This year has been unexpected. The first which post-it resolutions are still sticking to my mirror, despite the notorious moving. And oh, the moving, which cut my 2014 right in half. My twenty-fourteen started with high hopes while riding on steady waters. The embryo of this blog was officially conceived early in February and it took me months to add up the pieces. Meanwhile, at the end of February I got the notice on having to leave my beloved home; A large apartment in a lovely neighborhood of Rome in which I had a tiny-but-pretty room. It was a girls’ apartment. We had fun. I lived there for three years and 5 months. It was my home.
Twenty-fourteen brought yet another reality to slap me in the face; It was the last year of my twenties. It got me scared, got me running around, got me listening to an eternal tick-tock-tick-tock. I wished I had accomplished something, something tangible. I wanted to create something; An establishment, a solidity, a firm piece of ground. Then things got wildly out of hand. Suddenly –and painfully– I realized that somehow most of the things I thought I had desired for a long time were no longer attractive to me. First there was confusion, then recognition and after that came the cold frustration; Of feeling trapped in an establishment, a solidity, a firm piece of ground that no longer fits me but I don’t know if I’m ready to break out of it. Steady is my frenemy. I can’t live neither with nor without it. Twenty-fourteen got me questioning everything I have gathered in my life. I want to get some answers in twenty-fifteen. I want a tiny sprinkle of ease, I want a ton of energy and inspiration, I want a good intuition, I want to remember how to trust my guts again and take the jump. And I want good health to allow me to pursue all that.
And then, for the billionth time: I want to be physically active (again), I want to re-start my yoga and I want running to become my thing in twenty-fifteen. I wanna be one those people who run all the time, no matter what.
I wanna learn how to become an organized person, inside and outside. I’m soon gonna be a 30 year old woman. I just can’t afford to be this messy.
I wanna read more (this one has been in my new years resolutions for like the past fifteen years).
This might sound surprising but I want to cook more. I haven’t really cooked as much as I wanted to and should have lately. I want to create more; I want to get down to my editorial design activity and create more pretty stuff that are not just food. This was also the original idea of Lab Noon. It’s supposed to be a laboratory at the end.
And, as vain as this may sound, I want to always remember to love myself, most of the times.
It’s usually not my intention to write all types of personal stuff here. I want to be bright and positive in this space. I want this blog to transmit something nice. So, sorry if I didn’t sound so much so in this post. Twenty-fifteen is going to be my moment of truth, you might’ve guessed. I needed this note for myself. So tomorrow won’t be just another night turning into another day for me. What about you? What are your resolutions for the new year? Is there anything that you want to change? Wether you seek deep changes or just minor ones, I wish you a great new year, in which you’ll dream and laugh more, in health and prosperity. Happy twenty-fifteen!
My type of Party Food
Was I planning a New-Years-Eve gathering at my place, I would prepare a lot of finger food, little bites, crostinis, bruschettas and canapés. The idea of having a base such as bread (toasted), or any other base on which you can add a topping, or a spread makes the perfect party food for me. It’s easy and –with the work of planner mind– can be cheap too. The interaction would be another lovely factor. You could prepare the base and prepare toppings/spreads in different bowls and people could serve themselves. Then I’d prepare one huge salad with a carb base, such as rice, bulgur, cous cous, quina etc, with fresh veggies. I never like New Years Eve food to be too much, heavy and time-taking. It’s not Christmas. Actually it’s right before January, the universal month of dieting and getting back to shape.
In Italy, no matter what type of dinner you’ve had for New Years Eve, you must have some lentils with Cotechino. They say lentils bring you money (c’mon bring on those lentils). Cotechino is some sort of raw salami that is sold in vacuum packs inside boxes around this time of the year. What’s more Cotechino must be the only kind of italian cold cut and cured meat that not only do I not enjoy, but I don’t even touch it either! But heaven knows I can never say no to lentils. So I always try to remove the fat and pieces of Cotechino from my lentils. The recipe that follows is is orange-marinated squids on lentils soup (my version of calamari e le lenticchie). I had prepared it a short while ago but posted it only in Italian (this holiday season was so hard for translating). I think It would make a great simple lentil dish for Capodanno (New Years Eve in Italian). But we’ll get to that later. I have made a tiny collection of recipes from bloggers around the web that reflect and/or inspire what I would make at a pseudo-gathering for the New Year’s Eve. Some of them are new, some of them are not, but they’d all make great party food recipes.
