Eating healthy meals when on holiday abroad
By guest writer, Angelika Davey
If you read the MoreSouth blog regularly then you are clearly interested in healthy food and hopefully eat a lot of healthy food.
So what can you do when you go abroad?
If you don’t care what you eat just try any meal in a restaurant or look around at what others eat. Maybe the meal on the next table looks absolutely delicious, so go for it, tell the waiter or even just point to it if you can’t speak the language.
If, however, there is a particular food that you would like to try, it makes sense to find out the words in the language you need. For example, if you have heard of a northwest German dish with kale and sausage make sure you know it’s called ‘Grünkohl mit Pinkel.’
On the other hand, if there are things you really don’t like to eat, make sure you also know those words. So, if you can’t stand garlic, make sure you avoid German dishes with ‘Knoblauch’, Italian dishes with ‘aglio’ or Spanish dishes with ‘ajo.’
More importantly, if there is anything you are allergic to make sure you definately know those words. If you are allergic to, say nuts you must know they are called ‘Nüsse’ in Germany or ‘noisettes’ in French. The last thing you would want to do is jeopardise your health.
Otherwise just go for it. If you don’t have the slightest idea which meal to choose or if you can’t read the menu at all, just point to one and let it be a surprise. You never know, you may even even enjoy it.
Go on, I dare you ; )
Angelika is very happy to teach you some German food words before you go on holidays, and can also help you with any other German tuition or translation issues.
Family fun in the sun, healthy Mediterranean eating
By guest writer, Garth Delikan
My sister had promised us a BBQ, and as my brother and his partner and two young kids were going to be there, it was an afternoon we were all looking forwards to, - and the weather was gorgeous which is a definate prerequisite if you want to enjoy the alfresco experience fully.
Well instead of the usual British BBQ what a treat we had waiting for us. My brother’s partner, who is a Greek Cypriot had decided to take charge and had spent the day preparing lovely fresh skewers of Souvlakis which were roasting beautifully on the spit as we arrived. Prime pork from one of the best butchers in north London, yummy!
I was immediately transported back to every holiday I have ever had on the wonderful Greek islands over the years.
The cook got me busy helping her to prepare the Tsaziki, and as I had only bought mine from the shops before this was a real treat for me. I grated cucumber while she chopped up garlic, then mixed it all together with fresh Greek yoghurt, flavoured with lemon and salt.
She then got all the ingredients together for our Greek salad with feta cheese. Next came her recipe for Houmus, which got my two teenagers involved, -and once you have made your own I defy you to ever buy it from the shops again.
Then we were ready to eat.. but no,- one final touch, the wholemeal pitta bread had to be warmed up on the BBQ before we were allowed to tuck in.
It was one of the best meals and nicest afternoons we had had, and a cheeky little Rosé added to the fun, and all of a sudden it seemed like the sun was shining even more brightly as everyone sat down on the grass or on the logs to chat and eat.
Having fun with food and using natural ingredients is what the healthy Mediterranean eating experience is about, and I want to share this wonderful afternoon with you through the recipe below.
Place in a bowl:1/2 medium grated cucumber (with liquid strained and removed– just drink it – shame to waste it.) 1/2 tub of Greek full fat yoghurt 1 clove garlic (grated or crushed) juice of 1/2 lemon salt to taste
Mix with a fork, altering proportions according to taste. I prefer more lemon, and those keeping an eye on their waistline will use reduced fat yoghurt.
Both Tsaziki and Houmus are delicious
- as part of Greek mezze
- as salad with Souvlaki
- with raw veg as a starter
- as a light lunch
Breakfast goes on holiday (to the mediterranean)
Holidays are for changes and surprises so do not pack your Cornflakes. Holidays are for doing what you want to do and eating what you love on blue skied summer mornings on your terrace by the sea.
Sunday summer breakfasts are for getting up when you like and giving yourself a fresh, colourful and delicious promise for a lovely day.
What is your favourite holiday breakfast?
Let’s pass on the ubiquitous hotel ‘Continental Breakfast’ of orange juice from concentrate, formerly frozen croissant, ‘filter (going cold) coffee’ and cute little jams and butters in plastic boxes.
