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I’ve been reading up about Puglia and apparently it’s influencing my food choices… Doesn’t get much simpler then this.

Pasta with roasted stem tomatoes, garlic scapes and bush basil.

Ingredients

  • 500 gr (18 oz) orecchiette pasta
  • 20 small vine tomatoes, left on the stem
  • 115 ml (1/2 cup) garlic scapes, chopped
  • 50 ml (1/4 cup) fresh bush basil leaves
  • 50 ml (1/4 cup) very good Extra Virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 200 °C (400 °F).

Put the cleaned tomatoes, still attached to the vine, on a baking sheet and roast in the over until done, about 20-30 minutes. Keep warm.

While the tomatoes are cooking, boil pasta in plenty of water until al dente. Drain, reserving 115 ml (1/2 cup) of cooking water.

In a large skillet, heat up 15 ml (1 tbsp) olive oil. Sauté the garlic scapes for a few minutes until tender. Add pasta and reserved water and cook for a minute. Turn off heat when most of the water is evaporated. Add remaining olive oil, basil, salt and pepper. Toss to combine well and serve immediately.

Serves 4 as a main dish.

Wine pairing

Try a simple and good value Salice Salentino from Puglia.

My #1 summer food.

Seriously. I could eat this every day. It’s all my mom’s fault really… She’s transmitted her addiction on to us. We’re now contaminating the 3rd generation.

Orange zebra tomato sandwich with avocado and red curly lettuce.

No recipe necessary. Ingredients are super basic but must be the best and freshest you can get your hands on. Good rustic bread, toasted. Juicy and tangy homegrown tomatoes. Curly leaf or other crunchy, preferably homegrown lettuce. Homemade vegan mayo. Sometimes avocado or zucchini bacon. That. Is. It. Summer!

P.S. my #2 summer food is Vietnamese summer rolls and that addiction is almost as bad, at times even surfacing in the middle of winter…

I had been craving zucchini blossoms for weeks and could not find them at all. It always blows me away when I can’t fin something in NYC. I mean seriously, this is NYC how could it not have XYZ?!? Specially food stuff. Why can’t I just reach for puntarelle, zucchini blossoms, chestnuts, preserved lemons, vin jaune, pain poilâne, vegan crème fraîche, ok maybe that last one is pushing it a little but you get what I saying.

Anyway, I finally found zucchini blossoms last weekend at the Grand Army plaza market. This is what came of it.

Stuffed zucchini blossoms with fava beans and garlic scapes
(sorry for the crappy photo, there was no light left at all)

For the Fava Beans

Ingredients

  • 1.5 kg (3 pounds) unshelled young fresh fava beans
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) garlic scapes, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup water
  • black pepper, freshly ground
  • salt
  • lemon juice

Shell, blanch and peel the fava beans.

Sauté the garlic scapes in the oil until for a minute. Stir in beans, add water and simmer, covered, for 8 to 12 minutes until the beans are tender.

Add salt and pepper, turn up the heat and cook uncovered until the last of the water has evaporated.

Remove from heat and reserve.

For the stuffed zucchini blossoms

Ingredients

  • 18 zucchini blossoms
  • 350 ml (12 oz) beer
  • 75 ml (5 Tbsp) flour
  • 15 ml (1 Tbsp) corn starch
  • 60 gr (2 oz) firm tofu
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • one recipe of vegan ricotta
  • vegetable oil for frying

Trim the stems, remove the pistils and very gently wash and dry of the zucchini blossoms.

Prepare the batter by combining the beer, flour, tofu and salt and pepper. Process in a high power blender until creamy. Keep aside.

Use a pastry bag (or a small ziplock) to fill the blossoms with cheese. Reserve.

Heat the oil to 175ºC  (350ºF).

One by one, dip each stuffed blossoms in the batter and drop them in the hot oil. Fry in small batches until golden brown.

To plate

Put a few spoonfuls of beans on each plates. Drizzle with more olive oil and lemon juice. Top with blossoms. Serve right away.

Yields 6 mains or 10 appetizers.

Wine pairing

I would suggest a dry Italian white. Be adventurous, move away from the standard Pinot Grigio and try an herbal Sauvignon Blanc from Friuli, a more floral Vernaccia di San Gimignano or a crisp, mineral and citrusy Vermentino or Trebbiano d’Abruzzo instead.

