cesar salad‘Been a while since I haven’t posted anything here. I do have an excuse, a valid one too.

I was busy creating. Seriously. Awesome posts to come…

Also, I just got a job as a private chef, 3 days a week for the 12h/ day. No limits in my budget and as long as it tastes good and is beautiful I am allowed to make any food that I’d like (in a starter-main-dessert format). Of course, my personal objective on this one is to use as much as possible local, seasonal and organic ingredients. And make it as vegan as much as I can without sacrificing the taste of the dishes.

That being said, let me introduce to you the newest (and dead easy) recipe I came up with. Vegan cesar salad!

I was wondering about and shopping in the Raspail organic market – by the way – the biggest and most awesome organic market in Paris. A couple of days after, the usual though “I have to do something with this romaine otherwise it’ll go bad” came to mind. I picked up the Crudessence cookbook and looked up their recipe for the cesar salad as an inspirational foundation. If you are into raw foods and don’t own their book yet, run! (here, or in french here). It’s a beautiful collection of simple recipes for those who aspire to go raw. Roooaaa!!!

The secret in this recipe is the toasted pumpkin seed puree. I wouldn’t really know what to recommend instead if you cannot find it. I used the one from “graines d’alma”, a french brand with exceptional quality products (here).

Vegan Cesar salad 2.0 for 2 persons:

  • 1 romaine lettuce
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin seed puree
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • a quarter of a garlic bulb (depending on the size of it)
  • 1/2 lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup dried tomatoes
  • 2 tsp capers + 2 tsp
  • 1/2 cup water
  • a couple to three pinches of salt to taste
  • a pinch of pepper

Blend up all ingredients in a blender (except the lettuce and dried tomatoes)

Wash and cut the salad, stir in the sauce and add the chopped tomatoes on top with some capers. You can also go fancy and add croutons. I didn’t and it was fantastic anyway!

So this is the logical follow up on those kale chips I made the other day.
Some of the lovely kale I bought from the Batignolle’s farmer market was left over and so I decided to keep goin’ raw with it and made a salad.

This article talks a little about what you do to your body if you eat that yummy salad, if it’s not of much interest to you and are more interested in the food, just skip to the recipe.

-raw kale; lots of fiber, iron (more than in meat per calorie), vitamins K, A, C, lowers cholesterol, antioxidants, and calcium (more than in dairy per calorie).

-hempseed oil; 80% essential fatty acids which is not produced by the body and has to be ingested. known to help prevent things like: heart disease, high cholesterol, cancer, arthritis. Not only that but it makes your hair and skin look awesome by giving them the nourishment that they need. I see the difference now that I use it, people often compliment me for my hair. This oil also happens to be the only one known to contain vitamin D, otherwise found in certain types of fish as well as the sun. In the US, between 2001 and 2006 about 25% of the population were vitamin D deficient.

-avocado; good for your brain (the combination of fatty acids (omega 3), vitamin E and folate). Heart health (due to the presence of essential fatty acids, vitamin B6 and folic acid), that same folic acid is good for pregnant women who want a fetus who will develop a healthy brain and vital organs. Digestion: avocados are rich in the two types of fiber; non-soluble which will help bowel movement and soluble fiber which dissolves in water, creating a gel that will protect and restore the intestinal flora. Blood pressure: omega 3 oleic acid and potassium (30% more than in bananas) will help reduce blood pressure. Anti-aging: indeed! avocados will help you look young with a high dose of glutathione which supports the liver and the nervous system, it is also vital for a strong immune system. Finally, avocados contain anti-inflamatory phytonutrients polyphenols and flavonoids.

-brocoli: prevents cancer with high doses of glucoraphanin eliminating H. pylori from a human body which is known as a bacterium that triggers gastric cancer. A healthy nervous system and healthy brain with high levels of potassium. Regulation of blood pressure with magnesium, calcium and potassium. Less bad cholesterol with its soluble fiber.

Now, the recipe (for 2 small-medium portions):

  • 5-6 leaves of purple kale
  • 1/2 brocoli floret

    Broccoli stems with our wonderful kombu algae

    Broccoli stems with our wonderful kombu algae

  • juice of half of a lime or lemon
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 2 tbs hempseed oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a small strip of kombu algae (optional)
  • crema di balsamico (balsamic cream) or high quality balsamic vinegar aged in oakwood barrels
  1. Bring a liter of water to a boil, if you have the kombu algae put it in the cold water and allow it to boil for about 5 minutes before putting in the broccoli, it gives a great taste to it and is full of iodine.
  2. Plunge the broccoli in the boiling water for about 2 minutes. It should still be nicely crunchy but not as much as when it’s raw.
  3. At the same time chop the kale in small strips and place in a bowl.
  4. Remove the broccoli and pour the lime or lemon juice on it whilst it’s still steaming hot.
  5. Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit with a knife, cut the halves in 2 and add those with the kale
  6. Chop up the broccoli in smaller florets and add to the kale
  7. Pour the oil and the balsamico over the salad
  8. Add salt and pepper to taste
IMG_1091