What about a Fruit Smoothie to begin the day? Blend fruit from your market trips with ice cubes and yoghurt. No blender in the villa? Poach some figs and apricots the night before, and add creamy milk or yoghurt in the morning.
Take out some more market buys from the fridge, then go out to the nearest bakery for some good, fresh bread.
Lightly toast a thick slice, then drizzle with a little olive oil and add chopped tomatoes for an Andalusian style breakfast. Mozzarella and avocado go well on the side.
We are skipping Bacon& Eggs but for some people breakfast does not deserve this name without an egg. If you like your’s scrambled why not add some parsley, chives and strips of smoked salmon? Getting on to brunch-time….- you could add your eggs to a base of fried charcuterie and mushrooms, or half a grated courgette and red pepper, throwing in a handful of feta cheese and sprinkling of crushed cumin seeds.
Phew! You may only be wishing for a quiet coffee and biscotti. My Moroccan family eat a piece of cake at the weekends with a milky coffee before cooking a large, midday lunch.
If you really need a change go to Alexandria where Egyptians do not say, ‘Good morning,’ but something like,
‘Hi, a morning of goodness to you,’ — to which you will always reply,
‘And a morning of beans!’
before going off to devour a warm bowl of ‘ful’ (broad beans) with raw onion and a tomato… to make that perfect day.
What is your dream holiday breakfast?
(Special thanks to photographer Stephen Bray, who lives on a mediterranean beach in Turkey.)
Recipe: Bread on the mezze table (2)
If food is theatre the mezze table is the prelude. Canapés are a welcome and a surprise.
Compose a feast and create a sense of occaison, whether you are presenting an aesthetic spread for a corporate event or throwing a cocktail party or canapé reception.
Celebrate the beginning
Always have ‘Starters.’ Finger food is fun, and social.
Give your guests a glass of arak (similar to Pernod) or sweet, fragrant mint tea and pass round a tray of freshly roasted pistachios or cashew nuts, with warm olives in lemon and herbs, and some Rocket Pizzetas.
Make a table top of colourful ’open sandwiches’. Try mini bagels, rolls, ciabattas and baguettes with smoked salmon, cream cheese and chives or chicken cooked in thyme, topped with chargrilled red and yellow peppers.
Make mini wraps filled with sour cream, beans and guacemole, or Grissini bread sticks twisted with oven – dried tomatoes, parmesan, black olives or herbs.
Pizza dough is the same as for basic bread but with 1tbs of olive oil added for a crispy crust.
• little Turkish Pizzas are topped with minced lamb and garnished with red pepper and a slice of preserved lemon.
• Calzones are made by putting a favourite filling on half of the rounded, flat dough, moistening the edges with water and folding over to enclose with either fingers or a fork.
Tomato and Basil Bruschetta
This works both in the kitchen and over the barbecue coals, taking about 10 minutes to prepare. The topping can be made in advance but should be added at the very last minute before serving. ( Tip: soggy bruschetta is not so lovely.)
You will need ciabatta or similar rustic style bread that is at least a day old, ripe plum tomatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic.
1) Pour boiling water over the tomatoes for 1 minute, and peel the skin off. (not a compulsory step)
2) Deseed the tomatoes, cut into small pieces and drain in a colander.
3) Cut the bread to about 2cm thickness and toast or grill.
4) While still warm, quickly make 3 shallow slashes and rub one side with a sliced half of garlic, and then decide how much extra virgin olive oil you want to drizzle over.
5) In a bowl add shredded fresh basil leaves, salt and pepper to the tomatoes before spooning over the bruschettas.
An even simpler version of this Italian garlic bread can be made by following steps 3 & 4 but squeezing some tomato juice onto the warm toast after rubbing in the garlic.
- Add goat’s cheese with the tomato and basil.
- Mash cooked cannelloni beans with a little salt and white pepper, and top with chargrilled red or yellow peppers.
-Lightly fry small asparagus, and place on ricotta.
Crostini, meaning ‘little toasts’ is the elegant little sister of Bruschetta, and resembles crispbread. You can use baguette, – again, it holds together and does not absorb too much olive oil if it is a day old.
Cut the bread to approximately 5mm thickness, and toast under a hot grill. Use a brush to completely drench with olive oil while very hot, and then cool.
