Any expanded thoughts or musings on my week that I could offer you today would just be a heap of slashed clippings, loose (+ heavily frayed) threads, scratches on paper napkins, and trailed-off sentences with space-y eyes. Notes from the heap: how is it possible that #humblebrags continue to rise out of the lower regions of the online/spilling-into-real-life world? Cut that out, internet. An introduction to Let Me Google That For You a couple weeks ago has led to much temptation in the contact form submission/questions area of managing this site (side note: if you email me a question, I promise I won’t be a demonstrative POS). My dependence on a computer for a majority of my work/communication is kind of weighing on me lately. It’s a machine that executes repetitive sequences of all types with zero variation. When I think of the greatness of life, I see waves of moments that surely intersect (sometimes serendipitously), but never fully repeat with exactitude. Technological devices have been temporarily sucking the existential magic out of things for me I guess (fully realize that I’ll change my mind on this in like, 2 minutes). Anything described as “charming” is just a write off in general. Oh and! I’m still reeling from the amount of money I spent on some mediocre sandwiches over the weekend.
It’s not all bad though. The blood orange soda I got with my crummy sandwich was lovely, this site/movement of no-fucks-given is just the thing for me in this particular spot in time, I got my hair whipped around by some wild lake breezes the other day and dang if Leo isn’t still the dreamiest ever in Gatsby, AMIRIGHT?! (I’m right) Oh yeah, and this little thing that’s happening.
ANYWAY. In the interest of getting out of my own mind a bit, I made you some tarts with chocolate ganache-y good stuff. I had a college externship at a place that made these too-cool chocolate terrines with a nut and date core all running through them. Slices of it would get plated up with some cashew-based chocolate + orange ice cream and beautiful slices and spirals of fresh fruit. This mousse/ganache-ish filling is a riff on that terrine base. There’s plenty of avocado chocolate mousse recipes out there, but I love this one for the sheer amount of melted chocolate. Versions of it with cocoa powder are great, but this one rules. Trust. The first time I was tasked with making it at the restaurant, I had blitzed up the ripe avocado with vanilla and whiskey into a smooth paste. Then came the point in the prep where I would just drizzle the melted chocolate into the feed tube of a food processor while the motor ran. As I was doing this, the chef/owner kept telling me over my shoulder “More chocolate, more chocolate, more, more. You want it so thick with chocolate that the thing can’t even move.” Obviously this stuff is rich, delicious, deep, dark and perfect.
And this pastry is officially my go-to for sweet + savouries right now. Wrestling with cold coconut oil is kind of frustrating sometimes and I’m not terribly into the flavour of most non-dairy butter substitutes. This olive oil-focused tactic from The New York Times just needs some stirring (ie no cutting in of cold fat), a small pulling together with the hands and it’s good to go after a little rest. It’s highly forgiving, non-fussy, a breeze to roll out and delightfully crisp. It’s my fave and I want it to be yours too. I’ve tried it with a bunch of different whole grain flours (rye, spelt, wholewheat, buckwheat, millet), in sweet and savoury versions and it’s perfect every time. Bake up the tarts, slap the ganache in and oh yeah, there’s coconut whip on top. Everything is kind of looking up I think :)
PS! I have a guest post at the wonderful A Couple Cooks blog this week as well. Sonja and Alex have started an excellent series called Healthy + Whole that focuses on accessible and wholesome recipes with real ingredients, overcoming fear/intimidation in the kitchen, and reconnecting with the earth that provides for us. Plus they are really lovely people to boot. You can see the post here.
little chocolate tarts w/ simple olive oil pastry + coconut cream
pastry lightly adapted from The New York Times/Martha Rose Shulman (PS: there’s some gluten free instruction there too)
serves: makes 8 if you re-roll the pastry scraps (or 6 with leftover chocolate ganache)
notes: I stayed simple with mine, but orange zest, various types of booze, almond extract, orange blossom water or ginger would all make nice additions to the filling.
