RENDEZVOUS WITH ROUSSEAU | Culinary Adventures in the Aesthetics of Time and Space | 8-Spelt Incorrectly

The Swabians know it as Schwabenkorn, the Swiss as Dinkel, the French as Épeautre, the Polish as Orkisz, the Russians as Polby. The ancient Greeks knew it as Olyra and as Zeia, the ancient Romans as Far and as Adorium and it is from the Saxons who knew it as Spelta that we have its English name — Spelt!

Names are a clue to origins. If the object of your desire has no name in your language it has no origin in your land. Spelt is known to the Germans and the Swiss because it is rooted in their culinary culture and has been for a very long time. Spelt does not appear on the ancient monuments and tablets of the Anatolians and Turks, nor the Egyptians or Persians or Sumerians, yet it was found growing wild in the Balkans 4,000 years ago and in ancient Mesopotamia 8,000 years ago.

The oldest known spelt deposits in Europe have been dated to the late Stone Age, 4,500 years ago. Spelt grains were found at Cortaillotd where four neolithic villages existed close to the shore of Lake Neuchâtel, south of the modern city of Neuchâtel on the north side of the expansive lake. As the climate changed 3,500 years ago to become cooler and wetter the grain that was a natural cross between emmer wheat and dwarf wheat became resistant to that change, and thrived.

Alphonse De Candolle addressed the origin issue in his book Origin of Cultivated Plants. ‘There is much uncertainty as to the origin of the species as a wild plant. This leads me to attribute more importance to the hypothesis that spelt is derived by cultivation from the common wheat, or from an intermediate form at some not very early prehistoric time. The experiments of Vilmorin support this theory, for cross fertilizations of the spelt by the downy white wheat, and vice versâ, yield “hybrids whose fertility is complete, with a mixture of the characters of both parents, those of the spelt preponderating”.’

Three thousand years ago river valley communities in the south of Ireland were cooking with spelt berries. It is not difficult to imagine spelt being grown in Ireland. There was a constant flow of tribes from the high mountains of the Caucasus to the low mountains of Cork and Tipperary.

As the soil eroded and irrigation systems failed, farmers were forced to rely on spelt and for more than a thousand years, in the eroding soil and on the peripheries where the soil was poor, spelt fields provided a salvation, to the extent that some villagers could not wait to harvest the ripe grains, they cooked and ate the unripe berries.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca was the most distinguished of the Spanish writers of the Roman imperial age. Born in Corduba in Andalucia to a Roman equestrian family, Seneca was brought to Rome as a child and seemed destined for a political career. Instead, he became a stoic philosopher, producing wise words that carry moral echoes down the ages to us. He grew up in a Rome that distributed welfare in the form of free grain, an expedient consequence of food riots 2,080 years ago. Rome, he realised, could not feed its people. Its legionaries lived mainly on barley, durum wheat and spelt that was ground and made into unleavened breads known as buccellatum, which now survive as the puccia breads of Puglia.

During the centuries when the Roman Empire began to fall into decline, the soils of its conquered terrorities became deserts, marshlands and wastelands, from north Africa to the Levant and Persia to the Balkans and northern and western Europe as well as southern Italy and Sicily. Spelt, grown on fields in south-east England and on the slowly eroding land around Carthage, was the saviour.

It is not known where that spelt originated, whether it came from the Balkans or the Persian lands, from Ireland or England or Scandinavia or Tunisia. It is nonexistent today. Instead the modern grain we know as spelt has Swabian and Swiss origins.

We are in Kupprichhausen in northern Baden-Württenberg at the Grünkernfest sampling green spelt salad with berries that have been cooked in vegetable stock. We have been reminded of the words, nearly one thousand years ago, by Abbess Hildegard von Bingen of Rupertsberg. Spelt, she wrote in her diary, ‘makes people cheerful with a friendly disposition. Those who eat it have healthy flesh and good blood.’

Tim Schneider, a food scientist and bread baker in Stuttgart in the heart of the province, is also an advocate of the benefits of spelt and the reason why green grain exists. ‘Farro (grünkern) is a common food in Swabia. These are the unripe spelt berries. They were eaten because people starved and couldn’t wait for the harvest of the spelt.’

‘Spelt and rye must have been to medieval Germans what rice is today for many South Asian countries. The South Asian cultures and Middle Eastern countries flourished far before Europe became advanced and powerful in any way and I think that is partly also due to the fact that they had wheat and rice available as energy and nutrient sources.’

‘In Swabia it was grown because it requires less warmth from the sun and does not need good soil. Spelt is much easier to grow than wheat. I remember reading once that spelt traveled back to the Middle East from Swabia. But it was rejected there because their bread wheat had the better dough properties and is easier to process, no hull. In Swabia, they wished to grow bread wheat over spelt too and today we are at this point except that spelt is still valued here because it has a good flavour and nutritional value, especially the ancient variety.’

‘Spelt always played a key role in Swabian food. Many Swabian potato dishes like the schupfnudeln (gnocci) were made with 100% spelt flour in good times. The potato then allowed a switch to a potato dough with only a little spelt added to ensure a steady food supply when flour was scarce.’

‘It’s maybe a lucky coincidence that spelt was invented by mother nature two times.’ 

Spelt has never been more popular, and not just in southern Germany and in northern Switzerland, where those older varieties are being cultivated. Known as urdinkel (old spelt), the range of flours milled from spelt are going into every type of bread and pastry, replacing hard and soft wheat in many recipes.

It is also becoming increasingly popular in Ireland, where Andrew and Leonie Workman grow, mill and package spelt berries and flour from their farm in Dunany, on the coast below the ancient land of Oriel above the Boyne Valley in county Louth.

Spelt, with barley, einkorn wheat and emmer wheat, remained a staple in Europe until the 20th century, when it fell out of favour for numerous reasons, not least the problems associated with harvesting, separating and milling into flour.

The Workmans have got round these problems with modern machinery. Now spelt is one of their biggest sellers and they have high hopes for the berries, which can be used in salads and stews, to make risotto and soaked whole to be baked in bread.

Dominick Gryson, a Louth man who has experimented with ancient grains to find strong shafts for thatching, believes the Workmans have found a great artisan product. ‘Spelt does not give the same yield as modern wheats, which do not grow well here in our climate. Spelt, on the other hand, is suited to the soil and the climate and can be sold as a high-value organic product.’

Spelt contains beneficial minerals, unsaturated fatty acids, vitamins (B and E), and has six of the eight essential amino acids that stimulate the production of happiness hormones, just as the abbess said. But it is the low GI (glycaemic index of carbohydrates) that makes spelt a primary health product. With 35 compared to 40 for wheat and 70 for rice, spelt releases glucose more slowly into the bloodstream, balancing out blood sugar levels.

Spelt is described as a covered wheat, with two kernels that cannot be threshed free from the hull. That was its disadvantage at the end of the 19th century. Despite the success of modern wheat, with its higher hectare yields, modern spelt has survived into the 21st century because of its nature, and because farmers and millers realised they had to accept smaller yields, albeit of grains with a niche value.

In Baden-Württemberg the good people of Neckar-Odenwald want to share their unique cuisine using the unripe grains of Bauländer Spelz, which are sold as Fränkischer Grünkern.

They have produced a book – Hauptsache Grünkern (Mainly Greencorn) – with 150 grünkern-themed recipes. Recently awarded geographical indicator status by the European Union, grünkern is amazingly popular in southern Germany, where the green spelt festival has been held every year in Kupprichhausen since 1978. Grünkern can be bought from Zimmermann Mill.

