Saturday, 28 July 2012

My all-time favorite Creamy Fluffy Chocolate Mousse

This recipe is to be prepared the day before serving, as it needs to set overnight. 

Kitchen items:
3 large bowls (1 heatproof)
1 pot (good size for heatproof bowl to sit in)
1 small bowl
Electric whisk

6 eggs, separated (note it is easier to separate them when they are just out of the fridge, but when they are mixed into the recipe they should be room temperature)
1 1/2 cup whipping cream
250g dark chocolate
1 flake
Method (takes about 40 minutes preparation including chocolate cooling time, and then sets overnight):

Add water to pot, start boiling on medium heat. Make a bain-marie placing heatproof bowl on the pot (note that the water should not be high enough to touch the base of the bowl or the chocolate will burn).
Place chocolate into bain-marie and allow to melt gradually, stirring occasionally.  Melted chocolate should be completely smooth.  Remove from heat, allow to cool.

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over boiling water
Add egg yolks gradually to cooled chocolate, mix well.  This will be a bit tough at first but will become lighter as the yolks get mixed. Result should be a dark glossy gooey mixture.
Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate
Whisk the whipping cream until thick (as shown below)
In separate bowl, whisk cream with the electric whisk. You want to get the cream quite thick so that it thickens the mousse, so aim to whisk it to at least double its height. 
When cream reaches good thickness, add it to the chocolate mixture and mix. 
Mix the whipped cream with the chocolate mixture
Separately, whisk the egg whites with the electric mixer until snowy peaks form.  You want to lose all the liquidiness of the whites in this step.  Immediately mix the whisked whites into the chocolate mixture; any delay and they will start to run and won't be usable. 
Whisk egg whites well, add to mixture and stir well 
Mix whole mixture very well, making sure that any pockets of egg whites are fully beaten. The mixture should be completely smooth. 

Top with crumbled flake, cover and refrigerate overnight. 

Makes one large bowl, a quick, easy comfort recipe perfect for family get-togethers.

Monday, 23 July 2012

From my Inbox: Maya Delices New Menu

My favorite type of Ramadhan e-card is one that comes with a dessert menu....

Maya Delices new menu has just been launched in time for Ramadhan and although I haven't tried any of the items yet, I wanted to hurry up and get this post up so that your ghabgas can be that much more exciting...

With a variety of items including quite a large selection of chocolate options, it looks like there is something for everyone, and best of all, they all come in miniatures so if you can't decide what to order, just order one of everything. 

I wish I could review some of the treats here but until I can, if any of my readers has tried anything, I would love your feedback!

Contact: You can order any of the menu items from Maya on 17 722 644. 

UPDATE! We tried the Cage En Or and the Banana Whimsy recently.  The Cage En Or comes hidden under a chocolate cage, and is basically a multi-tier chocolate cake.  This wasn't a favorite to be honest- it was a bit too much with layers of chocolate cream and went pretty much uneaten.  The Banana Whimsy, on the other hand is chocolate cake with custard and bananas- the cake is nice and moist, creamy custard, fresh bananas, in a combination that is at once both comforting and indulgent... I would order this one again and again and again.  

A bit on the pricey side for the amount of dessert you are getting, and inconsistent information regarding delivery costs from their store and their twitter account...
The Banana Whimsy
The Cage En Or

Saturday, 21 July 2012

My favorite Double Chocolate Marble Cheesecake brownies

I just love these brownies: a rich blend of chocolates cut by a soft hint of cream cheese in a moist sugar-craving fixer brownie

Kitchen items
2 bowls
1 pot
1 baking pan, greased


Tip: All ingredients should be at room temperature, so you should take them out of the fridge at least 2 hours before starting. 