Pissaladière rework

Here’s an other one from the country vacation folder. As usual it’s easy to make and can quickly be thrown together.

Pissaladière is a Niçoise onion tart eaten as an appetizer. The classic version does not have tomatoes and takes longer to prepare as you need to compote the onions first. Here I’ve made it with store-bought puff pastry which I had lying around but bread dough is more traditional.

Roma tomatoes over puff pastry, topped with homegrown golden oregano.
Just out of the BBQ.

Ingredients

  • store-bought puff pastry dough
  • 3 onions, sliced
  • 6 Italian plum tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 20 oil-cured black olives, sliced or left whole
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) olive oil
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) fresh oregano
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) fresh thyme
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Pre-heat BBQ on highest setting.

Thinly roll out the dough and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet.

Spread the garlic, tomatoes, onions, olive and herbs out evenly on the dough. Spray with olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Reduce heat to the lowest setting and put the Pissaladière in the BBQ. Bake with the lid closed for 15 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Serve hot or cold.

Serves 6-8

Fresh Shell Pea Soup

The first fresh shell peas of summer are a gorgeous thing. This super fast and simple recipe is all about them.

Fresh shell pea soup garnished with pea shoots and peas.

Ingredients

  • 15 ml (1 Tbsp) olive oil
  • 1 french shallot, chopped
  • 700 ml (3 cups) fresh shelled peas
  • 1 L (4 cups) homemade mild vegetable stock
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) soy cooking cream
  • 1 spring fresh lemon thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

Garnish to taste

  • Fresh mint leaves
  • Fresh pea shoots
  • Chopped chives
  • Croutons

Directions

In a stockpot, heat oil on medium heat. Add shallot and sautée until soft, about 5 minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil, add peas then reduce to a simmer. Cover pot and cook until peas are soft, about 7 minutes.

Remove from heat, and add soy cream. Blend soup with stick blender, or process in a blender until completely smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle soup into individual serving bowls and garnish with your choice of ingredients.

This soup is also nice served chilled garnished with plain soy yogurt and mint.

Chilled fresh pea soup with mint and soy yogurt.

Grilled veges

This is my default country vacation meal.

As much as I love cooking, when I’m in the country I rarely go all out as I’m usually too busy building, planting or fixing something to take the time to make a gourmet meal. So I usually just slice up some fresh vegetables and season them up simply before tossing them on the BBQ. A green salad, some good bread and of course wine, rounds it up.

Grilled veges drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt.

Mexican tostada

Bean tostada

Here’s an other “it’s too hot to bother with cooking” summer meal.

The tortilla was crisped in the oven instead of fried then topped with homemade bean chili which was kicking around the back of the freezer. I added chopped up lettuce, tomatoes, avocado and onions then some chipotle salsa and garnished it with fresh cilantro and a wedge of lime. Vegan crema or cheese could be added but I didn’t feel the need.

Summer breakfast

From July to September I could easily live off tomato sandwiches, fresh summer rolls and iced coffee alone.

Half way through my first coffee.

This is today’s version with heirloom yellow pear tomatoes and small leaf basil, both from my balcony garden. As often, I spread very ripe avocado on toasted bread in place of mayo.

Just in time for summer, when I rarely feel like firing up the stove, the kitchen gods have sent me a new dehydrator. It’s been going non-stop for the last 3 days. Here’s what’s cooking.

Mango raspberry “leather”
Next up: zucchini “bacon” and dill & vinegar zucchini chips
BBQ kale chips
Ginger sesame kale chips

Here’s a first one from this year’s country vacation folder…

As my country place is off-the-grid and I do not have a “real” oven, all baking is done in the BBQ, at least until a build a proper bread oven. When baking, I put 4 recycled fire bricks on the grill to defuse the heat and prevent scorching. Once the bricks are in, I light up the BBQ and let it heat up for at least 15 minutes on the highest setting, then I turn the heat down to the minimum. The baking dish goes right on the brick. Keep the BBQ lid closed and resist opening it up to check on things, you want to keep the heat in!

As for the strudel, I made it with store-bought vegan puff pastry. I’m not great at making dough and honestly, out here, I have plenty of other stuff to do… Gotta pick your fights!

Assembling the strudel.

Ingredients

  • 6 apples,  peeled, cored and sliced
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) maple sugar
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) cinnamon
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) almond slivers, toasted
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

Preheat BBQ as explained above.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place apples in a large bowl. Stir in maple sugar and cinnamon; set aside.

