Life & Style

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

Nubio - Veggies paradise

I'm what you would call a débutante when it comes to cutting down on meals. I love the whole idea of sitting down and become conscious with my whole system of the moment I'm living, this #foodhappiness I'm proclaiming as my motto, that comes with a grin on our face once we're in front of a dish, ready to fully enjoy it. However, it's all about how we take care of ourselves to be perfectly equipped in order to face life and its beautiful challenges. And so I did it, too. Spending a day on liquids only. As the name suggests, liquid diets mean you're getting all, or at least most, of your calories from drinks. Rumour has it that the smartest way to detox in Paris comes in a box of 6 bottles a day, and it's called Nubio.

This cure, based on vegetable juices, superfoods (which I talked about earlier here) and organic cold-pressed fruits basically helps one's body to get rid of accumulated toxins. The mineral intake of juice stimulates the elimination of toxins. Indeed, the digestion of food requires considerable energy - we feel it after a huge lunch or dinner.

I tasted these juices and, surprisingly since I'm an omnivore, I found them so flavourful that not only did I not miss solid foods (the energy value of all the juices for a day is about 1250 kcal.), but I would go back for more. So I got curious. Who's behind such an enlightened project? I figured it would be a farmer or someone linked with the agricultural world. I was so wrong. This business is led by two exquisite twenty-something girls, Claire Nouy et Gabrielle Rotger, both yoga and pasta addicted,  who've taken over a workshop in the Bastille area of Paris. There, every day, they follow the production of these heavenly bottles step by step, from the selection of the organic producers to the final client delivery by the courier. An atelier located at the heart of the 11th arrondissement, is the place where fresh juices get cold pressed daily from raw ingredients issued from organic agriculture to finally obtaint inundating juices filled with nutrients and vitamins.

The ingredients are seasonal and delicious: fruits like pear, lemon, apple; vegetables such as carrot, fennel, spinach and celery get all spiced up with coconut water,  turmeric, hibiscus, parsley, rosemary, ginger, chia seed, almond, dates and vanilla.

Nothing like such a cure gives a break to the digestive system thus helping kidneys, liver and skin altogether to eliminate toxins. A must, at the turn of every season. On #foodhappiness and its many forms.

With love and cocoa beans,

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

Ragù and not bolognaise part 2

Talking about timing. I just got out from La Grande Epicerie, my personal little succulent Parisian corner, where I spent an entire morning raiding the shelves in order to concoct every detail of a project to be disclosed soon. As soon as I embarked on my bike, it started raining cats and dogs. Pitilessly. I needed to go bring some #foodhappiness on the other side of town, so I put on my best smile and went all the way from rive gauche to rive droite! The girls at Pittaya were waiting, and the alphabet for gourmets soon started. After much anticipation last week on this previous post, here it is, finally, his majesty the Ragù as a real nonna from Bologna would do it. It is essential for the meat to be grind twice, as it will thus be very tender, marrying pleasantly with the rest of the sauce.

Spaghetti sauce Ragù from Bologna (serves 6 persons)

  • 200 gr. of ground beef (grind twice)
  • 200 gr. of ground pork (grind twice)
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 celery
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 100 ml. fresh whole milk
  • 150 gr. Italian diced pancetta/bacon
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 glass of red wine
  • 300 gr. tinned plum tomatoes
  • 500 gr. beef stock
  • 500 gr. spaghetti pasta
  • 40 gr. rocky salt
  • a pinch of fine salt
  • a pinch of black pepper

To start off, place the pancetta/bacon into a saucepan and cook it at low heat until it's perfectly browned. Prepare the chopped celery, carrot and onion and add them to the pan together with the oil. Once wilted, after about 10 minutes, add the meat to the pan and start cooking. Increase the heat, pour the wine and let it evaporate, while stirring gently the ingredients of the sauce.

After about 10 minutes, add the tomato puree and cook over low heat for 45 further minutes, adding the broth little by little to make the sauce thick.  At the end of cooking, fix the sauce with the milk to make the taste even more lovable.

In a big pot, let 3 lt. of water come to a boil. Subsequently, put 2 handfuls of rocky salt. Cook the pasta al dente and season with the Bolognese sauce, adding salt and pepper to taste.

pitaya10With love and tomatoes,

Eleonora

Chantilly, la crème de la crème

As my great-grandma often put it - less is more - and it does unquestionably apply to the very short train ride (23 minutes only, no joke) that painlessly got me from a Parisian cosmopolitan, hectic dimension to a secular countryside luxurious nest. The culinary most prestigious traditions embrace luxe, calme and volupté in the astounding Auberge du Jeu de Paume. Launched in 2012 in the middle of the historical domaine de Chantilly, the 5 stars retreat looked up to the Michelin sky from its very beginning, having acquired one star over the first year and a second on the next at its famed La Table du Connétable. 

