Friday, 16 August 2013

Green Shake - Running on Spinach

When I was younger I used to be more active. I guess that's pretty common. I played handball, football and did Taekwon-do for many years. In the military we had to run nearly every morning and did lots of P.E. throughout the week, not to mention carrying around heavy machinery all the time. Then I moved to London and just nearly stopped from one day to another. My physical activity was reduced to dancing awkwardly for eight hours straight on Saturday nights. Jumping some 10-15 years ahead, I decided to take up running last year. I bought some half-decent trainers and started clocking up the kilometres. After having had all the typical injuries most runners experience, I decided to change a few things. I stopped pushing myself to improve my time in every run. And I decided that if I added a bit more fruit and veggies to my diet, I might just recover faster and grow stronger. So I started with my breakfast. Spinach is good, right? At least that's what I remember from reading Popeye. So I wanted to create a smoothie based on that, and which would be as green, filling and happy as the day was young. So now I wake up and start with a big shot of vitamins. You probably think it's going to taste weird, blending spinach into a smoothie. But I guarantee that you can't taste it one bit. I'd even bet you can make your children grow fond of spinach.
Big handful of fresh, washed spinach
1 ripe banana
1 kiwi, leave the peel on, but wash it and cut the end off
1 small cup of natural yogurt, I use Greek for a smoother texture
1 tbsp of chia seeds (high in omega-3 fatty acids, sodium, calcium, phosphorus and manganese)
1 tsp of honey
1 small cup of soy milk  

Just to brighten the day!
Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Couldn't be easier.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Terrine - Voilà!

If you want to impress your dinner guests, you could make something French and fancy that looks like
it's really complicated. The Terrine is just such a recipe. You don't need any skills, really, its' made in advance and will basically cook itself so you have your hands free to prepare other things at the same time. The Terrine has many variations and can be made with fish, vegetables, or as in this case minced meat. Yes, it's basically a fancy meatloaf. It's served cold as a starter, and to spice it up a little I made a wasabi mayonnaise to go with it. Here's how you make it:
400 g. minced beef
400 g. pork sausages (casings removed)
1 small onion, shredded
1 clove of garlic
2 tbsp. cognac (or Brandy)
A small handful of peeled pistachios 
1 pack of smoked bacon (to cover your mold)
2-3 large carrots, boiled for 12 minutes, cut in long sticks
Strips of meat of your liking (duck breast, pork tenderloin etc.)

Wasabi Maynaise:
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
Wasabi to taste (start with a little, as some is very strong)
A few drops of green food coloring (Optional)

Served with:
Pickled cucumber
Raspberry vinagaitte reduction (or a bit of jam will do)
Toasted sesame seeds
Toasted bread

 Start by mixing all the ingredients for the terrine except the bacon, strips of meat and carrots.
 Line your bread form with oven paper and a overlapping layer of bacon that goes up the side. 
 Fill about one 1/3 of the mince into the base. Press it well so you don't have any air pockets. Press a layer of carrots and strips of meat lengthwise into the mince. Put another layer of mince on top. Add some more carrots and meat strips lengthwise, but in opposite pattern of the previous (i.e. meat on the outside/carrots in the centre). Add the last third of mince, Fold the bacon over. Again, make sure everything is well pressed together.
Wrap the whole thing in tinfoil. Place it in bain marie in a 180ºC oven for 1.5 hour or until the centre reaches a temperature of 72º. Take it out and let it cool down while placing some kind of pressure on top (I used some folded cardboard with a pot full of water on top). Once it's cooled down a bit, put it in the fridge for at least 12 hours.
 Once refrigerated, and you cut into it, it should look something like this. Slice it to the thickness you like.
Mix the ingredients for the wasabi mayo and plate up with some pickled cucumber, a drizzle of some raspberry vinaigrette reduction and sprinkle it with some sesame seeds. Serve with a good loaf of bread.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Black Pasta Vongole

Happy 2013 everyone. After lots of celebration and perhaps a little too much food I just needed something lighter for a change. I have had a bag of black pasta standing in the cupboard for some time, so I thought it was time to use it. Black pasta is nothing but regular pasta dyed with squid ink. It tastes pretty much the same as regular pasta so don't let it put you off. But it gives a beautiful contrast to many dishes such as this Vongole. Plus, it's really fast food. The time it will take you to boil the pasta is approximately the same you need to cook the rest. For 2 people you'll need:

300g black pasta
Handful of flat-leaf parsley
3 cloves of garlic
Small handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
500g small fresh clams
1 small glass of white wine
Crushed cayenne to taste
Salt, pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter (can be left out)

 Prepare the veggies. Don't tell me it isn't easy to remember which when you line them up like the Italian flag. Set a bit of the parsley aside for decoration. Then, start boiling the pasta according to the package while you heat up some olive oil in a large frying pan (preferably one with a lid) to medium high temperature.
When the oil is hot, toss in the garlic, tomatoes and the cayenne. 
 As soon as the garlic starts to get lightly brown (almond colour), throw in the parsley and stir it once. 
Then pour in the glass of wine, let it evaporate for a couple of minutes, just to get rid of the alcohol flavour. Then throw in the clams. As always, discard any clams that are open before cooking, and any that aren't open after cooking. Put a lid on and shake the entire pan several times, so the clams move around a bit and get steamed equally. It should take somewhere between 3 to 4 minutes for them to open and be cooked.
 The pasta should be ready by now. Mix it in with the clams and tomatoes. Add, if you like, a spoonful of butter for extra richness or sprinkle with good virgin olive oil and decorate with some extra parsley.
Serve on a hot plate.