Purslane Salad

“The battle of being mortal is the battle to maintain the integrity of one’s life—to avoid becoming so diminished or dissipated or subjugated that who you are becomes disconnected from who you were or who you want to be.”
― Atul GawandeBeing Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

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Being Mortal is a wonderful book that focuses on the end of life and the dilemma of modern medicine if it is better to prolong life or to try to maintain the quality of life till the end, even if this means that the end may came sooner. It is not a happy book, it tells stories of people whose end is close but it introduce to what it is important when the last day is approaching.

So… honestly after this book I feel that I have to keep the quality of my life as high as possible and food take a very important role indeed.

The recipe of today is a very simple, quick, healthy and very tasty vegetarian recipe inspired by Atul Gawande’s book. Atul Gawande has Indian origins and purslane, the main ingredient of this salad, has its origins in the Indian subcontinent too even thought it can be found also in the Mediterranean area.

Purslane is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, C, and some vitamins of the B- Complex. In this traditional Turkish recipe is associated with Turkish yogurt, which is packed with vitamin B12, calcium and Vitamin D, garlic (which has powerful medicinal properties powers) and olive oil that does not need any introduction.

The recipe is easy, all you need is Greek or Turkish yogurt, mix it in a bowl with grated or mashed fresh garlic, pour it on the well washed purslane and dress it with olive oil and salt.

In the hot weather it can be a perfect quick and healthy lunch, usually is very welcomed also by the children that are not salad fans.

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A Soup for Nazim

I don’t want to present the famous Turkish Poet Nazim Hikmet,

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Better to introduce him in his poetic words:

 

Autobiography (1962)

by Nâzım Hikmet

I was born in 1902

I never once went back to my birthplace

I don’t like to turn back

at three I served as a pasha’s grandson in Aleppo

at nineteen as a student at Moscow Communist University

at forty-nine I was back in Moscow as the Tcheka Party’s guest

and I’ve been a poet since I was fourteen

some people know all about plants some about fish

I know separation

some people know the names of the stars by heart

I recite absences

I’ve slept in prisons and in grand hotels

I’ve known hunger even a hunger strike and there’s almost no food

I haven’t tasted

at thirty they wanted to hang me

at forty-eight to give me the Peace Prize

which they did

at thirty-six I covered four square meters of concrete in half a year

at fifty-nine I flew from Prague to Havana in eighteen hours

I never saw Lenin I stood watch at his coffin in ’24

in ’61 the tomb I visit is his books

they tried to tear me away from my party

it didn’t work

nor was I crushed under the falling idols

in ’51 I sailed with a young friend into the teeth of death

in ’52 I spent four months flat on my back with a broken heart

waiting to die

I was jealous of the women I loved

I didn’t envy Charlie Chaplin one bit

I deceived my women

I never talked my friends’ backs

I drank but not every day

I earned my bread money honestly what happiness

out of embarrassment for others I lied

I lied so as not to hurt someone else

but I also lied for no reason at all

I’ve ridden in trains planes and cars

most people don’t get the chance

I went to opera

most people haven’t even heard of the opera

and since ’21 I haven’t gone to the places most people visit

mosques churches temples synagogues sorcerers

but I’ve had my coffee grounds read

my writings are published in thirty or forty languages

in my Turkey in my Turkish they’re banned

cancer hasn’t caught up with me yet

and nothing says it will

I’ll never be a prime minister or anything like that

and I wouldn’t want such a life

nor did I go to war

or burrow in bomb shelters in the bottom of the night

and I never had to take to the road under diving planes

but I fell in love at almost sixty

in short comrades

even if today in Berlin I’m croaking of grief

I can say I’ve lived like a human being

and who knows

how much longer I’ll live

what else will happen to me

Soup for Nazim Hikmet
Turkish red lentil soup

As Nazim himself says in this poem, he tasted any kind of food but I was lucky enough to get acquainted with his Italian translator and friend, the late Joyce Lussu and in one of our conversations she told me of the preference of Nazim for the simple and humble of country.

