Experience Gifts instead of Material Gifts
Are you looking for that certain special gift for your loved one's next birthday, anniversary, special occasion? Why not steer away from material gifts and opt for an experience instead? Whether it's an experience that the whole family can participate in or one that is designed just for the recipient to enjoy, an experiential gift will be a sure hit with lasting memories.
Keeping with my husband and my tradition of giving experiences instead of material gifts, this year for my birthday the men in my life selected a family adventure in cooking at Dubai's Top Chef. We have been to many cooking classes as a family over the years and they have all been a hit. Top Chef was no exception.
As always, the planning was all classified as "Top Secret." It is carefully thought out via a Whats App group consisting of Rob and the boys, titled "Mom's big 44 bday" (or whatever the occasion may be.) So as we got in the car to head out, the destination was still a mystery to me. The boys were super excited. As we turned onto Jumeirah Rd, I saw the Top Chef sign and the pieces quickly came together.
The Main Course
Our Top Chef, Anthony, was waiting for us at the entrance and quickly led us to the kitchen so we could jump right in. After a quick wash of our hands, we were ready for the cooking to begin. Our first course was a barley risotto with seared salmon and parmesan foam.
The kids were totally keen to take charge of everything they were preparing. There was nothing off limits and they were instructed about food and health safety along the way. Chef Anthony was super patient with all of us and didn't dumb anything down to make it easier for the kids. We (me) had lots of questions for him about food sourcing in Dubai. These included where to source the best ingredients in Dubai, his favourite restaurants, and best chef schools. He also told us about famous chefs that come to Dubai to give courses, who has the most Michelin stars, how Michelin stars are awarded, and why French food tastes so good. As typical as in any kitchen, we did a lot of chatting while we cooked. It all added up to an engaging experience of tastes, smells, education, and conversation.
Our dessert was a fabulous recipe - chocolate tart with raspberry coulis . Yum! My little guy happily did most of the preparing of this part of the meal.
The final component of the meal was our beverage. As our middle son is a lover of all the fabulous Dubai mocktails and smoothies out there, we let him finish things off with a watermelon, raspberry and mint smoothie. I didn't actually get to taste this as the boys begged me for my portion but I can only assume it was delicious.
After all the preparation was complete, we plated our food and sat down to a lovely meal together. It was delicious right down to the last morsel. We all thought it was one of the best meals we had had in Dubai. To top it off we had a fun night going through all the highlights of the year that had just passed by. It was a perfect evening that I know set the tone for my 44th year ahead. I hope there are many more cooking experiences in the years to come!
Enjoying our Results!
If you are interested in trying any of the above recipes we made at Top Chef, they are listed below. All recipes listed in this post belong to Top Chef.
Risotto, Chocolate Tart and Smoothie Recipes
WATERMELON, RASPBERRY AND MINT SMOOTHIE For 5 persons
250 gr watermelon
100 gr raspberries
20 gr mint
60 gr sugar
220 gr water
100 gr ice cubes
Preparation: 1. Cut the watermelon. 2. Blend the watermelon with the raspberry, mint leaf the ice, water, and sugar. 3. Blend until getting a smooth texture. Serve cold.
BARLEY RISOTTO WITH SEARED SALMON & PARMESAN FOAM 5 pax
5 pcs salmon (140gr each)
300 gr barley
800 gr Chicken stock
2 pcs shallots, sliced
60 gr butter
150 gr Parmesan, grated
550 gr milk
40 gr butter
Preparation: 1. In a pan, warm the milk and add 100gr of grated Parmesan. 2. Blend and rectify the seasoning, transfer to a high container, and check the emulsion. 3. In a pan, sauté the sliced shallots, add 30 g butter and the barley. 4. Mix for a few seconds and add the strained chicken stock. 5. Boil until the barley absorbs all the stock, check if it’s cooked. If not add some extra stock. 6. Add the butter to the barley risotto and mix well then add the Parmesan cheese. Check the seasoning. Keep warm. 7. On a grill, sear the salmon to get the grill mark. Season and place the salmon in the oven at 50 C for 15 minutes.
Plating: 1. In a soup plate, place the barley risotto in centre. 2. Add on top the salmon. 3. Finish with the emulsion around and some edible flower or cress.
CHOCOLATE TART 5 pax
125 gr butter
50 gr sugar
55 gr almond powder
1 pc egg
180 gr flour
50 gr milk
150 gr cream
2 pcs egg yolks
35 gr sugar
110 gr milk chocolate
Preparation: Dough: 1. In a mixing bowl, put the butter and sugar. Add the egg and mix well. 2. Add the flour, almond powder, and cocoa powder. 3. Mix until smooth. Keep in the chiller for 30 minutes. 4. Spread the chocolate dough and fold the tart ring. Stick the tart shell with cupcake paper. 5. Cover the base of the tart with rice and bake in the oven at 160 degrees C for 15-20 minutes. Remove the rice. 6. Cool down and reserve.
Chocolate cremeux 1. In a pan, boil the milk and cream. Pour over the chocolate and mix well. 2. Mix the yolk with sugar. Add the chocolate mixture and mix well. 3. Pour the mixture in each tart and bake again at 140C for 6-8 minutes. Cool down.