Sunday, December 20, 2015

Seitan Roulade

Seitan is one of the most popular meat substitutes. It is also the most versatile. You can prepare it in 1001 different ways, varying its texture and taste, shaping it into chunks, sausages, steaks, balls…

It is very easy - and a lot cheaper - to make your own seitan. Home made seitan is also often tastier than store bought seitan, as you can prepare it with your own favorite spices and herbs.

Basic seitan can be made simply by combining water or vegetable stock with gluten flour and cooking it in water with any extra spices you may want to add. It’s that easy.

But if you want to take your seitan to a total new level of yumminess, you might want to choose carefully the spices you add to it. My reasoning in the choice of spices: I always use herbs or “taste enhancers” that offer what I call a “background” taste. Examples of those are ginger, paprika powder (smoked if you want), nutritional yeast, bay leaves (ground, if in the dough or whole if added to the cooking water). Then I love working with spices that “open” the taste buds such as allspice, ground fennel, caraway seeds or ground coriander. Adding an “umami” touch is a must in a good seitan. Examples of umami-containing ingredients: miso, soy sauce, (dried) mushrooms, seaweeds (wakame, preferably added to the cooking water), celery or lovage leaves (either added to the dough in powdered form or added as entire leaves to the cooking water). Last but not least I add aromatic herbs such as Italian herb mix or various herbs de Provence combined together or a choice of some of those herbs, such as rosemary, sage, savoury, marjoram, basil. Sometimes when I want a clearly exotic taste, I go for curry powders, Indian or Mexican spice mixes. Fancy a Thai touch on your seitan? Try using ground galangal root in the dough and cook the seitan in a water with kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass. 

Here is an example of a well balanced seitan

What do you need:

500g gluten flour (from wheat, spelt or kamut)
1 tsp fennel seeds, ground (or caraway)
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika (or smoked paprika)
1 tbsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp sea ​​salt 
1/4 tsp allspice 
1 1/2 tsp rosemary
1 tsp herbs de Provence
3 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)

1 tbsp miso or 60 ml shoyu (for soy free, leave out shoyu or miso and add ground celery or lovage leaves and extra salt instead)
1 tbsp. liquid smoke (or smoked paprika instead of regular sweet paprika)
500-600 ml of cold water  (depends on the quality of your gluten flour and on whether or not you use shoyu)
2 - 4 tbsp olive oil 

Feel free to add any fresh herbs that are seasonably available such as tarragon, savory, sage, thyme, or other garden herbs.


Add the wheat gluten, salt, nutritional yeast, and all of dried herbs to a bowl and stir until all dry ingredients are well combined. 

Combine the miso or soy sauce, liquid smoke, olive oil and water in a cup (keep in mind the liquid should be cold, nothing should be warm). 

Pour the liquid mixture into the wheat gluten and stir with a fork until a cohesive mass. Knead the dough gently until all ingredients acquire a smooth and even consistency. 

You can now divide the dough into 2 or more “balls” or shape the dough into whatever sizes and form you want: chunks for stews or wok dishes, steaks, slices, blocks… If you want to make regular sausages you better wrap them in aluminium foil, so that they retain their sausage shape in this way. In that case, it is usually easier to steam them instead of cooking directly in water.

smoked paprika adds another delish dimension to your seitan  


Bring water to boil in your steamer. Place the dough on the rack in the pan. It could be handy to use a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil, to make sure the seitan pieces won’t stick to the pan (it is not a “must”). Steam for half an hour. Let the seitan cool in the steamer. Put it in the refrigerator. The seitan is even better the next day.

Traditional cooking

Bring water to a boil with 2 bay leaves, 2 celery (or lovage) leaves, nutmeg (I use the little pieces that are left from grinding them), 1 tbsp sea salt (or to taste) and a few slices of fresh ginger to taste * (and possibly a piece of seaweed such as wakame example), to boil. Put the dough in and let simmer for 45 minutes with the lid on. Let the seitan cool in the broth. The remaining broth is very tasty and I use that example, stews, sauces or as a base to marinate vegetables for the BBQ. You can also just cook the seitan in a ready-made vegetable broth if you want.


