Category Archives: Snacks

Sango’s Multi-Seed Bread

So met Sango again, after a couple of years and she’s down 20kg, bursting with energy, glowing skin … thanks to a strict discipline of intermittent fasting. This is one of her fave recipes that’s helped her on her way to what she is today.

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  • 1 cup/125 gms sunflower seeds (or a mix of sunflower and pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/2 cup / 90gm flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup/ 65 gms almonds, soaked 6 hours, peeled and chopped (or a mix of almond, macadamia and brazil nuts)
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats (or a mix of almond powder and oats, any ratio works, keeping the weight the same)
  • 2 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 4 tablespoons psyllium seed husk
  • 1 tsp fine grain sea salt ( 1 1/2 if coarse)
  • 3 tablespoons melted ghee or virgin coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups/ 350 ml water
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (I added date syrup which was less sweet)
  • OPTIONAL, YOU CAN THROW IN SOME CHOPPED DRIED FRUIT LIKE FIGs, CRANBERRIES, SULTANAS, PRUNEs … if you want it slightly sweet. About half a cup, max.
  1. Preheat oven to 350F / 175 C for 20 minutes.
  2. Place all dry ingredients EXCEPT CHIA SEEDS in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the melted ghee or coconut oil and maple syrup to the water. Use half this mixture to soak the chia seeds.
  4. Add the remaining half to the dry ingredients and amalgamate well.
  5. Now add the chia seeds plus its liquid.
  6. The dough will be quite thick. If dry to the touch, an additional 2 tablespoons water can be added.
  7. Lightly grease a silicon baking tray, 9.5 x 4 inch (can be slightly smaller or bigger by an inch or two).
  8. Pack the dough tightly into loaf pan. Pack in tightly with the back of closed fist. Smoothen surface. Cover with cling film and rest for at least 2 hours, up to a maximum of 8 hours, in a cool place. If overnight, best leave it the refrigerator.
  9. Place in the centre of the oven and bake 20 to 30 minutes (bear in mind that heating can vary oven to oven).
  10. Remove without turning off the oven, pull down the sides of the silicon pan and turn the loaf upside down onto a baking tray and return to oven.
  11. Bake an additional 30 to 45 minutes. When done, it should sound hollow when tapped .
  12. Cool before slicing.
  13. Cut into slices and individually pack, if freezing.
  14. Stays in the fridge for four days and best eaten within 8 days when frozen.

 

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Sangeeta’s Beet Hummus

I have the very very good fortune of knowing gifted, intuitive cooks who – apart from being close friends – are willing to share recipes, thoughts, innovations, suggestions.

Sangeeta is one such, and one of my dearest treasures is the handwritten cookbook she gifted me over 30 years ago.

Now a passionate advocate of Intermittent Fasting (IF) and healthy eating, Sangeeta continues to experiment and tweak, and this hummus recipe is the first of many to come (I hope) from her current kitchen.

  • Half a cup of chickpeas, soaked overnight (none of the canned stuff)
  • Salt
  • half a sliced onion
  • 2 pearls sliced garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Sesame seeds, roasted and soaked for at least an hour
  • Beetroot,
  • Whole garlic
  • Italian seasoning
  • pickled lemon
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Cook the chickpeas on low heat in plenty of water, adding a little salt halfway through. Keep skimming the top of water to remove any grey foam.
  2. Add the onion, garlic and bay leaf to the water.
  3. Roast beets in oven with the whole garlic, salt and some Italian seasoning, covered, for the first 20 minutes and then open, so it caramelizes a bit.
  4. Once everything has cooled down, blend the lot with some pickled lemon ( I chuck  them in some salt and leave  them to pickle for about 2 weeks … tastes good in so many things).
  5. Adjust seasoning and serve drizzled with olive oil.

Served it with crudites, wholewheat pita grilled with olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper and chicken kebabs.

Thanks much Sango, as always !

Burratinas before dinner …

This gets done in a flash when all the ingredients are assembled … fresh burratina from Puglia, tomatoes on the vine, sweeter than sweet, olive oil, fresh basil, avocadao oil, a terrific balsamic reduction and a dash of salt and pepper.

  1. Place a burratino in the serving dish, drizzle the avocado oil over it.
  2. Add sliced tomatoes, scatter the basil leaves.
  3. Grind a bit of sea salt and pepper onto the cheese.
  4. Splash a bit of the balsamic reduction over it in a nice ruby red rich squiggle.

