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!
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)
1 bunch of fresh sage leaves (6-8 leaves for baking and extra for frying and serving as garnish)
Olive oil, salt, pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Serve the puree with a few fried sage leaves and a drop or two of truffle oil and enjoy!
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.
The 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.
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.
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.
Discard brine and rinse chicken thoroughly under cold running water, rubbing gently; pat dry. Set bird breast up on a rack in roast pan.
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.
Roast in a 425° regular or convection oven for 30 minutes.
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.
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
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.
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.
Carve chicken and serve with vegetables and pan juices. Add salt and pepper to taste.
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.
You can serve this sauce with bread, over polenta, blended in soup, or even by the spoonful!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 www.coopelectricalshop.co.uk competition to win some electronics to help me thaw out on these winter nights.
In a plastic bag, shake flour with 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper, and the herbes de Provence; set aside.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
1 Head Romain Lettuce, washed and ripped into bite size pieces
For the dressing
Combine all ingredients into a large jug and shake to combine.
For the toppings
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.
Toss the lettuce with the dressing, chicken, parmesan and croutons. Serve and enjoy!
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!