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp/100g whole spelt flour
1/2 cup/55g light spelt flour
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp granulated sweetener (coconut/maple sugar, evaporated cane)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp water
1 tsp lemon juice (or white wine/white balsamic vinegar in a pinch)
chocolate ganache ingredients:
1 medium-large sized ripe avocado, peeled + pitted
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, melted
1-2 tbsp maple syrup (depending on how sweet you want this)
2 tsp vanilla extract
faintest pinch of ground cinnamon (mostly to boost the flavour of the chocolate)
tiny pinch of sea salt
coconut whip ingredients:
1 can of full fat coconut milk (Thai Kitchen’s Organic + Whole Foods 365 brand are my faves), refrigerated for 24+ hours
1-2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 6-8 muffin cups with olive oil, spray oil etc and set aside.
Make the pastry: Combine the flours, salt and sweetener in a large bowl. Add the extra virgin olive oil and stir into the dry ingredients until uniform little clumps appear throughout the mix. Add the water and lemon juice. Stir until the pastry starts to come together. Dump it out onto a floured surface and bring the pastry together with your hands. It should feel lightly moist (not not tacky), elastic and giving. Shape it into a disc, wrap with saran and store in the fridge to rest for at least an hour.
After it’s rested, remove the dough from the fridge and flour a working surface and rolling pin. Roll the dough out to 1/4-1/3 inch-ish thickness. Using a 3 1/2 – 4 inch circular cutter, punch out circles of dough. I punched out 4 on the first go, pieces together the remaining pieces jigsaw puzzle-style and re-punched more circles and it all worked out. Gently fit them into the greased muffin cups, crimping/creasing them if you need to. Prick the bottoms of the crusts with a fork. Place some little squares of parchment on top and weigh them down with dry beans/pie weights. Bake the crusts like this for about 10 minutes or until you notice little brown edges on the tops. Remove the papers/dry beans and bake for another 5 minutes, or until crusts are fully golden brown. Allow crusts to cool before filling.
Make the ganache: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the avocado, melted chocolate, maple syrup, vanilla and salt. Pulse the mix a few times to get it going. Then flip it to high until the mix is completely incorporated, thick and creamy. Set aside until ready to use. It will harden considerably if you store it in the fridge, so keeping it covered on the countertop is fine.
Make the coconut whip: Open the can of coconut milk and extract the solid mass of coconut cream from the top of the can (and only the solid mass). The leftover milky water is a nice addition to a smoothie. Put the solid coconut cream into a medium bowl. Add the maple syrup and vanilla. Beat everything together with a hand mixer on high for a minute or so, or until you’ve achieved an airy whipped-cream-ish result. Store this in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
Assemble the tarts: Fill the shells with chocolate ganache, top with dollops of coconut whip and garnish with chopped almonds, cocoa powder dustings etc.
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A part of me kind of feels a bit ridiculous for posting two recipes with ramps/wild leeks today. Let me qualify this feeling a bit. A lot of people on my instagram/twitter feed seem to be enjoying this first spoil of spring (on the real: like lots). I definitely had a bit of a laugh when I read that they were sought out aggressively as some sort of “foodie merit badge” in an article that was published last year. I enjoy their mild and sweet onion-to-garlic taste and burst of first warm season nutrition, certainly. Spotting them on a Spring hike offers a special kind of thrill, a sense of discovery that is uncommon with more typical food-sourcing practices. There’s an intense freedom in sourcing your own food by wilder means. It’s a process coloured by curiosity, passion and independence.
But there is growing evidence that ramps/wild leeks are over-foraged. A more direct way of explaining this: since their glamorization of recent years, less thought is being given to their sometimes 18-month germination stage (kale is 5 days by comparison) and multi-year growth period necessary to produce an edible bulb. I sprialed down the rabbit hole reading blog posts and articles about dwindling ramp populations, stories of families that would look forward to gathering a few every year, having to go deeper and deeper into the forests for them as time has worn on. Those gorgeous photos of leafy bundles piled high at a farmer’s market table seem to capture a myopic worldview to me now. Fortunately, there are plenty of pieces that detail on sustainable harvesting techniques. In the discussion of local eating (whatever it may be defined by in whatever circle you find yourself in), entitlement, movements of excess and the need for more thorough investigation always seem to come up in an ethics tug of war.
