Ladies’ pasta

[button link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLnUJQut-kc” color=”blue”]We are listening to: Kool and the gang – Ladies night[/button]

Mussels are #Womenfriendly

Long desired summer holidays, here they are. Days swing well balanced between resting and movida, and if you are lucky enough you might have some more time to spend cooking. Take a walk up to the local market and get inspired to experiment with new dishes, or maybe just take the time to prepare one of the beloved mama’s recipes. Today, this was the case for us!

After a nice morning stroll, here we come back with plenty of fresh fish, hungry and craving for a good plate of spaghetti.

“Ladies’ pasta” is easy and fast to prepare. After you have steamed the mussels, the sauce will be done in the time of boiling the pasta, and you and your guest will immediately feel the taste of holidays by the sea.

According to TCM, mussels are particularly suitable for women because they help to regulate menstrual cycle, nourishing Yin and Blood (of Liver and Kidney), purifying Heat and moving up blood circulation. Parsley and garlic are also warm in energy and they both reinforce these functions, adding a pleasant Mediterranean note.

Just make sure not to overcook spaghetti: they have to be really al dente to match with this sauce at their best.

And don’t worry guys, we are gentlewomen and save some for you too!

Serves 4 -Easy– Prep time: 40 minutes

pasta (1 of 2) copy

You will need:

  • 400 g spaghetti;
  • 500 g mussels*;
  • 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil;
  • a handful of fresh parsley;
  • 200 g cherry tomatoes;
  • 2-3 pieces of garlic;
  • red hot chili peppers;
  • cooking salt.

How to:

  1. Bring water to boil in a big pot;
  2. when the water is boiling add a handful of cooking salt and the pasta (let it cook for the time indicated on the package minus one minute!);
  3. in the meanwhile stir in a big pan the garlic (and some chili pepper if you want) with olive oil for a couple of minutes;
  4. add the tomatoes (cut in 2) and cook them for 4-5 minutes;
  5. add the mussels without shells*;
  6. add the broth left from cooking the mussels to the pan with the tomatoes and the mussels;
  7. drain the the pasta well and mix it in the pan with the sauce on a high speed fire for couple of minutes so it gets more taste from the sauce;
  8. finish off with fresh chopped parsley, serve immediately and enjoy!

*wash carefully the mussels, put them in a big pot with a bit of olive oil, then cover and let them steam for 5-10′ on a low fire so they will open (throw away the ones which do not open). Get rid of the small “alga” which comes out of them. Keep the broth that will be in the pot (filter it and store it in a big cup).

pasta (2 of 2) copy

Evergreen guacamole

guacamole (1 of 1) copy

It happens all the times. Your friends are about to come, you have just arrived home, in a rush, while the shopping bags with all the nice food you carried all the way up are looking at you, waiting. Don’t panic. Start from guacamole, put on the music and spread around some crunchy nacho-chips or colored vegetables chops.

This last-second recipe, belonging to aztec tradition (“ahuacatl” aguacate, avocado and “molli” sauce), has the magical power to immediately make your guests feeling happy and welcome, giving you some extra-time to set up the party!  It takes only 5-10 minutes so roll up your sleeves, pump up the volume and get ready!

First make sure the avocados you chose are soft and ripe enough. Avocados are very beneficial for our health being a very good source of vegetal fats,  the South-American equivalent of olives in Mediterranean countries. For TCM they are one of the best remedies in case of Dryness (skin, intestine), they nourish Yin and at the same time to heal QI stasis of Liver. Squeeze them with tomatoes and lemon, which altogether enhance the refreshing action of the dish and you will get a tasty cocktail sauce and a good alternative to junk appetizers…now dip and dance!

Serves 6 -Easy– Prep time: 10 minutes

DSC_0194 copy

You will need:

  • 2 avocados;
  • 2 small tomatoes;
  • ½ onion (preferably red);
  • 1 lemon;
  • a pinch of salt;
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  • some coriander (optional);
  • Nachos/tortillas to dip.

How to:

  1. Peel the onion;
  2. wash and chop the tomatoes;
  3. cut through the centre of the avocado lengthwise until the knife comes in contact with the bone. Without removing the knife, make a continuous slice around the bone until the knife meets the initial incision point. Once you have the two halves, remove the bone. Remove the pulp by running the spoon around the edge keeping it as close to the skin as possible. Repeat with other half;
  4. smash the pulp from the avocado and add the chopped tomatoes, onion and oil&salt;
  5. squeeze half a lemon and add the juice to the mix;
  6. chop the coriander and add it to the sauce, if you want.
  7. take those nachos and START DIPPING!

