Food-Roaming in Four Countries

Maybe you were wondering what happened to the tango-dancing boxer cooking delicious meals ? No word to be found from me for weeks. Well, I have been traveling, and since I love food, I have been roaming the countries I was visiting for delicious tastes.

Here is my short report for you. My German food highlight was a “Kalbsschnitzel”, fried veal with potatoes, eaten in a small outside restaurant in Frankfurt. Very delicious. Also I cannot leave out the great amounts of salami and cheeses that were consumed by me during my 10-day stay in good old Germany. And I haven’t even began to speak about the German bread and the cheesecake….

My second food highlight was of Swiss nature – an 8 ounce bar of Lindt milk chocolate with a contents of 45% whole hazelnuts, in the Zurich airport in Switzerland.

Swiss Milk Chocolate Hazelnuts l

As this chocolate is my favorite I had to buy it and managed to eat the entire 8 ounces all by my self on the flight from Zurich to Toronto. Even the fact that the woman in the seat to my right had sunken onto my tray in front of my chest for a deep and restful sleep did not disrupt my enjoyment. Since a good rest is important I let her sleep and continued with the chocolate bar.

The only memory I have of the Toronto airport where I landed after the transatlantic flight, were the computer screens I was starring at for a long time in order to find my name so I could make it through immigration. Otherwise, absolutely nothing. No memory. Maybe I found myself in a time warp outside of time and space. Or maybe, I had fallen into a chocolate induced food coma and therefore no memory, very possible. So I do not have a single Canadian food experience for you. Sorry.

Further-on I went to Boulder. And here, friends of mine had prepared a simple, wholesome, dinner. The legendary quinoa salad with lots of garlic, cilantro and cherry tomatoes that got talked about a lot afterwards. Also brown rice was served, with gomasio, roasted sunflower seeds, and green salad. Nothing else was needed. How wonderful to eat food that got prepared with care and attention. I felt completely fed by it and was grateful for the simplicity of it, especially after traveling for a long time. Tasting food in different places and restaurants is great, but at some point I usually start to long for clean and simple food, eaten in the sanctuary of good company.

 

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Garden-greens Salad with Fennel, Roasted Walnuts and Peach Dressing

salad 2

My latest invention: Peach dressing. I love to come up with dressings that bring a salad out in a new and interesting way. Well, it is peach season! What is more obvious than adding half a peach to the dressing in my blender? The dressing is wonderfully orange, a bit sweet from the peach, a little spicy from the garlic and has a creamy consistency.

All in all, this is a great, fresh summer salad. You can use any kinds of greens you have in your garden, (or at your local farmer’s market or grocery store…) Arugula would be good as well, or spinach or any kind of lettuce. Just make sure you slice the fennel thinly. The garden greens are delicate in nature and if the fennel is too chunky they get buried but it.

Ingredients:

(For 4 people)

A handful of kale, washed, dried and sliced very thinly
A handful of sorrel, washed, dried and sliced thinly
A handful of beet greens, washed, dried and sliced thinly
½ a head of green leaf lettuce, washed, dried and torn into pieces
½ of a Fennel bulb, washed, dried and sliced very thinly
½ cup of dry roasted walnuts

Dressing:

The dressing will be enough to be used for other salads. Just put it in a jar and store in the refrigerator. If you make on Sunday, you will have your dressing for the whole week!

1 lemon, squeezed
1/2 peach
2 cloves of garlic, squeezed
2 cups of olive oil
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
1 1/2 table spoons of honey

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend.

Arrange the different greens on a platter or in a bowl, put the fennel slices and walnuts on top and drizzle the dressing over the salad.

Combine with freshly grilled vegetables and or a slice of grilled fish and you will be good to go!

greens salad 1

Polenta Slices with Spicy Tomatoes

Polenta 1

I love Italian food and I love the idea of polenta, but the texture is often too smooth for my taste, too much like a breakfast cereal. A different way to eat polenta is to cook it first, spread it on a baking sheet and then bake it. In this version I made a spicy and thick tomato sauce with red chile and garlic that goes on top of the polenta. It actually reminds a bit of pizza. You can add fresh basil or oregano if you like, and of course whatever kind of cheese you like.

