Photo: A basic Spanish tortilla is usually made with eggs, potato and onion. Here is a version of that traditional dish that I made yesterday for my husband’s main meal. Four eggs, one pan-fried, diced potato; shredded Parmesan cheese, bits of brie and small, whole tomatoes were used to make this individual serving.
Beaten eggs are added to a diced, sautéed potato in a cast-iron pan; cheese and roasted small tomatoes are added, then after cooking for one or two minutes to firm-up the bottom, the whole pan goes under a broiler until the eggs are puffed and lightly browned on top.
Below: Grape-sized tomatoes are roasted in an oiled cast-iron pan, first on the stove and then for a few minutes in the oven under a broiling-flame. This process allows tomatoes to become concentrated in flavour, while making them easier to eat when incorporated into an egg dish. ~ Copyright 2018 ©M-J de Mesterton
Day-old bread is sliced and moistened in milk and/or cream, then sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon before being slowly baked in a low-temperature oven. This is the simple formula; every Scandinavian who makes this traditional toast or “cinnamon rusks” has his or her own technique. Cinnamon toast is a popular accompaniment to coffee. Scandinavian coffee is typically brewed “strong” using light-to-medium roasted beans. My Swedish grandparents had this traditional combination of cinnamon toast (kanelskorpor) and coffee every morning, though they did not make it themselves as I do. I sometimes use home-made brioche loaf for this purpose, as it produces a very light cinnamon toast or kanelskorpor.
©M-J de Mesterton
Above: M-J de Mesterton in a Tibbett Duffel Coat of Elysian Wool, Insulated Aigle Boots from France; a Mongolian Cashmere Scarf by Johnstons of Elgin, Scotland; a White Fox Hat Made in Helsinki; a Plaid Tweed Skirt, Black Leather Cashmere-Lined Gloves from Italy, and a Walking Stick Made of Scotch Broom
PUBLISHED in DECEMBER, 2016: Wear warm clothes when it’s cold outside and inside. The days of women showing their bare arms year-round just because an occupant of the White House does it to show off her biceps are coming to a close in about three weeks. The current president has, since 2009, kept the oval office at a balmy 85° year-round, as though he were in Hawai’i, while instructing the citizenry to “tighten your belts”. The rest of us, if we have heat at all, keep our places at 68° or even cooler, thanks to the punitive cost of fuel.
Above: on Christmas Day, I’m wearing a turtleneck under a round-necked dress, nylon stockings, a silk & cashmere pashmina, and faux-fur-lined tall leather boots. Most winter days, I’d be wearing tweed and sweaters.
Rugged, traditional, and elegant tweed made from Scottish wool is the best material for fall and winter dressing. Easily covered with a trench-coat or embellished with a pashmina or long wool scarves, tweed will keep you warm and dry. Tweed suits, skirts, trousers and jackets are always fashionable.
My husband and I found it odd, if not historically-incorrect, to see the inhabitants of Downton Abbey wearing sleeveless flapper dresses all over the huge, inevitably cold and difficult-to-heat house, at all hours, without wraps or sweaters. Those dresses were made to be worn at nightclubs while dancing the Charleston, where hyper-activity and body-heat of the crowd made it possible to stay warm while baring arms.
Dining at Downton: thanks to cocktails, aperitifs and wines, scantily-clad ladies there could abide the evening without shivering. Or maybe not; Ralph Lauren designed wardrobes for the series, and may have just assumed that women dressed like flappers in most situations because it was the Roaring Twenties. I doubt that 1920s women were so silly, but there have always been nonsensical followers of fashion, like the ones who are now wearing peep-toed shoes without stockings all winter long in cold climates. My grandmother, who was born in the Victorian Age, told me that to be beautiful, one must suffer–I know that freezing’s not what she meant. Even body-heat from large groups at table does not take the chill off England’s grand country houses for most months of the year; shoulders are usually covered with something at dinner, such as a little fur garment or shawl that could be removed later in the evening for dancing. And no self-respecting woman would be standing about the house during winter in just a sleeveless gown.
Speaking of winter dressing and silly followers of fashion, here is a post that I made here at Elegant Survival News in December, 2011:
From 2011: Why is the anchorwoman wearing a sleeveless summer dress in cold NYC on December 6th? Are biceps something that female talking heads suddenly find a crying need to bare, even in freezing temperatures? Are they using too much energy, in an effort to keep tropically warm indoors? Is it seasonally appropriate to wear bare-toed shoes on wintry days, as the woman in red is doing, or sandals (the first lady wore sandals at a Kennedy Center gala last weekend) in December? I don’t think so. These women are on a national television show, displaying their irresponsible, energy-inefficient lifestyles before the public, as if to say that a size XXX carbon-footprint is desirable. The rest of us are wearing wool and tweed, living in homes with little-or-no heat most of the time.
