Summer on your plate – what to cook with zucchini

Whoever has grown their own zucchini in the garden are familiar with the problem – there can be easily an oversupply of these low GI (glycemic index) and very versatile Mediterranean vegetable. And you find them aplenty now in the shops and organic markets. If you have made already too many ratatouilles in your life you may like to try these two of my favorite vegan and super light recipes. They are great when its hot outside and easy to digest food is all you crave: A soup made in literally 10 minutes and some no-flour veggie spaghetti that are done in an equal short time especially if you call a spiralizer your own (get it here when in Dubai). There is a youtube video about how to make the spaghetti too, thanks to the awesome collaboration with Dubai Holding Wellness. We filmed this sequence at Madinat Jumeirah Resort in Dubai.


On another note: We are taking up our cooking classes here in Dubai very soon again. Stay tuned! I will be delighted to meet you in person and cook with you more healthy & delicious food.
In the meantime: Enjoy summer and stay healthy. xx Chef Gabi

ZUCCHINI SOUP
What to buy for 2 portionsavocado_estragon_veloute

300 g zucchini or rondini (round zucchini)
500 ml vegetable stock or water
Salt, pepper
4 sprigs fresh basil and ½ cup baby spinach
½ garlic clove
Topping:  1 tbsp walnuts or pistachios
¼ celery stick
¼ red bell pepper
½ tomato
1 tsp black cumin seeds
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Photo courtesy Barbara Lutterbeck, who shot this for one of my cookbooks

How to Make it
Steam the zucchini for 3-5 minutes. Blend with water or vegetable stock, basil leaves, spinach and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.
Dice all the remaining vegetables and braise them in olive oil together with the crushed nuts and cumin seeds to serve on top of the soup.

Chef Gabi’s Tip
This smooth-textured low calorie soup has a delicious fresh taste, a chlorophyll and vitamin packed appetizer, lunch or dinner.
Green food nutrients support healthy blood and circulation. Iron, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin B12, pyridoxine and protein are all vital for the formation and maintenance of adequate levels of hemoglobin and red blood cells. In addition, chlorophyll, vitamin K, and calcium are all involved in blood clot formation and breakdown.

Chlorophyll helps to gently cleanse the body, balance pH levels, promote good digestion and fight free radicals. Active enzymes help digestion, promote energy production and support metabolism. Antioxidants support the immune system, healthy aging and cardiovascular function.

The benefit of the regular intake of chlorophyll rich food is increased energy levels, improved digestion, enhanced mental acuity, and better looking hair, skin and nails.

ZUCCHINI SPAGHETTI
What to Buy for 2 portions
600 g zucchini
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 garlic clove
1 thyme sprig
salt and pepper to taste

Sauce:
1large red bell pepper
1 tomato
1 onion
½ Teaspoon arrowroot

How to Make it
Wash and clean the zucchini and slice it into spaghetti size strips using a mandolin slicer or vegetable spiral cutter.
In a large saucepan, heat one inch of water until it boils. Add in the garlic and the thyme with the zucchini.  Toss for max 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve with sauces or cheese to your liking.
For the sauce steam all ingredients, blend with a little bit of water and pass through a fine sieve. Liquidize the arrowroot in 2 tablespoons cold water and add to the sauce, boil for a minute to bind the liquid gently.  Season with salt and pepper.

Chef Gabi’s Tip
This is an amazing, surprising and truly worth trying recipe if you love dishes that require pasta– here is the low carb and quick to make alternative!

Another recipe using zucchini raw can be found here. Enjoy!

Chef Gabi’s Wellness Tips – Jumeirah Vittaveli Maldives

On vacation, far away form the everyday business and all the distractions, shortcomings of all sorts and stressful lifestyle relaxation and ‘selfness’ are much easier to achieve and a great opportunity to start a number of so called ‘good habits’. These good habits may make it into a routine once you are back to normal life and  work too.
Being recently to Jumeirah Vittaveli in the Maldives where they celebrate in April their ‘Wellness Month’ with a number of special offerings I have to say this is one perfect place to get into the wellness vibe. Such a beautiful place. I couldn’t help shooting my signature apron in front of that view:

apron5

Read a related article in the MALDIVES HOTELIER here.

Now on to the Wellness Tips:
Some small but essential secrets of wellness are so simple we often forget about their importance: WATER. If we drink every hour one glass of water we maintain hydration, help flush out toxins, support brain function, and much more. I have posted earlier about water and hydration here.

water3
In Jumeirah Vittaveli I loved the presence of these drinking water bottles everywhere: In the bathroom, living room, next to the bed, in the minibar to make tea or coffee.

