Monthly Archives: June 2014

In My Kitchen June 2014

In My Kitchen June 2014-Chocolate Bark

The most gorgeous assortment of swiss chocolate bark from Läderach was in my kitchen, but now it’s most likely sitting on my hips. For a time I was in chocolate bliss and loved the milk chocolate florentine and the white chocolate with pistachio, caramelized almonds and candied fruit… in fact they were all divine. Thanks hubby, delicious choice.

Once again joining Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial who runs a monthly theme “In My Kitchen, where bloggers showcase some of their kitchen favorites.

IMK_June-5387In my kitchen we use lots and lots of freshly ground black pepper and would not be without my pepper mills. Love this cute metal spice mill which I picked up from a spice bazaar in Istanbul. Have you ever tried a black pepper mill in a kitchen shop and bought it because you were so impressed how easily it ground peppercorns? Got home, filled your new pepper mill and then found, it just didn’t grind the black peppercorns (even when adjusted) like the one in the shop. Check out the size of your peppercorns, you many need to look for smaller black peppercorns, this usually solves the problem.

IMK_June-5362Brought some color into my kitchen with this purple tea caddy, filled with a blend of White Ayurvedic and Samurai Tea from Teavana, a specialist tea shop in Bahrain City Center. It’s such a feel good tea, with ingredients of cinnamon, clove, lemongrass, coconut and papaya , to name a few. And having grown up in Ireland… we love a nice cup of tea.

IMK_June-5365Used for brewing special teas, love my hand-made Japanese cast-iron tea-pot (also from Teavana), embossed with cherry blossoms. Possibly drawn to this particular flower as our family home in Ireland had a cherry blossom tree. In full bloom it was quite spectacular to see. The cherry blossom symbolizes beauty and eternal love and of course spring time.

mango-bee pollen-cardamom podsMango season means lots of mangos in our kitchen and with our hot temperatures, Mango Lassi is a very refreshing summer drink. Bee pollen is a new ingredient that I started using and add some to smoothies we make. If you have any culinary uses for bee pollen, do let me know? Cardamom is one of my favorite spices and always found in my kitchen.
IMK_June-5395Sitting on top of the kitchen dresser and keeping an eye on all kitchen activities is this chicken, unfortunately no organic eggs from this one. Kind of ugly in a cute sort of way.

IMK_June-5409Last week I got to make some fresh pasta at an Italian cooking class and as a result have taken out my neglected pasta attachments. Intend putting them to good use, probably will have a pasta making day and make some extra for the freezer.

Do you have any special treasures in your kitchen?

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In My Kitchen Post for the month of May 2014

Italian Cooking Class at The Ritz Carlton Bahrain Hotel and Spa

Fresh Pasta-Tagliatelle-4924A place I have yet to visit is Italy, it’s high on my bucket list of places to see, hopefully Tuscany and Florence. But in the mean time, delighted with an invite from the Culinary Arts Team to experience some of Italy, at the Ritz Carlton Bahrain Hotel and Spa and attend a cooking class at their Italian restaurant, Primavera. My pasta-making skills are somewhat rusty and was thrilled to see a pasta machine on arrival. I remember thinking about my poor pasta machine, sitting neglected at the back of a kitchen cupboard. Following is a peek into a morning of kneading, rolling, cooking and of course enjoying good food.

Making Focaccia DoughItalian Chef Mauro Giordano and his team (Jovan and Linto) eased us into the cooking class, demonstrating the steps and techniques involved in making a classic Focaccia, a leavened Italian flatbread. Although few ingredients are needed, the quality of the yeast, flour and water used, affects the overall flavour of the bread. Kneading and proving the dough correctly are important steps and should never be rushed. Before baking the focaccia you have the option of adding different flavourings on top, such as herbs, tomatoes, olives and onions. Focaccia is a very versatile bread and easy to make at home. And who can resist a wonderful chunk of warm home-made bread… I know I cant. If you have made your own home-made bread before you will know, there is a certain joy that comes with bread making. Fresh Pasta-3To say you have made your own fresh pasta (and of course bread) is impressive and once you see the process of pasta-making from start to finish, it sure fires up your enthusiasm. Of course getting stuck in is even better and with the help of Chef Mauro, he made it all seem so easy. Egg yolks (the hotel uses pasteurized egg yolks) and flour were the only ingredients used to make up a lovely yellow coloured pasta dough. Rolling and cutting the dough is made easier using a pasta machine, but of course the whole process can be done by hand… if you like lots more work! There’s me up there with a wobble start cutting some tagliatelle… Chef Mauro “I promise to hold the pasta sheets straighter when feeding through the machine next time”. And I’m certainly going to love perfecting the technique at home. You could tell everyone enjoyed the different stages of rolling and cutting fresh pasta dough.
Fresh Pasta-TagliatelleCooking Fresh Pasta-Tagliatelle with a Smoked Salmon Cream SauceEach of us went to our own cooking station to make a simple cream based sauce with smoked salmon for our tagliatelle. Although I absolutely love smoked salmon I am not a fan of using it in sauces for pasta, the taste for me is somewhat overpowering. The hotel cures and smokes their own salmon and the flavour when added to the cream sauce was much more pleasing… which I did enjoy. At this point it was bubbling water, steam and sizzling hot pans and I needed to put my camera down, fresh pasta cooks very quickly and I did not want to pass the “Al Dente” stage.

We were also guided through pan frying fillets of sea bream and making another delicious sauce with tomato, fish stock , capers, olives and anchovies. Chef Mauro reminded us that cooking need not be complicated, using quality ingredients, simple flavours and paying attention to the cooking process, everyone is capable of achieving great home cooking.
Ritz Carlton Bahrain Primavera Dessert SlectionWe also enjoyed a tasting from the Primavera Business Lunch Menu, a refreshing mixed salad and penne pasta with a tomato based sauce, with fresh mozzarella. As my tummy was on food overload I could only look longingly at the beautifully presented display of desserts and cheeses on offer,  which certainly looked very inviting.

Whether it’s for leisure, brushing up on some cooking skills or a fun activity with friends, cooking classes are an inspiring way to spend time with good food. On leaving the cooking class I knew one think for sure, I am inspired and my pasta machine will no longer sit neglected in a dark cupboard. Looking forward to posting some fresh pasta and focaccia recipes soon.

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