Chinese Style Cucumbers—Smashed!

Chinese Style Smashed Cucumbers-9910.jpg

There’s something very curious going on with the weather. We still have a good month to go before spring but it’s been off with the coats and on with the sunglasses for the past few days this week. Maybe not so curious after all but more frightening, something called global warming.

It’s hard to think about doomsday when it’s all very cheery with the sun shining upon the kids at play in the park and cool looking couples with their shades on sipping their mid day drinks with no intent on leaving their sunny spots on the terrasse. This city is filled with smiling tourists and French families on the school winter break from the other zones in France lending to this collective positive vibe.

Meanwhile I can’t get a spot on that terrasse cause it’s too damn crowded so I’m home taking it out on the only thing I could find in my fridge—cucumbers! So there you have it, a crunchy and refreshing cucumber garlicky salad on a fine, warm winter’s day.

Chinese Style Cucumber—Smashed

INGREDIENTS//Serves 2-3

• 1 large organic cucumber, peeled and cut length-wise, de-seeded
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 3 cloves garlic, smashed
• 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
• 1 teaspoon soy sauce or tamari sauce (gluten-free option)
• 1 tablespoon sesame oil
• 1 red chili pepper, sliced thin, use accordingly

Instructions

After washing the cucumber, peel the skin, de-seed, and cut it lengthwise. I like to keep some of the skin on for the added texture and color so I alternate between peeling the skin on and off the cucumber.

Pat it dry.

Lay the cucumber cut side down on a chopping board and with a cleaver (using the flat side) or a wide surface knife lay it on top of the cucumber and smash down on it with your other hand. Once you’ve smashed down on all the length of the cucumber, chop into bite size pieces to separate them.

Transfer it to a strainer and add the salt and sugar. Be sure to mix well.
Optional: Let it sit in the strainer above a bowl for 10-15 minutes. Discard the liquid.

In a small bowl combine the cucumber and the last five ingredients, then toss.

Ready to serve.

Open Face Tortillas With Seared Tuna and Mirabelle Chutney

Open Face Tortilla Seared Tuna and Mirabelle Chutney-1194.jpg

The great thing about open face tortillas is that it’s a fun and colorful presentation added to the dining table. It’s simple as long as you have all your ingredients laid out before you to choose from.

The best thing is that you can even immerse your guests or entertain the kids in their own experience by letting them build their own tortillas (less work for you to do!). This is the way we do it at home.

It’s one of our favorite meals as it resembles our maki-making meals too. As long as you offer enough veggie choices and a protein option you won’t have to worry about your kid not eating a balanced meal.

This mix and match combo is an enjoyable meal for the family.

Seared Tuna With Mirabelle Chutney

Seared Tuna With Mirabelle Chutney

Open Face Tortillas With Seared Tuna and Mirabelle Chutney

INGREDIENTS//Yields 6 tortillas

• 6 tortillas or corn tortillas (gluten-free option)
• 500 grams fresh tuna, seared and sliced
• 2 tablespoons sake
• A handful of fresh coriander, chopped up or torn into pieces
• 1 red onion, sliced thinly
• 1 tomato, sliced thinly
• 1 beetroot, steamed or boiled and sliced thinly

Mirabelle Chutney

• 1/2 teaspoon ginger, freshly grated
• 2 cardamom pods
• 1 clove
• 1/2 cinnamon stick
• 1 clove garlic, grated
• 1/2 lime juiced
• 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
• 1 tablespoon brown sugar
• 1/4 -1/2 inch fresh chili pepper
• 250 grams mirabelle, de-seeded and quartered (mangoes are another option)

Preparation

Marinate the tuna in the sake for at least 15 minutes before searing. Before cooking, make sure to pat it dry.

Instructions

Mirabelle chutney

Place the first nine ingredients in a medium size pot on medium heat.

As it starts to simmer, add the mirabelles and let it simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.

It will start to thicken and get syrupy.

Take it off the stove and let it cool.

Tuna

To sear your tuna simply coat your cast iron skillet or pan with some cooking oil and turn your stove up on high heat.

Gently place one side of the tuna down and let it cook for about a minute and a half depending how thick your tuna is and how rare you like it. Turn it over and repeat. I also like to give the sides a quick turn as well.

When it cools down, cut it in slices about a quarter to half inch thick.

Assembling your torillas

Lay out your warm torilla and place your vegetables over them, following with a piece or two of the seared tuna.