Anyway, as with all things we take into our bodies that become a part of us, there has to be some serious thinking involved. I enjoyed these first bits of spring to the brim of fullness, from painstakingly washing away the grit and forest-y attachments to the actual enjoyment of the end product. Taking them in slowly and approaching the food with thought means a longer-felt sense of satiation for me. Very simply stated: I’m good for the year. Bring on the peas, strawberries and garlic scapes too please? Today I’m sharing two things I made with my little bundle of the alliums with you. There’s a brilliantly simple asparagus soup that capitalizes on that sweet onion flavour and a rustic spelt bread with some chopped greens folded in. Enjoyed together? Yes, yes.
I’ll also add a few notes on asparagus soup. I have to tell you, I’ve had some awfully crummy versions of it over the years. Ones where the sweetness of the perennial is overwhelmed by salty stock. Or the vegetable is very clearly overcooked, that damp funk ringing loud and clear. Sometimes its lightness is smothered in parmesan or truffle to the point of obscurity. With some trial and error I’ve learned a few key principles to follow when simmering up a soulful pot of this goodness. The seeming main point of this dish is to preserve and glorify that spring vegetal sweetness. Here’s how you do that: utilize acid in the form of white wine and a fresh squeeze of lime at the end. The lime adds a perfect sour lift that doesn’t turn the dish into asparagus + citrus soup. It serves the soup without overwhelming. Also, use a bit of heat, but not to the point where you can feel it. I add cayenne near the beginning of the cooking process and it merely serves to heighten sweetness. Lastly, enrich your stock with some wilt-y asparagus bits. Asparagus sweated out, simmered and puréed with asparagus stock? That’s the Platonic ideal of clean asparagus flavour right there. This is important.
Lastly, I made you some bread with chopped up ramp greens. Any sort of herbs would be nice in this (although in lesser amounts if you’re using rosemary, oregano, thyme + the like). The recipe is pretty simple and forgiving. It does require about 2 hours of mostly inactive time, but as with all warm and fresh bread-like things, it is certainly worth it.
simple asparagus + ramp soup recipe
notes: As I mentioned, I like to simmer my vegetable stock with a few chopped up pieces of asparagus prior to making this to really amp up the sweet asparagus flavour. Inevitably a few spears go off/wilt-y in a bunch, so I just chop those up and toss them in with the stock until they’ve gone a little past the bright green stage.
2 tsp grapeseed oil
12-15 ramps/wild leeks, cleaned + chopped, white bulbs + greens divided
1 medium waxy potato, peeled + 1/2 inch dice
1 bunch of asparagus, woody base ends removed, stalks cut into 1-2 inch lengths
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
heavy splash of dry white wine
salt + pepper
4-5 cups vegetable stock/asparagus stock
juice of 1 lime
kale chips (kale tossed in oil, salt + pepper and baked in a single layer at 400 degrees F for about 10 minutes or until crisp)
extra virgin olive oil
chopped chives/chive blossoms
violet flowers (SO optional, guys. They’re all over our lawn and I shot this outside and whoa, there they were :))
Heat the grapeseed oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the chopped white ramp bulbs to the pot. Stir them around and cook them until slightly softened. Add the diced potato, asparagus and cayenne. Saute the vegetables for a minute or so. Add the white wine, let the alcohol burn off a bit and stir the vegetables some more. Season everything with salt and pepper. Keep cooking the vegetables until the asparagus is bright, bright green.
Add the vegetable stock to the pot (enough to cover by an inch or so) and bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer the soup until the potatoes are just tender, about 10 minutes or so. Remove from the heat.
Carefully blend the soup in batches in your blender to puree. Add the lime juice to the pureed soup and stir to combine. Taste the soup for seasoning and adjust if necessary. To serve, bring the pureed soup to a boil and serve with any garnishes you like and slices of the spelt bread.
spelt bread with ramps recipe
barely adapted from Nigel Slater’s recipe in The Guardian
serves: makes 2 small loaves
notes: You could experiment with ratios of whole spelt to hard bread flour, but I tend to go with this recipe when I want a no fuss, lightly grainy bread. Of course, you can use other add-ins you like or just enjoy it plain.
