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cherries + bourbon, two and a half ways

under a cherry tree // the first messwashed // the first messbrown booze // the first messarugula + basil flowers // the first messwashing the greens // the first messpre-grill // the first mess
Gnarly old tree limbs drooping to the ground from the weight of cherries is a potent sign of summer’s start for me. There’s an unkempt little orchard in tall grass near my parents house and you can see the shiny jewels draping from the branches in clusters, even when you’re driving by a little too fast. I walked over with my mum and the pup to take a look-see at the ripeness last week. Standing at the trunks found me under a shady canopy of fruit and leaves just rustling in the wind. Everyone should see a cherry orchard at least once in their life.

If you’re like me, summer’s got you way more interested in feeling things rather than reading about those things on a screen. The pull to the online world just isn’t as strong for all of the obvious reasons. This is mostly just to say that posts for the next couple months might be a bit heavier on images and overall vibe-heavy expression-like things, as opposed to the usual lengthy dribble on life stuff, the ways of food and such and such. Hope you can dig.

So with that, I’ll tell you that I get in phases where my go-to drink is a Maker’s Mark Manhattan served up + totally, totally with those ridiculous maraschino cherries that are basically poison. I’m a stickler for the traditional aspect and accept that not every bar is going to stock hand picked, small batch-processed fruit for my fancy lady drink. Still though, I love the combination with fresh cherries in season when I have the option. So I made a few things to go along with that theme.

There’s a vegan and almost raw vanilla bean cheesecake with bourbon cherries and maple syrup. It’s as good as it sounds, and I realized that the addition of kombucha, that awesome fermented tea beverage, in the batter really amps up the cheesecake-y-ness. Secondly, there’s a salad of grilled zucchini, radicchio, fresh arugula (from our garden..!), cherries, pecans and basil with bourbon vinaigrette. Trying to get y’all hammered from a salad–are you really surprised? Lastly there’s a little half’er of a recipe for a summer imbibe that’s a smash, ice + pour away from total leisure. See you at the beach?

Big hugs,
Laura

vegan + almost raw bourbon cherry cheesecake // the first mess

vegan + almost raw bourbon cherry cheesecake // the first messgrilled zucchini, radicchio + arugula salad with bourbon vinaigrette + cherries // the first messa porch drink // the first messbourbon smushed with cherries, lime + maple syrup // the first mess
1. vegan + almost raw cheesecake with bourbon cherries

serves: 10-12
notes: I like to toss up the cherries right before I serve this, just to preserve the juicy bite. Also if you don’t want to buy kombucha for this, feel free to sub in the same amount of almond or other plant-based milk.

crust:
2 cups pitted medjool dates
handful of dried sour cherries (or a couple extra dates)
1 1/4 cups raw almonds
1/2 tsp sea salt

filling:
3 cups raw pine nuts or cashews, soaked for at least 3 hours
1 tbsp bourbon
1/4 cup plain kombucha
zest and juice of 1 lemon (you want 1/4 cup of juice)
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup maple syrup/raw honey/agave nectar
2/3 cup melted coconut oil

cherries:
2-3 cups pitted fresh cherries, chopped
1 tbsp bourbon
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1-2 tbsp maple syrup

In a food processor, blitz the crust ingredients until the almonds are ground up small and the mixture sticks together when you grab a clump of it. Press the crust mixture into a parchment lined load pan. Once it’s even and packed down flat, set aside in the fridge.

Combine all of the filling ingredients in an upright blender and blend on high, scraping down here and there, and adding more liquid if necessary. Once the mixture is creamy and smooth, scrape it into the loaf pan on top of the crust. Place the cheesecake in the freezer to firm up for at least 3 hours.

In a medium bowl, toss the cherries, bourbon, vanilla bean seeds and maple syrup. Remove the cheesecake from the pan and spoon the cherries on top, ensuring that you get all of the liquid as well. Serve slices with extra cherries if you like.

2. grilled zucchini and radicchio salad with arugula, cherries + bourbon vinaigrette
serves: 4
notes: Once they’re on, some grilled peaches would be really delicious in this mix.

bourbon vinaigrette:
2 tbsp bourbon
1 tsp hot mustard (or dijon)
2 sprigs of thyme, leaves chopped fine
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
salt + pepper
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup olive oil

salad:
4- 5 handfuls washed arugula
3 medium zucchini, cut into long slices
1 head of radicchio, cut into wedges with the core intact
olive oil
salt + pepper
za’atar spice (optional)
chopped basil/basil flowers to your liking
1 cup pitted fresh cherries, halved
handful of pecans, toasted and crushed

Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in an upright blender and blend until you have a homogenous mix. Set the vinaigrette aside.

