Can’t Stand the Heat?

Here is a guest post from my friend, Emily Segal, who is a certified holistic nutrition counselor and writes a blog on her website, Triumph Wellness. Be sure to sign up for one of her classes, such as Sugar Detox. You won’t be disappointed. I learned a lot and came home with recipes that helped relieve my sugar cravings.

Photo by Emily Segal

There’s no need to stay out of the kitchen just because it’s hot!  Here in Israel we have a long, hot, dry summer season.  From our last rain in April to our first rain in November, we have about 6 months of tediously bright sunny skies and brain-shriveling high heat.  If you’re anything like me, summer makes you feel like a dried out raisin in serious need of re-hydration.

The long days and bright sunshine of summer generally lift our spirits and moods.  But we should also understand that the heat of the summer can be a negative source of stimulation as well.  Due to longer, lighter days we are generally more active and all this activity produces heat within our bodies.  What’s more, larger crowds of tourists, and the general race to get as much done before going away on holiday can easily result in hot tempers, impatience, anger, and road rage, all outward expressions of too much inner heat.

How can we combat the effects of our seemingly endless summer?  Well, Mother Nature outfits us with the perfect harvest for each season and summer is no exception. Here are some seasonal nutritional tips to keep both body and mind refreshed and alert this summer and help you cope with the summer heat.

Cucumbers to stay cool

1.  Water-filled fruits and vegetables such as cucumbers and watermelons are cooling and refreshing.  The sweet stone fruits, nectarines, plums, peaches and even mangoes, all provide the high-sugar content we are going to need to meet our high-energy demands.

2.  Cooling spices and plenty of fresh green herbs, for example, fennel and cilantro, mint, and basil.  Here in Israel it is popular to make amazingly refreshing herbal iced teas from garden fresh herbs such as mint, fennel (shumar), lemon verbena (Louisa) and lemon balm (Melissa).  No need to add sugar!

Lemon Verbena

3.  Green or white fresh vegetables such as cabbage, artichoke, asparagus, lettuces, celery, purslane (regilat) and fennel, lightly steamed or served raw with a simple sprinkle of lemon and olive oil.

4.  Cooling cereals and grains like rice, barley or millet are preferred over potatoes and the other starchy root vegetables which should be harvested and eaten in colder seasons.

What about spicy food?  Have you ever heard that people who live in hot climates traditionally eat spicy food to cause sweating and cool themselves down?  While it is true that spicy food will cause sweating, and that the air moving across your sweaty brow will feel cooling, your body temperature actually rises when eating spicy foods and you are indeed hotter.  The probable reason for spicy food consumption in hot climates is that the hot spices worked as anti-bacterial, anti-fungal agents and helped people survive eating food that had perhaps spoiled in the heat.  So save your hot peppers for winter unless you question the freshness of what you are eating!

Here is a favorite recipe of mine, one I teach in my Detox Workshops, which is perfect for staying cool and hydrated in the summer heat:

Cucumber-Mint Refresher

Serving Size: 1

Fresh lemon and cucumber blend into pure hydration for beautiful cells and skin. Lemon is juicy with electrolytes to re-hydrate the body. Just a pinch of sea salt lifts the flavor and actually allows your cells to drink deeply. Mint is cooling and refreshing, but any of the herbs mentioned above can be substituted. A date is used as a natural sweetener and for energy needs.

1 cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped

1 handful fresh mint leaves

½ lemon, peeled and seeded

1 date, pitted and soaked 10 minutes

Dash sea salt

1½ cups water

Process all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour through a strainer or sieve for extra smoothness. Serve chilled.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2011/06/01/cant-stand-the-heat/

Garum – Roman Ketchup

While perusing in my new favorite cookbook looking for something interesting to do with the fresh salmon I had just ordered, I found an interesting sauce for fish called Garum. When I asked Mr. BT if he would like this sauce, he yelled out “GARUM? Do you know what that is?!” I said no and he explained that it is an ancient Roman fish sauce made from stinky, rotten fish. I gasped and said, this recipe is a very watered-down version with olives and 4 anchovies. He said, “ok, how bad can that be.”

So, in my curiosity about the history of cuisine, I found out that garum is the ancient Roman ketchup. They put it on everything, and I mean everything! I found a recipe for Pear Patina, an ancient Roman dessert, that called for garum. I guess that is where the expression, “he puts ketchup on everything” probably came from, replacing ketchup with garum.

