healthy

All posts tagged healthy

Veggie Food With Balls: Cranberry and Za’atar Goats’ Cheese Balls with A Roasted Pepper and Cashew Dip

Published March 3, 2015 by The Feminist

goat1

Some people think vegetarian food is boring.

Some people say it can be dull.

I say: Nonsense!

Vegetarian food can be the boldest, funkiest, most original and creative of all cuisines! The following recipe is the perfect illustration that vegetarian dishes can indeed be quite ballsy, both figuratively and literally in this case. The cute, little beauties you see in this picture are fried goats’ cheese balls in a crunchy almond crust and are flavoured with dried cranberries, za’atar and lemon zest. These gorgous croquettes are already delicious on their own, but combined with a salad of purslane and broccocress (the cress version of broccoli, because why not?!) and dipped in a heavenly dip made with roasted red peppers, garlic, harissa and cashew nuts this dish becomes a true flavour sensation! An explosion of magnificent colours, textures and flavours, all complementing each other beautifully: what better example of delicious veggie food could you possibly wish for?

goat

Ingredients (serves 1):

For the goats’ cheese balls:

  • 200gr matured, soft goats cheese
  • Handful of dried cranberries, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp of lemon zest
  • ½ tsp crushed pink pepper corns
  • 1 tsp za’atar
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp corn flour
  • Black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • Flaked almonds (approx. 100gr)

For the roasted pepper and cashed dip:

  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into large chunks
  • 1 small tomato
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Handful of cashew nuts
  • ½ tsp harissa paste
  • 1 tsp honey

For the salad:

  • 150gr purslane, washed
  • 100gr broccocress (or regular water cress/ garden cress/ mustard cress)
  • A small handful of cranberries
  • Lemon juice
  • Tiniest bit of olive oil

Method:

  1. Put the chunks of red pepper, tomato and garlic on a roasting tray and sprinkle with olive oil and salt. Put in a preheated oven at 250°C for about 10 minutes until the edges of the peppers are starting to char.
  2. Remove from the oven and put the roasted ingredients in a blender together with the cashew nuts, an extra tablespoon of olive oil, the harissa and the honey and mix until you get a lovely dip. Season to taste with salt if necessary. Put aside. (You can either serve this dip warm, cold, or in between. It will always be delicious!)
  3. Mix the goats’ cheese, cranberries, peppercorns, za’atar and lemon zest together in a bowl. Let it infuse for about 10 minutes, while you go on with the other elements of the dish.
  4. Mix the purslane and cress together with cranberries, a squeeze of lemon juice and a tiny bit of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Scatter the salad on a large plate and put the pepper dip in the middle.
  5. Now you can start rolling your balls! Take a tablespoon of the goats’ cheese filling and roll it into a bowl. This will be a sticky and fumbly process, but it doesn’t have to look perfect. Then roll the ball through the mix of flour, corn flour and pepper and you will see that the drop of cheese will start to look a lot more “ballsy”. Now drop the ball in the whisked egg and finally roll it through the crushed flaked almonds.
  6. Heat a layer of approx. 0,5cm of olive oil (or regular vegetable oil) in a small pan and fry the balls for a minute on every side, so that they look gorgeously golden-brown and are warm in the middle.
  7. Remove from the pan and let them drain on a piece of kitchen paper.
  8. Scatter the balls on top of your salad and dig in!

goat2

Cauliflower Tabouleh with Glazed Tempeh: Heavenly Healthy and Devilishly Delicious

Published February 18, 2015 by The Feminist

20150215_115458

This title probably has far too many alliterations and rhyming vowels in it.

No scratch that. It definitely has too many alliteration and rhyme in it. But who cares? This dish was simply too life-changing, mind-blowing, heart-warming for me to ever care about such trivialities like wordplay.

Mark my words, dearest readers: THIS. WILL. BLOW. YOUR. MIND. (and taste buds, for that matter)

But enough with this uncontrollably euphoric gibberish! I’m assuming you all would like to know more details about this “cauliflower tabouleh with glazed tempeh”, right?

Cauliflower tabouleh, as the term suggests, is a tabouleh made with cauliflower (duh.). So instead of using couscous, I blitzed an entire cauliflower into my blender until it looked like couscous grains. I then tossed in some heavenly healthy hemp seeds, toasted almond flakes, cumin, fresh mint, lots of pomegranate seeds and last but not least topped it all off with a devilishly delicious dressing of harissa and maple syrup.

This tabouleh on its own already is the tastiest thing you can ever imagine –and a brilliant lunch alternative!- but since I wanted to make the meal a bit more substantial,  I added some glossy glazed tempeh; the sticky glaze made with –again!- maple syrup and harissa.