Being inspired by their beautiful organic herb garden, where super green spinach leaves and fragrant holy basil grew in abundance even though the garden was quite new ( I was the first to harvest here – very honored! I heart the Vittaveli landscaping team)  I created a green lemonade, which was served at sunset. Well it can be taken any time of the day, and it tastes really good.

Basil Cucumber Lemonade
What to Buy for 4 large portions

1 small cucumber FullSizeRender
2 teaspoons honey
juice of 1 lemon
4 basil sprigs
2 handful spinach leaves
950 ml still water

 How to Make It

Dice ¼ of the cucumber and the chili. Blend the remaining cucumber with lemon juice, water, honey and basil. Serve with basil sprig on ice.

Chef Gabi’s Tip
This chlorophyll rich elixir hydrates, kick starts metabolism and supports relaxation.

If you manage to hydrate yourself by either drinking plain water, aromatic herb water, aforementioned green lemonade, or my hibiscus ice tea you can already tick off one wellness task.

If you have the chance to soak in natural sea water (or salt water in a bathtub) for at least 30 minutes per day you help detoxification through the largest organ, your skin, with the osmotic pressure through water and the cleansing effect of salt. Well, I risk you envy me now if I show you how enticing that looks in the Maldives. IMG_1013
But rest assured, it works the same way anywhere,  in Dubai (where I am back to now), Abu Dhabi, Mallorca, Turkey or at home in your bathtub.
Stay healthy and hydrated. xx Gabi

How to hydrate in summer

In the hot Dubai summer my Aloe Vera grows bigger and bigger. At least one of us enjoys the climate…. !
Today I gave it a try to start reducing it a little bit, so it would not take all the place away:

I made a refreshing lemonade with jelly like pulp of the leaves. What to say, it turned out to be a delicious drink I will definitely have again!

aloe 1aloe 2

Aloe Vera Lemonade
1 portion

What To Buy
1 organic lime (juice)
1 teaspoon acacia honey or agave syrup
a small piece of an Aloe Vera leaf (about 3 cm)
250 ml still or sparkling water
Ice cubes

How To Make It
Press the lime juice and stir in the honey or agave syrup. Pour into a glass with ice cubes. Wash the Aloe leaf and peel it carefully. Dice the jelly like pulp finely and add to the lime juice. Top with water and stir well.

Chef Gabi’s Tip
Aloe juice helps to improve digestion. It is good for cleansing and detoxifying the body due to antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.

Here is two versions of my drink, that is now a regular on my personal summer treats. Which one you like better?

aloe 3aloe 4

Talise Nutrition on MBC 1

Our latest filming will be aired tomorrow, Friday, at 9 pm, at the Green Apple Show on MBC1…..very excited, and hope you all watch!

I have been very busy at work the last few weeks. Oh what am I saying, the last few months! No chance  for even a short trip abroad to visit my beloved Bavaria, where I come from, to see the winter. Everyone at home is jealous though that I have everyday sunshine and warm weather while they have been freezing and shoveling snow. At least until recently, now finally some signs of spring are in the air.

To cure my longing for Bavaria I cooked some

flavors from home – away from home.

My home grown sweet marjoram (oregano family, but sweeter and milder) is beautiful and just perfect with its fragrant little leaves. Apart from its antioxidative benefits (think eternal youth!) it is a staple seasoning ingredient in Bavarian cuisine. I added it to my very simple but delicious

Potato Vegetable Soup with fresh Marjoram
2 portions

What to Buy
1 carrot, diced
1 parsnip or parsley root (however parsley root is difficult to source here in the Middle East), diced
2 small potatoes, peeled, dicedDSCN4280
1 small leek, sliced
1 bay leaf
1 small piece mace
2 tablespoons olive oil
500 ml vegetable stock
salt, pepper
5 sprigs fresh marjoram, leaves picked

How to Make It
Braise in olive oil until golden the potatoes, parsnip and carrot with bay leaf and mace. Then add the vegetable stock and simmer for around 15 minutes on low heat. Add the leek, season with salt and pepper and serve with fresh marjoram leaves sprinkled all over.

Chef Gabi’s Tip:
I add sometimes dried cepes to the soup – they give this simple soup a significant upgrade! Must try.
This is what I cook at home when I feel not like cooking. A really easy to make recipe.

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Heavenly Raspberries in Season!

There is a miraculous richness in nature now. My favorite little berries are ripe – raspberries. Lucky me I am home in Germany to pick them fresh for my daily dose of delicious and powerful antioxdants, Vitamins C, A, E, B, and K.  Did you know they also provide potassium, manganese, copper, iron and help to control blood pressure?

These little wonder fruits are best when they have not even seen a fridge. A luxury only possible if the fruits don’t have to travel anywhere!
We indulge in fresh, sun ripened raspberries now – apart from eating them just as they are, on muesli, with milk rice, or with créme brûlée.

