by Amy Chaplin
Martha's Circle
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.

 

kohlrabi salad

If you’re looking for a refreshing salad to add brightness to your Thanksgiving meal, this one will work perfectly. It has a lively, bitter bite from the mustard and watercress, lots of crisp, juicy texture from shaved kohlrabi and a touch of sweet from the apple.

I usually don’t go for fruit in savory salads, but at a recent dinner at Ilbuco my sister ordered this salad for the table and I couldn’t believe how good it was—the combination of flavors and textures was simple and captured the season perfectly.

Kohlrabi is a member of the Brassica family, its name comes from the German words for cabbage “kohl” and turnip “rube.” It looks like a green turnip (although some varieties are red) with leaves that grow strait up. The texture and surprising juiciness of kohlrabi reminds some people of jicama, but with a sweet mild broccoli-like flavor.

Like other members of the Brassica family, kohlrabi is full of cancer fighting phytochemicals along with minerals such as iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium and high amounts of vitamin C and E.

It is in season now and in abundance at the farmer’s market. Once you’ve had enough of eating it raw, try steaming it for a sweeter soft texture.

Wishing everyone a very happy and peaceful thanksgiving!

 

gorgeous greens

ps. The problems with my feed burner account have not yet been resolved and it seems that it cannot be… figuring out an alternative solution, so sorry!

I hate for you to miss out on new posts, please stay updated via the Coconut and Quinoa facebook page and instagram for now.  Thanks for your patients!

Thank you to Stephen Johnson for these lovely images.

 

Kohlrabi mustard green salad with aged sheep cheese.

This recipe is my version of Ibuco’s mustard and kohlrabi salad–on their menu this fall. Part of the reason the components work so well is because they are all at their peak right now. I chose a tart green apple and left the skin on, but use whatever apples taste the best.

Serves 2 large side salads.

Dressing

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

Large pinch Maldon salt or other flakey sea salt

 

Salad

6 cups loosely packed bite-size mixture of red and green mustard and watercress

1 medium kohlrabi, peeled and shaved

1 medium apple, shaved

2oz aged sheep cheese, shaved

 

Make the dressing:

Place all the dressing ingredients in a small jar and shake to combine.

 

Make the salad:

Add all the salad ingredients to a medium salad bowl. Drizzle with dressing, gently toss and serve.

Print recipe here.

 

Acorn squash

When I worked at Angelica Kitchen these middle weeks in November were always the busiest and most productive time. Although we began planning our annual 5-course Thanksgiving menu way back in August, as the days counted down, the reservations streamed in and the deliveries piled up—taking every bit of space available in the restaurant, it was around now that the various pieces began to come into focus.

Since the planning began in late summer, we’d be able to talk to farmers about what vegetables we wanted to use so they could plant for us accordingly. On any given year we might need enough radicchio for 300 salads or multiple cases of Japanese turnips to pickle for the famous pickle plate. The bottom line was that the menu had to be finalized by October 31st so that our customers could see it and book their tables.

Deciding on the two mains that would be offered on the menu was the first step and always the most involved. Being a farm to table vegan restaurant, we looked at all that was available from our vast number of purveyors: mushrooms, heirloom beans, herbs, dried chilies, wine and traditionally harvested corn products before deciding on a direction for each main course. Then the next challenge was to create one gluten-free, one mushroom free, one prepared without wine, one without nuts, one without corn and one without squash. We also wanted each Thanksgiving menu to be different, and hopefully better than the one the year before…all while keeping in mind we had to be able to produce enough of these meals to serve the hundreds of customers who came to celebrate Thanksgiving with us every year.

I would spend hours preparing an array of different dishes for the initial tastings, and then we’d narrow it down from there. Once the two mains were decided we could move on to deciding the soups, an appetizer, a salad and the three desserts, and lastly what would be served as guests were seated.