Tastes better than it looks, these pix don’t do it justice. But oh, the burst of flavours, the freshness of the ingredients, the crunch of the seasoning. Don’t need a single thing more.

Some pix of ingredients off the web, with thanks.

 

Pam’s stir-fried Paneer

Another light, easily made dish. Stir fry, serve.

Paneer is a fresh cheese from South Asia, particularly the Indian subcontinent. It is unaged, acid-set, non-melting farmer or curd cheese, made by curdling heated milk with lemon juice, vinegar or any other food acids.

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  • paneer, cubed
  • a bit of oil
  • whole jeera (cumin)
  • pinch of sugar
  • green capsicum, cubed
  • 1 big onion, cubed
  • salt
  1. Heat oil in a wok, add the cumin/jeera and when it sputters, add the capsicum and onion and stir fry till just about done.
  2. Add the paneer, sugar and salt and give it a bit of a toss till flavours are blended.

Great with chappattis or rice.

Thanks Pam.

Pix borrowed off the net.

 

Apricots. Apricots. Apricots.

The fruit is everywhere, warm, orange, gold, offering all kinds of suggestions.

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Sauces. Appetizers. On the side.

Three recipes I haven’t yet tried. Sound delicious though.

As an accompaniment, from Alon Shaya, Executive Chef and Owner of Shaya in New Orleans.

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  1. Stir together :
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp orange juice

2. Whisk in

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp water

3. Set aside.

4. Chop into 2 cm pieces :

  • 3 apricots
  • 2 tomatoes

5. Toss with the prepared dressing (above). Sprinkle with 2 tbsp sesame seeds and serve with grilled fish.

As a sauce, from Eric Banh, Executive Chef @ Ba Bar in Seattle.screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-1-00-45-pm

  • 2 cups diced, fresh apricots
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  1. Cook the above over medium heat for about 10 minutes, till the alcohol evaporates and the sauce thickens.
  2. Transfer to a blender and puree till smooth.
  3. Drizzle over roasted vegetables, grilled bread or baked chicken.

As an appetizer, from Jason Hotchkiss, Director of Culinary Operations @ the Patio Group on Goldfinch in San Diego.

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  • 6 fresh apricots, halved
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • crumbled feta cheese
  • shredded basil
  • chopped cucumber
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  1. Drizzle the cut sides of the apricots with olive oil, season with salt and pepper.
  2. Grill over high heat, flesh side down for about 2 minutes or until charred.
  3. Cool. Cut into wedges. Arrange, top with the feta, basil, cucumber and lemon juice.

None of this is mine, neither the recipes not the photographs. All borrowed – with thanks – from print and the internet !

Baked Olives a la Navzer

Thrown together to no particular recipe, according to Navzer, this was another stellar pick on that cold Vancouver evening, along with the patates bravas.

  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Sliced lemon from zested lemon
  • olives
  • A slug of wine
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly roast fennel to release flavour and aroma over a low flame in a non-stick pan.
  3. Toss olives with lemon zest, garlic, olive oil and the wine.
  4. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil, layer the sliced lemon, scatter the olives over the lemon slices and bake for 20 minutes.

Terrific.

Images off the net, with thanks.

Patates Bravas by Navzer

A tapas dish from Spain, this is Navzer’s version, served on a cold Vancouver evening, quite the shining star among an abundance of delish platters.

  • potatoes with skin, in small pieces, or small potatoes halved
  • olive oil
  • mayonnaise
  • any hot sauce
  • paprika or crushed red chili flakes
  • chopped garlic, about 4 to 5 cloves
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 tomato, pureed
  • dash of ketchup
  • chorizo or spicy Italian sausages, chopped, pan fried and kept aside
  1. Boil potatoes in a pan of salted water, till almost done.
  2. Drain and cool.
  3. Toss the potatoes in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, bake for 35 minutes till browned, edges crisp.
  4. Separately, mix 3 tbsp mayo, hot sauce to taste, paprika, chopped garlic, lemon juice and pureed tomato along with a dash of ketchup (for tang).
  5. When the potatoes are slightly cooled, toss with the sauce/dressing and stir in the fried sausages.

