Slow Days: Ossobuco

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers. Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the Fast Diet Forum which attest to that. Once in a while you can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

Italian cuisine runs the gamut from plain to complex, from North to South, from pasta dishes to pasta-less dishes. In the North, the Piedmont Region has foods that one never finds in the southern part of the country: beef in plenty, cheese from water buffaloes, rice, butter, corn, and fewer tomatoes. One famous dish from Milano in the Piedmont is Ossobuco. The word means ‘bone with a mouth’ since the meat in the meal is slices of veal shank with a hollow bone in the center — the bone with a mouth. As we get into the cooler weather and past Saint Martin’s Day [when the farm animals were slaughtered], our thoughts turn to eating rich, flavorful stews or heavier pasta dishes. Enter Ossobuco. Perhaps the most difficult part of the recipe is finding the veal, since veal has justly fallen into disrepute due to the sad way that the veal calves have been raised. Our veal comes from D’artagnan, an online source of many meats, and it is raised humanely in France. That solved, preparing Ossobuco is not a complex process. Our recipe is adapted from Marcella Hazen’s excellent Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.

6-8 ServingsLarge covered Dutch oven or 16” cast iron pan with cover.Preheat oven to 350F
1 Tbsp vegetable oil + 1 Tbsp oil 4 veal shank slices, each 1½” thick white whole wheat flour, pepper, saltHeat oil in casserole over medium high heat until quite hot. Dry meat with paper towels and dredge in seasoned flour. Cook meat on both sides until ‘deeply browned.’  Depending on size of the casserole, you might do this in stages. Add more oil as needed. Put meat aside on a plate.
½ cup dry white wineAdd wine, cook down by half while scraping up brown bits. Pour it off and save it. 
1 Tbsp butter
½ c onion, chopped finely
½ c celery, chopped finely
½ c carrot, chopped finely
Put butter into casserole over medium heat on stove top. When melted, add vegetables. Cook, stirring a bit, 6-7 minutes to form the soffrittoIn Italy, they call it soffritto, in France it is mirepoix.
1 tsp garlic, finely chopped
1 strip of lemon peel, no white pith
Add these, cook and stir ~1 minute, until vegetables are wilted but not brown.
Put veal atop the soffritto, laying the pieces flat if possible, or overlapping them slightly.
½-1 cup homemade meat broth
1 c canned Italian plum tomatoes with juice 3-4 sprigs of thyme
2-3 sprigs parsley, chopped 2 bay leaves freshly ground pepper + salt
Chop tomatoes and parsley. Put all of these into the casserole, along with remaining deglazing liquid. Liquids should come up to top of the veal slices, but not cover them. Bring to a simmer and cover. Put casserole in the heated oven and set a timer for 2 hours.
Every 20 mins, check the cassserole. Turn and baste shanks, adding more liquid, 2 Tbsp at a time, if needed.
When meat is very tender, take casserole from oven. Remove bay leaves and thyme sprigs. If sauce is too thin, cook it down on the stove-top.
Now for the heresy! Remove meat shanks and slice meat, saving the marrow bone. Add slices back to the sauce, stirring them in. Nestle marrow bones in the center of the pot, standing on end.

For a vegetable course, we prepared an antipasto plate of vegetables marinated in Italian Vinaigrette. For bread, no-knead focaccia, sliced for ease of serving.

Fresh, hand-cut pasta, 5 oz per person drizzle olive oilCook pasta 1-3 minutes until al dente. Drain, adding some water to sauce. Drizzle pasta with a bit of oil.
focacciaPresent casserole and pasta separately, allowing diners to serve themselves and to take one of the marrow bones if they like. Serve with slices of focaccia loaf.

One could serve risotto or polenta, to be in keeping with Northern Italian cuisine, but we opted for fresh pasta which is more typical in the North than the South. For dessert, panna cotta with fruit coulis.