Be creative with your favourite cheese, fish, meat or vegetable topping. I like to add cream cheese, then cooked salmon with lemon and chives, but we are in Canapé Land and the sky is the limit. Cut the baguette into diamond shapes to make an amazing mosaic of colour on your mezze table or canape tray.
At MoreSouth we created Baby Bread Shots with nuts, grapes and celery.
What do you serve for canapes?
For more mediterranean mezze tips sign up for the MoreSouth newsletter. It comes to your inbox on a Wednesday morning mid-month.
Locally sourced, freshly prepared food.
I would like to show you a photo of the MoreSouth allotment.
Look at this magnificent lettuce, one of the dozens not yet picked. Next I would like to make you a Mozzarella, Pesto and Tomato ciabatta sandwich using basil grown on this very special plot of land near Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire.
‘The Good Life’ = Local Life. We are so fortunate to be able to grow all our own salads and herbs on biodynamically farmed earth. This season we have three different types of lettuce, as well as rocket, radishes, tomatoes, basil, parsley, fennel, coriander, sage, chives and mint.
All of this goes into our freshly prepared sandwiches which are baked every morning on site, and into the mezze dishes, salads and dips ordered by you for parties, weddings and events.
There is surety in knowing where your food comes from, (unless you believe that pasta grows on trees in Tesco’s back garden ), and who prepares it.
Good food = fresh food. Do you know anyone who would argue with that?
I’m going to quote one of our clients who is responsible for co-ordinating catering for working lunches, training days and corporate events in a large, local company,
‘We’ve been using ___ for lunches sometimes. They come round in their van. But I’m worried that they sometimes use yesterday’s bread because it feels stale.’
But can fresh be risky too?
In May and June this year 30 people who had either visited or lived in northern Germany died, and 3,000 became ill from a severe strain of E coli ( 0104 ).
”Salad veg under suspicion!”
In blind panic Germany initially blamed Spanish cucumbers. 225 million euros a week have been lost to European farmers as warnings went out to stop eating salad. 80% of vegetables were destroyed due to there being no market.
On June 11 the Independent on Saturday reported that a business in Lower Saxony producing bean sprouts had been the probable cause.
Grow your own?
It’s a risky life, but eventually choices have to be made.
- I agree with the Daily Mail; ‘Wash your vegetables!’ How much do you know about farm and factory hygeine?
- Decide whether you hold with the sterility of chemical fertilisers, that do not do a lot towards keeping a healthy immune system, or go for organic which hopefully does not farm with the manure of factory farmed, possibly ill animals.
- Eat in season. At MoreSouth we only prepare food from seasonally inspired recipes that do not require importing.
- Know where your food comes from as far as possible and form relationships with your suppliers.
Perhaps in the future this will not be interpreted as paranoia, but common sense.
But we do have a fantastic recipe for Lettuce Soup too!
How important is locally sourced food to you? If you find this article valuable please retweet.
Recipe: Bread on the mezze table (1)
There are a hundred and one ways of using bread on the mezze table, from canapes such as bruschettas, Grissini bread sticks with sundried tomatoes or Rocket pizzetas (I love these Italian names) to Rosemary focaccia or pitta bread with dips and crudites.
Bread makes fabulous picnic fare, of course. When we lived in the Galilee we would go into the hills many Saturdays. By the roadsides were Druze women baking flatbreads (try on a wide over-turned wok in Britain) which would be eaten rolled up with ‘labaneh’ – a soft white cheese made from yoghurt – , za’atar , picked on site , olive oil and a handful of olives.
In mediterranean tradition bread is eaten with every meal, often used to enjoy the sauces to the last drop. In Middle Eastern countries it is often broken by hand rather than sliced with a knife. We would tear off warm pitta to dip in houmus and tahini or pesto just as often as enjoying it filled, with salad and falafel.
A favourite choice from the MoreSouth bakery when a mediterranean buffet is ordered is Rosemary Focaccia.
Rosemary Focaccia Recipe
Knead some pizza dough and spread evenly into an oiled rectangular baking dish.
Beat together olive oil, tepid water and salt.
Dimple the dough with your fingers, brushing half the oil mixture over. Sprinkle on fresh rosemary and a little coarse rock salt .