Ingredients:

For the tempeh:

  • 100gr tempeh, cut into thick strips
  • 1 tbsp mapley syrup
  • ¼ tsp harissa pasta

For the cauliflower tabouleh:

  • 1 small cauliflower
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp mint
  • ½ pomegranate
  • 1 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 4 tbsp almond flakes, toasted
  • ¼ tsp sumac
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp harissa
  • Pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Put the mint and cauliflower together in a blender and mix until the cauliflower has a couscous texture.
  2. Transfer the cauliflower and mint mix to a large bowl and add the pomegranate seeds, spring onions, hemp seeds, toasted almond flakes and spices.
  3. Mix the harissa, maple syrup and harissa together and pour over the cauliflower mix. Stir well and season with salt to taste.
  4. Meanwhile, fry the tempeh in a pan until golden brown. Pour the mix of maple syrup and harissa over the top and lower the heat. Let the tempeh caramelize.
  5. Serve the cold cauliflower tabouleh with the hot and glazed tempeh

Partying with Paneer: fragrant Indian Green Beans and Lentil Curry with Fried Paneer Gems

Published February 13, 2015 by The Feminist

pan

Julia Child once said that “a party without cake is just a meeting”. To my mind, the same kind of metaphorical analogy can be made about the wonderful South Asian cheese paneer :an Indian dinner without paneer is just bad takeaway. (Ha! Put that on a bumper sticker!)

Just like the better-known (at least to us, Westerners) halloumi cheese, paneer is a firm cheese, ideal for frying, because it marvelously holds its shape. Unlike halloumi, which has a rather pungent, salty flavour (some pussies would say too salty), paneer is subtler and creamier in flavour and therefore balances perfectly with the strong and spicy flavours of a wonderful Indian curry, for it slightly mellows the fiery blow.

The vegetarian curry I decided to pair with the seared paneer is one containing a very comforting mix of green beans, lentils, bell peppers and lots of ground spices. To make the curry truly stand out, I added a fruity touch to the mixture… yes, I added a heaped tablespoon of apricot jam with chili flakes. I recently bought this very delicious jar of jam and was so delighted by its flavour, that I decided to throw it in savory dishes as well. The fruity jam is a great alternative to palm sugar, which is traditionally used in Asian dishes. The jam will not only slightly sweeten the curry and balance all those spices, but it will also add that heavenly fruity touch of apricot… Sigh. Sometimes, I really am … good.

So here it is: the perfect Indian meal! Rejoice!

Green Bean and Lentil Curry with Fried Paneer

Please don’t be scared by the long list of ingredients! It’s mainly all spices, and you cannot make a good curry without the appropriate load of spices.

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 250gr paneer cheese, cut into cubes
  • 80gr dried lentils
  • 350gr green beans, cut into chunks
  • 1 orange bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 500ml tomato passata
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp fresh coriander stalks, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp chili flakes
  • ½ tsp nigella seeds
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp asafetida
  • ¼ tsp mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 heaped tbsp. apricot jam (with chili flakes, if you want the truly fancy stuff)
  • Fresh coriander, chopped

Method:

  1. Put a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a pan and add onion, garlic, coriander stalks and all the spices (apart from the garam masala). Sauté on a medium heat until the spices start to smell incredibly aromatic.
  2. Add the lentils and stir in the tomato passata and coconut milk. Add a teaspoon of salt and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Stir in the chunks of pepper and the apricot jam and let it simmer for another 10 minutes.
  4. Finally, add the green beans and the garam masala and simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes until the lentils are soft and the beans tender.
  5. Taste the curry. Season with salt and a bit more chili if necessary.
  6. Meanwhile, heat a pan on maximum heat and add the chunks of paneer. There is absolutely no need to add oil to the pan, the paneer will fry beautifully on its own!
  7. Serve the curry and paneer in cute bowls and sprinkle with coriander.

Spicy Food: Because Everyone Could Use Some Vavavoom in the Kitchen

Published January 24, 2015 by The Feminist

spice

I know it has been a while since my last post, but I’ve got a really good excuse for this minor absence on the world wide web.

No, sorry, that’s a lie. I was just lazy.

But here I am, dear readers. Back with an incredibly yummy post (Because how else would I make up for an entire week of blogging silence?)

This post is all about – you’ve guessed it!- spices.

I know I’ve said this plenty of times before, but I won’t stop repeating myself until every freaking home cook on this planet has an entire spice cupboard in his or her kitchen: spices are the source of life. No matter how tasty your other ingredients may be, if you forget to add some spice, the end-result will be dull, flavourless and downright disappointing.

Many (inexperienced) cooks only think about spices sporadically –that is, if they think about spices at all!- as if spices were some long lost acquaintances you never really got to know when you were little.

They only add spices right at the end of a recipe, or just throw in the tiniest little pinch, because they don’t really understand the purpose of this strange looking and pungently powerful acquaintance.

Basically, most of us are too scared. We would rather live a plain, boring and dull life that is safe of risks, than try and take the spicy road.

Making a close friend out of an acquaintance is indeed a work-in-progress. You will stumble, you will fall, but once you’ve got the doses right, it will feel as if your heart has finally caught fire. You will feel alive.

That’s what spices can do for you. Not only will they add some vavavoom to your daily meals, but they will also –and more importantly- warm your heart.

So make spices your best friend and you will never be cold again.

Vegetarian Chilli Sin Carne with a Coffee and Spice Blend

For this naughty little vegetarian chilli, I decided to make my very own spice blend. Believe me, there is nothing more therapeutic than grinding some spices together in a pestle-and-mortar and making the aromas spread through your kitchen.

