Sunday, 21 July 2013

The Best Green Smoothie

This past week it's been really hot and I had a lot of long shifts at work so I had to make sure I had lots of energy to start the day with every single morning.
As soon as I wake up, before I do anything else, I always have a cup of hot water and lemon to help cleanse my body and boost my immune system.
And because on my birthday I got myself a super sexy new blender, I now use it every single morning to make some gorgeous green smoothies with all the organic vegetables I get from the Farmers Market on Sundays ( I'm lucky enough to have Brixton's Farmers Market near my house).
As it's super quick to make, I usually prepare it before I get out, pour it into my Thermos and take it to work to drink throughout the morning.
So here's the recipe for this greenelicious breakfast that has filled my belly with happiness for this whole past week!

1 Apple, peeled and cut in quarters
1 Kiwi, peeled
1/4 of a Large cucumber, peeled
1 large handful of kale or spinach
a small handful of mint
the juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp of Ground Flaxseed (for some omega3 and fiber goodness)
1/2 cup of water

Just put all ingredients in your blender, whizz it up and drink!

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Corn Penne with Cherry Tomatoes and Courgettes (Gluten Free)

Last night both me and Patch got home relatively late and hungry so I whipped up something fresh and satisfying in 20 min flat!
I had some leftover courgettes from the farmers market, garlic (always a staple in our home and possibly the most powerful natural antibiotic out there!), then all we had to buy were cherry tomatoes.We got a £1 bag from Sainsburys as we were low on money but if you can, do get some bright red juicy ones possibly from a farmers market. I also got my "stash" of corn pasta from my last trip to Italy and penne were our choice for dinner.
This dish was so good we literally cleaned our plates!

RECIPE (serves 2)

1 pack of fresh cherry tomatoes chopped in quarters (just to let you know, I also chopped 1 medium organic tomato that was left in my fridge and needed to be eaten)

2 cloves of garlic chopped in teeny tiny pieces

2 small courgettes cut in 4 lenghtwise (picture below) and then thinly sliced

1-2 tbsp Extravirgin olive oil

salt and pepper to season

1 pack Penne Gluten Free Corn Pasta (the brand I used is called Le Veneziane)

Get a pan , pop in all the ingredients (except the pasta!) and turn the stove on to medium heat.
Cover with a lid and stir every now and then for 20 min.

As the sauce is cooking and your kitchen is filling up with a gorgeous smell,  put some salt in a pot and bring water to a boil ( to speed up the process is boil my water in a kettle and then add it to the pot so when I turn the heat on it boils straight away. Lazy much?), add your pasta of choice in and cook according to instructions on the packet.
I always try a bit of pasta about 1 or 2 min before the time ends just to double check if it's ready before the instructions said.
Once your pasta is cooked, drain it, add it to the pan with your vegetables and mix well.
I normally keep some of the boiling water should the pasta get a bit dry when drained but in this case, probably because of the water content of both vegetables that's released during cooking, I really didn't need to.
You can add some parmesan cheese if you wish.
Sit down and enjoy.x

Monday, 15 July 2013

Summer Bruschetta

Since coming back from Italy last week, I cannot believe how lucky we've been with the weather here in the UK! How wonderful is it to wake up every single morning and see the sun shining outside? 
It makes me jump out of bed full of energy and with a big smile on my face, it really makes all the difference.
This also means that me and Patch have finally had the chance to make the most of our garden again (which I'll admit after a very wet summer last year and an incredibly long winter this year does look a bit like a jungle) eating and chatting with friends under this blue blue sky.
The first lunch we had was a quick but super tasty one. 
We had walked all morning under the sun and were feeling a bit lazy by lunchtime so I had to make sure we could enjoy something easy to prepare but colourful and delicious. 
Enter the Summer Bruschetta.
This is a variation on an "almost classic" bruschetta I prepared on a shoot we did in Tuscany in June (recipes from that wonderful experience will come out soon)..
The result was absolutely fantastic so here's the simple recipe for all of you to enjoy!


1 Loaf of Bread (you can choose your favourite but we got a round stonebaked Sourdough and used half of it to make 4 perfectly sized bruschettas)

3 Big juicy tomatoes chopped 

Half a red onion chopped really small

2-3 tbsp extravirgin olive oil

2-3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper to season

A few pimiento olives cut in half (but you can also use plain green or black, it'll work equally well)

Half a block of Halloumi, cut in 4 slices (grilled)

Very Simply start with a medium sized bowl and add the tomatoes, onions, salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar.
Mix everything together then cover with a lid or some foil and pop into the refrigerator to marinate (NB: ideally you'd want to leave it for at least 30 min to 1hour to let the favours mix really well and become deliciously intense but we were starving and 15 min worked just fine).
Cut your loaf into 4 thick slices and grill them, quickly grill the halloumi but keep an eye on it (you don't want it to melt..). All you need to do now is assemble!
Get your favourite plates out, pop the bread on, followed by the marinated tomatoes and halloumi (I broke it into pieces and sprinkled it a bit here and there) and add the little olives last.
Then, take a spoonful of the juice from the bowl that had the tomatoes mix and pour it on top as a final touch.
Time to eat!x

PS: This recipe can also be done on a grilled gluten free bread for any specific diet needs ;)

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Ischia my Love

I have just come back from 6 wonderful days on the island of Ischia (south of Italy, just in front of Naples).
After all the cold, rainy weather we've had this year I was seriously in need of some serious amount of sun, heat, sea air and fresh, wholesome food. And boy did I go to the right place!

My family is originally from Puglia and as a child we spent quite a few summers in a house we had in Santa Maria which, looking at the boot shape that Italy has, would be the very pointy heel.

