food

Mozzarella panini

You don't really want to cook but you still feel like treating yourself to something utterly delicious? Then mozzarella panini is definitely the answer. At home, when the clock strikes 6 p.m., I can feel an almost tangible excitement inhebriating the air. It's aperitivo time! So here is what we do: we pour ourselves a drink, whatever it's available in the house, usually the wine from last night which hasn't been used to cook the lunch's risotto, and make some soul-satisfying food: little nibbles, most of the time, made of leftovers - that's when those little ingredients looking all gloomy and disoriented in the fridge come back to life and handy at last!

As part of a collaboration I have with Martini, which I've already mentioned here and here, I've developed a series of recipes to go with a well deserved drink before dinner. The mozzarella panini, a crunchy assault on your gluttony, is ready in under 10 minutes and will divert you directly into happy helplessness.

Mozzarella panini (serves 4)

Ingredients for 4 people:

• 4 bocconcini buffalo mozzarella • 1 large organic tomato • 1 bunch of fresh basil • 1/2 courgette • 1 clove of garlic • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil • salt and pepper to taste

Cut the courgette into thin slices. In a pan, heat a tablespoon of oil with the garlic, and sauté the zucchini for 10 minutes over medium heat.

Add a sprinkle of salt and place the cooked courgettes in a small bowl.  Cut each small mozzarella in half as you would with bread to make a sandwich.

Inside, place a slice of tomato, a basil leaf, 4 courgette slices and sprinkle each mozzarella with a tablespoon of oil. Close the sandwich and add salt and pepper to taste.

With love and mozzarella,

Eleonora

Wild saithe fillet stuffed with mortadella

It's away from the church bells ringing, in the secure retreat of a kitchen in Rome that this dish was born. I got to the market late in the morning, so I could get the best bargain before the fishmonger stall would shut down. What's gratifying about this fishy creation is the nutty pistachios contrasting with the crispy mortadella filling.  They say fish is good for you, but for me, it's the indulgent accompaniment with cream and mortadella that makes it excellent. The origins of Mortadella Bologna are to be found in the territories of the ancient Etruscan area (nearby Rome), rich with oak trees that provided piquant acorns to the many local wild pigs. The Bologna Archaeological Museum houses the first evidence of what is claimed to be a producer of mortadella : on a Roman pillar are depicted on the one hand seven grazing piglets and on the other a mortar with a pestle . The mortar was used by the Romans to pound and knead the pork with salt and spices. This suggests that the name of the sausage comes from mortarium. This dish is sweet succulence perfectly combined with salty freshness.

The video below was made in collaboration with a French production. Even though the instructions are in French, it wouldn't hurt to follow the video when making this recipe, especially for the step where the mortadella filling is involved.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1QGRFIribY

Wild saithe fillet stuffed with mortadella Ingredients: (serves 2 people)

  • 100 gr. creamy soft spreadable cheese
  • 30 gr. fresh whipping cream
  • 50 gr. dairy unsalted butter
  • a sprinkle of ground pepper
  • a sprinkle of fine salt
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 50 gr. mortadella Bologna
  • 50 gr. pistachio nut kernels
  • 200 gr. saithe or coley fillet
  • 50 gr. crispy babyleaf salad

In a bowl, place the creamy cheese, add the whipping cream, a hint of salt and the olive oil. Whisk until obtaining a smooth preparation.

Make an incision down the centre of the fish from the head to the tail, then make a cut in order to create a pocket for the filling. It is important that you don't break the fish, so take your time and do this process delicately.

Cut the mortadella into thin slices. Fill the fish with mortadella and cover it. Plant a pic to maintain it still. Dust with the pistachios and add the salt. In a pan, melt the butter and cook the stuffed fish 2 minutes per side. Serve it with bubbles of cream cheese and the salad.

With love and pistachios,

Eleonora

Martini, it's time for aperitivo

For me, transmitting gastronomical heritage is key to a functioning passing of the baton. To exist, tradition must evolve and trespass its own boundaries. I'm proud to annouce my partnership with Martini ® as their brand ambassador in France. For them, I'm introducing the concept of aperitivo. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbbp3aOdLL4

In fact behind every dish there's a story I decode with anecdotes, the characters animating them, the art, the land. Whether in Paris, London or New York, with my friends and family we often find ourselves at dawn for a drink. In Italy we do too, but our way. We call this pre-dinner time the aperitivo time. We share a cocktail and we accompany it with very generous buffets of antipasti. Food is central.

So it's a journey to the heart of Italy that I propose to discover through four major cities: Milan, Turin, Rome and Naples. Come on I'll take you, andiamo!

With love and a cocktail,

Eleonora

The End of the World in the Loire Valley

As an Italian person, one of my most developed senses is Smell. Oh yes, we like our aromatherapy in the kitchen. As a matter of fact, what I absolutely love about food shopping in any open market in Italy, is the herbal goodie bag that comes with it: gorgeous thyme, rosemary, curly persil or the inevitable basil, you name it. They'll all be part of the deal. The positive health effects of culinary herbs have been renowned ever since the dawn of civilization. It's common knowledge that Venice, for example, has for centuries been an authentic door of spices interchange between East and West. Lately, I've been wondering around the Loire Valley, and I came across the most exclusive botanical garden & restaurant. Located in Berthenay, near the wonderful Chateau of Villandry (one of the seven wonders of the world), this river estate is surrounded by a garden of aromatic and edible plants. While Benoist introduced me to the wide variety of culinary herbs from all over the world, Emmanuelle would be cooking up a storm inside the adjacent cute little cottage.

