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myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - first cow

First Cow (2020)

Kelly Reichardt once again trains her perceptive and patient eye on the Pacific Northwest, this time evoking an authentically hardscrabble early nineteenth century way of life. A taciturn loner and skilled cook (John Magaro) has traveled west and joined a group of fur trappers in Oregon Territory, though he only finds true connection with a Chinese immigrant (Orion Lee) also seeking his fortune; soon the two collaborate on a successful business, although its longevity is reliant upon the clandestine participation of a nearby wealthy landowner’s prized milking cow. From this simple premise Reichardt constructs an interrogation of foundational Americana that recalls her earlier triumph Old Joy in its sensitive depiction of male friendship, yet is driven by a mounting suspense all its own. Reichardt again shows her distinct talent for depicting the peculiar rhythms of daily living and ability to capture the immense, unsettling quietude of rural America.

DIRECTED BY Kelly Reichardt
WRITTEN BY Kelly Reichardt and Jon Raymond
STARRING John Magaro, Orion Lee, Toby Jones, and Ewen Bremner

Official website: https://a24films.com/films/first-cow

Fried Bananas, Singapore – Malay Style

Pisang Goreng

Simple to make and delicious to eat, Fried Bananas, or Pisang Goreng make a popular snack or desert in South East Asia, particularly in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Enjoy!

Serves: 4
Cooking time: @35 min
You will need: a bowl and a frying pan.

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe bananas. (Ripe bananas are sweeter.)
  • 100 g rice flour
  • 2 Tbsp wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp custard powder
  • 1/3 Tsp salt
  • 1/3 Tsp baking powder
  • 15 g soft butter
  • 1/2 cup water
  • frying oil

Instructions

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Take a bowl, add the dry ingredients and mix them well.
  3. With your hands, mix your 15 grams of soft butter into the dry ingredients.
  4. Add water slowly, little by little while stirring, so that the mixture turns to batter.
  5. Cover the bowl and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes, or so.
  6. Peel the bananas and cut them in half. Put them aside.
  7. Take the a frying pan, add some oil, put it on the stove and turn the fire on to medium-high. Wait a little until the oil heats up.
  8. Dip the banana pieces into the batter and lay gently into the frying oil.
  9. Leave enough room in the pan so that you can easily move and turn the bananas.
  10. Fry the bananas until golden brown.
  11. Serve.

Notes

  • Your fried bananas should be crispy or crunch on the outside and soft inside.
  • Regarding cooking oils: many people cook with vegetable oils but, unfortunately, those are not the best oils one can use. Prior to modern-day vegetable oils Asian cuisines used to use cold pressed, unrefined sesame oil, peanut oil, rapeseed oil, mustard seed oil and/or various kinds of animal fats. Fore this recipe, you may want to experiment with soybean oil, sesame oil or rapeseed oil. Each one of them has its own characteristics and offers a different flavour.

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - a grain of salt

A Grain Of Salt

The Science and Pseudoscience of What we Eat

by Dr. Joe Schwarcz

A Grain Of Salt | myfoodistry

Eating has become a confusing experience. Should we follow a keto diet? Is sugar the next tobacco? Does fermented cabbage juice cure disease? Are lectins toxic? Is drinking poppy seed tea risky? What’s with probiotics? Can packaging contaminate food? Should our nuts be activated? What is cockroach milk?

We all have questions, and Dr. Joe Schwarcz has the answers, some of which will astonish you. Guaranteed to satisfy your hunger for palatable and relevant scientific information, Dr. Joe separates fact from fiction in this collection of new and updated articles about what to eat, what not to eat, and how to recognize the scientific basis of food chemistry.

About Dr. Joe Schwarcz

Dr. Joe Schwarcz is Director of McGill University’s “Office for Science and Society” which has the mission of separating sense from nonsense. He is well known for his informative and entertaining public lectures on topics ranging from the chemistry of food to the connection between the body and the mind. Recently the Office has focused on trying to unravel the mysteries of COVID-19.

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - sitopia

Sitopia

How Food Can Save the World

By Carolyn Steel

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - sitopia

Sitopia is the sequel to Hungry City. It explores the idea, first developed in Hungry City, that food shapes our lives, and asks what we can do with this knowledge in order to lead better ones. In essence, it is a practical, food-based philosophy. 

Food is the most powerful medium available to us for thinking in a connected way about the numerous dilemmas we face today. For countless millennia, food has shaped our bodies, lives, societies and world. Its effects are so widespread and profound that most of us can’t even see them; yet it is as familiar to us as our own face. Food is the great connector – the staff of life and its readiest metaphor. It is this capacity to span worlds and ideas that gives food its unparalleled power. Food, you might say, is the most powerful tool for transforming our lives and world that we never knew we had. 

While Hungry City explored how the journey of food through the city has shaped civilisations over time, Sitopia starts with a plate of food and travels out to the universe. Its structure thus consists of a series of overlapping scales, in which food is always central. Food animates our bodies, homes and societies, city and country, nature and time – seven scales that form the chapters in the book. This idea came from a drawing I did in 2011, in order to understand food’s place in our world. The drawing showed me how food’s effects at various scales interact in myriad interconnected ways. From the cultural norms into which we are born spring personal tastes and preferences that affect our individual health and pleasure, but also the vibrancy of local economies, global geopolitics and ecology. This interconnectivity made the book tricky to write, since every chapter overlapped with every other. As I wrote, however, a hidden structure began to reveal itself: as well as radiating out from food like ripples from a pond, the chapters, I realised, were mirrors of one another, so that Chapter 1 (Food) was mirrored by Chapter 7 (Time), in the sense that the former dealt primarily with life, while the latter was concerned with mortality. Similarly, Chapter 2 (Body) explores how out of synch with our world we have become, while Chapter 6 (Nature) offers a solution: to re-engage with the natural world. Chapter 3 (Home) examines our relative lack of a sense of belonging, while Chapter 5 (City and Country) shows how by rethinking the ways we inhabit land, we can regain our sense of home. It is not insignificant that this mirroring effect should have revolved around the central Chapter 4 (Society), which I came to realise was indeed pivotal, since the manner in which we share is key to all the rest. 

Official website: here.

Sitopia by Carolyn Steel review – a utopian vision that begins with food

By Christopher Kissane
The Guardian

We are out of step with our planet, so how should we live? Cheap food is an oxymoron and anarchism’s time may have come, argues this wide-ranging, stimulating book

“Civilisation is in crisis,” warned the EAT-Lancet international commission of food scientists last year. “We can no longer feed our population a healthy diet while balancing planetary resources. For the first time in 200,000 years of human history, we are severely out of synchronisation with the planet and nature.” We face climate crisis, ecological destruction, record obesity rates and rising hunger: food is threatening our future.

Carolyn Steel recognises these challenges, but she also sees food as “by far the most powerful medium available to us for thinking and acting together to change the world for the better”. By reconfiguring our relationship with food, she argues, we can find new and better ways of living that will arrest the damage we are doing to ourselves and the Earth.

Our world, Steel writes, is a “Sitopia”, a “food place” – from the Greek words sitos and topos – where everything from our environment to our societies to our bodies has been affected by our relationship with food, which “preceded us, anticipates us, sustains us”. It shapes our lives, but since its influence is so pervasive, we often fail to notice it. Thinking about its realities can also make us uncomfortable. We don’t want to know about the vast cruelty of industrialised meat and dairy production, the exploitation of migrant labourers, the deforestation and drought that are eating into the landscape of the global south, or how our addiction to processed foods is making us fat and ill.

The toxic core of our current conundrum is the lack of value we place on food. “Cheap food is an oxymoron,” Steel argues – low supermarket prices hide the costs of pollution, ecological destruction, poverty and obesity. She calls for a revelation of the true cost of food that will make industrial agriculture unaffordable and invigorate ecologically produced organic food, creating a “virtuous cycle” in which “the market would favour foods that nurtured nature, animals and people”.

Read more.

Midnight Diner II (2016) | myfoodistry

Midnight Diner II (2016)

Shinya Shokudô II

When people finish their day and hurry home, his day starts. His diner is open from midnight to seven in the morning. They call it “Midnight Diner”. Pork, Miso soup combo, Beer, Sake and Shochu is all that he has on his menu. Nevertheless, he makes whatever his customers request – as long as he has the ingredients for it: that is his policy. Does he even have customers? More than you would expect.

Based on a 2009 TV Series of the same name (which in turn is based on a 2006 Japanese manga comic book of the same title – Shinya Shokudo by Yaro Abe) the Midnight Diner is about a cook who runs a small eatery at the backstreets of Tokyo’s Shinjuku Square, open only from Midnight to 7 am. The cook is known only as “Master” and his specialty is that he will cook whatever a customer wants, for as long as he has the ingredients.

In Midnight Diner 2, a literary editor is mourning the death of one of her writers, a soba noodle restaurant owner wonders why her son won’t take over her business and an elderly woman is tricked by scammers into paying them millions of yen for her son.

Starring Kaoru Kobayashi as Master
Directed by Joji Matsuoka.

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern sensitivity - midnight diner 2 movie film 2016

How to Choose, Test and Store Olive Oil

How to Choose, Test and Store Olive Oil | myfoodistry

It is said that adulterating olive oil makes more money than cocaine with none of the risks. 1 Extra Virginity : The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil We do need to know a few practical things as to how to assess olive oil when we find ourselves staring at all those bottles and brands neatly arranged on supermarket shelves. Here are a few practical tips to help you choose decent olive oil – wherever it comes from.

The olive oil bottle

Make: many brands pack olive oil in plastic bottles made of PVC. Well, there’s a problem here: olive oil is somewhat corrosive, so, the bottle’s PVC does seep into the oil – particularly so when those plastic PVC olive oil bottles have been stored in warehouses for months. The bottle of choice is made of glass.

Colour: olive oil is destroyed by light (be it sunlight or artificial; sunlight is the worst). The colour of the olive oil bottle should be either dark green or dark brown.

Practical olive oil quality tests

Testing for serious olive oil adulteration: put the olive oil bottle in the refrigerator and wait for an hour or so. If the oil becomes murky and cloudy, it’s good. If it doesn’t, then the olive oil contains other things in it.

Testing for quality: pour some extra virgin olive oil in a bowl and squeeze the juice of half a lemon in it. Beat the mixture with a fork until it becomes cloudy and inseparable. Leave it on the side and forget about it.

Much later check to see if the olive-oil-and-lemon mixture has separated into two distinctive layers. If it hasn’t, you’re good to go. If it has, then the oil is either adulterated or of inferior, definitely-not-extra-virgin quality. If it hasn’t, you’re good to go.

Storage

Store in a dark place which is neither too cold nor too hot. Excessive air in the bottle (say, a bottle that is 2/3rds empty) kept for months in a pantry may have gone rancid. If you’re not using olive oil often then do smell and taste before you use it.

If you’re buying olive oil in tin-cans, then do transfer that oil to glass bottles. Tin cans do suffer from corrosion too, and it’s never a good idea to leave them half-empty for a long time.

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and recipes from all over the World - featured posts - editorial

The Mediterranean diet – fiction: time to move on

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - the Mediterranean diet hoax

My name is Chris and I live in Toronto, Canada. Among other things I am running this food blog.

In my ancestral Greek Mediterranean home we always cooked and ate the produce of that land in the ways of that land. In North America my very mention of “olive oil” or “Greek food” or “Italian food” triggers in others a Pavlov’s Dog response on the health benefits and wonders of “The Mediterranean Diet” – as if people in Florence, Algiers, Ljubljana, Cairo, Marseilles, Tel Aviv, Athens or Izmir are somehow… indistinguishable in how they cook, what they eat and how they eat it.

Curious as to the origins of the confusion and misinformation I came to realize that the “Mediterranean Diet” is a media-driven idea that started becoming a household concept in the early nineties, when “in 1993 the Harvard School of Public Health, Oldways Preservation and Exchange Trust, and the European Office of the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) introduced the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid as a guide to help familiarize people with the most common foods of the region” . (Read on.)

The gist of their story translates to “if you follow the ‘Diet’ practised in ‘The Mediterranean’ you may achieve ‘heart and brain health, cancer prevention, and diabetes prevention and control. By following the Mediterranean Diet, you could also keep that weight off while avoiding chronic disease.’” 1US News – What is the Mediterranean Diet?

Alas.

There are major problems with the “Mediterranean Diet” story.

The first problem has to do with the blatant injustice the “Mediterranean Diet” story inflicts on the diverse, disparate and delicious cuisines of the +400 million people living around the Mediterranean Sea. The term “Mediterranean Diet” suggests that all the countries and regions bordering the Mediterranean Sea cook and eat in the same way – hence the name. As we shall see the culinary reality of the Mediterranean countries and regions is outright inapplicable to the notion of an implied “Mediterranean Diet”.

The second problem has to do with the real fact that no-one is able to offer a clear, unambiguous definition of the much promoted “Mediterranean Diet”. They call it a “diet” but, in reality, they present “dietary patterns”, “eating patterns” or “eating plans” that are supposedly shared by “the Mediterranean”. As we shall see, these terms, often used loosely in everyday speech, are not interchangeable: a “diet” is not the same as an “eating pattern” when medical/health claims are involved.

The third problem has to do with the credibility of the science supporting the medical/health claims this “eating-pattern-called-diet” of “the Mediterranean” is all about. As we shall see, the statistical correlation of dietary patterns is at best inadequate as a method to supply the necessary link between dietary cause and medical effect that the “Mediterranean Diet” story purports to provide.

In this post/article I am jotting down certain thoughts as to why, in my mind, the much promoted “Mediterranean Diet” story is pure diet-fiction. As I was researching the subject I came to realize that yes, there is truth in some of this; but that truth is not “Mediterranean” at all.

What’s in a name?

The Mediterranean diet - fiction: time to move on | myfoodistry

The “Mediterranean Diet” story suggests that all cultures bordering the Mediterranean Sea constitute a homogeneous region that grows the same produce and cooks and eats food in the same, indistinguishable way. Otherwise… why call it “Mediterranean”?

In actuality the Mediterranean Sea is the geographic nexus of 3 Continents, 24 countries, 12 languages, 4 religions and +400 million people. We will probably be surprised to know that the majority of the population of the Mediterranean is Muslim.

In terms of food and cooking the countries and cultures bordering the Mediterranean could not be more disparate. For example, Crete (Greece, Europe) is about 300 km or 186 miles away from Libya (Africa) on a straight line. This is the same amount of distance separating New York from Boston and less than the distance between Toronto and Ottawa. Regardless of the geographical proximity, the Libyans abhor pork; but the Cretans adore it in every shape and form.

The same level of disparity characterizes the food and cooking of Florence and Algiers, Izmir and Tel-Aviv and Ljubljana (Slovenia) and Cairo – among others. To better illustrate the point let’s compare a popular Slovenian dish (Bograč) to a popular Egyptian dish (Koshari)

You will probably agree with me that, metaphorically speaking, these two represent the two sides of the Moon. That is no surprise when one takes into account the lands, or terroirs, these two recipes come from.

myfoodistry - the Mediterranean diet fiction
Slovenia
myfoodistry - the Mediterranean diet fiction
Egypt

Yes, Slovenia and Egypt are both on the Mediterranean Sea.

So, what do you think? Does it look like the respective diets of where these two dishes come from, namely Egypt and Slovenia, can “differ slightly” as Harvard says they do? (Read on.)

The list of the cultural and dietary differences comprising the Mediterranean basin is long. Some of the most significant include the following:

  • The minority of the Mediterranean peoples (Christians) eat pork and drink alcohol.
  • The majority of the Mediterranean peoples (Muslims) abhor pork and alcohol.
  • The Jewish people of the Mediterranean do not eat pork, do not mix meat and dairy, do not eat seafood but do drink alcohol.
  • The Muslims of the Mediterranean do not eat pork, eat seafood and they mix meat and dairy.
  • The Christians of the Mediterranean eat pork and seafood, drink alcohol and also mix meat with dairy.
  • The Muslims of the Mediterranean follow the Ramadan (a 30-day period of consuming neither food nor drink from sunrise to sunset).
  • The Christian Catholics fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and abstain from meat on all Fridays during their 40-day Lent and all Fridays through the year are fish-only but there are no dietary restrictions on meat-based sauces and gravies or animal fat.
  • The Greek Orthodox Christians fast at regular intervals from 95 to +120 days per year. During the fasts and Lents they abstain from any and all animal products, including eggs and fish, but not seafood. For the rest of the year they drink alcohol in moderation and eat red meat, white meat and fish roughly once a week or 72 times per year (total including all three categories).

Religious dietary differences may not present themselves as significant to the modern reader. However, they were very significant at the time of initial research, namely in the 1950s and 1960s because people back then did observe dietary stipulations imposed by religion.

So far, we established differences among the culinary cultures of the Mediterranean. Are there any similarities that can actually justify the suggestion of a “Mediterranean Diet”?

Um… actually, no.

When it comes to food,

The Mediterranean countries have one thing in common: they border the Mediterranean Sea. Apart from that, they vary in religion, culture, ethnicity, economy, political status, and food supply. Consequently, the diet varies from place to place and country to country. It has been difficult to find a common denominator for all the countries, but several of them seem to have in common the use of locally produced foodstuffs, like vegetables and olive oil.” 2Kiple, K. E., & Ornelas, K. C. (Eds.). (2000)
The history and culture of food and drink in Europe
Cambridge World History of Food (Vol. 1, pp. 1193–1203). Cambridge, UK
Cambridge University Press

It seems that the much-promoted idea of the “Mediterranean Diet” has very little to do with the Mediterranean itself.

Well, in fact, it is not even a diet.

What is “The Mediterranean Diet”?

The Mediterranean diet - fiction: time to move on | myfoodistry

I ran a web search on “Mediterranean Diet, definition”. Alas. Instead of a definition, all I ended up with is the consistent lack of definition. Here are some of the results. Emphasis is mine.

Time Magazine

There’s no one book or website to follow if you want to learn about the Mediterranean diet, and there’s no one way to structure a meal plan around it. …/… The Mediterranean diet also includes alcohol in moderation—traditionally, wine with meals —and encourages sitting down to meals as a family or a group, rather than rushing through them on-the-go.

Mayo Clinic

…/… While there is no single definition of the Mediterranean diet, …/… Other important elements of the Mediterranean diet are sharing meals with family and friends, enjoying a glass of red wine and being physically active.

UNESCO

The Mediterranean diet as a nutritional recommendation is different from the cultural practices that UNESCOlisted in 2010 under the heading “Mediterranean diet” on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity: “a set of skills, knowledge, rituals, symbols and traditions concerning crops, harvesting, fishing, animal husbandry, conservation, processing, cooking, and particularly the sharing and consumption of food”, not as a particular set of foods. Its sponsors include Italy,  Spain,  Portugal,  Morocco, Greece, Cyprus, and Croatia.

US News

The Mediterranean Diet may offer a host of health benefits, including weight loss, heart and brain health, cancer prevention, and diabetes prevention and control. By following the Mediterranean Diet, you could also keep that weight off while avoiding chronic disease. There isn’t “a” Mediterranean diet. Greeks eat differently from Italians, who eat differently from the French and Spanish. But they share many of the same principles.

American Heart Association

There’s no one “Mediterranean” diet. At least 16 countries border the Mediterranean Sea. Diets vary between these countries and also between regions within a country. Many differences in culture, ethnic background, religion, economy and agricultural production result in different diets. But the common Mediterranean dietary pattern has these characteristics:

  • high consumption of fruits, vegetables, bread and other cereals, potatoes, beans, nuts and seeds
  • olive oil is an important monounsaturated fat source
  • dairy products, fish and poultry are consumed in low to moderate amounts, and little red meat is eaten
  • eggs are consumed zero to four times a week
  • wine is consumed in low to moderate amounts

Harvard School of Public Health

The traditional diets of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea differ slightly so there are different versions of the Mediterranean diet. However, in 1993 the Harvard School of Public Health, Oldways Preservation and Exchange Trust, and the European Office of the World Health Organization introduced the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid as a guide to help familiarize people with the most common foods of the region.

More of an eating pattern than a strictly regimented diet plan, the pyramid emphasized certain foods based on the dietary traditions of Crete, Greece, and southern Italy during the mid-20th century. [1,2] At that time, these countries displayed low rates of chronic disease and higher than average adult life expectancy despite having limited access to healthcare. It was believed that the diet—mainly fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, whole grains, fish, olive oil, small amounts of dairy, and red wine—contributed to their health benefits. The pyramid also highlighted daily exercise and the beneficial social aspects of eating meals together.

There are additional points that make this eating plan [Mediterranean Diet] unique:

  • An emphasis on healthy fats. Olive oil is recommended as the primary added fat, replacing other oils and fats (butter, margarine). Other foods naturally containing healthful fats are highlighted, such as avocados, nuts, and oily fish like salmon and sardines; among these, walnuts and fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Choosing fish as the preferred animal protein at least twice weekly and other animal proteins of poultry, eggs, and dairy (cheese or yogurt) in smaller portions either daily or a few times a week. Red meat is limited to a few times per month.
  • Stressing daily physical activity through enjoyable activities.

Basta. Enough.

Confusion reigns supreme

The Mediterranean diet - fiction: time to move on | myfoodistry

Do I really need a PhD to figure out that confusion reigns supreme, here?

  • From the 24 countries around the Mediterranean Sea only 6 endorse the idea of a “Mediterranean Diet”. The 7th country endorsing it, namely Portugal, does not even border the Mediterranean. It is situated entirely on the Atlantic Ocean.
    • If we are to include Portugal in the Mediterranean what prevents us from including Austria in the list? After all, Austria’s border is only 90 km or 56 miles away from the Mediterranean coast. Portugal’s border is more than 200 km or 124 miles away from the Med.
  • The majority of the sources consider the (24) Mediterranean countries as having “common (dietary) principles”.
    • Well… as we already saw, they don’t. The only things they share is vegetables and olive oil – much in the same sense that East Asia shares vegetables and soy sauce. Is this enough to support the idea of “common dietary principles” in the Mediterranean? (Nope.)
  • UNESCO again (by way of Wikipedia) considers “The Mediterranean Diet” to be a set of skills, knowledge, etc. instead of a particular set of foods.
    • This definition of the “Mediterranean Diet” does not even involve… food!
  • Harvard, (yes, Harvard) recommends… avocados and salmon as ingredients of the “Mediterranean Diet eating plan”.
    • Well, avocados and salmon are neither indigenous to the Mediterranean, nor are they – or have ever been – a food staple of the Mediterranean.
  • The same Harvard suggests that the “Mediterranean Diet” has “different versions” because the countries bordering the Mediterranean “differ slightly”.
    • We did compare a popular Slovenian dish to a popular Egyptian dish. We also saw pictures of the lands they respectively come from. Do they “differ slightly”? A common mortal like myself would not dare suggest that the dietary differences between Ljubljana (Slovenia) and Cairo (Egypt), or between pork-adoring Barcelona and pork-abhorring Algiers, or between meat-and-dairy loving Izmir and meat-and-dairy detesting Tel-Aviv is… “slight”. But Harvard can.
  • Further on to Harvard’s description of “the Mediterranean Diet” we read that it is “More of an eating pattern than a strictly regimented diet plan”.
    • If it’s an eating pattern why do they call it a diet? If it’s a diet, why do they call it an eating pattern? As we shall see these terms are not interchangeable when medical/health claims are involved.
  • And, here’s the best part: all but one (UNESCO) of the aforementioned sources accept moderate amounts of alcohol, mostly red wine, as an integral part of the “Mediterranean Diet”.
    • Well, more than half (that is: +200 million) of the Mediterranean population is Muslim: alcohol is Haram (forbidden) to them by religion – particularly so in the cultural context of the 1950’s – 1960’s when initial research took place. So, what are they talking about?

All in all, no one here is in position to offer a single, unambiguous definition of the alleged diet of the Mediterranean.

At the same time, almost all of them are quite busy describing the magnificent health benefits of the “pattern” or “principles” of a diet that has no single, unambiguous and clear definition.

Marvellous.

So, why and how on earth did the “Mediterranean Diet” fiction become a household concept?

The timeline

The Mediterranean diet - fiction: time to move on | myfoodistry

As the story goes…

After World War II the Greek government was concerned about the living conditions of the population and saw the need to improve these conditions. They invited the Rockefeller Foundation to carry out a major epidemiological survey on the island of Crete to find out how best to raise the standard of living for the population. The epidemiologist Allbaugh (1953) carried out an investigation into the life of the population in Crete. Included in this study was a survey of the dietary characteristics of the members of one out of every 150 households on the island.

The survey of the dietary characteristics showed that the population had a mainly vegetarian diet, with a lot of cereals, vegetables, fruits, and nuts and only small amounts of milk, meat, and fish. Olive oil and bread were part of every meal, and wine was consumed in moderate amounts. Wild herbs were also gathered and used.

Although Allbaugh and the Rockefeller Foundation were the first to record the diet in Crete, Keys was the person who first showed an interest in the diets in southern Italy and Crete and possible health effects. He noticed the very low rates of heart disease in the regions, and together with colleagues, he started a series of investigations in seven countries into diet and other factors that could cause coronary disease.3From Greece To Norway With Useful Knowledge.

From then on…

The concept of a Mediterranean diet was developed to reflect “food patterns typical of Crete, much of the rest of Greece, and Italy in the early 1960s”. Although it was first publicized in 1975 by the American biologist Ancel Keys and chemist Margaret Keys the Mediterranean diet failed to gain widespread recognition until the 1990s. Objective data showing that Mediterranean diet is healthful originated from results of epidemiological studies in Naples and Madrid, confirmed later by the Seven Countries Study, first published in 1970, and a book-length report in 1980.4Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mediterranean_diet#cite_note-1

Finally…

…/… in 1993 the Harvard School of Public Health, Oldways Preservation and Exchange Trust, and the European Office of the World Health Organization introduced the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid as a guide to help familiarize people with the most common foods of the region. 5The Nutrition Source, Harvard School of Public Health.