Roll out puff pastry into a long rectangle. Arrange apple filling down the middle of the pastry lengthwise, top with almonds and a little more maple sugar. Fold the pastry lengthwise over the apples and seal edges using a little water.

Put the strudel on the lined baking sheet. Brush a little vegetable oil onto top of pastry. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Roasted cauliflower

Not much of a recipe here, just a beautiful cauliflower roasted to perfection. I find that roasting cauliflower brings out its sweet nuttiness. And it looks great too.

Clean the cauliflower and leave it whole. Spay an oven proof dish with a little olive oil, put the cauliflower in it and spray with olive oil as well. Sprinkle with salt and roast in a 200°C (400°F) oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown but still firm.

Delicious served with a sage brown “butter” or a bechamel sauce.

I love baby artichokes! Specially the tiny purple artichokes from Provence called “Poivrade”, so tender they can be eaten raw. They’re hard to find on this side of the ocean but so worth the hunt. Here’s a simple recipe that lets them shine.

Spaghetti with crispy baby artichokes, lemon, capers and parsley.

Ingredients

  • 16 baby artichokes
  • 50 ml (1/4 cup) capers, drained
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
  • 3 shallots, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 60 ml (4 Tbsp) olive oil
  • 500 gr (1 pound) spaghetti
  • juice of one lemon
  • zest of one lemon, grated (organic and untreated)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 60 ml (4 Tbsp) fresh parsley, chopped

Have a bowl of water with the half the lemon juice standing by. Pull off the outer leaves from each artichoke, leaving only the inner, light green ones. Cut off the sharp tips and trim the stringy parts from the bottoms. Drop the trimmed artichokes (still whole) into the water & lemon juice mix, so they don’t discolor.

In a large frying pan, heat 30 ml (2 Tbsp) olive oil and sauté the garlic, shallots and capers until lightly browned. Season with sea salt and pepper. Remove and set aside, leaving the seasoned oil in the pan.

Using a sharp knife, slice the artichokes into 1/4-inch slices length wise. On a medium-low heat sauté until crispy brown on both sides. Work in batches, removing the finished slices to a paper towel to drain. Drizzle the pan with more olive oil as needed.

Cook the spaghetti in salted water. When you drain the pasta, reserve 2 cups of the pasta water.

Deglaze the pan with 30 ml (2 Tbsp) olive oil and 1 cup of the pasta water. Put the capers-garlic-shallots sauté back in the pan. Mix well and reduce the volume of the liquid by half. Add the spaghetti and toss to coat. If the sauce needs more liquid, add a little more pasta water. Add the lemon juice and zest. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste and toss well.

Serve the pasta topped with the crispy baby artichoke slices and chopped parsley.

Serves 4

Inspired by a New York Times recipe.

Yes more morels and asparagus! This is the last one for a while I think, unless I dig up an other one from my archive folder…

Lemon risotto with sautéed morels and grilled asparagus.

For risotto

Ingredients

350 ml (1 1/2 cups) short grain rice preferably Carnaroli or Vialone Nano
750 ml (3 cups) homemade vegetable stock (or best store-bought, there may be some left over)
115 ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine
1 small onion, finely chopped
15 ml (1 Tbsp) olive oil
vegan cooking cream (not coffee creamer!)
freshly ground nutmeg to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
45 ml (3 Tbsp) lemon juice
30 ml (2 Tbsp) lemon zest, grated

In a small saucepan bring stock to a simmer and keep hot.

In a medium size heavy saucepan, cook onion in the oil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Add white wine and simmer until evaporated. Raise heat to medium high and add hot stock gradually in small amounts while stirring gently, almost constantly. After approximately 17 minutes, when rice is tender and creamy-looking but still al dente, take off the heat, add soy cream, lemon juice & zest and stir well.

Cover to rest 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately after.

The asparagus were sprayed with olive oil and grilled a couple of minutes on each side. The morels were sautéed as per this recipe.

To plate

Use a form to make a little risotto cylinder in each plate. Arrange a few asparagus and several morels next to it and garnish with chives and a red pepper ribbon.

Serves 4

Sometimes one needs chocolate… And it doesn’t get much more chocolaty than this. My friend Julie introduced me to this decadent vegan version of the classic a couple years ago and it has since become the base of most of my chocolate desserts. Plan for very small portions, this is way lighter than the original but feels and taste just as rich. The lemon sabayon balances it out nicely.