Ta-daaa

kale 2
I was at the Batignolles farmer’s market yesterday at Sol Semilla’s booth, selling super foods with the co-founder Jean François. My curiosity drove me to take a look around and see what fresh greens I could buy.
I walk past this big stand where they sell all different kinds of vegetables from Auvergne, a place where I lived as a kid for 3 years. Without going into too much detail, Auvergne is the place that helped me set the building blocks towards the understanding of nature’s rules/power and our role as humans as a part of it. It’s just beautiful over there… Pristine nature, pure air, mountains, and my mum has a house facing a lake (!)

Enough dreaming. Back to the market.

This booth sells Kale! YES! I only managed to find it once in Paris and that was almost a year ago. I immediately call up my friend Camilla, aka the lady behind the pop up restaurant Happy Crulture. She will soon be launching the very first Kale chips in France, check it out here! She asked me to buy a kilo. Stupidly enough, I said: “maybe that’s a little much!” and only bought half a kilo for her and half of that for me.
I now realize that when it comes to Kale in France, it’s never too much. It’s ze vegetable that oughts to be publicized ze most (full of vitamins, nutrients and minerals, will do a post on that topic one day). The Kale Project does a great job at spreading awareness about kale in France.

Having never made kale chips before I decided to go for a smokey flavor (yes, again!) and came up with that recipe:

  • 125 grams of curly kale
  • 1/3 cup cashew (preferably soaked 2 hours before and drained)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tsp miso
  • 1 tbs high quality, cold pressed olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt (or more if you feel that it’s required)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp pimenton de la vera or smoked paprika
  • 2 tbs nutritional yeast
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  1. Remove the stems from the kale leaves (you can use them to make smoothies if you have a powerful blender or reserve them for juicing!)
  2. Blend all the ingredients in a blender apart from ze kale
  3. Cut it in half inch pieces
  4. In a bowl mix the kale leaves and the sauce

Spread them onto the teflex sheets or on baking tray(s) if using an oven (which I did) and dehydrate at 115°F (45°C) for about 5-6 hours. If using an oven that doesn’t get as low as those temperatures, put it as low as it gets and open the door to get a similar result. It all depends on the heat that it produces and the ventilation.

kale 1

This is what they looked like before the dehydration

On my way home, I realized how chilly it’s starting to get, and of course the parisian rain does not make things better. But this weather does offer the pleasure of being inside, wearing big jumpers and eating warm food.

I thought “I need something comforting and warm”. The call for food to fill me up with warmth was big. Had a look in the pantry looking for my buddy Quinoa but wasn’t able to spot him. Suddenly my mind lit up: I saw the Arborio Rice.

There’s something amazing about stirring risotto, it “forces” (in the best of ways) to focus one’s attention to what you are cooking. The best moments in my life are those where I am so immersed in the process of what I am doing that all thoughts disappear and I just feel good. Those moments were attained sometimes when making risotto. Nothing else to do but stir it up.  Meditation with a wooden spoon.

So for those of you who have trouble getting all their greens in, here’s a tip: use A LOT of fresh herbs (dark greens such as: cilantro, parsley and here basil. To name but a few). Nutritionwise, herbs resemble their wild parents and are full of antioxidants, nutrients and vitamins. Because of their antioxidant profile it’s best to add them at the last minute and keep them as raw as possible! In this recipe I used basil from my balcony (for ultimate freshness).

Here it is:

Basil and Wild Garlic Risotto (for 2):

  • 1 cup of arborio rice
  • 1 clove of garlic (you can use an onion instead)
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs vegetable broth in powder form that you can substitute with broth (use any kind)
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup of white or rosé wine (do not worry the alcohol leaves with the heat)
  • 1 tsp wild garlic pesto (I used some harvested by an awesome couple who do wild gardening and foraging and this pesto is a delight, simply fresh wild garlic blended with sunflower oil and salt. Man, it’s powerful!) If you don’t have access to fresh, use dehydrated bits 1 + 1/2 tsp

And that’s how it goes:

  1. Chop up your garlic very thin (or onion in small dice) and fry it up in a saucepan on medium high with 1 tbs of olive oil until golden brown.
  2. In the meanwhile boil up the recommended amount of broth or water with the dehydrated broth necessary for the rice. 4 cups and 1/2 was enough. You do want to add more than recommended, just in case. Once it’s boiling reduce it to medium.
  3. Add the rice in the pan along with 1 tbs of olive oil and let it fry for another 7-8 minutes to crack up the rice
  4. Add the broth little by little. If you are using dehydrated wild garlic add it in now. Stir constantly as it is cooking. This can take up to 25 minutes. Try it when it looks mushy, if you like the consistency you can turn off the heat.
  5. Add the finely chopped basil (I like to use scissors for that matter) and the wild garlic, if you’re using it fresh. Drizzle with high quality olive oil for the taste.
  6. Salt to taste if you feel like it.
  7. Relish that warm goodness

risotto basilico

As the summer is coming to an end, I had to make something out of the last eggplants in season. Baba Ghanoush sounded about right. Although I did see the potential in this recipe, I had never come to a point where I would be in love with it. Blame the Lebanese restaurants? The food industry and the packaged versions? I’m not here to blame, but in the end I had never enjoyed fully, until today.