* Each type of salt has a different effect and each person has a different level of salt tolerance/preference. The salt I used in this recipe is unrefined sea salt and it is much less “salty” than refined table salt. If not sure how much to use, start with less. You can always add more later on in a marinade or sauce while preparing the seitan in recipes. Tip: try adding a pinch black salt, a.k.a. kala namak. 

* Ginger: the amount depends on your own preference but also on the kind of ginger and how fresh they are. When using freshly harvested ginger from full ground, you might need just a little bit. Too much ginger or coriander can easily overrule the other flavours and that is not what we want in a seitan that is meant to be used in a variety of dishes.  

- Add 40g chickpea flour, lentil flour or soya flour to the dry ingredients. This provides a firmer texture seitan, which works even better to make sausages and burgers. 
- For a more tender seitan add (200g) of white beans or chickpeas, blended with part of the water  

Note: if you want your seitan more “airy”, you can add a teaspoon of regular baker’s yeast to the dry ingredients and after combining it all with the wet ingredients, let it rise, covered with a wet kitchen towel, for at least half an hour (up to 2 hours).


It is very easy to shape the seitan dough and make filled seitan rolls (a.k.a. roulades). You can basically use any of your favourite ingredients as filling, such as mushrooms, nuts, seeds, sun-dried tomatoes, olive, capers, aubergine, chestnuts and garden herbs.

Here are two examples of fillings I used recently:

Mushrooms and nuts

400g various mushrooms (chanterelles, shitake, oyster mushrooms, champignons, etc)
2 tbsp olive oil
100g cooked sweet chestnuts (or corn bread, crumbled)
1/2 ts sea salt
1 tbsp teriyaki sauce (I use home made)
1 ts fresh thyme and sage
150g roughly chopped walnuts (or pekans or hazelnuts)
(optional: red bell peppers)

Chop the mushrooms roughly and stir fry them in olive oil until well cooked (about 5-7 minutes). Add the teriyaki sauce, sea salt, the herbs and nuts. Stir well. Add the cooked chestnuts, slightly broken with your hands, so that they help “bind” the mushrooms (you can also make a “powder” with them but I like small chunks of it). If not using chestnuts, you can use any other bread crumbs or potato flour or tapioca as binder.  

Beets and sun-dried tomatoes

1 cup of grated red beets (I use the beet pulp after juicing it, so the result is a finely grated and relatively dry pulp)
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup finely diced sun-dried tomatoes
1 tbsp herbs de Provence
1 ts caraway seeds
1 ts sambal (of 1/2 ts freshly chopped chillies)
1 1/2 ts sea salt
3 tbsp coconut milk (I used it to give it a creamy and moist effect, since the grated beet I used had lost most of its water)
1 tbsp balsamico vinegar
2-3 tbsp potato flakes + 1 tbsp tapioca starch (or bread crumbs or anything that can help bind the filling, making it less crumblish)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and use it to fill the roulade.

To make the filled seitan, make sure to use something to tie, such as a kitchen twine, it so that it does not “unroll” during the steaming. There are different techniques for that but I used the simplest and easiest.

Two possible methods of preparing it:
Place the seitan on a greased baking sheet. Add a little bit of water to the baking sheet. Cover it with foil or with a silicone lid. Bake it at 190°-200°C for 20 minutes, lower the temperature to 170°C and bake it further 15 minutes.  

2) This is the method I prefer. Steam the seitan roll for +/- 30 minutes. Allow it to cool while still in the steaming pan. Keep it in the fridge or freezer until the moment you want to serve it. Bake it immediately before serving it at 190°-200°C for 20 minutes.