Sprinkle some coriander over it, finally topping it off with some chutney.

NOTE

I used whatever vegetables were in my fridge so it happened to be a green tomato and beetroot. You can use whatever vegetable combination you have in your fridge. It’s a great way to use what’s left in your fridge.




Kale Azuki Power Bowl With Tahini Almond Dressing

Kale Power Bowl-9969.jpg

Kale has long been hailed as a superfood and with its health halo its been trendy for quite some time now. I took a break from kale when I arrived in France in 2005. It was hard to be found if it was even offered at all.

By now, fall 2018, it has popped up in a bunch of health food stores all over Paris. I just noticed this season I am even starting to find some in my AMAP basket.

Inconvenient to find at times, I’ve been disappointed when preparing this salad while starting off with all the other ingredients and then discovering that I have to go out and search for my kale only to come back with replacement chicories. Replacement chicories are fine too, don’t get me wrong—but it’s just that when you have your heart set on something…

It has gained popularity here and no wonder since it’s packed with vitamins A, C, K and is rich in antioxidants. And if you want twice the amount of antioxidants go for the red kale !

This cruciferous vegetable has a hearty leaf and will soften up when coated in a dressing. You can prepare this ahead of time since the leaves won’t wilt straight away.

I love it on a bed of mixed brown rice and quinoa for a full meal accompanied with some beetroot hummus and avocado. This power bowl will keep you plowing through the day.

Kale Azuki Power Bowl with Tahini Almond Dressing

INGREDIENTS//Serves 3-4

• 250 grams fresh kale leaves, chopped finely
• 50 grams azuki beans, dried (black beans work nicely too. Use tinned beans if pressed for time)
• 1 eggplant, roasted
• 2 zucchinis, grilled
• 1 beetroot, steamed and diced

Dressing

• 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
• 1 1/2 tablespoons almond butter (Purée Amande Complete en français)
• 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
• 1 lemon, juiced
• 1 clove garlic
• 1 tablespoon sesame oil
• 100 ml water

PREPARATION

For the dressing combine the first six ingredients in a blender ( a mini blender is convenient for dressings like these) with half the water (50ml) and whizz it up. Gradually add the rest of the water to get loosen the dressing up.

INSTRUCTIONS

Put the chopped kale leaves in a large mixing bowl and add the dressing. Be sure to coat the kale all over.

Use your hands to massage the dressing into the kale if need be.

I like to let the kale marinate for 15 minutes if I’ve got the time.

Then toss in the beans and the rest of the vegetables: eggplant, zucchinis, beetroot.

Ready to serve!





Green Apple Leek Salad With Crispy Chickpeas

GreenAppleLeekSalad-2R .jpg

Fried chickpeas have been on my mind for nearly a month now.  Something I never considered doing until I ate some at a restaurant in Belleville called Le Grand Bain.  I remember crunching on this little pea that was mixed in with a salad that my gal pals and I ordered and thinking Yum, what is this crispy thing?  Chickpeas are a favorite in our family but we usually make regular hummus, beetroot hummus or just have it whole as a snack or mixed in with salads.

I was just waiting for the right time to experiment...

GreenAppleLeekSaladR.jpg

All set up in my kitchen lab,  I patted dry the chickpeas and placed them carefully into the frying pan.  After 5 minutes of sizzling, they started to brown.   I fished them out with a slotted spoon and let them cool down.  Et voilà!   Here we have some rather crispy tasting snacks with a creamy interior.    You can shake these fried chickpeas up in a paper bag with some herbs and spices or for those with a sweet tooth just add some brown sugar to the mix. 

I'm always looking for toppings that I can sprinkle and toss over a soup or a salad.    This is at the top of my list for the moment so you'll be seeing it in my future posts.

Green Apple Leek Salad With Crispy Chickpeas

INGREDIENTS//Serves 4

• 3 leeks, julienned
• 2 Granny Smith apple, match sticks
• 1 cup chickpeas, fried
• 170 grams crab meat, shredded (6 ounce tin or 1/2 cup ), or smoked salmon (optional)

Vinaigrette:

• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 1/2 lemon, juiced
• 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
• 1/2 teaspoon paprika
• black pepper, adjust accordingly

PREPARATION

Cut the top green part of the leeks off.  You can get rid of the outer stiff layer.  Wash the rest of the greens and store for use another time (vegetable brouillon).

Cut the end of the leek off and then slit the leek down the middle to rinse out any dirt.  Pat it dry.