In short:

  • Leland G. Allbaugh researched the diet of the Cretan Greeks between 1949 and 1951, and published a study called “Crete: A Case Study of an Underdeveloped Area” in 1953. He found that although the diet of the Cretan Greeks of that time was scarce, their health was excellent.
  • Inspired by Allbaugh’s study, Ancel Keys et al. embarked on their famous (or infamous) “Seven Countries Study”. Although said study did include… Japan, it was accepted as the scientific base for the medical/ health attributes of the “Mediterranean Diet” idea.
  • Many years after that, in 1993, the Harvard School of Public Health, Oldways Preservation and Exchange Trust, and the European Office of the World Health Organization published their “Mediterranean Diet Food Pyramid” – thus cementing and promoting the idea of a “Diet” of the “Mediterranean”. The media – and others – took it from there.

As we can clearly see, the entire “Mediterranean Diet” discourse sprang from Allbaugh’s research in Crete, Greece c.1950.

What did Allbaugh find in Crete, Greece, between 1949 and 1951?

Allbaugh, Crete and the missing attribute

The Mediterranean diet - fiction: time to move on | myfoodistry

Leland G. Allbaugh was an epidemiologist and an Assistant Director in the Social Sciences department of the Rockefeller Foundation. Shortly after WWII the Rockefeller Foundation accepted the Greek Government’s invitation to conduct an epidemiological survey on the island of Crete citing, among other things, that:

Crete has been almost untouched by the industrial revolution or by the technological changes in agriculture which have accompanied the development of modern science. Its population, for the most part, is descended from families that have inhabited the land for generations, and the manner of living has not essentially changed for centuries. Over 80 per cent of the people live in rural areas, giving their major effort to the raising of food.” 6Rockefeller Foundation, Annual Report, 1949, p.41.

Starting in 1949, Allbaugh’s team researched the diet and way of life of the Cretans for two years. Much to their astonishment, they found the opposite of the famine and malnutrition they assumed to expect.

In Crete, expecting to find widespread malnutrition, Allbaugh’s researchers instead discovered the local diet to be “surprisingly good” and noted that the Cretans had an exceedingly low rate of chronic Western diseases. They suffered about a third as many heart disease-related deaths as Americans at the time and had barely any incidence of cancer. No matter how underdeveloped Crete might have been in terms of roads, plumbing and other typical markers of “progress,” it seemed they were far ahead of the U.S. when it came to eating well. 7Eating Well

Unfortunately, the one thing Allbaugh did not mention in his study was that the diet of the Cretan Greeks c.1950 was dictated by the strictly regimented Greek Orthodox dietary code.

In reverse, given that the place was Crete, Greece and the time period was 1949-1951, Allbaugh could not have researched or studied something other than the daily life application of the Greek Orthodox dietary code – practised by the overwhelming majority of the Cretan Greeks in their daily lives back then.

The Greek Orthodox dietary code calls for Lents and fasting at regular intervals for a total number of days ranging from 95 to +120 days per year. The major Lents and fasts of the Greek Orthodox are spread out in three main periods: 40 days before Christmas, 40 to 48 days before Easter and 15 days before August 15. The strongly devout also follow other minor fasts and Lents among these three periods, increasing the total number of Lent and fast days to approx. 200 days per year.

During their Lents and fasts the Greek Orthodox abstain from any and all animal products, including eggs and fish – with the exception of seafood.

During the regular, non-Lent, periods the Greek Orthodox go vegetarian for 4 days per week and drink alcohol only in moderation. They eat red meat, white meat and fish roughly once a week per category. The result is something like 24 fish dishes, 24 white meat dishes and 24 red meat dishes… per year.

This was the diet (as opposed to “eating pattern”) whose results Allbaugh’s study observed as beneficial to the health of the Cretan Greeks c.1950.

I suggest that the results of Allbaugh’s research c.1950 were subsequently generalized by others, namely Ancel Keys et al., to apply to other countries or regions bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

Ancel Keys et al.

The Mediterranean diet - fiction: time to move on | myfoodistry

Ancel Keys was an American physiologist known for the creation of the ready-to-eat portable meals known as K-rations that were used by the American army during World War II. He also conducted landmark research on the causes of heart disease and promoted the Mediterranean diet, which emphasized fruits, vegetables, and olive oil. 8https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ancel-Keys

Ancel Keys et al. reached scientific fame (or infamy) with their Seven Countries Study. Here’s a section from the abstract:

Ancel Keys and his Italian colleague Flaminio Fidanza and their SCS colleagues were central to the modern recognition, definition, and promotion of the eating pattern they found in Italy and Greece in the 1950s and ’60s, now popularly called “The Mediterranean Diet.” They showed together with their colleagues that dietary patterns in the Mediterranean and in Japan in the 1960s were associated with low rates of coronary heart disease and all-cause mortality.”

What we learned from the Seven Countries Study

The number of Mediterranean countries Keys et al. included in the Study was only three: Greece, Italy and two regions (now countries) of former Yugoslavia: Croatia and Serbia. It is worth mentioning that Serbia is landlocked – it does not extend to the Mediterranean Sea. 9Serbia is Greek Orthodox but during the time of the Seven Countries Study Serbia was a part of Communist Yugoslavia. Communist rule actively discouraged and suppressed expression of religion in Serbia during that time. But let us choose to forego this “detail” and carry on.

The medical/health nature of the claims attributed to the Seven Countries Study’s “Mediterranean” eating/dietary patterns and/or principles (e.g. reduced heart disease and all-cause mortality etc.) suggest a proven and unambiguous link between dietary cause and medical effect. As many have since pointed out, this may not have been the case.

Effectively, Ancel Keys et al. linked the medical/health attributes of the religious dietary code of the Greek Orthodox Cretan Greeks to “eating patterns” or “dietary patterns” found elsewhere in the Mediterranean by way of… correlating mortality statistics and F.A.O. balance sheets. 10The Truth About Ancel Keys: We’ve Got It All Wrong

What Every Doctor Should Know About Ancel Key’s Experiments

Can statistical correlation link dietary cause to medical effect?

Um… no, it can’t.

Statistical correlation is unable to prove causation.

For example, if “the consumption of ice cream and the number of murders in New York are positively correlated (i.e. both rising) then as the amount of ice cream sold per person increases, the number of murders increases”. The statement is statistically correct. But can you seriously suggest that the number of murders in New York increases because people in New York began eating more ice cream?11How Statistical Correlation and Causation Are Different

In plain language, Ancel Keys et al. statistically correlated apples to bananas suggesting that “eating patterns” found elsewhere in “the Mediterranean” (bananas) can be linked to the good health stemming from the religious dietary code of the Cretan Greeks c.1950 (apples).

Their method and results left a lot to be desired. E.g. among other regions they also included Greece’s Crete and Corfu in the Seven Countries Study.

…/… However, the diets of these two islands, Crete and Corfu differed from each other rather markedly with an appreciably higher fat content in Crete. Moreover, the available evidence on the Greek diet in the 1960s is limited to only two specific and possibly atypical and unrepresentative island sites, so it would be unwise to extrapolate the diets of either of these islands to the main-land as only 5 and 1% of the Greek population lives in Crete and Corfu.12The high-fat Greek diet: a recipe for all?
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2002)

If this is how two regions of the same country compare, what would an all-out comparison of the multitude of countries, regions, cultures and religions bordering the entire Mediterranean Sea be like, I wonder?

Anyhow, the scientific community of the time had few good things to say about the conclusions of the Seven Countries Study. But, at any rate, Ancel and Margaret Keys captured North American imagination by publishing two diet books revolving around their study – Eat Well and Stay Well in 1959 and How to eat well and stay well. The Mediterranean way in 1975. Their books became best-sellers and the rest is history.

But why and how did Keys brand his science in a manner that implies a single “diet” that is purporting to be characteristic of “the Mediterranean”?

I cannot be certain as to why. But there can be an explanation as to how. Let us now examine the wonders of reverse causality.

Reverse Causality and the Mediterranean diet – fiction

The Mediterranean diet - fiction: time to move on | myfoodistry

According to Katz (2006) 13What is Reverse Causality?

… identifying reverse causality is sometimes a matter of “common sense.” For example, a study might find that brown spots on the skin and sunbathing are linked. While it is plausible that sunbathing can cause brown skin spots, it’s highly unlikely that the brown spots cause sunbathing.

This gives us a handle to better understand how Allbaugh’s Cretan Greek brown skin spots came to cause… Mediterranean sunbathing. To better illustrate the point let’s employ a few direct yet equally absurd analogies.

The Lake Ontario Diet

You research the diet of the Torontonians and you somehow find that it results in less heart disease compared to “eating patterns” found elsewhere around Lake Ontario. Alright. Would you name the diet of the Torontonians “The Lake Ontario Diet”? (Nope.)

The Great Lakes Diet

Had Detroit, Michigan followed a diet somehow leading to less heart disease compared to “eating patterns” found elsewhere around the Great Lakes… would you name the diet of Detroit “The Great Lakes Diet”? (Nope.)

The East China Sea Diet

The Seven Countries Study also associates the diet of Japan to low rates of coronary heart disease and all-cause mortality.

Splendid.

China, Korea and Japan share the East China Sea. In fact they share soy sauce and vegetables much in the same way that Greece, Italy and Egypt share vegetables and olive oil.

Would you name the diet of Japan “The East China Sea Diet”?

Nope.

If the suggestion of an East China Sea Diet is unacceptable, how is the suggestion of a Mediterranean (Sea) Diet reasonable?

Why not, then, also equate “Astronomy” with “Astrology”? After all, they both have the word “Astro” in common.

The bottom line here is that, in light of the information above, plain common sense is able to dismiss the idea of a “diet” of the “Mediterranean” as the obvious, perhaps preposterous, by-product of reverse causality.

Nevertheless, Harvard, the Oldways Preservation and Exchange Trust and the European Office of the W.H.O. were indeed able to propose and promote such reverse a causality with their “Mediterranean Diet Pyramid”, summa cum laude.

Wondrous, isn’t it?

The Mediterranean diet – fiction : concluding remarks

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - the Mediterranean diet fiction

Have you ever walked away from a medical doctor’s office holding in your hand a piece of paper listing “patterns of medication”? If you have, chances are that your region’s medical board would like to know about it. But you haven’t. You walk away with a prescription, dictating how much of what you should be taking when and for how long to achieve a certain health goal.

It is the same with diets. You consult a dietitian because there’s a medical/health goal you want or need to achieve. You don’t walk away from her/his office waving “eating patterns”. You go away with clear instructions as to how much of what to eat when and for how long. In my mind that’s what the word diet means (or ought to mean) when medical/health claims are involved.

As such, plain common sense is telling me that if I am hoping to imbibe “weight loss, heart and brain health, cancer prevention, diabetes prevention and control, etc.” chances are that following “no one way of structuring a meal” around “eating patterns” portrayed to represent a “diet” that is supposedly shared by a so disparate and heterogeneous a region as “the Mediterranean”… will not get me very far.

On the other hand, following a regimented diet may give me a better chance of staying healthy through cooking and eating, as shown by the Cretan Greeks’ centuries-old Orthodox diet, all the way up to the 1950’s.

After all, this is what Allbaugh studied in Crete c.1950s and this is what other scientists are discovering today when researching the health effects of diets born of scarcity no matter where they come from. 14Greek Orthodox fasting rituals: a hidden characteristic of the Mediterranean diet of Crete.

Does the periodic vegetarianism of Greek Orthodox Christians benefit blood pressure?

A critical review of current evidence, perspectives and research implications of diet-related traditions of the Eastern Christian Orthodox Church on dietary intakes and health consequences.

Unravelling the metabolic health benefits of fasting related to religious beliefs: A narrative review

Health Benefits of Islamic Intermittent Fasting

Is Ramadan fasting related to health outcomes? A review on the related evidence,
Islamic Fast and Health

Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Health, Aging, and Disease

Religious Fasting in Hinduism

Ramadan, Lent and other fasting periods have benefits for body and mind

The impact of religious fasting on human health

Fasting for Health and Longevity: Nobel Prize Winning Research on Cell Aging

A week of Danjiki (Buddhist fasting ritual) on cardiometabolic health: a case report

As this point I feel totally comfortable to freely and summarily dismiss the “Mediterranean Diet” idea as pure diet-fiction. It ran its course. It is now time to move on; embrace applied, shared human wisdom and eat happily ever after.

Be well,
Chris G

Written for myfoodistry – traditional cooking and modern inspiration
All rights reserved.

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - midnight diner film movie 2014

Midnight Diner (2014)

Shinya Shokudô

Based on a 2009 TV Series of the same title (which in turn is based on a 2006 Japanese manga comic book of the same title – Shinya Shokudo by Yaro Abe) the Midnight Diner is about a cook who runs a small eatery at the backstreets of Tokyo’s Shinjuku Square, open only from Midnight to 7 am.

The cook is known only as “Master” and his specialty is that he will cook whatever a customer wants, for as long as he has the ingredients.

The story of this film revolves around an abandoned obituary urn which the Master discovers in the diner. Follow the stories of his regulars tangled around this urn.

Starring Kaoru Kobayashi as Master
Directed by Joji Matsuoka.

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - midnight diner movie film 2014

Midnight Diner : Reviews

Koshari – a national dish of Egypt

A more complex yet similar dish to Mujadara (rice and lentils), Koshari is considered to be Egypt’s national dish: a delicious comfort-food meal that is sometimes made from left overs: if you happen to already have a bit of chickpeas, a bit of lentils and a bit of rice left over in the fridge all you have to do is make the sauces, crisp or caramelize some onions and boil some pasta. The secret ingredient here is the vinegar: it breaks down the carbohydrates Koshari is all about. (See Notes, below.)

Cuisine: Egyptian

Serves: 8 people
Cooking time: 60-70 minutes
You will need: 3 saucepans, 1 frying pan, 3 pots, 3 mixing bowls, 1 serving platter and 4 sauce bowls for serving. If you have just a few pots and pans then wash them as you go.
Soaking: If you’re not using canned chickpeas then soak your chickpeas overnight. Next day drain, rinse and cook them before you start cooking the Koshari.

Ingredients

For the crispy onion garnish

  • 2 onions cut into thin rings,
  • ½ cup olive oil,
  • Salt.

For the tomato sauce

  • 1 onion grated or diced,
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed,
  • 1 Tsp ground coriander,
  • 1 Tsp chili flakes,
  • 3 cups tomato puree (a.k.a. tomato coulis or passata). Tinned is OK.
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil,
  • 3 Tbsp vinegar (preferably apple cider).

For the cumin sauce

  • 2 Tsp crushed garlic,
  • 2 Tbsp ground cumin,
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil,
  • 6 Tbsp water,
  • 6 Tbsp vinegar (preferably apple cider),
  • Salt.

For the Koshari

  • 1 cup brown lentils well-rinsed and drained,
  • 1+ ½ cup of canned chickpeas (15 oz or 425 g) or ½ cup of dried chickpeas you cooked the day before.
  • 1 cup white rice previously soaked in cold water for 15 minutes, then drained,
  • 2 cups pasta, preferably ditali, tubetti, or elbow. If you don’t have this kind of pasta in the pantry then just crack into small pieces whatever normal thickness pasta you happen to have and use that instead,
  • ½ Tsp salt,
  • ½ Tsp pepper,
  • ½ Tsp ground coriander,
  • Olive oil,
  • Water – some of it hot.

Instructions

Soaking

  1. If you’re not using canned chickpeas then you need to soak your chickpeas in cold water overnight.
  2. Wash the rice [link] and put it in a bowl to soak for 15 minutes.
  3. Wash the lentils and put them aside.

While the rice is soaking…

Tomato sauce

  1. In a saucepan, heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil.
  2. Add the grated onion, cook over medium-high heat until the onion becomes a little golden and translucent (not brown).
  3. Add the garlic, coriander and chili flakes and saute briefly.
  4. Add the tomatoes and salt.
  5. Bring to a boil and cook at medium heat for about 15 minutes or until the sauce thickens.
  6. Add the vinegar, lower the heat and simmer for another 3-4 minutes or so.
  7. Turn off the fire, cover and keep the sauce warm until you’re ready to serve.

While the tomato sauce is cooking…

Cumin sauce

  1. In a saucepan, saute the garlic and cumin until they are fragrant. It will take about 30 seconds.
  2. Add the vinegar, water, and salt.
  3. Cover and set aside.

Lentils

  1. Put the lentils in a pot, add 3 cups of cold water turn the fire on and bring to boil.
  2. Reduce the fire and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes or until the lentils are slightly tender. You don’t want them fully cooked. You want them half-cooked.
  3. Drain and season with salt.

Rice

  1. Drain the rice that has soaked for 15 minutes.
  2. Take a mixing bowl and mix the half-cooked lentils and the rice.
  3. Season with salt and pepper and add the coriander. Mix well.
  4. Time for a heavy pot if you have one: put it on the stove, add 1 Tbsp of olive oil and turn the fire on to medium-high heat.
  5. Add the rice and lentil mixture and saute for about 3 minutes, gently stirring constantly.
  6. Add about 3 cups of hot water to cover the ingredients.
  7. Bring to a boil.
  8. Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for about 20 minutes, until the rice and lentils absorb the liquid and are cooked through. During the process you can add more hot water if necessary. Important tip: do not stir.
  9. Turn off the fire and half-cover with a lid.

Macaroni / Pasta

  1. While the rice and lentils cook, prepare the macaroni according to the directions on the package. Basically: bring the water to a boil, add salt, and cook them to al dente.
  2. Drain.

Chickpeas

  1. Rinse and drain the chickpeas.
  2. Put them in a pan under very low fire to warm up. They should not be hot.

Crispy onion garnish

  1. Pat dry your rings of raw onions with a paper towel.
  2. In a large pan or skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
  3. Saute the onions, stirring often, for 10 to 15 minutes, until they caramelize. You wan them crisp. You don’t want them burnt.
  4. Set them aside.

Combine

  1. First layer: rice and lentils: use a fork to fluff the mixture in the pot. Arrange it as your first layer in your serving dish.
  2. Next layer: chickpeas.
  3. Next layer: macaroni / pasta.
  4. Next layer: drizzle half of the tomato sauce.
  5. Next layer: drizzle half the cumin sauce.
  6. Next layer: half the crispy onions.
  7. Put the remaining sauces and onions in separate bowls and serve on the side.

Notes on Koshari

  • When you first cook Koshari it might seem like a big deal. This is why Koshari is often made with left over lentils, rice and chickpeas, namely: small amounts from other meals that you might otherwise throw away. (Why throw food away?) So, if you really enjoyed this recipe then each time you cook lentils, rice and chickpeas you can make a little extra so that you can put together a Koshari a few days later.
  • Can also wrap it up in a falafel pita bread if you’d like to make a sandwich out of it.
  • Regarding the chickpeas: you can soak them in cold water overnight and cook them the next day; or use canned chickpeas – the choice is yours.
  • The copious amount of vinegar used in Koshari not only gives it the tangy, sharp flavour people love. It also helps break down the carbohydrates Koshari is all about. Also, the amount of iron the cumin sauce contains is impressive. Read more here. (Scroll down to the post’s Notes.)
  • Important tip: the recipe uses many pots and pans. If you have just two or three, just wash them as you go. (Less work to do at the end, n’est-ce pas?)

Bograč – a one pot stew with 3 kinds of meat from Slovenia (with love) :)

Cusine: Slovenian
Region: Prekmurje

Bograč is a one-pot stew recipe, somewhat evocative of the Hungarian Goulash. (The Slovenian region were the recipe comes from used to be part of Hungary up to 1919.) Calling for three kinds of meat, namely venison or boar, beef and pork, Bograč is so popular that it is often referred to as one of the national dishes of Slovenia.

Serves: 6 to 8
Cooking time: 2 to 4 hours
You will need: one big enough pot or dutch oven

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp of lard or butter,
  • 500 g (1 Lb) venison or boar, thick cut, sliced in half,
  • 500 g (1 Lb) beef (shank),
  • 500 g (1 Lb) pork (chuck), thick cut, sliced in half,
  • 1 + ½ kg (3 Lbs) onions, diced,
  • 1 kg (2 Lbs) potatoes, cut in half or in quarters (see Notes),
  • 1 red pepper, diced,
  • at least 1 cup of wine (red, white or both),
  • 1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and crushed,
  • 2-3 bay leaves,
  • 2 Tsp of paprika,
  • 2 tomatoes, diced,
  • 10 -15 peppercorns,
  • 1 pinch of ground pepper,
  • 1 Tsp of marjoram,
  • 1 chopped green chili pepper (without the seeds),
  • Salt.
  • Hot water.

Instructions

  1. Take a big enough pot or dutch oven and put it on the stove.
  2. Put the lard or butter in, and turn on the fire to medium high.
  3. Wait for the butter or lard to melt and thrown the onions in.
  4. Saute the onions until they are translucent.
  5. Add your diced red pepper and crushed garlic and cook until the pepper softens.
  6. Now, add the meat in the following order. As you do this, if needed, add a little hot water to keep things from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
    1. Venison or boar goes in first. Brown it for 15 minutes.
    2. Then 15 minutes later in comes the beef.
    3. Then, 30 minutes later, after the beef, add the pork.
  7. Add your herbs, spices and the diced tomatoes.
  8. Add enough hot water to barely cover the ingredients, cover the pot and simmer in low fire for 1 + ½ hours, until the meat is almost done. Don’t add too much hot water; it’s better to add hot water as you go or it might turn to soup (and you don’t want that).
  9. Add salt and simmer for a little longer, say 10 to 15 minutes.
  10. Then add the potatoes and more hot water if needed to keep the ingredients covered.
  11. When the potatoes are done (sliding down your testing fork) add the wine.
  12. Simmer for another 10 minutes and you’re done.

Notes on Bograč

  • The wine gives Bograč its distinctive flavour, so, bear that in mind when you choose your cooking wine. Red wine works better; white wine will do.
  • Die hard Bograč fans simmer for four hours in very low fire instead of two hours in low fire. If that’s the case, then there’s a problem with the potatoes: letting them simmer for too long will turn them to mush. So, cut the potatoes in half instead of quarters and follow the recipe as is. Or, add the potatoes in the last 20 to 30 minutes. If they are new or small potatoes you can put them in whole, without cutting them.
  • If you’re going for the four-hour simmer, you may want to cut down on hot water so that Bograč is cooked in its own juices. So, instead of adding hot water as it cooks, add more wine.
  • To help the meat remain tender while cooking add your salt towards the end of the process and not at the beginning.
  • The meat will shrink while cooking so it’s better for the raw portion to be thick. You can always cut it smaller when serving.
  • Like all other stews Bograč will taste better the next, or even the third day after cooking.

Pickled Turnips

Cuisine: Central European (among others)

In Germany Pickled Turnips are called Sauerruben, in Slovenia they are called Kisla Repa, in Russia they are called Marinovannaya Repa, in other countries or regions they go by different names. It is a popular side dish or recipe ingredient in many countries and regions where the winter cold can be really felt. It can also be a refreshing side dish when served chilled in the heat of the summer.

Fermentation time: 5 to 7 days
You will need: a mixing bowl and clean jars with lids.

Ingredients

  • 1 Kg (2 Lbs) turnips, ends trimmed, peeled and shredded.
  • 1 Tbsp and 1 Tsp of salt.
    • The rough proportion is 2 Tbsp of pickling salt for every 1+1/2 Kg (3 Lbs) of vegetables.
  • Optional: whatever spice you may feel like using.
  • For the brine : 2 Tbsp of salt per 1 litre of water.

Instructions

  1. Trim the ends of your turnips, peel them and slice them lengthwise, to a quarter of the vegetable’s thickness. The idea is that you cut your turnips as thin as French fries but half the length of French fries.
  2. Put the turnips in a mixing bowl and add salt together the spice(s) you may want to add.
  3. Scoop the turnips from the bowl and pack them relatively tight (but not too tight) in your jars. The idea is that you want the brine to reach everywhere in the jar. Make sure you leave enough room between the top layer of your turnips and the lid, ideally about 4 cm or 1.5 in.
  4. Wait a little. You will see juices coming out of the turnips.
  5. Add the brine and gently press the vegetables a little more down the jar. The idea is that you want the vegetables submerged in the brine.
  6. Add more brine, almost to the brim of the jar.
  7. Close the jar with the lid, but not tightly: fermentation creates gases and you need them to escape.
  8. Store the jars in a dark place with temperature ranging between 21C to 24C (70F-80F) and wait for about 5 days. Lower storage temperatures will delay the fermentation process. E.g. storing at 16C (60F) will add 2 more days to the fermentation process. You can ferment your turnips even longer if you wish – there is no harm there.
  9. During the fermentation process you will notice tiny bubbles on the top of the liquid. This is normal. When the bubbling stops, the fermentation process is over.
  10. After the fermentation process is over you can tighten the lids and store them in your fridge. You can keep your fully fermented Pickled Turnips in the refrigerator for several months. (See Notes below.)

Notes on Pickled Turnips

  • You can also add other vegetables in the mix, such as carrots.
  • The water you will use for the brine should be de-chlorinated. You can do this by filling a pot of water and leaving it without a lid on the counter or stove for 24 hours; or you can boil the water and then let it completely cool off to room temperature; or you can use water from the tap filtered by any active charcoal filter you may be using.
  • The quality of salt is important. Do use sea salt, Kosher salt or pickling salt.
  • Use firm and fresh turnips of any variety – rutabaga included.
  • Caution: if your pickled turnips become soft, slimy, or develop a disagreeable smell then do discard them.

Cumin Sauce

Cuisines: Middle Eastern, Mexican, Indian.

Cumin, known in India as Jeera, is a common spice in the cuisines of Middle East, India, Mexico and elsewhere. This is an easy, generic cumin sauce that can be used with rice or meat or whatever needs spicing towards a certain direction.

