Jul 052015
 
Recipe: Petit Pois Salad (La Serre, Dubai)

  Last week, the award-winning bistro La Serre asked me to try making one of the new summer salads on their menu, ‘Petit Pois Salad’. I was excited that La Serre had reached out to me but also somewhat nervous. I’m a confidant home cook, but this place has a great reputation for excellent food – would I really be able to re-create some of that food in my kitchen?   La Serre was started in 2013 by Executive Chef Izu Ani, the former Executive Chef of La Petite Maison in Dubai. In April 2015, La Serre was the first restaurant in the Middle East to be awarded the ‘Snail of Approval’ by The Slow Food Movement. The award is a recognition of the restaurant’s commitment to sourcing authentic, sustainable ingredients and respecting the time and effort it takes to create truly good food. A few months later in June 2015, Chef Izu was named Head [Continue reading…]

Jun 302015
 
Recipe: Vegetable Canapes with Blue Cheese

  Most people can be divided into those who have a sweet tooth and those who have a savoury tooth. While I enjoy sweet things in moderation, my strongest cravings are always for savoury food.   If I happen to have leftovers from dinner in the fridge, they become my quick savoury snack. But when I don’t have leftovers to fall back on, my go-to snack to satiate an attack of the savoury-tooth-monster is Vegetable Canapes with Blue Cheese.   Vegetable Canapes with Blue Cheese is a rather fancy name for a very simple snack. It just involves slicing some fresh cucumbers and tomatoes and adding drops of blue cheese on top. A scattering of blueberries or grapes is optional.   The vegetables and fruit on the plate are not simply there to be healthy. They actually play a role in enhancing the taste of the blue cheese, making the flavour resonate on the [Continue reading…]

Jun 272015
 
Restaurant: Iftar at 3in1, VIDA Downtown Dubai (UAE)

  Total Salads’ Verdict: VIDA Downtown’s Iftar at their restaurant 3in1 makes eating healthy easy. They have taken a socially responsible approach to their Iftar buffet in an effort to avoid the large amount of food which gets wasted at traditional buffets. Starters and desserts are buffet-style while the main course is a set menu brought to your table. Starters consist of soups, a good variety of salads, and freshly baked savoury pastries. The main course consists of four traditional slow-cooked nourishing Middle Eastern dishes. Desserts include fresh and dried fruits, baklava, pastries and puddings. This is a great place for Iftar if you are looking for a serene unhurried atmosphere, understated decor, and a well-planned healthy menu.   Restaurant: 3in1 at VIDA Downtown Dubai   Location: Vida Downtown Dubai, Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard, The Old Town, Downtown Dubai, United Arab Emirates   Price Range: AED170 for adults, AED85 for children over age 6-12, free for children aged 5 and under. Iftar is [Continue reading…]

Jun 192015
 
Product: Iliada Organic Kalamata Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Greece)

    Iliada Organic Kalamata Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a delicious award-winning Greek olive oil which is widely available in the UAE as well as many other countries.   Iliada was the first extra virgin olive oil I bought when I moved to Dubai. I was new in town and one of the first places I learned to drive to was our closest organic store. They stocked several brands of organic EVOO, but I was swayed to try Iliada simply because of the charming little piece of twine tied around its neck.   It is produced by a company called AGRO.VIM run by the Gyftea family. They work with local farmers to make traditional Greek agricultural products including several types of olive oils, table olives, salad dressings, and antipasti.   Named as a tribute to the epic Greek poem the ‘Iliad’ by Homer, Iliada EVOO is made from Koroneiki olives grown by local farmers from [Continue reading…]

Jun 092015
 
Recipe: Almond-Cashew Nut Milk (Dairy Free/Vegan)

  I have some members of my family who are allergic or intolerant to dairy products. Often people who are allergic to cow’s milk products can drink other types of milk such as goat’s milk or camel’s milk. However, since these are not mainstream products sometimes these milks are not available when I go to the supermarket, so I usually try to find a substitute such as rice milk or almond milk.   I was quite happy with these substitutes until I took a closer look at the ingredient list. Organic rice or almonds (yes!), agave syrup (too sweet), sunflower/canola oil (definitely not!), corn maltodextrin (just, no!).   These ingredient lists pushed me into trying to make nut milk myself at home, which would allow me to control what goes into it. And you know what? Nut milk is one of the easiest things in the world to make! I have made it using only almonds, and I [Continue reading…]

Jun 072015
 
Recipe: Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream (Dairy Free/Vegan)

  Summertime is here, and for most people that means ice cream!   My daughter is allergic to cow’s milk so I often make her this dairy-free ice cream using just four ingredients and an ice cream maker. It’s chocolatey and creamy, and even though I am not allergic to milk I actually prefer it to traditional chocolate ice cream. And I don’t just prefer it because it’s a healthier ice cream, I actually love the way it tastes.   To make ‘Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream’, all you need is coconut milk, good quality cocoa powder, vanilla essence and a sweetener of your choice.   I have made the ice cream with both caster sugar and honey with great results. Caster sugar is more subtle and makes the ice cream taste like something you would buy at an ice cream shop. If you prefer to use a different option, honey works well to [Continue reading…]

