Thursday, November 17, 2016

Cashew cheese

There are hundreds of recipes of cashew cheese to be found these days. This is the version I make almost weekly in large batches to be used in various culinary creations during the week. It's easy, simple, neutral and it fits well in a lot of dishes. 

Here are a few examples of where I use this “cheese”:

panini, pure or with fresh basil, tomato and arugula
pizza, calzone, and lasagna
as topping for filled vegetables: paprika, courgette, aubergine, or champignons
filled empanadas or various pastries
with stir-fried veggies
soups - added at the end 
pasta, gnocchi

Even though the amounts of each ingredient vary every time I make it, here is a recipe that gives you an idea of which amounts more or less to use.


1 cup cashews 
2 cups water
2 tbsp tapioca starch, dissolved in 3 tbsp water
1/3 cup nutritional yeast (Beware! Some brands are quite bitter and do not add that special cheesy taste, so make sure to get the best brand you can find)
1 tbsp sea salt (less if you prefer or if using a different type of salt)
2-3 tsp citric/lactic acid (or apple vinegar or lemon juice if you don’t have citric or lactic acid at hand)

optional: replace some of the water by 1/2 cup coconut milk (it adds a nice creaminess and it takes the cheese taste to an entirely new level)

People with nut allergies can use coconut milk to replace cashews in this recipe. Use 2 cups of milk instead of 1 cup cashews + 2 cups water. Feel free to adapt the amounts of tapioca starch depending on the consistency required for a certain recipe.  

If you want a sliceable or shreddable cheese, add 6 g agar agar or 14g kappa carrageenan 

Version with miso, sundried tomatoes, smoked paprika and agar


Soak the cashews in some of the water for at least 4 hours. 

Blend it well in a high speed blender, food processor or any device that can turn it into a smooth cream. 

Bring all ingredients to a saucepan and cook it over medium-low heat while stirring regularly (I do it with a whisker). When it starts boiling, reduce heat and keep stirring for further 3-5 minutes. 

baked champignons with cashew cheese and thyme

Pour it into a mould (in case of making the cheese harder with agar or carrageenan) or into a container that can be closed (after cooling) with an airtight lid. Keep the cheese in the fridge for up to a week (or longer, depending on how it's been handled).

If you want to make a hard cheese and doubt whether to use agar or carrageenan, here is a blogpost that might help you. 

Bottom line: Carrageenan produces a better texture than agar and it melts when heated - agar doesn’t. Carrageenan is a controversial product (health concerns).  

If you have no problems with extra calories and wish for an extra greasy, extra meltable cheese, then perhaps the following recipe could make you happier. ;-) 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Arame-cabbage rolls


10g dried arame, soaked in water (15 minutes)
100g (finely shredded) white cabbage
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp tamari (soy sauce)
2 tbsp oat flakes (fine)
salt to taste
Optional: 1 tbsp pomegranate syrup (available in Turkish shops)
Puff pastry or filo dough 

Add a little olive oil to a frying pan and stir fry the white cabbage with caraway seeds, stirring occasionally,
until it gets a little golden-brown (7-10 min). Add the grated ginger and stir it further for 1 minute. If the cabbage tends to burn too quickly before cooking, add a little bit of water and immediately cover with a lid. Remove from the heat when ready. Drain the arame and add it to the cabbage.

Add the oats, soy sauce, salt (if needed), balsamic and pomegranate syrup (if you choose to use it). Mix well. Use this mixture a filling for fillo dough or puff pastry. Bake the rolls in preheated 200°C oven for 12-20 minutes (it really depends on the oven you are using) or until lightly golden-brown. 

Serve with cranberry sauce or some citrus-sweet sauce (see recipe for blood-orange-pomegranate sauce)

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Khaman Dhokla with chestnuts


300g chestnuts, steamed and peeled
500g chickpea flour (a.k.a. besan)
1 ts asafetida
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp nigella seeds
1 ts ground (or freshly grated) ginger
1 ts ground cumin seeds 
1 1/2 ts caraway seeds
1 ts turmeric powder
zest of one lime
1 tbsp sea salt 
20g baking powder
550ml water (the dough should be like a cake dough so add more or less water if needed)
coconut oil (for greasing the baking pan)


Grind the chestnuts in a food processor until powdered. 