To make this spicy dish even more special, I added some instant coffee granules to my spice mix. This will add another dimension of bittersweet intensity.

Last but not least, right near the end, I dropped a tiny piece of dark chocolate in the sauce. You won’t be able to taste the chocolate per se, but it will give the already fabulous sauce even more depth and richness.

chilli

Ingredients (serves 4):

For the Coffee and Spice Blend:

  • ½ tbsp. instant coffee granules
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

For the Chilli:

  • 2 sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 yellow pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 red pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 courgette, roughly chopped
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 400gr or 1 tin of red kidney beans
  • 400gr or 1 tin of cannellini beans
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 5gr of dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao)
  • Fresh coriander, leaves and stalks

To serve:

  • Sour cream
  • Homemade guacamole
  • lime
  • Any type of flat bread

Method:

  1. Make the spice blend by grinding all the spices and coffee together in a pestle-and-mortar or a large and heavy bowl. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Take 1 tsp of the spice mix and add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil. Mix until you get a nice paste. Brush the chunks of sweet potato with it and put them in the oven on some baking parchment and bake for 15 minutes. Once these beauties are roasted and are slightly turning black on the edges, take them out of the oven and set aside. The roasted potatoes will add an extra smokey flavour and will give the chilli an indulgent texture.
  3. In a large pan, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil and add the onion, garlic, a tablespoon of finely chopped coriander stalks and the spice blend. Stir for one minute and now add the peppers and courgette. Let it fry for 3 minutes or so before adding the tinned tomatoes. Stir well and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Add the beans and give it a quick taste. You will probably need to add more salt.
  5. Let it simmer for another 10 minutes before adding the roasted potatoes. Let it simmer for another 10 minutes to enhance all the flavours. Just before serving stir in the chocolate and let it dissolve.
  6. Sprinkle on some fresh coriander and serve it with a good dollop of sour cream, guacamole, a squeeze of lime juice and a slice of bread.

White Bean Curry With Rum-Flambéed Pineapple

This is an incredibly easy curry. Beans. Coconut. Spices. That’s all you need. Add to that some marvelous pineapple slices flambéed with rum and you will be dancing around your tiny kitchen like a Disney Baboon on steroids.

pineapple

Ingredients (serves 1):

For the flambéed pineapple:

  • 3 thick slices of fresh pineapple (Do not, I repeat, DO NOT use tinned pineapple!)
  • 2 tbsp Rum
  • Zest of ½ lime
  • Pinch of chilli flakes

For the white beans curry:

  • 200gr or 1 small can of white beans (but you could also use chickbeans, flageolet, black-eyed peas,…)
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 3cm piece of ginger, grated
  • Fresh coriander
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek
  • ¼ tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Juice of ½ lime

Method:

  1. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil or ghee in a small pan and add the ginger, garlic and all the spices (apart from the garam masala). Let it fry on a low heat for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add the beans and stir.
  3. Add the coconut milk and season with salt. Let it simmer away for 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in the garam masala, the desiccated coconut and the lime juice.
  5. Meanwhile, heat a knob of butter in a pan and fry the pineapple slices until they start to caramelize. Sprinkle on the chilli and lime zest.
  6. Finally, flambé the pineapple with the rum. Be careful. You don’t want to lose all your hair.
  7. Serve the curry with the pineapple slices and sprinkle on some fresh coriander.

The January Cleanse: Re-Energize After the Holidays With These Healthylicious Recipes!

Published January 7, 2015 by The Feminist

jan4

New Year’s resolutions. Almost everyone makes them, either consciously or unconsciously. Some people make strict and detailed lists of what they want to achieve and in which timeframe they want to achieve it in (e.g. “By July 9th at 8.34 pm. I want to be able to recite Shakespeare’s Hamlet as perfectly as an Ian McKellan on steroids.” *). Others make vague –yet equally important- mental notes of what they’d like to improve (e.g. “Damn girl, you should stop worrying so much!”**).

Whichever end of the spectrum you verge towards, one of these resolutions might possibly have something to do with living and eating healthier. Especially after such an overabundance of food and alcohol (jeeez, the alcohol!) during the Holiday season.

So yes, it would actually do both your mind and body good to take it back a notch this January. This means: less fat, sugar and alcohol, but just as much –or even more!- flavour!

The following recipes are ideal for your January cleanse! They are healthy –containing lots of vitamins and “healthy fats” ( say yeah to Mr. Avocado!)- but are also incredibly delicious.

What better way to kick off the new year could you possibly wish for?

*said no one ever, but you get my drift.

**this one would actually by far more important than the very detailed, yet quite useless knowledge of Shakespeare’s oeuvre.