2 1/2 cups/300g whole spelt flour
1 1/3 cups/200g hard bread flour
2 tsp fine sea salt
1 package of instant yeast (8 grams)
1 cup chopped ramps/wild leeks, green leafy parts only
1 1/3 cups water
oil for greasing a bowl
In a large bowl combine the spelt flour, bread flour, salt, yeast and chopped wild leeks. Stir them to combine. Add the water and stir until a dough starts to form. Bring it together with your hands. Dump the dough out onto a floured surface and bring it together. Knead for 8 – 10 minutes or until a supple and smooth dough forms with the slightest tackiness to it. It should feel warm and alive. It isn’t necessary to knock yourself out kneading this–just slowly keep on rolling it off the wrist until it feels good.
Form the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl, rolling it around to coat. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let it rise in a warm spot for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
Punch the dough down, cut it in half and form both pieces into round ball shapes by gathering/pinching dough on the bottom of the ball with your fingers. Once you’ve shaped both breads, place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover the sheet with a damp towel and let the bread rise for 30-45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and secure a rack in the middle of the oven.
Once you’re ready to bake, use a very sharp knife to cut a slit into the top. Nestle a whole ramp leaf in there if you like. Bake the loaves until golden brown and hollow-sounding when tapped on the bottom, about 25 minutes. Allow loaves to cool slightly before enjoying.
I’ve started to get back into a steady running, yoga + a workout routine lately. Spring/new warmth just brings that whole personal betterment strategy to the forefront for all of us I think. I found myself running on a path near my house recently when I encountered another runner, this lady of about 60-something with a dope ninja-style headband on. I see this woman running by our house all the time and dang if she isn’t IN SHAPE. Definitely one of those badass older ladies that sets the example for graceful aging. Anyway, we were running towards each other and as she passed me by, she looked up, smiled at me so genuinely and waved hello. It was such a simple point of contact, but I felt so great afterward, like she had given me a little fist bump and shot me an “eff yeah!” or something (just imagine the sweetest older lady doing that). I always feel a bit rocky when I get back into running, but that simple gesture made the shakiness just fine.
Other things that have been helping: snacks. You knew that was coming. When I was studying nutrition in culinary school, I learned that my tendency to eat everything in sight after some physical exertion wasn’t the most sound strategy (weird, right?!?). Needless to say, there are some things that need to be taken care of to help your body recover and thrive with a set workout routine. I’ll point out that I’m not like, a fitness expert or anything (I had to ask my man what “beast mode” meant the other day…). I can tell you that after I get sweaty, I want some wholesome carbs (sweet potatoes, fruit, whole/sprouted grains), clean + easily assimilated protein (hemp, legumes, plant-based protein powder, spirulina, soaked nuts + seeds) and mega hydration (fruit again, coconut water, chia seeds, herbal tea). These 4 snacks, generally paired with a non-caffeinated + unsweetened drink (like water or iced rooibos tea), hit all of those marks for me and keep me bright in that amazing exercise contact-high.
So there’s that! I have two sweet recipes and two on the savoury end. Most of these are super quick to rig up if you have the ingredients ready to go. There’s a blackberry smoothie filled out with coconut water, a little protein boost and a healthy squeeze of lime. The chocolate chia bowl needs an overnight rest, but leaves you set for 4ish solid servings of decadent recovery snacking bliss–easily my fave of the bunch. I wrote about some chia seed benefits here if you’re into that. Also, if you have weirdness about chia texture, the crunchy granola on top completely banishes any sort of tapioca vibe, I swear. The loaded sweet potato incorporates some smoky-crunchy roasted chickpeas and fresh chives. This is something you would catch me eating with frequency throughout the week-just a bunch of good things tossed together. Lastly, there’s my favourite variation on avocado toast, all protein and omega boosted with hulled hemp seeds and flavour-maxed with lemon and nutritional yeast. Let’s get pumped! :)
1. blackberry, vanilla + lime smoothie w/ coconut water
notes: If you don’t vibe on protein powder, you could always throw 1-2 tbsp of hemp seeds or a scoop of almond butter in here to boost it a little.