Slow Days: Cranberry Corn Sticks

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers. Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the Fast Diet Forum which attest to that. Once in a while you can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

Autumn in New England means foliage in stunning colors, apple cider, the last of the sweet corn, apples, cranberries, and Thanksgving. In our family, Thanksgiving is not just a feast on a particular day, rather it is an unfolding process of celebrating local foods. Cornmeal was introduced to the early European settlers here [the Puritans at Plymouth, Massachusetts] by the First Nations people who had grown corn for centuries. Dried, it could last the winter, providing vitamins and carbohydrates all year long. The Puritans thought they would be growing wheat, but the climate was unsuitable. Cornmeal filled in for flour in many foods of the era. In old recipes, the word “Indian” in the title [Indian Pudding, Indian Bread] meant that the dish contained cornmeal. Cornbread caught on all over the Eastern seaboard and people now tend to think of it as a Southern thing, despite its deep roots in New England. For breakfast on Thanksgiving, we get out the old corn-stick molds for a history-soaked breakfast. These cast-iron pans allow you to bake corn-bread in the shape of little corn cobs. Mine were from my mother’s kitchen, though I don’t remember her ever using them. The design goes back to 1919, so I guess they were my grandmother’s pans. Bottom Line: corn bread + cranberries + cute cast-iron pans = Fun Fall Breakfast.

Here are two recipes that I have used, Fannie Farmer and Hayden Pearson, both as New England as you can get:

Corn Bread by Fannie Farmer8×8” baking pan or cast-iron cornstick pans. Preheat oven to 375F
¾ c cornmeal
½ c white whole wheat flour
½ cup white flour
¼ cup sugar 3 Tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
Sift together into a large bowl.
1 cup milk
1 egg, well beaten 4 Tbsp butter, melted
Add these to dry ingredients and mix well.
For Corn Sticks, one 7-stick pan is filled using 1 cup batter. The pan must be greased in all its crannies with melted butter. For Corn Bread, butter the baking pan.
½ – ¾ cup cranberriesAfter batter is in the pan, poke cranberries into the Corn Sticks, using 4-5 per Corn Stick. For Corn Bread, sprinkle the berries on top and gently swirl them into the batter.
Bake 15 minutes for Corn Sticks; 25 minutes for Corn Bread.Since I have left-over batter from the Corn Sticks, I bake it and use it in the turkey stuffing.
Sunny Acres Corn Bread by Hayden Pearson8×8” baking pan or cast-iron Corn Stick pans. Preheat oven to 425F
¾ cup yellow corn meal
2/3 cup white whole wheat flour
2/3 cup white flour
3 ¼ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
1/3 c white sugar
¼ tsp allspice
Sift these into a large bowl.
2 eggs, beaten
1 stick/8 Tbsp butter, melted
¼ c milk 1 Tbsp brown sugar
Add these to dry ingredients and mix well.
For Corn Sticks, one 7-stick pan is filled using 1 cup batter. The pan must be greased in all its crannies with melted butter. For Corn Bread, butter the baking pan.
½ – ¾ cup cranberriesAfter batter is in the pan, poke cranberries into the Corn Sticks, using 4-5 per Corn Stick. For Corn Bread, sprinkle the berries on top and gently stir them into the batter.
Bake 15 minutes for Corn Sticks; 25 minutes for Corn Bread. Since I have left-over batter from the Corn Sticks, I bake it and use it in the turkey stuffing.

Vermeer

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow, for a calorie total of less than 600. On another day this week, eat the meals from a different post, another day of eating 600 calories or less. Eat sensibly the other days of the week. That’s it: a simple way to lose weight and be healthier. Welcome to ______ who is now Following.

The Dutch Baroque style of painting was quite different from the Italian Baroque of Caravaggio. In both, light is a key factor — light contrasting with shadows to lead the eye into the painting and to guide the viewer to certain points. But while Caravaggio was all about sensuality and dramatic violence, the Dutch artists were about light: the clear, luminous, low-humidity light of Northern Europe. Johannes Vermeer was a painter in Delft: born, raised, and baptized in that city on 31 October, 1632. He appears to have been self-taught, although perhaps influenced by friends of his father who was an art dealer. Vermeer began to paint and he specialized in ‘interiors’ — people [mostly women] in rooms, doing ordinary things. The rooms are drenched in light from a window on the viewer’s left, making the colors of clothing and carpets glow, and bringing a sense of calm. He used expensive pigments and worked very slowly. Vermeer’s paintings have a clarity and perfection that makes them almost photographic. Indeed, in modern times, there has been much debate about whether he was merely ‘copying’ what he saw through a camera obscura — a viewing device that projects scenes onto a surface. For more about whether and how Vermeer used optical aids to create his art, give some time to the fascinating film Tim’s Vermeer, in which an inventor tries to duplicate The Music Lesson. However he did it, Vermeer produced some beautiful paintings, most of which were purchased by a single patron in Delft. When he died precipitously in 1675, his wife had difficulty paying his debts, and his work was forgotten. In the mid-1800s, he was rediscovered by a French art critic who wrote copiously of Vermeer and his 80+ works. There is no way that Vermeer painted that much in the 20 years that he was active! In the 1920s-30s, “newly discovered Vermeers” were coming out of the woodwork: forgeries all. He is one of the most forged and mis-attributed artists of all time, some forgeries fooling Nazi art hoarders. Now, around 34 works are said to be by Vermeer, and each one is a cherished peek into life in 17th century Delft. Which one is your favorite?