To cut the leeks into fine julienne slices, fold the leek over in half (not lengthwise), press down and slice thinly lengthwise.

Prepare your steamer basket.  Place the leeks, cover , and steam. 

You want the leeks to be slightly soft but not completely. 

Then take it out of the steamer and run under cold water.

Pat it dry with some paper towels or a clean tea towel.

Fried Chickpeas:

Add some olive oil up to an inch and a half in a medium size pan or pot.   Turn on heat up to high.  Drop in a chickpea to see if the oil is hot enough to fry in.  The chickpea should sizzle.   Add the rest of the chickpeas making sure not to crowd and fry them up for about 5 minutes or until they start turning brown.  They should taste crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Use a slotted spoon to take them out and lay them over a fine wire rack (I used a mesh skimmer) or paper towels.

 

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large serving bowl add the vinaigrette to the leeks and mix thoroughly.  Let it marinate for about 15 minutes.

Combine the apples and the chickpeas and toss.  Add some black pepper accordingly.



 

Velouté d'Epinards, Fancy Name For Spinach Soup

SpinachSoupR.jpg

Either the green appeals to you or it doesn't but hey I'm not judging it by its color.  I got a eww from my son, Viktor, when I placed a bowl of this soup in front of him which led me to throw in a few ravioles (mini ravioli) to tempt him.  It worked.  He polished off the bowl and I couldn't help but feel smug about it.

Green happens to be one of my favorite colors.  There's something soothing about it along with the scent of fresh cut green grass on a hot summer's day.   During long family road trips as a kid Mum was always telling us to look out the window at the greenery.  "It's good for the eyes", she would say.   Green to me is a peaceful color and when I have a bowl of this soup set in front of me there is this moment of calm and I am grateful for the nutrients that are about to replenish my soul and connect me to Mother Nature.

This is a pure soup which leaves your palate clean and keeps your body feeling snug and toasty.

Vélouté d'Epinards

INGREDIENTS//Serves 6

• 400 grams spinach, fresh
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 medium size onion
• 2 cloves garlic
• 1 leek, chopped
• 2 medium size potatos, small cubes
• 2.5 cups vegetable broth
• 2 cups almond milk
• 1/4 teasoon chili powder ( I used Espelette red pepper)
• 1 sprig rosemary
• Black pepper and salt, adjust accordingly.

Toppings:

Fried or roasted chickpeas, toasted pine nuts, ravioles (I used ravioles du Dauphiné)


INSTRUCTIONS

In a large pot, heat the olive oil and then brown your onions and garlic.

Add the leek and potatoes and and cook until the leeks soften.

Add the vegetable broth and bring it all to a boil and then turn down the heat to let it simmer.  Throw in the sprig of rosemary, add the almond milk and wait until the potatoes are cooked through.

Finally add the spinach and let it cook until it starts to wilt. 

Turn off the heat and let it stand.  Take out the sprig of rosemary before whizzing up the soup.



NOTE

I enjoy this soup simply on its own but you can add ravioles, fried chickpeas, pine nuts, etc.
You can adjust consistency of the soup by adding less or more broth as well as keeping it more or less chunky by controlling the blending time.
 

Creamy Broccoli Soup Without The Cream

Creamy Broccoli Soup—and it's vegan.

Creamy Broccoli Soup—and it's vegan.

Slighty behind from all the holiday celebrations, nevertheless, Happy New Year!   After a fun-filled holiday in the south of France I returned to Paris only to meet "Flu"...

She was relentless and kept me homebound.  She had no plans for me to do a thing.  She wanted me all to herself.  So I obeyed and paid attention.   All I could do was to make offerings of fresh lemons and limes, slices of ginger, lots of honey, some golden powder named tumeric, and sea salt.    She wanted us to have a steam bath...many times.  I think I had 5, 6, 7, I dunno,  I was quite delirious really.  I can't say I much enjoyed bathing in my own sweat.  She finally realized that she overstayed her welcome and left me with some tidying up to do.

Back up on my two feet and I'm ready for some reboot!  I am thinking soups, soups, and more soups.  It's still brrr here and it's the best way for my family and I to get our veggie intake. 