Color-rice

colourice (3 of 3) copy

Do you know how to create a nutritionally balanced dish?

Dare to mix colors: that’s the first step to get it! We may sound too simplistic or naive to you but, as cooking is a highly creative process where all senses are involved, imagination and freedom are essential for it. Do you remember when you used to lay on the floor, drawing and picking colours from your pencil case? Follow the same self-confidence when you cook and you will be surprised by the nice combinations you can find yourself. Let’s see then which colours we picked for the recipe of today:

BLACK: as black rice…that was so precious that only Emperors were allowed to eat it in Ancient China. We used Venere rice, which is a cross between an Asian variety and an Italian one. Full of anthocyanins (very powerful antioxidants), fibers and iron: this is the perfect basis of our dish for its sweet aromatic flavour and tonifying action.

YELLOW: as eggs…they provide a complete source of proteins, nourishing Yin and Blood, helping to calm down Shen.

GREEN: as peas and courgettes. The first have a sweet flavour and go mainly to Spleen and Stomach, leading QI downwards, promoting diuresis and nourishing also Yin and Blood. The second are cool in energy and purify Heat of Liver, Stomach and Blood, giving lightness and freshness to this dish.

And what about you? Which colors did you pick?

Serves 6 -Easy-Prep time: 40 minutes

colourice (1 of 3) copy

You will need:

  • 4 cups of black rice (if you can not find it, basmati can be good for this recipe);
  • 400g peas;
  • 3 zucchini;
  • 4 eggs;
  • 1 tbsp olive oil;
  • salt;
  • 50 ml milk;
  • basil or parsley.

How to:

  1. Bring water to boil in a big pot. In the meanwhile, wash quickly the rice to get rid of some starch;
  2. add a tablespoon of salt to the boiling water and put the rice in. Let it cook for about 20 minutes (the time depends a lot by the kind of rice you bought, so get informed at the time of purchase!), then drain it. Remember that these kind of rices stay quite hard also when cooked;
  3. heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and add the cut zucchini. Let cook for couple of minutes, then add a glass of white wine and a pinch of salt;
  4. let cook for extra 10 minutes on a low fire, adding half a glass of water in case they dry out too much;
  5. parboil the peas: drop them quickly in boiling water (about 4-5 minutes), so they’ll stay crunchy;
  6. beat the eggs with a bit of mik (about 50ml), add a pinch of salt and finely chopped basil or parsley;
  7. heat a tablespoon of oil in a big nonstick pan, then start adding the egg mix, in order to make very thin omelettes, then cut them in small stripes or squares;
  8. mix all the ingredients and serve. This rice works well also as a cold dish, so if you are planning a night picnic on the beach, you know what to bring with you!

We are listening to:

Wonder cous cous

cuscus (3 of 3) copy

It is one of those mornings you really don’t want to go out of bed. You can see sunlight smoothly passing through the curtains, alarm clock keeps on ringing and you are wondering if, just for once, once only, you could take it easy and let the world wait for you a bit. The answer is NO, my friend, sorry… You’d better get a move and prepare yourself, but maybe today we could help you sneaking out of that wonderland in between your dreams and real world…hold our hand, turn on this song and see how!

Grab a bowl and start from cous-cous (wheat is the cereal of the Heart), then add some berries (the sour touch of vitamins) and be generous with natural white yogurt (a good remedy for naughty Liver), sprinkle some thin slices of roasted almonds on top and sweeten with honey…take a spoon, sit down and enjoy your breakfast… even waking up could be a dream. Have a nice day!

Breakfast for two -Easy- Prep time: 10­-15 minutes

cuscus (1 of 3) copy

You will need: 

  • 100 g cus-cus (we here used the fast-cooking one);
  • boiling water;
  • a knob of butter;
  • 200 g natural yogurt (not sweetened);
  • lots of berries;
  • 2 tablespoons of sliced almonds;
  • 2 teaspoons of honey (or agave syrup).

