Recipe For Simplicity

For quite a while now I didn’t post a recipe. Plus I realize that living in a town as opposed to the outskirts, impacts my daily grocery shopping. These two perceived realities makes me want to write in order to disentangle what’s going on in my life. 

1. In the city vegetables all look and taste the same. Chain supermarkets’ options are so bountyful that they dull the mind. Overexposed and overloaded my mind tries to shut down. ‘Maybe I will start wearing sunglasses in the supermarket’, I say to myself, simply to protect my senses, being at the verge of creating an allergy against whatever intake in general alluringly presents itself to me. Simplicity on show at the grocery shop around the corner where there’s tomatoes and canned peas attracts me more then having to decide between shitake and saffron infused arbolio rice, to name an example of meant to be seductive exotic promises of satisfaction.
2. I find out that my idea of prettywoman.recipes is not so much to mindfully set myself to come up with ‘my recipes’ as might be expected from a recipe blog. To me recipes and food are not just about spitting out lists of ingredients and writing down in exact detail what to do with the ingredients. Since a while, I crave simplicity: simple life, simple cooking, simple joy, simple chores. Maybe just because I want rest. Maybe it goes further then resting my bones. I read the Tao of Pooh. All I want is his Wu Wei and his ‘effortless action’. Let things evolve and develop from their core, no bending, no pointing, no trying. 

I wonder what is the recipe for simplicity. To not ask questions and just accept whatever presents itself? If I try to understand this, putting my logic mind to it, it strikes me how lazy, indifferent and weak acceptance seems to be as opposed to questioning, critisizing, resisting, pulling, pushing and fighting. We are taught not to accept. We are taught to fight for our lives, our jobs and our wants. Which actually strikes me as odd. The taoist and the buddhist lower their voices and turn inside. And what do we Westerners do? Why do we not simply allow, accept and adept?

 I wish to write a recipe for simplicity. My wish is not about the desire to make a recipe known to the world. I desire to write about something I love doing. Because writing increases the joy I derive from whatever it is I am doing. Whether this is cooking, making love or stumbling upon unrecognized beauty.

This PWR blog is a conjunction of the three: ingredients that melt into each other, blend, enforce and eventually transform into something new. Much like the yolks, lemon juice and butter of sauce Hollandais’ emulsification process. My first PWR blog said’pretty woman recipes is about my relationship with food’. It’s like a love affair. Pushing and pulling, adoration and frustration, caring and denial, to name some similarities. Where does that leave acceptance? 

What about your relationship with food? Mine is as complicated as a serious relationship. And sometimes my relationship with food is Extremely Complicated. Child of my time, woman of this world, my relationship with food contains many layers. Similar to the relationship with a partner or a family member which can be very complicated and contains many different layers. Imagine how food actually can or is used and abused by me to meet:
1. Having fun

2. Seek refuge and comfort 

3. Being fed up with

4. Craving companionship to distract from loneliness

5. Finding delight

6. Disengtangle from dependency and attachment through fasting and diet

7. Satisfy desire

8. Sustain mankind

9. Dedicate myself

Much like any other relationship however, the exclusive individualized choice, the variety of pleasing flavors, the promises of good health and happiness are so abundant, that giving up on food really is no option. Clever nature. We need to eat as much as we need to reproduce ourselves for mankind to survive. This might explain how our very nature can cause us to over-value food, adhering magnificent qualities to it. Similar to how we fall in love, over-valueing the significant other, adhering magnificent qualities to her/him. Weird enough in the case of falling in love our society is totally in awe. We adore falling in love and the resulting lack of sense of reality. But when people accidentally over value food, become addicted to either eating too much or abstaining too much, we judge them wrong.

