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Love Food!

The food production and sourcing industry has deeply changed in the last 20-30 years. Intensive farming, GM modify products, intensive fishing, food co2 footprint just to name a few of those negative changes, and the list can go on and on. All these changes are bringing a terrible altering to our environment and our health, like the raise of many new allergens and the increase of people affected by them. Furthermore in order to have products traveling from the other side of the planet, we have voluntarily increased the pollution of the air, the water and the soil to dangerous levels.

Do we really need to eat strawberries (from South Africa) in December, or grapes (from Nicaragua) in February? I would like to remind all that the final choice about our future and the future of our families, is in the hands of each one of us. We are the consumers and if tomorrow we were to stop buying products with high co2 footprints or not ethical’s, then the great distributors would stop stocking those products and start to follow what the consumer wants to buy. Go local, eat seasonal products, read the labels of the food you are buying and so you will have enough information to make a clear choice.

SEITAN (Serves 4)

The seitan is obtained from the nutrients of flour. The less refined the flour is, the richer the seitan will be, which is very rich in protein and has virtually no fats. Perfect for vegetarians and vegans, it can be used in so many ways: grilled, fried, in sauce etc. In one way very similar to Quorn but much less expensive and it can be easily produced at home. The only cons is it’s not suitable for celiac or diabetic persons due to high content of gluten.

Ingredients
1Kg of flour less refined as possible, I usually use bread flour white plain or wholemeal
700ml of water
3Lt of strong vegetable stock

Preparation
1. Start by getting a large mixing bowl and place all the flour inside. Add the water slowly and mix energetically with your hands or even better, with the help of a stand food mixer. You want it to be smooth and elastic that doesn’t stick to our hands.
2. Once the dough is ready, place it inside a large mixing bowl and fill the bowl with cold water. Leave the dough inside the cold water for 2 hours. After 2 hours place the mixing bowl in your kitchen sink and open the tap alternating hot and cold water, keep alternating the water until the water in the mixing bowl containing our dough is coming out clear. This phase is the washing of the seitan and the main aim is to get rid of all the starch from the flour.
3. Once you get rid of all the starch you’re ready to cook the seitan. The vegetable stock will infuse the flavour. Prepare the stock according to your personal taste, with your favourite spices or vegetables. If you are not vegetarian you can add some chicken or beef to your stock. Place the dough in a clean tea towel, wrap it up and close the extremity with 2 small twine strings.
4. Once the stock starts to boil, place the dough wrapped in the tea towel inside and let it cook for 90 minutes. After 90 minutes remove the seitan from the stock. Wait until it has completely cooled down before opening the tea towel. The seitan is now ready, with this recipe, 1kg of flour you obtain 600g of seitan.

PORTOBELLO MUSHROOM, SEITAN & TRUFFLE OIL (Serves 4)

This is a delicious starter, easy to prepare and that touch of truffle oil will make it special. I love to serve this dish on a large toasted slice of sourdough bread.

Ingredients
250g of seitan
1 clove of garlic
1 Tsp of soya sauce
Olive oil
100ml of double cream or you can use vegetarian béchamel
350g of Portobello mushrooms (you can use any mushroom if you don’t find any Portobello)
20ml of truffle oil
Parsley
Salt and black pepper to taste

Preparation
1. Cut the seitan in slices 1/2 cm thick, in a medium frying pan put 1tbls of olive oil and place it on a low heat. Once the oil starts to warm up we will add your clean clove of garlic, the soya sauce and the seitan. Cook it for 5-6 minutes on a low heat and keeping turning the seitan to avoid it from sticking to the pan. After 6 minutes turn the heat off and let it rest.
2. Clean the Portobello mushrooms and slice them, place them in a medium frying pan and turn the heat to moderate, add a pinch of salt and half glass of hot water. Cook them for 6-7 minutes and keep adding hot water if they start to get to dry.
3. Now add the seitan previously cooked to the Portobello mushrooms and add the double cream. Cook all together for a further 5-6 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken. Add the truffle oil and the chopped parsley and stir well. Let’s turn the heat off and cover with a lid, leave it to rest for 3 and we’re ready to serve, perhaps add salt or pepper. Enjoy!

Recommended Wine: Riesling (Germany)

ROSEMARY & SESAME SEED SEITAN ESCALOPE (Serves 4)

Ingredients
400g of Seitan
150g Flour
50g of sesame seed
50g of Breadcrumbs
1 Large Rosemary stick
Frying oil
Salt and Black Pepper to taste

Preparation
1. You’ll need two small mixing bowls, in 1 place the flour and add a bit of water to create a light butter. In the other mixing bowl place the sesame seeds, the breadcrumbs and break the rosemary stick into small pieces with your hands.
2. Get your seitan and cut it to slice 1/2 inch thick. Once you have all the slices ready, start dipping them in your light butter and then in the breadcrumbs until we achieve a nice and even coating.
3. Place a large frying pan on a medium heat with plenty of frying oil and wait until the oil is hot. When the oil is hot add the coated slice of seitan and fry them for around 3 minutes each side.
4. Once ready place the seitan in a dish with some kitchen paper to absorb all the excess frying oil.
5. You’re now ready to serve, I love to garnish this dish with a nice mix salad dressed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil to create a lovely contrast with the seitan escalope.

Recommended Wine: Soave (Italy)

“When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money” – Alanis Obomsawin

SIMONE CONTI

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