Cooking time: less than 5 minutes
You will need: a saucepan

Ingredients

  • 2 Tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 Tbsp water
  • 6 Tbsp vinegar- be it apple cider vinegar or wine vinegar
  • Salt to taste


Instructions

  1. Turn the fire on to medium heat and put the saucepan on the fire.
  2. Add your garlic and cumin and sauté until they are fragrant. That should take about 30 seconds or so.
  3. Add the vinegar, water and salt to taste. (Less salt is more preferable than more salt.)
  4. Stir the mixture in medium to low fire for a 2-3 minutes.
  5. Enjoy!

Notes on Cumin Sauce

The health benefits of Cumin are well known in old cultures. E.g. cumin is a very popular spice or cooking ingredient in India – sometimes offered raw at the end of a meal to help with digestion. India’s traditional healing system, Ayurveda, has a lot of good things to say about Cumin. So does modern medicine: who would have thought that one (1) teaspoon of Cumin contains 1.4 mg or approx. 17% of the recommended daily dose of Iron?

Regarding the health benefits of vinegar, please click here.

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - a spoonful of vinegar helps sugar go down

A spoonful of vinegar helps reduce blood sugar levels

Source: Arizona State University

By Diane Boudreau
Dec. 1, 2004

A spoonful of vinegar helps reduce blood sugar levels | myfoodistry

Diabetes killed more than 70,000 Americans in 2001 alone. The disease also takes a toll on the people who live with it. In general, controlling diabetes requires massive lifestyle changes and/or expensive medications. Carol Johnston says there may be a cheaper, easier way to get the same results; in fact, you probably have the help in your kitchen cabinet.

Making headlines and climbing Top 10 lists is not always a sign of success. Consider diabetes, which has swept the nation like wildfire. Diabetes is now the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

Diabetes killed more than 70,000 Americans in 2001 alone. The disease also takes a toll on the people who live with it. Diabetes-related nerve damage accounts for more than half of all non-traumatic amputations in this country. Diabetes is also the leading cause of new cases of blindness and the leading cause of end-stage kidney disease.

In general, controlling diabetes requires massive lifestyle changes and/or expensive medications. Carol Johnston says there may be a cheaper, easier way to get the same results—in fact, you probably have the help in your kitchen cabinet.

Johnston is a professor of nutrition at Arizona State University’s East campus. When she started developing menus to help prevent and control diabetes, she began with a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. The diet worked amazingly well, but it involved major changes from the way people usually eat. Johnston feared they would give up and start downing Twinkies in no time. She wondered if there was an alternative.

Johnston struck gold while reading through some older studies on diabetes. Actually, she struck vinegar. “While writing my literature review I saw an article about vinegar. I was making all these massive changes. I found that maybe you can just add vinegar to your diet,” she says.

Five studies conducted in the 1980s suggested that vinegar could improve insulin sensitivity and thus help control diabetes. For some reason, the mass media and the public never caught on.

“It’s odd that no one ever pursued that,” Johnston says. She decided to take the opportunity herself.

In the ASU scientist’s study, participants drank one of two solutions before eating a high-carb meal of a bagel and orange juice. Some subjects drank a vinegar solution (vinegar, water and saccharine). Others were given a placebo drink (water and saccharine).

Read the rest of this fascinating article at the source.

How to Prepare Lamb and Goat Meat for Cooking

Sometimes people stay away from lamb and goat because they find them “smelly” or of too strong a flavour. Can’t blame them, really. Ideally the animal’s blood should be allowed to completely drain off before cutting or packaging it but in very many instances lamb and/or goat meat, fresh or frozen, is packaged or sold while still containing blood in it. This is one of the main reasons for strong smell or flavour.

Here’s an easy trick to moderate, or at times: eliminate, the strong smell of lamb or goat meat before cooking.

  • Take a big enough pot and fill it with cold water.
  • Put the meat in the cold water and wait for at least 30 minutes, so that blood seeps out.
  • When ready, drain the the water from the pot and gently squeeze the meat to get rid of water that has seeped into the meat’s fibre.
  • Then, place it on a rack and let it dry for a while, while you’re chopping up and preparing the rest of the ingredients of the dish you’re about to make.

Notes

In some Middle Eastern countries the custom is to add salt in the cold water, to purge impurities off the meat faster. Depending on the amount of salt used and the kind of meat you’re using this practice may dry the meat beyond your initial intention. E.g. it might be OK for a stew, but it may not be OK for a roast.

Advice: If you really need to add salt in the cold water then add very little. Try the technique a few times and decide for yourself the amount of salt that’s best for what you’re cooking.

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - the mindfulness conspiracy

The Mindfulness Conspiracy

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - the mindfulness conspiracy - the guardian

It is sold as a force that can help us cope with the ravages of capitalism, but with its inward focus, mindful meditation may be the enemy of activism.

By Ronald Purser
The Guardian

Mindfulness has gone mainstream, with celebrity endorsement from Oprah Winfrey and Goldie Hawn. Meditation coaches, monks and neuroscientists went to Davos to impart the finer points to CEOs attending the World Economic Forum. The founders of the mindfulness movement have grown evangelical. Prophesying that its hybrid of science and meditative discipline “has the potential to ignite a universal or global renaissance”, the inventor of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Jon Kabat-Zinn, has bigger ambitions than conquering stress. Mindfulness, he proclaims, “may actually be the only promise the species and the planet have for making it through the next couple of hundred years”.

So, what exactly is this magic panacea? In 2014, Time magazine put a youthful blonde
woman on its cover, blissing out above the words: “The Mindful Revolution.” The
accompanying feature described a signature scene from the standardised course teaching MBSR: eating a raisin very slowly. “The ability to focus for a few minutes on a single raisin isn’t silly if the skills it requires are the keys to surviving and succeeding in the 21st century,” the author explained.

But anything that offers success in our unjust society without trying to change it is not
revolutionary – it just helps people cope. In fact, it could also be making things worse.
Instead of encouraging radical action, mindfulness says the causes of suffering are
disproportionately inside us, not in the political and economic frameworks that shape how we live. And yet mindfulness zealots believe that paying closer attention to the present moment without passing judgment has the revolutionary power to transform the whole world. It’s magical thinking on steroids.

There are certainly worthy dimensions to mindfulness practice. Tuning out mental rumination does help reduce stress, as well as chronic anxiety and many other maladies. Becoming more aware of automatic reactions can make people calmer and potentially 1/10kinder. Most of the promoters of mindfulness are nice, and having personally met many of them, including the leaders of the movement, I have no doubt that their hearts are in the right place. But that isn’t the issue here. The problem is the product they’re selling, and how it’s been packaged. Mindfulness is nothing more than basic concentration training. Although derived from Buddhism, it’s been stripped of the teachings on ethics that accompanied it, as well as the liberating aim of dissolving attachment to a false sense of self while enacting compassion for all other beings.

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - The mindfulness conspiracyWhat remains is a tool of self-discipline, disguised as self-help. Instead of setting practitioners free, it helps them adjust to the very conditions that caused their problems. A truly revolutionary movement would seek to overturn this dysfunctional system, but mindfulness only serves to reinforce its destructive logic. The neoliberal order has imposed itself by stealth in the past few decades, widening inequality in pursuit of corporate wealth. People are expected to adapt to what this model demands of them. Stress has been pathologised and privatised, and the burden of managing it outsourced to individuals. Hence the pedlars of mindfulness step in to save the day.

But none of this means that mindfulness ought to be banned, or that anyone who finds it useful is deluded. Reducing suffering is a noble aim and it should be encouraged. But to do this effectively, teachers of mindfulness need to acknowledge that personal stress also has societal causes. By failing to address collective suffering, and systemic change that might remove it, they rob mindfulness of its real revolutionary potential, reducing it to something banal that keeps people focused on themselves….

Read more: The Mindfulness Conspiracy by Ronald Purser The Guardian

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - the furthest end awaits

The Furthest End Awaits (2014)

The Furthest End Awaits, set at the edge of the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, with its beautiful scenic views, revolves around two women from different backgrounds who develop a friendship, and how they begin to influence and change each other’s lives.

Misaki is a coffee expert roaster who returns to the hometown of her father, after he is reported to be dead. There she opens a coffee shop on the isolated beach. A relationship with her neighbour Eriko and her children evolves.

Note: To us, The Furthest End Awaits is one of the sweetest, most humane films we watched in quite some time.

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - Tsatsiki, Dad and the Olive War

Tsatsiki, Dad and the Olive War (2015)

Tsatsiki, Dad and the Olive War is a Swedish kids’ movie partly shot in Crete, Greece. There are no English language subtitles in the trailer, but, well, you don’t need them really. 🙂

Tsatsiki longs for the summer holidays when he will be going to Greece to live with his father Yanis. When Tsatsiki arrives at the village, however, it is not really as he remembered it. Guest houses and taverns are deserted, there is a crisis in Greece and in his beloved village. When Dad tells the bad news that he may have to sell both the hotel and the olive grove, Tsatsiki gets upset. But Tsatsiki’s mother has taught him to never give up, he realizes that it is up to him to save the hotel, otherwise his beloved place in Greece will be lost. Along with the wild adventurer Alva, a fearless twelve-year-old girl full of laughter and explorer joy, they embark on a rescue mission that turns Tsatsiki’s summer vacation into a journey full of adventure, friendship and love.

Tsatsiki, Dad and the Olive Wars is the third film of a trilogy based on Tsatsiki’s adventures between Sweden and Greece.

Note: Tzatziki or Tsatsiki (depending on where you come from) is the name of the well known Greek garlic-yogourt dip. It is rather uncommon to encounter a child named after a yogourt dip recipe, but, well, it’s the film business, isn’t it? 🙂

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - the olive tree - el olivo film

The Olive Tree (El Olivo) (2016)

The Olive Tree (El olivo) is a 2016 Spanish drama film directed by Icíar Bollaín. It was also chosen as one of three films that could be chosen as the Spanish submission for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards.

Alma is a 20-year-old girl and adores her grandfather, a man who has not spoken for years. When the elderly man also refuses to eat, the girl decides to recover the millenary tree that the family sold against his will. In order to succeed, she needs to count on her uncle, a victim of the crisis, her friend Rafa, and her whole town to help her. The problem is to find out where in Europe the olive tree is.

Official website: Morena Films

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - midnight diner film movie

Midnight Diner – Tokyo Stories

Shinya Shokudô – TV Series

A Japanese TV series that ran for five (5) solid seasons since 2009, Midnight Diner Tokyo Stories is based on a 2006 Japanese manga comic book of the same title – Shinya Shokudo by Yaro Abe.

When people finish their day and hurry home, his day starts. His diner is open from midnight to seven in the morning. They call it “Midnight Diner”. Pork, Miso soup combo, Beer, Sake and Shochu is all that he has on his menu. Nevertheless, he makes whatever his customers request – as long as he has the ingredients for it: that is his policy. Does he even have customers? More than you would expect.

The Midnight Diner : Tokyo Stories is about a cook who runs a small eatery at the backstreets of Tokyo’s Shinjuku Square, open only from Midnight to 7 am. The cook is known only as Master and his specialty is that he will cook whatever a customer wants, for as long as he has the ingredients.

The series is an anthology of human relationship stories and resolutions are often facilitated by the Master of the Midnight Diner.

Starring Kaoru Kobayashi as Master
Directed by Joji Matsuoka.

Following the success of the series, the Midnight Diner was also turned to two feature films named after Midnight Diner (2014) and Midnight Diner 2 (2016).

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern sensitivity - midnight diner 2 movie film 2016

Midnight Diner Tokyo Stories : Reviews

More information:

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midnight_Diner_(Japanese_TV_series)
  • https://www.netflix.com/ca/title/80113037
myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - cook off the movie

Cook Off

An uplifting, feel-good romantic comedy from Zimbabwe, Cook Off is a film about falling in love, with food.

Starring Tendie Chitima, Tendai ‘TEHN’ Nguni, Eugene Zimbudzi and Jesesi Mungoshi. Written and directed by Tomas Lutuli Brickhill and produced by Joe Njagu, Cook Off has screened at nearly 20 festivals worldwide and won Best Film and Best Actress at the 2019 NAMAs and ZIFF 2018.

Official website: www.cookoffthemovie.com

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - h2o the molecule that made us

H2O : The Molecule That Made Us

H2O : The Molecule That Made Us is a 3-hour PBS series, airing in three one hour episodes. The film dramatically reveals how water underpins every aspect of our existence. In the emptiness of outer space, Earth is alive because of water. Humanity’s relationship with this simple molecule is everything and has been both positive and negative.

Explore our interdependent relationship with water and the cosmos.

Official Website: https://www.pbs.org/molecule | #MoleculePBS
Stream full episodes at: https://www.pbs.org/molecule

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - the boy who harnessed the wind

The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind

Well, OK. The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind is not a film about food. It is, however, an extraordinary film about finding water, so, we decided that it should be presented here.

The story is about a thirteen year old boy in Malawi, Africa who against all odds invents an unconventional way to save his family and village from famine.

Based on the best selling book and true story of William Kamkwamba. Directed by and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and introducing Maxwell Simba.

And here’s a little “behind the scenes” featurette that you might find interesting.

Official website: https://www.netflix.com/ca/title/80200047

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - big night film trailer

Big Night (1996)

In a restaurant run by two Italian immigrants, the tables sit empty despite the extraordinary talents of Primo the chef (Tony Shalhoub, “Monk”) and the ambitious efforts of his brother Secondo (Stanley Tucci, The Devil Wears Prada). A celebrity night at their restaurant promises not only to turn their business around but to change their lives.

It’s a five-course gourmet experience filled with rich, delicious characters including the marriage-minded girlfriend (Oscar® nominee Minnie Driver), the seductive mistress (Isabella Rossellini) and the successful rival (Oscar® nominee Ian Holm). From the first bite to the last, this critically-acclaimed movie dishes up an irresistible evening of scrumptious entertainment.

Here’s an excerpt scene (and recipe): Il Timpano

Papadopoulos & Sons (2012) | myfoodistry

Papadopoulos & Sons (2012)

Self-made businessman Harry Papadopoulos has got it all; a mansion house; awards and a super rich lifestyle. However, on the eve of a property deal of a lifetime, a financial crisis hits and the banks call in their huge loans. Harry and his family lose everything in an instant. Everything, except the dormant and forgotten Three Brothers Fish & Chip Shop half owned by Harry’s larger than life brother Spiros who’s been estranged from the family for years.

With no alternative, Harry and his family, plant enthusiast James; fashion victim Katie; nerdy Theo and their loyal nanny Mrs. Parrington, are forced to pack their bags, leave their millionaire lifestyle and join ‘Uncle Spiros’ to live above the neglected Three Brothers chippie. Together they set about bringing the chip shop back to life under the suspicious gaze of the their old rival, Hassan, from the neighbouring Turkish kebab shop whose son has his own eyes on Katie.

Each family member must come to terms with their new life in their own way and make the most of their reduced circumstances. Harry struggles with the banks to regain his lost business empire, but as the chip shop comes to life and old memories are stirred Harry and his family gradually discover that only when you lose everything are you free to discover it all.

Official website: https://www.papadopoulosandsons.com/

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - poetry - billy collins

Billy Collins Teaches Reading and Writing Poetry

Billy Collins Teaches Reading and Writing Poetry | Official Trailer

Known for his wit, humour, and profound insight, Billy Collins is one of the best-selling and most beloved contemporary poets in the United States. He regularly sells out poetry readings, frequently charms listeners on NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion, and his work has appeared in anthologies, textbooks, and periodicals around the world.

Learn more: https://mstr.cl/2D8bv2M

(No, we didn’t receive money for this post. :))

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - who is killing the great chefs of Europe

Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? (1978)

Mystery abounds when it is discovered that, one by one, the greatest Chefs in Europe are being killed. The intriguing part of the murders is that each chef is killed in the same manner that their own special dish is prepared in. Food critics and the (many) self-proclaimed greatest Chefs in Europe demand the mystery be solved.

Based on the novel “Someone Is Killing The Great Chefs of Europe” by Nan and Ivan Lyons.

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - feature film - today's special

Today’s Special

TODAY’S SPECIAL is a heartwarming comedy with a culinary flavor, inspired by Aasif Mandvi’s Obie Award winning play “Sakina’s Restaurant.” In this super-feel-good foodie comedy, young Manhattan chef Samir rediscovers his heritage and his passion for life through the enchanting art of cooking Indian food.

Samir (Aasif Mandvi) is a sous chef who dreams of becoming the head chef at an upscale Manhattan restaurant. When he is passed over for a promotion he impulsively quits and lets his co-worker Carrie (Jess Weixler) know that he intends to go to Paris and apprentice under a master French chef. Dreams must be put aside though after his father Hakim (Harish Patel) has a heart attack and Samir is forced to take over Tandoori Palace, the nearly bankrupt family restaurant in Jackson Heights.

Samir’s relationship with his parents and his heritage is immediately put to the test. He has been estranged from his father since the death of his older brother, and his mother Farrida, (played by legendary cookbook writer and actor, Madhur Jaffrey), is consumed with finding a wife for her remaining son. While Samir is being forced to forsake his dreams, he is desperately trying to master Indian cooking to salvage the family business.

Luckily, he crosses paths with Akbar, a taxi driver, passionate chef, and worldly raconteur (Naseeruddin Shah). Akbar inspires Samir and teaches him to trust his senses more than recipes; to stop measuring his life, and to start truly living it. With Akbar’s guidance, Samir has a chance to rediscover his heritage and his passion for life through the enchanting art of cooking Indian food.

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - chili peppers reduce mortality

Chili pepper reduces mortality risk?

Source: New Food Magazine

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - chili  peppers reduce mortality

The Moli-sani study, which aims to learn about environmental and genetic factors underlying cardiovascular disease, cancer and degenerative pathologies, is said to be the first to explore the properties of this spice in relation to the risk of death in a European and Mediterranean population.

Research by the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention of I.R.C.C.S. Neuromed in Pozzilli, Italy has allegedly shown that people who consume chilli pepper on a regular basis have a reduced mortality risk by 23 percent compared to those who do not.

The research examined 22,811 citizens of the Molise region in Italy, studying their health status for an average period of eight years, and compared it with their eating habits. The researchers observed that, in people regularly consuming chili pepper (four times a week or more), the risk of dying of a heart attack was cut down by 40 percent….

Read more

Full study, here.

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - water on the table

Water On The Table

Is water a commercial good like Coca-Cola, or a human right like air?

Featuring best-selling author, activist and public figure Maude Barlow and her crusade to have water declared a human right, protected from privatization, WATER ON THE TABLE explores Canada’s relationship to its freshwater, arguably its most precious natural resource.

The film shadows Barlow over the course of a year as she leads an unrelenting schedule as the U.N. Senior Advisor on Water to Father Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, President of the 63rd Session of the United Nations.

Trailer

Written, Directed and Produced by Liz Marshall
Co-Produced by Susan McGrath
Edited by Jeremy Munce
Cinematography by Steve Cosens
Additional Cinematography by Liz Marshall, John Price
Music Score by Jennifer Moore & Mark Shannon
Supervising Sound Editor Garrett Kerr
Supervising Re-Recording Mixer Daniel Pellerin
Location Sound Recordist Jason Milligan

Official Website: here.

Stream or Download from Vimeo.

Other references
The Council of Canadians: ‘WATER ON THE TABLE’, FEATURING MAUDE BARLOW

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - feature films - butter

Butter (2011)

Jennifer Garner, Ty Burrell, and Olivia Wilde star as unlikely rivals who will do whatever it takes to beat the competition in this quirky and outrageous comedy about love, sex, winning, and most of all, butter.

In Iowa, laid-back Bob has won the state fair’s butter-carving contest 15 years running; his tightly-wound and hard-charging wife Laura sees Bob becoming governor, so when the contest organizers ask him to step aside so others can win, she’s incensed, and when Bob won’t protest, she decides to enter herself.

In the county contest, she’s up against African-American foster child Destiny and Brooke, a prostitute Bob hasn’t paid. When things don’t go Laura’s way, she enlists the help of old boyfriend Boyd. Also involved as things heat up at the state fair are Laura’s stepdaughter and Destiny’s foster parents. are in the mix as things heat up at the state fair.

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - sweet drinks increase breast cancer risk

A sweet tooth, three fizzy drinks a week increase the risk of breast cancer, study claims

Source: Canadian Cancer Society

26 June 2014
TORONTO –

A diet high in sweet foods and sugar-sweetened drinks is associated with increased breast density, according to a new study funded in part by the Canadian Cancer Society. Increased breast density is a well-established risk factor for breast cancer. Some studies have shown that women with dense breast tissue in 75% or more of their breasts have a 4 to 6 times greater risk of breast cancer than women with little or no dense breast tissue.

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - sweet drinks increase breast cancer risk

The study, which involved 776 premenopausal and 779 postmenopausal women, found that postmenopausal women with a high intake of sweet foods and premenopausal women with a high intake of sugar-sweetened beverages had higher breast density. The findings mark the first time a specific association has been studied between diets high in sweet foods and drinks, breast density and menopausal status.

“We know that the worldwide consumption of sugar has increased and the findings of this study show what effect that type of diet has on breast density, one of the strongest indicators for breast cancer risk,” says study lead author Dr Caroline Diorio, professor in the department of social and preventive medicine at Université Laval. “As this is an understudied area, we need more research to further understand the health implications of a diet high in sugar.”

In this study, breast density was measured through mammography screening. Women from both groups answered a questionnaire about the frequency of their consumption of sweet foods, such as chocolates, doughnuts, pies and pastries; sugar-sweetened beverages, such as carbonated drinks with sugar and sweetened fruit juice; and spoonfuls of sugar added to food or drinks.

The results of the questionnaire found an association between the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and breast density in premenopausal women. The same association with breast density was noted for sweet foods consumed by postmenopausal women. Women who had more than 3 servings of sugar-sweetened beverages in a week had a 3% difference in breast density compared to those who did not have this type of beverage, which could be considered a significant difference. The researchers suggest that this association may be greater in populations that consume more sugar.

Read more.

Full study, here.

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - phantom thread

Phantom Thread

High fashion, romance and love… revolving around a plate of omelette. (That’s right. 🙂 )

Set in the glamour of 1950’s post-war London, renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) are at the center of British fashion, dressing royalty, movie stars, heiresses, socialites, debutants and dames with the distinct style of The House of Woodcock.

Women come and go through Woodcock’s life, providing the confirmed bachelor with inspiration and companionship, until he comes across a young, strong-willed woman, Alma (Vicky Krieps), who soon becomes a fixture in his life as his muse and lover. Once controlled and planned, he finds his carefully tailored life disrupted by love.

Official website: http://www.PhantomThread.com

Pesto with Parsley and Walnuts

Cuisine: Italian
Region: Common

A really simple, delicious and trouble-free “pesto” sauce using walnuts and parsley instead of basil and pine nuts. Let’s give it a go!

Serving: 4
Cooking time: 10 minutes
You will need: a food blender or processor

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh parsley without the stems,
  • 1/4 cup walnuts,
  • 1 Tbsp dry basil,
  • 2 garlic cloves,
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated,
  • 3/4 cup olive oil,
  • Salt and pepper.

Instructions

  1. Put everything in a food blender or food processor except for the olive oil.
  2. Start blending and slowly add olive oil little by little until the ingredients have turned to a paste.
  3. At the end, add salt and pepper to taste, if you feel you need more.
  4. That’s all. 🙂

Notes on Pesto with Parsley and Walnuts

  • Serve the pesto warm, not cold.
    • So, if you made it and stored it in the fridge, take it out and put it in a little pan over low to very low heat while the pasta is boiling.
    • Divide the portions of pasta in single bowls or plates, spoon pesto onto each and mix with a fork. Make sure you put ample pesto on each serving!
  • Regarding the amount of olive oil: 3/4 cup is reasonable but feel free to adjust the quantity as you see fit.
  • Serve with pasta or use it as a pizza topping. (That’s an idea!)
  • Enjoy!
myfoordistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - big farms make big flu

Big Farms Make Big Flu

Spatial ecologist Marius Gilbert reviews Big Farms Make Big Flu for Lancet Infectious Diseases:

“The popular narrative of deadly viruses emerging from wild animal reservoirs clearly appeals to humankind’s deeply rooted fascination with wildlife and its dangers. But isn’t such a focus on the zoonotic origin of emerging infectious diseases distracting attention from the more important social, economic, and cultural forces operating at different spatial and temporal scales and contributing to the chain of causality leading to epidemics?

myfoordistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - big farms make big flu

“In his book, Big farms make big flu: dispatches on influenza, agribusiness, and the nature of science, evolutionary ecologist Rob Wallace calls on virology, phylogeography, political ecology, mathematical modelling, and economics to tackle those questions by taking us on a rich and fascinating journey through the multiple layers of causality in the emergence of disease. In parallel to multiple dispatches on influenza and other emerging infectious diseases, Wallace addresses a number of biocultural issues linked to the globalisation of food and fibre markets…

“What makes Wallace’s book a must-read for those concerned with emerging infectious diseases, and many other issues emerging from modern food systems, is the breadth of interrelated themes and the richness and thought-provoking nature of the assemblage. Readers will put down this book thinking of emerging infectious diseases in a different light; cognisant of their multiple and intertwined root causes in the context of our rapidly changing agro-ecological environment.”

Official website: here.

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - rokjesdag - skirt day

Skirt Day (Rokjesdag) (2016)

Rokjesdag is a Dutch term, meaning “skirt day”. It is the first sunny day of the year, when women altogether start wearing (short) skirts. “A great and beautiful day” according to Martin Bril, a Dutch writer and columnist who made the word “rokjesdag” a household word in the Netherlands.