-For brownie mixture:
150g dark chocolate, broken into small chunks (I use Lindt Swiss Classic Swiss Dark Chocolate- anything higher than 60% cacao will make these bitter)
90g unsalted butter
2 eggs (preferably free range/ brown)
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup plain flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup semi- sweet chocolate chips

Ingredients for this recipe 
For cream cheese mixture (to be mixed in separate bowl):
60 g unsalted butter
125g cream cheese (both the cream cheese and the butter MUST be at room temperature or you will find difficulty mixing them)
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

Brownie mixture (takes around 40 minutes counting cooling time): Melt chocolate and butter in small pot on medium heat till completely smooth.  Let cool (requires around 30 minutes to cool).  While you wait for the chocolate to cool, you can make the rest of the brownie batter: beat the eggs and sugar until thick and light in separate bowl. Fold in flour (not all at once to make easier to fold), baking powder and salt. 
Melt 90g butter with 150g dark chocolate in a pot on medium heat
When completely liquid and smooth, set chocolate mixture aside to cool
Mix 2 eggs with 3/4 cup sugar 
When your chocolate mixture is cool, add it to the brownie batter and mix well.  When fully blended, add the chocolate chips and mix. 
Add 1/2 cup plain flour, 3/4 teaspoon baking powder and salt.
 Mixture should be smooth and runny.
Once chocolate is cooled, add to the egg batter.
Mix well.
Add chocolate chips
Spread 3/4 of the chocolate mixture into the base of the baking pan so that the base is fully covered.  Note that the mixture will be thick and a bit sticky so it will be a bit a difficult to spread, but try to cover the pan as much as possible. 
Pour into baking pan and spread evenly over base of pan.
To make the cream cheese mixture (start this around half an hour after you are done with melting the chocolate, above).  In separate bowl (try using a different colored bowl because both the mixtures will look similar before you add the melted chocolate), cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well. Stir in the flour and the vanilla.

In separate bowl, mix 60g butter, 125g cream cheese and 1/4 cup sugar
Add the egg, 1 tbsp flour and 1/2 tsp vanilla essence, mix until all smooth
Spread the cream cheese mixture over the chocolate mixture in the baking pan, and add the remaining 1/4 of the brownie mixture on top. Swirl it throughout to achieve a marble effect. 

Add cream cheese mixture to chocolate mixture in pan, swirl through for marble effect
In an 180° oven, bake the brownies for 35-40-minutes. If you like them a bit runny, 30 minutes is sufficient as they will continue to harden a little once out of the oven. Make sure not to keep them in for longer than 40 minutes as the bottom may burn. 
Remove from oven after 35-40 minutes of baking
Cut into inch square pieces and enjoy
Once removed from the oven, allow to cool completely before cutting.  I cut them into one-inch squares as any bigger tends to be a bit heavy. Makes around 3 dozen.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Restaurant review- Armani Caffe Dubai

Armani Caffe at Dubai Mall boasts elegant waiters, vibrantly presented food, great flavor and boundless people- watching. 

Situated in the vast open hub of the upscale Fashion Avenue, this cafe offers a variety of dining options, all of which taste fresh and flavorful.

I have eaten here many times and the standard has always been consistently good, although I must admit I tend to stick to the same favorite dishes each time I go. 

Their salads are very fresh and crisp, and I would recommend the caprese or the rocket salad, which comes with the most delicate sundried tomatoes ever. The bread basket is to die for and comes with an accompanying tomato sauce that is extra spicy.

For mains, my all-time favorite pasta is the tagliatele with mushrooms and truffle oil.  This is so earthy and creamy and the pasta is cooked like velvet... although many have tried, noone has yet convinced me to divert from this staple when I'm there. 

Their pizzas are also really good, but too big for one person so make sure you share.  The crust is thick compared to the amount of topping, but the blend of flavors works. 
Margerita pizza with fresh basil
Their dessert menu is also very appealing, but the last time I was there we ordered the apple tart and it was average. If you want a post-meal coffee, be warned that their coffee is extra strong, but I wouldn't expect anything less from a place as Italian as Armani!
Apple tart with vanilla bean ice-cream

\Contact: Armani Caffe, Dubai Mall Tel: +971 4 339 8121

Friday, 13 July 2012

Natural Beauty at Neal's Yard Remedies

Organic ingredients in recyclable bottles that reduce carbon footprint...I love ethical beauty products!

