Thursday, September 11, 2014

Sugar Sugar (Dealing with Diabetes )

Many of my friends have diabetes, and my father was a diabetic, so having been asked advice on this subject I have put pen to paper. It is very important that a diabetic seeks medical advice and sees a dietitian when first diagnosed, this is just a guide line to help you along.

People with diabetes can eat the same foods the rest of their family   but reduced portion size of carbohydrates. Choices from each food group provide the highest quality nutrients you can find. In other words, pick foods rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. 

A Diabetic eating plan includes eating a wide variety of foods including:
  • Vegetables, 
  • Salad vegetables, but restrict parsnips, beets, potatoes sweet potatoes because of the sugar content.
  • Switch to whole grains – brown rice and pasta to increase your fiber.
  • You can eat fruits but restrict you intake   check with your doctor as they contain natural sugar
  • Lean meat,
  • Poultry,
  • Fish
  • Dairy products. Limit due to the high fat content
  • Beans, lentils, pulses.

Carbohydrate counting
One had to reduce the carbohydrates, cut down on bread, potatoes, and as I said earlier switch to  using  whole grain rice and pasta.

Start with allowing about 45-60 grams of carbohydrate at a meal.

Foods that contain carbohydrate or “carbs” are: grains like rice, oatmeal, and barley grain-based foods like bread, cereal, pasta, and crackers starchy vegetables like potatoes, peas and corn fruit and juice milk and yogurt dried beans like pinto beans and soy products like veggie burgers sweets and snack foods like sodas, juice drinks, cake, cookies, candy, and chips .

Vegetarian option
A good friend of mine greatly reduced her sugar levels recently by cutting out all processed foods, and sticking to a dairy and wheat free Vegetarian diet within six weeks there was a vast improvement to her health.
Research supports that following this type of diet can help prevent and manage diabetes. In fact, research on vegan diets has found that Vegan diets are naturally higher in fiber, much lower in saturated fat, carbohydrates and cholesterol than the average diet.

Start your day the correct way
Eating breakfast is imperative for diabetics. Besides providing you with energy, a well-rounded breakfast also helps balance blood glucose levels. Starting out with a solid blood glucose reading makes it easier to maintain good levels throughout the day. The best breakfast foods for diabetics are those that are high in lean protein and whole grains, as these types of foods are the most filling and generally have a low glycemic index.

  • Breakfast shakes, 
  • Eggs on multi- grain toast,  
  • whole grain cereal , 
  • or almonds limited fruit and natural unsweetened yogurt are excellent  ways to start your day.

Don’t skip meals
Eat little and often rather than fasting and eating a large meal , its important to eat regularly ever 3.5- 4 hours.

Main meal ideas
·            Whole meal pasta with a homemade tomato and vegetable sauce.
     Homemade lentil soup, one slice whole meal bread with a fresh salad sprinkled with almond slithers
       Oven baked fish parcels with vegetables, served vegetable noodles
       Oven roasted ratatouille vegetables served on brown rice.
       Lightly sautéed chicken breast with a red pepper   and zucchini salsa
        Red turkey meat, cooked with mushrooms leeks and fresh herbs with polenta.

          Dal with brown rice   and green salad    

         leek carrot , and spinach baked fritters 

This is   just a few ideas , email me for more recipes

Being diagnosed as a diabetic can be scary  

however , if you take charge and not let the disease take charge of you. You will get into an easy routine and be able to deal with meal time with ease.
Good luck 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Something Fishy Part 1…( A guide to choosing your and preparing fish)

Coming from the UK, which of course is an Island surrounded by water I am accustomed to good fresh fish.
One of my closest school friends grandfather owned a fishmongers, we would often drop in on the way home from school, dressed  in our green school uniform, where this jolly man who’s white coat, butchers striped apron and wellington boots served to protect him from surroundings , would bend down to us, and point out the different fish; “Do you know what that is” “Can you tell how a fish is fresh” “This is a fresh water fish, this is a sea fish” he would whisper in our ears. We would watch the skilled filleting in awe.

So by the age of seven, I knew my cod from haddock, how to souse a herring, and how to pick the freshest of fish.

Choosing your fish.

