Friday, 22 July 2011

To Asparagus and the Mother of all soups!


Take me on a journey,
To a promised land.
Where the air is clean
With soft white sand.

And to the Wild West we’ll go,
Where forgotten dreams begin to flow.
For it’s through rest that these things rise from the deep,
Strengthened by country air and the deepest of sleep.

Today’s recipe is a wishful soup with such prolific beauty it beckons thoughts of sunshine streaming onto gorgeous green pastures.  

At the heart of this asparagus dream floats yolkiest sumptuousness. Indulge your appetite with summer freshness that draws the mouth into a cleansing crescendo.

Rusty, more dog like than cat, loves our country walks!
The secret to great gastronomic pleasure lies in the preparation. Outside of prepping the vegetables there is something even more important involved in cooking, prepping the body! A good walk is a perfect starter to any delicious meal, then knowing when enough is enough and allowing our digestion to spin some nutritional magic. Thus energised, a light and lyrical sensation awaits. Also if you're in the right company good conversation tends to follow healthy fair. So dance to your own tune, sing your own song and dare to be you, really you, each and everyday:)

Why Mother of all soups? Simply, asparagus is full of folate. This wonderful summer vegetable is an expecting mothers nutritional secret weapon, spear like for a reason then - though everyone could do with armouring themselves with this wonder veg. The B complex vitamin it contains is essential for a healthy cardiovascular system and of course our hearts deserve TLC in generous measures everyday – with vitamins K (strengthens our bones) and C (builds our immune systems) we’d be foolish to pass this one up. The floating yolk of perfect protein gives this dish the golden edge that one cannot fail to relish.

I will be away for the next few weeks and will miss sharing my thoughts and recipes with you, and reading your lovely messages that warm my heart. Though I promise to return with lots of fabulous new delights and delicious tales.

Wishing you a Happy Summer and restful refreshing times ahead.

Love,

FFX

Mamma’s Asparagus Golden soup

SERVES 4

Olive oil, 1 tbsp
Asparagus, 200g trimmed and roughly chopped
Spring onions, 2 trimmed and roughly chopped
Garlic clove, 1 crushed
Potato, 1 medium peeled and cubed
Chicken/ vegetable stock 600ml
Egg yolks, 4
Generous seasoning
Optional
Parmesan grated, 1 tbsp
Crème fraiche 1 tbsp

HEAT olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat.
ADD spring onions, garlic, potato and fry for a few minutes.
POUR in stock and simmer for 5 minutes.
ADD asparagus and cook for a further two minutes.
POACH egg yolk for two minutes, using a poaching pan if you have one, or simply by dropping them into simmering water with a dash of vinegar and carefully spooning them out when ready.
DRAIN yolks and leave to one side.
OPTIONAL – add Parmesan and crème fraiche before pouring soup into a blender and blitzing for 1 minute.
POUR into warmed bowls and gently pop an egg yolk in the centre of each bowl.
LUSH and lovely times beckon.

Monday, 18 July 2011

She who Oats wins


She who is free to make choices wins,
She who keeps an eye on her changing desires wins.
He who speaks with ease and confidence wins,
He who cares about his health wins.

They who eat porridge are victorious!

My summer breakfast of choice is an amorous combination of fruit and oats with my latest favourite splash, Coconut water. This drink of purity and lightness soaks the oats with such a pleasant unobtrusive flavour, that your empty tummy will be drawn into a soft wake up call.

An oat is a great teacher in many ways. An oat cannot be rushed, they release their goodness slowly. Those who savour them often for breakfast will be kept pleasantly full until lunch time, leaving your mind free to concentrate or be still, to be creative and happily to be free of cravings and other pangs. The oat isn’t brash or boastful and quietly bubbles with vitamin E, several B-vitamins, calcium and potassium. They prevent diabetes, lower blood pressure and brilliantly benefit heart health.

The sugar-loaded cereal that begs an audience cannot compete, give summer mornings an Oat breakfast and your day will be given a new level of possibility and joy. I love Onken Wholegrain yogurts, it comes in various flavours, alternatively use your favourite yogurt and please experiment to find an Oat combo that works magic for you. Peaches are in season now and for me there is nothing quite as juicy and refreshing as a ripe peach in summer.

Let’s affirm: I take care of my body. I cherish and revere the temple I’m in. Louise Hay

Happy Monday to you!

