March 10, 2017

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Minestra con il Romanesco e spaghetti spezzettati 

Recipe n. 41

I made this delicious soup the other day.

I was looking in my fridge for some inspiration for a simple, light and nourishing dinner and voilà, there it was: this amazing pointy green broccolo, which looks like a sculpture from nature.

In Sicily during winter the green broccolo is probably the most popular vegetable that you see at the market. It’s a pretty picture to look at: lots and lots of bright green broccoli. The romanesco is not as common as the plain green one, but they are very similar in taste.

I followed my mom’s old fashioned technique to prepare the spaghetti for this soup. Nowadays you can purchase a bag of broken spaghetti everywhere, but there is something ‘therapeutic and mindful’ in breaking your own spaghetti, especially if done in the way my mom taught me when I was a child.

You don’t need much, just half bag of long regular spaghetti (I like to use wholewheat pasta) and a kitchen towel, where you first would place the spaghetti broken into large pieces and then after wrapping them inside the towel,  you start crushing them on the counter with the strenght of one of your arms, using the palm of your hand in a motion movement until they become about 1 inch long or less.

In my moms version of this soup there is no garlic or tomato paste, but I thought adding these simple ingredients would give a little kick to the soup and oh boy they did the job, especially  when you add some hot chili pepper flakes.

I could have eaten the enire pot, no kidding!

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Ingredients:

  • 250 grams of whole wheat spaghetti (broken)

  • 1 romanesco

  • 1 clove of garlic

  • 1 to 2 tbsp of tomato paste

  • 1/4 teaspoon hot chili pepper flakes

  • olive oil

  • salt

  • pepper

Wash the romanesco and cut in small pieces. In a large pan sautee the garlic, hot chili pepper flakes in olive oil. Add the tomato paste and the romanesco. Let it mix well for a few minutes with all the ingredients and slowly add enough water. Add some salt and pepper and bring it to a boil.

As soon as the romanesco is well cooked, you can add the broken spaghetti. If the water evaporated too much you can add some more.

Once the pasta is cooked serve immediately and enjoy.

Go for seconds with zero guilt: it’s all good!

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SEPPIOLINE IN UMIDO –

November 17, 2016

Baby Squid Stew

Recipe n. 40

Back to Sicilian repertoire!

I inherited this delicious recipe from my mom’s cooking. To give her full credit, I should use the same ‘vocabulary’ she uses to describe the way this food needs to be cooked: ‘A tutto dentro’. There is not an easy way to translate this expression into english and it really doesn’t make much sense in italian either. Every time she uses it,  my sister and I can’t help smiling and tease my mom. What do you mean with a tutto dentro???  Literally it means ‘everything inside’. I believe it is a cooking expression used mostly in the Southern area of Italy. Basically all the ingredients go in one pot and cook slowly!

With this system the nourishing proprieties of what is cooking  inside the pot won’t be lost.

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Ingredients

  • 1 lb fresh seppioline (or calamaretti)

  • 1 onion (thinly sliced or chopped)

  • 1 bottle tomato sauce ( 750 ml)

  • 2 tbsp tomato paste

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 3 tbsp fish broth (or water) or white wine

  • pinch hot chilly pepper

  • salt and pepper

  • Olive oil

  • fresh chopped basil at the end to garnish on top

  •  slices of tasted country bread to accompany the dish

 

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Rinse the seppioline under cold water and let them rest in the fridge in a colander. In a large pot add some olive oil and gently sauté the onions until translucent. Add the seppioline, tomato paste, bay leaf, hot chilli pepper. Cook for 1 or 2 minutes and then add the liquid of your choice (broth, water or wine). Cook for a couple of minutes and then add the tomato  sauce. Cover and simmer slowly for 30 to 45 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh chopped basil leaves and serve with toasted country bread on the side.

Buon appetito!

 

MAGICO BRODO VEGETALE

October 2, 2016

MAGIC VEGETABLE BROTH

Recipe n. 39

There is a new healthy trend out there, which is BONE BROTH. If you pay attention you will find it in the refrigerated section of almost every health food store and in many healthy take out places as ready to ‘drink’. ( I personally think that it should be consumed hot, especially in the winter months to achieve its maximum health benefits ).