1) just before baking it use a brush to coat the seitan with a plant-based barbecue sauce, teriyaki sauce, hot ketchup or any home made spiced sauce that can give it a nice and sweet glaze. 
2) wrap it in a puff pastry before baking, so as to get a “Seitan Wellington” effect

Suggestions of side dishes that go well together: cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, lightly stir-fried flower-sprout, wild mushrooms in creamy saffraan sauce, arugula salad with pomegranate

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Sweet Chestnut Milk


300g steamed and peeled sweet chestnuts
850 ml water
2 tbsp (mascobado) sugar or stevia to taste
1/4 ts vanille
1/4 ts cardamom powder
1/3 ts xanthan gum (optional)

Place all ingredients together in a high speed blender and blend until perfectly smooth. Use it in fruit smoothies or serve it and drink it like that. Keep in a closed bottle in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.
The xanthan is meant as stabiliser, to avoid the water to separate from the chestnuts. If you don't use xanthan, just shake it well before pouring it into glasses to serve.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Chestnut velouté soup with star anise

What you need:

1 liter water
500g steamed and peeled chestnuts
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise (or 1/3 ts ground star anise)
1/2 ts ground coriander 
1 bay leaf
1 lovage leaf
60 ml tamari or 80 ml shoyu or salt to taste (the amounts of tamari and shoyu depend on the brand you use and on your personal preference for how much salt you want in it.)

Optional garnish: stir-fried wild mushrooms (e.g. chanterelles)

If you harvested the chestnuts yourself for the first time and don’t know how to prepare them, here is a link where you can find more information.

Add the steamed chestnuts, water and all the spices to a cooking pot and bring it to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce the fire to low heat. Let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, cinnamon sticks and star anise and blend it all well until thoroughly smooth. Bring back the cinnamon sticks, bay leaf and star anise to the soup and let it all work in for (at least) ten more minutes, with the pan covered. Add tamari/shoyu or salt to taste. Warm it up again before serving.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Hot Choc with Cardamom Fluff

Best hot chocolate ever. Seriously.

Since the discovery of aqua faba (the cooking water from beans/chickpeas) cooking will never be the same again. Here is one of the easiest ideas to do with that precious stuff that can bring your hot chocolate to a total new level. Here is how you do the fluff:

100ml aqua faba (water from cooked chickpeas)
1/2 cup sugar (I use mascobado, a totally unrefined sugar, but for a more "refined" effect you can use powdered sugar)
1 ts ground cardamom
1/3 ts vanille
1 ts xanthan gum

Combine the sugar, cardamom, vanille and xanthan. Pour the aqua faba into a large mixing bowl and whisk it with the help of an electric stand mixer. Start at low speed, then slowly increase the speed to highest, until soft peaks have formed and the mixture has become very light and fluffy. Turn the speed down to medium-high and add slowly the sugar mixture while the machine is still beating the fluff. With all  the sugar in it, increase the speed back to the fastest. Continue to whip until very stiff and glossy. You should be able to hold the mixing bowl upside down and have everything stay in place. Use it on top of pies, cupcakes, on fruit salads, hot chocolate, milk shakes, etc... It keeps surprisingly well even when you want to use it next day!

Hot chocolate


600ml oat milk or other plant milk (add some high quality coconut milk if you want extra creaminess - I wanted mine with less calories)
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 ts arrowroot
a pinch of chilli flakes & mace powder (optional)

Bring all to a boil, stirring with a whisker now and then. Remove from fire and add the fluff. Serve immediately.

Stir it slowly with the help of a spoon to get the fluff combined with the hot chocolate while you drink it.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Cannelloni with chestnut-basil cream


lasagne sheets
tomato sauce (from a jar or home made)
olive oil
Found the best basil ever in a market: so aromatic!

For the filling

200ml coconut milk (neutral taste, preferably from Asian shops)
100ml water
2 ts sea salt (or to taste)
3 tbsp nutritional yeast (I use brand Vitam)
a bunch of basil leaves - if it is a strong and aromatic basil species, use less, when using a mild type, use more

1/2 ts herbs de Provence

Blend everything with a hand held mixer or food processor until smooth. 

oven baked tomatoes is the best way to make your own tomato sauce

The tomato sauce I used was made with oven baked garden tomatoes. I cut the large tomatoes into 3 or 4 pieces and the little ones remained uncut. I added some olive oil to a baking tray, placed the tomatoes on it and baked them in the oven on 185°C for 45 min (or longer depending on your oven and on your tomatoes). I allowed them to cool down inside the oven and after a few hours they were very aromatic, creamy and tasting like Italian food. Then I added sea salt, fresh herbs such as savory, rosemary, oregano, lovage (just a little bit), and blended it all together (with a hand held mixer or food processor). If using cherry tomatoes, like the ones from the picture above, remember to remove the little greens on them before blending. Often I also remove all the tomato skins after baking them - pretty easy. But it is not a big deal if you leave the skins. 

