Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Just before the check-in


Brazil, here I come!

With my passport in my bag, I am ready to embark on my long waited trip to Brazil. Time for celebrations – my mum’s 80th birthday and meeting up with  family and friends again – and a well deserve break. I am going back to the roots! I will try and post some of my gastronomic journeys while I am there, but in case you don’t hear from me in the next 4 weeks, I promise to photograph and collect recipes to share with you here on my return. Keep tuned in.

In the meantime, I will leave here a recipe by Ottolenghi that my friend Adriana made last Saturday for her son Oscar’s birthday party. It’s a lovely, fresh basil and oregano scented salad. Simple and delicious. The adults loved it and the kids too.

Adriana's salad
Marinated Buffalo Mozzarella & Tomato Salad Recipe (by Ottolenghi)
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

250g buffalo mozzarella cheese - Adriana used 500g instead
2 ripe medium tomatoes 
(red, yellow or mixed) - Adriana made her salad using 3 punnets of cherry tomatoes instead

For the marinade
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
grated zest of 1 lemon
15 basil leaves, shredded
2 tsp chopped oregano
2 tsp best-quality extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to finish
2 tsp rapeseed oil (if you don’t have it just double the amount of olive oil)
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 tsp Maldon sea salt, black pepper


METHOD

To make the marinade, scatter the fennel seeds in a small frying pan over medium heat and dry-roast until they begin to pop. Transfer to a pestle and mortar and crush roughly. Place the crushed seeds in a small bowl and add the remaining marinade ingredients.

Break the mozzarella roughly with your hands. Smear it with the marinade and set aside for 15-30 minutes.

To serve, cut the tomatoes into wedges and plate along with the marinated mozzarella. Drizzle with extra olive oil and serve.

Some of the ingredients and their functional benefits

Basil (Ocimum basilicum): also known as holy basil, or tulsi in India, it is well used by traditional healers. In India and Africa, people rub the basil leaves against their skin to repel insects. Basil is loaded with carminatives (gas dispelling phytochemicals) and, like the mint family, basil is traditionally used to settle an upset stomach. Sweet basil is better used as a tea for indigestion, colds, flu, fever, headaches, nausea, cramps, kidney and bladder problems. Basil contains lots of antioxidants and activities that are known to fight pneumonia. Its medicinal properties include anti-pyretic (anti-fever), stimulant, diuretic and nervine. Basil is also known to prevent  Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

A recipe by Dr. Michael Tierra that will be effective for most fevers: 30g of basil leaves to 600ml of water simmered for 20 minutes with 3 powdered black peppercorns per cup.


Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum): stimulates the regeneration of liver tissue, tonifies the stomach, purifies the blood. It helps relieve high blood pressure and headache. Although tomato is an acidic fruit, it alkalizes the blood after digestion. It contains lycopene, an antioxidant with anti-cancer properties (organic tomato products like ketchups or sauces deliver three times more lycopene than the non-organic ones). It has been shown to have increased anti-cancer properties especially when cooked or consumed with olive oil, avocado or nuts. The carotenoids present in tomatoes are fat soluble and are well absorbed into the body with the fats mentioned above. Caution: Everyone should avoid eating a large amount of tomatoes in any one day, as it upsets the balance of calcium metabolism, especially if you suffer from arthritis.

See you soon!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

It’s raw and it’s colourful


Another glum day in London... As the sun is not shining as it was supposed to be, I’m bringing the colours to my plate. With so many beautiful and colourful roots in season, I decided to make a raw salad recipe given to me by my talented friend and chef Breno Morais.

Breno, this one is for you! Thanks for leaving the sunshine on a plate for us before you moved back to Brazil for good.

The garden peas are in season
The ingredients
My raw and super fresh salad
Breno's powerful and colourful salad

Powerful and colourful salad by Breno Morais
Serves 8 people
“It’s full of colours, healthy and light.  When the taste of the roots mix with the citrus of the orange in your mouth you will feel as you were in paradise.” (Breno)

I have changed this recipe slightly. In the original, Breno uses Broad beans instead of peas and mustard sprouts instead of radish sprouts. This recipe is packed with nutrients.

INGREDIENTS

2 medium beetroot, grated
3 medium carrots, grated
1 bunch of radishes, sliced
Full hand of radish sprouts
150 g organic garden peas (Breno uses broad beans. As I had fresh garden peas, I used them instead)
150 g organic chickpeas
Sea salt and black pepper

For the dressing:
50 ml olive oil
Zest and juice of 1 orange
Sea salt and black pepper

METHOD

In a small bowl, add the olive oil, the zest and juice of the orange and season.
In a bigger bowl, mix all the ingredients with half of the dressing. Season. Pour the other half of the dressing when you are ready to eat. Enjoy!