I discovered that each region has its own plants that bloom like a symphony depending on the climate. To activate digestion, best served in form of infusion or soup are : fennel, mint, lemon balm, sage (also used as an antiseptic). We went for a walk in the domain, and came upon the wild plants along the Loire: oregano, die, bay leaves, tansy, Moorish. The taste of these herbs is enhanced by sun or humidity. I've been lucky enough to get a full on description of a whole area dedicated to mints. The best flavouring herb? Marjolaine shell. In the workshops run by Benoist, one can learn how to grow these delicate plants in their own gardens or, for the more citizen-types, like me, on the balcony.

Just adding up one herb to an otherwise ordinary meal will bring a whole new meaning and character to it. So have fun, mix up, create, and try for yourself the art of combining herbs with the kitchen. Back in the cottage, Emmanuelle prepared an unforgettable nettle soup. No, it didn't itch.

On the contrary, it was the end of the world.

Consume without moderation.

With love and nettle,

Eleonora

Frittata rolls with courgettes and green sauce

"Ma parla come mangi!" In other words, speak the way you eat. Be simple. Don't be rethoric. In Italy we also use food as a cultural or social paradox. When I was a child, I would be served frittata (i.e. omelette) whenever at home everyone was too tired to cook. As simple as it is (ok, maybe harder than boiling an egg), there were few things at the time that made me happier than my grandmother calling me at the table: "The frittata is done"! Later in life I found out that, figuratively, this phrase is used when some huge mess occurs. Also, the act of "turning the omelette" (a stage of cooking) is associated with an alleged attempt to slip away from a discussion. It turns out, at home I should have watched my plate and watched my mouth, too.

But, nonetheless, a frittata can be so crunchy and delicious that I might as well just roll it. That's what I did for a French video production project. My other videos from this same adventure can be viewed here, here, or here, to name but a few. I love the idea of capturing the moist of the egg with the cirtusy green sauce. If you find watching the video tempting enough, then you'll be even more thrilled at the idea of reproducing it with the instructions below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhvSdfY4GL4

Frittata rolls with courgettes and green sauce

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 4 fresh free-range eggs
  • 1 courgette
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 50 gr. sundried tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

Pour the eggs into a bowl, add the salt, the pepper and the rosemary. Whisk them until fluffy. In a pan, pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil and splash the beaten eggs in. Let the egg dough curdle from 3 to 4 minutes. Repeat the operation on the other side and cook for the last 3 minutes. Place the obtained omelette on a plate.

Cut the courgette into slices. In a pan, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Fry the vegetables at low heat for 15 minutes. In the meanwhile, cut the sundried tomatoes into strips.

Evenly place the slices of courgettes and tomatoes on the omelette. Roll the omelette and cut it into rolls of about 3 cm. each. Mildly prick each roller with a cocktail stick.

For the green sauce, finely chop the parsley and place it in a small bowl. Pour the remaining olive oil in and finally add the lemon juice. Mash the mixture  Add a teaspoon of green sauce on each roll before serving.

With love and eggs,

Eleonora

The weekly Food Parlour

‘Food crisis responder’ Marsha Smith takes surplus produce from supermarkets in Nottingham, explains The Guardian, and cooks it for those in need. In a city suffering from food poverty, she is trying to shake up the system for good. Not bad for integrating #foodhappiness, for a social eating advocate. Shopping on an empty stomach? Go and eat something quick! People buy far more stuff and spend more money when they're hungry than when they're full, and that extends to non-edible goods, too, according to a study of the association between our bellies and our belongings discussed on the New Scientist. One day in 2007, Alison Jing Xu, who studies decision-making at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, sat down at a mall restaurant and suddenly regretted everything she had just bought. "I wondered why half an hour ago it had seemed like a good idea to buy 10 pairs of tights, not just the two I needed," she says. So what's going on? When we are hungry, our stomach releases a hormone called ghrelin. This acts on an area of the brain called the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which is involved in reward and motivation, making people want to seek out and consume calories. Jing Xu suggests that ghrelin's effect also spills over into non-food domains – prompting you to acquire more of everything when you are hungry. "We'd like to make consumers aware of the possibility that if they go shopping on an empty stomach, they might spend more money that they intend to – so better feed themselves before they go out," she says.

DIY is taken to a whole new level, as the Daily Mail confirms that workers could save £1,300 a year if they made food at home rather than buying sandwiches and snacks from shops. More than 60 per cent of Britons who buy their lunches out spend an average of £1,840 a year, based on 46 working weeks, the research reveals. In comparison, those who prepare food at home spend just £552 over the same period - a saving of a whopping £1,288. Think of what the surplus could be spent on instead. It could even equate to an extra holiday.

A food supplement first developed by NASA could help fight depression. Brain Food is a supplement rich in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which has been proven to improve concentration, co-ordination and memory. Steve Ahearne Managing Director of Scholars Nutrition developed the formula, as told by The Express. After reading research linking the chemical with improving brainpower, he decided to develop it into a food supplement to help tackle depression. "Some people still consider depression to be trivial or not a real illness but it can be a crippling mental health condition so any preventions you can take against it are vital," he said.

