Friday, February 08, 2008

Mediterranean diet benefits

I don't think there's a traditional diet that was ever so widely reccomended as the Mediterranean diet. Medical doctors, the USA and other governments, health agencies, chefs, everyone seems attracted to it.

To be sure, the Mediterranean diet was naturally healthy before non-Mediterranean discovered it. The Mediterranean peoples just never gave so much thought to it, they simply continued cooking, eating and enjoying food as they had done for centuries.

Since the first scientific study conducted by professor Ancel Keys, there have been many studies aimed at showing the Mediterranean diet benefits. Virtually all of them have had very positive results.

In my web site I give guidelines for anyone who wants to follow the Mediterranean diet.

Remember that although Dr Keys called it a diet, it's simply a great way of cooking and eating, a lifestyle I'd say, that doesn't involve any sacrifice.

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Homemade yogurt cheese as in Lebanon

If you ever wanted to make cheese but thought it was very difficult to make it at home, this is for you.

Traditional labneh, as they call yogurt cheese in the Arabic Eastern Mediterranean, is very easy to make. It's a creamy white cheese that you make by adding a little salt to yogurt and draining the whey overnight.

In my web site I give step-by-step instructions for making yogurt cheese easily. You'll be an accomplished cheese maker in no time, I promise.

Eat it for breakfast with flat bread or toast with olive oil, in a sandwich, or on a Lebanese-style pizza. You'll find plenty of occasions to eat this delicious yogurt cheese that belongs to the healthy Mediterranean diet.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Vegetable Recipes from the Mediterranean

Home cooks increasingly want to prepare vegetable recipes that are healthy but succulent at the same time.

I offer many vegetable Mediterranean recipes explained step by step.

You'll find vegetarian, lacto-vegetarian and lacto-ovo-vegetarian recipes. Many of them are versatile, you can use them as appetizers, as accompaniment or side dish, it's up to you.

By the way, on Sunday, I prepared what seems to me the quickest and simplest soup in the world.

It's a traditional Catalan walnut soup - Sopa de nous. You shell some walnuts, pulverize them with mortar and pestle, put them in a soup bowl and scald them with boiling water. That's it. You can add toasted bread if you like.

The funny thing is that this walnut soup is also eaten as dessert and breakfast. In this case, you generally add some sugar, brown sugar I'd advice. Really cool, very healthy, and lightning fast!

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Horchata - Real Valencian Orxata

Horchata is a very refreshing drink with a very special taste. As a child I found it mouthwatering, and I couldn't wait for the summer to drink it.

In Barcelona, where I grew up, there were a few ice cream parlors where you could get authentic freshly-made orxata, as if you were in a Valencian town. And on the 24th of June, Saint John's Day, we made it ourselves at home.

One of my web site visitors asked me for the horchata recipe and I posted it. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Easy dessert based on nuts

Toasted almonds, hazelnuts, raisins, dried figs... Include as few or as many nuts as you want in this traditional Catalan easy dessert called Musician dessert.

This easy dessert recipe is healthy and typical of the winter months, as it gives you the energy you need when it's colder. It's so simple that I'm afraid people may not understand.

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Mediterranean diet video clip

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Olive oil, your health, your kitchen

Extra virgin olive oil has become such a symbol of healthy eating that it is hard to believe that it was once accused of increasing the harmful cholesterol. It was a fat, so it had to be bad for us. Fortunately, we left those times behind and now olive oil and most fats are much better understood.

The main reason olive oil is healthy is because it is rich in healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. About 75% of that monounsaturated fat is oleic acid, which is very stable even at high temperatures. Moreover, our body processes oleic acid easier than other fatty acids.

Secondly, organic extra virgin olive oil also contains high levels of antioxidants like phenols, and vitamins E and A, which fight free radicals and thus prevent premature aging. Those antioxidants help neutralize the oxidation process, which is common to alls fats, and preserve the properties of olive oil too.

So, the fact that olive oil is capable of resisting oxidation at higher temperatures much better than seed oils makes it the safest vegetable oil for frying.

Many in the non-Mediterranean industrialized countries feel uneasy when a Mediterranean recipe calls for frying in olive oil. Frying is an old cooking technique that is very popular in the Mediterranean cuisines. It is as much an integral part of the healthy traditional Mediterranean diet as consuming raw olive oil with bread and salads.

Some olive oil tips for the kitchen

When heated up, olive oil expands in volume and food absorbs it less than other cooking oils. Therefore, you need a smaller quantity of olive oil.

