Couscous! The food so nice, they named it twice. Except this isn’t couscous. It’s cauliflower in a funny little disguise. From first glances this looks like a lovely grain salad with some chopped herbs, a bit of seasonal fruit and a sunny yellow curry dressing. But up close it’s a jumble of the teeniest cauliflower florets you could ever imagine mixed up with all of those great things. Neat, huh? I actually love eating cauliflower this way, it’s nice and crisp and kind of tricks me into eating more crucifers, the health all star of the veg world. Typically I roast it, but this dish is just too much fun
September is always a patchwork of undeniably summery days and cool, crisp fall previews around here. My schedule has been kind of wonky and irregular and we’ve been trying to soak up every last bit of enjoyable outdoor time. All of it has been having some unfortunate effects on my food habits. Skipping meals, nibbling on white bread here and there, indulging in sweet things, more coffee than I can usually handle, wine! and on and on. I’m not beating myself up for it at all. I’ve definitely been enjoying it but! I feel like some predictability is in order for my day to day lately.
So! Getting back down to it. I’ve adequately prepared myself in the food department. Lots of veggies, big bowls of grains, batches of soup and even bigger helpings of this non-grain-but-sort-of-grain-like salad in the fridge. Oh, and some Udo’s oil, a fresh jar of chocolate Vega and plenty of herbal tea. Seriously, it’s like a health food store in here!
raw cauliflower couscous with curry vinaigrette, apples, grapes and herbs
inspired by Charlie Trotter and Roxanne Klein’s Raw
notes: I just break the florets up by hand and rough chop them, but if you trim most of the stem off, you could probably just blitz them in the food processor and get the same effect. Garam masala is in the salad ingredients because it is traditionally used as a finishing spice.
1.5 tbsp curry powder
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1.5 tbsp agave nectar
salt and pepper
scant 1/2 cup grape seed oil
1 small head cauliflower, leaves trimmed off
2 green onions, white and green parts sliced thin
3 sprigs of parsley, leaves chopped fine
1 sprig of mint, leaves chopped fine
1 apple, small dice
1 cup grapes, halved (I used a concord-style grape)
1.5 tbsp poppy seeds
1 tsp garam masala
salt and pepper
Make the vinaigrette: place the curry powder, white wine vinegar, agave nectar salt and pepper in a blender. Blend that up for two seconds just to dissolve the salt. Add the oil all at once. Turn the blender on again to combine evereything into one homogenous mixture. Set aside.
Make the cauliflower couscous: break the cauliflower into florets. Trim off as much of the stem as you can. Break up the florets as small as you can and chop roughly to make pieces as uniformly sized as possible. Place into a large bowl. Alternatively, you could use the food processor method described above.
Add the vinaigrette, green onions, parsley, mint, apple, grapes, poppy seeds and garam masala to the cauliflower. Toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.
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Okay, what I’m about to lay on you here is a bit… Thanksgiving-y. I know that it’s so far away and it’s still summery in spots and you don’t even wanna think about telling the same stories to your relatives over and over… But! This dish is definitely appropriate for everyday celebrating. And it’s so easy. It just takes a teeny bit of planning.
But back to Thanksgiving (yes!). It’s definitely my favourite holiday. I love the sincere appreciation of harvest time and how it brings people together. It’s pretty special. We’re at a peak time where I live: all kinds of squash and vegetables and fruits are available. I’m so thankful for it all. It’s been brisk and mostly grey and well.., I wanted to eat some squash. Stuffed with delicious and maybe just slightly festive things. Not too festive, just a little bit. A taste even.
So I made a stuffing for some garlic-roasted acorn squash with wheat berries, a few veggies, some herbs, spices, dried fruit and toasted nuts. There’s a lot of flexibility with this recipe though! You can use any kind of rice, farro, millet, different vegetables and spices, leave out the dried fruit, maybe add some chopped olives etc; whatever you fancy. I was going for that sage-y, hearty, traditional stuffing-flavour thing and it worked out beautifully.
stuffed acorn squash with pine nuts, sour cherries and sage
notes: Roasting the squash with the garlic clove underneath is totally optional but so, so tasty. I try not to use frou-frou and buzz-y terms here, but it totally aromatizes it to high level, game-changer deliciousness (I’m sorry, really).
1 acorn squash
2 cloves of garlic, lightly smashed
salt and pepper
1/2 cup wheat berries, soaked for at least a couple hours
1 tbsp grape seed oil
2 shallots, small dice (or 1 small-medium cooking onion)
1 celery stalk, small dice
1 medium carrot, peeled and small dice
1 bay leaf
1 tsp ground coriander
3 sprigs thyme, leaves chopped up fine
1 sprig sage, leaves chopped up fine
splash of white wine (alternatively you can squeeze a bit of lemon at the end or use a bit of white wine vinegar at the end too)
3/4 cup vegetable stock (or water)
1/2 cup dried sour cherries, chopped up roughly
salt and pepper
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (I just slide them into the oven for a bit while the squash is cooking)
3 sprigs parsley, leaves chopped fine
Start the grains: strain the wheat berries and place them in a small sauce pan with 1 cup of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then lower to medium. Simmer for about 40 minutes or until they are still a bit chewy (they will absorb more liquid later when making the stuffing). Drain if necessary.