A Flemish breakfast and a simple supper for an artist who was not a financial success during his lifetime.

Holiday-After Breakfast: 139 calories 6 g fat 0.6 g fiber 14 g protein 6.4 g carb 37 mg Calcium  NB: The food values given above are for the egg bake and fruit only, not the optional beveragesPB GF  The boiled egg and meat are typical of a Flemish breakfast that Vermeer would have known. I named it ‘Holiday-after’ as it employs a few left-overs from a feasting table, such as Easter as seen below.

1 two-oz egg, hardboiled 1.5 oz ham OR beef OR turkey  1.5 oz pineapple OR ¼ cup mixed berries Optional: 5 oz fruit smoothie or berry-yogurt smoothie [88 caloriesOptional: blackish coffee [53 calories] or blackish tea or mocha cafe au lait [65 calories] or lemon in hot water

Warm the meat or not. Cut the fruit in bite-sized pieces. Plate the meat, egg, and fruit. Brew your beverages of choice. Sit down and relax with your easy anytime breakfast.

Fish Cakes:  212 calories 4 g fat 5 g fiber 9.6 g protein 34 g carbs 52 mg Calcium [food values for dinner using ONE 1/3 cup-size cake and side dishes.]   PB GF  This recipe is from Legal Seafood Cookbook,  from the restaurant chain in Boston, Mass. Fish cakes have been popular where ever there are folk who want a little fish to go a long way.

NB: The Fish Cake recipe can produce 6 cakes, each 1/3 cup in size. Each cake = 92 calories 1.7 g fat 1 g fiber 8 g protein 12 g carbs 22 mg Calcium NB: The Fish Cake recipe can produce 8 cakes, each 1/4 cup in size. Each cake = 69 calories 1.3 g fat 0.6 g fiber 5 g protein 9 g carbs 16 mg Calcium 

1/3 cup green or white onion, chopped 1-2/3 cup mashed potatoes [no milk, no butter] ¼ tsp dry mustard + salt + pepper 1 two-oz egg 2 Tbsp milk 6 oz cooked fish [cod, haddock, salt cod, salmon or a mixture], flaked into small pieces 1 tsp butter ½ cup pickled beets 1 cup baby greens or sliced lettuce leaves cherry tomato ½ tsp olive oil + ½ tsp vinegar + salt + pepper

Combine the onion, potatoes, egg, seasonings, and milk, stirring. Stir in the fish, gently but thoroughly. Using a 1/3 cup measure as a mold, portion the fish/potato mixture into 6 cakes. Put on a plate or cookie sheet while the pan heats up. Heat a heavy fry pan, such as cast iron, and spray with non-stick spray. Cook the fish cakes on one side, flattening them slightly with a turner. Remove from the pan and add 1 tsp of butter to the pan. Spread the butter around, return the fish cakes, and cook them on the other side until they are browned. Serve while hot. What you don’t eat today, let cool completely, then freeze with waxed or parchment paper between the cakes. 

Slow Days: Corn Fritter Breakfast

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers. Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the Fast Diet Forum which attest to that. Once in a while you can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

Fresh corn is a food that comes but once a year, and that is in late Summer. True, supermarkets will offer corn on the cob in May, but they have to bring it in from far away. To get the full effect, you must get your corn locally and in season. After you cook up a batch for dinner-time feasting along with burgers or grilled chicken, cut the cooked kernels off the remaining ears and turn them into Corn Fritters. Southerners would insist that a fritter must be deep-fat fried, but in New Hampshire, a griddle works very well and is easier. Here in Northern New England, these delights are served many ways: as a savory side dish, if chopped chives or scallions are added; as a cocktail nibble when prepared as tiny rounds; as a first course at dinner, with maple syrup [Yes, seriously. Children swoon at this]; as a dessert, with maple syrup; and at breakfast, with maple syrup. Can you tell that we like our fritters? Here are two recipes to try:

