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Breakfast

Oat and Chia Seeds Oatmeal with Greek Yogurt and Agave

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Now that I have a full time job I have to make sure I get all the nutrients and vitamins the my body and mind need to function at the best. Didn’t I need these things before? Yes, but now it’s “different”. On a standard day I have to survive quite a few (read MANY, TOO MANY) meetings and if I eat the wrong meal (the one that my body doesn’t process easily such as everything prepared in the canteen of the company I work for) I make myself fall into sleep mode. I still haven’t figured out how to answer complicated questions while I am secretly in standby. Meh.

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Any tip on how to get enough energy and strength to go through a meeting straight after lunch? Chia Seed could make the trick. Wouldn’t this be an excellent meeting energizer? I think so.

I already tested the ability of this seed to provide sustainable energy by replacing my boring oatmeal with the delicious and light “Chia seed and oat porridge” pictured here.

Just so you know, 1 ounce (28 grams) serving of chia seeds contains:

  • Fiber: 11 grams.
  • Protein: 4 grams.
  • Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are Omega-3s).
  • Calcium: 18% of the RDA.
  • Manganese: 30% of the RDA.
  • Magnesium: 30% of the RDA.
  • Phosphorus: 27% of the RDA.

Healthy stuff and hopefully a solution to my daytime somnolence at work. We’ll see…

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Oat and Chia Seeds Oatmeal

Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups oats
  • 5 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 3/4 cup almond milk (or milk alternative of choice)
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp agave
  • toppings as desired

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine oats, chia seeds, yogurt, agave and milk. Fold to combine until ingredients are evenly distributed. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes to allow chia and oats to absorb liquids.
  2. Transfer to desired serving containers. Add toppings as desired (I love it with blueberries!). You can store in fridge for up to 3 days.
http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/oat-and-chia-seeds-oatmeal-with-greek-yogurt-and-agave/

My favorite pancakes: Gluten-Free Oat and Chia Seeds Pancakes

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What a strange thing it is that my favorite pancakes are gluten free. Strange because I have nothing against gluten. Quite the contrary. I don’t like trends on nutrition: I don’t understand why people without a real intolerance to gluten turn to gluten-free as a solution to their nutrition issues.  A good point about this has been made by Howie in his post “Does a Gluten Free diet help you lose weight?“.

My opinion is that going gluten free is only necessary if you are intolerant or sensitive to gluten and should not be confused to a low carb diet.  Sure, eliminating gluten may cut out lots of carbs from your diet, but: 1) you don’t need to go gluten-free to reduce the amount of carbs and 2) if you switch to “gluten-free” foods like pasta and bread you will not control weight or carbohydrate intake since these products are often packed with a similar amount of carbohydrates as the wheat based products.

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Take for example these extra delicious pancakes embedding Chia seeds, soaked in agave and topped with natural yogurt, coconut, grapes. They are a gluten free treat in my non-gluten free diet and they can be considered “healthier” only because they are more nutritious that the ones made with wheat flour. Sadly enough, their are not going to make me slimmer.

p.s. To make oat flour you need to use a grinder. Bear in mind that the consistency of the batter is likely to change while you are cooking the pancakes (oat and chia seeds will absorbs the liquid making the batter denser), hence add some water when needed.

My favorite pancakes: Oat and Chia Seeds Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup oats, grind to flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • water

Instructions

  1. Add chia seeds in 1/4 cup of water and keep aside. Prepare the oat flour by grinding the oat to a fine powder.
  2. Place oat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, buttermilk and egg in bowl. Add the chia seeds with water and mix well with a spoon to obtain a batter with a dense consistency (if too dense add some more water).
  3. Heat a lightly oiled frying pan over medium high heat.
  4. Pour the batter onto the pan, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake.You might need to add some water to the batter from one pancakes to another since both the oat flour and chia seeds absorbs the liquid quickly changing the consistency of the batter. Brown on both sides and serve hot with your favorite topping (they are delicious with yogurt and agave!).
http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/oats-chia-pancakes-gluten-free/

 

Matcha Pancakes with Milled Flax Seeds

matcha-pancakes-0346 It’s been a few days since I last enjoyed my oatmeal-based breakfast. I am just waking up with an intense craving for croissant pancakes. I’ve read somewhere that some foods are very effective in increasing the level of dopamines, the neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. My morning oats must have stopped working together with my dopamines, then: what we call “porridge” here in the UK is not appealing to me anymore. I almost feel sick thinking of a bowl of oatmeal!

matcha-pancakes-0357 The change I naturally feel driven to is made of “cappuccino a cornetto”, that is the typical Italian breakfast starring coffee and croissant.

