Posts Tagged ‘Food Preparation’

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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Its done! We have completed the new kitchen in The Studio, Al Quoz. With bespoke kitchen units, a new fridge, 5-hob gas cooker with electric fan oven, a new extractor fan, a new hot water tank and even a moveable centre unit with a gas hob insert! This has been designed to be a functioning kitchen for all food stylists as well as ideal for shooting cookery webisodes. The colours are neutral greys which can be propped with numerous complimentary colours to achieve different looks. It is also equipped with chopping boards, pots, pans and knives to help food stylists lug a little less. And thanks to Rehana from Kenwood we can also boast top of the range cooking machines, blenders, coffee machines and more which are on their way as we speak!

To book this space go to The Studio. Thank you to Nick Davidson, Selva, Jumeirah Carpentry, Rehana, Elisa and Candice for making this happen.

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I have just returned from Singapore where I attended the Food Styling Master Class for the second year. This is taught by LA food stylist Denise Vivaldo. It was wonderful to see her again and she was full of food styling advice, industry tips and of course fascinating Hollywood stories. There were three of us from last year who travelled from Australia, Russia and Dubai with new students from the Philipines, Hong Kong, Italy and Singapore.

As well as covering the all important hamburger and cheese pull, this year we covered packaged food, grill marks, plating noodles and pasta techniques, working with frozen deserts ie real ice cream, ice lollys etc, foam on beer, chocolate, pie crusts and cheesecakes and fake bbqs.

It was all fascinating to me, here are some images of Denise’s demonstrations and my work….

TIP: With frozen microwave food It is important to get the proportions right. Usually there isn’t much food so use smaller plates. This may seem a bit of a con but legally the weight is correct so it is not false advertising.

TIP: Noodle and pasta need a little support so place vegetable shortening, stiff mash potato or cotton wool in the base of the bowl so the noodles don’t slump down. Place the noodles on top and try to create some movement in the bowl. Small droplets of fat/oil in the sauce can create a jewelled effect on camera. Only add the sauce once the dish is on set to stop the noodles from going mushy.

TIP: Heat grill pan, and spray both the pan and food item with oil. Hold down and don’t move it around. It doesn’t matter if its not cooked through, no one will eat it. Spray with a darkening agent, kitchen bouquet or soy sauce. Fix lines with an eye brow pencil if you need to.

Other gems we learnt were:

  • Use red lipstick to enhance tomatoes and pears.
  • Paint lobster and prawns with a little pink nail varnish to make their colouring more uniform for the camera.
  • Spray varnish french fries after they have been cooked to protect them from the air and so from going limp.

There was so much more and these tips and techniques can all be found in Denise’s new (award winning!) food styling book, The Food Stylist’s Handbook. 

Once again, thank  you Denise for all your inspiration and humour! And thank you to Palette Sensations Cookery School.

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Well, I think I have just enjoyed the best morning ever! I was invited as a local blogger to the launch of the new Braun Multiquick 7 hand blender with Braun ambassador chef, Chef Osama at the Park Hyatt.  I had been generously given a hand blender  a month ago to test out and use in my own kitchen so was familiar with the product but we had no idea what they had prepared for us….

The Braun  Multiquick is available in shops now and is unique in that it is very sleek and cordless. This is so convenient as you don’t have to keep moving your food to the nearest power point! What I also like about it is that it is black and silver. It would look quite the  accessory in any modern kitchen. I know i will be using mine all the time.

Five food bloggers were invited, and on arrival we were told that there would be a cook off! It was like Masterchef!! ( Dilaila you would have been in heaven!) we were allowed to familiarize ourselves with our kitchen stations, the fresh vegetables available to us and our utensils( of which I have to say, there weren’t many! It just goes to show that professional chefs don’t need all the little gadgets we all fill our kitchens with!)

As you can imagine we were all a little nervous, we were told that we had one hour and would be marked on the food, the cleanliness of our stations and how we utilised the Braun hand blender. We donned our Braun aprons and got stuck in! I cannot tell you how quickly that hour passed! All the chefs from Traiteur were on hand, fetching random ingredients, advising on taste, washing up, creating ornamental garnishes, you name it those gorgeous chefs were doing it to help us out! Even Chef Osama gave little culinary tips to help us along.

After an hour and 15 mins ( Chef Osama was very generous with his timings!) we had several, very different completed dishes on the judging table. A few people had managed to make two dishes! There was coconut curry, tomato soup, grilled salmon with cauliflower puree, fish cakes, grilled chicken and guacamole bruschettas, all sorts! It was so much fun! I made salmon fish cakes with a soya mayonnaise and a mooli radish and carrot and sesame salad. The judges took a while to decide  and apparently it was all very close! And congratulations to Shaima for winning the first prize which was a night at the Park Hyatt.

