Being displaced from the TWD bakers is upsetting. But let's face the facts, with my shift to the UAE, I just can't cope with the weekly task of having to bake up these glorious treats. Kudos to those who have managed to sustain the practise from the very start till now.
I admire your discipline (of which mine is short-lived).
Yet despite my grudges, deep down inside, a part of me misses the action with Tuesday's with Dorie. The occasional challenges posed by the more ardous unapproachable recipes,somehow seemed a little accessible with the backing of a wonderful team of bakers.
So being the stalker that I am, I decided to bake along with the group this week. Partially also because I found the coconut tea cake recipe irresistable. Who could dispute a summery combination of toasted coconut and more rich coconut milk? I couldn't for sure.
Coconut Tea Cake
adapted from Dorie Greenspan
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk (shake well before opening)
4 tb (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9- or 10-inch Bundt pan.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
In a small, dry skillet, toast the shredded coconut over medium heat until golden-brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool, then whisk into flour mixture.
In a small saucepan, combine the coconut milk and butter; heat over medium, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted. Remove from heat.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed until pale and nearly doubled in volume, about 3 minutes; beat in vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low and add dry ingredients, mixing just until combined. With mixer running, stream in coconut milk mixture and beat until batter is smooth. Pour into pan and bake for 60 minutes, until top is golden and inserted cake tester comes out clean.
Let cake cool 10 minutes, then invert onto cooling rack to come to room temperature.
Crestfallen about my less than ideal version of the french entrement opera. Apparently it decided to go on steroids and pumped itself up to twice its normal height. Blame it on my sizing issues. Guess I should have taken a closer look at the recipe and do my calculations in its initial stages. In the end, my jaconde sponge was way to thick and moist to be sliced laterally, so I did what I do best, stick with it.
Well, at least its superb taste combination served as my consolation.
Live and learn Sihan..
In the game of life it's a good idea to have a few early losses, which relieves you of the pressure of trying to maintain an undefeated season. -- Bill Baughan
Picture perfect memories,
Scattered all around the floor.
Reaching for the phone cause, I cant fight it anymore.
And I wonder if I ever cross your mind.
For me it happens all the time.
Its a quarter after one, Im all alone and I need you now.
Said I wouldnt come, but I lost all control and I need you now.
And I dont know how I can do without, I just need you now.
Just in case you've been kept in the dark, here's an aerial view of the Palm Jumeirah. Essentially a man-made island created using land reclaimation by Nakheel, a Dubai government owned company. Offering exclusive waterfront luxury properties, the Palms are considered hot property ;obviously only amongst the rich and powerful.
photo courtest of outnext.com
So without much further ado, these are some photos from my walkabout the Atlantis, the focal point of the Palm Jumeirah. The Atlantis is a resort that offers almost every activity and accomodation imaginable, including a landmark hotel, an on-site water theme park (with crazily expensive entrance fees), world class cuisine and cosmopolitan boutiques, all under one roof.
Another photo as testimonial of the Arab people's love for giant aquariums. And when I say giant, I mean colossal, gargantuan and of mammoth proportions! *flipping through the thesaurus furiously* Apparently, this massive tank was home to Sammy the whale shark, a 4m long creature rescued off the coast of Jebel Ali and placed in the Atlantis Aquarium. Well, good news to all those naturalist and animal rights advocates out there, Sammy has just been tagged and released safely back into the ocean not long ago! Three cheers for that!
The wide array of fishes who call this lagoon aquarium their home. I must say that I hate the fish bowl effect caused by the magnifying glass panels though. Makes photographing the fishes up close a pain.
More photos of the Atlantis, quickly.. before I jump the gun to our sweet indulgences over at Rostang, the French brasserie ALSO located under the same roof.
The brainchild of two michelin starred chef Michel Rostang, this french brasserie brings all the old world charms of Paris to Dubai. Perforated with inklets of old school bistro styling, teak bar and chalkboard writing, the atmosphere was somewhat stained by the odd playlist consisting of the occasional bossa nova and new generation fusion. Much to my disdain of course, further pushed to its boundaries by the vacant nature of the restaurant despite a Friday night.