According to the Independent, people associate the luxury of an expensive restaurant with sexual pleasure, while eating tasty food in a cheap diner is more likely to be compared with drug addiction and physical trauma, scientists found. Diners at luxury restaurants praise the “orgasmic pastry” and “seductively seared foie gras”, whereas patrons of less salubrious establishments justify their food choices by claiming “the fries were like crack” or that they are “addicted to wings”. The findings come from a language analysis of more than 900,000 online reviews of 6,500 restaurants across seven American cities. The study compared the wording people used in giving good and bad reviews, as judged by how many stars they gave to a restaurant.

With love and pastries,

Eleonora

Healthy peas & asparagus soup

I've always been fascinated by fairytales, their moral turn being the ultimate measure of the do's and dont's in my childhood life, and later, holding the balance of power in my view of people and situations. I am one of those people who live life running through the same bewilderment I find in movies and books. Call me naive, but there's something terribly comforting in clichés. The Princess and the Pea is about a girl whose royal status is established by an assessment of her physical receptiveness by placing a pea in the bed she is offered for the night, covered by 20 mattresses and 20 feather-beds. In the morning, the princess tells her hosts that she endured a sleepless night, kept awake by something hard in the bed.

Last night I've been kept awake too, by some love serenade under my balcony (addressed to the neighbour, of course), which kept me up and running all over the kitchen and, for courtesy reason, unable to complain: this morning I had two  bags under my eyes so big I'd go shopping with, and a brand new recipe to be conceived in my 8 m2 kitchen. Could I be considered a princess, too?

Pea and asparagus soup

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • 250 gr. of split peas
  • 1 fresh carrot
  • 1 fresh celery
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 25 gr. fresh mint
  • 1 lt. vegetable broth
  • 100 gr. fresh asparagus tips
  • 50 gr. medium mature cheddar cheese/any aged cheese
  • 50 ml. of extra virgin olive oil
  • 100 gr. bacon cubes
  • a sprinkle of salt

Soak the split peas in cold water for at least 3 hours. Finely chop the carrot, the celery and the onion and put them to fry in a large saucepan with the garlic in extra virgin olive oil. Add the peas and the asparagus tips to the pan, add a sprinkle of salt, stir to flavor and then cover the vegetables with the hot vegetable stock.

Cook over low heat until the peas and asparagus tips are tender and begin to unravel, it will take about 60 minutes. As a final touch, you can sprinkle it with some grated aged cheese. Once the soup is cooked, put the bacon in a pan and cook until crisp.

Serve the pea and asparagus soup with crispy bacon on top.

With love, pillows and peas

Eleonora

Honey glazed salmon fillet

In Roman habits, friday is a non-meat day. The tradition is linked with the Bible and the general precept of the Catholic Church that imposes not to eat meat on Fridays, the day of the Passion of Christ. Green light then to all kinds of fish and vegetables. When strolling around Roman's open air markets, such as the one in Campo dei Fiori or Testaccio, any respectable fishmonger on this day would scream out loud its generous supply of blessed cod with chickpeas (baccalà co' ceci). In order to grab attention, they would accompany it with a typical Roman stornello, an often emblematic folk song containing lyrics on a romantic and mockery tone, like these ones: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8k-S3onbVyk

Even if you're rolling on deadlines before the end of the week, believe me, this no-fuss recipe will only take 5 minutes to make. I love how the citrusy flavour tickle with the rich drops of balsamic vinegar. What's more, this sweet and sour salmon is easy & quick to perform and will give the impression of an elaborate dish. I worked on this video as a collaboration with a French production company, hence subtitles may be cryptic. However, images do speak for themselves, and if you want to give it a go, you will find below all the details.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWDd9KbkzX4

Honey glazed salmon fillet

Ingredients (serves 1 person):

  • 150 gr. salmon fillet
  • 1 lime
  • 1 orange
  • 30gr. honey
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 bunch of fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 20 gr. of fennel seeds
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

In a bowl, first press the orange and the lime. Pour the obtained juice into a large bowl, add the balsamic vinegar, the honey and the olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Grate the fennel seeds and add them to the mix.

Place the salmon fillet in the obtained marinade. Cover with foil and let rest in the fridge for approximately 30 minutes.

Warm up a pan, then cook the fish fillet aller-retour, 1 minute each side. Next, lightly drizzle with the marinade and let the sauce reducing for a couple of minutes. Put the fish on a dish and pour the sauce on top with a brush before enjoying it with a side seasonal salad.

With love and salmon,

Eleonora

A morning with a chef

The train that took me from the city of light to the city of utter delight was perfectly on time, well of course, just like the inhabitants of my final destination: forward thinkers, dream-makers, fast consumers, but with a discerning approach. Every time I set foot to London my head starts spinning around with the infinite stimulations arising from such a diverse community which makes the heart of this town beating at an incredible fast rate, and everything, suddenly, seems to be possible. The astonished eyes of that little girl from the south of Italy here get food for thought, in the literal sense.

In the middle of a restaurant room that would otherwise be considered as formal, there's a bar. The entire staff is very gracious and caring but none of them wears a tie. I feel like I can be myself, relax and mischievously look at the other customers (following the same pattern, I always look inside home windows when erring on the streets, exceptionally fascinated by the lives of others) while I wait for my + 1. Addicted to the dreamy horizon of being a chasseur de vue.

