Quarantine Food Diaries- How the jeweler returned to being the chef and why it is all the same

So, here I am...at home with one of the only things that comes to me naturally...cooking. It is the one thing that calms me without fail and I would say that that is necessary for me and countless others right now. To some of you who know me better than others you know I never use recipes and I can walk into just about any kitchen and make myself perfectly at home. I’ll ransack your pantry, finding the ingredients you bought for the recipes you made once, like the adventurous day you made hummus,the tahini still 3/4 full, when you realized it was easier just to buy it, and for the most part also cheaper. Or the miso paste, for an attempt at homemade miso soup that now sits sadly at the back of your refrigerator in the no man’s land of condiments and possibly leftovers that should have been tossed weeks ago.
And then like a little kitchen fairy, an apron as my wings I’ll flutter my way through your ingredients on hand and between a sip of wine or two, be lovingly working to nourish us all. Many of you have asked me for recipes and I have thought about how to stay calm and enjoy those that are quarantined with me until this subsides, and well, that means me in the kitchen.
Over the years I have had the opportunity to cook in restaurant kitchens, private supper clubs and catered events and have even had my endurance tested on a yoga retreat of 65 hungry vegetarian yogis eating 4 times a day for two weeks straight. I’ve held workshops and had countless conversations on adaptogens, nootropics, and conscious cooking, the power of the alkaline diet, high vibrational foods and what it means to eat with your eyes.
Some 13 years ago I was diagnosed with a bizarre auto immune disease, which after battling using western medicine for two years to no avail, I turned to a naturopath who changed my world forever through diet. I left his unassuming home office with a list of things I could no longer eat. I had been cooking in our family restaurant, had been cooking for years before on my own in a very traditional Italian way. My father being from Italy insisted each time I would go to visit him that I learn the ways of pasta making, gnocchi, a base sauce and how all red sauces came from this most basic tomato sauce start. I spent hours perfecting the lightest fluffiest gnocchi, the perfect ragù di carne ( meat sauce), delicately stuffed fried eggplant, deep fried stuffed zucchini flowers ( fiori di zucca), the perfect Genovese pesto, and then in one fell swoop all that was gone for me.
Flour, particularly the gmo flour we have in the U.S. was out, as was red meat and all night shades, yup, eggplant and worst of all, sugar. Sugar like in sweets and in wine, I was seriously devastated.
I had to start all over. I was not interested in the idea of fake pasta. I will admit that gluten free pasta has come a long way since my diagnosis and I have found some pretty good substitutes.
I lost so much at once that I overdosed on milk products and eventually became lactose intolerant on top of it all. I found my palette searched for new ethnicities to explore, my
own now having become for me, toxic.
My daughter Sonia was almost 4, Simona just a baby still, and Sebastiano in kindergarten. I mention this because it was during this time that I would go out for lunch often and Sonia was my sidekick, to this day, now 16, her palette is outstanding and she can balance flavors with ease which I totally attribute to our “eating around the world days” as I used to call them.
I was looking for a culinary home. I wanted to be excited about being in the kitchen and I needed inspiration. Ultimately I gravitate towards Japanese, they are supremely alkaline, almost completely dairy free and use very little flour in their savory foods. But Sonia and all my kids would tell you I never stick with one country exclusively, so many flavors and textures to explore.
The key to a great meal is the balance of salt, fat, acid and heat, once you understand that you are on your way to opening your repertoire of cooking to much more than a single cuisine.
I think if you asked me what my go to meal was I would have to admit that it is my own version of a poke’ bowl. I say my own version because it is neither Hawaiian nor Japanese but it looks the part, so day 1 is my poke’ bowl recipe for you.
Miso Glazed Salmon Poke Bowl
Feeds 4-5
Disclaimer here:
A thing about salmon, and all my other ingredients in general. We live in a world where toxicity and pollution infiltrate our food sources on multiple levels. The deciphering of all of the labeling to express the care that businesses are taking can be daunting, so a few little hints here. I often prefer Whole Food’s Atlantic salmon to their wild caught anything, Sock Eye, King etc for two reasons; one as with grass fed meats, that are super lean, so to is the Sock Eye and King Salmon, and I need a little fat to keep things juicy! Also, wild caught means just that, not entirely sure what this fish has been eating where Whole Foods stamps my Atlantic salmon with a certified non gmo, non Monsanto farm raised diet. It’s up to you and ultimately looking with your eyes first when deciding is paramount. Just assume everything else I buy that is fresh is organic if possible, my sensitivities to pesticides are wild. When I use bottled, canned or packaged items, if I can’t find an organic equivalent I scrutinize the ingredient list for bat shit craziness like msg that is still used, unbelievably, and dyes like reds and blues.
One last thing, my suggestions for veggies and fruit that atop this bowl in a rainbow of color really depend on what is fresh and seasonal and available organically. So please especially now, don’t buy something that looks like it should’ve been tossed but hasn’t. Nothing worse than a too ripe or not ripe enough avocado. This is my end of winter version of this bowl, you’ll notice the seasonal beets, radishes, Brussels. These are all root veggies and in Ayurvedic eating, root veggies help us to feel grounded, safe and secure.

