Minimalist Pantry in London and Root Vegetable Puree

One of my best friends came to visit this weekend and we ate our way through London.  She blogged about our amazing trip on her blog Minamalist Pantry as well as our delicious Sunday lunch of Root Vegetable Puree with Fried Sage and White Truffle Oil.  Check out her other recipes as she’s a master of her small kitchen and always whips up vegetarian (and sometimes vegan) culinary delights! 
soup and flowers

From Minimalist Pantry:
This recipe comes to you all the way from London town! With a few days off before starting a new job I decided it was the perfect opportunity to visit one of my closest friends, Niki – who happens to be living across the pond. My four day trip was filled with adventure: biking across the city, tasting food and drink at the markets, and visiting all of the must-see sights in The Big Smoke (apparently this is the city’s nickname?).

The temperature dropped a bit on my last day and after a quick bike to the flower market and the best meal of the trip (breakfast at Dishoom), we returned to the flat to relax and warm up. Niki shares my love of food and cooking (her awesome blog is called The Relocated Kitchen) and with only a few hours until my flight, we decided to team up in the kitchen for a cozy lunchtime soup.

With no real recipe we resorted to a big vegetable roast, a food processor, and some fried sage leaves. After discovering that my super posh, England-assimilated friend was also in possession of a bottle of white truffle oil, we topped off the puree with a hint of earthiness. I don’t know that the truffle oil is necessary, and it certainly isn’tminimalist, but if you have it in your pantry then by all means put it to use.

*This trip sealed the deal on my white truffle oil obsession. I have always been drawn to it on pizza and pasta menus but after sniffing and sampling various oils at Borough Market, I have decided it should be a constant in my kitchen.






Root Vegetable Puree with Sage and White Truffle Oil (Vegan)
Write a review
  1. 12 oz of butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  2. 1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  3. 2-3 large carrots, chopped with ends removed
  4. 2 large parsnips, chopped with ends removed
  5. 1 large onion, cut into chunks
  6. 3 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  7. 2 cups of almond milk
  8. 1 cup of vegetable broth
  9. 1 bunch of fresh sage leaves (6-8 leaves for baking and extra for frying and serving as garnish)
  10. Olive oil, salt, pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place all of the vegetables, aside from the garlic, in a large bowl. Chiffonade some of the sage leaves and sprinkle them atop the vegetables.Toss with 2 generous tablespoons of olive oil.
  3. In a large roasting pan, spread the vegetables evenly and top with 1 tablespoon of salt and a few teaspoons of pepper. Wrap the garlic cloves (still in peel) lightly in foil and set inside of the roasting dish.
  4. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until the edges of the squash have browned and caramelized and you can easily pierce the carrot and parsnip with a fork. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Open the foil to also cool the garlic.
  5. Once the vegetables have reached a temperature for handling, it’s time to blend. We used a food processor but you could also combine everything in a large pot and blend with an immersion blender.
  6. Food processor: Blend the vegetables and 2 cups of almond milk. Squeeze the meat of the garlic from the peel and continue blending until the puree reaches a semi-chunky consistency (this can very depending upon texture preference). If blending in batches, divide into four servings and blend with 1/2 cup of almond milk per batch. Combine blended quantities in a large pot.
  7. Immersion blender: combine all of the vegetables in a large pot and squeeze the meat of the garlic from its peel. Add 2 cups of almond milk and blend slowly using an immersion blender.
  8. When finished with the puree process, place the pot on the stove and turn on medium heat. Begin stirring as you add in the vegetable broth. Let the mixture simmer as you stir for 5-10 minutes, adding any additional flavors (salt, pepper, spice). Turn the heat on very low.
  9. In a small saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil on high. Let the oil warm for at least 3 minutes, then carefully set the sage leaves in the hot oil to fry (test the oil’s temperature by dropping in one leaf at a time, only continuing if the first leaf begins to sizzle). The leaves should flatten in the oil and will need to cook for about 20-30 seconds per side. Flip each leaf using a fork and set on a paper towel lined plate to cool.
  10. Serve the puree with a few fried sage leaves and a drop or two of truffle oil and enjoy!

