Monday, 28 May 2007

Semi whole spelt pasta with Hiziki seaweed and capers.

When I bring my lunchbox to work, the most common qustion is always: “where do you find the time to do that?”
I believe I just plan ahead and while I have a shower, make a phone call or answer to my private emails at home I simply cook some brown rice, everything else is more or less quick, ok, there is the sourdough, but that’s normally a weekend thing anyway ^_____^
For pulses I just put them in water before I go to bed, and steaming or blenching are two cooking methods that make everything faster!
I have to admit that when I come home from the office sometimes I just want to eat immediately, but still I want something healthy and that doesn’t make me feel tired or bloated after, so here’s a good one:

for two people (or for dinner+lunchbox for the day after)

½ cup hiziki (Hijiki) seaweed
200 gr whole spelt spaghetti
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablesppon shoyu or tamari soy sauce
a handful of capers
Coarse crystal sea salt

Soak the seaweed for 25 minutes (it will double the volume), then drain I and boil it in water for 25 minutes.
Finely chop he garlic, heat up the olive oil and fry the garlic till pale golden, stir in the capers, the seaweed, and the shoyu ,turn the heat to very low and let it simmer for other five minute with a lid on.
Boil the pasta in salted water, till “al dente”, and drain.
Stir the spaghetti into the seaweed sauce.
Serve hot.

My pasta is from Probios

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Sourdough bread

When you follow Macrobiotic, you mainly eat whole grains. Whole grains are more nutritious than cracked, milled, or flaked ones.
People that eat wholegrain hardly ever have cravings as their energy is released slower, 60% of my diet is based on brown rice, millet, wheat, amaranth, quinoa, as this is the food I feel is natural for me to eat and I can have it every meal without failing.
I eat bread sporadically and this is one of the several reasons why I like to live in the UK, in Italy there is just bread everywhere, and if it’s not bread is focaccia or pizza and either you decide you want to live an ascetic life and don’t go out anymore or you just cope with it : )
Having said this even I sometimes feel like making bread, but I just find the smell of commercial yeast such a put off…
So I made my own sourdough.
I love the fact that in Italian sourdough is called Pasta Madre that means “mother dough”, and indeed this is going to be the mother of your bread for (hopefully) long long time. The commercial sourdough bread is outrageously expansive and you can find it in natural food shops or in very few local bakeries but making in your house is a complete different experience.
The idea is: flour+water+warm temperature= bacteria = natural yeast = bread that is easy to digest.
How many people auto diagnosed themselves wheat intolerant? But are they really or is the yeast in those horrible commercial English bread loafs? (they even come in a plastic bag… yuck)
I have got no intention of writing my recipe for the sourdough as the Internet oozes with suggestions and very good step-by-step recipe.
Personally I am fascinated about this as I am about any fermented food. I just find the whole bacteria culture an amazing natural phenomenon, so I am a big fan of Miso, sauerkraut, umeboshi and beer ^____^

So this is the recipe that I follow from egullet, and now I have been using my starter twice, and it works wonderfully, my only suggestion is “love your starter”.

Dan Lepard is my baking hero.

Have fun and bake! (The weather is going to be miserable this Bank Holiday so you may as well turn the oven on!)

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

The recycled house and recycled burgers

Last weekend I had a great day out visiting one of the artist’s open houses at the Dulwich festival.
The house was beautifully and eclectically furnished with items found in skips, charity shops, carboot sales, so virtually a house made gorgeous without any environmental impact.
I had a tour of the house, the couple that made it are these very inspiring people, that created the most elegant of places, they are planning to live in a caravan for some months travelling around Europe with their two daughters, but for now they enjoyed this paradise, just few stops away from London Bridge.
I loved how everything was made of old bits including the shed in the garden and the girls’ room.

info on the festival

Inspired by this visit I put together everything that was in the fridge to make these tasty recycled burgers:
1 cup of cooked mung beans
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 celery
1 onion
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp buckwheat flour

Quickly sautéed the diced vegetables in a lightly oiled wok pan (you can use a little brush to make sure you use just enough)
Cook the vegetables till they are cooked but still crunchy.
Make patties with all the ingredient and use a little flour to prevent them sticking.
Bake on a lightly greased oven dish for 20 minutes or until they are golden on both sides.

