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Recipes

Minestra Di Fagioli

September 6, 2017
Minestra Di Fagioli a Blue Zone recipe

Although there currently isn’t any definitive evidence-based data supporting a particular diet to help treat autoimmune diseases, for many years I’ve been a supporter of the Blue Zone way of life.  People living in Blue Zone live longer and healthier than any population in the world.

Today I’d like to share a recipe for Minestra Di Fagioli adapted from The Blue Zones Solution – Hardcover.  Enjoy!

Minestra Di Fagioli

1 (15.5 oz) can of Great Northern beans

1/2 cup dried hull-less whole-grain barley

8 cups vegetable broth

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks

1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped

2 medium celery stalks, thinly sliced

1 medium carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped

2 tsp minced garlic

1 bunch of fresh basil

1/2 tsp ground sage

1 fresh rosemary sprig

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup loosely packed fresh parsley, chopped

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a large pot, saute the onion, garlic, basil, and sage in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until the onion is translucent.
  2. Add the beans, barley, broth, potatoes, celery, carrot, and bay leaf.  Set over high heat and bring to boil, stirring occasionally.
  3. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer slowly until the beans and barley are tender, about 1 hour.  Discard the rosemary sprig and bay leaf; stir in the parsley, oil, salt, and pepper before serving.

Tip: To enhance the flavor, infuse 1 tbsp of purple basil pesto to each bowl of soup prior to serving.

Image courtesy of Johanne Plouffe

Recipes

Purple basil pesto

August 23, 2017
Purple basil pesto: my first attempt at a Buddha bowl

Last Friday I lunched with one of my good friends, Barnaby, at the Iron Gate Cafe in downtown Albany NY.  What a treat!  The building was originally a school and then purchased by James Holroyd, a wealthy industrialist.  He renovated the mansion adding raised oak panels, a stained glass skylight, and formal gardens.  After his death, it was used as a physician’s office.  How clinics have changed.  The building now houses the Iron Gate Cafe and Holroyd Mansion, which is available for private events and functions.

 

We both chose the Farmhouse bowl special, which is composed with all foods delicious.  Some call it a Buddha bowl.  Iron Gate calls it a Farmhouse bowl.  Whatever you want to call it, it was delicious.  A perfect combination of grains, protein, and veg.  And you can’t forget their coconut curry.

I vowed that I’d try to make my Farmhouse bowl.  In fact, I vowed that I’d try to make as many Farmhouse bowls an humanly possible.  Not only are these bowls delicious, they’re incredibly healthy.  Here is my first attempt: purple basil pesto, Tuscan kale, baby bella mushrooms, rainbow quinoa, cherry tomatoes, blueberries, and pistachios.

Purple basil pesto

3 cups packed purple basil

1/4 cup shelled pistachio

1/3 cup Parmigiano-reggiano

2 cloves garlic

2 tsp of lemon juice

1 tsp of lemon zest

1/4 cup olive oil

  1. Chop the basil, pistachio Parmigiano, garlic, lemon juice, and zest in a food processor.
  2. Slowly add the olive oil until you reach the desired consistency.
  3. Serve or refrigerate.

I added a dollop of purple basil pesto to add flavor to my first Farmhouse bowl, but you can add it to pasta, pizza, soup, dips, meat, sandwiches, salad, etc.  Whatever your heart desires 🙂

Leave your comments below.  Tell us how you’ve used your purple basil pesto!

Recipes

Caprese Salad

August 9, 2017
Caprese salad: Tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, spinach, olive oil

These days it seems everything is in season.  Cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, the list goes on.  This week, my cherry tomato plant is exploding!  So, I’ve decided to make a simple yet refreshingly delicious summertime salad: Caprese salad.  This salad consists of tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, olive oil, salt, and pepper.  It can be made in a pinch.  The prep work is what takes longest.  It can be served as side or as the main dish.  Some like it sliced but I like mine all jumbled up together.  To add some nutritional value and greenery, I also had a bit of spinach.

Enjoy!

Caprese Salad

2 cups sliced cherry tomatoes

1 cup mozzarella cheese, diced

1 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped

1 cup fresh spinach, roughly chopped

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt-and-pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and loosely toss
  2. Season to taste.

Voila, a simple, quick, and healthy weekday meal!  “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.

Recipes

Ratatouillle

July 26, 2017
Ratatouille. Loving summer veg!

The farmer’s market is a beautiful place during high summer.  You can find all the ingredients to make one of my favorite summer dishes: ratatouille.  This is literally French home cooking at its best.  Fresh veg, fresh herbs, olive oil, a little heat, and most important of all… lot’s of patience!

If you don’t have all the ingredients, that’s okay.  The only essential ingredients are the eggplant, onions, garlic, and olive oil.

Ratatouille

1/4 pint of olive oil (and possibly more, be generous)

2 eggplants, diced

1 red pepper, sliced

1 green pepper, sliced

2 medium-sized zucchinis, sliced

1 large onion, finely sliced

4 cloves of garlic

3 tomatoes, peeled and diced

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, minced

4 springs of lemon thyme, or more to your tasting, minced

Pinch of red chili flakes (not technically French but I like the taste)

Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat half the olive oil in a large cast iron pan.  Add the eggplant and sprinkle with salt.  Gently fry until tender and lightly caramelized.  The secret to an amazing ratatouille is time and generous amounts of olive oil.  Transfer the eggplant to a large bowl carefully leaving the drippings and left over olive oil in the pan.
  2. Add a little more olive oil and add both the red and green peppers.  Also add a pinch of red chili flakes.  Fry gently until the peppers are soft and lightly caramelized.  Transfer to the bowl containing the eggplant.
  3. Add a little more olive oil to the cast iron pan.  See the pattern?  This time gently fry the zucchini until soft and lightly gilded.  Transfer to the eggplant.
  4. Now gently fry the onions and garlic until lightly caramelized.  Transfer to the eggplant.
  5. Finally, fry the tomatoes until soft and collapsed.  This time transfer the eggplant, peppers, zucchini, onion, and garlic to the cast iron pan with the tomatoes.
  6. Add the minced thyme and rosemary, and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Gently cook, bubble, for about 5 minutes.
  8. Serve at room temperature.

