Making friends with salad

Making friends with salad

Something fresh, yet filling, satisfying and warming? Here is a Moroccan spiced salad for any occasion – in my case for dinner. I have a feeling I will be making this a lot this summer to bring with me to barbeques!

Moroccan Salad (for two as main or four as a side)

1 fennel
4 carrots
1 can of chickpeas
Spinach (150 g)
Orange
Cumin
Turmeric
Himalayan Salt
Pepper
2 tbs Tahini
Lemon
1/2 tbs Apple Cider Vinegar
Olive oil
Bunch of Coriander

  1. Heat the oven to 200 Celcius.
  2. Cut the fennel (Trim off the fennel stalks. Cut the bulb in half. Cut the halves into quarters. Peel off any wilted outer layers. Slice the fennel crosswise. Fronds can be used as a garnish later). Season fennel with cumin, salt and 1 tbs of olive oil. Move to an oven dish.
  3. Cut carrots to sticks. Season with 1 tbs of olive oil, turmeric and cumin. Place in the oven in a dish.
  4. Wash and drain chickpeas. Season with Himalayan salt & cumin. Place into the oven.
  5. Meanwhile, peel the orange and chop to pieces.
  6. Wash the spinach.
  7. Cut the orange into bites.
  8. Make the sauce by mixing tahini, 1/2 tbs of olive oil, 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar, juice of 1/2 lemon and salt&pepper.
  9. Mix sauce with spinach and orange.
  10. Let the roasted vegetables and chickpeas cool.
  11. Mix vegetables to the spinach mix. Add coriander.

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Nordic Winter Food

Nordic Winter Food

I was raised and born in Finland but I have lived last four years in Australia. People often ask what the Finnish food is like and I mumble something about basic food, being embarrassed about Finnish cuisine not being known as an inventor of macarons, avo toast or poke bowls.

Truth is that Finnish food is traditionally survival food. For eight months of the year, the entire country is more or less covered in snow and nothing grows and can be harvested. For my ancestors, it was all about having root vegetables, pickled vegetables, grains, dried fish and meat stored to eat throughout the year. Leafy salads and fruits in Finland were luxuries that followed fridges and international trade. Obviously when I grew up our food was modern and plentiful but the everyday dishes we had were still practical, simple and inexpensive, yet still tasty.

This particular dish is something I never touched as a kid, because it looked ugly and I knew it had cabbage in it (which sounded yak). However, when I grew older I learned to love it. When I stopped eating meat, I stopped cooking it for a while, until I got inspired by few recipes that used TVP mince. However, I don’t like eating TVP, it makes my tummy ache and it seems artificial and dodgy so I made up my own recipe just with mushrooms, and it came out heavenly and has been loved by both, Finns and foreigners who I have fed with it.

Finnish Mushroom Cabbage Casserole (serves 6)

1 cabbage
1 onion

2 big carrots
500 g of mushrooms (any kind will do)
3 gloves of garlic
1 C of brown rice (uncooked)
rosemary (fresh preferred)
1 tbs of paprika
1.5 vegetable stock cubes
1 C almond mylk (or oat)
2 tbs o maple syrup
salt
pepper
2 tbs of balsamic vinegar
Olive oil

  1. Cook the rice following the instructions on the package.
  2. Chop onion, mushrooms, and carrots to small cubes. Crush garlic and rosemary.
  3. In a pan heat 2 tbs of olive oil and add onion and garlic. After 1 minute, add diced mushrooms and carrots. Add 1 dl of water and 1 stock cube, balsamic vinegar, paprika, and rosemary. Season with salt. Let cook for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Cut cabbage as small as you prefer (I do 2 cm x 2cm squares, roughly). 
  5. Heat 2 tbs of olive oil in a wok pan or big pot. Add the cabbage and keep mixing. When cabbage starts to soften, add maple syrup and 1/2 vegetable stock cube (potentially a 1-2 tbs water). Let cabbage soften about 10 minutes. 
  6. Add mushroom mix and rice in the pot with cooked cabbage and mix all together. Taste if you need more salt and add some pepper.
  7. Poor mix in an oven tray prepared with olive oil. 
  8. Pour 1 C of plant-based milk and 1/2 C of water on top of the dish.
  9. Cook in the oven in 175 C for about an hour.
  10. Traditionally enjoyed with lingonberries or lingonberry jam. But as an expat, I have it with pickled beetroot and fresh chopped parsley on top.  

