Perhaps you have an inclination already, but I have a lot of cookbooks. There’s a built-in bookcase wall in our office upstairs with at least a hundred stored away, always within reach for reference. I have a bunch of selects on my coffee table because they blur that line between practicality and aesthetic experience. We have a little shelf-style cabinet in the kitchen for a small rotation of cookbooks or magazines that I’m particularly enjoying at the moment–for inspiration or outright line-by-line recipe following. A lot of spaces for a lot of different styles of cookbooks, all enjoyed in their own way.
I’ve had Amy Chaplin’s first published cookbook At Home In The Whole Food Kitchen for about a month and it travels with me all over the house. As soon as it arrived, I excitedly ripped the box open on my porch and flipped through it right then and there. First it sat on my coffee table, readily available for browsing while I caught up with the early morning news or while I half-watched football with Mark on Sundays. It sat on my desk in the office as a relevant distraction while I edited photos or worked on other recipe-related projects. Now, it has a permanent home in my kitchen bookshelf, the most reached-for and beloved place for any book celebrating food in my home. It’s full of recipes to better your own connection to food, but also ones that are special enough (and still accessible) to bring your people together for real nourishment.
I’ve always trusted Amy’s voice on her blog because she’s worked in food professionally in a variety of ways–as a renowned Chef, teacher, and recipe developer for a number of publications that I respect. Her sensibility, approach to food and combinations always appeal to some deeper part of me–not just the part that’s hungry for lunch. Her work and style makes perfect sense on a different level of awareness. I love when a book lies at a very particular intersection, the one that joins beauty/inspiration, practicality, and knowledge/curiosity. This is a vegetarian cookbook that I will refer to for the rest of my life. There are breakdowns of pantry staples, recipes you can make from those staples, whole meals, salads, desserts (with a particularly gorgeous section on tarts), but also notes on tea and cleansing. It’s a vision of healthy living that is complete, accessible and inspiring.
I made the kabocha and roasted chestnut soup since we’re deep into the season for all of those things. The ingredient list is pretty minimal, which I love. Just buttery roasted chestnuts enhancing the sweetness of the squash and a little finish of tamari to keep it perfectly savoury. We had it with some potato and herb focaccia for dinner the other night. Just right, but especially good because of the crunchy “leaves” on top. I love a whimsical and seasonal touch that evokes the goings-on of the outdoors in my food. It’s all about connection. Other recipes from the book that I’m eager to try: the date pistachio praline tart, heirloom bean bourguignon with celery root mash, beet chickpea cakes, kale slaw with creamy mustard dressing, and the plum millet muffins.
Giveaway is now closed! :) Thanks for participating.
Rather generously, Amy’s publisher sent me an extra copy to give away here. I’m thrilled to send this out to one of your homes because I know it will make a big difference in your food life. All I ask for entry is that you comment on this post with your favourite one pot/soup/stew kind of meal for this time of year. For me, it’s the Moroccan-style stew with sweet potatoes and chickpeas that I posted last year. Proper cozy-making. I will have to limit this giveaway to my pals in North America, guys. The deadline for entering will be Sunday November 2nd at 9pm EST. And one more note! I did a guest post about my morning routine, true nourishment, and some quinoa porridge at my pal Elenore‘s blog last week, which was so fun because I love that woman way too much. Click over to Earthsprout to see :) xoxo
kabocha squash + roasted chestnut soup with kale sesame “leaves” recipe
from Amy Chaplin’s At Home In The Whole Food Kitchen
notes: Amy’s original recipe calls for sheets of nori seaweed brushed with a mirin + sesame oil mixture brushed on top for the “leaves.” I only used kale because in the midst of throwing this together, I realized that I didn’t have any nori! Anyway if you have nori, you can tear the sheets into pieces and brush them with a mix of the following: 2 tsp olive oil, 2 tsp mirin + 1 tsp sesame oil. Sprinkle the nori with sesame seeds and bake in a 300 degree F oven for 8 minutes, rotating the sheet pan halfway through.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, choped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp sea salt + more to taste
1 medium kabocha squash, peeled, seeded + cut into 3/4 inch dice
2 cups roasted + peeled chestnuts (method described below–you’ll need roughly 1 pound)
7 cups filtered water
1 large sage sprig
3 bay leaves
2 tsp tamari
ground black pepper
kale sesame “leaves” ingredients:
1 small bunch of lacinato kale
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp maple syrup
salt + pepper
small handful sesame seeds
First, prepare the chestnuts. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Place the chestnuts flat side down on the cutting board. With a serrated knife, cut a little slit into the top of each one. Place the cut chestnuts into a medium sauce pan and cover them with filtered water. Bring them to a boil and then drain. Transfer drained chestnuts to a sheet pan and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until shells are coming away from the innards. Once cool enough to handle, peel chestnuts and set aside, discarding the shells.
