"A good meal is like a present, and it can feel goofy, at best, to give yourself a present. On the other hand, there is something life affirming in taking the trouble to feed yourself well, or even decently. Cooking for yourself allows you to be strange or decadent or both. The chances of you liking what you made are high, but if it winds up being disgusting, you can always throw it away and order a pizza; no one will ever know." (Jenni Ferrari-Adler)

Monday, July 19, 2010

"Bery" Berry Sorbet

After a lovely afternoon at the beach with friends it was time to make it back to the Valley. In this last year and a half of living in Sherman Oaks I have discovered that there is another side of LA.

Many people living the the Valley is ghetto..... "OOO you live in THE VALLEY!'. though i agree maybe some parts of the valley are not as pleasant, living in Sherman Oaks has been nothing but a pleasant surprise. Where in LA can you actually walk places? From coffeeshops (open 24/7) and restaurants to local bars (where you still can get free popcorn and 7 dollar cosmopolitans). Sherman oaks is also the home to the one and only Natas Pastries (the only portuguese bakery in Los Angeles county). Wholefoods, TraderJoes, farmers market, massage parlors, psychic readers, beads stores, dance studios, free jazz concerts, vintage stores......all jusut a walk away. Living in Sherman oaks has been nothing but refreshing exerience!

Well refreshing, i.e. except during summer time when  it can get pretty damn hot :).....  (I know this is not very "green" of me but thank you Jesus for Willis Haviland Carrie and the AC).

and what about summer heat? You gotta FIGHT IT! And nothing does it better than endulging in some icy cold sorbet...yummy!

Anyway, after I made it home last  nigh no one could get me out of my 76F air conditioned chalet! as much as I wanted to eat sorbet.... the thought of the agonizing heat was stronger than I. All of a sudden it hit me..... maybe i should make my own. I bursted to the fridge and jumped with joy, there was frozen fruit at home..... And that's how it all started! A quick glance over a couple recipes for the thermomix (off course i was out of eggs)..... but hey if there is a will there is a way, and so there was plain yogurt.  The result, delicious, refreshing, healthy to die for homemade berry sorbet.

"Bery"Berry Sorbet
(serves about 4-6)
3 Tbs of Sugar
12oz (350gr) frozen berries (I used organic blueberries and mixed berries from TraderJoes)
6oz (170 gr) of ice
Graded lemon peal
2 Tbs of sweet vermouth
4oz Plain Yogurt

Preparation (TM)
Place sugar in TM bowl  and program 10sec/vel10
Add fruit, ice, lemon peal and vermouth and program 30sec/vel9. Open top and make sure you push down whatever got stuck on the sides of bowl.  Program 15sec/vel9.
Add yogurt, with a spatula push down again, whatever got stuck to the sides. Program another 30/vel9.
Move sorbet to a container, scoop it out to a serving dish and voila.... the result!

(if you don't have a thermomix you can used a food processor or blender, just make sure your blades are powerful enough to handle the ice chopping, my blender sucks, but if you have a good one then i invite you to try)

Bon Apetit!!!!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Bechamel Sauce Q&A

"Anonymous said... This looks amazingly good! I was wondering for the bechamel sauce, can you do it with rice milk?" 

Dear Anonymous,
I had never thought about attempting to make dairy free  Bechamel Sauce. However you got me thinking and here is what i found out :

Technically speaking you can use Rice/ Soy or Almond milk as a replacement in any White Sauce (sauce blanche/ bechamel). However do not expect it to taste the same.  Also the amount of flour used will vary and if you use wheat flour or any other low gluten flour in your roux this will interfere with the thickening process, and you may not obtain the consistency desired. 

Here is a recipe by mrwrigglesworth on www.grouprecipes.com

Simple Vegan White Sauce
1tbsp of dairy free margarine
1tbsp of plain flour
300ml of rice milk (unsweetened)
1tsps of powder vegetable stock (I would use salt and pepper)

Melt margarine in a small pan on a medium heat.
Once melted, add sieved flour and mix until all flour looks like hard boiled egg yolk. This should happen almost immediately. If there is any loose flour don't worry about so long as most of it is mixed.Add rice milk into the pan slowly whilst whisking.
Once all milk is added, sprinkle over it the powdered vegetable stock and continue whisking.
Keep heating and whisking for 10 minutes. The above ingredients will produce a relatively thick sauce; if you want something thinner then continue adding more rice milk until you achieve the desired consistency.

(If you cannot find unsweetened rice milk at your local store here you can easily make your own.  Here is a recipe I have not tried it but it looks close to the recipe for soy and almond milk my aunt makes at home.)

However unless you are soy intolerant perhaps first consider soymilk as a replacement given its milk like consistency. Here is a recipe from Jeenas Kitchen. (definitely follow the link as she has step-by-step pictures documenting the entire process)

Vegan White Sauce (SOYMILK)
1 Tbsp Vegan margarine
1 + 1/2 Tbsp Plain flour
300ml Soya milk
pinch Salt
pinch Nutmeg
1 Bay leaf
Extra soya milk

Melt the margarine in a heavy based pan along with the flour, keep stirring for 2-3 minutes.
Pour in 100ml of soya milk keep stirring.
The milk and flour mixture will thicken up
When the white sauce thickens pour in another 100ml of milk, keep stirring.
Repeat the process then add the bay leaf, salt and nutmeg.Keep simmering and stirring.
Keep adding more milk until you reach the desired consistency.
Some recipes call for a thick white sauce, other recipes call for a more thin roux.
Once the 300ml of milk has been added, from then on only add a little milk at a time.
Remove the bay leaf after cooking.