Herb Pesto with Fresh Pasta

pesto pasta

A few weeks ago, a friend and I took a pasta making course at Jamie Oliver’s cooking school Recipease in Notting Hill.  This place was absolutely fabulous.  I’d definitely recommend it for a girls night out or even a date night (try their Perfect Steak night!)  Not only do you learn new cooking skills, but you get to sit down with a big glass of wine and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Since the class, I’ve been itching to try out my new skills at home!  If you have a pasta maker, this couldn’t be easier make.  But if you don’t, store bought pasta or even substitute with zucchini noodles like the ones in this post would be fantastic as well. 


DSC_0466fresh pasta

Five Herb Pesto
Write a review
  1. 1 1/2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
  2. 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  3. 1 large clove garlic, peeled
  4. a handful sliced almonds, toasted (cooled)
  5. zest of one lemon
  6. 50 medium basil leaves
  7. a handful of arugula leaves
  8. 1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
  9. 1/4 cup minced chives
  10. 3/4 cup grated Pecorino cheese
  11. ~1/4 cup / 60 ml extra virgin olive oil
  1. Toast the coriander seeds in a dry skillet until fragrant.
  2. Blend all ingredients in a food processor and add salt to your liking.

Soy-Ginger Roast Chicken with Shiitake Mushrooms

soy ginger roast chickenThe move to London has created an affinity for Sunday Roasts.  The entire culture surrounding this meal is something I never experienced back in California!  It adds purpose to a ‘lazy’ Sunday afternoon and gets you geared up for the week ahead! 

This recipe is from the Sunset Cookbook. The Asian flavours put a creative twist on the traditional roast chicken.  It is not the easiest recipe but does produce incredible results. mushroomsDSC_0290

Soy-Ginger Roast Chicken with Shiitake Mushrooms
Write a review
For the brine
  1. 1 cup soy sauce
  2. 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  3. 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh ginger
  4. 6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  5. 1 chicken (6 to 8 lb.)
For the rub
  1. 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  2. 1/4 cup cilantro sprigs, rinsed
  3. 2 tbs chopped ginger
  4. 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  5. Salt and pepper
For the mushrooms
  1. 1/4 cup soy sauce
  2. 2 tbs chopped ginger
  3. 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  4. 1 cup fat-skimmed chicken broth
  5. 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  6. 1/4 cup mirin (see notes) or sake
  7. 1 tablespoon prepared hoisin sauce
  8. 1 tablespoon Asian (toasted) sesame oil
  9. 2 pounds fresh shiitake mushrooms (2-in. caps)
  10. 1 pound green onions
  1. In a large stock pot or large bowl, combine 1 cup soy sauce, brown sugar, 1/4 cup ginger, 6 cloves garlic, and 4 quarts water; mix well.
  2. Rinse bird well inside and out; pierce skin all over with a fork. Lay chicken breast down in brine; cover and chill at least 4 or up to 12 hours, turning bird several times.
  3. Discard brine and rinse chicken thoroughly under cold running water, rubbing gently; pat dry. Set bird breast up on a rack in roast pan.
  4. Starting at the neck, gently ease your fingers under skin to loosen it over breast. Push 1/4 cup chopped cilantro under skin and spread evenly over breast. Place cilantro sprigs in body cavity; add 2 tablespoons ginger and remaining 4 cloves garlic. Sprinkle chicken lightly with salt and pepper.
  5. Roast in a 425° regular or convection oven for 30 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix remaining 1/4 cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons ginger, and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro with broth, vinegar, mirin, hoisin, and sesame oil. Rinse and drain shiitake mushrooms; trim and discard stems. Rinse and drain green onions; chop and discard ends. Mix mushrooms and onions with soy mixture. Lift out with a slotted spoon and distribute around chicken in pan; reserve soy mixture.
  7. Continue to roast chicken, turning vegetables with a wide spatula after about 20 minutes, until a thermometer inserted through thickest part of breast to bone reaches 170°, or 180° through thickest part of thigh at joint
  8. Insert a carving fork into body cavity, piercing carcass; lift bird and tilt to drain juices into pan. Set chicken on a rimmed platter. With a slotted spoon, arrange vegetables around chicken. Let rest in a warm place about 15 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, skim and discard fat from pan. Add reserved soy mixture and stir often over high heat, scraping browned bits free, until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 10 to 12 minutes. Pour through a fine strainer into a small pitcher or bowl.
  10. Carve chicken and serve with vegetables and pan juices. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes and Onions


I’m slowly coming to terms with the fickleness of summer in London. The sun blazes around the corners of our “blackout” curtains at 6am with open bright blue skies.  However, by the time I’m out the door the clouds have rolled in and showers are predicted. Alas, I’m not in California anymore.  I guess it’s the trade off for leaving Karl the Fog for a few years. 