Summer Oats

SERVES 2

Rolled (porridge) oats 75g
Coconut water, 200ml
Peach, 1 deseeded and chopped into cubes
Peach yogurt, 3 tbsp
Flaxseed, 1 tbsp
Pumpkin seeds, 1 tbsp

SOAK oats in coconut water for 30 minutes (while you lull into waking days and refresh in the shower)
PREPARE peach and mix with remaining ingredients in a clean bowl.
DRAIN oats and empty into the bowl.
MIX everything well and serve in two bowls.
PLEASANTLY embrace the peachy purity and coconut magic of an oat breakfast.
FEEL GOOD

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Parcels, presents and spice

Raindrops on a flower, beautiful!

I’m an all weather wanderer, me. I love all seasons and embrace the warmth that follows chilly winter. I saunter in frosty climates, enjoying the snugness of cashmere jumpers and thermal vests ~ I cherish the long chats with friends over hot broth (my Dad’s recipe) and buttered bread.  I can’t imagine an eternal winter though and love the changing seasons; summer without winter just wouldn’t be as sweet. Floaty dresses, floral patterns, freshly cut grass, picnics, leaves on trees and what of berries and cherries? Peppers and peas? Asparagus and apricots! What would we do without these?!?

A very wise and inspiring teacher, Vanessa Ewan, once said to me ”It is hindsight that is our greatest teacher.” Over time I've come to appreciate this sentiment more and more. Summers warm climate and gentle stillness is a great time for reading and personal reflection, here’s one on broccoli ~



Florets filled with love,

Deep green and generous-
You beckon me to bite,
And leave tummy feeling light!

The recipe I’m sharing today is a summer present from me to you:) Gorgeously crispy parcels, filled with summer flavours and fulfilling on all levels. Your mouth will enjoy each mouthful, for within the filo pastry, layers of sustenance and deliciousness await. 
Before!
After!
The double whammy of calcium from both the broccoli (one of the best vegetable sources) and cheese echo strength for our bones and yum yum time for our taste buds.
A gorgeous mix of summer goodness and spice!
I’ve always loved spices, as a child my Mum used them often in her cooking, curry was a family favourite and was enjoyed at least twice weekly. Spices are a great way of enhancing flavour, I’m thinking of the little life within me and have heard that by introducing a wide range of tastes and flavours, which will be passed through his first drops of amniotic fluid – womb food, I've decided to call it! In reality, what I'm eating so is he! I know it may seem incredible and a little OTT, though from experience, my beautiful son, who has a great and varied appetite was enjoying mild Korma's from 8 months and his 1st birthday breakfast of smoked salmon on soda bread soldiers was a total triumph – we’ve never had a problem with fussy eating and I’m sure spices and trying new foods out often is part of the reason why. Being present, one cannot help but enjoy the seasonal gifts that sustain us throughout the year.

Keep spicing up your life; adventure in the kitchen creates excitement in life.

Broccoli and Cheese Parcels











SERVES 4

Broccoli, 300g cut into small florets and stems thinly sliced
Olive oil, 1 tbsp
Shallots, 2 thinly sliced
Cinnamon, ¼ tsp
Cumin seeds, ¼ tsp
Nutmeg, a wee scratch
Cream cheese, 100g
Grated mature cheddar, 50g
Cherry tomatoes, 4 quartered
White pepper, ½ tsp
Sea salt, a sprinkle
Filo pastry, 100g
Butter, 25g melted

PRE-HEAT oven to gas 5, 190’C, 375’f.
STEAM broccoli for five minutes until tender.
HEAT oil in a pan and add shallots and spices, stirring for three minutes or there about, enjoy the gorgeous aromas befriending your kitchen.
MIX in a bowl the broccoli, cream cheese, chopped tomatoes, grated cheddar and the cooked shallot spice mix.
CUT filo into 30x15cm rectangles.
BRUSH a sheet of filo with butter and place another sheet on top, brush again.
SPOON over two tablespoons on broccoli mix onto one end of the rectangle sheets.
FOLD over the edges and roll into a roll, similar in shape to a spring roll.
REPEAT with remaining sheets and broccoli mix.
PLACE rolls on a lightly oiled baking sheet/ or one lined with grease proof paper, and brush each roll with a final stroke of butter.
SPRINKLE over a few drops of water, this will give an extra crispness to the filo.
BAKE for 20 minutes until golden and present your summer rolls with splendour.
GREAT served hot or cold.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Pistachio

The vowel sounds alone in this word invite ancient awe.