I give credit for this new healthy trend to the Weston A. Price Foundation, which I am proud to be a member of. WPF is a nonprofit foundation. For decades it has been trying to spread the word about traditional cooking, raw dairy and bone broth.

I like to prepare my broths (both bone and mineral ) before winter starts and  have them ready in the freezer, in case someone in our family catches a cold or the flu. It’s the perfect food to consume when you are ill to speed up the recovery process, because it is so nutrient dense and even if you don’t have much of an appetite because you are ill, taking small sips from a cup throughout the day is all the body needs.

It warms your body and your heart…

An alternative to bone broth, for those who are vegetarian or vegan is mineral broth, which will provide you with the same health benefits because it is so rich in potassium and other trace minerals. I learned how to make this magic mineral broth in my holistic nutrition course and have been using it since.

 

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© 2016 Field of Flavors – All Rights Reserved

 

© 2016 Field of Flavors - All Rights Reserved

© 2016 Field of Flavors – All Rights Reserved

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 unpeeled carrots, cut into thirds

  • 1 unpeeled medium yellow onion, cut into chunks

  • 1 leek, both white and green parts, cut into thirds

  • 1 bunch of celery, including the heart, cut into thirds

  • 3 unpeeled cloves of garlic, halved

  • 1 /2 bunch of fresh flat‐leaf parsley

  • 2 medium red potatoes with skins on, quartered

  • 1 Japanese or regular sweet potato with skins on, quartered

  • 1 Garnet yam with skin on, quartered

  • 1 8‐inch strip of kombu

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 6 black peppercorns

  • 3 whole allspice or juniper berries

  • 1/2 tablespoon sea salt

 

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© 2016 Field of Flavors – All Rights Reserved

 

 

Rinse all the vegetables well, including the kombu. In a 6‐8‐quart stockpot, combine all the ingredients except the salt. Fill the pot to 2 inches below the rim with water, cover, and bring to a boil.

Remove the lid, decrease the heat to low, and simmer a minimum of 2‐3 hours. As the stock simmers some of the water will evaporate; add more if the vegetables begin to peek out. Simmer until the full richness of the vegetables can be tasted. Add the salt and stir.

Strain the stock using a large coarse‐mesh strainer (remember to use a heat‐resistant container underneath). Bring to room temperature before refrigerating or freezing.

Makes 3 to 4 quarts.

Source: – 2008 Rebecca Katz. Recipe from One Bite at a Time  by Rebecca Katz, The Inner Cook

 

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© 2016 Field of Flavors – All Rights Reserved

 

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© 2016 Field of Flavors – All Rights Reserved

 

BAY LAUREL LIQUEUR 

Recipe n. 38

After spending 2 months in Sicily for the Summer I certainly came back to New York with a satisfied belly,  more inspired about life in general and with tons of new recipes to make. Here is a fun recipe to make your own liqueur with bay leaves. It’s the same simple procedure used to make limoncello. Both liqueurs are always served chilled at the end of a meal as a digestive, or to accompany your dessert.

Why did I chose Bay laurel?

Earlier this year, after taking an herbalism course and after feeling overwhelmed about the amount of herbs that nature provides and their medicinal and cooking  properties, I decided to follow my teacher’s advice and focus on one plant at a time, maybe stick with the same plant even for a year, until I have learned everything I can about it.

I have chosen bay leaves, Laurus Nobilis, because I have known this plant since I was little. There was always a bay tree growing in our garden back in Italy and my mother used the leaves mostly dried, as a healing herbal tea to help her digestion.

Bay laurel is an unmistakable plant which is part of the Mediterranean vegetation.

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© 2016 Field of Flavors – All Rights Reserved

 

Ingredients

  • 20 fresh bay leaves

  • 1/2 liter of pure alcohol (in Italy it is very easy to purchase pure alcohol. If you cannot find pure alcohol you can use vodka instead)

  • 800 ml of filtered water

  • 400 grams of brown cane sugar

  • 1 liter size Mason jar type (or 4 Stagioni) as long as it has a large opening.