Good both hot and cold, absolutely delicious in fact.

Images off the web, with thanks.

A Sunday lunch with prosecco and friends

Unplanned, on-the-spur-of-the-moment and impromptu, this lunch was sunny, sparkly, air-conditioned and frothy both in liquid sustenance and atmosphere : good cheer, good friends, good food (even if I say so myself).

With Raising Sand (Robert Plant and Alison Krauss), thank you Neena.

Menu

Prosecco, prosecco, prosecco. And good old G & T. And fresh, tender coconut water.

Ok, so these are not my pictures, they’re off the web, but they encapsulate the moments and are the visual ooh’s and aah’s elicited by chilled bliss on a humid summer day.

On to the food :

Kurmur, crunchy, fresh, crisp, in bowlfuls, with the drinks.

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Melon with proscuitto and a honey mustard vinaigrette. (The vinaigrette was part of the plan, but it didn’t get made).

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Here’s the recipe anyway – 4 tablespoons of your best olive oil, 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 20ml runny honey, 1 1/2 teaspoons of wholegrain mustard and a pinch of salt – mixed and stirred and shaken. Got the recipe off the net and the pix were stunning.

A Curly Kale Salad with tomatoes, olives, cubed feta, a minced red onion, cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced red radishes and Japanese cucumber, sliced mushrooms – and for the kick – fresh betel leaves, minced. The whole lot gently tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper. And just a dash of apple cider vinegar. Pomegranate arils. Roasted sunflower seeds, scattered.

A word about the kale. A serendipitous discovery – this was organic, fresh, crunchy and wonderfully green. Home delivered by Ben of Sustenir Agriculture which practices urban farming in Singapore.

Urban farming, thus described : controlled environment agriculture : growing plants without ever exposing them to the outside world, using artificial lighting, exacting specific nutrients and controlling every aspect of the air and water environments … perfecting a plants habitat: giving them exactly what they need, when they need it. Their lack of exposure to the hazards of traditional field farming (insects, temperature changes, cleanliness and purity of water, parasites and inconsistent levels of sunlight) … ergo clean, healthy produce …

Yes, it tasted clean. And healthy. And fresh. And good, considering : kale is the king of healthy leafy greens, a widely regarded super-food that brings more nutrients to the table than any other green on the market. Rich in beta-carotenes, Vitamins K,C, A and calcium, consuming it raw, cooked or juiced will give you boundless energy. With the highest anti-carcinogenic properties of any salad, this is the mighty green that might just save us all!

Arabian Beef Kebabs

These were especially delicious, a new recipe.

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  • 1 kg minced beef
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 fresh cup coriander leaves
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • big onion, chopped fine
  • 3 cloves and 4 cardamom, and some cinnamon, blended
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • salt
  • 100g olive oil or butter
  • ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  1. Mix all together well.
  2. Set aside for 30 to 45 minutes.
  3. Shape, pan fry.
  4. Garnish with mint and coriander leaves.

Pita wedges tossed with sea salt, olive oil and freshly minced rosemary.

Hummus and Baba Ghanoush.

Roast chicken with chunks of butternut squash and sweet potatoes. Smoked salmon with cucumber and soft cheese.

And dessert was Mango Fool with Lime and Toasted Coconut

A puree of Alfonso mangoes (in season), swirled with the zest and juice of half a lemon and Greek yoghurt, chilled, then spooned into ramekins and topped with toasted coconut flakes and sprinkled with black chia seeds. (Couldn’t find passion fruit which was part of the recipe – a drizzle of passion fruit seeds. Substituted with chia).

One did float on the bubbly a bit, which is why my photographs are less than par. Some pix borrowed off the web.

Dahi vadas aka dumplings in spiced yoghurt a la South India

Delish beyond belief. Now craving South Indian cuisine.