Place the chickpea flour in a mixing bowl and whisk to remove any lumps. Add all ground spices, the salt, lime zest, baking powder and whisk further until all dry ingredients are well combined. Add in the water and stir gently with the whisker until smooth.

Grease a baking tray pan with the coconut oil and pour the dough on it.  Steam it for about 35 minutes at 100°C in a steam-oven, or on medium-low heat if you are using a steamer on the stove. The cake should be fairly firm and a knife inserted in the center should come out clean when done.
Turn off the heat and let the cake rest for 15 minutes.  Invert the cake onto a plate.
Serve it with tomato chutney, or mint-yoghurt sauce.
Cut into squares and serve. 

Note: I used chestnuts since they are abundant at this time of the year where I live. The classic recipe is made entirely with chickpea flour and/or with fermented lentils (flour). 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Blackthorn flan


500g blackthorn compote (you can use raspberry, black currants or other berries you can find)
125 g (muscovado) sugar - or any other sweetener to taste
300ml almond milk (or rice / oat milk)
300 ml coconut milk
10 g agar agar powder (or follow instructions on the package, as each brand seems to have a specific amount needed to make jelly of a certain amount of liquid)
1 tablespoon arrowroot


Dissolve the arrowroot with a little plant milk into a glass. Set it aside.

In a saucepan bring the milk, blackthorn, sugar and agar agar together. Bring it to a boil over on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. When it reaches the boiling point, reduce the heat.
Add the dissolved arrowroot with milk. Stir and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Turn the heat off. Pour into glasses or flan moulds. You can also use this to make it into a "bavaroise" pie. In that case, use a little bit extra agar (like 2g extra, but it depends on which brand you use) in the recipe. After cooking it, pour it into a spring form covered with a dough made of cookies and coconut oil. It's a simple and quick dessert that can impress people and it does not require major pastry skills. 

Let the flan in the refrigerator for at least 4-8 hours to harden. 

Optional: Serve with extra blackthorn coulis and fresh mint.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Pumpkin-orange layered pie


1 small sweet organic pumpkin (Hokaido) 
sweetener (I use sucanat / mascobado sugar)
coconut milk
zest of 2 organic oranges or enough to give a good citrus flavor (some oranges have thicker skin than others)
grated coconut (for garnish - optional)
speculoos / biscoff biscuits (a typical Belgium spiced cookies - you can use other flat spiced cookie)

Hokaido is the ideal pumpkin for this recipe


Brush the pumpkin thoroughly under water and rinse it well to remove dirt. Cut it into pieces and remove the seeds. You do not need to peel the pumpkin (unless it isn’t organic or if you are unsure about where they were grown). The skin of the Hokaido pumpkin becomes as soft as the inner pulp after cooking. Cook the pumpkin pieces in as little water as possible, over medium low heat (with lid on) until they are just tender but not too overcooked that they begin to melt. Remove the pumpkin chunks out of the water and using a handheld immersion mixer blend it with coconut milk (just enough milk to make a thick puree, and preferably with the thickest part of the coconut milk if you have that option), grated orange zest and mascobado sugar (or other sweetener to taste). Bring the pumpkin puree back to the fire and cook further for 2-3 minutes.

For the orange zest I use a microplane grater that makes sure only the dark orange layer is finely grated, and not the white inner layer (which might add a bitter taste to the recipe). 

using a microplane to remove the zest of citric fruits - I can't imagine cooking without one ;-)

Cover the bottom of a glass tray with a thin layer of the pumpkin cream. Spread it evenly. Cover it with a layer of speculoos biscuits, add another layer of pumpkin, biscuits… make as many layers as your ingredients and/or tray allow but make sure to end with a layer of pumpkin cream.

