Posts Tagged: pasta

Noshed in a Book: The Complete Persepolis

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As the visual medium excites me, graphic novels share a cozy, aromatic and mood-lit spot in my heart.  That’s not to say that I haven’t the imagination to incorporate my own visions of circumstance from a narrative, but the artistry and dark contrasting lines of Marjane Satrapi’s images in The Complete Persepolis are like a secret key into a world I admittedly know little about.  I don’t say this with a proud grin or a disdainful glower, but with an honest and mild expression.  The truth is, I can’t wait to re-read this graphic memoir as it moved me in the way that ocean waves do, sometimes gently nudging and other times forcefully shoving into different depths.

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The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

[spoiler alert]

An earnest, but honest depiction of Marjane Satrapi’s life as a young, rebellious girl and coming-of-age within the incredible and repressive nation of Iran “Persia”.  This visual tonic explores the Iranian revolution in parallel to important markers of growth in Satrapi’s life; the destructive disparity between her and her families’ life behind doors and their public lives; the basic human struggle of falling to a low, sad place before finding yourself; the beautiful and emotional triumph of accepting yourself.  There were moments while reading this book when I took pause to close the book and hug it, as I didn’t want the story to end.  At times, I felt as though I was inside of Marjane’s skin, infuriated by others acceptance of mediocrity and humored by the commodities of art.  This book has helped me re-examine what it means to live in the first world and have first-world problems.  Dwelling in and finding a need to express the petty and inane aspects of our life restrain us and stunt our growth.  Satrapi explores the turmoil she experienced when first discovering class differences.  The importance of education was a theme throughout the book.  Satrapi grew up in a time when there wasn’t access to the internet and yet she flourished by seeking out knowledge in books.  Books, in many ways, were her refuge and greatest friend during the tumultuous times of her up-bringing; this was the most heartening aspect of the book for me.

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As for edibles, tea, pasta and hot cocoa stuck out to me.

  • Tea was a marker of regularity and routine in Satrapi’s life and it’s obvious and endearing that it is a point of pride for Marjane’s family.  Often served from a samovar–which is a self-boiling decorative basin or urn for hot liquid–tea is consumed throughout the day in Persian culture and is not for the faint of heart.
  • Pasta was independence.  When Marjane settled into her first boarding school, pasta was one of the few things she could find to prepare and it became her staple food.  It was convenient to find and she could prepare it with ease.
  • Hot chocolate became a symbol of comfort in Marjane’s life.  She served hot cocoa when she would stay into the late hours of the night talking with her father or uncle.  She would serve hot chocolate to a family friend’s children during a time of crisis.  Hot chocolate meant a moment away from all the destruction around her and her family; a repose in times when food was scarce and pampering the pallet was the clearest path to sanity.  I decided to make a type of Persian hot chocolate, and for those of you out there who are Persian, if you have any thoughts or comments as to the validity of this recipe, please let me know.  This is not my recipe, but one I came across in a thoughtful search on the web.  It was made on a not so chilly evening, yet still coziness in a cup.

Try out Persian Spiced Dark Hot Chocolate by Venus Kalami

niab4_5This hot cocoa has the incredible strength of chocolate and the refreshing brightness of cardamom.

What is your take-away from The Complete Persepolis and what food or foods were brought to your mind while you read and experienced it?  I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts and what you noshed on while reading, feel free to use the hash-tag #noshedinabook .  Check out previous Noshed in a Book posts and join me in reading The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy and Happy Reading Regards,

RAM

Splendid Springtime Spaghetti with Toasted Seeds

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Good Day Everyone,

Happy Vernal Equinox !

Springtime represents so many things in our society, that it’s hard to overlook this major transitional period–and subsequently positive alteration to the environment–by way of beautiful blooms, pollination and the beginning of a new growing season.  Spring washes over us all and makes way for sweet morning reads by a window and fresh spring salads to compliment the change of weather.

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As March settles in, I am finding my time being stretched in different directions and all I can think about lately is savory goodness to satisfy my longing to stay nourished through the busy days of work and creative projects. This recipe revealed itself one late afternoon while I was alone in the kitchen and peeking into our refrigerator for what we had “in stock” at the time.  These are the moments I enjoy most in the culinary experience because my imagination stands a chance.  Have you ever heard that we all like a range of options, but if you present too many, we’re less likely to come to a solidified choice?  Well on this particular afternoon, we were just scant enough in the produce department that is our kitchen, that I felt a happy inclination towards this vibrant and delicious spaghetti dish.

I  knew I wanted pasta, but mother time had not gifted enough to me in this instance to warrant making it from scratch.  However, I was able to use Tinkyada spaghetti noodles and they were just what I had in mind.  I wanted a noodle I could wrap my fork around and spaghetti, along with farfalle, remind me of Spring!  Also, I wanted to–as I’m sure most of you know about me–balance color, but I did lean on the green end for this dish.