So here the recipe for the Turkish red lentil soup: 5 minutes to prepare, low in calories, healthy, full of good nutrients a real food for the soul…

Ingredients

  • 1 cup red lentils
    1  onion, finely diced
    1  carrot, diced
  • 1 small potato, diced
    ½ teaspoon dried mint
    ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
    6 cups of homemade broth

Directions

  1. Rinse the lentils 2 or 3 times
  2. In a large pot over medium-high heat, put he lentils, potato, carrot, onion, broth, and salt. Bring the soup to a boil.
  3. After it has come to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover the pot until the lentils have fallen apart and the carrots are completely cooked.
  4. After the soup has cooked and the lentils are tender, blend the soup and add more salt if necessary.
  5. Serve the soup with a sprinkle of mint and red pepper flakes, wedges of lemon, and toasted bread.

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Milk Bread Rolls for Beth

 

A few days ago I received a very encouraging letters from Trix Wilkins, I went to her blog  and I discovered that she wrote a novel,  The Courtship of Jo March: a variation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women , that of course I am dying to read,  meanwhile to thanks Trix of her kind words, I prepared milk bread rolls, soft and fluffy, the kind of bread that Beth, Jo March’s fragile little sister, would have like to have with her tea. Those bread rolls are not the Japanese bread rolls that are very fashionable on food blogs on those days. They are actually small bread rolls that are used in Italy, but I would dare to say in the all Mediterranean area, to prepare savoury or sweet snacks as the taste is pretty neutral.

Milk Bread Rolls for Beth
Hear how they look like, I made 12 of 60 gr each

Ingredients:

  • 400 gr flour
  • 200 gr milk
  • 50 gr butter
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 1 tsp of honey
  • 10 gr dry yeast
  • 5 gr salt
  • 1 egg for the wash
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Still warm…

Instructions

  1. Warm the milk (35 C.) and combine in the bowl of a stand mixer with the honey, yeast and a tsp of flour. After about 10 minutes, add the rest of the ingredients, attach the dough hook and run the mixer, starting on low to wet the dry ingredients.
  2. Turn speed to medium and run the mixer for 15 minutes. The dough is ready when it came together and gather in the centre of the bowl attaching itself to the hook.
  3. Divide the dough in small pieces of 60-70 gr each, set them in an oven pan covered with baking paper, cover with plastic wrap and set the pan in a warm place for about 90 minutes until more than doubled
  4. Roll each portion into a log and flat it gently and roll it (like the snail shell). Place each piece of dough inside the oven pan, giving some space between each roll. Cover the roll with plastic wrap and let rise again until double in size, about an hour or so.
  5. Preheat oven to 180 C’. Make the egg wash by lightly beating the egg. Brush the surface of the rolls with the egg wash without letting the fluid drip to the sides
  6. Bake in 180 C’ oven for 20-25 minutes or until rolls are deeply golden on top.
  7. Serve them with warm or cold with savoury or sweet fillings
Milk Bread Rolls for Beth
Ready for a savory snack with Italian Prosciutto
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And for a spring snack with pink lemonade and orange jelly

 

Easy Salmon Skewers

For those who have seen the film “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” the book will come as a surprise, but those who love late Paul Torday will acknowledge that it is a masterpiece.

The novel is a satire on the absurdity of British foreign policy in the early years of this century and the unwitty means used by the govern press agency to diverge attention from the real problems in the Middle East.  The main character, Fred is a civil servant that is in charge of the mission of facilitate the breeding of salmons in a river in Yemen. All the characters are there, lovely Harriet, her soldier fiancée, Fred’s cold wife, but the story in the film diverges a lot from the one narrated in the novel. I stop here to avoid to became a spoiler.

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The recipe of today is very easy and it is one of my children favoured (which is a miracle if you consider that my daughter doesn’t like fish). Probably because the soya sauce and the fresh grated ginger marinade take away part of the smell of the fish, while sesame seeds add a crispy texture to the recipe.

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Ingredients:

1 kg. Skinless salmon fillet

½  glass of soya sauce

20 gr. grated fresh ginger

a few tablespoon of sesame seeds

 

Directions:

 

  1. Cut the salmon fillet in cubes as regular as possible
  2. Put the cubes in a bowl and then add soya sauce and grated ginger and let it rest for a couple of hours in the lowest part of the refrigerator
  3. Heat the oven at 180’ C.
  4. Take the bowl from the fridge, add the sesame seeds and mix well so that the cubes will be covered with sesame seeds.
  5. Tread salmon onto skewer and put it in the oven for about 15 minutes.
  6. Serve them hot on steamed rice.

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