If it didn't burn in your frying pan, you can reuse olive oil up to three times. Some say even five times, but I personally never use it more than twice.

Olive oil transmits flavors between foods, so never fry meat in olive oil you used to fry fish and vice versa. My grandmother always kept a jar for fish and one for meat next to the olive oil bottle. It is the best way not to get flavors mixed up.

Finally, olive oil looks thicker than other vegetable oils, but this is only appearance as, contrary to popular belief, it has no more calories than sunflower oil, for instance.

Olive oil for your health

In the 13th century Arnau de Vilanova, doctor of the Catalan royal family, already realized that a moderate intake of olive oil enhanced the vital functions of the body. In the 20th century, the late American doctor, Ancel Keys MD, documented that the olive oil based Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.

We see that contemporary research has confirmed what the Mediterranean peoples knew and practiced intuitively all along.

Heart disease is the Achilles' heel of modern societies living at a frantic pace. Since Dr. Keys and his followers realized that we in the Mediterranean have a better cardiovascular health, the first medical studies on olive oil focused mainly on that area.

They proved that olive oil balances the cholesterol levels, can reduce the risk of a heart attack, can play a role in the prevention of arteriosclerosis, and fights high blood pressure.

Later, research was extended to other areas like digestion, cancer, and diabetes. The results have been very positive and olive oil usually comes through with flying colors.

One particular study concluded that with only two tablespoons of virgin olive oil every day you can begin to experience the health benefits that the Mediterranean peoples have enjoyed for so long. Incorporating it naturally into your eating practices is simple.

How to integrate olive oil in your eating practices

The easiest way is to get into the habit of drizzling olive oil over slices of bread or toasts, consuming it as a dressing for sandwiches instead of butter, and adding it to salads with some salt.

Wherever you go in the Mediterranean, Morocco, Provence, Tunisia, Italy, Greece, Catalonia, Andalusia, or Majorca, you'll find people eating their own combination of bread and raw olive oil.

As a Catalan I eat pa amb tomaquet, literally bread with tomato, almost every day: as part of my breakfast, as a snack, or, I admit, when I am too lazy to cook dinner. It is the Catalan bruschetta, so to say, and you can prepare it in no time with slices of bread or toasts, both are fine.

Here is the most basic recipe for pa amb tomaquet. Cut a very ripe tomato crosswise, rub the bread with one half on both sides, drizzle olive oil liberally over the bread and sprinkle some salt.

You can eat it plain or add any topping and accompaniment you like: prosciutto-style or cooked ham, cheese, tuna fish, an omelet, anchovies, figs, olives. Even with a chocolate bar at tea or coffee time, it may sound weird, but it is delicious.

Other recipes with raw olive oil are authentic allioli, salads with olive oil dressing, cold sauces like romesco, and sopa de farigola or thyme soup. As the Catalan saying goes: Sopa sense oli no val un dimoni, literally, Soup without oil isn't worth a devil, meaning that a soup with no oil is junk.

Here is the recipe. In a soup pot, bring 2-quart (2 l) water to a boil together with 2 peeled garlic cloves and 2 sprigs thyme. Simmer for 10 minutes and drain. Place 1 or 2 slices of country-style bread on the bottom of each soup bowl, drizzle them liberally with extra virgin olive oil and ladle the soup over it. In the spring and summer this soup is also great with mint instead of thyme.

Recent studies have shown that the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet are not derived from olive oil alone, but from the Mediterranean diet as a whole. So, eat well and enjoy!

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Creme Brulee

OK it is not Saint Joseph's Day, the 19th of March, the day of the year that you eat Catalan creme brulee. But now and then I like to make crema catalana, which you probably know as creme brulee.

The secret of this mouthwatering dessert is burning the creme brulee properly. As the Catalan saying goes: La crema, si és ben cremada, a xics i grans els agrada, which means: When properly burned, kids and grown-ups love to eat creme.

In my web site I have published a step-by-step creme brulee recipe. I encourage you to try it. It is not particularly difficult if you follow the instructions. And it really is a delicious dessert.

Follow the fourth step to the letter. It is crucial for the success of your creme brulee and it was never revealed until now.

If your creme brulee tastes like English custard, you didn't get authentic crema catalana. I lived in London for a while, I ate custard several times and I know they are very different.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Fresh Mint for Mediterranean Recipes

Right now the fresh mint is the happiest being in our home. It has been raining since the beginning of April, and this aromatic herb loves dampness. The typical Mediterranean flat parsley is also thriving.