Firstly when possible find a good fishmonger, build up a relationship with them. In Brighton we would often go down to buy the fish fresh from the boats.

Whole Fish

Look for bright, clear eyes. The eyes are indication to a truly fresh fish, as they fade quickly into gray dullness, although it is safe to eat fish with dull grey eyes it’s not pleasant its past its best.
Look at the fish. Does it shine? Does its skin look metallic and clean? Then it is fresh if it is going dull and has patches so is its flavor dull!
Look at the gills. They should be a rich red. If the fish is old, they will turn the color of faded brick.
Smell the Fish
A fresh fish should smell like clean water, or a touch like the sea. If a fish smells bad, it is bad!
It’s always best to buy whole fish and have it filled if needed. However if this is not an option

Fish Fillets 
Look for vibrant flesh. All fish fade as they age.

Smell it. The smell test as above is especially important with fillets. They should have no strong smells

Is there liquid on the fish if so, that liquid should be clear, not milky. Milky color liquid on a fillet is the first stage of the fish rotting.

Frozen fish.

Personally, I am not that fond of frozen fish, unless I am making fish balls, fish pie or soup, especially in Israel where the majority of frozen fish is pumped with water then frozen.
However when frozen fish is the only option follow the steps below.
Buy good quality frozen fish cheap fish is not good quality.
Totally Defrost the fish before cooking
Wash off all the ice under cold water.
For the last 10-15 minutes of defrosting  sprinkle on salt and the juice of half a lemon to remove the “freezer” flavor.
Rinse off
Dry the fish with paper towel before preparation.

Cooking Fish
Fish is delicate, good fresh fish needs very little cooking, we all have a tendency to overcook fish then it becomes that horrendous rubbery texture that would give plastic a bad name.

Quick cooking of fillets.
The perfect fast food !
Wash the fillets in cold water and pat dry.
Season  with salt, pepper, a little garlic, and paprika.
And rub a teaspoon of good quality oil on to the fish .
Heat a pan on the fire,
Add a teaspoon of oil to the pan no more
Place the fish fillet skin side down into the hot pan pressing it down slightly  with your fingers to get the skin crisp.
Cook for 1-2 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillet
Flip the fillet over and repeat.
Turn off the pan.
Serve the fish with a green salad, baby new potatoes and a glass off crisp white wine.
There you have   a perfect summer meal.

Cooking a Whole Fish in the oven

 Firstly ask your fishmonger to gut your fish,
If not it’s a simple process.

You will need a pair of latex gloves, a board preferably not wooden as the smell stays. A sharp knife, running water!
   Place the fish on a clean surface on its side
2.   Insert your knife near the tail of the fish and cut towards the head.
3.   Spread the fish's abdominal cavity open with your fingers, gently cut away at the insides.
4.   Scrape the insides out and rinse the fish under cold running water. 
   Now the fish is ready to be cooked.

Preheat the oven to between 350°F and 450°F depending on the size of the fish( smaller fish lower temperature)
After rinsing the fish pat dry with kitchen towel.
You need
1 lemon sliced
1-2 bunches fresh herbs, like parsley, coriander  dill. Take your pick
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves peeled and sliced.
1 spoon extra virgin olive oil
3 carrots peeled and sliced
2 onion’s peeled and sliced
2 bay leaves
2 table spoons white wine or water
Place the carrots and one of the onions half the lemon  and bay leaves and the liquid in the bottom of a baking tray.
Season the cavity of the fish, add the garlic lemon slices, slices of onion and as many of the herbs that you can stuff into the fish.
Rub the oil into the fish, then lay it on top of the carrots and onions in the baking tray.
Season the top of the fish.
Place any leftover herbs on the top of the fish.
Cover the fish with parchment paper.
Bake between 15-30 minutes   depending on the size of the fish 1-2 pounds takes 15-20 minutes 3 to 5 pounds for approximately 30 minutes and over 5 pounds takes between 35-40 minutes.
Remove from the oven.
Serve straight away.

I cannot stress enough that
  • The fresher the fish the better the flavor, 
  • Never be tempted to overcook fish....less is more
  • Do not overcomplicate the flavors, let the fish talk for its self
  • Eat fish as near to cooking as possible.

