by Amy Chaplin
Martha's Circle
granola with almond milk

granola with almond milk

 

I made this granola in honor of spring and the strawberries to come. Since it’ll be quite a while until we see the sweet red gems at the green market (on the East coast), I decided to make a granola using dried strawberries. I had forgotten how totally delicious dried strawberries are until recently, when I spotted some in a little raw food shop close to home. Organic dried strawberries without added sugar or other additives are hard to find. The chewy, sweet delicacies are truly nature’s candy or gummy bears, if you prefer.  And if you’re hooked on candy, these make a perfect substitute.  When seeking out dried strawberries look for unsweetened or apple juice infused (it keeps them moist).  Also, make sure they are organic as strawberries are usually grown with fungicides to prevent mold. You can order the ones I used here.

dried strawberries

dried strawberries

 

I made this granola using soaked buckwheat –soaking reduces the phytic acid content, increases nutrients and digestibility. Once soaked, buckwheat is quite wet and sticky, which is why I drained it well; then spread it on a tray to dry out before tossing with the other ingredients and baking the granola. I’m sure you could skip this step and just bake it, but I wasn’t sure how the extra moisture would affect the final texture. Another alternative would be to add sprouted buckwheat after baking.

granola

granola

Photos by Stephen Johnson.

Strawberry buckwheat granola with coconut and cardamom

This granola is gluten free, if you are allergic to any trace of gluten be sure to purchase certified gluten free oats. The large flakes of dried coconut I used in this recipe are made by Go Hunza and are called “dried coconut smiles”. They are dried with the skin on and are much thicker than regular flaked coconut. Find this brand in health food stores and at Wholefood markets. If you want a less pronounced coconut flavor, you can use rice syrup or maple syrup in place of the coconut syrup and use olive oil in place of the coconut oil.

Makes about 6 cups

 

1 cup raw buckwheat, soaked overnight in 2 cups water

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats

2 cups dried unsweetened flaked coconut

2 tablespoons whole golden flax seeds, optional

½ cup raw pistachios, roughly chopped

1/3 teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

¼ cup extra virgin coconut oil, melted

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut syrup

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

½ cup dried  unsulphured strawberries, thinly sliced

¼ cup unsulphured golden raisins

 

Drain and rinse buckwheat and spread out over a tray to dry for at east 4 hours, or all day.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl combine the oats, coconut, flax, pistachios, salt, cardamom and dried buckwheat; toss to combine. Combine melted coconut oil with coconut syrup and vanilla, pour into dry mixture and stir to evenly combined. Spread over trays and bake for 10 minutes, stir and return to the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Add granola to a bowl and stir in strawberries and raisins. Store granola in gars for up to 6 weeks. Serve with home made almond milk.

Print recipe here.


beet soup + lime coconut cream

beet soup + lime coconut cream

Although it’s spring and the sun has been shining here in New York, it still hasn’t gotten warm enough for me to stop making soup.  And, after eating a bowl of this soup, I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it before now. Pairing beets with ginger seems so obvious but unlike carrot and ginger soup I hadn’t seen it anywhere before. This soup does benefit from a good amount of carrots to temper the assertive qualities of the beets and the cool coconut cream helps mellow out the chili and ginger. Topped with beet micro greens, this soup looks fancy but it really is just a simple pureed soup—not unlike the 3 simple recipes I posted here last week.

Beets, coconut and lime are also a great combination; the first time I them together was in a little café nestled on the border of the Daintree Rainforest in Northern Queensland (Australia), many years ago. The Daintree grows right up to the beach and I remember sitting outside against a backdrop of huge, ancient trees.  The café had a veggie burger with a shredded beet and coconut salad on the menu and I ordered it. Beets (marinated or shredded) are a common addition to burgers and sandwiches in Australia. Since we were in tropical Queensland there was fresh coconut added along with lime juice and plenty of avocado. The only other thing I can remember about the burger is that it was really good!

