Clueless in the Kitchen? “There’s Hope,” Says This Domestic Goddess

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Photo: Courtesy of Cayla

Raise your hand if, at any given time during the day, you’re accustomed to opening side-by-side tabs on your laptop for Zomato, Deliveroo, and Uber Eats in an attempt to make a decision on what you’re eating next.

As a city, Dubai has mastered the art of justifying a meal on wheels with excuses like a tediously long day at work, exorbitant prices on everyday groceries, and the classic: “I couldn’t be bothered to cook.” And then there’s those of us who are just plain daunted by the prospect of making a meal from scratch.

But one domesticated goddess by the name of Annabel Karmel is determined to make home cooking a little more accessible, whether you’re doing so for yourself, your family, or a fussy toddler – as evidenced by the countless cookbooks she has authored over the course of more than 25 years. Here, she shares a couple of her ultimate cooking hacks to take you through some common kitchen scenarios.

If Your Fridge Isn't Stocked

“If in doubt, eggs are my staple ingredient. They’re a fantastic food for the whole family and packed full of nutrients. The great thing is that you often have them at hand, so you can always whip up a quick frittata in minutes.”

If Your Ingredients Aren't Fresh

“We too readily bin perfectly good ingredients that, with a little bit of love, can be transformed into a glorious thing. Revamp vegetables that are slightly past their prime by roasting them in the oven. Roasted cauliflower is so simple, yet utterly delicious.
The edges of the cauliflower caramelize when roasted, taking on a nutty and buttery flavor. I also love using a spiralizer; simply baking sweet-potato curls in the oven with a little oil, salt, and pepper turns them into the most delectable dish.”

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Photo: Courtesy of Stefan Johnson

If You're Cooking for One

“As you might expect, I am obsessed with food and always thinking about my next meal, even if it’s just for me. I like to plan ahead and make more than one meal. For instance, I’ll make a batch of chicken burgers, lasagna, or several fish pies in individual ramekins and then just whip out however many portions I need from the freezer.”

If You're Cooking for a Crowd

“There is nothing better – or more satisfying – than a one-pot recipe. Just chuck all the ingredients in and leave it to do its thing while you get on with other jobs. A one-pot roast chicken is an easy and delicious meal that feeds the whole family.”



ONE POT CHICKEN WITH SPRING VEGETABLES A delicious way to prepare chicken and it’s so easy . Perfect for the weekend . Recipe from my Busy Mum’s Cookbook.. . . 1 medium roasting chicken 3 tbsp olive oil 1 tsp runny honey 1 tsp lemon juice 300g small new potatoes 1 onion, thinly sliced 200g baby carrots, halved 2 cloves garlic, crushed 100g frozen peas 300ml chicken stock (hot) 300ml white wine 2 tbsp tarragon 1 Preheat the oven to 180C Fan. Put the chicken into a shallow dish or skillet / paella dish . Drizzle over the oil, honey and Season. 2 Roast for 30 Minutes until lightly golden . Add the potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic and mix with the olive oil, honey and lemon in the dish around the chicken. 4 Pour over the stock and wine, then put back in the oven for another 45 minutes until golden and cooked through and the vegetables are tender . You might need to cover the chicken with foil if it is getting too brown. Add the peas and cook for 5 minutes . 5 Remove from the oven and sprinkle with tarragon. Makes 6 Portions #annabelkarmel #easyrecipe #recipeoftheday #onepotchicken #weekendrecipe

A post shared by Annabel Karmel (@annabelkarmel) on

If You're Faced with a Picky Palate

“You’re more likely to face this issue with children. In fact, nearly 90 percent of children go through at least one lengthy phase of fussy eating, so rest assured that you’re not alone. My top tip for tackling a picky palate is to make the blender your new best friend because, what children can’t see, they can’t pick out! I like making a bolognese sauce packed with blended onions, leeks, celery, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, and my secret ingredient: apple. It’s delicious.”


If You're Pressed for Time

“Cooking shouldn’t mean spending hours in the kitchen. My advice is to have a well-stocked cupboard, so you can still cook up a healthy nutritious dinner even if you haven’t had time to go to the grocery. After all, it takes no time at all to create a quick pasta dish with tinned tomatoes – such as penne all’arrabbiata – or use a tin of chickpeas to make hummus or mini falafels.”

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Photo: Courtesy of Jackelin Slack

If You're Considering Ingredient Substitutions

“You can often very easily make ingredient substitutions in recipes – just be careful with cakes and bakes as the ingredients will need to be more precise. I always encourage getting creative as this is the way you learn about different ingredients, flavors, and textures, as well as what does and doesn’t work.

My top tip is to turn proven favourites into other meals, too. Any time you have success with one ingredient, replicate it somewhere else. For example, my toddler loved apple muffins, so I applied this sweetness to chicken to make Chicken and Apple Balls, and he loved them. Packed with protein, it has become one of my most popular recipes.”

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