So this month I cooked a few mint and parsley omelets. The Lebanese version combines mint and parsley with scallions. The Catalan version combines fresh mint with green garlic. The Arabic version adds one teaspoon of flour. We don't.

To make such an omelet, finely chop a few sprigs of the herbs and vegetables you chose. Beat 4 or 5 eggs. Mix everything gently. Add some salt and a small pinch of pepper, and you'll have prepared a delicious, quick and easy Mediterranean recipe suitable for lunch or dinner.

You can cook small omelets or a round flat omelet as in a potato omelette recipe.

And with so much fresh mint around, don't forget to make a Moroccan-style mint tee from time to time.

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Fresh sweet peas announce the spring

In the Mediterranean, March and April are the best time to enjoy sweet peas shining with their luminous green. Sauteing them with olive oil and green onions is quick and easy, and you will have an appetizer or healthy accompaniment in no time. Add some bacon or blood sausage, if you'd like more proteins and a more intense taste.

Sweet peas also combine very well with asparagus as in a Catalan-style asparagus casserole recipe.

A superb herb for green peas is fresh mint, which enhances the aroma of sweet peas. And of course, if you prepare a delicious paella recipe, don't forget to add some sweet peas.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Mediterranean Diet Food Clipart

Mediterranean diet food pictures in motion. In this slide show of heirloom vegetable, fruits and fresh fruit salad recipes you sense how healthy, juicy and delicious is the Mediterranean diet. And of course, wine is also present here, it had to be!

Click for more video clips on Mediterranean diet cooking.

Click for a treasure chest of true Mediterranean diet recipes.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Pasta dish for a lazy Saturday

Today we didn't feel like cooking but at the same time we were hungry and wanted to eat well. So I decided to cook a pasta dish.

We used to call this pasta recipe macarrons a la italiana, although to my knowledge nobody prepares them like this in Italy. Anyway, these penne rigate or macaroni au gratin are the Catalan way and they are delicious and easy. And quite quick actually: In half an hour you can prepare a one dish meal that feels like a real meal.

You can use macaroni or penne rigate, whatever pasta type you prefer.

Now that I think of it, in my web site I have published a more elaborate but similar macaroni and cheese recipe. It is a step by step recipe with the exact times and ingredient amount.

But if you like to cook without measuring exact cooking times and ingredient amounts, here's the pasta recipe.

Ingredients: 1/2 pound penne or macaroni; 1 onion, 4 or 5 small ripe tomatoes, 5 or 6 raw pork sausages, flat Italian parsley, parmigiano or another cheese for grating, salt

How to prepare this pasta dish

Heat olive oil in a saucepan and add the chopped onion. Cook for a while and add the sausage and the parsley. Cook for some minutes. Add the peeled and chopped tomato. Cook for at least 20 minutes over low heat. Remove from heat and stir into the cooked pasta. Put the pasta in a baking dish. Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese to taste over the pasta and broil for 7 or 8 minutes. Serve hot.

An orange or apple piece as dessert completes this lazy Saturday Mediterranean diet menu.

Related cooking articles directly related to this pasta recipe:
Cooking pasta
Peeling tomatoes

Click for a treasure chest of true Mediterranean diet recipes

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Strawberry and orange fruit salad

This is a refreshing fresh fruit salad for the beginning of the spring. In March, oranges are very sweet and we can also the first seasonal strawberries. It's a joy to be able to marry these gorgeous fruits for two or three months.

At this time of the year, this fresh strawberry salad is a delight. However, if you prepare it in the winter with greenhouse strawberries full of chemicals, it will not have a very good taste. The Mediterranean diet uses seasonal products as much as possible.

Here's how you prepare this simply delicious Mediterranean recipe for 4 guests:

Peel 4 oranges. Take care to remove the pith. Cut them into about half an inch (1 cm) slices.

Slice 7 ounces (300 g) of strawberries lenghtwise.

Line a fruit salad bowl with the orange slices as in the picture.

Top the oranges with the strawberries slices. Distribute them artistically.

Here you have it a quick and easy fresh fruit salad recipe: Colorful and succulent.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Pesto recipe cooking apron

Original Mediterranean cooking apron with the popular pesto recipe printed on it.

This cooking apron design celebrates the mythical Mediterranean joy most people love. And the pesto recipe is traditional and authentic.

Click to enlarge the cooking apron with the Italian Genoese pesto recipe.

In my Mediterranean diet web site you'll find more details about the delicious pesto recipe sauce.