1 cup coconut water (C20 brand is my fave)
juice of 1 lime
splash of vanilla extract
1 cup frozen blackberries
couple pieces of frozen banana
knob of extra virgin coconut oil
1 scoop of protein powder (I like Vega One or Sunwarrior brands, both in vanilla flavour)
Combine everything in a blender pitcher and blend on high for a minute or so, or until you’ve achieved a texture that you like.
2. chocolate chia granola bowl
notes: If you aren’t into chocolate, you can always make raspberry + vanilla chia pudding, just a thought :)
chocolate chia pudding:
heaped 1/4 cup chia seeds
2 cups unsweetened milk of your choice (almond, coconut, goat etc)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp cacao powder
3 tbsp – 1/4 cup maple syrup (depends on your sweetness preference)
pinch of sea salt
wholesome/non-junky granola (may I humbly suggest this recipe?)
The night before, whisk together the chia seeds, milk, vanilla, cacao powder, maple syrup and salt in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Cover the bowl and set it in the fridge overnight to thicken up.
When ready to eat, stir the chia pudding up a bit and portion it into a bowl. Top with granola, berries and cacao nibs.
3. sweet potato w/ brown rice, chives, crispy smoky chickpeas + almonds
notes: I love to batch-cook brown basmati rice and sweet potatoes at the beginning of the week, just so that snacks/meals like this are always within reach. A nice dollop of plain yogurt (coconut, goat, cow, whatever-based) would be great on top of this too.
1 sweet potato
oil of your choice
salt + pepper
1/3-1/2 cup cooked brown basmati rice
6-7 almonds, chopped
3-4 blades of chives, ripped up
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Pierce the sweet potato a couple times with a fork, wrap it extra good in foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until tender.
Meanwhile, toss the chickpeas in enough oil to coat, salt + pepper to taste and a little smoked paprika. Spread them out on a parchment lined baking sheet and roast in the 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until crispy and golden. Set aside to cool.
To serve: Split open the sweet potato and season the flesh with salt + pepper. Place the cooked rice, some of the chickpeas and chopped almonds on top/inside. Garnish with the chives and an extra sprinkle of smoked paprika.
4. my fave avocado toast
notes: There’s a lot of toppings here, but it’s worth it. This is all stuff I seem to have on hand, but feel free to switch up acidic components, nuts/seeds etc. The bread is crucial though. It’s literally the crutch upon which the entire enjoyment of this snack stands. Choose wisely :)
1 fair-sized piece of whole grain/sprouted grain bread (about the span of my outstretched hand is an amount that feels right to me)
1/2 a ripe avocado, peeled + sliced
salt + pepper
1-2 tsp nutritional yeast
squeeze of lemon
1-2 tbsp hulled hemp seeds (as much as you can handle)
good balsamic vinegar/reduction
Toast the bread to your liking.
Spread the avocado slices across the bread. Season the avocado with salt, pepper + nutritional yeast. Mash it into the bread with a fork. Squeeze a bit of lemon on top and mash the avocado one more time with the fork.
Dribble some balsamic vinegar/reduction/glaze on top of the mashed avocado. Top with the hemp seeds and enjoy.
“Each of us feels some aspect of the world’s suffering acutely. And we must pay attention. We must act. This little corner of the world is ours to transform. This little corner of the world is ours to save.”
-Stephen Cope (seen in this month’s Yoga Journal)
I think that’s about all I have to offer you today, other than the recipe of course. These lettuce-wrapped veggie delights made my little world quite bright when I finally got the ratios, salt/spice levels, stickiness etc to my liking. The patties have everything that hippie dreams are made of essentially. There’s brown rice, millet, tamari, nutritional yeast, chopped up tempeh, grated veg, the whole tree-hugging vibe thing. This is no instance of beef burger mimesis and it’s not a heavy-topped/”ultimate” veggie burger kinda scene either (sometimes those are great though). It’s a little giving/crazy moist, crunchy-golden-crispy on the outside and super flavourful in a way that doesn’t suggest animal protein, which is ideal for my own taste. Most importantly, the burger can stand alone. Of course I wouldn’t let it, but this seems important to mention. I served it up with a sliced ripe mango, lots of sriracha, sweet pea shoots and tiny, pungent red onion slivers. Balanced, handheld and lovely.