Not being in the mood for dairy these days,  I easily replaced the cream and milky bit in this recipe with almond milk which was what I had on hand.  Give it a try.  I think you may be surprised.  You'll find a gorgeous creamy texture without the fat.  It's a light but very filling soup.   Keep healthy!   xx-M

Creamy Broccoli Soup

INGREDIENTS//Serves 4

• 1 broccoli head, cut into florets and roasted
• 4 cloves garlic, sliced, divided
• 3 tablesoon olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
• 1 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil
• 1 carrot, chopped
• 1 celery stalk
• 1 onion, small
• 2.5 cups vegetable stock
• 1 cup almond milk


INSTRUCTIONS

In a large mixing bowl combine the broccoli, half of the garlic, olive oil, sea salt, and toss.

Pre heat the oven to 200° C ( 400° F°).

On a baking sheet spread out the broccoli and bake for 20 minutes until you see the tops get dark and toasty.

During this time, prepare the soup. 

In a medium size pot, add some coconut oil, onions, carrots, celery and cook until slightly softened.  Add your vegetable stock and bring it to a slow boil.

Add your roasted broccoli along with the almond milk and let it simmer until bubbling slightly.

Then turn off the stove and let it cool before whizzing it up in a blender or using your hand blender.

 

 

Rainbow Fresh Spring Rolls

Ingredients for a colorful fresh spring roll.

Rice paper wraps filled with raw vegetables.

Rice paper wraps filled with raw vegetables.

RainbowSummerRolls3.jpg

I love Vietnamese fresh spring rolls, also known as summer rolls.  Rice paper wraps offer another gluten free wrap option.  Be sure to double check the ingredient list as not every rice paper wrap is gluten free if you are looking for this option.

Just like nori for making sushi maki, rice paper wrap can be used to roll up anything you can think of.  My kids like to make their own and they can get very creative with it;  imagine a fresh fruit coulis drizzled over it—blueberry to be precise.  I am kindly reminded by them that I a missing a spectrum of blues, indigos, and violets for it to called a rainbow.

Here's a blend of my veggie fruit wrap.  It's a light starter and a pretty bite size treat for everyone.

Rainbow Rolls

INGREDIENTS

• 1 carrot
• 1 red pepper
• 1 mango
• 1 cucumber
• 1 avocado
• A handful of mint leaves
• Rice paper , 22 cm

PREPARATION

Cut and slice your vegetables into thin strips.   Place them into separate bowls.

INSTRUCTIONS

Prepare a pan filled with a half inch of warm water.    Take a piece of rice paper and place it in the pan of water, flipping it quickly so that both sides are wet and then place it on a flat work space (I use a silicone or wooden chopping board).  Use your fingers to rub in the water and to flatten out the rice paper.

Place your sliced vegetables about a a third up of the rice paper and leaving an inch and a half on the sides.  Then line up two or three pieces of mint leaves next to it and another line of avocado so that you will have 3 rows neatly lined up next to each other. 

Start from the bottom and roll up into your first line of vegetables, tuck in the sides of the rice paper and continue to roll up.

Using a sharp knife cut the rolls in half and then in thirds.  Line them up on a tray and serve immediately.  You can also plastic wrap it and place it in the fridge to serve later.

NOTE

You don't want your rice paper to be too wet otherwise it will tear. Give it a give dip on both sides and quickly take it out as it will continue to absorb the water once it is placed on your flat work space.

Practice makes perfect.  Keep your rolls tight when rolling and make sure not to overstuff your rolls. 





 

 

Beetroot Brownies

Beetroot Brownies

INGREDIENTS//Yields 12 squares

• 1 medium size beetroot (approximately 250 grams), finely grated
• 130 grams dark chocolate, chopped
• 130 grams butter
• 3 tablespoons agave or honey
• 100 grams chestnut flour
• 30 grams cacao powder
• 3 whole eggs, whisked
• A pinch of sea salt
 

INSTRUCTIONS
 

In a medium size pot add some water and boil the beets until soft.  Then use a sieve and drain all the water out.  With the help of a back of a spoon, press into the beets to squeeze out any excess liquids.  Set it aside.

Melt your chocolate and butter in a bain-marie.  Then pour it into a blender, add the beetroot and the agave, and whiz it up.  Set it aside.

In a seperate mixing bowl combine your chestnut flour, cocao powder, and egg.  Mix by hand.

Add a pinch of sea salt and fold in the chocolate beetroot mixture.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper and pour in your mix.

Pop it into your pre-heated oven at 160° Celsius and bake for 30 minutes or until you can slide a knife into it and pull it out clean.

 

Teff Patty. Have it your way...

Teff patty on a bed of sautéed cauliflower & pumpkin topped off with parsley and mozzarella.

