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Superfood Salad

This Superfood Salad is one of the best things you can have for lunch.  Vary your ingredients, and you can be happy eating it several times a week.

Vegetarians can use tofu instead of fish, as indicated.

*Hint*:  Cook your grain in advance and keep it in the refrigerator.

Mix the 5 elements below with 2 tablespoons Mustard Vinaigrette Dressing (see Amazing Recipes) :

a. Greens – 1-2 varieties of romaine, arugula, watercress, mixed salad greens, café greens (one cup chopped, 2 cups flat)

b. 3 tablespoons Multi-Bean Salad Mix (see Amazing Recipes)

c. Vegetables – 2 varieties of carrots, pepper, celery, onion, tomato, broccoli, corn, grated beetroot (½ cup of each)

d. Cooked plain grain – 1 variety of bulghar wheat, brown rice, red Camargue rice, wild rice, barley, quinoa, spelt (2 tablespoons only)

e. 1 organic hard boiled egg OR ½ can of dolphin friendly tuna in spring water OR 1 oz steamed white fish (add cold) OR 2 oz crushed OR cubed nigari tofu

Enjoy cool or at room temperature (preferred).

Love to you all!
La Libertini

Cleansing and Detoxifying Fish Pho with Greens

Fish Pho With Greens

A Pho, pronounced “phuh” is a staple of Vietnamese cuisine.  It is normally made with beef stock, but this is a much lighter version using fish and greens.  You could even omit the fish if you are fasting or are a vegetarian.

The Pho is a wonderful staple at any time of the year.  Its great in summer when you need something filling but don’t want to be around a hot stove for too long.

The idea is to add some raw and some cooked ingredients to hot miso or chicken stock. Experiment with greens, onions, garlic, ginger, hot pepper, mushrooms, fennel, etc. to taste.

Serves 1

You’ll need:

  • Chinese mushrooms (dry)
  • Fish balls / shrimp / tilapia or any NON-OILY fish such as cod, halibut, snapper, bass, etc.
  • Mung bean (glass) vermicelli noodles (optional)
  • Broccoli rabe or any other dark green leafy vegetable
  • Rocket / arugula
  • Fennel
  • Miso base OR organic low sodium chicken stock (cubes are fine)
  • Red hot chili peppers
  • Ginger
  • Optional greens are spinach leaves, basil, mint, cilantro
  • Optional onions are chopped scallions, onions

If your mushrooms are dried, soak these for half an hour or until soft. Remove stalk and slice mushroom caps thinly.

Steam or blanch all the other ingredients, apart from the mung bean noodles and any “instantly cooking” greens like spinach or rocket, or your herbs.

If you are using a white fish, you can grill this or steam it separately if you like.

Noodles need to be boiled for about a minute separately. Drain noodles, rinse under cold water.

In an empty saucepan, place 1 tablespoon miso soup base (use brown, red or white miso).  Add 16 oz of water and stir to dissolve paste. You can also use organic chicken stock by cube.

Add noodles, sliced mushrooms, greens, fish balls, shrimp or other white fish, and simmer for a minute or so to return them to temperature.

At the last minute, add any “instant cooking” greens or leaves and if desired a small handful of chopped coriander leaves.

Pour into bowl, sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds and enjoy.

Alex *Hearts* Bank Holidays

Morning Marinade

Ahh, another May bank holiday weekend.  The weather – average at best.  Chance of a barbecue? Slim to none – far too risky.

The antidote to all of this, is in our opinion: hearts.  Lamb hearts, ox hearts, or whatever kind of meat you like.  We love offal though, as its lean and nutritious nose to tail eating.  And a great salute to the animal – to eat its heart.   (But if you haven’t crossed the offaly bridge, this is a superb all-day meat marinade.)

Alex is pottering away in the kitchen now.  He was in there for hours this morning – making organic chicken freezer cube thingys for Tresillian, reducing some chicken stock to a heady and honey-like consistency.

I’ve been playing games with Tresillian since 5:30 am, so enough of my ramblings and on with the recipe so I can go on and take a bloody nap.

Morning Marinade

Finely mince 3-4 cloves of garlic
Zest 1-2 unwaxed lemons
Chop a few needles of fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon lightly toasted ground fennel seeds
2 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
Glug of olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper.
NO SALT (salt only seconds before cooking or the meat will sweat)

Mix in your sliced hearts or other meat (if you must.)

Use this marinade with any steak meat, lamb, venison, chicken, even a robust fish such as monkfish.

ALWAYS buy organic meats and wild organic fish.

Love to you all!!
La Libertini


Categories: Amazing Recipes

The Best Mustard Vinaigrette

A good vinaigrette can bring life to so many dishes.   This recipe is a low fat taste sensation.  If you don’t need to watch your fat intake, use just a dash more of olive oil, but you really don’t need to – I promise.

This vinaigrette is great with fresh steamed kale, spring greens, purple sprouting broccoli, or with watercress or other cold greens.  On beetroot/red beets it is sensational.  If you desire, an anchovy or two adds a depth of flavor.