It’s all about the contrast between a bitter aromatic coffee and a sweet and buttery pastry. I know, I know, there’s not much of a healthy ingredients in this type of breakfast. But I just love it, I just miss it.

matcha-pancakes-0402 Since I can’t find the same type of croissant in my neighborhood, I manage to abstain from it.

My second best choice after croissant is a stack of pancakes. Actually there’s a field of pancakes in my mind now and it doesn’t matter if I just had my breakfast. Sometimes I have an insatiable sweet tooth. What if this is just the beginning of one of those days I spend craving for comfort food? I can only hope there’s nothing in the cupboard that can satisfy my hunger for sweets. Do you understand now why I never buy refined sugar?

matcha-pancakes-0374 Nooo, I’ve just checked… I still have that matcha bag I’ve got it shipped from China a couple of months ago (matcha doesn’t expire, right? OK, don’t tell me, I don’t wanna know it), some honey, flax seeds and flour. Enough to make myself these fluffy and wholesome pancakes I first prepared a couple of weeks ago. Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to make my dream of pancakes come true. I swear I would make some for you too if you could join me! All in all, I can be generous in my greediness :).

matcha-pancakes-0401 Do you ever get bored of the foods you used to love?

Matcha Pancakes with Milled Flax Seeds

Yield: 6-8 pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I used soy milk)
  • 2 cups white flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp matcha green tea powder
  • 2 tbsp milled flax seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp oil (I use olive oil), plus more as needed

Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl, mix until combined the egg, milk, honey. Add the flour, matcha green tea powder, flax seeds and baking powder. Mix until you obtain a homogeneous mixture.
  2. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. To make a pancake, ladle about 1/3 cup of the batter onto the skillet. You can pour enough batter to make 2 more pancakes at a time (if your skillet is large enough), but make sure to keep them evenly spaced apart.
  3. Cook until bubbles break the surface of the pancakes and the sides are golden brown, let's say 2-3 minutes. With a spatula, flip the pancake and cook 1-2 minutes more on the other side. Transfer the pancakes to a platter and cover loosely with kitchen paper to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining batter, adding more butter to the skillet as needed.
http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/matcha-pancakes-milled-flax-seeds/

Scandi Rice Pudding with Blueberry Sauce

scandi-rice-0312 Before the World War II, rice in Denmark was a very expensive and imported ingredient and normal people could not imagine to have a completely rice-based meal

After the war, rice, like every kind of ingredient by now, became accessible thanks to the swiftly increase in the importation traffic. Now this rice porridge, called Risengrød in Denmark, is served on a very special occasion, Christmas Eve, as a symbolic offer to Nisse, a beneficent but touchy household spirit.

scandi-rice-pudding-02951 During a lovely tour of Tivoli, the popular amusement park in the heart of Copenhagen, I saw quite a few kids eating from a warm bowl of white rice pudding. It was not breakfast for them, like this dish you see here was meant to be for me. I could see a spark in their eyes, just like when a kid receives a toy or a deeply desired sweet. I could not help but think that an Italian child would find the idea of rice as a dessert at least… uhm… strange, too simple to be delectable. Even to my eyes, this dish looks like a post-war dish, which concurs – as you might deduce from my love for peasant cuisine and simple food – to make it even more appealing .

scandi rice pudding-0300 I’m not particularly happy with the photos I took of this recipe. Yeah, there’s no WOW factor in here. Rice, you know. However, the dish is visible, maybe you can even feel its light creaminess, its delicate taste of dense milk and soft consistency of a not too sweet rice. If you can appreciate at least one of these “properties”, then, yeah, I’ll get my mind happily crowded with a few WOW :).