Baked Sweet Potato with Chunky Guacamole

Healthy, hearty and little bit naughty… these stuffed potatoes have it all!

jan

Ingredients (serves 1)

  • 2 sweet potatoes (small to medium), washed but skin still intact
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 sticks of manchego cheese
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Lots of fresh coriander
  • Pinch of cumin
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large red chilli, finely sliced

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Coat the potatoes in a little olive oil and salt and bake in the oven for 20 to 45 minutes, depending on the size, until tender.
  2. Remove from the oven and make an incision in the potatoes and put the manchego cheese in it (it will start to melt all gorgeously!). Leave to cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Make your guacamole by mashing together the avocado with some salt, pepper, cumin and lime juice. Stir in the red chilli and lots of coriander and finally stir through the chopped tomatoes.
  4. Put the guacamole inside the sweet potatoes (on top of that lovely melted cheese!) and dig in!

Freekeh Risotto with Green Asparagus and Goat’s Yoghurt

This nutritious risotto is made with the rich-in-fibre freekeh, which nutty flavour marries beautifully with the asparagus and pungent yoghurt.

jan1

Ingredients (serves 1):

  • 80gr freekeh
  • 200gr green asparagus, cleaned
  • Lots of fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp goat’s yoghurt
  • Vegetable stock
  • 1 shallot, finely sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • Sprinkling of hemp seeds

Method:

  1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and add the onion, garlic and freekeh. Stir for a couple of minutes and add vegetable stock, a little bit at a time, stirring continuously so that the freekeh can absorb the liquid.
  2. After 15 minutes, stir through the roughly chopped small green asparagus and add some more stock. Let it simmer for another 10 minutes until the freekeh is tender. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Stir in the goat’s yoghurt and fresh basil and finish with a sprinkling of hemp seeds.

Poached Eggs with Cucumber, Guacamole Salsa and Brown Shrimps

Avocados truly are a wonderful and healthy alternative to those creepy animal fats. Served with some fab poached eggs, crunchy cucumber and salty shrimps, you just know you have a winner!

jan2

Ingredients (serves 1):

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 avocado
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Lots of fresh coriander and dill
  • 1 red chili
  • 1/3 cucumber: peeled, seeds removed and cut into fine chunks
  • 1 large tomato, deseeded and diced
  • Pinch of cumin
  • 100gr brown shrimps

Method:

  1. Make the guacamole by mixing together the avocado, cumin, salt, pepper, lime, chilli and coriander. It should still be quite chunky. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and cucumber. The guacamole should almost look like a salad.
  2. Poach the eggs.
  3. Serve the poached eggs on top of the guacamole salsa and top with lots of brown shrimps, coriander, dill and some finely sliced chilli.

Fruity Ginger and Lentil Curry with Fresh Mango

Trust me: this is the freshest, cleanest, fruitiest curry you will have ever tasted! Plus, it is not only great for your body, this wonderful oozy dish of pure comfort food does wonders for your soul as well!

jan3

Ingredients (serves 1):

  • 1 shallots
  • 1 5cm piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 handful of yellow lentils
  • 200 ml coconut milk
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • ¼ tsp mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder
  • 80gr fresh pineapple
  • 150gr fresh mango
  • Fresh coriander
  • Sesame seeds

Method :

  1. In a blender, mix together the ginger, garlic and fresh pineapple with the spices and a generous seasoning of salt.
  2. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large pot and pour in the ginger and pineapple paste. Let it fry on a low heat until it starts to smell heavenly.
  3. Stir in the lentils andshallot and fry for a further 3 minutes. Add the coconut milk and let it simmer on a low heat until you get an unctuous lentil curry and the lentils are soft.
  4. Before serving, stir in the diced mango and let it heat through.
  5. Serve the fruity curry with fresh coriander and some sesame seeds.

Addictive Appetizers: A Non-Conformist Guide to a Splendid Dinner Party

Published December 27, 2014 by The Feminist

app

Appetizers: they are the beating heart of the holiday season. At least in my family they are. Not only do they announce the start of what will turn out to be a memorable Christmas dinner, but more importantly they force family members to gather round the table and gobble down some marvelous food as an act of familial harmony. Believe me, nothing brings a family together like spilling a glass of champagne over your grandma’s skirt or dropping a hot puff pastry canapé down your own cleavage after a (failed) attempt of trying to eat with your fingers as elegantly as possible.

The only problem with appetizers is that you often eat so many of them, you’re already full before the dinner has barely even started. At least, that used to be a problem. Where I come from – and I’m sure many of you will recognize this scenario- traditional appetizers and canapés usually mean lots of cheese, plenty of mini pigs-in-a-blanket and an over-abundance of little toasts and crostini topped with a buttery or mayo-rich spread.

Although these traditional mouthfuls are indeed quite delicious, the high quantity of fat, salt and carbs in them will make you bloat up before you’ve even reached the dinner table. And that is a shame. Surely, you want there to be some room left in your stomach for the big event, a.k.a the main? Or horror, what if you won’t be able to indulge in that fabulous dessert?

Therefore, I decided to do things differently this year and introduced my family to some incredibly delicious but lighter appetizers. Mind you, this is not about trying to create “healthier” appetizers. After all, if there is one day of the year on which you are allowed to indulge in the naughtier of foods, it is most definitely Christmas. No, these appetizers are there to give you the same mouthwatering satisfaction as the traditional ones would, but also make sure you will still have some room left for that devilishly naughty dessert.

