It has finally rained, and rained, and rained some more here in Northern California. Much, much needed water has soaked the parched soil, and brought the hills back from their lifeless gray to their more usual deep green color.
It is a sight to behold, I assure you, and with the sunshine now back in its full glory, hiking those hills has been an absolute joy. I have tried to go out and commune with nature as often as possible. Nature is my gym, you see, and also my Church. I have never felt more spiritual, or more at peace with myself and the world, than after hiking for a few hours. One day, I will bring my camera so that I can share some images of our gorgeous Marin landscapes with you. But until then…
This must be one of my favorite recipes. Ever. Seriously, the flavor in this savory oatmeal bowl, loaded with lots of veggies and drizzled with that crazy good miso tahini sauce is so incredibly satisfying, I could eat this every-single-day. This time, I made it with shredded kale, finely diced butternut squash, avocado and sprouts, because that’s what I had on hand. But sometimes, when I’m particularly hungry, I may also add cooked chickpeas, or sautéed tempeh, or even a little roasted chicken for extra protein. The bowl also fares well with a myriad of different veggies and could be topped with seeds such as sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, or hemp for extra flavor. Try it, and let me know what you think.
I’m on an orange roll, as you might have noticed last week. And so, today, I wanted to share another orange recipe with you, since I happened to create it a little by chance, with what I had in the fridge, and it came out beautifully. With only 4 main ingredients, how can you go wrong? Orange slices topped with chopped mint, jalapeño (yes, it tastes great mixed in!), toasted pine nuts, a sprinkle of fleur de sel, and a drizzle of olive oil. That’s it. Crazy simple, ridiculously pretty, and I just know you will love it!
With citrus season in full bloom, I have been slicing, juicing, supreming, and incorporating the fruits in all sorts of ways into our daily meals. Because I like mixing sweet and savory flavors, I am a big fan of adding all kinds of supremed citrus to salads (see this Endive, Radicchio and Blood Orange Salad, or this Massaged Kale and Orange Salad). Lately, I have been obsessing about blood oranges, and so today, I bring you this simple yet incredibly flavorful drink that uses their juice as a base, mixed in with some ginger, lemon juice, the obligatory dash of sugar, and an interesting sprinkle of crushed pink peppercorns.
After a four-year drought in Northern California, flooding rains are back. The dark sky has been pouring, practically day and night, for what seems like weeks now. I cannot even begin to tell you how thrilled this makes me. For one, we really need it. For two, I must have been Irish in another lifetime, because nothing pleases me more than gray clouds and a near constant downpour.
This is going to be a somewhat long and personal post, so… if you only want the recipe, please just skip to the end… I will not be offended, I promise.
I am sorry I have been away from this blog for such a long time.
When I started this space, I promised myself that I would take blogging seriously. I also promised myself that I would not take blogging seriously, if that makes any sense? As important as it is to me to keep creating here, I didn’t want it to ever become drudgery.
These past few weeks I have really needed to take a step back. A lot has happened in the last couple of years, between the creation and the launch of the Vanille Verte app, the publication of The Whole Coconut Cookbook (just came out!), starting and trying to keep up with this blog, and, well, life.
Before I dive into this week’s recipe, I have some exciting news! My print cookbook, The Whole Coconut is now available for pre-order on Amazon! I am so thrilled with the way it turned out. I love the layout, the flow of it all, and Erin Scott’s photos are incredible. I also (humbly) think that the recipes are amazing and I hope you will really enjoy them. Over 60 gluten-free, dairy-free recipes featuring the incredibly nutritious coconut in all its glorious forms: coconut oil, milk, water, flour, meat, sugar, cream, butter, and aminos. I can’t wait to hold a paper copy in my hands and be able to share it with you in a couple of months! It comes out at the end of January 2016. Check it out by clicking here.
Things are a little hectic for me this week. Our son started high school (high school! – let’s be honest, this is much worse for me than for him, he’s actually quite thrilled), and between that, and obscenely early wake ups (6:00 AM, are you kidding me??) and our construction chaos (long story, part of which is that the side of our house is rotting and things started snowballing from there, you know how it goes), well, I’ve had trouble keeping my head above water.
Summer is not over, people! There’s still plenty of time to enjoy the cool foods of warm weather. Like popsicles.
Ok, ok, these popsicles are nojitos, that is mojitos without the rum. Some people might feel that they are therefore missing the most important component of a true mojito. You see, this traditional Cuban drink is typically made from lime juice, rum, sugar, mint and sparkling water. I have a bit of an obsession with its flavor profile, as you can see from this earlier post. This time I have added a hefty dose of cucumber to the recipe, as it greatly increases the nutritional value of this treat, but without losing any of its flavor.
