Archive for the ‘food tips & techniques’ Category

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This week I was invited to dinner at Mo’s which is a comfortable restaurant with cute design features open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food is very much American Diner. “A stylish place to have a home-cooked meal” as my dining partner T put it.

The menu offers a lot of choice with salads, hot and cold sandwiches, burgers, sundaes, cakes, ice creams with up to 22 toppings and of course milkshakes. We started with cheese quesadillas and spicy buffalo wings. I have to say I’m not a huge fan of quesadillas but these were very good and I loved the spicy buffalo sauce.

To follow we tried the TNT shrimp tacos, which had a good kick to it, and the Kobe beef meatloaf which came with the most delicious bacon, spring onion mash.

quesadilla_Snapseed copy wings

tnt prawnsmeatloaf


To drink we both indulged in a milkshake, the milkshake choice is extensive, T choosing the Nutella shake and myself having the date milkshake, both were delicious and came in traditional parlour glasses with the extra in the shakers for a top up!! All important! After deliberating for a while between the coconut cream cake and Jim’s 3 layer carrot cake (Jim being the COO) we decided to finish our meal with the Brownie a la MO’s which was a chewy, guey home baked chocolate brownie. We  shared!

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Mo’s also offers an extensive kids menu with both fish fingers and chicken nuggets cooked fresh at the restaurant. Kids also eat for free every Sunday!!

Check out their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/MosDubai

Now I don’t often indulge in a milkshake but it was quite a treat! I then started to wonder how a milkshake differs from a smoothie.

” The main difference between smoothies and milk shakes is that the principal ingredient of the smoothie is fruit whereas the principle ingredient of the milkshake is ice cream.”

This has inspired me to combine the two and make a milkshake  smoothie, a SHOOTHIE ….

Strawberry and Blueberry Shoothie:

6 large strawberries, handful of blueberries, 6 ice cubes, 1 cup of milk and 2 scoops of strawberry ice cream. Add extra ice cream or honey to sweeten if necessary. Mix in blender and enjoy!









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skinnygenie logoI have been on a bit of a blogoliday as work has been super busy but there is so much going on here in Dubai it is time to return and share. The most recent of my new discoveries is a great new company called Skinny Genie. Well, we all know that bread is the enemy, and if not the enemy then a friend that you only visit on rare occasions but maybe not anymore. Skinny Genie is a boutique bakery that makes all their products, breads, muffins, cookies, quiches and party canapés etc gluten free. Not only are their products gluten free but often sugar free replacing sugar with agave syrup or using a fruit puree in place of butter and oil. Genius!

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Skinny Genie was started by Yann Jolivet and Sheikha Maryam al Qassimi. Yann explained that he was just a little tired of the same old offerings here in Dubai and decided it was time to introduce something more exciting and healthier, hence muffin flavours such as cranberry, barberry, lemon and sunflower seeds or date, orange blossom, cardamom and coconut. These can be purchased online straight out of the oven or products can be bought at outlets such as Milk and Honey, Cafe Nero and Spill the Bean amongst others. I am sure that in the coming few months these delicious baked goods will be appearing in more and more outlets. I also noticed whilst I was nosing around the bakery “lab” that there were jars of  gourmet sugar free jams and dare I say it, a sugar free, low fat chocolate spread….. True Genius!!!

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Check out their website www.skinny-genie.com or give them a call!

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The world seems to divide into two, those who like the smell of petrol and those who prefer the smell of chlorine, those who like wet food and those who prefer dry food. I definitely prefer wet food! Soups, stews, pies, tagines etc (the thought of nibbling on a dry ryvita makes me recoil in horror). Last week I was at Taste of Dubai as all self respecting foodies would have been and met up with some colleagues from work. I got chatting to Suzanne, our Bareface Entertainment Booker and realised that she has taken wet food to another level! Suzanne explained to me that she will not actually eat something unless it has an accompanying sauce, gravy, dip or relish to go with it. Her main gripe is that the proportion of sauce to main dish is often very inadequate and so she ends up leaving half the food on her plate uneaten. I have to agree with her, when I cook a roast I make buckets of gravy to go with it.