Oh well I stop here.  The pebble is thrown in the pond. Merely to see how far it pushes the expanding perfect circles around, rippling. So far for simplicity…

Recipe for Therapy


Art can be therapeutic. Especially creating art. A dear friend of mine in Italy is in the course of becoming an art counselor. She is not advising on what works of art to purchase. She uses artistic expression as a form of therapy. I find that mindblowing and very natural at the same time.My friends used to tease me with my habit of ironing. I was not a housewife. Far from it. I’d spent my time working, socializing and leisurely. There was no such thing as interior decoration in my house and cleaning or laundry were chores hard to keep up with. But ironing was different. Ironing was my meditation. My friends found it funny and a little weird. 

Ten years have past and I am not so weird anymore. As if that’s possible. But my love for ironing is a memory belonging to a past reality. It has been overruled. Without realizing it, ironing has been overruled by cooking. It goes back far into my early teenage years, me practicising cooking. Especially the cooking for beloved ones. I feel like I free myself, the time I spend making pizza dough, preparing next days lunchboxes, rolling date balls, experimenting with confit de canard, pickling mushrooms and especially, en faisant l’art de la cuisine for the man I love. 

 The dynamics in making lunch for the man I love or while rolling date balls certainly go far beyond the simple purpose of feeding tummies. Be it my own or his or any of my beloved ones. Both the activity of combining the ingredients and the creative process beforehand consisting of selecting the different ingredients, even to be brutally honest, the step it takes to purchase the raw ingredients from my favorite Turkish shop here in Collingwood, all the single steps together form a process that lead to a wholesome feeling of completeness. Therapeutic. It saves and secures my physical and mental well being. 

Over to you. Let me take you by the hand.

Kafir lime and Goji berries date balls

2 cups pumpkin seeds, ground in a coffee grinder or roughly chopped with a knife

2 cups pitted dates (medjool or other dried but succulent specimen), finely chopped with a knife

1/3 cup gojiberries

2 kafir lime leaves, very finely cut

Zest of 1 orange

Juice of 1 orange

1/2 cup quick rolled oats

4 tbsp tahini

A dash of coarse salt

Combine well quick rolled oats, orange zest & orange juice, salt and kafir lime 

Add all other ingredients

Form a dough

Prepare a bowl with lukewarm water and storage container(s)

Scoop a quantity of dough measuring something between a cherry tomato and a golf ball and form a ball by rolling it between your hand palms. Possibly, when dough sticks to hands and fingers too much, wet your hands at intervals of rolling two or three balls. Continue until all dough is finished. This is the meditative part. Focus at scooping each time the same quantity of dough and at delivering really round balls. You do not even need to eat them in order to enjoy the satisfying feeling of accomplishment when your super healthy treat is done

Date balls can be stored in the fridge for up to three weeks

Purifying her


It’s much like purifying the gut by following a pure diet. A diet omitting the usual dead stuff. Intake is plant based, preferably raw. No usual suspects stimulating the body by fighting off harrasers like caffeine, sugar, gluten, carbonated sodium and nicotine. Body and gut can take it easy, relax. Sometimes I’ve even taken it one level higher. Adding a special kidney cleansing tea that I drank daily during six weeks. Twice I took a few days to shock treat my liver with a special liver cleanse cure. Emptying the mind is like purifying my brains. At times they become as spasmic as irritated bowels. And then they just need rest, no more input at all, brain diet time. 

From the series bring-me-down-to-earth
Pure with Peanuts

2 hands full sprouted mung beans

2 flat mushrooms, thinly sliced

2 hands full raw peanuts

zest of one lime

2 sprigs of spring onion

a handful of sliced papaya, preferably not too ripe

6 steamed Brussels sprouts (dead stuff)

in an empty glass jar mix 1 tablespoon tahini with 2 table spoons soy sauce, 2 table spoons vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes, shake like a cocktail shaker

mix well, eat with chop sticks

 