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  • curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 inch knob ginger
  • 2 green chilies (or more, according to taste)
  •  2 handfuls urud dhal, washed, cleaned and soaked for 6 hours or overnight in water
  1. Grind all of the above with minimum water added, adding it judiciously and a little at a time to get a batter that is thick and not runny, yet smoothly ground.
  2. Mix in salt
  3. Heat oil in a wok over a medium flame. When the oil is hot, drop rounded spoonfuls into the oil and fry till a golden brown, turning them over to even the browning. This will take a few minutes as the inside of the vadas or dumplings need to be cooked as well. Perhaps about 8 minutes ?
  4. Remove from the water, gently squeeze them till a bit dry and arrange in a dish.
  5. Drain on absorbent paper, then soak them in warm water for about 5 minutes. This will draw out the excess oil.
  • Yogurt
  • Water
  • Grated ginger
  • Cumin powder
  • Salt
  1. Whisk yogurt and water to a thick yet runny consistency, add the remaining ingredients.
  2. Pour over the dumplings.
  3. Tarka with urud dal, curry leaves, asephoetida (hing) powder – a pinch, mustard seeds and dried red chili.
  4. Remove from the heat and ad 1/2 tsp red chili powder into the hot oil.
  5. Pour over the yoghurt-vada mixture in dish.
  6. Garnish with plenty of chopped coriander.

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To die for.

Spice Options

I can’t see myself making these, but found the idea appealing – freshly ground spice mixes for the occasion !

Found this in a magazine, as I do on the odd occasion I read magazines, usually in waiting rooms …

Caribbean Jerk (makes 2 tablespoons)

Use as a marinade mixed with a little honey and olive oil; brush on poultry before BBQ-ing.

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  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes

Mexican Seasoning (makes 1/4 cup)

Use to flavour burritos, tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, chili con carne, empanadas and soups … or sprinkle on corn chips.

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  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp crushed chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Brazilian Tempero Baiano (makes 1/4 cup)

Use as a dry rub for meats, in marinades or to flavour soups, braises and seafood.

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  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp white peppercorns
  • 1 tsp crushed chili flakes

Cajun Mix (makes 1/2 cup)

Use as a dry rub or marinade for meats and seafood, or sprinkle on popcorn.

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  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp flaked sea salt
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp  ground black pepper

Moroccan ras el hanout (makes 2 tablespoons)

Use in marinades for meat, as a base for tagines and in rice pilafs, couscous or curries.

Ras-El-Hanout

  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp corander seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom seeds
  • 1/2 tsp hot paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice

Grind to a fine powder.

Pix off the net, recipes from a magazine, thanks to all.

When in Vancouver …

Crackers a la Tenaz – pre-wine, from what’s available in the fridge and garden, and on the table

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Crisp herb crackers, topped with a garlic cheese spread, sprinkled with mixed nuts and chia seeds, then layered with a slather of spicy red pepper jelly (so good, so fresh from the farms and greenhouses of Fraser Valley) and topped with a bright sprig of mint (so green and minty, it has to be the air of British Columbia).

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IMG_5820A lovely end to a gorgeously cold and sunny day.

Rainy Days & Mondays

‘Adda’ – steamed (banana leaf) rice pancakes with coconut and jaggery : in memory of school days, rainy days and Mondays …

Coming home from school on a Mumbai rainy day, having sloshed through all the puddles in our Duckback raincoats and gumboots, you entered the house hoping to get the aroma of something delicious Mum might have prepared to ‘warm us up’.

Mum wasn’t an extravagant cook (I have no idea how she managed the budget to clothe, feed and school all six of us) but she was a heart and soul cook. I say ‘was’ – she doesn’t cook anymore at 93.

As you entered the house to the usual tirade … take off your wet clothes, I’ve told you time and time again not to walk through puddles, you’ll get sick, and besides it’s dangerous, didn’t you read about the child you fell into a manhole and drowned, I don’t know when you will learn … you would sniff the air enquiringly : was it bhajjias ? Fluffy onion and carrot were my favourite.

Was it sheera ? Mum’s version was not as sticky and ghee laden, but more like a sweet upma – not my favourite, but a staple nonetheless. Was it bread wada (excitement mounting) ? The deep fried old bread foldovers with potato stuffing that our neighbour Aunty Nair introduced us to, and were to die for.

Hopes are pinned on the delectable Mallu concoction Avval Vallaicha : beaten rice flakes, roasted to a light crisp, along with grated coconut, jaggery and a hint of cardamom … but more likely it will be sukhiyan – boiled moong with a grated coconut and jaggery mixture deep fried with a batter coating (probably more nutritious but more boring).

Whatever it was it was gobbled up with delight along with a cup of milky tea and the hope of seconds, usually thwarted by the standard instruction leave some for the others.

Damn!