Garnish it with whipped coconut cream, aquafaba fluff, chocolate ganache or blueberry powder - as I used i the batch I made for the picture above. You can also leave it as it is. 

Place the tray in the fridge and allow it to cool, for at least a few hours. Serve cold. This pie gets even the next day.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Sweet chestnut and cardamom truffles


500g sweet chestnuts - steamed and peeled
1 t.s. ground cardamom
1/2 t.s. vanilla powder
200g mascobado sugar (or coconut sugar, or stevia or dried dates, pureed)
200g dark chocolate


Place the chestnuts in a food processor and grind them into a more or less fine powder (I leave tiny pieces that add a more chewy texture, but you can determine how fine you want your powder). 

Add the spices and the sugar to the chestnut powder. Stir it well until all ingredients are evenly distributed. 

Form balls with the mixture.

Place the chocolate in a double boiler - a.k.a. bain-marie - and melt it.

Cover the balls with the chocolate and place the balls on a tray covered with parchment paper. 
Place the balls in the fridge. 

This is what you get if you combine all ingredients together instead of covering the balls with the chocolate

If you want to make these balls look way better than what you see on the pictures above, it would be a good idea to let them chill for a few hours in the fridge before covering them with the melted chocolate. I just couldn’t wait. ;-) 

Store the balls in the fridge for up to 4 days. It could be that it keeps well for a longer period of time but I wouldn’t risk making too large of a batch, as freshly cooked chestnuts can easily ferment.

So what I actually did when trying out this recipe was to use only 2/3 of the sweetened and spiced chestnut powder to roll the balls and cover in chocolate. I added the other 1/3 of the chestnut mixture to the remaining chocolate that was left in the melting bowl. There is always a lot of chocolate left when we use it melted like that. By combining the rest of the mixture with the chocolate, I managed to use all the ingredients in a more efficient manner. So after bringing it all together, I put it in the fridge, allowed it to cool enough to the point that I could roll more balls with it. The resulting balls were also delicious. I also kept them in an air-tight container in the fridge.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sweet chestnut spice latte 2

Here is another version of a chestnut spice latte. If you cannot find sweet chestnuts, you can use baked sweet potatoes or Hokaido pumpkins as a replacement in this recipe. They work just fine. This drink is very filling so it can replace a dessert or a snack. 


120g steamed and peeled chestnuts (or 300g sweet potato or pumpkin, baked in the oven)
600 ml almond milk (or a mixture oat milk + coconut milk or the milk of your preference)
1 1/2 t.s. cinnamon 
sweetener to taste (sucanat / mascobado, agave syrup, dates, stevia)
1 t.s. cardamom powder
1/4 t.s. mace powder (or nutmeg)
1/4 t.s. allspice powder
1/2 t.s. freshly grated ginger
2 tbsp orange compote or 1/2 t.s.. orange zest (optional)
1 tbsp orange water
Other nice additions are saffron and 1/4 t.s. red chili flakes

Mix the cooked and peeled chestnuts with all the other ingredients until smooth and bring the liquid to a quick boil over medium-heat until the chestnut and milk become thickened. If too thick, add more milk. Serve immediately.

There is no problem if you don't have all these spices at home. It works fine sometimes only with cinnamon, cardamom and orange compote for instance. 

If you have harvested/foraged your chestnuts fresh and need to learn how to prepare them, please check out this other post

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Spice Latte with Sweet Chestnuts

This spice latte is pretty easy to make and when you cannot find fresh chestnuts available, you can use them from a jar or vacuum packed from your supermarket. You can also use baked sweet potatoes or Hokaido pumpkins as a replacement for chestnuts. They work just fine. This drink can perfectly replace a dessert or a snack, as it is very filling. 