2016: I hadn’t gone shopping in a while, so when I came upon these grapes and jalapeño peppers at Albertson’s a month ago, they seemed normal at first. At home, they looked larger than life all of a sudden, like the Grapes that Took Over the World, and Jalapeños as Big as Texas. They may be genetically-modified (in fact, I’d put money on it). Yeah, them grapes were slightly smaller than golf-balls, and twenty years ago women would have been runnin’ scared at the sight of ’em. Those peppers ain’t just big, they are hotter than Hades. Talk about getting more bang for your buck–for all I know, the whole lot is deadly poison. Sure as shootin’, I am not going back to that store for more. The chicken breasts we bought there were just enormous, probably from a fowl critter named Dolly (in honor of the lamb created in a lab, not the huge-breasted singer, Ms Parton).
After poaching and frying those pieces of chicken, having spent more than an hour in the process, we were stunned at the foam-rubber texture of the alien meat. The animals had to have been pumped full of SOMETHING unnatural to make their breasts as large as those of turkeys and render their flesh absolutely inedible. My husband, who had innocently ordered the stuff at Albertson’s butcher counter, brought all the chicken back for a full refund. Don’t let grocery stores ruin your meals–make sure the chicken you purchase is of normal size. Good thing we did not unwittingly serve this faux fowl to guests. That would have been ruinous!~~M-J
And now, the eternal question: which came first, the funky chicken enhanced by hormones, or the FREAK EGG?
UPDATE: IT’S NOW 2017, and menswear has become steadily worse in the past seven years. Here’s a video that makes me nostalgic for the kooky clothing of 1966, when I was eleven–people then looked better than they do today–but, it also demonstrates that following fashion blindly is utter folly:
Christmas cookies, adapted from a 1950s recipe by Antoinette Pope (The Antoinette Pope School of Cookery). I’ve been enjoying these since I was a child. Here are the ingredients:
One half-pound of butter
Two and a half cups of flour
One cup of powdered sugar
One tablespoon of milk (full-fat, of course)
One teaspoon of vanilla
One egg yolk mixed with two tablespoons of cream (to brush on top, as a base for sprinkles–adds nice flavor, believe it or not)
If you are going to use icing and a piping bag to decorate these Christmas cookies, skip this.
The ingredients, except for the egg yolk and cream, are mixed together and rolled out to a quarter (1/4) inch thickness. Then cookie-cutters are employed; the things are brushed with egg yolk/cream and sprinkled with colored sugar. I prefer Swedish pärlsokker, or white pearl sugar. Transfer the cut-out cookies to an upside-down cookie-sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
Large address labels and felt pens were used by M-J to make the contents of these elegant olive oil bottles easily identifiable. The original labels (as on the new bottle at left) of two empty containers were soaked-off in a sink half-full of very hot water. This trio of full bottles sits on the counter, ready for use on salads, cooking (a few drops of olive oil may be all you need to fry an egg) , drinking (add a teaspoon of cider vinegar to your water-glass in the morning and/or evening for enhanced health) and spot-cleaning (wipe-down windows, appliances and counters with a few drops of white vinegar). These particular vessels came with optional spouts, which make dispensing small amounts of liquid quick and easy. ©M-J de Mesterton 2018
A red pepper bottle from which the label has easily been soaked-off is pretty enough to leave on the table with your favourite salt-shaker. To me, the ubiquitous bar-code on labels is an awful thing to see, therefore, in spite of this particular spice bottle label being tasteful and attractive, the entire thing had to go.A large, beautiful green glass olive oil bottle is now living a new life as a cider vinegar dispenser, for which I made a label with white paper tape, coloured art-pens, and clear packaging tape (these high-quality olive oil bottles come with stoppers strapped to their necks that one can install for ease-of-use, instead of the original bottle-caps). This is a great way to have your “oil & vinegar” at hand.