If you have never scooped the coconut cream off the top of a can of chilled coconut milk you’ll love making this lime coconut cream. There are plenty of recipes online for using it in vegan frostings and fillings but here it’s used in a savory way instead.  I now always keep a can in the fridge in case inspiration strikes.

micro beet greens

micro beet greens

Beet ginger soup with chili and lime coconut cream

I didn’t peel the beets for this recipe, but it might be a good idea if the beets aren’t perfectly fresh. You want the carrot cut at least double the size of the beets since they will cook much faster. If your carrots are not large, consider adding them after the beets have cooked for 10 minutes.

Makes about 7 cups soup/serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil

1 onion, diced

Sea salt

4 garlic cloves

2-inch piece peeled ginger

1 jalapeno or other fresh chili, seeded and chopped

3 medium red beets, cut in ½ inch dice

6 large carrots, cut in 1 inch rounds

Filtered water

Tamari to taste.

Optional beet micro greens to serve

Warm coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes or until golden. Stir in a large pinch of sea salt, garlic, ginger and chili and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes longer. Add beets and carrots and enough water to cover the vegetables by about half an inch (you will need to add more water when you blend the soup). Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool a little before blending in an upright blender until completely smooth and velvety, adding more water to get desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and tamari. Serve warm topped with lime coconut cream.

Lime coconut cream

Lime coconut cream

Photos by Stephen Johnson.

Lime coconut cream

For best results don’t shake the can before placing in the fridge as you want to scoop off the thick coconut cream that rises to the surface.

Makes about ½ a cup

 

1 13.5 fl. oz can unsweetened full-fat coconut milk, chilled in refrigerator for 24 hours

Zest of one lime

Juice of one lime

Sea salt to taste

Pinch cayenne pepper, optional

Open can of coconut milk and scoop off the thick cream at the top. Save remaining milk for use in smoothies or desserts. Place in a bowl and add lime zest and juice, and a pinch of salt. Whisk until completely smooth and season to taste. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper if you like.

Print recipe here.

 


suuny dressing and salad

suuny dressing and salad

The recent appearance of fresh fava beans at the health food store in my neighborhood was a welcome sight. Although they’re not yet grown locally, they were a sure sign of the lovely spring vegetables to come. Fava beans are a great way to make any simple salad, sautéed greens or grain dish special and although they do require a bit of effort to shell, cook and peel, you don’t need many to make an impression. Radishes also add to the spring feel and this dish is especially colorful if you can find watermelon radishes. I’ve been making this salad for clients lately, changing the vegetables and dressing as we move out of winter and into longer, warmer days.

fava beans

fava beans

This turmeric dressing is so bright, zesty and delicious that I find it hard not to drizzle it over everything. The idea came from a long phone conversation with my mother in which we inevitably ended up talking about foods we’ve been making or planning to make. She’d fallen in love with a turmeric salad dressing eaten in a pop up café in Byron Bay, Australia (that has since closed) and the idea stuck in my head. Many months later I finally tried adding turmeric to a few different types of dressing and this one is by far my favorite. Adding carrot and mirin helps tame turmeric’s astringent bite, but I found it needed more and added a dab of honey—you may not need it if you use less turmeric. Cashew butter helps meld the flavors and create a perfectly creamy dressing that looks like liquid sunshine.

Though it can be a challenge to find ways to incorporate this unusual tasting root into your diet, turmeric’s ant-inflammatory properties are phenomenal! Armed with this dressing you can turn any simple grain bowl into an exceptionally nutritious meal—make that grain black rice and you’ll double the anti-inflammatory content, as well as benefit from the abundant antioxidants that come from the plant pigment in black rice.

turmeric dressing

turmeric dressing

Photos by Stephen Johnson. You can see more of his beautiful photos here.

 

Turmeric dressing

This list of ingredients is long, but once you have it all in the blender it’s ready in one minute and will keep for up to 4 days in the fridge. Although I’m sure this can be made with dried turmeric, it won’t have the same bright flavor. I would start with ½ teaspoon dried turmeric and increase to taste.