Watch this blog for some more summer fish recipes of Classic British Fish and Chips,  Stuffed place a classic 1960 dish, Fish curry, and Fish soup coming next week!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Catering for the masses...( in a healthy nutritious way).

Tomorrow 35  people are arriving for a meditation & relaxation silent seminar in our yeshuve.( village)   Although they will be silent therefore can not complain, while the facilitators will nourish their souls ,their  bodies will need nourishing by my friend and I.
Too often mass catering is done on the cheap with no regard for the health and well-being of the guests with cost being the first concern.
I feel strongly that although the occasional fast food meal is OK if people are coming to cleanse their minds it would be so wrong to add chemicals into their bodies.Being healthy is a holistic thing and catering for the masses can be healthy.

My friend and I have created a vegetarian  menu that is  hopefully delicious nutritious and not too complex to prepare by two people using two domestic ovens and not highly equipped kitchens.

The brief  we were given was 

  • Keep it simple, filling, tasty, healthy and cheap. 
  • They required Bread , salad and vegetables at every meal 
  • The only meal with dairy would be breakfast 
  • There should be healthy snacks available all day long  

Buffet Breakfasts 

Home made Granola,
Fruit baskets
Cottage Cheese, ordinary cheese.
Tahini, hard boiled eggs
Vegetable plate
Bread, Rice cakes, Crackers
Teas , Coffee, Herbal tea, milk, soya and almond milk, honey .

Snacks  home made cookies
Unsweetened Date Cookies
Rice crisps
Oat apple and Cranberry "Eitan " Cookies.

Fresh fruit baskets.

Day One Lunch 

Roasted red peppers with garlic.
Roasted Zucchini on a bed of red onion with fresh picked garden herbs 
Roasted Eggplant  in a Tahini sauce
Roasted Sweet and regular potatoes with Rosemary and black pepper
All served on Brown rice
With a baby leaf and seed salad in  a garlic honey and mustard dressing.
Pita bread for those who want to wash.

Fresh water melon

Teas , Coffee, Herbal tea, milk, soya and almond milk, honey .

Day One Evening 
 Aromatic Organic Orange soup, 
Home made spelt bread,
Home made Olive Dip, Humas, Tahini. Pesto
Cole slaw in a vinaigrette dressing 
Vegetable plate
Fruit basket 

Teas , Coffee, Herbal tea, milk, soya and almond milk, honey 

Day Two Lunch time

Sweet potato, lentil and zucchini Coconut  Curry 
Brown Rice
Mixed green salad in a lemon herb dressing

                                  Pita bread for those who want to wash.

Fruit basket 

Teas , Coffee, Herbal tea, milk, soya and almond milk, honey 

Day two evening

Mixed vegetable & Rice  soup 

Home made spelt bread,
Home made Olive Dip, Humas, Tahini. Egg salad Pesto 
Mixed  Israeli salad in a mint infused dressing 
Vegetable plate
Fruit basket 

Teas , Coffee, Herbal tea, milk, soya and almond milk, honey 

Here are three  recipes from the event

"Eitan Cookies"  (invented in  my grandson’s honor)  Almost Healthy  Spelt, Oat, Cranberry & Chocolate Cookies!  

Makes   26 cookies. Oven 375°F = 190.6°C   gas mark 5

These cookies are  wheat , dairy, sugar, and egg free yet are really yummy, when I made a trial batch tonight to take with me for Shabbat someone popped in, and declared them delectable ! they are crumbly light melt in the mouth and have that wonderful combination of Cranberries and dark chocolate.  
100 grams /4 oz/ 1 cup porridge oats
150 grams/6 oz / 1 cup spelt flour, plus a little extra
½ tsp fine sea salt
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp non-aluminum baking powder
142 g/5 fluid oz/  ½ cup.   Good vegetable cooking oil, I used organic extra virgin sunflower,
100 g/4 oz/ ½ cup apple puree/ sauce
1 tea spoon real vanilla extract,
½ cup unsweetened dried cranberries
½ cup non dairy  good chocolate chips

  1. Line two baking trays with cooking paper and oil them a bit. Preheat the oven to 190
  2. In a large bowl put the oats , flour, baking powder, baking soda salt  put a well in the middle
  3. In a separate bowl mix the oil, apple puree/sauce, vanilla, mix well and pour into the dry Ingredients mix well and add the cranberries and chocolate chips. mix well
  4. Wet your hands under cold water make little balls (walnut size) evenly space them on the baking tray, push them down with a damp fork.
  5. Put in oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until brown, allow cooling and them hide if you want to keep them for longer than 30 minutes.