How to:

  1. Place the cous cous into a bowl;
  2. cover it with one and a half the amount boiling water (3:2);
  3. immediately cover it and wait 7­-10 minutes till the water is completely absorbed;
  4. in the meanwhile roast the sliced almonds for a couple of minutes (till brownish, but not burnt) in a pan (you will smell when they are ready right away);
  5. mix the cous cous and make sure it absorbed all the water, and it is now dry but soft, and mix it with a teaspoon of butter;
  6. serve it with yogurt, berries, almonds and a bit of honey on top.

PS: this is an easy/ morning version of cous­cous: proper original long cous cous preparation coming soon!

cuscus (2 of 3) copy

We are listening to:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6bjqdll7DI

Azuki patè

 _DSC0103 copy Have you ever tried azuki beans?

You may also know them as “red beans” or “red soy”, but don’t get it wrong: they have nothing in common with soy since they belong to a different genus. The Japanese word azuki prompts their Asian origins and their use in Eastern countries is very common. Here we show you a nice way to try them and we’ll explain you why they are very healthy, especially in summer.

Azuki have a neutral energy, as most pulses, and act of course on Spleen but also Small Intestine and Heart and here it is the reason why they are particularly suitable in summer time (the season of Heart/Small Intestine). They drain Heat/Dampness and also tonify QI and move up Blood, healing small pimples. Here we combine them with miso paste (a fermented soy product very beneficial for intestinal flora and a boost for digestion), apple vinegar and a bit of parsley, which despite being warm in energy has the strong capability to bring energy downwards, helping digestion (anyhow do not exceed in case of Fire).

Chomp some crunchy vegetables and have them with this sauce, bringing something new on your table and surprise your guests with new flavurs…that is another incuQIna trick!

Serves 10 (as appetizer) -Easy -Prep time: 1:30 minutes plus overnight for soaking the beens

_DSC0064 copy

You will need:

  • 400 g azuki beans;
  • 3-4 tablespoons of BIO apple vinegar;
  • 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil;
  • 3 teaspoons of rice miso paste;
  • fresh parsley;
  • water;
  • if you have it, a piece of kombu sea-weed (to cook the beans).

How to:

  1. Soak the azuki beans in water over-night or for at least 6 hours (change the water a couple of times);
  2. drain and rinse them;
  3. put them in a pan with cold water to cook (50-60 minutes, mild fire), add a pinch of salt at the very end;
  4. to make the beans easier to digest you can add to the beans a piece of kombu sea-weed while they are cooking, then throw it away;
  5. once the beans are cooked, drain and wash them with cold water;
  6. blend them together with the apple vinegar and olive oil;
  7. add cold water till the texture gets as creamy and soft as you want (one glass should do, but go little by little);
  8. add the miso and finish with some fresh chopped parsley.
  9. enjoy with raw vegetables chunks or nice warm pita bread.

azuki2 (1 of 1) copy

Tender Gyoza

DSC_0267 logoy

New weather, new stuffing for delicious gyoza. Here we go with a vegetarian dish that you can enjoy with your friends and family in a summer get together. You just need some fresh zucchini, cool in energy that purify Heat of Stomach and Liver. Add some crunchy carrots, slightly sweeter and more neutral but also very helpful in purifying Fire. Finish off with coriander, which tastes like freshness, and actually is a mild herb just a bit spicy in terms of taste, thus working on Lungs, and Spleen-Stomach. After cooking them, dip them in soy sauce to enhance the taste of the sweet vegetables.

Serves 4 -Difficult- Prep time: 30 minutes

DSC_9978 logo

You will need:

  • 1 courgette;
  • 4 small carrots;
  • 1 tender garlic;
  • 2 small leeks;
  • a piece of ginger root;
  • some fresh coriander;
  • 1 teaspoon of soy sauce;
  • 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil;
  • some dumplings disks (see here).
  • finely chopped lemon peel to garnish;
  • soy sauce to dip.

How to:

  1. Cut the vegetables and the ginger into tiny pieces, the smaller the better;
  2. Put some sunflower oil on a wok pan, and stir-fry the vegetables. Start with the ginger, continue with leek and garlic, then add the carrots and finally the courgette;
  3. Cook during 3-4 minutes. You want your stuffing to be crunchy;
  4. When it cools down, put some fresh coriander and the soy sauce;
  5. Add the filling on the disks. Close the dumplings as explained by the video;
  6. Put some sunflower oil on a big pan. When it is hot place the dumplings with the wrapped side up;
  7. Cook them till the bottom is brownish (3-4 minutes), then add a glass of hot water and close it immediately (watch out because it could be that some water drops out due to the high temperature);
  8. Let the dumplings cook covered for 10-15 minutes;
  9. Serve them hot garnished with some lemon peel on top and soy sauce to dip.