Ratatouille is excellent served warm, room temperature, and even cold.  You can eat it straight or you can even use it to stuff a tart, as a topping for pasta, or to dress a pizza.  One of my favorite ways to eat it is at room temperature topped with a fried egg and served with a slice of sour dough bread.  It’s versatile and highly nutritious.

Enjoy!  Please leave your comments below.  How do you like your ratatouille?

Recipes

Buckwheat pancake: galettes de sarrasin

June 28, 2017
A picture of the moulin Legare the oldest functional water powered mill in North America. The mill produces 4 tons of wheat and buckwheat flour annually.

Last weekend I took some much needed time off and spent it celebrating la Fête de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste with my family up in my hometown of Saint-Eustache, Quebec.  This is akin to the 4th of July for French Canadians.  Saint-Eustache was founded in 1770 and boasts two famous historical sites: the church and the buckwheat water mill.

Historical Sites

The church gained notoriety for its significance during the battle of the Lower Canada Rebellion on December 14th, 1837.  After rebelling against the English following multiple failures at political reform, seventy rebels were shot or burnt alive inside the church while the English bombarded its facade.  The English then pillaged the city and burnt the majority of the city to the ground.  Many see the rebellion of the Patriotes Canadiens as an example of what could have happened in the United States had the American Revolutionary War failed.

Canon ball from the battle of Lower Canada 1837

By Vincent Poirier (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Every June 24th the entire province gathers to celebrate our independence and express our gratitude for those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Now the second famous historical site in Saint-Eustache is the moulin Légaré.  It was built in 1762 and has been in constant operation since then.  In fact, it’s the oldest functional water-powered mill in North America.  The mill, to this day, produces about 40 tons of wheat and buckwheat flour annually!

A picture of the moulin Legare the oldest functional water powered mill in North America

What’s buckwheat and how do I use it?

Contrary to popular belief, buckwheat is NOT a grain.  It just has grain-like seeds which are milled into a flour.  That being said, buckwheat flour is gluten-free and has many trace minerals as well as vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, niacin, folate, thiamine, and choline. Moreover, you will find 4 grams of soluble fiber, 8 grams of protein, and 15% of your daily iron requirements in 1/3 of a cup of buckwheat flour.  Needless to say buckwheat is very healthy and should be part of your diet.

In Quebec, we use buckwheat in our traditional cooking. This is probably because we have a shorter growing season.  Buckwheat likes cold weather, acidic and low fertility soil.

One of the most popular ways to use buckwheat flour is to make pancakes.  We call them galettes de sarrasin.  Essentially it’s a thin pancake, more like a Parisian crêpe. It’s cooked on a sizzling hot cast iron pan and then drizzled with molasses or maple syrup.  But really you can dress it with almost anything: swiss cheese, a fried egg, bechamel, etc.  Sweet or savory, whatever you fancy.

 

Buckwheat Pancake – Galette de sarrasin

Adapted from Recettes de la famille Légaré

2 cups of buckwheat flour

1 tsp of baking powder

1/2 tsp of salt

2 cups of water

Butter

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the water, buckwheat flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Heat a cast iron pan on medium heat.  When hot, add about 1/2 tsp of butter.  If you want to be ultra traditional, use lard.
  3. Ladle a spoonful of batter onto the sizzling hot pan.  Flip the pancake once you see holes forming but only for a few seconds. Serve immediately.
Recipes

Chive Blossom Butter

June 14, 2017
Chive blossom butter

My mom is what you would call a busy body.  Always out and about: gardening, cooking, cleaning… running a business.  She also happens to be an amazing cook.  This Saturday morning as I was doing my errands, she texted me images of her latest creation.

Beautiful chive blossom's from my mom's garden

Very pretty.  Why aren’t mine like that?

Chive blossoms and lemons

Interesting, show me more.

Unformed chive blossom butter

This does not look appetizing.

Chive blossom butter

Yum!

I can see this tasting great with mashed potatoes, toasted bread, or on a steak.  Although this is not the healthiest recipe, something like this should definitely be shared.

Chive Blossom Butter

Adapted from Popayan www.recettes.qc.ca

50 – 60      Chive flowers with ½ inch of the stem attached, finely minced

1 lb              Unsalted butter, room temperature

1 ½             Lemons, juiced

¼ cup        Extra-virgin olive oil

Salt as desired

  1. In a large bowl, mix the butter, lemon juice, and the olive oil together with a wooden spoon. Then, add the minced chive blossoms.
  2. At this point you can either fill ramequins with the butter-chive blossom mixture or you can mold them into individual sized portions as seen above.

Individual sized portions

  1. Mold the butter-chive blossom mixture into a roll and wrap in wax paper and then in plastic wrapping.
  2. Place in the freezer.
  3. When the mixture has hardened, unwrap, and cut into individual sized portions

 

Makes one pound of butter.

 

Bon appetit!

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