La Hollandaise


Born, having grown up in The Netherlands and cooking professionally the better part of my life, until very recently I never made or ordered sauce Hollandaise. Does an Italian ask for an American Pizza? Why did the French decide to call this rich and gourmande sauce, sauce Hollandaise? What do Dutch chicks have to do with the generous amount of egg yolks? The culinary world is fascinating. It’s basically just about feelings. Like our taste for music, for sex and for beauty. Personal preferences that are embedded in emotions, opinions and attachments. Lovely! I had to go Down Under to be properly introduced to sauce Hollandaise. Here in Melbourne an indispensable item if it comes to breakfast and poached eggs. The perfect recipe however I thank to Sheila from San Francisco. I like threads. This one circles from Amsterdam to Melbourne, to California. The reinvention of a recipe in this case involves a thermomix. Which might put you off just a little bit. Jammin’, shake it, mix it

Use the following order adding ingredients to a thermomixer

Juice of 1 lemon

4 egg yolks

300 gram melted butter, slightly cooled down (5 minutes)

Install thermomixer at 8 minutes, 70 C and 3.5 turning speed

Mixing the ingredients by hand in a pot au bain Marie, does lead to same.

If you want to season the sauce Hollandaise, do it just prior to serving. Salt will trash the eggs. Sauce can be served as cold or hot as you like.

Old to New – 1 January 2018 


Taking the old and worn, full of intense flavours. It’s sweetness gone stale; it’s texture trodden, sucked, torn. Take it, don’t throw it. Arouse it, water it, nurture it with new milky fluid, soft yellow yolk, spice it up with lemon zest and sugar. Baby Sugar Me as Lindsey De Paul sang in 1972:

Save me, save me

Baby, baby sugar me

Gotta get my candy free

Sugar me by day

Sugar me my baby, baby sugar me

Gotta get my candy free

Sugar me by day, sugar me by night

Sugar sugar sugar sugar sugar sugar sugar

It’s 10 am, first of January 2018. I find myself in the kitchen. The newest morning of the year. After the most worn out night of the foregone one. I am not fully aware of the symbolic thing I intuitively do. I like to loose my conscious mind in the kitchen. And just do it. Sometimes a bit frantic. Sometimes thoughtful and slow. It’s like making love. And that’s what it tastes like:
Muffin tray

Diary butter

The Italian pannetone that is still in the fridge/colorful box/back of a shelf

3 cups milk

2 eggs

1/3 cup sugar

Lemon zest of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven at 150 C

Mix eggs, milk, sugar and lemon zest in a bowl

Dice 4 cups of the pannetone – any kind of old bread or cake will do actually

Butter the individual muffin holes generously

Fill the holes with the diced pannetone

Poor the egg/milk mixture on top of it, spreading evenly

Press the diced cake down in the liquid

Take bits of butter and place them on top of each individual mixture

Place muffin tray in the preheated oven and immediately lower the temperature to 120-130 C

Set alarm for 1.5 hours, take it out, let it cool

Cut individual pain perdu’s loose and lift them cautiously out of muffin tray

Sprinkle with sugar / icing sugar / lemon zest

Garnish with fruit, cream, custard, cinnamon or nothing at all
Happy 365 Chances to New Beginnings. Just Don’t You Cut the Root!

Why date balls pass for Bliss and Love

Or as my eldest daughter calls them: Yoga Balls, refering to a very mindfull practice. A state of bliss, submerged in love is what I take in when I treat myself to a date ball. Not suprisingly I process at least once a week the raw ingredients consisting mainly of dates and seeds or nuts, into approximately thirty nutrious round little balls, in snack sized measurements of ’round and about 20 grams weight each.

The irony is that culinairy combinations of dried fruits and nuts going way back in time and location, typically are not associated with sweet love and a state of bliss. The harsh texture and not subtle flavors have even given rise to the archaïc appelation: Pan Forte. Beautifully wrapped and labelled Italian ‘Tough Bread’, being probably the most renown culinairy version of processed dried fruits and nuts, flavoured with ginger, lightly dusted with icing sugar.