Makes about 2 cups

 

2 inch piece peeled and chopped fresh turmeric

1 teaspoon chopped peeled ginger

2 tablespoons cashew butter

2 medium carrots, roughly chopped (1 ½ cups)

½ clove garlic

1 teaspoon unpasteurized white miso

2 tablespoons unpasteurized apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons water, plus more to thin out

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon mirin

1 teaspoon tamari

¼ teaspoon sea salt

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon raw honey, optional

Place all ingredients in an upright blender and blend until smooth. Add more water to get desired consistency. Store in a jar in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.

black rice + radishes, fava, peas etc

black rice + radishes, fava, peas etc

Forbidden black rice

This will make more than double the rice you’ll need for the salad but it keeps in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Makes about 3 ½ cups

 

1 cup forbidden black rice, soaked in 3 cups filtered water overnight

1 ¾ cup filtered water

Pinch sea salt

Drain and rinse rice and place in a small pot. Add filtered water and salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover pot, reduce heat to low and simmer for an hour or until all the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside covered for 10 minutes before removing lid and cooling.

 

Salad

Mix and match any vegetables you have on hand for this salad.

Serves 2 to 4

 

½ cup shelled fava beans

2 small watermelon radishes, peeled and thinly sliced

2 red radishes, sliced

1 medium carrots, diagonally sliced

½ cup shelled peas

1 ½ cups cooked forbidden black rice

Handful chopped parsley

2 tablespoons chopped chives, plus more to garnish

Extra virgin olive oil or cold pressed flax oil to drizzle

Sea salt to taste

Steam fava beans for 2 minutes or until tender, remove from steamer and slip out of their skins. Place in a salad bowl and set aside. Steam watermelon radishes 2 minutes or until tender, remove from steamer and spread over a plate to cool. Steam remaining vegetables separately, for 1 to 3 minutes or until tender. Spread them out to cool and then add to the salad bowl with fava beans. Add cooked black rice, parsley and chives. Drizzle with oil and a pinch of salt and toss to combine. Serve warm or room temperature.

Print recipe here.

 


breakfast

breakfast

I’ve been bored with my breakfast routine of late, my usual oatmeal and almond milk just isn’t getting me into the kitchen with much enthusiasm.  Neither is my fall back breakfast: sprouted toast with almond butter. Maybe it’s just that I’m ready for spring to usher in some seasonal inspiration or perhaps, I simply need something completely new? Since we’ve had some glorious spring-like days, the thought of a cool (or room temperature) breakfast is becoming more appealing.  With warmer mornings in mind, I started to experiment. I wanted to create a dairy-free, yogurt-like breakfast that can be topped with all my favorite breakfast add in’s: nuts, hemp seeds, bee pollen, berries etcetera.  And, like good natural yogurt it needed to have a wonderfully tangy flavor, which the berries provide. I’ve ordered a starter to make coconut yogurt, but until that project materializes I used chia seeds to get the desired thick and satisfying texture, the frozen banana also helps. After blending all the ingredients, simply pulse in the chia seeds and let the mixture sit for 15 minutes (or longer) before serving. This also helps it come to room temperature, which is better for digestion especially when the mornings are cool. I hope you enjoy this as much as my clients do!

Photo by Stephen Johnson 

 

Raspberry chia smoothie bowl

Adding coconut water gives this bowl a subtle sweet flavor but you could also replace it with water. If you like a sweeter flavor, add a medjool date or two. Look for unpasteurized coconut water in the fridge or freezer section or your health food store…or if you have access to fresh organic coconuts then you’re in for a treat. Unfortunately any imported fresh coconuts are irradiated here in the United States.

½ cup almonds, soaked overnight in 1 cup filtered water

2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries

¾ cup fresh orange juice

1 frozen banana

¾ cup unpasteurized coconut water

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon coconut butter or extra virgin coconut oil

3 tablespoons chia seeds

 

To serve:

Toasted almonds, chopped

Hemp seeds

Bee pollen

Maca root

Fresh berries or fruit

Drain and rinse almonds and place in an upright blender. Add remaining ingredients, except chia seeds and blend on high speed until completely smooth. Add chia seeds and stir thoroughly or pulse a couple of times until evenly incorporated. Set aside for at least 15 minutes or until mixture has thickened. Pour into two bowls and sprinkle with toppings.