Put in a medium oven for 30 minutes.
When baked drizzle immediately with the remaining oil mixture.
A variation of this is Olive Focaccia, where chopped black olives, parsley and garlic are worked into the dough while kneading, or sundried tomatoes.
Good toppings are grapes and fennel seed, or red onion sliced very thinly with goat’s cheese.
Next time we will be looking at the Canape menu.
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Recipe: Elderflower Summer Magic
Here comes the white glamour of the British countryside, heralding in summer with tiny star-shaped sprays of fragrant muscat aroma. There is indeed magic in this wild plant found in woods, gardens and country lanes. The flowers give bursts of flavour in sorbets, cordials, jellies, jams and the magnificent Elderflower champagne. We found ours in the hedgerows of the Grand Union Canal.
Celebrate the summer with a beaker of Elderflower Champagne.
Pick on a blue-skied morning. Flowers should be opened and still absolutely white and fresh.
TIP: Gather away from the routes of cars. You should not wash the clusters but gently shake away any leaves (and dear little summer bugs ) to retain both the delicacy of the Elderflowers, and the pollen. It is the pollen which gives the bursts of fizz if you are following a recipe for elderflower champagne.
If you are making a refreshing Elderflower Cordial you should place 20-30 white coronets in a large bowl with the zest of 2 lemons and 1 orange and cover them with 2 litres of boiled water. When cool, strain and add 350 g of sugar and 50ml of lemon juice to every 500ml of elderflower juice. Heat, simmer and cool.
- drink diluted with ice-cold water
- freeze into cubes to add to summer cocktails
- use as a syrup base for cakes and desserts. (More surprises about this, later!)
Elderflower Sorbet Recipe
Dissolve 225g of caster sugar in 6oo ml of water and boil until dissolved. Add 7 Elderflower coronets, with the juice and very thinly grated rind of 4 lemons and 1 small orange. (The peels must be in perfect condition.)
Leave the flower mixture to infuse until completely cool. Strain.
If you do not want to use an icecream machine, freeze for 20 minutes, whisk, (to get rid of ice crystals) part freeze again, whisk and then freeze the sorbet until firm.
This can be a wonderful summer addition to your Mezze Table, and can be served at the beginning, middle or end of the meal: it’s magic!
SPECIAL JUNE OFFER! Free organic Elderflower Cupcake offer from MoreSouth for those who are lucky enough to live in Hertfordshire.
Recipe: Preserved Lemons for mezze
If we had three wishes, one would be a lemon tree. Lemon is used in almost all mezze dishes, and the distinctive taste of Preserved Lemons takes it to a new height. What could be more delicious than a combination of black olives, feta cheese, preserved lemons and olive oil? They are also very decorative placed in a tiny bowl on the mezze table as the deep yellow colour of the fruit is retained.
Preserved lemons can add flavour to most salads when cut very finely, with the pulp removed. We recommend rinsing them before use to reduce salt intake, (RDA of salt is 6g a day).
They are delicious chopped more coarsely with a salad of chick peas, uncooked cauliflower, endives and virgin olive oil.
We use them as an added ingredient in many of the MoreSouth sandwiches.
You will need 8-10 unblemished, thin skinned lemons that have not been waxed,12 teaspoons of salt, a 1k preserving jar and TIME.
While preparation takes only 30 minutes, 2 – 3 weeks are needed for the lemons to be ready.
Never mind; the flavour is worth it, and you can now keep them for up to 6 months stored in the fridge.
RECIPE for Preserved Lemons
Wash the lemons. Sterilise the jar.
Cut each lemon lengthways twice so that it is almost in quarters, but still intact at either stem end, and extract pips.
Sprinkle a teaspoon of salt at the bottom of the jar.
Stuff a teaspoon of salt into each lemon (except 1) and cram it into the jar, packing each as tightly as you can.
Squeeze the juice of the last lemon into the jar, and top with a horizontally cut slice plus 1 more teaspoon of salt (this slice will be discarded on opening.)
After 2-3 weeks the Preserved Lemons are ready to be use.
The secret of enjoying Preserved Lemons to the full is to use small amounts due to their intense flavour. They can also be used in many cooked dishes, the classic one being ‘Tagine of Chicken, Olives and Preserved Lemons.’
