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Mango Coconut Lassi

May 25, 2017

I'm back! It's been a bit of a whirlwind this month - we had a bunch of people visiting from Canada, I went to Stockholm with a friend, we got married (sort of), and my cousin was confirmed all within about three weeks. I decided to take some time off while my best friend was here at the beginning of May and continued it for another week while my parents were visiting. I feel so lucky to be able to do that, and it was a busy but happy few weeks. Stockholm was gorgeous and I'd go back in a heartbeat. I fell in love with Gamla Stan, the old town, and the southern end of the city with a huge nature reserve. We ate some great food, walked about 15km a day, and took the train through the central Swedish countryside, which is the spitting image of the Canadian shield. It's stunning.

We have two new foster cats, now, too! The cat we were fostering a few months ago has a very happy life in the countryside with a huge enclosed outdoor space and his own indoor space. The woman who adopted him is a veterinarian and it's perfect for a traumatized cat. He's doing great now that he can go outside and has other animals around, and we have two new girls who were given up by their adoptive family. They're very sweet and I'm sure someone will take them home soon.


Since getting back into the swing of things, I've finally buckled down and created a more strict and organized photography/posting schedule. It's especially important at this time of year because I have my own garden and there's so much fresh produce available locally, so it's always a crazy time for seasonal recipes! Mango is currently in season and cheap to buy right now, but you can also use frozen in this recipe. Look for some recipes featuring rhubarb, strawberries, and greens in the coming weeks. I generally try my best to eat locally as well as seasonally, but sometimes a treat like this is fine, especially after a long and potato filled winter!

The lassi is very simple, and dairy free, but it tastes just like it should - light and dreamy and a little spicy. The recipe only calls for a maximum of five ingredients but just make sure that you're using the best you can get. If you don't like the taste of a certain yogurt, for example, it won't be covered up in this recipe. Get a good mango, your favourite yogurt, and use whole cardamom pods if you can (which is always better anyway). You can use ataulfo mangos - the small yellow ones - or a regular green mango, which is what I usually choose. Let it get really ripe before making this recipe and you shouldn't need any extra sweetener.


Mango Coconut Lassi
Makes about two cups

1 very ripe mango, peeled and stone removed (about 1 cup flesh)
200 g / 1 cup coconut yogurt
1 pod green cardamom, ground
1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup, optional
Cold water as needed, to thin

Place the mango, yogurt, and cardamom into a blender and blend until smooth and thick. Add a little cold water to thin it out to the consistency you'd like and the honey if it needs extra sweetness. Serve immediately.

Tips: 
• Lassi is generally served at or near room temperature, and I think it tastes best that way - if you want it cold, you can either use frozen mango or chill it before serving.
• If your blender is extra strong, you might be able to toss the cardamom in without grinding it first. I use a mortar and pestle to grind mine before adding it.

Whole Grain Spelt Tortillas

May 01, 2017

I was looking through all of my messy, poorly organized recipe books a few days ago and found some old gems that I first wrote ages ago, like this one. I realized that I don't have very many homemade staple recipes on the blog. There are some, like raw chocolate and different kinds of plant milks, but considering how many of these things I make from scratch, I haven't been sharing enough here. Since we moved to Germany, I've been making things like tortillas and other things that are either really expensive or just not very good here (so pretty much any central/south American foods). If you've never made tortillas at home before, they're dead easy and much tastier than store-bought. So after a little more testing to make sure this recipe was good enough to share, here it is!

You might think you don't have enough time to make these, but you probably do. The trick is to toss whatever you're filling them with in the oven while you make them so that you end up with dinner on the table in the same amount of time anyway. I often make refried beans with the tortillas and then just have a burrito with raw veggies. It ends up taking about 15 minutes total, but that's with some practice quickly rolling and frying, so it might take a little longer the first couple of times you make them. The trick is to roll them out as thin as you can, and use enough flour so they don't stick to the counter. If you tear one just squish it back together and roll it again and don't worry if they're not perfect. 

The tortillas are a little crunchy when they first come out of the pan, but they soften up quickly and are definitely roll- and fold-able. They're made with all whole grain spelt flour, but you can use half light and half whole spelt if you prefer, or even all light. This is a really simple five ingredient recipe and I'm sure it could be adapted to make flatbreads if you roll the dough out a little thicker, but I haven't tried that yet. You can try adding different spices to change up the flavours, too.



Whole Grain Spelt Tortillas
Makes about ten

2 cups spelt flour*
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup hot water
2 tablespoons avocado or olive oil
Coconut oil, for cooking

Add the flour, salt, and baking soda to a large bowl and mix to combine. Stir in the water and olive oil, then stir or knead with your hands until the dough forms into a ball.

Place a large, flat bottomed pan over medium heat. Generously flour a flat surface (a counter) and take a piece of dough that's about the size of a golf ball, or two tablespoons. Flatten it with your hands and then roll it with a floured rolling pin, going in every direction to try to make it round*, as thin as you can. Use as much flour as you need to keep it from sticking.