In Skirt Day (Rokjesdag) the film, Spring is in the air and the film’s characters are attending a cooking course for singles. You can (sort of) imagine the rest. 🙂

Director: Johan Nijenhuis
Writer: Eveline Hagenbeek
Stars: Lisa Zweerman, Barbara Sloesen, Loek Peters

Note: the film trailer and title song below are in Dutch language; but I don’t think anyone would have trouble breaking a laugh with what’s going on. 🙂

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and recipes from all over the World - featured posts - editorial

Fat Fiction documentary: a review and a few thoughts

I watched the “Fat Fiction” documentary with great interest. In the end, I was far from disappointed for having done so: informative, well researched, well informed and at times dissonant in connection to what many of us believe to be “normal” when it comes to breakfast, lunch or dinner.

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - fat fiction documentary

In the way I understand it, the gist of Fat Fiction comes down to “if you think that there’s health and well-being in a ‘food pyramid’ diet based principally on carbohydrates and low-fat foods…. think again, because here’s ample evidence for the opposite”.

Many eye-opening books and critiques have been written regarding the political and economical agenda behind the “food-pyramid” guidelines. Denise Minger’s “Death by Food Pyramid” is one of them. Marion Nestle’s “Food Politics” is another. The reading list is long but you can find a few suggestions here.

All in all, investigative journalists and thinkers do present ample evidence of what a low-fat and high-carbohydrate (metabolizing into sugar) diet can do: obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure etc. Reacting to this picture, Fat Fiction suggests real life examples as to how – in the documentary’s opinion – a diet based on fat and animal protein (the Ketogenic or “Keto” diet) can reverse the effects and illness caused by a low-fat, high-carb diet.

I will not argue in favour or against the documentary’s claims because my subject here is neither the food pyramid, nor the vilification or commendation of dietary fat.

My subject here is Fat Fiction’s sense of “moderation”, or rather: the lack of it.

Throughout Fat Fiction I couldn’t help but witness a metaphoric pendulum swinging from one extreme (American food-pyramid diet, low fat) to the other extreme (Ketogenic diet, full fat).

The argument, my argument, is that neither of the two (food pyramid, Keto) takes into account the middle dietary ground many people in the World, and North America, live by.

Ask any Italian about pasta. He or she will not reject pasta as a food choice but he or she will indeed reject eating pasta… in excess.

Our bodies need fat and there’s no other way of looking at it. (Personally I never subscribed to the “low-fat” message; the few times I tried “low-fat” foods left me always hungry and always eating – much to the delight of the processed food industry, no doubt.) However, dietary fat, particularly animal fat, can and will become questionable when consumed… in excess.

Eating meat is no different; most ancient cultures include a little meat in their diets. E.g. red meat is often present in East Asian plates of food; but just one American or Canadian restaurant-size beef portion is probably enough to feed an Asian family of four.

We now know that excessive consumption of meat brings on gout and other unpleasant diseases, not to mention the depletion of resources excessive production of meat is all about: each kg or 2 lbs of beef brought to the market takes 15,416 litres of water to produce – not to mention that the three largest North American meat producers (Cargill, Tyson and JBS) emitted in 2016 more green-house gases than… France. (The Guardian even suggests that if all Americans exchanged beef for beans, their country would be close to meeting the greenhouse gas goals agreed by Barack Obama.)

Other cultures incorporate complex Lent and fasting rules in their understanding of how to go about life. E.g. the Greek Orthodox (religious) dietary code prescribes going vegan in regular intervals spread among +14 weeks out of 52 weeks of any given year. For the remaining 38 weeks of the year, consumption of red meat is restricted to once a week, or 38 times a year – and the same goes for white meat and fish. This means that the people following the Greek Orthodox lent/fast rules do make a point in purging and regenerating “intestinal flora” and alternating animal-based and plant-based proteins in regular intervals, year-in and year-out. When did all this start? We don’t really know but we can safely assume “centuries” before the ideas of “intestinal flora” or “protein” were even conceived.

If we think about it, it all starts and ends at your, my, our plate; and ends in how much of what to put in it, when, how often and for how long. Our answers to these questions dictate the amount of resources required to produce food and also our quality of life by eating it.

So, on one hand, my choice as to what to put in my plate is totally connected to natural resources. E.g. the amount of water required to produce one pound (1/2 Kg) of beef is 7,708 litres of water; that of a pound of lentils is 2,816 litres of water, a pound of tofu (talking about protein) costs 1,208 litres of water or 1/7th of the water-cost of a pound of beef; that of potatoes comes down to a mere 136 litres of water per pound of produce and eggplants cost 172 litres of water per pound of produce. (When was the last time you cooked an eggplant stew, by the way? Here’s a recipe; and here’s another. Searching for “eggplant” in this blog will give you more. 🙂

On the other hand, there’s the size of my stomach and the welfare of my body. How much can I eat, really? Well, a lot, apparently. That’s the kind of thing that “investors”, “markets” and certain ad-based media thrive on.

Sometimes I dare amuse myself with the thought that if it was left entirely to “the market” they would probably very much like to force-feed us with copyrighted edibles (that is: GMO foods) on a 24/7 basis because the ever expanding size of our stomachs fosters “economic growth” and the kind of spreadsheet “investors” really like to talk about when they are very busy not eating the kind of food they are selling.

Jokes aside, though, I wonder:

Can I really afford the luxury of shunning good, decent, proven foods? Does choosing meat and rejecting pasta, or choosing lentils and rejecting cheese sound reasonable?

After all, sheep, goats and cows do exist, and for as long as they exist they produce milk on a daily basis and that milk is turned into butter, cheese, yogourt and other dairy products people have been eating for millennia – alongside with lentils, potatoes and other humble crops demanding less environmental cost to grow. So, honestly, I can’t in good conscience imbibe the luxury of rejecting one kind of food and favour another by committing myself to oh-so-popular or modern dietary extremities.

I am for ever grateful for the (real, un-copyrighted) food that lands on my table and I dare not reject some of it because it is – at times – “popular” to do so.

After all, dietary fat was popular until it wasn’t. Dietary low-fat is popular until it won’t be. Eggs were unpopular for decades now – until they weren’t. (Is there an end to this nonsense, by the way?)

Summing it up, I see a lot of human, social and eco-nomic benefit and sense in the ways certain old cultures went about food and well being. A little bit of this, a little bit of that, all in moderation and nothing in excess – there’s some traditional wisdom here that we, the modern, ought to humbly re-explore, I think.

Be well,

Chris

References:

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - wasabi - film

Wasabi (2000)

Wasabi is a 2001 French action-comedy film directed by Gérard Krawczyk and written and produced by Luc Besson. The film stars Jean Reno, Michel Muller and Ryōko Hirosue. In France, it was released as “Wasabi, la petite moutarde qui monte au nez” (“Wasabi, the little mustard that gets right up your nose”).

The film gets its title from a scene where the protagonist, Hubert Fiorentini (Jean Reno), eats a whole serving of wasabi at a Japanese restaurant without flinching.

Here’s the (really hilarious) clip. Enjoy!

Wasabi – funny clip
myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - feature films - Kung Fu Chefs

Kung Fu Chefs (2009)

When martial arts meet culinary arts… nothing gets more hilarious! KUNG FU CHEFS revolves around one master chef training an up-and-coming chef for the championship title. However, this contest isn’t only about food.

Starring world renowned Kung Fu master, Sammo Hung, actress Cherrie Ying (LETHAL ANGELS), Lam Tze-chung (KUNG FU HUSTLE), and pop idol Vanness Wu (DRAGON SQUAD).

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - eating on the wild side

Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration

The nutritional losses did not begin 50 or 100 years ago, Jo Robinson has learned, but thousands of years earlier when we first abandoned our native diet of wild plants and game and began to domesticate animals and grow food in the first primitive gardens. Unwittingly, the choices we made about how to feed our livestock and what to plant in our gardens reduced the amount of vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants in the human diet, which compromised our ability to fight disease and enjoy optimum health.

Jo Robinson is a bestselling, investigative journalist who has spent the past 15 years scouring research journals for information on how we can restore vital nutrients to our fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, and dairy products.

Robinson is a nationally recognized expert in how to recapture those lost nutrients. Her insights into the benefits of raising animals on pasture have been featured in scores of magazines, newspapers, and radio shows, including Sunset Magazine, The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, NPR’s All Things Considered, and Mother Earth News.

Official website: http://www.eatwild.com/jo.html

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - fat fiction documentary

Fat Fiction

What if everything we’ve been told about saturated fat is fiction? And what if the “Low-Fat, heart-healthy” diet is one of the worst health recommendations in history?

FAT FICTION (formerly known as BIG FAT LIE) is a film that questions decades of diet advice insisting that saturated fats are bad for us. Along the way, we’ll reveal the lies we’ve been told about fats, learn what fats are good, what fats are bad, and what we can do to reclaim our health.

Narrated by Dr. Mark Hyman
Directed by Jennifer Isenhart

Official website: https://fatfiction.movie/

Fat Fiction Extras – A Filmmaker’s Journey
myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - fantastic fungi

Fantastic Fungi

When so many are struggling for connection, inspiration and hope, Fantastic Fungi brings us together as interconnected creators of our world.

Fantastic Fungi, directed by Louie Schwartzberg, is a consciousness-shifting film that takes us on an immersive journey through time and scale into the magical earth beneath our feet, an underground network that can heal and save our planet.

Through the eyes of renowned scientists and mycologists like Paul Stamets, best-selling authors Michael Pollan, Eugenia Bone, Andrew Weil and others, we become aware of the beauty, intelligence and solutions the fungi kingdom offers us in response to some of our most pressing medical, therapeutic, and environmental challenges.

Official Website: https://fantasticfungi.com

Karei (Curry) Udon Noodles

Cuisine: Japanese
Region: Common

A classic, hearty, every-day Curry Udon meal from Japan. Easy to make, it can be as spicy as you want it to be – no hard rules here. Enjoy!

Serves : 4
Cooking time: approx. 30 minutes
You will need: two pots, a colander and a frying pan

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp oil,
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp of flour,
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp curry powder,
  • 5 cups hot vegetable stock, or Shiitake mushroom stock,
  • 4 Tbsp soy sauce,
  • 4 bundles Udon noodles,
  • 3 to 4 scallions, chopped.

Instructions

  1. Dice the scallions.
  2. First, heat up the vegetable stock. You want it hot but you don’t want it boiling or scalding hot.
  3. Put the pan on the stove, add the oil and turn the fire on to medium-high heat.
  4. After the oil is heated turn the fire down to low-heat.
  5. Add the curry powder and stir for a minute or two.
  6. Add the flour and stir for another minute or two. Make sure you that curry and flour are mixed well in the pan.
  7. Now it’s time for the hot vegetable stock: pour it into the frying pan all at once and stir well. The mixture will become thick in no time.
  8. Add the soy sauce and stir.
  9. Simmer until the mixture is thick enough to coat a wooden spoon.
  10. While the sauce is simmering, start cooking the Udon noodles: boil water in a pot, add the Udon and cook them to al dente.
  11. Drain the boiling water, and rinse the Udon with cold(ish) water.

Serving

Distribute the Udon noodles in 4 bowls, ladle curry sauce into each bowl and garnish with the scallions. Serve immediately.

Notes on Karei (Curry) Udon Noodles

  • When it comes to cooking oil, rapeseed oil is one of the cooking oils traditionally used in Japanese Cuisine. Olive oil will also do.
  • You can substitute wheat flour with rice flour, too.
  • Do adjust the Curry powder quantity depending on the type and heat of your Curry.
  • You could use mushroom stock instead of vegetable stock. See below.
  • If your vegetable stock is not hot, instead of pouring it in all at once pour it in little by little while whisking the mixture – otherwise the sauce will turn out lumpy. (Don’t want that.)
  • If you don’t already have a vegetable stock here’s a generic recipe on How to Make Vegetable Stock and/or Shiitake Mushroom Stock.
  • Enjoy!

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - after truth documentary

After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News

After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News (2020) examines “fake news,” its victims, its perpetrators, and its consequences. It investigates the ongoing threat caused by the phenomenon of “fake news” in the U.S., focusing on the real-life consequences that disinformation, conspiracy theories and false news stories have on the average citizen, both in an election cycle and for years to come.

Directed by Andrew Rossi (“Page One: Inside the New York Times,” HBO’s “Le Cirque: A Table in Heaven”) and executive produced by CNN’s Brian Stelter.

Official website: https://www.hbo.com/documentaries/after-truth-disinformation-and-the-cost-of-fake-news

Shiitake Mushroom Stock

Shiitake no Dashi

Cuisine: Japanese
Region: Common

The Shiitake Mushroom Stock is used as a vegetable stock in other Japanese recipes. Unlike other vegetable stocks, this one requires neither simmering, nor boiling (Yes, it is possible.) Enjoy!

Yield: 4 cups
Cooking time: +3 hrs
You need: a bowl

Ingredients

  • 15 to 20 dried shiitake mushrooms,
  • 4 cups of water.

Instructions

  1. Take a bowl and add 4 cups of cold water.
  2. Add the shiitake mushrooms into the bowl and leave them soaking for at least 3 hrs.
  3. The water in the bowl will become brown – from light brown to dark brown. This is the stock. 🙂

Notes on Shiitake Mushroom Stock

  • If you don’t intend to use the stock in the same day, cover the bowl and put it in the fridge. It will last for approx. 2 weeks.
  • When you take it out of the fridge either allow the stock to gradually adjust to room temperature before heating it up for further use.
  • Enjoy!
myfoodistry - Monsanto predicted crop system would damage US farms

Monsanto predicted crop system would damage US farms

Internal documents describe how to profit from farmer losses and desire to oppose some independent testing

Excerpt from: The Guardian
Written by Carey Gillam
Last modified on Mon 30 Mar 2020 19.00 BST

myfoodistry - Monsanto predicted crop system would damage US farms
Photo by Vijendra Singh

The US agriculture giant Monsanto and the German chemical giant BASF were aware for years that their plan to introduce a new agricultural seed and chemical system would probably lead to damage on many US farms, internal documents seen by the Guardian show.

Risks were downplayed even while they planned how to profit off farmers who would buy Monsanto’s new seeds just to avoid damage, according to documents unearthed during a recent successful $265m lawsuit brought against both firms by a Missouri farmer.

The documents, some of which date back more than a decade, also reveal how Monsanto opposed some third-party product testing in order to curtail the generation of data that might have worried regulators.

And in some of the internal BASF emails, employees appear to joke about sharing “voodoo science” and hoping to stay “out of jail”.

The new crop system developed by Monsanto and BASF was designed to address the fact that millions of acres of US farmland have become overrun with weeds resistant to Monsanto’s glyphosate-based weedkillers, best known as Roundup. The collaboration between the two companies was built around a different herbicide called dicamba.

Importantly, under the system designed by Monsanto and BASF, only farmers buying Monsanto’s dicamba-tolerant cotton and soybean seeds would be protected from dicamba drift damage. Other cotton and soybean farmers and farmers growing everything from wheat to watermelons would be at risk from the drifting dicamba…

Read more at The Guardian

Eggplant Parmigiana

Parmigiana Di Melanzane

Cuisine: Italian
Region: Sicily

Eggplant Parmigiana or Parmigiana Di Melanzane is a traditional 3-ingredient recipe from Sicily, Italy. Contrary to what we would all think, “Parmigiana” does not mean “with Parmesan cheese”. Parmigiana comes from the Sicilian word parmiciana which means “latticed”, describing the way the eggplant slices are arranged in the baking pan or casserole prior to baking. Enjoy!

Serves: 4
Cooking time: approx. 60 min
You need: a bowl, a tray, a skillet, a frying pan and an oven-proof casserole or pan

Ingredients

  • 4 medium eggplants (aubergines),
  • 2 cans of tomatoes,
  • 2, or more, garlic cloves,
  • 250g to 300g (0.5 to 0.8 Lbs) of grated Pecorino cheese,
  • 1 onion – preferably red,
  • 1 cup of of basil leaves,
  • A bit of olive oil,
  • A bit of flour.

Instructions

First, make the tomato sauce

  1. Peel and cut the onion in half.
  2. Peel the garlic cloves and smash them flat with the broad side of a knife.
  3. Take a skillet or broad fraying pan, add a bit of olive oil and then add the tomatoes.
  4. Add the onion and the garlic cloves.
  5. Add the basil leaves.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Mix the ingredients with a wooden spoon and turn the fire on to high.
  8. Bring the mixture to a boil and immediately lower the fire to medium.
  9. Allow the sauce to simmer for about 30 minutes.

While the tomato sauce is simmering… prepare the eggplants

  1. Add some flour in a bowl.
  2. Wash the eggplants, dry them with a towel, chop off the narrow ends and then cut them into slices of approx. 1 cm ( 1/2 inch) thick.
  3. Add a bit of olive oil in the frying pan and turn the fire on to medium-high.
  4. Pass the eggplant slices lightly through the flour. Shake off any excess flour and fry them in the pan in batches, like 4 or 5 slices at one go, until they are tender. (Remember, they are going to be baked into the oven a little later, so, don’t overcook them.)
  5. Remove the eggplants from the frying pan with a slotted spoon and put them on a tray. Then pat them dry with a kitchen paper.
  6. Sprinkle a bit of salt over each fried eggplant batch as you go.

Combine and bake

  1. By now, the tomato sauce must be ready.
  2. Turn on the oven to 200C or 392F and let it preheat.
  3. Take your oven proof casserole or baking pan and spread some of the tomato sauce on the bottom. This is your first layer.
  4. On top of the tomato sauce layer arrange a layer of eggplant slices in a lattice pattern. (“Parmigiana”, remember? :))
  5. Sprinkle some of your grated Pecorino cheese on top of the eggplant layer and repeat the exercise until you have used up all the ingredients.
  6. Be careful so that the top layer is made of tomato sauce and grated Pecorino cheese.
  7. Bake in the oven for approx. 30 minutes and then under the grill for another 5 minutes (to make the top crispier).

Notes on Eggplant Parmigiana

  • Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
  • Most North American gas stoves come with a grill under the oven compartment. If your stove is different you may want to place the casserole or pan in the upper half of your oven, which is generally hotter than the bottom half.
  • This recipe can be as simple or complicated as one may wish to make it. E.g. there are Eggplant Parmigiana recipes out there calling for a combination of cheeses, even for… mozzarella. Try the (this) simple version first, see how it goes and then feel free to experiment next time.
  • Pecorino cheese is made of sheep-milk, which is a lot more digestible than cheese made from cow’s milk. Pecorino is also a bit rough and tangy, combining very well with the slightly bitter taste of the eggplant and the sweetness of the tomato sauce. If you have to use a different kind of cheese then try to select one that tastes closer to Pecorino than away from it.

Enjoy!

Modified | myfoodistry

Modified

“Beautiful beyond words”

Joan Baxter, Medium

The award-winning film Modified follows a personal and poignant mother-daughter investigative journey into the world of genetically modified foods (GMOs). Filmed over 10 years and anchored in the filmmaker’s relationship to her mother (a gardener and food activist who battled cancer during the film’s production), the film asks why GMOs are not labelled on foods in the United States and Canada, despite being labelled in 64 countries around the world.

Filmmaker Aube Giroux says, “While making Modified, I tried to access basic information from Health Canada about how GMOs are regulated in Canada but I came across many barriers, including the fact that Health Canada does not track which GMOs are being grown in Canada and in which food products they are being sold. Health Canada also refused to be interviewed and answer questions in my documentary, which speaks volumes about the lack of transparency within our food system. I was grateful to be able to access the information I was looking for from CBAN. As a filmmaker and researcher, I found CBAN to be an invaluable source of meticulously researched data about GMOs in Canada. We are lucky to have an organization such as CBAN, which makes available the information that our government should be providing, but isn’t.”

An official selection at 70 international film festivals. Recipient of 15 awards including the 2019 James Beard Award for Best Documentary. For more information, visit us at modifiedthefilm.com

The award-winning documentary film “Modified” is now available online! You can watch it  online for $5 – or order it for a community screening.

Stream in English: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/modified
Stream in French: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/modifie
Order DVDs: https://www.modifiedthefilm.com/dvd
Order for a public screening: https://www.modifiedthefilm.com/host-a-screening

Irish Potato and Leek Soup

Cuisine: Irish
Region: Common

When we think of “Ireland” and “food” we often think of “potatoes” (and beer; and cheese and pubs :). Well, this is a nice, easy, tasty and hearty Irish recipe using potatoes and leeks as a base and a whole host of other goodies to give it taste and texture. Enjoy!

Serves: 8-10
Cooking time: approx. 30min
You need: a pot

Ingredients

  • 4 Tsp olive oil.
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped.
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced.
  • 8 cups vegetable stock or warm water.
  • 3 cups of light cream.
  • 4 Tsp dill, chopped.
  • 4 Tsp parsley, chopped.
  • 4 Tsp tarragon, chopped.
  • 1 Tsp dried thyme.
  • 4 cups leeks, chopped. That generally translates to 3-4 leeks.
  • 2 small onions, chopped.
  • 8 medium potatoes, peeled, coarsely chopped.
  • 2 Tsp salt.
  • 1 Tsp pepper.

Instructions

  1. Wash your vegetables well – particularly the leeks.
  2. Take a pot, put it on the stove and add the olive oil.
  3. Turn on the fire to medium heat.
  4. Add the leeks, celery, onion and garlic and saute until they soften up.
  5. Add the vegetable stock or water, thyme, potatoes, salt and pepper.
  6. Wait until it begins to boil and then lower the fire.
  7. Keep simmering until the potatoes are soft and tender.
  8. Time for the cream and the herbs: stir them all in and keep stirring from time to time.
  9. Let it simmer for a few minutes.
  10. Turn off the fire.
  11. Take the pot off the stove and set aside for 10 minutes or so to cool off a bit, allowing the juices to combine.

Notes on the Irish Potato and Leek Soup

  • Serve with warm bread.
  • Feel free to scale the recipe down – can’t harm it.
  • If your ingredient ratios turn out to be a little less of one and a bit more of the other – don’t worry. You can’t go wrong. 🙂
myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration

More Than Honey

MORE THAN HONEY is the provocative yet touching tale of what may happen to mankind if bees keep dying. It is a 2M Euro budget documentary directed by Oscar nominated director Markus Imhoof and by the creators of “LET´S MAKE MONEY”& “WE FEED THE WORLD”.

Albert Einstein once said: “If bees ever die out, mankind will have only four years left to live”. In the past years, billions of honeybees simply vanished for reasons still obscure. If the bees keep dying, it will have drastic effects for humans as well: more than one third of our food production depends on pollination by honeybees. Seeking answers, the film embarks on a world journey to discover bees and men.

Over the past 15 years, numerous colonies of bees have been decimated throughout the world, but the causes of this disaster remain unknown. Depending on the world region, 50% to 90% of all local bees have disappeared, and this epidemic is still spreading from beehive to beehive – all over the planet. Everywhere, the same scenario is repeated: billions of bees leave their hives, never to return. No bodies are found in the immediate surroundings, and no visible predators can be located.

In the US, the latest estimates suggest that a total of 1.5 million (out of 2.4 million total beehives) have disappeared across 27 states. In Germany, according to the national beekeepers association, one fourth of all colonies have been destroyed, with losses reaching up to 80% on some farms. The same phenomenon has been observed in Switzerland, France, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Austria, Poland and England, where this syndrome has been nicknamed “the Mary Celeste Phenomenon”, after a ship whose crew vanished in 1872.

Scientists have found… read more at the official site.

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspirations

The Irish Pub

THE IRISH PUB is a celebration of the greatest institution in Irish society, the pub or more specifically the traditional Irish publicans who run them. The characters in this exceptionally endearing film all run and own pubs that have been in their families for generations and it is through their warmth, wit and wisdom that we gain an insight into the heart and soul of THE IRISH PUB.

ATOM FILMS  in Association with BORD SCANNAN NA hÉIREANN/ THE IRISH FILM BOARD present THE IRISH PUB. Composer: DENIS CLOHESSY Clarinet: CONOR SHEIL Editor, Sound and Camera: ALEX FEGAN. Directed and Produced by ALEX FEGAN.
© 2014 Atom Films.

Official website: here.

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration

Strudel Sisters

Ilona and Erzsébet are sisters living in the small Hungarian town of Tura. They make “big strudels on small tables” in much the same way their beloved mother did when they were children during the communist era. What starts as an ode to a disappearing way of life quickly becomes a beautifully harmonic anthem to sisterhood, freedom, mothers and, of course, strudel.

Winner of the Devour Golden Tine Award for Best Short Documentary. Official Selection at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, Sydney Film Festival and more.

Produced and Directed by Peter Hegedus and Jaina Kalifa
Camera: Peter Hegedus and Jaina Kalifa
Editor: Jaina Kalifa
Audio Post Production: Rafe Sholer

Korean Beef Short Rib Soup with Glass Noodles – Galbi-tang

Galbi-tang – 갈비탕, –湯

Cuisine: Korean
Region: Common

Galbi-tang is a hearty yet fragrant and often delicate clear beef short rib soup, traditionally offered at Korean wedding receptions. It is now one of Korea’s staple recipes and a regular entry in every Korean restaurant’s menu that’s worth its salt. (Pun intended. :)) Galbi-tang is not difficult to make; but, as all good soups and stews, it just takes some patience – that’s all. Time to cook, eh?

Serves 4 to 6
Cooking time: approx. 150 min (2.5 hrs)
You will need: a pot

Ingredients

  • 1.5 Kg (3 Lbs) beef short ribs, roughly 6 cm or 1.5 inch thick.
  • 3/4 Kg (1.5 Lbs) Korean radish, moo or daikon.
  • 1 large garlic bulb.
  • 1 medium sized yellow onion.
  • 1 piece of ginger, at the size of a thumb.
  • 3 to 6 green onions, plus more green onions for garnishing.
  • 15 cups cold water
  • 140 g (5 oz) Dangmyeon (Korean glass noodles).
  • 1/2 Tsp soy sauce.
  • 1/2 Tsp fish sauce.
  • 1/2 to 1 Tbsp sea salt.
  • Extra salt and pepper for serving.