Teff patty on a bed of sautéed cauliflower & pumpkin topped off with parsley and mozzarella.

Ok folks, so if you caught my last post you'll know that this is my second experiment with teff grains.  I've gone from pancakes to patties.  The original intent was to make a veggie burger for the family but I found that the patty didn't taste as good in between buns than simply plated on a bed of sautéed vegetables.

I tried a few different vegetable combinations with the teff grains but I kept getting mushy-like veggie patties which is why putting it in between buns didn't help the matter.    It's a stomach stuffer, if you know what I mean.

Roasted mushrooms seem like the ingredient to add for a meatier consistency.  You don't want your veggie patty to be waterlogged which is why roasting is the way to go—it gets rid of the liquid. 

Teff Burger

Teff Burger

I finally came up with this combination that I am sharing with you but I highly suggest plating it on some seasonal vegetables with a crunch to give an added texture to this dish.  I dressed it up as a burger for the kids who ate it willingly albeit with some raised brows.  So, have it your way...

Teff Patty

INGREDIENTS//Yields 10 medium size patties

• 100 grams (1/2 cup) teff grains
• 2 cups vegetable stock
• 350 grams mushrooms, finely chopped and roasted
• 220 grams pumpkin, diced and roasted
• 100 grams (1/2 cup) mung beans
• 1 tablespoon flax seeds, grounded

INSTRUCTIONS

Add two cups of vegetable stock and bring it to a boil.  Add the teff and let it cook on medium heat with a lid over it.   After 15-20 minutes, all the water should be absorbed and the teff will be cooked.  Let it cool.

In a pre-heated oven at 175°C, roast your mushrooms and pumpkin.    Then, take it out of the oven and let it cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the teff, mushrooms, pumpkin, cooked mung beans, and ground flaxseed.

Stir everything together.  Wet your hands and form individual patties.

Place your patties In a oil heated casserole on medium heat.  Cook each side for 4 minutes.

Serve it on a bed of crunchy veggies with a slice of cheese and you've got a veggie delight!

 

NOTE

I used dried mung beans as it is a staple in our house.   Lentils, black beans, red beans can all be good replacements.  Experiment with the bean of your preference.

 

 

 

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake and Cashew Frosting

I don't know if it's the sudden change in weather from cold to freezing—ahem, it snowed on Monday—or the nerves on edge leading up to America's election day that I suddenly find myself in a state of shock today realizing that President Obama is about to hand over the keys of the White House to Donald Trump.

I've been baking up a storm and you can call it comfort food or not.  Either way, my apartment smells like carrots and spices and it calms my senses.  I posted a carrot cake recipe last week too.  Here's another to consider, it's gluten-free and just as moist and tasty.  I don't build walls between gluten and gluten-free food camps (I am not allergic to gluten!).   I just like a varied and moderate diet and love to experiment with ingredients. 

I have used chestnut flour as an alternative to all-purpose wheat flour.  It has a similar starchiness to that of traditional flour and has a sweeter and slightly nuttier flavor to it. 

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake and Cashew Frosting

INGREDIENTS//YIeilds 10 muffin size cakes

• 2 eggs
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
•  3/4 cup vegetable oil
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
• 1 cup chestnut flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder (use a brand that uses cornstarch not wheat flour for gluten-free option)
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 1/2 cup carrot, finely grated
• 1 tablespoon flax seed (optional)
•  1/2 pecans, walnuts, Brazil nuts, chopped (optional)

Cashew Frosting

• 1 cup raw cashews, soaked
• 1 teaspoon lemon juice
• 2 tablespoons maple syrup
• 1/2 cup almond milk
 

PREPARATION
Soak the cashew nuts in a glass bowl and cover overnight.


INSTRUCTIONS

In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the first five ingredients.

Then add in the chestnut flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Stir in the carrots and then fold in your flax seeds and nuts (optional).

Preheat oven to 350°F (175° C).

I used a muffin tray on this particular day but it's perfect in a loaf mold too (fills one 9.6 x 4 inch mold).

Pour the batter a little more than halfway into your mold.

Bake for 30 minutes or until you can poke a skewer in the carrot cake to see if it comes out clean.

While your muffins are in the oven, you can prepare the dairy-free frosting.

Cashew Frosting

Drain and rinse your soaked cashews. 

Place in a processor along with the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.  You can add a little bit of water if needed.

Once the carrot cake is cooled, you can frost them.