Although certain components of some courses like pickles and infused oils needed to be made well in advance, in order to prepare the actual meal, a team of us would work from 6 am up until 10 or 11 pm at night for 3 days before the Thursday of Thanksgiving. We’d then begin well before dawn on the day, after the overnight prep chefs had left our long lists completed. Along with all the prep for the Thanksgiving meal, we also continued to cook the 2 daily specials, soups and desserts plus the regular menu right up until Thanksgiving.

roasted squash

It was an intense week (to say the least!) and a steady build up to the 11 am staff tasting where we presented the 5-course meal. The tasting was the first time we’d see all the dishes together. And, it was a big hurdle to get over, as it was many weeks since we’d seen some dishes plated. It’s near impossible to taste anything after so many days sampling dozens of flavors, hours standing over 20 gallon pots of rich bubbling stocks and checking the balance of pie spices in 200 pounds of roasted pureed squash for the 30 plus pumpkin pies we needed to bake and cool in time for service, but you try!

After the tasting we’d get strait back to the kitchen with many more things added to our lists and only moments to tweak any of the menu items. As the first seating approached, wait staff got busy in the dining room organizing reservations and setting tables with linen napkins and fresh flowers.  In the kitchen, we got ready for the first rush of orders beginning precisely at noon—the telephone ringing off the hook with take out orders, requests for last minute reservations and questions about the menu.

On one particular Thanksgiving, I recall someone calling in the midst of the morning rush to ask about a recipe in The Angelica Home Kitchen cookbook that they were preparing for their own Thanksgiving dinner.  I could feel my mind go numb as I scrambled to find space in it to process what the distraught person was explaining. Somehow I managed to clear my thoughts enough to answer their questions before returning to the task at hand, fretting about the amount of each main we’d made and whether or not they would last the day. Predicting what people would be in the mood for eating was always a test on our physic abilities.  In the end, it was just safer to make extra….our worst fear was running out of one choice and disappointing customers who had planned a month (some even a year) in advance to share Thanksgiving with us.

Ultimately, once things got going it felt like a dance, with everyone moving in time and any potential stumbles miraculously prevented. I would stand back periodically and although exhausted, enjoy the flow of activity and all those months of planning and preparation paying off.

I worked Thanksgiving for 5 years in a row at Angelica and will never forget the mood in the kitchen these weeks building up to and of course the crazy-busy morning of Thanksgiving. Even now, I love to stop in a couple of days before the big day to see the kitchen alive and full of the enticing and unmistakable aromas of the delectable meal to come.

I hope this gets you in the mood to cook!

The meal

Beautiful photography is courtesy of Stephen Johnson.

Roasted acorn squash with beluga lentil, mushrooms and chestnut filling.

This dish is inspired by a combination of my favorite main courses that we prepared when I worked at Angelica Kitchen. If you are still looking for a rich and tasty plant inspired (vegan) Thanksgiving dish, I thoroughly recommend this. The filling can be made up to two days in advance and heated on the stovetop while the squash roasts. It can also be served as a side by cutting the squash into quarters and ladling the filling over them. Either way it’s a lovely celebration of warming fall flavors.

Here I roasted enough squash to serve 6 people but the filling will be enough for up 8 to 10 squash. I used scarlet runner heirloom beans in the filling; if you can’t find them you can replace them with any creamy large bean. Also feel free to replace the beluga lentils with French lentils—for some reason mine looked the same brown color after being cooked.

 

Filling

1 cup beluga lentils, soaked overnight for 12 to 24 hours

2 inch piece kombu

8 bay leaves

Extra virgin olive oil

1 rounded cup peeled pearl onions or small shallots

Sea salt

8 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped thyme, plus more sprigs to garnish

1 tablespoon chopped sage, plus more whole leaves to garnish

1 tablespoon chopped oregano

1 tablespoon chopped rosemary

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons red wine

3 tablespoons mirin

2 teaspoons tamari

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 ½ cups cooked heirloom beans, I used scarlet runner

1 cup cooked chestnuts, halved

1 pound crimini mushrooms, quartered

½ pound shitake mushrooms, sliced

1 tablespoon kuzu

Freshly ground black pepper

 

Squash

3 small acorn squash

Extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt

 

Make the filling:

Drain and rinse lentils. Place in a medium pot and cover with 1 inch of filtered water. Add kombu and bay leaves and bring to a boil, cover pot lower heat and simmer 30 minutes or until soft. Remove from heat and set aside.

Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add pearl onions and a pinch of salt and sauté for a couple of minutes. Cover pot, reduce heat to low and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once onions are cooked through and browning, add garlic and all the herbs; sauté for a few minutes or until garlic is golden.

Strain lentils, reserving cooking liquid and add to the pot along with 1 ½ cups of the reserved lentil cooking liquid. Add wine, mirin, tamari and balsamic vinegar. Bring up to a simmer, add cooked beans and chestnuts and allow to cook while you sauté the mushrooms.

 

Warm a wide skillet over medium heat, add enough olive oil to generously cover the pan and add half of the crimini mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Allow the mushrooms to brown before stirring; this takes a minute or two. Remove from heat and add to lentil mixture. Repeat with remaining crimini, before removing from heat. Add some thyme leaves and sage leaves. Stir until herbs are wilted, then remove from heat and set aside. Cook shitakes in two batches the same way; adding half to the lentil mixture and cooking the other half with herbs and adding to the reserved criminis.

Taste the lentils and season with salt and pepper. Cover pot and continue simmering for 20 to 30 minutes or until ready to serve.

 

Roast the squash:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Cut each squash in half lengthways. Scoop out seeds and some flesh if the cavity is small. Slice a little off the side of each squash so that they can sit flat when serving. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Rub squash with oil and turn over to face cavity down. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes or until cooked through and squash is browning. Remove from oven and place on a platter. Fill with lentil mixture and scatter reserved sautéed mushrooms over the top, sprinkle with black pepper and serve warm.

Print recipe here.

soup

When my friend and part-time neighbor Mary mentioned to me that she wanted to learn a quick soup to make on the rare occasions she’s home, I knew immediately I had to show her how to make an easy red lentil soup. Being the in-demand and talented make up artist that she is, Mary travels for work constantly and needed a recipe that didn’t require any pre-soaking or advance planning—also one that uses ingredients that keep well in the fridge. Red lentils are perfect for creating a satisfying and warming soup as they cook into creamy goodness by the time you’ve prepped the veg and sautéed the onions.

I happened to have lemongrass and fresh turmeric on hand but these ingredients are not required to achieve a warming and satisfying dish. This soup can also be made with the lots of chopped fresh herbs in place of ginger, turmeric, coconut and lemongrass. Or, add a tablespoon of curry powder (instead of the turmeric) after sautéing the ginger and garlic –with or without the coconut, lemongrass and chili.

It’s worth buying and storing ginger, carrots, onions and garlic and if you happen to find lemongrass and fresh turmeric root they too keep well in the fridge for weeks.

Red lentils don’t need to be soaked ahead of time because they don’t have a skin and therefore don’t contain phytic acid—the nutrient blocker that prevents whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds from sprouting in our pantries. On the other hand, French and green lentils do need to soaked overnight because, though they cook up relatively quickly, they contain phytic acid which needs to be removed before being cooked.

fresh grated turmeric, fresh Kaffir limes, ginger, red chili, cilantro and lemongrass

Easy Thai red lentil soup

For added greens try stirring a handful of spinach, chard or finely chopped kale into the simmering soup before serving. If you happen to see Kaffir lime leaves, they taste great added to the lentils while they cook.

Serves 4 to 6

2 cups red lentil, washed

5 cups filtered water, divided

2 inch piece kombu

1 stalk lemongrass, split and cut in half, optional

2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil

1 large onion, diced

5 cloves garlic, minced

2 inch piece ginger, peeled and minced

1 to 2 teaspoon minced fresh red chili or pinch dried red chili flakes

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 ½ teaspoons dry turmeric or 1 tablespoon grated fresh turmeric

2 tablespoons minced cilantro stems, leaves chopped and reserved

2 medium carrots, diced

3 cups cubed butternut squash (  ¾ inch cube)

1 13.5oz can coconut milk, divided

Place lentils in a medium pot and add 3 cups of water, kombu and lemongrass. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover pot, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes or until you’re ready to add them to the vegetables. They’ll get creamier the longer they cook.

