Gathering over French cuisine at the Ramses Hilton

On Monday morning, a group of expatriates, Egyptian housewives and several journalists gathered at the Windows on the World restaurant in Cairo’s Ramses Hilton Hotel to attend a seminar given by Greek Chef Dimitrios on a how to prepare a proper three-course French meal. This was followed by a fun, hands-on demonstration of how to prepare decorative fruit and vegetable carvings.

A number of familiar faces were seen at the occasion, including magazine editor Nahed George and Amal Rateb, the Hilton’s public relations and advertising manager. The huge windows–for which the restaurant is famous–poured copious sunshine onto the face of the Greek gastronomist as he dexterously prepared an entrée of sea scallops and shrimp. 

The chef then moved on to a brie-cheese soup, a typical French "plat" that–brimming with cheese and cream–could easily be considered a meal in and of itself. As the scrumptious fumes began emanating from the chef’s cooking pad, a host of questions was eagerly posed by the incredulous crowd.

The chef, along with his skillful team of Egyptian sous-chefs, then shifted his attention to the main dish: beef stew a la bourguignon. This meaty dish, a delightful combination of flavors and smells, includes vegetables, sauces and red wine for the marinade, which can be easily replaced with non-alcoholic wine. 

The team then delved into a complicated dessert dish: charlotte grand marnier. A mouthwatering French delicacy that needs a full two days to be prepared, this spectacular dish consists of Savoyards biscuits, two layers of sponge cake and a mixture of bavarois. "It’s a piece of cake!" the chef jokes. An American woman taking notes whispered under her breath, " each step in this recipe requires a day to complete." After 45 minutes of Chef Dimitrios running around with his busy team, the charlotte was ready and the attendees were dying to devour the plate being passed around the room.

Chef Dimitrios then concluded his able performance with almond macaroons, or almond paste cookies, drawing hearty applause from the wowed audience. Sporting their Ramses Hilton aprons, the 25 attendees then took a group photo before returning to their seats to enjoy the delicious lunch that followed.

The following is the easiest recipe for almond macaroons that you will ever find:

325 gm almond powder (preferably skinless and freshly ground)
300gm egg whites (about ten eggs)
90 gm granulated sugar
675 gm icing sugar (powdered sugar)
1 pkt vanilla powder

Steps for preparation:
1) Whip egg whites for one minute before gradually adding granulated sugar. Mix into a foamy meringue.

2) Mix almond powder with icing sugar and vanilla powder.

3) Slowly fold the almond powder mixture into meringue.

4) Place mixture in piping bag. Cut into small rosettes in a baking silicon mat or on butter paper.

5) Place small pearly cookies in preheated oven set at between 150 C and 160 C. Leave for 15 to 20 minutes… and enjoy!

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