Click for a treasure chest of authentic Mediterranean diet recipes

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Easy fruit salad recipe

Today we had a bright sunny Sunday, that is, until about half past five in the afternoon when the sky went black and it started raining. I am expecting friends from the cold European North and I am praying that the weather is as great as the last days.

Anyway, we had lunch with all windows and balcony wide open. As dessert we had an easy fruit salad with winter oranges and spring mint. Below I give you the recipe for this easy fruit salad recipe.

That's right, it seems that it is winter and spring at the same time. We have the most sweet winter oranges and at the same time our mint plant is growing again, after the winter rest.

Ingredients for this easy fruit salad recipe

  • 2 apples

  • 1 orange

  • 1 grapefruit

  • 3 leaves mint

  • 2 tablespoons honey of orange blossom or other mild honey

  • 1 small handful raisins

Easy fruit salad recipe preparation instructions

Peel the fruit and chop them into bite-size pieces. Add them to a fruit salad bowl.

Mince the mint and add it to the bowl. Add the raisins. Mix well.

Finally, add the 2 tablespoons honey and mix well.

Serve at room temperature.

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Fava bean recipe

Yesterday I had the first fava beans of the season. They were early, probably because this winter has been extremely mild.

The first fava beans are small and very tender: The best by far. At the end of the season, they are very big and much harder. You have to cook them for at least two hours. So I prefer to enjoy them now.

I cooked the traditional fava bean recipe, Faves a la catalana, Catalan-style fava beans. When the fava beans are tender, this Mediterranean recipe is no difficult at all.

You prepare this fava bean recipe with

- a little bit of botifarra negra, a mildly seasoned blood sausage,

- some dices of bacon,

- mint, a scallion, garlic and a small glass of wine.

I took a picture of the fava bean recipe, and I hope to publish it, together with the recipe.

We eat fava beans since the Romans brought them to us. The poor ate them a lot as they are nutritious. In fact, nowadays Egyptians still eat lots of fava beans.

Apart from eating them, the Romans used fava beans in funerary ceremonies, and they were linked to reincarnation rites too.

To prepare this fava bean recipe you have to choose a day where you have time, as you have to shell them. For four guests you need 11 pounds (5 kg) of unshelled fava beans! This makes about 1 1/4 shelled fava beans.

Browse delicious Mediterranean diet recipes.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Quick Mediterranean Diet Menu

Here's what I had for lunch today. It was a beautiful day, with a very warm sun shining on our plates bursting with deliciously healthy Mediterranean food.

Our Mediterranean menu for today was light, vegetarian and really healthy. A quick and easy Mediterranean meal idea that anyone can try. It's perfect for a busy day.

The rice dish is Indian, but the spirit is Mediterranean. I cook it several times every week. It's very easy.

It took me about 45 minutes. And I am not a fast cook, I like to do things rather slowly. So here it is.

1. Escarole dressed with extra virgin olive oil to taste, salt and some drops of pressed lemon juice.

2. Simple Indian style rice with ghee/clarified butter and cumin.

3. Artichokes with vinaigraitte sauce.

4. 1 orange.

For the vinaigrette sauce: In a mortar, mash and mix with the pestle 1 scallion, 3 sprigs Italian parsley, 1 garlic clove, 1 teaspoon capers, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and some drops of wine vinegar. Garnish each artichoke half with a black olive.

As I get the time I will publish those recipes on my Mediterranean diet web site. I already published a salad dressing recipe, or romesco sauce that is wonderful with escarole. It makes an incredibly delicious winter salad with a very special taste.

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Olive oil - Essential for the Mediterranean diet

Mediterranean olive tree
Olive oil is a fundamental pillar of Mediterranean cuisines. Its farming began in Palestine, and from there olive trees, as we know them today, traveled North to Anatolia, and South, to Egypt and Crete.

A traditional Mediterranean diet is unthinkable without consuming olive oil every single day, in cooked dishes or in its raw form.

I grew up in Catalonia eating pa amb tomàquet every day, bread with rubbed tomato and lots of drizzled oil. On Mallorca, where I live now, you can also get pa amb oli, bread topped with olive oil in bistros and cafes.

On the smallest Balearic island of Formentera, traditional bakers still sell rolls soaked in extra virgin olive oil every morning. It's the first thing I do when I travel to the small island of Formentera. Eating that fresh baker's roll with lots of extra virgin olive oil and nothing else on top has a quality of authentic simplicity.

