Carrot & Walnut Energy Bites (Raw Vegan)



If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll fall in love with this dessert / snack / energy booster. It’s incredibly easy to make, you basically mix a few ingredients in a food processor, and the whole shenanigan doesn’t take more than 10 minutes, from start to finish. These balls are raw vegan, they are made from nuts, seeds, cereals and dehydrated fruits, which makes them not only tasty but also very healthy and kid-friendly. For this recipe I used carrots, walnuts, oats and dates, which I’ve seasoned with cinnamon, orange peel and vanilla and I made 20 adorable, sweet, flavorful, fragrant, burnt-orange balls that simply melt in your mouth.

They are not only delicious, but also packed with nutrients (protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and omega3 and omega6 fatty acids). These carrot balls are sweetened with naturals from dates and carrots, without the addition of any processed sugar, which makes them a great alternative to store-bought sweets. I must confess that since I’ve discovered this type of dessert, I quit visiting the chocolate isle from the supermarkets. Me, the ultimate sugar-lover…

Ingredients (for 20 balls):

  • 100g grated carrot
  • 80g steel cut oats
  • 80g walnuts
  • 2 Tbsp hemp seeds
  • 180g dehydrated dates
  • peel of 1 organic orange / ½ tsp dehydrated orange peel
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt

Method:

  1. If you own a powerful food processor, blend the ingredients mentioned above until you form a sticky paste.
  2. If your food processor tends to be a little bit lazy, just like mine, start by grinding the oats into flour.
  3. Place the oat flour in a bowl. Place the walnuts and hemp seeds in the bowl of the food processor and grind well. Add the carrots and process until you obtain a grainy orange mixture (picture).
  4. Add the oat flour, salt, vanilla extract, cinnamon and orange peel and continue to process.
  5. Add the pitted dates and process until you form a sticky dough. The consistency of the dough depends on the quantity of water from the dates and carrots. If the mixture is runny, add 1 – 2 Tbsp of oats. If the mixture is powdery, add 1 – 2 dates.
  6. Divide the dough into 20 balls.
  7. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  8. Store them in the fridge in an air-tight container for up to 2 days.


Source: www.blissfulbasil.com

Bulgur Salad with Chickpeas and Cherries (Vegan)


After years and years of research, I’ve finally found the perfect salad! I’m a huge fault-finder when it comes to salads, but I have to tell you that this salad is flawless. I make it maybe twice a week and I use use fresh ingredients picked from my own veggie garden. This salad is both satisfying and delicious, and tends to be the healthiest addiction I’ve ever had.

The base of this salad is bulgur, a protein-packed nutty cereal, as well as chickpeas, another great vegan protein source. This two protein packed ingredients turn this salad into a extremely hearty dish. I top the salad with fresh cucumbers, onion, aromatic herbs and sweet and juicy cherries, which transform this salad into a genuin culinary symphony. Oh, and I forgot to mention that this divine salad is also exclusively plant-based!

Ingredients (for 4 – 6 servings):

  • 1 cup bulgur
  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 200g pitted cherries
  • 3 – 4 cornichon cucumbers (100g)
  • ½ onion (500g)
  • 1 chili pepper
  • 14g parsley
  • 8g dill
  • 4 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 5 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • salt and pepper to taste


 

 

Mehod:

  1. Place the bulgur in a bowl (or a small saucepan) and season with ½ tsp of salt. Bring 1 cup a water to a boil, add to the bowl, cover with a lid (or with cling film) and leave aside for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a skillet. Add the drained chickpeas and stir. Add the minced garlic and cook for further 3 minutes or until fragrant.
  3. Chop the onion, cucumber, parsley and dill. Deseed the chili pepper and finely chop it. Pitt the cherries and halve them.
  4. In a large salad bowl mix the bulgur (air it with a fork – picture) with the chickpeas, onion, cucumbers, chili, parsley and dill. Add the lemon juice and olive oil. Season with cumin, salt and pepper and mix well. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before seving.

 

Source: www.onceuponachef.com

Cherry and Almond Crumble

Sometimes, I’m simply not looking for symmetries, geometries and flawlessness. Sometimes, a rustic dessert chaotically dropped on a white plate creates for me an ecstatic state of mind, a genuine satisfaction that no other form of perfection could ever bring. Moments like that tell me it’s time to make a crumble.

Fruit crumble isn’t the most aesthetic dessert that you could think of, I give you that, but the taste is simply divine. Those fresh fruit that bake in their own juice, creating a silky, flavorful sauce go wonderfully with the crunchy buttery crust. For this particular crumble I used meaty June cherries, I flavored them with rose water (vanilla or almond extract work beautifully too) and I topped them with a buttery almond flake mixture. A delicious madness!

