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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How it all started and a Maple, Apricot & Oat Compote

As seen in HARPER'S BAZAAR ARABIA (March 2014)
Image by Shruti Jagdeesh ITP

Kitsch Concept, a boutique, cafe & bakery my childhood friend Racil and I set up, is eight years old today. I can only smirk thinking of us sitting over that coffee and cake in Verdun, deciding to create our little haven...

I look back at how we started in Beirut in 2006, how I moved to Dubai after the war to expand the bakery (eventually into five more of those neighborhood bakeries :), how I then started a food blog, wrote for magazines, shot cooking segments on TV, and then finally wrote my first cookbook. In the mean time I got married to my other half, and had two munchkins. Yes, life has been fast and nuts these past eight years. Nuts in a way that I love and am thankful for every day. But today I realized that as life gets busy, I simply don't have time to stop, reflect and think about how it all started. Yet I like to remember. It brings back memories, and also puts things in perspective for me, always.

Our first ;)

I also remember why I started this blog amidst all the bakery stress. I was longing for a food journal, one where I could scribble down thoughts after a long day, a place where I could share and demystify food, ease cooking fears and most of all bring simple joy back to cooking and good food. Of course the blog has evolved, and so have I. From someone who started a food business and got less into cooking as operations took over, to taking time from hectic life to get back to the joys of cooking as it was before life got so crazy. To then realizing how much food is my comfort zone. A comfort zone I so desperately need being from two worlds, the East and the West. 

It's been a tumultuous ride, still is, and I have learnt so incredibly much these past eight years. It's certainly not always rosy, and gets quite tough sometimes, but I almost forget to enjoy moments that I should. But today, I'm remembering and reminiscing. 

So dare to try and always, always do what you love. Because it truly will be the only thing that makes the entire running worthwhile.

And now on to my apricot compotes. This quick recipe is my breakfast treat tomorrow as I'm travelling so need something comforting to start the day with. 

Much love, 
D xx

Apricot, Maple & Oat Cmpote
Serves 4
Prep & Cook Time: 10 minutes

  • 2 cups milk (full or low-fat)
  • ½ cup oat bran
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • pinch of salt
  • 5 apricots, cut in quarters
  • 2 – 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds (toasted)

  1. In a saucepot, combine the milk with the oat bran and honey then cook for 3 – 5 minutes.
  2. In the mean time place the apricots in a pan and add water just enough to cover them. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes or a little longer until tender. Add the maple syrup and place them in a blender to puree.
  3. Using a glass or jar, layer the oat bran, compote and top with sunflower seeds. Decadent start to the day!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

My baby's 1st, Baked Seabream & Chanel in Dubai

My love and her first Baked Doughnut. Cinnamon Sugar… so good!

It was my baby daughter's first birthday last week, which of course meant tons of cake. It was Joujou's first cake and so we had a little family celebration, with not just a birthday cake, but scrumptiously baked doughnuts and glorious cupcakes too. So this week, I made sure to stick to only the good stuff, like fish, greens and grains at home. One of the usual suspects is my classic baked fish. It's a quick and simple, yet divine recipe that never fails. Perfect for those who fear cooking fish. 

Baked Fish. Simple yet divine.

Another highlight these days, apart from Joujou's 1st candle, was Chanel showcasing their cruise collection in Dubai. It was a gorgeous event, from the setting, to the set-up, the collection of course, the stunning crowd, and even the delicious food. I must admit that the cocktail spinach Fatayer were outstanding, and I kept munching on them all night long.

Chanel In Dubai

Fabulous. Simply.

So to Baby's Joujou's 1st birthday and Chanel's first fashion show in the Middle East. And to a simple but delish baked fish recipe that never fails. 