Sweet Potato,Red lentil  Zucchini & Coconut  Curry  Serves   6

3-4 medium sweet potatoes peeled and chopped into large chunks
4 large carrots peeled chopped into chunks
4-5 zucchini washed and chopped into chunks
2-3 red skinned potatoes peeled and chopped  into chunks & put into cold water.
½ inch fresh ginger peeled and grated
½ cup red lentils, picked washed and drained
4 garlic cloves crushed
2 white onions   finely chopped
1 tea spoon sea salt
1 tea spoon  ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried  cumin
1 teaspoon dried  coriander
½ tea spoon cayenne pepper or chili flakes
½ tea spoon cinnamon
¼ tea spoon ground cloves.
1.5 teaspoon good quality curry powder.
2 bay leaves
½ cup fresh chopped coriander
I tablespoon  coconut oil
1 can of coconut milk
2 cups water.

Heat the coconut oil in a heavy bottom pan, add the ginger and garlic, and onions, stir and cook till the onions are transparent.
Add the dry spices, ( everything but the salt)  mix together, turn the heat down low and cook off the spices, stirring  take off the heat  add the potato, carrots, and Sweet potato, the salt, and the lentils.  
Add the lentils, and then the water the water should just come ¾ the way up the vegetables. Cover the pan &   cook for 10 minutes on a medium heat before adding the zucchini, and fresh coriander.
Cook for 12 more minutes add in the coconut milk, turn to a low heat, and adjust the salt and pepper.
Serve on rice, with Indian pickles.
This keeps well in the fridge  for 2-3 days but heat very slowly because of the coconut milk.

Green Tahini makes 12-14 portions

1 tub or container of raw tahini
Juice of one lemon
3 -4 cloves garlic depending on size
1-2 cups fresh chopped parsley
1 cup water
1 tea spoon date syrup
1 teaspoon sea salt.

Put all the ingredients together in a food processor, and blend. The greener you want it the more parsley you add. 
the date syrup takes away the bitterness of the  tahini and the parsley.
Put into an airtight container in the fridge will last up to one week.
can be used as a dip, or over jacket potatoes,  pour it over warm roasted eggplant and serve with rice, or add more lemon juice and water and use as a salad dressing.

Catering for large numbers is challenging for some, I enjoy it if I have the time, energy , help with preparation and large pots! actually I have none of the  above this week so this could be more than interesting wish me luck!

Dip Dip Dip…My little Home Made Dip …(Ten in fact to keep you dipping!!!)

Dips ready for the fridge 
 I really enjoy making dips, (salatim in Israel!)  They are quick and easy, can be served as starter for Shabbat, also mid-week are very satisfying with homemade bread, flat bread, soup and salad.
Sharing dips, and bread wine good olives and stories is a ideal way to spend a lazy summer evening . Finish off the meal with water melon and grapes, all picky and friendly foods. 
Here are 10   of my favorite dips in no particular order!

Yes, ideally you need a food processor, but I have used a hand blender for some of these most of  these dips can be stored in a fridge in an air tight container for 3-5 days.  Quantities for 4-5 people as a starter.

1. Olive Dip literally a 5 minute store cupboard dip and so good for those last minute guests 
1 can of green olives without pips
½   cup ground walnuts
¼ cup fresh chopped parsnips
3 table spoons extra virgin olive oil.
1 clove garlic
1 spoon good quality organic mayonnaise (optional but makes the dip smother and stretch!)
Open the can of olives and rinse them in a sieve in cold water for 2-3 minutes to remove the salt leave to drain.
In a food processor, grind the walnuts, add the parsley garlic and process, add the olives, olive oil and mayo if you are using it.
Blend for 1-2 minutes.
Place in a container and chill before serving… could not be easier!

