on the menu : roasted cauliflower coconut milk curry

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER COCONUT MILK CURRY

This is a comforting curry pulled together by an aromatic roasted cauliflower and soothing, creamy coconut milk.  The two make such a vibrant infusion of flavors you almost don’t need to add anything else!  I maybe added a yellow onion and seasoned with salt + pepper.  Simplicity is a true gem in cooking.

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When it comes to pairing vegetables with spices, cauliflower is my go-to star.  Given its shape and texture, you wouldn’t think that cauliflower would be such a magnet for spices, but I’m so obsessed that I almost can’t make a curry without it.

Devour this curry alone or with a side of whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, mung beans, etc.).

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INGREDIENTS:

  • Cauliflower
  • Yellow Onion
  • Hot Yellow Curry
  • Yellow Vindaloo Spice
  • Turmeric
  • Red Chile Powder
  • Cumin Seeds
  • Cardamom Pods
  • Ginger
  • Honey
  • Soy Sauce
  • Coconut Milk
  • Vegetable Broth
  • Salt + White Pepper

on the menu : cold brown rice vermicelli noodle salad

COLD BROWN RICE VERMICELLI NOODLE SALAD

Next to standard green salads, my quintessential go-to summer dish would have to be a cold brown rice noodle salad.  I think this lends to my Japanese upbringing.  I have distinct memories of eating cold somen (slightly different than this dish below) where Japanese noodles are served over a bed of ice and eaten with a cool dipping sauce.

You can make this dish with soba noodles if you’re okay with buckwheat; you may even find a gluten free version at a specialty store.  Unlike traditional pasta, you can rinse vermicelli or soba noodles with cold water to get the excess starch off.  So not only is the dish itself lighter on your stomach, it will literally cool you off :).

Feel free go to town with whatever produce, seafood, meat and sauce your heart so desires!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • Brown Rice Noodles
  • Scallions
  • Celery
  • Mung Bean Sprouts
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Sesame Oil
  • Mirin
  • Soy Sauce
  • Almond Butter
  • Honey
  • Toasted Sesame Seeds

on the menu : watermelon + kohlrabi salad w/ miso apricot glaze dressing

WATERMELON + KOHLRABI SALAD W/ MISO APRICOT GLAZE DRESSING

Ahh, watermelon.  The quintessential fruit of summer.  I picked one up the other day and have been chowing down ever since!  Outside of their well balanced flavor, I love the texture and the instant ‘coolness’ you feel from eating watermelon.  92% water + 8% sugar = yes please.

This is a simple watermelon salad to which I added some leftover kohlrabi (previously marinated in an almond vinaigrette).  The star of this dish, aside from the more obvious watermelon, is my addicting glaze.  Most watermelon salads call for some sort of salty cheese (like feta), but I decided to impart saltiness through a dressing.  I braised the apricots in miso, honey, soy sauce, creamy balsamic, and puréed the mixture which tastes a tad more salty than sweet (think sea salt caramels).

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A heart happy salad with plenty of watermelon to last you through the week!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • Salad:
    • Watermelon
    • Kohlrabi
    • Red Onion
    • Capers
    • Salad Greens
  • Miso Apricot Glaze:
    • Apricots
    • Miso
    • Honey or Maple Syrup
    • Soy Sauce
    • Creamy Balsamic Vinegar
    • Water (As needed)

on the menu : swiss chard “noodle” salad

SWISS CHARD “NOODLE” SALAD

I drew inspiration from zucchini noodle salads (which are equally fantastic), in concocting something fun with the gigantic swiss chard leaves sitting in my fridge.  Rather than go to chopping town, I decided to shred them up into long “noodles.”  Paired with tomatoes, black eyed peas, and mushrooms, this earthy vegan/vegetarian/gluten free take on a noodle salad is a celebratory forkful of spring.