Instructions

Preparation

  1. Take a large pot, fill it up with cold water, put it on the stove, turn the fire on high and bring it to a boil.
  2. While you wait for the water to boil, wash the vegetables.
  3. Peel the Korean radish and cut off the edges.
  4. Cut the garlic bulb in half.
  5. Cut the edges of the onion, without removing the skin.
  6. Slice the ginger in rounds.
  7. Chop the green onions in halves.
  8. When the water starts boiling, add the short ribs in the pot and blanch them for about 10 minutes.
  9. Then, empty the pot in a colander, rinse the meat under cold water and put it aside.

Cooking

  1. Wash the pot.
  2. Arrange the blanched meat and the vegetables in the pot and add 15 (fifteen) cups of cold water.
  3. Turn the fire on high and bring it to boil with the lid off.
  4. Skim the scum and fat as required.
  5. When the froth is clear of scum and fat, reduce the fire to medium, put the lid on and simmer for 2 hours.
  6. While the meat and vegetables are simmering it’s time to soak the Korean glass noodles: take a bowl, add warm (not hot) water and let the noodles soak while pot meat and vegetable pot is simmering.
  7. Two hours later: turn the fire off and remove all vegetables with a slotted spoon or sieve.
  8. Discard all vegetables except for the radish (you’re going to use that, later).
  9. Make sure the bottom of the pot is clean.
  10. Season the stew to taste with the prescribed condiments: soy sauce, fish sauce and sea salt.
  11. The soup is ready.

Combining / Serving

  1. Slice the cooked radish into bite-size pieces.
  2. Chop 1 to 2 green onions for garnish.
  3. If the Galbi-tang soup has cooled off by the time you serve, bring it back to boil.
  4. Arrange the glass noodles in each serving bowl and add the sliced radish.
  5. Pour your boiling hot ribs and soup into the serving bowl, so that the glass noodles are cooked through.
  6. Garnish each bowl with green onion and black pepper.

Sides

Warm rice is classic side dish to Galbi-tang. In general, accompanying the main course with a plethora of other nibblers (in this case: kimchi, sour plums, bean sprouts, etc., is often the norm.

Notes

It is popular in Asia to soak meat in cold water for 2 to 3 hours prior to cooking. They do that in order to remove any remaining blood, and this makes a clearer soup. If you decide to do that then do replace the soaking water every hour or so.

Enjoy!

Korean Potato Soup – Kamja Guk

Kamja Guk

Cuisine: Korean
Region: Common

An easy, uncomplicated and hearty recipe this Korean Potato Soup. One would think that it is ideal for lunch or dinner but in Korea they also serve it as breakfast. The recipe calls for broth or stock, so, depending on the stock you’re going to use the dish can be equally be vegetarian, vegan, lenten or none of the above. Enjoy!

Serves: 4-6
Cooking time: approx. 20 min.
You will need: a skillet.

Ingredients

  • 2 large potatoes.
  • 2 medium carrots.
  • 3 cups of chicken, beef or vegetable broth.
  • 1/2 cup of fresh mushrooms, quartered.
  • 1 fresh (green) onion, chopped.
  • Salt and pepper.

Instructions

  1. Peel carrots and potatoes and cut them in bite-size pieces.
  2. Put them in a large skillet and add the broth.
  3. Put the skillet on the stove, turn the fire on to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil.
  4. Cook, uncovered, for about about 6 to 8 minutes.
  5. Turn the fire down to low, cover the skillet and cook for another 8 to 10 minutes – until the vegetables are very tender.
  6. Add the mushrooms.
  7. Add the green onion.
  8. Pepper to taste, stir well and cook for another couple of minutes.

Notes

Pasta with Butter and Cream – all’ Alfredo

Pasta all’ Alfredo

Cuisine: Italian
Region: Northern Italy

Yes, Pasta with Butter and Cream – a.k.a. Pasta all’ Alfredo – has very little to do with the all-millennial “tuna salad” lunch or dinner; yet, good food is good food and there’s no two ways about that. 🙂 This is an easy and fast pasta recipe to make – and you don’t need to eat a lot of it to feel satisfied. Enjoy!

Serves: 4-6
Cooking time: approx. 20 min.
You will need: a pot and a skillet.

Ingredients

  • 500 g (1 Lb) pasta of our choice – Fettuccine, Linguine, Spaghetti, Gnocchi or any type of pasta you like.
  • 1/4 cup of butter.
  • 1 cup whipping cream.
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese + additional cheese for serving.
  • Salt and pepper.

Instructions

For the pasta

  1. Take a pot, fill it up with water up to two thirds, and add salt.
  2. Put the pot on the stove and turn the fire on to high heat, bringing the water to a boil.
  3. Add the pasta to the pot and cook, uncovered, according to instructions.
  4. Drain the pasta.

For the Alfredo sauce

  1. Take a skillet, add the butter, put it on the stove and turn on the fire to medium heat.
  2. Melt the butter.
  3. When the butter foams, add the cream.
  4. Simmer the mixture for about 2 minutes or until it starts to thicken.
  5. Season with salt and white pepper.

Combining

  1. Empty the pasta in the skillet with the butter and cream over medium fire.
  2. Add your 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.
  3. Toss the pasta and sauce in the skillet until the sauce coats the pasta. It should take about 20 to 30 seconds.
  4. Serve immediately, while it’s hot.
  5. Sprinkle each serving plate with additional Parmesan cheese, to taste.

Notes

How to Peel Artichokes – and a few words about their health benefits

For most of us the very idea of an “artichoke” is intimidating – never mind peeling one! But, all is not lost and things aren’t as bad as they seem. Watch the video.

And here and here you will find a few words about the health benefits of artichokes (such as potential anticancer effects, improved heart health, regulated blood pressure etc).

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration

Healing With Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition

By Paul Pitchford

Healing With Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition | myfoodistry

There is a near-consensus among health authorities that whole, unrefined foods represent a fundamental truth in support of individual health and well-being. The whole foods movement is a common sense approach that is quietly extending through all economies and social classes to overcome the madness resulting from highly processed, refined, genetically modified, and synthetic (non-) foods that have turned modern societies into centers of degenerative disease. At the end of the day, wholesome foods are destined to be a biologic remedy that, in concert with organic farming and plant medicine, has the capacity to heal the Earth and her peoples.

The quality whole foods approach works at the foundations of healing, that is, it acts as a foundation for all healing systems. Newer developments in science are beginning to value foundational medicine as well; these approaches are sometimes referred to as “systems biology, integrative medicine, and functional medicine.” From the perspective of the Healing-with-Whole-Foods paradigm, it is not just food alone, but also other priorities that nurture us deeply and eternally. Awareness practices primarily represent this function. Meditation, prayer and other ways of quieting and focusing the mind and fortifying the spirit are in fact a priority in healing, providing clear guidance regarding which food and other lifestyle choices are most effective.

Read more about the book

Author’s interview

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration

The Connection

The Connection is a film about how frontier research is proving that there is a direct connection between your mind and your health.

The film features scientists, researchers, writers and doctors, as well as remarkable true stories of people adding mind body medicine to their healing toolkit to recover from severe back pain, heart disease, infertility, cancer and multiple sclerosis. While the science is complex, the solutions for people suffering with illness are astonishingly simple. The film shows that we can counter the harmful affects of stress with an equally powerful relaxation response triggered through specific techniques such as meditation.

It shows that emotions can impact the course of an illness for better or for worse and could even be the difference between life and death. The film explains the mechanisms behind belief, which scientists now know contributes 30 to 50 percent of the effect of any known biological cure and explores how scientists at the cutting edge are now learning that the mind can even influence the expression of genes and the rate at which we age.

Official site, here.

Disclaimer: please do your own research before you make decisions that may or can affect your own self and others around you.

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration - imagine - documentaries

The Junk Food Experiment

Dietary expert Dr Michael Mosley has promised that “things are going to get scary” during ITV’s latest programme, The Junk Food Experiment.

In this 90-minute programme, six famous faces (singer Peter AndreThe Chase mastermind and barrister Shaun Wallace, politician Nadine Dorries, actress Hayley Tamaddon, Olympian Tessa Sanderson and TV personality Hugo Taylor ) have agreed to put their bodies on the line and become guinea pigs in an extreme scientific experiment to find out what our junk food lifestyle is actually doing to us.

You can watch the entire documentary, here.

With Information from: inews.co.uk

Lamb or Goat with Artichokes in Egg and Lemon Sauce

Agginarato

Cuisine: Greek
Region: Crete

A classic, traditional Spring dish from Crete, Greece that’s simple to make and easier to savour. The season for artichokes is between March and June. For the rest of the year you could use canned or frozen artichokes – but do avoid marinated artichokes – they are a totally different deal and will not go well with what we’re making here. Time now to start cooking, eh?

Serves: 4-6
Cooking time +60 min.
You will need: a bowl and a skillet or pot.

Ingredients

  • 1 kg (2 Lbs) baby goat or lamb, chopped into portions. As it is often the case with stews, a shoulder cut is better than others.
  • 1 Kg (2 Lbs) artichokes.
  • 1/2 bunch dill, diced.
  • 1/2 cup (or glass) olive oil.
  • 3 fresh onions.
  • 1 medium sized dry onion.
  • Juice of 1 lemon.
  • 1/2 cup + 1/3 cup of hot water. See notes.
  • Salt and pepper.

For the Egg and Lemon Sauce

  • 2 eggs.
  • Juice of 2 lemons.
  • 1/2 Tbsp flour.

Instructions

Preparation

  1. Take a medium bowl and fill it up with water.
  2. Squeeze a lemon in the bowl and dilute the flour in it.
  3. Peel the artichokes one by one and discard the stems. (Peeling and cleaning artichokes may sound intimidating at first but it’s not that bad. Scroll down to watch the video.)
  4. Cut the artichokes into halves and put them in the bowl.
  5. Dice the dry onion.
  6. Chop the fresh onions into pieces of 1 cm or 1/2 inch.
  7. Dice the dill.
  8. Wash the meat in cold, running water.

Cooking

  1. Pour the olive oil in a skillet or broad pot.
  2. Put the skillet or pot on the stove and turn the fire on to medium-high.
  3. Add the diced dry onion into the skillet or pot and sautee until it’s translucent.
  4. Add the meat and give it a couple of stirs until it changes colour.
  5. Add pepper to taste.
  6. Add the diced fresh onions.
  7. Add the 1/2 cup of hot water.
  8. Lower the fire to medium / medium low (depending on your stove) and let the meat simmer, covered, for about 30-40 minutes. The point here is to retain the steam in the skillet/pot while the meat is cooking gently.
  9. 30 to 40 minutes later, test the meat with a fork. If it falls off the fork then it’s ready for the next stage. If not, add a little hot water as needed and keep simmering until ready.
  10. Add 1/3 cup of hot water.
  11. Add the artichokes into the mix.
  12. Add salt to taste.
  13. Wait for 2-3 minutes and add the dill.
  14. Let the mix simmer for another 10 minutes or so until the artichokes are cooked. (You don’t want the artichokes “crunchy”. You want them “cooked”.)
  15. At this stage you pour into the mixture the egg and lemon sauce.
  16. Shake well so that the egg and lemon sauce spreads evenly in the skillet or pot.

Egg and lemon sauce

  1. Crack the eggs in a small bowl.
  2. Add the juice of your 2 lemons and beat the mixture well.
  3. While you beat the eggs, little by little keep adding a little juice from the skillet or pot until the bowl is almost full with liquid.

Notes

  • Shaken, not stirred – as good old James Bond might have insisted: after you add the artichokes into the skillet or pot do avoid stirring with a ladle or spoon or you run into the risk of having the artichokes disintegrated. Shaking the skillet or pot will work just fine.
  • Keep adding hot water to the skillet/pot little by little as needed, if needed. The idea is that the mixture should not be cooking in sizzling olive oil – there should always be some hot water in that mix.
  • Goat meat, although very lean, is a bit tougher than lamb. If you’re cooking goat then add more hot water into the skillet/pot and simmer longer than you would have with lamb.
  • Add salt only towards the end, before you mix in the artichokes, otherwise the meat will dry out while cooking and will not be as soft.
  • Wash the meat thoroughly, until there’s no blood in it. A few words about how to prepare lamb or goat for cooking, here.

Health benefits of artichokes

A few words about the health benefits of artichokes (such as potential anticancer effects, improved heart health, regulated blood pressure etc) you will find here and here .

How to peel artichokes

Enjoy!

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration

A Touch of Spice

“A Touch of Spice” is a story about a young Greek boy (Fanis) growing up in Istanbul, whose grandfather, a culinary philosopher and mentor,teaches him that both food and life require a little salt to give them flavor; they both require a touch of spice. Fanis grows up to become an excellent cook and uses his cooking skills to spice up the lives of those around him. 35 years later he leaves Athens and travels back to his birthplace of Istanbul to reunite with his grandfather and his first love; he travels back only to realize that he forgot to put a little bit of spice in his own life.

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration

Apicius – Cookery and Dining In Imperial Rome

De Re Cocinaria
myfoodistry - traditional cooking and modern inspiration

The present first translation into English of the ancient cookery book dating back to Imperial Roman times known as the Apicius book is herewith presented to antiquarians, friends of the Antique as well as to gastronomers, friends of good cheer.

Three of the most ancient manuscript books that exist today bearing the name of Apicius date back to the eighth and ninth century. Ever since the invention of printing Apicius has been edited chiefly in the Latin language. Details of the manuscript books and printed editions will be found under the heading of Apiciana on the following pages.

The present version has been based chiefly upon three principal Latin editions, that of Albanus Torinus, 1541, who had for his authority a codex he found on the island of Megalona, on the editions of Martinus Lister, 1705-9, who based his work upon that of Humelbergius, 1542, and the Giarratano-Vollmer edition, 1922.

We have also scrutinized various other editions forming part of our collection of Apiciana, and as shown by our “family tree of Apicius” have drawn either directly or indirectly upon every known source for our information.

The reasons and raison d’être for this undertaking become sufficiently clear through Dr. Starr’s introduction and through the following critical review.

It has been often said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach; so here is hoping that we may find a better way of knowing old Rome and antique private life through the study of this cookery book—Europe’s oldest and Rome’s only one in existence today.

JOSEPH DOMMERS VEHLING
Chicago, in the Spring of 1926.

Download this book, here.

Project Gutenberg is a library of over 60,000 free eBooks. Choose among free epub and Kindle eBooks, download them or read them online. You will find the world’s great literature here, with focus on older works for which U.S. copyright has expired. Thousands of volunteers digitized and diligently proofread the eBooks, for enjoyment and education.

myfoodistry - traditional cooking and recipes from all over the World - featured posts - editorial

Twenty Years in Ubud

By Ibu Kat

When I moved to Ubud almost 20 years ago, I contacted the editor of the Bali Advertiser with the suggestion that I write a column. I didn’t know anyone here and it seemed like a good way to meet interesting people. Perhaps I’d been sitting up late with Jenny and a bottle of single malt, a combination that has hatched many bright ideas over three decades.

The editor agreed.

I had no idea what I was getting into. I’d been a writer for many years and I knew a deadline from a dartboard, but these deadlines were remorseless. Every second Wednesday I had to pony up with 1,000 words that were interesting, relevant and true whether I felt like it or not. Sometimes I did not feel like it. Very often I sat down under the ticking clock with no idea at all what I was going to write about.

And so began a journey and a journal. I became a window to Bali and my life here for myself and readers. It wasn’t supposed to be like this; Greenspeak was meant to be a column on the environment. But those endless deadlines soon pushed me out of that box, and I began to expand my mandate to include my immediate, personal environment – my garden, my dogs, my staff, my pond, my street. I found myself holding the space for many small encounters and experiences and distilling them into 1,000 words of prose every second Wednesday. My editor Chris, bless him, gave me a very long rope. The only time he censored anything I’ve written was to remove an impassioned and possibly actionable paragraph about a manufacturer of baby formula.

The column led me outside to meet people who are creating positive change on this island – farmers, priests, social activists, Βalians, weavers, environmentalists, scholars. It led me into my garden to observe the plants and creatures there. The column was an excuse for me to contact all kinds of fascinating folk and ask them impertinent questions. It led me inside myself, to examine how I was so touched by Bali’s profound and quirky magic.

And I’ve learned so much… about rice cultivation, poverty, natural textile dyes, sexually transmitted diseases, reptiles, black magic, orphanages, bamboo construction, herbal remedies, natural ventilation, dengue fever, spices, scorpions, so much more.

The more I learned the more curious I became. With a notebook under my arm and a pen behind my ear I visited subaks, rural health clinics, water projects, farms, schools, composting toilets, temples and birthing clinics. I learned how knives and kites are made, how witches are placated and the correct way to hold a python (don’t).

The trouble with writing for a paper is that people tend to believe what they read and be influenced by it. So I had to train myself to be a witness, not a judge. Even if a situation had me raging, I had to present it from a place of calm balance because you would read it. I had to walk the talk, because of you. You kept me honest. You stretched me in all directions.

People my age who settle in this part of Bali often come from an academic or business life. They’ve taken a great leap of faith, leaving a world of reliable medical care, live theatre and good wine to live in a rice field. It’s remarkable what happens to them, over time. The right side of the brain wakes up and starts to dance in Ubud, this little town that is such a crucible of creativity. Tax lawyers and computer wizards take up painting, educators start designing hats. In Singapore I used to write corporate brochures and advertising copy. Now my keyboard clicked to tales of spirits from the undercliff and dragons in the bath.

I’m always pleased and humbled when people tell me they enjoy the column. That never gets old. It’s an odd feeling, actually, to write a story and send it out to the world for strangers to read. Sometimes those strangers wrote to me, and some of them became friends. A couple of times an enraged reader fired off a rant – my writing was too positive, too happy. Was I blind? Didn’t I see the piles of garbage and the mangy dogs and the corruption? Well yes, I do. But long ago I learned that people are just about as happy as they decide to be, and I’ve decided to be happy.

myfoodistry - editorias - bali daze

Over a decade ago people started saying, “You should make a book of these stories.” I thought it over and took the concept to a Bali-based publisher who told me, “No one would be interested in a book like that.” So I took a deep breath and published it myself. Bali Daze (originally Dragons in the Bath) has now sold over 5,000 copies in hard copy and online. I think this indicates that people are indeed interested in the small stories of everyday life in Bali, cross cultural engagement and reptiles in the bathroom.

But Bali has changed a great deal in the past few years.   Outside my gate the town has become noisy and busy, and it’s quite a scene out there these days. Inside my gate Wayan Manis, my housekeeper all this time, remains a precious constant. Many dogs – Karma, Kipper, Kalypso, Casey, Chloe, Daisy, Hamish, Tika, Tilly and Bruno – have shared my home and garden. My life is small, now. I am content. I find I have less to say, so it seems like a good time to stop saying it.

So thank you, Bali Advertiser, for the discipline of two articles a month (later one) for so many years, giving me a platform for my occasional rants and material for two collections of stories. There’s no feeling quite like seeing someone smiling while reading a book I’ve written.

Thank you, Chris and Ratih, for your patience and understanding over cliff-hanger deadlines.

And thank you, dear readers, for all your feedback and support, for stopping me in the street to mention a recent article, for your emails and visits over the years. I’ll miss you, but I won’t miss those deadlines.

Bless you all. Over and out.

Ibu Kat

Bali Daze on Goodreads: here.
Bali Daze on Amazon.com: here.

Octopus with Pasta in the Pot

Cuisine: Greek
Region: Generic

A Greek lenten classic – guaranteed to keep your body going whatever you have to do. Octopus with Pasta in the Pot is going to take some time to cook – approx. 2 hours – but its level of difficulty is minimal: sautee, simmer, stir, do something else while food is cooking. (That difficult. 🙂 ) Enjoy!

Serves: 4 -6
Cooking time: approx. 120 min
You will need: a pot

Ingredients

  • 0.75 – 1 kg (approx. 2lbs) octopus
  • 500g (approx. 1 Lb) pasta, preferably Ditalli, Tubetti or whatever macaroni-like short and hollow pasta you can find.
  • 500g (1 Lb) diced tomatoes. Fresh or canned from a brand you trust.
  • 1 cup (glass) of olive oil.
  • 1/2 cup of white wine or a 1/4 cup vinegar. (Do prefer grape vinegar if that’s an option.)
  • 2-3 diced onions.
  • 3-4 diced garlic cloves.
  • 4 cups of hot water.
  • Salt & pepper.

Istructions

  1. Wash the octopus and cut it in small pieces.
  2. Dice the onions, the garlic and the tomatoes.
  3. Pour the olive oil in a pot, place the pot on the stove and turn on the fire to mid-high.
  4. Wait for a few minutes until the oil is hot and then add in the onions.
  5. Sautee the onions until translucent and add the garlic.
  6. Give it a stir or two and add the octopus.
  7. Sautee the mixture for about 5 minutes.
  8. Lower the fire to medium-low.
  9. Add the wine or vinegar.
  10. Give it a stir, wait for a beat or two, then add 1 glass of hot water.
  11. Add pepper to taste.
  12. Cover the pot.
  13. Let it simmer for about 90 minutes or until the octopus is tender. Give it a stir from time to time just to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
  14. Ninety minutes later: add 3 glasses of hot water.
  15. Add salt to taste.
  16. Add the pasta – Ditalli, Tubetti or similar – to the pot.
  17. Raise the fire to mid-high.
  18. It will take 15-20 min before the pasta is cooked and the liquid is absorbed. So, at this stage stir very often because the pasta can and will stick to the bottom of the pot as it absorbs the liquid.
  19. Turn off the fire, let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes and you’re ready to serve.

Notes on Pasta with Octopus in the Pot

  • If you see that the liquid is absorbed but the pasta is not yet cooked, add 1/2 glass of hot water or so and keep stirring. It will get there.
  • It tastes really good the next day (or the day after…. :))
  • If your palate is used to spices, you can freely add chili flakes, cayen pepper, Gochugaru (Korean spice) etc. It will definitely not harm the recipe.
  • If you’re going for spice, do prefer to add the spice while the octopus is simmering: you need the spice to infuse the liquid and the liquid to infuse the pasta.
  • Enjoy!

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Goat in Fruit Juice in the Oven

Cuisine: Greek
Region: Crete

This one is very interesting. You marinate the goat meat in lemon and orange juice for 12hrs in the fridge. Then you cook it in the oven for approx. 60 minutes. It contains alcohol.

Serves 6
Cooking time: about 60 min
You need: a bowl and an oven pan
Notes: it requires marinading

Ingredients

  • 1+1/2 Kg (3 Lbs) goat meat cut in portions.
  • 1+1/2 glass (cup) lemon juice
  • 1+1/2 glass (cup) orange juice
  • 1/2 glass (cup) brandy wine or 1/4 glass (cup) red vinegar
  • 6 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 150g olive oil
  • 2-3 Tsp oregano
  • 1 glass (cup) of hot water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Cut the meat into portions.
  2. Salt and pepper it.
  3. Put it in a pyrex bowl.
  4. Add to it the lemon juice, the orange juice, the brandy, the oregano and the garlic.
  5. Cover the bowl in leave it in the fridge for 12hrs.
  6. Then, empty the contents of the bowl into an oven pan.
  7. Add the olive oil and the hot water in the pan.
  8. Cook in medium oven (about 180C/350F) for about 60 min.
  9. Depending on your oven, if you see that the liquid evaporates too fast then add some hot water in the pan so that there’s always gravy.

Suggested side dishes

Pasta

  • 500gr of flat, square pasta. (See Notes, below.)
  • 200g grated of hard cheese for the pasta.
  • Cook the pasta in a separate pot and drizzle it with the cheese.

Boiled and Broiled Potatoes

  • Click here for the recipe.

Notes on Goat in Fruit Juice in the Oven

  • Goat meat is very lean and also sinewy (because it’s very lean). The purpose of marinading it for 12hrs in acid (i.e.brandy, lemon and orange juice) is to break down the fiber before you put it in the oven.
  • Preparing deep frozen goat meat (if that’s the case) has a few tricks. Click here for more.
  • You could potentially substitute brandy wine with red vinegar. If that’s the case then all you need is not more than a 1/4 of glass (cup) vinegar. If that’s your choice then bear in mind that vinegar is corrosive; it will stain the metal and it will leach the plastic. Do prefer a glass or pyrex bowl instead.
  • Regarding the appropriate kind of pasta for this recipe: the Greeks use a kind of pasta called CHYLOPITTES. It usually comes in square form and it contains eggs and milk. The closest Italian equivalent is QUADRATTI or QUADRETTINI and they contain neither eggs, nor milk. You could also use Orzo – there’s no hard rule.

Lamb with Pasta in the Oven

Cuisine: Greek
Region: Crete

A simple, hearty, traditional (insanely) delicious recipe from Crete, Greece requiring no particular preparation and… very little cooking skills. Of course you can tweak the recipe with more/other spices, but if you’re cooking this recipe for the first time try to keep it simple.

