Friday, 24 February 2012

National Gallery food paintings

I have selected ten of my favourites painting in the London National Gallery that are related with food from the times of the big master painters.  They are food related masterpieces.

The Four Elements Room 11

In room 11 of the National Gallery you can find the masterpieces of Joachim Beuckelaer (1533–574) another Flemish painting where many of his painting include pictures of food and markets. The National Gallery since 2004 managed to have in the same room the series of The Four elements where the fish stall means water, the  butchers  fire, the earth is represented by the vegetables and a poultry stall in the market means air.

Still Life with Drinking-Horn Room 22

Williem Kalf painted a collection of exotic and opulent object with a great brilliance and depth of colour. A lobster , a drinking horn, a half peeled lemon look so real that you feel that you can start to cook with  them at any moment.

The Effects of Intemperance Room 22

Jan Steen started to paint landscapes but soon started to paint controversial scenes of the middle class influenced by the merrymaking that he saw at that time.  I like this picture because it shows a believed strict society under the alcohol effect  like the snoozing  woman or the old man in the back misbehaving with a young lady. The weakness of the elderly  encourages the misbehaving of the children. A scene that many modern families are still contemplating.   In room 27 is another Jan Steen picture where an oyster is used like a symbol of lust

A Poulterer's Shop Room 27

Gerrit Dou painting is around 1670, he specialised in genre scenes of his time like this poultry shop painted in very deep details like we feel we are inside the shop. The scene makes you think of those moments when you are in the fresh market and the owner  is telling you how is the best way to cook the hare or where the precious hare came from.

A Lady in a Garden with Children Room 33

Nicolas Lancret painted  the main figures to one  side of the picture to show us an almost pastoral scheme of the French aristocrat class before The Revolution. Pay attention to the little girl sipping chocolate and abandoned her doll in favour to join to an afternoon tea, something that any child will do even today, just change the doll for a console game and the setting for an Ikea kitchen.

La Fontaine Room 33

Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin was a Parisian  painter in the times of Louis XV, his paint works always reflect  simple domestic tasks with  very common household elements  that transport us to the times that a simple task like bringing water from the cistern wasn’t so easy like our days but painted with a  great pictorial harmony

Still Life with Lemons and Oranges Room 39

Still Life with Lemons and Oranges and Still Life with Oranges and Walnuts are two pictures of Luis Melendez recognized as one of the greatest European still-life painters. The Still Life series of Melendez show us the best product that Spain has been always to offer to the kitchens, painted with a precision that captures  all the texture of the fresh food and also of the oldtime kitchenware.

Still Life with Apples and a Pomegranate Room 41

Gustave Courbet (1819-77) was a French painter who led the Realist movement in 19th-century French painting that also had very clever quotes. Most of  the Still Life paintings were painted when  he was in prison, his sisters brought him fruit and flowers as subjects for his canvases. Many of these represent fruit  in landscape settings.

Bowl of Fruit and Tankard before a Window Room 45

This picture is believed to be an act of homage to a painting which Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) had acquired earlier, Cézanne's 'Still Life with Compotier, Glass and Apples' (Museum of Modern Art, New York). Gaugin instead paints the bowl of fruit in full details using the colours for pure decorative and emotional purposes with non-naturalistic approach of painting with  very simplified brush touches. At the time  he painted the picture he was living in Haiti, but is believed that the background town is based  on a picture of Pont-Aven

The Arnolfini Portrait Room 56

Perhaps this famous Jan Van Eyck portrait is not exactly a foodie’s one, but Jan Van Eyck is one of my favourites, the portrait is about an Italian merchant living in Bruges holding the hand of his young pregnant bride. In the mirror beneath is probably the reflection of Van Eyck, but if you are a real foodie you will notice the perfect orange fruit detail painting by the window a rare and prized delicacy.


Thursday, 23 February 2012

Quick Chorizo and chickpea stew

Traditional and nutritional Spanish stew in a quick way
Most of us really like a nice stew in those rainy and cold British winter days, but we need to admit they take long time to cook; most of the traditional stews take beforehand preparations, not very good for an idle mind like mine and then you have at least 2 hours of stewing.
So I created a quick stew recipe from the traditional Spanish stew mix of spinach and chickpeas.

