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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!

brownie shakes1

 

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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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.
suz
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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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Recently  I was asked to style an Arabian Lifestyle stock shoot for Arabian Eye. This involved two very talented photographers, Katarina Premfors and Rich Facun and the equally talented cameramen Nick Davidson and Andrew Clemson both from Alchemy. Now, all stock shoots are pretty hectic as the aim is to get as many quality shots as possible but when you have two photographers and film rolling you have to make sure that scenes work from all angles and everyone has a set-up to shoot!!!

I was responsible for the props, wardrobe and food. Luckily I was given two fabulous assistants, Simona and Sandiya to make this all possible. Here is the thing, you cannot do an Arabian Lifestyle shoot without dates and Arabian coffee served from a dalla (Arabian coffee pot). And to convey the Arab culture of hospitality I usually have to buy quite a lot of dates!

The Date, some facts……..
1. The English name as well as the Latin species name comes from the Greek word, daktulos,  which means finger because of it’s elongated shape.
2. Egypt produces the most dates at 1,350,000 metric tonnes and the UAE are 5th at 795,000 metric tonnes per year.
3. Dates are used in savoury dishes such as the Moroccan tagine, sweets such as Ka’ak, the Arabic cookie and in various date desserts popular in the West.
4. Dates are fed to camels, horses and dogs in the Sahara.
5. Traditionally, it is believed that dates can counteract alcoholic intoxication!!!(mmm, not sure about this one!)
6. Dates are a natural laxative so good for preventing constipation!
Well, as I mentioned earlier I am always left with rather a large amount of dates at the end of one of these shoots so I just choose one of the numorous recipes on the internet or from cookbooks for date cakes, date cookies, date squares etc but here is a tasty one called date drop cookies….
Ingredients:
1/2 cup , 4 ounces, of butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup warm water
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Date filling:
1 pack, 8 ounces, dates, cut up
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup warm water
Preparation:
1. Bring dates, sugar and water to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring, until dates are thickened. About 5 to 7 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2. Cream butter and sugar, stir in egg, water, flour, vanilla, baking soda and salt.
3. Drop cookie dough by the teaspoonful onto a lightly greased cooking sheet.
4. Place  half a teaspoonful of date mixture on top of the cookie dough.
5. Bake at 350 degrees or 180 degrees for 10 to 15 mins.

Before

After

 

Share with friends, family and hardworking Bookers in the office. Enjoy your date!

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This past year I grew tomatoes, aubergines and peppers only to find myself harvesting one pathetic cherry tomato! Not even a bunch, just the one!!! So I have to hand it to my father when he showed me his vegetable garden. The deal is my mum does the flowers (and the sculptures), and my dad does the veg. Of course they both battle to find enough time to stay on top of the garden but as it seems to be an English national  obsession it is permanently at the top of the ”to do” list!

He has courgettes, (I made a courgette quiche the other day), tomatoes, beetroot, beans, lettuce, leeks and of course rhubarb which just seems to grow itself and has lived in the same corner of the garden since I can remember! I was informed that the rhubarb needed using up! Growing your own means that you not only have a constant stream of fresh and therefore delicious vegetables but it also forces you to make dishes that you probably wouldn’t make everyday.

As my brother and his family were coming over for Sunday lunch I decided to use the rhubarb in an adaptation of the very traditional English summer dessert, Eton mess. Eton mess is a dish of strawberries, cream and meringue mixed together and has been around since the early 19th century and was traditionally served at the annual cricket match between Eton college and Winchester college. The great thing about it is it’s so quick, easy and tasty. (if you like creamy desserts)

Rhubarb Mess

1. Peel the rhubarb to get rid of the stringy bits.

2. Chop into chunks and put in a pan with sugar and cinnamon.

3. Simmer until soft and leave to cool.

4.Whip some double cream and add sugar to taste. Mix in the rhubarb compote.