Neal's Yard Remedies first caught my attention because of the range of essential oils available. When I tried them, I found them to be really aromatherapeutic and I love having access to such products without having to go to a spa.  

Using only certified organic ingredients in their products, NYR products feel fresh and natural when you use them, carrying lovely scents like orange, rose, geranium, almond and a host of others. The signature dark blue glass bottle keeps the light out and maintains the freshness of the products for longer, and reminds me of old-day chemist bottles.  

The company's vision 'was to bring the expertise of the apothecary and our holistic approach to health and beauty to local people and their communities'.  They actively support and promote organic farming and the use of certified organic ingredients.

Some of my favorite products include the jojoba oil, the rose water and the orange flower facial wash.  I have also recently tried their fragrance, Pure Essence No 2 (Rose) which uses only natural essential oils and is an interesting blend of rose scent and oil.  I wear this when I want a sense of calm, and it does deliver that.

New Pure Essence Eau de Parfum No 2 from Neal's Yard Remedies

From the Melissa collection: nail balm for cuticles and nails

The nail balm is the latest product I've tried and let me tell you this is a lovely creamy formula that truly softens and has a very strong citrusy scent - I just wish it came in a bigger tube! 

NYR also offers natural remedies including teas and natural health and well-being courses, so you can get a diploma and become a certified practitioner. How's that for indoctrinating a vision!
The Dubai Mall store
Where to buy: Neal's Yard Remedies can be found at Dubai Mall in UAE, but if you really want to experience the charm of their store go to the Covent Garden store (1 Neal's Yard).

Price: Fragrance is priced at £35 (50 ml), organic essential oils start at £5.10 (10 ml), and orange flower facial wash at £14.80 (100 ml). Herbal teas at £4.50 for 50g.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Restaurant Review: Fresh light fare at Nopi, London

We were looking for a quick, close place to catch a bite before making it to a matinee show, and tucked away parallel to Regent Street in Soho was the perfect choice.  Nopi, conceived by the team from Ottolenghi, is an all-day brasserie serving light Middle-Eastern and Asian inspired dishes.

We told them that we don't have much time and they checked exactly how much time we have and said they would be able to accommodate our order.  The menu is quite inventive, with a lot of ingredients that I hadn't ever heard of before, so practically each dish we ordered had an element of surprise.
Burrata with flat white peach and coriander seeds
We ordered the burrata with peach and coriander seeds and the roasted aubergine with feta, coriander, pomegranate and walnut to start, both of wich were very good. Then we ordered the whole lemon sole in burnt butter with nori and ginger, and the smoked ricotta rotolo with Swiss chard and pumpkin seeds. The sole was really good, cooked just right but I wasn't a fan of the rotolo (almost like a rolled stuffed lasagne). 
Cornish whole lemon sole, burnt butter, nori and ginger
We didn't have time for dessert so it was a bit of a limited experience but I did go downstairs to take a look which is a completely different set-up than the upstairs dining area.  Downstairs there is an open kitchen, with many ingredients in open view, and large tables for country-feel communal dining; very different from the minimalist modernity of the upstairs area.
The kitchen downstairs in full view to diners

Salad and vegetable dishes displayed at front of restaurant
The salads are presented in an open buffet style and they are so freshly made that you can't not want to try them!  The service was fantastic, very knowledgeable and friendly. I loved how clean everything was, and would have loved to have had some more time to enjoy the meal.
Main floor dining area and bar

One tip if you are planning to eat there: DO go downstairs and check out their bathrooms! No more information from me :)

Prices: Our lunch cost around £60. Dishes to share are around £12, with mains costing £20 on average.

Nopi is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  It is behind Massimo Dutti on Regent Street.
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