As I arrived, I was welcomed to a room all Toile de Jouy and ornaments which art would resonate with Duc d'Aumale's personal collection, to be found just next door in the imposing Château de Chantilly, which picture gallery is the second most important French pinacothèque after the Louvre. The fifth son of King Louis-Philippe, Henri duc d'Aumale, became the most eligible bachelor of France at the age of 8. He did marry, but for a series of circumstances, amongst which the exhile, that left him widow and childless, this man endowed with military diposition ended up looking after the immense treasure of its domaine all alone. His art collection is today under the protection of the Institut de France (as of the Duke's last wishes) and the trust of the Aga Khan Foundation. I roamed over its corridors to find artworks by Raphael, Watteau, Poussin, Delacroix, to name but a few. The only way to visit the whole outrageous collection is to pass by Chantilly, since one of the the clauses of the legacy, still respected today, expected the artworks never to leave the property.

Chantilly does ring a bell with the most traditional of whipped creams. As reported by François Vatel, the ultimate majordomo of the seventeenth century, there was a certain lady, guest of the Duke and Duchess, who impulsively let out her enthousiasm for the flavoury cream she tasted while a guest at Chantilly. Back at the day it was customary for the aristocracy to be portrayed with monkey features as an act of self-mockery. And it's among these anthropoid cabinets that she whispered the news that would soon become a culinary tradition for the entire world.

While at the Auberge, I enjoyed a unique spa treatment called Les mille et une Chantilly where, after an exfoliating gommage applied with sugar crystals and a chestnuts oil based relaxing massage, I got wrapped in actual Chantilly cream, the epytome of skin hydration, before finishing off with a tasting of the famous cream and some hay flavoured chocolates. It was Poppaea who started the tradition of bathing in milk, Cleopatra who indulged in milk and honey baths daily and ladies of leisure of the caliber of Diane de Poitiers, the mistress of French King Henry II and Pauline, Napoleon's younger sister, who regularly took milk baths in an attempt to keep themselves looking youthful, to such an extent that the servants made a hole in the ceiling above the bath so they could pour milk directly into the tub.

jeu11And here is the original recipe for everyone to replicate at home, delicious on its own or as an accompaniment to cakes or fruits of all kinds.

Crème Chantilly (serves 6 persons)

  • 1/5 lt. double cream
  • 60 gr. caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod

Place the cream and the entire vanilla pod in a bowl, then in the fridge overnight. This way the vanilla will incorporate with the cream and the taste. Place the electronic whisk vertically in the cold bowl and play it for about 5 minutes while slowly pouring the sugar in. Once the cream becomes all flaky and fluffy, it's time to serve it.

This year will mark a series of wonderings around France in order to discover the most off the beaten track locations to truly embrace the traditions of this incredible country.

With love and cream Chantilly,

Eleonora

* Pictured above, before the post: "Le Déjeuner d'huîtres" by Jean-François de Troy, then before the recipe, a picture of actress Claudette Colbert in "Sign of the Cross" (1932)

Ragù and not bolognaise part 1

There is no such thing as a food paradox. Eating pasta garnished with either meat or fish with grated parmesan on top, for example. There are various no-go which, however, in international revisitations of my darling Italian cuisine, are taken as matter of facts. Well, with my 100% Italian bood, I'm here to tell you that no, it's no good to drink cappuccino after midday or you'll only get weird looks since Italians never have it outside breakfast hours and no, there's no such recipe as Pasta all'Alfredo, it's actually an American invention; but most of all, the word bolognaise which, in my school memoir, sound more like a noun stolen from French expressions, is not how we name our world renown meat & tomato based sauce. In fact, this word that makes my ears creak (ouch), corresponds  more to the French way of declining the female inhabitants of a city: milanaise, irlandaise, bolognaise. To be true, though, the sound of it really does come near to the spoken accent of a true Bolognese. However, may you sit down in an off the beaten track trattoria in the heart of Bologna, asking for a Bolognaise, you'll only get the host (who would do anything to make its clients happy) to go grab one of his friends who are not working hard at siesta time in order to keep you company, which you might appreciate, if you're familiar with sign languages. Chances are, the folk can't speak a word of English.

Everyone out there: We say ragù.

The word originally comes from ragoûter, that is, awakening one's appetite in French 17th century language. Originally referring to meat stewed with plenty of seasoning which was then used to accompany other dishes : in Italy , mainly pasta .This delicious sauce has two school of thoughts: one from Bologna and one from Naples.

The girls from Pitaya Agency, with whom I'm collaborating on various projects, asked me to show them how to ragù. Delighted from their considerate approach to the dish, I spent a morning with them in full #foodhappiness mood. And the result will be posted here early next week. Stay tuned!