‘Adda’ – steamed (banana leaves) brown rice pancakes with a coconut and jaggery filling

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  • 1 cup brown rice flour {puttu podi)
  • Boiling water to mix
  • Banana leaves washed and prepared by running them over a hot flame, and cut into 8″ lengths without the rib.
  • 1/2 a grated coconut
  • 1 cup grated or powdered jaggery
  • a pinch of cardamom powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • a pinch of cinnamon powder (optional)
  1. Mix the grated coconut and the jaggery and keep aside.
  2. Place the rice flour in a mixing bowl. Add boiling water to the powder a bit at a time to make a pliable dough. Its important that the water is very hot – you can use a wooden spoon to mix, but traditionally it is done by hand.
  3. Once the dough is ready, place a large lemon-sized ball directly onto the banana leaf and tap the dough, with your fingers, to spread it into a slightly elongated circle. A small bowl of water to dip your fingers into is handy to help spread  the dough  evenly on the leaf.
  4. Place a generous spoonful of the jaggery and grated coconut mixture into the centre of the flattened dough, staying away from the edges as they will have to be sealed.

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5. Fold the leaf over and use your fingers to pat the edges of the dough, gently sealing each parcel.

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6. You will now have a your banana leaf parcel ready for steaming. Prepare the remainder of the dough and mixture similarly.

7. In a large steamer, line the parcels upright with open edge facing the top (to avoid water seeping into the parcel). Close steamer and steam for about 10 minutes.

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8. Allow to cool slightly before removing the parcels onto a plate to serve. The leaf peels away easily to leave the brown rice pancake or adda ready to eat.

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Bon Appetit

This is to kick off the memories : Paris 2009 with friends : a holiday of the senses, an effervescence of food, an exploration of haute cuisine, gastro-tourism, Michelin stars, Michelin guides and just plain ordinary eating.

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The compact, businesslike (soon to be rated Michelin discovery) Le Gaigne in the Marais quarter (third arrondissement) makes a persuasive case to the purse; it is a reason to dress up for some fine dining, and best of all, is just around the corner. Preceded by the ritual of trying on outfits, shared make-up and compliments, the five course Le Menu Dégustation, each paired with a wine and exquisitely served on slabs of black slate, is both delightful and a trifle disappointing. The seafood starter in a shot glass – Verrine de Coquillages en gelée, mousse et coulis de Céléris – is not unpleasant and deserves mention if only for the layered, pureed, spinach; and the braised endives with ham or Millefeuilles d’Endives étuvées et véritable jambon de Paris de M. Leguel, is an out and out winner, a mélange of the sweet, the sour and the piquant.

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The closely packed tables are enveloped in a buzz of conversation, rising and falling in a miscellany of accents. The food is local, organic and fresh, and if organic is unavailable, ‘alternatively produced’ replacements are substituted, where possible. Chef Mikael Gaignon is young and known, having worked in two Pierre Gagnaire restaurants and this, Le Gaigne, is his first restaurant as patron. Given the prices are not Michelin star prices, it certainly offers value for money – and the wines are superbly matched.

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Ladurée (75 Avenue des Champs-Elysées, Tel : 01.40.75.08.75), opened as a tea room in the 1930’s  at a time when women were not allowed to enter cafés (an exclusive domain of men) and soon became hugely successful with the ladies of Paris. Today, a brand unto itself, it is famous worldwide for its pastries and double-decker macaroons (of which 15,000 are sold everyday according to their website). These legendary macaroons featured in a scene between Marie-Antoinette and Ambassador Mercy in Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette.

Originally founded in 1862 as a bakery, it was burnt down in the Paris Commune uprising of 1871 and rebuilt as a pastry shop. It came into its own in 1930 when Desfontaines, the grandson, came up with the idea of sticking two macaroon shells together with creamy ganache (a whipped filling of chocolate and cream), reinventing the macaroon originally introduced by Catherine de’ Medici to France in the 16th century.

The celadon interiors and the waiting in line is an experience in itself, almost like being caught in a boudoir web within a time warp. Brunch has a very ‘ladies who lunch’ feel to it, made inelegant by recalcitrant swiveling seats which make it hard to look graceful, much less balance a china cup of tea delicately. Depending on your taste, the macaroon is either a fantastic melt-in-your-mouth experience, or not quite all that it is cracked up to be.