Cook the lasagne sheets for like 5 minutes if they are already pre cooked and for 9 minutes if they aren't. They should be flexible but not totally cooked otherwise they break. Cook a few each time depending on which cooking pan you are using, as you need to remove them from the water and immediately fill them with the chestnut filling before they cool down completely.

Add some olive oil to a baking tray, a little bit of water and if you want add some tomato sauce or a bit of the chestnut cream diluted in more water, so as to allow the lasagne sheets to cook further in the oven without sticking to the bottom. 

Add a bit of the chestnut cream on the 1/4 end of the lasagne sheet and make sure it is evenly spread, so that when you roll the cannellonis they will stay in shape. Roll one by one placing them right next to each other. Avoid using a too large baking tray that the cannellonis have too much space to roll out and open up. 

Cover them with tomato sauce. In the picture the tomato sauce is still pretty creamy as I made it but just before placing the tray in the oven, I added water enough to the sauce so as to allow the rolls to get further cooked in the oven. They should be totally covered in sauce not to dry out and get crunchy.

Bake it in the oven at 195°C for 20 minutes or for as long as it takes for the lasagne sheets to get soft. It really depends on the brand you use and on how much pre-cooked they have been. If you notice they are not yet cooked but the sauce starts to dry out, feel free to add more water to the top.

Serve immediately.

When it is not chestnut season you can easily use a mix of cashew nuts, walnuts and white beans or chickpeas in this recipe.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Chestnut cheesy spread

With free chestnuts to be found all over the city, I’ll be eating chestnuts every day for a few weeks. Today’s idea is a creamy spread that can be used not only on bread and toasts, but also as filling for pasta dishes or, in a more fluid version, replace white sauces in lasagnes.

Making spreads with chestnuts is pretty easy and the result is a yummy and rich cream that keeps you satisfied for several hours. The coconut milk can be, depending on the desired effect, easily replaced by nut butters or tahini + some lemon juice for a more “hummusy” taste. Try every time a different combination of spices and fresh herbs and you’ll never be bored with it.


400g steamed chestnuts (if you are foraging them for the first time, please check my other blog post on how to harvest and prepare them)
200ml coconut milk (neutral taste, preferably from Asian shops)
100ml water
2 ts sea salt (or to taste)
3 tbsp nutritional yeast (I use brand Vitam)
a bunch of basil leaves - if it is a strong and aromatic basil species, use less, when using a mild type, use more
1/2 ts herbs de Provence

Blend everything with a hand held mixer or food processor until smooth. Use it as spread, dip sauce or filling for lasagne or cannelloni. If using it for lasagne or pizza, add water until the required consistency. What is not immediately used you can keep in a air tight food container in the fridge for 2-3 days.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sweet chestnuts - how to prepare them

freshly harvested sweet chestnuts are highly nutritious and can take part in so many delicious recipes

Now with the chestnut harvest season open we'll be cooking every day something with sweet chestnuts. These incredibly nutritious and freely available foods are very versatile and can be used in endless culinary ideas, sweet or savory.

Here are a few examples of where and how I use steamed chestnuts in:

- smoothies with banana, carob or cocoa powder
- hot drinks, with oat/rice milk and spices or with cocoa powder
- creamy sweet spreads with vanilla and dates or with melted dark chocolate!
- savory spreads with nutmeg, chili pepper, tahini, garden herbs such as rosemary or basil
- tapenades with sun-dried tomatoes, capers, nutritional yeast, olives, sambal and lemon juice + zest
- stews instead of rice or noodles - I just add them at the end of the cooking, lightly broken
- soups
- Thai or Indian curries, also instead of noodles or rice
- pancakes, cakes, bread, cinnamon rolls...
- burgers, with some chickpea flour or oat flakes and spices
- add to seitan recipes, for extra richness
- lasagne white sauce (instead of wheat flour as used in bechamel)
- pizzas and calzones
- croquettes
- or I simply freeze them for later use.