Ingredients (for 4 – 6 servings):

for the base:

  • 800g fresh cherries (600g after I removed the stones) – you can also use frozen cherries
  • 50g brown Demerara sugar (3 Tbsp)
  • 15g corn starch (1 Tbsp)
  • ½ tsp rose water (vanilla or almond extract work just fine)

for the crust:

  • 115g white flour type 650
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 75g cold butter, cubed
  • 100g almond flakes
  • 75g brown Demerara sugar

for serving (optional):

  • 4 Tbsp Greek yogurt
  • fresh raspberries




Method:

  1. Preheat the oven at 200°C / 400°F (gas mark 6).
  2. Clean the cherries, remove their stones and place them in a square ceramic tray (20 x 20cm).
  3. Add the brown sugar (50g), starch and rose water to the tray. Mix well with a spoon.
  4. In the bowl of a food processor add the flour, salt, baking powder, vanilla extract and butter and pulse until the mixture looks like bread crumbs.
  5. Add the remaining sugar (75g) and the almond flakes and stir well with a spoon.
  6. Spoon the mixture from the food processor over the cherries and level with a spoon.
  7. Bake uin the preheated oven for 25 – 30 minutes, or until the crust in golden.
  8. Before serving, let the cruble cool down for at least 15 minutes. The longer it cools down the thicker the syrup will be.
  9. Serve the crumble in bowls topped with Greek yogurt and fresh raspberries.



Source: www.nigella.com

Goat Cream Cheese, Pea and Quail Egg Triangles



These goat cheese, pea and quail egg triangles are simply extraordinary. They are delicious, flavorful and the fresh green peas add a lovely spring quality to the dish. What I like the most about the appetizers is they are a crowd-pleaser. These adorable guys are also a wonderful alternative to conventional appetizers, letting aside the fact that they’re ready in less than 30 minutes. To ease up my work, I use store-bought puff pastry and I bake it between two trays. This method keeps the dough from rising excessively in the oven, which leads to a relatively thin, golden and flaky crust. Those crispy rectangles are then iced with a tangy and flavorful goat cheese cream, topped with peas and quail eggs arranged chaotically.

Ingredients (for 30 triangles):

  • 1 sheet of puff pastry (400g – 27 x 35 cm)
  • 250g cream cheese
  • 75g goat cheese
  • fresh herbs ( I used 1Tbsp chopped mint, 2Tbsp parsley and 3Tbsp chives)
  • 150g spring peas
  • 15 quail eggs
  • salt to taste

Mehod:

  1. Preheat the oven at 190°C / 375°F (gas mark 5).
  2. Fill a medium saucepan with water, cover with a lid and bring to a boil.
  3. Prepare the crust. With a pizza cutter, cut the puff pastry into 3 triangles (9 x 35 cm) and place them on a parchment paper – lined tray. Bake the puff pastry in the preheated oven for 12 minutes. After 12 minutes, carefully cover it with another parchment paper rectangle and place another tray on top of the parchment paper (picture). The second tray will press down the puff pastry. Place the tray in the oven and continue baking the crust for further 12 minutes. After 24 minutes, the crust should be golden.
  4. While the crust bakes in the oven, prepare the rest of the components.
  5. When the water starts to boil, add the peas and simmer them for 3 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the ice bath by adding 1 cup of ice to a bowl filled with cold water. Carefully drain the peas (reserving the hot water) and immediately place them in the ice bath. Let them cool completely and drain them.
  6. Bring the same water to a boil and add the eggs. Reduce heat to minimum and let eggs simmer for 2 minutes. Drain eggs, let them cool in cold water and peel them.
  7. Prepare the goat cream cheese by mixing the cream cheese with the goat cheese and the chopped herbs. Season with salt.
  8. Spread the herbed cream cheese over the crusts. Garnish with blanched peas and halved quail eggs. Cut into triangles and serve (picture).









Quail Soup with Homemade Noodles



Quail soup with homemade duck noodles is undoubtedly my favorite soup. Personally, I find this soup the very quintessence of a Sunday, it’s the reason we gather around that familiar, round, wooden table, it’s what makes a sunday, Sunday. It’s happiness in its purest form, it’s the very reason I felt deeply in love with gastronomy.