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Scandi Rice Pudding

Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup (150g) arborio rice
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups (500ml) almond milk
  • 4 Tablespoons sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • 1 cup blueberries

Instructions

  1. For the rice pudding, place 2 cups (500ml) of milk into a large saucepan and bring it to the boil. Add the rice, 1 tablespoon of sugar and butter and cook,on a very low heat, for about 20 minutes or until the rise has absorbed the milk, until thick, creamy. Be sure to stir it often.
  2. Meantime the rice is cooking, wash the blueberries. Place 3 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 cup of water into a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the blueberries and cook for 1 minute. Bring the syrup back to the boil continuously stirring for about 4 minutes to thicken it, and then set aside.
  3. When the rice is ready, serve it on a platter with the blueberries on top.
http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/scandi-rice-pudding-blueberry-sauce/

Nutella Dorayaki (Japanese Sandwich Pancake filled with creamy Nutella)

dorayaki-nutella-0066 Shrove Tuesday. Does this mean a “confess” day or a Pancake Day to you? If it wasn’t for Wikipedia I did not know that today I am supposed to “make a special point of self-examination”, and consider what wrongs I need to repent. I am inclined to think I’ve made more wrongs to myself than to the others lately, so I could celebrate the day with sweet treats such as these Nutella Dorayaki.

dorayaki-0080 This is a Japanese recipe adapted from Japanese Cooking 101 where you can find a beautiful video with precise instructions to make a scrumptious dessert sandwich with your favorite filling between two slices of pancake. Last week I stopped by the Japan Centre nearby Piccadilly Circus to have Taiyaki, a yummy fish-shaped cake. The little stall outside the shop was already closed, unfortunately, and I fell back on something I’ve never tried before. This is how I discovered dorayaki, sandwich pancakes with a filling of red bean paste (green tea mascarpone cream for me that night). The version you find here comes with a creamy Nutella soft centre (now that I said Nutella I know my job about the recipe description is done :)).

dorayaki-nutella-0092 After a long day of rain the sun is shining in London. I eventually learnt to appreciate rainy days and now I feel slightly uncomfortable when the sun stands majestic above my head.  How long will it last? I can see clouds on the horizon, already. Too bad that my Nutella jar is empty and there’s no pancakes left…  it’s going to be a Pancake Day without pancakes for me. What about you?

p.s. For more pancakes inspiration check these Apple and Greek Yogurt Pancakes and these savory Gluten Free Chickpea Pancakes.

Nutella Dorayaki

Yield: Approximately 8 Dorayaki

Ingredients

    Pancakes:
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • Nutella Cream:
  • 4 Tablespoons Nutella
  • 200 ml double cream

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, and honey together. Add milk and mix well.
  2. In another bowl mix flour and baking soda.
  3. Stir dry ingredients into egg mixture, and whisk until batter becomes smooth.
  4. Heat non-stick frying pan with a small amount of oil. At medium low heat, drop 1/8 of a cup of batter onto the pan. Cook until the surface of the pancake has a lot of bubbles (about 2 minute) and the edges become dry, then lip over and cook 1 more minute.
  5. Transfer to a plate and cover with a wet paper towel.
  6. Prepared the Nutella cream by whipping the double cream until it becomes stiff. Add Nutella and mix well.
  7. Take one cake and place a heaping tablespoon of creamy Nutella and cover with another cake. Pinch to seal the edges of the pancakes together.
http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/nutella-dorayaki-japanese-sandwich-pancake-filled-creamy-nutella/

Matcha Coconut Porridge

matcha-coconut-porridge-0026 I have a thing about Matcha Green Tea. I guess I’m in love :). Since I tried it for the first time last week I’m having this precious powder two-three times a day, as a tea, latte and even in my porridge. Before I thought it was too expensive to fit in my grocery list. Now I’m ready to pay the full price (almost, I’m ordering it from China :)).

Its nutritional benefits are only part of the reason why I love it so much. Most probably it is its fascinating history that makes it so appetizing to me. When I read that during the Japanese tea ceremony, Matcha is used to convey feelings of respect through grace and good etiquette, it was clear to me that this vivid green powder has been used to create much more than beverage. It created and sustained a symbol of a culture based on harmony and efficiency.

Already in 13th century in Japan tea became a status symbol among the warrior class, tea-tasting and parties arose wherein contestants would compete to win extravagant prizes for guessing the best quality tea. At that time the best tea was produced in Kyoto from the seeds that a monk called Eisai, brought back on his return from China.

matcha-coconut-porridge-0019 Not many years ago I had the chance to visit a beautiful Japanese garden in Buenos Aires, one of the largest gardens of its type in the World, outside of Japan. It was extremely well taken care of, very peaceful and elegant. Maybe even too perfect to be just a “natural” green space in the heart of the city. As soon as I walked into the gardens, I felt relaxed and, willing to make my visit last longer, I stopped by the restaurant for a cup of tea. I was served my tea in small clay tea bowl. When I asked for sugar, the waitress told me there is no such thing as sugar in the Japanese green tea.