With love and ragù,

Eleonora

*Photo credit - Arthur Fechoz

The Food Parlour

Industrial design graduate Solveiga Pakstaite’s Bump Mark uses a gelatine-based label to let consumers know when food has passed its prime. Twentysomething Pakstaite admits: "One day I thought ‘how on Earth do blind people know when their food expires because they can’t read the expiry dates and they don’t know what to eat in the fridge first?’”. The result of her curiosity is a work in progress called the Bump Mark; a label which is attached to food packaging and changes shape when the produce deteriorates. Now, as the Guardian puts it, it's up to manufacturers to licence the technology. The key to Africa food security are local vendors, not supermarkets. According to Kenya based magazine Standard Media, traditional markets sell more than 85 percent of the food consumed in sub-Saharan Africa, and rather than replacing them with Western-style supermarkets, governments should train local vendors to improve food safety, researchers say. Contrary to popular conceptions, open-air local markets often have safer milk and meat than supermarkets in much of Africa, according to a book released on Tuesday by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). Local vendors offer fresher products to several hundred million low-income consumers, and many supermarkets still do not have well-regulated supply chains or stable refrigeration systems to prevent contamination. Simple food safety training for informal vendors can limit the spread of SARS, avian influenza and tuberculosis.

The Independent is exploring how Hobart is emerging as a destination for lovers of food, art and echidnas. Tasmania's once-parochial capital is a sleepy city with beauty and brains. its remoteness means that independent cafés, artisan bakeries, and makers' studios flourish. The annual Taste of Tasmania summer food festival, which celebrates the city's metamorphosis into a culinary destination, finished a few weeks ago and has left the people and restaurants of Hobart more excited than ever about their produce.

There's a need in the UK to to ban junk food adverts before 9 pm: experts, The Daily Mail testifies, to intervene for new controls as current rules lead to parents being pressured into buying unhealthy snacks. Seven in ten parents with children aged four to 16 face pressure from kids. As a matter of fact, almost one in three children are overweight or obese in Britain. The unusual move is officially supported by doctors and the Labour party, other than the well respected British Heart Foundation.

You shouldn't be eating this - you'll start over on Monday - you simply can'y control your appetite - these and more no go's regarding your relationship with food on Huffington Post

With love and bread cravings,

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.

air2

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

A tale of orecchiette

My southern Italian origins, which I already explained in previous posts, provide for a constant longing for all things authentic, honest and reliable. My upbringing, as the one of many children coming from my same area, was one deeply interweaving  sacred with profain, guilt with pleasure. As part of this Dostoyevskian-like legacy, the orecchiette talk more than words. As kids, we were all called to order like little soldiers by my greatgrandmother, as I explained here. May we miss the call, our ears were pulled. Poor little ears. Yes, just like the orecchiette that we would have then enjoyed for lunch (talking of subtle metaphor). But, what are they? Orecchiette are a type of pasta typical of the Puglia region, the shape of which is approximately that of small ears, from which the origin of its name. Widespread in Puglia between the twelfth and thirteenth centuries from then capital Bari, where it still remains as one of the top most typical dishes. In Bari's colourful dialect they are also known as "L strasc'nat" (dragged), a term deriving from the creation method with which the pasta takes shape when it is dragged on the working table. Throughout the whole region, orecchiette are cooked mainly with turnip greens, with cauliflower, broccoli and other vegetables, or simply and somptuously, with red sauce (tomato based) and the accompaniment of a very salty thick ricotta (cacioricotta), also used in Sicily for pasta alla Norma, which I shared with you here.

Their size is about 3/4 of a thumb finger, and they appear as a small white dome, with the center thinner than the edge and with a rough surface. In all variants, they are produced using solely durum wheat flour, water and salt.

Oddly enough, their origins are not to be found in Puglia, but most likely in the French Provence where, since the Middle Ages, a similar pasta was produced using a durum wheat from southern France. It was a very thick pasta, round formed, hollow to the center through thumb pressure: this particular form facilitated its drying, thus its conservation to face periods of famine. It also seems that large amounts were loaded on ships that were preparing to travel long distances. Later, they would be spread by the Anjou throughout Basilicata and Puglia with their current name , in the thirteenth century dynasty that ruled the lands of the regions. According to the legend - orecchiette pasta originated in the territory of Sannicandro di Bari, during the rule of the Norman-Swabian, between the twelfth and thirteenth century. It is possible, following the attitude of protection against the local Jewish community by the Norman-Swabian, that their creation had been inspired from some recipes typical of the then current Jewish tradition, like the ears of Haman, to be found in some Sephardic sweets, or in the Croisettes, a type of pasta prepared in the Occitan valleys of Piedmont, a distant relative of orecchiette also likely influenced from the Middle East.