Some of the ingredients and their healthy benefits

Beetroot (Beta vulgaris)It contains betain, a nutrient that increases digestion and prevents heart and liver diseases. The red purple pigment betacyanin is a powerful cancer-fighting agent. Beetroot provides lots of fibre and that’s probably why it has shown to improve bowel function - it moistens the intestines, relieving constipation and regulates digestion. Studies have shown that beetroot strengthens the heart, regulates cholesterol levels, lowers blood pressure, benefits the liver and purifies the blood. Beetroot colours can show up even in your urine or faeces, which is a harmless condition called beeturia.

The juice made with beetroot and carrot is a perfect combination to regulate hormones and relieve the symptoms of menopause.

Beetroot is a great source of betacarotene, vitamin B6, folic acid, manganese, silicon and potassium. It is also is a very good source of iron, which can prevent anaemia, especially for people who follow a vegetarian diet.

Beet greens have a higher concentration of calcium, iron and vitamins A and C than beetroots. It’s high in sodium, so little salt is required. Caution: Those who suffer from kidney problems should avoid eating too much beet greens due to its high oxalic content, as it inhibits calcium metabolism.

Carrot (Daucus carota): is high in carotenoid, an antioxidant compound associated with many healthy benefits. It contains lutein and zeaxanthin (carotenoids present in our retina), which is why carrots are famously known for being good for your eyes. The carotenoid and vitamin A contents found in carrots are fat-soluble vitamins - when eaten with a little fat (olive oil, coconut oil, ghee etc), they are better absorbed by your body. Carrots are great for juicing and often chosen as part of detox programs. They also provide good levels of vitamin K, fibre, vitamin C, biotin, vitamins B1 and B6.

Chickpea or garbanzo (Cicer arietinum): it is the most nutritious of all the legumes. It is very good for your pancreas, stomach and heart. It is high in protein, fat and carbohydrate. It contains very good levels of iron (more than other legumes), calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, B vitamins and especially folic acid (B9). Sprouted chickpea contains vitamin C and enzymes.

Peas (Pisum sativum): They are a source of protein, carbohydrate and fat. They’re mildly laxative. Strengths the spleen-pancreas and stomach, and harmonizes digestion. Peas contain B vitamins, vitamin C magnesium, vitamin K, potassium, iron and carotenes.

Radish (Raphanus sativus): it’s part of the mustard family. Radishes used to be predominantly black and not red. They contain high levels of vitamin C. They’re also high in fibre and water, which is very beneficial for people with constipation. Black radish stimulates the bile production, liver detoxification and the cleaning of the gallbladder, maintaining a healthy digestive tract. It contains antibacterial properties that help to balance the digestive flora. It treats coughs and fortifies lungs; and also helps to balance fatty or oily food in the body.

Till next week!

Monday, 2 July 2012

The rye-ight cuisine


                         Rye field - a staple diet of Denmark         photo: E.Goldman

Anna Colquhoun, the “Culinary Anthropologist”, author of the Eat Slow Britain book, runs great cooking classes and, luckily for me - after my new found love for the Nordic cuisine –, she has teamed up with Mia Kristensen of CPH Good Food from Copenhagen, to teach the innovative use of seasonal, wild, smoked and preserved food found in Nordic cuisine. 

The class started with a herbal tea infused with lemon balm, sea buckthorn and other herbs. After that, Mia brought us our breakfast: a Danish pancake called Klatkager, which is made with barley porridge and was served with strawberry jam and fresh lemon verbena leaves. Delish! Then we were ready to be hands on with the rest of the menu (which you can see in the pictures below).

The rye crispbreads were very easy to make and tasted delicious. I enjoyed them so much that, on the next day, I made some for my family and friends who were visiting, and I received great compliments. In class we had the crispbread served with the interesting and flavoursome Hay-smoked brie that Anna showed us how to make. To complement that she showed us how to make the honey and vinegar-baked rhubarb, which I also made at home using raspberry vinegar, to give a sweeter taste, instead of the apple cider vinegar (see below). You can always make a batch of the rye crispbreads and have it with a lovely piece of cheese and jam or chutney, pickled herring or with whatever you fancy.

We also learned to make beautiful rye breads. In fact, I have always being a bit disappointed with my loaves, but the ones I learned to make on Friday were a huge success! I think I will return to Anna’s well reviewed bread-making class to master some skills.

