I am a big fan of Italian food. Pizza, Ravioli, Pannacotta, .... you name it, I love it! However, most of the time, I order from outside or if I'm in the mood I just boil ready-made pasta and pour in some ready-made sauce . Easy right? Whenever I dine at any Italian restaurant, I always appreciate the work that goes into making that dish. Be it a simple pizza dough and something as complicated as a cannelloni. All these things seem complicated to me because I have no idea about cooking things from scratch. Last week, when the kind folks at 800-Pizza in Abu Dhabi invited me to be their guest at an Italian cooking class, I was thrilled. Finally, I would be able to make something myself. There was one person who was even more excited than I was - That was Mr. D ! His response was, "Go for it, I need Italian food at home"!
So here I was, on a fine Monday morning, for my first ever cooking class. Let me tell you a bit about 800-Pizza Abu Dhabi and Cooking@Home. 800-Pizza Abu Dhabi is not new to me or to many Italian food lovers out there. They have branches scattered all over the UAE and do some amazing Italian food. Their Gelato Al Balsamico is to die for. You can check my review about them here. Cooking@Home, on the other hand is an Italian cooking class started by two lovely ladies Francesca and Christina who's passion for cooking brought them together at a totally non-cooking event ... i.e at a language course! They realized that cooking was what they actually wanted to do more than anything else. So, they started Cooking@Home where they would teach others to prepare traditional Italian food at their home or in their clients homes.
On the menu today, was Ravioli Con Funghi (Ravioli stuffed with mushrooms and ricotta), pesto sauce, tiramisu and the best of them all - making pasta from scratch! We started off with Tiramisu as that was the only thing that required refrigeration and time to set. Francesca showed us how to make it right from the start. Until today, I was under the impression that Tiramisu was made from cake. Little did I know that they used biscuits in it. The good part is that most of the ingredients used in Italian dishes are readily available here in the UAE. Mascarpone cheese and Savoiardi used in Tiramisu are available at Geant or any other hypermarket. If you do not prefer coffee, you can substitute it with chocolate or a fruit syrup. Alcohol can be used too.
After we were done with Tiramisu, we moved on to making fresh pasta ... yup right from scratch. We started off with the dough. This would be used in our upcoming dishes. Since there were only two wooden boards, only two of us could prepare it. I chose to sit and watch. Three ingredients, just three ingredients is all you need to make pasta - flour, egg and salt.
Once you make a mound, you make pasta sheets using a pasta maker and you're free to make any kinda pasta you like. We made tagliatelle and some amazing ravioli. We also learnt to make the filling for ravioli ( a mushroom & ricotta mix ). Gosh, I cant believe how easy all this was.
For the tagliatelle, we made pesto sauce using fresh basil leaves. There's no need for me to get the ones in the market anymore when I can make one on my own. Who knows what kinda stuff they put into those! A small quantity of pesto can be used for a lot of pasta and the good part is that it can be stored in the refrigerator for a pretty long time. Extra virgin olive oil is the secret!
Once we were done with all the preparation, we got to have a really awesome, home cooked, meal. Francesca and Cristina totally changed my perception of Italian food. I was always under the impression that it was loaded with cheese and oil. But when you make it yourself, you know exactly what goes into it. You can make it simple, healthy and tasty too.
Cooking@Home is a great way to learn the art of Italian cooking and impressing your guests. Imagine having to tell everyone that you made your own ravioli. Its also fun to learn cooking with your friends or loved ones. Francesca and Cristina are so fun-loving and friendly that they'll make you comfortable right from the start. It doesn't matter if you're a beginner like me or a pro, you'll still have something to learn from them.
For more information on their cooking classes and what they offer, click here.
Disclaimer : I was a guest of 800-Pizza Abu Dhabi. As always, all opinions are my own.
Did you know that October 16th is celebrated as World Food Day?
Did you also know that UAE alone wastes a staggering AED 13 billion worth of food every year?
Check out the food waste infographic below ...
This food could easily be used to feed thousands of hungry people. Not to mention the environmental impact of all this waste.
Wanna know what you can do to reduce food wastage at home ? Read below :
1. Shop smart
Buy less food. Simple, right?
More often than not, some of the food we buy in the supermarket will spoil before it’s eaten and get thrown away. Even if it’s only a small amount each time, it all adds up. Avoid getting sucked in by food offers you don’t need. Making a meal plan for the week can help. Then write a shopping list containing only the items you know you will use for those meals. And the number one classic piece of advice: never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry!
2. Work with what you’ve got
Regularly check use-by dates and make meals using items that are reaching their expiry date. This will help reduce the amount of food you throw out, and the different combinations of ingredients can make for some exciting meals. Check out a site like foodgawker for some inspiration. And remember, if stored correctly, some foods can be safe for a few days after their expiry date.
When you make a big meal, save any excess food. It can be your lunch for the following day, or simply a snack for when you get peckish. You can freeze most food in individual portions in freezer bags, too. This can serve as quick dinners in a few weeks’ time when you can’t face cooking!
3. Store food properly
Proper storage of certain foods can drastically impact their longevity. Of course, the longer you can preserve food, the less you end up throwing away.
You should have a cool and dry cupboard or storage area for any dry, long-life products. Sealable plastic containers, jars with lids, and resealable bags are all ideal for these foods. Choose a container that has adequate space for your produce without allowing too much air inside.