Also, as I promised, I didn’t wear my mouthguard in the kitchen…, so I could taste the tomato sauce to make sure it wasn’t too sour. A bit of honey takes the edge of the acidity of the tomatoes and it’s all good.

Ingredients:
Serves 4 people
Total preparation time: 1 1/2 hours

For the polenta:

1 cup polenta
4 cups water
1 1⁄2 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon organic butter or olive oil

Add the salt and the butter or the olive oil to the water and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling stir in the polenta. Boil at medium to high temperature for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Then turn to low/medium heat, cover the pot partly, stir occasionally to keep from burning and cook for about 30 minutes until the polenta has a smooth consistency.

While the polenta is cooking prepare the tomato sauce.

Also preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

You need for the chunky tomatoes:

6 roma tomatoes
1 red chile
2 teaspoons of olive oil
2 garlic cloves, squeezed
½ tablespoon of honey
½ teaspoon of salt
¼ teaspoon of black pepper

Wash the tomatoes, cut them in half and then chop in 1/2 inch size pieces.

Wash the red chile, half it and seed it. Then chop finely.

Heat a cast iron skillet or frying pan with the olive oil. Once hot, add the tomatoes, garlic ad chili. Sauté at medium/high temperature for about 20 minuets, until the water of the tomatoes has cooked off. It should be thick and chunky at this point, not a runny tomato sauce. Add the salt, pepper and honey.

When the polenta is done, lightly grease a baking sheet with olive oil. Pour the polenta onto the baking sheet and spread evenly with a rubber spatula.

Divide the tomatoes into 8 or more portions on top of the polenta, according to how many slices you would like to have at the end.

Stick the baking sheet into the oven and bake for about 40 minutes. You can add grated parmesan cheese, which is nice, but not necessary.

Turkish Salad with Dates and Goat Cheese

turkish 3

One of my favorite cookbooks these days is the book “Plenty”by Yotam Ottolenghi. It has incredible, creative and unusual vegetarian recipes with a middle Eastern touch. I tried most of them and every single one has worked and tasted great. In general, the recipes are not hard, but a bit time consuming, because he is working with lots of different spices and fresh herbs, which often takes more time to prepare. This is a book that will definitely spice up your day and with every recipe you want to try the next one!

I made this Turkish Salad the other day and it was delicious. It is a wonderful combination of flavors. Highly recommended.

The recipe calls for Turkish sheep’s cheese, but since it is a bit hard to find here :), I just substituted it through soft goat cheese, which worked just fine.

For 4 people:

1 1/2 tablespoons of whole almonds (skin on)
6 large Medjool dates
2 1/2 cups of arugula
4 to 5 oz of soft goat cheese
a few leaves of dill
3/4 cup of mixed purple ands green basil leaves and red chard leaves
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoon of pomegranate molasses
salt and pepper

Dry roast the almonds at medium heat in a skillet until they are brown.

Halve the dates lengthwise and remove and discard the pit. Cut each in half into four to six long slices.

Spread the arugula over the bottom of each serving dish. On top, build up dates, cheese, dill, basil and red chard, making sure you can clearly see all four elements.

Mix together well the olive oil, pomegranate molasses and some salt and pepper, and drizzle over the salad. Roughly chop up the almonds and sprinkle on top and serve.

turskish salad 2

turkish salad 1

Grilled Summer Zucchini Salad

zuccini processed2
Zucchini can appear to be a boring vegetable, but how untrue that is! It depends all on how it is being prepared. If just cut into chunks and left to its own devices to be steamed, yes, it is the dish that mostly does not get eaten… Soggy, tasteless and a bit bland it can be. But oh, give it the right attention, cut it the way it wants to be cut, forget the steaming for a moment, and the zucchini’s true magic reveals itself.

I made this zucchini salad just recently as a side dish together with a French potato salad and greens beans – and it was gone within seconds. No kidding! Even the children at the table who usually do not ask for zucchini wanted more. For this salad the zucchini is grilled, which is a refreshening variation and brings out its nutty flavor that mostly stays hidden.

