Shaved Ice Dessert With Edible Lego Topping

Summer Sweets with Berries or Mango from Legoland Japan


Barley Risotto with Pancetta-wrapped Salmon and Mushroom


4 X 4 oz salmon fillets
freshly ground sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
8-12 slices pancetta
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
heaped 1 cup pearl barley, washed and drained
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1-3/4 cups chicken or vegetable stock or water
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
2/3 cup red wine
8 oz chanterelles (or other mushrooms, such as ceps, porcini, field mushrooms or large flat mushrooms)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 tablespoon each chopped fresh tarragon and parsley


  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F.
  2. Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper and then wrap each in 2-3 slices of the pancetta. Cover and set aside.
  3. Heat a large frying pan until hot. Pour in the olive oil, then add the barley and stir until it starts to turn golden – about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the onion and garlic and continue frying for 5-10 minutes, until the barley starts to brown. Don’t let it burn.
  5. Add the stock, soy sauce, red wine and seasoning. Bring to the boil and simmer gently until nearly all the liquid is gone – this should take at least 30 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, brush or scrape the mushrooms clean (slicing any bigger ones to size) and heat another frying pan until it’s hot. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter and the mushrooms. Stir-fry until lightly colored – about 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Add the stir-fried mushrooms to the barley and mix together. Remove from the heat and cover with tin foil pierced with holes to allow the barley to swell and absorb all the liquid. Leave it in a warm place for 15 minutes. (At this stage, you could let the risotto cool, reheating it for serving up to 24 hours later.)
  8. Whilst waiting for the risotto to rest, place the pancetta-wrapped salmon on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and bake for approximately 10 minutes until the pancetta is golden.
  9. Pop the risotto pan back on the heat, add the tarragon and parsley, and the remaining butter. Stir well until hot, taste for seasoning and divide between four plates. Carve each fillet into three slices, place on top of the risotto and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Nick Nairn’s Top 100 Salmon Recipes

One of the World’s Great Cheeses Might Be Going Extinct

Larissa Zimberoff wrote . . . . . .

On the face of it, Camembert doesn’t seem like an endangered species.

In fact, the soft-ripened cheese seems like the opposite: Three hundred and sixty million wheels are produced annually in France. It’s ubiquitous in the U.S. with the cheese and crackers set, and the second-most-popular fromage sold in French markets. Trader Joe’s even hawks “Camembert Cheeese & Cranberry Sauce Fillo Bites” (the three e’s in cheese are purposeful). But if you’re a connoisseur of the cheese spelled with just two e’s, then you’re looking for a wheel made to the exacting specifications that allow it to be stamped PDO—the French label that signifies provenance from a specific region in France, made in an historically accurate way. That cheese is called Camembert de Normandie, and its increasing scarcity means we’re keeping our eyes glued to its curd. You should, too.

Like its even better-known relative, Brie, Camembert is a soft cheese. When you see it on a fancy cheese platter, you’ll recognize its thick, creamy center. If your party hosts have left it out long enough, it will be squeezable. (Brie, on the other hand, will be runny.) The rind, which you must eat, should appear to have a little brown mottling. Too brilliantly white and you’re eating an industrial version. (Of course, too much brown and it’s past its prime.) Cheese experts get a bit swoony when you bring up Camembert and the descriptors are as funky as the culture: “mushroom,” “butter,” “cream,” “truffle,” and “stewed cabbage.” Believe it or not, stewed cabbage is a good thing.

A PDO Camembert de Normandie must be made with unfiltered raw milk with a fat content of at least 38 percent that comes from cows from France’s northern Normandy province, fed under strict conditions—grass and hay from local pastures. The milk must be hand-ladled in four or more layers into specific molds. Milk is transported no farther than the distance that cows can slowly dawdle in search of a fresh blade of grass.

If this is the cheese you’re seeking, particularly outside of France, then good luck. Today, only four million of the 360 million wheels produced annually—just a little over 1 percent—are the real deal, and, as small farms are scooped up by the big guys, the number is rapidly dwindling.