I’ve had quail several times before, and I grew fond of it more and more on each occasion. It’s definitely more chewy than chicken and it resembles from this point of view with duck breast. I’d rather place it in the dark meat category, it has an earthy, rich taste and a subtle gamey flavor. This quail soup manages to preserve that lovely aroma, it is tasty, rich and nutritious; also, homemade duck noodles are a wonderful addition to this flavorful soup. Since it’s may, I thought it would have been terrible if I didn’t use spring vegetables, freshly picked from my own veggie garden. I seldom use a bouquet garni for soups, but I found that the freshness of the thyme and the earthiness of the sage complements wonderfully the gaminess of the quail.

Ingredients (for 4 servings):

  • 4 quails
  • 2 l of water
  • 1 onion
  • 100g spring carrots
  • 30g spring parsnip and parsley root
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • bouquet garni (parsley, thyme and sage)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 7 – 8 peppercorns
  • a handful of noodles (I used this recipe) – 30g

Method:

  1. Wash the quails several times insisting on their cavities. Place a large saucepan over low – medium heat and add the quails and the water.
  2. Add the onion, salt and peppercorns. Bring the pot to a boil and using a tablespoon, discard the dark froth that will rise on the surface.
  3. When the liquid starts to simmer, reduce the heat to low and boil the soup for 30 minutes.
  4. After 30 minutes add the carrots, parsnip, parsley and bouquet garni and simmer for further 50 – 60 minutes.
  5. Leave the soup to cool down and using a colander, strain the soup.
  6. Debone the quail and use the meat for any other purpose.
  7. Before serving, bring the soup to a boil, add the noodles and simmer them over low heat for 2 minutes. Season with salt, only if necessary and serve hot.



Spring Canapés (Focaccia with Goat Cheese, Strawberries, Prosciutto and Balsamic Reduction)

This lovely canapés are more than suitable for spring. The base is a delicious homemade nigella seed focaccia which is topped with tangy goat cheese, juicy strawberry slices, smoky Prosciutto roses, fresh mint ribbons and a balsamic vinegar reduction. I simply love balsamic vinegar reduction, it’s such a versatile condiment; its acid and slightly sweet taste and its unmistakable aroma go wonderfully with different types of cheese, vegetables and fruits and it tastes divine paired with vanilla-flavored desserts, too. Since it’s springtime and my garden abounds with flowers, I decided I should garnish my canapés with edible flowers, just for aesthetic reasons.

For my canapés I used homemade focaccia (I used this recipe). The only changes I’ve made are the following: I prepared the dough, I placed it in a bowl, I covered it with cling film and I refrigerated it overnight. The next morning I kneaded the dough and I rolled the bread, I garnished it with nigella seeds and I drizzled it with olive oil. After 1 hour of rising, I baked it for about 20 minutes.

I usually make my own balsamic vinegar reduction. I add 1 cup of balsamic vinegar to a saucepan and I boil it until the liquid becomes syrupy and reduces by 1/3 cup. I pour the reduction in a jar and I leave it to reach room temperature before refrigerating it. Since it thickens considerably as it cools down, I reheat it in warm water before using.

 

Balsamic vinegar reduction

 

Ingredients (for 80ml of final product):

  • 1 cup of balsamic vinegar (240ml)

 

Method:

  1. Add the vinegar to a small saucepan. Take a toothpick and insert it in the saucepan (perpendicular to the saucepan’s bottom) to check the level – you can check the level several times throughout the boiling process to see how much it reduces).
  2. When the vinegar begins to simmer, reduce the heat to low – medium and simmer the liquid for 20 -25 minutes (depending on the size of the saucepan), stirring occasionally. When the liquid starts to thicken, check again the level with a clean toothpick.
  3. The reduction is ready when it’s syrupy and the volume has reduced by 1/3 (you can notice the marks on my toothpick in the photo).
  4. Leave the reduction to cool down to room temperature, place it in an airtight jar and refrigerate it until you’re ready to use.

 

 

Spring Canapés

Ingredients (for 4 servings):

  • 8 thin focaccia rectangles
  • 50g goat cheese
  • 2 strawberries
  • 4 slices of prosciutto crudo
  • 2 – 3 mint leaves
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar reduction
  • edible flowers (optional)

Method:

  1. Clean the strawberries, remove the stem and thinly slice them.
  2. Cut the mint leaves into small ribbons.
  3. Spread ½ tsp of goat cheese on each focaccia rectangle. Arrange the toppings mentioned above (strawberry, pea flower, mint ribbon, balsamic vinegar reduction / prosciutto slice, sage flower, mint ribbon, balsamic vinegar reduction).