No amount of weather can deter me from my summer cooking traditions and these roasted tomatoes and onions are a family staple.  I remember sitting outside in an assembly line with my sister and mom, peeling sticky cloves of garlic and crying over bowls of onions. My dad would be inside manning the oven, switching out tray after tray of  gooey caramelized deliciousness.  The smell of onions and garlic would linger in the house for at least a week after, and the frozen bags consumed over the rest of the year. 



roasted tomatoes and onionsYou can serve this sauce with bread, over polenta, blended in soup, or even by the spoonful! 

Oven Roasted Tomatoes, Onions and Garlic
Write a review
  1. 2 lbs Tomatos
  2. 2 lbs Yellow Onions
  3. 2 heads of Garlic
  4. 3/4 cup Olive Oil
  1. Preheat Oven to 375F
  2. Slice the tomatoes into thin disks. Peel the onions and use a food processor to slice thinly or cut into disks by hand. Peel the individual cloves of garlic and chop finely
  3. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and toss with salt and pepper. Spread evenly on a large baking sheet
  4. Bake in the oven until onions and tomatoes have caramelized and there are some black bits, about one hour and twenty minutes
  1. You can decrease the size of the batch, but use equal parts onions to tomatoes


Kale Pesto and Zucchini Pasta

kale pesto zucchini pasta

One of the hardest parts of living in a different country is the communication barrier to friends back home.  I can’t pop over after work for a glass of wine or even go visit them on long weekend.  It used to be that I’d make my catch up calls on my walk home from work, but these days a Skype or FaceTime date has to be penciled in well in advance. 

With this change in circumstance, some of my best friends and I have figured out an alternative way of communicating.  That is – through food and recipe sharing.  Whether we email  tips of how to cook tofu or a new slow-cooker recipe – we  sit around the same table even if we are thousands of miles away. 

One of my closest friends started her own food blog earlier this year.  Not only does she come up with phenomenal vegetarian recipes, but she’s also a fantastic writer. This post is an ode to her amazing inspiration and another way for us to stay connected across the pond.  You can find her original recipe for sautéed zucchini noodles with kale basil pesto here!

zucchini ribbons



Kale Pesto and Zucchini Pasta
Write a review
  1. 2 zucchini
  2. 3 cloves of garlic
  3. 1/2 cup walnuts
  4. 1/4 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
  5. Juice from 1/2 a lemon
  6. 2 cups kale
  7. 1/3 cup olive oil
  8. Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Using a mandolin with a julienne option, or a vegetable peeler, cut the zucchini into small pasta like strips. Place in strainer and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Drain the excess water and pat dry with a tea cloth or paper towels
  3. Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients in a food processor or strong blender. Mix until you have a smooth paste.
  4. In a large skillet, heat 1 tbs olive oil and sauté the zucchini until soft, roughly 4 to 5 minutes. Mix in pesto. Serve hot with grated parmesean cheese.
Adapted from The Minimalist Pantry


Almond and Seed Crackers – A Paleo Snack


For the last five months, I’ve been following the Primal Blueprint also known as the Paleo Diet. Combining these guidelines with exercise and more conscious eating (less snacking, less drinking, smaller portions, etc) is getting me closer to my fitness and health goals. 

Now I have my qualms about fad diets and miracle fixes. I also think you have to respect the reality of life that means the occasional urge for smooth glass of red wine after a hard week does not always need to be denied.  However, taking the time to get organized with my food shops and finding healthy alternatives for snacks has been critical for my success.  It means that five or six days a week I can be good and then I can absolutely relish in my cheat day. 
To get me through the day with focus and energy, I have to snack.  I’m sure there’s significant literature supporting this and equally against it. Regardless, it must be done.  These paleo friendly, almond and seed crackers are an incredibly healthy alternative to high carb snacks.   