As a young adult living on my own, I ate a lot of ravioli. They tasted great, and could be made in just a couple of minutes, which is as much kitchen time as I could handle back then. So when I gave up gluten a few years ago, I thought that was the end of my ravioli eating days. But then I discovered the myriad of ways in which you can make ravioli, and without refined flours to boot. By then I didn’t mind spending more time in the kitchen, and I certainly knew how vital it was for my well being, so the extra effort those more creative ravioli required did not scare me away. I have already shared my recipe for beet ravioli, and today I would like to present my butternut squash ravioli, complete with all the flavor, and a very similar mouthfeel, to the more traditional flour version, but with a heck of a lot more nutrition.
While visiting Provence this year, we feasted on the usual Provençal fare of roasted veggies with lots of basil, garlic, olive oil, and a touch of fleur de sel. I came home with a real craving for much, much more of it.
These raw tarts capture all the best flavors of summer, yet require no roasting and also remain gluten-free and grain-free. They hold just the right amount of crust to veggies ratio, and, served with a side salad, make for a nourishing, but sufficiently light, lunch or dinner. They are damn good, if I may say so myself, and really don’t take more than a few minutes to prepare. The crust is made from blended pistachios, pumpkin seeds, nutritional yeast and sundried tomatoes, and the filling could be anything that you would like, but I used thinly sliced zucchini and heirloom tomatoes mixed with a generous amount of chopped basil and minced garlic. Simple, but oh-so-good.
This might just be the last salad that I share with you this summer. With the days getting slightly shorter, and the temperatures feeling less stifling, I am starting to crave more solid nourishment, or at least it feels that way. With all of the salads that I have shared so far (see this Green Papaya Salad, or this Shredded Kale, Brussels Sprouts and Strawberry Salad, or this Kaniwa Salad, etc.), it will soon be time to move on, for now.
People often ask me where I get inspiration for the many salads that I enjoy making, especially during the hot summer months when fresh produce is at its prime. The truth is, things often happen by chance – I usually get inspired at the market, where I will buy what looks good, then come home, chop it up and assemble it all together. Then I will dress it simply, usually with olive oil, some citrus juice (or the juice of a fruit going into the salad), a little sea salt or fleur de sel, and some black pepper (since it helps nutrient absorption). More often than not, it all works beautifully together.
This was the summer of reminiscing. After our annual trip to Corsica to visit my parents, we headed for Provence, partly to spend a couple of days with our good friends who summer in Seillans, and partly to show our son a part of France that we simply adore, and that he had only seen as a toddler and, therefore, couldn’t remember.
Because we got married in Provence, the area holds a very special place in our hearts. After ten years away, we were reminded of why we used to travel there so often, back in our twenties, when we lived in neighboring Switzerland. The gorgeous landscapes alone would be worth the trip, but it is the slow rhythm of life, so elusive back in the US, but de rigueur in the South of France, that keeps us coming back.
I don’t know about you, but I like my food to not only taste incredible (of course, that’s a given) but also look beautiful. I am by no means an expert at styling and plating food, but it is something I want to learn a whole lot more about, and certainly something I keep in mind when creating dishes. I think that the care that we put into assembling beautiful plates shows the love that went into the meal, and it also, by extension, colors people’s experience of the offering. It does not matter how simple the meal is. Even if it’s take-out pizza, there’s always a way to make it look prettier and more inviting, if only by topping it with some freshly chopped basil, or by serving it alongside a beautifully seasonal garden salad.
There are some traditions that I feel strongly about. One of those is our annual visit to Corsica to spend time with my parents. We have been going to Corsica for over 30 years now, and when we land in Figari airport, dizzy with fatigue from the (very) long haul from California, it feels like we have come home.
We just returned from Corsica, where we honored our yearly tradition of visiting my parents on the island, and enjoyed a few days of much needed rest. The beauty of its landscapes never ceases to amaze me, and there are always new spots to discover, no matter how often we return (it’s been over 30 years, now!). After Corsica, we also spent a couple of days in Provence, partly to visit good friends who summer in Seillans, and partly to explore the area of the Baux de Provence, where we got married many, many moons ago. I will be posting photos very soon, but, in the meantime, I wanted to share a new (and crazy simple!) recipe with you.
Green papaya salad is something we ate every single day when we visited Thailand a few years ago. It has the perfect blend of freshness, spice and flavor, and can become quite addictive. I order it in restaurants in the US also, but I am often disappointed. It sadly often tastes of bottled lime juice, cheap fish sauce, and too much salt, and the flavors rarely blend as beautifully as they did in their home country. So now I simply make it at home, because it tastes better, and is so much healthier, as well.
Have you seen the bounty of cherries at the market?! Incredible. They come in all sorts of colors, from yellow to deep red, to everything in between, and grace us with their fleeting sweetness for just a few short weeks. So, don’t miss the season and enjoy them before they are gone.
Wow, it’s been a whirlwind of a week, with the launch of the Vanille Verte app, and all the excitement that ensued. I am still basking in the glow of the kindness that I have received from so many of you, and cannot even begin to express my gratitude for your enthusiasm, generous words, and votes of confidence. I am so thrilled that you are excited about the app, and find it useful, and beautiful, as well. I am humbled by such generous support. Thank you, thank you, so very much.