100g steamed and pealed sweet chestnuts (or 300g sweet potato or pumpkin, baked in the oven)
600 ml almond milk (or a mixture oat milk + coconut milk or the plant milk of your preference)
1 t.s. cinnamon 
sweetener to taste (sucanat / mascobado, agave syrup, dates, stevia)
1 t.s. cardamom powder
1/4 t.s. mace powder (or nutmeg)
1/4 t.s. allspice powder
1 star anise

freshly harvested sweet chestnuts are highly nutritious and can take part in so many delicious recipes

Mix the cooked and peeled chestnuts with the other ingredients, except the star anise, until smooth.
Pour it into a sauce cooking pan. Add the star anise. 
Bring the liquid to a boil. 
Reduce the heat to low and allow it to simmer for 8-10 minutes, until the chestnut and milk seem well thickened. If too thick, add more milk. Serve immediately.

Feel free to play with the spices of your liking, adding a little bit more or less of each spice. The suggested amounts here are more a guideline than a "rule". 

Each version I make tastes totally different. There is no problem if you don't have all these spices at home. It works fine only with cinnamon and cardamom for instance. 

*Note: if you harvest sweet chestnuts for the first time, please make sure to learn the difference between them and horse chestnut, a similar nut that can also be found under large trees in the same season. Here is a post with pictures that can help you with that:
Sweet chestnuts and Horse chestnuts: how to tell the difference.

Curious about how nutritious sweet chestnuts are? Take a look the nutrition facts:

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Banana & lavender ice cream

Banana ice creams are a major hit in any food blog. There are hundreds of ideas on how you can make easy, healthy and delicious ice creams using frozen ripe bananas. So this is one more version, for your collection.


5 very ripe bananas, cut into pieces and frozen
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon lavender blossoms
1/3 teaspoon vanille powder
4-6 dates (or sweetener of your choice)


Bring all the ingredients together in a food processor and blend them until smooth.
Leave it in the freezer for at least 3 hours. If you have an ice cream maker, even better. In that case, there is no need for bringing the blended mixture to the freezer.
Remove from freezer and leave it at room temperature some 5 minutes before scooping the balls.
Serve it with fresh lavender blossoms or lavender syrup.

Variations: it works pretty well with other flowers, such as violets, elderflowers, camomile, linden, hawthorn... It also works great with Chai spices added to it. I like doing it in winter time.

Tip: wait until the bananas are really really ripe, when they show dark spots all over their skin. Peel them and cut them into pieces before freezing them. It is very hard to cut them into pieces after they are frozen and it is an herculean task to peel them after being frost, so you might want to get this one right. ;-)


Brigadeiros used to be my favourite childhood treat. In Brazil they are a must in all birthday parties. I remember once me and my cousin took an entire tray to eat in a hidden room - but we were caught in time before we could finish the whole tray, with like 40+ balls.

The original recipe is made with condensed milk + butter + cocoa powder, cooking in medium-low fire until it gets thicker. This version is made with condensed coconut milk - whoever came up with the idea to bring this product to the market is surely a genius!


1 can of coconut condensed milk
4 tbsp cocoa powder


Bring the condensed coconut milk with the cocoa powder together in a sauce pan.
Stir it well and bring it to a cook under a medium-low fire.
Keep stirring it all the time to avoid it to stick to the bottom of the pan.
Cook it until it gets thicker and it starts detaching from the bottom of the pan.
It should take 5-7 minutes.
Remove from the fire.
Let it cool down.
Form balls with the hands and roll them over dark chocolate sprinkles.
It keeps well in a tuperware in the fridge for a couple of days.

But that is not how I made the balls you see above. I did not want to get a pan all stuck with this chocolatish thingie plus I found the condensed coconut milk sweet enough. By cooking it I'd get it even more concentrated and therefore, sweeter, which I did not wish to. The original Brazilian version is indeed very very sweet.

In order to get the ideal consistency for forming balls, I thought of adding some powders to it so that there would be no need for cooking. So what I did was to add rice protein powder (from Sunwarrior) to it and let it sit one night in the fridge.

How much powder? It depends on which powders you use and of your personal taste. I added 5-6 tablespoons. Any readily edible powder will work, like coconut flour, any protein powder, psyllium husks, etc. Just don't add any flour that requires cooking, or that has a weird taste or that is not enough finely ground.