This picture was taken from my father during Christmas holidays. What he cooked them with will be the subject of next week's post. Stay tuned.

With love and orecchiette,

Eleonora

Harry's Bar in Venice

It's an institution in Venice. Every smart-set occasion, it being the Cinema Festival or the Art Biennal, calls for a stop at this world-renowned bar & restaurant, a highly civil Venitian refuge and a place of rest. Women's rare fragrances and a certain ethereal aura fill up the place, at the counter the reassuring preparation of the most celebrated Venetian drink, synonimous of a decadent and stylish cocktail hour. Created in the '30s by Harry's bar founder Giuseppe Cipriani, he christened this white peach cocktail the Bellini (after Giovanni Bellini, the fifteenth century Venetian painter- on the occasion of the artist's exhibition in 1948). Marco, the chief barman today, probably stolen from a 007 movie scene starring Sean Connery, told me - with a decisively assertive yet uberdiscreet manner - many stories as I sipped one fragrant cocktail (which I duly accompanied with fresh water not to get my head turning too fast) and a cheese and ham tramezzino (a triangular sandwich constructed from two slices of soft white bread with the crusts removed) which bread had been cooked in scrumptious butter.

For example, the fact that, to start with, the bar's name had been coined after its founder, Arrigo, it being impossible to be called otherwise as prohibition time was in full swing. Marco told me how the bar counter is kept religiously as it once was, along with all the original paraphernalia, and how Mr. Cipriani decided not to serve beer after an accident occurred causing the cracking of the fine bar's marble in the late '40s and a total change in the clientele target - from then on nothing but the rich and famous, the so called crème de la crème. Ernest Hemingway used to sit at the corner table, its chair as the observatory of a universally glittering micro-dimension that seems to always keep its guard up while entering this timeless place.

As of the preparation of the Bellini, all the elements, starting from the glass, through to the Prosecco and the peach purée, should be as cold as possible.

  • 1/4 peach puree
  • 3/4 Prosecco wine

When the season calls for it, make plenty of white peach (only) purée ahead, but beware: never use a food processor as it aerates the fruit. As strange as it can seem, a cheese shredder might do the trick! Add 1/10 of white sugar to the peach mixture, and you'll have the original Harry's bar effect. Most off all, this is a drink which decoration is the horizon of your imagination, aka don't overdo with additional ingredients like peach schnapps or similar. Less is more.

With love and Bellini,

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

Crisp mascarpone custard with candied oranges and dark chocolate

Maybe you don't want as rich a dessert as you would literally pamper in these upcoming festivities. Nevertheless, it is nice, in light of this brrrr...freezing winter, to come back home to something exquisite to enjoy at the end of an otherwise dull midweek supper before the real Christmas food festival kicks in and your jaw keeps dropping. I must have been about 12 of age when, finally allowed to enter the kitchen (as I explained thoroughly here), I was taught by my grandma how to make the real, authentic, unfussy and let me add, majestic Tiramisù. The major ingredient is the fluffy, richly flavoured mascarpone cheese. Regardless of the season, I love to be inventive using this ingredient with my own recipes. Last week I sipped a good cup of mulled wine (which recipe you can find here), and I told myself, why not enjoying it with a pairing dessert? So here it is, wrapped up in a video recipe. This is a collaboration I conducted with a French video production (you can watch the first episode here), but even if the wording is French, believe me, this cooking video speaks for itself. In case you were wondering about the exact ingredients and execution, you can find them right below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ycGs15r4Xc

Crisp mascarpone custard with candied oranges and dark chocolate (serves 2 persons)

  • 250 gr. mascarpone cheese
  • 125 gr. of room temperature tap water
  • 175 gr. caster sugar
  • 40 gr. dark chocolate
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 savoiardi biscuits (or ladyfingers)
  • 100 ml. whole milk
  • 1 unwaxed organic orange
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Cut the orange in four pieces. Remove its pulp, then cut the skin into fine stripes and whitewashthem: immerse them in water, remove them after 2 minutes boiling. Repeat the method for 4 times in a row (this will take out the acidity from the orange's skin). Then, let the orange strips dry on a clean cloth.

In a bowl, mix the egg yolks with 50 gr. of sugar until creamy. Then add the mascarpone cheese and mix gently. Chop the chocolate roughly with a knife, and add it to the mixture.

In a pot, pour the water with the remaining sugar. Incorporate the orange strips and the cinnamon stick. Let cook for 25 minutes at low fire.

Pour the milk in a tiny bowl, then break each biscuits in two and lightly soak them in the milk. Place them at the bottom of a mug, then let half of the mascarpone cheese mixture fall on top of them. Finally, add a few orange slices per serving and sprinkle with some chocolate chips.

With love and candied fruits,

Eleonora