 

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Wash the bay leaves throughly and let them dry on a clean kitchen towel.

Break them into pieces and place them inside the jar. Now cover them with the alcohol and close the jar with the lid. Keep the jar in a fresh and dry place (never in the fridge), away from direct light, for at least 3 weeks.

Every few days remember to shake the jar.

After this time the alcohol should have turned into a nice bright green color, which has been extracted from the bay leaves. You can let the leaves stay in the alcohol for longer or strain the liquid into a bowl using a cheese cloth. Discard the leaves. In a pot heat the water slightly and dissolve the sugar in it, let it cool down and add the liquid extracted. Mix it and pour into a bottle. Store it in the fridge and always serve it chilled.

 

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Insalata di cavolo cappuccio con arachidi e semi di papavero

 Recipe n. 37

It’s finally Summer and it’s time to eat more raw and refreshing food. You might have noticed already  that your body is not craving for earthy soups or stews and needs to eat less fat in general, while instead  you are now craving for juicy and raw food, especially on those very hot days. Your body knows what is right for it and when to ask for a specific food.

For me this is the time of year I eat more salads. I like both simple salads dressed with a nice vinaigrette or more elaborate ones with many different ingredients in them. The salad I’m going to present to you today is definitely one of my favorite salads and it’s definitely  NOT a nut-free  salad, so watch out for those who have a nut allergy! 

You can eat it alone:  your hunger will be satisfied  with no need to add extra calories from other food.  It is a perfect meal for vegetarians and for all salad lovers!

 

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Ingredients

  • 1/4  of white cabbage head and a 1/4  of red cabbage head, shredded (I used only the white cabbage, but it looks more colorful when you add the 2 cabbages together)

  • 2 to 3 tbsp of sesame oil  (toasted or plain)

  • 1 or 2 handfuls of peanuts

  • cilantro

  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds

  • salt and pepper

 

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Place the shredded cabbage in a large bowl, pour the sesame oil on top and be sure to coat the cabbage well, add the peanuts, poppy seeds, sea salt and pepper and finish up with cilantro leaves on top ( I like to add a generous amount of cilantro leaves to this salad as they are not just supposed to garnish, but they are one of the main ingredients of the salad itself ).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KALE SALAD WITH CROUTONS

Recipe n. 36

New York city has always been and will always remain a fascinating place to live from many points of view. One thing I never thought would be possible is ‘food trends’ for health conscious people, unless of course you live in a city like this. I remember many years ago the increasing consumption of agave syrup until all of a sudden it literally took over the market as ‘the healthy alternative to sugar’. (Not so many health experts would agree today,  as it has been shown to cause more harm than good. Agave syrup contains even more fructose than any other common sweetener, including the evil high-fructose corn syrup). Then the time of juicing raw vegetables arrived and now we literally have a juice store on almost every corner. The increased consumption of Kale, used as a base for many green juices has grown exponentially and because this vegetable is so versatile, another idea came up and had it’s moment- dehydrated kale chips in different flavors! The list of food trends is endless. Each has its moment- stevia, coconut oil, kombucha, home-made sprouting seeds and beans and the recent addition to the trend of bone broth sold in plastic containers and ready to eat (or drink). Wondering what’s next? Stay tuned. I’m guessing Xylitol could be a good candidate for the next food trend…

Back to my blog, after experimenting myself with homemade kale chips and juices, I started to make a special kale salad that everybody loves. Today I want to share this recipe with you.

Reference: http://blog.doctoroz.com/dr-oz-blog/agave-why-we-were-wrong

 

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Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch lacinato Kale

  • 1 head white cauliflower

  •  About 2 dozen Shiitake mushrooms

  • Croutons (home made or store bought)

  • Olive oil

  • Salt and pepper (or Gomasio)

 

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Preheat the oven and roast the cauliflower florets for about 25 minutes at 350 F.

Wash, dry and remove the stalk from the kale leaves. Set aside.

In the meantime slice the mushrooms and sautée in a pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper for 10 to 15 minutes.