Today you can count on just a few fingers the farmstead operators (cheesemakers who also tend to the animals that supply the milk) who are making Camembert to the exacting nature of the PDO stamp. A decade ago, that number was greater. All three—La Ferme du Champsecret, Domaine de Saint Loup, and Fromagerie Durand—are in Normandy. They are the gold standard of Camembert. And they exist for as long as the fickle laws governing raw milk cheese sales allow them to.

Why aren’t there more small, farmstead Camembert makers? Because in 2007 there was a cheese war. Several large-scale Camembert producers (names some people might recognize: Lactalis and Isigny-Sainte-Mere) pushed to cut corners. They went to court to change the rules. Instead of raw milk, they asked, could they use pasteurized milk? Pasteurized cheese is cheaper to make because producers can use multiple milk sources and make the cheese in larger batches, creating a cheese with less variability that’s easier to handle. Small producers, who wanted to stick to the old way, wound up on the opposite side of the battle.

After a year long “Camembert war,” the small guy came out on top: The French government ruled that only raw milk could be used for an official PDO Camembert. The bigger producers dropped out of the true Camembert race. They still make a version, but it’s a poor substitute—the kind with the impenetrable rind and soft, rubbery plastic center. This cheese is Camembert fabrique en Normandie, which isn’t the same thing.

Do we really care whether it’s raw milk or pasteurized? Yes and no. Industrial cheese isn’t just cheaper to make, it’s cheaper to buy. (There are also industrial versions of raw milk cheeses, but they too are uniform, without the variation between wheels that connoisseurs treasure.)

On the raw milk side, your cheese is all about your milk. When milk is heated, it loses all the lovely microorganisms that imbue cheese with a sense of place and unique funk. Raw milk cheesemakers live and breathe by the health of their animals, the quality of their grass, the care with which they ladle their milk. Industrial producers deliberately bulk and standardize the milk they use. “They are treating it as a blank canvas for cheesemaking rather than trying to reveal its potential,” says Francis Percival, co-author of Reinventing the Wheel, a book on single-farm cheeses. Even Prince Charles has weighed in on the debate, advocating for the raw milk stuff at a 2015 climate conference.

Camembert is complicated if you live in the U.S. Raw milk PDO Camembert isn’t imported domestically, not even through Amazon Prime. Since 1949, the FDA has regulated all raw milk cheeses. Anything aged less than 60 days—the length of time that the government agency reasons any harmful pathogens will be killed—can’t legally be exported into the U.S. Because Camembert is aged for only half that time, typically one month, it’s blocked. Some people talk of a black market for cheese darlings like this, but other than smuggling it home in your suitcase, your best bet is to go the legal route and buy a pasteurized version in America.

Finding a cheese made like the original farmer did in 1791, the date when many say Camembert was created, is increasingly impossible, even in France. But Percival champions a solution in his book: “To help a rare breed survive, you have to eat it.” So before it goes extinct, do your best to enjoy it back to life. If you live in the U.S., there are makers that can send you a wheel worthy of your baguette: Murray’s Cheese sells a pasteurized version under its own name, or you can try Bent River from Alemar Cheese Co. in Minnesota. And then, when you have the time and resources, head to France and find a truly authentic Camembert to devour.

Source: Bloomberg

Prunes May Help Lower Cholesterol

A study published in Pharmaceutical Biology shows that prunes may help regulate intestinal microflora and thereby effectively lower total cholesterol levels. Prunus domestica Linn (Rosaceae) has been considered a functional food, owing to its various pharmacological activities, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, and anticancer. In this placebo-controlled, randomized study, the researchers wanted to check the beneficial activity of prune essence concentrates (PEC) in corroboration with intestinal function and lipid profile in subjects with mildly high cholesterol.

Sixty healthy subjects with mildly high cholesterol were randomly chosen and segregated into three groups as placebo (consume 50 mL of simulated prune drink), PEC I (consume 50 mL of PEC/day), and PEC II (consume 100 mL of PEC/day) for four weeks with two weeks of follow-up without PEC consumption.

The researchers found that subjects who consumed PEC (I and II) experienced a remarkable improvement in the population of beneficial bacteria’s community, especially Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus spp., and total anaerobic bacterial count on comparison with the baseline. During the follow-up (6th week), C. perfringens and E. coli levels were slightly increased, whereas Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus spp., and the total anaerobic bacterial count was markedly reduced due to stoppage of PEC consumption.

