summer

almond quinoa chocolate bars

21st September 2016

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Cool softened air, full mOOn swell, falling leaves, savouring the light….

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These have been a decadent treat around here.  Loved by all.  Perfect when you need something more than a dried date or fig for a sweet after a meal.  Based on this recipe from Green Kitchen Stories – a wonderful video is included showing you just how easy they are to make.  I altered the recipe slightly, adding ¼ cup hot water to the dates when mashing them. Even though the dates I used were soft, the hot water helped in the overall consistency. Instead of pumpkin seeds, I used extra almonds and toasted them to make them snappy and to bring out their flavour. I prefer using just almonds, as their qualities are less heating than most other nuts and seeds.  You could use a carob topping instead of the chocolate, by melting down carob buttons or using this glaze.

almond butter quinoa chocolate bars - 1 (1)

almond quinoa chocolate bars

Makes 16 squares/32 bites sized squares.

ingredients:

2 Tblsp coconut oil

200g soft medjool dates – approximately 10 dates

¼ cup/60ml hot water

1 cup/250g home-made almond butter

1 Tblsp fresh ginger, grated

a pinch rock salt, optional

½ cup/55 grams toasted almonds/hazelnuts

1 cup/80g puffed quinoa

for the chocolate topping:

100g dark chocolate

3 Tblsp dried unsweetened coconut

preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.

to roast the almonds:

Place the whole almonds/hazelnuts on a tray and toast for approximately 8 minutes.  If using hazelnuts – while they are still warm, rub the nuts in a towel to remove the skins.  Allow to cool, finely chop and set aside.

to make the almond quinoa bars:

Line a 7 x 7 – inch baking tray with baking paper, leaving 2 inches around the edges.

Remove the seeds from the dates and measure out 200 grams.  Set aside.  Melt the coconut oil in a medium saucepan over low heat. Take off the heat and add the dates into the saucepan with the coconut oil.  Add the hot water and mash with a fork.  Mix in the almond butter, ginger and salt, stirring until it all comes together.  Remove from heat and add the puffed quinoa, chopped roasted almonds/hazelnuts, incorporating everything evenly.

Using your hands, press the mixture very tightly into the lined dish, until completely even and flat. Using the edges of the baking paper, fold over and run your finger along the edges to create level sides and corners.  Place in the freezer while preparing the chocolate coating.

to melt the chocolate topping:

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over barely simmering water. Remove from heat, then using a spatula, spread the chocolate evenly over the slice. Sprinkle with half the shredded coconut, leaving the other half to sprinkle on later.

Place in the freezer for at least two hours, until cold and firm. Using a sharp knife, cut into bite-sized squares or rectangular bars. Store in an airtight container in the freezer. The bars will keep for a month.

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green bean palya

11th September 2016

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This is a great dish to make in late August when you have a glut of beans that cannot be picked fast enough and are becoming quite tough and in need of that extra boiling time to soften and bring out the flavour.  The climbing bean would have to be one of my favourite vegetables growing in the garden.  Once they are at their peak they continue to produce at a fast and furious rate.  Here, in Europe I grow the runner beans which have proven to do the best, being most resilient and tough, in this odd unpredictable, misty, Sintra climate.  They also produce the most beautiful flowers of ivory and cream.

Before leaving for our Summer holiday I planted a second round of climbing beans, planting in hope to extend the season, but alas only two came up, fortunately I also threw in a bed of very old french beans to clean out my seed box.  To my surprise all sprouted with robust enthusiasm and are close to picking in two weeks, I just hope the weather stays warm as we edge our way into early Autumn.  This is the warmest and dryist of Summers we have had since arriving in Portugal and the garden is rejoicing in it.

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This dish may be used as a condiment or independently served with rice, chapati or poori.  It strengthens the body, is easily digested and is suitable for all constitutions.   Suitable to be used daily and throughout all seasons.  For a variation of taste, lemon juice can be added at the end of preparation.  This variation is recommended when eating with rice.

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Green Bean Palya

The chilli, commonly used in South Indian cooking, is Byaadagi chilli and is known for its deep red colour; it is relatively sweet and less spicy.  If unsure about the level of spice of the chilli you are using, leave whole or cut in half.