Spelt saved the early Roman Empire but it also sustained the tribes of barbarians who brought about the fall of Rome and allowed their descendants to supplant Roman power throughout Europe. Something that powerful is worth promoting, especially now that modern wheat has lost its allure and the wisdom of the ancients, Seneca and von Bingen among them, is finally being heard.

… continued in part 9.

RENDEZVOUS WITH ROUSSEAU | Culinary Adventures in the Aesthetics of Time and Space | 7-Wheat Be Wary

Wheat in the canton of Vaud in Switzerland is local! The fields of gold are always a pleasant sight to the traveller on the train from Lausanne to Bern, climbing up to the central plateau that stretches Swiss agriculture from Geneva in the west to Schaffhausen in the east.

The sight wasn’t so pleasant three generations ago. The Swiss were in a bad way, food had to be imported, famously by the first sea-going Swiss ship, the Calanda, bringing grain among other products into the country during the 1940s.

The Swiss implemented the Wahlen Plan, which eventually brought the country to the levels of self-sufficiency and food security it now enjoys, a scenario that is almost unique in the world (China and Turkey are also self-sufficient in food). Wheat became an important crop for the Swiss and they want to keep it that way. They are not alone.

Wheat is classified as common (triticum aestivum), einkorn / siyez (triticum monococcum), durum (triticum durum) and spelt (triticum spelta). The main varieties of common wheat are spring and winter, hard and soft, red and white, and these make up the bulk of the wheat harvest. Wheat accounts for just less than a third of the total global cereals crop.

Despite reduced harvests in Canada, the Russian Federation and the USA, total wheat production in 2021 was 769.6 million tonnes, with demand expected to be robust in 2022. Argentina, Australia, Canada, the EU, Kazakhstan, Russian Federation, Ukraine and the USA are the major wheat exporters in the world.

Wheat has come a long way from its origins in the land now called Şanlıurfa 12,000 years ago. It began with the sweet grass that carried a single seed in a little ear, a very distinctive species in the mountainous areas of southeastern Turkey that would become known as einkorn in German, siyez in Turkish, triticum monococcum in latin. It continued with emmer, a grass found across the region from northeastern Turkey to the Caucasus into the Levant and down into Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq). Both grasses were domesticated, einkorn fell out of favour while emmer, triticum diccoccum in latin, thrived at Arukhlo in Georgia and at Çatalhöyük in Turkey 8,000 years ago.

Coincidentally Göbekli Tepe is in Şanlıurfa!

Food historian Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat described what happened. ‘The grain was naked, separating easily from the husk of the glumes. The axis of the ear was stronger, even high winds could not blow a single grain away. Modern wheat had come into being.’

The new wheats — which became known as club wheat, triticum compactum, and common wheat, triticum aestivum and triticum vulgare — were the result of cross-breeding, according to Toussaint-Samat, ‘by chance or design’.

Now there are more than 30,000 varieties of wheat with more on the way. Most are soft wheats (compared to the hard wheats that produce semolina for couscous and pasta).

Wheat has remained an important crop for the Turks. They have brought einkorn back into the picture under the name siyez, continue to develop common wheat and take great delight in the on-going history of their bread-making tradition.

Turkish bakers will even tell you a story, if you ask them nicely, about their patron saint Adam and his expulsion from the Garden of Eden. In exile Adam met the archangel Gabriel, who taught him the secret of bread making. Adam then swore this secret to his descendants, who carry it today into the everyday bread of the Fertile Crescent countries including Anatolia, the Caucasus and Egypt.

It is probably fair to argue without much contradiction that the bakers of Armenia, Egypt, Georgia, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Turkey are without comparison when they employ their skills to produce dough that is made into crescent bread, loaf bread, flatbread, ring bread, small bread and into the various types of pastries. Gravitas, quality and tradition epitomise these breads and pastries, which are baked early and consumed fresh throughout the day from homes and local bakeries across the region and throughout Europe where migrants from these countries have settled.

During the Ottoman period the breads and pastries of Anatolia, the Levant and Persia made their way westwards. The techniques became known as Viennoiserie, penetrated western Europe in the late 1800s, and changed the traditional attitudes toward the sourdough bread culture of France, Germany, Poland, Russia, Scandinavia and Switzerland and the aromatic flatbreads of the Mediterranean countries, which had also begun to infiltrate the outer reaches of Europe.

Back in Anatolia and the Levant, wheat grains were also used to make bulgur, a tradition that goes back more than 10,000 years old and has remained popular, especially in Turkey where bulgar was once known as the ‘senior of the home’. There was a time when every household would boil the whole grains, dry them in the sun, then grind them in a large bulgur mill during an annual community event. Bulgar is now made commercially, fine ground for use in köfte (meatballs) and coarse ground for use in pilaf. Superfine bulgur is almost as fine as flour, and is used to make soup.

The original bread revolution in Anatolia, Assyria, the Caucasus and the Levant was replicated by the Egyptians and the Greeks who changed the tradition from the flat to the round. Then breads came in all shapes and sizes. Not surprisingly when the Romans got in on the act they employed Greek bakers, and also bakers from Gaul, who had learned how to make bread using beer yeast. Wheat flour remained in the ascendancy for a long time.

Austria’s more recent re-imagined version of the bread revolution is now being replicated in Switzerland where modern einkorn, modern spelt and modern wheat are being used to make a range of small breads with high hydration and numerous ingredients (featured in our book Handmade Small Breads).

Vaud has become the breadbasket of Switzerland, with a quarter of the bread grains grown in the arable land across the central plateau. These include modern varieties of wheat descended from old varieties with a fidelity to the ancient genetic material.

Karl-Heinz Camp works in Delley Samen, where he is developing new types of wheat in cooperation with Agroscope, the federal competence centre for agricultural research.

‘It takes about 12-15 years for a crossbreed to turn into a marketable variety from which Swiss bread is made. Of course, the best thing is always when a new variety has gained a foothold in the market. So when the seed multipliers have started to propagate the variety, and after 2-3 years it has arrived on the market or is accepted. That’s what you worked for over 15 years.

Wheat is going to be crucial in sustainable food security systems. Whether it will be common wheat, modern einkorn or modern spelt or combinations of flours is the debate. Common wheat divides opinion among those who live in the countries where it is the dominant crop in the agricultural scheme. The use of herbicides and pesticides, especially glyphosate with its detrimental effect on bee, insect and worm populations, is more than a mere concern. Glyphosate is used as a pre-harvest desiccant on wheat crops. The Pesticide Action Network, among others, wants a total ban on the use of glyphosate for pre-harvest desiccation because ‘it leads to higher levels of glyphosate residues in our food’ and because of the detrimental effect on wildlife.

The domestication of the wild grasses was the event that led to the rise of the city-states and civilisation as we now know it. James C. Scott, an academic at one of the Ivy League colleges, wrote a book called Against the Grain. In it he argued that the first city-states were dependent on grain, wheat and barley in Mesopotamia, millet in China, maize in Mesoamerica. ‘Cereals are easy to tax, they ripen at predictable times, the size of the harvest can easily be assessed, and the grain can be divided, transported and distributed in precisely measured rations by weight and volume. It is much more difficult to tax merchants who smuggle their goods, or to tax crops such as tubers that are hidden underground and can be dispersed throughout woodlands, or chickpeas and lentils, which have an extended ripening season. If the cereal farming takes place close to a river that can be used for bulk transportation, a potent power base can be established. That is what happened among the river and canal systems of Mesopotamia and Ancient China.’