I lettuce wrapped these because I’m feeling that kind of lightness lately. I have about a jillion things on my plate these days, but I’ve been trying to go gently into Spring in a full body + mind sense. Hope you’re all being good to yourselves in your own corners of the world as well :)
tempeh, brown rice + millet veggie burger recipe
special equipment: a food processor
notes: I leave a lot of room for mods here because I know everyone’s spice/ingredient needs are different. Also, I would highly recommend refrigerating the patties for at least an hour before cooking them to let them set up all proper. I haven’t tried grilling these, but I feel like that endeavour would be unsuccessful. Sauté all the way, guys. (If you try baking or grilling or some other method, let me know how it goes)
1/2 cup millet, rinsed
1/2 cup brown basmati rice, rinsed
1/2 cup nuts + seeds (I used walnuts + sunflower seeds)
1 clove of garlic, peeled
3/4 cup roughly chopped red onion
1/2 cup grated vegetables (I used carrots + golden beets)
3/4 cup roughly chopped tempeh
1.5 tbsp tamari soy sauce
2 tbsp GF flour blend (or wholewheat, spelt etc)
2 tsp organic, non-GMO corn starch OR arrowroot powder
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1.5 tbsp ground spices (I used za’atar, ancho chili powder + Old Bay seasoning)
1/4 cup chopped herbs/greens (I used thyme + arugula)
salt + pepper
1-2 tbsp water
grapeseed/coconut oil for sautéeing
1-2 heads of butter/bibb lettuce, washed and leaves separated
sliced ripe mango
red onion slivers
pea shoots/other sprouts
+ anything else you like!
Combine the millet and brown rice with 2 1/2 cups of water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add a pinch of salt. Bring this mix to a boil and simmer until all of the water is absorbed about 15 minutes. The grains will still be quite chewy. Scrape the cooked grains into a large bowl and allow them to cool a bit.
In a food processor, combine the nuts/seeds, garlic, chopped onion, grated vegetables and tempeh. Pulse the mixture a few times until a moist + chunky paste forms (doesn’t that sound great?!?). Scrape this mixture into the large bowl with the cooked millet and brown rice.
Add all of the remaining ingredients to the bowl except for the water. Stir everything together until thoroughly combined and the mix resembles a thick paste. It should hold together when you pinch it with your fingers. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water if necessary to bind it at this point and mix one more time.
Form the mixture into 6-8 patties with your hands. Place them on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet, cover them in plastic wrap and place them in the fridge for at least an hour. If you want to freeze these babies, place the covered tray in the freezer for an hour or two to firm the patties up. Then individually wrap them/place all of the patties in a large zippy bag for maximum storage capacity.
To cook: Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Cover the bottom with grapeseed/other neutral oil (like a 1/4-1/3 inch? you could also spray the pan with oil if you have a misto thing). Gently transfer 2-3 patties to the pan and sauté until golden on the bottom, about 3-4 minutes. Flip the patties over and cook until golden on the other side, another 3 minutes. I kind of nudged the patties up against the sides of the pan to brown them all over as well. Repeat with remaining patties, while you keep the cooked ones warm.
Serve the hot veggie patties with lettuce wraps, toppings etc.
Despite bemoaning comfort food’s ubiquity or “upscale comfort cuisine” in predominantly shoddy-glossy establishments, I do find these foods to be rather important in a day to day sense. Misery, sickness or fatigue aren’t the only occasions that find me seeking that sort of cozy reassurance though. I work towards comfort immediately upon waking every day — and I find it in a cup of tea, a piece of fruit, a handful of granola, some avocado smushed on toast with chill flakes, whatever’s there… Perhaps my angle on this sought-after feeling is different, but when I think of comfort and an optimal self, I aim for renewal. If there are harsh forces in the world, I won’t bring more of the same violence down onto my body. The food or drink’s abilities to soothe and revitalize must work in tandem.