How I prepare the chestnuts, for immediate use or to freeze:

Rinse the sweet chestnuts and make shallow cross-like cuts on their round, thicker end. Steam them for 20 minutes or until they show the little cross cuts open up and their peel is flexible to be removed. Peel them while they are still hot and moist as it is much easier to do that before they cool down. If they get cold and their skin hardens again, you can re-steam them again.

Use them directly or cook them further according to what is required in your recipe.

In France most people prepare their chestnuts directly on the fire with the use of special pans, like this one:  'La Lyonnaise' Poêle à Marrons . These are pretty handy to use and it allows you to peel both the outer shell and inner dark brown layer (which doesn't bother me but it might give a little rough effect in some creamy recipes). Note that if you don't have direct fire to cook with - instead if your stove is induction, ceramic or electric - these pans won't work.

*Note: if you harvest sweet chestnuts for the first time, please make sure to learn the difference between them and horse chestnut, a similar nut that can also be found under large trees in the same season. Here is a post with pictures that can help you with that:
Sweet chestnuts and Horse chestnuts: how to tell the difference.

Curious about how nutritious sweet chestnuts are? Take a look the nutrition facts:

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Lasagne with dark greens

Using dark greens in a lasagne is a great way to make sure of getting plenty of them. I use any dark leaves that are available at each season: kale, watercress, lamb's quarters, spinach, nettles. My all favorite way to get enough dark greens is blending them in green smoothies or juicing them when they are fiberish. My second favorite way is to use them in lasagnes. 

I'll bring a few words on nettles, since they grow abundantly for most part of the year and are great source of protein and essential minerals. Nettles are in fact much more nutritious than most store bought vegetables - and for free. You can use nettles in pretty much the same way as you use spinach in recipes. Pick the tops of the plants, since they are more tender. If you can not handle the stinging, use gloves to harvest them. Avoid picking nettles in places that are polluted with heavy metals or unwanted chemicals (such as in industrial areas). Rinse them thoroughly and voilà, ready for use.

The white sauce I use in this recipe is gluten-free and very light. My secret for a good "cheesey" sauce is to use a good brand of nutritional yeast flakes. My favourite brand (that I can find in this part of Europe) is Vitam. Some brands may be bitter and are therefore not suitable.

the lasagne sheets I used in this picture were gluten free and they did not hold together, but were delicious anyway


300g dark greens (e.g. spinach, kale, lamb's quarters or nettles)
olive oil
500g (organic) tomato pulp (from a jar if it is not tomato season)
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
100g minced seitan (or finely grated vegetables)
1 bay leaf
1 celery leaf
1 ts tabasco (optional)
nutmeg, oregano, thyme, savory, paprika powder (or a good mixture herbes de Provence)
fresh basil and fresh rosemary (or other fresh garden herbs if available)
1/2 cup rice milk + 1 cup coconut milk 
2 tsp lemon juice
lasagne sheets (precooked - gluten free if you prefer)
1 ½ tsp arrowroot
2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast (non-bitter brand - I use Vitam)
(Sea) salt to taste


Tomato sauce:

Bring the tomato pulp (my favorite brand is BioTime or Bio from Delhaize), paprika, nutmeg, celery leaves a bay leaf (take it away after it's cooked) to the boil. Lower the heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Add the seitan and pepper and cook 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the remaining spices. Bring to taste with Tabasco (or chili) and salt. Instead of chopped seitan you can use chopped vegetables (food processor) - or the fruit pulp from your juicer slow.

Preheat oven to about 210 ° C (it depends on the furnace, because in my current furnace should I bake at 190 ° C).