Lower the oven heat to 400 degrees F. Wipe out the sheet pan used for the chestnuts. Tear kale leaves into slightly larger than bite-size pieces. Drizzle them with the olive oil and maple syrup and season with salt and pepper. Toss and massage the leaves until they are thoroughly coated. Arrange them in a single layer and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Slide the tray into the oven and bake for about 7-8 minutes, or until the kale has crisped and curled up just a little bit (these burn so fast, so be careful). Remove the kale leaves from the oven and allow to cool.
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until quite soft, about 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and stir, cooking for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. To the pot, add the salt, squash, chestnuts, water, sage, and bay leaves. Place a lid on the pot and bring to a boil. Simmer until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes. Purée the soup in batches in a blender and return to the large pot. Add tamari, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve hot with kale sesame leaves.
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I love sauce (not to be confused with a love for hitting the sauce). I love the taste-as-you-go nature of making one, re-working classics, coming up with wild new versions, and smothering my food with it, always. Most importantly, I like that I can make a jar-full and have some on hand. I think we’ve been over this before, but I tend to make large runs of basic elements (quinoa, rice, lentils, chickpeas) for combining throughout the week with whatever greens we have, maybe a steamed or raw vegetable, and a healthy swipe of whatever sauce/dressing we’re going on at the moment. I think a lot of you might also eat this way, if Instagram is any indication. Those little anticipatory movements are ingrained at this point and our bodies seem grateful so far. Bowl life livin’ pals. Eating well is 95 percent preparation and just making an effort to buy only the good stuff when you’re at the store. Tasty whole foods in the house = a healthy life that comes naturally.
I’ve been trying to make a delicious and velvety goji berry-based sauce for a while now. The idea of that shocking colour on some cold weather veg was too tempting. One version I tried with vinegar soaked shallots was too tart, burying the sweetness of the dried fruit. Another version with dijon didn’t really mesh with the sweet-sour taste of goji berries at all. And yet another one that was carefully calculated with rosemary and blood orange tasted mostly like goji berries pureed with room temperature water and twigs. So frustrating! The other night it came to me out of nowhere–tahini, ginger and lemon. It would be creamy, a bit bitter, fresh and spicy–all good compliments to the slightly herbal finish of gojis (sauce-centered thoughts popping into my head around bedtime aren’t terribly unusual lately). I like using dried fruit in blended concoctions because they add their own sweetness, of course, but they also make for a creamy consistency surprisingly enough.
This goji cream is really well balanced and works for the hearty vegetables that are currently everywhere. I think it would be excellent on a kale salad though. I wanted to roast some of my celery root in the garden for this, but it was so muddy out. I knew it would be like quicksand once I reached for the shovel to dig one. I always have carrots around, but especially now because my dad grew some mighty fine ones this year, so I used those instead. So sweet and lovely! I can never resist a romanesco when I see one, but you know some cauliflower would be just the same. I used black lentils as the base because I had just enough left in my storage jar and thought it would look all contrast-y and good. The texture of the darker lentils tends to be more my pace because of the bite. There’s za’atar and sesames too. Anyway! Not too much to say today, just some inspired, easy and healthy eats with hot orange saucy splashes. Eating all the colours never gets old for me :)
fall veg + lentil bowl w/ goji ginger tahini cream
notes: I cook lentils sort of like how I cook pasta–tons of water and then I just drain when they’re done. Also, any fall vegetables you like would be fine here. After I finished these photos, I added a scoop of cooked quinoa to my bowl and it was extra nice. If you’re a dairy eater, I don’t think a handful of crumbled sheep feta would be out of bounds either :)
veg bowl ingredients:
3/4 cup french or black lentils, rinsed
salt and pepper
2 cups romanesco florets
6 small carrots, scrubbed + cut in half
1 tbsp olive oil
fat pinch of za’atar spice
1 leek, dark green part removed + hairy end trimmed
1 small beet, peeled + sliced paper thin
1 small apple, cored + sliced paper thin
1/2 ripe avocado
toasted sesame seeds
handful of flat parsley leaves
goji ginger tahini cream ingredients:
1/4 cup dried goji berries
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
juice of half a lemon
salt + pepper
1 tbsp tahini
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled + rough dice
1 tsp maple syrup
2-3 tbsp olive oil
big splash of filtered water (2-3 tablespoons)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the lentils to the water and simmer until just tender, about 25-30 minutes. Drain the lentils and then scrape them into a bowl. Drizzle them with a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to mix and set aside.
Place romanesco florets, carrots, the tablespoon of olive oil, za’atar, salt + pepper on the lined baking sheet. Toss it all to coat and slide into the oven. Roast until you start to see brown edges on the romanesco, about 15 minutes. Slice the leek down the middle lengthwise and then slice the halves into half moons. Remove the tray of veg from the oven and carefully toss the leeks in the mix. Slide the tray back into the oven for 5 more minutes.