”A sauce is a liquid, creaming or semi-solid food served on or used in preparing other foods. Sauces are not normally consumed by themselves; they add flavour, moisture and visual appeal to another dish. Sauce is a French word taken from the Latin salsa meaning salted.

Sauces may be used for savoury dishes or deserts. they can be prepared cold and served cold like mayonnaise, prepared cold and served luke  warm like pesto, or can be cooked and served warm like béchamel or cooked and served cold like apple sauce.

A cook who specialises in making sauces is a saucier.” (wikipedia)

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I recently did a sauce shoot with photographer Hikmat W and W Studio for Delicio which is an Omani based company specialising in dressings and pasta sauces.

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Now the problem with many sauces are that they can be calorific so here is a delicious healthy recipe for ketchup which is known for its high sugar content (and so often a favourite of children, my god daughter eats it off her plate with hand!!!). Check out more low cal recipes on Spark People.

Minutes to Prepare: 5   Minutes to Cook: 15   Number of Servings: 100
Tomato Paste, 1 can (6 oz) (remove)
*Splenda No Calorie Sweetener, 3 tsp (remove)
Cider Vinegar, .75 cup (remove)
Garlic powder, 1 tsp (remove)
*Onion powder, 1 tsp (remove)
Salt, 4 tsp (remove)
In medium sauce pan place tomato paste and stir until smooth. Slowly add in splenda, water, and vinegar, continuing to stir until smooth. Place over low heat, add all other ingredients and bring to simmer while stirring. Refrigerate after cooling. Makes about 100 tablespoon servings.
Saucy Suzanne eating sauce!!!!
1. Donna Hay, 2. Bill Granger, 3. http://www.preparedpantry.com, 4. http://www.simplyrecipes.com, 5.www.mixgreensblog.com, 6.www.femail.com.au

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Recently I was asked by the luxury silverware brand, Cristofle to work with them to create a unique event. We decided to do it in two parts, one aim was to showcase their gorgeous mini trays and the other was to show how the tray can be the centrepiece of party presentation and is not just something that drinks are brought in on, to then be put back in the kitchen, especially when they are as beautiful as these Cristofle trays!

Breakfast in Bed

Emirati Welcome

High Tea

Emirati New Year

These were shot by Photographer Edwina Cottino using trays from the Vertigo, Jardin d’Eden  and Royal Cisile ranges.We actually shot  seven varieties including Emirati sushi , French deserts as well canapes set out as the Emirati flag and the idea was to present food gifts to your guests not unlike the Japanese bento box where food is beautifully presented for the individual.

The second part of our tray event was a VIP party, kindly hosted by Sheika al Qamze at her beautiful house. We set out a Christofle tray extravaganze on her seven meter dining room table. The format was based on the traditional Jardin a la Francaise, (you have to imagine the beautifully kept gardens of Versaille) where geometry and negative space is the key. The event was a huge success and everyone enjoyed the new ideas we brought to the table as well aseating the delicious food!!



A huge thank you to Gwendoline Fontaine and her team, Marie Elena and Farah from Christofle, to the Hyatt Regency for their exquisite food and to Shereen Saifudeen from Havas PR. Look out for more coverage in Dec edition of Marie Claire UAE and Russian Emirates. Christofle can be found at Dubai Mall, MOE and Tanagra at Wafi so don’t forget to put a a little silver tray on the Christmas list. They are adorable!

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Last week I was lucky enough to attend a food photography and styling course here in Dubai. It was held by Meeta K Wolff who is the author of the very successful ‘Whats for lunch Honey?’ blog. It was organized by Sally Prosser of My Custard Pie  blog fame and was held at Nasimi Beach at Atlantis where I have to say we were totally spoilt! We had cocktail demonstrations and cooking demonstrations from their talented chefs as well as a full on Arabian banquet in the evening where all course attendees got to know each other better after our first day of learning. It was great to talk and share with other bloggers and foodies.