Print recipe here.

cakes, cashew sour cream and garnishes

cakes, cashew sour cream and garnishes

As I rummaged for lively looking vegetables at the health food store recently, my idea for these cakes changed numerous times. At first they were curried, then root vegetable, then herbed, then I finally settled on this recipe. Usually “what to cook” becomes clear to me once I’ve stood before organic vegetables for a minute or two –although a walk thru the farmer’s market most of the year can result in a flood of ideas, usually too many to organize into a single meal. Fresh, colorful vegetables speak to me in a way that triggers cravings and a desire for a certain flavor combination; they catch my attention and ultimately, they themselves decide what will end up becoming dinner.

Of course it becomes more difficult for the veggies to “speak” by the time it gets to the tail end of winter, when they’ve lost much of their vitality from being stored for long periods of time or shipped from warmer regions.  So my solution is to visualize flavor combinations before heading to the store.

These cakes, despite the winding road it took to get to them were tasty and delicious. I love the way the whipped cashew cream highlights the sweet vegetables, cilantro and chili.  Keep the recipe on hand for topping anything that needs a creamy and tangy component.

sweet potato carrot cakes

sweet potato carrot cakes

 

Sweet Potato Carrot Cakes with Cilantro and Chili

I didn’t end up using all the red lentils that I cooked, but I’ve left the full amount here as it’s only a cup and I find it’s good to have protein on hand for quick meals.

Makes about 14 2 ½-inch cakes

1 ¼ cup red lentils, rinsed

1 ½ cups filtered water

2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil, plus more for brushing pan and cakes

1 large onion, finely chopped

6 cloves garlic, minced

Sea salt

2-inch piece peeled fresh turmeric, finely grated or 1 teaspoon dried turmeric

1 red chili, thinly sliced ( I used a red jalapeno) plus more to garnish

1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro stems, from one bunch cilantro

3 medium carrots, grated, divided (about 6 cups)

2 small sweet potatoes, grated (I used one regular and one Japanese sweet potato)

1 cup chopped cilantro leaves, plus more to garnish

2 scallions thinly sliced

1 teaspoon tamari, plus more to taste

1 ½ teaspoons brown rice vinegar

Combine lentils and water in a small pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover pot, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, remove from heat and set aside covered while you prepare the other ingredients.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, brush paper with coconut oil (you may have to melt it first) and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (convection bake) or 400 degrees if you don’t have a convection setting.

Warm coconut oil in a wide skillet over medium heat and add onion. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until golden. Add garlic and a large pinch of salt and continue cooking for another 3 minutes. Stir in turmeric, chili and cilantro stems and cook 2 minutes longer. Reserve about 1 cup of grated carrot and add the rest to the skillet along with the grated sweet potato. Cook, stirring for 4 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender but not soft. Remove from heat, stir in remaining carrot, cilantro leaves, scallions, tamari and rice vinegar and set aside.

Remove 1 cup of red lentils from the pot and save for another use. Place remaining red lentils into skillet and mix to combine. Season to taste with salt and tamari and set aside until cool enough to handle.

Shape into cakes, using a ¼ cup measure as a guide. Flatten them a little, place on prepared tray and brush with coconut oil. Bake for 20 minutes or until browning on the bottom. Flip over and continue baking for another 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown on each side.

ready for the oven

ready for the oven

 

cashew lime sour cream

cashew lime sour cream

Cashew Lime Sour Cream

Use this tangy, light cream anywhere you would use regular sour cream.

 

1 cup cashews, soaked 4 to 6 hours

Zest of one lime

3 to 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons filtered water

½ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste

 

Drain and rinse cashews and place in an upright blender. Set lime zest aside and add remaining ingredients. Blend until completely smooth and velvety, scraping sides as necessary. Season to taste and add reserved lime zest. Pulse to combine and pour into a bowl. Place in the fridge for an hour or until ready to serve. Sour cream will last 2 to 3 days in an airtight container.