Hope this helps :) Let us know how it turned out.
Bon Apetit!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Salmon and Spinach Lasagna

(serves 6)
1lb (450grs) Salmon
10oz (300grs) of ricotta Cheese
1/2 package of spinach
1 leek (finely sliced)
1 onion
1 garlic clove
2oz (80gr) olive oil
salt & pepper
2Tbs Capers

16oz (500ml) Bechamel Sauce
Shredded Fresh Mozzarella

9 Lasagna Sheets

(4 part process )

1. Cook lasagna sheets
I am still to try making my  own homemade pasta but for now I used the usual dried past sheets from Trader Joe's

Boil lasagna sheets as per instructions (this will vary depending on the kid of sheets you are using, for fresh sheets cooking time should be about 4 min, dry takes about 6-8min). Make sure to add salt and butter to the water.  Do not cook more than 3-4 sheets at a time or they'll stick to each other. when ready remove sheets from water and allow them to dry laying flat  side  by side (so they don't stick)

2. Prepare bechamel sauce  
 If you use store bought sauce you can skip this step, or for directions click HERE

3.Salmon and spinach layer

Place in TM cup garlic, onion (in quarters) and olive oil, program 15sec/vel4.
Add leek and program 3min/100/vel1
Cut salmon in 2inch cubes, add to cup, add salt and pepper and program 5min/100/vel1
Meanwhile in a skillet saute spinach in olive oil and garlic.
Add spinach and ricotta cheese to TM cup and program 3min/100/vel1
Add capers and mix (15sec/Spoon/Reverse)

Oven bake salmon for a few minutes.  With a fork flake fish into smaller pieces.
In a pan, saute chopped onion, sliced leek and garlic in olive oil till golden. Then add salmon already flaked and allow it to cook for another couple min. 
Meanwhile in a skillet saute spinach in olive oil and garlic.
Incorporate spinach and ricotta cheese into salmon mix. Cook it until ricotta cheese melts.
Add capers and mix

4. Assembly

Assemble the lasagne in layers on pasta, salmon and bechamel repeatedly until finished. Finally add one layer of mozzarella on top. Oven bake 350F oven until cheese melts.

Recipe was adapted from Semente de Sesamo's Blog

Bechamel Sauce

600grs Milk
80grs white flour
60gr olive oil
30gr butter
salt, pepper & nutmeg to taste

Place all ingredients in TM bowl. Program 10sec/vel 6
Program 7min/90/vel4

In a sauce pan melt butter add oil and flour. Allow for flour to fry for a second and slowly start adding milk, stirring until all ingredients are well  incorporated. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg and allow liquid to simmer in medium heat stirring constantly until sauce thickens to desired consistency.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tagglietelle de verdure


(serves 2)
2 carrots
2 zucchinis
Fresh marjoram
olive oil and vinegar

Wash carrots and zucchinis thoroughly, dry and slice them very thinly (i used a potato peeler for the slicing, it worked great). Steam vegetables for a few minutes till these soften (do not overcook). Place vegetables in a serving bowl, season with salt pepper oil and vinegar. Garnish with fresh marjoram.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Strawberry-Blackberry-Mint Jam

1/2 lb (250gr) Strawberries
1/2 lb (250gr) Blackberries
1/2 lb (250gr) Sugar
5 Mint leaves

Preparation  (Thermomix)
Place fruit and sugar in TM bowl, program 5sec/speed 5.
Add mint leaves and program 30min/100C/speed 1.
Remove cup from top and program an additional 7min/varoma/speed 1

Conventional preparation
In a large, deep enameled or stainless steel pot, combine the chopped fruit, sugar and mint. Place the pot over high heat and bring to a full boil, stirring constantly. Continue stirring until it reduces and reaches gelling point.

Ladle into hot jars, leaving about 1/4-inch headspace; wipe rims. Fit lids on jars and screw the bands on just to fingertip tightness. Do not over-tighten.

Lemon Mousse

(serves 4)
1/2 Can condensed milk
8oz (250gr) Non-fat plain yogurt
Juice of 1 lemon

Preparation (Thermomix)
Place all ingredients in the cup and program 1min/vel3.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

No Thermomix, No problem!
Place all ingredients on a blender and process them away :)

To garnish I used homemade Strawberry-Blackberry-Mint Jam.

This recipe was adopted from the Portuguese TM Forum . Crème fraiche was replaced by non-fat plain yogurt, recipe was reduced from 8 to 4 servings.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Chilled Pea and Mint Soup


6 Spring onions
3 Tbs of oilive oil
1lbs of  Peas (I used frozen organic ones)
4 cups of vegetable stock
1/2 cup of mint leaves
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions (thermomix)
Cut spring onions in 2 or 3 pieces, and place them inside TM cup 6sec/vel 5
Add oil and allow onions to saute 3min/100/vel 1
Add stock and peans and program 7min/100/vel 1.
Without opening the cup, add mint leaves and program 3min/100/vel 1
Puree for 1min/vel 3-5-7. Season with salt and pepper.
Allow replace cup on top for basket and allow soup to simmer about 7-10min/varoma/vel 1
Chill for 4 ours before serving.

(from my experience allow it to come to room temperature before serving to bring out the mint flavor) (Recipe from TM AU Forum)

Directions (regular)
Chop spring onions. In a pan saute onions in olive oil. Add stock and peas, cook until peas are fully cooked. Add fresh mint and allow it to cook for another couple minutes.  Puree soup in a food processor and place it back in the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook in high heat for about 15 min in high heat stirring constantly till it thickens.

Chill for 4 hours before serving
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