Summer Colds - What helps?

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I have been lucky for nearly a whole year, and have not gotten sick. (I just rolled on wood). My immune system took a beating last week at work due to lots of wake up calls and early mornings. Also, combine that with a crazy gym challenge, and not much sleeping or napping at the weekend – I got a cold. On a scale of 1 - SHUT UP I'm dying....  I am probably a 5 and nowhere near “Shut-up i'm dying” but I felt close yesterday.

I am not a good patient. I view being sick as my body telling me to slow down, but there is so much to do and see and i battle with frustration of not being able to bounce around.  So I take a deep breath and resign myself to the fact that I need to get better and rest.

My goal is to create a cookbook on food for healing – that is where all my research now lies. On feeling sick I have do's and don'ts which some will not agree with. Do’s include: Vitamin C (Pure) every 3 hours, lots of water, sleep, sleep and more sleep, lemon tea or any good immune support teas, echinacea and Neti-pot to help clear out your sinus. Don't - Don't eat dairy as it’s bad for sinus and stay away from caffeine and alcohol. (So hard as I love coffee).  I personally don't use over the counter medicine if it's just a cold or virus because it’s pointless, it’s just masks the symptoms and you feel ok but the body is still run down. I may have broken that last one on Monday but for the most part I am focused on getting better.

My Naturopathic Dr - Dr Peter Bongiorno has been an amazing help in my 7 years in NYC, and even through my knee surgery I really focused on alternative medicine. If you live in New York city or Long Island, if I can give you any advice please check out his clinic, it honestly is one of the best finds in my life.

Anyway back to food for healing. I am finally able to cook and researched what foods are good for a cold and flu. Onion, Garlic, Tomatoes, Kidney beans...CHILI. So what is a good choice of food that has those things? CHILI CON CARNE ! (Here is top 10 reasons why this is good for you)

Eating chilli can help prevent colds and the flu if you make it with the right ingredients. The following recipe has an arsenal of immunity-boosters. All of the vegetables (including the onions and garlic) offer immunity-boosting phytochemicals, but the tomatoes are particularly powerful. In addition to the phytochemical lycopene, tomatoes contain potassium and vitamins A and C. The beans supply an immunity-boosting isoflavone called daidzein, and the hot chili will open up your nasal passages if you're congested.

What you need - Ingredients

  • 1 large onion or 2 banana shallots, chopped
  • 10 cloves garlic, finely chopped - The recipe calls for 2 but I really love garlic and want to get better.
  • 2 red chilli deseeded or keep half with seeds if you like it spicy (Again use 1 if you do not like hot as hell)
  • 2 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • Olive oil, for frying
  • 500g good quality beef mince
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 fresh tomatoes or 1 beef tomato, roughly chopped
  • 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 100-200ml beef stock
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 400g kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • Salt and pepper

 Chili - Lets learn how to make this ! 

1) Sweat the onion, garlic, chilli and thyme in 2 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan. At the same time, brown the mince in a separate pan over moderate heat in a little oil.

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2)  I threw in some extra turmeric and the bay leaves at this stage just because I wanted the flavor to be more impactful. Most recipes will recommend you to do this when you are adding the stock. You can decide what works best for your taste.

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2)  Add the all dried spices to the onion mixture and cook until they release their aroma. Then stir in the beef and mix well. Add the fresh and tinned tomatoes and leave to cook down a little for about 5 minutes.

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4) Pour in the beef stock and stir in tomato puree to taste. Drop the cinnamon in then bring to the boil and leave to simmer.

5) Once the sauce is beginning to thicken add the kidney beans and leave to cook for another 5-10 minutes to allow the beans to soak up the flavors. Taste, taste and taste and add in more chili, salt and pepper here if needed. Most recipes say to add chives and sour cream. If you are congested the worst thing you can do is eat dairy so I have skipped that step.

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Voila !!! The end product...and easy peasy chili recipe - Enjoy !!!!

Next post will be a great review of a Portuguese restaurant called Aldea !!

Have a great weekend of mischief, if you want good coffee and some treats ! Try Fika ! - A friend and I enjoyed the below from Fika yesterday to help cheer me up  ! 