2. Red Bean Dip. I am always asked for this recipe so here we go again! It’s spicy and deep flavored wonderful on warmed bread, lasts up to 10 days in the fridge.
2 tins red kidney beans or ½ lb. of dried beans cooked and cooled.
4 cloves garlic 
1 teaspoon lemon juice
 I table spoon extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ tea spoon cayenne pepper
1 table spoon tahini
1 tea spoon date syrup
1 medium red onion chopped
1 tea spoon full ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Water to bind (around 1 desert spoon full it should be a paste so not too much.)
 ½ cup fresh coriander a few sprigs washed checked and chopped
Open drain and rinse the beans if using cans.
Place everything apart from the salt in the food processor   together
Blend till smooth but   not runny, taste and add salt to taste.
This is meant to be garlicky and have a punch
leave at least 4 hours in the fridge then serve it’s a great addition to your salatim ad once you have put everything in the blender it takes a couple of minutes.

3. Roasted Red Pepper Dip very very simple, you can use a hand blender for this!
4 large red peppers
2 cloves garlic
½ cup ground almonds
1 table spoon extra virgin olive oil
½ tea spoon ground sea salt.

Preheat an oven too gas 6   400 F 200C
Wash the red peppers and leave them whole place them on baking paper in an oven proof dish place the garlic with them and bake for 45 minutes -1 hour.
Take the  peppers out the oven , let them cool slightly,  then remove the stalk , place a save over a bowl, and let the liquid run out with it will come the pips. Discard the pips.
Blend the peppers, the roasted garlic  add some of the liquid, add the olive oil, ground almonds and then season with the salt.
Place in an air tight container and chill before serving.

4. Smoked Eggplant Dip.  If you are already roasting the peppers you can do eggplant dip too! I have used a hand blender for this dip but a food processor is best.
2-3 Medium eggplants
¾ cup tahini
Juice of 1 lemon
3-4 cloves garlic
½ tea spoon ground black pepper
½ tea spoon sea salt
¼ spoon smoked paprika (optional)
¾ cup fresh parsley chopped
½ table spoon extra virgin olive oil
Preheat an oven too gas 6   400 F 200 C
Wash the eggplant  and leave them whole place them on baking paper in an oven proof dish and bake for 1-1 ½ hours they should be done and have a slightly smoky smell, to achieve this finish the eggplants off under the grill.
When they are cooked, let the eggplants cool a bit removes the stalk.
Place in a food processor with the parsley, garlic, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and blend, add the seasonings, and if it is a bit stiff add a few drops of water. 
Again stores very well, I make this once a week for the students next door and they say it lasts well from one batch till the next!

5.Guacamole  there almost are as many ways to make this spicy Mexican dip as there are avocados however this is my version that has a 100% success rate and people keep coming back for more. This is not a long stay dip, make it before the meal, and so ensure you keep it in an airtight container to stop it going brown.  It is great as a dip or to eat with Chili either con carne or vegan! In wraps, or on jacket potatoes.  This amount serves 6 as a starter with corn tacos.
If you like it hotter bump up the Caine pepper, the honey takes the acid from the tomato.
3 ripe avocados.
I small red onion finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 medium tomato chopped
½ tea spoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon sea salt
¾ tea spoon dried coriander
¾ tea spoon dried cumin
1 teaspoon runny honey (optional)
Juice of half a lemon
½ cup fresh coriander chopped finely

Peel and mash the avocados place in a bowl add all the other ingredients apart from the chopped coriander mix well then add the coriander. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
Serve straight away!

6. Classic Humus
You need chick peas either 1 lb. of dried chick peas, soaked overnight .in cold water then cooked.
Or 2 x 16 oz. cans of chick peas.
4-5 cloves garlic
2 table spoons tahini paste
1 table spoon ice cold water
2 table spoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tea spoon good quality sea salt
The juice of one lemon
Paprika and zatar, and extra virgin olive oil for serving.