Common wheat is still a valuable commodity, traded on the stock markets, its flour desired by bakers everywhere. Whether it continues to be the choice of flour for breads, cakes and pastries is the challenge that must be met by the breeders. New varieties must be resilient, resistant to the vagaries of climate change and the market place, where the yield is pivotal to the price. But if the new varieties don’t meet the nutritional requirements of demanding bakers and sensitive consumers there will be competition, from spelt in particular.

Since the 2010s spelt production in Switzerland has doubled. This is because it can be grown in poor soil, is resistant to the cold and has a unrivalled nutritional package – magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin B1 and zinc. Bread made with spelt flour has a nutty flavour and something else that has been known for a long time.

The issue over gluten might weaken wheat, it is difficult to know. For now, in the countries with a wheat tradition, it is still in the ascendency. Somehow though there is a sensibility that suggests a move toward other grains, especially spelt which can be grown on marginal land and a grain we have forgotten about.

The Turks have another story. A tree’s roots are in the earth, a man’s roots are in bread. Wheat no more, the future of bread will be different, it will be made with einkorn. An Anatolian native, einkorn is a hardy grain. It can tolerate extreme climatic conditions and is resistant to diseases and pests, and it could become the saviour once again. Modern wheat varieties pushed grains like einkorn and spelt into the background, now their roles are more prominent.

Einkorn is grown in the Balkans, France, Morocco and Turkey, where it is seen as a healthy alternative to modern wheat, especially genetically modified wheat. Like spelt, einkorn has a low glycaemic index and is therefore easily digested. It also has a low gluten content. It contains twice as much vitamin A as modern wheat, more iron and more zinc. 

Bread began with ancient einkorn, could it continue with modern einkorn?

… continued in part 8.

RENDEZVOUS WITH ROUSSEAU | Culinary Adventures in the Aesthetics of Time and Space | 6-High On A Hill

On 1 July 2018 the World Heritage Committee added a hill in eastern Anatolia to the UNESCO World Heritage List. In her report to announce this event, Eva Götting described the site.

‘On the hill of Göbekli Tepe, stone pillars stand tall against the Turkish summer sky. People first came here more than 11,000 years ago. These men and women, who lived as hunters and gatherers, achieved a great deal with very little. Without metal tools, the highly skilled artisans of Göbekli Tepe carved the T-shaped pillars from the local limestone. These pillars – some of which were up to 5.5 metres high and weighed several tons – then found their way from the nearby quarry to the site, where the communities incorporated them into round-oval, semi-subterranean stone buildings. Fox, crane, boar, snake and scorpion arise from the light-coloured stone, leaving a vivid testimony of Neolithic art. For thousands of years, the monumental structures were forgotten, covered by a mound of earth and rubble.’

Under the auspices of Klaus Schmidt, who excavated the site from 1995 to 2014, a Turkish-German collaboration of archaeologists gradually unearthed the secrets of Göbekli Tepe. Archaeologist Lee Clare said the hill site illustrated ‘a significant stage in human history’ especially for ‘our understanding of the Neolithic transition in this key area of the Fertile Crescent’. During those years the team of archaeologists began to understand the significance of the site for its creators and the legacy it would leave. ‘When Klaus Schmidt initiated excavations at Göbekli Tepe in the mid-1990s, there was practically no indication of the significance that this site held for us and future generations.’

These symbolic stones at this remote site near the village of Örencik, 20 kilometres north-east of Şanlıurfa, predate the stones of the pyramids (and the stones of Newgrange and Stonehenge) by 6,000 years and it would appear they have nothing in common. Archaeologists generally agree that the 11,500 year old site and its surrounding stones indicate some kind of belief system coupled to artist expression that celebrated the symbolism of life and death, the possible worship of animals, gods and celestial bodies, and an organised collectivism that became active across the region. There is no evidence of the domestication of animals and the cultivation of einkorn wheat was a pragmatic solution that produced beer as well as bread. There is a suggestion that the tepe was used for communal activity including cereal distribution, death rites, family ceremonies and what has been described as ‘external memorial storage,’ a sanctuary where the dead could rest in peace, safe from scavenging birds and animals. And this is where the conundrum comes into play.

For the time being everything is speculative!

The significance of Göbekli Tepe has been warped into a riddle in recent years. The archaeologists want to ensure it does not become a game for those who like a good puzzle. What the archaeologists do know, from their scans, is that there are around 20 enclosures with 200 megalithic pillars on the tepe, and, until they have a better understanding of these stones and the other stone sites in the region, they want to keep the debate about the symbolic character of the stones in perspective.

Archaeologist Jens Notroff explained. ‘We know little of the beliefs these people might have followed, so it would seem rather bold to denote these monumental pillar-statues as personifications of “deities”. They seem to represent something more, supposedly something beyond the self-referential depiction of human beings. Together with the obviously narrative character of other depictions on these T-pillars which clearly exceed simple decorative purposes, this perception feeds the impression that we are confronted here with a complex iconography – with mythological narrations probably even.’

Animal figures associated with the symbols of the various tribes who frequented the sanctuary are shown in relief on the stones. The boar, bull, crane, duck, fox, lion, scorpion and snake are represented. The large T-shaped pillars feature reliefs of stylised human figures. Klaus Schmidt was also reluctant to associate the artwork with a belief system. He suggested Göbekli Tepe had been built as a ‘sanctuary’ and as a ‘terminus’ where the dead could be safely left in the open. Others had a different idea.

In 2019 Manu Seyfzadeh and Robert Schoch concluded that the T-shaped pillars were symbolically marked to represent a god who guarded the entry to the afterlife for animals and humans. ‘We propose that this theme may have been inspired by real celestial images of the then prevailing night sky, ritually reenacted and celebrated for centuries by hunter-gatherer pilgrims to this hill and then spread by their descendants across Anatolia still influencing language in the region spoken and written thousands of years later.’

It would appear the enclosures or gates of the megalith were astronomically aligned. One enclosure is apparently oriented towards the rising point of the Sun on the day of the harvest festival, a day approximately halfway between the summer solstice and the autumn equinox.

All this adds to the arguments, opinions, speculations and theories that the hunter-gatherer tribes of eastern Anatolia and upper Mesopotamia around eleven thousand years ago were highly cognitive, spatially conscious of their environment and had developed a form of animism they felt a desire to celebrate with their creativity. As nomads they would have collected geographical, geological and topographical knowledge, much like the birds and animals they hunted. They lived among them and as inhabitants of that world they shared the same traits, symbolic association must have seemed like the natural thing to do.

A network of T-pillar enclosures exists within a 200 kilometre radius of Göbekli Tepe. These were assembled, decorated and erected by trans-egalitarian tribes with skilled workers and they had to be fed. Oliver Dietrich, Jens Notroff and Klaus Schmidt said this was a shift in perspective. ‘Vast evidence for feasting at [each] site seems to hint at work feasts to accomplish the common, religiously motivated task of constructing these enclosures.’

Laura Dietrich, Oliver Dietrich, Julia Heeb and Nils Schäkel collaborated on a paper they titled ‘Plant food management as a prerequisite for monumental building at Göbekli Tepe‘. They also asked a curious question, how many scientists does it take to make a stone speak? It is a trick question so don’t go there, but it is relevant because over 10,000 grinding stones were found at the site and macrobotanical analysis revealed traces of the wild variants of almond, barley, einkorn, emmer and pistachio, as you would expect from this region.