White sauce 
Heat 1 cup coconut milk + 1/2 cup rice milk (or the milk of your choice) over a low heat along with 1 bay leaf 1/4 teaspoon of (freshly grated) nutmeg and sea salt to taste (I use 1/2 tbsp). Simmer for 2 minutes. Combine 1 1/2 teaspoon arrowroot/tapioca or kuzu and 2 tbsp water. Pour the arrowroot slurry into the cooking milk, whisking until thickened and smooth. Adjust consistency as required by either adding more arrowroot (always diluted in a little liquid) or by adding more liquid. Remove from heat and add 2 tsp lemon juice and 2 tbsp nutritional yeast. For extra tanginess add 1 tsp prepared mosterd (optional).

Rinse well the nettles or spinach and place them in a large  cooking pan. Pour boiling water over it, let it soak 5 minutes and then strain it well, pressing it to remove all the water in the leaves. Place the greens on a cutting board and cut into chunks. Return to the pan, mix it with a little (herbal infused) olive oil and tamari (or common salt). If you use kale or lamb's quarters, cook the shredded leaves in olive oil for 3 minutes (or longer if needed) and add salt and pepper.

Grease an ovenproof dish and cover the bottom with a thin layer of white sauce. Add a layer of lasagne sheets (immerse each sheet under water for 2 seconds before adding them). Then a layer of tomato sauce, another layer of lasagne sheets, a layer of greens and repeat as long as you have ingredients and room in the over dish. The top layer should be the white sauce, thick enough to cover the lasagna. 

Bake in pre-heated oven at 200°C for like 30-40 minutes or as specified in the lasagne package. Total cooking time and oven temperature depend on which type of lasagne you use and on the oven you are cooking at. If your oven is too powerful, perhaps after 20 minutes of cooking you might want to take a look and reduce it a bit to avoid burning.

Extra tips: 
1) I use neutral coconut milk, usually found in Asian shops. Some coconut milk brands will leave a strong coconut-ish taste which is not appreciated by everyone. 
2) Next to using dark greens and tomato sauce, use any chewy vegetable available at a given season. My favorites are stir-fried mushrooms, grilled courgette and/or aubergines/eggplants, roasted hokaido pumpkin or butternut with sambal, fresh rosemary and sage leaves, olives, sun-dried tomatoes. 

3) Adding one layer of ripe banana slices can offer a very surprising sweet and creamy contrast with the other ingredients. But that's probably more for the die-hards who are open to exotic taste combinations. 

4) Instead of seitan I often use finely grated vegetables (such as carrot, celery or beets) or the pulp that comes from juicing vegetables (or even apples!) on a slow juicer. Nothing goes to waste here. 


Friday, September 4, 2015

Lemony courgette soup with ginger and savory

Soup is one of my all favourite meals. It is also probably the easiest to make and a great way to get kids to eat enough vegetables. As much as I love eating out, I almost never order soup at restaurants. It probably has to do with most soups having basically the same “background taste” coming from commercial vegetable stock. That leaves me usually missing some freshness in soups. Anyone who learned to cook by reading recipes in cookbooks believes that vegetable stock is a crucial ingredient to any soup. Luckily that is not truth. Home made soup does not require at all the use of vegetable stock. In fact, it tastes much better without it.

Courgette soup with chickpea croutons (a.k.a. plain gathia)

If you take a look at the ingredients in vegetable stocks you will see a few common ingredients to most of them: bay leaves, celery leaves or lovage leaves (a stronger “cousin” of celery), nutmeg, palm oil… the other ingredients vary and may include onion, parsnip, pepper and other spices. By not adding any stock to soups and always having a delicious and aromatic result at the end, I concluded that the basic soup taste is provided by bay leaves and lovage/celery leaves, which add some depth and umami feeling, preparing the taste buds for the other aromatic herbs that are added afterwards. Onions are another common ingredient in soups. I do not use onions for various reasons, but the culinary reason for that is that onions usually take over any other aromatic subtlety offered by other herbs and condiments. So by leaving out those strong tastes, I feel free to use more of other “background” taste makers such as fresh ginger, nutmeg, freshly ground coriander, lemongrass, kaffir lemon leaves, curry leaves, galangal, fenugreek - not necessarily all of these at the same time so I pick some of them depending on the mood I am in at that time and on what is available and seasonal. 

