Golden Milk: the Secret to Keeping the Doctor Away

Want an alternative remedy to stay healthy and sleep like a baby? Try a cup of golden milk a day: made from turmeric golden paste, nutmeg, a mineral rich sweetener, and any milk you like.

Do you know what my greatest fear is in January and February? Getting really sick! Since this year I have yet to have succumbed to a real cold or flu I am extra nervous. With a big trip coming up in 3 weeks, I want to do everything in my power to build a strong immune system. That includes a glass of water a day with 1 tablespoon of unfiltered apple cider vinegar and a glass of golden milk before bed.

By the way golden milk is also excellent for insomnia! Never heard of golden milk? Keep reading to find out all the wonderful benefits it can bestow on you and get the recipe to make it at home.

golden milk

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Cream of Almond Soup, Medieval Cooking Part 2

Cream of Almond Soup was a traditional recipe often prepared in Medieval times. Ground or powdered nuts were used to thicken broth and stewed in milk with a spices or herbs.

Before we explore this unusual Cream of Almond Soup, or Crème Almaundys, here is a quick refresher on what is considered Medieval times. The Middle Ages covers roughly the 5th to the 15th century. It is called the Middle Ages because it is the middle period of the three main divisions of history, at least the Western one: first is Antiquity which ends with the collapse of the Roman Empire, second is the Medieval period, and third we have the Modern period which started with the Renaissance.

Almond Soup

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The Greek Moussaka

When you start exploring more exotic foods you realize pretty soon that your local Chinese, Japanese, Greek and ethnic etc. restaurants are bastardized versions made for the North American palate. You may find the small gem family run restaurant that serves more authentic dishes or you can really find out what the true cuisine of a country is when on holiday. Greek food is a perfect example. When I was there many moons ago I ate grilled octopus, devoured lams stews, enjoyed moussakas and drank frappes in large quantities. No souvlakis or gyros in sight. I tell you the food and the islands there are so gorgeous I should consider moving there and start looking to find the best mortgage deals.

Moussaka was actually something I discovered first in a Greek restaurant in Montreal, not in Greece. I still remember the first time I ate it and immediately associated as extreme comfort food. Of course I would choose an ethnic dish as comfort food and not something closer to home! Now when I go to a Greek restaurant, if moussaka is on the menu chances are that is what I will order. Warning: moussaka is not the most photogenic food but it is amazing.

One day I came across a recipe for Greek Moussaka. Remember the days when gas stations gave out free stuff like glasses and plastic containers? It was pretty lame stuff usually but at one point one company (can’t remember which one) was giving away a series of little cookbooks. My parents had that whole collection. One of the books was fancy recipes for dinner parties and in it was this recipe below. I first made it about 15 years ago and I keep going back to it because it is the best moussaka I ever ate, hands down. I don’t have a source as I wrote down the recipe in a personal book a decade ago and my mom no longer has the cookbook.

Contrary to popular belief, moussaka is not solely a Greek dish but a dish of the Balkans, Eastern Mediterranean, and the Middle East. Each country and/or region has a different spin on it, with a common base of sauteed eggplant, tomato and usually minced meat. But the one we are the most familiar with is the Greek one, which is characterized by lamb meat spiced with cinnamon and a top layer of Bechamel sauce with nutmeg.

The Greek moussaka is believed to be invented by Nikolaos Tselementes, a Greek chef considered one of the most influential chefs of the early 1900s who modernized Greek cuisine and published many influential Greek cookbooks.

Ξ Greek Moussaka Ξ

Ingredients:

2 large eggplants
salt
1/4 cup olive oil
2 lbs. ground lamb (or beef)
2 large onions, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cups plain breadcrumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan

Bechamel Sauce:
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
4 cups milk
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups cottage cheese
1 tsp. nutmeg

Directions:

Slice the eggplants in to 1/2 inch slices. Lay the slices of eggplant on paper towels, sprinkle lightly with salt, and set aside for 30 minutes to draw out the bitterness. In a skillet over med-high heat, heat 1 tsp. approx of olive oil per batch. Quickly fry the eggplant until browned. Set aside.

In a skillet heat the remaining olive oil, add onion and saute until semi-translucent. Add the ground lamb (or beef) and brown until the pink color disappears. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add wine, tomato paste, cinnamon, salt and pepper, bring to a boil and allow to simmer for approx 15 minutes. Add the parsley.

In a 9×13 inch baking pan, sprinkle evenly half the breadcrumbs, layer half the eggplant slices, spread half the meat sauce and sprinkle half the grated Parmesan. Repeat. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

To make the Bechamel sauce, melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth and allow the flour to cook for a minute. Gradually pour in the hot milk, whisking constantly until it thickens. Remove from heat and whisk in the eggs, then the cottage cheese and nutmeg.  Return to heat and stir until sauce thickens.

Pour the Bechamel sauce on top of the layers, smooth the sauce evenly with a spatula and allow the sauce to fill the sides and corners of the pan. Bake for 1 hour or until the sauce has a golden color. Allow to cool for 15 – 20 minutes before serving.

 

 

Speculoos Splendor

A common question I get is: “What are some of your favorite products that you have received from the care packages you have received from the Foodie Exchange? Of course here are quite a few:the hickory smoked salt, saffron, the best mint teat ever from England, Pequin chilies, clotted cream fudge, Conney Island mustard, and Italian nougat. The list goes one and on.

But there is one item I received that has really knocked my socks off. Hello, my name is Evelyne and I am Speculoos Spread Addict.

Never in my life would I have believed I would become addicted to a spread used on toasts. I actually like my toasts plain enough with a smidgen of butter normally. But this stuff is so good I cannot get enough of it. Yes I have gone in with just a spoon and straight to the mouth. Never heard of Speculoos? Neither did I until I got a jar. But a little research online quickly convinced me I am not the only one spellbound by this product.

A bit of background on Speculaas from wiki.

Speculaas is a type of shortcrust biscuit, traditionally baked for St Nicholas’ Eve in the Netherlands (December 5) and Belgium (December 6). Belgian varieties use no or less of the spices and are sold as speculoos. In recent decades it has become available all year round. They are thin, have a caramel taste, are very crunchy, and slightly browned. Speculaas dough does not rise much. Spices used in speculaas are cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardamom and white pepper. Most Speculaas versions are made from white flour, brown sugar, butter and spices. The most significant characteristic is that these cookies have some image or figure stamped on the front side before baking while the back is flat.

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