Almond and Seed Crackers
Write a review
  1. 1 1/2 cups raw almonds
  2. 1 cup cashews
  3. 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  4. 1 egg, whisked until frothy
  5. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  6. 1 teaspoon salt
  7. Pepitas, Chia, or Flax seed for topping
  1. In a food processor or blender, combine almonds and cashews and mix until a course flour forms
  2. Combine almond and cashew flour with sesame seeds, egg, salt, and oil and mix until a dough forms
  3. Separate the dough into two halves
  4. Place one half of the dough in the middle of a large piece of parchment paper then cover with a second piece of parchment paper
  5. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough between the two sheets until it is roughly 1/8 inch thick
  6. Lift top sheet of paper off and sprinkle with pepitas or other seeds and press lightly into the dough so they stick
  7. Using a pizza cutter or knife, cut the dough into 2 inch squares
  8. Bake at 175C for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown
  9. Cool and serve

Green Goddess Dressing and the start of Spring


There are subtle hints on every corner, a few daffodils here or some cherry blossoms there.  Though it is not completely in your face, there is no denying that Spring is here.  Now I haven’t packed away my thick wool coat and there might have been a hail storm yesterday, but London is returning to the city that I initially fell in love with. 


I saw this green goddess dressing recipe on one of my favorite blogs A Couple Cooks. I was looking for a light and easy lunch after my personal training session. This fit the bill! Along with using this on a salad, I’ll be using it with tomorrow nights sweet potato fries. 



Healthy Green Goddess Dressing
Write a review
For the Dressing
  1. 2 scallions, roughly chopped
  2. ½ green jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
  3. ⅔ cup Greek yogurt
  4. ½ cup lightly packed cilantro
  5. Juice from 1 lime (2 tablespoons)
  6. ⅓ cup olive oil
  7. ½ teaspoon salt
  8. 1 tablespoon honey
For the Salad
  1. 5-10 radishes
  2. 1/2 avocado
  3. Fresh Spinach
  1. Combine all dressing ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend. Transfer to a sealable container; stores in the refrigerator for 1 week.
  2. Combine salad ingredients together and toss with the dressing.

Coq au Vin with White Wine for a Warmer Winter

coq au vin soup winter warmer

It seems that every time I turn on the news from BBC to CNN there are winter weather warnings. Floods around London and seemingly endless snow storms on the East Coast! The first blossoms of Spring and the plans for summer BBQs seem an eternity away. For those of you affected by these storms, hang in there! Warmer weather will eventually come. To ease my survival of this winter I’ve invested in two crucial items: a heated under-blanket and time to systematically go through the soup chapter of the Sunset Cookbook.

winter soup coq au vin This White Wine Coq au Vin is a bit of a twist on the French classic.  The addition of fresh green herbs  also trick you into thinking spring is closer. Cuddle up on the sofa with a blanket, some fresh bread, and a bowl of this soup and I guarantee you’ll feel that much warmer! If all of this fails to do the trick, I’ve entered the competition to win some electronics to help me thaw out on these winter nights. 

tarragon fresh herbs
fried chicken coq au vin
White Wine Coq au Vin
Write a review
  1. 4 1/2 tablespoons flour
  2. 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  3. 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  4. 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
  5. 4 slices bacon (1/4 lb.), chopped
  6. 1 1/2 pounds boned, skinned chicken thighs
  7. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  8. 1 1/2 cups peeled baby carrots
  9. 3 stalks celery
  10. 1 medium onion
  11. 1 1/3 cups Chardonnay
  12. 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  13. 1/2 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley sprigs
  14. 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh tarragon sprigs
  1. In a plastic bag, shake flour with 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper, and the herbes de Provence; set aside.
  2. In a 5- to 6-qt. pot over medium-high heat, brown bacon, stirring often, 6 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, cut chicken into 1-in. chunks, then shake half at a time in flour to coat.
  3. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon from pan to paper towels. Brown half the chicken in bacon fat, stirring often, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining chicken, adding oil to pot. Meanwhile, halve carrots lengthwise and cut celery into diagonal slices. Chop onion.
  4. Add vegetables to pot with remaining 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper and sauté until onion is golden, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a microwave-safe bowl, microwave wine and broth until steaming, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add broth mixture, chicken, and bacon to pan, stirring to loosen browned bits. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, coarsely chop parsley and tarragon. Stir them into stew.