I wanted to balance the semi-soft nature of the dish with something crunchy, and after cutting open the butternut squash, I was in luck; seeds!  I decided to combine the butternut squash seeds with the other three you’ll see listed below to make a nice crunchy medley.  Honestly, I initially wanted these roasted, but I went with toasted and I was pleased with the results, however I recommend trying both ways.  Additionally, I did not hull the butternut squash seeds but ate them as they are.

The peas and the butternut squash balanced their sweetness and semi-savory nature perfectly and will dance on your palette with divine texture and pleasure.

Take a moment this spring to appreciate the colors nature offers, appreciate the remainder of veggies nestled in your fridge and prepare yourself a happy Spring sketti!

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 Splendid Springtime Spaghetti (gluten-free)

Ingredients

  • 1 package gluten-free spaghetti (I used the Tinkyada brown rice kind, but the quinoa pasta is great too!)
  • 1/2 cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 5 or 6 sun dried tomatoes (cut into strips and re-hydrated if purchased dried–boil water and place dried tomatoes in hot water after removing from heat; soak for 10 min.)
  • 7 or 8 thin slices of purple onion (cut in half, and separate into slivers)
  • 4 white mushrooms (cut into thin slices)
  • 1 bundle of flat leaf parsley(leaves and majority of stems minced)
  • 1 1/4 cup red kidney beans (cooked and drained)
  • 6 or 7 glugs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp Spanish paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic granules
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt to taste

Ingredients (toppings)

  • 1/2 medium to large butternut squash (roasted strips)
  • A couple of glugs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • A few shakes or cranks black pepper
  • All butternut squash seeds from cut squash (rinsed well and partially dried–either toss pulp or use for compost)
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds (raw; optional)
  • 2 tbsp sunflower seeds (raw; optional)
  • 1/2 avocado (per person, thin slices)

Instructions  (butternut squash)

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF
  2. Rinse and peel squash and chop off bottom and top
  3. Slice in half through the vertical perimeter and then use seed scooper or large spoon to scoop out seeds  and pulp
  4. Place seeds into a bowl reserving them for the seed mixture topping (see above)
  5. Cut  squash into 1/2 inch thick strips, about an inch and a half long
  6. Place squash strips in medium bowl and cover with a couple of glugs olive oil, salt and pepper
  7. Toss squash with hands until it is lightly coated with oil, salt and pepper
  8. Distribute squash evenly on baking sheet and bake for 30 to 35 minutes (flip half-way)
  9. Once baking is complete, place aside

Instructions (pasta dish)

  1. Begin by prepping all veggies
  2. Boil enough water to be able to submerge entire pasta amount (I break pasta in half); salt pasta once pasta is added.  Cook 10 – 15 minutes or until pasta is al dente.  Gluten-free pasta can get mushy very easily, that’s why you want it to be slightly undercooked or perhaps this is your taste
  3. Drain, rinse and place pasta back into sauce pan or pot
  4. Add olive oil and all spices and marjoram to cooked pasta
  5. Add all veggies except butternut squash
  6. Mix well, but gently so as to not tear apart the spaghetti
  7. Add lemon juice and salt to taste and stir
  8. Keep over a very low heat to warm until the next step is complete
  9. In a bowl, mix together all seeds, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper (lightly coating seeds)
  10. In a dry skillet, over medium heat, add seeds and toast until golden brown (note:  add the sesame seeds toward the end of the toasting process as they will brown much faster than the other seeds)
  11. Serve pasta in bowls and place butternut squash slices on top, then fan out avocado slices and finally sprinkle with seed mixture
  12. Serves:  Approx. 4 people
  13. Enjoy out on the patio, your front steps or in whatever immediate outdoors area you have and I recommend following this meal (15-30 minutes later of course :p) with a kombucha!

splendidspringtimespaghetti5I hope you all enjoy this meal and please let me know your thoughts and experiences welcoming Spring.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

Cinema Cuisine: Italy – L’eclisse [1st Video]

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YesterdayCafe

Hello Everyone,

My experience with preparing and cooking the assorted dishes for Cinema Cuisine, Italy, was that much more care, devotion, patience and love had to go into each dish.  What do I mean?  Oftentimes in the kitchen, as much as possible, I try to be efficient and quick in my approach to making a meal.  I embrace delicate measures when necessary, but otherwise, I’m multitasking and moving from one dish to the next, incorporating one spice or ingredient after the next. After much sweat and heart, the meal is complete.  Shortly after, I either feel one of two things: a strong sense of accomplishment and elation or a mild sense of disappointment and anxiety.   These feelings are common because I’m either pleased with my creations or I’m displeased with–by my standards–an unsatisfactory outcome.  Either way, I’m able to enjoy my creations with a loved one and, being the critic that I am, dissect the many facets of the meal.  With this in mind, for my Italian meal I allowed self and outside critique, but I channeled a level of love into the process of making the dishes that I rarely do.  It was one of my most enjoyable cooking experiences yet.