The Byaadagi chilli, split bengal gram & urad dāl can be purchased at your local Indian store.

Serves 4

Recipe shared by our teacher Ganapati Aarya, as part of the Jivana Yoga Diploma.  

ingredients :

4 cups /420g green beans

4 Tblsp peanut/melted coconut oil

1 tsp black mustard seeds

1 Tblsp split bengal gram (chickpea)

1 tsp split urad dāl (black gram)

1 tsp cumin seeds

2 medium, mild dried red chilies,chopped

tsp hingu powder (asafoetida)

½ tsp turmeric powder

20-25 fresh curry leaves

1½ cups/375ml  water

5 Tblsp dried shredded coconut

1 tsp rock salt

2 tsp jaggery/sugar

½ cup chopped coriander leaves

Preparation:

Wash, top-tail and chop the green beans into small pieces.  Set aside.

In a heavy bottom skillet, over a medium flame, heat the oil and add the mustard seeds; wait until they start to splatter and pop and then add the bengal gram, urad dāl, cumin seeds, chillies, and hingu. 

Fry until bengal gram and urad dāl have turned golden in colour then add the turmeric powder and curry leaves.

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Add to the skillet the chopped beans, water, salt and jaggery. 

Stir to combine.  Simmer rapidly on medium heat until the beans have softened – approximately 15 minutes.  If wanting more of a firm bean, simmer for less time.

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Turn off the heat and stir in the dried coconut and fresh coriander leaves. 

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Allow to sit for 5 minutes in order to cool slightly and for the flavours to be absorbed.  Taste, adding more salt or jaggery, as needed.

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blackberry – acai popsicle

2nd September 2016

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A gorgeous coloured blackberry sorbet in celebration with the season, with the added benefits of acai – a recipe for the Holmes Place magazine; an ongoing concept of ‘super foods ‘ throughout the year.

‘Acai is a rich, deep purple fruit which is similar in shape to a grape and has a mild chocolate-y berry sweetness. These berries grow in huge clusters near the tops of palm trees, which grow in the Amazon rain forests. Each Acai berry contains just 10% fruit and pulp and a large seed, which has no benefits, so harvesting this fruit is laborious since the tree has no branches and each cluster of berries needs to be cut and brought down manually in order to preserve the fruit and pulp.  Within the nutritional pulp and skin, Acai berries are packed with antioxidants, amino acids, fibre, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. It helps to increase your antioxidant levels, boosts your energy levels, supports your immune system and helps to promote a healthy digestive system.’

There are three basic ways to add acai to a recipe: acai powder, acai juice and acai frozen smoothie packs. Here, I choose to use the powder which is more widely available and which has been freeze-dried instantly to preserve the active components and is not overly processed. The powder can be added to smoothies, juices, home-made ice creams, sprinkled over your morning porridge, or added into raw treats.

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~home~

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Blackberry-Acai Popsicle

Makes 9 small popsicles

If you don’t have blackberries, try a different berry variety, blueberries, raspberries or even strawberries.  For a creamier sorbet, replace the apple juice with coconut cream by refrigerating a tin of coconut milk, & scooping out the white thick cream on top.   If you don’t have access to acai powder, it can be easily omitted. 

ingredients:

3 cups fresh blackberries, washed

2 medium ripe frozen bananas

½ cup unsweetened apple juice or fruit juice of choice

2 teaspoon acai powder

2 Tablespoon natural sweetener of choice (coconut sugar, maple syrup or honey)

preparation:

Wash the berries and place in a high-speed blender or food processor, along with the peeled frozen bananas, apple juice, & acai powder.  Blend until smooth and creamy, stopping if you need to push the fruit down with a rubber spatula.  Taste, and add sweetener, if required.  Blend again to incorporate the sweet.

Spoon or pour into your popsicle holders, & freeze until firm or enjoy as is, for an instant treat.  When ready, pull the popsicle out of their moulds by running them under some warm water. 