I dry fresh celery leaves or lovage when they are abundant in their harvest season to use in the months where the fresh ones are not available. 

Here is an example of a quick soup:

1,5 kg courgettes/zucchini
1,5 liter water (or less if you want a thicker soup)
3 fresh bay leaves
1,5 tbsp lovage leaves, roughly ground (with the hands, as they were dry) or 3-5 fresh leaves
2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
80 ml coconut milk (I had it open in the fridge so it needed to be used, but it was not essential to the recipe - though it does add some extra creaminess to it)
zest of one organic lemon
3 tbsp lemon juice
a handful of fresh savory (Satureja montana or S. hortensis) 
Sea salt to taste (I used +/- 2,5 tbsp)
Pepper oil to taste

Cook the courgette in pieces with the water, lovage and bay leaves until tender. Remove the bay leaves and blend it until creamy. If too thick, add water. Add all the other ingredients and cook for 3 more minutes. Remove from fire, add the lemon juice and the fresh savory and leave it 5-10 more minutes with the lid on, to allow the spices to combine. Serve immediately. 

Bon appetite!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Watermelon wraps with lemon-cardamom cream

I love dried watermelons. Now it is the season to stock up on them for the colder months, when almost no fresh fruits are available. I use my dehydrator to dry them until they are leathery or half-dry them until chewy but still slightly moist. If you want more "meat" in your dried watermelons you can cut thicker pieces and let them dry until the desired texture.

You can use dried watermelons various recipes, from (fruit)salads, sweets or even sushi. Here is a custard-like creamy recipe that works great as wrap filling of dried watermelon.

What you need:

400ml coconut milk
100ml rice milk
zest of one organic lemon
2 tbsp lemon juice
4-5 tbsp sucanat/rapadura/jaggery/mascobado (these are different names for the dried and unrefined juice of sugar cane)
1 tsp agar agar / 3 g (or as suggested in package - every brand works differently as thickener so the amounts depend on which brand you use)
1 tbsp arrowroot, diluted in 2 tbsp water
6 drops cardamom oil or 1/5 tsp cardamom powder (optional)

How to do it:

Bring the milk with the sugar and agar agar in a sauce cooking pan over medium heat and whisk it now and then until it boils. Reduce heat and add the arrowroot + water and keep on stirring with a whisker, to avoid lumps. Cook over low fire for 2 more minutes. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice and cardamom and turn the heat off. Transfer the mixture into a glass bowl and place it in the fridge for a few hours until cool. Use it to fill banana-leathery pancakes or dried watermelon.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Pad Thai Soba noodles with Champignons

This sauce is so easy to make on the spot. Nothing can go wrong here, even if you decide to adapt the suggested amounts to your taste. If you don't have tamarind at hand, you could use some balsamic vinegar, pomegranate syrup or sumac. Anything a little bit sour will do. In that case, you'll need to add more arrowroot so that the sauce gets the right consistency - not too runny. It works also great with thinly shredded cabbage, bamboo shoots or with various other (wok-able) veggies, but with mushrooms, it's a real blast. 


250 g soba noodles
500g champignons
2 tbsp olive oil
80ml tamari
2 tbsp tamarind paste
3 tbsp mascobado sugar* 
80ml beet juice (or prunes juice)
1 1/2 ts freshly grated ginger (or to taste)
1/3 ts ground allspice 
Chilli pepper and sea salt to taste
1 tbsp arrowroot, diluted in a few tbsp beet juice

soba noodles are perfect for this

Cut the champignons in thin slices, depending on their size. Cook them with the olive oil until thoroughly cooked (5-8 minutes). Add the tamari, ginger, allspice, mascobado, tamarind, beet juice and allow it to cook for 1 more minute. Add the arrowroot diluted in a bit of the beet juice. Stir it well while cooking further until the desired consistency (1-2 minutes). Adjust taste with chilli pepper and some salt if needed. Depending on how thick your tamarind paste is you might not even need to thicken the sauce with the arrowroot. Also if the tamarind is not so sour you might want to add less mascobado sugar.

Cook the soba noodles following the instructions on the package, drain it and serve it immediately with the champignons sauce. 