Jun 022015
 
Product: The Farm House (Dubai)

  The Farm House in Dubai likes to be known as “your friendly neighbourhood shop” for fresh local organic produce. It sources most of its products from local UAE farmers, and supplements with some produce from other regions (ie. produce which does not grow in the UAE) for a bit more variety.   The Farm House is an extension of the Farmer’s Market in Dubai which has been running every Friday morning from November-April since 2010. While the Farmer’s Market is a great place to go on a Friday morning, the big challenge for local farmers was where to sell their products outside of this timeframe. Based on the popularity of the Farmer’s Market, the demand was clearly there and the farmers were becoming increasingly capable of growing their produce through the summer months by using greenhouses. The Farm House was created to meet this challenge.     The Farm House wants people to [Continue reading…]

May 282015
 
Recipe: Watermelon with Crushed Pistachios and Dark Chocolate

  It’s May and the temperature in Dubai is regularly going over 40°C (that’s 104°F for US readers)! At times like this, watermelon makes a delicious hydrating snack or dessert.   Slicing your watermelon into wedges is probably the easiest way to eat it, but if you want to make something a bit more special, why not try cutting it into cute little bite-sized shapes. Cookie cutters tend to be too large, but I have found that fondant cutters are exactly the right size.   You can dress your watermelon cut-outs by scattering anything on top, but I like pistachios because their green colour is a nice contrast to the dark pink watermelon. And dark chocolate in moderation has many health benefits, including having antioxidant properties.   Share your thoughts in the comment section below: What do you like to eat or drink to cool yourself down when the temperature soars?     WATERMELON [Continue reading…]

May 252015
 
Recipe: Lettuce with Tarragon Vinaigrette

  I recently got some locally grown organic Green and Red Oak Leaf lettuce heads from The Farm House (Dubai). Oak Leaf lettuce is a loosely packed head of lettuce with a soft leaf and mild flavour. It’s perfect on its own served with a simple vinaigrette.   As luck would have it, I’d been eyeing a deliciously simple herby vinaigrette dressing on the Williams-Sonoma website for ‘Butter Lettuce with Mustard Vinaigrette’, so I knew exactly how I wanted to serve these beautiful tender lettuce leaves.   I made a few small changes to the salad dressing, such as slightly increasing the amount of extra virgin olive oil and substituting scallions/spring onions for chives (I didn’t have any chives in the house), but I basically stayed true to the original recipe.   Although Williams-Sonoma calls the dressing ‘Mustard Vinaigrette’, for me the main flavour coming through loud and clear is the fragrant fresh tarragon which is [Continue reading…]

May 202015
 
Recipe: Kale Tabbouleh

  I really enjoy eating traditional Lebanese Tabbouleh, but making it is a true labour of love! Although Tabbouleh is a very simple salad to make, there is one rather time-consuming step: separating the large quantity of parsley leaves from their stalks.   I am not the only one who finds this a big job. I’ve seen boxes of pre-chopped parsley in my supermarket in Dubai, so there must be others who struggle with the same thing. Of course, the problem with pre-chopped parsley is that it has very little flavour and aroma compared to freshly chopped parsley.   But then something happened which changed the way I make Tabbouleh.   This week I attended the official opening of The Farm House, a shop which sells local organic produce in the UAE. The event was hosted at The Change Initiative in Dubai where Chef Yogesh prepared amazingly fresh, seasonal dishes with a ‘twist’ using mostly local organic produce. One of the many [Continue reading…]

May 082015
 
Recipe: Oriental Ginger Coleslaw

  My mother once told me a story about ginger.   When I was small we lived in Switzerland, a beautiful country but not one known for the use of ginger in its cooking. My mother, being Pakistani, would regularly cook with ginger, garlic, onions and lots of spices. One day while she was shopping, my mother filled a bag with several pieces of ginger root and added it to her basket. A lady approached her and asked her, ‘Excuse me, but how do you cook this vegetable?’ My mother tried to explain to her in her best French that it was not a vegetable but in fact a herb and that using a small amount went a long way. I don’t know if that lady ever did learn how to use ginger in her cooking. Hopefully she did, because the benefits of ginger are many and amazing!   Ginger has been used for [Continue reading…]

Apr 222015
 
Recipe: Simplest Italian Tomato Salad

Two years ago, on an evening when I was feeling rushed off my feet and uninspired in the kitchen, I decided to make that old cop-out: Breakfast for Dinner. At our house, this usually means cheese omelettes.   Rather than making roasted tomatoes to go with our omelettes (I didn’t have the patience to wait for the oven to heat up), I quickly made a tomato salad with ingredients which I usually have in my kitchen. I had no intention of posting the recipe because the truth is that the recipe is so simple and obvious that it is barely a recipe at all. But then I realised that sometimes it is the easiest and most obvious recipes that we overlook. This recipe for Simplest Italian Tomato Salad is really more of a reminder that something so simple can be so delicious.   This salad should really be prepared no more than an hour before [Continue reading…]