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Category Archives: brunch

Roasted Chickpeas and Veggies

Some people might call it pure laziness. Some could call it procrastinating. I would call it hibernating. That’s what I’ve been doing recently. No activities whatsoever.

To do it well you have to be determined. You mind have to be set. It’s not like anyone could just easily do it, you know.

What do you need to do it well? A few essentials:

  1. Cosy blanket.
  2. Easy to make and warming dish.
  3. Films.

In my hibernation faze I mostly roast. Not much effort, maximum satisfaction.

roasted chickpeas and veggies

roasted chickpeas and veggies

Roasted Chickpeas and Veggies

  1. Use any veggies you have or like – florets of cauliflower or broccoli, diced sweet potato or butternut squash, chopped kale, etc. Put them on the roasting pan with cooked chickpeas (or rinsed and drained tinned ones). Pour olive oil and mix well. Sprinkle with salt and mild chilli powder. Roast in the pre-heated oven (180C) for abut 20-30 minutes.
  2. Dress it with the splash of lemon or lime and a drizzle of tahini, add any roasted nuts you like. Keep on hibernating.

Now films. There are a few I have seen recently which I really enjoyed.

  1. ‘Inherent Voice’. Really atmospheric but weird film based in the 70s, directed by Anderson, packed with good actors. Cinematography by Robert Elswit – amazing.
  2. ‘The Gambler’. I have real anger issues, so I like watching Mark Walberg, as quite often I’m being called a female version of him.
  3. ‘Big Eyes’. ‘It was good living in the 50s if you were a man’. Exactly….I can watch anything done by Tim Barton.
  4. ‘Magic in the Moonlight’. Not as good as some of Woody Allen’s films, but anything by Woody Allen is on a certain level which some people never reach, so there.

I could go on, as there was a lot of hibernating in my part in the last two weeks. But let’s leave it here for now. See you next week.

roasted chickpeas and veggies

Soba ‘chow mein’

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soba 'chow main'

soba ‘chow mein’

soba 'chow main'

soba ‘chow mein’

Isn’t that weird when a song comes on the radio and you are thinking of a film the song was in? Or maybe it’s just me.

Recently a song made me think of ‘Something Wild’.

And I had to watch it again for the zillionth time.

What’s not to like, it’s a great film. If you have a boring life and boring job you would probably love to meet Lulu, have a school reunion similar to hers and a crazy afternoon of drink driving, stealing and motel delights…

It’s one of the best for Ray Liotta and Jeff Daniels. And for me it carries this amazing vibe, it always makes me long for summer and adventure, makes me want to pack my bags and find my way across the country. Also fills me with nostalgia. It is really weird, but films like that make me feel like I miss my childhood, which I don’t, as mine was more like ‘Mommy Dearest’ than ‘The Wonder Years’. But that’s the magic of cinema…

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You wouldn’t expect what I felt like eating with it…Nothing soaked with whiskey or topped with ice cream. Noodles! I know, random, but that’s one of the bloggers Paul S. fault – he was questioning me why I didn’t pick noodles for ‘Blade Runner’ and since then I couldn’t stop thinking of chow mein. This is a healthier version than your usual takeaway….

Soba ‘Chow Mein’:

soba noodles

2 carrots, grated

2 cups chopped Chinese leaf cabbage

1-2 cm ginger, grated

spring onions, chopped (1/2 cup)

1 small chilli chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tbsp toasted sesame oil

For the sauce:

1 tsp honey or agave syrup

2 tbsp tamari

1 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tsp teriyaki

1. Heat sesame oil in a pan. Add ginger and chilli. Stir and fry for 4-5 minutes. Add carrots, cabbage and half of the spring onions (whiter bits). Fry on a medium heat till tender.

2. In the meantime cook soba noodles and make the sauce. Add noodles and sauce to your vegetables, mix well, fry for another 2 minutes. Serve with a sprinkle of the remaining spring onions.

DSC06906

Grilled Polenta with Mushrooms

Have you ever had that spooky experience in your life, when once you start thinking of one thing it comes to you in bunches? Let me elaborate…

In my last post I mentioned Hemingway. Around the same time I started reading a book by Naomi Woods ‘Mrs Hemingway’. It is a marvelous book taking you through all Hemingway’s marriages from his wives’ perspective. I loved it, it’s beautifully written, I really enjoyed reading it and I don’t even like Hemingway.

The other thing I never had an interest in was Florida. Never desired to go there, see it, couldn’t understand people’s fascination with it. In my mind it was the area ridden by hurricanes, alligators and pensioners.

