Thursday, July 23

Zucchini Dill Fritters with Cashew Aioli


I'm terrible at making myself lunch. I always have been. What can I say, consistency is key, right? In part, this failing is due to working in and around kitchens for all of my adult life, which has left me spoiled with free amazing lunches. And really, if you have the option to pack your lunch at 5 am or eat a bowl of free organic dahl, wouldn't you pick that latter?  Breakfast, on the other hand, is something I got down. I often plan it out in my head the night before, so the next morning when I wake, what I'm going to have and how its going to look comes as a bit of a no-brainer . Dinner is also something that often comes together organically through steaming  or sautéing all the veggies in the fridge with a tasty sauce and maybe a grain - bing, bang, done! But lunch, lunch is tricky. If I eat too much, I feel tired and sluggish and any hope of getting projects done is tossed out the window. Not enough, and well that's just asking for some hangry trouble. So, this leads me the sad place where I eat lazy things like nut butter on stale wassa and handfuls of dried fruit from the pantry.

With my life almost resembling a routine these days, I've been making a conscious effort to be more on top of eating balanced lunches that involve the right amount of food and labour (and no oven, phew!) And I think we got this!
  
Anyone who has every grown a zucchini plant will be familiar with zucchini fritters, or pancakes, or whatever you happen to call them. For the most part these contain eggs, which make them like little tiny frittatas, but I opted for the vegan version with flour, which turns them more into a veggie latka. And I like it! Served along with some freshly diced avocado, and cashew aioli it's pretty much the best little lunch. And if you're feeling extravagant, a side salad would just put it over the edge.




Zucchini Dill Fritters with Cashew Aioli

Recipe: (Serves 2)

2 Small Zucchinis, about 2 Cups
1 Carrot, Grated 
1 Green Onion, Sliced
1/2 Cup Rolled Oats (or quinoa, or even buckwheat), ground in a Vitamix to make flour
2 Tbsp. Black Sesame Seeds
1 Rounded Tbsp. Chopped Dill
1/4 tsp. Sea Salt
1/8 tsp. Ground Cumin
1/8 tsp. Ground Pepper 

Avocado and Cashew Aioli to Serve (Recipe Below)


1. Begin by grating the zucchinis. Sprinkle them with a little salt and let them drain in a colander for about 20 minutes. 

2. In a bowl combine the carrot, onion, dill, sesame seeds, oat flour, and spices. 
3. Squeeze the zucchini to remove extra water and add to the mix. Combine thoroughly.
4. Heat a pan to medium heat and add a splash of coconut or avocado oil. Take about 2 Tbsp. of mix and flatten in your palms making a thin pancake shape. Cook them for about 1-2 minutes per side, or until crisp and golden, adding more oil as needed.


Cashew Aioli


1/2 Cup Cashews
1/4 Cup Water 
1/4 Cup of Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
the Zest of one Lemon
1/8 tsp Sea Salt

1. Soak the cashews overnight in fresh water. The next day, drain them and combine alongside the other ingredients. Puree until smooth. You may need to adjust for more water and seasoning. Keeps in the refrigerator for about 5 days. 

 

xox Sophie

Friday, July 10

Berry Galettes and Easy Vegan Pastry


A couple of weeks ago I received an email from my mum who had just come in from the bush. She was ecstatic over her gathering of enough wild blackberries to make her annual pie, and was equally pleased that she managed to do it without having to fend off the black bear that lives on their property, or the pesky wasps that often encircle the sweet fruit. Foraging for wild berries is a long tradition for my family, and a longer tradition held on the coast going back thousands of years. At home every abandoned lot, railway, or roadside bank overflows with sweet wild and Himalayan blackberries this time of year. Then there are the Salmon berries, which are the sweetest orange colour and ever so delicate, that line the country road I grew up on. And that special spot on my parents property where a wild red huckleberry bush lives. Or that patch in my mum's vegetable garden, under the magnolia tree, where the wild strawberries live. I know it all. But that's at home on the west coast. Here in New York, I think I'd be hard pressed to find such abundance, at least within the city limits. 

But location won't hinder me from tradition. Instead I got on the nearest subway and hit the wonderful weekend markets to grab some fresh and beautiful berries. A totally new type of adventure, but still an adventure none the less! While I used a mix of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries, any combination of these would work well. You could even add fancy berries like currants, which would be amazing! Even stone fruit like cherries and plums would be delightful.


Easy Vegan Pastry 


Recipe: (makes 8 Galettes) 
(adapted from here, here, and here)

2 1/4 Cups Whole Spelt (or light spelt, or even a mix)
1/2 Cup of Cold Coconut Oil, chopped into small pieces
3/4 tsp of Sea Salt
1 Heaping Tbsp. Evaporated Cane Sugar
1/3 Cup- 1/2 Cup Ice Water
1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
Almond or Coconut milk to wash 
Sugar to sprinkle

1. In a food processor add the flour, salt, and the 1 Tbsp. sugar, pulse to combine.

2. Next add the cold coconut oil, vinegar, and about 1/4 cup of water. Slowly add more water, a tablespoon at a time,  just until the mixture holds together when lightly squeezed. 

3. Flatten the dough into a disk (you may need to kneed it a bit) and wrap in cling film and chill for a couple of hours.