We are listening to:

you rock-et

How is this clumsy start of summer going? Here we are back to you with a new pasta recipe! This is our personal version of pesto sauce and you can either try it warm or cold, as you wish. The addition of rocket to the traditional basil basis makes the flavour of the pesto a little more bitter, reinforcing the action on Stomach and helping moving up QI and purifying Heat. Pine nuts are great because they nourish Yin and at the same time tonify Yang (of Kidney), i.e. they provide energy that can be used. Parmesan makes the pesto texture creamy and substitutes salt. The final touch of cherry tomatoes gives some nice spots of colour and adds freshness and sweetness to the dish. Funny coincidence: tomatoes according to TCM promote the digestion of starch! So here we go once more, tasty and healthy!

Serves 2/3 -Easy- Prep time:30 minutes

_DSC0030 copy

You will need: 

  • 100 g rocket;
  • 50 g pine nuts;
  • 60 g parmesan cheese;
  • 10 g basil (10 15 leaves);
  • 8 tablespoons of olive oil;
  • 150 g cherry tomatoes;
  • 150 g pasta (Penne rigate);
  • salt.

How to:

  1. Wash the rocket salad and basil;
  2. Blend the rocket salad, the pine nuts, the basil and parmesan cheese until smooth, and not too thick;
  3. Cut the cherry tomatoes in 4;
  4. Bring water to boil, add a tablespoon of salt and dive in the pasta;
  5. Let cook in boiling water for the time indicated by the package, and save half a cup of cooking water.
  6. drain the pasta and mix with the pesto, adding a little bit of cooking water in case the sauce results too thick;
  7. and cherry tomatoes, serve hot or cold (it works well in your fridge in a tupper, to bring to work! But don’t heat it in the microwave afterwards!)

TIP: The left over pesto can be kept in the refrigerator in a glass jar, topped with a layer of olive oil to prevent oxidation. Alternatively, you can freeze it in single portions e.g. ice cube mold or small plastic glasses. Before using the pesto thaw it leaving overnight in the fridge or at room temperature during the day. If you want to make sure that the sauce will keep a bright green color, put the mixer/blender in the freezer before using it for at least one hour, and you will avoid oxidation of the greens.

_DSC0061 copy

We are listening to:

cold green melon soup

Summer is really generous and offers us such a big variety of tasty fruit. Today we have just picked one of our favorites and got the inspiration for a refreshing starter: melon gazpacho señoras y señores! Quick recipe but nice colors and great taste. Plus, energetically speaking, perfect for this season. Melon gives us relief from the hot weather, being cold in energy and nourishing Liquids and Yin. It acts both on the diuresis and on the intestinal level, being indicated also in case of ulcers. Calming down Fire, it is also very good for people with dermatitis (due to excess of Heat). An aromatic herb that generally matches well with summer fruit is mint, because it is cool in energy and gives a bit of movement to fruit (otherwise too sweet in flavour). Go ahead with mint then, especially in case of stasis of QI (of Liver), headache and irritability. Ice is then our extra touch to make this gazpacho smoother but try not to exceed with it, because cold drinks in general are too aggressive for the Stomach and, despite first impressions, enhance Heat.

Don’t forget a colored straw and sunglasses (that is really Italian style!),

_DSC0039 copy

Serves 2  –Easy -Prep time: 15 minutes

You will need:

  • ¼ large melon;
  • 4 mint leaves;
  • 4 tablespoons of ‘extra virgin olive oil;
  • 1/2 cucumber (optional);
  • 5-6 ice cubes;
  • pepper;
  • salt.

How to:

  1. Peel the melon and blend it with the cucumber, olive oil, mint, ice cubes and a pinch of salt (if the mix is difficult to blend add a small cup of water);
  2. Pour the soup into small bowls, and place in the fridge to cool;
  3. Garnish with a few mint leaves and a few drops of olive oil;
  4. Sprinkle with a little of pepper and serve cold.

_DSC0054 copy

We are listening to:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWbXCz9UZYo

Summer

You can tell it by the sweet scent you smell in the air, summer is here.

