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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

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

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Pickle-Seasoned Roasted Eggplant Salad

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

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

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

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

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

Roast the eggplants until golden. Set aside to cool. 

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

Friday, 26 June 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#FotoDubai15 what's happening this year?

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

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

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

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

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

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


Dubai Food Styling & Photography Workshop

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

Day two - Thursday 8th October 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our #FotoDubai15 Sponsors are (click on the photos to enlarge):

SCAFA, Dubai’s School of Culinary and Finishing Arts (2012), is an innovative vocational institute focusing on guiding professionals and enthusiasts in learning culinary techniques and kitchen skills. Accredited by KHDA, SCAFA runs professional culinary programs that certify graduates as qualified chefs. The school also runs many enthusiast programs such as team building with cooking, children’s cooking classes, pastry and baking sessions, cake decorating, fundamentals of cuisine, etc. In addition to offering a range of culinary programs, SCAFA has a student training restaurant Scafé attached to the school. At SCAFA, we don’t just practice recipes, we teach techniques!
Students that enroll in SCAFA’s programs have varied reasons for joining the program. Many want a professional hospitality career, to become a restaurateur, a patissiere.

Facebook: @SCAFA  
Twitter: @SCAFAltd
Instagram: @scafa.cookingschool

“Many of our enrolled students have wonderful creativity and are interested in food styling and photography. We want our students to understand and appreciate the wider opportunities that lie in wait for them and SCAFA is the perfect setting for running a photography workshop. Working with renowned food photographer Meeta Wolff and celebrity chef Dima Sharif is a wonderful opportunity and experience for the our students and we are thrilled to host the 2015 Food Photography Workshop again.” 
- Francisco Araya - Director SCAFA

Lafayette Gourmet, temple to gastronomy and gourmandize, offers a whole range of flavors from all over the world. Guaranteed to find all what it takes to fulfill your taste buds. Experience the diversity from 8 kitchens in one location: Indulge in Italian specialties and wood fired pizzas, great salads from The Mediterranean, Asian favorites, Indian tandoor and curries, primes steaks from the Grill, Foie gras and Caviar from the Luxury section, authentic Tapas and Paella from Tapeo to Just Falafel.

Lafayette Gourmet have partnered with the food styling and photography workshop by Meeta K Wolff and Dima Sharif again in 2015 supplying fresh and luxury ingredients for the multiple styling and photography sessions as well as the second day 'Lunch by Dima Sharif'. Furthermore, Russell Impiazzi, Director of Lafayette Gourmet, will personally create an extravagant and special menu as a special finale dinner on Thursday and provide several props for the many styling and shooting session.

Facebook: @Gourmet Lafayette At Dubai Mall 

 “Coming into the 4th year of working with and supporting the fabulous Meeta K Wolff and Dima Sharif for their annual Food Styling & Photography Workshop in Dubai. Each year I have seen it grow from strength to strength. The detail and care that both Meeta and Dima put into this 2-day workshop really does deliver a ‘must do’ experience.”
- Chef Russell Impiazzi, Culinary Director at Lafayette Gourmet

Baker & Spice is an award-winning food shop and restaurant with several locations in Dubai. The concept originated in London in 1995, quickly becoming an inspiration for food artisans and copied all over the world.

Baker & Spice Dubai is a centre for artisan food excellence.

Guided by the seasons and ethical principles, our food philosophy is simple: local | organic | fresh | homemade

Facebook: @Baker & Spice Dubai 
Twitter: @bakerandspiceme
Instagram: @bakerandspiceme

“Working with Dima Sharif brought to life the visuals of what I do like no other. Her cinematographic ability shines a light and I like the perspective that she represents through her work, both in terms of food styling and her brilliant editing abilities. One of the greatest talents is not what you include, but what you leave out. As a result, her visual work whether video or stills is so focused and you walk away understanding the message. People should attend the Food Styling & Photography Workshop by Meeta K Wolff & Dima Sharif because teaching people to look and to edit what they are seeing is a skill that elevates your work from the ordinary to the extraordinary.” 
- Yael Mejia, Brand Consultant at Baker & Spice

Balqees specialise in sourcing the purest, rarest raw honey from Yemen and other countries around the world. Our first priority is quality and we work closely with beekeepers and farms in Yemen who supply us exclusively; we also visit remote areas in other countries to seek out the best honey. All our raw honey is unique in taste, untreated and unfiltered to preserve maximum goodness and from territories that are not tainted by intensive farming and chemicals. 

You can find our pure, raw honey in a range of Balqees kiosks and honey boutiques in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman or order from us direct. We will send our raw honey to anywhere in the world where it is possible to ship to.

Facebook: @Balqees Raw Honey 
Twitter: @balqeesrawhoney 
Instagram: @balqeesrawhoney #rawhoney

“The reason why I love working with Dima Sharif & Meeta K Wolff is because they are passionate about their art and I love being around passionate people who take their craft seriously as it helps me grow and evolve in my business.” 
- Riath Hamed, Owner of Balqees Honey

Lootah Premium Foods (LPF) is a division of the much-respected Nasser Abdullah Lootah Group, which was established in 1975.