Is Twitter on your menu?
By guest writer, Margaret Adams
You’ve probably noticed that some of the people on Twitter love to tell the rest of us what they’ve got in their sandwiches today or from which coffee shop they’re watching the world at the moment.
Then there are the people who are on Twitter all day and every day sending messages every few minutes. Often their messages are undecipherable, filled with abbreviations, hashtags and text speak.
The tweets may make sense to them, but they’re a bit like a menu written in a foreign language. Only the initiated understand what’s being said and quite a few of the message recipients are reluctant to admit their ignorance of the language for fear of being judged inferior in some way.
Create your Twitter restaurant
This can all be very confusing and bewildering for people using Twitter and wondering who to follow or who to connect with. You might like to think of them as people who are looking for the right Twitter restaurant to try.
If you want your business to succeed on Twitter, give them some guidance. That means you need to think about the kind of Twitter dishes you’re intending to prepare, the meals you’re aiming to create, and who you would like to consume your offer. The things you tweet about won’t be to every one’s taste. You won’t please every one on Twitter – as in the world of food.
However, if you create a menu – a statement about what your particular Twitter restaurant offers – then you’ll be likely to attract the right people to your Twitterstream. Help those people standing in the street looking into your restaurant to decide whether to step inside by following the advice below.
Check you menu
- Choose a username for your Twitter account that tells people what to expect if they follow you. If that’s not possible, explain clearly in your profile message what they can expect from you.
- Use Twitter a communications tool not a broadcast medium. Tweet for real people, for a defined audience. Tweet for people you want to do business with or connect with or interact with. Tweet about things they will be interested in knowing about.
- Tell your followers what you are tweeting about. Remind them once every couple of weeks what they can expect of you. It’s a great way to shape people’s perceptions of you and it also brings in lots of new followers.
- Adopt a proactive following strategy. That is go and find people to follow. Follow your customers. Follow your competitors. Follow the thought leaders in your industry.
- Set out to be useful to your audience. Keep thinking about how you can add value to the people you want to connect with.
In short, if you want to be successful on Twitter, create your menu. Let people know what you will be serving when they sample your Twitterstream. Get it right and you’ll become part of your followers’ staple diet. Therefore, put Twitter on your communications menu. It will help your business if you do.
Margaret Adams helps businesses to find the right things to say about their products and services online, via their blogs and using social media. As a result more customers beat a path to their door. Find out more about her work at: Margaret Adams and on Twitter here
Recipe: Houmus and other mezze delights
Houmus is a Middle Eastern dish made from crushed chick peas, olive oil, lemon, tahini and garlic. We used to queue for bowls of houmus, served with warm pitta bread, chopped onions and small, green intense-tasting olives at a stand by the sea at Jaffa.
Houmus has a central place on the mezze table. Many tastes and colours can be added including red peppers, crushed nuts, tomato paste, pine kernels and chargrilled aubergine.
To learn the secrets of preparing mezze read :Three Top Tips for Magnificent Mezze.‘ Chick peas have a slightly earthy taste which is ideal for complementing with good, strong flavours. ( Garlic, everyone?) Their use in the classic ‘Couscous Royale’ is well known. Other mezze dishes with chick peas are:
- Baked hot chickpea puree ( a Turkish recipe with yoghurt, pine nuts and red pepper)
- Chick pea salad – whole chick peas with parsley, tomatoes and spring onion.
MoreSouth follows the mediterranean tradition of mezze. You can compose a feast from our locally sourced, freshly prepared dishes.
RECIPE for Houmus.
Soak chickpeas overnight. Cook them until soft, taking off the scum that appears when boiling.
Drain, retaining cooking liquid. Discard skins.
Mash chickpeas in some of their own liquid. (Using a mortar & pestle gives a better consistency than an electric device.)
Add salt, pepper and a touch of cumin and garlic.
Some of the best houmus is mixed with tahini, which has been gradually mixed with the cooking liquid and lemon juice.
Finally, drizzle with virgin olive oil and sprinkle lightly with sweet paprika.
Eat with pitta bread, olives, raw onions and tomatoes. Garnish with pomegranate seeds if you have a Pomegranate Tree in your garden.