Hameed Farook guides the magic at 1901 restaurant and wine bar. The space is reminiscent of the Great Eastern, the former hotel institution that was in place before Andaz took over in 2006, with stucco and stone ground floor and dressings in a mildly classical style.

Beyond service, there's a more human element at stake, it's called care. For Farook, a restaurant  is all about breaking bareers: with its food, with its clientele, with appearences. His idea of giving the best in his work is fuelled by the wish that those who enjoy his dishes are going to be at their best, too. Positive thinking additions? I remarkably love.

london1Things are heating up as our pan roasted scallops from Cornwall get in the scene. They are flavoured with smoked haddock, shrimp tortellini and a mild bisque (shellfish based) emulsion. The duck terrine was truffle aromatized, with the accompaniment of pickled vegetables, a crunchy brioche and port wine jelly.

Food that heals. Yes, for this Indian born chef a good meal is a combination of chemistry and seasonal products. Farook's mother used to have a pot of 12 spices, the secret solution - she called it - that would cure any pathology: cinnamon and tea tree are antiseptic, while ginger is a natural energy elevator. No wonder why I can climb to the clouds after lunch.

Wanna do the same? You too can enjoy a shortcut way to the most somptuous views of the world. Inscription is this way.

With love at first sight,

Eleonora

Pascade, la crêpe soufflée

The pascade looks like an impressionist artwork. It's in fact a big pancake, a peasant household dish prepared on the go in farms as well as in small family restaurants around the Aveyron area, southwest of France. Almost unknown anywhere else, its recipe is simple: very fresh (free-range, bien sur) eggs beaten with cereal flour. It was originally served as a generous starter with sugar, chives, etc. at that time of the day when the pots are cooking and the kids so anxious to be fed. The mixture is then baked as a non-runny omelette: flour must be compulsorily cooked. And there's no joke when it comes to French how-to in the kitchen. It can then be filled to taste, and that's where the real fun starts. But let's go back in time. In 2006, when Michelin starred master of conviviality Alexandre Bourdas opened the now renowned SaQuaNa in Honfleur, he found himself for the first time running a restaurant and when he had to think of an appetizer that better could convey his personal values, the idea of a pascade, this warm dish to be shared, so flexible when it comes to combinations, became an evidence.

"Over time I had fun cooking the lovely pascade with different toppings for family and friends, until the day when the idea came to me to dedicate a place to Pascade the same way that there are places devoted to the art of pizza or pancake".

The restaurant design is a cross between an inn and a canteen, and the raw materials used stand for an architectural metaphor of the pascade itself: hard and rustic tables between the student like benches. The result is a mixture of authenticity and tradition with contemporary clean lines. A really different place, adapted to the Parisian pace, where people can go quickly before dinner or a movie as food is served non-stop from noon to 11 pm, 7 days a week.

The other night, I found myself in the company of the lovely chef Carme Ruscalleda, which exquisite recipes can be enjoyed here. From her restaurants in Sant Pau and Tokyo, she flew to Paris, along with her handmade dried fruits filled sausages. As part of a pop up one-dish-only project, this month she created the pascade Catalana, which will be à la carte for the entire month. After accompanying the creation of the pascade Alexander Bourdas leaves the undivided controls to his cooking guests, which change at the turn of the month. In the springtime, it will be his 10 years old niece opening the doors of inventiveness to a staple of French regional gastronomy.

pascade4

With love and pascade,

Eleonora

Kluger, Fabrique des Tartes

I love to meet and greet with likeminded people in the food sector, discover and learn from the places I go to. Honestly Paris never fails to impress, its vibrant food scene being a constant inspiration for me; I recently came across the very talented Catherine Kluger. A former lawyer turned tarte guru, Catherine decides to leave her legal job, in order to totally focus on the sweet & savoury art of French pies, initially thanks to the help of pâtisserie consultant Nicolas Bernardé. Whether quiche lorraine, carotte-citron confits or courgette-feta-crumble au parmesan, these tartes are a head turner, and her factory is a step into paradise. Why pies? "Because it's easy, useful and practical. Because they are part of French culinary heritage. Because, deep in our memory and our taste buds, lies the taste of a pie. Additionally, they can be easily adapted to urban nomadic life". Mrs. Kruger signed multiple deals over these past few years with French Marabout editions, publishing four books revealing the underside of her recipes, while keeping her store open and running and keep being a busy mom of three. What's more, she's been heading pop up restaurants, collaborating at hundreds of events, and she even managed to launch a Parisian food-truck. I call that the feminine French art of martyrdom.

This lady speaks to us through food, a language that we are all willing to learn. And the Tartes Kluger are, oh, so luscious. Flavour is deep, complex and utterly compelling. What's more their taste is an incredible barometer of the ingredients' authenticity. And the fact that it doesn't take any more than buying her latest book in order to reproduce some of these beauties, makes it a joy. I'm a huge fan of quiches, and I'm always on the lookout for new ways to interpret this traditional dish. For a picnic, a quick lunch, or a earthy party, these tartes are just the perfect fix. I love to have my cake and eat it too along with a warm, comforting soup. Catherine uses organic flours for the pie base and, I must admit, the overall taste does thanks for it.