Preheat a grill to medium high. Arrange the arugula on a large platter. Lay the zucchini slices and radicchio wedges out on a baking sheet. Drizzle them with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and the za’atar (is using). Toss the vegetables a bit to coat. Grill the vegetables until char marks appear on all sides and the zucchini is a bit softer. Remove vegetables from the grill and place on the platter with the arugula.

Scatter the chopped basil/flowers, cherries and pecans on top of the salad. Pour the vinaigrette on top and serve.

2 ½. a summer sipper with bourbon, cherries + maple syrup
serves:
 2
notes: I just crush the fruit in the glass so it can slowly hang with the booze while I sip. But if you want a tidier presentation, I would muddle the fruit in a shaker, add some ice, shake it with the bourbon and strain it onto clean ice in rocks glasses with a little cherry garnish.

2 hefty lime wedges
4 pitted fresh cherries
couple drops of bitters (I used orange bitters)
1/2 tsp maple syrup
ice (I like large cubes with this because they make for more leisurely sippin’)
3 ounces bourbon

In two rocks glasses, divide the lime wedges, cherries, bitters, and maple syrup. Crush the fruit with a muddler or a pestle. Once you have some juice releasing, add some ice to the glasses. Pour 1 1/2 ounces of bourbon into each glass and stir. Sip slowly.

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Melissa03/07/2014 - 5:52 am

This looks absolutely delicious. If I don’t have kombucha what would I use instead? It’s winter here in Australia so summer seems like a lid stance memory.

Kathryn03/07/2014 - 6:07 am

When the images are as beautiful as yours always are Laura, I don’t think anyone’s going to complain about having more of them! Happy summer friend xo

Elzette03/07/2014 - 7:16 am

Oh wow. Have bookmarked this. I need to host a BBQ day where I make exactly all of this in the post, for the day! Like a copy and past effect… ;)
Looks SO good! And lovely photos!

Laura Wright03/07/2014 - 8:05 am

Hi Melissa, you can sub the kombucha with almond or any other plant based milk.
-L

Brian @ A Thought For Food03/07/2014 - 8:06 am

Ok… now I know the two of us would be friends. This has my two favorite things… well, actually, three if we include the cheesecake (I can look past the vegan/raw element because I’m sure it’s incredibly creamy).

mimi03/07/2014 - 9:11 am

Such beautiful photographs. Your grilled veggies with cherries is really intriguing! I just wish I liked bourbon…

Amy @ Parsley In My Teeth03/07/2014 - 9:18 am

Wonderful recipes for the holiday weekend! And your gorgeous photos make them even more enticing. Summer’s off to a great start!

michelle03/07/2014 - 9:44 am

Gorgeous! All of it! I have a giant bottle of Makers Mark that is so ready for that libation this weekend. Also, nice glasses ;)

lynsey03/07/2014 - 10:01 am

I just bought that big ice cube tray and it is my new obsession… those big ice cubes are perfect for summertime drinks. Beautiful recipes!! xo.

Grace03/07/2014 - 10:45 am

I just want to soak this all in. So much beauty and feeling. It all looks wonderful!

sil @ entre jardins03/07/2014 - 10:57 am

That cherry cheesecake is sounds / looks divine, just my kind of dessert! Never used alcohol in my cheesecakes, does bourbon leave a strong taste? *silvia

Laura Wright03/07/2014 - 11:01 am

Hi Sil! Bourbon is a bit strong, but it has a natural sweetness/smoky quality too. If it’s not your kind of thing, feel free to leave it out entirely–it won’t make an absolutely huge difference :)
-L

Claire (Eat Well. Party Hard.)03/07/2014 - 12:05 pm

I am in love.

Christine03/07/2014 - 12:51 pm

Everything you make always looks so beautiful! I am excited to try these, you might make a bourbon-drinker out of me yet!

Kasey03/07/2014 - 3:00 pm

I’m ALL about feeling things this summer. What a beauty! xoxo

Kate03/07/2014 - 4:37 pm

I dig. Times three. Times infinity. Happy summer, Laura!