Serves 6 – 8
Cooking time: 120 min

Ingredients

  • 1 to 1 + 1/2 Kg (2 – 3 Lbs) of lamb. The cut should be a leg with bone.
  • 1 pack of pasta. You can use fettuccine, orzo, maccheroni, caciarecce or any kind of pasta you have in the pantry.
  • 4 fresh tomatoes.
  • 4 – 5 onions.
  • 3 to 4 cloves of garlic.
  • 2 glasses (cups) of hot water.
  • Oregano, salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Start the oven at 200C / 390F. While the oven is heating up:
  2. Wash the meat.
  3. Wash the tomatoes.
  4. Clean the garlic cloves. Do NOT dice.
  5. Cut the onions lengthwise, into ribbons. Do NOT dice.
  6. With a knife, make some incisions to the meat near the bone.
  7. Insert the garlic cloves in the slots.
  8. In a little bowl mix salt, pepper and oregano – to your taste. (You don’t need a lot of salt, because lamb is salty by nature.)
  9. Sprinkle the mix all around the meat.
  10. Take a pan. Then:
  11. Put the meat in the middle
  12. Arrange the onions around it.
  13. Add the pasta on top of the onion.
  14. Put the tomatoes in, two on one side of the meat, and two on the other side. (If the pan is round, arrange the tomatoes like a cross.)
  15. Pour two cups of hot water in the pan.
  16. Put the pan in the oven.
  17. Wait for about 90 to 120 minutes – depending on the amount of meat you used: the more the meat, the more the cooking time.
  18. The food is ready when the meat is cooked and the water has evaporated leaving only “juice” behind.

Notes on Lamb with Pasta in the Oven

On the cooking method
The way this recipe works has to do with “balance”: you need enough water to cook the meat and the pasta in the same time.

Now, if – for a number of reasons – the water:

  • is evaporating too fast, then you can add some hot water in the pan.
  • is not evaporating fast enough, then you can increase the cooking temperature.

Spices
You can try coriander, cardamom, or even chili flakes – and combinations thereof.

A Tip regarding how to treat deep frozen meat: here

Pissaladière – French Savoury Tart

Cuisine: French
Region: Provence, Côt D’ Azur

The Pissaladière is a savoury tart made with onions, olives, grated cheese and anchovy fillets. (It looks like… pizza, but French style.)

Serves 6-8
Cooking time: 20 min
You need: a tart baking pan and a frying pan

Ingredients

  • 250g (8 oz) shortcrust pastry (click here for the recipe)
  • 2 Tbsp olve oil
  • 3 large onions, diced
  • 12 black olives
  • 60g anchovy fillets
  • 125g (4 oz) grated cheese (Cheddar or Gruyere)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 210C / 420F.
  2. Prepare the shortcrust pastry
  3. Heat the oil in a frying pan and saute the onions until they are soft and translucent.
  4. Roll out the pastry and arrange it on a @30cm / 12in shallow tart baking pan.
  5. Add the sauted onions and spread them around the pan.
  6. Place the olives and the anchovies on top of the onions.
  7. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top, evenly.
  8. Bake for @20 min, until the pastry is cooked and the tart looks golden.

Notes on the Pissaladière – French Savoury Tart

  • Serve hot.
  • Shortcrust recipe, here.

Shortcrust Pastry

Cuisine: French
Region: Common

Shortcrust pastry for the Pissaladière or anything else, really.

Makes @ 250g / 8 oz
Preparation time: 10 – 15 min
You need: a baking roller and a bowl

Ingredients

  • 2 cups ( or glasses) of flower
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • @ 180g cold butter
  • A little cold milk

Instructions

  1. Mix the ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Crumble the butter between the tips of your fingers, so that the butter is broken in small crumbs.
  3. Add the milk.
  4. Blend quickly with your hand, turning the dough into a mass.
  5. Shape the dough into a ball. It should be pliable but neither sticky nor damp.
  6. Place the dough onto a pastry board (or any surface you’re using as a pastry board.Our mothers use… the kitchen table 🙂
  7. Knead it gently, to make sure that all the ingredients are mixed well.
  8. Turn it again into a ball, sprinkle some flour on it and wrap it in parchment, or any grease-proof paper.
  9. Put it in the fridge for just a little while – you want it chilled, not cold.
  10. Then, with your baking roller, roll it out to the shape you want.

Notes on Shortcrust Pastry

  • Even you make mistakes, you’ll still end up with a shortcrust, so, no worries. 🙂

Rice with Green Lentils, Raisins and Dates – Persian Style – Adas Polo

Adas Polo or Adas Polow

Cuisine: Persian / Iranian
Region: Common

The Adas Polo is another Persian classic recipe that seldom needs further introduction. The ingredients are available all year long. There are many, many variations of this recipe; some recipes, like this one, are meatless, some use lamb, others use beef, some employ a different mix of spices – the variations are… endless.

Serves 4 – 6
Cooking time: 35 min
You need: a skillet, a colander, a rice-cooker and a pot
Notes: It requires soaking for 2 hrs prior to cooking

Ingredients

  • 1 + 1⁄2 cups lentils, soaked
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • 1/4 Tsp pepper
  • 1/2Tsp turmeric
  • 1/4Tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 Tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4Tsp cardamom
  • 1/8 Tsp cumin
  • 1/2Tsp saffron, dissolved in 2 Tbsp of water – use a pestle and mortar to crush the saffron before you dissolve it in the water.
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 3/4cup dates, pitted and chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted. If available do prefer Ghee.
  • Optional: 1 potato, sliced into thin rounds

Instructions

Phase 1

  1. Wash the rice and soak it for 2 hours (see here)
  2. Wash the lentils very well, leave them to soak for 2 hours and drain them.
  3. Wash the raisins and pat-dry them on a kitchen paper.
  4. Take a large saucepan, add salt, water and the lentils.
  5. Bring it to a boil then reduce the fire to low and simmer the lentils for 20 to 30 minutes, or until they are tender.
  6. Take a colander, drain the water from the lentils and set them aside.

Phase 2

  1. In a skillet, saute the onions and garlic in olive oil until they are golden.
  2. Add the raisins, the dates and the spices – except for the saffron.
  3. Mix well and set aside.

Phase 3

  1. Cook the rice. Most of us use rice-cookers, so…
  2. Add the rice in the rice cooker with how ever much water it requires. (Usually 2 measures of water for one measure of rice. Brown rice needs more water.
  3. Add a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil.
  4. After it’s done, transfer the rice to a large bowl.

Phase 4

  1. Take a pot.
  2. Add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pot.
  3. Add a layer of potato slices.
  4. On top of the potatoes add a layer of rice.
  5. On top of the rice add a layer of the lentil-raisin-date mix.
  6. Keep on going; the top layer should be rice.
  7. Cover the pot and cook on medium fire for 10 minutes or so.
  8. Drizzle the melted butter and the saffron-water over the rice.
  9. Cover the top of the pot with a towel to prevent steam from escaping, and put a lid on top of the towel.
  10. Cook on low fire for about 30 minutes.
  11. At the end of the process the potatoes on the bottom are going to be crispy and the rice will be steamed and infused with the aromas of your spices.
  12. Ready to serve.

Notes Rice with Green Lentils, Raisins and Dates Persian Style – Adas Polo

  • Phases 1, 2 and 3 can be done simultaneously: put the lentils to simmer, put the rice to cook and saute the onions and the rest while the rest is cooking.
  • In Phase 4 it is common practice to arrange the layers like a pyramid, so that the steam comes out of the sides.
  • The crispy bottom is called Tahdig or Tadig and is much prized in Iran.
  • Using a potato is optional – but it does make for a very nice crisp. 🙂

Fresh Herb Kuku – Persian Rice Recipe

Kuku Sabzi

Cuisine: Persian / Iranian
Region: Common

In Iran, this is an essential dish for the New Year’s feast. For the rest of us it’s a fantastic, fresh, and nutritious recipe. It has various preparation stages but don’t let that intimidate you from enjoying a truthfully fragrant dish. Enjoy!

Serves: 6
Cooking time: approx. 15 min
You need: mixing bowls, a skillet, an oven sheet pan and parchment paper

Ingredients

Caramelizing onions

  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium, yellow onions, peeled and finely chopped

Garnish

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1⁄3 cup (50 g) dried barberries, soaked in cold water for 15 minutes, rinsed, and drained
  • 1 Tsp grape molasses* or sugar
  • 2 Tbsp water

Batter

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 Tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp advieh (Persian spice mix. See Notes.)
  • 1+1/2 Tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 Tsp turmeric
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup (40 g) finely chopped Romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 cup (50 g) finely chopped spring onions (white and green parts)
  • 1 cup (85 g) finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup (85 g) finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup (85 g) finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 Tbsp rice flour
  • Optional: 1 Tbsp dried fenugreek

Other

  • 4 Tbsp olive oil, for cooking the kuku

Instructions

Caramelize the onions

  1. Heat the oil in a wide skillet over medium heat and sauté the onions for 15 to 25 minutes, or until lightly golden.
  2. Remove the onions and allow to cool.

Make the garnish

  1. In the same skillet, place the oil, barberries, grape molasses, and the water, and stir-fry for 4 minutes over medium heat (taking care as barberries burn easily).
  2. Transfer the barberries to a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F.
  4. Line a quarter-sized (9+1/2 x 13 in or 24 x 33 cm) rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.

Make the batter

  1. Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the baking powder, advieh, salt, pepper, and turmeric.
  3. Beat lightly with a fork.
  4. Add the garlic, lettuce, herbs, walnuts, flour, and caramelized onions, and fold in gently using a spatula. Do not over-mix.

Cook the Kuku

  1. Brush the lined sheet pan with 4 Tbsp oil.
  2. Pour in the batter, and gently shake the pan to even out the batter.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.
  5. Garnish with the caramelized barberries.
  6. Cut the kuku into pieces in any way you like. (Squares works best.)

Notes on Fresh Herb Kuku – Persian Rice Recipe

  • You can substitute barberries with cranberries.
  • Advieh is a Persian spice mix. You can buy it ready-made from a specialty store or make your own. Here’s how.
  • Serve hot, or at room temperature, with lavash bread and Yogurt and Persian Shallot Dip (mast-o musir, page 49). Nush-e joon!

Turkish Cheesecake – Künefe

Künefe or Kanafeh

Cuisine: Turkish
Region: Common

Künefe or Kanafeh is the Middle Eastern version of Cheesecake. Unlike the Western iterations of the concept Künefe does not contain cream as a cooking ingredient. There are many ways to make Künefe. Some call for a frying pan or skillet; others use the oven; most of them use sugar; others use honey; some suggest to serve Künefe with Kaymak (buffalo milk cream); others don’t care about cream – and so on, and so forth. Our Turkish Cheesecake recipe is made in the oven and uses honey syrup instead of sugar syrup.

Serves: 6
Cooking time: approx. 30 min
You need: a small oven pan, a large bowl, a small saucepan and a small pot.

Ingredients

For the Pastry

  • 250g (9 oz) kadayif or kataifi (angel hair) pastry.
  • 250g (9 oz) fresh mozzarella* cheese, shredded to pieces. See Notes.
  • 125g (4+1/2 oz) clarified butter, melted and cooled until lukewarm.

For the Syrup

  • Scant 3/4 cup honey.
  • 1/2 cup minus 2.5 Tbsp of lukewarm water.
  • 1/2 Tsp baking soda.
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice.
  • 3-5 drops of rose water (optional).
  • 1/8 Tsp ground nutmeg (optional)

For Serving

  • A handful of ground green pistachios, about 1/4 cup (or less, or more – it’s up to you).

Instructions

First, Make the Syrup

  1. Put the honey and the lukewarm water in a small saucepan.
  2. Stir until honey has dissolved.
  3. Turn on the fire to low-medium heat.
  4. Place the saucepan over the fire.
  5. Let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes or so, stirring it.
  6. Add the baking soda; wait for a few beats and then add the lemon juice; wait for another few beats and add the rose water and/or nutmeg if you’re using them.
  7. Continue to simmer and stir in low-medium fire for another 3 to 5 minutes.
  8. Set it aside to cool off.

Then, Make the Künefe Cheesecake

  1. Place the oven rack in the middle of the oven.
  2. Turn on the oven (to preheat) at 190C/374F.
  3. Take a medium oven pan and butter its bottom. Don’t overdo it. Put it aside.
  4. Take a large bowl.
  5. Untangle the kadayif (angel hair) pastry.
  6. Take a pair of scissors and cut the kadayif (angel hair) pastry into short, 1 to 2 cm or 1/2 to 3/4 inch, lengths into the bowl.
  7. Mix the lukewarm melted butter into the shredded kadayif pastry. Work the butter through the pastry evenly.
  8. Separate the now shredded and buttered kadayif pastry into two equal portions.
  9. Spread the first portion of the kadayif pastry over the bottom of your buttered oven pan.
  10. Cover the pastry with the the cheese.
  11. On top of the cheese layer spread the second half of the kadayif pastry.
  12. Put the pan in the oven and bake for approx. 30 minutes or more, or less, depending on your oven.
  13. You need the kadayif pastry to turn adequately golden or golden-brown so, do check progress, without leaving the oven door open for long: you don’t want to lose much heat.

Combine

  1. Turn off the oven.
  2. Take the golden or golden-brown pan of Künefe out of the oven and onto the stove.
  3. Pour the room-temperature honey syrup over the Künefe. Pour it evenly.
  4. Cut the Künefe into wedges or squares.

Serve

  1. Sprinkle the ground green pistachios on top of the Künefe.
  2. Serve hot. (Not piping hot… just hot.)

Notes on Turkish Cheesecake – Künefe

  • Kadayif pastry is also known as Angel Hair pastry or Kataifi pastry. You can find it in Turkish, Greek and Middle Eastern grocery shops.
  • Regarding the type of cheese… hmm. In Turkey they use Kashar (the Greeks call it Kaseri). Alternatives to Kashar or Kaseri: the Bulgarian Kashkaval, Italian Mozzarella (although it’s a bit bland), Mascarpone or even Pecorino Romano. The latter is saltier, so, go for it only you’re into more “salt & sweet” flavours than the rest of us.
  • For the differences between Honey and Sugar, click here.

Abzhorka – Sirloin Beef and Potato Salad

Abzhorka

Cuisine: Russian
Region: Common

Abzhorka is a classic, traditional Russian dish that can be a starter, a side dish, a salad or a main course. (Fun, eh? 🙂 )

Serves 4
Cooking time: 60 min
You need: two pots and two bowls

Ingredients

  • 3 carrots
  • 1/2 Kg (1 Lb) sirloin beef
  • 2 yellow onions, cut in rings
  • 3 pickles, cut into strips
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • @350ml (12 oz) mayonnaise (recipe here)
  • 2 Tbsp cider or wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, or 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp water

Instructions

  1. Put the carrots in a pot.
  2. Cover them with water.
  3. Bring to a boil in medium fire. Let them simmer until they are tender.
  4. Drain them and cut them in rounds.
  5. Put the sirloin in a another pot.
  6. Add water (so that the beef doesn’t get stuck on the bottom of the pot) and salt to your taste.
  7. Boil over medium fire, until the meat is tender.
  8. Drain the meat and cut it into thin strips.
  9. In a bowl, mix the carrots, the sirloin beef, the onions and the pickles. (You may want to slice the pickles into thin stripes. Up to you.)
  10. In another bowl, mix the mayonnaise with the vinegar, the olive oil or butter, salt, pepper and the 2 Tbsp of water. Stir well.
  11. Combine the contents of the two bowls – and the food is ready.

Notes on Abzhorka – Sirloin Beef and Potato Salad

  • Decide whether you will keep the sirloin broth to use it for something else or discard it altogether.
  • If you’re using butter instead of olive oil be sure to melt it first.
  • Feel free to use any kind of pickle you wish.
  • Abzhorka can be a starter, a side dish, a salad or a main dish. There’s no rule. 🙂
  • Recipe for home made mayonnaise, here.

Busiate Pasta with Sicilian Pesto

Busiate con pesto Siciliano

Cuisine: Italian
Region: Sicily / Trapani

Busiate or Busiati is a spiral shaped pasta. Check the reference here. If you can’t find Busiate then you can either make them yourself (yes, it is possible, check the Notes below) or use whatever type of long and twisty pasta you can find.

Serves: 6-8
Cooking time: approx. 15 min
You need: a food processor, a mixing bowl and a pot.

Ingredients

For the Pesto

  • 2 cups (glasses) cherry tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup almonds, sliced and toasted
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves – packed
  • 1/2 cup (50 g, or 1.7 oz) finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus a little more for serving
  • 5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp capers, drained
  • 2 Tbsp golden raisins
  • 1/4 Tsp chile flakes
  • 3 anchovies, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 peperoncino, seeded, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

Make the Pesto

  1. Put the tomatoes in a food processor and process until finely chopped.
  2. Pour into a sieve to drain the excess juices.
  3. Return the tomatoes to the processor and add the almonds, basil, Parmesan, oil, capers, raisins, chile flakes, anchovies, garlic, and peperoncini,
  4. Process until finely ground.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Put it in the fridge until you need it. (Don’t put it in the fridge if you’re going to use it 10 min later.)

Make the Pasta

  1. Put it in a large pot, and boil it to al-dente (according to instructions)
  2. Drain the cooking water but keep 1/4 cup.

Combine

  1. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl along with the pesto.
  2. Toss them to combine.
  3. Add a couple of Tbsp of cooking water, if needed, to even out the pesto sauce.
  4. Transfer to a large serving platter, or plates, and serve with more Parmesan.

Notes on Busiate Pasta with Sicilian Pesto

  • Try to buy real Parmesan, and grate it at home. It does make a difference.
  • How to make Busiate pasta: here.
  • Some versions of Busiate pasta contain eggs.

Chicken Tagine

Cuisine: Moroccan
Region: Common

This traditional Moroccan Chicken Tagine recipe is simply mouthwatering. Let’s get to work, shall we?

Serves: 6-8
Cooking time: 55 to 65 min
You need: a heavy skillet or tagine and a mixing bowl
Notes: requires marinading for 4-5 hours

Ingredients

  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 to 1/2 Tsp saffron threads, pulverized
  • 1/2 Tsp ground ginger
  • 1+1/2 Tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 Tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 Tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 Tsp of salt
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 – 14 pieces of chicken (thighs with bone and skin are best)
  • 2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium onions, sliced thin
  • 1 medium cinnamon stick
  • 12 – 14 Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
  • 12 – 14 cracked green olives, pitted and halved
  • 3 – 4 small preserved lemons (sold in specialty food shops). Or just lemons. (Make sure they are not waxed.)
  • 1+1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp honey (stirred in the chicken stock)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Instructions

  1. Mix garlic, saffron, ginger, paprika, cumin, turmeric and 1/2 Tsp salt together.
  2. Add pepper to taste.
  3. Rub the chicken with the mixture, cover, then refrigerate and marinate for 4 to 5 hours.
  4. Heat the oil in heavy skillet.
  5. Add the chicken, and brown on all sides.
  6. Remove the chicken to a platter.
  7. Add onions to the skillet, and cook over medium-low heat until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
  8. While waiting, quarter the lemons, remove the pulp and cut the lemon skin in strips.
  9. Is you’re using a tagine, transfer the onions to it. If not, leave the onions in the skillet.
  10. Put the chicken on the onions.
  11. Add the cinnamon stick.
  12. Scatter the olives and lemon slices over the chicken.
  13. Mix the honey and the lemon juice into the chicken stock.
  14. Pour the mixture over the chicken.
  15. Cover the tagine or skillet.
  16. Place over low heat, and cook about 40- 50 minutes, until chicken is done.
  17. Scatter the parsley on top, and serve.

Notes on the Chicken Tagine

  • This recipe does depend on the chicken stock you’ll use. If that’s helpful, you will find a recipe for (European style) chicken broth, here.

Creamed Hungarian Caraway Soup

Krémes Köménymagos Leves

Cuisine: Hungarian

A Hungarian caraway soup with a twist: adding cream makes it a classic winter soup. This is not a “fire and forget” kind of thing – it does require some stirring.

Serves: 6
Cooking time: 20-30 min
You need: a skillet, and perhaps a sieve

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup of butter
  • 1/3 coup flour
  • 1+1/2 Tbsp caraway seeds
  • 1+1/2 Tsp salt
  • A pinch of ground pepper
  • 3/4 Tsp paprika
  • 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream

Instructions

  1. Put the butter int the skillet and melt it over low heat.
  2. Add the flour, the caraway seeds, the salt and the ground pepper.
  3. Heat until the mixture bubbles and is lightly browned, stirring constantly.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Add the paprika.
  6. Then, gradually, add the water, stirring constantly.
  7. Return the skillet to the fire and bring rapidly to a boil, stirring constantly.
  8. Cover and simmer for 15 min.
  9. Meanwhile prepare and set aside the Croutons
  10. Remove the soup from the fire.
  11. Slightly beat the egg yolks in a bowl.
  12. In the same bowl, add 3 Tbsp of hot soup and stir vigorously.
  13. Immediately blend the egg yolk mixture into the hot soup in the skillet .
  14. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for @2-3 min.
  15. Remove the skillet from the fire.
  16. At this stage the “gourmet” thing to do is to discard the caraway seeds by pouring the soup through a sieve. Your choice, really. 🙂
  17. Just before serving, add the heavy cream.

Notes on the Hungarian Creamed Caraway Soup

  • Do not overcook or allow the soup to boil.

Croutons – Hungarian Style

Kenyér kockák

Cuisine: Hungarian

Hungarian style Croutons are a side dish for the Hungarian Caraway Soup and the Creamed Hungarian Caraway Soup. However, crouton is crouton, no? Feel free to use it as you see fit.

Yields: 1+1/4 cup
Cooking time: 5 min
You need: a (heavy) skillet

Ingredients

  • 2-3 Tbsp of butter
  • 2-3 slices of bread
  • Salt or pepper, if you wish.

Instructions

  1. Put the butter in the skillet and melt it over low heat.
  2. Cut the bread into square pieces.
  3. Put the bread into the skillet and stir until all sides are coated and browned.

Notes on Croutons – Hungarian Style

Sardine Bouillabaisse Soup

Cuisine: French
Region: the Central Plateau and Languadoc

The Sardine Bouillabaisse Soup is as tasty and hearty as it sounds, really. 🙂 Enjoy!

Serves 6 – 8
Cooking time: 20-30 min
You need: a skillet or heavy saucepan

Ingredients

  • 1 + 1/2 to 2 Kg of sardines
  • 4 medium onions, diced
  • 500g tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 sliver of an orange rind
  • 1 generous sprig of thyme or a Tsp of dry thyme
  • 2 fennel stalks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pinch of safron
  • 1 Kg (2 Lbs) potatoes, cut in cubes
  • finely chopped parsley
  • garlic croutons
  • salt and fresh ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Clean and scale the sardines.
  2. In a large, heavy saucepan make a bed of onions, tomatoes, garlic, orange rind and all the herbs – except for parsley.
  3. Season well with salt and fresh ground pepper.
  4. Add the potatoes on top of the mixture.
  5. Cover the mixture with water – and be generous with it. (But don’t overdo it.)
  6. Bring to a boil and cook briskly for 10 to 15 minutes.
  7. Add the sardines and continue boiling for a further 5 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked.
  8. Drain the stock into a soup bowl and transfer the potatoes and the sardines to a dish.
  9. Serve the liquid and the remaining vegetables as a soup, accompanied with garlic croutons (see Notes, below).
  10. Following that, serve the sardines and potatoes sprinkled with chopped parsley.

Notes on the Sardine Bouillabaisse Soup

Moroccan Potatoes with Fennel and Celery

Batata Bil Bisbas

Cuisine: Moroccan / Morocco
Region: Common

This recipe for Morrocan for Potatoes with Fennel and Celery can be a starter, or a salad, or a main meal. There’s no rule. Enjoy! 🙂

Serves: 4
Cooking time: 30 min
You need: a saucepan

Ingredients

  • 1/3 of a glass (cup) olive oil
  • 1/2 Kg (1 Lb) potatoes, cut in quarters
  • 3 stalks of celery, cut in pieces of about 2.5cm (1 inch)
  • 2 fennel bulbs, quartered and then halved (=each quarter cut in half)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 sprigs mint, chopped coarsely
  • 4 sprigs basil, chopped coarsely
  • juice of 1 lemon

Instructions

  1. Take a saucepan and pour in half of the olive oil.
  2. Add the potatoes.
  3. Add the celery and fennel on top of the potatoes.
  4. Add the garlic, salt and pepper.
  5. Add enough water to barely cover the (green) vegetables.
  6. Bring it to a boil
  7. Simmer for about 15 minutes with the lid on.
  8. Fifteen minutes later: add the mint and the basil.
  9. Stir and cook without the lid to reduce the liquid for approx. 10 minutes.
  10. Take the saucepan off the fire, let it sit for a moment and drizzle in the lemon juice and the rest of the olive oil.

Notes on Moroccan Potatoes with Fennel and Celery

  • Potatoes can be peeled or with their skin on. If the latter just make sure you wash them very, very well.
  • Can be served hot, warm or cold – your choice.

How to Cut and Core Fennel Bulbs

  • We have a video for you, here.

Turkish Red Lentil Soup

Kırmızı Mercimek Çorbası

Cuisine: Turkish
Region: Common

Hot or cold, the Turkish Red Lentil Soup is a good one. It is nutritious too. Using vegetable broth/stock turns the recipe to vegetarian and vegan. Enjoy!

Serves: 4
Cooking time: approx. 2–25 min
You need: a pot, maybe a handheld blender

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (about 200 ml) of red lentils, washed and rinsed
  • 7 cups of broth (vegetable, chicken, or beef)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 Tsp of cayenne pepper or 1 Tsp of red pepper
  • 1 Tsp of salt
  • Chopped mint for serving
  • A few drops of lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Combine the ingredients in a pot.
  2. Bring to a boil then lower the fire and cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until the carrots are soft. Stir occasionally.
  3. Remove the pot from the fire and blend the soup with a utensil or a handheld blender until it is creamy but not completely pureed.
  4. Serve with a garnish of mint.
  5. Add a few drops of lemon juice for taste.

Notes on Turkish Red Lentil Soup

  • To make your own vegetable stock, click here.
  • To make your own chicken broth, click here.

myfoodistry - why dieting doesn't usually work

Why dieting doesn’t usually work: Sandra Aamodt

TED Talks

In the US, 80% of girls have been on a diet by the time they’re 10 years old. In this honest, raw talk, neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt uses her personal story to frame an important lesson about how our brains manage our bodies, as she explores the science behind why dieting not only doesn’t work, but is likely to do more harm than good. She suggests ideas for how to live a less diet-obsessed life, intuitively.