So if you’re planning on doing some fancy appetizers for New Year’s Eve, why don’t you add one of these to your wish list? I can guarantee your party will be remembered for years to come! (And this time it won’t be because you managed to douse grandma with a bottle of booze.) Cheers!

Mexican Mango and Kidney Bean Salsa

This refreshing mouthful can be served on individual spoons or on some pretty lettuce leaves. You can add as much chili as you like, and if I were to make this appetizer for me and my friends I would add a bit more fire than this recipe suggests, but since I had to take into account my grandparents and their incapability of eating anything spicy without getting gassy, I was very cautious with the vavavoom heat. But if you like it hot, be my guest to chop in some more!

mango

Ingredients:

  • 1 mango, finely diced
  • 1 can of red kidney beans, drained
  • ½ red chili
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tomato, deseeded and finely diced
  • ¼ cucumber, finely diced
  • Fresh coriander

Method:

  1. Mix all the ingredients together in bowl.
  2. Season with salt and pepper and add just enough lime juice so that the balance of sweet, savory and acidity is just perfect.
  3. Finally, stir in lots of finely chopped coriander.

Cauliflower “Tabbouleh” with Freekeh and Hemp Seeds

Now, before you start thinking I was secretly trying to drug my grandparents: hemp seeds won’t get you high. On the contrary, not only are the seeds an innocent variety of their naughty cousin Cannabis, they are also considered a superfood and are a great source of protein and antioxidants for vegetarians and vegans. Plus, their nutty and savoury flavour make them really yummy too! And a great combo with that lovely toasted aroma of the freekeh. “Freekeh?” I hear you ask. This ancient, Middle Eastern grain with an admittedly funny name is the next big thing in foodie land. Forget quinoa, that’s so 2014. In 2015, everyone will be eating this marvelous fiber-rich super grain. Mark my words!

This cauliflower tabbouleh is anything you could wish for and more. Crunchy, savoury, nutty, fragrant, zingy and a little bit sweet. Heaven!

caulif

Ingredients:

  • 1 small cauliflower
  • 100gr freekeh
  • 5 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 3 tbsp freshly chopped dill
  • 3 tbsp freshly chopped coriander
  • ½ tps ground cumin
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (the good stuff)
  • Handful of finely chopped dried cranberries

Method:

  1. Chop the cauliflower really fine, until you get a coucous-like texture.
  2. Cook the freekeh for about 15 minutes in salted water and drain.
  3. Add the cauliflower and freekeh together in a bowl. Add the juice of half a lime and season with plenty of salt and pepper.
  4. Stir in the chopped cranberries, herbs and hemps seeds.
  5. Finely stir in the olive oil to bind the whole lot together.
  6. Put the tabbouleh in small glasses and serve with a teeny tiny spoon on the side.

Cucumber “toasts” with a feta, dill and Pomegranate filling

All credits for this recipe go to the wonderful and brilliant Lorraine Pascale, who made this appetizer in one of her latest cooking shows. This one is an absolute winner. The cucumber is a great and refreshing alternative for the traditional and boring mini-toast and the filling truly is a flavour sensation in your mouth. Salty feta? Check! Fragrant dill? Check! Little bombs of pure juicy delight, also known as pomegranate seeds? Check!

cucu

Ingredients:

  • 1 cucumber
  • 200gr feta cheese
  • Seeds of ¼ to ½ pomegranate
  • Lots of fresh dill

Method:

  1. You can use the cucumber in 2 different ways. The first is to simply cut the cucumber in slices and top it with the feta mixture. This is the easier method, although it might be a bit tricky to put the feta on top of it without making a mess. The second way is to peel the cucumber and cut them in somewhat thicker slices, approx. 1 cm thick. Scoop out the inside to create a whole for the feta mix to sit in. It is a bit more work to do it this way, but it neatly contains the feta, so you don’t have to be afraid of the filling falling on your lap while trying to stuff it down your gob. I tried both methods and although the scooping is a bit more work, it does look slightly daintier 😉
  2. Mix the feta together with the dill and pomegranate seeds and add some olive oil (1 tbsp) to make sure everything stick together. Don’t forget to add a good touch of black pepper.

Same Ingredients, Different Dish: Cooking with Aubergine, Feta, Dill and Pomegranate

Published December 14, 2014 by The Feminist

same

Many of my single friends have often told me that the most annoying thing about being single is the fact that you have to cook one-person meals.

“This may sound strange, but sometimes I have these moments when I really want to eat cauliflower. I love cauliflower. And yet, I never buy it. Because no matter how much I love cauliflower, I sure as hell don’t want eat it all week.”

Friend X is right. As a single woman, you often shy away from buying ingredients that are too big to eat in one meal (or in  case of the cauliflower: ingredients that are the size of your own head.). Nobody wants to eat cheesy cauliflower 4 days in a row. That’s just sad.

The problem here is that most of my single friends (no offence, ladies) don’t realize the potential culinary goldmine that comes with cooking for “just you”. It is not because you have bought a cauliflower that you have to eat the same dish every day. You’ve got to experiment! Be creative! Because apart from the traditional cauliflower coated in a thick cheese sauce, you can make a cauliflower and chickpea curry, miso-glazed BBQ cauliflower or a cauliflower, herb and freekeh salad. Yes, you will be eating cauliflower 4 days in a row, but trust me: when you do it like this, you won’t even mind! (Plus: it is also really good for you budget!)