Classic Caesar Salad

caesar salad

Full disclosure, what you’re about to read is a complete first world problem…one of my big challenges is balancing my desire to be a domestic goddess with the reality of a 50-60 hour work week.  I wish I could come home from work and feel energized to cook something elaborate and still get it on the table before the sunrises again. This doesn’t even include the washing up afterwards! The times where I have managed to pull off something slightly more elaborate than the basics always included serious pre-planning, grocery shopping, and extra caffeine right around 5 or 6 o’clock. 

I have such a new found appreciation and understanding of what an incredible feat it was for my Mom to put delicious meals on the table night after night.  Fortunately she’s starting to fill me in on some of the tips of the trade and insider secrets.  This one is “make double batches”.  There was always a quart sized mason jar of this caesar salad dressing sitting in the fridge ready to top over some quickly chopped up lettuce and rotisserie chicken.  No need to pull the cook book down from the shelf either – this recipe has been taped to the inside of our cupboard door for as long as I can remember.  It is an absolute family staple.

caesar salad dressing joy of cooking

You’ll find this version is a bit different from the creamy mayonnaise based version you tend to find at restaurants. It is taken directly from the 1973 edition of the Joy of Cooking and is more garlic and lemon infused!


Classic Caesar Salad
Write a review
For the dressing
  1. 1 Clove garlic, minced
  2. 1/2 cup olive oil
  3. 1 1/2 tsp salt
  4. 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  5. 1 Tbs anchovy paste
  6. 3 Tbs wine vinegar
  7. Juice 1 lemon
  8. 1 Coddled egg (boil it for 90 seconds)
To top the salad
  1. 1 Small Ciabatta loaf or other crusty bread
  2. 2 Tbs Olive Oil
  3. 2-3 Tbs shaved parmesan
  4. 1 Head Romain Lettuce, washed and ripped into bite size pieces
For the dressing
  1. Combine all ingredients into a large jug and shake to combine.
For the toppings
  1. Heat the oven to 200C. Tear the bread into bite size pieces. Toss in a bowl with olive oil until they are evenly coated. Spread out on a cooking sheet and bake for 8-10 mins, turning the croutons a few times during cooking so they brown evenly.
  2. Toss the lettuce with the dressing, chicken, parmesan and croutons. Serve and enjoy!
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking - 1973
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking - 1973

Baked Eggplant Fries with Yogurt Dip

egg plant fries aubergine

While I’m still figuring out what to call them here, eggplants or aubergines to the Brits (either way the both are quite odd names when you stop to think about it) are starting to become a regular staple in my kitchen. They’re cheap and can be cooked with almost any type of cuisine from asian stir fries to Mediterranean bakes.  Even if the health-kick of January has wound down, I’m always intrigued by healthy ways to recreate the traditionally unhealthy versions.  These baked eggplant fries don’t require any oil and make a great accompaniment to any meal!


za'atar bread crumbs

baked eggplant fries

Baked Eggplant Fries with Yogurt Dip
Write a review
Dipping Sauce
  1. 1/2 c plain yogurt
  2. 1 garlic clove, crushed
  3. ½ cucumber, finely chopped
  4. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  5. 1 tbs lemon juice
  6. Salt and Pepper to taste
For the Fries
  1. 1 large or two small eggplants cut into 3 cm rounds then into 3cm strips
  2. 1 cup flour
  3. 2 eggs, beaten
  4. 1 cup bread crumbs
  5. 3 tablespoons za’atar seasoning
  6. 1 tablespoons garlic powder
  7. 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 450F/230C
  2. Put the cut eggplant in a large bowl with 2 cups ice and enough water so all pieces are covered completely. Cover and chill for at 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile mix bread crumbs with with za'atar, garlic powder and salt. Next, drain the water from the eggplant.
  4. Set up an assembly line for yourself and toss the pieces of eggplant in the flour, then dip in egg, then finally into the bread crumbs. Place onto rack.
  5. When you've finished coating all the pieces, bake, turning once, until browned, crispy, and tender to the bite, about 30 minutes.
  6. While the fries are baking, combine all ingredients for the dip. Serve the egg plant fries hot with the yogurt and cucumber dip!
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Adapted from Bon Appetit