Much love,
D xx

Baked Seabream
Serves 4
Prep time: ~40 minutes

·      3 tbsp olive oil (or more)
·      Juice of 2 lemons (keep lemons and cut in quarters or rounds)
·      3 garlic cloves, minced
·      2 tbsp fresh thyme, and a few sprigs (or sage or other herbs you enjoy)
·      ½ tsp salt
·      ½ white pepper
·      2 whole seabream (~2kg), cleaned and gutted

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. In small bowl, mix the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, chopped sage, salt and pepper.
  3. Place both sea basses in an oven safe tray lined with enough parchment to cover the fish.
  4. Pour the lemon and oil mix into the cavity of the fish and rub it all over the skin. Place the lemon pieces and the sprigs of sage in the cavity.
  5. Cover the fish with foil, and place in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the fish feels firm when poked with a fork.
  6. Serve with mashed potatoes. Simple yet divine!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My little brother's bday & a decadent Cheesecake Brownie...

Image by Sukaina Rajabali from my cookbook " Food, Love and Life from Dalia's Kitchen"

It doesn't seem that long ago that my little brother, Aref, and I used to pool our pocket money together and buy a big bar of Cote d'Or chocolate. The milk chocolate kind with the hazelnuts. We would divide the bar in half, then sit to watch "Unter Uns" which means "Amongst Us". 

It was the first of its kind German soap series on RTL, a major German network. I'm talking over 20 years ago, so it may not be that cool now. But back in the day it was, and it was special. But even more special was that moment between Fufi and me. It was our time once a week, in the afternoon, (our older siblings Maher & Joujou were not part of our little ritual), it was just Fufi, me, that chocolate bar and a good show.

Fufi a few years back ;) 

Today, I miss those days. I miss them because I don't see Fufi enough, and that is tough to be honest. There is nothing like a bond between siblings, and even more so between an older sister and her little brother. Even though we are still so very close, we simply don't get those moments anymore. Life has just happened and both of us are busy with our little lives. But I would give a heck of a lot to get a weekly chocolate bar moment with him today.

Yesterday was his birthday. And due to life and all it's happenings, good and bad, we couldn't spend it together. 

So this is for you little brother. May all your years be filled with health and loads of happiness. That is all I wish for. It's funny because I look at my two-year-old son, Phares, and he reminds me of you, every day. So I guess I do have a little bit of you, daily. You are and always will remain the love of my life.

Happy Birthday Fufi.

And for the occasion I'm sharing one of my ultimates - the decadent cheesecake brownie.

Much love,
D xx

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A special project and a gorgeous Beef Tajine...

Image by Sukaina Rajabali from my cookbook 
"Food, Love and Life from Dalia's Kitchen"

I have a very soft spot for projects by and for women. Especially in the Middle East. So today I will be sharing a beautiful journey I embarked on. 

A little while ago I was asked to take part in a culinary travel show with three other ladies. This groundbreaking journey, after all it is not every day that four women, an Emirati, a Saudi, a Jordanian and myself, travel to four different countries to discover different cultures and people through their cuisines. It truly is a first series of it's kind, especially in this part of the world. 

This original journey was created by Maggi Arabia, who have made a wonderful effort to create an original web series which will be airing on Maggi Arabia's Youtube channel starting April 13th.
I have also made some dear friends on this journey. Ladies, it was a pleasure to travel and discover with you. I was once again reminded that no matter where we are from, we all have something in common; the love for food, the love for life and the love for family.

The Arab world has so much to offer.. From tradition to recipes, to the love for family and the tolerance towards everyone's differences, one thing so often misrepresented in today's media. We have caught so much of that in this lovely series, which involves discovery, a lot of beautiful food, a little drama, and some good old fun that women have when they travel together. I do not want to give away too much, but we came across some extraordinary women. Very different from each other, each with their own story, but all so very inspiring. And I am honoured to have met them, and I myself came back inspired and proud to be a woman from this part of the world.

I have also added the link to my Maggie Diaries profile video as an intro to the series. Make sure to watch the other profiles too so you can get to know the other ladies and the teaser to the show which starts tomorrow.