So, this week I went to the supermarket and bought a “family pack” of feta cheese (sometimes supermarkets are just cruel), a pomegranate, a huge pot of fresh dill and 3 aubergines (because I am one of those crazy people who gets seduced by phrases such as “buy 2, get the 3rd one for free!” )

Needless to say, I had to be creative. And man, my culinary mastermind did not disappoint, because these 2 dishes were amazeballs.

In fact, they were so incredibly delicious that I suddenly realized that with a couple of fancy tweeks, these 2 dishes can become real showstoppers at the Christmas table!

Moroccan-spiced aubergine soup with feta, dill and pomegranate

The warmth of the heavenly spiced soup works really well with the tanginess of the cheese, the sweet and juicy pomegranate and the fresh dill.

This soup would also be a great starter for a Christmas dinner. Just serve some homemade flat bread with it or serve it as part of an aubergine trio, which could include baba ganoush (with some sesame crackers) and tempura aubergine slices.

same1

Ingredients (2-3):

  • 2 aubergines
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tomato
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nigella seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp harissa paste
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • Pinch of sumac
  • 300gr feta cheese
  • Lots of fresh dill
  • Seeds of ½ pomegranate
  • Vegetable stock

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 250°C. Score the aubergine with a knife in a few places and place on a baking tray and put in the oven for 30 minutes. Turn them around every 15 minutes or so.
  2. Remove the aubergines from the heat and allow to cool slightly before cutting them open and scooping out the soft flesh. Put aside.
  3. Meanwhile make your soup by heating a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and adding the shallot, garlic and spices. Add the chopped tomato and 500ml of vegetable stock. Stir in the harissa paste.
  4. Let it simmer for 20 minutes. Add the aubergine flesh and let it simmer for another 5 minutes. Blitz the soup to a smooth liquid with a hand-held blender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add a sprinkling of sumac.
  5. Before serving, put some feta, dill and pomegranate into your hot plate of soup.

Roasted aubergine “chips” with fried eggs, feta, dill and pomegranate

This is like a modern, exotic and healthy version of “eggs and soldiers”. Do note that the aubergine chips aren’t supposed to be crisp like normal fries. On the contrary, they are supposed to be soft in the middle and all lovely and roasted on the outside.

If you would like to serve this as a starter for Christmas, replace the fried eggs with fancy poached ones and serve it in a mini tagine with some homemade flat bread.

egg

Ingredients (serves 1):

  • 1 aubergine, cut into thick chips
  • 150gr feta cheese
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Fresh dill
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ tsp mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of sumac
  • Pinch of pink pepper corns
  • ½ tsp za’atar

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and fry the aubergine fries for a couple of minutes until golden brown. Season with salt, pepper, cinnamon and ginger.
  2. Transfer the aubergine to an oven-proof dish and put in the oven for 10 minutes.
  3. Take the dish out of the oven and crumble the feta cheese over the top and finish with a sprinkling of za’atar. Put in the oven for 3 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile fry the eggs. Put the fried eggs on top of your aubergine soldiers and feta cheese and season with sumac and pink pepper corns.
  5. Finally, scatter some pomegranate seeds and fresh dill over the top. Delish!

Heartwarming Hodgepodge: Two Wonderfully Jumbled Vegan Dishes

Published November 15, 2014 by The Feminist

hodge

I don’t mean to bulldoze you with my culinary brilliance- but damn!- these two dishes were just so unexpectedly delicious that it is simply impossible not to turn into an annoying show-off.

The ingredients I used in these dishes do not seem to belong together on one plate, but for some odd reason – call it being a culinary wizard- they do match together wonderfully. These dishes are a bit like the edible equivalent of going on a Tinder date, where you  start the evening with zero expectations, but then -BOOM!- your date turns out to be really hot so eventually you end up kissing under the lamppost around midnight.

What I’m trying to say is this: these dishes are unexpectedly magical!

Kamut Couscous and Coconut Porridge with Garam Masala-spiced Beetroot and Mint Chermoula

I know. Simply reading this title is just too mind-boggling to comprehend. But let me explain it a bit more into detail, in order for you to understand its utter yumminess. Hearty Kamut couscous simmered in delicate coconut milk to create a heavenly savory porridge. This comforting porridge is served with beetroot and apple, subtly spiced with garam masala and lime. And this whole dish is finished with a generous serving of fragrant mint chermoula.

kamut

Ingredients (serves 1):

For the porridge:

  • 80gr kamut couscous
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • ½ tsp nigella seeds
  • ¼ tsp mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp chili flakes

For the beetroot and apple:

  • ½ apple, diced
  • 2 beetroots, peeled and diced
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • Juice of half a lime

For the mint chermoula:

  • Half a clove of garlic
  • 1 shallot
  • Lots of fresh mint
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander seeds
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Olive oil

Method:

  1. Make the chermoula by mixing all the ingredients together in a blender until you get a pesto-like consistency and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Blanche the beetroot in a pan, drain and put together in a bowl with the apple, the spices, salt and pepper and lime.
  3. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a small pan. Add the mustard seeds, nigella seeds and chili. Fry for a minute until fragrant. Pour in the couscous. Stir and pour the coconut milk over the top. Add 100ml of water as well. Bring to a gentle simmer and let the couscous absorb the moisture. Season with salt. The couscous should have a “porridgy” consistency, so if it gets to dry, add some more coconut milk.
  4. Serve the coucous and coconut porridge with the spiced beetroot and apple mix and drizzle the chermoula over the top.

