Sunday, September 29, 2013

Pumpkin Days- Attempting to copy

This waiting game has annoyed me to the extreme. 
It has been almost 10 months since I last had the chance to taste a delicious piece of pumpkin.

I have seen some butternut squashes around all year long but pumpkin disappeared as soon as their local season is over. It is probably one of the few vegetables that you can't possibly find all year long. Reason: too heavy to carry across the globe- too voluminous to justify a 13 hours journey between Nairobi and Heathrow. Last year for example, Ruth Rogers from River Cafe went all the way to Italy to find the best pumpkin available and brought it back, sitting next to her in a plane. Obviously she bought a full price ticket for him (the pumpkin)
It is a cause for celebration  as far I am concerned that no one gets a pumpkin urges during spring season. So last week, I got a wonderful surprise when I bought a lunch box from Princi in Soho's Wardour street. They serve the most delicious, simple, perfectly seasoned pumpkin salad. 

Some chunky cubes of expertly cooked brightly orange (turning brown) pieces of pumpkin which had been tossed in a delicious caraway seed dressing and topped with some smaller cubes of lightly salted feta cheese. The contrast between the slight hardness of the cheese against the soft fibrous texture of the pumpkin was spot on. They seemed to had put quite a lot of olive oil in their dressing and that was the signed of someone who had tasted the salad before hand and thought: the pumpkin tend to absorb olive oil far too quickly; let's add more olive oil. And it worked. When the season of any vegetables starts so well, it is usually a sign that what follows is going to be fantastic; fingers crossed!

So this is how I would duplicate Princi's delicious Pumpkin salad (for 4 as starter)

For the pumpkin
300gr Pumpkin Peeled & Cut into 2x2cm chunky bits
1 Table Spoon of honey
1 teaspoon of Maldon salt (or any good quality rock salt)
4 tablespoon of olive oil
A bit of black pepper on top of the pumpkin once cooked. 

Preheat the oven at 190 degrees.
Roughly place the cubes of pumpkin on a oiled tray and add the honey, olive oil and salt. Toss them slightly and cook for 17 minutes. You may have to turn them once and also may have to leave the oven door open for the last 2 minutes in order to let the excess humidity escape from the oven. Remove the tray from the oven and let everything cool down until at room temperature ( around 20 minutes)

For the Dressing
1 garlic clove (smashed and finely chopped)
1/2 lemon juiced
10cl Extra Virgin Olive oil
3 teaspoon of caraway seeds (lightly burnt if possible)

In a bowl, stir the chopped garlic with the lemon juice and olive oil. 
Add a a pinch of salt and some black pepper. 
Add the caraway seed and taste. 

For Serving
3 Table spoon of chopped parsley
2 Tablespoon of olive oil
200gr Feta Cheese (a bit firm but not crumbling)

Take a large serving bowl and gently put the pumpkin cubes, add the dressing over and start to gently spoon everything together. Break the feta with your fingers over the bowl making sure to evenly dispatch the small pieces. 
Pour the remaining olive oil and add a bit of salt and pepper. 
Add the chop parsley and serve. 

Saturday, July 06, 2013

"Contrex" look please!

It has been a few days now since I have seriously taken control of my body' flabbiness .
I don't know if it is me or just my imagination but it feels like my skin around my waist is a little tighter. I feel my waist tightening during the day which feel slightly weird.
I have also slept much better- getting really tired past 11pm and sleeping deep the moment I lie down.
I have stick to my morning routine: lemon juice with warm water, followed by a small bowl of all bran and a couple of McVitties chocolate biscuits. Breakfast is now a sorted 400 calories affair.
I also drink plenty of espressos (good for not loosing my hair I was told) and more water.
I have ordered a full month supply of Contrex from my water supplier.

Contrex has a special place in my heart. It was my mother' favourite water brand- full of magnesium, calcium and not particularly good in mouth. It is very harsh and tends to dry your mouth rather than refresh it.
Nobody makes a happy face after their first slurp. You don't drink Contrex for its delicious taste sadly, you drink it because it is going to make you look good. My mum used to say that a cocktail of Contrex,a Senokot pill (famous laxative brand) and a pack of Gauloise on a daily basis was key to a beautiful body back in the late 70's. It worked for her.
I guess I should write a diet book based on 70's body shape and feel.
Lean, muscle free and hairy.
A book where I would try to guess what the Boney M singer was eating on a daily basis to look (in a special kind of way)-
Ok, I'll talk to my publisher. I bet he doesn't who Boney M is.