And last but not least, I had quite a few tajines on our trip, so I thought it would be appropriate to share the Beef Tajine recipe from my cookbook. It's truly a divine dish and adored by my loved ones. The combination of savoury and sweet, the tender meet… Yum!

Much love from my kitchen,
D xx

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A beautiful Baked Goat's Cheese Salad and snuggly afternoon...

Image by Sukaina Rajabali from my cookbook 
"Food, Love and Life from Dalia's Kitchen"

I decided to work from home today as I desperately needed to get back to a ton of urgent emails, and to be honest also because I promised my little man I would be home this afternoon. I also realized my baby girl is growing so quickly, smAllah - she is already nine months old and I feel like I gave birth just a few months ago! So I think I simply needed a snuggly afternoon with my little munchkins and thus home has been my office today :)

I noticed a beautiful ashed piece of goat's cheese in the fridge, so I made a gorgeous salad, very much like the one in my cookbook, which I'm posting the recipe of today. I added some thinly sliced, raw courgettes I received in my organic box yesterday, just to mix it up a little from my usual salad. A quick and divine lunch :)

Much love,
D xx

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Expect the unexpected, two little teeth and my famous Spaghetti Al Limone...

Image by Sukaina Rajabali from my cookbook
"Food, Love and Life from Dalia's Kitchen"

I wish I could tell you about the past four weeks, but I am bound to zip it this time :) So I can only divulge that there is something very innovative coming to the foodie world very soon- particularly for the Middle East… It's all food related but also includes other exciting aspects. I won't say more, but definitely keep checking the blog for a little announcement :)

If I have learnt anything these past few weeks it is to stay open minded, always, from the small to the big decisions we make… I thought I did abide by the "no judging rule" until I caught myself doing exactly the opposite.. What can I say, we learn, every day, all the time.. and I certainly have this past month.

I was away for work for about three weeks, and have never left my little munchkins for this long. The distance and the time away was incredibly hard, and I would catch myself going over images of my little family any time I had a moment of free time. Like a cheesy scene from a movie, honestly.

One of the most beautiful experiences I have had so far was this past Saturday night, arriving at home in Dubai. The endless hug my little man gave me, the smile my baby girl had on her face with her two little frontal teeth when I walked in, and last but not least, Phiras's sigh that I was finally back home… 

So the occasion calls for one recipe that is a staple in our home, one of my classic recipes, Spaghettoni Al Limone with Prawns, which is loved by family and friends as well. And the best part? It's so incredibly easy and quick.

Much love from my home sweet home in Dubai,
D xx

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A gorgeous Christmas Turkey, a divine Sweet Potato Crumble and a Happy Holiday from Dubai xx

Recipe from "Food, Love and Life from Dalia's Kitchen". Image by Sukaina Rajabali.

My beloved Dubai. So, so much happening and I love every second of it. I have been working on some super exciting projects these past few weeks - to be divulged in due time, and have had no time to post whatsoever. I need a break just about now, so I have decided to take off (or at least try to slow down), for a week or so. I love this time of year, and since it's our first Christmas holiday in Dubai, I'm really looking forward to some down time, right here at home.

I'm planning to be off this laptop but cannot let my favorite holiday pass by without sharing my Christmas Turkey with you and since it's the 22nd already, I had to do it today. 

This is one divine recipe and even though I am blowing my own horn here, I am certain you will make this recipe a keeper if you just have a try at this. The perfect turkey, the perfect stuffing. It's East meets West and truly is a gorgeous feast for the holidays.

Recipe from "Food, Love and Life from Dalia's Kitchen". Image by Sukaina Rajabali.

Serve it with the usual suspects, cranberry sauce, Brussels sprouts and co. And because it's Christmas I'm sharing a second recipe today - my beloved Sweet Potato Crumble. A match made in holiday heaven ;)

Merry, Merry Christmas from my kitchen in Dubai,
D xx

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