- These beautiful bites of Nordic Canapés with Roe & Gravlax by My Blue and White Kitchen.
- The essential knowledge and different ways around Bruschettas by Hortus Cuisine‘s Valentina. (V)
- These crazy Roasted Grape and Olive Crostini by Smitten Kitchen. (I’d replace the baguette with something like home made or whole wheat bread.) (V)
- These adorable and elegant Polenta Crostini with Butternut Squash, Ricotta and Sage by Edible Perspective. (V, GF)
- These fresh Shrimp & Avocado Bruschettas by Adventures in Cooking.
- This intriguing Baked Hummus with Spinach that’d go beautifully with Pita bread by Naturally Ella. (V, GF)
- For the huge bowl of salad this simple but tasty & colorful Cous cous, Spiced Chickpea, Mint & Pomegranate Salad by What Katie Ate would be perfectly in season. (VG)
- For dessert Italians would invariably have Panettone or Pandoro or both plus some torrone o torroncino chocolates. If you’re looking for something lighter and more nutritious try my Healthy Mini Cheesecakes that you can combine with any fresh fruit in the season.
- Jamie Oliver’s website (and his affiliated channels) has a whole interesting section dedicated to party food ideas and many of those recipes are vegetarian, vegan, gluten free or dairy free too.
And to end the evening the Italian way, and wishing all those lentils bring us money, here’s my recipe of squids & lentil soup.
- 100g dry lentils
- 5cm celery stalk
- a small carrot
- 1/2 onion
- 1/2 garlic clove
- a small potato, diced
- 1/2 dry chilly, deseeded (optional)
- 1/2 cup white wine
- a pinch of sea salt
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 small squids (calamari)
- 1 orange
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- salt & pepper to taste
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 tsp fresh dill
- 1/2 fennel bulb
- 1 small carrot
- 3 radishes
- fresh dill
- 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 thin slices of crusty bread
- extra virgin olive oil
- orange zest
- sea salt
- Ask your fishmonger to clean the squids very well. Make sure they're quite clean inside.
- In a bowl grate the zest of half of the orange and squeeze to juice it. Add the E.V olive oil, salt, pepper, sliced garlic and dill. Massage the squid very well in this marinate. Cover the bowl with clean film and let it rest in the fridge for at least an hour.
- Cut the celery, the onion, the garlic and the carrot very finely. heat the oil in a casserole and sauté these veggies with the chilly for 3-4 minutes.
- Once the onion is translucent add the diced potato. Turn up the heat and sauté everything while stirring often for 4-5 minutes. The add the wine & turn down the heat.
- ADd the lentils, stir for a couple of minutes and then add cold water. Water should be about a finger higher than the other ingredients.
- Turn down the heat and cover with the lid and cook for about 30 minutes until the lentils are cooked. Keep an eye on it and add more water if necessary.
- When everything is well cooked add salt & pepper to taste and mash the soup using a blender. If it looks to runny let it reduce on low heat for some more minutes. Add a tiny amount of orange zest at the end to get the nice aroma.
- Slice very finely the fennel bulb, the radish and the carrot. A potato-peeler would help you slice really thinly. Dress the veggies with little E.V olive oil, dill leaves, salt and pepper.
- Heat up very well a non-sticking pan or a grill pan. No oil needed. Remove all the bits of garlic, orange and dill from the calamari. First grill the body and later add the tentacles as they cook more quickly. Few minutes of cooking would be enough. You'd know it's done when the squid swells and changes color. it becomes golden or the signs of grill would show up.
- In the meanwhile rub the slices of bread with a garlic clove and some orange zest and toast with some E.V olive oil in a small non-sticking pan. Add a little salt.
- Serve in a soup plate, first the lentil soup, carefully place the crostino and then the squid and tentacles.
- Add the finishing touch by garnishing the plate with some of the sliced and dressed veggies, some fresh dill and a drizzle of E.V olive oil.
Coming from Iran, she mostly develops her recipes by combining the aromas of the middle east with the flavors of the Mediterranean, specially Italy, where she has found her second home.