Friday, September 21, 2012

Tip of the week: how to make vanilla sugar

When I've read for the first time that even me, the humble chef with a problematic cooking background can have her own vanilla sugar, I was very skeptical. But after reading the recipe, I become fully aware that nothing could be easier.

For instance, you need the following ingredients: 
8 cups of white sugar
one vanilla bean

Pour the cups into a large container with the vanilla bean in the center, tight it and let it set for the next two weeks in a dry space. That's all. You can use the vanilla beam thereafter for other cooking purposes. It is cheap, easy and I can already feel the smell...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Book review: Michael Pollan - Food Rules

My interest in literature on good food and food in general is of a latter date, but the concerns about eating healthy was always present into my life. First and foremost, I was never the type of person keen to eat everything I saw and each decision to taste - or not - a certain food, was carefully considered from various perspectives. It sounds very poetic, but it is how it worked in my case. It involved a careful lecture of the ingredients, details about the production and the brand distributing in. 

As I grew up with my own garden, and even knew for a while to connect to the rhythm of nature - waiting impatiently to pick up the tomatoes or other fruits we had in the garden - I tried as much as possible to be also careful from where I buy my fruits and vegetables. 

Michael Pollan's book is my first 'academic' reading experience, when I not only read an article or some blogs about good food but a well written literary work. In less than two hours you will rediscover the secrets of the good food that for sure our grand and grand grand parents knew so well. It was not only a pleasure for the mind, but also for the eyes, as the book has a lot of good drawings. 

Pollan doesn't lecture about food, but states simple truths, organized in three parts: What should I eat? (Eat food), What kind of food should I eat? (Mostly plants) and How should I eat (Not too much). You need to avoid long list of ingredients - if there are more than five, you better look for another product - the not-so-natural face of your food, the food usually cooked by humans and you, as a human should dedicate more time to preparing the food by yourself. I follow as well most of the advices, including that of consuming moderate meat - in the case of my family, one meal the week.

Eating is not only for getting feed, but also to share a social and cultural experience. The food you eat say something about you and your cultural background. Our busy life and bad habits drove us away from the natural way of eating, but the good news is that more and more people are turning to the old good habits. There are so many recipes waiting to be cooked!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Cutting instead of grinding

I am a big fan of various kinds of flavour and I can hardly miss any opportunity to try to smells and tastes, even not necessarily included in the original recipe. I have various old time utensils that help me to do the grinding, but sometimes it doesn't work properly. I want to surprise my guests by offering them the choice of guessing what fine ingredients I used and this is possible only if the spices are finely cut. The ingredients should be cut in a way that will enrich the food by the different aromas that are melt together. 

Through my wonderings from a shop to another, I discovered the products offered by SchneidWerk. From the technical point of view, it is the kind of product that helps a lot the beginner chef, and offers a lot of satisfaction to the professionals in the domain of cooking. It is provided with a stainless steel blade with sharply etched teeth designed to cut spices and dried herbs very fast and efficiently. It works very well with both hard and dried types of spices, such as: anise, chilli, ginger, fennel, coriander, caraway, mustard seed, black and white sesame and  thyme. 

Foto credit: SchneidWerk
The prices are affordable and they are designed to last long. You can find at least six models available, with a friendly design and very easy to use. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

A noble combination

For the long afternoons of the autumn, this treat is a real noble choice.

All you need to make yourself feel special are:

- Camembert cheese

- toast or any black bread - eventually with pumpkin seeds

- fresh figs

- maybe 1-2 drops of olive oil

You can make the plans for the new year while silently listening to the birds getting ready to leave and sipping a good white wine.

Bon Appetit!

Fresh salad for the busy days

What could compare with a good and fresh salad in the morning.
But often, the morning is the worse time of the day to prepare something and often, if we are working a bit late in the evening, we can prepare in maximum 15 minutes a good salad with a lot of vitamins and refreshing 
tastes  that will wait for us in the fridge whatever early in the morning we will head to our office. 

The following salad is something you need for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I cannot have enough of it and I am happy to have it on my menu at least once the week.

I used the following ingredients:

- corn

- avocado

- tomatoes

- parmesan

- same salt

- olive oil

An amazing result will follow!

Bon appetit!