Lootah Premium Foods was set up to provide the best quality produce and service to our customers, serving them with the finest produce either imported from Paris or Grown regionally. Lootah are pleased to be working with our European Partners Oakleaf who has been supplying the very highest quality restaurants and hotels throughout Europe and the Caribbean for the last 17 Years.

We have chosen to bypass intensive farming methods that ignore nature, the sun, soil and insist on overwatering, consequently substituting flavor for Yield. Instead we offer regional produce enjoyed by the people who live where the farms are utilizing what Europeans have known for years ‘Just to keep everything very natural and simple’. We have our own experienced and dedicated buyers working exclusively for us in Rungis Market in Paris, each buyer is responsible for ensuring the best quality produce from each area of the market; seafood, meat & poultry, fresh produce, gourmet items and dairy, they have a fantastic relationship with the farmers and producers to guarantee that we offer the best possible range of products at the best possible price, always searching for new and interesting products and following the current trends of this ever changing market

Instagram: @lootahpremiumfoods

“This is our second year supporting this annual event and we at Lootah Premium Foods wholeheartedly support the Food Styling & Photography Workshop by Meeta K Wolff and Dima Sharif because food styling and photography is becoming more and more important for everyone in this industry.

Through their workshop Meeta K Wolff and Dima Sharif encourage and train participants to take their hobby to the next level.”

- Tony Colley, General Manager at Lootah Premium Foods

Ronai LLC - Established in the UK in 1947 with expansion in the UAE from 2006 A. Ronai LLC is the Middle East distributor of some of the world’s most prestigious brands in Hospitality: Steelite International, Oneida, F. Dick Chef’s Knives, Genware, Glass & Co, Burco and other well-known trademarks.

More recent developments include the expansion of our own uniform brand. Created by our in-house designer and manufactured in the UAE our new “Uniforms by Ronai” catalogue features a host of bespoke garments. The collections are suitable for use in various job functions as well as the hospitality and aviation industries and they are proving extremely popular throughout the region.

It is our objective to offer an alternative supply scenario to the Middle Eastern Hospitality industry. We aim to offer fixed pricing together with a very high level of service including stock holding and a strong sales force with extensive industry knowledge. We are constantly learning and it is our hope that we become the choice supplier to the hospitality industry in the Middle East.

Facebook: @A. Ronai LLC 
Twitter: @RonaiLLC
Instagram: @Ronaillc

“Ronai are delighted to support the food photography & styling workshop by Meeta K Wolff & Dima Sharif taking place this October, as a supplier to the hospitality industry it’s exciting for us to see how our products can be utilized to create fabulous imagery and show a variety of textures and colours not only in the food but in its presentation.” 
- Rachel Matthews, Ronai LLC 

Dima Sharif Organic Mooneh Essentials
It is impossible not to taste the pluck and resourcefulness of the traditional Middle Eastern kitchen in Dima Sharif’s newly launched Organic Mooneh (pantry) Essentials; a range of pickles, made by hand, using UAE locally grown, seasonal, organic vegetables and small-batch certified organic olive oil from Jordan.

Taste summons memory and emotion, and for Dima, whose soon-to-be published cookery book is a recollection of food memories and recipes that contrast and connect people and generations, her pickles reconnect the smell and taste of her grandmother’s kitchen to the artisanal continuity of times past.

Our Partners are:

Elekta Gulf
A team of five hardworking, dedicated employees comprised the humble beginning of this now world renowned brand. Today, Elekta has a team of over 500 with export distribution in over 35 countries, all supported by the head office in Dubai, U.A.E. 

Elekta specializes in the distribution of quality T.V., audio, and large and small home appliances that are affordable and enhance one’s comfort at home.

Answering the call for energy reduction, Elekta created a sub-brand, Otto, Powered by Elekta, supplying LED lights internationally. The LED lights, along with Elekta’s energy efficient products, support Elekta’s organizational value of energy conservation.

The story of Elekta is one of commitment, perseverance, vision and focus - all in service to improving the quality of life of people around the world. Elekta envisions a person’s home to be a sanctuary for relaxation and rejuvenation, and our products support you in Making you Feel at Home!

Twitter : @elekta_gulf
Facebook: ElektaGulf
Pinterest: @elektagulf
YouTube: @elektagulf
Instagram: @elektagulf

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

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

(Mooneh is Arabic for Pantry)

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

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

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

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

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

Find a list of my 'Organic Mooneh Essentials' products on this link. Please note that the list is regularly updated according to new additions and seasonal availability.

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

Please note,

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

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

Friday, 19 June 2015

Thank your hosts, make the effort worthwhile

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

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

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

Give thanks and make the effort worth it this Ramadan. 

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

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

New Conversations!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ramadan Mubarak to all of you :)