I am so proud that I have managed to resist eating bread for lunch. The bread at the restaurant is delicious and not eating some has been a real torture. We usually bake breads before each service and it coincides with the moment I start feeling like I should be eating something. The sweet smell of the dough freshly cooked invades my space and wake my glutton instinct. My brain tells me to indulge but my desire to seduce block my temptation. I end up looking at the golden brown salted brioche and just talked about them. How delicious they look, how soft they are when they are still warm and how much our guests are going to love them. I then leave the patisserie and eat a big bowl of cold baked aubergine topped with beetroot and goat cheese. I  add a few  slices of courgets  and season everything with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt.
My mother used to say that everything taste good when you are starving. She was right.
It is funny how unfussy you become when you are on the verge of starvation.

However , I did something that I am not very proud of: I had half a burger.
Yes that is right, I ate half of a burger. why half? because it tasted really shit, otherwise I would have had the full one. This burger was the antidote of obesity as far as I am concerned. It tasted gross: overcooked meat, watery bun, industrial mayonnaise, soggy salad, too thick gherkins...
The office staff at the restaurant had not resisted the fashion call to try the newly opened Five Guys burger shop in Covent Garden. Five guys is an American burger restaurant chain that invested a lot in market research and realised that across the Atlantic a town was turning Burger frenzy.A town that didn't want to get slim and was getting mad with fat, red meat, hyper carbohydrate food and all sort of mega fattening food. This town is my town and I am sorry for all of those who get milked by unscrupulous business venture who capitalise on London's fondness of fat and sugar.

So the moment I stopped eating the burger, I felt guilt. It was too late; it was inside of me.
This alien had entered my body and it would take a few hours before I could get it out.
I wondered what impact it would have while travelling via my intestine and colon.
I felt really upset and most importantly I felt poisoned.
I could have stick 2 fingers at the base of my throat and vomit everything.
I regret not having had the ball to do it.
Next time perhaps.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Bikini look

Good grief, it is already end of June and I have just not found the energy, time, perseverance or whatever it takes to make my body look beach ready.
There isn't a day that passes without me telling to myself: I think I am getting flabbier by the hour.
I usually pinch my love handles after shower in the morning and squizz them very hard. There is no pain in pinching fat.
They seem to be getting slightly thicker by the day. I have also noticed that some small spot of cellulite are starting to appear. For some reason, I've always thought that cellulite was the exclusivity of middle aged porky white English woman you sometimes see on trashy C4 TV program or on front of naff weekly magazine or anywhere if you live in UK.
I am one of them now!

But not for long as I have decided that from now on I will stick to what every French man and women do from time to time: a bastardised Dukan diet.
Dukan is a genius; a master in marketing and the King of reheated diet. Same recipe has been sold  millions of times.
The real diet forces you to follow some seriously rigorous patterns that probably nobody has ever managed to stick to. A semi-cooked diet allows you to kick start the diet processes enabling your body to quickly looses its excess fat and make you look much slimmer (or malnourished) very quickly.

First of all you must stop alcohol, bread and most of carbohydrates food. No cake, no potatoes, no biscuits....
Start your day with a glass of lemon juice diluted with a bit of warm water followed by a bowl of All Bran flakes mixed with some Activa yogurt. That's it for breakfast. #

Then you must drink a minimum of 2 litres of water a day. There is a point, usually after your first litre, where you start visiting the toilet like you've never done it before.
It seems that past 1 litre, your body needs to flush out so much more than you have ever done. I don't know why but it's the norm. Everything turns clearer, especially your urine.

Lunch should be made of poached white meat with poached broccoli (slightly under cooked so it takes longer for you to chew), an apple and a slice of the darkest Ryvita toast you can find. That's all for lunch.
Afternoon is going to feel very long, so in case of a slight drop of energy or minor hypoglycaemic attack, just have a large glass of sparkling water with a slice of lemon. Sit down and wait.
French woman sometimes cheat at this stage and indulge on a single Marlboro light. I don't encourage this but if it helps....

Dinner is a simple affair consisting of 2 raw endives roughly chopped and dressed in 2 spoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of mustard and a pinch of salt. Followed by a bowl of braised cabbage and finished with an apple and another slice of dark Ryvitta.
More water and more water.

You are going to feel starving by the time you go to bed. But don't worry, as the French say :
Qui dort, dine!
Meaning that sleeping is as good as eating for your body (without the calories obviously!)

Stick to this for 2 to 3 weeks and I can assure that if you ave managed to survive the ordeal, you'll be amazed by the results. Bikini look and beach ready A la Francaise.

Veganisteria 111

Deep Problem If there was one thing that has seriously amazed me since becoming a vegan chef is the fact that I am still not connected ...