In another large pot warm the coconut oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for 5 minutes or until golden. Add garlic and ginger and continue cooking for another 3 minutes. Stir in chili, turmeric and cilantro stems and cook another minute. Add carrot, butternut and remaining cup of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover pot, lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until vegetables are cooked through. Add lentils and half of the coconut milk and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes to allow flavors to marry. Stir in a large handful of chopped cilantro leaves. Serve soup and drizzle each bowl with a little of the remaining coconut milk and garnish with cilantro and sliced red chilies if desired.

soup

Just tossed salad

Firstly, I’m sorry for the lack of posting going on around here!  It’s been a busy last few months including a 4-week trip to Australia, shooting the cover for my book and a big round of book edits.  Please know that I’ve really missed sharing recipes with all of you and the feeling of connectedness I get through cooking and photographing the food that I love.

Having been so absorbed in the process of writing the book and testing the recipes for it, I couldn’t seem to find room in my mind (or fridge!) for any new ideas to share here. My hat goes off to my fellow bloggers who seem to be able to keep posting while writing a book, working and being moms!

Anyway it’s good to be back, especially in the midst of peak fall with the abundance of my favorite vegetables—winter squash, shelling beans, cauliflower, sweet corn and the last of the tomatoes, eggplant and peppers. Most of all, I really hope you enjoy this salad.  Roasting is such a great way to use up odd amounts of vegetables you have on hand (and warm up the kitchen!); and the mustard dressing enlivens them and plays off their sweet flavor perfectly. A very happy autumn to you all!

fall salad

Autumn roast vegetable salad with mustard dressing

You can use any combination of vegetables here; just make sure they are roasting in a single layer, as the veggies need to be able to brown to achieve the best flavor. If you spread them over two smaller trays, be sure to rotate them half way. This salad could also be tossed with some baby greens like arugula, watercress or spinach for a lighter meal or if you need to serve more than 4 people.

Serves 4

Roasted vegetables

½ medium cauliflower, cut into medium florets

3 small red onions, quartered lengthways

4 small red peppers, cut into 1-inch strips

¼ medium red kuri squash, peeled and seeded and cut into ¾ inch by 3 inch slices

Extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

 

Dressing

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

2 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon naturally fermented mirin

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

 

Salad

1 ½ cups cooked and drained chickpeas

1 cup finely sliced Lacinato kale

 

Roast the vegetables:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and add all the vegetables. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss well to combine. Spread vegetables evenly over tray in a snug single layer. Roast for 30 minutes or until most of the vegetables have a brown bottom, turn each vegetable over and roast another 20 minutes or until browning.

Remove from oven and set aside to cool on the tray.

ready to roast

cooling

add chickpeas and dressing

Make the dressing:

Warm a skillet over medium heat and add mustard seeds. Toast for a couple of minutes or until you hear the first one pop. Transfer to a bowl and add Dijon mustard, garlic, vinegars and mirin; whisk to combine. Add olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper and whisk again. Stir in chickpeas and pour over cooled vegetables. Add kale and gently toss to combine. Serve at room temperature.

ready

Print recipe here.

 

marinated beet salad with feta, mint and pistachios

The really good organic heirloom tomatoes have just hit the farmer’s market: plump, juicy, tangy and sweet. I know it’s hard at the moment to think of eating a dish that doesn’t revolve around a tomato of some sort, but this tasty beet salad is so good and deliciously refreshing that I had to share it. The colorful, freshly dug baby beets at the market right now are so tender that they need little more than a splash of vinegar and olive oil to bring out their sweet earthy flavor. The addition of mint and salty feta give the salad a bright, fresh flavor with a little buttery crunch from the toasted pistachios.