This dish is perfect because it serves a household of two three times. So basically I cook it on Sunday and it saves many busy weeknights. This is also a great side for game or fish if you that is part of your diet. Believe me, it tastes much much better than it looks haha!

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Vegan Kimchi Korean way

Vegan Kimchi Korean way

I am obsessed with kimchi, I literally always order it if it’s on the menu and eat the entire serving. Seriously, I order two if people want to share. I sometimes have it on top of an avocado toast. Sometimes on top of brown rice as a meal. Told you, obsessed.

Ever since watching the Chef’s Table episode with Jeong Kwan I have wanted to make my own. I first attempted to make it with this health blog recipe and it turned out tasty fermented cabbage which had nothing to do with kimchi though. The second time, I decided to learn from the guru. Maangchi is an adorable Korean chef whose video taught me and my boyfriend ferment in Korean way. The first patch was not vegetarian (fish sauce) because we wanted to everything right. We followed her video and kimchi turned out amazing. Please do yourself a favor and watch her Kimchi making video, it is seriously heartwarming.

The third time I created my own version of traditional Korean kimchi but made it vegan. And it is seriously the best one I have had! I mean I even like the store bought ones, but this is ridiculously good. And it doesn’t lack any authentic flavor or texture because the methodology is same.

If you follow my recipe you can still follow Maangchi’s video, just use my measurements and ingredients.

Vegan Kimchi Traditional way

1 large napa cabbage
1/2 C sea salt (fine)

Kimchi Porridge
2/3 C water
2 tbsp brown rice flour
2 tsp coconut sugar/brown sugar

Kimchi Paste
2/3 C radish (chopped as thin sticks)
1 carrot (chopped as thin stick)
6-8 spring onions (chopped)
4 garlic gloves (minced)
1 tbs of minced ginger 
1/2 onion (minced)
2/3 Korean hot pepper flakes
Splash of water

2 x 1.5 -2-liter jars (or four smaller ones).
Bucket to suit the size of the cabbage. I used a rectangle one.

The recipe makes 2.2 kg of kimchi.

  1. Cut napa cabbage in half. Then cut each half into two pieces. You will end up with four pieces of cabbage cut lengthwise.
  2. Massage salt to the cabbage leaves all way through (also in between).
  3. Place the cabbage pieces into the bucket and let them sit for 2 hours. (I left mine for 6 and nothing happened). Every 30 minutes turn the pieces around.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the porridge. Heat the water and rice flour on a Teflon pot and when it start to look like a porridge add the sugar and bring the heat down the When porridge is even, cool it down.
  5. Cut the vegetables.
  6. Mix the kimchi paste ingredients into the porridge in a big mixing bowl. Splash some water to make it stickier.
  7. After two hours, wash the salt of cabbage pieces. Use paper towels or towel to dry them.
  8. Use boiling water (and apple cider vinegar) to sterilize jars.
  9. In the mixing bowl take one piece of cabbage at the time and use your hands to spread and massage the paste throughout each layer of cabbage. Once done put the cabbage in a jar. Repeat. Once one jar is full (I could fit half a cabbage in one 1.8 liter jar), use a wooden spatula to push cabbage on the bottom. This should bring the liquid above the cabbage. 
  10. When done place the sterilized lid on the jar. 
  11. Leave the jars on the kitchen bench for 36 hours to ferment. Then refrigerate. 

Enjoy it on top of a Buddha bowl like we did. Or inside a sushi roll. With tempeh and steamed vegetables and brown rice. Or on side of anything.

