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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.

Chocolate Beet Muffins

March 09, 2017

Clearly I've been in Germany for a while when I try to write 'schokolade' instead of chocolate for the title. We're in a bit of a weird season right now, where there is new plant life starting to pop up, but I'm still living off root vegetables that keep well during the winter months. It's the strangest thing to have flowers blooming everywhere at the beginning of March - my parents are blocked in by over a metre of snow right now and all the highways have been closed at home for a couple days due to a big snowstorm. Isn't that what spring is like for everyone? Hah. 

Beets are one of my favourite root vegetables. You might remember this beet hot chocolate I posted in February, and I feel pretty good about posting another chocolate and beet recipe, because it's an awesome combination. They're meant to be. The first bite of one of these muffins might be a little surprisingly beet-y but the chocolate takes over pretty quickly. If you have a sad lonely beet sitting in the bottom of your crisper, shred it up and make some muffins, then feed the muffins to your children and laugh at fooling them into eating beets. They'll just see chocolate on top of more chocolate and think it's a special treat. Make sure to have one of these muffins while it's still warm to experience the gooey chocolate on top! (And then check your teeth and face after, you'll be covered in chocolate.)

Despite the bright red colour of the beets, you really can't see it in these muffins, because they're heavy on cocoa for a dark chocolate flavour. If you're looking for a naturally red chocolate cupcake, I recommend Traci's recipe over at Vanilla and Bean. It's vegan too. 

My friend Ashley and I are going to Stockholm at the beginning of May (right before my wedding) so if you have any suggestions/recommendations please let me know in the comments! I've never visited other European countries, other than Germany, so I'm looking forward to it. 

There are several notes for this recipe, because I did a few tests with some different ingredients - please read them for extra tips and substitutions.


Chocolate Beet Muffins
Makes one dozen

1 1/2 cups whole spelt flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder*
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder
Pinch salt
1 1/2 cup oat or nut milk
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted*
3/4 cup grated (raw) red beet, packed
1/2 cup dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 190C / 375F and grease or line a standard muffin tin.

In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Stir in the chocolate, reserving a couple of tablespoons for topping the muffins with.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the milk and coconut oil until combined. Mix in the grated beet (everything will turn bright pink).

Add the wet beet mixture to the dry ingredients and stir just to combine. Measure out approximately equal amounts into each muffin tin and then top with the leftover chocolate.

Bake on the centre rack for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Cool for ten minutes in the tin before removing and cooling completely on a rack. Store in an airtight container for up to three days.

Tips:
• Don't worry about peeling your beet(s) if they're organic. Just give them a wash, you won't notice the skin in the finished product. 
• I now use vanilla powder and chopped chocolate in place of vanilla extract and chocolate chips because extract and chips are prohibitively expensive and fairly rare here. Canadian/American readers, just add extract to the wet ingredients and use chocolate chips if you prefer. That goes for almost all of my recipes. 

Notes:
1. I prefer dark cocoa powder in this recipe for a deeper chocolate flavour, but I have tested it with natural cocoa powder (cacao) because I ran out of dark cocoa. They'll be quite a bit lighter with natural cocoa and slightly more red, almost purple. I recommend using dark cocoa if you can, and don't bother using raw cacao in this recipe, it's a waste of money if you're baking it anyway.
2. You can substitute olive oil for the coconut oil if you don't have any, but they are more dense and, in my opinion, overall more pleasant with coconut oil.

Chickpea Noodle Soup with Parsley and Lemon

February 24, 2017

My shop is now set up! You can now buy downloadable food photography prints, handmade items, and props at Flamma, with more items being added in the coming weeks. Follow us on instagram (we're brand new!) to make sure you're getting updates when new items are available. Here are a couple of examples.



This is one of those recipes that I've thought a lot about posting but never really got around to it. I wrote it down a couple of years ago (in one of my many scattered books/notes) and made it a few times, but never shared. A few days ago a friend was asking for soup recipes, and I looked in my archives and saw that the last soup recipe I shared was almost a year ago! We eat soup at least once or twice a week but according to this blog, recently at least, I only eat cookies and chocolate.

Chicken noodle soup was one of the first things I learned to make by myself, when I was nine or ten. It was always a total comfort food for me, and I had it whenever I felt like a cold was coming on. I don't cook chicken anymore, and chickpeas seemed like a natural alternative. Otherwise this recipe is very similar to the one I've been making for the last 15 years, with cozy noodles and broth, lots of vegetables, and parsley and lemon to brighten things up. Generally soups like this use celery, but I have an ongoing hatred toward celery, so I used kohlrabi instead. This is a great soup for the transition period between winter and spring.

Some of the ingredients in the soup can be changed to suit your preferences or based on what you have. Keep the onion, carrots, and peas, but try celery instead of kohlrabi, adding corn, leaving out the mushrooms, and so on. If you keep the base the same (don't lose the lemon and parsley!) some of the add-ins can be changed around.




Chickpea Noodle Soup with Parsley and Lemon
Makes a large pot, enough for 6-8 people

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 white onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 1/2 cup brown button mushrooms, cut into small pieces
6 carrots, sliced (1 1/2 cups)
1 medium kohlrabi, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2.5 litres vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas, or one can, rinsed
100 grams soup noodles*
1 cup frozen spinach
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Zest of a lemon
Juice of two lemons
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and mushrooms and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms are browned.

Add the carrots and continue to cook for a few minutes over medium heat.

Add the kohlrabi and garlic, and cook for another minute, then stir in the cayenne pepper.

Pour the stock into the pot and add the chickpeas. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, covered, for around 40 minutes or until the carrots are soft but not mushy.

Bring the soup back up to a boil and add the noodles. Cook according to the package directions (the type I used only take 3 minutes). If you're using very small noodles, add the spinach and peas with the noodles. If your noodles will take 8-9 minutes, then add the frozen vegetables halfway in to the noodle cooking time. 

Turn off the heat and add the lemon zest, juice, and parsley. Season the soup to your taste. Serve hot, topped with extra parsley and lemon if desired. 

Tips:
• If you're planning on storing the soup in the fridge for a day or two, I recommend cooking the noodles separately as they'll get soggy and overcooked if left sitting in the soup.
• The soup freezes well, but it's better if you add a little extra lemon juice when you reheat it. I prefer it fresh, unlike most soups that are better the next day!

Notes:
1. Be careful not to overcook your noodles - try to choose a small noodle type that will cook in the same time it takes the spinach to thaw (around three minutes).
2. Use your favourite gluten-free noodle, or substitute rice, to make the soup gluten free.


Thanks to everyone who entered into my e-book giveaway! The winners have been sent an email with the book attachment. Keep an eye out for another giveaway coming soon!