After reading Naomi Woods book I sort of had and urge to go there. The way she described Hemingway and Fife’s (wife no 2) house in Key West, relaxed life in the sun with the occasional storm (especially when Hemingway brought Martha Gellhorn to dinner) made me want to have a daiquiri on a balcony of a house like that.

hemingway-ext-front

And then Netflix released a new series called Bloodline.

It’s also located in Key West. It’s dark, moody, packed with brilliant cast.In one series you have Sissy Spacek, Sam Shepard, Chloe Sevigny, Linda Cardellini. About Linda, here’s another spooky coincidence – a few days ago Boyfriend and me watched ‘Freaks and Geeks’ after Boyfriend admitted he had never watched it, and there was Linda Cardellini. I started wondering what she’s been doing as I haven’t seen her in anything, and then – bang!- she’s on Bloodline…

But the person who steals the show to me is Ben Mendelsohn as a black sheep in a family. He is so believable, so natural. At the beginning you see him as a loser, but as the plot progresses you start to see the vulnerability and how much more to him there is. I am in awe of his performance and I hope there is an Emmy waiting for him this year.

BLOODLINE

bloodlines

As I said, it is located in Key West, and the way it is shot, the beautiful light, sandy beaches, even rain and storm makes you want to jump on the plain and go there. Weird.

I can never refuse to watch anything about dysfunctional families because it feels so close to home, but also gives me comfort in a ‘you’re not alone in this’ kind of way. After all as Lev Tolstoy said: ‘All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

To match it all with a perfect dish I had to make something sunny and sort of mediterranean.

grilled polenta with mushrooms

grilled polenta with mushrooms

Grilled Polenta with Mushrooms

(serves 2)

3 cups vegetable stock

1 cup polenta

1/2 cup grated vegetarian parmesan (optional)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp rice oil

1 leek

2 cloves garlic

1/2 tsp hopped chilli

300g chestnut mushrooms

1 tbsp chopped thyme

1 tsp marsala wine or port (optional, can be replaced with a dash of balsamic vinegar)

chopped parsley

salt

pepper

1. Start with heating up vegetable stock. When it’s boiling, turn the heat down and add polenta stirring vigorously so it will stay smooth without lumps. Wait till it starts to thicken, add parmesan (if using).

2. Transfer cooked polenta into a square dish. Leave to cool.

3. When polenta is cool, transfer it onto a chopping board and cut into squares.

4. Heat the grill pan. Add a bit of rice oil and fry polenta in batches.

5. In the meantime heat olive oil in a frying pan. Add chopped garlic and chilli. Fry until softened.

6. Add chopped leek and fry on a low heat till soft. Add mushrooms and turn the heat up a bit. Fry until mushrooms are golden. Add wine if using, thyme, salt and pepper.

7. Serve polenta with the mushrooms on top and a sprinkle of parsley.

grilled polenta with mushrooms

grilled polenta with mushrooms

 

grilled polenta with mushrooms

grilled polenta with mushrooms

 

Soba Noodles

I have never understood the obsession people have with New Year’s resolutions…What’s that all about?

If I was one of those people my resolution for a new year would be to do less and rest more, watch as many films as I can, read as many books as I can, and do nothing in between…Perfect.

Although I understand that people feel a bit heavier after Christmas, a bit more depressed. January is a long month, you’ve spent all the money you had (or didn’t have) around holiday season. It’s dark most of the time outside (unless you live in the southern hemisphere). You spent too much time with your family (some of you were asked too many times when you are going to get married, some of you ‘why don’t you have a baby yet’, etc.) So now it’s the time for something totally different.

Do I have just the right treat for you??? I mean, come on, we are talking simplicity, style, taste and an oriental, zen-like approach here.

Firstly two words: Takeshi Kitano.

Absolute genius and master of cinema. My sister and I watched his films obsessively.

Many years ago at one of the film festivals I went to, I had the pleasure of seeing ‘Hana-bi’. It’s left me in awe to this day. It’s a really powerful film, visually and emotionally.

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The main character, Nishi (played by Kitano) leaves the police after a terrible accident which left his partner wheelchair-bound. He also needs to take care of his ill wife. The film is very Japanese. Non verbal communication is very important. Nishi doesn’t exchange many words with his wife, but you can feel so many emotions between them, so much love, it makes your chest feel all tight.