If you are using dried Chick peas   soak them over night in cold water, you will hear popping noises as they expand, don’t worry this is normal.
Change water, and bring to the boil in fresh water and then simmer for around an hour till the chick peas are soft.
Strain and rinse under cold water then you are set to go.
Hint, soak and cook double quantities of chick peas and then freeze them in batches so you can use them as needed. They defrost in around an hour.
Take you chick peas, either cooked or canned, drain them and place them in a food processor, (I sometimes when using canned chick peas and making a small quantity use a hand blender)
Add the tahini, olive oil, water, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Blend till smooth. (How smooth is personal taste I like mine to have a medium smooth texture, some like it like paste)

Serve drizzled with olive oil add zatar.

cooked and seasoned waiting for the onion.

7. Russian Egg & Onion salad 4-6 people originally made with Smaltz (Chicken fat) olive oil adds to the flavor and texture
5 large free range  eggs freshly   hard boiled
1/2 table spoon extra virgin olive oil

2 large Spanish onions peeled and chopped finely.
1 desert spoon of good quality mayonnaise of your choice, one without sugar is best.
½ tea spoon sea salt
½ tea spoon black pepper.

Heat the oil in a frying pan; add the onions and cook gently till lightly brown.
When the eggs are slightly warm peel them & mash them with a fork or potato masher, do not use a food processor it spoils the texture and flavor.
Add the fried onions with any oil from the pan, mayonnaise and seasoning. Mix well.

Put in the fridge till 20 minutes   before you serve. Its better served at room temperature.

8. Roasted Zucchini Dip serves 4-6
There are a multitude of zucchini dip recipes out there in cyber land some are “so so “some are really bland, some incorporate cheese, or cream , I wanted a zucchini dip that tastes good and had the texture of store bought zucchini dip but without all the JUNK.
The secret is roasting the zucchini, using good fresh organic ingredients, and   not being scared to season the zucchini & the dip.
4 organic zucchini’s washed peeled and cut into 8”s
1 whole garlic   washed & left whole
2 large onions peeled washed cut into 8’s
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper.
1/2 teaspoon   fine organic sea salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 large free range eggs hard boiled and peeled
3 sliced large flat mushrooms portabella (optional) for a woody flavor
You can choose one of the following
1/4 cup chopped & ground cashew nuts, mixed nuts or ground almonds.
1/4 cup homemade organic bread crumbs made from good quality whole wheat or spelt bread
Preheat the oven to 170 c
Place the zucchini, the onion and the whole garlic mushrooms in an ovenproof dish sprinkle liberally with sea salt and black pepper and 1/2 the olive oil  
Place uncovered in the oven and bake for 20 30 -minutes, set aside and let cool a little,
 Place the zucchini the onions, egg, the binder of your choice (I prefer the nut binder) the thyme, parsley, the remaining, olive, oil salt cayenne pepper and lemon juice into the food processor
Remove the soft roasted garlic from the skin by pressing down on the skin and taking it out with a teaspoon add to the food processor
Process everything together you might need to add a tea spoon of water if the zucchini are not so juicy
Season to taste, chill; serve with vegetable crudités, or warm flat   bread, along with other salads and dips as a starter.  This will last 3-4 days in the fridge.

9 Basil Tofu “Cheese” a great substitute for my vegan friends , if you are having a cheese evening.  However if you have a soya  intolerance or any thyroid imbalance tofu is not so good for you. their is great on top of Jacket potatoes.
I  block organic   tofu   drained and diced
3 cloves garlic
1 table spoon   extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch organic basil washed and drained taken off the stalk
1 tea spoon sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
¼ cup soy, coconut or almond milk
1 small red onion finely chopped
¼ teaspoon hot paprika
Put the basil and garlic into the food processor and blend, then add the tofu and onion, blend again add all the seasoning   soy, almond or coconut milk, blend together.
You want it smooth but you want to see flecks of the red onion and basil in the mixture. Chill before serving; this lasts up to 10 days in the fridge.
Variations   add 4 sun dried tomatoes too.
Make with coriander and olives instead of Basil 

10.  Greek Tzatziki dip. You can make the regular version or if you want it, I make it dairy free dairy free using  natural vegan yogurt and leaving  out the honey. I first had this dip when I was 11, fell hopelessly in love with it, it is a cousin of Indian Raita ( without the dill and with more mint) use to eat with curry.
1 large pot Greek natural yogurt or two small vanilla vegan yogurt
3-4   Israeli small or 1 large cucumbers washed and grated
3 gloves garlic crushed
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
¼ cup chopped fresh dill
1 tea spoon organic runny honey
½ tea spoon sea salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground  pepper.
1 table spoon extra virgin olive oil.
In a bowl mix the yogurt, oil, seasoning the herbs, and honey, when it’s mixed add  the grated cucumber mix again. Chill before serving this dip is best made the day of the meal will last up to 24 hours. Any longer then the garlic overpowers it and it splits because of the cucumbers natural juices.

