Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Mangoes to soothe the heart


In the past few days, I’ve been trying to cope with bereavement and trying to find a way to function whilst the world carries on as normal. I am very privileged – thanks to my loving family and to the nature of my work – to have had the space to press a brief “pause”. This has enabled me to be in touch with the pain of losing a beloved brother.

As I‘ve been through some losses before, I kind of know the deal: grieving is a long process. You just have to allow yourself to go through some stages. It takes a while to heal but it’s important to acknowledge it.

So, how do we get back to our “normal” life again? As we are all different beings, each person finds their own tools or some external help to deal with it. The easiest thing to do is to not get out of bed and not leave the house for days. But this is also not the healthiest way. I try to find a connection with the person who has gone, and create a channel of communication with them. This can be through looking at old pictures, listening to a song, walking in a park, or cooking something that reminds one of them.

This week, I connected with my brother through something that was always a link between us: the love for food. For instance, whenever it was the mango season in Brazil, he used to call me on skype/facetime, to show those gorgeous golden fruits to make me, and especially my husband, jealous. But moreover, to let us know that he was thinking of us, and wished we were there to share them with him. So did we!

It’s the mango season in London at the moment, thanks to the Indian community. After spending days indoors, I went to the local Indian market and bought a box of the most orangey colour, sweetest, flavoursome Alphonso mangoes that we are lucky to get in this country. I also bought some eddoes - another thing that reminds me of him. We used to discuss all the health benefits they provide, every time we had them in our meals or juices in Brazil.

Using those two ingredients to make a nutritious dessert, I celebrated my brother in a very simple but enriching way. The way he used to enjoy life.

Here is to you, my brother! I am really thinking of you and I always will. 


Alphonso Mangoes
Eddoes
Mango and Eddoe mousse.
Serve it chilled with mango pieces, lime zest and toasted almonds.

Mango vegan mousse
 

This mousse-like dessert depends very much on your preference of texture and consistency. If you prefer it less creamy, add less eddoes. If you prefer it more like a smoothie, add more kefir or coconut water. As the Alphonso’s are naturally sweet I didn’t add any sugar. But as for a guideline:

I used 2 medium-sized mangoes (approx. 200g), 1 small eddoe* (approx. 100g, peeled, chopped, steamed and cooled), kefir (50-70 ml) or coconut water (if you want to make it vegan), juice of half a lime. Put all the ingredients into a blender or a food processor and blend until smooth. Put in the fridge to chill. Serve it with some toasted slivered almonds and lime zest.

Enjoy!

* You can find eddoes in Asian and African shops and markets.

A healthy note

Mangoes (Mangifera indica) are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It contains digestive enzymes and dietary fibre that support our digestive health. They are a good source of several B vitamins, folate as well as vitamins A and C. Mangoes are good for the eye, skin and hair health. They contain the antioxidant mangiferin that is associated with many health benefits. Mangoes can improve the immune system and support heart health as they also contain minerals such as magnesium and potassium.

Eddoe (Colocasia antiquorum) is a small, funny and hairy looking root. It is a great source of complex carbs and dietary fibre, making this root a perfect ingredient for athletes or active people. Eddoe is also very good to give to children weaning off breastfeeding.
This vegetable is a little powerhouse that may improve gut health, blood sugar levels and cardiovascular health. Eddoe can also boost our immune system due to its good levels of vitamin C and B-complex (B1, B3, B5, B6 and B9). It contains minerals such as potassium, which helps to regulate blood pressure, magnesium, iron and zinc.
Eddoe provides resistant starch which is fermented in our large intestine, acting like a prebiotic to our gut bacteria. Studies have shown that resistant starch has similar properties to fibre and could result in the prevention of some diseases.
Eddoe is high in oxalates and should not be eaten raw especially for those suffering with kidney problems. It has a nutty flavour and it’s a perfect ingredient to add creaminess to your food.

Till next month!

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Celebrating life: baked trout with wild garlic salsa verde



Hello everyone! It’s been a long time, right? So much has happened since my last post in September last year. Amongst many things, I took up a diploma course in Gastronomy and Nutrition at Le Cordon Bleu; started volunteering at Reffetorio Felix, where we cook for people in need, I’ve been cooking in different kitchens, and finally, I ran a workshop on Mediterranean diet organised by Oliveology, at Borough Market, last month.