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Sini | my blue&white kitchen05/07/2014 - 11:38 am

If you have cherries and Bourbon, nothing can go wrong, rigth? Ever so inspiring, Laura! Hope your July started bright and sunny. xoxo

Liz @ Floating Kitchen05/07/2014 - 12:19 pm

Beautiful photos! I’m eating my weight in cherries this last few weeks. So good. This cocktail sounds really great!

Ami@NaiveCookCooks05/07/2014 - 4:21 pm

Girl, this cheesecake, those bourbon cherries and salad are so perfect together. Just what you need to enjoy with some friends!

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Kelly08/07/2014 - 10:32 am

Girl, you are just so effing good. Virtual hugging you right now.

Thalia @ butter and brioche09/07/2014 - 9:58 pm

YUM. awesome flavour combination… thanks for the great recipe and interesting read. glad i stumbled across your website.

Nikki@doctorsliferecipe10/07/2014 - 7:20 pm

Hello summer !! I feel like I’m in heaven !!

Kate @ ¡Hola! Jalapeño18/07/2014 - 4:48 pm

Stunning photos! That drink looks killer, going to pour myself a tall one right now!

Kerianne28/07/2014 - 11:42 pm

I just made the cheesecake for friends of ours and she said “if this is what vegan/gluten free food tastes like, sign me up!”. It was SO delicious and I’m glad I added the Kombucha for the extra tang. Your recipes are my go-to’s. Thx for the constant inspiration and delicious healthy recipes!

vanilla bean millet porridge with lavender strawberries + super seeds

vanilla bean millet porridge w/ lavender strawberries + super seeds {via The Homemade Flour Cookbook} // the first messlavender // the first messvanilla bean millet porridge w/ lavender strawberries + super seeds {via The Homemade Flour Cookbook} // the first mess
We’ve had our fair share of rain and thunderstorms in these parts lately. It’s been good for setting the mood when developing some recipes for fall and such, but more importantly it’s made for some cozy , very high quality mornings. Once we get into spring + summer, my days of sit-down breakfasts promptly come to a close. Sometimes I like to fix up a raw chia pudding or buckwheat porridge, but generally coffee/tea is just fine right away, and then maybe I’ll have a smoothie or some fruit (or a pastry, cuz sometimes you got to) later on. Something about the heat and umpteen million things to do outside pulling me away from those solitary early moments.

Every week there are more things to do with new challenges, and in this season of life it feels like that notion has exploded times a thousand. Taking moments for simply being leads to better awareness as a human that can say and do out in the world. More opportunities for stillness lead to better connection with the presence of capital-G-good in other forces. I’ve developed an acute sense of how much I need that lately.

Years ago, I used to work at a sometimes stupidly busy café/lunch/brunch spot in Toronto and when I came home after my 40-minute, million miles an hour walk home, I needed to have solitude in the most critical of ways. Even now when I pull up to my porch after a Saturday night service or whatever, it’s weird that someone in my house is still up when I just expect all lights out and the still quiet of night. I guess I’m still adjusting to it. Full absorption in a body + mind decompress/daily moment of simply being has historically been my scene out of a certain social necessity, so I’m trying to reclaim that.

I don’t think it’s simplistic to observe that breakfast helps with that process either. When I think of that morning meal, I think of grains and mindfully stirring them or soaking them prior to the whole process. Even my super quick morning smoothies feature some soaked oats or raw buckwheat most times. There’s an elemental quality to these hearty stores from the fields, a notion that we can hardly be, much less go about our day without them. It’s a foodstuff you can lean on when times are tough, literally and figuratively speaking I suppose.

I feel like most if not all of you are familiar with Erin Alderson’s blog, Naturally Ella, at this point. Erin is an expert at making delicious, vegetarian, whole food recipes feel approachable, and her new book The Homemade Flour Cookbook is most certainly an extension of that. A book focused on making your own flour from grains, nuts, seeds and legumes, and then incorporating that flour into your cuisine was a challenging thought to me at first–I don’t grind too much of my own flour really. Mostly chickpeas and oats if I’m gonna go there. But Erin makes some serious arguments for better taste and nutrient value throughout. She also details different routes for milling flour at home–including a coffee grinder technique that’s within anyone’s reach.