Enjoy your dips.... they an essential part of summer living.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Little Taste of Spain

 Between 1978 and 1983 I was a frequent visitor to Barcelona and in fact lived there for six months. I adapted to the Catalan  way of life very easily, and enjoyed shopping every day in the market off the Ramblas  for fresh fish and produce. Our lunch time meal was always healthy, fresh sardines, salads, soups home made breads.

 One of the staples of our existence was the traditional   Tortilla de Patatas; A Spanish Potatoes Omelet.

This is made and served all over Spain, especially in Catalonia , I first had this back in 1978 in Barcelona, a pure Tortilla de patatas, can be served hot or sliced cold as a starter or as a picnic dish; it is not quick like a French omelet  but it is so worth doing. Served with salad it is a great meal for the 9 days.

It takes in total 35 minutes to make, but you can prepare it in advance.
The quantity here is for 5-6 people depending on their appetite

6-7 medium red skinned potatoes, peeled
1 large or 2 medium white onion
6-8 large eggs
2-3 cups of good quality extra virgin olive oil for pan frying
Sea Salt to taste

Cut the peeled potatoes in half lengthwise. Then, with the flat side on the cutting surface, slice the potato in pieces approximately 1/8" thick, peel and chop the onion and put in a bowl with the potato, sprinkle with salt and mix well.
In a large, heavy bottomed , non-stick frying pan, heat the olive oil on medium high heat. Carefully place the potato and onion mixture into the frying pan, spreading them evenly over the surface. The oil should almost cover the potatoes.
Turn the heat down so the potato mix won’t burn. You need to cook the potato though till its soft, this takes about 10-14 minutes.
Remove potato mix from the pan with a slotted spoon place on a dish with kitchen paper to drain the oil.
Mix the eggs in a bowl beat well, add salt. Resist the temptation to add pepper or other herbs and spices.
Add the egg mix to the onion mix. Mix well.
Add a little olive oil into the frying pan and pour in the mixture, cook on a low to medium heat, don’t mix it up like a French omelet. Let the owlet brown then carefully lift up one side of the omelet to check if the egg has slightly “browned.” The inside of the mixture should not be completely cooked and the egg will still be runny.

When the mixture has browned on the bottom, you are ready to turn it over to cook the other side.
This next bit is not as hard as it sounds, in fact in Spain kids do this part, but it takes some nerve first time.
Take a plate larger than your frying pan, remove the pan from the heat, the first time you do this do it over the sink!
With one hand on the frying pan handle and the other on top of the plate to hold it steady, quickly turn the frying pan over and the omelet will “fall” onto the plate.
Place the frying pan back on the heat, and put just enough oil to cover the bottom and sides of the pan.
 Let the pan warm for 30 seconds or so, slide the omelet from the plate   into the frying pan. Use a wooden spatula to shape the sides of the omelet.
 Let the omelet cook for 3-4 more   minutes. Turn the heat off and let the tortilla sit in the pan for 2 minutes.

You serve this Tortilla de patatas   sliced into sections like a cake. Either hot, or cold. (Really) it is wonderful room temperature with a salad.
In Barcelona, this is served with fresh crusty bread that has been drizzled with olive oil, had a cut tomato rubbed over it and slightly sprinkled with salt… (I am so glad that I am now gluten and tomato free as it is not good for any ones waist line) it is truly yummy.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

After the Fast Is Over .....

We are coming up to the "three weeks" in the Jewish religion and this period is marked both at the beginning and the end with a fast. 
Because  the end of the  fast of Tammuz marks the anniversary of my fathers death, I have taken on board to make a meal in his honor to "break the fast" 

Everyone, every family family has their own customs when it comes to an after fast meal, some people like to have a large heavy  meal and others are happy with a cup of tea and a slice of cake. My grandfather use to always break his fast with herring and crackers..I am not sure what that did for his digestive system .