There is no sugar in this porridge either (like in any other porridge I prepare for myself). For a totally different reason, though. However there’s more than water and Matcha powder in here: I think Japanese people will be probably horrified! But hey, this is not a tea. It is, probably, my favorite flavored oatmeal, where the combination matcha/coconut provides unique flavors, a subtle and delicate scent from green tea and a luscious coconut taste for a different breakfast.

Matcha Coconut Porridge (Vegan)

Ingredients

  • 4 tbs Porridge Oats
  • 3 tbs dried Coconut
  • 1 cup Oat Milk
  • 1/2 tsp (or more) Matcha Green Tea
  • Agave Nectar or any other sweetener
  • Goji Berries (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat oats, milk and dried coconut flakes in a pot, cook until the consistency you like. Remove from the stove and stir in Matcha.
  2. Add honey to taste. Enjoy with some nuts and/or goji berries.
http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/matcha-coconut-oatmeal/

Deep Smoky-flavoured BBQ Tofu Tostadas

tostadas-6 There is something new in my pantry that works wonders. Seriously. I bet the flavor of any ingredient can be enhanced by the intense smokiness of this magic powder. Is anybody here as enthusiastic as I genuinely am about the spicy mix for fajitas Old El Paso?

I recently told you that for me tofu is somewhat too blend and insipid to be in my top 50 favorite foods. When I decided to become vegetarian I used to dislike food for vegetarians but the more I experimented with a greater variety of ingredients the more I learnt how to cook vegetables and season all those foods that are considered too good for you to be seriously yummy.  

tostadas-1 No ingredient should ever be underestimated, I learnt. A pinch of the right herb can provide an interesting nuance and elevate a dish to a totally another level of flavor. For example this stir fried tofu, onion and pepper on a layer of herbed Greek yogurt and crispy baked tostadas, would not work without this spicy mix.  

The seasoning provides an intense and scrumptious grilling taste to tofu cubes that I haven’t actually grilled. Believe me, I totally forgot that I was just tasting a soy bean curd. Instead, I felt more like if I was celebrating the summer season barbecuing outside with friends 🙂. Cool stuff!

tostadas-3 There’s another plus side to this recipe: a very little preparation is required to it. Tofu is ready in no time – let’s say 5 minutes – because it is not necessary to marinate it overnight.  The spicy mix has just the right depth of flavor to make tofu flavorful after a quick stir fry. The tortillas don’t need more than 5 minutes in the oven to become low-calorie tostada shells. That’s how the recipe goes if you keep yourself focused in the kitchen and do not forget your food in the oven.

tostadas-5 These pics here show you the outcome of my third attempt at baking the tortillas to reach the typical tostada crispiness. At the first attempt I reached the consistency of a dark ceramic plate. At the second try, I didn’t even know what I was thinking of… whatever, opening the oven was like deactivating an atomic bomb.

Moral of the story#1. you can barbecue 365 days a year, in any weather, if you have the right spices and a pinch of immagination.

Moral of the story#2. Four states of matter are observable in everyday life: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma. Burning the tortillas until the fifth state of the matter is reached, is possible but makes sense ONLY if you are a frustrated physicist like me.

Deep Smoky BBQ Tofu Tostadas

Ingredients

  • 4 medium tortillas
  • 1 big pepper
  • 200 gr tofu
  • 1/2 cup green beans (optional)
  • 2 tsp spicy mix for fajita (I used Old El Paso)
  • 8 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon mint
  • 4 tablespoons corn kernels
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • olive oil and salt to taste

Instructions

  1. To prepare the herbed yogurt sauce finely chop the coriander and mint. Add to the yogurt and stir well. Set aside.
  2. Wash and slice the pepper, cut the onions.
  3. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pepper, onion, green beans and stir fry for 3-5 minutes. Add the spicy mix seasoning, tofu and corn to the same skillet and cook about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit/204 degrees Celsius. Brush both sides of the corn tortillas lightly with vegetable oil. Sprinkle with salt. Place the tortillas on a baking sheet and bake for 3-4 minutes or until tortillas turn crispy, with light to medium golden-brown color.
  5. Remove the tostadas from the oven, spread over each tortilla 2 tablespoons of the yogurt mixture, then add the rest of the toppings. Season with salt and olive oil on top. Serve immediately.
http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/deep-smoky-bbq-tofu-tostadas/

 

Good Morning Scrambled Tofu

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I would eat more tofu if only my taste buds did not perceive tofu as a bland and insipid thing (is anybody with me on this?). I cannot just pretend tofu does not exist: it has a “low calorie count, relatively large amounts of protein, and little fat” –  Wikipedia says – in short, a nutrition content too appealing to be ignored. So “good” on paper, so unpalatable on my plate.  