For a few weeks more, until February 8th, as a result of a collaboration with natural store Sol Semilla, Katherine is snipping in her pies all kind of seeds @ her store at 15, rue Trousseau. The whole idea is to restore vitality and energy with a great powered menu. This, for me, is the magic ingredient here. We are in total healthy territory. Even if, it would be more accurate to say, superfoods heaven. And then there's the sweet version. Yes, I know we are still in the detox month for excellence, yet...every rule gets broken when things are brilliant. On with the dance.

Flan pâtissier*

For a flexible and elastic dough:

  • 250 gr. strong white bread wheat flour
  • 185 gr. very cold dairy unsalted butter
  • 25 cl. whole milk (warmed up)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar

For the cream:

  • 225 ml of whole milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 45 gr. caster sugar
  • 15 gr. of cornstarch
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp Indian chai spices
  • 30 gr. dairy unsalted butter

Start with the dough: first of all, mix flour and salt, then add the vanilla sugar. Cut the butter into small pieces. With your fingertips, roll it delicately into the flour until it becomes nice and sandy. Keep your hands cool so not to heat up the butter: it should melt as little as possible. In a small bowl, mix the beaten egg and the milk with a fork. Dig a small well in the sandy mixture, pour the beaten egg in. With the flat of your hand, form a homogeneous dough by working the ingredients very cautiously.

Wrap the dough with plastic wrap forming a ball and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least one hour. After that, flatten the dough by tapping it with a rolling pin. Flour the work surface and roll out the dough until greater than the size of the mold disc. Gently pick the dough with a fork. Generously butter the mold and let the dough stick to its entire perimeter. As it is, let it rest for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Preheat the oven at 170°. Line the pastry with baking paper, ideally cut into circle. Place on some dry beans and precook the pie for 35 minutes at 170°. Then free the pie from its shell. Brush it with some egg wash and put it in the oven for three further minutes, in order to dry the gilding and thus make it solid before garnishing it.

Preheat the oven at 210°. Realize the custard: heat the milk, then pour a small amount of whipped eggs with sugar, spices and cornstarch. Pour this mixture into the hot milk and stir until the cream thickens. Pour the custard in the precooked pie shell. Bake it for 10 minutes at 210°, just the time for it to color nicely. Let cool completely before serving. It's better to make this dessert ideally the day before.

With love and flan,

Eleonora

* This recipe is taken from the book "La Fabrique des Tartes" by Catherine Kluger.

World food stories

To start-up or not to start-up? During these edgy times, many of you might be wondering what kind of business to launch. Well, look no further. Apparently, as The Telegraph suggests, the best small business entreprises are all about atypical cafés, Peruvian food and 3D engraved products. The future is looking cevichely good. For decades, Mexican cuisine was largely written off beyond its borders as an unsophisticated carb-rich mess of burritos and tacos. But then came the day, back in 2005, when Masterchef winner Thomasina Miers introduced Britain to the spicy flavours and textures of Mexican market food with the launch of her restaurant chain Wahaca in London. On The Independent, a tale of Mexican street food with incursions of radishes, delicate seafoods and a variety of beans.

Keeping genetic diversity within the world’s food supply is crucial to ensuring that humankind can preserve crop yields and adapt to climate change, however, a warming world places diversity at risk, a paper from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned.

Food for Thought is a Guardian monthly series curating ideas on achieving the goal of zero hunger from leaders across the private, public and charity sectors. Among those nations, Brazil led the way. President Lula’s ambitious Zero Hunger programme helped to establish the right to food as a constitutional right in 2010. Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador were also at the forefront of legislating the right to food with similar laws and constitutional amendments. Across Latin America, change came out of successful campaigns led mostly by peasant farmers. In India, it was the supreme court that pronounced the right to food as an integral part of the right to life. The corporate control over food, and the consequent proliferation of low-quality junk food promoted by supermarkets, is widely acknowledged to be a large contributor to the global obesity epidemic – another and often under-appreciated aspect of malnutrition.

Ena Baxter will always be an icon of conviviality. Just passed away, regrettably witnessed on The Scotsman, this eminent lady of the house founded and run with her husband the Baxters soup empire, worth more than £120 million. What few people know, though, is that, as a talented cook and researcher, she also worked to implement food rationing for the Ministry of Food during World War II. When this woman made soup, she only would have used the finest, handpicked ingredients, highland spring water, fresh vegetables, and herbs that bring out the true taste of the soup. Inspiringly green.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzC2OfvbzC8

With love and soup,

Eleonora

A brunch at Semilla

Sunday brunch time is one of those very volatile, very vulnerable moments of the week. Our energy flow is readjusting hence the choice of the meal is crucial to that roaring start of the week. I don't know about you, but when I wake up on the resting day of the week for excellence, the first thing I think of is either a scrumbled, an à la coque, or a benedicte style egg. When in Paris, Semilla is a place for indulging in sweets, freshly squeezed fruit juices, the unmissable sunday roast and, as they call it, all kinds of non egg's options: a lobster club sandwich served with toasted brioche and avocado or a very seasonal beet salad with spelt, fresh cheese and hazelnuts. On the hunt side - it being hunting season, chef Eric Trochon gets an exceptional delivery directly from the hands of his hunters friends - we tried a mouthwatering version of venison burger, moistened with currant juice, served with pak choi (the Chinese version of chard) and the quitessential new potatoes roasted to perfection.