There is just something about simplicity. It is not the amount of fancy ingredients that make good food. (And that doesn’t mean I do not sit transported to other worlds if I eat, for example, amazing green asparagus in almond wasabi crust – as I once did in a Japanese restaurant in New York. That was 8 years ago and I am still thinking of it….) But let’s be honest, most of us have ordinary lives, with children that want to be fed, (just not with vegetables…). We have busy lives and big hearts that long for nurturing, delicious food. Well, this is for you.

Ingredients:

For 4 people
Preparation time: 40 minutes

4 medium size zucchini
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1 big clove of garlic, squeezed
1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice

Carefully slice each zucchini lengthwise in thin slices. A different way to cut it can make all the difference!

Turn the grill on.

Add the squeezed garlic, the salt and the pepper to the olive oil. Brush the zucchini slices with the olive oil. And then, put them on the grill! It will only take a few minutes for each side. Make sure to not burn them, as they grill quite fast.

Take the slices off the grill, arrange on a platter and sprinkle with lemon juice. Sprinkle some more salt and pepper on it over the platter. Serve warm.

Spring Tango Feast with Roasted Fennel, Kalamata Olives and Cherry Tomatoes

Spring is here and it needs to be celebrated! The following is a recipe that originally a friend of mine from Germany came up with and that I have made many times. It is in my cookbook Dharma Feast Cookbook – Recipes for a Fresh Start. Oven roasted fennel with kalamata olives and cherry tomatoes, thyme and lots of garlic. Make sure you invite some of your good friends for this…

olives processed current

And before you start cooking, put on the right music… Here is one of my favorite tango songs while you are cooking. It is a vals, which is one of three forms of tango. It is impossible for me to stay in a bad mood when I hear this song.

And here is the recipe:

Serves 3
Prep time 40 minutes

5 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 heaping teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 pounds fennel (core, stalks, and leaves discarded), cut into 8 wedge pieces
1 pound cherry tomatoes 20 pitted kalamata olives

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix olive oil, garlic, sea salt, and thyme. Put the fennel, tomatoes, and the olives on a baking sheet. Pour the olive oil mixture over the vegetables. Bake for 20–25 minutes. The fennel should be soft and the tops should be a little bit browned.

Serve it with arugula salad, fresh bread and butter. Enjoy the spring tango feast!

Cooking, Dancing, Boxing – The Outfits

Let’s talk about outfits for a moment. Since I started boxing I hear the same question over and over. “What about your outfit in boxing? What are you wearing?”

This important question needs to be addressed and since I box, cook and dance, you will read about all three.

Cooking

The first thing I do when I come into the kitchen to prepare food is to put on an apron. It needs to be fresh and clean. Then I feel prepared to handle the food with respect and attention – and to basically handle anything else that comes my way! (Even though it reminds me a little bit of my grandmother from Germany who used to wear her apron all day around the house, calling it her “kitchen skirt”…)

There is an eclectic selection of aprons in the kitchen cabinet: a pink Russian apron that resembles a cloth handkerchief on strings, a star wars apron, an apron with a running moose and an apron with mice making a birthday cake. I prefer the classic model, simple, one color, and big enough to do its job of protecting me from oncoming splashes of all kinds.

apron2

Dancing

It is so much about the shoes! Before I started dancing tango I never wore a pair of shoes with heels higher than 1/2 inch. After I tried on my first pair of good tango shoes I was lost forever to the average height of a 3.75 inch high heel. If I my life wasn’t demanding other things, I would be seen in these super high heels most of the time. But, heels on dirt roads or in the kitchen can be a bit dangerous…

Here is my favorite pair of tango shoes. They are made from purple fur. Yes, you read correctly. And the fact that the shoes are loosing their fur is not because of seasonal change, (like cats and dogs losing their winter fur). It is because of extreme use during tango dances, called “Milongas”.

Tango shoes 1

tango shoes 3Boxing

These are my new gloves and hand wraps. I am staying away from wearing super short tank tops at this point as they only work if your abbs are hard as steel…

gloves2

I am also not wearing shiny boxer shorts or extra boxing shoes. It is all very basic and all I care about is making it through my training tomorrow morning. No perfect shoe will help me with that!