So where did we deteriorate and start to associate dryness, sticky chunks and pieces, crumbly bits and a lot of protein with Love and a State of Bliss? Please contemplate when preparing a very straightforward date ball dough before meditatively taking small scoops of it in the palm of one hand, as to subtly roll it into a little ball using light pressure exerted with the other hand palm, secretely transforming the culinairy process into an act of love and health and mindfulness.

350 gram dates, preferably a combination of half medjool (sweet and sticky) and half regular dried dates (caramel flavor and more sturdy)

200 gram raw cashew nuts

Zest of 1 orange

A walnut sized or shallot sized chunk of fresh ginger (15 grams), finely grated

2 tbsp tahini (sesame paste) or any other nut/seed paste

Sprinkling of sea salt

Take pits out of the dates where applicable and dice the dates with a sharp knife into chunks no larger then sweet peas. This takes quite a bit of time and effort. But the secret of the recipe lies in cutting instead of food-processing.

Transfer into large bowl

Take a coffee bean grinder or set up the magic mix with it’s small container, and grind the cashew nuts into a paste. First the nuts will turn into meal and consecutively they will form a paste much like butter. It’s not necessary to have the emulsion transform all together into butter, somewhere half way is fine

Add to large bowl

Add the remaining ingredients, form a dough with bare hands

Set out a shallow bowl filled with water and a storage container lined with baking sheet

Wet your hands and keep them wet throughout the process (here is where the shallow water bowl comes in) to keep the dough from sticking at your hands and fingers as much as possible

Take a golf ball sized amount of dough in the palm of your hand, form a ball, start rolling it in between the palms of your hands and dispose of it in prepared baking sheet lined, storage container.

Repeat the process until all dough is finished

Place storage container in fridge

Ready to eat and to be kept in the fridge for several weeks without turning rancid or bad (the flavors actually mingle more over time)

And Love Your Balls Ever After

Bless You

Series II: Fucking Complicated


Fantasizing about Blue Almond Iced Tea. I’ve got the clitoria flower! It’s a dried product mainly used in Thailand for making tea and coloring blue rice. It’s the only natural genuine blue food coloring. Blue berries being discarted as too purple and algae as too greenish blue. Clitoria flower is blue as in blue. I realize the Blue Almond Iced Tea has got to wait. It’s time for Sea Water Petits Ronds, delightful desserts where I got the clitoria flower for in the first place. And yes the name clitoria comes from where you think it comes from. No wonder they not only turn my raw cakes magnificent blue but also, let’s call it sexy.

The recipe reminds me of one of the most complicated dessert recipes I have ever made. I was only in my early twenties, following precisely the directions as prescribed and pictured in the recipe book Desserts from the Time Life cookery book series. God they were ahead of their time with the step by step visual instructions. I’ve been brought up with Time Life, I realize now. The recipe was for the authentic British trifle, champagne syllabub included. It took several days to make it. I never felt as proud as I did when it all came out exactly like the pictures.

The recipe for Sea Water Petits Ronds is as complicated and lengthy as the trifle I made 25 years ago, much less traditional; other side of the culinary universe actually. It involves no cooking, no diary, no animal products at all, no refined sugar, no gluten and no artificial flavoring nor coloring. I wonder how we ended up being so discriminative in the kitchen. Is it all because of our precious health and that of our planet? Or do humans in general like to be difficult? I don’t know. I do know I get excited by the thought of creamy, smashing blue, sweet and slightly salty, raw, plant based, guilt free, individual cakes that remind me of feeling blue or make me long for a beach in Boracay, Philippines.

Sea Water Petits Ronds


Day 1 morning

Step 1.

2 cups raw almonds, roughly chopped

2 cups water

Soak for 4 hours at least
Day 1 evening

Step 2.

after 4 hours, discard almond water and divide almonds evenly over oven tray lined with baking sheet

Set the oven to 45 C

Hydrate overnight, at least 12 hours

This process is called activating. Nuts are nice when roasted. But then they’re no longer raw and according to some, have lost some of their nutrious properties. Dehydrating them in a temperature under 48 C keeps them ‘raw’ (enzymes don’t die) and makes them slightly crunchy
Step 3.