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Ladurée macaroon boxes are available from their counter at the Charles de Gaulle airport (should you want to take some home) and it is recommended that the macaroons be eaten within three to four days.

Le Trumilou (84 Quai de L’Hotel de Ville, Tel : 01.42.77.63.98,) will be remembered for a perfect meal on a sunny autumn day, a Sunday lunch of escargots lusciously awash in butter and garlic, chilled Sancerre, foaming Leffe, canard pruneaux (duck with prunes), ris veau (veal sweetbread), oeuf a la neige (floating islands) and tarte aux pommes, apple tarts, warm and melting.

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dsc07351It will be remembered as a quintessential French bistrot experience; traditional farm fare and dishes lovingly cooked for hours … and warm sidewalk café crèmes served in the sun, fueling hours of insouciant banter; and your table’s giddy, infectious good humor snags the attention of the man at the adjacent table (ostensibly reading a French translation of Dan Brown’s latest offering) … all this, followed by a siesta on the banks of the Seine on a sunny afternoon.

Le Baiser Salé aka The Salty Kiss (58 Rue des Lombards, Tel : 01.42. 33. 37. 71) is for the nights, for the atmosphere and the perfect evening of jazz, (no fancy wannabe jazz bar in an upstart slick street); this is cellar and decrepit loft, knee to knee in appreciation with other music lovers. A jazz festival is on, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Latino, salsa, merengue, R & B, fusion … and tonight is mellifluous and the mojitos, margaritas and 1664’s enhance the sweetly evocative articulations of sax and bass guitar.

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For a quick dinner before the show, or between shows, nip across to La P’tit Cantine (22 Rue des Lombardes, Tel : 01.42. 71. 44. 48) for a decent meal of meat and wine.

Le Connétable (55 Rue des Archives, Tel : 01.42. 77. 41. 40) is a chance encounter turned good. The bread is fresh and crusty, the Côtes du Rhône deeply red and invigorating, and the conversation is about men. Pork filet mignons in a Roquefort sauce, veal medallions, rump steaks in (green pepper) saus poivre vert, celery puréed with butter and cream … unpretentious food and robust wine.

Known for its local artists and chanson music (a la Edith Piaf); tonight, in the cellar-cave below, three painfully young men sing French a cappella, gentle croons, warbles and a harmony that has the young audience rapt. Berets are doffed; a battered saucepan is passed around for coins.

Angelina (226 Rue de Rivoli, Tel : 01. 42. 60. 82. 00) is the renowned Parisian gourmet teahouse in the elegant style of the Belle Époque era, designed by the French architect Edouard-Jean Niermans. An institution since its inception, it is known both for its clientele (aristocracy, fashion designers, authors, philosophers et al) as for its Mont Blanc gateau and hot chocolate (closely guarded century old proprietary recipes). The famous Mont Blanc – as well as most of their gateaux – have all been consumed by the end of the day, so if the intent is to eat, get there before teatime. The queues are long and so is the waiting time. The house special, the African Hot Chocolate, is worth every second of the patient wait and the sorbets are richly satisfying, beyond any imagination.

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Restaurant Le 404 (69 Rue des Gravilliers, Tel : 01.44.71.57.81) Le 404 restaurant … exhibits all the vibrant flavours and colours of North Africa. Retrofitted into a 16th century building, 404’s interior is all Berber with pouf seating, exposed beams and stones, tooled leather, authentic artifacts. … The menu features all the dishes … from that part of the world: couscous, tagines, grilled meats, skewered things. The wine list features some unusual Mahgrebi bottles … Grab a drink at Andy Wahloo’s, the sibling bar next door – everybody does, and ‘everybody’ includes show-biz and celebrities.

The evening is an sensory extravaganza; the warm glow of Moroccan lanterns, suspended, lamps and candles holders of iron fretwork dispersing flickering light on dishes heaped with Middle Eastern fare, meat, pigeon, chicken, semolina, pickled lemons, nuts, dates, figs, raisins; the fragrance of spices – cumin, coriander, saffron, chiles, ginger, cinnamon, paprika; a décor of earthen hues, the murmur of conversation, the hiss and sizzle from the stove, the pop of a champagne cork … epicurean hedonism.

