it seems to be fascinating the girls in the cakes course, so I promised them to say a little some about it lol

Home-made Vanilla Essence
Food is flavour, and for that reason I have a designated flavours pantry - staple items that I use regularly to add flavour to my food. Just as I have a pantry, I find that it is only fair to create one for flavours. Because I prefer organic, all natural flavourings, to the commercial chemically produced ingredients, I regularly prepare my own flavourings, essences, spice mixes, herb mixes, bouquet Garni, Flavoured Oils, Flavoured Sugars, Home-made Marshmallows, Caramels and Nougats. This pantry also includes dried edible roses and rose petals, dried lavender flowers, a variety of dried mushrooms, truffles, dried roughly grated coconuts, candied bananas....etc. It is basically my favourite things, and things that I use to add flavour to foods! The pantry regularly evolves and gets influenced by what I am currently crazy about, and the season offerings...etc. I am telling you a Flavours Pantry is life changing. It excites you about creating new food, about trying and being more experimental in the kitchen. If you don't have one, I totally recommend you create one! Don't go crazy though, remember nothing is going to fall off the face of earth and disappear, everything will still be there tomorrow! Get the flavours you are feeling crazy about, and some new flavours to experiment with. Then gradually build on that.

Hope you enjoyed Dima's Kitchen buzz, and that you are inspired to create a flavours pantry in your kitchen. Here is how you can make Fondant, to add to that pantry :)

Fondant & Sugar Paste
Fondant here, is the white pliable paste that is used to cover cakes in prep for decoration. Fondant covered cakes used to be more popular for weddings, but are now popular and demanded for all sorts of occasions. It creates a velvety finish that looks very elegant, and allows for various decorations in order to carry out various themes. Fondant is firm, and can easily be rolled out on a board dusted with equal amounts of icing sugar & cornstarch to prevent it from sticking to the work surface. Once rolled it can then be used to cover cakes, or can be used to cut out shapes (using templates or cookie cutters) which are then used in the decoration of the cake. Fondant can tinted to any shade you like, best using gel-based food colours. It can also be made more pliable, and hard upon setting by adding Gum Tragacanth to it, Kind of a recreation of Gum Paste. This is usually used for modelling, basic flower creations, and decoration structures that need to be hard and hold shape.


Actual Fondant recipe carried out by bakers, is mainly heating sugar syrup to soft ball stage, then turning this sugar over on a marble work surface and working this sugar with metal scrapers (hard spatulas) till it forms a white paste that is smooth and pliable.
Please be cautious when working with heated sugar, to prevent risk of severe burning! 
An easier adaptation of Fondant, suitable for domestic production is Sugar Paste. It is hardly any different to fondant in texture and function, but easier and less hazardous to prepare at home. Sugar paste is treated exactly like fondant, can be tinted, is pliable and used to cover cakes as well as in cutouts...etc
So if you do not own a candy thermometer, or if you are worried about working hot sugar, don't fret! Just make Sugar paste. No one will know the difference! Of course there are many variations and recipes, this one is a simple recipe that you can easily make, it requires a bit of work but works every time...

To make Sugar Paste
You Need
2 tbsp water
1 1/2 tsp Powdered Gelatine
1 1/2 tbsp Liquid Glucose
2 tsp Glycerin
455g Icing sugar, sifted
2 sachets vanilla powder (optional) for flavour

You will need a stainless steel or non stick saucepan (non Teflon coated).
Pour the water into saucepan, sprinkle the gelatin on top and dissolve over low heat. Once dissolved add the glucose and glycerin and stir to combine. Immediately remove from heat.

Gradually add the sifted icing sugar, mixing continuously with a wooden spoon. If you do not continuously mix, lumps will form. Continue to gradually add the icing sugar, until you can't stir the mixture anymore. 

Dust a clean work surface with the remaining icing sugar and flip the sugar paste dough over it. Incorporate the icing sugar - on the work surface - into the sugar paste by kneading it in using your fingers not your palms. Continue kneading, till the paste is smooth.

Your sugar paste is now ready for use. When not in use, sugar paste must be tightly wrapped with cling film to avoid drying out and becoming hard!

You are now ready to transform cakes into artsy masterpieces :) Stay tuned for the post on covering cakes with Fondant, coming soon!!

Meanwhile, go ahead, make some sugar paste, and bake the cake, as we are getting ready to cover it with fondant and carry out a simple SPIDER-MAN THEME!!! Yes, coming shortly.



Hope you enjoyed reading this post and found some inspiration in it. If you too have a dream to start a career in food, then click this link for how to make that dream come true. Remember if you want to learn more about Baking, then join my specialised baking course: All About Cakes & Cupcakes.
Would love nothing more than hearing from you, so leave me a comment before you go <3 b="b">


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