I am a huge fan of home made raspberry sorbet. It is basically nothing else than pureed raspberries with a little bit of organic lemon juice and zest and either agave syrup or acacia honey, frozen in a sorbetière – incredibly good.

I recently hosted a private ladies afternoon tea on a hot summer day in the garden for my girlfriends and served refreshing raspberry sorbet in lime shells on crushed ice and rose raspberry punch. No question it was a hit! 
Enjoy the summer and stay refreshed and healthy.

Healthy Nutrition and The Art of Chefs

My understanding of food has always been related to what it does to our bodies. We are what we eat. Hence cooking has a lot to do with health and nutrition. It is the  foundation of the art of chefs. Together with creativity and excitement it becomes something really great. This is what I have learnt from my mother since my childhood days and which is a major part of my life and my job until now. So it is in hers. We both are cookbook authors. We write about health, nutrition and practical culinary work. This is how we met Klaus Maria Einwanger, who became a dear friend over the years. I am very proud that my mother and I had the chance to work with this creative and renowned photograper. Now he invited us to his latest project: White Plate is an international interactive photo art and culture project.

The first edition of White Plate is between Germany and Great Britain.
We are very honored to be part of your hand picked group of award winning chefs, thank you Klaus! What a golden opportunity to reveal the thoughts behind the work of chefs and capture the essence of their inspiration. When your White Plate Project comes to the United Arab Emirates, we meet in my workplace at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai!

 

So health, nutrition and wonderful food was in the limelight – our vision and mission for our intense two day shoot at our house in Berchtesgaden in Bavaria.  
Here Klaus and team at work, indoors and outdoors!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Needless to say we had a paradise of nature around us, supplying freshest local produce – however challenging and quite some fun, at times we desperately searched the forests for the right size model of cêpe mushrooms to be photographed.  We checked the vegetable patch for carrots and leeks, some over sized, some too small for the image! Even weeds like the highly appreciated stinging nettle had their big day. Unfortunately the gardener thought he could mow them down and I was looking around to find survivors hidden between the bushes….

Luckily such work includes a lot of food by nature, and there were culinary breaks in between….
Susanne Hallwich was writing her beautiful texts for the work, you can read on www.white-plate.com. Enjoy!

 

More about Edible Weeds

Don’t be surprised I am talking about weeds again. And their culinary potential. It is just due to the fact that their presence is in direct interdependence to my (very regular) absence from my garden.
Luckily I am relaxed about weeds in the garden. Because most of them are not just edible, but a culinary upgrade for my cooking. I am cooking a lot with herbs. And with weeds.  Today I harvested and cooked with chickweed (lat: stellaria media), one of my favorites.
The tiny, light green leaves are hiding between salads, under zucchini plants, between parsley and mint – simply everywhere. In summer they prefer shade to grow their tender leaves. But you can find them already in early spring until autumn. Even in mild winter. In my kitchen they play often a star part for salads, soups, and garnishes. I love them and cut them like cress. They are equally delicate, delicious and so beneficial. They provide Vitamin C, iron, copper, manganese, zinc and kalium. They help to strenghten the heart and the eyes, cleanse the blood and have a cooling effect.

Chickweed has been even in the limelight and photographed last week in our kitchen cum once-in-a-while-temporary photo studio by a professional photographer and dear friend, Klaus Maria Einwanger for his project www.white-plate.com.  We, my mother and I, are very honored to be part of his culinary art project! More about it soon on this blog.
See how our Majlis looked when Klaus and his creative team were at our home in Berchtesgaden:

If you find chickweed in your vegetable patch, come with a scissor and cut the tips carefully to support continuous growth of this lovely herb/weed. You then could try the following recipe, another bavarian staple of my home:

My Bavarian Potato Salad


What to buy
6 medium size salad potatoes
2 eggs
1 white onion
4 table spoons apple cider vinegar
100 ml vegetable stock
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon agave syrup or acacia honey
6 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1 good handful chickweed (I often substitute it with either curly parsley, wild dandelion leaves or wild watercress)

How to Make It
Steam the washed potatoes in their skin for around 30 minutes until they are entirely soft inside. Peel the skin off the hot potatoes and allow them to cool just a little bit before you slice them. Boil the eggs for 8 minutes and peel them as well. Cut the eggs to wedges. Dice the onion and braise it in olive oil. Add the oil and the onions while still hot to the potatoes. Bring the vinegar, vegetable stock and honey to a boil, stir in the mustard and season with salt and pepper. Gently mix the potatoes with the hot mustard stock. Check the seasoning again, it could be you need to add a little bit more salt or vinegar. Add the eggs and arrange on plates. Garnish generously with the picked and washed chickweed and serve the salad immediately.