You need x 4 Serves: 2 onions (peeled and almost minced) 2 garlic cloves (also minced) – 2 tomatoes (peeled and chopped) – 2 bay leaves – 70g pancetta (chopped ) – 150g Spanish chorizo (roughly chopped) – 250g fresh spinach (or frozen) – 1 x400g can of chickpeas (washed and rinsed) – 1tbsp Spanish mild paprika.

Using canned products is a great way to save time in your kitchen
1. Add  4 tbsp of olive oil in a saucepan with the minced garlic and onions, heat at a medium low heat for 7 minutes. Stir very often.
2. Meanwhile put the kattle on and wash the spinach under cold running water. Pour the hot water in a big bowl with a tbsp of salt. Move in the spinach for 1 minute. Then drain the spinach and set aside reserving 400ml of the water – you can use the remaining hot water to peel the tomatoes –
3. After 7 minutes add the pancetta and chorizo and cook for 3 minutes, then add the paprika, stir with a wooden spoon for 1 extra minute. Season with fresh ground pepper
4. Cover all the ingredients with the reserved water and wait until slowly bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes.
5. Then add the chickpeas and simmer for 3 extra minutes, then the spinach’s, cover the pan and further cook for 2 minutes. (if you like you can chop the spinach’s before the final cooking)
6. Season the stew with salt and pepper and serve in a soup dish.


Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Red blood oranges and Pink grapefruit a red temptation

Photo by ElvertBarnes
Red blood oranges

Soon blood oranges will be in season in the supermarkets taking the place of the bitter Seville oranges.  I am pretty sure that with the mild winter we had been having this year the blood oranges will be sweeter than ever.  Blood oranges nutritional benefits are the same as other oranges with plenty of Vitamin C for your day,  but the colour is not the only difference  the blood oranges give your body more anti-oxidants than other oranges. The Beta Carotene in this orange covers 2 per cent of your daily recommended Vitamin A intake, Beta carotene has been found to help protect against cancer and aging.
Choose Blood Oranges that are firm and heavy for size and Store in the fridge up to two weeks. The season starts now with the Ruby red blood oranges and finish in April with the even more vivid red flesh of the Sicily blood oranges that grow up in the foot of the Mount Etna.

Download the KitchenVoyage Food Season Calendar 2012

Pink grape 

Another citrus in season with a lively pink red colour that is so tempting in winter months. For all the citrus fruits for me this  this has the most peculiar flavour, a citric bitterness with an acid taste mix perfectly with the sweetness. Even though Vitamin C content is less than oranges a fresh juice of pink fruit made it with 2 pieces is enough to cover your vitamin c daily intake and has only 27kcal per 100g.The pink grape variety also has Beta Carotene that benefits your antioxidants levels. Like the red oranges beta carotene helps protect against cancer and ageing and also is well proven that antioxidants prevent cardiovascular diseases. Pink grape are in season until March, in the market pick those that are heavier for their size, that means that they are juicier. United States is the main producer of pink fruit, but if you live in Europe for minimalize the environmental cost pick those from Spain or Israel.

Red blood oranges ideas
Blood orange with soda By - luz -
1. Blood orange Campari x 2: Mix 100 ml blood orange juice with 60 ml Campari. Pour in the mix in 2 champagne glasses and top up with prosecco.

2. Blood orange smoothie x 2:  Mix in a blender 2 blood orange juice with a frozen banana and one apple (cored) and 1 tsp of honey. Blend and serve.

3. Grill Blood orange: Slice in half your blood orange, sprinkle each side with 1tsp icing sugar and a pinch of ground cinnamon. Grill until caramelised.

4. Blood orange sauce for salmon: In a low heat reduce by half 200ml of blood orange juice, then add 2 tsp of honey plus 40g butter. Shake the pan until the butter has melted. Spread over a couple of tbsp. of the sauce over your just cooked salmon fillet.