I bring this to work and have it every day with steamed vegetables and quinoa. It’s just so damn good for your guts and tastes amazing!

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Did someone say Pho?

Did someone say Pho?

When you make a water based vegan soup and your carnivore boyfriend ends up begging for more, you know you have done something right. This soup is a filling and warming and it definitely costs less than a trip to Ho Chi Minh.

Vegan Pho (For two)

Broth:
2 l water
1.5 cubes vegetable stock cubes
2 gloves of garlic
a piece of sliced fresh ginger
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stalk
1 onion
2 tbs tamari

4 portobello mushrooms (or smaller mushrooms, use more)
1 tsp coconut oil
a bunch of bok choy or Chinese cabbage
Fresh mint
Fresh coriander
Mung bean sprouts
Brown rice noodles/Mung bean noodles

  1. Slice garlic and ginger. Chop onion into quarters.
  2. Use a pot to heat the water. Add vegetable cubes, tamari garlic, ginger, onion, cinnamon and star anise. Bring to boil and reduce the heat. Let simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Chop mushrooms to thin slices. Stirfry in coconut oil until cooked through.
  4. Chop herbs.
  5. 3 minutes before serving, strain the broth. Add bok choy and let it simmer 3 more minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, cook the noodles al dente and place in bowls.
  7. To serve. Pour the broth on top of noodles (with bok choy). Add mushrooms on top of the bowls, as well as the herbs and sprouts.

If there is leftover broth, heat it day after and enjoy all over again.

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Sauce for any night

Sauce for any night

This one of my go-to recipes that I like to cook on weekends to enjoy weeknights. I am not quite sure how I most prefer to eat it. It is just so tasty, easy and you can have it with anything, it is not your normal tomato sauce, it is so much more. It makes any meal taste little more luxurious. Tonight I just reheated it and throw in a bowl with zoodles, roasted Brussel sprouts, asparagus and some sweet potato.

I learned from the Smith & Daughters: A cookbook (that happens to be vegan) (by boss ladies behind the legendary Smith & Daughters, and my favourite sandwich heaven Smith & Deli) to use cherry vinegar when cooking rich tomato sauces and I love it now! This book is wonderful for inspiration and ideas!

Spanish Tomato Stew (4 sides or 2 mains)

1 red capsicum
2 stalks of celery
1 onion
3 garlic gloves
2 tbs of olive oil

8 ripe tomatoes
2/3 C water
1 tbs sweet paprika
1 tbs smoked paprika
1/2 tbs dried thyme
4 bay leaves
1 tbs of cherry vinegar
Salt & Pepper (generously)

  1. Cut capsicum, celery and onion cubes. Crush garlic gloves.
  2. Heat olive oil in a pan.
  3. Add cut veggies and garlic. Let soften for five minutes over medium heat.
  4. Season with paprikas and dried thyme. Cook another 2 minutes.
  5. Add chopped tomatoes, bay leaves, and water. Season with salt and pepper. Let cook 20 minutes. 
  6. Add the cherry vinegar and let cook until the sauce thickens, 20-30 mins.

Serving option 1:

As a pasta sauce with pan fried mushrooms. Pan fry mushrooms with olive oil, garlic, salt & pepper. Meanwhile, boil pasta (I eat brown rice pasta). Serve with parsley and nutritional yeast (or pecorino cheese). We eat this at least once a fortnight, so nice and hearty.

Serving option 2:

Steam broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus. Bake sweet potato chunks in the oven with salt and pepper. Chop basil. Eat in a bowl with fresh spinach. So nice and warming but healthy.

Serving option 3:

Poor in bowls. Sprinkle some parsley or basil on top. Cut some nice sourdough. Potentially open a nice cheese (I love Botanical Cuisine Persian Feta that is based on macadamia nuts). Use a piece of bread as a spoon and enjoy every last drop of the stew.

And yes I make this on Sunday and we eat it later during the week because the taste gets even better when reheated! Hope you like it. It is definitely a budget meal too and you can mix things up by adding mushrooms, olives, greens, carrots, you name it.

