Wednesday, 25 April 2007

The Heart of the Matter #3-the announcement

So here we go again: the third announcement of The Heart of the Matter and this month's theme is pasta. Simple and something we eat a lot of already so invent a new dish or post an old favourite, the criteria here is that it is heart healthy, it has to be low on animal fats so try to forget about butter and cream and fat cheeses and go for lean meat, vegetables, nuts and grains. I think that this month's theme must be one of the easiest ones for making a heart healthy dish actually because pasta is such a great canvas to paint on and I really hope that this month I will see a lot of new participants so all of you who have so far been a bit intimidated by the themes or by the fact that you have to follow certain 'rules', this time you can't fail, with for example pasta, vegetables and olive oil you just can't go wrong. If you feel uncertain about ingredients, check out Joanna's list here or the links here on The Heart of the Matter blog. Remember that you are doing yourself a great favour when you eat heart healthy food and if you participate in the HotM you do the whole community a favour because all the roundups are collected here at the HotM blog so that it in the end becomes a permanent recipe base to go where you need inspiration for your heart healthy cooking. I have already started and here's my first entry to The Heart of the Matter. You can send me as many entries you want, just remember to link to Lucullian Delights or to the HotM blog so that your readers can see what it's all about in case they are interested and that we want one event entries. This time the roundup will be at Lucullian (and here of course) so please send the link to your entry to me at i_beretta AT yahoo DOT it, the last day is the 22 of May so you have plenty of time to come up with nice pasta dishes (n.b. the plural ending).

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

RoundUp 2: puddings

First of all, a huge apology to all American bloggers who were confused by my use of the word pudding rather than dessert. It's what I've always called the sweet course of a meal ... only now I've looked it up, and I see that, these days, I rarely eat pudding, mostly dessert.

This is how the two-volume Shorter Oxford Dictionary defines pudding: a preparation of food of a soft or moderately firm consistency, in which the ingredients, animal or vegetable, are either mingled in a farinaceous basis, or are enclosed in a farinaceous crust, and cooked by boiling or steaming. Preparations of batter, milk and eggs, rice, sago, and other farinaceous substances, suitably seasoned, and cooked by baking, are now also called puddings.

Dessert, on the other hand, is: a course of fruit, sweetmeats, etc served after a dinner or supper; the last course at an entertainment. In US often including pies etc.

Yet another way in which the English language has diverged: you say tomato and I say tomato, you say potato ...

And whatever we call it, there are lots of new ideas for everyone to try. The interesting thing is that almost all of them use fruit as a basis. No-one has explored the possibility of dark chocolate as a healthy treat - perhaps it's because we all secretly think of chocolate as an unhealthy indulgence?

Chris at Mele Cotte sings the praises of pineapple because its micro-nutrients contain clot-buster, as well as cancer-beating properties. She serves it with a great yoghurt sauce flavoured with vanilla, honey and a little balsamic.

Ilva at Lucullian Delights has given us several delicious ideas in her determination to set up a really useful bank of heart-healthy recipes at Heart of the Matter .. her first recipe is the essence of summer, a cold melon soup, as usual served up with her beautiful photographs.

Do you believe in miracles? Marcela at Pip in the City thinks you will if you try her creamy fat- and sugar-free ice-cream that's low in calories and high on taste. Just take two bananas and - well you'd better check it out for yourself.

Next, I posted a few ideas for pepping up fruit, when you're fed up with fruit salad ... chargrilled and glazed with honey, roasted, or poached in cassis.

My friend Doodles at Peanut Butter Etouffe has posted an angel food cake with raspberry coulis. AFC is one of those recipes that anyone interested in healthy heart cookery should know about, because it uses only the egg whites, which cuts out all the saturated fat in an egg. It's not that you shouldn't eat whole eggs at all, it's just that you shouldn't eat too many. Anyway, Doodles has come up with a really scrummy pud (sorry!).

In Lisa's kitchen you'll find little lemon sponge puddings, her recipe is for two individual servings, lovely and light with beaten egg white (although I'd need to tweak out the melted butter, as that's a total no-no for my husband's diet).

Pineapple is on the menu at Jumbo Empanadas, where Brilynn has created a scrumptious pineapple frozen yoghurt ... she uses an ice-cream maker, but it looks as if it'll work just as well without one (I hope so, anyway!).

When I was at school, we used to get a particularly horrid pink rubbery pudding which was called blancmange, and which I couldn't ever eat. Ilva's wonderful, wobblingly-barely-set blancmange - biancomangiare - flavoured with cardammom and served with a strawberry sauce is a world away from my early memories, and I'm going to try it just as soon as there are some English strawberries in the supermarket.