5. Before serving fold in the crushed meringue. If this is done too early the meringue will dissolve and the texture will be lost.

6. Serve chilled in individual bowls or glasses.

Styling tip: Glupey food should be served in smaller containers or dishes so it looks more attractive!

Now, rhubarb is an acquired taste due to its tartness. So I was not at all surprised when, after their first mouthfuls, I got a unanimous, ”I don’t like it!!!!!!” from my two little nieces. Luckily I had some mini magnums as back-up!

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Well I have been in denial but I think summer is upon us! I keep on stepping outside and thinking “Oh its quite warm today!” but I fear this is it guys, brace yourselves for the on-coming 45 degree heat that we all endure (somehow) every year.

What better vegetable to come to the rescue than the Cucumber! The Cucumber is cool and soothing and is packed full of vitamins and water. Here are a few fascinating facts about the Cucumber…..

The Facts:

1. It contains vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Iron Magnesium, Phosphorous, Potassium and Zinc!

2. It is great as an afternoon pick-me-up as it contains the right amount of Vitamin B and carbohydrates, try it next time instead of reaching for that bar of chocolate.

3. When rubbed on skin the phytochemicals in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten so it is great to put on your eyes if a little puffy or rub cellulite areas before heading down to the pool!

4. If  you’ve had a few too many and don’t want to wake up with a hangover, eat a few slices of cucumber before you go to bed. Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in equilibrium, avoiding both a hangover and headache!!

5. If you want a “green” way to clean your sink, taps or stainless steel take a slice of cucumber and rub the surface you are cleaning, It will bring back the shine with no streaks.

6. If you are using a pen and have made a mistake, take the skin of the cucumber and slowly rub to erase the pen writing,(tippex may be a bit quicker!!!) it also works on delightful crayon graffiti that kids may have decided to decorate your house with!

Here is a delicious recipe for  Gorden Ramsey’s  Chilled Avocado and Cucumber soup, a perfect chilled lunch for hot summer’s day:

2 large cucumbers, about 14 oz each, chilled

juice of 1 lemon, or to taste

2 ripe avocados

2 tbsp strained plain yogurt

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

sea salt and black pepper

½ red onion, minced

1 plum tomato, seeded and minced

1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle

3–4 basil leaves, finely shredded

1. Peel the cucumbers, quarter lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Dice a quarter and set aside for the garnish. Roughly chop the rest, place in a blender with half the lemon juice,

and whiz until smooth.

2. Halve, pit, and peel the avocados. Mince one avocado half to use for the garnish. Squeeze over a little lemon juice and set aside with the diced cucumber. Tip the rest of the

avocados into the blender.

3. Blend the avocados with the puréed cucumber, strained plain yogurt, and Worcestershire sauce until very smooth. Season generously with salt and pepper, and add lemon

juice to taste. Chill until ready to serve.

4. For the garnish, combine the diced cucumber and avocado with the red onion and tomato. Toss with the olive oil and shredded basil.

5. Taste the chilled soup for seasoning and add a splash of cold water if it is too thick. Pour into four chilled bowls and spoon the garnish into the center. Add a drizzle of olive oil and grind over a little pepper.

So simple, I actually added a little milk as well as water to it as it was very thick. It definitely makes the weather a bit more bearable!

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Last week we celebrated 10 years of Bareface. A huge congratulations to Venetia and Justine who founded it all those years ago. And congratulations to all the beautiful people in the office who keep it running and to all the stylists, photographers, producers and models who make it happen on the ground even during the sweltering summer months. Bareface is still the largest model agency in the Middle East and remains at the forefront of stills production in the region. What’s more is that we all care about each other, we are a team.

To celebrate we had a party at Media One M Deck which is white, breezy and oh-so Miami! The office, exclusive photographers, stylists, models and suppliers were invited to attend. A huge thanks to Ralph Younes, the outlet manager, www.mediaonehotel.com for all his help.