baby beet bunches

In this intense summer heat my meals have become increasingly simple—l frequently return to variations of old favorites like tomatoes on toast or quinoa with various toppings (which you see plenty of on instagram). I still cook something every couple of days that can last for a few meals—simple grains, chickpeas or the beets from this salad. Marinated beets combine well with grains or beans and can become a quick lunch with the addition of lots of chopped parsley and scallions, some kraut and avocado or feta. They also make a great snack on rice cakes smeared with fresh goat cheese.

beet salad

I was lucky enough to have Stephen Johnson capture these images. You can see more of his work at stephendotcom.com

Marinated beet salad with feta, pistachios and mint

When the baby beets are fresh they hardly need any time marinating, but they can also be made up to 3 or even 4 days in advance. If you toast the nuts ahead too then it all comes together in minutes. If you don’t mind the feta absorbing some of the pink juices, it sits well after assembly as well.

If it’s too hot to turn the oven on, you can toast the pistachios in a skillet over low to medium heat. Stir every few seconds so they cook evenly, it will take about 5 minutes or so.

 

3 bunches baby beets, about 12 red or golden or a mix

1 tablespoon unpasteurized apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt

¼ cup raw shelled pistachios

Freshly ground black pepper

Fresh mint leaves, roughly torn

3 oz goat milk feta, drained

Beet micro greens to garnish, optional (it’s called Bull’s blood at Windfall Farms)

 

Trim greens off beets, leaving about an inch of the stem. Place in a pot and cover with an inch of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover pot, lower heat and simmer until cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes, or longer if they’re bigger. Drain and rinse beets. Slip off their skins and slice them into ¼ inch rounds. Place in a bowl and add vinegars, olive oil and a large pinch of salt. Toss to combine and set aside to marinate. While the beets marinate toast the pistachios.

marinating beets

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread pistachios over a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet and toast for 6 to 8 minutes or until fragrant and beginning to brown. Remove from oven, allow to cool then roughly chop and set aside.

Toss beets and add pepper and more salt to taste. Spread beets over a large plate or platter along with any extra marinade. Scatter with mint leaves, pistachios and crumbled feta. Garnish with micro greens.

Print recipe here. 

goji-strawberry smoothie

It’s only on these rather hot and humid summer mornings that I entertain the idea of making a smoothie. Although delicious, blended berries rarely make their way into my breakfast routine – I usually eat them whole out of hand or scattered over my staple summer breakfast bowl.

If you’re a smoothie fan then you’ll love this velvety, omega-packed and antioxidant rich blend. It’s tangy and earthy flavor comes from the goji berries, which besides their abundant immune boosting and antioxidant properties also provide loads of vitamin C, amino acids and trace minerals. If you let the smoothie sit for a few minutes (or leave it in the fridge overnight, yes it lasts very well) the flax thickens it up to a shake-like consistency. In order to absorb the full benefit of the omega 3’s that flax contains, the seeds must be ground; soaking them overnight makes it easy to grind them in a blender and also releases their gelatinous quality which sooths digestion.

Photos by Stephen Johnson

flax seeds, goji and strawberries

Goji-strawberry breakfast smoothie

If your strawberries are lacking sweetness, add the optional honey or sweetener of your choice. I use unstrained, homemade almond milk, as that’s what I keep on hand; it also adds more body to the smoothie if you’re drinking it as a meal. You will need to soak the flax and goji overnight; this not only softens them but also allows the flax to thicken to a gelatinous consistency. I soaked the flax and goji on the counter but if you want a cold smoothie, place it in the fridge.

2 tablespoons flax seeds

3 tablespoons goji berries

¾ cup filtered water

 

2 cups hulled strawberries

1 cup homemade almond milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon raw honey or sweetener of choice, optional

 

Add flax seeds and goji berries to a cup or jar,  pour in water and soak overnight or until thick and gelatinous.

Place everything in a blender and blend until completely smooth, drink immediately or allow to sit for a few minutes to thicken.

Any left over smoothie keeps for up to 2 days in the fridge, where it will thicken further.

smoothie!

print recipe here

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