Monthly Archives: November 2011

Breakfast muffins for good health

Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well. Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food. Hyppocrates- Greek physician born in 460 BC.

We know  since Hyppocrates that the right food can heal you and that the wrong sort of food can make you unwell. To eat right is the oldest health question! But what IS right?

The macrobiotique way is a non-dairy, non-animal fat approach that I have recently embraced with the whole family and they haven’t been complaining too much… In fact, we all seem to feel a lot better for it. I have been already putting a few macrobiotic recipes on this blog: look under the tag “Macrobiotic” to find them. They not only taste good but they are extremely good for you- What’s not to like?!

Today, I give you a delicious breakfast muffins recipe to add to the repertoire.

Ingredients list:

  • Unbleached flour 370g
  • Wholewheat flour 80g
  • Sea salt 1/2 tsp
  • Baking powder 2 Tbsp
  • cinnamon 1 tsp
  • Dried fruit or nuts 150g
  • Soy milk 200ml
  • Maple syrup 70ml
  • Rapeseed oil 70ml
  • Handful of blueberries or chopped apple

Preheat the oven to 180∘ and prepare your muffins pans, lined with paper liners.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Stir together the milk, syrup and oil in another (medium) bowl.

Slowly add the dry mixture to the liquid one, stirring carefully. You must end with quite a lumpy texture and a lovely smell. Add the dry fruit and the fresh blueberries/apple and fold them in.

Spoon out the mix into the pans and bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes depending on the size of your pans. It is ready when it is raised and slightly browned.

If you wish to know more about Macrobiotics, I recommend Macrobiotics for dummies by Verne Varona, from which this recipe is losely adapted. A very thorough and balanced view of Macrobiotics with easy to start tips and delicious recipes. Not too righteous or dogmatic either, which is a relief… There are also tips more specifically for weight loss on this very concise page– Healthy reading!

An edible Advent calendar- this month idea!

Maybe due to the shorter days and the tendency to spend more time indoors when it is colder outside, but it is nice to see that the pre-Christmas period is when everybody feels at its most creative and I usually go into overdrive with craft projects and ideas for cards or presents! One cannot possibly tire of knitting scarves for a loved one- but that’s an other subject…

Here is my latest  production: an Advent calendar, both decorative and edible.

How to: I bought lots of very small gifts, chocolate and sweets to put into tissue paper  and made them into parcels. Each parcel is then tied with florist’ string or ribbon and clipped with mini pegs each holding a different number from 1 to 24. I found these at Tiger, a nice discount shop, but you could use mini gift tags or pricing labels and number them yourself with a bright gold pen.

I tried clipping each parcel along a long ribbon (as in below) but they were a bit heavy so I opted for scattering them  in a pile inside a pretty box. The idea is that every morning from the first of December, one of us will open a present until there is none left. We might even leave the opening to guests- sometimes…

A christmas garland in indigo and red

A Moscow mule to take you to Christmas!

I know ! A donkey would have been more appropriate… but I am not offering you a ride, rather the recipe for my new favourite drink. Which I discovered – of all places!- at my youngest son PTA party. For the un-initiated and the non-British, PTA stands for Parents and Teachers’ Association. But unlike the parents-teachers evenings of my childhood,  it consists of quite a bit of alcool as well as some very nice homemade food ! The trick is not to get too tipsy before you get to see the Physics teacher so your (/my) lack of empathy for his subject is not too blindingly obvious… Excessive enthusiasm won’t do either… He won’t be fooled!

In any case, the Moscow Mule did seem to loosen up

T'is the season of mince pies!

everybody and if it can make a PTA meeting a scream, then it’s got to work everywhere! I loved it and made it at home the next day.

Ingredients list:

  • Two measures of Vodka
  • 3 drops of Angostura Bitter
  • One measure of lime juice (about 3 or 4 squeezed)
  • lots of crushed ice
  • Enough Old Jamaica ginger beer to top up a tall glass

Mix it all in, top up with the ginger beer and decorate with wedges of lime and some fresh mint.


Black vermicelli with seafood and aïoli sauce

Black ink vermicelli with shrimps and aioli sauce

I did not use to like pasta until I started experimenting with all the funky varieties that exist beyond your run of the mill spaghettis and raviolis… This recipe is brilliant with Squid ink vermicelli but if you can only find the normal golden wheat ones, it works just as well. I do love taking back ingredients from my travels and using them at home.  I first tasted these Fideo pasta last summer in Spain and fell entranced with their subtle taste and beautifully graphic licorice look! It makes a very striking contrast with the pink shrimps and the green of the vegetables. 

The point of pasta is that it is healthy and quick and with the method described below it is even quicker than ever and you get a lovely “al-dente” finish. The principle is a bit like a paella and a risotto where you add your stock as you go along and so never overcook.