The team also experimented with the different shapes of hand stones for grinding the cereals and nuts, and meat from wild animals and concluded that the different types had specific practical purposes. With our knowledge of the history of traditional food in the region (modern Turkey, Syria and the Levant), we can tell you that the mortar and pestle method for grinding and pounding ingredients produced numerous iconic foods that are ingrained in those ancient methods and traditions.

One of these is lcli köfte, a type of meatball made with a crust from fine ground bulgar, semolina and walnuts with a core of pounded meat, onions and walnuts with various herbs and spices including cumin, dried red pepper flakes, mint, parsley and sumac plus red pepper paste and an ingredient that has been part of Anatolian and Assyrian food culture for a very long time – pomegranate molasses. These portable little packages can be baked in a hearth, boiled in water and fried in oil. It does not require a stretch of the imagination to see the cooks at Göbekli Tepe engaged in the production of this type of food from indigenous ingredients.

In his review of James C. Scott’s Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States, Steven Mithen wondered whether the wild einkorn was deliberately cultivated to feed the workers who built the pillars and walls of the sanctuary. ‘If the Neolithic gods could persuade people to invest so much effort in construction, and to suffer the physical injuries, ailments and deaths that came along with it, then perhaps expending those extra calories in the fields would have seemed quite trivial.’

Klaus Schmidt came to the same conclusion. Without a controlled use of the natural resources, the hunter-gatherers would have exhausted the wild plants during the long period of construction. That solution might have been an agreed plan, to collect the seeds of wild plants like almond, barley, einkorn, emmer and pistachio, plant them on the slopes of the mountain and the surrounding ground and harvest the grains and nuts as needed during the months of carting the limestone from nearby quarries and the laborious carving and placing of the stones on the mountain top. Beer apparently crowned the nightly feasts and as anyone with knowledge of beer will tell you, beer made with wheat has a depth of flavour to quench any thirst!

There is no evidence of permanent agriculture, and no suggestion that any temporary cultivation of grains and nuts and seeds in the Urfa region led to a farming revolution. That did not happen until thousands of years later. Göbekli Tepe had a different purpose, and we may never know what it was beyond the obvious, from the symbolic representation on the stones to the symbolic shape of the stones, and from the symbolic location of the stones – high on a hill.

Göbekli Tepe planted an idea in the minds of humans and we may never know why the idea remained dormant for countless generations. We can only guess, that it was resisted because the hunter-gatherer existence was the absolute expression of life, the natural way.

… continued in part 7.

Legendary Dishes | Spaghetti con Salsa di Zucchini | Spaghetti alla Nerano (pasta with courgette sauce)

ITALY

Traditionally the small courgettes used for this dish were salted to release the water content. With some modern varieties this is not necessary so be sure to select firm courgettes. While it does help to intensify the flavour the same impact can be achieved with deep frying in hot oil, although shallow frying is favoured in many regions.

On the Amalfi Coast the deep-fried method is employed while the dish is dressed with Provolone del Monaco cheese and is known as the spaghetti of Nerano. Nerano is a small village in the region.

Spaghetti with a courgette sauce is typical of the Campania region, because of the proliferation of courgettes, easily and quickly grown in its fertile lands.

Variations of the sauce throughout Italy can include anchovies, usually with garlic, capers, ‘nduja (the soft Calabrian salami made with chillies), tuna or tomatoes.

This dish is believed to be the original.

If you are able to get ‘good’ garlic 4 cloves is sufficient, if less aromatic use 6!

  • 1 kg courgettes, equally sliced into thin rounds
  • 500 ml olive oil
  • 500 g spaghetti, Gragnano
  • 200 g Provolone del Monaco cheese, grated (optional)
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, in their skins
  • Basil (optional)
  • Black pepper (optional)
  • Oregano (optional)
  • Parmigiano (optional)
  • Parsley (optional)
  • Salt (optional)

Deep fry the sliced courgettes in batches, in oil flavoured with whole garlic, until they take on a golden colour. Set aside to cool and soften, at least 8 hours or overnight.

Cook the spaghetti until al dente, reserve some of the cooking water.

Gently heat 4 tablespoons of the oil used to cook the courgettes in a large frying pan.

Add the spaghetti, the courgettes and a ladleful of the spaghetti cooking water. Cover and cook for two minutes.

Serve dressed with choice of cheese and choice of seasonings.


Legendary Dishes | Sperrins Bacon-wrapped Pigeon Breasts with Mushrooms and Onions, Mushroom Sauce and mashed Potatoes

Pigeons

  • 8 pigeon breasts, marinated
  • 16 steaky bacon slices, stretched, halved
  • 12 small onions
  • 12 small white mushrooms, quartered
  • 45 ml game jelly
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • Salt, large pinch
  • Water

Season the pigeon breasts, wrap a half slice of bacon around one side, then around the other side.

Fry the bacon-wrapped breasts in oil, turning to ensure all sides are sealed. Remove to small casserole dish.

Fry the onions in the bacon fat and oil until they take on a little colour. Set aside.

Fry the mushrooms over a low heat. Set aside.

Deglaze the pan with the jelly and some water.

Sauce

  • 300 ml game stock
  • 12 small white mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 tbsp red currant jelly

Combine the stock, jelly and mushrooms in a pot, reduce until the liquid begins to thicken.

Finish

Arrange the fried mushrooms and fried onions around the bacon-wrapped breasts in the casserole dish, pour in the jelly from the frying pan.

Bake uncovered in a hot oven, around 210ºC, for 20 minutes.

Serve the breasts with the mushrooms and onions, mushroom sauce and mashed potatoes.


FRICOT INDIGENOUS LIVE!


Announcing the gradual launch of Fricot Indigenous Live!, a virtual interface for the implementation of localised sustainable food security systems via an interactive network with access to ‘app’ platforms (for the various elements of food security – indigenous and climate sensitive produce, artisanal products, local foods, traditional recipes, soil types, growing mediums and methods, food supply including bakeries, bistros, cafes and food production areas, sustainable food education and training, climate neutral food production and consumption programmes, and total food hub systems adapted to local climates) using blockchain technology to monetise the field-to-fork elements and programme the educational elements.

Key Phrases and Words

  • indigenous food produce
  • local food produce
  • local artisanal food products
  • plant lore / ethnobotany / wild plant use and database
  • traditional dishes
  • recipes based on local produce
  • local food production / sustainable food hub
  • bio horticulture
  • bio soil production areas
  • soil regeneration areas
  • forest and wilderness areas
  • woodland gardening / 7-storey gardening
  • compost creation areas
  • climate neutral farming with pollinator protection systems
  • climate neutral food production and consumption
  • sustainable food education
  • bakery
  • bistro / cafe / experimental kitchens
  • traditional cookery school (affiliated to local college / university)
  • indigenous produce apps (with blockchain technology for commercial, educational, informational and supply chain interactivity)
  • artisanal products apps (with blockchain technology for commercial, educational, informational and supply chain interactivity)
  • fricot local app



Legendary Dishes | Sperrins Slow Cooked Pheasant

IRELAND

This is a Fricot Here It’s Local dish. The story of game in Ireland is told in Here It’s Local (Atlantic Fringe).

  • 2 pheasants, circa 600 g, whole
  • 650 ml apple juice
  • 250 g carrots, chopped
  • 250 g onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp juniper berries
  • 1 tsp salt

Place the birds in a slow cooker basin, surround with carrots and onions, sprinkle with juniper berries, season. Pour apple juice over the birds into the basin.

Cook at lowest setting for 12 hours.