Our crepe suzette took an amazingly long time to prepare despite most of the work being conducted on the forefront on a pushcart over a methylated spirit burner with the trusty fork and spoon.With a slight flick of his wrists pouring in a generous amount of grand marnier, he tilts the pan slightly to allow the licking flames a taste of the rich liquor. And with a cinematic burst of flames, it was over.
Though the crepes were done perfectly, I cringed at the overdosage of orange (who was i kidding.. it's a crepe suzette after all right?), flakes of orange rind leaving remanant traces in my mouth. Guess I harbor an aversity to desserts with orange in them; despite the fact that I would happily munch down on my sunkists.
More photos of the pish-posh hallways of the Atlantis, just because I can't resist it. hehe.
Despite looking like a scene out of the cartoon 'Aladdin', Khan Murjan is the real deal. Backed by a fine tuned orchestra of authentic middle eastern cuisine and live musicians; the air is thick with the lingering sweet smells of shisha drifting from the neighbouring tables. It's no wonder this was one of the exclusive dinner destination choices during my first short trip to Dubai months ago. A true personification of a dining experience as an ancient trader in Baghdad or some other mystical Arabic grotto.
Located in the heart of a 'Souk', the restaurant is open air yet fully air conditioned. Then you wonder why people still occupy the grounds so enthusiastically in the heat of summer.... *hmph*
Moving on to the grub, we had the Nabolsieh (Halewet Aljibin) which is a cheese dessert topped with crushed pistachio nuts and doused in sugar syrup.. Yum. Still nothing distracts me from the thought of that same dish we had at global village of divine stature. *pondering*...Next, we had the Chicken Tagine and the Lamb Tagine as well as the Grilled Salmon. The former two dishes have slipped in standards in comparison to my previous visits to the establishment, with the lamb a little on the fatty side and slightly too acidic for the palate. However, the grilled salmon was well executed with a pink and moist centre complimented with a charred crust. That said, the atmosphere certainly made up for all faults.
Khan Murjan Souk
Shaikh Rashid Road
Tel: + 971 4 327 9795
Traversing the dining area to your table, you trod across a murky fish tank holding a dozen large fishes, cramped within its dark realms. At the seats, you will frown at the slightly obscene painting on the wall with a woman with her bosom exposed for the better of the world to see. Makes for quite a conversation topic of course.
Ordering is a quick affair, my advice is to stick to the Korean BBQ instead of experimenting with the Japanese and Thai Seafood options they offer.
With the efforts of Luyi and friends, James and Giovanni, we managed to tackle the Bulgogi, Beef spare ribs (*Swoons*) and the seafood pancake. Not to mention the copious amounts of kimchi that were soon to deck to table. These are refillable by the way, so eat your heart out. Till this day (despite the late review), my heart still titilates back where the pickled eggplants were, DELICIOUS!
The beef spare ribs were slightly fatty but provided a melt in the mouth, almost sartorial experience. Especially when chomped down with the accompanying paste of unknown origins. As usual in the accompaniment of good food, I fall into a silent mode, mind soley focused on enjoying the fantastic chow in front of my failing vision vignetting on the sides.
After dinner, we headed down to Dubai Creek Yacht and Golf Club, home to the more popular eating ,The Boardwalk and QD's; located as promised.. on the breezy banks of the Dubai Creek.
With a winning location such as this, it's no wonder the bar looked evidently crowded with throngs of wavy people basking under the twilight moon. You struggle against intoxication as wafts of Shisha float by, carried by the ominous cool breezes. The blue neon lightings overhead adding to the zoning out experience.
Dessert was a shared panna cotta (pronounced with Italian flair, it's an insider's joke), and a Arguani Chocolate Mousse, a pint of beer and a glass of red wine to finish.
All in all, a good night with a more than gratified stomach and appeased emotions. I could use more nights like that...