Saffron and Harissa Soup with Bulgur, Kale and Jerusalem Artichokes

This is a healthy one-pot wonder! The kale and Jerusalem artichokes give this soup a very autumn-y feel, the bulgur makes it extra comforting and the aromatic fragrance of the saffron and the spiciness of the harissa will fill your heart with a warm and fuzzy feeling.

soup

Ingredients (serves 1):

  • 1 pieces of Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 large kale leaves, thinly sliced
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • Handful of raisins
  • 3 tbsp bulgur wheat
  • ½ tsp harissa
  • ¼ tsp saffron powder
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tbsp honey
  • 400ml vegetable stock
  • Fresh mint (optional)

Method:

  1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pot and add the kale and Jerusalem artichokes. Let it fry for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add the spices, harissa and raisins and cover with vegetable stock.
  3. Let it simmer for 10 minutes before adding the bulgur and the honey. Let it simmer for another 10 minutes until everything is soft.
  4. Stir in the tomatoes and let is simmer for just a couple more minutes and taste. Season with more salt, pepper or a bit more honey if necessary.
  5. Serve with a sprinkling of fresh mint.

An Ode to Aubergine: Two Vibrant Veggie Dishes

Published October 30, 2014 by The Feminist

aub

Food cravings. If you’re like me, this devilish food impulse will be something you’re all too familiar with. Food cravings aren’t just reserved for pregnant women with a hormonal soft spot for pickles, but is something we all go through… repeatedly…on a very regular basis. (Yes, even people like healthy food guru and yoga fanatic Gwyneth Paltrow!)

These past couple of years, I have had various food craving episodes. There was that one month last year in which I ate a ridiculous amount of chocolate (even ridiculous for a Belgian citizen, and that says a lot). Last month I had my Indian food obsession and decided to end every meal with an extra bowl of dal. And yes, I even went through a cheese phase, which led to my kitchen smelling of old people’s feet 24/7.

But this week, I am craving something entirely different. And for once, it falls within the “healthy” category. So forget about cheesy crust pizza, dark chocolate and matured Roquefort cheese, this week everything is all about the humble aubergine. (Or as you Americans like to call it: the “eggplant”)

tumblr_inline_n1exyxGy561sv5sg3

Apologies, that word cracks me up every single time.

I know. You’re probably all thinking: Why would one ever become obsessed with aubergines? Sure, they can be pretty good, but do you really want to eat them day in and day out?

Well, dear readers, I do.

And mark my words, after you’ve made these two recipes, I’m sure you’ll be on an aubergine binge fest too.

Exotic Aubergine “cheesecake”

It’s not an omelet. It’s not a soufflé, and no, it’s also not a quiche. It’s a little bit of all these three things and more. It is an easy peasy, hearty cheesecake that mixes soothing cream cheese with salty feta and combines aromatic spices with theflavour-absorbing texture of the aubergine.

DSCN4204

Ingredients:

  • 1 aubergine, cut into chunks
  • 2 eggs
  • 150gr cream cheese
  • 80gr feta cheese
  • 1 tsp za’atar
  • Fresh coriander
  • ½ tsp nigella seeds
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Red chili, finely sliced
  • ½ tsp turmeric

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and fry the aubergine for 5 minutes together with all the spices until everything starts to smell incredibly fragrant.
  2. Transfer the aubergine to an oven-proof dish, sprinkle over the chili pepper and half of the coriander.
  3. Mix together the eggs and cream cheese and season with salt and pepper. Pour the batter of the aubergine mix and crumble the feta cheese over the top.
  4. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the egg mixture has set, but is still slightly wobbly in the middle. To finish, sprinkle on some extra coriander.

Smothered Sweet and Salty Aubergine with flowering garlic chives and smoked tofu

This dish may not look very dashing, but trust me, this dish is the edible equivalent of an English gentleman. The aubergine is stewed in a combination of sweet and salty flavours and in less than 15 minutes the entire mix turns into an Asian food fiesta. The intensity of the smothered aubergine is balanced with some incredibly pungent flowering garlic chives, coriander and is served with some smoky tofu. Yum!

DSCN4224

Ingredients:

  • 1 aubergine, cut in fine chunks
  • Bunch of flowering garlic chives, finely chopped (flowers included)
  • Lots of fresh coriander
  • 1 tsp miso paste
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey (or a bit more if necessary)
  • ¼ tsp star anise
  • ¼ tsp Chinese five spice
  • ½ tsp sesame oil
  • 100gr smoked tofu

Method:

  1. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a pan and add the aubergine. Fry for a couple of minutes and season with salt and pepper. Add the miso paste, honey, soy sauce and spices and let everything simmer with a good splash of water until you almost get an aubergine “mash”. Stir in the sesame oil and the chopped flowering garlic chives (you’d be amazed how garlicy this type of chives tastes!) and coriander.
  2. Meanwhile, fry the smoky tofu in a separate pan and serve everything together and sprinkle on some extra chives and coriander.