P(II)st(AH)ch(EE)(OH)!!!!!!

Ground to a powder and blended with saffron and sweetened milk, a natural blend of flavour whooshes liquid lucidity to Arabian heights upon being sipped. This nut has a legacy to make all others quiver in their shells! The Queen of Sheba, who considered them a powerful aphrodisiac is said to have ordered the entire Assyrian supply be kept for herself and her court alone. Hmmm...

However,  on a lovelier note ~ according to Persian legend, lovers met on moonlit nights in the hope of hearing the ripening nuts crack open – a promise of lasting love. Can you imagine the gentle and hopeful expectation? Ah, beautiful . . . . to this very day in Syria pistachios remain an important part of wedding feasts, and guests are often given a bag of them as a good will parting gift. This tradition brings to mind a classic song worth listening to, by the brilliant Byrds ~ Turn, turn, turn. 


I read an interesting article about the radical effect we have on one another yesterday, we are creatures of imitation and often we take away much more from a meeting or a passing moment with a friend/ stranger than we could ever know, though how we feel after is a clue to what was really exchanged. Our good encounters impart positivity for ALL. Smile and you'll be glad you did, it will relax all your major facial muscles and begins a chain reaction, good feelings are literally contagious. This is no more evident than when you consider foetuses are smiling from 17 weeks. Inside the womb the little dotes also respond to sound, especially oohs and ahhs!!! So all that coochy coo baby talk is in fact beneficial, even before birth and thus stimulates the pre-frontal cortex, those of you familiar with Nintendo's "Brain Train" will know exactly what this means - those of you who are not, the pre-frontal cortex ~


"is responsible for the executive functions, which include mediating conflicting thoughts, making choices between right and wrong or good and bad, predicting future events, and governing social control — such as suppressing emotional or sexual urges. The prefrontal cortexis the brain center most strongly implicated in qualities like sentience, human general intelligence, and personality."

I’m 29 weeks pregnant and this week my baby’s bones are apparently hardening with the help of calcium that I’m providing, 250mg to be precise, is being deposited into his skeleton each day.  In my first pregnancy I had a pang for all things milky and it makes sense to me that our bodies when in balance tell us what they need, we simply need to listen. And if coochy coo is the way forward, so be it!

Trust the Ancient:))
I’ve come up with a Coochy coo calcium and mineral rich drink! Great for all pregnant mothers and anyone who simply wants to feel good and sip something delicious. This is a cleansing drink and perfect for summer. Each sup is a walk along greener pastures for our taste buds and heralds happiness, meeting ancient past. In the Bible when Jacob finally sends his sons to Egypt for grain, he tells them to pack a gift of, “the best products of the land….a little balm, a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds.” The Queen of Sheba could have learnt a thing or two from Jacob:)
I've not mentioned the joys of saffron which this tipple contains in abundance, instead I will save that for another time, suffice to say the opulent colour it releases holds a clue to its potent powers!

There is truth in longevity and things that stand the test of time. I find it comforting that this drink encapsulates more than immediate pleasure, it brings something implicit and necessary to us all, true nourishment ~ as always, share with someone you love!

Pistachio & Coochy Coo Drink

SERVES 2
Pistachio nuts, 50g
Sweet Freedom/ fruit sugar, 1 tbsp or to taste (we’re all different)
Milk, 400ml
Ice cubes, 8
Saffron, 7 strand
WIZZ pistachios in a blender for 30 seconds.
STEEP saffron strands in one tablespoon of boiling water for roughly 30 seconds and swirl to release flavour.
POUR in milk and saffron water into blender and wizz again for a minute, until mint green and frothy.
SERVE in chilled glasses with a scattering of pistachio nuts for timelessness.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Tapestry and Tabbouleh

My Mum embroidered this beautiful scene, she's a true country lady at heart!

In the tapestry of time unspoken words trace a silent legacy,
We are our thoughts, our experiences, and our dreams.
We are the people we choose to spend our time with and those we distance ourselves from.
We are all threads in an ever-changing cloth that wraps us with LOVE.
Feeling loved is on one side,
Being loved is on the other side,
And giving love binds all the strands together.