Before the big meal, my love and I knew we needed to begin the process of making the homemade pasta for a few reasons, but mostly because we had never used a pasta maker before.  For the winter holiday of 2012, we received an authentic, Italian press (with some extra attachments) and a bamboo wooden drying rack for the pasta.  Up until the end of June, we had yet to crack open the box, and this lack of attention to this thoughtful pasta making gift set in motion my idea of choosing Italy as our next film and cuisine exploration.

Below you’ll find many recipes and my FIRST VIDEO that you too could incorporate into a day or days of Italian themed dishes.  Most of them are my own creations and ideas, but some are inspired by wonderful chefs I’ve discovered.  I hope you enjoy every bite and appreciate the process of making this meal or meals as much as I did.  What is more, as the Italians do, enjoy this meal with a group of people and even encourage a potluck. Making all of these delicious recipes and more could turn into an all day affair.  For me, there’s nothing more rewarding and satisfying.

A quick note on L’eclisse.  Why–before the viewing of this film–I had yet to see an Antonioni film, escapes me, but I can say these dishes couple consummately as their simplicity matches the contemplative and confident manner of this movie.  Please, enjoy every bite and every frame.

Keep a look out for our podcast where you’ll hear much more depth into L’eclisse. I’ll post it in a few days!  Please let me know what you think of the recipes and the tweaks you made to your own creations.  And remember…bite responsibly!

 

Breakfast

Raw Cacao, Avocado Pudding/Spread w/ Apple slices & Italian Press Coffee

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 ripe medium avocados
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 to 3 tbsp unsweetened almond (or coconut) milk to taste
  • 1 to 2 tbsp pure maple syrup to taste
  • 1 or 2 drops of liquid stevia to taste (slightly more liberal w/ powder version)
  • 6 tbsp raw cacao
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 large apple of your choice (pear)
  • fresh coffee beans
  • coffee press
  • water

INSTRUCTIONS

 

For Pudding/Spread

  1. Slice the avocado lengthwise to break past the outter skin barrier, remove the pit and spoon out contents into high powered blender/food processor
  2. Add vanilla, maple syrup, raw cacao, cinnamon and the first tbsp of almond milk
  3. Blend until a smooth, creamy texture is reached (note:  Add remaining tbsp of milk if mixture is too dry. Additionally if not sweet enough, add in stevia–take care to not add too much initially as excessive amounts could make the pudding/spread too bitter.)
  4. Slice apple with skin on and enjoy it with liberal amounts of this delicious pudding

For Coffee Press

  1. Coarsely grind two tbsp of coffee for ever 6 oz of water
  2. Begin to heat water, don’t boil
  3. Place ground coffee beans at the bottom of your press
  4. Pour VERY hot water (not boiling) over beans and immediately cover with coffee press lid, but do NOT press down filtration piece yet; let sit for 3-5 minutes
  5. Press down filtration press piece and pour into your favorite mug
  6. ENJOY!

NOTES

 

This dish could also be made with soft and soaked medjool dates (6 to 8). I happened to not have any on hand. Raisins would also be a nice substitute.

Also, Italians often enjoy their chocolate spread with bread or toast.

For a more dense protein treat, add some pre-soaked raw pecans (you’ll get a flavor closer to Nutella but without the hazlenuts).

Should store, refrigerated for up to two days.  After two days I’d smell it/taste it.

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Flavorful and full-bodied coffee beans from www.equalexchange.coop

Lunch/Dinner

Italian Summer Salad

INGREDIENTS (serves 4 large portions or 6 smaller portions)

  • 1 head romaine lettuce (chopped)
  • 1/2 large cucumber (sliced thinly into half moons)
  • colorful sweet peppers of your choices (I chose:  1 purple, 1 red, 1 green, 1 banana; thinly sliced rings)

INGREDIENTS (DRESSING)

  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar (if you’re watching alkalinity, nix this and add an extra 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar)
  • salt to taste
  • course, freshly ground pepper
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp & 1 tsp dried Italian herb mixture (my mixture is:  thyme, basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, marjoram; if you have fresh herbs available, curve the amount; also, the dressing cannot be kept as long)

INSTRUCTIONS

 

For Salad

  1. After cleaning, chopping and drying lettuce, place it in a large bowl
  2. Add pepper rings and cucumber slices
  3. Toss with clean hands until vegetables are all mixed

For Dressing

  1. Pour liquids into a jar and then add remainder of ingredients
  2. Place lid on the top of jar and shake until mixture combines
  3. Before mixture separates, conservatively pour over salad
  4. Enjoy salad soon, or lettuce will wilt.  If only enjoying in single portions, plate salad portion and drizzle dressing over individually.  Secure remaining dressing with lid, store at room temperature

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Beet Balls

NOTES

  • Please see my previous post for the beet ball recipe HERE.
  • Some tweaks: I adjusted the herb mixture, type of mushroom and nut when I made these recently, and unlike my old post, I find that golden beets do bring out a more savory nature to these balls.

