Muhammara: Roasted Red Bell Peppers & Walnut Dip

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Smoky flavours of roasted Red bell peppers combined with a hint of Garlic,a burst of Lemon juice and Olive oil mingle together to make up this delightful Middle Eastern Meze. If your taste buds are sharp enough you will detect the coarse texture that is brought about by the addition of breadcrumbs and coarsely ground walnuts to this dip.Tracing its origins to Syria,this is now a popular accompaniment with most Levantine cuisine.

I’ve been shying away from making up this favourite dip of mine due to the lack of being able to source Pomegranate Molasses which I feel is an essential ingredient.I do believe the brilliant red tones and the tartness in a Muhamarra are certainly lent by the molasses.I’ve been impatient to make this and went along by substituting with some honey. Continue reading

Demystifying the Perfect Potato Rosti

 

 

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I’m running out of breakfast ideas and more so as the teen is home and is certainly a big brekkie person. He’s down from University for the summer and is finally getting into a routine of sorts. Well lets say his day begins at the gym as he is quite the fitness buff. To add to this a very conscious and careful eater, which is great as he has quite some healthy ways to start his day with. But this of course leaves me in a quandary with the eternal question of What to cook?

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Lightly Salted Kale Crisps

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Imagine eating a packet of crisps without the guilt? Now I’m not taking about potato, all though I must admit I’m quite crazy about potato chips. Of course a healthier option is always welcome with everyone on a diet of sorts. I’ve been cooking with Kale for awhile in my kitchen.Well the family has been served a Kale soup on various occasions,sautéed Kale and yes even Kale juice.The crisps is something I’d been shying away from,primarily from the fact that I just didn’t imagine they would turn out crisp enough.

This was a Friday morning experiment. I woke up this  morning with a gorgeous bunch of curly Kale staring  at me…Not soup please hollers my son ,who has been pottering around the kitchen wondering what I’m planning to rustle up for him.Why not try out some Kale crisps he says to me?

Oh well what the heck! If they turn out soggy I could always add them to a pasta of sorts. Now I had done a bit of research with quite a few recipes and came to the conclusion that once the Kale had been washed the key step was in ensuring that they were dried really well. I’ve used my salad spinner that really helped get all the water out and then went on to spread them onto a kitchen towel and gently dabbed them further.I then rubbed in some olive oil and seasoned then with some salt and pepper and layered them onto a baking sheet in a single layer.Yes just as simple as that.

They were baked in an oven at 150 C for about a total of 20 minutes.You do need to watch them towards the end to ensure they don’t burn.

The Verdict: Just fantastic and crisp as ever Kale! So here you go, all you need is some Olive oil,salt,pepper and a dash of chili  to turn these gorgeous green leaves into a delightful and healthy snack! Go ahead and make some up today!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 bunch Curly Kale
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sea salt or any fine grain salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 150 C.
  2. Layer a baking tray with parchment paper.
  3. Wash the Kale leaves thoroughly.
  4. Remove the stem and tear them into large pieces.
  5. Put the pieces into a salad spinner to remove all the excess water.
  6. Spread the kale onto a kitchen towel and gently dab the leaves to ensure all the moisture is drained out.
  7. Add the leaves to a bowl and gently rub the olive oil into them.
  8. Now add in the salt,pepper and chili powder and mix well.
  9. Arrange the leaves in a single layer,do not over crowd the tray.One tray is good for about 1/2 a bunch of leaves so you may want to layer the other half onto a second tray.
  10. Put  both the trays into the oven for about 10 minutes.
  11. Turn the trays around after 10 minutes and bake further for about 15 minutes.
  12. Keep a watch out towards the last 5 minutes to ensure the kale leaves are crisp enough and are not burning.
  13. Remove from the oven and let the crisps cool.
  14. Best eaten fresh.

Fresh Figs And Goat Cheese Crostata

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This is a simple and delicious way of enjoying fresh figs. I’ve had the flavors of figs and goats cheese on my mind for a couple of weeks. Until last week when I went right ahead as served this wonderful Crostata as dessert.