Print recipe here.

 

salad + dressing

salad + dressing

During the last photo shoot for my cookbook we focused on my pantry and  capturing ingredient glossary shots. For these, I needed to have all my favorite beans on hand; since many are heirloom beans, I made a big order from Rancho Gordo in California.  They have the best range or runner beans, which are large, creamy and super flavorful. Runners come in all colors: scarlet, which I used here, black, purple and white. They make any dish special and taste great in a simple olive oil and vinegar marinade. These black runners, called Ayocote negro are absolutely beautiful and make the simplest of meals stand out. They also seem to keep their bright shine, and shape even after being cooked and the texture is delightfully creamy.  I do find that they need to cook 40 minutes in the pressure cooker, rather than 30 minutes like other large beans. If you’re boiling them you may need to allow another 30 to 40 minutes to make sure they are cooked through.

ayocote negro beans

ayocote negro beans

Having a jar of these cooked beans in the fridge, effortlessly dresses up simple salads or any plain steamed vegetable or grain bowl. I’ve bean eating variations of this salad all week, steaming vegetables I have on hand, sometimes stirring in some warm quinoa and always topping it with a bit of avocado. I’m also been adding this tasty cilantro pumpkin seed dressing (inspired by this recipe) to anything that needs a burst of bright flavor.

cilantro pumpkin seed dressing

cilantro pumpkin seed dressing

Tangy cilantro Pumpkin Seed Dressing

The inspiration for this dressing comes from My New Roots. If you have plenty of limes and want a more pronounced lime flavor then replace some of the apple cider vinegar with fresh lime juice. I enjoy this dressing both thick and creamy and also thinned out a bit with a little extra water, depending on what I’m drizzling it over.

Makes about 1 ¼ cup

½ cup freshly toasted pumpkin seeds

½ cup roughly chopped cilantro

½ – 1 clove garlic

2 tablespoons unpasteurized apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon white balsamic

1 teaspoon tamari

Large pinch cayenne pepper, plus more to taste

Sea salt to taste

½ cup filtered water, plus more to thin out dressing

¼ cup cold pressed flax oil

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Add all ingredients to an upright blender and blend until smooth. Add sea salt to taste and extra cayenne pepper, and blend again. Pour into a jar and store any left over in the fridge for up to 3 days.

beans, squash, scallions and cilantro leaves

beans, squash, scallions and cilantro leaves

Heirloom black bean and kabocha Salad

Although not pictured here, avocado makes a great addition to this salad.

If you cooked the beans ahead like I often do, you can reheat them when you steam the squash or serve them room temperature.

Serves 4

2 cups cooked black runner (Ayocote Negro) beans, drained

Sea salt

¼ of a medium kabocha squash, seeded, cut in thirds and sliced in ¼ inch thick pieces

2 scallions, thinly sliced

Cilantro leaves and toasted pumpkin seeds to garnish

 

While beans are still warm place them in a bowl, add a pinch of salt, stir to combine and set aside.

Place kabocha in a steamer basket and steam for about 10 minutes or until soft but not falling apart. Add to the beans, along with the scallions and gently toss to combine. Divide into bowls, sprinkle with cilantro leaves and pumpkin seeds and drizzle with dressing.

Print recipe here.

dusting...

dusting…

There is the sweetest little bakery in Williamsburg (Brooklyn) called Bakeri, which I’m sure many of you know. It’s the kind of place that I once fantasized about opening when I lived in London. Coincidentally, the mural on Bakeri’s wall depicting a nymph-like woman holding a tray of cakes is almost identical to what we (my catering business partner and I) had wanted to paint on the walls of our dream location. We were inspired by a mural painted on a mirror in the oldest patisserie in Paris called Stohrer. I first saw the romantic image in a cookbook I still have called Paris Boulangerie Patisserie by Linda Dannenberg. Many of my vegan creations were inspired by pastries in that book and I still love browsing the lavish photographs.