Add a little bit of coconut oil to the hot pan and use a silicon brush to make sure the pan is coated with oil. Place your rolled out tortilla into the pan and let it cook for 20-30 seconds, then flip it (you can quickly coat the pan with oil again between flipping if you're a stickler) and cook the other side for another 20-30. Don't overcook them.

Repeat the process for the remaining tortillas, placing the finished ones on a plate covered with a tea towel as you go. They'll soften as they sit while you finish cooking the remaining dough but might seem a little crisp at first.

Leftovers don't store very well, so if you have a lot of extras, try cutting them into pieces and baking them at 200C for about ten minutes to make chips the next day. 

Notes:
1. You can use all whole-grain spelt, or a mixture of light and whole, or just use light (I haven't tried this with 100% light spelt but I'm sure it'd work). If you try other types of flour please let me know in the comments!
2. I think I've made one round tortilla ever, ha. They usually turn out wonky but taste the same, so who cares.
3. I usually add a little honey or other sweetener to things like this but really couldn't taste a difference with or without it while I was testing the recipe.

Spring Greens Salad with Wild Garlic

April 21, 2017

This salad is a good example of something that we eat a lot, changing out the vegetables for whatever's in season locally. Right now that means everything green, and radishes. Wild garlic/ramps/bärlauch grows extensively in forested areas and it's available from March to May. You can buy it at farmers' markets at this time of year and it can also be grown in your garden - but if you're gathering it yourself, just remember to be cautious and not to over harvest. Wild garlic has a strong garlicky taste that goes really well with this salad. If you can't find any you can just use your favourite pesto recipe with some avocado blended into it, and a little extra garlic (but please try to seek out wild garlic for this recipe!). 


You can, of course, use different vegetables based on what you have on hand. Green asparagus isn't quite ready yet so I avoided using it in this recipe, but you could add it if you'd like. You could add spinach or chard, broccoli, fiddleheads, snow peas, or any other green vegetables. Substitute another grain like millet or amaranth for the quinoa, add lentils, do whatever you want. The dressing/sauce is what makes this dish special and it's also very good on bread, crackers, and everything else we were eating. So if nothing else, make the sauce and put it on everything.

It might be worth noting that Graham and I ate this whole salad for lunch. If you're serving it as a side to something else (try falafel with it) then it will probably serve four people quite easily. If you're starving because someone had to photograph the salad before eating it, then it only serves two.



Spring Greens Salad with Wild Garlic
Serves 2-4

Salad

1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 leek, cut into 1 cm thick rounds
2 small zucchinis, halved and sliced
1 cup radish greens or fresh spinach
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
Small bunch of wild garlic
5-6 radishes
1 avocado

Place the quinoa, water, and salt into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until all of the water has been absorbed. Set it aside while you finish the vegetables.

While the quinoa is cooking, heat a pan over medium heat with the coconut oil. Add the leeks and zucchini, and cook for about 2 minutes or until lightly golden and softened. Stir in the radish greens and cook for an additional 30 seconds, then add the peas and garlic. Stir to combine, then turn off the heat and place a lid on the pan to gently cook the peas and ramps. 

Thinly slice the radishes and cut the avocado into cubes. To assemble the salad, place the cooked quinoa onto a serving platter and top with the cooked vegetables, radishes, and avocado. Place spoonfuls of the wild garlic sauce over the salad and serve warm, with extra sauce on the side.

Wild Garlic and Avocado Sauce

1 bunch wild garlic, about 50 grams
Small bunch fresh basil
1/2 avocado
2 lemons, juice
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Add the wild garlic, basil, avocado, and lemon juice to a small blender or food processor. Blend until fully combined, and then slowly pour in the olive oil while blending until incorporated. If you can't blend/pour at the same time, then add the olive oil in four increments, blending each time. Season to taste and serve. This keeps well in the fridge for up to two days.

Coconut Yogurt Labneh

April 02, 2017

First things first, this isn't a sponsored post - I just really love the product. If I ever do sponsored posts in the future, though, they'll be for products like this!

The only thing I consistently miss since giving up dairy is cream cheese. Not on bagels or in cheese balls (ugh) but as icing. The only icing I've ever really made is a cream cheese and honey version, and carrot cake hasn't been the same for a while now. I recently found some local-ish (from Hamburg) coconut yogurt at the grocery store we shop at, and the ingredient list is perfect, so I bought it as a treat. I had tried a couple different types of coconut yogurt in Canada but they were always expensive, disappointing, and filled with junk I don't normally eat, so I had given up on it. This one is still on the pricey side but worth it.

This brand is called Harvest Moon (look at that beautiful packaging!), is all organic, and as far as I can tell it's currently only available in German and The Netherlands. I've heard great things about Coyo, based in Australia, but I'm not sure of other brands. I'm going to try making coconut yogurt at home, though, and I'll share the recipe here as soon as I can get it right - because even though I love this yogurt, I can't afford to buy it as much as I want to! There is certainly a coconut flavour, so if you hate coconut then I don't recommend this recipe. I don't find it overwhelming in the finished product, as it's already a little sour as it's a yogurt, and you also add lemon juice.