Separate the meat from the bones, set aside. There should be around 750 g cooked meat.

Sieve the cooking liquid into a blender.

Pick over the cooked vegetables to remove any shot, crush the juniper berries.

Place the vegetable-berry mixture into the blender, blend into a smooth sauce.

Put the meat in a pot with the sauce, reheat gently.

Serve with choice of cabbage strips wth mashed apple and potato or mashed carrot and potato or kale strips with mashed potato or mashed potato flavoured with salted butter.


Legendary Dishes | Sperrins Slow Cooked Venison Stew

IRELAND

This is a Fricot Here It’s Local dish. The story of game in Ireland is told in Here It’s Local (Atlantic Fringe).

Stew

  • 1 kg venison, cut into 3 cm pieces
  • 450 ml apple juice / red wine
  • 300 g carrots, grated
  • 300 g white mushrooms, coarse chopped
  • 300 g leek, sliced thin
  • 200 g shallots, sliced thin
  • 150 g celery, chopped small
  • 120 g red currant jelly
  • 9 garlic cloves, whole
  • 2 tsp juniper berries
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Caraway seeds, pinch

Marinade the venison pieces in the apple juice or red wine with black peppercorns and juniper berries for 10 hours. Drain and retain liquid.

With half of the carrots, celery and leeks place a layer on the bottom of a slow cooker basin. Follow with a third of the marinated venison pieces layered on top, season with a pinch of black pepper and salt.

Place a layer of mushrooms on top of the venison and half of the garlic and half of the shallots.

Place half of the remaining venison on top of the mushroom-shallot mixture followed by remaining carrots, celery and leeks.

Place remaining venison on top of the carrot mixture.

Finish with remaining garlic and shallots, black pepper and salt, caraway seeds, the red currant jelly dotted across the top.

Pour in the marinate liquid.

Start on highest setting for 2 hours, complete on low setting for 10 hours.


Legendary Dishes | Sauce Poivre Vert (green pepper sauce)

FRANCE EUROPE WORLD

This sauce is associated with haute cuisine, particularly when it is served with sirloin steak.

Steak and green peppercorn sauce was a frequent item on menus during the 1970s and 1980s.

If it was made by a classically-trained chef it would contain a green peppercorn paste made with peppercorns and shallots, a splash of brandy and concentrated veal jelly or meat stock to add a depth of flavour that was difficult to determine.

This is the traditional recipe, made with shallots (which can be omitted), cream, mustard and lightly crushed green peppercorns.

  • 200 g crème fraîche / sour cream
  • 200 g shallots, sliced
  • 35 g green peppercorns in brine, drained, dried, lightly crushed
  • 30 ml dry white wine
  • 15 g mustard
  • 15 ml olive oil
  • 1 tsp green peppercorns, ground
  • Salt, large pinch

Fry the shallots in oil until they are soft and have turned brown, about 25 minutes.

Deglaze the pan with some wine, stir in the cream and mustard, cook for two minutes, then add the green peppercorns.

Heat through.

Sprinkle with ground green pepper.

If making at the same time as the sirloin, add the juice from the frying pan after the steaks have rested.


Legendary Dishes | Byrek me Spinaq / Pita Zeljanica (cheese and spinach pies)

ALBANIA BOSNIA HERZEGOVINA FRANCE GREECE KOSOVO TURKEY

These traditional cheese and spinach filled filo pastry pies are ubiquitous throughout the Balkans, the Trans-Caucasus, down into the eastern Mediterranean.

The pies made in Bosnia-Herzengovnia and Kosovo are similar to the Albanian pies.

The Greek pie, containing milk, is lighter while the Turks have traditionally used butter instead of oil between the filo layers.

Tinned spinach purée is an option for this version if fresh spinach is not available.

  • 1 kg spinach, chopped small
  • 500 g filo pastry
  • 375 ml olive oil
  • 300 g feta cheese
  • 250 g scallions / spring onions
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt, large pinch

Preheat oven to 175°C.

Cut a sheet of filo to fit into choice of baking tray with an excess edge to come up and over the sides (use two sheets if one is not long enough). Cut remaining filo into equal sizes to fit into bottom of tray.

Divide these sheets into two piles.

Grease the tray with oil, lay the large filo sheet/s, tucking in the corners, brush liberally with oil.

Place sheets from the first pile on top, brushing each sheet with oil before placing the next one on top.

Whisk cheese and egg together with 185 ml of oil and onions, pour this mixture into the tray.

Mix spinach and salt by hand, squeezing out any liquid, place on top of the cheese mixture.

Place remaining filo sheets on top, brushing each one with oil.

Fold the bottom sheet over, brush entire surface with oil.

Bake for 35 minutes.


Legendary Dishes | Croque-Monsieur | Croque-Madame (toasted cheese and ham sandwich)

FRANCE SWITZERLAND

This Parisian snack has travelled to the four corners of Europe since it appeared in 1910. The buffet car on the TGVs between Paris and Geneva once served croque-monsieur as good as any Parisian café, proving the maxim that quality ingredients make the dish! These being rustic country bread, good cheese and cured ham. The deluxe version contains a béchamel sauce topping, and some versions include mustard. A baked or poached egg on top turns monsieur into madame! Also it is not unknown with home-made versions to see cheese melted on the top slice of toast.

  • 16 slices (8 cm x 8 cm) appenzeller / gruyère / semi-hard cheese
  • 8 slices (10 cm x 10 cm) thick white bread, crusts removed
  • 8 slices (8 cm x 8 cm) cured ham
  • Butter, for spreading

Options

  • 4 baked / poached eggs
  • 60 g béchamel sauce
  • 60 g mustard

Place a slice of ham between two slices of cheese, then between slices of buttered bread.

Grill for five minutes each side until the bread takes on a light toast.

For a richer croque-monsieur, spread béchamel or mustard made with a large quantity of cheese on top after grilling one side, grill until a brown skin forms.


Legendary Dishes | Japraci and other Cabbage Rolls

EUROPE

From Belarus to the Caucasus via Moldova across the Balkans to the Baltic Sea into Scandinavia, the tradition of making stuffed cabbage rolls is alive and well.

Generally the filling is meat and rice with herbs and spices, but there is also a tradition of using grains, legumes and vegetables.


Japraci

These cabbage rolls are made throughout the Balkans using the traditional cabbage varieties of collard and rastan grown in the region.

  • 1 kg collard / rastan
  • 1 litre meat stock
  • 500 g shoulder beef, minced
  • 150 g onions, chopped small
  • 100 ml oil
  • 80 g rice, pre-cooked
  • 15 g parsley, chopped
  • 5 g salt
  • Black Pepper, pinch
  • Water, for washing and cooking leaves, and cooking rice

Cook the rice, drain, leave to cool.

Fill a large bowl with ice cold water.

Carefully separate leaves from the collard / rastan head.

Cut out the bumped rib from each leaf, then blanch in salted boiling water for three minutes. Immerse quickly in cold water, drain and set aside.

Combine the beef, oil, onions, parsley, rice and seasonings in a bowl, knead until the fat starts to separate.

Place 75 g of mixture at the base of each leaf, roll to shape the filling into a cylinder, fold in each end and roll again.

Arrange in layers in a large pot, cover with stock and cook over a low heat for two hours.


Kāpostu Tīteņi Golubci

The art of the cabbage roll has been refined through years of practice and the tradition of passing secrets from mother to daughter, nowhere more so than in northern Europe.

In Latvia their cabbage roll tradition is unique.