Historian Brian Fagan, an archaeologist, author and professor of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara wrote this about garum in his fascinating book, Fish on Friday: Feasting, Fasting, and Discovery of the New World:

Roman cooks placed great emphasis on sauces and flavors, but none was more ubiquitous than garum–fish sauce. The modern equivalent would be tomato ketchup or Tabasco sauce, utilitarian products used to enhance all manner of dishes, both lavish and prosaic…today’s global cuisine provides an equivalent to garum in readily available Asian fish sauces (such as nuoc nam, nam-pla). There were many garums (also known as liquamen) so there was no universal recipe, much depending on the catch at hand.

There were hundreds of recipes for garum, few of which survive, for each manufacturer–each fishing family–had its own favorite blend. The third-century writer Gargilious Martialis gives an example in his De medicine et virtue herbarum:

“Use fatty fish, for example, sardines, and a container, whose inside is sealed with pitch, with a 26-35 quart capacity. Add dried, aromatic herbs, possessing a strong flavor, such as dill, coriander, fennel, celery, mint, oregano, and others in a layer on the bottom of the container; then put down a layer of fish (if small, leave them whole, if large, use pieces) and over this, add a layer of salt two fingers high. Repeat the layers until the container is filled. Let it rest for seven days in the sun. Then mix the sauce daily for 20 days. After that, it becomes a liquid.”

This modernised garum is neither rotting nor stinky and is a delicious sauce for most firm fish. You could serve it with hot or cold fish.

Garum – Roman Ketchup

Serving Size: 4 to 6

Recipe from Casa Moro by Sam and Sam Clark

200g olives, a mixture of firm green and black/purple, stoned

1 garlic clove, crushed to a paste with salt

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano

4 salted anchovy fillets, finely chopped

1 tablespoon sweet red wine vinegar

4 tablespoons olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Finely chop the olives and place them in a bowl. Add the garlic, herbs, anchovies, and vinegar. Mix well and add the olive oil. Add black pepper and sea salt to taste. Serve over a grilled firm fish.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2010/07/17/garum-roman-ketchup/

Trains and Balkan Water Börek

I used to love to go to the train station in my hometown. My father would take us there every once in a while to see the trains and we would always try to get there early so he could put a penny on the rails and have the train run over them. As soon as the train was safely out of harm’s way, he would retrieve the misshapen pennies for us to take home as souvenirs of our adventure.

So when I found out that the Tel Aviv municipality had painstakingly renovated an Ottoman-era train station, now unoriginally called HaTahana (The Station) near Neve Tzedek, I couldn’t wait to go and see it. And I must say, they did a beautiful job with the restoration.

The train station was inaugurated in 1892 and was the first railway line in the Middle East. The rail line went from Jaffa to Jerusalem and the length of the journey took 3-1/2 to 4 hours. The line was eventually extended to Lod and Haifa, and in 1921 the train travelled to Al Qantarah El Sharqiyya, Egypt, approximately 160km (100 miles) from Cairo. The station was closed in 1948 and only reopened as an entertainment complex this year.

There are several restaurants and cafes to choose from to sit and have a leisurely coffee with your favorite someone, such as Cafe Tahana in the original railway building.

Or sit on the roof of Shushkashvilli Beer Bar and Tapas, which is in a beautiful old Arab house that stood in the neighborhood called Manshiya, built by the Turks in 1892 to house Egyptian laborers working on the new railroad.

The Wieland Villa, built in 1902, was owned by a German Templar named Hugo Wieland, who built his home and a factory building and agricultural materials next to the railway station with the intention of shipping the goods throughout what was then Palestine and around the Middle East. The family remained in the house until the 1930s when they left and eventually moved to Australia.

HaTahana also has some lovely boutiques and art galleries in the surrounding stone buildings that will appeal to all sorts of shoppers.

The train tracks are quiet now, but HaTahana is abustle with people enjoying the lovely cafes, restaurants, art exhibitions every Thursday evening, and the real reason Mr BT and I got up early to go there: the Orbanic market, which is the new organic farmers market, open only on Fridays.

After visiting the old Ottoman station, I was inspired to make a Water Börek, which is a cheese or meat bureka, made with boiled warka leaves. Instead of going to all the trouble of making my own warka, I bought Moroccan cigar wrappers at the supermarket. Since most of my readers in the US and Europe will not be able to find cigar wrappers so easily, you can use egg roll wrappers. You can serve this for breakfast, afternoon tea, or a light supper with a big salad.

Water Börek - Su Böregi

Serving Size: 6 to 8

1 pkg (500g or 1lb) Moroccan cigar wrappers (thawed) or large egg roll wrappers

100g butter, melted or 1/4 cup olive oil

250g (1/2lb) Bulgarian or Greek Feta

1 log of plain goat's cheese

1 egg

1 cup fresh parsley or 1/2 cup parsley and 1/2 cup dill, chopped

2 green onions, sliced thinly

Several grinds of black pepper

Butter a 22cm (9 inch) deep-dish pan.