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References – https://www.victoriahealth.com/editorial/facts-and-myths-about-acai-berry

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mango passionfruit sorbet

6th August 2016

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I photographed this before I left for our holiday. We travelled for almost 2 days and a bit, arriving in a bit of a daze – a haze. Finally, with our feet on earthly ground and toes in the sand.  The jet lag is HUGE, but worth every moment of breathing in all these scents and sounds which are so familiar.  The early, early mornings are my most favourite, most alive, sitting out on the deck, watching the sky change its colour from black to blue to pink to orange – so brightly. And with it all, along comes the eerie call of the curlew, followed by a kookaburra and then the screech and squawk of the white-crested cockatoos.  Australia is a beautiful country.

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Glorious days, white sands & soft, glowing, clear skies.

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mango passionfruit sorbet

Serves 6

This is incredibly quick & easy, with a remarkable end result of a golden-coloured smooth, refreshing sorbet for these hot Summer days or as a light evening treat to end a meal.

ingredients :

650g/3 heaped cups fresh ripe mango (2 large mangos)

6 – 8 passionfruit

2 Tblsp mild-tasting honey/maple syrup (optional)

preparation:

Peel & chop the mango flesh into large chunks and place in a bowl.  Run your hand over the seed to remove as much of the mango pulp and juice as possible.  Place the pulp and the honey into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.   Set aside.

In a medium jug, half the passionfruit and scoop out the pulp.  Pour the mango puree into the jug and stir to combine with a spoon.

Transfer the mixture to an ice-cream maker and churn for about 25 – 30 minutes, or to the manufacture´s instructions, until frozen.  The sorbet will be soft.  Transfer to a container, cover and freeze for at least 3 hours or until completely frozen.

When ready to serve, allow to soften outside for 15 minutes before scooping into bowls.  Garnish with leaves of fresh lemon verbena and bright, edible flowers.

If you don’t have an ice-cream maker, freeze the cut mango until solid.  Place in a blender with the honey and blend until smooth.  Stir in the passionfruit pulp and place in the freezer until it just starts to harden around the edges.  Whisk vigorously with a fork to break up any ice crystals, then freeze until firm.

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roasted red pepper walnut spread

1st July 2016

roasted red pepper

One of the (much well received) additions to our table recently is this roasted red pepper walnut spread.  This is one recipe I have made quite a few times as a wholesome snack, entree, spread or more filling side dish to an otherwise light salad based meal. Whatever the occasion, time of day or audience I can almost always be assured of…’mmm…whats in this?!’. My answer has always been…’oh, I’ll post it on my blog’. So here it is.

If there is one vegetable when roasted that brings it´s goodness, it’s a roasted bell pepper.  After being roasted in the oven, the skin becomes charred, wrinkly and the inside sheds its blistered skin – emerging more succulent and sweeter than the raw version. The transformation is magical and delicious.

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-a garden edging it´s way into Summer

red pepper

roasted red pepper walnut spread

Makes about 2 cups

I  have been looking for a another tasty dip other than the usual hummus or guacamole we serve so often here, and one that satisfies the matured taste buds of young adults.  The roasted pepper adds a distinct sweetness and the toasted walnuts & breadcrumbs balance out that sweetness.  It is great served as a dip, as a spread on sandwiches or over a base for a pizza.

Recipe from 101 cookbooks – Heidi Swanson.

ingredients :

3 medium/450g red pepper  (I like to use the long pepper – I find them sweeter more flavourful than bell pepper)

¾ cup/70g walnuts

¼ cup/25g whole-grain bread crumbs

½ tsp crushed red chilli flakes

½ tsp whole cumin seeds

2 Tblsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

2 Tblsp honey/pomegranate molasses

4 Tblsp tomato paste

½ tsp fine-grain rock salt

preparation :

Pre – heat the oven to 410F/210C.

Place the whole peppers on a rimmed tray lined with a baking sheet.  Roast, until the skin has become charred, and wrinkled, 50 to 60 minutes.

While the peppers roast, place a few slices of sourdough bread in the oven and toast until crunchy, approximately 20 minutes, place the walnuts into the oven to toast for 5 minutes. Careful not to burn.  Remove and set aside to cool.

When the pepper are ready, remove from the oven and gather up the corners of the baking sheet from the tray and wrap the peppers (use a kitchen towel to help if it is too hot).  This will steam them enabling the skins to easily peel off .

