Tuesday 16 December 2008

Another way to enjoy your greens

Swiss chard and spinaches are greens that I eat only sporadically, as they contain oxalic acid (that binds with calcium and eliminates it from the body). At the market the swiss chard looked delicious so this was a good occasion to break the rule.

Bright green rolls:
-1 cup cannellini beans
-300 grm swiss chard 
-1 grated carrot
-1 clove of garlic
- shoyu or tamari

The nigh before- soak 1  cup of cannellini beans. The day after boil them till tender.
Bring a large stockpot of water to the boil, when the water boils drop the chard and cover the pot, cook till bright green, don't over boil. Drain the leaves and dry them. Save the larger leaves  and chop up finely the smaller leaves.

Heat up 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, and a crushed garlic till golden brown, add 1 crunched dried chillie (or flakes). Stir in the grated carrots and the finely chopped chard  and stir fry till tender but still crunchy. Add the beans and stir. Add few drops of shoyu and cook for another minute.

Spoon over the leaves that were left aside and roll over.

Monday 8 December 2008

Wholegrain porridge

I was reading the column "the green kitchen" from Richard Ehrlich on the Times magazine last week, we got this delivered together with our food shopping, and it was interestingly about using rice leftovers. The article is not yet online, but it is very much about re-using rice without killing yourself with harmful bacteria that can develop if the rice is not carefully packed and stored in the fridge. I shall link the article as soon as available.
For people that have an interest in a macrobiotic lifestyle, grains leftovers have always been a treasure.
"Re-use the grain from the day before" recommend all the macro teachers and the classic books.
My favourite way to reuse grains and re-energize them is by using them as  porridge.
I cannot imagine a more energetic breakfast then a hot bowl of porridge with a spoon of sugar free preserve (in the picture is a currant one!).
Exact recipes are not really possible (it depends on the leftover grains).
In the picture: quinoa and brown rice porridge.

2 cups of leftover rice
1 cup of leftover quinoa
7 parts of water or 6 parts and 1 part of rice milk

add the water to the grains bring to the boil, turn the flame down and let simmer till the water is absorbed. You want to cook the grain in a heavy weight pot (I use Le Creuset cast iron pot).

I enjoyed my porridge with  few roasted walnuts on top, preserve, blenched apples, but the combinations are endlesss.
For a savoury breakfast, try steam kale, few drops of tamari, seaweeds, gomasio etc...

Even the dark sky at 7 am is more bearable after a good breakfast!

Sunday 30 November 2008

Pasta with kale and raisins

Lately, and for far too long I have been having lunch at my desk. This is WRONG.
 I think eating means appreciating each single bite, but also the way we eat and whether or not we can concentrate on what we are chewing , will influence our health and the repercussions are the famous bloated stomach, tiredness and so on (we should chew a lot, to make our food more digestible, and to eat less and feel more satysfied).
One in five workers in the UK never takes a lunch break, there is a culture of long hours and clearly this is very bad, in fact the time gained eating at the desk is a false economy, and apart from the health even the productivity really suffer for it.
Apart from this, it often happens to me to say " it's too dull and grey to go out" but that is so untrue. Even just walking around the area where you work (in my lucky case it's beautiful Notting Hill) with an umbrella can make you feel so much better!
Hold on a minute.. no you have no really thouht that I eat out of a plastic container? No, no, no that is beyond being wrong, that is forgetting that you are a human being! The food is dished out in a China plate as no matter what happen, my food is taken very very seriously :)

Whole pasta with kale and raisins

soak 1/4 of a cup of raisin in warm water (they are covered in vegetable oil to preserve them, did you know that?)

200 grm of wholeweat pasta
300 grm of Kale, cut in 2 cm wide strips
2 garlic cloves
1 dried chilly
olive oil

Boil plenty of salted water, and cook the pasta (penne if you ask me) till they are al dente, 1 minute before it's ready add the shredded kale.
Heat up 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, fry a couple of crushed cloves of garlic  with a pinch of salt till golden, add the crushed chillie.
Drain the pasta and kale and add to the spicey oil  and saute√® for a couple of minutes, add the rinsed raisins. Serve with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast if you like it.

I would like to apologize for not knowing that Gwyneth Paltrow has changed her habits, I  suggested to visit her blog, where she in fact has even a turkey ragu recipe... apologies for the sensitive vegans that have been directed to her site and found it disturbing! I still like the site especially the food pictures are excellent, I'd be interested to know if she took them herself. 

Monday 24 November 2008

Nice things in November

My new "frugal" addiction is swapping book (yes I do like swapping everything!) a website where you put old books you don't want anymore, just type in their isbn number, the details and picture will come up, just add the description, all you have to do is find books that you want on other members list and if they want one of your you can swap! Better then buying second hand books on Amazon, you can then just post the book 2nd class and voila' in 2 days circa you get a new book, how very recessionista. Just do not expect any macrobiotic recipe book (yet)

Between this site and my friend charity shop I have collected a very tall pile of books, one of them is "Sweetness in the belly" by Camilla Gibb (can anybody help me to understand how come all good writers are from Canada?), she has her say about food too:

[...]"Do you miss eating with a knife and a fork?"
"But it's not very hygienic."
"It's much more sociable, though." There's something uncharitable about having your own plate, something wrong about stabbing your food with a piece of metal. Food tastes right from the hand."[...]

Other things which I discovered this month are that Gwyneth Paltrow has got her website, you can subscribe to her weekly newsletter, which she has not started yet, and receive it into your inbox. Considering that she has been following macrobiotic for few years, I am looking forward to find out what it's all about. I like the look of the site, in this recession time, it all sound very down to earth.