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Our last dinner in Paris, Le 404 remains burnished in the memory as a golden experience, beginning with the first mojito, redolent with fresh mint. Chilled Chablis follows with fava beans & olives, Mechoui Maison (roasted shoulder of lamb), pastilla pigeon plat (wild pigeon in pastry), tagine poulet citron (chicken with preserved lemon and olives) and the couscous 7 legumes. And to end a meal of meals, salade d’oranges et fleur d’ orange and pastilla dattes (pastry with dates) accompanied by fresh, aromatic coffee.

Le Pain Quotidien, 18-20, Rue de Archives, Tel :  1 44 54 03 07, is a quiet delight, part of a global chain that first opened in Brussels in 1990. Bakery and communal table; breakfast, lunch, brunch (organic where possible, with vegan and vegetarian options) and simple boulangerie fare – soups, salads, tartines, homemade pastries, handmade organic bread – artisanal dishes, community eating at a long wooden trestle table.

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No gastronomic journey is complete without a nod to junk food and the Googrill beef and chicken burgers at Quality Hamburger Restaurant (63 Boulevard Saint Michel, Tel : 01.42. 71. 44. 48) … ils sont délicieux, elles sont parfaits.

Bon appétit, says the garçon, placing the bottle of Sancerre on the table, gently.

And so we do, meal after meal after glorious meal.

Sudha’s KurMur

Its onomatopoeic … kurmur, kurmur … crisp and crackling, with a drink, as a snack, or just simply because. And this one is healthy, made at home and easy !

Thanks Sudha, for sharing the recipe.

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  • 4 cups cornflakes
  • 4 cups puffed rice or rice krispies
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup raisins or dried cranberries
  • 1 cup raw cashew nuts
  • 2 cups raw peanuts (with skin)
  • 2 tsp olive oil

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Seasoning (in 2 tbsp sesame oil)

  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp jeera (cumin) seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp asaphoetida
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar

Dry roast, separately, the puffed rice, the cornflakes, the curry leaves, pumpkin seeds and the sunflower seeds.

In 1 tsp olive oil each, lightly fry the cashew and peanuts, separately.

Toss all together in a large bowl along with the raisins or cranberries, before preparing the seasoning.

Heat the sesame oil, sputter the mustard, then the cumin. Add the curry leaves, saute for a minute, then add the chili powder, asaphoetida, sugar, salt and sesame seeds.

Remove pan from the heat. Stir well and let it sit till the sugar dissolves.

Add to the mixture in the bowl, mix well.

Cool, store in an airtight container, enjoy !

150 Calorie Snacks

The last of the Good Housekeeping reprints … for those with a yen for the Mediterranean lifestyle, and the in-betweeners between meals.

Mediterranean-Diet-Reduces-the-Risk-of-Suffering-a-Cardiovascular-Related-Death

  • 1 heaped tbsp houmous with strips of courgette, carrot and red or yellow pepper
  • 40g cheese and an apple
  • 25g plain 70% dark chocolate (about 2 squares)
  • 25g seed, nut and sultanas, mixed
  • 25g pistachios, walnuts, cashews or almonds … or a mix
  • a nectarine and 3 apricots
  • 170g carton Greek 0% low fat yoghurt with blueberry, plus a peach.

Picture from http://www.scitechdaily.com.

The Mediterranean Way

Much has been written and discussed about this uber-healthy diet and food lifestyle. I came across this set of simple RULES to print and stick on the fridge – so as you don’t forget, or wonder … or lapse. Even if you do, this daily reminder should put back on track very soon.shutterstock_94559782

THE MED DIET RULES

DailyCALIFORNIA WALNUT COMMISSION MEDITERRANEAN DIET

  • 2 portions or 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 portion or 25g walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts
  • 7+ portions or 80g to 100g of fruit and vegetables
  • 1 to 3 portions or 150ml dairy products
  • 3 to 6 small portions or 25g wholegrain bread, rice, pasta or other grains
  • 1 small glass wine (optional)

I love the last one, but the article goes on to emphasise that it is optional, so exercise some judgement.

WeeklyMediterraneanDiet

  • 2 to 3 portions or 100 to 150g fish or any other seafood
  • 3 + portions or 150g cooked weight of pulses
  • 1 to 2 portions or 100 to 150g poultry

 

 

Monthlyred-meat-660

  • Up to 4 portions or 85g to 125g red meat

 

 

 

In addition, minimise sugar, salt and processed food, fill up on fresh vegetables and salads, use olive oil and butter ( yes, butter !) instead of vegetable oil and margarine.