©M-J de Mesterton, November 2018
As Mrs Bucket would say: “It’s Bouquet!” HAPPY HALLOWE’EN, or ALL SAINTS’ DAY
I’m calling these two eggs “freestyle” because they were lightly fried to so-called “over-easy” level, but very uncooperative when I attempted to flip them with my spatula. The eggs are accompanied on this plate by purple (“red”) onions sautéed in butter with serrano chile peppers, and a bit of labneh (strained yoghurt) which is sprinkled with cayenne pepper. Adding a freestyle shake of Himalayan salt, I consider it a low-carb, highly-nutritious breakfast. ©M-J de Mesterton
While antioxidant nutrients are found in most WHFoods, it’s the diversity of antioxidants in pumpkin seeds that makes them unique in their antioxidant support. Pumpkin seeds contain conventional antioxidant vitamins like vitamin E. However, not only do they contain vitamin E, but they contain it in a wide variety of forms. Alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, delta-tocopherol, alpha-tocomonoenol and gamma-tocomonoenol are all forms of vitamin E found in pumpkin seeds. These last two forms have only recently been discovered, and they are a topic of special interest in vitamin E research, since their bioavailability might be greater than some of the other vitamin E forms. Pumpkin seeds also contain conventional mineral antioxidants like zinc and manganese. Phenolic antioxidants are found in pumpkin seeds in a wide variety of forms, including the phenolic acids hydroxybenzoic, caffeic, coumaric, ferulic, sinapic, protocatechuic, vanillic, and syringic acid. Antioxidant phytonutrients like lignans are also found in pumpkin seeds, including the lignans pinoresinol, medioresinol, and lariciresinol.Interestingly, this diverse mixture of antioxidants in pumpkin seeds may provide them with antioxidant-related properties that are not widely found in food. For example, the pro-oxidant enzyme lipoxygenase (LOX) is known to be inhibited by pumpkin seed extracts, but not due to the presence of any single family of antioxidant nutrients (for example, the phenolic acids described earlier). Instead, the unique diversity of antioxidants in pumpkin seeds is most likely responsible for this effect.
Romaine lettuce, crumbled feta cheese, tiny tomatoes and vinaigrette combine to make a simple Greek salad. Other ingredients, if I had them in the house, would have been sliced cucumbers, chopped fresh cilantro (coriander leaves) and Kalamata olives.
My husband Jacques likens this dish to blini with caviar and sour cream. To some, that’s quite an endorsement (I’ve resisted caviar all my life, with every fiber of my being).
M-J’s HIGH-PROTEIN MUNG BEAN PANCAKES
To my pot of cooked mung beans (one cup dry beans, three cups water) I add chia seeds (while beans are still hot, to make them soft), yogurt whey*, whole oat flour (I grind my own), ground flax, hemp protein powder, a couple of raw eggs, and a little self-rising flour. I keep the batter pretty thin, adding more liquid whey or water when required. Ingredients are pictured below, but I don’t use measurements. ~M-J
Read Dr. Axe’s information on the Mung Bean Nutritional Powerhouse.
I save liquid whey from the yogurt-straining process, and mix a little nonfat dry milk with it in a blender-bottle. I refrigerate the stuff to use in smoothies or pancake batter~M-J
Make yogurt whey* to use as liquid for pancake batter by straining your yogurt to make it thicker. Pour the liquid (whey) that has been removed from your yogurt into a jar for use in smoothies and pancake batter. Then use the resultant “Greek yogurt” to spread onto the pancakes. After spreading this on my mung bean pancakes, I roll them to create a delicious, health-promoting luncheon dish.
*See my jar of whey in the following picture:
Groups of identical or similar containers make this busy cook’s pantry/kitchen cupboard look less cluttered.~©M-J de Mesterton
Straining your own yoghurt makes a delightful Mediterranean or Middle Eastern spread for bread or pita. Put a round coffee-filter into a bowl-sized strainer or sieve, empty a container of plain whole-milk or full-fat yoghurt into it, cover with another round coffee-filter, and place over a bowl that allows some space between the bottom of the strainer and the base of the bowl, so that when your yoghurt is draining, it will not soak itself. Keep the assembly covered with plastic or Saran-type wrap, because fruit-flies love this stuff. I initiate this process before going to bed at night; in the morning I have wonderful, thick spread for my preferred bread or pita, and this yogurt-cheese is also excellent with a fried egg.
©M-J de Mesterton
See The Elegant Cook Bread Page for M-J’s Pita Recipe
©Copyright M-J de Mesterton, August 25 2018
Tasty Tofu with Mild Green Shishito Peppers
As a nutritious austerity dish, there are scads of ways to prepare tofu. Three ounces of firm tofu, with only seventy calories, contain eight grams of protein and two grams of carbohydrate. This morning, I sautéed in coconut oil some cubed tofu that I had marinated in soy sauce, cider vinegar and miso, then added some roasted Japanese shishito peppers. I then sprinkled the dish with black-and-white sesame seeds.
NUTRITION FACTS on Shishito Peppers, from Trader Joe’s: Serving size about 7 peppers (45g) | Amount per serving: Calories 15
Total Fat 0g (0% DV), Saturated Fat 0g (0% DV), Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 0mg (0% DV), Sodium 0mg (0% DV), Total Carbohydrate 3g (1% DV), Dietary Fiber 2g (8% DV), Total Sugars 2g, Protein 1g, Vitamin A (8% DV), Calcium 0mg (% DV), Iron (2% DV), Vitamin C (35% DV).
The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.