My first go was a sweet version of her ground millet “polenta” for my re-established breakfast routine and whoa! Seriously so good. I wound up eating mine mostly cold and still enjoyed it so much. It’s kind of wild to see a grain that you know and love in a new and delicious light. Her version in the book is savoury with chickpeas and a spicy tomato chutney, and gosh doesn’t that sound just too good? I’ve always liked strawberries combined in a baked good with cornmeal, and since millet has a bit of a corn-vibe, I knew this combination would work. The vanilla warms it up a bit and I just really enjoy lavender with berries, so that got plucked from the backyard right quick. Bonus: once I had the millet ground up (which wasn’t even a big deal), this was ready in about 15 minutes. I’m also interested in trying her quinoa-crusted cauliflower steaks, hazelnut pumpkin muffins, and the zucchini and corn empanadas with spelt dough really soon. Nice work, Erin!

Hope you’re all starting summer on a strong, solid foot of serious being :) xo

The Homemade Flour Cookbook by Erin Alderson // the first messvanilla bean millet porridge w/ lavender strawberries + super seeds {via The Homemade Flour Cookbook} // the first messvanilla bean millet porridge w/ lavender strawberries + super seeds {via The Homemade Flour Cookbook} // the first messground millet // the first messvanilla bean millet porridge w/ lavender strawberries + super seeds {via The Homemade Flour Cookbook} // the first messvanilla bean millet porridge w/ lavender strawberries + super seeds {via The Homemade Flour Cookbook} // the first mess

vanilla bean millet porridge w/ lavender strawberries + super seeds
lightly adapted from The Homemade Flour Cookbook
serves: 2
notes: I don’t grind the millet all the way into flour because I prefer to have some cracked bits of grain for texture.

lavender strawberries:
1 cup diced strawberries
1/2 tbsp maple syrup (+ extra for serving if you like)
1-2 tsp lavender buds, crushed with your fingers

super seeds (makes extra!):
2 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp flax seeds
2 tbsp sunflower seeds, toasted (or not)
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds, toasted (or not)

millet porridge:
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon or ground cardamom
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 cup filtered water
heaped 1/2 cup of ground millet (in a coffee grinder, food processor or blender)
1/2 tsp sea salt (I used fancy pink salt)
seeds scraped from a 1/3 vanilla bean OR 1/2 tsp extract/paste

Place the diced strawberries in a small-medium bowl and stir them up with the maple syrup and lavender buds. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together all of the seeds for the super seed mixture and set aside.

Heat the coconut oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the ground cinnamon and stir it up until fragrant, about 30 seconds. You should have a cinnamon oil of sorts. Add the almond milk and water and stir. Bring the mixture to a light boil, add the ground millet along with the salt and whisk. Continue to whisk the mixture as it cooks. Once it’s thickened up to the consistency of polenta, pull it off the heat. Allow the millet porridge to sit for a moment, add the vanilla, and whisk it again lightly and serve with lavender strawberries, super seeds and extra milk or maple syrup if you like.

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Millie l add A Little18/06/2014 - 4:40 am

This is so gorgeous – I absoloutely love the way you presented it!
http://youtube.com/addalittlefood

Kathryn18/06/2014 - 5:23 am

I love the idea of taking a few moments of stillness at the start of the day and channeling that focus into a delicious bowl of goodness. Love your take on Erin’s recipe and the beautiful way you’ve brought it to life.

Anne @AVeganAdventure18/06/2014 - 5:58 am

This looks delightful! I’ve just started playing with making my own flours, so I’ll have to try this, and Erin’s cookbook as well. I don’t see the vanilla bean in the ingredient list though. Is it added to the porridge or the strawberries? Either would be fantastic I guess. Thanks!

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Anoushé18/06/2014 - 6:29 am

Such beautiful pictures! I need to try this!

Laura Wright18/06/2014 - 6:45 am

Anne! Thanks for noticing that. I’ll fix it up :)

I am so inspired by your peaceful perspective. I love that you see making breakfast as a chance for mindfulness. So often I am so busy multitasking through the breakfast hour I forget if I even had breakfast. It is just the dirty skillet on the stove that confirms that I had it. Love this idea. I have recently started getting into millet. It is a new favorite grain here.

Sheila18/06/2014 - 7:16 am

You take beautiful photos :)

Leah18/06/2014 - 8:23 am

There is something really calming about just easing into the day and it is hard to get motivated to put a lot of effort into breakfast and then cleaning it all up. But this is motivating me to do a little more breakfast cooking. Looks delicious! Gorgeous photos!

