Thursday, 25 December 2014

The Taste Middle East on Al Nahar

So excited, finally The Taste is going to air, tonight at 10pm on Al Nahar in Egypt.

You can see me fleetingly at 33 seconds in this promo!

Here is some further info on the show:

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Product of Excellence from EGYPT

 “Rosa Sinensis, Red tea, Hibiscus tea

I was asked to write a little article on a product of excellence from Egypt for the Live Inspire project by the  Intesa Sanpaolo Group.  On their page is information on the Milano 2015 EXPO, as well as recipes from different countries and inspiring stories about sustainability and nutrition.  It also has a competition with a trip to Italy for one lucky person.  Just click on the link below to take you there:

The product I was drawn to is also one of my particular favourites since I particularly source this from Egypt over being grown from any other Country.  Karkadé is my product of excellence from Egypt.  It is a tea known for its remarkable ruby red colour and subtle floral flavour.  Karkadé has been produced in Egypt for centuries and is made from the dried calyces which form around the seed-pods of the Hibiscus sabdariffa flower. 

Since ancient Egyptian times this tea has been enjoyed hot in winter and as a refreshingly cool drink in summer. Karkadé is grown in the optimum conditions and climate of Egypt giving the tea a rich dark, almost purple-black colour overflowing with health benefits and having a wonderfully floral aroma and flavour.

Hibiscus tea is often blended with other tea types due to the lovely red colour it produces however, lighter red coloured Hibiscus teas on the market are more acidic and leave a bitter aftertaste as well as being lower in antioxidant levels so the darker tea is best.

For centuries, and to this day, Karkadé is drunk in Egypt for its medicinal benefits due to its high vitamin C content, high antioxidant properties and scientific studies have confirmed it reduces blood pressure in people with type 2 diabetes or mild hypertension.

The drink is made in much the same way as a cup of tea. In a tea pot take a full handful of the tea and add a litre of cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for three minutes. Strain off what is now a bright red liquid. Add cold water to cover the tea and boil again to extract all you can. Add a teaspoon of sugar for each glass (or to taste), stir and serve hot.

Alternatively, in a jug pour boiling water. Add tea and sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves. Leave until the water becomes dark red. Strain the tea and cool in the refrigerator until serving. Tea made this way is believed have the most beneficial effect on blood pressure.

 Red tea كركديه Karkadé, Photography by Dy na Eldaief (

Red tea كركديه Karkadé, Photography by Dy na Eldaief (

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Promo The Taste Soon On AL Nahar 44

Wow, This makes things real.  The cooking show I was part of and filmed in Egypt is very near to being aired on Egyptian TV.  So good seeing my new friends and remembering the experiences.

Stay tuned...

Monday, 1 December 2014

Basbousa with almonds بسبوسة باللوز Basbousa bil loz

Live Inspire is a new project by the Intesa Sanpaolo Group.  On their page is information on the Milano 2015 EXPO, as well as recipes from different countries and inspiring stories about sustainability and nutrition. They are also running a competition to find the best recipe that represents EGYPT so get online and vote.  

Just click on the link Live Inspire competition. Then click on the far left tab, select the flag of Egypt and click on the picture that you think best represents the recipe for the country.

Thanks to Alexbank of Egypt those that vote will go in the running to win a trip to Milan during the Milano EXPO 2015.  How awesome would that be? Vote and good luck winning a trip to Italy!

I thought in light of the Live inspire competition I would post my favourite dessert that I think best represents Egypt.  Basbousa is a very old Arabic dessert and there are many ways of making it, but the traditional Basbousa is made pretty much like this.  Nothing fancy, just the cake, syrup and almonds on top -and how many times have we heard “Simple is best” when it comes to cooking.  Well, this is certainly the case for Basbousa.  While there are plenty of versions, this one is a favourite of mine.

Basbousa is like a syrup drenched cake that is made with Semolina (coarse particles of wheat left after the wheat has been ground to flour and removed).  Traditionally Basbousa is served with tea and coffee and is yet another sweet that relies on cooled sugar syrup poured over something hot to soften and sweeten it.  The temperature differences between the syrup and the Basbousa cake results in greater absorption so don’t be tempted to let both components cool down and then serve it. 

This is a very easy sweet to prepare and always enjoyable to eat.  It is served often in homes but is also readily found in hotel banquets, celebrations, restaurants or cake shops.  The beauty with this dish is that it is almost preserved with sugar and even though it contains milk my mum stored any left over Basbousa in the cooled oven and not in the fridge.  It was quite happy there for several days.

Basbousa cake
2 cups semolina (1 cup coarse and 1 cup fine)
1 cup sugar
250 g unsalted butter, melted.
1 cup / 250 ml milk
1 cup self-raising flour
15 whole raw almonds, skin removed and halved

Syrup :
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
half a lemon juiced
A few drops of vanilla extract

Prepare the syrup first.  Combine the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan, bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until it is thick enough to coat a spoon.  Leave to cool.  Once cooled, add a few drops of vanilla essence or 2-3 teaspoons rose water or orange blossom water and stir. Set aside.
Preheat oven to moderate 180°C (350°F/Gas mark 4). Lightly grease a 30 x 25 cm cake tin with melted butter. 

Place semolina and sugar in a large bowl and combine.  Add melted butter, milk and flour, mixing well after each addition.  Transfer to prepared tin.
Cut into squares and place the almond halves in the centre of each square.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove Basbousa from the oven and carefully pour the cold syrup evenly over the hot Basbousa. Leave to cool to room temperature and serve.

Note :
To peel almonds, cover almonds with a little water in a microwave safe bowl, microwave on high for 1 minute 20 seconds.  While hot pop them out of their skins and cut or separate the halves.
Basbousa with almonds بسبوسة باللوز Basbousa bil loz
Basbousa with almonds بسبوسة باللوز Basbousa bil loz