This week has been an exciting week. If you don’t already know, Meredith & I have been creating this blog from different states. But Meri has recently packed up her life in Melbourne & moved back to God’s country; the Illawarra. Yew!
As sad as it is for her to leave the glorious array of organic food vendors and swanky cafe’s in Melbs, I’m so flippin stoked that she’s back, and Green Hope Gathered can now become a truly “in human” collaborative operation.
I’m also pumped about being able to cook together, shoot together, share our strengths and ideas and creativity beyond the skype screen, and devour one another’s food! Cooking is so much more fun when shared with another passionate cook, and this is how Green Hope was birthed; two people who bonded through their passion for cooking and nourishing others. We really hope that by creating a virtual community, we can invite you into the magic of sharing, serving, and enjoying food as we do.
In fact, this same passion is what my “Cookbook Collective” gathering has been based on. It’s a monthly opportunity for lovers of food to get together and share their favourite cookbooks and cooking creativity in a pot luck feast. And now Meri is now going to be part of this as well!
All this excitement has really reminded me of why we started the blog, and why I wanted to gather with other home cooks in the first place. Cooking is about people. It is simply the medium and mechanism to which we can love others, enjoy others and add a bit of special into life. When I’m cooking for people, sharing a meal with people, and just being with them over a meal, it seems to seal a relationship. I really think that if you can share and enjoy a meal with someone, tensions and disagreements can be delicately softened, even removed.
This lentil and potato salad has everything you want right now to compliment autumny vibes. Duck fat potatoes are intermingled with the zingy sweetness of barberries and rhubarb, and brought back down to earth again with lentils and warming spices. Take this recipe as an opportunity to bless a loved one. Bring it to work and share with people you mightn’t have a good relationship with. Plate it up beautifully by candlelight to show value for your partner. Make extra and drop it off to someone who has just had a baby, who’s experiencing grief or simply to show you care and think about them. Whatever you do, make it about people. That’s what food is all about in the end.
2 tbs duck fat
1 bunch of Kale, washed leaves torn into pieces
2 stalks rhubarb chopped into 1 cm pieces
1/2 cup Puy lentils
2 tbs Barberries
1 tsp Poppy seeds
1 lemon juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper
In a tall pot cover the potatoes with cold water and add salt, bring to the boil and cook until soft and tender.
While boiling, heat the oven to 200C. Put the duck fat on a roasting tray and melt it in the oven. When the potatoes are ready, strain and add to the hot duck fat, roast for 20-30 minutes until golden and crunchy.
Roast the rhubarb on the separate tray until softened but keeping its shape.
Cook the lentils, rinse, add to pot and cover with water, bring to boil then simmer and cook until softened but not mushy.
Mix the dressing ingredients together and then massage into the kale, add the rest of the ingredients and toss together.
I’m going through a bit of a traditional-preparation-of-foods revolution at the moment. I’ve always been fascinated by artisan foods and love the idea of having my own cow and churning my own butter. If only we could fit her on my tiny porch.
Last year I borrowed Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, after being fascinated by her book on baby and childcare; which has played a huge part in the way we feed our son Arie. I was so captivated by the pages of Nourishing Traditions that I continued to renew my borrowing period over and over again; so much so that the librarian actually confronted me to bring the book back! Needless to say it’s a truly amazing resource for anyone interested in cooking from scratch.
The book is an endless stream of information about the way traditional societies prepared foods, complete with research, recipes and loads of extra interesting bits and pieces. Everyone I know who owns this book says its absolutely splattered in food and falling apart due to its constant use. I know this will be a keeper for many years to come.
In the last week my home has turned into more of a lab than a kitchen; with beet kvass and water kefir brewing, a fresh sourdough starter bubbling away, 24 hour bone broths simmering, sauerkraut culturing, yoghurt setting, chicken liver pate cooking, whey straining and kefir cream fermenting!
A new practice I’m becoming especially interested in is the proper preparation of grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. Although some of these foods have come under fire with recent health movements, and are the cause of many food allergies and intolerances in modern times, it’s interesting that these foods have nourished mankind for centuries, but traditional societies always took great care to soak, sprout or ferment them for long periods in order to ensure they could be properly digested, ensuring the maximum uptake of nutrition. I do wonder if our fast-food approach to food preparation is to blame for some of our intolerances.