Chocolate fondant with lemon sabayon, orange zest and wild violet.

For the chocolate fondant

Ingredients

  • 1 package of firm silken tofu
  • 200 gr (7 oz) dark chocolate (my favourite is Green & Black Dark 70% which is organic and Fair Trade)
  • 45 ml (3 Tbsp) maple syrup
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) pure vanilla extract

In a double boiler, melt chocolate stirring constantly. Carefull not to overheat.

Using a blender process the tofu until creamy and smooth. Add the melted chocolate, maple syrup and vanilla and process until well combined.

Pour into a medium shallow glass dish and refrigerate overnight.

For the lemon sabayon

Ingredients

  • 1 package of firm silken tofu
  • 100 ml (1/2 cup) sweet Jerez
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 30 ml (2 Tbsp) lemon juice
  • 30 ml (2 Tbsp) lemon zest, grated
  • 30 ml (2 Tbsp) orange zest, grated (for garnish)

In a blender combine all ingredients, except the orange zest,  and process until smooth and creamy. Adjust sweetness to taste but keep tart. Put in a double boiler to warm gently.

To serve

Using an oiled cutting shape, cut small individual portions of the cold fondant and center on plates. Add a few spoonful of warm sabayon around it and garnish with orange zest.

Choose smallest, most tender, violet or poivrade baby artichokes for this recipe. This smaller variety has almost no choke and the inner half is very tender and are entirely edible. They have a mild bitter taste with notes of hazelnut.

Baby purple artichoke salad

Ingredients

  • 16 baby artichokes cleaned and very thinly sliced
  • Vinegar or lemon juice for soaking
  • Zest and juice of a lemon
  • 60 ml (4 Tbsp) extra-virgin olive oil, more as necessary
  • 1 Purple shallots, minced
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped finely
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Wash the artichokes carefully. Remove the outer leaves, cut off the top 1/2 cm (1/4 inch). Slice thinly with mandoline. As each artichoke is finished, drop slices into a bowl of cold water with about 10 percent vinegar or lemon juice.

Prepare the vinaigrette:  In a bowl, combine the zest and lemon juice, olive oil, shallots. Reserve.

Remove artichoke slices from water and dry. Toss with vinaigrette. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and parsley and serve.

For a variation, you could had thinly sliced cultivated mushrooms to the artichokes and serve on a bed of aragula.

Serves 4

Ramps soufflés

This is from 3 weeks ago. It was my last ramps dish of the year and my first try making vegan soufflé. It worked out quite well. Unfortunately I was so eager to serve them before they cooled and collapsed that I forgot to take an after picture! Sorry about that. I’ll make it again and post a proper photo soon.

Ramps soufflés ready to go in the oven

Ingredients

  • 30 ml (2 Tbsp) olive oil
  • 1/2 bunch ramps, white and green part, chopped
  • 1 package of firm silken tofu
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) baking powder
  • 1 pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 15 ml (1 Tbsp) lemon juice
  • grated zest of 1/2 a lemon (organic and untreated is a must when you use zest)
  • 15 ml (1 Tbsp) fresh lemon thyme, chopped
  • 45 ml (3 Tbsp) fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt to taste

Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F) degrees.

Spray your soufflé dish or ramekins with oil and sprinkle with flour.

Heat the oil in a skillet, add white parts of ramps and sauté on medium heat for 2 minutes or until tender. Add green parts of ramps and wilt, 20 seconds. Remove from heat.

Put all remaining ingredients in a blender along with the ramps and process until smooth and creamy.

Pour the batter in the souflé dish and bake until puffy and golden brown, about 30 minutes

Serve immediately or watch it collapse!

Serves 4

Inspired by this What The Hell Does A Vegan Eat Anyway? recipe.

Yup, an other rice and morels recipe… This one is from last year. I’m posting it now as it is seasonal. I can’t remember for the life of me what these foraged greens were. It was a bit like purslane but slightly bigger and had a very mild bitter taste. Any other greens would work in its place. The morels (these were quite large) were cleaned very well then stuffed with my vegan ricotta using a pastry bag and oven baked for 25 minutes.