Tahini Sauce – Tarator

Tarator

Cuisine: Lebanese

Tahini Sauce or Tarator is a creamy sauce used with fish, or as a salad dressing, or as a roasted vegetables dressing.

Yield: 250ml
Cooking time: 10 min
You need: a bowl

Ingredients

  • 100g tahini
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • approx. 100ml cold water

Instructions

  1. Add the lemon juice into the tahini and combine both with a spoon (or a fork) until the mixture is thick and fluffy.
  2. Add the garlic.
  3. Add the salt.
  4. Start adding cold water, little at a time and keep stirring. Before you add more water make sure that the mixture has no lumps.
  5. Keep adding and mixing water until the sauce is creamy, without lumps.

Notes on Tahini Sauce – Tarator

  • Goes well with roasted vegetables. Can be used as a salad dressing or a dip, too.
  • Regarding the health benefits of tahini, click here.

Goat Cooked in Water and Olive Oil

Cuisine: Greek
Region: Crete

Slow Cooking Supreme, this one. Goat Cooked in Water and Olive Oil takes very little time to prepare and a long time to make but the result… is mouthwatering. We picked this recipe when, at some point in life, we were roaming the mountains of Crete/Greece. A shepherd offered us this dish as lunch. Forgetting it proved impossible.

Serves 6 – 8
Cooking time: 3 – 4 hrs
You will need: a stock pot

Ingredients

  • 1 to 2 kg (2 – 4 Lbs) of goat meat. Do prefer a leg and do ask the clerk to cut it up in cubes or chunks of at least 7 cm x 7 cm (@3 Inch x 3 inch).
  • hot water (see below)
  • 2-4 cups of very good quality olive oil (see below)
  • 3-4 pinches of good quality oregano
  • salt & pepper

Instructions

  1. Salt the meat (don’t overdo it).
  2. Put the meat in a tall and narrow stock pot.
  3. Add enough water to cover the meat and then add the same amount of water you just used, on top of it.
  4. Bring it to a boil, then lower the fire to medium-high.
  5. After a few minutes, you will see a layer of foam forming on top of the water. Skim that off, and keep skimming until there’s little foam left. This part of the operation should be over within @ 10 to 20 minutes.
  6. Lower the fire to medium low.
  7. Add pepper.
  8. Add some salt – again: don’t overdo it: one or two pinches are enough.
  9. Add 3-4 pinches of dry oregano.
  10. Add the olive oil. The olive oil will sit on top of the water (olive oil and water don’t mix) and it’s thickness (on top of the water) should roughly be 2.5cm / 1 inch. The amount of olive oil you’ll need depends on the kind of pot you’re using: if it’s tall and narrow, then 2 – 3 cups should be enough. If the pot has a broad rim… you’ll need more olive oil. (Which is a waste, really).
  11. Let it cook for as long as it takes for the water to evaporate. For 2 kg / 4 lbs you’re looking at @4 hours of simmering.
  12. The food is ready when the meat is tender and… cooked.

Notes on Goat Cooked in Water and Olive Oil

  • Water to Olive Oil Ratio. Depending on the water-to-olive oil ratios you used it can be that the food is ready when the water has evaporated completely and only oil is left in the pot; OR when there’s still broth under the oil. Going one way or the other is a matter of preference: some people like their gravy oily and thick, others prefer it to be lighter and watery. It’s a matter of preference, really.
  • Do NOT cover the pot. You already have a “lid” on, and that “lid” is the layer of olive oil sitting on top of the water: it lets the hot air bubbles out and, under it, the meat is boiling and roasting in the same time. (Strange but…true.)
  • Oil of Oregano will not do it for you. It has to be very good quality, dry oregano.
  • Goat meat is “sinewy” by nature. (It is also very lean.) It HAS to be cooked in low fire, for hours – and there’s no shortcut to this.
  • Spices. This recipe doesn’t call for any other spices, really. But you can certainly try combinations of coriander, cardamom or whatever else suits your palate.
  • Sides. Boiled and broiled potatoes, or rice would do nicely. Should you need to balance the olive oil’s sweetness you could also steam or boil some greens like Swiss Chard or Kale or Spinach or something bitter like that.
  • And here’s a tip regarding how to prepare lamb and goat meat for cooking.

Korean Chicken and Ginseng Soup

Cuisine: Korean
Region: Common

The Korean Chicken and Ginseng Soup is one of many Korean classic, traditional chicken recipes. Enjoy!

Serves 4
Cooking time: @ 30 min
You need: a skillet and a pot

Ingredients

  • 1 glass (cup) of shredded cooked chicken
  • 2 Tbsp garlic, diced
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 Tbsp fresh ginger, diced
  • 8 glasses (cups) of chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 to 2 Tsp red chili pepper paste
  • 1 Tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 green onions (scallions) chopped fine

Instructions

  1. Put the sesame seeds in a skillet and stir fry for 1 minute. You know the’re ready when they turn golden brown. Turn off the fire and move the skillet aside.
  2. Take a large pot.
  3. Add the garlic, the chicken broth and the ginger, turn on the fire and heat until it boils.
  4. Blend in the chili paste, the soy and the sesame oil.
  5. Then, drop in the chicken and keep on cooking until the chicken meat warms up. (How much it warms up, is up to you.)
  6. Ready to serve. Scoop the soup from the pot and into the serving bowls.
  7. Drizzle each bowl with the green onions (scallions) and sesame seeds.

Notes on Korean Chicken and Ginseng Soup

  • Serve with rice.
  • Recipe for Asian style chicken broth, here

Indian Black Eyed Peas in Tamarind and Coconut Curry Sauce

Imlee Lobhia

Cuisine: Indian
Region: Common

Black Eyed Peas in Tamarind and Coconut Curry Sauce is dairy-less, meatless, satisfying and comforting one-pot recipe from India. Enjoy!

Yields approx. 9 cups or 2 Liters
Cooking time: approx. 60 min
You need: a heavy bottomed stock pot with a lid, a food blender/processor, a bowl, a strainer and a frying pan
Notes: requires soaking overnight

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (glasses, about 500g or about 1 Lb) dried black-eyed peas, picked over, washed, soaked overnight, and drained.
  • 1 Tsp turmeric powder
  • 8 cups (glasses, about 2 Liters) boiling water, divided
  • 1 dried tamarind pulp cube, about 5 cm / 2 inch
  • 1 large tomato, peeled and diced
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 medium yellow or red onion, diced
  • 1 piece of ginger about 3 cm or 1 Inch, peeled and grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 to 3 fresh Thai or cayenne chillies, stems removed and finely sliced
  • 1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tsp ground coriander
  • 1 to 2 Tsp red chilli powder or cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt
  • 1 cup (glass) of regular or light coconut milk

Garnish

  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions

In the beginning

  1. Take a heavy bottomed stock pot.
  2. Add to it the lobhia, the turmeric and 7 cups (approx. 1.7 Liters) of water.
  3. Turn the fire on to medium high and bring to a boil. It may take some time.
  4. After coming to a boil, reduce the fire to medium low.
  5. Partially cover the pot with the lid and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes or until the lobhia is soft.
  6. Turn off the fire, cover the pot and set it aside to cool off. Do NOT drain the water.

Tamarind pulp

  1. While the stock pot is cooking…
  2. Soak the tamarind pulp in the remaining 1 cup / 240 mL of water (preferably warm) for 10 to 20 or even 30 minutes – depending on the quality of the pulp and the temperature of the water.
  3. Then, with your clean and washed hands, break down the pulp and squeeze the liquid out. The point here is to turn water into tamarind juice.
  4. Strain the juice with a fine strainer.
  5. Discard the pulp, seeds, and fiber.
  6. With a blender or a food processor combine the tamarind juice with the tomato and blend to a watery paste. Set aside.

Continuing

  1. Take a frying pan, add the coconut oil.
  2. Turn the fire on to medium high.
  3. Wait a for a few beats and then add the onion.
  4. Cook it for 6 to 7 minutes, until brown. Caramelized is OK, too.
  5. Add the ginger and the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
  6. Slowly and tenderly add to the pan the tamarind/tomato paste, the fresh chillies and the brown sugar.
  7. Stir the mixture well and cook for another 4 minutes.
  8. Turn off the fire and transfer the mixture to the stock pot containing the lobhia.

Back to the stock pot

  1. Turn the fire on to medium–high and add the coriander, the red chilli powder, and salt.
  2. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the coconut milk and cook for 1 minute, until warmed through.
  4. Turn off the fire.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl.
  6. Garnish with the cilantro and it’s done.

Sides

  • Serve with brown or white Basmati rice or Naan bread. See notes.

Notes on Indian Black Eyed Peas in Tamarind and Coconut Curry Sauce

  • Alternative to the stock pot: a Dutch Oven.
  • If you want to make your own Naan bread, here’s a recipe/video.

Lebanese Chicken with Cardamom and Cumin

Dijaj Bialhayl – دجاج بالهيل

Cuisine: Lebanese
Region: Common

The Lebanese Chicken with Cardamom and Cumin is similar to an Arabic dish called Kebsah but with a lot of twists. This recipe tastes better the next day, so, feel free to cook it in advance, store it and serve in the following day or two with a different side dish. Enjoy!

Serves: 4
Cooking time: 40 to 60 min
You need: a pot, a bowl and a container

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken, about 2.5 Kg or 4.5 Lb, cut into 10 pieces with the skin on
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1+1⁄2 cups diced yellow onion
  • 1⁄2 cup peeled and shredded carrot
  • 2+3⁄4 Tsp sea salt
  • 1⁄4 Tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 3⁄4 Tsp ground allspice
  • 1⁄2 Tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/8 Tsp ground cloves
  • 1/16 Tsp ground nutmeg
  • 5 cups (glasses, about 1 Liter) boiling water
  • 1/3 cup (glass) tomato paste
  • 3⁄4 cup peeled and diced tomato

Instructions

Rinse the chicken

  1. Take a pot, put the chicken in, and add 6 cups of cold water and the vinegar to refresh the flavour of the chicken.
  2. Drain the water, transfer the chicken to a bowl and set it aside.

Then

  1. Add olive oil in the pot.
  2. Turn the fire on to medium high.
  3. Add the onions, carrots, salt, and spices, and sauté for 2 minutes or so.
  4. Add the pieces of chicken, and cook until the meat turns white – you don’t want to see pink colour in the meat.
  5. Add the 5 cups of boiling water, the tomato paste and the tomatoes.
  6. Stir well to dissolve the tomato paste in the water.
  7. Increase the fire to high and bring the mixture to a rolling boil, uncovered.
  8. Reduce the fire to medium and simmer with the lid on, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes.
  9. Turn off the fire.
  10. Transfer the pieces of chicken to a flat tray and set aside to cool, uncovered for about 15 minutes.
  11. DO NOT discard the broth.
  12. After 15 minutes remove and discard the skin of the chicken. You may want to discard some chicken bones too – that’s your choice. Just don’t discard the centre bone from the thighs or drumsticks.
  13. Put the pieces of chicken in a container just large enough to hold them and cover with some of the reserved broth.
  14. If you don’t serve it right away keep in the fridge for the following day. It does taste better-next-day, this one.
  15. It can be served at room temperature (if you live in the Middle East) or warm or hotter – depending on your taste.

Sides

  • Pita Crisps with Sumak is a good one. For the recipe click here.
  • Rice with Raisins and Almonds is another good one. Click here.

Notes on the Lebanese Chicken with Cardamom and Cumin

  • Keep the broth for something else. E.g. you could make some really good rice with it. 🙂

Rice with Raisins and Almonds – Lebanese Style

Cuisine: Lebanese
Region: Common

It does take a few extra things to do other than simply boiling rice, but, well, the result is… impressive. Rice with Raisins and Almonds can be had as a main dish, or as a side dish – your choice. Enjoy!

Serves: 2 as a main dish and 4 as a side dish
Cooking time: 20 to 30 min
You need: a pot, a baking sheet, a platter

Ingredients

  • 1 Tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup (glass) rice
  • 2+1⁄2 cups of hot chicken broth
  • 1⁄2 cup (glass) toasted slivered almonds
  • 1⁄2 cup (glass) toasted golden raisins
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter

Instructions

For the rice

  1. Put the olive oil in a medium pot.
  2. Turn the fire on to medium, put the pot on it and preheat the olive oil.
  3. Add the rice and stir so that olive oil coats the grains.
  4. Add 2+1⁄2 cups hot chicken broth.
  5. Increase the fire to high and bring to a boil.
  6. Then reduce the fire to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until the broth has been absorbed by the rice.
  7. Turn of the fire, remove from pot and and set it aside, covered, to cool off – about 20 minutes.
  8. Before serving, fluff the rice: separate the grains with the tines of a fork.

For the almonds and the raisins

  1. While the rice is cooking, turn on the oven to 180C/350F to preheat it.
  2. Take a baking sheet pan and spread an aluminum foil on it.
  3. Spread the almonds and raisins, arranging so that they keep separate.
  4. Put the baking sheet pan in the oven, preferably in the centre, and toast for 5 to 7 minutes, shaking occasionally. You want the almonds to turn golden and the raisins to be puffy.
  5. Remove the sheet pan from the oven, empty the contents to a bowl and drizzle in the melted butter, mixing well. See notes.
  6. Set it aside to cool off.

For serving

  1. Take a platter, empty the rice on it and garnish the top with the almond and raisin mix.

Notes

  • Regarding raisins and almonds: between step #4 and step #5 instead of using a mixing bowl you can drizzle and mix the butter directly on the raisins and almonds on the baking sheet.
  • You may want to transfer the buttered raisins and almonds to a dish lined with a paper towel to absorb some of the excess butter – it’s up to you.
  • Unsalted butter works best.
  • This recipe can be used as a side dish to the Lebanese Style Cardamom Chicken, or can be had a main dish.

Traditional Turkish Baklava Recipe with Honey Syrup

Baklava

Cuisine: Turkish
Region: Near East, Middle East, North Africa.

Baklava is Turkish Cuisine’s most emblematic and widely known dessert. Other nations in the area make it too, with certain twists. E.g. the Greeks prefer less spice in their Baklava, the Lebanese tend to want their Baklava drier (with less syrup) and cut in mouthfuls, etc.

Traditionally, classic Baklava consists of a layer of walnuts sandwiched between two batches of filo pastry sheets, generously drenched in syrup. As you can freely imagine there are many variations to the concept: some prefer to make baklava with forty (40) layers of less-than-paper-thin filo sheets (yes, it’s possible, even handmade); others use a lesser number of thicker yufka filo sheets; some make it with a hazel-nut filling; others use no nuts at all, opting for fillings made of orange pulp or dates. In this (most traditional) Baklava recipe we use pistachio nuts, walnuts and honey syrup instead of sugar syrup.

Makes: 60 mouthful size pieces
Cooking time: approx. 35 min
You need: a large oven pan, a large bowl, a saucepan and a small pot.

Ingredients

For the Baklava

  • 500g (1 Lb 2 oz) yufka pastry sheets or filo pastry sheets
  • 250g (9 oz) butter, melted
  • 250g (9 oz) unsalted pistachio nut kernels or walnuts, crushed or ground
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

For the Syrup

  • 1+ 1/4 cups honeyr
  • 1+1/4 cups (minus 5 Tbsp) of lukewarm water.
  • 1 Tsp baking soda.
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice.
  • 3-5 drops of rose water or orange blossom water (optional).

For Serving

  • A handful of ground green pistachios, about 1/4 cup (or less, or more – it’s up to you).

Instructions

First, Make the Syrup

  1. Put the honey and the lukewarm water in a saucepan.
  2. Stir until honey has dissolved.
  3. Turn on the fire to low-medium heat.
  4. Place the saucepan over the fire.
  5. Let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes or so, stirring it.
  6. Add the baking soda; wait for a few beats and then add the lemon juice; wait for another few beats and add the rose water or orange blossom water – if you’re using them.
  7. Continue to simmer and stir in low-medium fire for another 3 to 5 minutes.
  8. Turn off the fire.
  9. Set it aside to cool off.

Then, Make the Baklava

  1. Place the oven rack either below the middle of the oven or at the middle. (Lower in the oven makes the Baklava base crispier.)
  2. Turn on the oven (to preheat) at 190C/374F.
  3. Take a large bowl.
  4. Mix the nuts with the cinnamon in the bowl. Put it aside.
  5. Take a large baking pan (large enough to take the filo sheet in) and butter its bottom. You don’t need to overdo it, but you don’t have to be stingy about it either.
  6. Divide the filo sheets into two equal stacks.
  7. With a brush, butter the top side of a filo sheet.
  8. Set the filo sheet on the pan. DO NOT press it down.
  9. Butter the top side of another filo sheet and set it on top of the previous one.
  10. Repeat the exercise until you finish the first stack.
  11. Then, layer the nuts, evenly.
  12. After that, butter another filo sheet and set it on top of the nuts.
  13. Repeat the exercise until there’s no filo sheet left.
  14. Take a sharp knife and half-cut the Baklava into squares. (Half-cut means cutting the Baklava deep enough, but not all the way to the bottom.) Ideally you want your Baklava squares to be about 3×5 cm or 1+1/4 x 2 inches.
  15. Put the pan in the oven and let it bake for approx. 30 min or until golden to golden-brown.

Combine

  1. Turn off the oven.
  2. Take the golden or golden-brown pan of Baklava out of the oven and put it onto the stove.
  3. Pour the room temperature honey syrup over the Baklava. Pour it evenly.
  4. With a sharp knife, finish cutting the Baklava into squares.
  5. Sprinkle the ground green pistachios on top of the Baklava.

Serve

  1. Serve hot (not piping hot… just hot) or at room temperature.

Notes on Classic Turkish Baklava Recipe

  • Be careful with the walnuts; they main contain shards of walnut shells so… do pay attention and pick them carefully.
  • You could add some nutmeg in the “nuts and cinnamon” mix, if you wish. If you do, don’t overdo it: you want nutmeg to complement and enhance cinnamon, not take over.
  • If your filo sheets are bigger than your pan, no worries; use a sharp knife to cut off the edges before you set the next filo sheet in.
  • If your local store doesn’t carry filo or yufka pastry you can find it in Turkish, Greek and Middle Eastern grocery shops and bakeries.
  • Cooking time is approximate. There are many types of ovens out there – some work with gas, some are electric, some are convection ovens, etc. Check the Baklava after 25 minutes and decide if it needs more baking.
  • If you have to open the oven door, just remember to do so very quickly because losing a lot of heat stops the baking process – and you don’t want this.
  • For the differences between Honey and Sugar, click here.

Lebanese Lamb Stew with Aubergines, Mint and Vinegar

Lahma Bi Khal

Cuisine: Lebanese
Region: Common

Cooking this Lebanese Lamb Stew with Aubergines, Mint and Vinegar (Lahma Bi Khal) recipe may indeed reveal that there’s more to the palate than meets the eye. 🙂 Enjoy!

Serves: 6 to 8
Cooking time: approx. 120 min
You need: a pot, a colander, a large skillet, a sheet pan or grill pan and about 3 bowls

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Kg (1 Lb) shallots or baby onions
  • 1 Kg (2 Lb) shoulder of lamb – boned
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8 garlic cloves – uncut
  • 1 Tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp ground allspice
  • 1 Tsp sugar
  • 3 medium-sized eggplants
  • 4 Tbsp vinegar – red or white
  • 1 Tbsp dried mint, crushed
  • Hot water
  • Salt and Pepper

Instructions

  1. Peel the onions or shallots.
  2. Add water in a pot, bring it to a boil and drop the onions or shallots in the boiling water.
  3. Poach the shallots for 5 minutes.
  4. The skins are now loose.
  5. Drain the onions or shallots in a colander.
  6. Peel the onions or shallots while they are still warm.

Then

  1. Cut the meat into 8 large pieces and trim off some of the fat, but not all of it.
  2. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet.
  3. Add the meat in the skillet, and saute the meat on all sides.
  4. Take the meat out of the skillet. The skillet now has a lot of animal fat in it.
  5. Add the baby onions or shallots and the whole cloves of garlic to the fat and saute until they are golden.
  6. Lift them out, set them on the side and separate the garlic from the onions/shallots.
  7. Pour the fat off the skillet, and return the meat to the skillet.
  8. Cover the meat with hot water, increase the fire and bring it to a boil.
  9. Remove the froth / scum.
  10. Time for the spices: add the garlic, pepper, cinnamon, allspice, and sugar. (Leave salt for the end – see Notes.)
  11. Turn the fire down to low.
  12. Put the lid on the skillet and simmer, covered, for about 90 minutes, until the meat is very tender.
  13. Keep an eye on it. If you see the hot water evaporating by much add some hot water as necessary, to keep the meat covered while it’s simmering.

In the meantime, while the meat is cooking…

  1. Cut the eggplants into 1.5 cm (1/2 inch) rounds.
  2. Sprinkle them with salt, and leave them on the side for about 30 minutes to bleed. Pat them with a paper towel when they’re ready.
  3. Brush the eggplant rounds with olive oil and place them on an oiled sheet pan. Alternatively you can use a grill pan.
  4. Put the sheet pan under the preheated broiler or put the eggplants in a grill pan.
  5. Turn them once until they are brown but not cooked through. (They will cook through in the skillet, during the next stage.)

Finally…

  1. Add the onions to the meat.
  2. Add the vinegar and mint.
  3. Keep simmering, covered, for another 10 minutes.
  4. Add the eggplants and simmer for a further 20 minutes.
  5. About 10 minutes before the end taste the sauce and add salt to taste.

Notes on Lebanese Lamb Stew with Aubergines, Mint and Vinegar

  • You can serve it plain, or with vermicelli pasta, orzo, rice. etc. (Please avoid serving potatoes as a side dish to this recipe – trust us on this.)
  • If you serve it plain, a bit of bread to soak up the juices would be a nice thing to do, no? 🙂
  • If you have one big eggplant instead of three medium ones, cut the eggplant rounds in half.
  • Lamb meat is saltier than beef, so, adding salt to taste towards the end, when you can taste the broth, makes some sense. (But you can do whatever you like, of course. 🙂
  • You can omit the sugar, if you like; or you can substitute it with a teaspoon of honey. (If you opt for honey, squeezing a few drops of lemon juice in it will help.)
  • For the difference between sugar and honey, click here.

How to Convert Sugar to Honey

This is honey-to-sugar conversion table that might come in handy when making desserts. Curiously enough although honey is sweeter than sugar it also has lower glycemic index than sugar; not to mention that honey contains other nice things in it, whereas sugar is… sugar. Check the Notes at the end of this post. Here we go.

Cups

  • 1/4 Cup Sugar -> 3 Tbsp Honey
  • 1/3 Cup Sugar -> 4 Tbsp Honey
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar -> 1/3 Cup Honey
  • 2/3 Cup Sugar -> 1/2 Cup Honey + 1/4 Tsp Baking Soda + Reduce other liquids x 2 Tsp
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar -> 2/3 Cup Honey + 1/2 Tsp Baking Soda + Reduce other liquids x 2 Tbsp
  • 1 Cup Sugar -> 3/4 Cup Honey + 1/2 Tsp Baking Soda + Reduce other liquids x 2.5 Tbsp
  • 2 Cups Sugar -> 1 +1/4 Cup of Honey + 1 Tsp Baking Soda + Reduce other liquids x 5 Tbsp

Grams / Ounces

  • 050g (1.76 oz) Sugar -> 3 Tbsp Honey
  • 067g (2.36 oz) Sugar -> 4 Tbsp Honey
  • 100g (3.5 oz) Sugar -> 67 grams or 1/3 Cup Honey
  • 133g (4.7 oz) Sugar -> 1/2 Cup Honey + 1/4 Tsp Baking Soda + Reduce other liquids x 2 Tsp
  • 150g (5.3 oz) Sugar -> 2/3 Cup Honey + 1/2 Tsp Baking Soda + Reduce other liquids x 2 Tbsp
  • 200g (7 oz) Sugar -> 3/4 Cup Honey + 1/2 Tsp Baking Soda + Reduce other liquids x 2.5 Tbsp
  • 400g (14.1 oz) Sugar -> 1 +1/4 Cup of Honey + 1 Tsp Baking Soda + Reduce other liquids x 5 Tbsp

Notes on How To Convert Sugar to Honey

  • Honey is denser than sugar, so, it can easily lump and make your baking dense, too. This is why you use Baking Soda.
  • Honey is 20% water. So, to offset this, you need to reduce the other liquids you’re using. This is why we mention these reductions here.
  • Honey has a higher sugar content than sugar (yup!), so, it cooks faster and burns easier than sugar. To offset that you need to lower the oven temperature by 25C / 77F.
  • When making honey-syrup DO NOT boil the mixture in high fire. Rather simmer the mixture in low to medium fire.
  • More information regarding Honey Vs Sugar, here.

Tahini Halva with Lemon Juice and Cinnamon

Cuisine: Greek
Region: Common

Tahini halva With Lemon Juice and Cinnamon is one of the simplest and most delicious vegetarian or vegan desserts one can ever have any day (and probably anytime). Enjoy!

Serves: 4
Cooking time: approx. 3 min
You need: a plate

Ingredients

  • 1 slice of tahini halva;
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon,
  • 1 pinch of cinammon,

Instructions

  1. Cut a 1.5cm (1/2 inch) slice of tahini halva.
  2. Put it on a plate.
  3. Coat it with the lemon juice.
  4. Sprinkle the cinnamon on top of it.

Notes on Tahini Halva with Lemon Juice and Cinnamon

  • Choosing tahini halva: vanilla flavour works well; no flavour (if you can find it) is even better.
  • Some brands use a lot of sweeteners in their halva. If you have the option, ask the clerk for a taste before you buy.
  • You can find tahini halva in any Greek or Middle Eastern shop.
  • For the health benefits of tahini, click here.