This vinaigrette works as a delicious dressing to a grilled chicken breast or a robust fish such as cod, haddock, or monkfish.  It is great with bean salads too! 

  • 2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • Grind of black pepper
  • 2 fluid oz GOOD white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil (optional or less; never more than 1 small teaspoon)

Put into a screw top jar and shake shake shake! – until very well emulsified.

Asparagus Risotto

Alex’s amazing asparagus risotto, without further delay!

1 bunch fresh English asparagus, approximately 12 stalks
2 cloves garlic
2 long shallots
Carnaroli risotto rice
Butter (unsalted)
Glass of Reisling or prosecco
Good amount of Parmigiano Reggiano, the best you can afford
Litre of organic chicken stock

Snap the woody ends off the asparagus, slice these finely into ‘discs’ about 1 mm thick.  Simmer these in the chicken stock for 20 minutes, strain them out.  Save the chicken stock.

Finely mince the shallots and the garlic.

Remove the head and 1 cm of the stalk of the asparagus tops and reserve / set aside.  Slice the remaining tender stalks into 1 mm rounds.

Gently heat 1 tbsp. unsalted butter; once it starts to foam, gently fry the shallots and garlic in this butter until translucent.

Add 250g Carnaroli rice and fry/toast the grains, coating them in the foamed butter for 3-4 minutes over a gentle heat.  Once the edges of rice have become translucent, add the glass of white wine or prosecco and stir vigorously until absorbed.  This should take only a matter of seconds.

Now, take the heads of the asparagus and gently cook in the chicken stock.  These should finish cooking in about 25 minutes, or exactly when the rice has fully cooked and rested.

Add to the rice, the chopped stems of the asparagus and 2 ladles of the warm chicken stock.  Stir gently until this is absorbed and then continue adding stock, stirring and absorbing until the rice is creamy and cooked but still al dente, for approximately 20 minutes.

(This effort of stirring and absorbing must not be underestimated – it requires vigilance and a constant tending to the dish.  One’s arm may become tired, and 20 minutes can seem a long time; however the risotto depends upon this vigilance and effort.  Do not let the risotto stand to cook itself as it will burn and/or it will not be creamy.)

Stir in just a dash of Jurassic salt to taste bearing in mind salty Parmesan is to follow.  Place on the lid, turn off heat and let stand for 5 minutes.

The consistency of the risotto prior to turning off heat should be thick, creamy and soupy.  You should be able to see the bottom of the pan when you draw a wooden spoon across it – the risotto should slowly fill in as you draw that spoon across.

After the 5 minutes resting time, remove the lid and vigorously beat into the risotto 1 tbsp. of chilled butter and approximately 100g of grated Parmesan.

Taste, check for seasoning, serve immediately with the lovely cooked asparagus tops as a garnish, in the pattern of your choosing.

The Best Tofu

When I read about nigari tofu in Aveline Kushi’s book, The Complete Guide to Macrobiotic Cooking, I knew why so many of my previous experiences of tofu had not always been great.

And I finally found some nigari tofu at The Organic on Clifton Road in Maida Vale, made by a company called Dragonfly.

Nigari is the residue that remains after sea salt is extracted from seawater.  Highly concentrated, it is rich in minerals such as magnesium and iron.  The taste is totally different to that of silken tofu, which you could not consider using in this recipe.  Your tofu must be organic, and solidified in the traditional way, with nigari.

Tofu Feast
Get a steamer rack ready and hot.  You should steam the tofu over water, you can add a few inches of kombu to the steaming water if you wish – this not only creates a delicious stock but imparts a delicious flavour to the tofu.

Slice one approximately 250 gram block of tofu in half, so you have two thinner pieces.

Finely mince 4-5 spring onions (or scallions) and a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger.

Lay the tofu onto the steamer rack, sprinkle lighly with Jurassic salt, and liberally pile the ginger and scallion mix on top of it.  Sprinkle a further pinch of Jurassic salt on top. Cover with lid and steam for 15 minutes.

Serve by dividing each slice of tofu again into 4 cubes, so that you have 8 smaller pieces of tofu in total.

A little brown rice vinegar can be added, but just a touch. Sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds as desired.

In our view, tofu is best served and appreciated with macrobiotic accompaniments. These would be brown rice, pearl barley, or Nishime style vegetables.

Nishime Style Vegetables
Take any three of of turnip, carrot, leek, fennel, radishes, daikon, purple sprouting broccoli, pumpkin, shallot, swede, beetroot, cauliflower, etc.

Peel and chop into larger bite-size pieces.

Take one sheet of kombu, cut into 3-inch slices and place in the bottom of a pan.  Arrange the vegetables on top of the kombu, adding enough water to come just halfway up the height of the vegetables.

Sprinkle with Jurassic salt and a dash of sesame oil.  Place a tight-fitting lid on and gently simmer until the vegetables are tender.  This should take no more than 15 minutes, but check after 10 minutes for tenderness, and to also ensure pan has not boiled dry.