The most self-indulgent moment of the year finally pops up while flowers are brightly turning into fruits, sun shines high and you feel the nights closer to your skin.

According to wu-xing theory, the maximum of Yang is about to be reached. This is the season of joy and actually it couldn’t be otherwise.

The related zang-fu are Heart (the Emperor of the body) and Small Intestine (which divides pure substances from impure ones). Its natural element is Fire and the taste connected to this movement is bitter.

From the TCM point of view, what we’d better do now is obviously to avoid foods that are too hot in energy and try to have more of those that purify Heat and Fire instead, making sure to protect Liquids which can be easily damaged by high temperatures.

For these reasons we suggest you to be gentle with spices having more aromatic herbs instead (such as basil, oregano, mint), limit heavy-greasy foods (like fried ones,ripe cheese and red meat) and have lots of fresh vegetables (e.g. zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, aubergines, peppers,…). Of course summer fruits are also very welcome being sweet (i.e. promoting generation of Liquids), acid (i.e. astringent, helping in keeping Liquids) and cool/cold in energy.

Cereals such as barley, corn and wheat are to be prefered for their refreshing action and among pulses don’t forget of chickpeas and azuki beans (particularly good for the Heart). Watch out with seafood, especially shrimps and prawns which can enhance Heat.

An extra tip against summer heat is to drink water (never too cold) with lemon juice and fresh mint leaves, much better and “cooler” than soft drinks.

Our wish for this season is your Heart to be happy and you too.

Post-sonar brunch eggs

[button link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZo8_IV0IGQ” color=”blue”]We are listening to: Morning-Beck[/button]

Big nights out, Sonar was so good and you have been dancing (and maybe drinking) for 8 hours straight, two days in a row. You went back home when the clouds were white and pink and the sky already blue. Massive Attack blew your mind, Caribou’s beat entered into your veins and Four Tet made you travel into outer space. Time to recover now. Beck’s new album has the perfect groove for this morning, but an extra boost is needed. This simple egg recipe has it all: yummy, energetic, and still fresh (the avocados and tomatoes make it perfect for warmer weather). Accompany it with a multi-fruit juice for more vitamins, and then you are ready to continue your day. Maybe lying on the beach.

The weekend is over and the recovery phase worked well, so we are back to you cool as a cucumber with the energetic analysis of this colourful dish.

We start from the main ingredient, (hen-)eggs, which are definitely one of the best food to nourish Yin and Blood (easily damaged by sleepless-dancing nights). They are sweet in flavour and neutral/cool in energy, acting on Lung and Heart with a strong calming action on Shen (i.e. “emotional part”, probably affected by a couple of drinks).

The other ingredients are perfect for the oncoming warm weather being all cool (or cool/cold) in energy: tomatoes purify Fire and work on Liver and Stomach, avocado helps to harmonize back QI (in particular that of Liver), champignon mushrooms give relief to the digestive system and spinaches replenish Yin of Stomach and Liver.

That is so funny to find out how a simple recipe, coming from opening the fridge and a quick look around, turns out to be the perfect one for this moment.Sometimes you have to treat food the same way you choose music, following your instinct – without even realizing it, it will drive you to the right solutions for you.What a nice way to start a new week.

Serves 2-3 -easy –Prep time: 20 minutes

untitled (1 of 3)logo

You will need: 

  • 8 cherry tomatoes;
  • 100 g of baby spinaches;
  • 1 onion (preferably fresh);
  • 8 mushrooms;
  • 1 avocado;
  • 4 eggs;
  • milk (optional);
  • salt;
  • pepper;
  • extra virgin olive oil

How to:

  1. finely chop the onions, cut the mushrooms and the tomatoes in four, and the avocado in cubes.
  2. put the onions in a pan with olive oil. Let them cook for about 5 minutes on a low fire, so they will release their smells, become softer and transparent;
  3. add the mushrooms to the pan. Add salt, mix and close the pan with a lid;
  4. let cook for 3-4 minutes, then add the spinaches;
  5. after 3 minutes add the cherry tomatoes and let cook for couple of minutes;
  6. beat the eggs with salt, pepper and if you want a drop of milk, then add them to the pan and mix continuously: you want this to look more like scrambled eggs, not an omelette!
  7. when the eggs are cooked, finish off with the the avocado;
  8. serve immediately and enjoy your brunch!

untitled (2 of 3)copy

untitled (3 of 3)logo