Now all good parties need a decent welcome drink to kick start things! I  therefore decided it was necessary to create our own welcome drink, The B-FAB. One evening a few of us got together, head booker-Elisa Galbraith, stylist-Angie Savage, locations manager-Johnny White (who was actually more interested in the rugby scores!) photographer- Mike McKelvie, myself and special guest, photographer Adam Browning-Hill who happens to be a cocktail expert! Well after a few flirtinis, blue lagoons, screwdrivers, salty dogs and ectoplasms Adam came up with the winning recipe! The B-Fab was born! It is a refreshing and punchy shot! The beauty of deciding on a shot meant that we could serve all guests another round at 10pm to tie in with the 10 years!

Some of the ingredients;

by Mike McKelvie

The tasting;

 

The B-fab is made with Vodka, Cointreau, fresh lemon juice, sugar and a hint of Grenadine. Served chilled of course!

 

by Mike McKelvie

The Party;

A good time was had by all and most of us managed to struggle through the next day! well done everybody!!

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Last week i was kindly invited by a team at the UAE Food Explorers for a food tasting at Global Village. It was the first time i had ever been to Global Village out on the Emirates road and i could not believe how busy it was! There are stalls from several different countries, mostly Arabic but Indian and African and Asian too, selling ornaments, clothes, jewellery, knick-knacks, and food. The idea was for me to taste a few chosen dishes from different countries and to comment on them on video. The dishes were chosen by the team and they included nuts and baked sweet potato from Egypt, tamahindi – a tamarind juice from Syria, Roti from Sri Lanka and halwa, a desert from Oman.

First i tried an array of different nuts from Egypt, almonds, cashews and peanuts coated in honey and sesame. My favourites were the praline almonds! Next it was onto the sweet potato snack…

The sweet potato was baked and was served with a white bean dish called Tirmas which was a crunchy bean with dash of lemon juice and pepper. This is a particularly great snack in the winter as it is healthy, warming and comforting! Strangely it is also a winter snack in Japan and can be bought from street vendors! I particularly liked the tirmas, i don’t think i have ever tried anything similar and it is always exciting to find something new. All so simple but delicious! Next it was onto the tamahindi!

This talented young man did an elaborate show of throwing and catching the little glass before he poured the juice into it from the silver caddy he is carrying on his back! He could easily qualify as a cocktail barman anywhere! The tamarind juice was interesting! It was brown in colour and at first it seemed refreshing until the sweetness kicked in! Unfortunately it was way too sweet for me but there were some definate takers amongst the group! Next we were off to Sri Lanka….

There were several types of roti and we tried them all. I always find it fascinating watching experts make food like this,I think its the speed and the skill, its great entertainment! The dish i tried was a mixture of vegetables, carrots, cabbage, onions ginger, garlic with chicken and an egg to bind it all. It had a slight kick from the chilis which i loved. again so simple, quick, healthy and delicious. Infact, totally forgetting about desert I ate a little too much of this! Next off to Oman…

This is Omani halwa, which of course means sweet in Arabic and yes, it is indeed very sweet! This is a very traditional dish served on all occasions, happy and sad, religious and festive. It’s main ingredients are starch, sugar, eggs, water, saffron, cardamom and nuts. Well, this was certainly something new! I was asked to give it points out of 10, 10 being the highest score and i really wanted to give it a 5 as its a dish probably very special in many families with unique recipes handed down from generations but unfortunately i could only manage a 3. My teeth and my tongue were actually giving it a 1 but that’s just rude!

It was a great evening out and i would like to say a huge thank you to the team at UAE Food Explorers, check out their great website with all sorts of restaurant critiques, www.uaefoodexplorer.com and to Bruce from Standard Chartered Bank for sponsoring it. Global Village is open till the end of Feb and if you are looking for something different to do one evening its well worth a visit, entrance fee only 10 dhs, bargain!!!!

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