Fannie Farmer Cookbookmakes ten 4” diameter fritters
1 cup corn kernels, drained if canned 1 egg yolkStir together.
½ cup + 2 Tbsp white whole wheat flour ½ tsp baking powder ½ tsp salt
pinch of paprika
Sift or stir together with a fork.Add to the corn/yolk.
1 egg whiteBeat until stiff and fold into the corn/flour mixture.
Pan greased with bacon fat.

For each fritter, pour 3 Tbsp batter into the hot pan. Don’t let it spread too widely. You should get 2 or 3 into a 10” pan or use a larger griddle. Cook a few minutes until bottom is set and brown. 
Flip and cook a little longer. 
Maple syrupServe hot with maple syrup.

For a complete breakfast, I cooked up some back bacon and wrapped it around slices of sweet, ripe melon. Here are those fritters, waiting for the maple syrup!
thekitchn.com7 three-inch fritters
1/4 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp fine yellow cornmeal 1.5 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cayenne pepper together in a large bowl.
1.5 c. corn kernels 
1 Tbsp New Mexico green/red chiles 1 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
Seed and mince the jalapeno, if using. Toss these with dry ingredients until the vegetables are coated.
1/4 c. whole milk
1 large egg
Mix together in a measuring cup until incorporated, then pour into flour-corn. Stir until all flour is moistened. Batter will be quite thick, but do not overmix. Let sit.
Wipe pan with a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil OR spray with cooking sprayHeat oil into a large cast iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Drop 1/4-cup portions of batter evenly around pan and flatten each slightly. Cook until golden-brown on the bottom, 2-3 mins. 
Flip cakes and cook until puffed, brown and cooked through, 2-3 mins more. If using frozen corn kernels, they may need 1-2 minutes more cook time per side.
Remove fritters to a towel-lined basket. Keep making fritters with remaining batter. 
Maple syrupPlate fritters, serve warm or at room temperature.

Slow Days: Summer Vegetable Pizza

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers. Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the Fast Diet Forum which attest to that. Once in a while you can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

Since Dear Husband and I enjoy pizza for dinner every Saturday night, I am often on the lookout for a new way to top the pie. Thus, I was delighted to find a recipe at thekitchn.com for a pizza from the famous Berkeley Cheeseboard Collective. The corn and fresh vegetables remind me of a pizza which I enjoyed in Rome. This is a delicious way to use Summer’s bounty. Of course, I use a dough prepared with mostly white whole wheat flour, instead of all-purpose flour. It gives the pie a hearty, rustic flavour which we enjoy.

Mise en Place with all those luscious vegetables.
Sv 2
5½ -6 oz white whole wheat pizza dough/personIf dough is cold, let sit at room temp 2+ hours. The dough is ready when it does not bounce back when stretched.
1 c mozzarella 1/3 c feta cheeseGrate mozzarella cheese on the large holes of a box grater. Crumble feta cheese.
1½ tsp basil 1 clove garlic 2½ Tbsp olive oil
pinch salt
¼ tsp pepper flakes
GARLIC OIL: Chop basil finely. Chop the garlic.
Place everything in a small bowl and stir to combine.
NB: can be done hours before
¼ packed c. red onion
½ c grape or larger tomatoes
½ c kernels fresh corn ½ c summer squash ribbons 
Thinly slice onion. Cut grape tomatoes in halves or fourths. [If using whole tomato, cut in 1/2″ dice.] Cut ribbons of squash with a vegetable peeler. 
Prepare the vegetables and combine in a bowl. If any liquid accumulates in the bowl, pour it off.
1½ tsp garlic oil l¼ tsp kosher saltAdd garlic oil to the vegetables, season with the salt, and toss to combine. If preparing two pizzas, divide the vegetables equally into two bowls.
2 tsp Garlic Oil per crust prepared cheesesRoll out dough balls, and brush garlic oil onto each crust, all the way to the edges. Sprinkle evenly with mozzarella. Arrange vegetables on top in an even layer, without any liquid. Sprinkle with feta.
Bake at 500F until bubbly. Take from oven.
garlic oil
8 fresh basil leaves
Drizzle with garlic oil, then tear basil into bite-sized pieces and scatter over top. Serve right away.
Can be cooked on a gas grill. Pre-grill the untopped crusts for 2-3 mins, until grill marks form. Bake covered.
The salad greens were added after the pies came from the oven to provide Pizza with Salad without any plates or forks. Truly a treat for a late Summer meal.