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Last Sunday I decided it was time to put a little more effort in the kitchen and find a way to jazz this weak beauty up. This is one of the best and easy ways to boost its flavor. Your fingers will crush the tofu and add flavoring spices to turn tofu, the cinderella of the recipe, in a fantastic scramble egg alike (turmeric in particular is needed to get a beautiful warm yellow). Ta-Da!  The remaining work is for the stove and ultimately (and tastefully) for your taste buds, that I am sure will find it hard to believe this is just scrambled tofu and not eggs.

tofuscramble-0056 p.s. I’m now off to pack a light luggage for another escape to the country. It’s Peak District, this time. I’m on a mission: to find the best country pub in the UK, which for me means rustic atmosphere and oozing with charming seats where I can enjoy the quintessential expression of the Britishness in its vegetarian version: a homestyle mushroom burger wrapped in a seeded bun with cheddar and French fries. Oh yeah. The area is popular for hosting many great old style pubs so I have a good chance to live the mind blasting experience I dream of since I moved here 🙂. I’ll keep you updated about it. 

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Easy Scramble Tofu

Yield: Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 container firm tofu, crumbled
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 10-15 olives without the stones
  • coriander (optional)

Instructions

  1. Cut the tomatoes, onion and olives.
  2. In a large skillet sautee the onion in olive oil.
  3. In a bowl crush the tofu with your fingers, stir in the spices, salt and pepper and mix well to incorporate. Transfer the marinated tofu to the skillet with olive oil and cook for about 5 minutes. Don’t let it stick to the pan.
  4. Add remaining ingredients, more oil if needed, and cook, stirring frequently for another 5 minutes or so, until tofu is crispy. Sprinkle minced coriander over for color and asian flavor.
http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/good-morning-scrambled-tofu/

Huevos Rancheros on Gluten-Free Chickpea Flour tortilla


Weekend is around the corner and I cannot be happier about it. No office demands and more time to plan my future. Because yes, I need a plan, my friends. A few months more and everything may change in my life.

huevosrancheros-0289

I will look for a job in which to flow my passion and drive to achieve something good (I’m serious). While the research project I’m working on is still running (but I’m actually beating a dead horse), my mind is already projected to different scenarios. I’m willing to extend my job hunt to the entire world, a point that could take me back to Italy (I would rather not though; Berlusconi is still alive) or far away to some remote destinations such as Japan (I can be big in Japan, I feel it). In other words it’s time to chew over new ideas.

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Science and writing are my greatest passion but – funny enough – at the moment the idea to pursue a career with no stringent links to my background/education in nanotechnology, arouses my curiosity. My mind gets crowded with questions like: How do I become a National Geographic photographer? How do I get a job in science journalism?

My imaginary change of life will have to take the shape of reality, at some point. Meantime I enjoy London, my love-hate city, and the comfort zone I’m in as a sort of calm before the storm. No doubt I am going to enjoy this coming weekend.

huevosrancheros-0296

If you could start everything again, which career would you pursue?

p.s. There are many different recipes online for huevos rancheros. I love beans and this recipe does not include them just because I wanted to make it quick. Feel free to add some cute kidney or black beans, if you fancy a more complete meal.

p.p.s. You can freeze the tortillas and use them later to make wraps, tacos or burritos. 