When I saw the painted image on the wall in Bakeri I instantly fell in love with the place. Thanks to my sister’s expertise at sussing out the best chocolate cookies in New York she introduced me to their cacao nib and sea salt cookie. This cookie is as dark as night with an almost silky texture and tangy deep chocolate flavor that is not at all too sweet, rich or heavy.  Although these gluten free and vegan chocolate treats are nothing like Bakeri’s little cookies, they were motivated by their flavor and small size.

chocolate bites

chocolate bites

Gluten free baking is fairly simple without dairy as there are plenty of replacements but omitting the eggs can be problematic. Because of their binding quality the addition of eggs greatly increases the chances of a gluten free baking experiment succeeding. So, with this in mind the first thing I did was put some dates to simmer.  These would be my binder while providing sweetness and moisture—I also really love dates! Adding some ground flax to the wet ingredients creates an egg-like consistency. With or with out gluten, I find the addition of nut meals and ground coconut delicious in baked goods. Here the almond meal and ground coconut combined with coconut oil add a delicate sweetness and plenty of moisture. A chunk of dark chocolate baked into the center adds just enough chocolate-y depth.  Melting chocolate is of course delicious eaten warm from the oven, but I also enjoyed them served chilled. After a few hours in the fridge the coconut oil solidifies and the resulting texture is firm and deliciously dense. Either way, they’re a lovely treat to make for the loved ones in your life. Happy Valentines Day (aka a wonderful excuse to bake something with chocolate!).

with kukicha tea and cherries

with kukicha tea and cherries

 

Chocolate coconut bites

Don’t be tempted to make these without cup cake liners, as they will crumble when trying to remove them from the pans. As I mention above, a few hours in the fridge gives them a firmer texture that doesn’t crumble when removing from the paper liners.

Makes about 18 I-inch bites

 

½ cup deglet dates

¼ cup cocoa powder, plus more to dust

¼ cup warm water

2 tablespoons ground flax seeds

½ cup unsweetened shredded dried coconut

½ cup almond meal

2 tablespoons brown rice flour

¼ cup gluten free oat flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ cup melted extra virgin coconut oil

¼ cup maple syrup

¼ cup coconut sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon sea salt

70 to 85% dark chocolate, broken into pieces

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line mini muffin pans with paper liners and set aside.

Place dates in a small pot and cover with about half an inch of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, lower heat slightly and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Cover pot, remove from heat and set aside while you prepare the other ingredients.

Place cocoa powder in a small bowl, add warm water and whisk until dissolved. Whisk in ground flax and set aside.

Place coconut in a food processor and grind until fine, about 40 seconds. Transfer to a medium bowl and add almond meal and brown rice flour. Sift in oat flour and baking powder and stir to combine.

 

Drain dates, pressing them to extract as much water as possible. Place them in a food processor with the cocoa flax mixture and blend until smooth. Add coconut oil, maple syrup, coconut sugar, vanilla extract and salt, and blend again. Pour into dry mixture and stir until combined. Spoon into prepared pan, filling all the way to the top. Lightly press a small square of chocolate into each one and bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until tops are firm and chocolate has melted. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Dust with cocoa powder. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.

Print recipe here.

 

 

 

Curried cauliflower soup

Curried cauliflower soup

Firstly, thanks to you, my subscribers for your patience with my website and hosting issues over the last week. I have now moved to a new host and hope that the erroneous WordPress posts are a thing of the past!

Now, on to more important issues  – SOUP, my daily staple and favorite thing to eat in the winter.  I can’t count how many variations of the ever-popular cauliflower greens soup I make for myself and my clients from fall right through spring. Cauliflower is one of the most reliable vegetables for soups available in most of the year; it blends well with an endless variety of ingredients and always results in a perfectly velvety texture.  Because there are no flavorful winter squash, zucchini, sweet corn or tomatoes during the coldest months, (unless you;ve stashed a supply of kaocha before it disappeared from the market), cauliflower along with carrots and broccoli are the veggies I use primarily for creamy soups. And though I know there are potato and sweet potato soups to be made, neither feels nourishing to me, although a little sweet potato or yam can sweeten up that pale butternut squash when you’re in a pinch. Other than that, they’re not what I want eat for a few days in a row, which is my whole point of making a pot of soup—easy comforting meals on hand and ready in minutes. Topped with a drizzle of flax oil, some chopped parsley and scallions, toast or crackers on the side and you have a perfect warming lunch or dinner.