This recipes yields a very concentrated sauce, so that a bit of sauce is enough to give flavour to a lot of noodles. If you want more sauce than noodles, you might want to reduce the amounts, particularly of tamari and ginger.

Optional: garnish with fresh cilantro leaves

*Note: Where I live I buy unprocessed dehydrated cane juice under the name of mascobado (by Oxfam), but the same or similar product can be marketed under other names such as sucanat, rapadura, jaggery, etc. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Beet burgers

One of the great side-effects of enjoying full glasses of freshly pressed juices in the morning is having to come up every day with a different recipe to use the pulp that results from the juicing. Today my juice was beets and apple. Most of the pulp went to my dogs, who absolutely love fresh vegetables so finely grated. I was left with one cup of beets that I used to make this burger. It's my second burger recipe today, since it is #VeganBurgerDay.


1 cup finely grated beets (or the pulp from your juicer)
1/2 ts caraway seeds
1/2 ts nigella seeds
a pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 ts smoked paprika powder
1/3 ts ground coriander
1 ts sea salt
1/4 ts freshly grated ginger
1 tbsp tapioca starch
4 tbsp oat flakes

Bring all ingredients together until a smooth “dough”. Knead the dough until it binds all ingredients together. Make the patties with your hands and fry them with a little bit olive oil or coconut oil in a shallow frying pan over medium-heat until golden and crunchy on both sides.

Serve with mustard-dill sauce, sauerkraut, tomato slice and marinated seaweed. 

In fact, I had some babaganoush from the day before that I also used as spread on the top of the sauerkraut. So that's the creamy extra layer you can see on the picture. It made it extra yummy. 

Lentil Burgers

Home made burgers and patties are very simple and often much more nutritious and tastier than store-bought ones. They are also cheaper, of course. You can turn most leftover vegetables or legumes into burgers, just by adding your favourite spices and binding it with any kind of flour you have in your cupboard. For gluten free burgers you can use tapioca starch, potato starch, chickpea flour, bean flour, sorghum, rice flour, quinoa flakes, etc. For a more "seitan-like" texture, bind your burgers with gluten flour. Burgers made with gluten will be more suitable to use on the barbecue without breaking apart.

Lentil burger with avocado, fried champignons, carrot-chilli-mayo, fresh cilantro, served with sweet potato fries


2 cups brown lentils (or chickpeas/beans) - I cooked them with a bay leaf and ground coriander
1/2 cup oat flakes
1 medium mashed potato 
2 tbsp chickpea flour 
1 ts smoked paprika powder
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 ts curry powder or herbs de provence, or your favourite spice mix (I used a blend of rosemary, sage, marjoram, and thyme, which I turn into powder in my coffee grinder)
1 ts lemon zest (with the help of a microplane)
Salt & chilli pepper to taste
Optional flavour-enhancers: 1/3 ts ground fennel, 1 tbsp tamari, 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, fresh herbs (rosemary, basil, cilantro, thyme...)

Mash the lentils (or chickpeas or beans) and potatoes with a fork until all ingredients are all still “chunky”. Add the other ingredients and make sure it is all well combined. Let the mixture rest for about 10 minutes. Knead the burgers with wet hands and leave them some minutes in the fridge (ideally they are made one day in advance, left in the refrigerator for the best texture and result). Fry (both sides) with a little oil in a pan over medium-high heat. 

I served mine with carrot-chilli-mayo, avocado slices, baked champignons, corn (from a jar), lettuce (with balsamic vinaigrette), tomato slices and crunchy chips/crisps. For the recipe in this picture I also used fresh cilantro leaves, but it works pretty much with other fresh herbs. 

For the carrot-chilli-mayo

Finely grated carrots (or carrot pulp from your juicer) + veganaise + chilli pepper + Greek oregano
You can also use avocado mayo instead of veganaise (blend avocado with mustard, salt, lemon juice and water until desired consistency). Cashew cream also works fine here. 

I make the carrots very creamy, soaking in the mayo and it works perfectly to add the needed moist to the burger.  Like that there is no need to add extra sauces and have them dripping along your cheeks and arms.  ;-)