Stir it well and make sure it gets less sticky. It should remain soft and creamy, not powdery. Instead of adding enough powder to make it not stick enough, I left it one night in the fridge to allow it to get harder. Next day I used two teaspoons (instead of my hands) to roll them into balls and dropped them over the sprinkles to finish the balls by hand. I used spoons because even though they were already in a good consistency, they remained soft (as I wanted). You can add more powder if you prefer, but the taste of the powder should certainly not overrule.

Voilà. That's it. Enjoy your brigadeiros.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Watermelon treats

Wraps of watermelon with coconut-lime filling

Watermelon season! If you are a fruit enthusiast like me, you probably also indulge yourself into buying those real sized watermelons in summer time. If you buy them regularly, you’ll end up learning how to pick up sweet and ripe ones and avoid the not so sweet ones. If you are not that lucky with a sweet watermelon, don’t worry. There are plenty of ways to use them where they don’t need to be that sweet. 

watermelon juice goes well with ginger, mint, lemon balm or rosemary

After cutting open a watermelon, you better keep it refrigerated. I have a special spot in my fridge for them, but even then it would not fit a full watermelon. So when I cut it open, I make sure to use a lot of it at once, until the rest fits nicely in the fridge. I make myself a full bowl with it, I place some extra pieces in a tuperware for later in the day and/or I juice some of it for use in that same day.

When juicing the watermelon, I love adding fresh herbs, such as lemon balm or mint to it. Or lemongrass if you have it! Fresh ginger root also goes great with watermelon juice. 
I add the resulting pulp from the juicing back to the juicer again and again until there is very little left. The pulp left is added to my dogs’ food. Nothing gets wasted here and they just love it! 

Drying watermelon.

If you have too much watermelon, you might want to dry some of it for later use. Dried watermelon is an incredibly yummy and accidentally healthful sweet treat that might as well be the solution to our cravings for sweets.

Ready to go in the dehydrator. I prefer to remove the seeds after drying

Drying is also a great solution for watermelons that are not sweet enough, or for the less sweet parts of it near the white skin, which are often discarded by many people. 

By drying it, its natural sugars get concentrated so you end up with chewy and much sweeter treats. Needless to say, sweet watermelons become much sweeter after drying so it can perfectly replace various desserts, or can take part in interesting (and healthful) dessert recipes.

After several hours in the dehydrator

Cut the watermelon into slices of 1-2 cm, spread them over a dehydrator tray and dry them in at a low temperature (45°C). How long it will take depends on various factors such as how juicy your watermelon is, temperature settings of your dehydrator, air moist, thickness of the slices, etc. Count at least 8 hours but it could take as much as 12. 

half dried watermelon are incredibly delicious but they should be eaten within 3 days if kept in the fridge

dried watermelon in jar - ready to eat
If you don’t have a low temperature dehydrator, you can dry them in a regular oven, at the lowest temperature allowed in it. Place the slices on a silicone thin baking sheet (not regular silicone baking mats). If you bake the watermelon slices under temperatures higher than 90°C make sure to keep a close eye on how quickly it bakes, as it should not burn. When ready, keep your dried watermelon in air - tight containers, preferably in the fridge, to eat as a snack (delicious!), or to use in salads, sushis or other culinary creations.

sushi with marinated dried watermelon


Culinarily speaking (thus not culturally and beyond) sushi is just a rice roll that fits pretty well with anything you want to put on it. Ideally you would choose a particular kind of rice that is special for sushi: sushi rice. It has a sweeter taste, it gets sticky and the grains keep a pretty round shape after cooking. But sushi also works with other regular rice such as basmati, arborio or dessert rice. Do not try it with parboiled rice - it really won’t work.  

Sushi rice is traditionally seasoned with mirin and rice wine vinegar. The end result is basically a light sweet and sour bland rice which works as a neutral ground that goes together with any other (marinated) colourful additions - e.g. sweet potatoes, cucumbers, carrots, asparagus, avocado, mangoes, strawberries, tofu, seitan, you name it - and wasabi. 