Swiss chard can look intimidating but their big size equates to big benefits: Polyphenol antioxidants, betalains, fiber, protein, vitamins mean they pack a healthy punch.  Definitely worth picking up at your local farmers market, regardless of what you do with them!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • Swiss Chard
  • Tomatoes
  • Black Eyed Peas
  • Mushrooms
  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Lemon
  • Herbes de Provence
  • Salt + Pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Prep the black eyed peas by cooking them in advance (if using dried beans), or rinsing and draining well (if using pre-cooked).
  2. Simmer the blacked eyed peas with mushrooms, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt + pepper.  I added some dried red chile flakes in there as well to kick things up a notch; totally optional.
  3. Chop up the tomatoes and macerate them in a whisked mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, herbes de provence, salt + pepper.
  4. Shred up the swiss chard leaves into long “noodles” and place in a large bowl.  Feel free to do a quick blanch if you want a sweeter leafy taste.
  5. Combine all of the above to create your salad!

on the side : simply pickled cucumbers

SIMPLY PICKLED CUCUMBERS

Pickled cucumbers are the perfect side dish.  Not only are they super easy to make, they have a palate cleansing property that complements almost any meal.  Meaning, you can take bites in between other more substantial entrée bites to make your dining experience that much more pleasant :).

This particular version is influenced by my Japanese roots.  The marinade brightens up the cucumbers, makes them crunchier, and highlights their ability to soak in flavors whilst retaining their own ‘cucumber-y’ ground.

Also, did you know that cucumbers are packed with awesome benefits?  For instance, a single cucumber contains your daily dose of vitamins!  So not only are you treating yourself to a cool & refreshing salad in the summer, you’re treating your body to some goodness as well.  So cool.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • Cucumbers
  • Grated Ginger
  • Scallions
  • Toasted Sesame Seeds
  • Sesame Oil
  • Soy Sauce
  • Brown Rice Vinegar
  • Lemon Juice

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cut your cucumbers in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds (optional), and slice up thinly manually or using a mandoline slicer.
  2. Whisk all other ingredients in a medium-sized glass bowl, and add the sliced cucumbers.
  3. Mix well to ensure each of the cucumber slices contact the marinade.  Cover and let sit in fridge for at least an hour.

a dose of musical inspiration

A DOSE OF MUSICAL INSPIRATION

Trying something a little different here and sharing a non-food-centric post to kickstart your weekend! “This is the New Year,” by A Great Big World, is one of my all-time favorite songs.  I have been an avid follower of Ian Axel since his days back at BU and he inspires me to follow my dreams.

How does this relate to food?  It doesn’t really (ha), but it’s a gentle reminder to perpetually connect with food through my heart.

Enjoy:

[Congrats on signing w/ Epic!  We all look forward to your continued success.]

onto dessert : gluten free + vegan rolled almond cookies

GLUTEN FREE + VEGAN ROLLED ALMOND COOKIES

Happy June, friends!

I’m always on the lookout for a simple, gluten free and vegan cookie without weird additives.  Often what you find in stores are filled with ‘all natural fillers’ (aka crap.. sorry) OR the good stuff is super pricey.  As such, I’ve decided to try experimenting with simple, gluten free, vegan rolled “sugar” cookie recipes at home!  Also, I really want to use these adorable cookie cutters.

I’m pretty happy with the recipe for my first batch, but I’m going to continue making tweaks.  For instance, I used almond meal vs. almond flour.  Next time I may try all almond flour and see if the smoother texture is better.  I’m also going to play around with sugars.  Maybe I can extract sugar from fruit, or use coconut sugar.  Stay tuned!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • Blanched Almond Flour (2 Cups)
  • Baking Powder (1/4 Tsp)
  • Maple Syrup (3 Tbsp)
  • Vanilla Extract (2 Tsp)
  • Salt (1/4 Tsp)
  • Coconut Oil (1 tbsp)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 300 F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or just prep a Silpat (this is what I did).
  3. Add all of the above ingredients into a mixing bowl.  Start off by stirring with a rubber spatula, then use your hands to knead the dough together.  It takes a minute or two for the dough to become sticky, so keep kneading!  Prior to rolling, the dough should hold together in a firm ball and will be easy to roll out.
  4. Roll out the dough and cut into cookies using your favorite cookie cutter(s).  If the dough gets too sticky, you can dust a little almond flour… but you should be okay.
  5. Lay out the cookies on your baking sheet or Silpat and pop into the oven.  ~20 min for a crispy cookie, ~17 for a softer cookie.  Mostly, you want to keep an eye on your cookies after the 10 min mark.  Once the edges start to brown, you’re good.
  6. Allow to cool and eat alone OR frost (recipe coming soon!).