Huevos Rancheros on Gluten-Free Gram Flour Tortilla

Ingredients

  • To make 4-5 tortillas:
  • 1 cup chick pea flour
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • olive oil to cook
  • To top 2 tortillas:
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1 eggs
  • 1/2 cup cheddar or parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1-2 red chilli, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Whisk together all ingredients for the tortilla until thoroughly incorporated and no clumps remain. The dough should be stiff and thick, but a bit wet. If it is still too dry, add more water until it reaches the proper consistency.
  2. Heat an oiled skillet over medium high heat.
  3. Pour a ladle of tortilla batter in the skillet and try to press it as much as you can to flatten it in a sick shape. Cook until warm, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the tortilla over and cook for another minute. With the tortilla still in the pan, sprinkle one side with a bit of cheese. Set aside keeping warm.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and crack one egg into the skillet, cook for about 3 minutes, until the white begins to set. Repeat for the other egg.
  5. Chop the tomatoes, parsley and onion and mix all together.
  6. Sit the eggs on the tortillas and top with the tomato/onion/herbs mixture. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve..
  7. Sprinkle with fresh parmesan on top.
http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/gluten-free-gram-flour-tortilla/

Baked Feta with Pepper and Tomato (when it’s not rush hour in London)


I can’t think of a better city than London, so multicultural, vibrant, smart, with plenty of interesting neighbors, museums, exhibitions, shows, bars and restaurants. It’s all limitless here (well, almost. Let’s not consider houses and apartments: whether we want to live in Victorian houses or new apartments, space is a big luxury). Despite all the awesomeness I’m surrounded by, I am not always happy as a pig in clover.

bakedfeta-0411

Actually, I feel more like a hen in a cage.

Ok, I might be spoilt for choice, truth is that (sometimes) the cage is this amazing city I live in.

I never understood the reasons for this little discomfort until, a few days ago, I realized I spend three quarters of my day complaining about the London underground (the other quarter is for complaints about the weather). Suddenly I came up with a possible explanation to a sensation that is becoming everyday more tangible.

If I feel like a hen in a cage it’s because I travel during rush hour. Meeting thousand of strangers in the tube is enough to disclose to my eyes this unalluring being part of a crowd that shares a dull morning routine.

The dull morning routine.

1)  Approach the sliding doors of the carriage as closely as possible to gain the last available seat.

2)  Once in the carriage – and after we missed the chance to take a seat – we sweat and try to read a book standing up and avoiding the slip and fall situation.

3) Fulfill the role of a perfect Londoner by standing on the right-hand side of escalators, a right only opposed by tourists that ignore the TUBE LAW.

4) We do NOT move down inside the Tube carriages so NOT to block the doorways for other passengers. It would be nice to do so but, yeah, we don’t usually do it.

5) Rush, rush, rush. Outside of the working hours in London, no matter what, is RUSH HOUR time. Or “peak hour” if you are a fan of those cute British euphemisms.

6) We look at each other avoiding direct eye contact and without talking to one another. We may listen to music, send messages, read silly news on The Metro and confront each other about clothing styles (what the heck is she wearing?!), but we NEVER ever emit a sound as a sign of communication.

bakedfeta-0426 Every morning on my way to the office with the amazing city view, I know I’m not Daniela but a cog in the social machinery. I can picture myself as the average character of a crowd psychology book, with the only difference that while historically crowds are viewed with respect – their actions being associated to food riots and fights for equal rights – I am now part of a crowd fighting for the first position on the escalator at Euston station.

bakedfeta-0442

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting a Big-Brother-is-watching-you scenario. My point is that few things are more depressing than being in a group of unconnected people and feeling just like everyone else. Maybe it’s time to take the bus and engage in futile conversations with strangers as I used to do in Italy. No, wait: I used to complain about that too.

p.s. below is the recipe of one of the easiest meals I put together when I need to go for a low-fuss  dinner (or breakfast). It’s a Mediterranean dish: in other words simple, genuine and flavorful. Enjoy it!

Baked Feta

Yield: 2

Ingredients

  • 2 thick slices of Feta cheese
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1 thinly sliced pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 tablespoons black olives.
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 sliced onion (optional)
  • chilli-flakes

Instructions

  1. Take a piece of aluminum foil (three times larger than the feta cheese), drizzle its center with olive oil and place one slab of feta on top.
  2. Cover the top of the feta with tomato, pepper and olives (onion if you like) and drizzle with more olive oil, sprinkle with some chilli flakes and some dried oregano.
  3. Seal the cheese packet with your foil and place on a baking dish.
  4. Repeat from point 1. to prepare the other slab of feta.
  5. Place in your oven for 20 minutes at 200 degrees.
  6. Carefully open the "feta packet" and serve with warm crusty bread.
http://www.foodrecipeshq.com/baked-feta-tomato-rush-hour-london/