The atmosphere in Anna’s kitchen was lovely and Mia’s cooking was very inspiring. All the ingredients were of great quality and carefully chosen. Throughout the class, both Anna and Mia picked some herbs from the garden to use with the meals. What I love about Nordic cuisine is the simplicity in their cooking but, at the same time, the amalgamation of flavours and texture they create. It goes without mention that it’s really healthy too. You can read more about Nordic cuisine here.


Mia Kristensen in Ana Colquhoun's kitchen
Sea-buckthorn, lemon balm and other herbs infused tea and
the traditional Danish breakfast - 
Klatkager (fried porridge pancakes)
Buttermilk marinade for the lamb, Sage and mint leaves
inside the butterflied lamb, tying the string to hold the lamb meat
together and finally browning the lamb in butter.
Making the rye crispbread
Hay-smoking the brie
Hay-smoked brie with honey & vinegar
baked rhubard served on rye crispbreads.
Delish!
Mia showing how to make the Rye bread with seeds
and dark beer
Buttermilk-marinated and herb-crusted roast lamb. It was tender, juicy
and simply divine.
The lamb was served with potato salad with strawberries,
bacon and bitter herbs; and "summer salad" of smoked cream
cheese, cucumber, radish and chives.
To finalize, we had the lightest cake I've ever eaten:
sponge with meringue, hazelnuts, cherries and
cream
The lovely hostess Anna Colquhoun
And now, the rye crispbreads and honey & raspberry vinegar rhubarb made in my kitchen

Put all the ingredients, except the seeds and water and blend.
Add the water until everything comes together as a dough.
Then roll out the dough as thinly as possible. Bake
the crispbreads for 15-20 minutes
They come out of the oven golden and crispy
The ingredients for the honey & vinegar rhubarb: raspberry vinegar, rhubarb
a pinch of black pepper and raw honey
Mix all the ingredients...
and bake for 20-25 minutes
The lovely rye crispbreads with the deliciously tangy honey and
vinegar rhubarb on Bath soft brie cheese!
Irresistible!
Danish baker’s rye crispbreads (recipe from Mia Kristensen of CPH Good Food
Makes:  up to 10 large or 20 small crispbreads.

INGREDIENTS

225g rye flour (preferably, freshly ground – you can use a coffee bean grinder
50g plain flour
30g unsalted butter
6 tbsp nut oil or rapeseed oil (I used olive oil)
2 tbsp plain yoghurt
1 ½ tsp sea-salt
a pinch of caraway seeds (optional)
water (approx. 50ml)
50g flaxseed or rye flakes
50g mixed seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, etc)

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 160 C. 

Mix all the ingredients, except the water and seeds, in a mixer or food processor. 

Blend for one minute and then add the water, little by little, just until everything comes together as a dough.

Tip the dough out onto the table and knead in the seeds. 

Roll out the dough as thinly as possible and then cut it into serving sized squares or irregular shapes. 

Bake the crisp breads on a lined baking sheet for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and fully set. Leave them to cool before serving. 

Honey and vinegar-baked rhubarb (recipe from Mia Kristensen of CPH Good Food
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp apple or cider vinegar (I used raspberry vinegar)
A pinch of black pepper
4 stalks of rhubarb

METHOD

Heat the oven to 175C.

Stir together the honey, vinegar and black pepper.

Cut the rhubarb into 3-4cm pieces and toss in the honey-vinegar mixture

Spread them out over a heat-proof dish and bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on their thickness, until soft but still holding their shape.


Some of the ingredients and their functional benefits

Rye (Secale cereale): it’s high in carbohydrates and provides small quantities of protein. It contains potassium, selenium, and B vitamins. According to the Ayuverdic medicine, rye clears liver stagnancy, increases strength and endurance, renews arteries, helps muscle formation and supports nail, hair and bone formation. Paul Pitchford claims in his book Healing with Wholefoods that, when one eats rye in its raw state or as soaked flakes, one will benefit from its fluorine content increasing tooth enamel strength.

Rye is also a great source of insoluble fibre, which helps to prevent gallstones and lower cholesterol. Fibre has the ability to bind to toxins and helps eliminate them from the body. Rye contains potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin B1, B3, folic acid, and it’s full of antioxidants.
When you are shopping for rye bread, check the labels. Sometimes, what is labelled "rye bread" can be wheat bread coloured with caramel colouring.

Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) an excellent source of calcium which is an essential mineral for the bones and teeth; vitamin C which supports a healthy immune system; and fibre which helps regulate the digestive system. Rhubarb also contains vitamin K a nutrient that helps to form blood clot. It contains a compound called Lutein that helps keeping the health of the eyes. Studies have shown that rhubarb has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy properties.

Till next week!