Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Antipasti anyone?

This is the way to serve antipasti at a party. This wonderful platter was created by an aunt in Canada. This wonderful cook's recipes and her lovely mother's recipes (Zia Concetta) will def be in the cookbook!

I will be visiting Zia C next month in Sicily and taking all her recipes down. I am excited to do the documentation and tasting, of course!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Steer clear of the soya!
In an article about soya by the Guardian’s consumer reporter, Felicity Lawrence tells some shocking facts about the bean. I will summarise a few points but full article can be read via this link.,,1828088,00.html

Soya is in 60% of all processed food, from cheese to ice cream, baby formula to biscuits.
For Dr Mike Fitzpatrick, the saga of soya began in Monty Python-style with a dead parrot. His investigations into the ubiquitous bean started in 1991 when Richard James, a multimillionaire American lawyer, turned up at the laboratory in New Zealand where Fitzpatrick was working as a consultant toxicologist. James was sure that soya beans were killing his rare birds.

Over the next months, Fitzpatrick carried out an exhaustive study of soya and its effects. "We discovered quite quickly," he recalls, "that soya contains toxins and plant oestrogens powerful enough to disrupt women's menstrual cycles in experiments. It also appeared damaging to the thyroid." James's lobbying eventually forced governments to investigate. In 2002, the British government's expert committee on the toxicity of food (CoT) published the results of its inquiry into the safety of plant oestrogens, mainly from soya proteins, in modern food. It concluded that in general the health benefits claimed for soya were not supported by clear evidence and judged that there could be risks from high levels of consumption for certain age groups. Yet little has happened to curb soya's growth since.

50 years ago it was not eaten in the west in any quantity

To feed demand, new agricultural frontiers are being opened up in Brazil, where large areas of virgin rainforest have been illegally felled to make room for the crop.

Fitzpatrick, however, looked into historic soya consumption in Japan and China and concluded that Asians did not actually eat that much. What they did eat tended to have been fermented for months.

Raw mature soya beans contain phytates that prevent mineral absorption and enzyme inhibitors that block the key enzymes we need to digest protein. They are also famous for inducing flatulence.

Christopher Dawson, who owns the Clearspring brand of organic soy sauces, agrees. He lived in Japan for 18 years and his Japanese wife, Setsuko, is a cookery teacher. "I never saw soy beans on the table in Japan - they're indigestible."

Monday, August 28, 2006

Try to eat Gelato not Ice Cream

Gelato is Italian ice cream made from milk (or also soy milk –which I am going to write a post on soon –don’t have soy in the meantime!) and sugar, combined with natural flavourings.

Gelato is the Italian word for ice cream, though true gelato contains no cream. It is made with fresh fruit or other ingredients such as chocolate (pure chocolate flakes, chips, candies, truffles, etc.), nuts, small candies, sweets, or cookies.

Milk-based gelato originated in Northern Italy, while the fruit-and-water based sorbetto came from the hotter parts of Southern Italy and Sicily. Gelato al limone was always in our freezer (I can still remember the packaging in its fancy blue script on the white tub)

Other Italian treats use gelato as a main ingredient e.g. ice cream cake, spumoni, cassata, Tartufo (my favourite!) and more…

Vs. North American style ice creams

Modern industrially-produced ice cream is made from:
  • milk fat
  • milk solids: serum solids - contains the proteins (caseins and whey proteins) and carbohydrates (lactose) found in milk
  • sweeteners: sucrose and/or glucose-based corn syrup sweeteners
  • stabilizers and emulsifiers e.g., agar or carrageenan extracted from seaweed
  • water which comes from milk solids or other ingredients

ew -what are all these ingredients???!?!?!

Cheaper ice creams contain lower-quality ingredients (for example, when vanilla bean is replaced with artificial vanillin).

Look up all these mysterious ingredients as am sure they are not great for you.

Over 100 million Flake 99s are sold every year in the UK and for some reason in London they do not cost 99p anymore! Well at least when we tried to buy them near London Bridge last month….why?!

So now choose your gelato wisely....visit Marine Ices on Chalk Farm Road in Camden if you want nice gelato or somewhere like Carluccios restaurant

Happy gelato eating!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Traditional Scottish Breakfast -blood... pudding anyone?

I was in Scotland this weekend for work and when I went down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast the option of this black substance was available. I have only tasted black pudding in 2002 when Mak took Ranoush and I for a traditional breakfast at a 'real caf' -meaning an authentic builders cafe in the centre of London. So when I saw this again, I passed on tasting it as I recall disliking it the first time. Mak's had a good laugh and took pleasure at our facial expressions after he told us what it was (thx Mak!)

Well later that evening I was in Edinburgh at the Ed School of Food and Wine for a masterclass in French Cooking and spoke to some lovely Socttish ladies (hi Heather!) they told me that they eat black pudding at least once a month and if you grow up on it then you just get used to anything else it is what you are used to - not gross in the lovely Scot's eyes that I met that night. Just like Marmite something made of yeast (ew) and other things that people eat here that they grew up on. I recall my mom's boss used to eat toast with Worcester sauce each morning –I say to each his own.

Well the ingredients in black pudding are these: blood from a calf or pig, bread, barley and oatmeal, it also varies from recipe to recipe. I think next time I am at a breakfast buffet I will have to try it again -who knows I may like it, not sure if I will be able to cook it though.

Well try it next time you are in Scotland or England!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Hungarian snacks -yellow, boiled and delicious

The people of Hungary are a healthy bunch; could this be due to the lack of crisps and snack foods during the communist era? Not sure. Well you know how we have local shops chock full of crisps and every type of fatty food on every corner in the UK. After spending a few days in Budapest I realised that there aren't too many shops like this to be found. They have street vendors selling freshly boiled corn on the cob everywhere. Wonderfully healthy and tasty and such a great snack this was something I think London or any city, for that matter, needs.
So after enjoying the hot thermal baths in Budapest, I worked up a little hunger, and when I emerged corn on the corn on the cob seller filled that feeling, then walking around during the national holiday weekend sightseeing and enjoying the celebrations of their first king, St. Stephen I then had another lovely cob -freshly boiled by a very friendly looking man who had a queue for quite a while and for only 200Forint (50p) it was a healthy bargain.

Although I wasn't really observing closely I think that Hungarians are quite fit people, so maybe instead of indulging on a packet of crisps people opt for a corn on the cob? Maybe this is what Jamie Oliver should start up -fast food corn on the cob trucks/concessions.

But it is not all healthy as I discovered a little too late, at the national holiday celebrations on the riverbank I went to purchase a chicken kebab and what I thought were onions in between each piece of chicken was actually pig fat. Ildi -my Hungarian friend told me this after I couldn't figure out what vegetable or onion type this was?? I must say it was tasty but a tad tooooo fattening and debated trying to pick it out, but as they say, 'when in Rome' I ate it.

Am walking to work tomorrow -at a brisk pace!

Monday, August 14, 2006

The World Is Your Oyster!

Too bad oysters are not ubiquitous. Or at least available in London within a decent price range and without having to travel to only 2-3 quality fish markets, some that are only open on certain days (e.g. Borough Market). Just wanted to post a pic of probably the most delicious oysters I have had in a long time. These were from the Norfolk coast and were divine! Oysters are not usually part of a Sicilian's regular diet but will try and sample them as much as possible when I get to Sicily. In the name of research, of course.