1 lb salmon
1 -2 avocados
3 beets
4 radishes
Bunch Brussels sprouts
1 cup Nishiki short grain rice
1 cup white quinoa
Pea tendrils or sprouts to garnish

I begin in the morning with my beets, make more than three, you can use them in an appetizer later in the week, I’ll send the recipe! Set the oven to 275 F and cut off just the greens leaving skins on wrap them individually in foil, place them in a baking dish and forget about them for two hours, three if they are on the bigger side. They should be tender to cut through when they are ready. Let them cool and literally rub off or peel off the skin, maybe wear gloves, we all should have them by now, and you’ll save your hands from being fuchsia!
Furikake seasoning :
So this garnish is not totally necessary, you may never use the bonito flakes again so they can be omitted, but the texture, the flavor this adds is noteable, and it can be stored for up to a month !

1/4 cup Sesame Seeds
2 tbsp Organic black Sesame Seeds
2 tbsp bonito flakes
3 sheets unseasoned nori, (dried seaweed)
2 tsp Sicilian Sea Salt

Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan, moving them around constantly careful not to burn they will smell and taste bitter if you do!
Put cooled seeds and all else in a food processor and give a few quick bursts. You are making a white and black sprinkle, don’t over blend!

Miso glaze :
1 tbsp white miso paste
2 tsp freshly grated garlic
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
2tbsp Mirin
1 tbsp barbecue sauce
2 tsp sesame oil

Mix all ingredients together, place your salmon skin side down on a sesame oiled cookie sheet, coat the length of the fish abundantly and let sit while you prepare your other ingredients. The fish depending on thickness, if it is as thick as the height of the tip of your finger to the first knuckle than it will be no more than 10 minutes under the broiler at the second to highest oven rack level.
Prep the rice!
Soak rice in cold water for 10 minutes and rinse quinoa to remove bitterness.
I combine the two it makes for a really great nutty texture but you can opt for just one or the other, remember we are trying to use what is in your pantry! That means maybe you are using a totally different grain like wild rice or couscous.

Put rice on to boil : 3 1/4 cups water and rice together, when it reaches a boil add the quinoa salt and let boil for 3 minutes, then cover and reduce heat to low for another 7-8 min. Remove from heat add in 1-2 tbsp mirin and let sit covered. You can also sprinkle in and mix around the homemade Furikake here !
Slice your Brussels thinly lay them not overlapping much, onto a cookie sheet tossed generously with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder. Make sure your salmon and Brussels can fit side by side under your broiler at the same time. Sometimes I divide the use of the same cookie sheet, it works!
So timing ...now your beets should be sliced, your radishes and avocado as well, furikake is made, rice should just be reduced and covered with 7-8 min to go and it’s time to put your salmon and Brussels under the broiler!
Watch them carefully, you will need to move the Brussels around, they char a little but really browning and crispy is what you’re going for.
Remove the cookie sheet and the rice should now have been sitting for a few minutes covered off the heat, let the salmon stand.
Compose your bowls, make them a rainbow of experience!

Layer the quinoa and rice first, and let your family choose their own arrangements it’s fun! Presentation, presentation, presentation! Eat with your eyes first!!

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