The photo below is taken just after adding tomatoes. They will continue to get stickier while cooking. I love to have this cooking and smelling amazing on the stove top while I relax.

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When truffle met mushroom and we made a pizza

When truffle met mushroom and we made a pizza

This one is the bomb. This pizza is a lovechild of the passion for truffled mushrooms and foodgasm after a few great white pizzas enjoyed in Melbourne and in Italy. It has taken some serious product development with different sauces,  toppings, and bases, but now I dare to write down the recipe. The flavor in this one is something to die for and worth the trip to the supermarket to get the few fancy ingredients. It’s definitely that Sunday dish to impress and make anyone at the dinner table to love you. And literally, it is covered with all the veggies. All the best ones. Did you hear I said mushrooms?

This is a recipe that you can start and finish in an hour and so worth the effort. Also, I highly encourage to do any pizza base that you love if you are not a fan of this more alternative one, which I guess would make any Italian nonna cry.

White Truffled Mushroom Pizza (vegan, GF)

White Truffle Sauce
1/2 C soaked cashews
1 heaped tbs of nutritional yeast
1 tsp truffle oil
1/2 C water
1 tbs lemon juice
1 garlic glove
Salt & Pepper

Mushrooms
4-8 portobello mushrooms (or any mushrooms, when chopped approximately 1 & 1/2 cups)
1 tsp truffle oil
1 tbs olive oil
Garlic clove

Other Fillings
1 C chopped pumpkin (any pumpkin will do, or sweet potato)
Olive oil
6-8 asparagus
1/2 radicchio
1 tbs of lemon juice
Salt & pepper

Pizza Base 
3 tbs chia seeds
2/5 C water
2/3 C coconut flour
1 tbs psyllium husk
1 tsp baking powder
salt
1/3 C olive oil
1 C water

  1. Heat the oven to 200 C and place the chopped pumpkin on an oven tray sprinkled with olive oil. By the way, always use the peel of the pumpkin, it gets soft in the oven and is good for you. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 mins or until golden. Put the pumpkin on the side. Increase the oven temperature to 225 C after removing pumpkin from the oven.
  2. While pumpkin is baking make the sauce. Blend all the ingredients. Let it sit in the fridge until using.
  3. Chop radicchio to strings. Put it in a bowl, sprinkle with lemon juice and dash of oil and salt. Leave on the side to marinade.
  4. Half each asparagus, keep them long.
  5. Make the base. Start by soaking chia seeds in the water. Meanwhile, mix the dry ingredients. Add oil and water. Add chia mix. Let sit for a minute. The mixture is definitely strange because coconut flour acts different to any other flour, but trust me it works well. 
  6. Use your hands to press the dough to oven tray covered with baking paper. It should be easy to handle, but like I said, expect nothing like traditional pizza dough.
  7. Prebake for 8 minutes in 225 C.
  8. Next sautee mushrooms. Heat olive oil in a pan, add mushrooms and crushed garlic and a dash of water. Add truffle oil when mushrooms star to get some color. Put on the side after some 3 min of sauteing.
  9. After the base is prebaked, spread 2/3 of the sauce on the bottom. Sprinkle pumpkin, mushrooms, and asparagus on it. Add radicchio. Sprinkle rest of the sauce on top. Season generously with freshly grounded pepper. Bake for 10 minutes in 225 C.

Hope this makes you as happy as it makes me. Preferably enjoy with a glass of nice red wine and with someone, you want to make happy.

I do encourage to giving this base a go. As it is completely grain free it makes you feel satisfied but not heavy afterward. Also, it goes really well with the truffle sauce. I have adapted the recipe for the pizza base from the book Kiitos Hyvää Pikaruokaa, which is a great read by a talented author and blogger Virpi. As far as I know this book is published only in Finnish at the moment. It literally changed my pizza eating habits, I mean, chia seed pizza. But this sauce will be heaven on any base, spelt, buckwheat… You name it.

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