Al Gurair Centre 3rd Floor
Dubai Creek Yacht and Golf Club
Tel: + 971 4 295 6000
Want to hear a joke? When you mix flour and water, you get glue. When you add eggs and sugar, you get cake. Where did the glue go? It's what makes the cake stick to your butt. Funny isn't it?
*is greeted by the disapproving stares of the thousands of cake lovers* Oh gosh... Let's move on.
this shall be a simple exhaltation to the humble cinnamon rolls.
You see, these pillowy striped wheels of spiced goodness not only resemble the scrunches of material on the front of Charlize Theron's gown for the Oscars this year *comes to a screeching halt*, which I thought really accentuated those parts of her body by the way. So... these cinnamon rolls are essentially useful in curbing the pre-lunch hunger pangs (note: having lunch at 4 30 pm everyday can get quite cruelsome after awhile), not forgetting breakfast and perhaps an after dinner treat? Want a warm sweet treat? Nothing that a quick toss of the cinammon rolls into the oven can't solve.
What I like best about this experience is the flexibility of the yeasted sweet dough that can be whizzed out in a jiffy and made into a variety of baked goods for example sticky buns, scalloped chocolate pecan strip, and the woven apricot almond strip. A quick job and a slap of dough into the fridge for some cool blasting. And when you're ready, just take it out from the fridge and roll it out,slosh the sticky mixture of cinammon, sugar and butter all over the dough (at this point, you can scatter your pecans, chocolate chips or whatever crazy ingredient you have in mind). Roll it up carefully and chop them up into even slices, place them on a buttered baking tray. Proof and bake! WAH LA! you've got bits of sticky cinnamon mix on your front tooth. Haha.
So without much further ado, here's an parade of snapshots in reverence of the bashful yet so indecently titillating cinnamon rolls.
then splashing it on. Deliriously.
Thank you Carole Walter for bringing us such a wonderful recipe!
Well, to all those raring to give these beasty treats a go. Do check out the recipe for the simple sweet dough here!
Following my recent obsession with all things mini, I rolled the balls of cookie batter into tiny balls only to find that pressing my hideously large thumb into it would cause some really catastrophic results. (thinking back on it, I figured that I could have use the handle of a spatula to better effect. But oh well...) In an attempt to keep to the minaturized theme, I stuck my pinkie into the center of the cookie dough instead. Problem solved!
therefore the name 'fingerprint cookies'.
30g caster sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup ground almond
Roughly Chopped Pistachios
Cream the butter and caster sugar together till fluffy.
Mix the flour and ground almonds together. Whisking to ensure incorporation. Add the flour mixture to the creamed butter.
Mix till a dough is formed. Round it up into a ball and stick it in the fridge for at least half an hour.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.
Beat the egg white lightly. Roll the cookie dough into balls, dip into egg white and roll in chopped pistachios.
Create an indentation with your thumb (in my case, pinkie). Placed cookies on a baking tray lined with baking parchment.
Bake for 13mins. Allow the cookies to cool on the rack, filling each indentation with you choice of jam (apricot, blueberry, strawberry,..) during the wait.
Enjoy your cookies at your own risk. Note that these are terribly addictive!
Does he love you like he loves me?
Does he think of you when he's holding me?
Second time(in the restaurant) and I'm still smitten.
Yes, that was the first and last thought that crossed my mind during the course of a dinner affair.
The visual reason are apparent.
Beautiful lanterns float across the dark ceilings. Flushed with brilliant colors, a mish mash of seductive reds and mysterious blacks; I can't help but stare at the ceiling all the time. Not that it mattered much to my dinner partners anyway as I've been less known for my abilities to hold a decent meal conversation. *Shrugs*
Dinner started out with baskets of fresh bread and an array of olives on a lonely dish. For starters, we had the Cheese Briouat (cheese wrapped in brick pastry and deep fried), pigeon pastilla (brick pastry stuffed with pigeon, cinnamon and almonds), and chicken livers in prune sauce.