Butter Bean, Tuna and Cherry Tomato Salad

This butter bean and tuna salad is simply divine! It’s very tasty, nutritious and hearty. It is a rustic, unpretentious salad, but at the same time the flavor and texture combination give it a particular charm. It’s so easy to make and to gain some time, I start the recipe by roasting the cherry tomatoes just until they caramelize nicely and burst with flavor. While my tomatoes brown patiently in the oven, I make the creamy mustard dressing and I chop the rest of the ingredients and the dinner is ready. Or the lunch. Or the brunch, if you’re as greedy as I am. I serve this lovely salad on a garlicky whole-wheat toast and I enjoy every last bite of it.

Ingredients (for 4 servings):

  • 1 can of butter beans
  • 1 can of tuna chunks in olive oil (180g)
  • 1 celery stalk (50g)
  • 3 – 4 pickled cornichon cucumbers (50g)
  • 200g cherry tomatoes
  • ½ small red onion
  • 10g chopped chives
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

for serving:

  • 2 slices of whole-wheat bread
  • 1 clove of garlic

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven at 400°F / 200°C (gas mark 6).
  2. Halve the cherry tomatoes and place them on a parchment paper-lined tray. Roast them in the oven for 20 minutes, turning them after 10 minutes.
  3. In a salad bowl add the mustard and the lemon juice and combine with a whisk. Drizzle the olive oil, whisking continuously until the dressing becomes smooth and creamy.
  4. Drain the tuna, rinse and drain the butter beans. Chop the cucumbers and the celery and finely chop the onion and the chives.
  5. Add the ingredients above to the bowl and stir to combine. Add the cherry tomatoes and stir again.
  6. Toast 2 slices of bread and rub them with garlic. Slice them in half.
  7. For serving, place on each plate 1 half of a slice of bread and top them with bean and tuna salad. Garnish with radish sprouts.

Source: www.foodandwine.com





Wild Garlic Hummus



Hummus is an oriental chickpea and tahini paste. It is hearty, smooth and creamy and it has a rich and nutty sesame seed flavor. It is a high-protein vegan spread and it’s also so easy to make. I’ve tried a myriad of recipes over the years, I played both with the ingredients and with the different techniques involved in preparing this simple yet delicious spread. I learnt two tricks which I use each time to get an incredibly creamy texture. I remove the skins of the chickpeas by squeezing them with my fingers – this extra step makes a smoother final product. The second trick is to start the hummus by mixing the tahini with lemon juice and olive oil, which creates a mayonnaise-like consistency emulsion. This two tricks make the difference between a regular and an over-the-top delicious hummus.

The version of hummus I bring you today is a velvety, flavorful and colorful hummus, a wild garlic hummus, to be more accurate. Wild garlic is a wonderful plant, it has a fresh garlicky taste and it is packed with nutrients, from carotenoids to vit A, vit C and vit B complex. I’m not a fan of the raw wild garlic, I find it too overpowering, so I blanch it for 40 seconds before using it, to temper its wild taste.

Ingredients for (4 servings):

  • 1 can of chickpeas (400g)
  • 50g wild garlic
  • 1 Tbsp tahini (I used homemade tahini – here is the recipe)
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp water
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp chili flakes
  • salt to taste

 

Method:    

  1. Blanch the wild garlic. Bring 1l of water to a boil. Wash the wild garlic and trim its fibrous ends. When the water starts to boil add the wild garlic, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 40 seconds. Meanwhile prepare the ice bath by adding 1 cup of ice to a bowl filled with cold water. Carefully drain the wild garlic and immediately place it in the ice bath. Let it cool completely and then drain it. Remove the excess water by squeezing it in your hands (picture).
  2. Prepare the chickpeas. Drain the chickpeas using a colander and rinse it under cold water. Take about 8 – 10 chickpeas and gently squeeze them in your fingers to remove their skins. Proceed the same with the rest of the chickpeas – this step is optional.
  3. In the bowl of the food processor add the tahini and the lime juice and pulse until combined (picture).
  4. Drizzle the olive oil 1 Tbsp at a time. Pulse until the mixture resembles to a mayonnaise (picture).
  5. Add the chickpeas and pulse until you form a paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  6. Add the chopped blanched wild garlic and the spices (cumin, chili flakes and salt). Add 1 Tbsp of water and process. Add more water until you reach the desired consistency. Spoon it into a bowl and drizzle some olive oil on top.
  7. I served my wild garlic hummus with homemade dinner rolls (I made them following this recipe), raw radishes, spring onions and chili peppers.