You just knew Victoria at Ooh Cake in Melbourne would come up with something interesting - after all, she says that dessert's the whole point of the meal really. She's homesick, so she's posted pulut hitam, a malay dessert that she says is quite similiar to a soup.

Tapioca is another of those things I would never have thought of eating because of really bad childhood memories. So I'm really grateful to Helen at Tartelette for posting this great layered tapioca raspberry verrine. Not even a hint of school food!

Back to Joanna's Food for two ways to make lemon creams using 0% Greek yoghurt. I started off thinking of 0% Greek yog as a substitute for cream, or even for "regular" Greek yoghurt; now, I'd never consider using anything else - it's thick, creamy and sharp, with none of that cloying sweetness you get from cream.

And talking of yoghurt, look at what Ilva's done - her saffron yoghurt with spicy honey comes with puffed quinoa. She says it's not really a recipe, but I reckon it is: I wouldn't have thought of this particular delicious combination of spices.

Lydia at My Kitchen came back to Sydney from her holiday with some strawberries she had picked herself. So she made little strawberry puddings. I particularly liked the one with the hidden strawberry in the middle!

Christine Cooks has a great recipe for strawberry in raspberry wine with goat's milk yoghurt. And she gives us a great reason for eating it: Strawberries are low in calories, packed with fiber, Vitamin C, folate, potassium and antioxidants such as ellagic acid. Research has shown that eating about 8 strawberries a day can significantly lower systolic blood pressure, which may reduce the risk of heart disease associated with high blood pressure. She's also the only contributor to this event who even mentions chocolate - check it out!

Rebecca at Saucy in the Kitchen was inspired to create a passionfruit sorbet after tasting her friend Annie's passionfruit mousse, laden with cream, condensed milk, eggs and gelatin (not friendly to vegetarians). This one's quick and easy to make - and her mom said it was good!

Next is my light version of Eton Mess, another pudding using strawberries (although you can use raspberries, too). I was inspired to make it after a visit to Eton to watch my son Alfred play cricket there on Saturday. It's always a huge hit, particularly with children, who also like making it - all that crumbling the meringues!

At Brown Bag Blues, Janelle gives recipes to put in the children's lunch bag. So for this Heart of the Matter event, it's no surprise she's come up with a "portable" pudding - strawberry bars your kids can make. Actually, you can use any kind of jam you like, but her family likes strawberry best.

Mia at Nosh has made us warm whole lemon and almond pudding with fresh raspberries - it's a Gary Rhodes recipe that starts by boiling the lemons - just like Claudia Roden's orange cake which I often make. So I can't wait to try this. And as Mia says, it contains mostly almonds, which are high in monounsaturated fats, the same type of health-promoting fats found in olive oil, and are associated with reduced risk of heart disease ... and ... whole, organic lemons which contain unique compounds that have antioxidant and anti-cancer properties, not to mention being a great source of Vitamin C.

Tanna's spectacular banana pudding takes thirty minutes to cook from scratch, and she takes you through all the steps, with photographs all the way. Sounds great. No wonder her blog's called My Kitchen in Half Cups - Second Helpings!

Thanks to all of you who participated - together we really are building a resource for all those who want to think about heart-healthy food, either just this once, or as a way of life. You'll find this post at Joanna's Food too

PS I forgot to say: next month it's pasta dishes, and Ilva is doing the roundup ... so start thinking about your healthy-heart pasta sauces, and send them to Ilva at Lucullian Delights by 22nd May ... you'll find all the details on her blog, and I know she's already planning her first HotM3 post!

Thursday, 5 April 2007


To answer an American English speaker's question: all desserts! Pudding is just a British English way of describing it, don't ask me why!

Monday, 2 April 2007

Calling all pudding-makers! HOTM 2

Now that April's here, it's time to announce the second round of Heart of the Matter, after all your fabulous finger food creations. This time, it's puddings.

It might seem as if there's something inherently contradictory about healthy desserts, as a lot of the point of pudding is self-indulgence. But indulgence doesn't have to come laden with saturated fat - think of a meringue or pavlova with raspberries and a dollop of 0% Greek yoghurt (I love that little sharpness, so much nicer than the sickly sweetness of cream). Great for a party. What about a plate of sliced oranges with a crunchy caramel thrown over the top? Or a fruit salad strewn with passionfruit seeds?

As you'll see from those ideas, fruit features large in my pudding ideas. But, like lots of cooks, I'm stuck in a rut ... so I'm longing to hear all your ideas - it's always seemed to me that food bloggers are at their most enthusiastic when it's puds and baking.

The last day to send me (joannacary AT ukonline DOT co DOT uk) your entry is Sunday 22nd April. Please remember to link here, and that we want only one-event entries. And I'll post the roundup here and on the Heart of the Matter website later that week. I'll look forward to hearing from you ...