Wild asparagus risotto, wilted greens and stuffed morels


For the risotto

Ingredients

  • 350 ml (1 1/2 cups) short grain rice preferably Carnaroli or Vialone Nano
  • 750 ml (3 cups) homemade vegetable stock (or best store-bought, there may be some left over)
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine
  • 1 small bunch of tiny wild asparagus, cleaned, trimmed and cut into 5 cm lengths
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 15 ml (1 Tbsp) olive oil
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) vegan cooking cream (not coffee creamer!)
  • freshly ground nutmeg
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring stock to a simmer and keep hot.

In a medium size heavy saucepan, cook onion in the oil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Add white wine and simmer until evaporated. Raise heat to medium high and add hot stock gradually in small amounts while stirring gently, almost constantly. After approximately 17 minutes, when rice is tender and creamy-looking but still al dente, take off the heat, add asparagus and soy cream and stir well to make the texture as creamy and smooth as possible.

Cover and rest 2-3 minutes.

To plate.

Divide risotto between 4 plates, top with wilted greens and finish with a few morels per plates. Serve immediately after. Risotto does not wait very well at all.

Serves 4

I’ve been too busy to blog lately so I’ve got some catching to do with the spring recipes… This one is from mid-April when the wild violets were in bloom.

I love cooking and eating wild food. This simple salad is made of market bought “wild” arugula and small pea shoots augmented with foraged wild garlic mustard, violets and sassafras flowers, topped with almonds slivers, black sesame seeds and cherry tomatoes. The dressing was a simple vinaigrette made with olive oil, Dijon mustard and white wine vinegar.

Here’s an other super easy spring inspired dish. Cheap to make if you forage your own morels but can get quite pricy if you buy them. This would also work just as well with chanterelles or other wild mushrooms.

morels2Polenta with morels, sunchoke chips and herbed oil

Polenta

Ingredients

  • 1 L (4 1/4 cups) water
  • 250 ml (1 cup) regular polenta
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) salt

In a large pot, bring water to a boil with salt and garlic, turn down heat and simmer 15 mins or until garlic is tender. Remove the garlic, puré and return to the pot. Bring water back to a boil then add nutmeg and polenta in a thin stream, whisking. Cook over moderate heat, whisking for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer polenta for 45 minutes, covered, stirring regularly. Remove from heat and serve warm.

Sunchoke chips

Ingredients

  • 250 gr (1/2 pound) sunchokes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 125 ml (1/4 cup) vegetable oil for frying
  • salt to taste

Fry the sliced sunchokes in very hot oil until golden brown. Remove to a paper towel and dust with salt.

Sautéed morels

Ingredients

  • 500 gr (1 pound) fresh morels
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
  • 125 ml (4 tbsp) dry Jerez
  • salt and pepper

Clean the surface of the morels as best you can. Slice in half lengthwise and clean inside. Rinse well and drain.

In the skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add the morels. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the moisture has almost completely evaporated, approx 20 mins. Add Jerez and cook, stirring until absorbed. Add salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm.

Herbed oil

Ingredients

  • 125 ml (4 tbsp) sunflower oil or safflower oil
  • handful of chervil
  • handful of chives

Wash and dry the herbs. Place the herbs and oil together and a blender and process until puréed. Strain the mixture through a very fine sieve. Reserve the oil.

To plate

Divide polenta between 4 plates. Top with several sun choke chips and finish with the 1/4 of morels per plate. Drizzle oil around the polenta and serve warm.

Serves 4

If you believe the saying, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but when I stumble on one of my recipes, jacked by some hipsters, vaguely rebranded and claimed as theirs, flattered is not at all how I feel.

The sole purpose of this blog is to inspire. So please do read, experiment, repeat and enjoy but should you want to quote one of my recipes or draw heavily on something you see here and post the ensuing result on your site, please ask and have the common decency of stating your source.

Have fun cooking and remember to eat your veges!

Pink mashed potatoes

And now for a little culinary humour…

Pink mashed potatoes, sautéed asparagus and sugar snap peas, roasted tomato.

Ingredients

4 large potatoes, peeled and cut
4 cloves of garlic, whole
1 small red beet, peeled and cut into cubes
125 ml (1/2 cup) non-dairy milk
125 ml (1/2 cup) vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes, garlic and beet together until the beet is tender. Warm the milk and stock. Put the beet, garlic, milk and stock in a blender and puré. Mash the potatoes, add the pink cream, salt and pepper and mix well. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Vegan crab cakes

Yesterday I woke up craving crab cakes, god only knows why. Here’s the outcome. I should be good for an other 3 years or so. Or maybe not, those were pretty good.