Take 1 cup dried chickpeas and 3 cups water

Soak overnight
Step 4.

cut 12 rounds of baking sheet in exactly the shape of muffin tray bottoms only

cut 12 strips of baking sheet 3 cm wide, 12 cm long

Align muffin tray with the strips, 1 per hole and rounds on top of it. Make sure either side of the strips stick out from the holes

The crust will be pressed on top of the strip and the round. This is to make sure you can take the individual cakes once they’re done out of the tray without using a knife or having to damage the shape
Day 2 morning

Step 5.

Drain chickpeas, transfer to a pot, add twice the quantity of water and bring to the boil.

Simmer for 2 hours or until chickpeas are done
Step 6.

Drain chickpeas, saving the cooking liquid

Store cooked chickpeas to be used in another recipe

Bring cooking liquid back to boil adding a tbsp of dried clitoria flower / pea flower tea, turning it blue

Let the blue aqua fava (literally meaning, bean water) cool down completely
Step 7.

Grind 1 cup of the almonds in coffee grinder or heavy duty food processor into almond butter

It will first crumbe, hence turn into meal, keep on grinding, pauze every now and then to give appliance a break and not overheating it, keep on going until a clump is formed. Keep on going and it will turn into butter

Step 8.
Make crust by combining 1 cup regular pitted dates, roughly chopped, 1 cup medjool dates, roughly chopped, the other 1 cup of activated almonds, chopped finely. Form 12 balls the size of a ping pong ball, rolling between the palms of your hands
Step 9.

Firmly press balls into discs in bottoms of the muffin tray. Place tray in fridge until further notice
Day 2 evening

Step 10.

1 cup pea flower / clitoria flower blue aqua fava

1 cup activated almond butter

1 cup cream of coconut

1/2 cup brown rice malt sirup.

Mix blue aqua fava with handmixer on high speed for 3-5 minutes until stiff peaks are formed resembling egg white merengue

Step 11.

Make the Salty Sea water cake mixture

Mix in a separate bowl almond butter and cream of coconut, add rice malt sirup. Slowly fold stiffened aqua fava through almond butter mixture, in three badges. Once mixed, make sure to use it right away

Step 12.

Take the muffin tray from the fridge and fill up the individual holes with the Salty Sea water cake mixture. Place in freezer. Freeze overnight.

Day 3 anytime


Step 13.

To serve the cakes, dip the whole tray with it’s bottom in water (fill a shallow oven tray with just a few centimeter of luke warm water and place the muffin tray in there for 15 seconds). Pull at the baking sheet strips to gently lift the cakes one by one. Peel off the baking sheet rounds from the bottoms of the crust, can be tricky, be patient and careful.

Step 14.

Sprinkle the cakes with grapefruit zest and serve with sweet or sweetened fruit. I’d opt for grapefruit sweetened with maple sirup or ripe mango.

Congratulations guys. You’ve made it. Recipe for blue almond milk iced tea is next. Will be part of the KiSS series: Keep It Stupid and Simple, again. Pfffft!
Mise en place

2 cups raw deskinned almonds, coarsely chopped

1 cup dried chick peas

Baking sheet

Scissors

Muffin tray

1 tbsp Pea flower tea / dried clitoria flower

Coffee grinder or heavy duty food processor (1000 Watt min)

1 cup regular pitted dates, chopped

1 cup medjool dates, depitted and chopped

Handheld mixer or Kitchenaid

1 cup cream of coconut

1/2 cup brown rice malt sirup

Zest of 1 grapefruit

2 cups of grapefruit particles sweetened with maple sirup or brown rice malt sirup / ripe mango