There’s also a complete lack of the western type of violence – no 5 minute-long-fights, name calling, sweat and blood before actually killing someone. Oh no. There’s violence, but different –  precise and unglamourized, shocking and sudden, very realistic. The scenes of violence are short and well directed, they leave you completely shaken. The rest of the film is beautifully shot with static scenes. As a part of dichotomy there are scenes with Nishi’s partner who starts painting after the accident. His work is gentle and peaceful. Funnily enough, it was painted by Kitano himself after he had an accident.

I don’t want to say too much about the film to spoil it for you, but if you haven’t watched it already, now is the time. I remember a few of my friends didn’t get the gentle humour, and the way it was filmed, but if you love Japanese culture, you will fall in love with this one. And I don’t believe you have to understand Japanese customs, politeness, dichotomy of beauty and ugliness to enjoy it. Just have an open mind.

To pair it with, something simple but oh-so-delicious and gluten free (as it is made of buckwheat)…

Soba Noodles

soba noodles

soba noodles

soba noodles

1/2 cucumber, diced

2 tbsp black toasted sesame seeds

For the sauce:

bunch of spring onions, chopped

ginger (2 cm) grated

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tbsp coriander, chopped

2 tbsp toasted sesame oil

1 tsp chopped chili

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp rice vinegar

1 tsp honey

1/2 lime juice

1tsp tahini

1 tsp miso

1. Mix all the sauce ingredients in a bowl. Leave it for 15 minutes for the flavours to develop.

2. Boil soba noodles. Before you drain them, heat your sauce gently in a non-stick pan. Add noodles, sesame seeds and cucumber. Mix well and enjoy!

soba noodles

soba noodles

soba noodles

soba noodles

soba noodles

soba noodles

 

Buckwheat with roasted butternut squash

If you have ever watched ‘Fast Show’, you probably remember Jesse and his dietary updates. Well, if I was Jesse, you would see me coming out of the shed to tell you that ‘this week I have been mostly eating buckwheat’. For those not familiar with Jesse, here’s a quick introduction.

Oh, how I am delighted that buckwheat has finally made its way onto the British table and became fashionable among healthy food devotees! Ten years ago you couldn’t get it anywhere in UK. I remember going back to Poland after a year of living in England, and my sister made me dinner which involved buckwheat…it was emotional, let me tell you.

But then things changed. First thank to the Poles Invasion, a lot of Polish shops opened everywhere and you could always find lovely buckwheat there. The only problem is, the most popular way in Poland is to have it roasted and that doesn’t go well with Boyfriend. Fortunately, thanks to a healthy movers and shakers and bloggers, now you can get unroasted buckwheat in buckets. And because I love it (and maybe because I feel stressed, which makes me worry about loosing magnesium, which leads me to desire food rich in magnesium), I have been eating it almost every day recently….

When you have a dish reminding you of your roots, your obvious choice for a film to pair it with is something about coming-of-age. Something to remind you of how much of a pain in the neck your family is.

Last summer the apple of my eye recommended a film which I fell in love with – ”The Way  Way Back’.

THE WAY, WAY BACK

It’s a story about a teenage boy spending his summer vacation in a beach house with his mother, her obnoxious boyfriend and his daughter. Sounds normal so far, but let me tell you, it is not your boring holiday tale. I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t watched it, but I can highlight a few things which make the film one of the best I have seen recently.

1. Cast. So many great actors, cast beautifully. Spoiler: Steve Carell plays a real bastard.

2. Dialogs. I almost cried with laughter. Witty, perfectly timed and delivered.

3. Nostalgia. For some reason it leaves you with that feeling, although you wouldn’t like to go back to your childhood and the dysfunctional family. Weird.

The whole dynamic of the film and the atmosphere is just astonishing, considering that it was Nat Faxon and Jim Rash’ directing debut.

And now back to the pairing dish.

buckwheat with roasted butternut squash

buckwheat with roasted butternut squash

Buckwheat With Roasted Butternut Squash:

1 1/2 cup buckwheat

butternut squash

3-4 tbsp cold pressed  rapeseed oil

1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

sea salt

pepper

1. Peel the squash, cut into cubes. Spread it onto a baking tray, coat with oil, sprinkle with rosemary, salt and pepper. Bake in 170C  till soft and just turning golden. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and bake for another 5 minutes.

2. In the meantime cook buckwheat. Add 2 cups of water to the buckwheat with a pinch of salt, simmer for about 20-25 minutes.