  • 1.5 kg cabbage, cored
  • 250 g beef, minced
  • 250 g pork, minced
  • 200 ml sour cream
  • 125 g onions, chopped small
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 60 g flour, for dredging
  • 50 g tomato paste
  • 50 g white bread, soaked, drained
  • 15 g cumin seeds
  • 15 g potato starch
  • 1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • Salt, large pinch
  • Rapeseed oil, for frying
  • Water, for cooking the cabbage

Bring a kettle of water to the boil.

Put the cabbage in a large pot, pour over the hot water, cover and cook for ten minutes, until the leaves start to separate from the head. Strain, reserve the cooking liquid.

Remove the leaves. Using a meat mallet, carefully tenderise the bumped rib of each leaf, without breaking the leaf. Set leaves aside.

Combine the meat with the cumin seeds, bread and onions, mix in the eggs, potato starch and seasonings.

Place a tablespoon of this mixture at the base of each leaf, fold in the sides and roll into a cylinder shape.

Dredge each cylinder parcel in flour, set aside on a floured plate.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Brown the parcels on all sides over a medium heat.

Transfer to a deep casserole dish.

Stir the cream into half of the cooking liquid, and pour over the cabbage parcels, adding more liquid if necessary.

Cover the casserole, bake for 30 minutes.

Carefully remove the cabbage parcels from the casserole dish, drain the liquid into a saucepan.

Pour in the tomato paste, reduce over a medium heat, season.

Serve cabbage parcels in sauce with mashed potatoes.


Sarma

  • 1.5 kg cabbage, cored
  • 1 litre water, for cooking whole cabbage
  • 500 ml (approximately) water for cooking cabbage parcels
  • 400 g bulgar, cooked
  • 400 g onions, chopped small
  • 100 g tomato paste
  • 30 g butter
  • 15 g cilantro, chopped
  • 15 g lovage, chopped
  • 15 g paprika flakes
  • 1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • Salt, large pinch
  • Rapeseed oil, for frying

Put the cabbage and one litre of water in a large pot, cover and bring to the boil, strain, cool and separate leaves from the head.

Cut out the bumped rib from each leaf.

Sauté onion in oil over a low heat for 30 minutes until it begins to brown and crisp, leave to cool.

Mix the bulgar, onions and half the tomato paste in a large bowl, add the herbs, spices and seasonings, knead for five minutes.

Place a tablespoon of this mixture at the base of each leaf, fold in the sides and roll into a cylinder shape. Repeat with remaining leaves and filling.

Arrange in layers in a large pot, cover with remaining tomato paste, butter and sufficient water, place a plate that will fit inside the pot, put the lid on cook over a low heat for an hour.

Serve with yoghurt.


Legendary Dishes | Sauerkraut (sour cabbage)

GERMANY NETHERLANDS POLAND
  • 1 large white cabbage
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Juniper berries
  • Stoneware jar with wooden disk / lid

Weigh the cabbage and for every 100 grams set aside 4 grams of salt, 4% of the cabbage weight.

Remove the hard core and outer leaves, retain the inner green leaves whole, and shred the cabbage into thin strips, then wash and drain. Place the leaves in the bottom of the jar.

Put a thin layer of strips on top with an even sprinkling of salt and a few juniper berries.

Repeat until the strips are used up or three-quarters of the jar has been filled.

Cover tightly with cloth or muslin, the disk or lid and an object heavy enough to exert pressure on the mixture.

Within 24 hours a foamy liquid should flood the lid. Spoon out the foam and keep doing so past four weeks. The sauerkraut is ready when no more liquid rises to the surface, up to eight weeks.

It is more beneficial eaten within a couple of weeks. After each portion is taken out remove surface liquid and replace with fresh water, changing the cloth and washing the lid.

Sauerkraut recipes are numerous, featuring berries, spices, vegetables and wine, served with bacon or sausage.


Indigenous Ingredients | Butter

Home-made Butter


The butter is all about the cream.

The cream is all about the milk.

The milk is all about the grass and herbs.

The grass is all about the soil.

And the soil is all about the environment.

Butter from the Soria region in Spain is specifically characterised by climate and environment. At 1026 metres above sea level, Soria is a harsh terrain. The dryness of the pasture, which produces tough flora, gives the milk specific qualities that are passed on to the butter.

If you can find cream made with milk from dairy cows fed on natural grasses and herbs, you can make high quality butter, just like they do in Soria.


Farmhouse Butter

Butter&Whey

Butter and Buttermilk


The original butter, easily made in the home using cream bought from a reliable supplier, or from farm cream.

  • 1 litre mature whole cream

Whip the cream by hand or machine until it forms into grains the size of rice and begins to leave a milky liquid.

Drain this liquid into a bowl, keep in fridge and use quickly.

Wash the butter under a cold water tap until the resulting liquid becomes cystal clear.

Shake the butter free of excess water.

Using two wooden spatula, work butter into desired shape.

Freeze or keep in the refrigerator, use fresh.

For beurre de culture (cultured butter) use one litre of crème fraîche or sour cream, or a combination of both. Kefir is also an option.


Cooking with Butter

Cooking with butter is a culinary art rooted in traditional preparations.

Nowadays the use of butter to fry or sauté is often frowned upon, but a little flavoured oil and a lower heat conveys two advantages – a reduction of fat and a better cooking medium.

While butter is still an essential element in the construction of a roux, it has lost some of its glamour for binding sauces and soups to other non-fat emulsifiers.

However, with traditional biscuits, breads, cakes, confections and pastries, butter has held its lofty position.

Therefore seeking the best butter for baking and cooking is essential.

Unsalted butters enhance flavour, but discretion should be taken when a recipe calls for a specific butter – whether aromatic, salted, sweetened or unsalted.

Aromatic butters, such as those of Bresse, Charentes-Poitou, Charentes, Deux-Sèvres and d’Isigny, give French breads and pastries that unmistakable flavour, and should be sought out to make brioche or croissants.

Brioche à Tête | Parisien Brioche

The classic brioche dough is made with almost equal amounts of butter to flour – a challenge for bakers making handmade brioche for the first time.

The standard method involves a three-stage process for developing the dough and a two-stage process for a longer fermentation.

  • 450 g butter, softened
  • 300 g white wheat flour, t450
  • 200 g strong white flour
  • 2 small eggs
  • 90 ml milk / water, warm
  • 30 g sugar
  • 20 g yeast
  • Salt, large pinch
  • 1 egg yolk / white, for brushing

Dissolve yeast in milk or water with the milk and sugar.

Mix flours with salt, pour onto a clean work surface.

Make a well in the flour, add yeast mixture and eggs, work into a smooth dough.

Divide dough into three pieces.

Knead butter into a smooth paste on the work surface. Gradually work the butter into one of the dough pieces.

When it is smooth, work in the second piece, and then the final piece.

Place dough in a large bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and leave for four hours.

Degas, leave for two hours.

Shape into 300 g balls and place in greased moulds. Leave for two hours.

Brush surface with white or yellow egg wash.

Bake at 180°C for 30 minutes.


Lyonnaise Brioche

  • 500 g pork sausage
  • 3 small eggs
  • 150 g white wheat flour, t450
  • 125 g butter, softened, cut into small pieces
  • 100 g strong white flour
  • 25 ml milk, warm
  • 10 g sugar
  • 10 g yeast
  • 5 g salt
  • 1 egg yolk, for brushing
  • Broth, for cooking sausage

Simmer sausage in broth for 45, leave to cool.

Dissolve yeast in milk and sugar.

Combine flour, salt, yeast mixture and eggs in a large bowl.