Slow Days: Granola

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers. Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the Fast Diet Forum which attest to that. Once in a while you can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

Granola is a cereal made of whole grains, nuts, and dried fruit. It differs from muesli in that granola is sweetened and baked. Good Friend Ann wanted to make some granola. She had a recipe from the box of Quaker Oats, then sent out a call to her circle of friends to solicit recipes, receiving two responses. Reading the three recipes got me curious about the history and nutrition values of granola.

In 1847, James Caleb Jackson set up a sanatarium in Dansville, New York. Like Maximilian Bircher in Switzerland [see Dr Bircher, August 21], Jackson thought that eating a better diet would improve physical health. One of the key ingredients was whole grains. Toward that end, he developed a dry cereal which he called ‘granula’ which was made of granules of dried Graham flour paste. John Kellogg, who had a health spa in Battle Creek, Michigan, ‘appropriated’ the recipe and marketed it for his own profit. A law suit caused Kellogg to change the name to ‘granola.’ In the 1970s, granola was rediscovered by the counterculture. Then it was commercialized and turned into a sweet, fatty product that neither Jackson nor Kellogg would neither recognize nor serve.

As you can see from this chart, granola packs a wallop when it comes to calories and fat per cup. But if you read the ‘suggested serving guide,’ one serving is usually 1/2 to 3/4 cup. Very few people think that 3/4 cup of cereal is sufficient, since they eat with their eyes rather than their brain, so sitting down to a big [read: 2 cups] bowl of granola for breakfast will give one lots of fiber and some protein, but a TON of calories, fat, carbs, and sugar. Then they add full-fat yogurt and chocolate chips and think how healthy it is. Good Grief.

Per batch# cupsCaloriesFat g Fiber gProtein gCarbs gCalcium mgSugar gr
MFE’s recipe7 cups3206106.75458543.5166240
Per cup45815.27.78.277.623.734.3
AHM’s recipe6 cups3152196.53449.5343.6193132.5
Per cup525325.68.2573222
DCP’s recipe~11 cups8074415.6140178.5944327.5377
Per cup73437.712.71685.829.734

Our family enjoys a recipe from the Peter Rabbit Cookbook, which our son was given as a toddler. This is easy to prepare and delicious. I find a 1/2 cup serving with milk to be quite satisfying.

Johnny Town-Mouse Granola from the Peter Rabbit Cookbook by Arnold Dobrin.

Makes 7 cupsPreheat oven to 250F.
4 Tbsp canola oil
½ c honey
Stir oil and honey together and warm in the microwave until they are liquid.
4-5 cups rolled oatsPut oats in a 9×13” pan and pour in the warm honey-oil. Stir until oats are all coated with the honey-oil. Bake 30 mins.
1½ cups total of any of the following: 
chopped nuts
chopped dried apples
chopped dried apricots
Take pan from oven and stir in these add-ins.
Distribute the granola evenly over the surface of the pan. Return to oven and bake 15 minutes.
½ cup raisins +/or dried cranberriesRemove pan from oven, stir in raisins/cranberries.
Let cool in the pan, then store in glass jars.

Slow Days: Gateau aux Fruits Frais

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers. Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the Fast Diet Forum which attest to that. Once in a while you can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

In Summer, there is an abundance of fresh fruit. Heaven! And there are many ways to eat it, besides eating it fresh, of course. For a few years, I worked in a restaurant owned and run by a Frenchman. [He would have insisted that he was a Breton, but we will let that go.] Although I did not work in the kitchen, I was happy to glean as many tips as I could about cooking. Chef did not give out his recipes. However, I managed to get enough clues to produce a reasonable version of Gateau aux Fruits Frais — a simple cake made special by a topping of fresh fruits.

