Harissa Carrot Salad

Harissa is eaten in its native Tunisia as a side dish to meals like cous cous and grilled meats. It is delicious when you stir in into soups and stews for a definite kick, mix with yogurt to marinade chicken or spread onto wraps or add into grilled vegetables. It is so versatile to use either a dry mix or a paste when you have a home-made one in your pantry. So here is the recipe (warning! easy on chilli if you are not a fan)

Harissa spice mix

4 tsp Coriander seeds
2 tsp Himalayan salt
4 tsp Cumin seeds
4 tsp Smoked paprika
2 small dried chilli
1 tsp Cayenne pepper
1 tsp Garlic powder
1 tsp Caraway seeds
1 tsp Mint (optional, but it adds refreshing note)

Simply toast the seeds in a dry frying pan until fragrant, shaking a pan so that they don’t burn. Place them in a mortar and pestle or food processor to combine all together. Let it cool and keep in a air-tight jar. To make a harissa paste, mix equal parts spice with boiling water. Let it sit for 5 minutes then add a good quality of olive oil until you get a paste consistency. Simple!

Harissa Carrot Salad
Harissa Carrot Salad (serves 3-4)

3 carrots
1 cup of cooked French lentils
1 cup of salad mix
1/2 cup of snow pea shoots
1 tbsp coconut oil
1-2 tsp harissa spice mix
Himalayan salt to taste

Heat coconut oil in a pan over medium heat. Add sliced carrots and harissa spice mix into a pan and stir well until carrots are well coated with oil and spice. Stir occasionally for 10-15 minutes until cooked. Combine with cooked lentils, salad mix and snow pea shoots in a large bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve warm. It goes well with any kind of grilled meat, tofu or even toasted bread.

GF Socca Pizza with Massaged Kale and Marinated Mushrooms

socca pizzaSocca is a traditional dish from Nice, France. It is a flat bread browned or even blackened around the edges, and it has an almost custard like, tender texture inside. As with many traditional dishes, there are a dozen different ways you can make it – pan-frying, broiling, baking. It is pretty easy to make. All you need is equal parts chickpea flour and water, mixed with a tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt. You can use more water to make a thinner crêpe-like socca or less water to make it thicker. You can also add some herbs and spices in the batter to jazz it up.

Thanks to socca, I can have “pizza” which needs only a few ingredients and no brain. To me, it is too hard making GF pizza dough >.< It is totally gluten-free, perfect for GF pizza, wraps or flat bread. I made this socca pizza for my lunch today with some raw toppings to make it nice and fresh, but feel free to sauté the kale and mushrooms if you like.

Ingredients (single serve)

For socca
50g chickpea flour
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp sumac
1 tsp nutritional yeast
a pinch of Himalayan salt
50g warm water
1 tbsp coconut oil + extra for frying

For topping
1 cup of kale leaves
1/2 cup sliced button mushrooms
1 tbsp coconut amino sauce or tamari
1 tsp coconut vinegar or white wine vinegar
a pinch of Himalayan salt
pepper to taste

To make socca, mix all ingredients in a bowl, cover and put in the fridge for 30 minutes until the mixture is set. In the mean time, clean the kale and mushrooms. Tear the kale leaves into bite size and massage with salt and vinegar until softened. Marinate sliced mushrooms in coconut amino sauce. Take the socca mixture out of the fridge. Heat coconut oil in a non-stick frying pan and pour the mixture into a pan. Spread evenly with a spatula and cook for a couple of minutes each side over medium heat or until golden. Transfer to a serving plate and top with massaged kale and marinated mushrooms. I also added caramelised beetroot and onion on top.

Savoury Oat Porridge

Savoury OatsI’m sure a bowl of warming, filling and delicious oat porridge is a perfect breakfast in winter. What about savoury oats? It is a perfect comforting lunch or even dinner when you feel lazy to cook. All you need is a bag of rolled oats in your pantry and some left-over veggies in your fridge. Creamy oats are a great vehicle for toppings of your choice. I added cooked veggies with a hint of harrisa here but crunchy raw veggies, creamy avocado, grilled tofu, tamari roasted nuts and a soy sauce-sesame oil dressing would be nice, too. You can adjust cooking time and the amount of water depending on how you want your porridge to be. If you haven’t tried savoury oat porridge before, give it a go. It is perfect anytime of the day and surely warms you up 🙂

Ingredients

1/2 cup of rolled oats
1 cup of hot water
1 cup of chopped veggies (I used eggplant, corn, carrot, onion and celery)
1 tsp coconut oil
1 tsp tomato paste
1 tsp harissa
Himalayan salt to taste
1 tsp nutritional yeast

Heat coconut oil in a pot over medium heat and add chopped veggies, tomato paste and harissa. Cook for about 10 minutes or until veggies are cooked for your liking. Season with Himalayan salt and set aside. For the porridge, add oats and hot water in another pot. Cook over low heat for about 5 minutes, keep stirring. Ladle porridge into a bowl, top with cooked vegetables and sprinkle nutritional yeast. Serve warm.