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Video on how to prepare an artichoke

Artichokes can be tricky for inexperienced non-Mediterranean, but only if you don't know how to clean them. Here's a short original video that shows you how to prepare and pull off the artichoke leaves.

Click to learn and try delicious Mediterranean recipes from the true Mediterranean diet.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Artichokes and the Mediterranean diet

Artichokes hide many secrets. That's what makes them so delicious and special. Learn to choose the best artichokes, and mouthwatering meal ideas straight from the Mediterranean.

Artichokes are a winter vegetable of the Mediterranean diet with a reputation for being healthy. However, here we are more interested in their culinary virtues, in their slight-bitter nutty-like flavor that makes them delicious and special.

Their physical appearance is also special, and at first, artichokes may puzzle inexperienced non-Mediterranean home cooks.

To tell you the truth, I remember once feeling put off by the artichokes I saw in a Ghent food store. They looked completely inedible to me. They were huge and had a brownish-green color, the leaves were all open and hollow to the touch, and as dry as if they had been exposed to the desert sun for weeks. Now you know how an artichoke shouldn't be when you buy it.

You could hardly call those Belgian artichokes flowers. Indeed, the flowers are what we eat. They are the edible part of the artichoke plant, or more accurately, the unopened flower head of this enigmatic thistle plant.

Let's clarify things. When buying artichokes, choose compact and tightly packed ones. The leaves should be closed, or they are too old and useless for cooking any decent Mediterranean dish based on artichokes. A little darkening in the outer leaves is no big deal, but accept only a little. Artichokes shouldn't feel too light in your hands either; this is another sign that they were harvested too long ago.

Artichokes in the Mediterranean landscape

Artichokes are native to the Mediterranean basin, and every spring they shoot up their deep blue and purple colors in the Mediterranean fields. Together with wild asparagus and mushrooms, green and purple artichokes are used in a variety of dishes that connect us to a Mediterranean cuisine understood as the landscape in a pan, a Catalan cuisine motto and the motto of my web site, as my readers know.

In my homeland of Mediterranean Catalonia, we are very fond of those three plant foods, and have many traditional dishes that use them. I don't know about wild mushrooms, but artichokes and asparagus are considered an aphrodisiac, which makes artichokes even more appealing.

Now you can find acceptable artichokes all winter, but it is in the spring when they are at their best. In the northern part of the Mediterranean, artichokes are harvested from February to March. In the southern Mediterranean, the harvest lasts longer, beginning in December or even November.

Some meal ideas with artichokes

Simply boiling them in water with a pinch of salt and a dash of vinegar is the quickest and easiest method. In this case, do not use an aluminum or iron pot, because they turn an ugly dark color.

You can saute them, stuff them with rice or shrimps, grill them, and roast them in the oven. For those who love eating raw vegetables, the heart leaves certain varieties of small purple artichokes can be eaten raw in a salad.

One recipe I find particularly delicious is rice with artichokes. Their slight bitter flavor and the sweetness of the rice make for a surprising contrast. An artichoke omelet is another great culinary idea, and in some coastal and champagne producing regions south of Barcelona, it often accompanies a superb traditional salad dish called xato.

Combined with chicken or rabbit, artichokes are also extraordinary. If you like to blacken the rice of your paella, add some artichokes and fava beans to it. But grilling artichokes in the open air is unsurpassable in its simplicity. It's an open air celebration, another excuse to "go grilling" with your friends, as they say in the Catalan region surrounding the Ebre (Ebro) River, about 125 miles (200 km) south of Barcelona.

Season the whole artichokes generously with extra virgin olive oil and some salt, and put them on the grill. Traditionally, while you are busy eating the barbecued meat, the artichokes are grilling. Once they are done, pull off the outer burned leaves, and eat the tender ones and the delicious heart, where the olive oil has concentrated.

Here's another simple dish with artichokes suitable for preparing outdoors: Do your best to get small heirloom purple artichokes, pull off a few outer leaves, cut the artichokes in half lengthwise, drizzle some extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle some salt, and grill them. Toast two slices of country-style bread, and put the grilled artichokes in between. You will not believe how delicious it is until you try it.

The drawback of artichokes

Sommeliers find artichokes very frustrating. The taste of artichokes is so persistent, and it lasts for so long in the mouth that they don't find any wine that is right for them.

I admit that whenever I eat grilled artichokes I commit a sin. I pair them with a strong red wine like Priorat or an unpretentious house red wine, although I know that it breaks the laws of wine connoisseurs. But that's what people did before sommeliers had their say, so... no drawbacks with artichokes after all.