If you want to learn how to master a perfect classic sushi rice, here is a link that can teach you that:

There are 1001 recipes for making sushi. I find most of them quite bland. So my own version of it will usually include some extra flavourings to make sure the rice is exciting enough in itself. I might, for instance, add kaffir lime leaves and/or lemon zest, or even lemongrass to the cooking water with the rice. I sometimes also add a hint of cardamom, ginger or horseradish to it. The most important to me is that the contrast between sweetness and sourness in the rice gets more prominent. Lastly, a pinch of salt helps to bring up the other flavours to their best.

If you want to vary even more, feel free to use other grains or ingredients to your own versions of sushi. Some ideas that work pretty well are: quinoa, millet, rice noodles, raw blended cauliflower, various nuts (ground and combined with other vega and spices)… 

You can fill your sushi with various combinations of ingredients, herbs and spices that you have at home. Commonly used ingredients in traditional sushi recipes are: cucumber (cut into strips) (green) asparagus, watercress, carrot (cut into strips), shitake, cremini or oyster mushrooms, pickled ginger slices (oh, these are really great!), zucchini (cut into strips), avocado, mango, peach, strawberry, bell peppers ... some hard vegetables such as carrots, sweet potato or asparagus are better used after some quick blanching - pay attention not to overcook it. If using plain tofu, press the tofu well for at least one hour before marinating and using it in the sushi. Smoked tofu works very well and it is usually in the ideal consistency for immediate use - no need to press it. You can also use seitan or other plant based special product that you find in your local shops. 

If you don’t have rice vinegar or mirin  at hand you can also use sugar with (balsamic) vinegar. I love using balsamic vinegar or other herbal infused vinegar - such as tarragon - in my sushis. 

For making the rolls, I recommend that you use a sushi mat, which is a bamboo mat that you use to roll the sushi. If you make inverted sushi, where the nori sheet is on the inside and the rice in on the outside, you should use a food plastic film to avoid the rice to stick directly to the sushi mat.

For the wasabi, you can buy the Japanese kind, either in paste form or in powder form, that you need to add a little water to it. You can also use the American/European-type horseradish (the red or white kind), or you can make your own. I use the Japanese kind and my homemade

If you wish to bring your sushi to a total new level, try using using dried shitake mushrooms or dried summer fruits. 

One of my favourite special additions is watermelon. It can be cut into slices of 1-2 cm and dried in a dehydrator at a low temperature. How long it will take depends on various factors such as how juicy your watermelon is, settings of your dehydrator, air moist, thickness of the slices, etc. If you don’t have a low temperature dehydrator, you can dry them in a regular oven, at the lowest temperature allowed in it. Place the slices on a silicone thin baking sheet (not regular silicone baking mats). If you bake it in temperatures higher than 90°C you should keep a close eye on how quickly it bakes, as it should not burn. When ready, keep your dried watermelon in air-tight containers to eat as a snack (delicious!) or to be used in salads, sushis or other culinary creations.

dried watermelon slices

Here is a quick marinade that goes well with dried watermelon, tofu or mushrooms to be used in sushi:

1 tbsp tamari/shoyu
1 tbsp rice vinegar (or balsamic vinegar, or lime juice or yuzu juice)
1/2 tsp seaweed flakes 
and if you enjoy smoked foods in your sushi, you could add a few drops of "liquid smoke" to it

half-dried watermelon is even easier to use directly on sushis and don't require marinating (unless you want to)

Here is one basic recipe, to help you unleash your creativity and create your favourite sushi.