Cool until you can handle them, about 15 minutes, then remove the skin, seeds, and stems.   Keep the liquid from the peppers to add to the processor.  Set aside.

Dry roast the cumin seeds in a small pan, when lightly toasted turn off the heat and grind to a powder with a mortar and pestle.  Set aside.

Using  a food processor attached with an S blade, process the bread crumbs, when coarsely ground, measure out ¼ cup and return to the processor, add the chilli flakes and walnuts and process until the walnuts are roughly ground.

roasted red pepper ingredients

Add the cumin seeds, olive oil, honey, tomato paste, salt and skinned peppers with their roasting liquid, process until everything is well incorporated and you have a smooth consistency.

Garnish with basil leaves, extra walnuts, and drizzle with olive oil.  Serve with fresh crackers, toasted bread, or with freshly made chapati (my favourite option) and a green, garden salad.

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lemon barley water

27th March 2016

barley water table

Barley has a cooling thermal nature; sweet and astringent in taste.  Traditionally given to calm sore stomachs.

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-Marguerite daisy, also known as the Argyranthemum frutescens

barley water closeup

lemon barley water

Makes just over 1.2 – 1.5 litres

Recipe adapted from Spring the cookbook.

Lovely soothing, yet thirst quenching, drink.  You can add other flavouring to it besides lemon and honey – lemon verbena or ginger would work well.  Don’t discard the cooked barley.  Recipe to follow, or stir through a vegetable soup, or dress it simply with a little olive oil and lemon juice and add to a salad.

ingredients :

1 cup /200g pearl barley

10 cups/2.5 litres filtered water

3 – 4 Tblsp light-flavoured honey

3  Tblsp lemon juice, or more to taste

preparation :

Rinse the barley several times until the water runs clear, then pour into a saucepan and add the filtered water.  Bring to boil over a medium heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered until the barley is tender, this will take about 35 – 40 minutes.  Strain, reserving the cooking water, and set the barley aside.

Run the barley water through a thinner strainer into a pouring jug, add the honey, stirring until dissolved.  Allow to cool.

Add the lemon juice, taste, adding more honey or lemon as needed.

barleywater closeup

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good morning live apple oatmeal with tahini sauce

24th November 2015

because it’s still THAT sort of weather..

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or should I say… ‘It WAS that sort of weather’….

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good morning live apple oatmeal with tahini sauce

A favourite with my daughter as a light meal before she goes to school, her preference is served with a spoon of thick greek yogurt & a drizzling of honey.

serves 1

ingredients :

1 large apple

squeeze of fresh lemon juice

1 tsp each goji berries, sunflower & pumpkin seeds (soaked overnight)

1 Tbsp ground flaxseed

tahini sauce

1 Tblsp tahini

2 Tblsp water

½ tsp honey/maple syrup

¼ tsp cinnamon

preparation:

Drain the berries and seeds, set aside.

Grate the apple with a box grater, leaving the skin on.  Toss immediately with lemon juice to prevent browning.

Sprinkle over the ground flax seeds, goji berries and seeds.

In a small bowl combine the tahini sauce ingredient adding water until a pouring consistency is achieved. Drizzle over the apple oatmeal and serve immediately.

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a gentle late summer vegetable dish served with whole wheat couscous

29th September 2015

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For Yasmin – a favourite of yours and a thank-you for all your patience in holding those heavy skillets, plates, seeds, vegetables and flowers in all sorts of elements – wind, rain, cold and in all those inconvenient times…Xx

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This is one of the weekly lunches I make for the children to take to school, Jonathan to work and for me to have for my first meal at around 10 ish.  I have a list in the kitchen of meals which I refer to so I don’t have to spend time thinking about what to make when I start cooking early morning and the combination works for everyone’s likes and dislikes. 