Jeanette xx

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Indian Lamb "Love" Curry

For Valentines days I have busted out some India Lamb Curry for my best friend ! This time I decided to make the curry from scratch and it is a labor of love let me tell you. There was sweat (not great ventilation in my kitchen) , blood (when I cut my finger trying to act all samurai with my knife) and tears (when I touched my eye after chopping a chili). Enjoy and have a cute valentines day !

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Masala” is a very generic term used to describe any blend of spices in Indian cooking. Masala can be dry or wet, chunky or smooth, hot or mild, thick or brothy. In curry making it is a pasty, spice mixture, which forms the base. You add water or broth to the masala and make a ‘sauce’ or ‘curry’. Curry is not a dish by itself in India, it is a sauce. You prefix the name of meat or vegetable before “curry” to derive the name of the dish…chicken curry, potato curry, cauliflower etc.

To make the curry base here is a good video Curry Base

Ingredients

  • 1lb boneless Lamb - Cut into pieces

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Curry paste: 

  • Two cloves garlic, 2 pieces ginger and 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 tsp of the following: cumin seeds, salt, turmeric powder, red chili powder, fennel, cloves, paprika, garam masala, fenugreek, black gram, nutmeg,
  • 1 tbsp. black peppercorns
  • four bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp. coriander seeds and 4 tsp. coriander powder
  • cinnamon stick

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Other ingredients

  • 2 large spanish onion - Finely chop as small as you can
  • 1 Tin ground or crushed tomatoes canned. I think ground worked really well
  • 1/1 tsp tamarind paste and 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp cilantro finely chopped for garnish
  • For the Garam Masala mix JUST to garnish To make - 1 tbsp Cumin Powder, 1 tbsp Coriander powder, 1 tsp salt to taste, 1 tsp garlic crush to a paste, 1 tsp ginger crushed into a paste, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds finely crushed, 1/2 tsp Chili powder and 1/2 tsp turmeric powder

Ingredients

1) How to prepare the Madras Curry mix

  • In a food processor, combine , chilies, garlic and ginger together until you get a smooth paste.
  • Toast the coriander, fennel, peppercorns, cardamoms, fenugreek, black gram, nutmeg, and cloves and grind them in a coffee grinder until a powder is formed.
  • Heat the oil on medium heat in a saucepan until the consistency of the oil is like water. Add the cumin seeds, bay leaves, and cinnamon.
  • When the cumin seeds begin to pop, add the onion, chili, garlic and ginger mixture and lower the heat to medium low. Stir the mixture occasionally while it cooks for about 20 min, or until the onions begin to brown. Add in the spice powder you made in step 2.
  • Add the remaining ingredients specified in the ingredients list mix together.
  • In a separate pan take ghee (See ghee above) and get it hot (ish) you don't want to discolor it. Turn to a low heat and cook onions until golden brown, about 20 minutes. You can see from the video attached you want to cook the onions on a really low heat so they slowly caramelize.

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2) I threw in some extra turmeric and some curry leaves at this stage just because !

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2) Add ground tomatoes and fry for 5 minutes again on a low heat, you want to make sure all the tomato is cooked through so keep stirring the mixture.

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3) On a low heat combine the mixture with the Madras masala paste and mix well. Cook for 10 minutes.

5) Get your Lamb and add to the mixture, you want to get it fully covered fully with the Madras Masala curry mix. Cover the lid and let it simmer (low) for 20 minutes.  Just keep watching it and stirring until you get a nice mixture as below:

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6) Add the sugar and tamarind and lemon and mix well. Add the water slowly, keep staring. Get that lid back on and leave it to cook for 20-30 minutes so the meat is melt in your mouth. I actually left mine cooking for 2 hours to make sure the lamb was really tender and just kept adding a little more water to moisten.

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8) Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with cilantro and Garam Masala.  (My dish looked like a train wreck at the end so I transferred it into this nice crock pot to serve !!)