4. Once chilled, take out the dough and let soften up for a couple of minutes. I like to work in small batches, so I divided mine in half and rolled each half about 1/8 inch (.30 cm) thick. I used a small bowl to cut out 12 cm (5 inch) circles, but anything around that size will do. 

5. Spoon about 1/4 cup of berries (see below) onto each round, leaving a good cm (1/2 inch) of dough circumference. Be sure not to take too much of the juice when scooping the berries as this will make for a wet pastry bottom. Gently pinch up the sides, and wash the pastry with some milk. Generously sprinkle with sugar. 

6. Bake in a 205 C (400 F) oven for 18-20 minutes or until golden. Let cool slightly, if you can, before nibbling! 




Berry Filling

Recipe:

3 Cups Mixed Berries, sliced if large
Zest 1 lemon
Juice 1/2 Lemon
Sugar to taste, I used 2 Tbsp
A tsp. or so of flour if your berries are super juicy

1. Combine the berries with the lemon juice and zest. Taste and add as much sugar as needed. If your berries are super juicey, you may need to mix in a tsp. or so of flour. 


xox Sophie

Sunday, July 5

Salted Double Chocolate Vegan Ice Cream


Today my guy turns thirty, which I know isn't really a big deal. Its just a number on an infinite scale and the older I get, the more I realise how little numbers define us. But here I am nearly 5000 km away, unable to share this special return around the sun with him, and I wish I could be there. My parents always tell the cutest stories about what they did for each other on their thirtieths; where they ate and what special gift then chose each other. For us, this story will be more akin to "remember that time you were in New York having a blast, while I was hopelessly apartment hunting.....". Not nearly as romantic, but I know overtime will look back and laugh.

Anyways, as I wasn't' around to make him is usual birthday cake, I made something I wanted (classic Sophie) - So happy birthday to you! I made myself ice cream!!!

This isn't your typical ice cream as it is free of dairy, eggs, and granulated sugar. I'm sure some of you will be thinking, 'how can this possibly be good?" But believe me, it's aaaaamazing!

In the past I've had problems with homemade vegan ice cream (other than banana ice cream which is the best invention since the wheel). Sometimes I've found homemade coconut milk ice cream it too icy, or not rich enough, or not nearly as creamy as the kind I normally buy at the grocery store. And then there is the issue of how its made. Often recipes call for both things like cornstarch and an ice cream maker to remedy these issues. But for me, these aren't always an option. So instead, I turned to my favourite ice cream parlour in the city, Van Leeuwen,  for inspiration and found the answer in the form of cashew milk.

Cashew milk adds a thickness and creaminess that resembles a custard based ice cream. It is rich and smooth on the tongue, definitely not icy, and oh so good. Dare I say, the best vegan ice cream! And best of all, you can make it without an ice cream maker!



While I added salt and cacao nibs to my ice cream, you could easily stir in some fresh fruit (like cherries) at the end, or add some peppermint extract  and cacao nibs to make a batch of  good ol' fashion chocolate chip mint. 


 Cacao

When they say chocolate is good for you, they don't mean those peanut butter cups from the grocery store check out, sorry guys. Instead, most of the goodness comes from what makes up the chocolate, the cocoa. Chocolate can be made out of two different components, cocoa powder and raw cacao powder. While the words look very similar, the products themselves are incredibly different. Raw cacao powder is made through cold pressing cacao beans (to separate the cacao butter from the powder), while cocoa powder has been roasted at a high temperature once extracted. Unfortunately, the heating of the beans often breaks down the good enzymes and destroys much of the nutritional benefits of the raw product. If you can't find raw cacao, look for natural cocoa, which is closest to raw, as opposed to the Dutch-Processed variety which has been washed with potassium carbonate to alkalize the pH and reduce acidity. 

 

Health Benefits of Cacao 


  • Flavonoids: Funny word, I know. But these guys are the antioxidants found in favourites such as green tea, berries, and red grapes.
  • Magnesium: Cacao beans are one of the best sources of magnesium which is essential in the functioning of healthy muscles and nerves
  • Iron: One ounce of cacao nibs has more than triple your daily intake of recommended iron. Take that, spinach!


Salted Double Chocolate Vegan Ice Cream


Recipe: (Serves 4)
 
3/4 Cup Cashews, soaked for at least 8 hours
1/2 Cup plus 2 Tbsp. Water
3 Tbsp. Melted Coconut Oil
1 Cup Coconut Creme
6 Tbsp. Liquid Sweetener (Honey, Agave, Maple Syrup)
1/2 tsp. High Quality Flaky Sea Salt
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
5 Tbsp. Raw Cacao Powder (or Cocoa Powder)
2- 4 Tbsp. Cacao Nibs

1. Drain the cashews and combine them with a splash of the fresh water in a high-speed blender. Begin to puree, slowly adding the water, until a smooth milk has been made. 

2. Add the melted Coconut Oil, Coconut Creme, Sweetener, salt, vanilla, and Cacao. Puree just until mixed.

3. Place the ice cream mixture in a metal bowl and pop it into the freezer. After a few hours give it a stir and return it to the freezer. Stir it every once in a while until its reached pudding consistency. Then stir in the cacao nibs and place in a sealed container to set fully.

4. Let soften up prior to serving. Garnish with more cacao nibs, or if you're feeling crazy, maybe some Maldon!


xox Sophie