Abby @ The Frosted Vegan18/06/2014 - 8:53 am

So so pretty and gorgeous! I love that you capture the light and beauty of the everyday. Your words on just being are well heard, I needed to read that today!

Lindsey18/06/2014 - 8:53 am

I totally feel you on the being present/still tip! I am feeling that more than ever these days, especially when you feel like it’s all moving too fast. i wish you all the best moving into this new, beautiful season and can’t wait to see what you’re developing for the fall! hugs + deep breaths! xo

Ashley18/06/2014 - 8:55 am

Your photos are a work of art. There’s so much life in them and they mirror your words perfectly. And this sentence… “Every week there are more things to do with new challenges, and in this season of life it feels like that notion has exploded times a thousand.” Your words are the thoughts I have but can’t put into words. :) — I’m kind of in love with millet porridge and Erin’s book is such a winner! Beautiful!

Amy @ Parsley In My Teeth18/06/2014 - 9:03 am

There is something about lavender that is very calming and peaceful. Such a stroke of brilliance to add it to this delicious breakfast!

lynsey // lynseylovesfood18/06/2014 - 9:32 am

reading your posts are so calming and energizing all in one swoop!! Mindfulness + the need to run to the kitchen immediately all wrapped into one!! xo

Grace18/06/2014 - 9:33 am

I read your post all wide-eyed without blinking. These pictures, the light, the words and your styling – all so stunning!

cheri18/06/2014 - 10:09 am

I love Erin’s blog will have to order a copy of her book. Love what you did with the millet, beautiful pictures.

Libby18/06/2014 - 10:15 am

I feel like if I were to take a photograph of porridge, it would just look utterly unappetizing. But this is so gorgeous and beautiful (as are all of your photographs).
I’ve never used lavender or millet in my kitchen but your recipes always tend to pull me towards directions that I’ve never taken before. I can’t wait to try it. It sounds truly delicious.

Julia18/06/2014 - 11:20 am

Laura, how do you grind the millet? Can I do it in an improvised way since I don’t have a coffee grinder?

Rose Citron18/06/2014 - 3:43 pm

Amazing idea! I love millet, I have to try this porridge :)

Laura Wright18/06/2014 - 5:26 pm

Hi Julia, you could certainly use a food processor or a blender, if either of those options is available to you.
-L

hannah18/06/2014 - 7:28 pm

Laura, I ALWAYS find your words and recipes are sooo in tune with what I am thinking/feeling/craving at any given moment. How funny! And lovely.
How long did the millet take to cook?
h xx

Lisa @ Simple Pairings18/06/2014 - 9:08 pm

Love this! I’m a big fan of wholesome dishes like this. My current favorite is buckwheat, but your millet version looks fabulous, too. The strawberries make it look so appetizing. I also love the ‘super seeds’ part!

Jen from New Hippie Kitchen18/06/2014 - 9:22 pm

Wow! What a great idea. I love polenta and this would be a great alternative to using corn. Can’t wait to try it.

Shelly @ Vegetarian 'Ventures18/06/2014 - 10:15 pm

Isn’t ‘The Homemade Cookbook’ so wonderful? It’s been rainy here and I’ve been enjoying cuddling up with some new cookbooks as well! This porridge you made is gorgeous as always!

Laura Wright19/06/2014 - 7:59 am

Hi Hannah! I would say the millet took a good 10-12 mminutes to get to proper thickness, with fairly constant whisking.
-L

Irene @ {a swoonful of sugar}19/06/2014 - 8:14 am

This is such a gorgeous post! Now I’m just dying to get my hands on some edible lavender! Beautiful flavour combos :)

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Ida Skivenes20/06/2014 - 3:40 am

I just made this (topped with apricots and blueberries instead of the lavender strawberries though), it’s very easy and utterly delicious. The only thing that confused me was where the vanilla bean comes in? It’s mentioned in the title and further up the text but not in the ingredients or the instructions. However, I just threw in some vanilla into the porridge as it was cooking and it worked fine. Thanks for a great new recipe for my breakfast repertoire! :)

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Alessandra21/06/2014 - 3:23 pm

You had me at lavender! Looks absolutely amazing as always!

Sini | my blue&white kitchen22/06/2014 - 9:44 am

This porridge is just way too beautiful. Absolutely in love with this recipe and these pictures!