The base of the Gateau is a simple yellow cake — you could use sponge cake or pound cake as well. It was baked in a 4×8″ loaf pan, then cut lengthwise into two slabs, each about 1-inch thick. If you are serving a large gathering, put the cake slabs end to end on the serving board to create one 16″ long gateau. I freeze the other half for a dessert in the future. Next, the top of the cake is slathered with pureed rhubarb or thick applesauce. The sauce should be lightly sweetened, but not too sweet at all.

Then you need a cream mixture, the sort that could be the filling of a cake or the piping at the edge. It could be an Italian meringue, or a butter cream icing, or whipped cream. I stirred together vanilla yogurt, almond meal from unpeeled almonds and let it sit for a bit to thicken. Spoon or pipe the ‘vanilla cream’ around the edge, on top of the pureed fruit. Rake the cream with a fork to pattern it or get creative with your piping bag.

Arrange any sort of fresh fruit over the cake: whole strawberries, kiwi slices, raspberries. Since we had blueberries and red currants ripe in the garden, I arranged them in stripes. For the final touch, melted jelly was brushed over the top of the fruit to give it a gloss. Voila! Gateau aux Fruits Frais.

Slow Days: Porcini Pasta

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers. Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the Fast Diet Forum which attest to that. Once in a while you can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

3 bicolors, 1 cep

Neither Dear Husband nor I grew up eating mushrooms, but we have come to relish them. Foraging is one of my favorite pastimes and when it yields a bounty of wild mushrooms, it makes my day. Imagine our surprise when we found mushrooms coming up in the moss under a Red Oak tree on our lawn. NB: One must approach wild mushrooms with caution: many species look slightly alike and correctly identifying the fungus is very important. In this case, the identification was unmistakable: dome-like cap the color of a well-baked bun; no gills under the cap, but a mosaic of tiny pores; bulbous stem, unlike any other species. These were Boletus edilus, the prized cep/cepe/porchini mushroom! Then, another edible Bolete showed up: the Bicolor, Boletus bicolor. We were in hog heaven!!

A search for mushroom recipes yielded this excellent dish from skinnyspatula.com and we are eternally grateful to her for it. The original calls for fresh shiitake and dried porcini, but we had lots of fresh ‘shrooms, so I changed the recipe a bit. Because the sauce is cream-based, we know that the recipe is from Northern Italy. To stay true to the region of origin, fresh pasta is preferred to dry pasta for the meal. I have found that my recipe for pasta made of white whole wheat and semolina flours works very well. For the record: this is NOT a recipe for weight loss!

Serves 2
105 g FRESH pasta nb: pasta made with white whole wheat flour is good here.Boil pasta in salted water until almost al dente – 1 minute. Reserve ¾ c water (~ 120 ml) before draining. Rinse pasta.
8 g/ 0.28 oz butter or more
80 g/ 2.82 oz Bicolor Boletes, sliced  90 g/ 3 oz King Boletes, sliced 170 g total = 3.8 oz fresh
Slice the mushrooms.
In a cast iron skillet, melt butter + add mushrooms. Cook for 4-5 mins until tender and lightly browned.
Take skillet off heat. Very IMPORTANT
20 ml double [or heavy] creamAdd cream + continue to stir, about 2 mins, until it evaporates. Scrape the bits on the bottom often.
60 g mascarpone
40 ml pasta water
40 ml pasta water
Add mascarpone and 1/3 of the pasta water. Cook until sauce is creamy. Add more water if needed, but keep it creamy, not watery.
Salt as neededAdd drained pasta + toss over moderate heat, until it’s cooked through (~ 2-3 minutes). Add more pasta water if needed.

Serve with zucchini or a green salad, and a Tuscan red wine of your choice*. Oh! So good!

from peterspicksblog.com Wines That Pair Well with Pasta and Wild Mushrooms:  Barbera d’Asti (Italy), Pinot Noir (Oregon), Pomerol (Bordeaux, France), Barolo (Italy), Rioja (Spain)

Slow Days: New England 4th of July  

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers. Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the Fast Diet Forum which attest to that. Once in a while you can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

Hot dogs. Hamburgers. Potato Salad. Macaroni Salad. Rich desserts that are Red, White, & Blue. These are typical 4th of July fare all across the country, so it must be all-American, right? No, actually. Hot dogs, hamburgers, and potato salad came to us from German immigrants in the 1800s. Macaroni salad is a combination of Italian and German culinary traditions. Where do you go for an ‘authentic American’ meal for Independence Day? New England, of course. Salmon was very common in New England during the 1600s and 1700s, before the Industrial Revolution dammed the rivers. If you wanted inexpensive protein, salmon was the thing. In early Summer, salmon would return to the rivers, swimming far up-stream to spawn. At the same time, the first peas were available in the gardens. By coincidence, the first new potatoes could be found in the fields. [Potatoes originated in South America, were taken to Spain by Columbus, then to Ireland by Walter Raleigh, then to New Hampshire by Scottish settlers.] Thus, by early July, a fine dinner was available to all and sundry: cooked salmon served with peas and new potatoes.