Lentils are a beautiful and affordable staple to have in the cupboard, and make a great cook up to sprinkle through salads or soups through the week. When combined with nuts, seeds, rice or other whole grains they provide a great source of vegetarian protein. I decided to use dried organic puy lentils for this recipe, and prepared them the traditional way through sprouting and a long soak.
To sprout whole lentils, place them dry into a mason jar with the screen attachment, or I just used a fine sieve. Rinse the lentils with water around three times a day, or as often as you can. If using a jar, lean upside down against the screen within a bowl. If using the sieve, rest in a bowl and cover the top with a plate to keep bugs out. After 2-3 days you’ll see little tails emerging. This germination process significantly increases the vitamin B content of the legumes, and begins the neutralization of enzyme inhibitors that block your body absorbing minerals.
The night before cooking, rinse, drain and cover sprouted lentils in warm filtered water with a few tablespoons of whey or yoghurt (lemon juice if you are dairy intolerant). This finalises the breakdown of phytic acid; making the lentils much easier to digest and even more nutritious. The next day cook the lentils in this liquid with a couple of bay leaves and a few sprigs of thyme added for about 15 minutes or until slightly softened, but still maintaining their structure, then drain and cool.
Here is a delicious lentil and cauliflower salad I love to make to use up some of my sprouted and cooked lentils.
1 cup cooked sprouted puy lentils (see process above)
1 head cauliflower
2 TBSP melted coconut oil
2 cups rockett leaves
1/3 cup soaked and lightly roasted nut and seeds*
(makes a little extra than you need. You’ll thank me though this dressing is the bomb)
2 tsp additive free Dijon mustard
2 tsp quality maple syrup
2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
6 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
2 TBSP finely diced shallots
coarse sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Pre heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Wash, dry and chop cauliflower into florets. Place on a tray with baking paper, cover in coconut oil and roast for about 40 minutes, stirring throughout, or until cauliflower is becoming dark brown and is soft. Set aside to cool.
Toss together lentils and rockett, and add cauliflower once cooled.
Whisk together mustard, maple and vinegar. While whisking, slowly pour in the olive oil until its emulsified. Stir in shallots. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Pour enough to dress the salad; massaging gently throughout. You want it to coat everything, without getting soggy. Sprinkle salad with roasted seeds.
*Soak your choice of seeds (we used pepitas and sunflower seeds) overnight in filtered water and a good sprinkle of sea salt. Drain and scatter on a baking tray. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius until dry and lightly roasted.
I once heard it proclaimed that you don’t win friends with salad. However I strongly disagree with this assertion. I believe a butt-kicking salad has the potential to win you lots and lots of friends.
I think the reason salad has received such a bad rap has little to do with the poor vegetables themselves, rather it is the lack of creativity within the salad maker. Here are some keys to nailing a rad salad.
Texture is everything. I’m talking the size and shape of each morsel, as well as the variation of different feels of your ingredients. To me, an interesting salad has a range of textures to keep things interesting; particularly if it’s going to take the centre stage of the meal or picnic. Fair enough; a plain green leafy salad can be a simple refreshment aside a heartier meal, but anything other than a little side dish begs for more imagination. You can take some seriously basic ingredients and turn them into something really interesting simply by presenting it in the different way. For example, you could;
Peel veggies into strips with a cheap speed peeler (cucumber or carrot)
Finely slice. This looks amazing with beets or radishes. You can also finely slice the stems of veg you would normally chuck out such as Swiss chard or broccoli. Apples and pears are another nice one.
Julienne (matchstick thin chop) harder fruits and veg like apples, snow peas, beetroot etc.
Grate. Kohlrabi, carrots, zucchini.
Segment citrus fruits such as grapefruit, blood orange, tangelos or oranges for a pop of zingy sweetness.
Crumble soft cheeses like fetta or goat’s cheese to add a hit of dairy creaminess, or crumple broken up pappadams or interesting crackers or hard toasted sourdough.
Scatter roasted nuts or seeds, and a mix of fresh herbs over the top to make it look and feel interesting. You would be surprised at how much a bit of crunch can really lift even a few basic leaves.
Roast veggies in some duck fat and add them to a raw salad and you’ve got a great variation of flavours and textures
These are just a few ideas, and Jamie Oliver’s Clip; Principles for Superb Salads, has been a real eye opener on how to lift the salad game.