This recipe is a killer: simple, subtle and rich flavors, a silky smooth texture that children and parents will agree on, and a simplicity of making.

ImageThe key here is the smokiness.  Created by an amazing ingredient: smoked paprika from Spain “Pimenton de la Vera”.

It’s mainly used to give taste to Chorizo. It is part of the Spanish heritage and regulated by a label of quality control, recognized for it’s woody (smoked only with oak tree wood) flavor and aroma. I could not find an organic version of it but this label (which is used around europe, in French “AOP”: appellation d’origine protégée) is a way to certify that the product is “made on a geographically determined region, applying ancestral knowledge and methods”.

DO NOT PANIC if you can’t find it, I have a solution: use Chipolte! They are the mexican version of it. Unfortunately I cannot find them in Paris. If you know where to get some in Eiffel tower land, please let me know. I will love you forever. Seriously.

Now, the recipe:

-1 big eggplant (600gr = 1.3 pounds)

-2 tbs tahini

-1 clove of garlic

-2 tbs high quality olive oil (always prefer cold pressed for the taste and nutritional value) + some to drizzle

-Juice of half a lemon

-1/2 tsp pimenton de la vera AGRIDULCE (semisweet). Powder form (you could use chipotle if you have access to those!)

-Salt and pepper to taste

-Optional: chili pepper for a lasting hot taste on your tongue

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C (356° F)
  2. Halve the eggplant in two. Pick it with a fork
  3. Line some cooking paper on a baking tray and place the eggplant. Drizzle generously the eggplant.
  4. Put it in the oven and turn it around after 15 minutes.
  5. Let it cook until nicely brown. It should be very tender when picked with a knife. Takes approx. 35-45 minutes depending on the size of the halves.
  6. Take them out of the oven, and let them rest 10 minutes, you can then scoop out the flesh, discarding the skin.
  7. Blend thoroughly the flesh with the olive oil, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper and optionally the chili pepper.
  8. Let it sit until it gets to room temperature

You can decorate it with the smoked paprika for a nice visual touch

Note that, it’s even better (much better actually) the day after… The garlic and smoked pepper have fully expressed themselves in the eggplant. The result is smooookiiiiiiinnnnnnnn’

Image

Just for fun... Plate arrangement!

plate design 2

A day at work when not many clients were there, I had time to let the creativity flow through me and this is what came out.

On the plate:
A seasonal salad composed of carrot strips, lettuce, mint and acerola dressing.
Half a gluten free blini made by Luz Maria.
A ball of açaï caviar.
Two sauces: One with soft peppers and Urucum (also called Achiote, 500 times more beta carotene than carrots). The other Nopal and olive oil. And some simple chickpeas.

Notice how very simple foods can look amazing. It’s all about the color!

Hello there!

So to start off this blog right, let me introduce to you a beautiful and strange vegetable that is not so well known… Parsnip!

It’s flavor is subtle and deep at the same time. Often mistaken for a carrot, it sure is sweet but has a different aroma. It is widely appreciated by those who appreciate heirloom species.

You can use it shredded in salads with lemon juice to enhance and balance the sweetness. It will also make a great soup or purée. Versatile, it’s color will brighten up any winter meal!

Without further delay, the recipe:

Parsnip cream topped with some sprouts to make it sexy

Serves about 4 people

-3 medium sized parsnips, chopped in about 3cm (small) cubes.
-1/4 cup fresh cilantro
-1/2 cup brazil nuts (you can use more or less depending on how thick you want it to be, here the result will be a smooth velouté)

-1 tbsp of vegetable broth, the one I use is easy to find in french organic shops, “Rapunzel”. You can use any other that suits your taste.

-A pinch of good quality salt (himalayan or fleur de sel for example) You can remplace the salt with the juice of half a lime.

Put the parsnip cubes and the broth in a pan covering with water about 1cm (1/2 inch). Boil. Once it is boiling cover it up and reduce the fire to medium low. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes, until the parsnips are tender when picked with a fork.

Put those in a bowl, or better in a blender. Add the cilantro, salt (or lime juice), and brazil nuts. Blend. You can add water for a lighter consistency. If you want to turn it thicker, add more nuts.

Et voilà! Enjoy!

image 2Notice how simply topping it with cabbage sprouts adds color and sexyness to this simple dish