Opened by the will and skills of trio Drew Harré, Jan Sanchez and the chef himself, Eric Trochon, this place, as other excellent ones in town, winks at bistronomie, this phenomenon très à la page that results from the contraction of bistro and gastronomy, applying to those tables combining low prices (with menus worth less than 30€), small team, small places and inventive cuisine made from good and simple products, often orchestrated by chefs trained in academic structures.

Very democratically, and here we go again with patrioctic values such as Liberté & Fraternité, also present à la carte if it wasn't clear enough, the menu comprehends a full list of the producers, often small realities, providing the food and beverages to the house. The wine, in general directly supplied from the grape scented hands of the wine maker himself, can be a Chablis Premier Cru la Forest or a Chateauneuf-du-Pape, both proven to be extraordinarily reassuring tastes.

Last but not least: those of you who know me by now are also well aware of the fact that I love my mascarpone. Either worked in a tiramisu or on a limoncello based cream, you'll know that I'll quickly access to the highest level of #foodhappiness. I reached new heights, though, when tasting the remarkable pears, mascarpone and peacan nuts pie. Powerfully happy before the week's madness.

Restaurant Semilla 54, rue de Seine Paris (75006) TÉL : +33 1 43 54 34 50 MÉTRO : Saint-Germain des Prés, Mabillon, Odéon

With love and peacan nuts,

Eleonora

semilla1

Roman style artichoke

This artichoke recipe is a typical antipasti issued from the gastronomy of  Lazio and in particular of the city of Rome. The artichoke has always been a very popular vegetable used in the Roman cuisine, which, moreover, also has a special variety, the mammola, very suitable for the production of this type of recipe. Among different dishes of artichoke,  I also love the Jewish-style artichoke, another typical dish of the Roman cuisine that has that can be enjoyed uniquely in the very heart of the Jewish ghetto. The origins of the dish once again can be found in the ancient times when, when making food, farmers used what their land made available for them: in this case, artichoke, with its body cleansing properties, soooo beneficial after Christmas blowouts, is thus suggested in drainage diets. I particularly like this recipe for the direct contact you get with the vegetable, but be aware! Its colour could easily stick on your finger, so in order to save your weekend spotless manicure please make sure you pour your fingers deep in half a lemon's pulp before getting on with the cleaning of this remarkable vegetable. Roman-style artichokes

Ingredients for 8 people:

  • 8 artichokes
  • 50gr.breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp fresh finely cut parsley
  • 2 tbsp fresh finely cut mint
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 fresh unwaxed lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic

First, proceed with the artichokes cleaning: remove the hardest outer leaves, with a sharp box cutter, working it down with a spiral movement going from the bottom to the top of the artichoke and finally, cut a part of the stem leaving only 4 cm of it. Spread the artichoke's leaves with your hands so you can remove the inside beard and place the artichoke, now cleaned, in a basin with acidulated water in order to prevent the formation of black parts.

Let the artichokes soak for a few minutes, while waiting chop the garlic, the mint, the parsley, then the breadcrumbs, a little olive oil and a pinch of salt in a small bowl.

Using a teaspoon, fill the artichokes, broadening their heart, with crumb stuffing. Add salt to the surface and place the artichokes in a nonstick pan bathed in oil and let it burn for two minutes, then add water to two-thirds. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes.

To understand if they're well cooked, prick them with a fork to check they are ready. Sprinkle with the cooking sauce and serve them warm or room temperature.

With love and artichokes,

Eleonora

Shrimp cocktail, the spicy side

I've always been in awe for fish, first of all because it doesn't create as much of a hubbub as meat does (hence it's more convivial), and secondly because, when fresh, I'm personally on a verge of a lust for life. In range of my collaboration with DeliSnacky, which previous videos you can find here and here, I developed this shrimps cocktails recipe, which has then been turned in a video. The pitch is allusive to an antipasti which became popular in Italy over the '80s. This vintage snack is now ready for a comeback, but with a twist: avocado spicyness. The recipe video has got French subtitles, so please refer to the instructions below in order to make it at home.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFVdj8o4esQ

Spicy shrimp cocktail

  • 150 gr mayonnaise
  • 1 fresh unwaxed lemon
  • 1 perfectly ripe avocado
  • a bunch of salad leaves
  • a few drops of Tabasco sauce
  • 36 tiny shrimps

In a bowl, pour the mayonnaise, 5 or 6 Tabasco sauce drops, and the juice of one lemon. Mix well and put aside. Now prepare the avocado by cutting it in tiny dices. Mince the salad with the aid of a knife. Lay it in a big cocktail glass, starting from the salad on the bottom, then the avocado, followed by the shrimps and its sauce on top.

With love and avocado,

Eleonora

Septime, or the temple of gluttony

The wide royal blue door is distinctive of a certain Parisian trait which can be assimilated with a voracious joie de vivre, containing in itself a profound respect for the tradition as well as a versatile step towards the "now" (why looking towards the future when the present can be so captivating). Set in a neo-urban epicurean valley of the senses, no wonder why Septime - a trendy restaurant in the up and coming 11th arrondissement of Paris -  is right in the spotlight these days. I didn't know what exactly to expect as I inspectioned their website before my visit earlier this week; on the desktop, only a logo and an address provided. Poorly described, I thought. Well, I had to change idea: on the contrary, I was in for a treat, because the food, the drinks and the ambiance truly spoke for themselves.