Mash the feta and goat's cheese together until well combined. Add the egg, parsley, green onion and black pepper and mix well. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).

In a large pot of boiling water, place one cigar sheet or egg roll wrapper in the pot and cook for 1-2 minutes. Scoop out the sheet with a wire mesh skimmer and place in the pan. Don't worry if you can't straighten the sheets out, just try to smooth a few out so they will go up the sides of the pan. Repeat until you have one layer of the sheets.

Brush butter or olive oil on the sheets and cover with half of the cheese mixture. Place another layer of boiled cigar sheets, brush them with butter, and add the rest of the cheese mixture. Place a final layer of cigar sheets, fold over any sheets that are hanging off the side of the baking dish, and brush with butter. Bake for 1 hour or until lightly brown. Serve hot or a room temperature.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2010/06/16/trains-and-balkan-water-borek/

Shavuot Ideas – Fresh Corn Pudding

Planning a dinner party can be quite daunting, but it helps if you are the “planning type” like I am. I was a meeting planner, by profession when I lived in the States and was responsible for planning meetings, conferences, and special events for anywhere from 10 to 10,000 attendees. My parents and grandparents also entertained a lot, so I learned everything I know about dinner party planning from my Dad and paternal grandmother who both loved to host grand gourmet dinner parties. So, planning this dinner for 11 was not a problem for me.  Here are a few good tips:

  1. Plan the menu before anything else and try to make sure that each course is a good marriage for the next.
  2. Check your wine stash or cellar and liquor stash or cabinet to see if you need to purchase a few more bottles.
  3. Make sure that your oven and Shabbat hot plate (if you have one) will be free for each course you need to make at the last minute or for those courses that need to stay hot before serving.
  4. Check that you have enough plates, silverware, glassware and serving pieces.
  5. Check that the tablecloth you want to use is ironed and doesn’t have that annoying wine stain from the last dinner party.
  6. Don’t overdo on the hors d’œuvre or your guests won’t eat your star attraction, the main meal.

Of course, it always helps to have a partner in crime and Mimi is a great friend, and a great co-hostess to work with. She was gracious to offer her home for the event and allowed me to share her kitchen with her. Her account of the “behind-the-scenes” is hysterical and quite accurate. There was a lot of swearing and “oh, I forgot to put that on the plate” going on in the kitchen.

For our main course, Mimi and I served beautiful fresh sea bass fillets that we bought from my favourite fish mongers, Dubkin Brothers. Mimi made the marinade, which was made with fresh herbs, lemon juice, and hot chilies. It was cooked perfectly and tasted good, but I would have preferred it to be spicier. We erred on the side of caution because some people do not like or cannot tolerate spicy food.  Mimi posted the fish recipe on her blog, Israeli Kitchen.

To accompany the fish, we served fresh, steamed green beans and I made individual fresh corn puddings that are made with corn cut from the cob and quickly pulsed in a food processor, fresh herbs, and a little fontina cheese for an added kick. This can be served as a first course, a vegetarian main course, or as we served it, as an accompaniment. I really like this dish, it is not too heavy and is best made with the sweetest, freshest corn you can find. I would have loved to have made it with Silver Queen corn, but sadly we do not have that variety here in Israel. I have heard that Silver Queen is all but a dying variety in the States, which is very sad because it is a sweet and creamy variety of corn. It was the best corn to use for everyone’s southern favorite, creamed corn.

Fresh Corn Pudding

Serving Size: 8

6 ears fresh corn, shucked

1/2 cup double (heavy) cream

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

50g (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cool

3 large eggs, beaten lightly

2-3 tablespoons mixed fresh herbs: sage, thyme and chives

1/4 cup grated Fontina or other sharp, good melting, cheese

Preheat oven to 180C (350F) and butter eight 1/2-cup ramekins.

Cut the corn off the cobs and place in a food processor. Pulse the corn about three times, until you have a very coarse mixture. Do not pulverise it!

Put all of the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until combined. Add the corn, and mix thoroughly. Ladle the mixture evenly into the ramekins and place them in a baking pan just large enough to hold them. Place the tray in the oven and add enough hot water to reach halfway up sides of the ramekins.

Bake the corn puddings in the middle of oven for 50 minutes, or until tops are slightly puffed and golden and firm to the touch. Remove ramekins from water and cool slightly on a rack for about 5 minutes. Run a knife around edges of ramekins and invert each pudding onto a serving plate.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2010/05/14/shavuot-ideas-fresh-corn-pudding/

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