Vegan crab cake with cilantro lime mayo and Sriracha sauce.

Ingredients

250 ml (1 cup) bread crumbs
250 ml (1 cup) non-dairy milk
450 gr (1 lb) firm tofu, drained well and mashed
1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
125 ml (1/2 cup) wakame seaweed, rehydrated and chopped finely
4 green onions, thinly sliced
60 ml (1/4 cup) fresh parsley, chopped
60 ml (1/4 cup)fresh dill, chopped
30 ml (2 tbsp) fresh lemon juice
zest of one lemon
1/4 cup vegetarian nuoc nam
1/2 tsp dried thyme
couple dashes chili sauce
salt and black pepper to taste

Extra bread crumbs for coating

In a bowl, combine 1 cup bread crumbs and milk.

Using a blender or food processor, cream 1/4 of the tofu. Add this to the bread crumbs and milk mixture along with all other ingredients and mix well. Go easy with the salt as the seaweed and vege nuoc nam are quite salty. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Form into 16 cakes. Coat in the remaining bread crumbs. Bake on a cookie sheet coated with oil, turning once or, pan fry until golden.

Makes 8 generous appetizer.

Note: You can buy vegetarian nuoc nam in large Asian supermarkets. If it is unavailable substitute with 30 ml (2 tbsp) lemon juice + 5 ml (1 tsp) sugar. But try to get your hands on it, it’s really great stuff.

After several impatient tries, I finally founds ramps at the market. Here’s a simple and quick spring time recipe that lets them take center stage. Enjoy!

Spaghetti with sautéed ramps

Ingredients

  • 250 gr (½ pound) Ramps
  • 450 gr (1 pound) Spaghetti
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 15 ml  (1 tbsp) finely grated fresh lemon zest
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Maldon salt to taste

Clean the ramps by trimming the roots and removing the outer papery skin from the bulbs.

Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. Drain and reserve 50 ml cooking water.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add ramps and cook until the bulb is tender and golden. Add pasta, reserved water and lemon zest to the skillet. Toss gently to coat the pasta with sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with additional olive oil (optional) and serve immediately.

Serves 4

Bistro lunch

I’m not a big fan of store-bought vege burgers. I find they have no taste and the list of ingredients frightens me. When I feel like digging my fork into something “meaty” I make my own variation.

Tofu burger with roasted garlic and mushrooms, shallots-Jerez jus, sautéed spinach and oven fries.

This is my recipe for vege burgers. For approx the same price of a box of boring store-bought stuff you’ll get something homemade and toothsome.

Ingredients

  • 454 gm (16 oz) extra firm tofu, mashed
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) vital wheat gluten flour
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 240 ml (1 cup) mushrooms, sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) smoked Spanish paprika
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) freshly grated nutmeg
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) fresh rosemary, minced
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) Jerez wine
  • sea salt to taste

Heat a sauteing pan on medium-high heat, spray with oil, add onions, garlic and mushrooms and cook until brown. Deglaze the pan with Jerez. Remove from heat and cool.

In a mixing bowl, combined above mixture with tofu, vital wheat gluten flour, chipotle peppers, paprika, nutmeg, rosemary and salt. Mix by hand until all ingredients are combined. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

Heat oven to 200°C (400°F). Form 8 patties with the tofu mixture. Put on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 40 minutes turning once.

Serves 8

Tofu burgers just out of the oven

Spring salad

Here’s a simple spring salad which I quickly put together when I got back from the market this weekend. The radish sprouts and arugula flowers added some colour and a nice kick to the mild spinach.

Ingredients

  • 150 gr (5.5 oz) Baby spinach
  • 50 gr (1.75 oz) Sunflower sprouts
  • 50 gr (1.75 oz) Japanese purple radish sprouts
  • 25 gr (0.88 oz) Arugula flowers
  • 8 Fingerling potatoes, cut in half and boiled
  • 2 French shallots, thinly sliced
  • 60 ml (4 tbsp) Capers
  • 20 Pecans halves, lightly roasted
  • Maldon salt to taste

For the dressing:

  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) Jerez vinegar
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed

To make dressing combine all ingredients in a bolw and wisk until smooth.

Assemble greens on individual plates. Arrange potatoes around it, top with pecans, shallots, capers, add Maldon salt to taste. Add dressing and serve right away.

Serves 4