Our Food Stories23/06/2014 - 10:56 am

oh my…that looks SO delicious!! can you please send it over to berlin for breakfast ;)
xx
laura&nora

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Susan25/06/2014 - 2:39 pm

too tempting not to try!

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Angela Brown02/07/2014 - 12:44 pm

Holy God…these pictures are gorgeous! The third in this post is simply beautiful! Really lovely work!

Tom12/07/2014 - 1:04 am

Hey , this recipe look amazing , but I just wanted to know if I can use ground quinoa instead ground millet ?!?! Have a nice day ….. !!!!!

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Caitlin @ teaspoon13/07/2014 - 3:54 pm

I’m so excited to try this! I just found out I’m allergic to oats and eggs and most gluten, so breakfast is a bit difficult to say the least. Millet is all good though! Can’t wait to try it out. That cookbook sounds pretty awesome as well.

Laura Wright14/07/2014 - 8:58 am

Hey Tom, I’ve never tried quinoa in this application, but I think it’s worth a shot. Might have a bit of a stronger flavour profile than the millet–and it’ll definitely cook faster, which is a bonus. Let me know if it works!
-L

Kate @ ¡Hola! Jalapeño15/07/2014 - 6:49 am

I have everything to make this and now I can’t wait for breakfast! I’m always looking for new ways to eat millet, I’ve found a room temp salad is my favorite, but have never tried it ground. Thanks!

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clp07/10/2014 - 12:53 am

the pictures are beautiful and recipes sound amazing. on this porridge: how much cinnamon or cardamom? it just says “1/2″… thank you

Laura Wright07/10/2014 - 3:16 pm

Hey clp, fixed up the recipe to clarify. It’s a 1/2 teasoon of either ground cardamom or cinnamon. Thanks for spotting that!
-L

Kimberley’s banh mi with portobellos + pickled vegetables

KimberleyVIBRANT FOODbuilding some banh mi // the first mess

My favourite cookbooks either take me somewhere or challenge me in a new way. I think this is true for films, books, music etc. as well, but it has to be most especially true with cookbooks because frankly, I have too many. And if I’m makin’ space in my new shelf-y kitchen cabinet JUST for this sort of thing, or I’m aiming to cook with some serious intention from a new perspective, that possible new cookbook better be damn good.

This is just my point of view though. Once you’ve cooked for a while and made a serious effort to be around food in a professional setting, recipes begin to feel almost pointless. Almost. Certain books and audiences need them though. Baking is a good example here. But in a big picture-kind of sense, I’m more vested in the how of recipes and dishes, the cook’s philosphy and how they arrived at this full page photo and accompanying blurb. How many recipes for kale salad does one really need?! When an author goes beyond the recipes and makes you feel something or tells you their story in some way, it’s a whole other thing. Doors open, your vision expands and you think about new things that are possible. The book inspires you to the point where you can think a bit differently.

I’ve had Kimberley Hasselbrink’s book VIBRANT FOOD in my possession for about two weeks, and can safely say it’s one of those inspiring, thought-shifting kind of cookbooks that takes you somewhere. Maybe you read her blog The Year In Food and you already had a hunch that this could be possible? It’s organized by season and then further broken down by an almost micro-seasonal consideration by item. There’s a section on flowers for spring, herbs + greens for summer, tree fruits in fall, and hardy root vegetables in the winter segment, among many others. You get a sense of each season’s flavour and vibe through Kimberley’s photography and thoughtfully approached recipes.

I never thought to put squash blossoms in a quesadilla or to roll chocolate truffles in bee pollen, or to even approach a Japanese-style curry with kabocha squash and soba noodles. There’s some bangin’ renditions of more classic fare as well, like smoky red pepper soup and a shredded brussels sprouts salad with apples + pecans. All really good and beautiful things that could inspire anyone, at whatever level, to cook at home.

The first recipe I tried was a riff on her salmon banh mi sandwiches, with some portobello mushrooms instead. The whole time I was making it, it dawned on me how realistic it would have been for me to fix up something like this for dinner. You get your pickled veg going and the portobellos marinating a bit. You stir up a little mayo, clean some herbs and prep the bread. A minor bit of stove time and assembly leads to a most gratifying sandwich experience. There’s a sour-fresh crunch from the vegetables, the portobellos are meaty to the point of “Wait, really?!” and the mayo! It’s all fresh lemon and garlicky-ness, and it’s crucial for waterproofing (yes, that’s the term I’m using) that light baguette. I could see this as some sort of salad scenario with tons of fresh herbs in the mix with the lettuce and the portobellos all grilled and sliced on top. You could thin the mayonnaise with some of the pickling liquid for a solid dressing, and then make some baguette croutons to finish it off. See what I mean by a book showing you a new way to think?