Chef Gabi’s Tip
To make a good potato salad is a science. Not really difficult, but a few things are vital to achieve the best result. First: Use salad potatoes. They are totally different to those used for mashed potatoes for example and most important, they don’t fall apart when mixed with the dressing but absorb the delicious liquid. Second: Use warm potatoes, not chilled ones. And use a hot dressing. So they can absorb flavors much better. Third: The Bavarian potato salad has an oily and a watery part in the dressing. Add the oil first to the potatoes and then the vinegar part. So you get the desired shiny and succulent texture. And last: Serve it at room temperature. There is not much worse than fridge cold potato salad.

Enjoy my Bavarian comfort food and don’t forget to check your garden for edible weeds!

After Eight, deconstructed

Chocolate and Mint – this is not new. It is a culinary classic. However, I just love that flavor combination of smooth darkness (chocolate) and bright freshness (mint) in this dessert. This is for mint lovers. And for chocolate fans. Or both.
We made it yesterday, at the end of a sunny summer day and it was just the perfect finish of a dinner. Simple, but surprisingly good! Instructions: You have to take a spoon ful of the mousse, followed by a sip of the mint shooter, and so on….
Get the lemonade recipe here.
The mousse is melted dark chocolate (sugar free, honey sweetened), stirred hot into a mix of whipped cream, sour cream, crème fraîche, honey and a little bit of organic orange zest. Grated chocolate sprinkled on the surface once the mousse is plated in portion glasses, and garnished with the true dark peppermint. The mousse can be prepared in advance, the lemonade is best à l a minute, as we call it.

Chocolate Mousse and Mint Lemonade

Have a lovely day and stay refreshed in summer.

A Smart Gardener Cooks with Weeds

Bad weeds grow tall. Everyone owning and maintaining a garden knows what this means. Painfully. Apart from gardening in Dubai, there is a lot less weeds around thanks to hot climate. I have never seen the below described weed there. Lucky me! But anywhere else there is a constant fight against the ever growing weeds hiding between the beautiful flowers and plants we want to spread their leaves. Weeds just mingle and try to match as long as they are young. Later they take over your garden. This can happen before you know it. And then it becomes a big task to eliminate them. But necessary, if you wish your wanted plants to have space to breathe. I am sometimes undecided about so called weeds. They can be a delicious asset to the kitchen. Sometimes at least.
Gardeners for sure know ground-elder. It belongs to the carrot family and is named the worst weed ever for a garden.
BUT: It is edible! Ah, great idea: The smart gardener cooks with weeds. Organic weed management, ha!
Let’s eliminate it by heavy use in the kitchen then…I thought and yes, this works if you manage to use it often enough. Here is one recipe I like, with crispy fried ground-elder leaves. Fried their taste is really lovely. The raw leaves can be eaten in salads as long as they are young and tender. They have an earthy taste, matching well with anything of sweeter taste like sweet potatoes, carrots and pumpkin for example.
The picture shows ground-elder leaves with marigold blossoms, both picked for the following recipe. (You can see I am on summer holidays in my Bavarian home, and gardening. Sometimes.)

Pumpkin Soup with Fried Ground Elder and Marigold
2 Portions

What to Buy
200 g pumpkin, peeled, deseeded
1 small potato, peeled
1 carrot
1 onion, peeled
1 small piece of ginger, peeled
350 ml vegetable stock or water
75 ml cream, whipped
salt, pepper to taste
1 organic orange (juice and zest)
1/2 red chili, deseeded, chopped
1 good hand full of young ground elder leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 marigold blossoms for garnish

How to Make It

Cut the carrot, onion, potato, ginger and pumpkin into chunky pieces. Boil them for around 10 minutes in 250 ml water or vegetable stock until they are soft enough to puree. Blend water/stock and vegetable pieces to a creamy soup. It could be that you need a little bit more additional liquid to achieve the right texture. Then season the soup with salt and pepper. I often add a dash of orange juice and zest, and sometimes I love to add a little bit of fresh chili too. But this is my very personal taste. Without you get the milder version. Just try it….!
For the crispy ground-elder preheat a non stick pan. Fry the leaves in the hot oil for just a few seconds and pat dry them on a kitchen cloth. Note: The oil must not be too hot though, otherwise the leaves turn brown.
Garnish the soup with whipped cream, topped with crispy ground-elder and marigold blossoms.

Chef Gabi’s Tip

Ground elder has got some remarkable health benefits too: It can be used against rheumatic diseases, and strengthens kidneys and bladder. Overall it is said to activate our metabolism, helps to detox our system and provides us with chlorophyll and Vitamin C. Not bad for a so called “bad ” weed, isn’t it?

Stay healthy, balanced and enjoy life!