Personally I feel the meal needs to be light, nutritious and replace the fluids the body is missing.

This year I am breaking the fast with six women from a local "Midreshet",( women's religious collage )  and have combined their customs to design  
delicious nutritious menu.* recipes are below  message me for other recipes.

*Orange Soup 
*Home made organic  honey spelt bread

Mixed green seed and nut salad.
Home made humus  ( for Protein )
Home made green tahini ( for calcium and magnesium )
Roasted mixed pepper salad.

Spiced apple cake fresh melon and grape platter 

Orange soup, with roasted pumpkin seed and almond  milk topping.
should be called orange vegetable soup,
 for 6-10 people  you need 
1 butternut squash
2 large sweet potatoes
2  red skin potatoes
1/2 kilo pumpkin
4 carrots
2 sweet potatoes
3 cloves garlic
1/2 inch fresh ginger 

1 stick cinnamon
1 leek
2 onions
2 bay leaves
1/2 tea spoon ground black pepper 
3/4 tea spoon ground sea salt
Cold water  to just cover vegetables
1 cup almond / hemp or soya milk 
1 cup chopped parsley
1 cup Almond  milk

1/2 cup sunflower seeds or sliced almonds  , dry roasted.

Peel  &  Cut all the vegetables up into equal  sizes portions , wash and place in a thick bottom pan,
add the ginger, bay leaf , garlic, cinnamon stick salt and pepper, parsley 
Just cover the vegetables with water place a lid on the pot and cook on a fast simmer for 20-25 minutes.
add 1 cup of the almond milk, , adjust the seasoning to taste remove the cinnamon and bay leaf and blend in a blender  .

Serve with a teaspoon of  of toasted seeds and a swirl of almond milk.

Honey Spelt Bread.
There is nothing quite like the small and taste of home made bread,  
Spelt is is a species of wheat cultivated from the earliest record times . Spelt was an important staple in parts of Europe from the Bronze Age to medieval times; It is one of the biblical seven species. Oven people intolerant to modern wheat can eat spelt, it is lower in gluten but not gluten free therefore it is not suitable for people with coeliac disease.

Spelt contains about 57.9 percent carbohydrates (excluding 9.2 percent fibre), 17.0 percent protein and 3.0 percent fat, as well as dietary minerals and vitamins. It is sometimes easier to digest after a fast.

This recipe makes 2 small loaves

500 grms/ 2 oz / 3. 1/2  cups organic spelt flour sifted 
10 grms / 3 tea spoons  fine quality sea salt
10 grms/2 tsp  fresh or dried yeast
3 table spoons organic honey 
300 mls/ 10.5 fluid oz water
1 table spoon apple sauce.

dissolve the yeast with  1/4 the water  ( hand hot) and one table spoon of the honey, stir cover  and set aside till it is foaming. ( around 5-6 minutes).

Place the flour, salt, in a bowl make a well  add the yeast mixture, apple sauce, honey and water, mix well pulling together and kneed , or place in a mixer with a dough hook and mix for 10 minutes.
Spelt takes longer to absorbed  water so don't worry if it is damp.
Tun on to a lightly floured table and kneed further 5 minutes.
Place in a lightly oiled bowl   cover with a clean towel and leave to rise for 40-80 minutes.

Knock the dough down, take out of the bowl and on a clean surface divide into even portions. Place on a baking tray, at this stage you may sprinkle the top with seeds.

Cover with cling film and a cloth and prove again for another hour.

Preheat your oven to 230c 450 f gas 8 
put a pot or baking tray water in the bottom of the oven to create a bakers steam effect.

Place your loves in the oven.
After 10 minutes  reduce the oven to 210c 410f Gas 6.
Bake for a further 20-35  minutes.
To check if the loaf is done, remove it from the oven, tap lightly  on its base, if you hear a hollow sound the bread is done.

Serve, with dips, soup salad. Spelt bread freezes remarkably well

What ever your family tradition is to break your fast,  with a hearty soup and home made bread you can not go far wrong.

I wish you an easy fast, and for those of my followers in Israel, please stay safe.