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Spicy Italian Meatball

All over the world each country makes their claim to own the infamous meatball ! Growing up in Ireland my mother always made us dishes with ground beef, pork and even chicken and I loved the idea that you could immerse these little bundles of joy with various sauces and spices to make completely different dishes. Tonight I decided to make a Mediterranean Italian spicy spin on a recipe my mother taught me ! Through the centuries, meatballs became so commonplace in Italy that Pellegrino Artusi (1820 - 1911) was inspired to write over a meatball recipe - "Do not think for a moment that I would be so pretentious as to tell you how to make meatballs this is a dish that everyone knows how to make, including absolute donkeys Indeed it was probably the donkey who first suggested the basic shape of the meatball to humans. My sole intention is to tell you how to prepare them when you have leftover boiled meat."

I have tried to take that quote and prepare a simple dish with the richest tomato vegetable sauce ! The traditional recipe had white wine, breadcrumbs and milk. I have removed those from this because I really wanted it as healthy as possible. I added in Mushrooms, Courgette and extra garlic instead !!

Ingredients for the Meatballs

    • minced beef. Really seek out a good butcher, the more juices and oil that seep out the more fat is ground into the meat so aim to get as lean as possible
    • 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
    • 1/2 red onion, REALLY finely diced
    • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped

Ingredients for the Marinara Sauce

    • 2 tins chopped tomatoes
    • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
    • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 1 green chilli, finely diced
    • As many pitted green olives as you want, drained
    • Small bunch basil
    • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and Olive oil

1) While preparing put your oven around 350

2) How to prepare Marinara

      • Lightly fry the onion, garlic and chilli for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add the courgette and cook for 2 additional minutes
      • Cook the mushroom in a small frying pan alone as you want to sweat out all the water/juice. Once cooked add to the other pan with the other ingredients
      • Add the tomatoes along with the basil and finally the olives. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Then pour the mixture into a baking dish

3) On to the meatballs

    • While the tomato sauce is cooking, make up the meatballs. To the mince add parmesan, garlic. Season with a little salt and pepper and mix well
    • Shape into walnut sized balls and fry in hot olive oil until golden.

    • Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce and bake in the oven for 30 minutes

    • You can serve with some rice or pasta, I preferred it alone with a little sprinkle of Parmesan on top !

Enjoy !

Lamb Madras Curry

Spicy, delicious and amazing Indian food. As you may have read on my home page the adventure to Oakville was filled with spices and smells. Nothing beats a hangover like Indian food and nothing goes better with Indian food than beer. If you live in NYC, take a bus/path out to Hoboken (Yes scary I know) and go to Karma cafe, some of the best Indian food I have eaten. I decided to please all my American friends and put this recipe in a metric they can understand...ah the usage of the word "cup". I got this recipe from Arivinda's amazing lesson. The recipes are fresh, healthy and do not need much oil and fattening ingredients. What they do need is patience, some time and love. You will see some reference to ghee. This is clarified butter and is used in a lot of India recipe. It's supposed to be a much healthier alternative to butter as its easier to digest among other reasons. To learn how to make Ghee - Ghee Recipe

The ingredient list is very off-putting when making Indian food as it's as LONG as my arm but the good news is you can make a good madras masala mixture of spices and keep it in a container for a year to save having to make over and over (use the instructions below but do not add the vinegar). Also the base of every Indian curry is the same, and Preena and her mother told me they make this base in batch and store it in the freezer, that way it cuts down future curries to around 30 minutes. This recipe will feed 4 people !!

Ingredients

  • 1lb boneless Lamb - Cut into pieces
  • For the Garam Masala mix 1 tbsp Cumin Powder, 1 tbsp Coriander powder, 1 tsp salt to taste, 1 tsp garlic crush to a paste, 1 tsp ginger crushed into a paste, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds finely crushed, 1/2 tsp Chili powder and 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp oil (You can use a Canola or sunflower oil or any other light oil to avoid strong taste)
  • 1 large spanish onion - Finely chop as small as you can
  • 6 curry leaves
  • 1/4 cup ground or crushed tomatoes canned. I think Ground worked really well
  • 1/2 tap tamarind paste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp cilantro finely chopped for garnish
  • 1/2 tsp of the Masala mixture about for garnish
  • 1 cup of water
  • Optional some cardamom pods and extra mustard seeds

How to prepare the Garam Masala mix

1) Take all the ingredients and get a pestle and mortar, pestle and mortar is one of my favorite kitchen tools especially when I have had a crazy day at work.