Here's a very little known recipe for artichokes you eat with knife and fork, not using your fingers: Artichoke recipe from the Mediterranean Catalan Roussillon

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Sauteed mushrooms - A simple pleasure

Come fall, mushroom hunters walk silently through the Mediterranean forests of the Catalan Countries, their heads down, searching for rovellons, rossinyols, pinetells, esclata-sangs, and picornells, all beautiful names of soft brown-cap mushrooms that are delicious fried for a few minutes in a little bit of olive oil, with finely chopped garlic and minced fresh parsley.

If you would like to experience the flavors of the forest,click here for a detailed sauteed mushroom recipe and more Mediterranean diet recipes.

In my Mediterranean recipes web site, I also have a traditional Catalan mushroom soup recipe to warm you up. Both are serious representatives of the Catalan landscape cuisine I love so much.

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Monday, October 09, 2006

Pomegranates - A Sensual Mediterranean Diet Food

Pomegranates are in season in the fall. Rather rough outside, sensual inside, nobody should miss eating this fruit that inspired international Catalan Artist Salvador Dalí to paint one of his wild fantasies, an oil painting with a typically long descriptive title:

In Catalan:
Somni causat pel vol d'una abella al voltant d'una magrana un segon abans de despertar

In English:
Dream brough about by a bee's flight around a pomegranate one second before waking up.

Pomegranates have been praised since ancient times for its health-promoting properties: They contain antioxidants and potassium, and have few calories.

We believe that, but we also claim to be Mediterranean gourmets. Therefore, for our culinary purposes it is much more important that they taste gorgeous as they indeed do. And if you combine them with muscat wine as in the most simple of recipes below, well... it makes your mouth water.

Here is a quick and easy dessert recipe. You only need pomegranates, and muscat wine.

  • Open the pomegranates, and scoop out the juicy red seeds into a bowl.

  • Cover the seeds of the pomegranates with moscatell or muscat wine.

  • Mix well and serve.

    Click here for more elaborate Mediterranean diet recipes and lifestyle comments.

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  • Sunday, September 17, 2006

    Dessert Recipe - Wine Pear Recipe

    Grape harvest begins all along the Mediterranean coast, and soon the grapes will hit the bottoms of the steel tanks and oak barrels. So, at this time of the year, what's better than a sweet easy dessert recipe with wine and fresh pears?


    • 2 firm big conference, blanquilla or similar pear variety.
    • 3 cups or 1 bottle of red wine.
    • 4.5 ounces or 125 gr brown or white sugar.
    • 1 stick cinnamon.

      How to prepare this wine pear recipe

    1. Wash the pears thoroughly.

    2. Peel the pears from the stem to the base. Do not discard the skin.

    3. Place the pears flat in a saucepan together with the skin, the red wine, the sugar, and the cinnamon.

    4. Bring the wine to a boil with the lid slighly ajar. Cook the pears until tender over a medium-low heat for about 45 minutes. The sugar converts slowly into caramel syrup. Be careful not to burn it, because this is what makes this wine pear recipe really delicious.

    5. When the pears have cooked for 20 to 25 minutes, turn them over with the help of two wood spoons very carefully.

    6. When the pears are tender, turn off heat and set them aside.

    7. Put some teaspoons of caramel on two dishes and a whole pear on each. Pour the rest of the caramel over the pears.

    8. If you are in a party mood or want to impress some friends with this wine pear recipe, you can serve the pears with almond or cinnamon ice cream.

    I am a fan of this pear recipe with red wine. That's why I have two more versions of this easy dessert recipe in my web site featuring step-by-step authentic Mediterranean diet recipes.

    I hope you enjoy this easy pear dessert recipe for gourmets straight from the true and very alive Catalan Mediterranean diet.

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    Monday, September 04, 2006

    Easy eggplant recipe

    In Mediterranean Catalonia and Majorca we eat eggplants in many different ways, as in most Mediterranean countries. This fried eggplant recipe is a quick and easy eggplant recipe suitable for ovolactovegetarians too.

    A variation of this eggplant recipe is replacing the egg with flour mixed with some water. This variation makes this recipe suitable for strict vegetarians.

    Remember that it is always advisable to salt the eggplants, especially when you intend to fry them, or they absorb too much oil.

    Ingredients for this eggplant recipe

  • 4 eggplants
  • One egg
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

    Eggplant recipe preparation instructions

    1. Wash the eggplants, and remove the green caps. Do not peel the eggplants.

    2. Cut them in half lengthwise.

    3. Sprinkle some salt over the eggplants, and let them rest in a colander from half an hour to a couple of hours. It's fine if they stay longer, but the minimum should be thirty minutes.