Keep your fridge clean and hygienic, and at the right temperature (ideally around 4 degrees celsius) and your food will stay fresh for longer. Get into the habit of rotating your foods in the fridge each time you shop. Bring items from the back towards the front, as these will have the soonest use-by-dates. This prevents anything from being left at the back and spreading bacteria if it goes off.
Getting rid of pests like fruit flies - which make your organic produce spoil more quickly - is another way to increase the longevity of your fruit and veg.
4. Serve sensible portions
When we eat out at restaurants, it’s normal to get too much food. This has begun to affect our meals at home. Avoid over-serving food when cooking for friends and family by serving smaller portions at first, then dishing out any more to those who are still hungry. You might also try serving food on smaller plates - the same amount of food on a smaller plate seems like more food, as it seems to be taking up more space on the plate..
5. Reuse, recycle
Many items that you might just toss in the trash once you’ve used them still have life left in them. Take used coffee grounds for example - there are plenty of inventive ways you can use them before they go in the trash. such as keeping your fridge odour-free. You can also use old lemons to disinfect surfaces, or even clean the inside of your fridge.
You could try composting. It’s nature’s way of recycling food waste. Much of what you would have otherwise put in the trash can go on a compost heap. Check out this simple how-to guide on composting from Eartheasy.
Let us work together to reduce food wastage!
Disclaimer : This information was provided by www.helpling.ae.
A month ago, we decided to stay at the iconic Jumeirah Emirates Towers for our 5th wedding anniversary. We stayed at the Jumeirah Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi last year, and we were certainly looking forward to staying at another Jumeirah property.
We left from Abu Dhabi around 12 pm that afternoon for the long drive to Dubai. By the time we reached the hotel, it was 2pm. While entering, the first thing that caught my attention were those beautiful orange flowers . They were in various shades of orange and scattered all over the lobby. Check in was swift ... and in no time we were in one of those high speed elevators heading to our room. And by high speed, I mean that it took off like a rocket!
Once we reached our floor, we walked a bit until we reached the room. About our room .... I was really impressed at how huge it was! It was an usually cloudy afternoon that day, but as soon as we opened the curtains we had the most magnificent view. We had a king size bed and had a number of fully pillows. At the corner was a little desk ( sort of like your own, personal mini workstation ) and a fully stocked mini bar. I was amazed at the choice of tea available !
The bathroom had a walk in shower as well as a bathtub. JET uses my favourite bathing products - Molten Brown. At the side of the tub was a green duck (also known as the Jumeirah duck ) sitting there all by himself. He was so cute, I knew I had to take him home! After settling down, we changed into our gym clothes and headed to the gym.
The walk to the gym ... i.e Talise Fitness was pretty long. We had to walk from one tower to the other and had to pass by a number of shops and restaurants until we reached there. After signing up at the reception, we saw this thing that looked like a bookshelf. However, it was not a bookshelf but spectacular a work of art of the wall. I thought that it was brilliant!
The gym was packed for a Thursday afternoon, but we did manage to grab a few empty treadmills. It looked pretty much full-fledged! They were a number of machines and something for everyone of any fitness level. After an hour, we headed to our room once again and changed up to visit the pool.
Mr. D and I normally visit the pool after the sun goes down. But today was our lucky day, because there was no sun! The pool wasn't too big, but it was nice. There were only about five of us there ... so even better. Next to it was a jacuzzi and a pool bar too. There were "Happy Hours" going on, so we took advantage of it. Mr D ordered a beer for himself and a cocktail for me ... and we just chilled under the lazy afternoon sun ( oops, sorry NO SUN ).
Jumeirah Emirates Towers also has access to a beach nearby and Wild Wadi. We were short of time, so we couldn't visit. Besides this they have a number of restaurants within the hotel. We didn't visit any during our stay, however we have visited Tokyo@TheTowers on numerous occasions. They are my favourite Japanese restaurant in Dubai and have the most amazing king prawn teppanyaki!
While heading out that evening, I finally managed to get a peak of those beautiful peacocks roaming around the hotel.
We reached the hotel pretty late that evening, and there was no more talking. It was a long day, so we headed straight to bed!
The following morning, as tempting as the bed was ... we managed to get our butts off it and head for breakfast. Finally, I got a glimpse of the sunlight and thought that it would be perfect to get a picture of our Jumeirah duck!
Breakfast was at Mosaico, and was pretty much a feast. We waited for a while until we got a window seat ( I've got this fascination with window seats from flying too much ). Once we were seated, we started! Mosaico had everything from breads to cold cuts, cereals to salads, fruits to hot mains, etc.. Some of my favourites were the steak, veg dumplings, assorted yogurt, steak and fresh honey from the honeycomb. I liked the selection of fresh juices too, especially cucumber and celery.
After breakfast, we got back to our room and packed our bags for checkout. We requested for a late checkout, and the hotel staff were kind enough to give it to us. Finally, we were able to catch up on our Friday post breakfast snooze.
Check out was a breeze. There were two members of the staff who helped us out ... one of them was Fathima (I'm sure about this one ), the other was a lady from the Philippines ( I just cannot remember her name ). They were so friendly and joked with us all through the checkout process. I've never come across reception staff so full of life. They just made our day.
Overall, our stay was excellent. I wish we could have stayed longer...
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