Curried cauliflower soup with spinach and nigella seeds

Using homemade curry powder is key to a deliciously fragrant soup, I vary the amount depending how strong I want the spicy flavor to be. If you end up making it stronger than you like, try stirring in a cup of coconut milk to temper it a bit. Unless I’m serving the whole pot of soup, I leave the spinach out and add a handful to each portion I heat. This way it stays bright and green and doesn’t over cook when being reheated.

Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil

2 onions, diced

Sea salt

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 ½  inch piece ginger, peeled and minced

3 to 4 teaspoons homemade curry powder

1 large head cauliflower, chopped in 1 ½ inch pieces

Filtered water

Tamari to taste

3 cups baby spinach

To serve:

Cold pressed flax oil

1 tablespoon nigella seeds, toasted, see note

Warm oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes or until golden. Add a pinch of salt, garlic and ginger and continue cooking for 3 minutes. Stir in curry powder and add cauliflower. Add water to just below the surface of the cauliflower and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover pot, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until cauliflower is soft. Remove from heat and blend in an upright blender until completely smooth and velvety—fill the blender half way as it will splutter and can burn you. Add more water to get desired consistency. Return soup to pot and reheat over medium heat. Season to taste with salt and tamari. Stir in baby spinach leaves and cook until softened and deep green. Remove from heat, ladle into bowls and drizzle with flax oil and a pinch of nigella seeds

Note: nigella seeds are black caraway seeds. They can be found in Indian markets and some Middle Eastern markets. To toast: warm a small skillet over medium heat add tablespoon of seeds and toast for a minute or two or until fragrant. Don’t over toast, as they will become bitter. Remove from pan and set aside until ready to serve the soup.

Print recipe here.

Photo by Stephen Johnson.

Thanks to everyone at Get The Gloss for featuring me as blogger of the week.

 

Instant miso soup

These last two months can be counted among the busiest periods in my life to date.  With final rounds of book edits, family visits, new clients, continuous cooking classes and non-stop private cooking, it’s been a hectic and exciting time.

My daily routine is starting to feel a bit more like normal and I’m glad to get back to posting here! (Thank you for being such patient readers!) Although you’ve not seen as much from me on my own blog, I’ve been having fun writing posts for the Food Network’s Healthy Eats blog. You can find monthly recipes for smoothies, sweet treats, breakfasts and salads. I also post some healthy eating tips. Hope you can check it out! Below is a peak of some recient recipes you’ll find there.

 

Since this winter has been extremely cold in New York, many people have been fighting off colds and the flu. This simple miso soup is what I turn to when I’m feeling under the weather and have no time to make dashi (the broth used in traditional miso soups and this one). Although making a dashi has all the added benefits of seaweeds and shitakes, this virtually instant, shortcut version still hits the spot. It manages to clear your head and sooth a sore throat immediately. The best thing about it is that all you need are a few basic ingredients—scallions, fresh ginger, unpasteurized miso and boiling water.

It is very important that the miso you purchase is naturally fermented (traditionally made) and unpasteurized. Traditionally made miso is created by fermenting grains and beans with koji, a culture used in making sake, for 1 to 3 years. This results in a richly flavored paste that can be used in soups, marinades, dressings and sauces. The natural fermentation process breaks the proteins and carbohydrates down into easily assimilated amino acids and provides abundant probiotics to support healthy digestion.  Miso has alkalizing properties that help balance acidic conditions in the body that can result from too much stress, sugar and animal products. Creating an alkaline environment helps strengthen the immune system and fight disease.