I was very hungry to learn and to test new recipes. I was keen to research the traditional way of cooking in Mediterranean countries. Unfortunately, in the beginning of March, I received some bad news from Brazil: a family member was hospitalized in serious condition, fighting for his life. It’s been nearly two months and only last weekend better news arrived. Thank goodness things are looking a lot more positive now.

People have different ways to deal with sadness and stress. Some take refuge in food, others lose their appetite, some people work like mad, others want to sleep all the time etc. I am the kind of person who loses my appetite and the drive. Somehow, I disconnected from things that usually give me immense pleasure: in this case, to write and to cook.

These days there is huge pressure to be present on social media, no matter what. But I just didn’t feel like testing new recipes to post. All I could do was the work for others. I used the time that was left for myself to escape the “noise” out there.

I’ve decided that I will feed my blog posts monthly and will share recipes, news and other content weekly at my Instagram @margots.kitchen

Anyway, I am glad to say that since the good news from the family has been more constant, I’m regaining my appetite and I’m back in my kitchen, cooking new recipes to share with you. This one was prompted by a present from my friend and neighbour Alistair: a beautiful trout he and his son Max caught from Albury Estate Fisheries. The combination of fish and seasonal wild garlic transported me to a sun kissed place, celebrating life. Here is for you to have a go before the end of the wild garlic season. 



Trout ready to be baked with wild garlic salsa, lemon slices and herbs.

Oven-baked trout with wild garlic salsa and lemon slices


Ingredients 

 
For the wild garlic salsa


50g wild garlic leaves
6 fresh basil leaves
6 fresh mint leaves
2 teaspoons capers
4 anchovies in olive oil, chopped
50ml olive oil
1 lemon, juice and zest
sea salt and pepper, to taste

For the fish

1 trout, gutted and descaled
1 unwaxed organic lemon
a bunch of coriander leaves
sea salt and pepper

Method

Pre-heat oven to 180C (160C fan).

Put all the ingredients for the wild garlic salsa in a food processor and blend. Reserve.

Place a parchment paper in a flat baking tray. Place trout on it and coat the fish with a little bit of olive oil. Season the inside and outside of the fish with salt and about 1 tablespoon of the wild garlic salsa. Stuff the fish with the coriander, lemon wedges and black pepper. Place some lemon slices over the top.

Bake the fish in the pre-heated oven for approximately 15-20 mins or until it is cooked and flaky.

When the fish is ready, remove it from the oven. Serve it along with the salsa.


Enjoy!
 

A healthy note: Trout is a great source of protein, omega 3 (the essential fatty acid that is good for your heart), calcium, phosphorus, iodine, vitamins A, B-complex and D. Studies have shown that oily fish like trout may reduce and prevent the development of cardiovascular diseases. 

Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum): also known as Ramsons or Bear’s garlic. Wild garlic has similar health benefits to the cultivated garlic. It is very good for your digestive system, immune system and the cardiovascular system. It can help to control blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, reducing blood stickiness. Wild garlic has antibacterial, antifungal and antioxidant properties. It also prevents colds and flus. Wild garlic is known to ease stomach pain and acts as a digestive tonic.
 

Till next month!

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

A fig salad and a brief come back


Hello all! It’s been a while since my last post. I have just returned from a great holiday in Portugal and I am super excited with what’s to come. In the beginning of the year I decided to go back to studying, I mean, to further my knowledge in nutrition and cooking. Always in search of good food, I have enrolled in a full-time diploma course in Gastronomy and Nutrition at the Le Cordon Bleu. I am looking forward to bringing a lot more deliciousness to the blog and to share it with you.

I am going to take a semi sabbatical from my weekly post whilst I am at the course. Apart from juggling freelancing jobs and family life, I will have to put a lot of my time into it. But I will keep posting on my Instagram account, so do please check it out on @margots.kitchen.

To say goodbye for now, I made a very simple and straightforward dish that is seasonal, fruity and satisfying. With the plump tomatoes growing in my garden, some figs and mozzarella di buffalo from my weekly farmer’s box, an easy salad was born. 


A seasonal plate.
My fig, tomato and mozzarella salad.

Fig, tomatoes and mozzarella di bufala salad

Ingredients 


You can keep the leftover from this dressing in the fridge for 5 days.
 