Gradually add butter, fold out onto clean work surface, knead into smooth dough.

Place back in bowl, cover and leave for two hours, degas, leave to rise again for two hours.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Flour work surface, roll dough into a rectangle 4 cm longer at each end than the length of sausage and wide enough to fold over and encase the sausage. Seal dough at both ends, leave to rise on a greased baking tray for an hour.

Brush with yolk, bake for 45 minutes.


Brioche Vendéenne

These enigmatic brioche are characterised by a method that requires hand rather than machine kneading, a long fermentation and low temperature baking in a slow oven.

The Brioche Vendéenne is a golden, plaited brioche, available in round or oval shapes or as a stick and weighs a minimum of 300 grams. It has a balanced aroma of butter and alcohol with a hint of vanilla or orange blossom.

The Association Brioche de Vendée describe the method.

‘The use together of a starter culture and yeast ensures a balanced action (gentle initially and then strong) and produces an airy, moist brioche with a stringy but melting texture. The presence of water or milk promotes fermentation and this quite unique melting texture.

‘In addition, the Brioche Vendéenne has a high sugar content. In fact, the brioche has to be cooked at a low temperature so that the sugar is not caramelised. Unlike other brioches with a higher total fat content, the Brioche Vendéenne is made exclusively with butter. The Brioche Vendéenne is also flavoured with alcohol or other flavours.’

Understandably Brioche Vendéenne is now one of the most popular pastry breads in France, taking one sixth of the brioche market.

Made with butter, eggs, flour and milk indigenous to the Vendée region, Brioche Vendéenne is manufactured by artisan bakers who favour a 24 hour fermentation and baking in old-style ovens at a low temperature.

  • 550 g white wheat flour, t450
  • 2 eggs
  • 125 g butter
  • 90 g vanilla sugar
  • 80 ml milk, warm
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 20 g liquid sourdough
  • 20 g yeast
  • 10 g salt
  • Brandy, splash

Dissolve yeast in milk and sugar.

Pour the flour out onto a clean surface, make a well in the centre, add salt followed by the brandy, eggs, starter and yeast mixture.

Carefully bring the ingredients together to form a loose dough. Do not work too much.

Divide dough into three pieces.

Knead butter on the work surface, then with a light hand work in one piece of the dough.

Work in the second piece with the remaining milk, then the final piece. Apply a light touch to the kneading.

Leave to rise for four hours in a room where the ambient temperature is no less than 25°C. This is known as the pousse directe.

Alternatively leave for 24 hours at low temperature, the pousse dirigée.

Divide dough into four equal pieces, roughly 260 g each.

Preheat oven to 160°C without fan. Bake for 40 minutes.


Flavoured Butters

Almond
Anchovy
Garlic
Green
Hazelnut
Horseradish
Lemon
Mustard
Pepper
Prawn
Sage
Tarragon

Legendary Dishes | Kalakukko (fish rye-wheat pastry pie)

FINLAND
FINLAND

Packaging a meal inside a crust has always been strong in the far northern regions of Europe, especially in Järvi-Suomi (lakeland Finland) where small freshwater fish like perch, roach and smelt were cooked inside a crust made of rye dough.

The people of Karelia and Savo developed this tradition, wrapping all kinds of fresh fish in thin sliced bacon, taking it with them when they migrated to other parts of Finland.

Whole fish — burbot, perch, roach, smelt, vendace and whitefish — are the traditional favourites. Modern versions tend to have filleted rainbow trout and salmon. Smoked salmon is popular.

  • 600 g rainbow trout / salmon
  • 325 ml buttermilk
  • 300 g rye flour
  • 300 g coarse wholewheat flour
  • 250 g back bacon
  • 120 g coarse rye flour, for dusting and filling
  • 50 g butter, melted
  • 5 g salt
  • Butter, for filling and glazing

Preheat oven to 250°C.

Mix flours and salt in a large bowl, add melted butter and buttermilk, form into a stiff dough, knead for 10 minutes. Leave to rest for an hour.

On a floured surface roll dough to a thickness of 1.5 cm at the centre, 1 cm toward the edges.

Cut into four 20 cm diameter disks. Dust each disk with a liberal amount of coarse rye flour, about 30 g largely around the central area.

Cut any white fat from bacon, smooth the bacon with the flat side of a wide knife to stretch it.

Cut the fillets into narrow lengths.

Arrange the bacon slices on one side of each disk, leaving a 2 cm edge around the rim. Lightly butter the fish pieces, about 150 g per disk, lay on top of the bacon. Wash each edge with water.

Fold the dough over the filling, press the seams or roll them into a crimped shape.

Dust a baking tray with coarse rye flour, arrange the kalakukko on the flour, bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven, allow to cool, glaze with butter.

Turn oven down to 125°C.

When the oven has cooled to 125°C, bake kalakukko for an hour.

Reduce oven heat to 90°C, bake for 8 hours.

Wrap kalakukko in kitchen towels. Eat hot or cold.


Fricot Food Diet for a Healthy Body (and Life)

The fish market at the Rialto Bridge in Venice a long time ago


Fresh Foods # Raw Foods # Wholefoods

You want a healthy diet, an energetic life, a feeling that you are invincible, yes? Then stop eating processed foods and packaged foods and food cooked into oblivion, unless it is a natural process, like the production of sauces and stocks, which most of us don’t appreciate enough because we are confused by the process.

Eat food that is fresh, food that is raw and food that is whole.

Here are the foods and some recipes that will keep you healthy.


Fish

Fish is an essential component in any diet. Ideally fresh fish should always be on the menu whereas there is no excuse with tinned fish always available.

10 Fish Breakfasts

Slow-Cooked Octopus + More

A Fishy Visit to Venice

Mackerel and Potatoes + Fish Sandwich

Riga Gold Sprat Omelette


Fruit

Fruit is also essential because it is a raw food. A daily diet that does not feature apple, banana / plantain, citrus fruit, vine fruit and choice of an exotic fruit must be challenged.

Autumn Harvest Buffet with Chestnuts, Cheese, Fruit and Wine

Banana with Yoghurt and Red Currant Jelly + Berries Recipes

Bircher Müesli (Bircher berry, flake, fruit, nut and seed breakfast)

Cake with Cheese and Fruit

Puréed Potatoes with Fruit, Eggs, Herbs and Spices


Grains

Grains have never been easier to obtain because barley, flax, millet, oat, rye, soy, spelt and wheat are now easily available as flakes. Barley, spelt and wheat berries are commonplace. Then there is rice, the savour of the universe!

Enriched Barley Soup

Fruit and Nut Müesli with Soya Milk

Toast Bread with Spelt Berries + Spelt, Einkorn, Rye Bread with Walnuts and Barley Leaven

Spelt Bread Recipes & Story

Plov (lentils, rice, fruit and meat with rice-yoghurt-saffron base) + Vialone Nano Rice with Seasoned Ground Pork, Parmigiano, Rosemary, Cinnamon in Beef Broth and White Wine)


Herbs

Herbs are easy to dismiss because there is a widely held belief that knowledge of their usage is required. Forget haute cuisine and its pathetic rules, herbs can be used with everything whichever way you want. If you can grow your own, even if you live in an erratic temperate climate, try to grow basil, melissa, chamomile, chive, cilantro or coriander, fenugreek, lovage, marjoram, mint, parsley, rosemary, sage, sorrel, tarragon and thyme. If you have a garden or a farm grow the herbs that attract the pollinators, especially borage and comfrey. And if you can’t grow your own avail yourself of the myriad dried herbs that are now available, put them in sauces, soups, stews and stocks, use them as dressings and as flavourings.

