How to hydrate in summer

In the hot Dubai summer my Aloe Vera grows bigger and bigger. At least one of us enjoys the climate…. !
Today I gave it a try to start reducing it a little bit, so it would not take all the place away:

I made a refreshing lemonade with jelly like pulp of the leaves. What to say, it turned out to be a delicious drink I will definitely have again!

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Aloe Vera Lemonade
1 portion

What To Buy
1 organic lime (juice)
1 teaspoon acacia honey or agave syrup
a small piece of an Aloe Vera leaf (about 3 cm)
250 ml still or sparkling water
Ice cubes

How To Make It
Press the lime juice and stir in the honey or agave syrup. Pour into a glass with ice cubes. Wash the Aloe leaf and peel it carefully. Dice the jelly like pulp finely and add to the lime juice. Top with water and stir well.

Chef Gabi’s Tip
Aloe juice helps to improve digestion. It is good for cleansing and detoxifying the body due to antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.

Here is two versions of my drink, that is now a regular on my personal summer treats. Which one you like better?

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More about Edible Weeds

Don’t be surprised I am talking about weeds again. And their culinary potential. It is just due to the fact that their presence is in direct interdependence to my (very regular) absence from my garden.
Luckily I am relaxed about weeds in the garden. Because most of them are not just edible, but a culinary upgrade for my cooking. I am cooking a lot with herbs. And with weeds.  Today I harvested and cooked with chickweed (lat: stellaria media), one of my favorites.
The tiny, light green leaves are hiding between salads, under zucchini plants, between parsley and mint – simply everywhere. In summer they prefer shade to grow their tender leaves. But you can find them already in early spring until autumn. Even in mild winter. In my kitchen they play often a star part for salads, soups, and garnishes. I love them and cut them like cress. They are equally delicate, delicious and so beneficial. They provide Vitamin C, iron, copper, manganese, zinc and kalium. They help to strenghten the heart and the eyes, cleanse the blood and have a cooling effect.

Chickweed has been even in the limelight and photographed last week in our kitchen cum once-in-a-while-temporary photo studio by a professional photographer and dear friend, Klaus Maria Einwanger for his project  We, my mother and I, are very honored to be part of his culinary art project! More about it soon on this blog.
See how our Majlis looked when Klaus and his creative team were at our home in Berchtesgaden:

If you find chickweed in your vegetable patch, come with a scissor and cut the tips carefully to support continuous growth of this lovely herb/weed. You then could try the following recipe, another bavarian staple of my home:

My Bavarian Potato Salad

What to buy
6 medium size salad potatoes
2 eggs
1 white onion
4 table spoons apple cider vinegar
100 ml vegetable stock
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon agave syrup or acacia honey
6 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1 good handful chickweed (I often substitute it with either curly parsley, wild dandelion leaves or wild watercress)

How to Make It
Steam the washed potatoes in their skin for around 30 minutes until they are entirely soft inside. Peel the skin off the hot potatoes and allow them to cool just a little bit before you slice them. Boil the eggs for 8 minutes and peel them as well. Cut the eggs to wedges. Dice the onion and braise it in olive oil. Add the oil and the onions while still hot to the potatoes. Bring the vinegar, vegetable stock and honey to a boil, stir in the mustard and season with salt and pepper. Gently mix the potatoes with the hot mustard stock. Check the seasoning again, it could be you need to add a little bit more salt or vinegar. Add the eggs and arrange on plates. Garnish generously with the picked and washed chickweed and serve the salad immediately.

Chef Gabi’s Tip
To make a good potato salad is a science. Not really difficult, but a few things are vital to achieve the best result. First: Use salad potatoes. They are totally different to those used for mashed potatoes for example and most important, they don’t fall apart when mixed with the dressing but absorb the delicious liquid. Second: Use warm potatoes, not chilled ones. And use a hot dressing. So they can absorb flavors much better. Third: The Bavarian potato salad has an oily and a watery part in the dressing. Add the oil first to the potatoes and then the vinegar part. So you get the desired shiny and succulent texture. And last: Serve it at room temperature. There is not much worse than fridge cold potato salad.

Enjoy my Bavarian comfort food and don’t forget to check your garden for edible weeds!

More Raw Food – Detox deluxe

Did you know radishes are known for their anti bacterial and anti fungal properties?
They are an excellent source of riboflavin, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, copper, manganese; contain dietary fiber, folate, vitamin C and potassium…..Radishes are very good for the liver and stomach. They help to detox and purify blood and they stimulate digestion.

Also Asparagus can be eaten raw. One raw asparagus a day (during the season, which is now) support kidneys function and help to detox. 
The best thing is green asparagus does not require peeling. Here is a crunchy and tasty salad I made today – detox deluxe in almost no time!

 Herb Salad with Radish, Asparagus and Young Almonds

2 Portions
What to buy

6 red radishes
6 green asparagus
10 green almonds
1 small gem lettuce or Boston head
20 g mixed herbs (rocket, dill, parsley, spring onion, chervil, basil…) 
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon herb oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Orange salt (find how to make it below)

How to Make It
Wash radishes, asparagus, lettuce and herbs and pat dry. Slice the radish and asparagus. Pick the herbs and lettuce. Open the almond shells and release the young and tender nut. Cut them into halves.
Toss all ingredients with lemon juice and olive oil. Arrange on plates and sprinkle with herb oil and orange salt.

Orange Salt

I use organic orange, grate the skin off with a microplane grater and mix with equal amount of natural rock salt. Air dry for around one day and it is ready to use. Keep the salt in an airtight container and you have a lovely ingredient on hand to add some citrus flavor to a dish.

Herb Oil

I use very often in my recipes herb oil. This ingredient you can’t buy anywhere. And it is best freshly prepared. However – there is always a trick how to preserve it and save time in the kitchen!

What to buy:
25 g fresh herbs
(I recommend a mix of parsley, basil, chervil, dill and rocket leaves, but this does not have to be followed strictly)
60 ml olive oil

How to make it:
Blend the herbs with the olive oil for around 2 minutes in a bar mixer. Then strain the green mixture through a sieve, covered with a cotton cloth. This takes some time and in the end you may press the remaining herbs with the cloth to get the most oil out.
Fill the oil into a small glass bottle, cover it and keep in the fridge.

Chef Gabi’s Tip:
Herb oil keeps for a while in the fridge, around 3 days. I never make too much of it in advance because it discolors and looses its unique flavor. But I pass on a smart trick I have heard from my friends: They keep the herb oil in ice cube containers in the freezer and just take it out cube by cube whenever they require it.
This lovely aromatic oil is wonderful in many dishes, just to finish, or to drizzle over a leafy salad with some fresh lemon juice.

Chilled Green Pea Gazpacho

This is definitely one of my favorite chilled soups – easy, full of flavors, chlorophyll rich and it goes well with Quinoa grissini:

Chilled Green Pea Gazpacho
2 Portions

What to buy
250 gm frozen peas, steamed, chilled
100 ml yoghurt
300 ml chilled still water
25 gm fresh mint leaves
10 gm coriander leaves
2 limes, peeled
1 green apple, cut into chunky pieces
Ice cubes or crushed ice

How to make it
Blend all ingredients in a bar mixer and strain. Serve garnished with mint and coriander leaves.

Chef Gabi’s Tip
This chlorophyll rich refreshing soup is perfect for any occasion. It is very easy to make, and done in 10 minutes, but it can’t be prepared long time in advance. I serve it very often with crispy quinoa grissini.

Click here to know more about quinoa as an ingredient and how to make the Grissini in our previous post.