High fives, Kimberley. It’s a beaut :)

kitchen bookshelf // the first messVIBRANT FOODVIBRANT FOODbanh mi fixindat vegeanaise // the first messportobello banh mi + pickled veg from VIBRANT FOOD // the first messportobello banh mi + pickled veg from VIBRANT FOOD // the first mess
portobello banh mi with pickled vegetables

lightly adapted (but barely) from Vibrant Food by Kimberley Hasselbrink
serves: 4
notes: If you aren’t a mushroom person (WHAAAA??), tempeh or tofu would be so great here. I could even see some grilled pieces of eggplant as a decent replacement. Also, Grace has a particularly yummy looking version of vegetarian banh mi with sweet potatoes! Lastly, I used Vegenaise for the garlic aïoli, mostly out of ease (TRUTH BOMB: I would stock a case of the soy free at all times if I was a billionaire), but you could do a pine nut or cashew variation from the archives :)

pickled vegetable slaw ingredients:
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup natural sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 medium carrots, julienned
2 big radishes OR 1/3 of a daikon radish, sliced paper thin
1/2 english cucumber, julienned

aïoli ingredients:
1/2 cup Vegenaise/other plant-friendly mayo
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
2 tsp lemon zest
squeeze of lemon juice

banh mi ingredients:
4-6 portobello mushrooms caps (depending on size), cleaned
2 tbsp maple syrup OR dark agave nectar
1 1/2 tsp tamari soy sauce
1 tbsp sriracha hot sauce
3 cloves of garlic, minced
salt + pepper
1 baguette (French, Vietnamese or a GF one, depending on your need or what you can find)
big handful of cilantro leaves
equal handful of thai basil OR mint leaves
thin slices of chili (optional)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the white vinegar, cane sugar and salt until the sugar has dissolved. Place the julienned and sliced cucumber, radish and carrots into the bowl and toss them/submerge them in the vinegar mixture. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Drain when ready to use.

In a small bowl, stir together the Vegenaise, minced garlic, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.

Cut the portobello mushroom caps into quarters and set aside.

In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the maple syrup/dark agave, tamari, sriracha, minced garlic and a hearty splash of warm water. Add some salt and pepper if you like. Place the quartered portobellos in the sriracha mix and let them sit for 15-20 minutes or so, flipping them over here and there.

Heat some oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Place the portobello quarters into the pan and let them brown a bit on one side. Flip them over and brown a little more. Pour half of the sriracha marinating mix into the pan and simmer until reduced by at least half. Keep turning the portobello pieces in it. Once the mushrooms are reasonably soft and browned, remove them and place on a plate.

Build the sandwiches! Cut the baguette into 4 equal pieces. Spread the aïoli on both sides of all bread. Divide pickled vegetable slaw among the 4 bottoms of bread. Divide the quarters of portobello among the 4 sandwich bottoms. Place cilantro, mint, and Thai basil leaves on top of the portobellos along with the sliced chili. Place the mayo’d tops on top and enjoy.

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Jo from yummyvege12/06/2014 - 6:43 am

Wow this looks amazing, love the colour sombinations and “meaty” portobellos are making me hungry!

Millie l Add A Little12/06/2014 - 7:09 am

Yum! These look so delicious – love the sound of the marinade on the mushrooms and I would love to grill them on the bbq!
http://youtube.com/addalittlefood

How to Philosophize with Cake12/06/2014 - 7:27 am

That cookbook DOES sound mind-blowing. Will have to check it out sometime! Love the banh mi with homemade pickled vegetables, that sounds delicious. :)

Abby @ The Frosted Vegan12/06/2014 - 8:34 am

I’m totally not a mushroom person (I know!), but this still looks amazing, I can’t wait to pick up her book!

la domestique12/06/2014 - 8:43 am

All I can say is, “Amen, sista!” Love what you say here about cookbooks and recipes. I can’t wait to get my hands on Kimberley’s book!