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It turned out a work of pure brilliance. It is somewhere between sweet and savory and you could perhaps serve it as an appetizer as well.

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The crust is an easy to follow recipe. Once rolled out go right ahead and layer it with the sliced fresh figs, followed by the crumbled goat cheese and drizzled with honey.
I served this warm, dusted with some confectioners sugar and crème fraiche.It was absolutely delightful.
Enjoy!

Pastry recipe adapted Giada De Laurentis

Ingredients-Pastry
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
Zest of one lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 Tablespoons ice water

Directions-Pastry
Combine flour, sugar, zest, and salt in a food processor and process briefly to blend. Add butter and pulse till mixture looks like coarse meal. Add ice water a little at time, pulsing between additions, until mixture forms into moist clumps. Dump dough onto large piece of plastic wrap, gather into a ball, flatten into a disk and wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Ingredients-Filling
6 ounces mild, fresh goat cheese, crumbled
15 ripe fresh black figs, stems removed and cut into thin discs
2 tablespoons honey

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Directions-Crostata
On a large piece of parchment paper, roll the dough out into two rectangles. Transfer paper/crostata to a large, heavy baking sheet. All around the rectangle, fold in the outer 1/2-inch of the pastry to form a raised edge all around the tart.

Sprinkle goat cheese over the bottom of the crostata (not the edges). Arrange the fig halves, cut side up, over the goat cheese and drizzle the figs with honey.

Bake about 25 to 30 minutes, or until the underside of the tart crust is browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Serves 6-8 people

Crescendo: Premium Vinegars & Oils

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I was recently invited for the official launch of Crescendo,one of Germany’s largest retail franchises.They specialize in a wide range of premium quality Vinegar, Oils and a great selection of spices and herbs sourced from all over the globe.

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The afternoon spent at Crescendo was indeed a very informative one. Kaspars Vendelis Crescendo’s in-house Good taste consultant educated us on a variety of uses and benefits of the various Oils and Vinegar in store. The range is fairly unique and can be adapted into various cuisines as well.

The Vinegar range from the Classic to Balsamic Aceto Balsamico and the wonderful Balsamic Crème varieties. We sampled some great varieties such as Raspberry vinegar,Date vinegar and Kalamansi vinegar.It was interesting to learn that the Crème vinegar have a higher percentage of fruit which makes the flavor more powerful. The blueberry vinegar was indeed a winner for me…and any wonder it has been awarded a three star rating by the International Taste and Quality Institute.

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We then went onto sampling a variety of Oils. These were classified as Extra Virgin Olive Oils, Nut Oils,Seed oils ,Infused Oils and wellness oils.A great tip shared by Kaspers was the anti aging oil mix. This is a combination of Argan oil,grape oil and walnut oil.Furthermore wheat germ oil has some great healing properties especially for damaged skin as it has a high content of vitamin E.

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Crescendo stocks a great range of International spices as well. They are quite a unique  blend and have over 90 different varieties to choose from.

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The session ended with a live cooking demo by Kaspers. Just as well as after having sampled an array of vinegar and Oils it was interesting to see how these could be used in cooking as well.

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A recipe for Chicken Liver with Raspberries:

  • Chicken Liver
  • Raspberries
  • Quail eggs
  • Mixed salad leaves
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Sesame seeds
  • Hazelnut Oil
  • Raspberry Balsamic vinegar

Directions:

  1. Boil quail eggs and put aside.
  2. Clean and cut the chicken liver into bite size pieces.
  3. Put the liver in a bowl and marinate with raspberry vinegar for 20 minutes,pat dry and roast on a hot pan.
  4. On plates assemble mixed salad leaves with cucumbers and tomatoes with raspberry vinegar and hazelnut oil.
  5. Arrange the chicken liver over the salad leaves and top with the quail eggs.

Great ways to use Oils and Vinegar in your everyday cooking.

What more their bottles come beautifully packaged in elegant bottles and would certainly make great gifts. Do visit them soon.

Crescendo is located in the Souk Madinat Jumeirah on the main level next to Patchi.