This salad was created by Meredith. It’s absolutely delicious and ticks a heap of boxes in terms of creativity. Strawberries are a great pop of colour and fruitiness, hazelnuts add crunch and earthiness, and the innovative use of Swiss chard stems makes it a waste-not meal. The dressing is also a hit with its unique cardamom and honey flavours. Definitely one to spruce up your lunch time at work, and can have some protein added to make a full meal. I promise, you will win friends with this salad.
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbs apple cider vinegar
juice and zest of one lime
4 cardamon pods
1 small clove garlic
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp poppy seeds
1 tbs raw honey
salt and pepper to taste
4-5 stalks swiss chard, 3 rainbow coloured stems and the rest leaves trimmed.
half a head broccoli
half a small red onion
1/4 roasted, peeled and finely chopped hazelnuts
shavings of parmesan cheese (optional)
Use a mortar and pestle to grind the seeds of the cardamon pods, i also ground down the garlic, cumin, salt and pepper together.
Whisk or shake in a jar the rest of the dressing ingredients to fully incorporate the honey.
Thinly slice the red onion, add to a large bowl with all of the dressing.
Rinse in warm water to soften, then thinly slice the swiss chard stems (as thin as possible), place all of the chard leave on top of each other and thin slice, then roughly chop a couple of times across as well, then add to the bowl.
Chop the broccoli into smaller pieces and process until fine and grainy, using a food processor.
I’m a full-on lover of home cooking and kitchen experimentation, but at the same time I’m super driven by health. I see food as an investment into my body. When I fill it with quality, fresh, chemical free wholefoods I feel a huge increase in my energy and overall vitality. I’m intentional with the ingredients I cook with and plan my meals with a vision of including a diverse range of nutrient dense foods throughout the week.
Breakfast is my favourite meal. I used to see breakfast as something that had to be shovelled in at lightning speed before rushing out the door to get things done. This attitude has really shifted for me recently. Now that I have a son my mornings are so important. I really need to approach the day with a right attitude and spirit. I need to be flexible. There are too many variables in a toddler that can ruin my attitude if I let them. I find when I’ve really taken care of myself in the mornings, the rest of the day flows.
I love to do something valuable for my spirit, my mind and my body every day. If I can get all this done before the day unfolds I know I’ll be setting myself up for a win. For my spirit I love to read the bible and speak to God about my hopes and worries in writing. I always find answers in its pages. Something leaps out to me and I know He is speaking. There is nothing quite as grounding for me as hearing God’s voice for my day. Everything else just seems to flow. If I’m having an especially tough time with negative emotions or worry I will force myself to begin the day by writing down ten things I am thankful for to God. I find by point number eight my whole perspective and demeanour has shifted.
For my body I’m a huge fan of movement in the early hours whether it’s a high intensity interval workout, a swim, or a barefoot walk on the beach. And then breakfast comes in. I’ll cook and eat with my son, and I don’t let anything rush me. I’ll spend time selecting, chopping, and sautéing, whatever I need to do to put something beautiful & nourishing on the plate. At the moment I love a plate full of different components; always with eggs and lots of seasonal veggies.
This is one of my favourite morning plates. Haloumi has become a recent obsession of mine. This recipe was inspired by Sarah Wilson in her cook book I Quit Sugar for Life. It is ridiculously good. I sometimes eat it as a snack, and even as a dessert. Salty cheese and butter meets with caramelized sweet rice malt syrup? You can’t get much better than that.
As for the zucchini side, I have so many flippin zucchini’s coming in my organic veggie box, and I needed to find something to do with them other than zucchini bread. Combining it raw with the mint, chilli flakes, parmesan and lime transforms it into something refreshing and new. If you haven’t got zucchinis you can switch it up to any grate-able raw veg you have on hand.
After adding a poached or fried egg and avocado I really enjoy picking whatever fresh herbs are in my garden and scattering them over the plate. It’s one of my favourite things to sit with my son Arie in the mornings and enjoy a long, slow breakfast that is brimming with goodness.
The following recipe serves one as a filling breakfast. So double if you are feeding two etc.
Sweet Herbed Haloumi:
4 thick slices of haloumi
1 sprig rosemary leaves chopped
2 tsp or more rice malt syrup*
1 tsp butter
A small handful chopped walnuts.