Lamb Roast with Potatoes, Lemon Juice and Oregano in the Oven

Arnaki psito ston fourno

Cuisine: Greek
Region: Epirus

A friend asked for this (all time oven classic) Greek recipe for a lamb roast in the oven, so, without further ado… voila! (And a heartfelt thanks! to Libby who passed on the recipe. 🙂 Enjoy!

Serves: 6 to 8
Cooking time: +75 min
You need: an oven pan

Ingredients

  • 1 leg of lamb, approx. 1 + 1/2 to 2 Kg (about 3 to 4 Lbs),
  • approx. 2.5 to 3 Kg (about 5 to 6 Lbs) of potatoes,
  • 1/2 cup (glass) of extra virgin olive oil + a little more oil to coat the meat ( See Instructions),
  • 1 + 1/4 cups (glasses) of hot water,
  • 1 + 1/2 Tbsp yellow mustard,
  • 3/4 cup (glass) hot water (for the yellow mustard),
  • 2-3 pinches of dry oregano,
  • 4 cloves of garlic, lightly smashed but not cut,
  • Juice of 2 lemons ,
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Instructions

  1. Turn on the oven to 200C (392F) and let it preheat while you prepare.
  2. Wash the oven pan you’re going to use.
  3. Peel the potatoes and cut them into wedges. (See Notes).
  4. Squeeze the lemons, keep the juice and discard the pulp.
  5. Wash the meat in cold water and pat-dry it with a paper towel.
  6. Put the meat on the cutting board.
  7. Use a sharp knife to make 4 incisions all around the meat, close to the bone.
  8. Insert the garlic cloves into the incisions.
  9. Smear the bottom of the pan with a little bit of olive oil – not more than 2 Tbsp.
  10. Put the meat in the centre of the pan.
  11. Rub some olive oil in your hands, and coat the meat with the oil on all sides. (Do not overdo it. You need the meat glistening, but not drenched in oil.)
  12. Time for the seasoning: sprinkle the dry oregano on the meat and then salt and pepper it to taste.
  13. Add the potatoes in the pan and arrange them around the meat.
  14. Empty your 1/2 cup (glass) of extra virgin olive oil into the pan (but not on the meat).
  15. Empty your 1 + 1/4 cup (glass) of hot water into the pan.
  16. Pour the lemon juice on the meat and the potatoes alike.
  17. Fill 3/4 of a glass with hot water, dilute the yellow mustard in it and then empty it on the potatoes, only.
  18. Put the pan in the oven, on the lowest rack.
  19. The food will be ready when the water has evaporated and there’s only olive oil gravy left in the pan.

Salad and Dessert

You might want to consider a green and light salad with this recipe, like spinach, fresh/green onion, arugula, dill, parsley, etc. A bit of oil and vinegar as dressing should be enough.

This dish is rich and hearty, so, when it comes to dessert, the suggestion is to go simple. E.g. a bit of Tahini Halva with Lemon Juice and Cinnamon will not only cleanse your palate but may also help with digestion.

Notes on Lamb Roast with Potatoes, Lemon Juice and Oregano in the Oven

  • Check progress from time to time. Sometimes the meat cooks faster than the potatoes so, turn the meat over to cook on the other side too, if that’s what’s needed.
  • The suggested cooking time is indicative and it largely depends on your oven: some ovens use convection, some not; some ovens retain the heat differently than other; etc..
  • It generally takes around 60 min of cooking/roasting time per 1 Kg (2 Lbs) of meat, so, for 2 Kgs (4 Lbs) of meat you’re generally going to need approx. 120 min.
  • Therefore, you might want to adjust the size of your potato wedges to the amount of meat you’re cooking: if you have 2Kgs (4 Lbs) of meat then you might want your potato wedges to be bigger than smaller, so that the potatoes don’t cook earlier than the meat and vice-versa. If you see that the meat is cooking faster than the potatoes you can always cover the meat with an aluminum sheet, or remove from the pan it when you think it’s done.
  • You can scale the recipe down at will – it will still be delicious. 🙂

Lamb Stew with Dill in Egg & Lemon Sauce

Arni me Anitho kai Avgolemono

Cuisine: Greek
Region: Crete

This is an easy recipe for a Lamb Stew with Dill in Egg and Lemon Sauce. Who said “easy” can’t be “delicious”? Here’s the living proof of it. 🙂

Serves: 6-8
Cooking time: approx. 60 min
You need: a bowl and a casserole or skillet

Ingredients

  • 1 Kg (2 Lb) lamb, cut in portions
  • 1 bunch of dill, diced
  • 4-5 fresh/green onions
  • 1/2 glass (cup) of olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1 glass (cup) of hot water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Wash the meat in cold water.
  2. Salt it.
  3. Take a casserole, pour in the olive oil, the green onions and the meat.
  4. Saute all of the above for a few minutes.
  5. Lower the fire to minimum.
  6. Add the water.
  7. Salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Put the lid on.
  9. Simmer for 45 to 60 minutes. Time depends on the quality of the meat.
  10. Add the dill and stir.
  11. Simmer for another 15 minutes. At this stage you prepare the egg and lemon sauce. See below.
  12. About 15 minutes after you stir in the dill, and after you made the egg and lemon sauce, you turn off the fire.
  13. Slowly add the egg and lemon sauce in the casserole.
  14. Give it a stir or two and let it rest.

For the Egg and Lemon Sauce

  • In a bowl, whisk the eggs with the lemon juice, a little water and a little of the lamb broth cooking in the casserole. (That’s all. 🙂

Notes on Lamb Stew with Dill in Egg and Lemon Sauce

  • As a side dish you could consider boiled and broiled potatoes, mashed potatoes, rice or orzo pasta. (Or anything you like, really. 🙂
  • Regarding the meat’s cut, lamb shoulder or shanks work well with this stews. Ask the clerk to chop it up to (more-or-less) portions. (You need the bones broken so that the gravy is good.)
  • Preparing deep frozen lamb or goat meat has a few tricks. Click here for more.

Veal or Beef Stew in Lemon Juice

Cuisine: Greek
Region: Common

Simple and extremely delicious, this Veal or Beef Stew in Lemon Juice recipe leads to a yet another one-pot, minimum-cooking-skill Sunday lunch stew or weekday special. Enjoy!

Serves: 4 to 6
Cooking time: approx. 90minutes
You need: a pot

Ingredients

  • 1 to 1.2 Kg (2-2.5 Lbs) veal for stew.
  • 2 onions, diced.
  • 2 to 4 cloves of garlic, diced.
  • Juice of 2 to 4 lemons.
  • 2 Tsp dry oregano.
  • 2 Tbsp dry thyme.
  • 1/3 cup (glass) extra virgin olive oil.
  • Enough hot water to cover the meat in the pot.
  • Optional: 1/2 cup (glass) dry white wine.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Instructions

  1. Take a pot, put it on the stove, turn the fire on to high, and pour the olive oil into the pot.
  2. Add the meat into the pot and saute it. Depending on the size of your pot, you may need to saute it in batches.
  3. When the meat is almost sauteed, add the onion and the garlic and saute for another 2 minutes.
  4. Optional: add the wine and wait for it to evaporate.
  5. Add the lemon juice, the oregano, the thyme, the pepper and enough hot water to just cover the meat.
  6. Lower to fire to medium (or medium-low, even), put the lid on, and simmer for at least 60 to 90 minutes. Check progress from time to time.
  7. Ass the salt sometime (e.g. 15 to 20 minutes) before the end.
  8. Turn off the fire and let the stew set for a while.
  9. (That’s all. 🙂

Notes on Veal or Beef Stew in Lemon Juice

  • In terms of which cut of meat works well with a stew: chuck, bottom sirloin flap or a fatty brisket cut will do. Ask the clerk to cut the meat in portion sizes (but NOT bite-size). Include the bone, if possible.
  • In terms of side dishes, may we suggest rice (Basmati works well) or some form of potato, e.g. potato puree, French fries or boiled and broiled potatoes.
  • In terms of salad, something green will do, like spinach, arugola, etc.

Shrimps with Lemongrass and Basil

Cuisine: Thai

A classic dish and recipe from Thailand, Shrimps with Lemongrass and Basil is a healthy dish containing no less than 14 ingredients.

As a main dish with rice : Serves 2
As part of a multi-course meal: Serves 4
Cooking time: approx. 30 min
You will need: a wok or skillet
Notes: contains sugar

Ingredients

  • 10 oz (330 g) medium-sized shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • 1⁄2 Tsp dark sesame oil
  • 1⁄2 Tsp all-purpose corn starch (preferably organic)
  • Pinch of white pepper
  • 2 Tbsp high-heat cooking oil, divided
  • 4 Tbsp minced lemongrass
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 fresh hot red or green chili, preferably Thai (deseeded if you prefer less heat), finely sliced
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced (optional)
  • 1 Tsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tsp fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 1 + 1⁄2 Tsp sugar
  • 1 cup (20 g) fresh Thai or Italian basil leaves

Instructions

  1. Toss the shrimp with the sesame oil, all-purpose corn starch, and pepper in a small bowl.
  2. Cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
  3. Heat 1⁄2 of the oil in a wok or skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the shrimp and stir-fry until the shrimp turns pink. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside.
  5. Wash and thoroughly dry the wok or skillet.
  6. Heat the remaining oil in the wok or skillet over medium-high heat.
  7. Add the lemongrass, garlic, shallots and chillies, stir-fry until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  8. Add the reserved shrimp, kaffir lime leaves (if using), soy sauce, fish sauce, and sugar; stir-fry for 2 minutes or until shrimp is cooked through.
  9. Add the basil leaves and stir-fry for about 30 seconds or until basil is wilted.
  10. Dish out and serve immediately with jasmine rice.

Notes on Shrimps with Lemongrass and Basil

Fish Sauce (Nam Pla)

  • Thai kitchen is incomplete without a bottle of fish sauce, and that goes for every kitchen throughout Southeast Asia. Fish sauces range from mild to strong and smoky to pungent; the best ones ones are clear and light in color. Fish sauce is made from layering anchovies and salt in a sealed container for about six months, until siphoning off the fermented liquid. the sauce’s fishy aroma dissipates when cooked and emboldens and brings together the other flavors in any dish. Fish sauce doesn’t need refrigeration and it will keep indefinitely in the cupboard.
  • As a general rule, 1 Tbsp of fish oil equals to 1 Tsp of salt. A good substitute is soy sauce mixed with a splash of oyster sauce or anchovy paste.

Shrimps with Lemongrass, and Basil: Nutritional and Scientific Analysis

by Anastasios Varvoglis,
Professor Emeritus of Organic Chemistry, University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Summary

Shrimps with Lemongrass and Basil is a healthy dish, but the dish alone is not nutritious enough, lacking carbohydrates and containing little fat – that’s why it is accompanied by rice; bread lovers may prefer to substitute rice with bread. 

A. Shrimps

Shrimps contain a lot of water when raw (65%); their main ingredient is protein of good quality. Carbohydrates are non-existent and fat is minimal, but rich in omega-3 acids. Paradoxically, despite low fat, cholesterol is present in large quantities. On the good side, shrimps are rich in several micronutrients, especially trace elements such as selenium (ranks very high), copper, cobalt (in vitamin B12) and zinc. The red coloration of cooked shrimps is due to a valuable chemical, astaxanthin, which is present in small varying quantities, depending on the diet of shrimps. Astaxanthin is one of the best antioxidants belonging to the family of carotenoids.

B. Basil

Basil is used here in rather large quantities for a herb. Its main characteristic, apart from fibre and small amounts of protein and carbohydrates, is its essential oil, rich in several aromatic compounds. Due to their volatility, these compounds evaporate readily, that’s why basil leaves are added late in cooking. Several studies on the essential oil or individual compounds of basil have demonstrated antimicrobial, antiviral and anti-plate aggregating activity, among various other health beneficial properties.

Tip. Basil may be kept in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for several weeks. Dried leaves are completely free of volatiles but they have a slight aroma reminding hay.

C. Lemongrass

Like basil, lemongrass is used here in relatively large amounts, but it is not important nutritionally. Its pleasant aroma is due mainly to two terpenic alcohols which are used as insect repellents.

D. Fish sauce (Nam Pla)

The Nam Pla sauce is a fermentation product of raw anchovies or other small fish layered in salt. The liquid obtained after storage for several months contains protein (up to 10%), iron, iodine, vitamins (among others also B12) and a lot of salt. As a general rule, 1 tablespoon of fish oil equals 1 teaspoon of salt. A substitute is soy sauce mixed with a splash of oyster sauce or anchovy paste.

E. Soy sauce

Soy Sauce comes in innumerable variations and is made from mixtures of boiled soybeans and wheat, after fermentation. It contains mainly protein (10%), carbohydrates (5%) and salt (14-18%). It does not contain isoflavones, in contrast to other soy products as Tofu.

References

More information about individual ingredients can also be found at:

Classic Yoghurt Marinated Indian Lamb Curry

Classic Yoghurt Marinated Indian Lamb Curry | myfoodistry

This is a classic Yoghurt Marinated Indian Lamb Curry recipe that is very popular in the North of India. The recipe is healthy and nutritious to boot.

Preparation Time: PT

Cooking Time: PT

Total Time: PT

Recipe Ingredients:

Cuisine: Indian
Region: North

This is a classic Yoghurt Marinated Indian Lamb Curry recipe that is very popular in the North of India. The recipe is also healthy and nutritious to boot. (Scroll down for the analysis.)

Serves 6
Cooking time: 40 – 60 min
You will need: a skillet
Notes: requires marinating

Ingredients

  • 1 Kg (2 lbs) x boneless leg of lamb, cut into 1-in (2.5-cm) cubes
  • 3 Tbsp oil
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 inch (2.5-cm) cinnamon stick
  • 1 Tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander
  • 4 fresh green chili peppers, without seeds, minced
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1⁄2 cup fresh coriander leaves (cilantro), chopped

Yogurt Curry Marinade

  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Asian chili powder or ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1⁄2 Tbsp ground turmeric
  • 1⁄2 cup (@250g) plain yogurt
  • 2 Tsp garam masala spice
  • Salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. In a blender or a food processor, blend together the Curry Yogurt Marinade ingredients until smooth.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the marinade and lamb, making sure the pieces are well coated. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator at least 4 hours.
  3. Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the cardamom pods, bay leaves, cinnamon, and cumin seeds. They should sizzle in the oil.
  5. Quickly add the ground coriander.
  6. Mix in the lamb with the marinade and sauté over high heat, stirring for 5 minutes.
  7. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook until the juices are mostly dry, 15 to 20 minutes.
  8. Add the green chili peppers, tomato, water, and 1 cup of yogurt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until lamb is tender and sauce is thick.
  9. Serve hot, garnished with the fresh coriander.

Notes

  • A Tip regarding how to treat deep lamb or goat meat, here

Classic Marinated Lamb Curry : Nutritional and Scientific Analysis

by Anastasios Varvoglis,
Professor Emeritus, Organic Chemistry, University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Summary

The Classic Marinated Indian Lamb Curry is both nutritious and healthy, containing no less than 11 herbs and a total of 18 ingredients.

A. Lamb

Lamb is the kind of meat with many friends but also with some enemies, because of its flavor. This “drawback” is cured by introducing all these delightful flavours of spice and herbs. As it happens with all kinds of meat, lamb is a good source of high quality protein containing all essential amino acids. Its high fat content means also elevated cholesterol; however, the presence of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in sheep/lamb meat offsets this drawback. Concerning vitamins, there are many, especially B6 and B12, whereas there also iron, copper, zinc and selenium.

B. Onions

Onions rank nutritionally among top vegetables, although their content in protein and fat is very low. Carbohydrates are their main ingredient (15%), with considerable quantities of edible fibre. The high value of onions is due to their polyphenols and sulfur compounds. Polyphenols are of several types, including anthocyanins, flavonoids and tannins; most of them have been studied in depth concerning health effects and they are most beneficial. Sulphur compounds are present in lesser quantities and they are not so well studied but they surely add to the overall good picture.

Tip. Peel onions as little as possible because the greater quantities of polyphenols are found in the external layers. When previously chilled, onions are peeled emitting less lachrymatory essential oil.

C. Yogurt

Yogurt contains varying amounts of fat, up to 10%. Whole milk yogurt may be replaced by a light variety which usually is available from cow’s milk (grass-fed cows produce better milk). However, yogurt from sheep’s milk is preferable from a nutritional point of view because of its high content of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) which is most beneficial to health; on the bad side, this type of yogourt is high in cholesterol (there is no “light” version in the market). Yogurt is rich in high quality protein, calcium, riboflavin, and vitamins (B6 and B12). It has also nutritional benefits beyond those of milk due to its probiotics. Lactose-intolerant individuals may tolerate yogurt because of the conversion of lactose to glucose and galactose, and the partial fermentation of lactose to lactic acid carried out by the bacteria present in the yogurt.

D. Spices

Garam masala is the least known among spices of this recipe, no doubt because it is a mixture of several spices (usually 7, some of which are added separately). Curry is also a mixture of varying ingredients. All spices contain volatile essential oils which are mixtures of several compounds; their use is obviously for their flavors, but most of them are of antimicrobial character. In addition, there are some non-volatile constituents with considerable health benefits. It would be tedious to describe health benefits of all these spices, especially since their quantities, and accordingly their bioactive constituents, are fairly low. However, it is useful to mention epigrammatically some of them:

  • Turmeric contains curcumin, with anticancer properties.
  • Cinnamon contains cinnamaldehyde, which prevents clumping of blood platelets.
  • Chili peppers contain capsaicin, an irritant, but also with cardiovascular benefits.
  • Coriander contains dodecenal, a strong antibiotic.
References

More information about individual ingredients can be found also at :

Classic Yoghurt Marinated Indian Lamb Curry | myfoodistry

This is a classic Yoghurt Marinated Indian Lamb Curry recipe that is very popular in the North of India. The recipe is healthy and nutritious to boot.

Preparation Time: PT

Cooking Time: PT

Total Time: PT

Recipe Ingredients:

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Merchants of Doubt

Merchant of Doubt is a Sony Classics documentary that looks at pundits-for-hire who present themselves as scientific authorities as they speak about topics like toxic chemicals, pharmaceuticals and climate change.

Inspired by the acclaimed book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, MERCHANTS OF DOUBT takes audiences on a satirically comedic, yet illuminating ride into the heart of conjuring American spin. Filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the curtain on a secretive group of highly charismatic, silver- tongued pundits-for-hire who present themselves in the media as scientific authorities – yet have the contrary aim of spreading maximum confusion about well-studied public threats ranging from toxic chemicals to pharmaceuticals to climate change.

Official Website, here.

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Jiro Dreams of Sushi

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Although his restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro only seats ten diners, it is a phenomenon in Tokyo that has won the prestigious 3-Star Michelin review, making him the oldest Michelin chef alive. JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI chronicles Jiro’s life as both an unparalleled success in the culinary world, and as a loving yet complicated father of two.

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Food Matters

“Let thy Food be thy Medicine and thy Medicine be thy Food.”

— Hippocrates

That’s the message from the founding father of modern medicine echoed in the controversial new documentary film ‘Food Matters’ from first- time Producer-Directors James Colqhuoun and Laurentine ten Bosch. “With nutritionally-depleted foods, chemical additives and ourtendency to rely upon pharmaceutical drugs to treat what’s wrong with our malnourished bodies, it’s no wonder that modern society is getting sicker.

‘Food Matters’ sets about uncovering the trillion dollar worldwide “Sickness Industry” and giving people some scientifically verifiable solutions for curing disease naturally.” – James And in what promises to be the most contentious idea put forward, the filmmakers have interviewed several world leaders in nutrition and natural healing who claim that not only are we harming our bodies with improper nutrition, but that the right kind of foods, supplements and detoxification can be used to treat chronic illnesses as fatal as terminally diagnosed cancer. ‘Food Matters’ is to be launched globally via the internet using full screen video technology.

The film’s official website can be found at http://www.foodmatters.tv

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In Search of Balance

IN SEARCH OF BALANCE is a documentary about how we can use Earth to bring life to the planet. We’re getting closer and closer to the brink. But thanks to the efforts of those who refuse to succumb to the disease of profits over health, a new revolution is making its way across the globe—a revolution to reconnect us to the very thing that gives us life: each other.

It won the “Best Documentary” award at the Sonoma International Film Festival. This inspiring film follows renowned physician, Dr. Daphne Miller, as she seeks answers on how we’ve gone so far off track and how we can climb back to healthy living. The Earth is a complex web of organisms, all connected and able to support each branch of the tree of life, and humans are all part of that web.

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The War on Wheat – The Fifth Estate

It’s a multi-billion dollar battle for your belly. Millions of people are joining the anti-wheat revolution. Kellogg’s, the world’s largest cereal maker, has seen its biggest drop in sales since the 1970s.

Food companies are selling off their struggling bread divisions. It’s all because best-selling health evangelists say that wheat is causing everything from fat bellies to schizophrenia. But do they have science on their side? Mark Kelley takes a hard look at what’s driving a movement that is dramatically changing the way we eat.

The War on Wheat - The Fifth Estate | myfoodistry
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The Search for General Tso

This mouthwateringly entertaining film travels the globe to unravel a captivating culinary mystery. General Tso’s chicken is a staple of Chinese-American cooking, and a ubiquitous presence on restaurant menus across the country. But just who was General Tso? And how did his chicken become emblematic of an entire national cuisine?

Director Ian Cheney (King Corn) journeys from Shanghai to New York to the American Midwest and beyond to uncover the origins of this iconic dish, turning up surprising revelations and a host of humorous characters along the way. Told with the verve of a good detective story,The Search for General Tso is as much about food as it is a tale of the American immigrant experience.

PLANEAT - The Movie | myfoodistry

PLANEAT – The Movie

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Having to battle against their own beliefs, and those of the institutions they worked for, they have come up with a solution that will change peoples lives forever. They share their ideas on how we can not only prevent prevalent diseases like cancer and heart disease but also cure them. And also how applying the same principles can dramatically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, at the same time as providing more food for the planet. In accordance with this scientific evidence, pioneering farmers and chefs around the world are discovering new ways to produce and prepare the food we should be eating.

Sign up to watch the film at www.planeat.co.uk

The Magic Pill | myfoodistry

The Magic Pill

What if most of our modern diseases are really just symptoms of the same problem?

The Magic Pill follows doctors, patients, scientists, chefs, farmers and journalists from around the globe who are combating illness through a paradigm shift in eating. And this simple change – embracing fat as our main fuel – is showing profound promise in improving the health of people, animals and the planet.

Vitamania - The Sense and Nonsense of Vitamins | myfoodistry

Vitamania – The Sense and Nonsense of Vitamins

Almost one billion of us take a regular dietary supplement, mainly vitamin tablets. Vitamins are enthusiastically endorsed by celebrities, and vitamin-fortified foods line our supermarket shelves. But how safe are these products? Is it true that vitamins are “natural” and therefore can’t do you any harm? How are they regulated, and how can parents make the right choices for their children’s health.

These surprisingly urgent questions are investigated by scientist Dr Derek Muller in Vitamania, the latest documentary made by Emmy Award-winning Australian filmmakers, Genepool Productions.

Filmmaker’s website: https://www.vitamaniathemovie.com

Vitamania Bonus Scene – How To Make A Synthetic Vitamin

GMO OMG | myfoodistry

GMO OMG

Filmmaker and concerned father Jeremy Seifert is in search of answers about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and how they affect our children, the health of our planet, and our freedom of choice.

His journey takes him to Haiti, Paris, Norway, and even agri-giant Monsanto as he poses perhaps the ultimate question about what we eat: is it still possible to reject our current food system, or have we already lost something we can’t get back?

Official website: http://gmofilm.com

Seeds of Death: Unveiling The Lies of GMO's - Full Movie | myfoodistry

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The world’s leading Scientists, Physicians, Attorneys, Politicians and Environmental Activists expose the corruption and dangers surrounding the widespread use of Genetically Modified Organisms in the new feature length documentary, “Seeds of Death: Unveiling the Lies of GMOs”.

Senior Executive Producer / Writer / Director: Gary Null PhD
Executive Producer/Writer/Co-Director: Richard Polonetsky
Producers: Paola Bossola, Richard Gale, James Spruill, Patrick Thompson, Valerie Van Cleve Editors: James Spruill, Patrick Thompson, Richie Williamson, Nick Palm
Music: Kevin MacLeod, Armando Guarnera
Graphics: Jay Graygor

NOTES: we always encourage viewers to do their own research.

Eating Animals | myfoodistry

Eating Animals

How much do you know about the food that’s on your plate?

Based on the bestselling book by Jonathan Safran Foer and narrated by co-producer Natalie Portman, Eating Animals is an urgent, eye-opening look at the environmental, economic, and public health consequences of factory farming.

Tracing the history of food production in the United States, the film charts how farming has gone from local and sustainable to a corporate Frankenstein monster that offers cheap eggs, meat, and dairy at a steep cost: the exploitation of animals; the risky use of antibiotics and hormones; and the pollution of our air, soil, and water. Spotlighting farmers who have pushed backed against industrial agriculture with more humane practices, Eating Animals offers attainable, commonsense solutions to a growing crisis while making the case that ethical farming is not only an animal rights issue but one that affects every aspect of our lives.

Directed by: Christopher Dillon Quinn
Starring: Natalie Portman

Official site: http://www.ifcfilms.com/films/eating-animals

Fed Up | myfoodistry

Fed Up

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From Katie Couric, Laurie David (Oscar winning producer of AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH) and director Stephanie Soechtig, FED UP will change the way you eat forever.

For more information: http://fedupmovie.com/#/page/home

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P.S. Do NOT attempt anything on your self based on the information contained in this film before you consult a medical doctor or physician you trust.