Once cooked, put vegetables and remaining stock into a bowl, sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds and just a touch more Jurassic salt if required.

Remove the kombu and chop into very fine ribbons (chiffonade).  Sprinkle with a tiny bit of tamari soy sauce, some brown rice vinegar and roasted sesame seeds as desired.

We also like to eat the above feast with umeboshi plums and hijiki.  Delicious.

Borough Market and Crispy Ox Hearts with Green Sauce

Our weekends are always an adventure in food – Alex always tries something new, and is also passionate about cooking organic foods for our son Tresillian. We headed off this morning to Borough Market in Camden, to pick up our coffee from Monmouth, and to also hunt down some interesting meat.

We scored two ox hearts for £10, a venison haunch for £15, and an ox liver for £3. I thought I’d wanted some ostrich meat but we got sidetracked. Apparently Alex also bought a shin-bone to make some stock with. He’s always on a secret mission when we are food shopping, his creative mind is working and its certainly not like food shopping with other men.

I also picked up some ginger granola sweetened with agave syrup. I’m not really into granola, and it was bloody expensive at £5 a bag, but the baby may like it and I can sprinkle it on my bran cereal. *Snore.*

Alex thinks that Tresillian should be exposed to all the flavors at Borough Market. I think it is good for him to eat different things, but I’m not sure about things like mortadella, or potted shrimp. But Tresillian is destined to live and learn with a foodie, and that is that.

The baby does really love the great quality olive oils on bits of bread that are available at every turn at the Market, in particular the white truffle oil. And the nibble of really nice parmesan. Also he tried some pesto, and liked that too. He did not like my beetroot and ginger smoothie however, and blew that right back in my face.

After another shop at Waitrose for other stuff, we came home and Alex made Ox Hearts with Green Sauce, and English Asparagus with Olive Oil and Jurassic Salt.

It was fantastic, but felt the ox hearts are so yang, that they needed something slightly more yin for balance – like a watercress salad, or fennel salad, or even a simple tomato and onion salad.

Red wine is best with this dish.  I was let down, however by my thriftiness at the supermarket.  I bought a heinous Paul Mas Grenache Syrah that really was undrinkable.  We quickly moved on to a Gerard Bertrand Tautavel that while also a very good buy, is OK.  Not great but not as big a disappointment.

Did you know that ox hearts have less fat than the leanest meat and more iron and copper than any other meat?

Ox Hearts with Green Sauce
One ox heart should provide enough high-quality, low fat protein to feed 8-10 people. A single chamber or quarter of a heart, will comfortably feed 2-4 people, depending on what else is being served.

Take one ox heart, divide the chambers. On the interior wall, trim away the thin, shiny membrane. If left on, it will shrink, causing the muscle to curl when cooking.

Slice the meat thinly into long strips. Ideally the meat should be marinated overnight, but this is not strictly necessary.

Liberally douse with good olive oil, finely grated lemon zest, garlic, rosemary, and fresh thyme if available. A must is toasted, ground fennel seeds. A delicious alternative to the fennel seeds is crushed juniper berries.  Then, douse with 3 teaspoons of good balsamic vinegar and if possible, leave to marinade.

DO NOT add any salt to the marinade. Instead, salt just prior to cooking, ideally with finely ground Jurassic salt.

The meat is best cooked on a good, heavy (preferably cast iron) griddle pan. The key is to get a good char. Grill intensely so you get crispy charred lines. Turn over and repeat on the other side. Some prefer hearts rare, or pink. This is fine, but the char really adds a different flavor. The thinner you are able to cut the meat, the more successful the char will be.

Serve hot with fresh green sauce.

Green Sauce
Green sauce is a key staple for the kitchen; it imparts a savory flavor to fish, meat, and game. There are many variations on green sauce, the key four ingredients are small salted capers, anchovies, at least three fresh green herbs, and garlic.

Depending on season and availability, feel free to vary the herbs, however, parsley, mint, and tarragon are a classic combination.

To these one can add dill, a small amount of basil, a few blades of rosemary, or any of chervil, sorrel, etc. You can even add peppery watercress leaves, though these may turn brown so should only be added to a sauce you intend to serve immediately.

The other two key ingredients are an acid such as lemon juice, or white wine vinegar, and a certain amount of olive oil to bring the sauce together and vary the thickness as desired.

Making the sauce couldn’t be easier. Finely mince all of your green leaves. To this add one or two finely minces cloves of garlic, six or seven anchovy fillets, and a handful of gently rinsed salted capers. Avoid vinegared capers but moderate the acid to taste.

Roughly chop the capers and add to your mixture – add enough olive oil so that the sauce comes together to a spoon-able consistency. Add your acid to taste. You should not need any salt, if required take extreme care while adding.

Allow the flavors in the sauce to get to know each other for an hour or so. Drizzle or spoon your green sauce over your freshly grilled ox hearts.