250g uncooked Japanese round grain rice (or round whole grain rice)
300 ml of water (the amount depends on the type of rice, on your cooking device and cooking pot used, so you might need more in some cases)
5-7 tablespoons rice vinegar (or balsamic vinegar, coconut vinegar, or lemon juice)
80 ml mirin or 4 - 6 tbsp agave syrup or 3 tbsp sugar or any other sweetener (stevia, maple syrup)
1 tsp. salt
zest of one organic lemon (optional) - 
4 nori sheets
wasabi or horseradish paste

Optional: cook the rice cook with kaffir lime leaves, curry leaves or lemon grass. Or add a little grated ginger to the cooking water (preferably grated with a Microplane or similar fine grater)

If you don’t have or simply prefer not to use nori sheets, there are plenty of other ways to roll up your sushi rice. Examples: wild leaves (like linden), romaine lettuce, thin slices of courgette/zucchini or carrots, rice paper, sesame seeds (black, yellow or wasabi-coated sesame), nigella seeds, poppy seeds, etc. 


Rinse the rice several times and drain. Cook the rice with the water until all the water is absorbed (12 to 15 minutes). Cover the cooking pot and allow it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes to cool a bit. Add the mirin (or sugar or sweetener of your choice) and rice vinegar gently through the rice. Place a nori sheet on the top of a bamboo mat, rough side up (some people prefer the opposite). Spread the sushi rice evenly over 2 thirds of the nori sheet of nori. Spread a thin line of wasabi paste over the rice. Add your vegetables on top. 

Roll the sushi by using the bamboo mat. Pressure gently while rolling it. Dip your fingertips in a bowl of water and use them to moisten the ends of the nori sheet, to help it stick to the sushi neatly. 
sushi with couscous, asparagus and pickled ginger on top

If this is your first time making sushi, make sure to cook extra rice so that you can practice a bit until you get the hang of rolling it if you want them looking tight enough. The secret is to spread the rice layer in equal amounts over the surface of the nori and keep pressing it while rolling, so that there is not much air in the rolls - making it difficult to cut nice slices. 

Leave the sushi rolls in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. Cut them into slices with a very sharp, wet knife. 

Garnish with a pinch of wasabi and/or pickled ginger.

If you - like me - also like a little sauce to go with it, here are a few ideas:
1) ripe avocado, wasabi, lime juice (or yuzu), lime zest and sea salt.
2) good quality shoyu, lemon juice, agave syrup and finely grated ginger (preferably grated using a Microplane or other similar fine grater) .
3) lemon zest, umeboshi purée maple syrup 

If you opt for serving sushi with a sauce, make sure to pour these sauces or creamy “extras” in very small pots, so that people know that they should not totally dip each sushi in it - unless you make sure they are mild enough, not too sour, salty or wasabish.  

Bon appétit !

Friday, June 17, 2016

Linden wraps with tomatish-quinoa and herbs de Provence

I love using linden leaves to wrap grain dishes. In my former blog post I shared tips on how to harvest and prepare them. 

Here is another idea for using a simple and delicious quinoa with dried watermelon (or any other garnish that you have at hand) wrapped in this heart-shaped leaves.


2 cups cooked quinoa 
1 tbsp finely ground herbs de Provence (bay leaves, thyme, sage, marjoram, oregano, rosemary)
1/2 tbsp sea salt
Fresh basil (optional)
1/3 ts szechwan pepper (ground)
zest of 1/3 lemon
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp tomato passata
Linden leaves (fresh or in brine) - see 

Add all ingredients together and use either your hands or a kitchen processor to make sure to get a nice sticky texture that is easier to use in the little wraps. If the quinoa is on the side of almost over cooked, it will naturally get thicker and gluey when you bring all ingredients together. If not, you can blend it all quickly on the food processor, or you can add one tbsp of ground flax seed to it - or psyllium husks, or anything that helps it get a little bit sticky. 

Place one linden leaf on a plate or cutting board, add a little spoon of the quinoa and any extra vegetable such as asparagus, marinated tofu, pistachios, cranberries or anything extra to add contrast, sweetness and/or texture to the wraps. In the picture above I used dried watermelon and it was totally yummie.

Wrap each leaf in the way you’d wrap vine leaves. Keep them refrigerated until serving time.