Now that we are in the holiday season I can smell the cinnamon in the air, all kind of spices, citrus zest, apple cider, apple pies and more. The other day, while I was food shopping I came across the most amazing citrus I have ever seen. Literally a master piece of nature. Its botanical name is Citrus medica- sarcodactylis, commonly known as Buddha’s hand. I could not resist buying it, even if I had no idea what to do with it. It has practically no juice inside, but the smell released is incredibly intense and pleasant. I put it on my dining table and just admired it all day long. The day after I moved it to the kitchen counter top and despite my will, before it was going to lose its freshness and bright yellow color, I decided to chop it in different shapes to make holiday citrus candies.
1 large Buddha’s hand (= 2 cups ) sliced or diced, or any other citrus fruit (like lemon or orange)
2 cups of water
2 cups og sugar ( I like to use dark brown sugar)
Extra sugar for coationg (for this final step it’s better to use regualr white granulated sugar or granulated cane sugar)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add diced Buddha’s hand, return to a simmer and cook until citrus softens, about 30 minutes. Drain.
It’s a classic. Mostly a Summer dish, served as an appetizer or as a salad to accompany another dish. Even if the ingredients are not in season yet, I decided to publish it now because I was asked by one of my sons’s teachers to visit their classroom to do a ‘cooking’ demonstration about a traditional Italian food.
I picked this dish because it is easy to assemble and it doesn’t require any cooking. It’s also delicious and resembles the colors of the italian flag!
There are many legends around the origins of the Caprese salad. One of the most accreditated stories goes back to after world war II, when a laborer, who was very patriotic liked to include the colors of the italian flag in his ‘panino’ for his lunch break. Legend also has it that this dish appeared during dinner around 1920 in a hotel in Capri (the famous island off the coast of Naples) to please Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, the poet and founder of the futuristic cultural movement.
One more story includes the Egyptian Sovereign Farouk. In 1951, he went to visit the island of Capri with his family. It was a very sunny afternoon and he requested to have a quick meal prepared to satisfy his hunger. On that occasion he had the chance to taste a crunchy sandwich with pomodoro, mozzarella e basilico. He fell in love when tasting these three fresh local ingredients together!
The dish was improved when the traditional mozzarella from cows started to be replaced with bufala (buffalo) mozzarella, a dairy product typical to Campania.No matter where and when it was exactly created, this dish has become a signature Italian dish around the world.
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.
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
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
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-freesalad, 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!
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
1 tbsp poppy seeds
salt and pepper
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 ).
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
short grain brown rice to accompany the dish
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.