We were then given goodie bags of delicious italian olive oil and balsamic vinegar and other such delights as well as a voucher for dinner for two at the Park Hyatt and a signed copy of Chef Osama’s Arabic sweets cook book! (of which we have all promised to make at least one dish.. watch this space) And then we were taken upstairs to Arabesque to enjoy a delicious lunch together! Amazing!!

Everything was so well-organized, I know alot of hard work had gone into this event so a huge thank you to Tejal, Heba and Omar from Braun, to Chef Osama, to the Park Hyatt and all the lovely chefs at Traiteur and to Rana from Porter Novelli who invited me to get involved in this event. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute!

the bloggers:

Nausheen Noor, author of DubaiBites blog, Sukaina Rajabali, author of LickMySpoon blog, Arva Ahmad, author for ILiveinaFryingPan blog, Shaima Al Tamimi, author of Lgeimat junkies blog and myself.

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This week I had the privilege of meeting Scott Crawley who together with Richard Lambert and Executive Chef, Andrew Burn run Yes Chef! We did a food shoot for their new website which will be up and running in the next few weeks.

Andrew created delicious meal after delicious meal. The shoot was fast with 10 shots per day so the food was being shot fresh from the kitchen without the need for all the usual food styling tricks. It is of course better to shoot food in this way and there is the added bonus of us being able to sample all these amazing dishes afterwards.

Yes Chef! having been going for about a year, successfully doing private parties, co-orporate functions, fine dining and even bbq’s. They will be expanding into restaurants, school meals, healthy eating and more!

I took some quick shots of behind the scenes…..

Nick the photographer

Andy in the kitchen

Arranging the food

And of the food…..

Mouth-watering bbq grill

Pan fried sultan ibrahim on a bed of grilled vegetables

Selection of bread from their own bakery

The photographer Nick England used a combination of day light with a little flash to achieve this look. The shots looked great. My own favorite dish was the Yes Chef! spiced pineapple with vanilla ice cream. The pineapple was gently simmered in sugar with an array of spices including chilli which gave it a little kick and looked amazing on the plate! See Nick’s shot of the dish below…..

The team from Yes Chef! are natural hosts and really funny too and i can’t wait to see their website when it is up and running!!!

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Yesterday I received my Level 3 HACCP certificate!! Yeay!

HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point. It is a system that identifies, evaluates and controls hazards which are significant for food safety. It was first designed by the Pilsbury Company working alongside NASA and was developed in order to guarantee the safety of astronauts’ food in the early days of the US manned space programme.

Most Western food establishments and manufacturers follow the HACCP system to ensure quality standards and the UAE government has now made it a legal requirement for establishments here to put it in place. They have started with all five-star hotels and restaurants although some argue that they should have started at the cheaper, low-end establishments as it is those who frequent these places that can’t afford medical bills for subsequent food poisoning incidents. We all know that food poisoning is a serious issue with terrible cases highlighted in the papers recently. As summer creeps up on us, well actually it is already here in full force, it is worth being a little more diligent in our food preparation.

Seven Safety Tips:

1.Wash hands and nails with hot soapy water before handling food, between handling cooked and uncooked foods, and after going to the toilet. ( i should hope so!!)

2.Wipe down and disinfect surfaces and utensils regularly, using a detergent or diluted bleach – always read the safety instructions. (they say that the average kitchen has more germs in it than the average bathroom!!!)

3. Use separate chopping boards for preparing raw meat, poultry and seafood and for fresh produce ie salads, fruit and veg.( If you don’t have 16 chopping boards lying around your kitchen, wash your one thoroughly between each stage of cooking!)

4. After using a knife or other utensil on raw meat, clean it thoroughly before using it on other foods.( no cross-contamination, thank you!)

5. Store fresh or frozen food in fridge or freezer within two hours of purchase – sooner if the weather is hot! (i think that’s us! infact i would go straight home after a food shop with absolutely no detours at all in this heat! If you can remember, it is always good to take a freezer bag with some ice packs in it with you to the supermarket, i’ve remembered to do this twice!!!)

6. Use leftovers within two days. Cooked rice should only be kept for one day! ( if i have leftover cooked rice i freeze it and then microwave it when i need it. Rice is one of the easiest ways to get food poisoning.)

7. Only reheat food once and serve piping hot.( that means steaming!!)

Lets hope we see a significant drop in food poisoning cases in Dubai, just last week my friend and her husband contracted dysentery from eating at a very well established and acclaimed Dubai cafe. They haven’t had a very nice time but are thankfully feeling a lot better now!!!

A massive thank you to GHP quality consultants www.ghpgroupme.com for enabling me to do the three day HACCP course and exam!

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