The first arrived, a simple stack of golden triangles in a bowl. Deceptive of course as the tiny package delivered a blast of orgasmic cheese into the diner's mouth with a vengance, immediately liftng the spirits of the feast to an immaculately high position. The pigeon pastilla, marked with a star (of sorts) on the menu, had recieved numerous praise from me during the last occasion and my companions faced this with immense anticipation. Pity that I felt it displayed a little lack lustre this time around, probably due to the novelty factor slip. Note to all the impending diners out there, please enjoy your pigeon pastilla on first try cause you may probably never feel that impact again!
Moving on, the bobbing along to the intoxicating tunes spun by the in house DJ certainly helped a bit with the digestion. Playing a mix of subcontinental beats, I swore I've never heard Arabic music played this way before. And to be fair, it was all pretty good. This statement made with the reinforcement of the occasional dance and sing-along put on spontaneously by the jovial staff.
For mains, we chose to share the chicken tagine and slow cooked lamb shoulder for two. The food was spot on, our only grudge, the tricky portion sizes. Even with 4 of us seated at the table, we struggled with the copious amount of lamb shoulder plated up. The couscous was cooked perfectly, light and fluffy with the bowl of vegetable gravy providing perfect company to the dish. The lamb was perfectly executed, the tender flesh revealing a smorgasboard of spices within. The chicken tagine was a delight as well albeit a little neglected due to the richness of the lamb shoulder.
Almaz by Momo, offers diners an irresistible gourmet experience in true Maghrebin style. With such creativity and high standards in food and service on top of the sophisticated (albeit a little gimicky) ambience, it's no wonder that the restaurant is packed even on a Tuesday night. In true respect, the honest cuisine of generous proportions and fair price tags warrants for another visit, and another and another.
Almaz by Momo
Mall of the Emirates, Barsha, Dubai
Tel: 04 409 8877
Mention ice cream and how many of you would launch into a nostalgic journey down memory lane? As much as I would like to indulge myself with all of you in these beautiful recollections, I have to politely decline. Only because my life claims a void in this aspect, a general absence of ice cream only explained by my seasonal bouts of asthma.
Gradually with age, my relationship with ice cream took a sharp turn. Like a revelation to my restricted dietary knowledge, it dawned upon me that this smooth icy dessert could be my best friend. And so a love affair ensued... ice cream to appease the angst, ice cream for a scorching hot day, ice cream on a first date. A different flavor to mark a significant event in my life, even those that appear seemingly infinitesimal but were elevated soley by the experience of lifting the dessert to my lips. Beginning with pure curiousity and flourishing into a passionate desire.
Here's an ice cream experiment dedicated to the strawberry cheesecake flavor lovers out there. *wink*. You know who you are.
Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream
makes 1 pint
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1/4 cups sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup strawberries, cut into small pieces ( a good idea would be to puree this)
2 ounces cream cheese, cut into small cubes
cheesecake crust! (use your own! If not this works out just fine.)
1) Heat the cream, milk and sugar to boil. (approximately 15mins)
2) In a heat-proof bowl, whisk the egg yolks till pale yellow and thick.
3) Pour a little of the heated milk mixture into the egg yolks and whisk them FAST, just to temper the egg yolks. Slowly pour the rest of the hot milk into the egg yolk base, making sure to whisk furiously to avoid getting scrambled eggs!
4) Pour the custard base back into the pot and cook on low heat till the mixture reaches a thick consistency that is sufficient to coat the back of your spoon.
5) Immediately remove the custard from heat at this stage and rest in an ice bathe.
6) Stir in the vanilla extract at this point.
7) Cool custard base overnight before placing in a icecream maker.
8) In the last 5 minutes of the churning, pour in the strawberries, crumbled cheesecake crust bits and cream cheese cubes.
9) Enjoy your Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream!
I'm so grateful to you.
I'd have lived my whole life through.
Empty as the sky.
Never knowing why.
if I never knew you.
Once again, a random dosage of raw emotions. If you're wondering what the hell that means? It spells c-o-n-f-u-s-i-o-n. But what a beautiful mess it is. Answers, I need those, yet living in this blissful bubble draws me in. Who am I kidding? Someone's going to get hurt in the end. Sooner or later? Let me drown in my ruminations.
