Tuesday 17 July 2012

Just before the check-in

Brazil, here I come!

With my passport in my bag, I am ready to embark on my long waited trip to Brazil. Time for celebrations – my mum’s 80th birthday and meeting up with  family and friends again – and a well deserve break. I am going back to the roots! I will try and post some of my gastronomic journeys while I am there, but in case you don’t hear from me in the next 4 weeks, I promise to photograph and collect recipes to share with you here on my return. Keep tuned in.

In the meantime, I will leave here a recipe by Ottolenghi that my friend Adriana made last Saturday for her son Oscar’s birthday party. It’s a lovely, fresh basil and oregano scented salad. Simple and delicious. The adults loved it and the kids too.

Adriana's salad
Marinated Buffalo Mozzarella & Tomato Salad Recipe (by Ottolenghi)
Serves 4


250g buffalo mozzarella cheese - Adriana used 500g instead
2 ripe medium tomatoes 
(red, yellow or mixed) - Adriana made her salad using 3 punnets of cherry tomatoes instead

For the marinade
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
grated zest of 1 lemon
15 basil leaves, shredded
2 tsp chopped oregano
2 tsp best-quality extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to finish
2 tsp rapeseed oil (if you don’t have it just double the amount of olive oil)
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 tsp Maldon sea salt, black pepper


To make the marinade, scatter the fennel seeds in a small frying pan over medium heat and dry-roast until they begin to pop. Transfer to a pestle and mortar and crush roughly. Place the crushed seeds in a small bowl and add the remaining marinade ingredients.

Break the mozzarella roughly with your hands. Smear it with the marinade and set aside for 15-30 minutes.

To serve, cut the tomatoes into wedges and plate along with the marinated mozzarella. Drizzle with extra olive oil and serve.

Some of the ingredients and their functional benefits

Basil (Ocimum basilicum): also known as holy basil, or tulsi in India, it is well used by traditional healers. In India and Africa, people rub the basil leaves against their skin to repel insects. Basil is loaded with carminatives (gas dispelling phytochemicals) and, like the mint family, basil is traditionally used to settle an upset stomach. Sweet basil is better used as a tea for indigestion, colds, flu, fever, headaches, nausea, cramps, kidney and bladder problems. Basil contains lots of antioxidants and activities that are known to fight pneumonia. Its medicinal properties include anti-pyretic (anti-fever), stimulant, diuretic and nervine. Basil is also known to prevent  Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

A recipe by Dr. Michael Tierra that will be effective for most fevers: 30g of basil leaves to 600ml of water simmered for 20 minutes with 3 powdered black peppercorns per cup.

Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum): stimulates the regeneration of liver tissue, tonifies the stomach, purifies the blood. It helps relieve high blood pressure and headache. Although tomato is an acidic fruit, it alkalizes the blood after digestion. It contains the antioxidant lycopene. It has been shown to have increased its antioxidant properties  when cooked or consumed with olive oil, avocado or nuts. The carotenoids present in tomatoes are fat soluble and are well absorbed into the body with the fats mentioned above. Caution: Everyone should avoid eating a large amount of tomatoes in any one day, as it upsets the balance of calcium metabolism, especially if you suffer from arthritis.

See you soon!

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