Friday, May 21, 2010

Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

So today I decided to bake, and I pulled out my Magnolia Bakery cookbook that's been lying patiently on my shelf waiting for me to pick it up. All the cupcakes I make taste fresh and tangy and the icing turns out thin and hard. Today, I wanted to try something that was more "frosting" than icing, so more creamy, less hard, and generally more chewy.

I made plain vanilla cupcakes because I wanted to start with something neutral and I went for chocolate frosting to add a bit of contrast. What I found interesting about these cupcakes as opposed to the ones I usually make is that these required normal, granulated sugar, whereas all the other cupcakes I've baked are made with caster sugar. The recipe was supposed to make two dozen cupcakes but I ended up with thirty. The first batch also took double the time to bake for some reason, I think I did not have it on the right leveled tray in the oven.

Anyways the frosting was a LOT of fun to make and coating the cupcakes was an especially fun business that required a lot of finger licking and subsequent hand-washing!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mouth Watering Macaroons Cooking Class at L'Atelier Des Chefs Dubai

So ever since I saw an ad in TimeOut Dubai about L'Atelier Des Chefs Dubai, I've been wanting to take a cooking class there.
L'Atelier Des Chefs Dubai is located in Le Meredien near Dubai International Airport. The kitchen is a very airy and bright place that overlooks the garden and courtyard. They have an amazing variety of classes and what's best is that their classes are one off and run from half an hour to a few hours. More info can be found on their website:

The macaroons class is what instantly took to my fancy as I love EATING macaroons and the planned recipes looked scrumptious. I also made macaroons once and although it tasted good, the shape and texture weren't really great. I learnt some very interesting tips at the class when it comes to making macaroons themselves and also when it comes to making sauces and fillings. Everything is very clean and organized at the kitchen everyone gets a sufficient chance at contributing to final dish.

I can't wait to make these macaroons myself now after taking the class!

Here is a picture!

A Dinner Party

So my grandfather was visiting us here in Dubai for about two weeks and as is my tradition whenever he visits, I throw a small, intimate dinner party for him. Just for us and our closest family/friends. This time I had the dinner party the night before he left as I had just finished exams the day before that!

As I had been so busy with exams, I didn't have a chance to "pre-plan" the theme of the night. What the flowers would be like, what the table setting would be like, and what ambience I would create.

What I ended up doing the morning of the dinner was stand in front of the dinner table and visualize the crockery and cutlery we have and see how I can mix and match. What I ended up doing was more creative than any other table setting I have previously done. I decided to label the theme "outdoor bazaar" after I was done with it. Everything was mismatched. I used plain red dinner plates from IKEA and placed traditional turquoise ceramic bowls from Turkey as soup bowls. I then folded each cloth napkin in a different way. I also added turquoise coasters from Turkey and placed Moroccan tea glasses on them- these were the drinking glasses for juice. For water, I picked up a variety of different gold glasses and arranged them at each place setting. The placemat was thatched and bronze and the table cloth was ivory net with gold trimmings. I placed a red table runner through the middle and made the centerpiece a beautiful glass mosaic tray from Pakistan. I also placed outdoor IKEA lanterns on the table and arranged potted plants around the plates.

I found various knick knacks around the house, like old vintage perfume bottles and a waistcoat pocket and added them to create the ambience of antiques in a bazaar. The smell was represented by the variety in the food and the sound of the bazaar was more than reminiscent by the chatter on the table and the sounds of cutlery hitting crockery.

So here's the menu: my grandfather asked me to keep it simple so I tried to find some quick recipes to make.

Fresh tomato and red onion salsa with Doritos!
Mozzarella and basil quesadilla wedges
(both from "500 appetisers" by PAGEONE)
Mini zucchini frittatas
(from "Party Food" by Australian Women's Weekly)

Roasted vegetable soup
(from "Soups and Breads" by FamilyCircle)

Main Course:
Beef and eggplant bake with polenta crust
(from "Crumbles and Bakes" by Australian Women's Weekly)

Chocolate self saucing pudding- served with Vanilla Icecream!
(from "Old Fashioned Desserts" by Australian Women's Weekly)

The dessert is best served EXTREMELY hot!
And what I ended up doing with the fritattas was place them in a normal sized muffin tray. If you make them in mini tins you end up with 48. We didn't need that many as we were very few at dinner so I ended up making one batch of minis (so 12) and two batches of normal sized ones (so 24). The minis make for adorable hors d'oeuvres at parties as they are extremely bite-sized and delicious! Plus, they're very easy to make!

Unfortunately I do not have proper pictures of the food as I was rushing around to serve it and plate it and all that. But I DO have a picture of the table when it was halfway done.


Spontaneous Euphoria