25 ml vinagre de Jerez (sherry vinegar), or balsamic


Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon

1 teaspoon sumac
1 teaspoon honey (optional)


100 ml Extra-virgin olive oil

5 ripe tomatoes, cut into quarters

3 figs, cut into quarters

2 Tablespoons fresh thyme, leaves picked

125 g mozzarella di bufala, chunks

Method

To make the dressing for the salad, combine the vinegar, lemon juice and zest, sumac, olive oil, thyme leaves and whisk well. 


Arrange the tomatoes and figs on a serving plate, and season. Place chunks of the mozzarella on top. Drizzle the dressing evenly over the tomatoes, figs and mozzarella. Enjoy!

A healthy note: Fig (Ficus carica) contains minerals and high levels of fibre and calcium. It also provides, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper and manganese. 


Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) stimulates the regeneration of liver tissue, tonifies the stomach, and purifies the blood. It helps relieve high blood pressure and headache. Although tomato is an acidic fruit, it alkalizes the blood after digestion. It contains lycopene, an antioxidant with anti-cancer properties (organic tomato products, like ketchups or sauces, deliver three times more lycopene than a non-organic brand). Cooking or eating it with olive oil, avocado or nuts, has been shown to increase its antioxidant properties. The carotenoids present in tomatoes are fat soluble and are well absorbed into the body with the fats mentioned above. You can see more recipes with tomato here, here and here.

Till sometime soon!

Thursday, 2 August 2018

An easy peachy salad


Summer is definitely upon us! The heat has been so unusual in London that the thought of turning on the elements of the cooker is a big turn off.

Salads have been the stars of our meals recently. They give us that special cooling factor that our body craves in the heat. The salad that I have been making more often - changing some ingredients on the go - is one inspired by the Honey & Co crew. A white peach salad. The juicy fruit is now in season.

Honey & Co is one of my favourite places in London. The owners Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich are two of the friendliest and most creative cooks in the restaurant scene. Their food brings comfort to me. The lovely staff working there are a reflection of both. But I digress.

This peach salad can be a meal in itself. If you want to give it a boost, you can also add some slices of Parma ham. Yum! Instead of using roasted almonds I make my salad roasting pecan nuts with honey or maple syrup. The nuts enhance the sweetness of the peaches, adding texture and crunchiness to the salad. I also added some pea shoots that are in season now. The three elements of salt, acid and sweet come together in a colourful plate of pure beauty.

Honey is a big feature in this dish. It permeates the whole salad, from the restaurant name that inspired me to the recipe. Add honey and go :-)


My peachy salad with honey roasted pecans
Peach and Rocket salad with goat’s cheese and maple roasted pecans
Serves 4-6 people

Ingredients

5 white peaches, halved, stones removed (or you can use any type of peach or nectarines)
100g rocket
30g pea shoots (optional)
150g soft goat’s cheese
4-6 Tablespoons pecans, roasted (see recipe below)
Honey dressing (see recipe below)
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Honey dressing

1 teaspoon honey
3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Make the dressing by whisking honey, lemon juice and oil together in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Maple roasted pecans

1 cup pecan nuts
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
Sea salt

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Line a tray with parchment paper. Mix all the ingredients together and spread them on the tray. Roast for approximately 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, mix them gently and leave to cool. Store the unused nuts in an airtight container.
 

For the salad

Method

Cut the peaches. Arrange the rocket, peach, goat’s cheese on a large serving platter. Add the dressing and the pecan nuts and mix gently. Season to taste. Drizzle over with a little bit of honey. Serve.

A healthy note: Peaches have a low glycaemic load comparing to other fruits, making them a good option for those on a low blood sugar diet.

Till next week!

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Bake a cake for a good cause


This week I made this tahini & yoghurt bundt cake with pomegranate & rose drizzle plus pistachio dust. Recipe by Jamie Oliver for the Bake for Syria cookbook. This cake is simply delicious! I tweeked the amount of icing sugar on the pomegranate drizzle but it didn’t affect the flavours. 

For the recipe you should buy this beautiful cookbook, not only for its great cause but for all the other delicious treats you will find in there. The book is curated by Clerkenwell boy, whom I previously mentioned in this post. All the proceeds from this book is donated to Unicef to help and support the Syrian children affected by the war. You can have the book, the cake and eat it too. 