Sini | my blue&white kitchen12/06/2014 - 9:26 am

You’re such a talented writer; once again, I loved to read your post. I can’t wait to get my hands on Kimberley’s book! It seems like (almost) the whole food blogging community is raving about it. It must be truly stunning. In the meantime, I might make these banh mi which look absolutely delicious! The portobellos sound wonderful; I don’t think I’m going to have a craving to add any meat. Really who need meat when there are this amazing vegetables in the game?

Kathryn12/06/2014 - 10:08 am

I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of my copy. I’m sure, as you predict, that it’s going to be one of those game-changer cookbooks that changes the way I think about food. I love your interpretation of this recipe too and the way you’ve captured it; it does true justice to Kimberley’s book.

Rachael | Spache the Spatula12/06/2014 - 3:31 pm

I am a bahn mi junkie, but I’ve never had one with portobello. These look fantastic and I need to be eating one right this second!

shanna mallon12/06/2014 - 4:27 pm

What a beautiful tribute and a meaningful one. Also girl. YOUR PICTURES! Prettier with every post, I mean it.

[…] craving a Bahn Mi with Portobellos and Pickled Vegetables from The First […]

Sara13/06/2014 - 6:22 am

Hi Laura,
In which culinary school did you go ?

(Oh, and sorry for my poor English)

Sara

Laura Wright13/06/2014 - 7:49 am

Hi Sara! I attended the nutritional culinary program at George Brown College in Toronto, Ontario.
-L

[…] would love to get my hands on one of these portobello bahn mi’s, some of this coconut and pistachio vegan ice cream and a few beer-battered onion […]

Grace13/06/2014 - 10:33 am

Dang Laura, so fabulous! This is the ultimate summer sandwich, piled high with fresh veg and fragrant herb. Your pictures make me want to grab a sandwich, stand on your porch, chow down and chat about vibrant food!

Kimberley13/06/2014 - 12:39 pm

I love all of this so much. I cannot wait to make your version with portobellos. I love your creativity with food, it’s so inspiring. And I was kinda floored by your words. You rule!

ATasteOfMadness13/06/2014 - 11:19 pm

Oh my god. I want the book!

kristie @ birchandwild.com14/06/2014 - 8:59 pm

This looks so delicious. I might have to try to make a gluten free version. The colors of the vegetables really pop in your photos, which are beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

[…] On enchaîne avec une recette de banh mi vegan qui me fait saliver. […]

[…] Banh mi with portobellos and pickled vegetables ~ this sounds amazing. […]

Pre17/06/2014 - 4:24 pm

This looks amazing! So happy to have found your blog. I can’t wait to try this recipe.

alia18/06/2014 - 12:42 pm

This recipe is what dreams are made of. Would it be ok to pickle the veggies overnight? or are they really only meant for a short pickle period? also, how long might they keep? (i’m dreaming of making a big batch and eating them throughout the week)
thanks!

Laura Wright19/06/2014 - 8:03 am

Hi Alia, I think you could pickle the veggies overnight if you cut them thicker than what I show in my photos. I only did the julienne strips so that I could have them right away. In Kimberley’s book she recommends draining the pickles once their soft enough and storing them in a covered container in the fridge. I imagine if you cut the vegetables into bigger pieces, you could get away with leaving the pickling liquid while they refrigerate overnight. Hope this helps!
-L

Sara27/06/2014 - 4:23 pm

Oh hi Vibrant Table on your bookshelf :-)

[…] banh mi sounds […]

[…] green rice salad with nectarines and corn // summer squash pasta with green goddess dressing // grilled halloumi with blueberries // grilled halloumi with strawberries // vegan banh mi […]

annie tucker23/09/2014 - 3:53 pm

i just got kimberly’s book and i am loving it! her banh mi definitely stuck out so I love seeing your version of it!

your food is beautiful!

Simone06/10/2014 - 9:19 pm

I LOVE this recipe! Made these last night, but sautéed little nut burgers with the same flavors you recommended for marinating the mushrooms PLUS I baked my own Vietnamese baguettes! It was an incredible dinner (albeit 5.5 hours in the making). I feel like my victory is OUR victory. Thanks Laura! High five!

Laura Wright07/10/2014 - 3:18 pm

Hey Simone,
You made your own baguettes too?!! So great! Love that level of commitment and the sound of your version with nut-based burgers. Too cool. Glad it worked out!
xo L