As I entered, I was warmly welcomed by wine expert and restaurant associé Thèo Pourriat, who presented us with a very small list of truly exquisite wines. He emphasized on the personal relationships developed with the vignerons (wine growers), the identification of which I was already introduced to on the other side of the river, at the Ile Saint Louis celebrated cheesemonger. A real fan on fine wines but totally against getting dizzy in the middle of the working day, I also opted for an infusion fait maison. In Septime there's an actual barman dedicated to the making of these restoring potions made to accompany the daily proposed menus. For me, it was orange, clementine, tarragon, pear and Acacia honey, all raw in a boiling pot.

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetThe lunch menu (uncommonly changing on a daily basis), is based on chef Bertrand Grébaut's inventiveness of the moment. I got lucky with a sumptuous Utah Beach (yes, the one of the Normandy D-day) clums soup with gourds and an undescribably refined Xeres vinegar aftertaste. The daikon - oh I dig those radishes -  was deliciously accompanied with mushrooms de la Maure along with exquisite black truffles from the Perigord area (duck and goose products paradise) which I shall absolutely visit soon.

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetHaving recently taken part in the Cabinet de Curiosités of Thomas Herber, with showcases of visual artists, designers and chefs indeed, Grébaut now wants to focus entirely on his Parisian food scene, where he gives work and inspiration to an international, young and food-talented crowd. "There's an Argentinian, an American and a British, but we always speak français in the kitchen, that's mandatory" - explains Grébaut, a patriot at heart as all French admirably are, as I ask him about his producers, his rare food findings (like the radicchio from Treviso in the middle of Paris, a true gem) and his sources of creativity: "Sometimes it's the chromatic scale of a dish that grabs my attention first, but then it's the work on the affiliations to make it enjoyable that I have fun with". And that was, and surely will be again, a truly enjoyable experience.

With love and tarragon,

Eleonora

Flying food ideas

When your taste buds are way above the clouds, your normal sense of taste goes right out of the aeroplane’s window. Now airlines are trying to find ways to get our appetites back on track. So, according to BBC,  airlines have to give in-flight food an extra kick, by salting and spicing it much more than a restaurant on the ground ever would. Often, recipes are modified with additional salt or seasoning to account for the cabin dining atmosphere. The combination of dryness and low pressure reduces the sensitivity of your taste buds to sweet and salty foods by around 30%. Toast is popping up all over. According to USA today, it's one of the hot new tastes of 2015, along with seaweed and chocolate dark enough to resemble a black hole. This was toast as in the flavor of roasted bread, dripping with melted butter and possibly with a light dusting of sugar and cinnamon.

If you’ve ever exercised to lose weight, while reading the Washington Post, there’s a good chance the following thought has crossed your mind: “I worked out so hard. I deserve a treat!” It’s also pretty likely that you indulged post-workout in some food you’d deemed forbidden — or consumed more than usual — and in so doing ate back all the calories you burned.

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It’s January and with the New Year, New diet stories are everywhere—and suddenly so is the topic of broth, which is heating up on Forbes. The terms broth, bouillon and consommé are interchangeable, but the broth making news is bone broth or a rich, gelatinous stock made from boiling meat, fish and vegetables which results in a taste and flavor profile that is a far cry from its mass-produced cousins. The current broth boom is linked to the still popular Paleo diet, which lists broth as a staple.

Looking for some recipes? Here is the Huffington Post's list of 9 Vegan Food Hacks That Are The Height Of Inventiveness.

In a 1951 video on good eating habits, Bill races through breakfast, bolts his lunch like a coyote, spends the money he was supposed to buy soup with on candy and pop and has a desultory dinner. Naturally, he is sluggish while playing with his sweet train set. Later, he gets an excruciating stomach ache that can only be cured by a good night's sleep. With the help of the narrator, Bill learns to slow down and savor his meals and also to stay away from the junk food. In these fast paced times, can't we all take a page from Bill's book and slow down?

With love and broth,

Eleonora

Pan di spagna with zabaglione

Zabaglione is better served warm on a cake. I remember those times long past by, when an utterly scrumptious cream would have been made possible with the aid of a big wooden spoon only ("olio di gomito", as we call the physical effort of the kitchen in days gone by). As part of my collaboration with DeliSnacky, here is my version of Pan di Spagna with Zabaglione. What is Pan di Spagna? An aerial and spongy Italian recipe. Traditionally created by an Italian marquee's chef as a twist to the Biscotto di Savoia exclusively for the Spanish King visiting, this recipe can be adapted to a number of occasions, since we can cut it with a different form (star for Christmas, egg for Easter, or heart for Saint Valentin'es, depending on the celebration). The video's subtitles are in French, please find below an English language thorough explanation of how to proceed; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODEGCuXykWk

Pan di Spagna with Zabaglione (serves 6 persons)

For the Pan di Spagna:

  • 75 gr. potato starch
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 150 gr. caster sugar
  • 5 fresh free-range eggs
  • 75 gr. all purposes flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 125 gr. fresh red currants

For the Zabaglione

  • 160 gr. caster sugar
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 100 ml. limoncello liqueur

Preheat the oven at 180°. Open the vanilla pod, take out the seeds and leave on the side; then in a pot break the eggs, add the salt, the sugar, the vanilla and mix vigorously; finally add the flour and the starch with the aid of a sieve. Mix well. Pour into a mold. Bake at 180 degrees for 40 minutes.