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a gentle late summer vegetable dish served with whole wheat couscous

Serves 4

This dish is perfect when needing a gentle tasting, soft dish.  The key is the lightly cook the vegetables so they remain vibrant & firm.  When needing a more hearty, protein dish instead of the potatoes, add a cup of cooked chickpeas.  When available, corn fresh off the cob is a nice addition.  The couscous is great as it cooks up in only 10 minutes.  Whole wheat couscous is a finely crushed form of durum wheat semolina, less processed than pasta with more fibre and nutrients.

for the couscous

2 cups whole-wheat couscous

3 cups boiling water

1 Tbsp ghee

½ tsp salt

for the vegetables

2 Tblsp oil of choice

1 Tblsp yellow mustard seeds

1 fresh/dried bay leaf

2 carrot, chopped into diagonals

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut

½ – 1 cup water

1 bulb of fennel, thinly sliced into rounds/2 sticks celery

1 zucchini or handful of green beans, chopped into diagonals

1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped

3 Tblsp small dried currants

salt and pepper, to taste

fresh coriander/parsley

¼ cup lightly toasted pine nuts/pine nut parmesan

preparation :

Place the couscous in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon of ghee/oil and salt.  Pour the boiling water over the couscous.  Cover and leave for 10 minutes, when ready to serve fluff up with a fork.

Place the peeled and chopped potatoes in a saucepan with a little water and simmer until soft and cooked.

In a medium-sized heavy bottomed saucepan heat the oil, when hot add the yellow mustard seeds and saute for a few seconds.  Add the bay leaf, chopped celery, carrots, red pepper, and green beans.  Cover and simmer for four minutes or more.

Once the vegetables have softened slightly but still firm & vibrant, add the soft potatoes and currants.  Simmer for a further 2 more minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the salt and a generous few rounds of freshly ground pepper.

To serve, spoon the couscous into a deep plate, bowl or lunch box.  Sprinkle over a good helping of fresh parsley or coriander.  Spoon the vegetables onto the center of the couscous.  Drizzle with a good tasting olive oil, a generous sprinkling of pine nut parmesan or toasted pine nuts, garnish again with freshly chopped coriander or parsley & a few rounds of freshly ground pepper.

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brown rice salad with fresh herbs, toasted seeds & miso mayonnaise

4th September 2015

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a few nature, beauty-inspired photos from our trip to Australia.  Land to Sea….

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-Yellow Sulphur-crested cockatoos – one evening there were 18 of them.

-a visit from a young kookaburra – early morning kookaburra calls

-low tide, ‘Catseye Beach’

-high-tide, ‘Catseye Beach’ with my very big teenagers

-view from ‘Passage Peak’, Hamilton Island Nature Reserve

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brown rice salad with fresh herbs, toasted seeds & miso mayonnaise

serves 4

Inspired by Amy Chaplin’s ‘At Home in the Wholefood Kitchen.’

For the charred grilled vegetables, use whatever vegetables are in season.  If short on time, there is no need to cook the vegetables, just shave, grate or thinly slice.  In Summer, I serve it with roasted, buttered corn on the cob.   Once I have a supply of the miso mayonnaise in the fridge, it becomes a simple meal to throw together quickly – I sometimes use quinoa instead of the brown rice and for a more substantial meal, I add 1 cup of cooked chickpeas.  If you don’t have sweet white miso on hand, this salad is really good with the left-over tamari and tahini sauces from the previous post.

ingredients:

1 ½ cup small round brown rice, soaked

2 Tblsp tamari toasted sunflower seeds/pumpkin (see here for recipe)

2 Tblsp toasted sesame seeds

1 medium zucchini/green beans/okra, chopped into diagonals

1 red capsicum, chopped

1 cup fresh coriander & parsley, finely chopped

½ cup small cherry tomatoes, halved & quartered

2 small crunchy cucumbers, diced

1 avocado

preparation:

Wash the rice and soak overnight.  Drain and rinse the brown rice and place in a heavy-based saucepan with 2 cups of water.  Bring to boil, lower the flame, then simmer, covered for 40 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.  If you are not soaking the rice, increase the water to 2¾ cups and cook for longer.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

In a skillet over medium heat, place the sesame seeds and toast for 2 or 3 minutes until golden.  Pour into a bowl and set aside.

In a heavy-based frying pan or using the same skillet, place on a high flame and leave to heat for a minute.  Once hot, drizzle in a tiny bit of oil/ghee, throw in the red capsicum and zucchini/okra, stirring every few minutes.  The capsicum, zucchini/okra should start to have dark blisters and a charred look. Cook for 5 minutes until charred and soft.  Sprinkle with salt and set aside.