While the veg is cooking, make the goji cream. Place the goji berries in a medium bowl and cover them with boiling water. Let them sit a couple minutes to soften. Then, drain the gojis and toss them into a blender. To this, add the apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, salt + pepper, tahini, ginger, maple syrup, olive oil, and filtered water. Blend until you have a creamy mixture. Taste it and see if you need more sweetness, acidity or salt. Adjust and set aside.
Divide the lentils and roasted vegetables between two bowls. Place the thin slices of beet and apple on top. Cut the avocado into wedges or dices and place on top of both bowls. Drizzle the bowls with the goji ginger cream, and garnish with some toasted sesame seeds and parsley leaves. I like an extra wedge of lemon on the side of mine too.
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I have a big moleskine notebook where I messily jot down things I want to create in the kitchen: ideas I have for combining whole foods to get a certain effect, flavour combinations, sticky notes with ambiguous notation, restaurant dishes I want to have at home, simple techniques with big results that I want to share with you, and the like. Some of it is blog fuel in the form of (vegan, grain + legume-based faux) chicken scratch, but most of it I’ve filed away for future use. I’ve always, always had plans and strategies for an intentional career in food hidden away, and then I shy away from it all, thinking it’s too big, too much right now. What if I had to quit my job to really do it right? What if things don’t go according to plan? What if there are very real financial repercussions? What if my life changes course?
I think if something has you asking “What if?” with excited/nervous/scared shitless undertones, and with increased frequency as well, the timing may be just right. Another step towards focusing up and unlearning the fear that it can’t be done: the new cookbook from the Green Kitchen Stories crew arrived at my door about a month ago. Just looking at the cover of Green Kitchen Travels stirred up inspiration on the visceral level for me. There are beautiful photographs of food, yes, but also captures of the worldly places that inspired each dish. I always say that a good cookbook should take you somewhere, whether it’s a new frame of awareness with food, or the photographs and voice have the ability to transport you in as much as possible. This one accomplishes both handily. There’s nothing about it that I don’t love.
I was deciding what recipe I would share with you all here when I realized I had cleared out almost all of my vegetable garden, save for two slowly yellowing eggplant stalks and some greens. I flipped to the “Street Food & Snacks” section of the book and knew I had to have these crispy eggplant bites with honey and lime. Addictive is the only adjective you need to know, but here are some others: crunchy, salty, sweet, tender, and fresh. Everything I’ve ever wanted in a snack and they couldn’t have been simpler to throw together. I used some rather coarse polenta and the degree of crunch was so crazy satisfying. Drizzles of honey and fresh lime juice right out of the oven are just too good. They taste convincingly deep fried. ‘Nuff said.
Other things from the book I’m excited to try: vegetarian pho, halloumi veggie burgers, ribollita, lemongrass and coconut summer rolls, no-noodle pad thai, almond butter blueberry cookies, the green yoga smoothie, and the chermoula baked cauliflower. Lots of things to turn the wheels no matter what level you’re at with whole food + vegetarian adventures. You can buy it here (and you should seriously). One little quick note before I go too: I made some soft-baked style pumpkin cookies with tangy cream-cheesy glaze for BAKED this week. You can check that out by clicking here. Weeee!
crispy eggplant polenta bites with honey + lime
from Green Kitchen Travels
notes: I think these would be equally good with a fat pinch of nutritional yeast stirred into the polenta mixture and a little warm marinara for dippin’, just an idea though! ;););)
1 large eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch batons/wedges
3-4 cups unsweetened plant-based milk
1-2 cups organic, non-GMO corn grits/polenta (I used this one)
a fat pinch of fine sea salt
zest of 1 lime (once you have the zest, cut the lime into wedges)
flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
runny honey or agave nectar if you’d like to keep these vegan
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and smear a bit of olive oil on it. Set aside.
Place the eggplant pieces in a large bowl and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Cover the pieces with the plant-based milk. Let the eggplant sit for an hour so that the bitterness can draw out.
Pour the corn grits/polenta into a shallow dish. Stir a good pinch of salt into the polenta. Arrange the soaked eggplant, dish of polenta, and lined baking sheet beside each other. Shake off excess milk from eggplant pieces and roll/press them in the polenta. Transfer coated pieces to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining eggplant. Drizzle the coated pieces with olive oil and slide the sheet into the oven.
Bake eggplant bites for 15-25 minutes, flipping them over once. Mine took the full 25 minutes, but I think this varies greatly on the actual eggplant and hotspots in your oven. Once done, remove from the oven and sprinkle bites with lemon zest, flaky sea salt, honey and lime juice. Serve hot!