Now let's eat and share a meal to celebrate life. One way to invite GREAT nourishment and nurturing into our lives and those we love is by ~
Honey, honey, honey!

As I write this a bumblebee is hedging his bets on whether or not to stop by. He's bumbling as only a bee can, dotting along the window pane ~ it's a happy dance and a reminder that city life is still close to nature. Ah, off he flies. Now what was I thinking? Yes...

Developing Good Eating Ethics!

The EE's as I like to call them are a set of simple principles that I’ve come up with to explain the basis of “Feeling Food” – a personal code of nourishment and nurture. Always eat a balanced and varied diet, sourcing your fresh foods locally if possible and choosing seasonal produce, it keeps your appetite in good check and curbs unhealthy cravings - a healthy attitude attracts ASPARAGUS!!! TOMATOES!!! CELERY!!! CHERRIES!!! STRAWBERRIES!!! And all the other gorgeous gems that are in season. Take time to learn a little about your fuel and when it is best to eat, be flexible with your food shop, fresh is best. Surprise yourself with the seasons.
Nourishment brings sunshine into our lives everyday, ask the bee:))

After all it is today's dinner that creates tomorrow's dreams to come true.

Feel your Fuel - Trust your choices

Love,

FFX

Asparagus and Tabbouleh Sunrise
So healthy and delicious

SERVES 4

Asparagus, 300g trimmed
Bulgar wheat, 25g
Chicken/ vegetable stock 50ml, boiled
Ripe tomatoes, 2
Flat leaf parsley, 1 small bunch chopped
Mint, 1 small bunch chopped
Red onion, ½ chopped finely
Lemon juice 2 tbsp
Garlic, 1 clove bashed and finely chopped
Walnuts, 2 tbsp roughly chopped
White pepper ½ tsp
Extra-virgin olive oil 2 tbsp

PLACE bulgar wheat and stock in a bowl and cover for 20 minutes.
CUT tomatoes in half and remove seeds, then roughly chop into cubes.
FLUFF up the bulgar wheat when all of the stock has been absorbed and stir in, tomatoes, parsley, mint, red onion, lemon juice, garlic, walnuts, extra-virgin olive oil and white pepper.
SPRINKLE over salt.
BOIL asparagus for 3 minutes and drain under a cold running tap.
SPOON Tabbouleh onto the centre of a large plate and arrange asparagus to resemble sun rays.
SERVE as a gorgeous summer centerpiece, a perfect accompaniment to fish, chicken or lamb, also great on its own.


Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Swishing in Strawberries


The HEART that connects us all!


A beautiful Bride to be
What does Madame Talien, the wife of an aristocrat during the French revolution and the formidable Kate Moss have in common? They both like to dip into baths of decadence, the former swished around in crushed strawberries and the latter in Champagne! True to form Kate, Queen of Cool, has just tied the knot with a wedding cake worth a whopping £10,000, it’s a wee drop in the ocean compared to the total cost of this nuptial gathering. Ironically the cake alone would cover at least half the entire expense of an average wedding these days.
That said no one really wants to be “average”, indeed I believe no one is. We all have our idiosyncrasies and special talents. Some are more in touch with their joi de vivre than others, however we ALL deserve something that little bit special, everyday!
I spy Madame Talien!
And no matter where you go,
there you are!
Confucius

Summer sipping is the way forward, when we’re hydrated our minds tick tock that much better and who can resist a Strawberry Lassi? Upon drinking this Love Life tonic on a beach in Kerala, I was forever transformed. Perhaps the Guru who cleansed and healed my chakras is in part responsible for that, either way I’m a sucker for all things strawberry and this is my favourite tipple! The great thing about lassi’s is how adaptable they are, other favourite flavours include mango, banana, rose and coconut – have fun experimenting! I wonder what will be your favourite?
I've used the new activia pouring yogurt, though any natural yogurt is fine. 
I hope you enjoy this in the meantime.
Here’s to a strawberry Summer of Love,
FFX
Summer of Love Lassi


SERVES 2
Ripe strawberries, 10 hulled and washed
Sweet Freedom/ fruit sugar, 1 tbsp or to taste (we’re all different)
Plain yogurt 400ml
Ice cubes, 4
WIZZ strawberries and sweet freedom/ fruit sugar in a blender for 30 seconds.
POUR in yogurt and blend again for a minute, until pink and frothy.
SERVE in chilled glasses with two ice cubes in each glass and feel the love.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Sunshine dressing

It’s not what you wear; it’s how you wear it! Ask any self-respecting salad!!!