KiSS series, nr 1


Something that doesn’t sound sexy at all. Not so much the word itself. Rather it’s association with a certain timeless salty sour, slightly bitter and harsh flavor. It’s consistency equals this sensation. Which is quite the opposite of smooth, pleasant in the mouth or softly touching my lips. It’s Jurassic like crocodiles, perky like cactusses and often cold, damp cold. Are we talking about food? Yes! And about everything it beholds: nutrition, pleasure, connection, warmth, taking care, paying attention, surprise and a whole lot of dedication. All at the same time, preferably. 
In no two different culinary traditions it’s done the same way. But I dare say that each and every culinary tradition does know it’s own variation of the art of pickling. Maybe eskimo’s and Tibetans have been able to stay away from it, thanks to their fridge-worthy surroundings. The rest of the world needed methods to conserve their precious food. 
A quarter of one cauliflower head, cut in the small roses, the size of cashew nuts, is to be transferred into a glass confit jar. It’s nice to use an authentic one, with orange rubber lining to secure keeping the jar air tight. But a former jam jar works just as well for these quick pickling methods. Add a six centimeter strip of orange peel to it. The jars I use contain 500 ml. But you can use any size. Then measure half of the content, in my case 250 ml, apple cider vinegar and the other half, 250 ml plain water and heat in a pot. Add a generous tablespoon of sugar and a generous tablespoon of salt. Heat until the salt and sugar are dissolved and the liquid is at the verge of boiling. Then take it from the heat and carefully poor it over the cauliflower in the glass jar. Close lid. Let it cool. Place in the fridge for 24 hours. After which it is ready to use although it can be kept pretty much timelessly. The hot liquid quick pickling method I prefer for hard vegetables like roots and cabbages or watermelon rind. The same conjunction of vinegar, water, salt and sugar can be poored cold as is, over soft vegetables like zucchini, cucumber or onion. What I like about quick pickling is that it’s so easy. Already after 24 hours, you can enjoy your very homemade pickles. To all handsome ladies and smart guys in the kitchen my message here is: ‘please don’t forget to KISS’, in other words, Keep It Stupid and Simple

First

Yesterday I made love with the love of my life during five hours. We parted and I felt pretty depleted. Both emotionally and physically. We both went our ways, picking up our kids from different schools. At the school of my children the weekly Thursday market is on and my youngest daughter’s class is due for bbq’ed sausages. As a culinary addict I love anything food related, including grilling supermarket sausages on a big professional bbq. Although my culinairy curiosity led me to raw veganism three years ago and for my own diet I happily stick to it. The scene at school I enthusiatically dive into can’t be further away from what I advocate as health inspired food. At least that’s what it seems. But actually for me preparing and delivering food goes beyond processing healthy ingredients. Substantial well being is fed with physical food and metaphysical energy that comes with assembling, cutting, cooking and presenting food, any food. Today at the Thursday market it’s the handing out to both kids and parents, that forms the nourishing ingredient. I sincerely think these sausages feed the kids and the parents in wholesome, complete ways because of the warm social setting at the schoolyard after school. On top of that preparing food for other people to me is a task of nobility. Even if it’s the cheapest processed food, when the offering contributes to social harmony and a sense of trust and connection between people in general, it gives a true sense of satisfaction and gratification. Food not only builds our bodies. It builds our families and our communities. 

Only a few hours later it’s cold and almost dark outside. I park myself behind the stove in my own kitchen and start baking mini pancakes. Made of egg yolk, self raising flour, diary milk, turmeric, smoked red chilli and cumin. The creation of it and the joy I derive from it, with my senses fully open, are striking. ‘I want to discover what food is all about’ I tell myself.  Or better even, ‘I want to discover what food and me are all about’. I want to unveil the secrets of our relationship, if I may be so frank.

Pretty woman recipes is meant to be a superficial account of what I do food related. Since I discovered food is not only about our taste buds but about all the senses. It’s an expression of feelings, emotions, beauty, sadness. It’s open or closed, restraint or let go, mixed with sweetness, spices, deliciousness and mishappenings. It’s as sensual as it can be fast. Most of all it surpasses the mind, our logic and the world as we understand it.