It was very inspirational to hear how Meeta has developed her skills of photography and food styling over the years driven by her love of food and to learn of the success she is now experiencing. I personally learnt  a lot about my camera, what I want from my camera and how to use it as a proper tool.


Cocktails and Chefs

On day two we all met at Lafayette Gourmet at Galleries Lafayette for a guided tour by Chef Russell and for more photography challenges!

Meeta showing us how its done!!

A huge thank you to Meeta, Sally and Alison from Nasimi for all the effort and organization that went into this inspiring course!

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VOGUE declares colour and pattern are back! Yeay! What better way to overcome the cold, grey winter months of January and February in Europe. And here where the weather couldn’t get any more perfect it is time close the door on all that christmas pudding and start experimenting with new salads to accompany those bbqs and desert camping trips! Why not do both…..


Fashion: Dolce & Gabbana rose-print bustier and pencil skirt. Dior ribbed silk/cotton cardigan

Food: Green bean, spinach, roasted onion and butternut squash salad topped with pickled beetreet and feta cheese, delicious with a balsamic dressing and a perfect accompaniment to a grilled steak.

Food: Basmati, red camargue and wild rice with prawn and smoked salmon, tossed in oil, lemom and hondashi dressing

Fashion: Pheobe Philo printed leather biker jacket, hibiscus print shirt and trouser, leather wedges all by Celine

Fashion: Christopher Bailey’s batik-print trench for Burberry, sunglasses Cutler&Gross. (I love, want, need?? this coat!)

Food: Bill Granger’s Asian slaw, red and white cabbage with red onions and celery tossed in a sweet, tangy and incredibly refreshing miso dressing.

Check out Bill Granger’s new book, Bill’s Everday Asian. (I bought this as a christmas present to myself and absolutely love it. Recipes are straightforward and delicious and the photography and styling is excellent)

Fashion from January issue of Vogue UK, ”Be so Bold” modeled by Agyness Deyn, photographer Patrick Demarchelier

Food made, styled, photographed and eaten by Mary-Kei!

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Kenwood have a hi-tech kitchen set up in a shop! The Jashamal store in Festival City to be precise. I was invited to a delicious Christmas lunch there last week It was a Cook & Coffee, Kenwood have been doing these events for a few years, starting in Paris in 2009, then Hong Kong and Shang Hai and now in Dubai. It is a great way to demonstrate their machines to the public in an interactive way (so you don’t have to read the whole manual!!). And as I got to eat the food it was the right kind of interactive for me!!

Now I don’t have to be persuaded as to how great the Cooking Chef is, I have had my own private lesson thanks to Sue Poynter from Kenwood where we made bread dough and cake frosting as well as pasta! Amazing, all with one  machine that chops, grinds, slices, mixes, heats, pulse stirs, whisks, steams, basically you name it,  the Cooking Chef pretty much does all it bar the washing up! (and there isn’t even much of that as you are using the same bowl!)

We were very lucky to have  Chef Dima cooking for us. She made Christmas lunch look a doddle as she sliced potatoes and butternut squash for dauphinoise, grated cheese, chopped peppers for the Mediterranean foccacia and pepper stuffing and made gingerbread cookie dough. She was so full of handy cooking tips too! Check out more on her blog, Dima’s Kitchen.

Dimas tips:

  • When cooking with olive oil, it has a low smoking point so when you add it to the pan you don’t want to hear a sizzle as that means that it is already oxidizing and you will lose the flavour.
  • Flavour your pots and pans with oil, salt, pepper and herbs before you start cooking.
  • Dry your own rosemary, buy it fresh, wash it thoroughly then leave the whole plant to dry in the sun. This has much more flavour than shop bought dried rosemary.
  • Roll cookie dough in sheets of baking paper so as to not add too much flour which would make your cookies too dry.

Then we got a chance to decorate our own cookies. I loved this bit of course……

And just as tummies were beginning to rumble we were all treated to a delicious lunch of maple brine turkey with cranberry relish, a winter bake of vegetables and walnuts and Mediterranean stuffing. I have to say it might have been the most succulent turkey I’ve ever had! Sorry mum!!

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