Some snippets of greenery from around home to appease the part of me that yearns for tufts of nature here in a desert spanned landscape. The weather has been most cruel here in Dubai, displaying drastic mood swings that manifest in heavy showers followed by days of wicked sandstorms. Sometimes the predictability of humid weather accompanied by looming grey clouds can be a little comforting.
A brief recollection of a sudden question targeted at my mum during the course of a lovely lunch at Dozo, brings more quiet reflections. "Where does she see me 10 years down the row?" I asked her, in a most casual manner possible. She replied without much of a doubt, "married, with children and still travelling the globe." Delibrating her answer now, I realize that the people around me have come to terms with my preferred nomadic style of living. With no inkling of what God may have installed for me in his tetris setting, I approach a subject only to be twisted and swopped at the last minute. I embrace this aspect of life though, slowly building a keen attachment to the quick step. Still, at this juncture, I question my wants and needs, at the end of it all, I am still left with a blank slate of mind. Yet now, faced with a peculiar burst of sunshine that has left me a bit blind sided, my heart sings a happy tune. Whoever or whatever you are, I love you.
Right now, I'm just contented working out the mysteries of the gas oven which has left us bewildered upon our previous attempt at macarons. This time it worked!!! Little pockets of sunshine... my lemon poppy seed macarons. *nom nom*
'Can we have japanese food?' My mind quickly drew into a clastrophobic space, besides the usual suspects, where should I turn to? It's easy to get too comfortable with the staples, not that its a bad thing, but what if I wanted a taste of something new, to sedate the inquisitive taste buds? Racking my head for a quick alternative, I turned to my friend LadyIronChef for help. And together we came up with this! Tatsuya for their value bento set lunches for Valentines day!
One thing that recives my 10 point score card about Tatsuya is their absolutely fantastic service. Upon arrival into the restaurant, we were greeted by the most jovial lady waitress I've ever met. Serious! With a gracious attitude and a most charitable spirit, she guided us patiently thru the menu, despite her main challenge with a most indecisive boyfriend in tow. In the end we settled for the lunch bento sets accompanied by ala-carte sushi, which I couldn't resist after coming to know of all the fans it had picked up along the way.
The sushis were made to order at the front chef's table as soon as we ordered. The Chef skillfully moulded the ball of vinegared rice with a dab of greenish heat between his palms. A beautiful slice of silvered kanpachi placed on the top. Then another, this time a glorious hotate taking on its his place on the throne. Enthralled, my taste buds were tickled by the freshness of the fish. Then I thought to myself, if I have had the extra cash, this affliation could have resulted in a lot more damage. But we let that pass, just in time for the main actors to take the stage.
Terriyaki Chicken bento set for the boy and the Ladies's lunch set for me! After taking a close look at the items perfectly nestled in their cubicles in the box, I was grateful for once that there was the impression that ladies could consume a surmountable lump of food. A lovely dose of sushi, accompanied by the most glorious looking tamago and cold white flat noodles on the side. The chawanmushi topped by orange zest was a refreshing way to start the meal, the tanginess and acidity of the fruit cutting thru the heaviness of the egg custard. brilliant. Full marks again for the cold noodles which I happily slurped down with gusto. The sauce, filled with notes of soy sauce, chopped ginger, spring onions and raw quail egg went perfectly with the springy noodles. And needless the say, the rest of the sushi-s in line prolonged my sweet affair with Tatsuya.
Well, Tatsuya is clearly in a league of it's own when it comes to serving up true authentic Japanese fare thus the more exhorbitant prices. But in all respect, it's truly worth all the money you spend. Just to play it safe, try to visit during lunch times; at least that's what I would do again the next time I visit!
p.s. a huge lump of gratitude goes out to Brad for helping me make the reservation whilst I'm in Dubai! THANK YOU!
22 Scotts road
Goodwood park hotel
Tel: 6887 4598