  • Take the peppercorns and mustard seeds and crush them to death
  • Get a bowl and combine with cumin powder, coriander powder, salt, garlic paste, ginger paste, chili powder and turmeric powder. Stir well in the bowl and this will make your Garam Masala.
  • You want to get to a nice paste, combine the Garam Masala with the vinegar until it forms a paste ! This will be the base for your tasty curry.

Take your mix and get ready to make your Lamb Madras Curry

2) In the recipe it says to use a large pot first BUT I think for the first part you should use a good non stick frying pan (You should try to use All-Clad to avoid sticking and you may end up having it on a low heat for a while). Take the oil or ghee (See ghee above) and get it hot (ish) you don't want to discolor it. Turn to a low heat fry the curry leaves for 3-4 minutes. (You can throw in some cardamom seeds and a few mustard seeds that have been crushed as an optional extra).

2) Add the onions, this is the hard part, keep that heat on low and you will need to cook the onions until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. You would be surprised HOW long it takes to really get to looking like the picture below. I never used to have much patience but you will need to call all the strength of the bear to make sure you don't over cook or burn. If there is any black on the onion you will have to start again as it really spoils the taste.

3) Add ground tomatoes and fry for 2-3 minutes again on a low heat, you want to make sure all the tomato is cooked through so keep stirring the mixture.

4) Get a massive pot with a lid (again should be non stick) on a low heat combine the mixture with the masala paste and mix well. Cook for 2-3 minutes. You should end up with something that looks like below:

5) Now is where things get messy, it's for a good cause !!. Get your meat and you want to add it to the pot, you need to make sure all the meat is covered and well coated with masala. If that means using your hands then so be it !! Cover the lid and let it simmer (low) for 15 minutes. Just keep watching it and storing to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom and the goal is to get it looking like below:

6) Add the sugar and tamarind paste mix well. Now start adding the water slowly, and storing, let it simmer and keep doing this until all the water is added. You may need more than a cup. Cover and simmer on low heat until meat is tender and cooked (15-20 minutes), stirring occasionally.

7) Add salt to taste and you can add in more sugar here depending on the spice level you want OR some more Garam Masala spices powder.

8) Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with cilantro and Garam Masala.

I hate to show you a picture of much more than my Lamb Madras Curry but those recipes are coming soon !!!

Enjoy !

Veal/Steak Ragu

Veal/Steak Ragu If you end up following my recipes you will see how I will off-road and change them up to suit my taste and style. I will be kind and add the original recipe and then show you the differences.

This recipe is Inspired by a Beef Ragu Recipe from BBC Food

  • 50g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 1.5 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 200g pancetta, finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
  • 0.5kg beef chuck steak, finely chopped
  • 1kg Veal steaks, finely chopping
  • 4 tbsp tomato purée
  • Good pinch of dried chili flakes
  • Bottle of Malbec or Shiraz red wine
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 300ml fresh beef stock, hot

METHOD

1. Soak the porcini mushrooms in 200ml boiling water for 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid. Chop and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a casserole over a medium heat. The pan is really important, you want enough surface area at the bottom of the pan to really enable the ingredients to sweat. I use a large All-Clad pan as when you leave this for 5+ hours to cook you don't have to worry about it sticking to the bottom of the pan.

3. Add the carrots, celery, onion, pancetta, garlic and rosemary and cook for 5-10 minutes, making sure you keep stirring and transferring the juices around the pan.

4. Make a well in the middle of the pan and add the puree, make sure you let this sweat off the puree at the bottom of the pan as it takes the sour taste away. Increase the heat to high and brown the steak for 10-15 minutes.

5. Add the chili and cook for 1 minute. You will see I have added 1 bottle of wine which is a lot more than the original recipe. This isn't because I am the stereotype of a drunken alcoholic....but it is because we will add this gradually for 5+ hours to make the meat melt in your mouth. Add in mushroom liquid and 1/4 bottle of the wine, tomatoes, stock and porcini. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer over a very low heat for 2 hours.

6. After 2 hours..make sure you keep an eye during those hours and stir then add in another 1/4 bottle of the wine. Continue doing this until all the wine has been added and the Ragu is consistency as the picture below.

7. Finally boil some pappardelle pasta Al Dente and serve with some Parmesan cheese.