    4. Beat the egg.

    5. Heat oil in a frying pan.

    6. Soak the eggplants in the beaten egg.

    7. Fry the eggplants, and place them on paper towels for a moment.

    8. Serve them hot.

    Click here for a delicious stuffed eggplant recipe, a great example of the traditional Mediterranean diet.

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    Click for a treasure chest of true Mediterranean diet recipes.
  • Monday, July 17, 2006

    Peaches, the Mediterranean mangoes

    Fresh Mediterranean peaches
    Now it's the perfect time to indulge in fresh peaches. Peaches are so sweet and juicy that they are like the mangoes of the Mediterranean region.

    At the beginning of July, it's easy to find early peaches in the farmer's market at reasonable prices. They are delicious on their own, or mixed with other refreshing fruits in a healthy summer fruit salad.

    The Catalan Mediterranean cuisine boasts recipes for stuffed pears and peaches that already appear in very old cookbooks. They are really succulent prepared in this manner...

    Indeed, fresh or cooked, peaches are suitable for a wide range of occasions: dessert, brunch, main course of a lunch when stuffed. Or as a snack, if you are hungry but concerned about your weight...

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    © Núria Roig

    Wednesday, July 05, 2006

    Wine quotes, grapevines and Priorat

    Picture of wine grapes
    You realize that the grapevine is a very special plant, that by itself a vine wouldn't even yield grapes. And you get enthusiastic about the whole process, because you are developing a creative process as regards that plant.

    Wine quote by Lluís Llach, superstar Catalan singer and songwriter turned devoted wine maker.

    He fell in love with the small town of Porrera, and since 1994, he makes wine of the Priorat appellation. He owns Cims de Porrera and Vall Llach that make superb wines like Embruix, a lovely sounding name that means spell, a select Priorat wine sold in Northern Europe and the USA.

    Lluís Llach set music to a very beautiful poem that sings the green grapevines by the Mediterranean Sea. I have translated the last stanza and published it in the wine guide section of my Mediterranean food recipes web site.

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    © Núria Roig

    Thursday, June 29, 2006

    Gourmand World Cookbook Awards celebrate cherries

    In May 2006 the Gourmand World Media Award organizers announced the winners for the 11th Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

    A beautiful food book in the Catalan language on and about the delicious cherries, Bojos per la cirera, Mad About Cherries, received the award to the Best Single Subject Food Book.

    Bojos per la cirera is by Laura Gosalbo and Gerard Solís, chef of the restaurant El Racó de Sant Climent de Llobregat, a town not far away from Barcelona.

    Solís specializes in collecting and making mouthwatering recipes with cherries that he offers in his restaurant. Click here if you want to see the beautiful cherry-red cover of this award-winning book.

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    Friday, June 23, 2006

    Your wine guide to Catalonia wine country

    This wine guide to the Catalonia wine country discovers a Mediterranean wine region that's now getting the international recognition it deserves. Passionate winemakers are integrating old and new vineyard methods to produce quality exclusive wines.

    Wines from the Catalan wine country are experiencing a breakthrough, especially the powerful Priorat wines, which aromas are unlike any Mediterranean wine you've tasted. Other appellations like the champagne producing region of Penedès, or Montsant are following their footsteps.

    Winemakers from the Catalonia wine country display a remarkable creativity and dynamism. If necessary, they climb cliff-like vineyards with a donkey, or handpick every single grape, but they always channel their passion for winemaking to every bottle of wine.

    On Majorca, although real state pressure is huge, many mountain wineries refuse to bow to the easy tourism money. They found encouragement in the experience of Porrera, a Catalan winemaking village, and have become key players in the revaluation of wines of Majorca.

    As Màrius Fuertes i Mateu, a Catalan enologist, says:

    Wine, like cuisine, and everything that arises from the heart of nature [...] wants people with a religious calling.

    The use of endangered traditional grape varieties in the new quality Majorcan wines is exciting. They also work in the recovery of the malvasia of Banyalbufar. For centuries, this Majorcan grape variety produced an appreciated dessert wine that everyone misses dearly.

    My childhood is full of memories of my grandmother sitting with some friends, delicately holding a glass of muscat, malvasia, or ratafia, a sweet wine you make at home with herbs and green walnuts on the waning moon of the month of May. After being forgotten for years, Catalan quality dessert wines are beginning to get their due.