3. When buckwheat is cooked, add it to butternut squash, serve on a bed of rocket.

buckwheat with roasted butternut squash

buckwheat with roasted butternut squash

buckwheat with roasted butternut squash

buckwheat with roasted butternut squash

buckwheat with roasted butternut squash

buckwheat with roasted butternut squash

 

 

Tex-Mex Tomato Soup

 

tex mex soup

tex-mex tomato soup

 

Autumn is the time when most of your old friends come back to your house to visit. And by that I mean TV series. Who would have thought 20 years ago that TV can broadcast  interesting, intelligent shows. There was only Twin Peaks to save our faith. But then things changed. HBO takes the blame. Sopranos, Six Feet Under, The Wire, things started spicing up.

Sometimes I feel like I have to book time off  from work just to catch up. Don’t tell anyone, but that’s what I’m doing sometimes. How otherwise I would be able to go through 3 series of Games of Thrones in 2 weeks?

And what House of Cards did to me? I’ve never stayed up till 2 am and watched something for 8 hrs straight before…Bloody Netflix! ‘Next episode will start in 10 seconds’, in old days you had to wait a week, and I can’t say no to Kevin Spacey…

Even when things go wrong and I feel down, I never can be suicidal because there are too many films and series to watch, too many books to read…Homeland is back, and I know last series wasn’t as good as the first one, but I feel so attached to a girl who’s a bi-polar FBI agent, that I can’t resist a bit of têteàtête with her…and there is so many I can’t wait for: Hannibal, The Fall, Mad Men, and magnificent True Detective….

Yesterday I was woken up by  wind and heavy rain.  Ahh, how I love weather like this. It’s a perfect background to watching films and warming yourself with some spicy, comforting food.

That’s how one find themselves making tex-mex soup…

Tomato Tex-Mex Soup:

2 l vegetable stock or water and 2 organic vegetable stock cubes

1 bunch coriander

1 medium hot chili

2 cloves garlic

1 shallot or 1/2 red onion

2 cans of chopped tomatoes or 3 cups of fresh chopped tomatoes

salt and pepper

avocado

lime juice

corn tortillas (one per person)

vegetable or rice oil

1. Heat the vegetable stock or water with cubes and bunch of coriander stems tied together with a string (so it will be easier to take them out later).

2. In a second pot heat 2 tbsp oil, add chopped shallot or onion. Let it sweat for 3-5 min. Add chopped garlic and chopped, deseeded chili. Saute for another 3-5 min. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper and simmer for 20-30 min.

3. Carefully whizz the tomato mixture in a blender. Take the coriander stocks out of the vegetable stock, stir in blended tomatoes. Cook on low heat for another 10-15 min. Add chopped coriander leaves.

4. In the meantime, chop avocado and mix it with lime juice. Cut corn tortillas into 1cm ribbons. Heat 2tbsp oil in a frying pan, fry ribbons in small batches till they are crispy. (If you prefer them less oily, spread the ribbons on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for a few minutes. They will become crispy but not as delicious as the fried ones).

5. Pour the soup into a bowl, add avocado and tortilla ribbons, serve. Now, I love avocado, but you can replace it with black or red beans to give your soup a little substance, you can even top it up with corn if you like.

tex-mex tomato soup

 

tex-mex tomato soup

tex-mex tomato soup

 

Panzanella

Panzanella

Panzanella

Continuing with the salad, I have got another favorite: panzanella. It’s an Italian type of salad, which takes its name from bread. The reason is simple – it’s made with bread.

To make it you will need stale bread; my personal choice is ciabatta. It’s fine just as it is, but you can fry little chunks in olive oil or roast it in the oven till its golden brown. Apart from bread you need vegetables. Any you fancy, but tomatoes are essential.

Panzanella

Panzanella

Panzanella

1 small ciabatta cut into cubes

3-4 tomatoes

1/3 cucumber

1 yellow pepper

1/2 cup olives

1/4 cup capers

fresh basil

4 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp lemon

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper

1. Cut everything into chunks. You can add garlic or onion or any vegetable you have. Mix everything. Prepare dressing by mixing olive oil, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar. You can replace the vinegar with wine if you prefer. Add salt and pepper.

2. Add fresh basil to the salad, mix with the dressing. Let the bread soak all the juices before you serve.

Now, to serve it with, I’m going to recommend a film you’ve probably never heard of. If you have, you might think I’m crazy, but in my opinion, it’s going to work.

The film is called ‘Ugly, Dirty and Bad’. I can’t even tell you what it’s about, the title says it all. If you are tired of watching films about polished families and well behaving children, it’s a film for you. My favorite scene is when the wife is trying to poison her husband with the little help of the family members…so inspiring…

I don’t want to spoil it, so just watch it with panzanella and enjoy it. You won’t regret it.

Ugly, Dirty and Bad

Ugly, Dirty and Bad