Getting Creative in the Kitchen: Fabulous Fall Salads

Published October 15, 2014 by The Feminist

yotam

These past few weeks I’ve been very creative in the kitchen and I have two men to thank for that. The first one is world famous and a master of multicultural food blends, whereas the other is one of Belgium’s up-and-coming chefs with a Michelin star under his belt. I’m talking about Yotam Ottolenghi and Michaël Vrijmoed. I’m sure all foodies out there will have heard from the former (no matter which country you live in), so I will start with the latter, for I’m guessing you will probably have never heard of him (unless you’re either Belgian –like me- or a total wacko foodie – like me.)

Vrijmoed is a young Belgian chef (who also does TV cooking shows once and a while), who opened his own first restaurant “Vrijmoed” a couple of years ago, which was awarded a Michelin star last year. I had been yearning to go there for quite some time, because his restaurant also offers an entire vegetarian menu, which is incredibly rare among gastronomic restaurants. My wish finally came true last weekend when my family was looking for a special restaurant to celebrate my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary at.

Needless to say, I was in seventh heaven. Vrijmoed truly is a genius when it comes to pairing vegetables, spices and textures. I even daresay that the five course “pure vegetables” menu was the best food I have EVER tasted in my ENTIRE life. And coming from me, that means a lot! Not just because I’ve eaten my way through plenty of delicious meals in my life and therefore tend to shy away from making pompous statements like that, but also because I used to think that Michelin Star restaurants were the prime example of style over substance. Lots of money, but tiny portions.

Well, I take that all back. Vrijmoed was worth every damn penny! And after a five-course meal with plenty of booze you definitely don’t feel the need to go to the chippy afterwards.

So if you ever find yourself in  Ghent and are looking for a really really really nice place to eat –and you’ve got some money you want to spend- this is the place to be!

Inspired by all the bold flavour pairings, I conjured up this marvelous salad:

Marinated Beetroot with Yellow Plum, Feta, Peppery Cress and COFFEE AND COCOA CARAMELIZED NUTS

There is a reason why I went all “CAPs Lock” crazy on the nuts. The sweetness of the caramel works brilliantly with the bitterness of the coffee and cocoa and trust me when I say that these nuts are a true sensation in combination with the earthy sweetness of the beetroot, the sour-sweet plum, the tangy sharp cheese and the peppery cress.

DSCN4199

Ingredients:

For the nuts:

  • Handful of nuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ½ tsp instant espresso coffee powder
  • ½ tsp cocoa powder

For the beetroot:

  • 2 small to medium beetroots, peeled cut into slices
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp sumac
  • Lime juice
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Salt and pepper

For the salad:

  • Cress
  • 2 yellow plums, stone removed and cut into chunks
  • 50gr feta cheese

Method:

  1. Blanch the beetroot slices for a couple of minutes. Drain and put the slices into a large bowl with some salt and pepper, sumac, olive oil, honey and a good squeeze of lime juice. Set aside for half an hour and let it marinade.
  2. Make the caramelized nuts. Roast the nuts in a small pan. Add the honey, cocoa and coffee and let is fry for a minutes. Add a splash of water to make sure the nuts don’t burn. Let the nuts get all sticky and crunchy.
  3. Dress the beetroot on a plate together with the plum, cress and feta cheese. Finally sprinkle over the delish nuts and serve.

Now let’s move on to Ottolenghi. He’s the master of Middle Eastern cuisine who taught me all about za’atar, tahini and hummus and who has been teaching the world, book by book and recipe by recipe, that vegetarian food is the future. His new cookbook “Plenty More” is the epitome of yumminess and demonstrates that cooking without meat and fish is anything but boring. This book has become my culinary Bible. It has given me so much inspiration these past few weeks  that I’m in a constant state of utter foodie brain activity.

The following recipe is based on one of his recipes:

Caramelized Figs with Pink Grapefruit, Feta, Pink Pepper and Rocket Salad

DSCN4192

Ingredients:

  • 3 figs, halved
  • 1 pink grapefruits, peeled and cut into slices
  • Rocket leaves
  • 80gr feta cheese, crumbled
  • ½ tsp pink pepper corns
  • ¼ tsp star anise
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar

Method:

  1. Heat the sugar in a large pan and let it caramelize. Add the figs, cut-side down, and let them fry for a couple of minutes on a medium heat. Add a splash of water to make sure the caramel doesn’t burn. Add the pink pepper and star anise. When the figs are starting to get tender, turn off the heat and add the slices of grapefruit. Be careful not to overcook the figs, they should be soft, not mushy and the grapefruit should still hold its shape and be lukewarm.
  2. Put the rocket leaves on a plate. Add the figs and grapefruit and sprinkle on the feta cheese and some extra pink pepper corns.