Now Ischia is not in Puglia but there's something about sea towns in the south that connects them all.
Being able to wake up at 6am to see the sun rise and feeling the already warm breeze, olive trees (the one thing that makes me feel most at home and gives me that warm feeling in my heart) surrounding you everywhere you go, huge bright yellow lemons just hanging from trees in almost every garden of people's houses together with wonderful fig trees (figs are right up there with sweet juicy watermelon as my favourite fruits).
And the people.
You see here in England, Italians are known for being very loud when they talk so I often have to contain myself and use a more appropriate tone of voice (or as my friend Gordon loves to say, my inside voice).
But in Italy and especially in the south, you can have entire conversations with someone who's at the window on the first floor or on the other side of the street or just loudly greet or say goodbye to the greengrocer selling wonderful vegetables at the side of the street.
There's something incredibly liberating about it and being able to do that for 6 whole days made me very, very happy.

Anyway, the reason I'm writing this post is that during this time in Ischia, me and my boyfriend have done a pretty incredible amount of eating and I thought I'd let you know what my favourite places were should you head there in the future.
 I know you can easily get a guide in Waterstones and read that, but I always found that word of mouth through family and friends has led me to the best food when on holiday in a new place.


Da Ciccio, Ischia Porto

We have tried a few ice cream parlours and this was definitely the king of them all!
Great variety of flavours, lovely texture,delicious whipped cream and ridiculously cheap.
But the one thing I HAVE to let you know about is a flavour called Regno Delle Due Sicilie
( Kingdom of the two Sicilies, which before the Italian unification was the union of the Kingdom of Naples and the Spanish Bourbon Kingdom of Sicily).
The best ingredients of both kingdoms have been put together in a Pistacchio flavour with Almonds, Hazelnuts and pieces of puff pastry.
It was made as an experimental flavour but it was such a hit that it's now one of the resident flavours and my personal favourite.
They also have an beautiful lemon sorbet which is incredibly refreshing after a meal.
You'll also find food and pastries in this bar but it's the ice cream we kept coming back for.


Aglio Olio e Pomodoro, Ischia Ponte

When I go back to Italy, especially in summer, the first thing I order is a fresh fish dish (what a mouthful!) so as soon as we got to Ischia and having walked by small fishing boats on a stroll around town, I knew I had to find some fresh delicious fish to try.
On our search, I was a little disappointed to find out, looking at the menus, that quite a few restaurants had many fish products from frozen.It made no sense to me.
To be honest I wasn't sure about this restaurant at first because from the outside it looked so pretty, colourful and perfectly set up that I thought it might end up being a tourist trap.
But we decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and soon found out we hit the jackpot!
Every single item on the menu is absolutely fresh and our waiter was very helpful and  knowledgeable and, depending on the fish we were looking at on the menu, he suggested many different ways we could have it cooked.
Portions were always abundant and prices affordable.One to visit.
We came to this restaurant on three different occasions and every time we left happy and satisfied.
Here are the three delicious dishes we tried:

1) Tubettoni Mari e Monti
Small fat pasta tubes with mussels, clams, whole shrimps, octopus and squid dressed with a creamy and delicate white wine sauce, fresh parsley and chilli. Just incredible.

2)Octopus Casserole (Polpi Veraci in Casseruola). 
Fresh, tender, mouthwatering octopus pieces in a light sauce made with fresh tomatoes, parsley and chilli plus fresh croutons which were fabulous just soaked in this sauce with a bit of octopus on top. Yum.

Folded pizza filled with ricotta and cured ham. Feedback from my boyfriend who ordered it : BUONO! (really good).

Via Seminario 51, 80077 Isola D'Ischia
(Ischia Ponte)

This is, as the name already revealed, both a restaurant and a pizzeria so you have your pick.
We had pizza both times, HUGE pizzas. Really flavourful and cheap.About 5-6 euros for one.
On top of that, we were offered two bruschettas on the house both times.
And as we went around 1.30pm when the town is deserted as everyone is off for a pisolino (afternoon nap) we have always managed to sit net to the window looking out to the sea. Not bad ah?
Their homemade Tiramisu' looked incredible but after antipasti and pizza we literally couldn't handle anything more but if any of you should go and try it please let me know how good it is!

Right. This is where you want to head if you want dessert. You really do.
This place is an institution here in Ischia and yes, you can find good pastries everywhere, but these are out of this world. We kept coming back for Profiteroles and Cannoncino (i call it cannoncione because it's huge and it basically a horizontal cone of sweet puff pastry filled with custardy cream).
This bar has also a pizzeria attached to it and pizzas are very good too.
But guys please, if you go to Ischia, this has to be you first sweet stop.

Via Porto 72
Isola d'ischia

This is where you want to go after dinner to have cocktails or maybe before dinner for an Aperitivo.
Brillant location in Ischia Porto, Riva Destra on the harbour overlooking beautiful yachts and the bay at night.
Amazing Cocktails and attention to details (lots of snacks to munch on while you drink) in this buzzing bar.
I had a non alcholic Copacabana (filled with seriously juicy colourful pieces of fruit) and Patrick had a Black Russian which he very much enjoyed.
With our cocktails we were also served crisps, olives and coconuts pieces.
Thumbs up!

And one more thing...

I was desperate for some fresh juicy figs (I'm addicted) and the only place I found them was on the street
(Via Rivaz at the corner with Via Roma), where this supercute old lady brings fresh fruits and vegetables every Tuesday and Saturday from 8am till 1pm.
She's so sweet and a lot of fun and everything is delicious and cheap.
Go see her and fill up your basket! Fresh fruit is always a great snack to take to the beach with