Zucchini with mint
1/2 large or 1 small zucchini grated
1 sprig mint leaves picked
2 tsp lime juice
1 Tbsp. olive oil,
A big pinch chilli flakes,
Grated parmesan or pecorino (optional)
Half an avocado (not pictured), lemon juice, salt & pepper to taste
An egg cooked to your liking. I love them poached or fried with a little dulse flakes, salt and pepper on top.
Haloumi: Place a frying pan on medium heat and fry haloumi. When it’s halfway done on one side (just getting golden) top the uncooked sides with a little butter, then drizzle with rice malt syrup, sprinkle with rosemary & sprinkle nuts on and around haloumi. Once nice & golden on bottom, flip and fry other side until golden. Remove from pan onto your plate.
Zucchini & mint: Combine zucchini with mint, drizzle with olive oil & lime, top with chilli flakes & cheese. Arrange on your plate with the haloumi.
Other ingredients: Add to the plate half an avocado, sliced & topped with lemon juice, salt & pepper, and egg cooked to your liking. Sprinkle some fresh basil or herbs if available.
Breakfast of champions.
In Australia, summer is the season for balmy BBQ nights, with plenty of opportunities to bring a dish along to share. Never one to shy away from a good old pot luck, the food nerd in me is excited thinking & brainstorming about what I will bring.
So often I show up to BBQ’s and it’s not unusual that there before me is a predictable spread of standard green salads with premade dressing, the pre-packaged supermarket potato salad & coleslaw, and white bread rolls with a list of ingredients longer than my arm.
I must clarify that I have no judgement toward people’s food choices; we all do the best we can. But the whole food’s lover that I am just wants to rescue everyone from convenience driven mediocrity and put something on the table that will nourish the heck out of them.
I have been musing on Yottam Ottolenghi’s recipes the last 6 months, and not one of his creations has been anything short of off-the-chain delectable. I have drawn from three of his books some pretty amazing food knowledge and recipe inspiration.
My husband lovingly attended to the lengthy list of cookbook lust-haves I gave him before Christmas; gifting me with Ottolenghi’s 2011 cookbook Plenty which was a New York Times best seller. This beautiful book features all things veg; my favourite pick being the Green pancakes with lime butter. The butter alone is worth making.
From Jerusalem I absolutely adore his Chicken with caramelized onion and cardamom rice. My husband Grant begs me to cook this one-pot meal weekly. With a short list of ingredients you will create something with crazy amounts of flavour.
Ottolenghi: The Cookbook ties together a range of standout recipes from Ottolenghi’s four eponymous restaurants in London. Incorporating food inspiration from California, Italy, North Africa & other culinary traditions, this book forces you to experiment with different ingredients. The following recipe is my own variation on his recipe for Roasted butternut squash with burnt eggplant and pomegranate molasses. I found burning the eggplant took lots of time and for a busy mum I need a variation that can still provide the distinct flavours but is a little quicker to throw together.
This salad will definitely nourish the heck out of your friends and family, and break up the run-of-the-mill BBQ salad selection this summer.
Meri’s notes: I made a version of this salad using regular molasses and it was still really yummy if you can’t find the pomegranate one. Also its great the next day cold!
1 medium butternut squash (you could also use half a large pumpkin)
½ a head of cauliflower
4 TBSP coconut oil
1 TBSP pumpkin seeds
1 TBSP black sesame seeds (or white if black isn’t available)
1/3 cup hazelnuts
2 TBSP currants
1 cup basil leaves
Course sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup full fat organic yogurt
3 TBSP hulled tahini
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 TBSP pomegranate molasses (purchase cheap from Middle Eastern supermarkets)
3 TBSP lemon juice
1 TBSP coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 clove garlic, crushed
Course sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Trim the top & bottom of butternut squash & cut in half lengthwise. Remove seeds. Cut each half into wedges; around 1 inch long and 3cm thick. Cut cauliflower into large florets. Massage squash and cauliflower with coconut oil and arrange on a large oven tray covered in baking paper. Place in oven for 25 to 30 mins, turning cauliflower every ten minutes. Veggies should be tender and slightly browned.
Remove veg and reduce oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Scatter the nuts and seeds on a baking tray and toast from 8-10 minutes until lightly browned, watching carefully so they don’t burn. Leave to cool
In a small mixing bowl stir together the dressing ingredients. Taste and season with salt and pepper and more pomegranate molasses if you wish
Arrange the veg on a serving platter. Drizzle with some extra EV olive oil. Sprinkle the nuts and seeds over the top and garnish with basil. Serve with the dressing on the side.