Place the cooled brown rice in a large bowl.  Stir in the charred vegetables.  Sprinkle over the tomatoes, cucumbers, toasted seeds, fresh coriander & parsley.  Remove the outer skin from the avocado, slice and fan over the center of the rice.  When serving, spoon into individual bowls and drizzle with a generous helping of miso mayonnaise and lemon slices.

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miso mayonnaise

makes 1 cup

3 Tblsp sweet white miso

3 Tblsp brown rice vinegar

3 Tlbsp fresh lemon juice

2 Tblsp honey/sweetener of choice

1 Tblsp freshly grated ginger

cup olive oil

Place all the ingredients, except the olive oil in a small blender or an upright blender.  Blitz on high speed for 1 minute or until smooth.  With the blender running on low speed, drizzle in the olive oil and blend until thick and smooth, about 30 seconds.  Store in a jar in the fridge.

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summer rolls with two sauces

28th August 2015

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I lost track of the days this week…

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Lost in the sound of the rain on the leaves, the colours of the nightfall and in the fullness of the mOOn ..

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summer rolls

When we have this at home, I lay out all the fillings on an extra-large chopping board in the middle of the table, set up two soaking stations on either side for the rice paper, and let everyone construct their own.  Other times I make them beforehand and pack them into little tiffin tins to enjoy out on a walk or for a school lunch.  When the weather cools down, I add sautéed sesame-covered tempeh & sweet potato strips or strips of grilled eggplant glazed with sweet miso & maple syrup. Cooked quinoa is also a nice addition.

ingredients :

8 – 12 round rice paper wrappers

8 – 12 small lettuce leaves

1 carrot, peeled

1 beetroot, peeled

1 cucumber/zucchini

½ red or orange bell pepper

handful of fresh coriander and mint leaves

prepare the fillings –

Using a box grater or the grater attachment on a food processor, grate the beetroot and carrot together. Cut the avocado and bell pepper into slices, and drizzle the avocado with a little lemon. Using a potato peeler, cut thin strips of cucumber/zucchini.  Wash and dry the fresh mint & coriander.  Place all the fillings into individual bowls or lined up on a large cutting board.

assemble the salad rolls –

Fill a deep bowl with hot water.  Dunk one of the rice paper rolls for 5 – 6 seconds, then lay out on a work surface. The paper will be slightly stiff, but will continue to soften as it sits.  Place a leaf of lettuce in the centre of the rice paper roll.  Arrange a thin bundle of grated carrot, beetroot, avocado slices, shaved zucchini/cucumber, bell pepper, then sprinkle a few leaves of coriander and mint over the vegetables.

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Pour a little of the tahini sesame sauce over the top and pull the bottom of the roll up to enclose the filling tightly. Fold one side over, then the other, and continue to roll up snugly.  Repeat with the remaining wrappers.  Serve with both sauces.

 

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tahini-sesame dressing

The tahini can be replaced with your favourite mayonnaise or peanut butter.  A  few finely chopped slivers of mild chilli can give this sauce a lovely spicy kick.

recipe slightly adapted from here

2 Tblsp sesame seeds (I used an even amount of white & black)

¼ cup tahini

1 Tblsp rice vinegar or umboshi plum vinegar

1 Tblsp tamari

1½ tsp toasted sesame oil

cup water

In a high-speed blender, add the sesame seeds and grind until they are roughly ground.  Add the tahini, vinegar, tamari, oil and water, and blend until well mixed.  Depending on the preferred thickness of the tahini, you may need to add more water.  I like the consistency quite thick. Left-overs can be used as a salad dressing or served with brown rice and sautéed vegetables.

tamari – ginger sauce

This is a great sauce to have on hand, the sweetness complements the tahini-sesame sauce.  I usually triple the recipe to use in a stir-fry during the week.

3 Tblsp tamari

1 Tblsp maple syrup (or sweetener of choice)

1 Tbsp finely grated fresh ginger

Grate the ginger and place in a bowl with the tamari and sweetener.  Mix together and set aside for the ginger to infuse into the sauce.

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