To prepare the zabaglione, put the yolks in a pot, add the sugar and the limoncello, whisk well. Immerse the pot in a water bath and stir for 10 minutes.

Remove the pan di spagna from the oven; cut the cake in half, spread half of the zabaglione cream inside, cover it with the remaining cream.

With love and zabaglione,

Eleonora

Magnetizing food ideas

To alkaline or not to alkaline? The discussion around the new A-list, B to follow celebrity diet, now sprung to prominence thanks to the New Year launch of Honestly Healthy Cleanse, a cookbook by best-selling author Natasha Corrett that evangelises alkaline-based eating and became an immediate top-seller on Amazon seems to be one of the main focuses of this January detox resolution, according to the Daily Mail. In an amazingly eye opening section, Forbes presents the 30 under 30 2015 in Food & Drink who are redefining what, and how, we consume.

Hot banana ketchup in the Philippines, salted fish intestines in Korea, fermented bean curd in China are among the world's most curious condiments according to The Telegraph.

Food labels seem to provide all the information a thoughtful consumer needs, so counting calories should be simple. Think again. Food labels tell only half the story: processed food make you fatter, softer foods are calorie-saving, it's maybe time to re-open the discussion. The Independent thinks that one idea would develop a “traffic-light” system on food labels, alerting consumers to foods that are highly processed (red dots), lightly processed (green dots) or in-between (amber dots).

Low on a budget? No probs, this article on The Guardian shows you just how even students can stay healthy and enjoy #foodhappiness. Stock up on fresh vegetables, buy meat from the butchers, shop in the evening for reduced price and most of all get organised. Save one day a week to do a big shop. Plan your meals so you don’t get tempted to overspend. Stock up on all your food groups in one trip and you’ll save money.

Tha National School Lunch Program, recently launched in the US, can keep the parents happy and the kids fed. Less salt and whole grains are provided in the numerous schools which are enrolling in the project, a subject analysed by The New York Times. Home packed lunches tend to be indulgent on the kid, containing sweets, desserts and white bread, nutritious elements which are not allowed in the program.

Most of all, enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8I5C-FViOmE

With love and detox,

Eleonora

New Year's Lasagne resolutions

So back to work for us all. The best thing of this time of the year is that we all still feel pampered by cosy images of a long needed precious time spent with family and friends over these past festivities. All this cheerful togetherness, however, has brought along the other side of the coin, which is tangible enough (talking me sadly through my trousers size), and its removal on top of all our new year's resolutions. Undoubtedly no sacrifice can be fully adopted without an exception to the rule. That's why tonight I'm cooking the healthiest red cabbage based vegan lasagna version. Why, aren't you?

cavolirossi

Red Cabbage Lasagne (serves 6 persons)

  • 1 red cabbage (about 1 kg.)
  • 250 g. carrots
  • 125 g mozzarella cheese
  • 150 g cooked ham
  • 250 g fresh pasta lasagne sheets
  • 50 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 500 ml bechamel sauce
  • 100 g grated Parmesan cheese
  • 30 g dairy butter
  • 6 sage leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the béchamel sauce:

  • 50 gr. dairy butter
  • 50 gr. all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 liter whole milk

Preheat the oven at 180°. Clean the red cabbage, removing the outer leaves (if damaged), then cut it into 4 pieces, wash it under running water and put it to boil in salted boiling water for approximately 10 minutes. Peel the carrots and put them to boil along with the red cabbage for the same amount of time. Once the vegetables aree cooked, drain and allow them to cool, then cut them into smaller pieces and put 2/3 of them in a blender together with 20 ml of oil, a pinch of salt and  some freshly ground pepper. Blend until you get a creamy consistency, if necessary adding 2 or 3 tablespoons of boiling water (preferably that previously used for cooking the vegetables).

Prepare a nice thick bechamel. To start with, heat the milk in a saucepan; apart, melt the butter over low heat, then turn off the heat and add the flour, stirring with a whisk to prevent lumps from forming. Then put it back on low heat and stir until it becomes golden. You will have obtained what the French call roux; flavor the milk with nutmeg and a pinch of salt (you can do these operations even as the last step, when the sauce is ready); then join it gradually to the roux, stirring the whole thing vigorously with a whisk. Cook for 5 minutes on low heat until the sauce thickens and begins to boil.

Now you can compose the lasagna in a pyrex baking dish greased with butter. We start with a thin layer of bechamel sauce, then a sheet of lasagne, and then a layer of red cabbage and carrots cream, another sheet of lasagne, a layer of thin slices of mozzarella, carrots and cabbage, a tsp of oil, still a layer of pasta, one of ham, and so on continuing to alternate layers (each cycle calls for a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste). Finish off with a layer of red sauce, then sprinkle the grated Parmesan cheese and some butter. Bake for 25 minutes at 180 ° C. Serve the piping hot lasagne garnished with sage leaves.

Happy new year with love and lasagne,

Eleonora