And follow the RULES as a guideline .

Photographs have been borrowed from http://www.news.discovery.com, http://www.foodscienceacademy.org, http://www.techglam.com and http://www.blisstree.com

Are all changes good in a food programme ?

There will be changes to your body when you start a food programme – that is the whole point. But are all these changes for the good ?
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A friend wrote in about her spouse who lost 10 kg on his nutritionally controlled diet but developed painful hemorrhoids, possibly because he did not vary his vegetable intake, or consume sufficient greens. Another friend found her nails getting brittle, but the nutritionist upped her calcium intake and that was sorted out.

The takeaway from these shared experiences is that one must be aware of changes to one’s system while on a food programme, and more importantly, share this with the nutritionist or doctor or whomever is guiding the programme.

Some points to keep in mind :

  • Rotate your fruits – eating the same one most days (like apples, because they are convenient) with perhaps a pear/papaya for relief may not provide a balance. Include softer fruits like peaches, bananas etc.
  • Eat leafy vegetables even if these are not favourites. Green vegetables are insufficient, they need to be supported by the leaves – spinach, sprouts, lettuce. Have them as soups or salads.
  • Have a bit of rice occasionally. A little change always helps.
  • Monitor the intake of dairy products – milk can contribute to insufficient bowel movements, if your body is inclined that way.
  • Don’t change your diet too drastically and suddenly – it will show on your skin and face.
  • Lastly, look out for warning signals and tell your dietician so that they can modify your diet. Nothing is too frivolous or serious not to warrant mention.

As another of the gang sagely commented, “every body responds differently and that’s why there are so very many theories out there. its a matter of finding the one right for you.”

Emails were exchanged, all with good tips, suggestions.

“… go for the water, the greens and the feedback, and I personally would recommend a laxative or two.”

“Try adding a lot of lettuce, sprouts (the leafy ones like alfalfa, pea, wheatgrass), and how about wheat grass powder in water ? First thing in the morning ?”Blog-27-Image

“pl do consume yr full quota of water and salad”

That’s the whole point of this blog. Shared information for better results !

Check these posts :

15 Healthy benefits of Wheatgrass Juice you never knew.

Pictures from http://www.dillnerfamilyfarm.com/catalog/i149.html and www.getsomezen.com.

 

Strangely beautiful Veggie Mix for Wraps

Just cooked my 1/2 cup veggies for lunch. Yum.

I doubled the quantity (for tomorrow as well) so I’ll just give you ingredients.

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Handful of green beans diced in 1 cm pieces
Handful of corn kernels
Handful of peas
1 red onion
Chili flakes
Panch Phoran
Garlic flakes
Pinch of Za’atar – Middle eastern spice mix with lots of parsley, oregano, sesame etc.
Mint sauce (bought – no oil)

So, I dry fried the onions on a low fire, then sprinkled a generous few dashes of chili flakes, 4-5 garlic flakes, pinch of panch phoran and the za’atar.

Meanwhile microwaved the beans, corn and peas for one and a half minutes. Tossed the vegetables into the pan. Added a generous dash of mint sauce and salt to taste.

Piled it onto my warmed up pita bread, topped it with a slice of cheese.

Strange but beautiful.

Sunshine on a Plate : tian of tomato

Came across this recipe by Chef Reynaldo Arriola of Halia Restaurant in Singapore. Haven’t tried it, but reads delicious and sounds healthy !

Vine-ripened tomatoes have the perfect balance of sugars and acids, as well as flavour. Teamed with ripe mango and avocado, and just a dash of seasoning … sounds mmmm.

1 vine-ripened tomato, blanched, peeled, de-seeded and diced, mixed with 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 ripe avocado, diced,  mixed with 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

salt, pepper

2 slices each of green and yellow courgettes, blanched

1/2 stalk chive, chopped (optional)

1 sprig chevril for garnish (optional)

  1. Keep all ingredients separate. Season tomatoes and avocados with salt and pepper.
  2. In a round glass mould (or individual glass ramekins), place tomatoes at the bottom, then the avocados and top with the mangoes.
  3. Garnish with the courgette slices on the side, chives and chevril. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over it.