Source: www.inspiredtaste.net

Homemade Tahini



Tahini is a delicious Middle Eastern sesame spread. It has a velvety smooth texture and a lovely nutty flavor. Tahini can be found in the ethnic department of almost every large grocery store but it can also be made at home, from scratch. It’s so easy to make and it’s significantly less expensive than the store-bought version. Tahini is made from only 3 ingredients: sesame seeds, vegetable oil and salt. The process is very simple: the sesame seeds are lightly toasted just until they turn golden and fragrant, and after that they are ground using a food processor (or you can use a mortar, if you’re into extreme sports). The addition of the oil turns the fragrant sesame crumbs into a golden silky spread.

I must confess that I enjoy tahini almost daily. I use it to prepare hummus and baba ganoush, I use it to make salad dressings, I pour it over steamed veggies, rice or pasta or I simply enjoy it with homemade bread, with lime, chili flakes and chives sprinkled on top. Tahini brings flavor to many dishes but it also brings a high amount of nutrients – tahini is high in protein, unsaturated fats, calcium and vit B complex). Tahini is simply divine, and if you haven’t had the opportunity to discover it yet, I strongly advise you to whip up a batch!

Ingredients (for about 150g tahini):

  • 1 cup of huelled sesame seeds (140g)
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp of any mild vegetable oil (such as grapeseed, sunflower or a light olive oil)
  • ¼ tsp sea salt

Method:

  1. Toast the sesame seeds in a ungreased skillet over medium heat just until they are light golden and fragrant (it takes usually about 3 – 4 minutes). Be careful not to overtoast them because the tahini will turn bitter.
  2. Add the toasted sesame seeds to a bowl of a food processor and let them cool for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes process them until they turn into crumbs. It might take a good 5 minutes – it depends on how powerful your food processor is.
  3. Start adding the oil, one tablespoon at a time, scraping town the sesame seeds from time to time. Process until smooth and pourable.
  4. Spoon tahini into a jar and refrigerate. It will last in the refrigerator up to 4 weeks.
  5. I enjoyed my tahini on a slice of homemade artisanal bread, sprinkled with lime, chives and chili flakes.

Spinach Salad with Baked Tofu, Fennel and Mandarin Oranges



There’s not much to say about this tofu and mandarin salad, only the fact that I tend to prepare it excessively lately. It’s so colorful and packed with bold flavors and great textures and the best part is that it’s plant – based. The crunchy, fragrant fennel goes wonderfully with the sweet and juicy mandarin slices and the green onion and the baby spinach give this salad a nice, springy twist. For this salad I like to cut my tofu in triangles, marinate it in mandarin juice, rice vinegar, soy sauce, olive oil, ginger and garlic and bake it in the oven until golden brown. Simlpe and delcious!

Why I love spinach salad with tofu, mandarin and fennel:

  • it’s vegan
  • it’s so colorful and tasty
  • it’s nutritious
  • it’s high in protein, so it’s very satisfying
  • it’s lovely all year round, I just pick whatever veggies are in season

Ingredients (for 4 servings):

  • 200g firm tofu
  • 1 small fennel bulb (100g)
  • 3 mandarin oranges
  • 3 spring onions
  • 50g baby spinach

for the marinade:

  • 2 Tbsp mandarin juice
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp grated ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder and 1/8 tsp pepper

Method:

  1. Drain the tofu, place it between two paper towels, place a heavy can on top of it (I use my mortar) and let it drain for about 30 minutes.
  2. Prepare the marinade. Place the ingredients listed above in a blender and pulse until well blended. Adjust the taste by adding vinegar or sugar only if necessary.
  3. Cut the tofu block into 6 rectangles. Cut each rectangle into 2 triangles (picture).
  4. Place the tofu slices in a zip-lock bag, pour about 2/3 of the marinade in the bag and toss to coat. The remaining marinade will be used as dressing for the salad. Refrigerate tofu slices for 1 hour.
  5. Preheat the oven at 190°C / 375°F (gas mark 5).
  6. Take the tofu slices from the fridge and place them on a parchment paper – lined tray. Bake them for 15 minutes, turn them over and bake them for further 10 – 15 minutes. When they are golden brown, remove them from the oven and carefully place them on a plate.
  7. Peel the mandarin oranges and segment them. Finely chop the onion. Cut the fennel into thin slices (picture).
  8. Place the baby spinach on a platter. Top it with fennel, spring onion, mandarin oranges and tofu triangles. Drizzle the dressing (the remaining marinade) over the salad just before serving.

Source: www.foodnetwork.com