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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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I have a friend called Dil who is a very talented cook (and a very talented artist and interior designer as well!). She left us in Dubai a few years ago to move back to Tynemouth to set up her dream cafe which is exactly what she has done. ‘Dil and the Bear’ opened two months ago and I have just been to check it out while helping out with a bit of scone making! (way more stressful than I anticipated!!!)

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As these images show the food is to die for, everything is homemade with love and care and coupled with the impeccable interior details, you get a cafe that you want to visit time and again. And there are plenty of regulars who are already popping in on a daily basis!

One thing I was over the moon to taste again was Dil’s breakfast pie. Dil used to make this for us when she used to cater our photo shoots in Dubai.  It is sausage, spinach, egg and tomato all in a puff pastry pie crust!!! Genius! Served with her homemade baked beans you can’t really ask for more.(she serves the baked beans in gorgeous grey enamel mugs)

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Breakfast Pie!!!

Congratulations to Dil and her brother Paul for achieving so much. And of course to their small army of young staff. Thank you for feeding me this weekend, it was a huge treat!! If you happen to be in the area it is definitely worth a visit (18 Front Street, Tynemouth)

facebook Dil and the Bear

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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
Ingredients
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)
Directions
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.
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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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I recently went back to Japan to celebrate my Grandmother’s 95th birthday. I travelled around visiting temples, old friends and well, eating! Every other shop in Japan is a food shop of some kind whether it is a restaurant, cafe, bar, speciality bakery or supermarket. It is quite strange how the Japanese manage to stay so thin!! Every restaurant and cafe has a window display of fake food showcasing their menu. This food is all made of resin but is so incredibly well done that it is by looking at this plastic food you decide what you feel like eating.( It is also a godsend for any bemused foreigner who is struggling to make sense of a Japanese menu!)

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Kappabashi is an area of Tokyo which is famous for kitchen shops, restaurant retail shops, amazing Japanese knife shops and plastic food shops. I signed up for a one hour course on how to make fake food. They taught us the traditional method of using wax instead of resin. (All this food was made of wax originally until resin was decided to be longer lasting) It was facsinating!! We made lettuce and tempura….

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I then treated myself to a couple of kits where you can do this at home… just for fun! As you do!

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And Voila! A delicious plastic and silicon ice cream sundae!! You can order these kits online at www.ganso-sample.com. The instructions are in Japanese but there are very good diagrams to follow.

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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!!

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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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The pomegranate is an ancient fruit originating from Persia. Its’ sweet, sour seeds glisten like little rubies. It is a fruit that for centuries has represented prosperity, ambition and fertility. There are records of the pomegranate in Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome, Greek mythology, the Quran, the Bible and in Hinduism. ” Shrouded in history, myth and legend, some say the pomegranate was the original forbidden fruit found by Eve in the Garden of Eden” Julie Le Clerc. Today the pomegranate is grown all over the world from the US to Japan and is revered for being a great source of vitamin C, vitamin B5 and  potassium. Pomegranates are also high-fiber and full of nutrients and studies have shown it can reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure!

Last week I was at Bloomingdale’s with fellow food blogger Nausheen from Dubai Bites and Sally from My Custard Pie for the book signing of Ariana Bundy’s gorgeous cookbook ”Pomegranates and Roses”. It is a cookery book that features traditional Iranian recipes that have been handed down for generations. The book is more than a cookbook being so personal, with old family photos and illustrations. It is beautifully styled with Ariana and her mother sourcing all the props themselves. We were treated to an array of delicious canapes from the book and cookery demonstration using pomegranate molasses.

Personally, I have very fond memories of eating pomegranates, there was this sudden craze at school where we would bring in a half a pomegranate (I think they were quite expensive in England at that time!) for our morning break snack and we used to sit together picking all the seeds out, sharing and chatting like little old ladies! Ahh, the good ol’ days!!!

image 1,2 mary-kei, image 5 tartelette, image 6 tamarhammer, image 7 family spice

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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.

Lunch!

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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