With that criteria floating in the background, I generally find the most comforting foods to be elemental, aligning with the makings of our magnificent earth. In nature, that force of Goodness or God is all around. The total immersion in colour and textures is evidence of this power. I want that on the plate in front of me in as much as I can manage. The approach to nourishment carries itself out from there rather seamlessly, making its own intuitive connections along the way.
There are poached eggs adorning the top of any dish you could imagine, their gleaming whites evoke drifting clouds and life-moving/affirming breezes. A salty noodle broth splashes, cleanses and renews us from deep down like the sea. Greens and roots arrive with the earth still intact, upfront with their healing power. The deep brown bottoms of heavy sourdough loaves remind us that fire was the original cooking tool of choice, that it really is all we need for sustenance. The flavour and whole-life-satiety of such things are with me long after the food is gone. These are instances of true comfort, one’s self made better by reconnecting with the world for a moment and a meal.
It takes me in with its warmth and, more importantly, the meal brings me outside of my own mind a bit as well. There is an awareness involved that goes beyond automated fork and spoon lifting. In this particular example of simple soup, there are still-toothsome bits of greens, heavy with garlic, that require a small chew. The broth is a bit saline and can be sipped carefully while piping hot. The sweet potatoes are soft and rustic, bringing a very felt fullness. I add lentils to contribute even more hearty qualities, which I find necessary on these cool and damp early spring evenings. The chickpea flatbread has a bit of a socca vibe, but it’s more of a low maintenance affair, doing its thing in the oven while you simmer the soup and what have you.
So with that, I’ll cut it short and sweet right here — hopefully leaving you all in thoughts of comfort, vibrance and the many other good things that we have going.
I almost forgot to mention that I have a guest post at the wonderful Golubka blog this week. Anya’s cuisine and photographs speak of life lived well and vibrantly, so I’m more than happy to be sharing some little (gluten free and vegan) lemon tarts over there for you. You can check them out by clicking here.
simple garlic + greens soup with sweet potatoes
notes: Use regular potatoes if you like and any kind of greens that strike your fancy. This soup is rather easy going.
1 tbsp grapeseed or coconut oil
1 small onion, diced
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1/3 cup french/brown lentils, rinsed + picked over
1 medium sweet potato, cut into 1/2-1 inch dice (peeling is optional)
5 cups vegetable stock (or 1 veggie bouillon cube + 5 cups water)
4-5 cups of roughly cut, sturdy greens (mustard greens, kale, cabbage, collards)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
salt + pepper
Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until they are quite soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the lentils and diced sweet potato and stir them about to coat in the oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the stock to the pot and bring to a boil, stirring the pot here and there. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the sweet potatoes/lentils are just soft, about 15 minutes. Add the greens and give the pot a stir. Allow them to wilt just slightly. Add the lemon juice, taste for seasoning and serve hot with chili flakes, drizzles of extra virgin olive oil and whatever else you like.
smoky chickpea flatbread
notes: You can mix this up with any spices/herbs/citrus zests etc that you like. Also I mixed this batter up, covered it, and left it in the fridge for 3 days. All worked out fine and it baked while my soup was happening.
1 1/2 cups chickpea flour
salt + pepper (I was liberal with both)
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (I used bittersweet)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 3/4 cups filtered water (approx)
In a medium bowl, combine the chickpea flour, salt and pepper, smoked paprika and olive oil. Stir that up a bit. Add the water, starting with about 1 1/4 cups. Stir the batter with a spatula until combined. The consistency should be like thin pancake batter. Add more water if necessary. Cover the bowl with saran wrap, pressing the wrap onto the top of the batter. Let it sit for 2-3 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or grease it with more olive oil.
Scrape the batter onto the prepared sheet pan and spread it out to 1/4 inch thickness or so, shaking the pan and banging it on the counter to do so. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until golden in spots and lifting off of the pan with ease. Remove from the oven, cool slightly and serve warm in torn pieces. Optional: drizzle with more olive oil and black pepper.