 

Sauteed Summer Squash

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 summer squash (yellow & zucchini, mixture of your choosing; thinly sliced into half strips)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp grapeseed oil/coconut oil
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

 

  1. After slicing squash and mincing garlic, heat skillet over medium heat and add oil
  2. Once oil is hot–should move like water in the pan–gently place squash slices into skillet and gently toss until every piece is covered with oil
  3. After beginning to brown, add garlic
  4. Cook until gentle (to fork) and garlic is fragrant, lightly browned, but not burnt; about 7 minutes
  5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss, serve and enjoy ^_^

 

Homemade Pasta (gluten-free, soy-free, vegan)

Recipe by:  Cassie

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp flax (ground)
  • 6 tbsp warm water
  • 1 3/4 cup chickpea flour (additional amount for rolling out and pressing)

INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEO

Check out my very first instructional video (also streaming on YouTube) on how to make homemade pasta!

NOTES

 

  • I made farfalle and fettuccine noodles (both of which fell apart to some degree). I’ll need to do my own personal tweaking to the recipe for the future. Don’t overcook!
  • SALT the water!
  • Make sure you have plenty of flour for rolling out and putting dough through pasta press, otherwise you’ll have a sticky mess.
  • I also recommend keeping a small bowl of cool water nearby wherever your hands are when rolling out the dough. This works much better with moist hands (the dough will not cling to your fingers in such large clumps with a little water).
  • Have a partner! Though you could make this pasta alone, I think it would be more fun and easier with a buddy.
  • Give yourself plenty of time and space. Don’t let the ingredients deceive you, this recipe is relatively time consuming, especially if you’re in a moderately cramped space.
  • Please do not get discouraged if you are in a one butt kitchen or don’t have a pasta press, this is completely doable without both, but it will be more challenging.  Respect your space and the amount of time it will take to make.
  • Kick back and enjoy the experience, otherwise you’ll botch the recipe and process and find yourself very frustrated.
  • Stick to the instructions in the video. Although I’m an advocate of going with the flow in recipes, skipping or rushing a step could lead to problems. :(

 

Walnut Basil Pesto

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 to 1 cup raw walnuts–depending on how ‘nutty’ you want your pesto (soaked w/ apple cider vinegar for 6 hours, rinsed)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups loosely pressed basil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (more or less to your desired consistency)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (more or less to your desired consistency, taste)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

 

  1. Place nuts, oil and all other ingredients in high-powered blender or food processor
  2. Begin to blend and slowly increase speed to high
  3. Use bowl scraper to wipe sides of container and blend once more to catch the rest of the ingredients that may have splattered
  4. Depending on the consistency you want (either chunky or smooth), pace your blending
  5. Serve mixed into pasta (specifically for this recipe) and freeze the remainder in an ice-cube tray covered in plastic wrap

NOTES

  • This will make a sizable amount. Try freezing the remainder in ice-cube trays and cover with plastic wrap.  Later, you have a quick meal as all you’ll have to do is pop a pesto cube onto your dish and heat it up or thaw it out.

 

Italian Creamy White Sauce w/ Parsley and Grape Tomatoes

Follow directions HERE for dressing then do the following:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1 garlic clove (yes, more garlic)
  • 3 tsp dried Italian herb mixture
  • water to desired consistency (unsweetened almond milk for a thicker consistency)
  • 6 grape tomatoes (quartered)
  • handful of fresh flat leaf parsley (gently minced; lucky me, this go round I had some from my herb garden!)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Follow instructions for dressing FIRST
  2. Next, add cashews, garlic, Italian herb mixture and water
  3. Blend once more
  4. Serve mixed into pasta (add in parsley and quartered grape tomatoes), or over your favorite, homemade gluten-free pizza crust (without the added parsley, just the tomatoes)!

NOTES

  • Italians typically serve a plain or ‘pasta blanco’ for ease of digestion as a more minimal dish. I dressed up the idea but created a vegan, high protein/omega-3 cream sauce, free of soy and other additives.

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Healthy Regards,

RAM

 

Refernces:

Italian Breakfast

Italy Food Culture

Primer – Italian Food Culture