Cook the squash: preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. season the inside with salt and pepper. Place the smashed garlic cloves on a parchment lined baking sheet with a good amount of space in between. Put the seasoned squash halves over the garlic cloves so that the squash form upside down bowls over the garlic cloves. Place in the oven and cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, scrape a bit of the cooked squash flesh out. It should amount to about a 1/4 cup. Set it all aside.
Make the stuffing: heat the oil over medium and add the shallots. Cook until they begin to soften (4 minutes), add carrots, celery and the bay leaf. When the carrots and celery have softened up a teeny bit (about 4-5 minutes), add ground coriander, thyme, sage and dried cherries. Add the splash of white wine and stir the mixture around, scraping any bits off the bottom.
Add the drained wheat berries to the saute pan and stir to coat them in the mixture. Add the vegetable stock and simmer until most of the liquid is evaporated. Add the squash flesh you scraped out earlier and stir it around, incorporating it into the mixture (this will act like glue for the stuffing). Add the parsley and pine nuts, reserving a bit of both to garnish with at the end. Take off the heat.
On the same lined baking sheet, fill the squash halves with the stuffing as much as you can (there may be some leftover). Slide them into the oven to heat through completely. Garnish with remaining pine nuts and parsley, serve.
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Can we talk about the weather for a second? How about those cool days and even cooler nights? It’s perfect, right?! We can wear cozy sweaters, drink hot beverages and eat some local brussels sprouts to our hearts content. Everyone wins! Perhaps eating brussels sprouts and winning isn’t an equation you’ve heard of quite yet, but maybe just go with it for a bit. They have plenty of healthy attributes, but I just love their slightly cabbage-y and completely robust flavour.
Worthy of note: This shredding and quick sauteing method is a fantastic way to eat these cruciferous veggies. You can really inject them with lots of flavour that permeates all through that tangle of vibrant, green confetti. They don’t even look like brussels sprouts when all is said and done; just a heap of lovely, warm, deep green shreds with crunchy pecans on top and little bright red flecks of smoky paprika, almost coleslaw-ish.You can mix in other greens too!
I used to make this all the time last winter when I wanted a light, quick and warming lunch. I would hurry home in the bleak city winters, chop up a few things, heat up the pan, toss it all in and finish up with some maple syrup and a splash of apple cider vinegar. I actually started to crave it regularly after a while… Brussels sprouts cravings! How about that.
warm brussels sprouts toss with maple and paprika
notes: Keep your eye on the shreds once they turn bright green! Overcooked brussels sprouts in any form are actually the worst. And if you don’t have smoked paprika, use the regular stuff! It will still be delicious.
1 tbsp grape seed or other neutral-flavour oil
1 shallot, halved and sliced thinly
1 garlic clove, smashed
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 lb (454g) of brussels sprouts, trimmed of tough outer leaves, halved and sliced fine/shredded up to the little cores
salt and pepper
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp maple syrup (or dark agave)
1/3 cup pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the sliced shallot and smashed garlic clove. Stir around until fragrant. Add the smoked paprika. Stir the shallots here and there until they are quite soft, but not browned, about 5 minutes.
Add the shredded brussels sprouts and a splash of water. Stir and lift with tongs quickly until the shreds start to wilt just a bit and the colour has darkened. Season with salt and pepper. Add the apple cider vinegar and stir again. When the shreds are bright green and a bit limp (takes about 3 minutes), remove from the heat. Add the maple syrup and stir to combine.
Transfer warm mixture to a serving plate and garnish with chopped pecans.
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So if you’ve read this blog before, you’ll know that I’m not a raw food person. I live in a mostly cold climate that requires the consumption of soups, stews, curries, roasted veggies and, ahem, certain hot beverages involving whiskey. I love experimenting with living food recipes and eating at raw restaurants for sure, but as a lifestyle it’s not for me. I am, without a doubt, a dessert-for-breakfast kind of person though. Like, for sure.
Enter raw desserts. These treats are generally made from fruit and nuts (or raw cacao, irish moss, coconut meat etc). Oh, and they’re free of refined sugars, gluten and animal products. That’s breakfast material right there! Insanely delicious, filling and healthy breakfast material to be specific.
There is so much local fruit available right now: berries, peaches, plums, first apples and pears, all at the same time! It’s a miracle really. I make a simple crumble mix from dates and nuts to scatter on top and a vanilla almond cream to make it seem a bit more indulgent. An initial word on the almond cream: it’s amazing. Some vanilla bean makes it so lovely. I have a high speed blender so I can whip this cream up pretty easily, but I’ll add instructions for food processor usage as well. It might not be as smooth, but the flavour will still be outstanding.
raw fruit crumbles
serves: 4-6 (a week’s worth of undeniably fabulous breakfast)
notes: If you are using a food processor for the almond cream, pulse the soaked almonds until they’re about one stop short of becoming almond butter, then add the other ingredients and put it to high until the cream is as smooth as possible. Also, I painstakingly peeled all of the almonds once they were done soaking. You don’t have to do this! It will taste just as good.