The method to make labneh is very simple, and you don't need any special equipment. You're essentially straining yogurt overnight to make a type of fresh cheese. It is easier if you have cheesecloth, but for the labneh pictured I used a thin tea towel and it worked just as well, with a little extra squeezing. My toppings clearly aren't vegan, with raw honey and bee pollen, but can easily be altered to suit you. I used this batch for a cream cheese icing with a carrot cake recipe that I'll be sharing soon, and I think it would be nice with a whole host of other treats - crusty bread, fruit, granola, and so on.


Coconut Yogurt Labneh
Makes just over one cup

125 grams full-fat coconut yogurt*
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Juice of one lemon

Line a bowl with a double layer of cheesecloth or a fine woven tea towel.

Stir together the yogurt, salt and lemon juice. Pour the yogurt into the cheesecloth-lined bowl and wrap the cloth tightly around it, twisting at the top, and tie it firmly with a piece of string. Hang the yogurt over the bowl, or place the bundle into a sieve. Make sure there is enough room at the base of the bowl for any liquid that will collect there. You can give it a gentle squeeze at this point to remove some water, but stop if yogurt starts to come out the sides of the fabric.

Place the bundle, suspended over the bowl, into the refrigerator for 24-36 hours. The yogurt will lose excess water during the rest period. You can gently squeeze it a few more times to remove any remaining water during that time. Once the labneh is finished, it will have lost much of its liquid and will feel quite dry to the touch.

Place the finished labneh into a bowl, and mix it with a spoon to make it evenly creamy and smooth. Top it with the zest of a lemon, some raw honey, and bee pollen (or another liquid sweetener like maple syrup). Serve as is or keep it to make cream cheese frosting.

Notes:
1. Try to find a brand that doesn't have more than 3-4 ingredients - coconut milk, a thickener (look for starches, not gums), and the culture. Some brands might add vanilla, but avoid sweetened varieties.

Roasted Spring Vegetable Socca

March 25, 2017

We're fully into spring here now, even though it's not yet April (!) and there wasn't snow on the ground for the first day of spring. I think that's a first for me. There are daffodils everywhere, new leaves are growing, and the first spring produce is making an appearance - watch out for some early spring recipes with wild garlic and herbs soon, followed by rhubarb, my all-time favourite. I photographed this recipe a couple of weeks ago, before local produce was really ready, but it's made with simple seasonal ingredients that you shouldn't have any difficulty finding.

Socca is made from chickpea or gram flour, which is easy to find at most supermarkets and definitely in Indian or other South Asian grocers. It's quite a bit more expensive in Germany than it is at home, but still very affordable compared to animal protein sources or even other types of flour. The batter does need to rest for at least an hour, so you can either mix it up in the morning before work and pop it in the fridge, or if you get home at five or six and mix it up then you'll still be eating at a reasonable time. You can top it with fruit and have it for breakfast, eat it plain with caramelized onions (one of my favourites), or just roast up whatever's in your crisper and top it with a mix of vegetables. That's pretty much what I did here. The possibilities are endless - check out this version I made last year with a cucumber lentil salad.

This is a recipe I turn to over and over again, relying on whatever seasonal vegetables are available to fill my pancake. Socca is about the easiest, protein-rich vegan dinner you can make. It's essentially a sheet pan dinner, because you roast the veggies while making the pancakes and then you're ready to go. This makes a great transition dinner into the lighter meals that make up summer diets, because it's still cozy and filling but doesn't take too much time when you want to be doing things outside.

To celebrate the official opening of my online shop, I'm currently having a sale! I've updated the store since last posting to include several pieces of jewelry and a couple new prints - find them here!


Adapted from my Cucumber & Lentil Salad Topped Socca
Roasted Vegetable Socca
Serves 2-3 people

Socca

1 cup chickpea (gram) flour
1 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
Pepper and cayenne pepper to taste

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a mixing bowl, making sure that any clumps are incorporated. Cover and let the mixture sit for a minimum of one hour, or up to 12 hours (refrigerated* if overnight).

Once you're ready to make the pancakes, heat a large frying pan over medium heat with a little coconut oil. Pour 1/3 of the batter into the pan and swirl it to fully cover the bottom of the pan. Cook for about a minute, or until it starts to look dry at the edges, then carefully flip and cook for a further 30 seconds or so. Both sides should be golden. Repeat twice, using the remaining batter, then serve the pancakes hot with the filling.

Roasted Vegetable Filling

2 leeks, sliced
1/4 large white onion, coarsely chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons oil (avocado, melted coconut)
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper and cayenne to taste
To serve: Juice of half a lemon (per person), fresh basil

Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place all of the ingredients onto the sheet and toss with your hands until coated with the spices.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden. Some of the leeks will be a little crispy. Top the each of the pancakes with an equal amount of filling, then top with the lemon juice and basil. Serve hot.

Notes:
1. I usually don't refrigerate things, but this is something that absolutely must be if it's going to be sitting for a while. I left it on the counter in my cold kitchen overnight and it spoiled.
2. Try roasting up any seasonal veggies you have in the fridge, or just use your favourite combination.