Since unpasteurized misos contain live active enzymes and probiotics they need to be refrigerated. Look for them in the refrigerator section of health food stores.  If they’re stored on a shelf then they’ve been pasteurized and don’t contain all the beneficial bacteria that give miso its special healing properties. Don’t be afraid to stock up on a variety of flavors, as miso will keep in the fridge indefinitely.

 

Misos I keep on hand

Clockwise from top: aduki bean, sweet white, hearty rown rice and Chickpea.

My favorite brand of miso is South River Miso Co. Their misos are made by hand using traditional methods and organic ingredients. They make classic misos like sweet white miso and barley, and they also have many different flavors that can turn the simplest of miso soups into a culinary delight. Look out for their aduki, dandelion leek, golden millet and their newest addition garlic red pepper (which I’m yet to try!). I find their miso is less strong than other types I’ve used, so I often use more. Their misos also contain the hulls from the grains and beans giving them more texture and an aerated quality.

It’s also great that South River Miso is packaged in glass jars, since fermented products tend to leech plastic chemicals into food. Given this, it’s a good idea to transfer any miso you do buy in plastic to a glass container.

Photos by Stephen Johnson 

Virtually instant miso soup

Keep in mind that the longer aged, darker misos have a stronger flavor than white and light colored miso, so start with less and add more to taste. I also find I need a heaping tablespoon of most of the South River Miso flavors.

When I’m fighting off a cold I sometimes add a pinch of cayenne pepper and some crushed garlic to this mixture.

1 scant tablespoon unpasteurized miso, any flavor

1 cup boiling water

2 to 3 teaspoons finely grated ginger

Large pinch sliced scallions

Place miso in a mug, add boiling water and stir to dissolve. Squeeze grated ginger over cup to extract juice. Stir in scallions and drink hot. Add more boiling water or miso to taste.

 

 

fresh out of the oven

 

Since it was released last year, Sara Forte’s The Sprouted Kitchen cookbook has migrated from our book shelves to the coffee table, to the kitchen counter and back several times. And though I’ve have looked at almost every page on at least three occasions (if not more), it’s only just recently that I’ve had time to make one of the many tempting recipes.

This recipe jumped out at me not only because I love almond meal and coconut in anything, but also because I happened to have all the ingredients on hand…well almost, save mascavado sugar. I replaced it with coconut sugar and the cookies ended up mildly sweet, which was perfect for me. I’m sure the mascovado sugar would have provided a crisper edge and stronger flavor. The cookies are chewy, with the added interest and intensity of cacao nibs. I have to say, these are a great quick and easy, gluten-free cookie to whip up and they store well too—that is I think they would except they didn’t last more than a day and half, everyone loved them!

If you’re doing any holiday baking these make a nice addition—a more adult alternative to the common chocolate chip cookie.

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday and all the very best for a great 2014.

Amy x.

Lovely photos by Stephen Johnson

cacao nibs

 

The Sprouted Kitchen’s Almond meal cookies with coconut and cacao nibs.

Barely adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen cookbook by Sara Forte.

Sara mentions that the egg can be replaced with 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds and 3 tablespoons water but that they don’t rise as much. The recipe suggested cooking these cookies for 7 to 10 minutes but I found in my oven they needed 12 to 13 minutes.

Makes 20

1 ¼ cups almond meal

¼ cup cacao nibs

½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup coconut sugar (Sara’s recipe uses muscovado sugar)

1 egg

3 tablespoons melted extra virgin coconut oil

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

coconut sugar, nibs and almond meal

Combine almond meal, cacao nibs, coconut, baking powder, salt and sugar in a medium bowl and set aside.

Whisk egg thoroughly until doubled in volume. Whisk in coconut oil and vanilla extract, and stir into dry mixture until just combined. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes or up to overnight.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Roll dough into balls about an inch in diameter and place on lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Gently press cookies to flatten them a little. Bake 10 to 13 minutes or until edges are just beginning to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Store left over cookies in an airtight jar for a couple of days,…but they last that long.

 

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