Russia

Russia1It was Mother’s day on 8th of May and also my mum’s birthday in 2 days, so we decided to go to St Peterburg, the second largest city in Russia, for a long weekend. Weather was a little cold but pretty dry unlike I thought it would be. The sunshine reflecting on the Neva river and beautiful European style buildings were welcoming us.
Russia2 St Peterburg designed this city to show the nation’s wealth and construction skills. When you go to this city, you cannot miss the grand Winter palace and Hermitage museum. The rich and lavish interiors inside really show how spectacular the royal family used to live. We spent almost all day walking around palace, that is how big it is >.<
Russia3Russian food to me was quite rich, meat-dominant and salty. I guess you need more carbs and fat to survive the long-lasting winter times in Russia. One day, we had a cabbage salad with mayo, creamy pumpkin soup, meatballs for main (which I skipped), apple pie and coffee.
Russia4On the very last day, I had an opportunity to stop by a little cafe for Borscht, their traditional beet soup, that I’ve been meaning to try. I made a vegetarian version myself back at home without knowing what the original flavour was like. Well it is based on meat broth with a bit of beets and other veggies and served with sour cream. My mum also ordered a potato salad, which was again with loads of mayo. If you are a strict vegetarian/ vegan, you probably need a bit of research before you travel Russia (well nevertheless, where ever you go I guess). You can make smart choices at the restaurant – ordering fresh salads with dressing on the side or asking for vegetarian options. It is even better if you can prepare healthy breakfast and snacks at the hotel and explore local farmer’s markets. Mum and I joined a tour group, which means we didn’t have any of those options and had to have a set menu for four days. I was craving for a big bowl of salad on the way home as you can imagine.
Russia5Overall, it was only four days in St Peterburg, but I was glad I got to taste Russia and thoroughly enjoyed time spent with my lovely mum.
Russia6

Buckwheat Healing Soup

Buckwheat soupThe temperatures have dropped down gradually. I like this time of the year when you can snuggle up with a bowl of warm soup and be cozy. When I make a soup, I always try to add whole grains as well as lots of veggies such as brown rice, quinoa, millet and buckwheat. They not only add a nutty flavour and texture but also provide numerous health benefits. Whole grains are a carbohydrate package rich in fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, plant enzymes, hormones, and hundreds of other phytochemicals. Soluble fiber helps lower cholesterol, and insoluble fiber helps move waste through the digestive tract. Phytoestrogens found in whole grains may protect against some cancers. So might essential minerals, such as magnesium, selenium, copper, and manganese. These minerals may also help reduce the risk for heart disease and diabetes.

Buckwheat groats are gluten-free, high in protein and fibre and a great addition to a vegetarian meal. Its taste and texture is very similar feel to barley. You can find raw or roasted. I find roasted buckwheat groats provide a full-bodied, almost smoky flavor in the soup. Turmeric and saffron broth is great for healing and cleansing. Turmeric is antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer. Saffron is rich in minerals, vitamins and cartoenoids, important antioxidants. It helps with a number of medical ailments such as depression, macular degeneration, weight loss, asthma and menstrual discomfort.
buckwheat soup1Ingredients (serves 2)

1/2 cup buckwheat groats, soaked
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 cup of diced pumpkin
1 cup of kale leaves, roughly chopped
1 cup of wild mushrooms, sliced
1 sprig of tarragon
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp turmeric
a pinch of saffron
2 cups of water or vegetable stock
1 tsp Himalayan salt
pepper to taste

Heat coconut oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, pumpkin, mushrooms, garlic and turmeric into a pot and stir for 5-10 minutes until softened. Add in mushrooms, tarragon, buckwheat groats, water or stock and saffron and simmer on low heat for 5-10 minutes until the buckwheat is cooked. Season with salt and pepper. Add kale leaves and let it sit with a lid on for another 5-10 minutes. Stir, ladle into a soup bowl and garnish with more kales on top.