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Famous Four-Mushroom Risotto

When the lovely Helen from Good magazine asks me to contribute a recipe to the pages of my now favorite Dubai magazine, there is only one that I can think of to really impress — my Four Mushroom Risotto recipe. Though it doesn’t come straight from any one book, the books were definitely an influence on my own take of an iconic Italian dish.

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Baked with Love

The perfect chocolate dessert cookbook!

The perfect chocolate dessert cookbook!

After a harrowing week, and missing a yoga class I had my heart set on at the brand new Urban Yoga, a session of de-stressing is in order. And given the week I had, not anything will do.

Armed with a pantry full of baking staples, something exciting comes to mind — chocolatey and gooey are my inspiration, and I recall the mouthwatering image in Lori Longbotham‘s Luscious Chocolate Desserts of her Chocolate-Chocolate Chunk Cookies (alliterative and delicious: double-win!)

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Roula and The Hummingbird Bakery’s Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Book

Recipe – found!

Home baking: two small words that conjure fear in my culinary heart. With Nigella‘s Domestic Goddess the only dedicated baking cookbook on my shelf, it is no secret that I shy away from baking. It’s chemistry, not art, making it less comfortable treading ground for me. “What if I do everything right but something still goes wrong? Perhaps I’m just a bad baker!” is the recurring sentiment when it comes to popping something in the oven. Tackling Julia Child‘s Quiche From Scratch was scary, but at least the fillings were savory then. A cake, a soufflé, a batch of cookies — that’s a whole other bowl game (pun intended).

An unexpected gift falls almost literally into my lap: Roula, visiting from Beirut (and one of my favorite people in the world) surprises me with The Hummingbird Bakery‘s Home Sweet Home, the perfect addition to my borderline sugar-free shelf. A few days later, and with her departure date less than 24 hours away, it dawns on me that a cake is in order — though I do believe there is really no wrong time for cake.

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Omelette Brouillée avec Julia Child et Barefoot Contessa

Ina

Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten shopping for “herbes fines”

As I watch Barefoot Contessa prep for her omelette-making session with Terry Hardwood, I suddenly feel hungry for breakfast… never mind that it’s four in the afternoon!

Pushing my craving aside, I watch closely, listening carefully to the little tips and tricks that Terry shares. It seems that, like me, Ina Garten is likewise intimidated by the omelette recipes and techniques in Mastering the Art of French Cooking… As I watch her expertly fold the omelette onto her plate, I feel somewhat reassured… “How easy is that?” I think to myself!

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Several girls, a couple of quiches and a camera: a photo essay shot by Tala Soubra

This post is long overdue, but art doesn’t happen overnight! As I type, I begin to feel little heady, perhaps from the memory of the impeccable bottles of red wine we ‘sipped’, or maybe it’s recollections of the inspired and at times scandalous conversation around the table. Either way, it reminds me that good friends, good food and good wine should not go long without each other!

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A handy husband

Hipstamatic collage

Julia Child: meet Hipstamatic and MacBook Air; our two best friends

Watching Julia Child make a basic pastry is one of the most fascinating things I’ve ever witnessed. Having spent a few days studying Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the natural next step is to watch her do it herself! Eyes glued to my MacBook, I find myself engrossed, carefully following Julia’s step-by-step to creating the perfect quiche base.

Julia’s sense of humor and quick wit are endearing — it looks like Nigella might have some competition as my culinary idol.

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A creature of habit

recipe in book

Visual trigger for breakfast

Breakfast: the most important meal of the day. If you’re Nigella, the importance is far more than nutritional, as it symbolically marks the start of one’s day. Like Nigella, I too enjoyed a very specific breakfast for many years, with no fear of tiring of it, or of one day finding it boring. Growing up, a soft-boiled egg in a little purpose-built egg cup was a thing of joy. My sister Danielle and I often raced to finish ours last, savoring the last clean scoop of cooked egg white, leaving a clean hard shell, decapitated on one end (the pointier end, if you must know.)

This morning I wake up a little groggy, and somewhat worse for wear. My age seems to be catching up with me, or so it seems at least, and it takes quite a bit of effort to sit upright and let my feet touch the ground. Thankfully, my morning emails have been addressed from bed, so I’m ready for something to eat that is comforting, delicious and fuss-free.

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