Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Rough Guide to Easy Excellent Food Part 12

My good mates Ross and Maria Kelly brought down from Mount Wilson their first crop of jerusalem artichokes for this year. These aren't really artichokes, but the tubers of a variety of sunflower (Helianthus tuberosus) which while delicious have a tendency to be a windy veg when eaten. Still  they are well worth the investigating and when you do you might like to do so via the following soup.

You will need:
jerusalem artichokes
lemon verbena or lemon thyme
vegetable stock

Take a goodly lot of the tubers. If they are clean and creamy yellow of skin, don't worry about peeling  them. If the skin is a firmer brown scrub it off. Slice the artichokes thinly.

Set a handful of thinly sliced leek to saute in a pan with a slosh of olive oil. When slicing the leek reserve some for garnishing.

Shred some sprigs of lemon verbena/lemon thyme, add to the pan and saute a little longer.

Add artichokes and saute a few minutes more.

Pour in enough stock to cover the artichokes plus a couple of cms more. Sprinkle in some salt, pepper and a pinch of saffron threads.

Cook on a gentle boil till the artichokes are quite soft, say 20 minutes.

Puree the contents of the pan.

Slice some garlic into matchsticks.

Slice the bread and lightly toast it. Rub each slice of toast with garlic.

Pour the soup into individual serving bowls, garnish with the reserved leek and the ginger and serve with the toasted bread on the side.

A dollop of yoghurt is superfluous but adds tang.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Gut Germs: The story continues

Two pieces in New Scientist No 2862, 28 April 2012 add to my fascination with the hidden world of my gut flora and its impact on what I eat and what happens to what I eat and what happens to me when I eat it.

We've known since 2006 that the types of gut bacteria in obese rats differed from those in non-obese rats. Now a group of whitecoats at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research  have swapped gut flora between obesity prone and non obesity resistant rats and found that the obesity resistant rats now ate more and  'put on the pounds.

Across the grey pond (a.k.a. Atlantic Ocean) whitecoats at the University of Toronto in Canada have found that the gut flora in the faces from 20 month old babies overlaps with the bacterial make-up of dust samples found in the particular baby's home. They conclude that babies and their domestic dust are are sharing a common bacterial pool (oops - almost childish pun). The extension of this is that maybe other people in the house will also share whatever health and behavioural influences these bacteria produce when in the gut.

Putting these two together, I give full warning that I will carry around those white point nose covers that are supposed to keep out things like avian flu germs and have no hesitation in putting them on should I find an obese baby in a home or restaurant I enter, particularly if someone happens to be changing the kid's nappy while I am there, or I suspect they have returned from doing so without washing their hands and are about to hand me a slice of pizza or I gloved finger wiped across their mantel shelf goes any shade less than white.