1 cup raw almonds, soaked overnight
1/2 cup water (plus extra, I needed another tbsp, but this could vary)
1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
1 tbsp agave nectar (or maple syrup, raw honey etc)
seeds from 1/2 a vanilla bean (or 1 tsp extract)
teeny pinch of salt
1 cup nuts or seeds of your choice (I used a mix of pecans, walnuts, almonds and hemp seeds)
3/4 cup pitted medjool dates
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
a smidgin of seeds from the vanilla bean (or 1/4 tsp vanilla extract)
pinch of sea salt
1-2 cups of sliced/chopped fruit per person
maple syrup, agave nectar or honey
Make the almond cream: place the soaked almonds and water in a blender. Turn the blender onto a low-medium speed to break up the nuts and stop when the pieces are starting to form a puree with the water. Add the coconut oil, agave nectar, vanilla bean seeds, salt and more water if necessary. Turn the blender to high until the mixture is as creamy and smooth as possible. This took a couple minutes for me. Scrape almond cream into a container and chill thoroughly.
For the crumble: Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pule until the nuts become large crumbs and the mix holds together when you pinch it. Set aside or keep in the refrigerator if you’re making it ahead. Also, if you press this mix into a pan it’s like homemade Larabars! Awesome.
To assemble: Place sliced/chopped fruit into a bowl and drizzle lightly with maple syrup/agave/what have you. Sprinkle a teeny bit of cinnamon (or cardamom!) if you’re into that. Spoon some crumble mix evenly on top of the fruit and put a fat dollop of almond cream on there.
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It’s chilly, tea-sipping, sweater-wearing, snuggle-all-the-time weather. No doubt we’ll get a little September heat flash soon, but right now I’m loving the coziness of these chilly days. The grey, heavy clouds and tall, swaying grasses looked so autumnal from my window on the weekend. I was ready for soup.
I had to make up some vegetable stock first, which was actually a bit exciting for me. I take huge pride in this task and have serious issues with people advising others to just throw scraps in the pot. Stock is essentially water flavoured with whatever you put into it, simmered down a bit and concentrated. Do you want your soup to taste like slightly concentrated water with the essence of… scraps? Mind you, some less-than-desirable bits are fine: onion skins, mushroom stems, something with decent flavour. But seriously, use some good stuff that you’d want to eat. Nice herbs, fresh root veggies, crisp celery, lovely alliums, you get the idea. If it’s worth doing in the first place (and it is), do it proper.
I will admit that soup-making was my nemesis for a while. I always made it too thick or too watery or too spicy and on and on. I kind of stopped working from recipes and they started turning out a lot better. I build on a general formula, work with what I have and taste as I go. I know cooking from intuition doesn’t exactly translate to… um, a recipe on a cooking blog. So! I’ve included a recipe that is full of options and really leans toward that recipe-as-a-guide thing. Hope you’ll give it a try and enjoy it with someone you like.
tomato and white bean soup with quinoa or!
tomato and bean soup with whatever you like
serves: so many! it’s a big pot full
notes: I really take the time to cook out the tomato paste so that the raw, saltiness kind of dissipates. You should too! If you’re serving the soup right away, by all means add the finishing greens and herbs. When I freeze it or put some away for later, I usually add the greens and herbs as I’m heating up the portions to avoid icky, overcooked greens.
1 cup dry beans soaked for at least 2 hours and drained (I used navy beans)
2 tbsp grape seed oil
1 medium onion, diced (I added a small-diced shallot too)
1 rib celery, diced
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 sprigs thyme, leaves chopped fine
1 sprig rosemary, leaves chopped fine
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 cups halved grape tomatoes (or regular diced tomatoes or 1 can of diced tomatoes etc)
2 quarts vegetable stock
2 cups diced vegetables (I used zucchini and green beans)
1/2 cup quinoa, soaked (or rice or millet or small pasta etc etc)
1/2 bunch kale, leaves removed and chopped roughly
5 sprigs of parsley, leaves chopped fine
salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a big soup pot over medium. Add the onions and cook until they soften up just a bit, about 5 minutes. I kind of like to stew the onion in the oil for a while so that it gets really soft and blends right in with the soup. Add the celery and bay leaf and cook until the celery softens, another 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme and rosemary. Cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and stir continuously until paste is broken up and its flavour is cooked out, about 5-7 minutes. Add the beans and tomatoes and stir to coat in the tomato paste mixture. Add about 1/2 cup of the stock and scrape the bottom of the pot to get any browned bits up. Add the rest of the stock and bring to a boil. Simmer until the beans still have some bite, about 35 minutes.
Add the quinoa and stir. If you’re using rice, add it with the beans. If using pasta, add it after letting the beans cook for about 40 minutes since it doesn’t take as long as quinoa.
Add the vegetables and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. If using heartier vegetables like carrots or squash, add them sooner to allow adequate cooking time.
When the beans are a little soft (but still have some bite!), add the greens and parsley. Stir until greens are wilted a bit and serve.
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