In addition, intake of PEC (I and II) remarkably lowered the levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, and mildly increased the levels of HDL cholesterol as compared with baseline. However, on the 4th week of intervention, PEC (I and II) group presented lesser levels of both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in comparison with the placebo group.

The researchers concluded that PEC intake could positively alter the human intestinal flora and thereby enhance various physiological functions and favor various health benefits. In future studies, the researchers plan to isolate the active components of PEC and test them for their ability to lower choelsterol.

Source: Institute of Food Technologists

Study: Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Preserves Memory and Protects Brain Against Alzheimer’s Disease

The Mediterranean diet, rich in plant-based foods, is associated with a variety of health benefits, including a lower incidence of dementia. Now, researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University (LKSOM) have identified a specific ingredient that protects against cognitive decline: extra-virgin olive oil, a major component of the Mediterranean diet. In a study published online June 21 in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, the researchers show that the consumption of extra-virgin olive oil protects memory and learning ability and reduces the formation of amyloid-beta plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain – classic markers of Alzheimer’s disease.

Temple team also identified the mechanisms underlying the protective effects of extra-virgin olive oil. “We found that olive oil reduces brain inflammation but most importantly activates a process known as autophagy,” explained senior investigator Domenico Praticò, MD, Professor in the Departments of Pharmacology and Microbiology and the Center for Translational Medicine at LKSOM. Autophagy is the process by which cells break down and clear out intracellular debris and toxins, such as amyloid plaques and tau tangles.

“Brain cells from mice fed diets enriched with extra-virgin olive oil had higher levels of autophagy and reduced levels of amyloid plaques and phosphorylated tau,” Dr. Praticò said. The latter substance, phosphorylated tau, is responsible for neurofibrillary tangles, which are suspected of contributing to the nerve cell dysfunction in the brain that is responsible for Alzheimer’s memory symptoms.

Previous studies have suggested that the widespread use of extra-virgin olive oil in the diets of people living in the Mediterranean areas is largely responsible for the many health benefits linked to the Mediterranean diet. “The thinking is that extra-virgin olive oil is better than fruits and vegetables alone, and as a monounsaturated vegetable fat it is healthier than saturated animal fats,” according to Dr. Praticò.

In order to investigate the relationship between extra-virgin olive oil and dementia, Dr. Praticò and colleagues used a well-established Alzheimer’s disease mouse model. Known as a triple transgenic model, the animals develop three key characteristics of the disease: memory impairment, amyloid plagues, and neurofibrillary tangles.

The researchers divided the animals into two groups, one that received a chow diet enriched with extra-virgin olive oil and one that received the regular chow diet without it. The olive oil was introduced into the diet when the mice were six months old, before symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease begin to emerge in the animal model.

In overall appearance, there was no difference between the two groups of animals. However, at age 9 months and 12 months, mice on the extra virgin olive oil-enriched diet performed significantly better on tests designed to evaluate working memory, spatial memory, and learning abilities.

Studies of brain tissue from both groups of mice revealed dramatic differences in nerve cell appearance and function. “One thing that stood out immediately was synaptic integrity,” Dr. Praticò said. The integrity of the connections between neurons, known as synapses, were preserved in animals on the extra-virgin olive oil diet. In addition, compared to mice on a regular diet, brain cells from animals in the olive oil group showed a dramatic increase in nerve cell autophagy activation, which was ultimately responsible for the reduction in levels of amyloid plaques and phosphorylated tau.

“This is an exciting finding for us,” explained Dr. Praticò. “Thanks to the autophagy activation, memory and synaptic integrity were preserved, and the pathological effects in animals otherwise destined to develop Alzheimer’s disease were significantly reduced. This is a very important discovery, since we suspect that a reduction in autophagy marks the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Dr. Praticò and colleagues plan next to investigate the effects of introducing extra-virgin olive oil into the diet of the same mice at 12 months of age, when they have already developed plaques and tangles. “Usually when a patient sees a doctor for suspected symptoms of dementia, the disease is already present,” Dr. Praticò added. “We want to know whether olive oil added at a later time point in the diet can stop or reverse the disease.”

Source: Temple Health

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