Also a nice list of tips that are actually reliable from Dan Lepard and all the best bakers in the world, because you probably know that the more reliable the source the better bread and cookies you get! But... he wants to know your baking tips, so write them as a comment to the Guardian article and you could win a cookbook.

Sunday 23 November 2008

I am back (and it's going to get messy)

I am back, just back from the farmers market :) and also back writing this blog after... what seems like a lifetime. Did anybody notice? I am not sure, but definitely my friends did, which is really flattering :) 
I am not going to explain why it's just to boring to share, but I was still cooking, taking notes and getting generally excited about food. 

This weekend hasn't been the mot successful one in the kitchen, but instead of reading it as an Omen (I already binned a few cookies and no macrobiotic cookies are not good- you can't prove me wrong here), I thought if I decide to share then I have to make good stuff!
As a Sunday lunch  baked pasta is so satisfying, but just make sure that you have done your home chores before, as it is going to be impossible to mop the floors after these!

Jerusalem artichoke and walnuts vegan lasagne

Cook the lasagne in some salted boiling water (I add few drop of olive oil) cook for 5 min or according to the package, lay them on a damp tea towel and set them aside.

Peel the artichokes (we used 300 grams for 2 people)
slice them finely (3mm circa), heat a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to a saucepan, and add one crushed clove of garlic and few sag leaves if available, after a couple of minutes add the jerusalem artichockes.
Cook till tender and leave aside.
Preheat oven at 250 C° and toast 1/2 a cup of  walnuts till golden (keep an eye on them as they burn quickly). Grind or like we did crush with a mortar and pestle.

Prepare the besciamel (white sauce):
I start with two tbs of flour in 250 ml of rice milk, cook whisking vigorously till thick (no lumps allowed!) add the olive oil, keep whisking and keep it dry thick and smooth. Turn flame off, grate some nutmeg, pepper and salt.

Now you are ready to layer!
1 layer of lasagna, 1 layer of besciamel and vegetables sprinkle the crushed walnuts, then another layer of lasagna and so on... as much as you like :)

On top of the lasagne I add some more artichokes and some nutritional yeast (it has an acquired taste try it before spoiling the whole thing)
Bake 180C° for 20 min or till the top layer looks golden.

We had it with some Nobile di Montepulciano, and felt strangely quite Christmassy!
This was the first delicious thing that I made the whole weekend.

Saturday 12 April 2008

Rice bells with spring vegetables

What a great day...
Saturdays can be extraordinarily lazy and still give you a full sense of achievement, if this make sense?

I had a bit of a cleaning with my new flatmate and then she gave me a full body massage as she is studying to be a masseur, I always believed in God, now I even think that he cares about my well being :)
You will hear more about my flatmate as she is a great individual that happen to be on the Internet at the right time!

Once you get an hour massage all your energy is refreshed and you feel like you could do anything or even just read in bed all afternoon, but no this wasn't the case.
I made a nice Saturday lunch that was yummy and had a sprig touch.
I just found an old magazine during the cleaning, it got stuck behind the bed as cookery magazines are my bed time reading- weird I know, let's move on.

Rice bells with spring vegetables- for two
1 cup rice 
1 bunch asparagus
1 bunch spring onions
1 3cm piece of ginger
2 medium size new potatoes
bunch of radish (they are 10 in the UK)
some mint leaves

Boil the rice with double the volume of water till the water is all absorbed.
Seam the asparagus till cooked but crunchy (I steamed on top of the rice for 8 minutes)
Chop the stems in small pieces leave the tips to decorate.

In  a large saucepan (everything will fit in it once the rice is cooked), fry the sliced onions with the grated ginger in 4 tablespoon of olive oil.
Once the onion is cooked (7-8 minutes) add the diced potatoes and cover till soft (about 12 minutes) add some water if necessary.

Mix rice, asparagus potatoes in the pan add the radishes quartered.
Shape using bowls or ramekins, decorate with mint and asparagus tips and more radish.

I served immediately  with mache salad.
From an old "cucina e salute naturale" a great Italian magazine... not available in the UK, but always available at my mum house!

Friday 28 March 2008

food to share: quick crostini

There is nothing as challenging as having a few fussy friends around to feed. Each one of them have their own food preference but also each one not with  something they are not eating.
 I find that having many different things that they can pick save you and them from the embarassment of leaving a whole untouched starter.
I am also in the mood for some colorful food, craving the spring I suppose!
I made my sourdough bread (my favourite recipe being again here) but I have got a good tip for the londoners, end especially the north London one (am I narrowing down my niche too much here?). You can buy your bread at euphorium bakery after 8PM buy one get one free (normally the price is quite high), mhh what a very English idea... However this means you can get bread in the evening and prepare a Sunday Lunch (I refuse to say brunch here), without having to bake, they do sourdough too.

You need to slice your bread in slices of about 1.5 cm then brush them with extra virgin olive oil, and put them in he oven at 200C° for 15 minutes or till golden.

My toppings:
  • Marinated courgettes (sliced finely with a potato peeler), my marinate: 4 tbsp of eldelflower vinegar, 2 tbsp of olive oil, salt to taste, fresh marjoram
  • Roasted and peeled peppers (bake till the skin gets dark, then place in a paper bag for few minutes and then peel of the skin once that they cool down), slice and mix  with green olives, capers and mint (and again a bit of olive oil)
  • tofu cream, which is just a packet of silken tofu blend with a small bunch of dill and a finely chopped leek plus 2 tbs of good shoyu or Tamari soy sauce (I prepare this the night before and keep in the fridge)
  • olive pate' which consist in blend kalamata olives and basil
Isn't just easy to please everyone?

Euphorium Bakery
202 Upper Street Islington