Slip on your favourite dress or a crisp white shirt, after a fresh aromatic shower, how do you feel? What do you feel? I hope cleansed, alert, alive and ready for the day, wherever it may take you! And today, this summer we want to “feel” good! Here’s how….
The Citrus Virgin Classic awakens the Beets
EAT SALAD, FRESH AND SEASONAL.
The Creamed Herb classic offers freshness and flavour to potatoes and beans
 And here’s why…..

You’ll get a light and enriched feeling that will leave you beaming like the bear that found the honey!

I have a friend, Alexandra, she has a way with salads, various leaves and herbs tossed together with a seemingly random mixture of ingredients, mushrooms, chorizo, artichokes, beans, cornichons, tomatoes, seasonal leaves, pickled onions and other delights. She’s a salad artist if you like.
An Alexandra Special!
And I challenge anyone who thinks creating beauty on a plate is not within his or her reach. Salads, by their very definition are simple and easy to make -

A cold dish of chopped vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, eggs, or other food, usually prepared with a dressing, such as mayonnaise”

With a midas touch and some care a Vinegar laced Van Gogh Classic is yours for the making, similarly a Citrus drizzled Claude Monet Medley of greens. Fresh and seasonal, salad is the choice dish of summer and lifts both spirits and appetites to new realms of goodness and beauty – as if to make this notion liquid simple, I offer some scientific reasoning that so many desire these days -  researchers in Sweden asked a group of women, half were Thai and the other half Swedish to eat a Thai curry, the results are fascinating. The Thai women absorbed 50% more iron from the meal, because they enjoyed the taste more. It is believed the anticipation of eating something you’re going to enjoy stimulates your digestive system, thus one absorbs more nutrients. I wonder does the same apply to company, knowledge, and clarity? My guess is yes, and I highly recommend that if one cares about health and nutrition, not only should one eat what they enjoy, they should eat with people whose company is as nutritious as the food!

The best news about salads is HOW YOU CHOOSE to dress them will affect HOW MANY NUTRIENTS YOU ABSORB!!! Choose a dressing that appeals and you’re half way there. Use a good extra-virgin olive oil as this will not only aid your digestion it is also anti-cancerous and my friend Columba, a Consultant Oncologist swears by it, so dress away! Here are three fail-safe dressings to insure the tastiest and most nutritious salad. Once made, dressings should be kept in the fridge and be used within three days to guarantee freshness and flavour. I’ve borrowed an idea from the lovely Jamie Oliver, he uses Jam Jars to make his dressings, and I too think this is a great idea. Jam jars make it easy to mix the dressing and help keep it fresh. Make sure your jars are spotlessly clean, the easiest way to do this is wash them in soapy water and steep in boiling water for fifteen minutes.



The Citrus Virgin Classic

Lemons, 2 juiced
Extra-virgin olive oil, 150ml
Garlic clove, 1 crushed
Sweet freedom/ Fruit sugar 1 tsp
Whole-grain mustard 1 tsp

POP all of the above ingredients in a jar and tighten the lid.
SHAKE shake shake!
SEASON to taste and dress your salad lovingly.

The Thai tryst

Lime Juice, 2 tbsp
Extra-virgin olive oil, 150ml
Fish sauce, 2 tsp
Sweet freedom/ Fruit sugar 1 tsp
Spring onions, 1 finely chopped
Red chilli, 1 finely chopped
Sesame oil 2 tsp

POP all of the above ingredients in a jar and tighten the lid.
SHAKE shake shake!
SEASON to taste and dress your salad lovingly.

The Creamed Herb Classic

Greek yogurt, 2 tbsp
Red wine vinegar, 2 tbsp
Extra-virgin olive oil, 50ml
Mint, 3 sprigs, leaves finely chopped
Chives, a small bunch finely chopped
Basil, seven leaves torn and shredded

POP all of the above ingredients in a jar and tighten the lid.
SHAKE shake shake!
SEASON to taste and dress your salad lovingly.

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