Ingredients list:

  • Fideo or vermicelli pasta with squid ink
  • Onion, 1
  • Handful of frozen shrimps
  • Handful of frozen prawns
  • Tamari sauce, 1 Tbsp
  • Handful of frozen garden peas

For the aïoli:

  • 3 garlic cloves
  • Egg yolk, 1
  • Olive oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • Drop of lemon juice
Fry 1 chopped onion in a spoonful of oil.

Add a big handful of frozen or fresh shrimps and let it reduce.

Season with 1 Tbsp of tamari sauce towards the end and reserve into a container.

Throw a handful of frozen or fresh peas and cook them in the same skillet until tender – Shouldn’t take long.

Reserve with the shrimps.
Fry a handful of Fideo again in the same skillet with 1 tsp of rapeseed oil for 3 to 5 minutes. Reserve on a plate for decoration later- it adds a lovely crunch to the dish.

Throw the rest of Fideo in the hot pan.

Add a glass of water and let it bubble until it is all absorbed. If necessary, add another glass or two until the Fideo pasta is cooked but just “al dente”- this is a bit like cooking up a risotto: You have to judge for yourself and adjust the cooking liquid according to your pasta type and your own taste.

Soak some sea vegetables (Wakame from Japanese or health shops is a good option).

Make the aioli sauce by crushing three cloves of garlic, then adding one fresh egg yolk and some lemon juice into a mixer blender. Slowly add a generous glug of olive oil but no more than 100 ml: It is ready when it reaches mayonnaise texture but unlike Mayo, it is positively impossible to screw up!

Dress with the shrimps sauce, chopped Wakame and a sprinkling of black sesame seeds. Decorate with walnut size blobs of aioli and serve at room temperature.

Add more Tamari if necessary.

Food needs to be fun and beautiful to entice us and it is scientifically proven that variety and novelty increase our appetite. Serve this on red lacquered chinese plates if you can.

Fideua pasta with squid ink

Naughty but nice chocolate dunkers

November is a month for a bit of indulgence, isn’t it? So no sooner have we scoffed up all of the Halloween sweets that we are now preparing for the bonfires of Guy Fawkes night and getting the  mittens and hot toddies ready for an evening out of doors. This year, the Frost household is heading for Edinburgh to watch the fireworks of the Old Castle. I am really looking forward to visiting again a city that I discovered aged 16 with my maternal grand-parents and my wee brothers… See: I feel there already!

Delight in Black and White

This recipe is for you to enjoy after the fireworks: a lovely cup of warm milk is all you need to dunk these chocolate loolipops into a smooth and decadent cup of hot delight… My photos don’t do justice to these, alas, and I failed to temper the chocolate adequately (or cooled it down too fast?) so I did not get a shiny surface 😦 but I will try again and anyhow, the taste was more than adequate!

I have borrowed this recipe from the lovely British Larder, who themselves borrowed it from Ramon Morato… The best tips get passed on! Here it is, almost word for word :

Ingredients list:

  • 250g good quality bitter dark chocolate 70%
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 15 marshmallows
  • 15 skewers or lollipop sticks

Prepare the moulds, wash them in hot soapy water and dry them well. I use a flexible rubber mould with 15 holes 4cm diameter x 2cm deep.

If any water comes in contact with the melted chocolate it will be ruined.

I use the thermomix to temper the chocolate. Me too!

To grind the cardamom pods turn the thermomix speed dial to 10 and drop the pods onto the running blades for 30 seconds. Remove any large bits of husk.

Chop the chocolate in even size pieces.

Place the chocolate into the thermomix bowl set the time to 5 minutes at 50°C at speed 1.

Scrape the sides down and set the time to 8 minutes at 37°C, speed 1.

Scrape the sides down and set the time to 2 minutes at 50°C, speed 1.

This might sound a bit crazy but if the chocolate goes over 50°C it’s ruined, you need to melt the cocoa fat inside the chocolate gradually and emulsify the chocolate and fats without incorporating too much air. The result will be a shiny and crisp chocolate.

Spoon the melted chocolate into the clean grease free moulds. Skewer a marshmallow onto skewers that will act as the stirrers, insert one skewered marshmallow into each chocolate filled hole.

Let the chocolate set at room temperature for about 5 minutes, then place them in the fridge for 20 minutes to cool  rapidly and prevent blooming.

Once the chocolate dunkers are set pop them out of the moulds and wrap in parchment paper. Keep the chocolate dunkers in an airtight container in a dark place.

Serve the dunkers with a cup of boiling hot milk.

Makes 15 chocolate dunkers. Or do as I did and get your daughter to make them! Too busy to write and too busy to make, that’s me at the moment! Still, I was not too busy to enjoy my cup! Thank you very much.

Read more:

Save a penny for the Guy and have a lovely evening on Saturday, wherever you are. I will be in the far North of Scotland, enjoying the views and tucking into some nice Scottish nosh, I hope!