You can order you book through the Unicef Market online.

My tahini and yoghurt bundt cake with pomegranate and rose drizzle plus pistachio dust. Recipe by Jamie Oliver.

Till next week!

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Easy peasy and lemon squeezy - revisited


My kitchen is all green and yellow to celebrate the win in the World Cup against Serbia yesterday.
 
Whenever the Brazilian or English team play - in the evenings or at the weekends - we invite some friends over to watch the games with us. 

Last night, it was all about Seleção Canarinho, as we affectionate call our Brazilian squad. I reached for my infallible lucky charm recipe for fresh broad beans “hummus”. The score was Brazil 2 x 0 Serbia. The green hummus was also a winner!

Check the recipe here.

Till next week! 

Thursday, 21 June 2018

A galette s'il vous plait


The French are the masters of pastries, as most of you may know. One of my favourite French pastries is the galette, an open rustic crusty pie. It can be sweet or savoury. I have been craving this dish for some time. So, I set out to make one for our family this week.

The first ingredient arrived in my vegetable box: a beautiful bunch of asparagus, which is in full season now. I came across the other ingredient in an Italian deli in Soho that I visit regularly: a creamy and lovely ricotta di bufala. When I thought of putting both ingredients together in a galette, my mouth watered. France meets Italy.

What a joie de vivre!


Ingredients for the filling.
Spread the filling over the dough...
...and fold the edges towards the centre.
My rustic asparagus galette.

Hazelnut galette with ricotta di bufala and asparagus

This recipe will make enough dough for two galettes that serve 6 people for a starter, or 4 people for a main. The filling recipe is for 1 disc.

I love making my galette dough using hazelnuts. They add a nutty flavour and crunchier texture.

Ingredients for the dough

125g organic whole grain spelt
125g organic white spelt
200g organic unsalted butter, chilled and cut in small square pieces
60g organic blanched hazelnuts
1 tsp fine sea-salt
1 tsp sugar
6-7 Tablespoons ice water

Method

Mix the hazelnuts, flour, salt and sugar, and pulse to combine. If you are not using a food processor, grind the hazelnuts and mix with the rest of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Add the pieces of butter and pulse until the mixture becomes coarse (don’t over-process). With the food processor pulsing, add the ice water gradually until the dough holds together.

Take the dough mixture out of the food processor and onto a work surface. Form into one ball. Divide the ball in half and firmly flatten each ball into a disk. Wrap tightly in cling film (preferably a non PVC brand) and chill them for at least 30 minutes before rolling out and using the filling. This dough will keep well for 1-2 days in the fridge, and in the freezer for a few weeks.

Ingredients for the filling

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 leek, big size and sliced
1 small onion, diced
½ fresh fennel, diced (optional)
2 garlic cloves, diced
150g ricotta di bufala or any other type of ricotta
Zest of 1 lemon
30g pecorino or parmesan cheese, grated
1 Tablespoon capers
Asparagus - as many you can fit on top
Egg for eggwash (optional)
Sea salt and pepper

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 200C degrees.

Sautée the leeks on extra-virgin olive oil, fennel and onions until caramelized; add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.

In the meantime, mix the ricotta, lemon zest, capers and pecorino cheese.

When the leeks and onion mixture is ready, turn off the heat. Leave it to cool for a while so it’s not too hot to place on top of the ricotta mix.

Take one disk of the pastry from the fridge. On a lightly floured surface roll out the disk into a 30cm circle. Transfer the dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 1⁄2 hour before using.

Spread the ricotta mixture followed by the leeks mixture on the refrigerated rolled-out dough, leaving about 3 cm of edges. Place the asparagus on top then fold the empty edges of the dough towards the centre.

If using eggs, brush the edges of the crust with them.

Sprinkle the remaining pecorino over the whole galette.

Bake the galette for 25 to 30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

A healthy note: Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis): contains selenium, calcium, zinc, copper and folic acid. It has some powerful compounds with anti-cancer properties (indoles, isothiocyanates and sulforaphane), that promote cellular regeneration. It is a powerful stimulant to the liver and kidneys. Studies have shown that asparagus protects the liver from the effects of alcohol. It is a natural diuretic; helps to cleanse the arteries of cholesterol and is useful to control hypertension. It is used to alleviate menstrual difficulties.

Till next week!