Coat the salmon fillets with olive oil on a plate, then strew with salt and pepper. Put the shelled peas into cold water, ready to cook. In a bowl, put small new potatoes — preferably with flesh of different colors — salt, pepper, and olive oil to coat. Stir well to cover the potatoes all over with oil. Put the potatoes on a glass pie plate into a 400F. oven and set the timer for 25 minutes. By now the grill is hot. Cook the salmon, undisturbed, for 5 minutes on each side. Turn on the heat under the peas and simmer them uncovered. The peas will be done first, so keep and eye on them. Drain and salt them, cover the pan and let them wait.

And there you have it: a fine meal for early Summer. For a delightful wine paring go to peterspicks.com.

Slow Days: Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers. Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the Fast Diet Forum which attest to that. Once in a while you can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

Pie is wonderful. In the British Isles, ‘pie’ is a savory concoction, encased in a pastry crust. In the USA, ‘pie’ means a sweetened mixture baked in a pastry shell, topped with a pastry layer or a crumb top or a lattice or with no top at all. Apple pie, cherry pie, peach pie, pecan pie, mince pie, shoo-fly pie, lemon meringue pie — all have their season. May means rhubarb pie and June brings strawberry-rhubarb pie. This combination is so fabulous that it is worth the wait for the two ‘fruits’ to come to ripeness at the same time of year. Last June, Son #2, after a few bites of Sb-R Pie, proclaimed, “This is the best pie you ever made!” I’m happy to share the recipe with you.

First you need a crust. You could buy one or make one of your favorite recipe. Don’t have a good pie recipe? Here you go. A combination of butter and lard makes a good pie crust. Please do not use vegetable shortening. I often use a crumble top or cut out shapes from the following dough to decorate the top.

2 single pie crust or 1 double pie crust
2 cups flour: 1 c. white + 1 c. white whole wheat 1 tsp saltWhisk together in a bowl.
2/3 cup lard or butterCut lard/butter into the flour with a pastry blender or 2 knives until butter is ‘the size of small peas’
5-7 Tbsp ice waterAdd water bit by bit, stirring with a fork after each addition, until dough just holds together.
Gather gently into a ball, wrap, and chill 30 mins.
Divide in two pieces. Roll each out 1/8” thick and ease the round of dough into a 9” pie plate. Trim excess around the rim, crimp edge, and fill the pie.

People used to think that you needed tons of sugar to make a rhubarb pie. Those pies would set your teeth on edge, they were that sweet. I have learned to cut down on the sugar, especially if using a crumble top, which adds sugar. Recently, at a rhubarb pie-baking contest, the judges commented often on how a pie was too sweet, which detracted from the rhubarb taste. When you add sweet strawberries, you can reduce the sugar a little more. Make sure that the strawberries are fully ripe — no white or green areas and deep red all the way to the center. This is a pie to be served warm or cool. Ice cream would be gilding the lily, wouldn’t it?

One 9” pie, serves 8Pie plate lined with pastry dough. Preheat oven to 400F.
2½ c rhubarb, sliced ½” thick
2 c. strawberries, sliced or quartered
Slice the fruit and put into a large bowl. 
7/8 c sugar
3 Tbsp flour [use 5 Tbsp if fruit was frozen] one 2-oz egg
Stir together until combined. Pour over fruit in the bowl. Stir gently to mix the thickeners with the fruit evenly. Pour into the pie plate.
Cover fruit with crumb top or top crust. Leave a gap in crust at middle of pie. Bake in center of a hot oven for 15 mins.
Turn heat down to 350F and bake until the filling bubbles in the center, about 30 mins. Cool on a rack.

Since there are only two of us at the table these days, I often make a smaller pie, 6″ in diameter. That feeds us nicely for two meals, without having to eat the same pie all week long. Happy pie making!