I served them with a tahini dressing (2 tbsp water 1 tahini mixed thoroughly till smooth) and pressed salads with radish and cucumber with greated ginger.

Friday, 18 May 2007

Breakfast for the day after

Imagine this: You cycle to the office (45 mins) you eat some rice at your desk and work non-stop for 8 hours, you cycle back for other 40 mins and you grab the nastiest falafel on the way, you get into the gig completely sold out with the most large and enthusiastic crowd, you cycle back home and it starts raining… Your ballerina pumps are like two sponges, you hair is dripping water everywhere, but you just want to go to bed.
What will save you on the day after when you have ten meetings and a zillion emails to answer to?
Of course is the breakfast that quite wisely you planned ahead ☺

I love my breakfast and if I am tired or hungover (the latter happenining less and less as I age!) this is the one meal I take very seriously.

Brown rice breakfast:
1 cup brown rice
1 sachet agar-agar
1 cup soymilk
2 tablespoon dried currant
2 tablespoon barley malt
Cinnamon and cardamom to taste

Boil the brown rice in 3 cups of water till it’s very very soft
Soak the currant in lukewarm water for 10 minutes than drain
Place soymilk and agar-agar in a bowl add rice, currants, malt, cinnamon and cardamom, mix
Bake in a preheated oven (180C°) for 45 minutes.
Let it cool for half an hour before serving.

Wednesday night @ Scala: The Battles

Monday, 14 May 2007

The Ghost Soup

While my friends are emailing me saying how hot Italy is at the moment, we switched the heating hot for a couple of hour as the house was really becoming a freezer.
For the rule of yin and yang now I fancy only hot dishes, soups etc.. but being already summertime I quite like to include some raw greens in them.
Yesterday it was a rainy Sunday, a bit depressing really,so I thought I cook something stylish and tempting to lift the moral up. From the amazing “the best of tofu” I got this recipe that was warming and looked absolutely stunning.
You need:
1 tofu (I used a firm one but the silken is more appropriate)
1 pack shimeji mushroom a 1 enoki mushroom, they had them both at our local Vietnamese shop, but I think they are fairly easy to find in any Asian shop, waitrose has them as well (about 1.5£ each)
1 bundle chive
4 cups soymilk
Soy sauce

Note------ if you are not vegetarian you can add dashi stock to the broth and you can find it in Japanese stores

Dice the tofu, trim the end of the mushrooms and separate them.
Heat the soymilk, but be careful, it scorches really easily so you need have a low flame. When it comes to the boil add the tofu and the chopped chives. Reduce the flame again and cook till the chive is tender but still a bit crunchy. Serve hot.

To find the ingredients for this soup you just need to live near an Asian shop, but the great thing is tha those mushrooms are not even imported, they grow them in Britain! This soup is so easy to make and it’s so impressive that you can serve it even to the snobbiest of guests!

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Natto the “croce e delizia" of the Japanese food

Natto is fermented soybeans and is a traditional Japanese food, and a Macrobiotic’s favourite.

I call it sorrow and joy “croce e delizia” in Italian i.e. "cross and delight" ("cross" as in the sense of being crucified), this because Natto is one of the most complete food, but the smell is quite strong and can be found unpleasant. Japanese people have been eating natto for thousands of years, and they are well aware of its beneficial properties, in Europe Natto is not very popular and the smell is probably the main reason.
The funniest thing happened to me in Paris a couple of moths ago, we ordered a portion of natto in a Japanese restaurant, the waiter looked at us in disbelief hesitating to write the order down, we insisted and he went into the kitchen, a bit later his manager came out asking if I knew what natto was, I nodded, and the glorious food arrived, all the sushi chefs were giggling while I was tucking in!
I had a naughty weekend, it was my birthday and I wasn’t very good, I drunk quite a few pints and slept little, so I had the need for some good food, and I prepared a proper balanced meal.

Mix natto well to get the sticky texture (I warm it up a little), then add shoyu and serve it on very hot brown rice. You can add some gomasio to the rice (toasted sesame seeds and salt)
Veg: sautéed fresh garlic and oyster mushrooms
Steamed spinaches with pureed umeboshi and sesame oil.