Pink fruit ideas
Pink grapefruit slice with sugar is a great breakfast. Photo by grongar
1. Pink grapefruit Campari cocktail: Shake 2 shots of Campari with 100 ml blood orange. Stir in 2 tsp of dark brown sugar. Shake again and serve!

2. Pink grapefruit smoothie: Juice 2 pink grapefruit. Remove the skin and the core from a 1kg pineapple and also juice. And juice 2 kiwis. Transfer to a blender and mix with 150g of frozen berries. Blend until smooth and serve.

3. Grill Pink grapefruit: Slice in half your grapefruit, sprinkle each side with 1tsp brown caster sugar and grill until caramelised.

4. Honey Pink grapefruit salad dressing: Half zest the grapefruit, then juice and transfer to a bowl. Mix 2 tsp of honey, and 1 tbsp of extra olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and add 1 tbsp of fresh chopped tarragon.

Download the KitchenVoyage Food Season Calendar 2012


Sunday, 19 February 2012

Pancake day recipes

Pancake´s Day. Photo by Brett

Pancake Day, Shrove Tuesday is a tradition in the U.K  when the country  makes delicious pancakes, traditionally served with sugar and lemon juice. It is often the case that pancake races are  held in the towns and villages and this year a Pancake Olympics was held here in Sussex at Littlehampton,  the winners receiving either a gold, silver, or bronze frying pan !

Quick pancake batter in just one step

Healthy pancake mix
You need: 1 egg – 250ml water – 250ml whole milk – 2tbsp sunflower oil – 2g salt – 250g plain flour.
1. In a blender put in all the ingredients, blend for 2 minutes and rest aside in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Apple pancake with raisins

London Pancake race. Photo by Martin Deutsch
You need : 3 green apples (peeled and cut in thin slices) – 50g caster sugar – 70g butter (softened) – 75ml rum
1. In a hot pan at medium heat melt 35g of the butter and add ¼ of the sliced apples. Cook for 1 minute,  then turn over the slices, cook the apples for another minute.
2. Then place the apples so that they don’t  pile up on each other and pour over the pancake batter until the apples are totally covered by.
3. After the first side is ready (aprox 90 sec) turn over the pancake and cook for another minute, and set aside until you cook the rest of pancakes repeating the procedure
4. Now in the same cleaned pan, melt 50g of sugar until start to caramelized and put over one of the pancakes. After a minute, remove the pancake and set in a serving plate and pour over a bit of hot rum. Repeat with the second pancake

Hungarian Pancakes

Hungarian pancakes with paprika sauce (Hortobágyi)
You need:  2 garlic cloves (crushed) – 500g minced beef – 1tbsp soya sauce – 1 ½ tbsp. Worcestershire sauce – 1 ½ sweet paprika – 170ml sour cream -1tsp plain flour – ½ beef stock cube in 100ml hot water -1/2 tsp caster sugar – 1 clove -  1 green pepper for garnish (chopped in matchsticks)

1. Heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a medium frying pan and fry the crushed garlic for 1 minute in a medium heat. Add the beef and both of the sauces; cook until the meat is all well brown.
2. Drain the juices in a bowl and set aside the beef. When cool down add 2 tbsp of sour cream.
3. In a second pan in a low heat add the meat juices and add the paprika. Stir in the remaining sour cream. With the plain flour. Stir very well.
4. Then add the beef stock, caster sugar and clove, let simmer in a low for 10 minutes. And season.
5. Meanwhile place the meat in the centre of the pancakes, and fold up the sides of the pancakes and make a roll. Heat them in a pan.
6.  When the pancakes are hot, serve in a plate and pour over the pink sauce (clove removed) with the green pepper matchstick like a really refreshing side dish. 

Chocolate hazelnut spread

You need: 50g hazelnuts – 2tbsp caster sugar – 200ml single cream – 2oog dark chocolate (finely chopped)
1. In a food processor blend the chocolate and hazelnuts with 1 tbsp of caster sugar.
2. In a sauce pan at medium heat pour in the cream with the remaining sugar and bring just to boil. Reduce the heat and add the chocolate and hazelnut mix. Stir with a wooden spoon until smooth.
3. Spread over the pancakes