Slice the kale leaves thinly and transfer them to a large bowl. Add some olive oil, salt and pepper (or some gomasio) and using your hands coat evenly each leaf. Once the roasted cauliflower and mushrooms cool down transfer them to the bowl and mix gently all the ingredients together. Finish up with adding some croutons on top!

 

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Busiate Siciliane

April 7, 2016

Homemade Sicilian Busiate

 Recipe n. 35

While I stopped eating refined flour a long time ago (simply because the grain has been stripped of any nutrients turning it into empty calories) I will always make an exception when it comes to fresh homemade pasta. It’s more than that. It’s a way of gathering with family and friends to share an experience of making homemade food.

Busiate fresh pasta (or busiati ) is a Sicilian specialty from the area of Trapani. Traditionaly it is homemade and dressed with local fresh tomato sauce.

Ironic as it is, I learned how to make Sicilian busiate fresh pasta here in New York, from my dear friend Simona who is originally  from a town in the very North of  Italy: Torino. She loves spending her Summer vacations in Sicily and  like me she is passionate about food and cooking.

 

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup of durum wheat semolina flour

  • 1/2 cup of room temperature water

 

In a bowl mix by hand the flour with water until you obtain a ball of dough. Transfer the dough to a floured board and knead it for 8 to 10 minutes.  Let it rest on a tray  previously sprinkled with flour and  cover it with a damp cloth.
Begin making busiate by rolling a small piece of dough with the palm of your hands until you obtain a 1/4 inch long roll, cut  the roll in several long pieces and start  twisting the little strands of dough around a  wooden skewer. Pull the pasta shape out gently and lay all the fresh homemade busiate on a floured baking sheet, while sprinkling some more flour on top. Be careful that the busiate do not touch each other.

Allow them to dry for a while, even hours, then cook them in salted water , for at least 3 minutes. Pull them out with a slotted spoon and place them directly in the sauce of your choice. If you are making your own fresh tomato sauce I suggest to finish up with some  fresh grated pecorino cheese or ricotta salata.

 

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March 6, 2016

Pollo al curry  – Chicken curry

Recipe.34

This recipe is an exploration and appreciation of flavors which are very different from the Mediterranean ones I grew up with. The first time I went to England I was eighteen year old and I spent the entire Summer in a very small village, not too far from London. I still have imprinted in my mind the memory of a very strong smell of  curry and other spices coming from the little streets next to the house where I was living back then. Among many things I discovered about English culture, I learned that English people love curry! After colonizing India, the British developed a taste for curry and  indian food in general,  which has been permanently absorbed by British cooking. In Sicilian cooking you will find many other spices such as saffron, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, which are the result of the influence of the Arab culture that once dominated Sicily. They in fact ruled Sicily for  over two centuries. Many of the most popular Sicilian foods trace their origins to the Arab period.

I learned how to make this delicous dish from my mother in law many years ago. She used to cook it for us everytime we would visit her in Ireland. Even Irish people adopted some Indian food in their cuisine. To reduce the spiciness of this dish, Pat used to serve it with some sliced banana.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken (you can either use the meat from a bought roasted chicken or sautee some chicken breast cut into bite sizes in olive oil )

  • 1 cup of coconut milk

  • 1  yellow onion sliced

  • 1 clove of garlic crushed

  • 1 red bell pepper sliced and cut in 1 inch pieces

  • 1 or 2 dry bay leaves

  • A handful of raisins or dry currants

  • 1 unpeeled apple, cut in small pieces – seeds discarded

  •  2 to 3 tbsp curry powder  (medium to hot)

  • 1 tsp of cocunut sugar (or any other sugar of your preference)

  •  A few basil leaves (to add at the end – this is optional – my personal touch)

  • salt and pepper

  • olive oil

  • short grain brown rice to accompany the dish

 

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Start by sauteeing the chicken breast pieces or roasted chicken in a large pan with the onions and the garlic in some olive oil. After a few minutes add the red bell pepper, raisins, bay leaves and cook for  10 to 15 minutes. Add the cococnut milk,  curry powder, sugar and the apples pieces.  Cover and simmer for another 20 minutes. Add some broth or water if needed.  Season with salt and pepper and add basil leaves at the end. Serve with some  rice  on the side.

 

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