on the menu : spinach + toasted pumpkin seed soup w/ braised apricots

SPINACH + TOASTED PUMPKIN SEED SOUP W/ BRAISED APRICOTS

Late spring is a beautiful time of year for cooking.  Your body starts to prep for hot & humid summer months by craving simple dishes with fresh, light flavors.

An example of my ode to late spring is this soup.  I bought a big bunch of locally grown spinach, toasted some raw pumpkin seeds with spices, and puréed it with the spinach (+ some onions, herbs, citrus, broth) for a beautifully refreshing soup.  Just make sure to soak your spinach well (rinse/drain/soak/repeat) so you get all the dirt out.  The last thing you want is a briny soup ;).

Top your soup off with a drizzle of creamy balsamic vinegar and braised apricots.  That’s it.  You can definitely get away with turning this into a gazpacho (maybe you can add some tomatoes and/or avocados!).

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onto drinks : tropical lassi smoothie

TROPICAL LASSI SMOOTHIE

My tropical lassi smoothie is a blend of guava, mangoes, pineapples, carrots, bananas, wheatgrass, kale, coconut, macadamia nuts, and yogurt.  I’ve been missing Kaua’i lately and this transported me straight back to paradise.  Also, thinking ahead to hot summer days, drinking an icy blend of ANYTHING is my secret to beating the heat.

SO, drink this:

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Close your eyes, and you’re here:

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cooking with friends is joyful

COOKING WITH FRIENDS IS JOYFUL

If you’re a home cook like me, you probably spend the majority of your cooking days going at it alone.  Makes sense.  But I encourage you to start making the art of cooking into a collaborative effort.  This is especially great for those who are looking for ways to get more creative in the kitchen!

I recently had the opportunity to cook with my foodie soulmate for a mini dinner party and here is what we came up with for our vegan feast; all on the fly @ Whole Foods ;).

TWO BEAN “DIPS”

  • Black Eyed Pea Purée w/ Swiss Chard, Ginger, + Yuzu
  • Garbanzo Bean Purée w/ Hungarian Paprika, Coffee Bean, & Brown Rice Vinegar

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Two completely different but eclectic bean purées which we ate with brown rice crackers, bread, and simply by the spoonful.  The garbanzo purée also pairs well with the roasted sweet potatoes (below).

ROASTED SWEET POTATOES MARINATED IN BALSAMIC + ZA’ATAR SEASONING

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Za’atar seasoning comes from my local Savory Spice Shop.  The seasoning is an awakening blend of sumac, toasted sesame seeds, cumin, thyme, Greek oregano, and marjoram.  I don’t care what you season with this stuff, your kitchen is going to smell amazing.  Guaranteed.

ASPARAGUS, LEEK, SWISS CHARD STEM, + GRAPEFRUIT SOUP (PUREED)

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This is our interpretation of Spring in a bowl.  One of the most refreshing soups (can be a gazpacho as well) I’ve ever made, it’s the perfect palate cleanser.  What a great way to embrace the season!

TRI COLOR QUINOA SALAD W/ RAW BEETS, RAW FENNEL, + ASPARAGUS TIPS PICKLED IN GRAPEFRUIT JUICE

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The star of our party was this beautiful quinoa salad filled to the brink with bold, exciting flavors.  I make a dish now and then that can only be described as a party in your mouth… and this is entirely deserving of that.  The raw beets and fennel are crunchy but become infused with the flavors of the salad, the asparagus tips keep things interesting, and no vegan feast is complete without quinoa (duh).