    Wine country, terroir, holistic wine making

    Twenty-four centuries ago Greeks from Asia Minor taught us how to domesticate wild grapevine plants and how to make wine. Since then, the wine world is united to Catalonia, its landscape and history, Mediterranean food and cuisine, economy, culture, and joie de vivre.

    In his wine guide on how to drink and eat properly, unique at the time, the Catalan medieval writer Francesc Eiximenis already told us that "Drinking moderate amounts of wine gives joy to man."

    The ancient tradition of Mediterranean wine became well established with Roman rule. Thanks to this stability, the Mediterranean and Catalan wine universe survived the Nineteenth-Century strike of the phylloxera, which devastated most European vineyards.

    The idea of a wine terroir that now the French, and many a wine guide promote aggressively is nothing other than taking into account every human and natural element that plays a part in winemaking.

    In the small Priorat town of Porrera, they have always known that winemaking is a philosophy, a holistic process that was absent from most wine guides until recently. The town's orography is so complicated that if they didn't have a philosophical concept of wine, they would probably be doing something else, anything else.

    A quality bottle of wine is an integral part of a whole wine universe pervading numerous Mediterranean towns and wine countries, and embellishing their landscape with beautiful vineyards. You can't understand wine if you isolate it from its human and natural milieu.

    The philosophy of wine is noticeable in the whole Western Mediterranean region. Wheat, oil and wine have nourished the Mediterranean peoples for many centuries. That essential triad gave birth to a specific Mediterranean culture and shaped a lifestyle unmistakably Mediterranean.

    Green vineyards by the sea,
    green at first light
    soft green toward nightfall...
    Always keep us company,
    Green vineyards by the sea!

    So sings a major Catalan poet, Josep M. de Sagarra, in the final stanza of a poem that masterfully evokes the beauty of the Catalan vineyards by the Mediterranean sea.

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    © Núria Roig

    Tuesday, May 30, 2006

    The Mediterranean lifestyle

    We had planned a day at the beach, in Cala Agulla, in the beautiful North of Majorca. Being environmental conscious, we chose to go by bus. The timetable said 11.30 am. One hour later we were still there, sitting patiently on a bank remembering childhood memories when it took hours to go anywhere. I'd thought it was a thing of the past.

    Then it was very common that a train stopped in the middle of nowhere and no one knew what would happen next.

    Yesterday people were also amazingly patient; no one got angry or confronted the driver. Majorca wasn't called the calm island for nothing.

    Finally, a bus arrived. We got into it, paid our fare. No sooner had we taken our seats that the bus driver announced that the bus couldn't continue as the motor was overheated. Another bus would take us to our beach destination, 8 miles away at the most.

    Again we got off the bus and waited to admire the arrival of the oldest bus still traveling the roads of Majorca. The bus driver was so bad that it was more like sailing the road.

    However, it all had a happy ending. We reached Cala Agulla, the sun and the Mediterranean Sea were well... luminous and joyful, typically Mediterranean. We had a wonderful day.

    In 40 minutes I had prepared a delicious Mediterranean potato omelette that I took to the beach. It is a very good option for a picnic outside, and it was still hot when we ate it. The blue Mediterranean sea and sky made it better that when you eat it at home sitting at a table.

    One way or the other the Mediterranean lifestyle is still alive.

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    Friday, May 26, 2006

    Cherry recipe - Delicious dessert recipe with caramelized cherries

    You can buy the first cherries at the end of April, but May and June are the best months to enjoy Mediterranean juicy cherries, their succulent taste, intense bright red, erotic look.

    The first known cherry trees sprang up around the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. They arrived late in Catalonia, where cherry trees are rather young, compared to memorable olive trees or almond trees.

    Here is a quick easy delicious cherry dessert recipe:

    Caramelized cherries

    1-pound cherries
    1-pound sugar
    1-cup water

    Wash the cherries but don't pull off the stems. Set aside.

    Add the sugar and water to a saucepan and heat over low heat stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture has caramelized. If the caramel sauce is too thick, add a little water.

    Now take the cherries one by one and dip them in the caramel sauce. Distribute them artistically in a plate. If you want to introduce your children to cooking, this recipe is perfect for it. They will end up dirty with caramel, but they always enjoy it a lot.

    Decorate the cherry plate with small mint sprigs and leaves and serve. Your children will love this dessert recipe, but grown-ups also, I reckon.

    Click here for an exquisite dessert pear recipe with a caramelized sauce like this cherry recipe, made with wine instead of water.

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