Aromatic Herb Flatbread

Burning Love! Potato Mash with Bacon and Onions, Herbs and Local Specialities

Herbs and Vegetables in Tomato-Wine Sauce

Spinach Dumplings with Butter, Cheese and Sage

Vine Leaves Stuffed with Meat and Rice


Nuts

Unless you live in the countries where the consumption of nuts and seeds is reflected in the aspic of ancient foods, like almonds encased in dates or figs wrapped around walnuts, or in countries where nuts are an essential ingredient in breads and cakes, you can be forgiven for not knowing what to do with them. Obviously you can eat them dressed, salted and roasted, but you can also eat them raw.

Cantuccini (almond or pistachio biscuits)

Figs stuffed with Walnuts

Fish with Rice, Onions, Almonds, Pine Nuts and Saffron

Lentil Soup with Chestnuts

Steamed Rice with Chicken / Lamb / Vegetable, Fruit, Nuts and Spices


Seeds

Your larder should be full of seeds, from the seeds that are used as spices, the seeds that are used in baking and the seeds that are an essential aspect of breakfast.

Cardamom Bread Buns

Chicken Rice with Cranberries and Pomegranate Seeds

Peshwari Naan (aromatic flatbread)

Poppy Seed Cake

Spinach with Sesame and Soy Sauce

Spicy Chickpeas and Potatoes


Spices

Of all the aromatics in the world, including garlic and ginger and onion, the one you want is turmeric in its fresh form as a root, failing that turmeric powder. Every spice cupboard should contain allspice, aniseed, caraway, cardamon, chilli, cinnamon, clove, coriander, cumin, fennel, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, mango, mustard, nutmeg, onion, onion seed aka nigella, paprika, peppercorn (black, green, pink), pomegranate, saffron, sesame, star anise, sumac, Sichuan red pepper, tamarind and turmeric.

Meatballs in Curry Sauce

Pepper Soup (aromatic spiced soup)

Special Fried Rice + Spice Pastes and Spice Mixtures

Spice Biscuits + Spice Nuts

Fried Potatoes with Bacon and Onion and Spice Mixture


Vegetables

Here are some preparations that utilise the full flavour of vegetables

Apple and Potato Mash vegan version

Cornsalad with Fruity Vinegar

Fish, Rice and Vegetables in Spicy Sauce

Kale with Bacon, Onions and Sausages

Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli and Anchovy + Fresh Ear Pasta with Herbs, Olives and Seasonal Vegetables


Anne’s Banana with Yoghurt and Red Currant Jelly

  • 1-2 bananas, very ripe
  • 3-4 tbsp yoghurt, thick
  • 1-2 tsp red currant jelly
  • 4 mint leaves

Spoon 3 or 4 tablespoons of yoghurt into a bowl, add the bananas, cut coarsely with a dessert spoon, top with a teaspoon of two of red currant jelly or any jelly made from berries. Dress with mint leaves.


BRÖTCHEN | Panini d’olio d’oliva Sofficissimi ITALY olive oil breads

Olive oil breads were once a big affair, large crusty loaves with a distinctive olive aroma. In recent years they have followed the emerging tradition of small breads across Europe and in Italy this means breads that can take a filling — sandwich breads.

Also keeping with the new tradition of doughs with high hydration these olive breads are made with Manitoba flour, the strong flour of the Canadian wheat fields.

  • 300 g strong white wheat flour
  • 200 g white wheat flour, t00
  • 275 ml full-fat milk, warmed to 38ºC
  • 100 ml olive oil + 4 tsp for dough finishes
  • 25 g yeast
  • 10 g sugar
  • 10 g salt

Whisk sugar and 100 ml of the milk into the yeast, add two tablespoons of flour, leave to ferment for 45 minutes in a warm place.

Sieve remaining flour into a large bowl with the salt.

Add yeast mixture and remaining milk to the flour, knead into a loose dough.

Gradually work in the olive oil.

Finish the kneading by coating the dough in 2 teaspoons of olive oil.

Leave to rise for an hour, degas, rise again for another hour.

Shape into 9 extended ovals, about 100 grams each.

Pour 2 teaspoons of olive oil into a bowl, lightly coat each piece of dough in the oil, place on a tray covered with non-stick paper.

Proof for an hour.

Bake at 200ºC on top and bottom heat for 30 minutes.


Legendary Dishes | Pâtés de Pithiviers (Pithiviers tarts)

FRANCE

The puff pastry tarts of Pithiviers (south of Paris, north of Orléans) are not easily described despite a long history as a culinary monument of the region.

They have been round tarts with a scalloped edge and square tarts with a crimped edge.

They have been filled with almond cream, candied fruit with icing, creamed rice and with paté-style preparations including pâtés d’allouettes de Pithiviers, made with larks now with quails, also with chicken, duck or turkey breasts.

The game-fowl version has a quality all of its own, full of flavour with a taste that is memorable because the birds or breasts are marinated in port and the preparation is finished with chicken stock before baking.

  • 700 g quail or capon, chicken, duck, turkey breast
  • 400 g puff pastry
  • 375 g sausage meat
  • 250 ml chicken stock
  • 100 g foie gras / chicken livers / lamb livers
  • 1 egg
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 30 g butter
  • 30 ml port
  • 30 ml red wine
  • 5 g green peppercorns, ground
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf

If using quail remove bone to leave only the meat, reserve livers.

Place the birds or breasts in a dish and sprinkle with port, thyme and a bay leaf, marinate for 12 hours in the refrigerator.

Heat a frying pan with the butter, brown the foie gras or livers for 5 minutes with the chopped shallots, deglaze pan with two tablespoons of red wine.

Leave to cool. Using a fork, mash the foie gras or livers and shallots with an egg, season, add to the sausage meat. If using quail, stuff the birds with some of the foie gras or liver mixture.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Roll out a third of the dough into a square about 25 cm square. Spread half the stuffing over it, leaving a border all around. Place the quails or breast meat on the stuffing, cover with remaining stuffing.

Place remaining dough over the preparation. Moisten the edges with water, crimp the edges. Make a cross cut in the center of the dough. Using a paper chimney pour the chicken stock into the preparation.

Glaze the surface of the dough with some chicken stock and bake for 75 minutes.


Anne’s Fruit and Nut Müesli with Soya Milk

Named after Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Benner, the Swiss who proclaimed the restorative powers of raw fruit, berries, grain flakes, nuts and seeds as the first meal of the day, this enigmatic breakfast dish of the Alps is now one of the world’s great preparations.

Made with soya milk it is totally vegan.

  • 1 litre soya milk
  • 125 g oat flakes
  • 125 g spelt flakes
  • 100 g barley flakes
  • 100 g rye flakes
  • 75 g walnuts, crushed into small pieces
  • 25 g currants
  • 25 g dried apricots, cut into small pieces
  • 25 g dried cranberries
  • 25 g dried figs, cut into small pieces
  • 25 g dried pear, cut into small pieces
  • 25 g raisins
  • 25 g sultanas
  • 25 g pumpkin seeds
  • 25 g sunflower seeds
  • 15 g sesame seeds

The quantity of solids are approximately 760 g. With four servings this is 190 g each, with 250 ml soya milk each.

For a crunchy müesli eat immediately. For a soft müesli leave to rest for at least 60 minutes.

crunchy fruit and nut müesli
with soya milk


soft fruit and nut müesli
with soya milk