Recipes

Tahini Miso Cookies

Don’t like to use the word fusion, because it sounds like something futuristic and modern, but the idea behind tese cookies is that they use Japanese ingredients in a form that is not tipical for their cuisine, but very much adored here in Europe. These are sort of version of english tea biscuits and are ment to be minimal and simple but complicate with individual complexity of ingredients. For example – adding salt with miso. Because it’s creamy like tahini, and brings a kind of gentler, deeper saltness. Orange peel and ginger for the zing, to uplift the heavy, slobby grease of tahini. And sesame seeds as garnish on top are crucial, but have to be mildly roasted (not too browned, as they get bitter) in advance to bring the full nutty aroma.

I like to keep the list of ingredients to the minimum and not over complicate, but these have to have all this inside to be perfect. You should know these are not very sweet, only a hint of sweetness, so they fall in the adult cookie category. Pair them with genmaicha tea, it’s nutty aroma complements them really nice.

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Tahini Miso Cookies

  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp white miso paste (if you use stronger and darker miso paste use only generous 1 tbsp)
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • Orange zest from one orange
  • 1/2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds, gently roast till you can smell the aroma

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400 F). Mix flour and baking powder separately from the wet ingredients. Combine both mixes, if to dry add a splash of water. Form into a ball of dough. You can substitute olive oil for butter, to get more shortbread like texture. If you used butter chill the dough for at least an hour. If using olive oil begin with forming the dough in small balls. Dip each ball in roasted sesame seeds and flatten the ball to form a nice even round cookie. Bake for 20 minutes.

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Recipes

Crescent Moods

I just recently watched Food Inc., fairly old movie, but the problematic didn’t get obsolete or changed in the mean time. There is an example in the movie that show how our society is dealing with problems, or let’s call them discrepancies. Feeding the cows with corn to achieve lower price of the meat. E.Coli outbreaks rise alarmingly caused by improper cow nourishment and the solution to this is to wash the meat in ammonia. Seems like all that we do is we are obsessively keeping the statistics, graphs and percentages on desired levels. The specified numerical thresholds which are labeled as good and correct.

When you look at the whole situation over of the charts and graphs, it seems barely logical and quite bizarre. A wast amount of energy, time and resources spent on keeping the system working in certain directions. For what, meat that is hardly a tissue, let along steak? Looking solemnly at numbers and desperately adjusting them to make the formula perfect. And this is happening on every aspect of our society – environmental policy, education, industrial production and health care. And we dare to call ourselves developed countries. Yes, it is amazing what we can achieve when we set our mind, energy and resources to reach goals.  That is the real goals, that improve and function in the society, not just keeping up the numbers. The progress line can’t be endlessly heading straight up into growth, harder, better, faster, stronger. Funny how we hear this words with positive connotation, when the reality is that not every growth is positive or for the better. And by strategically fine tuning one number, other markers collapse or rise over the allowed limits, and the vicious circle is spinning, with nobody enjoying the ride.

This seems to grand to solve on an individual level. And it seems so apparently logical that we should be functioning on a different level. Cycles are the ever occuring universal rhythm. It’s very easy to get caught up in the fuss over numbers and steady growth. Not necessarily bad, but know what the numbers are about and that progress looks like an oscillated amplitude. This way you can enjoy the crescent phases just as much as the peaked full moon.

Below is a recipe for no ordinary crescent rolls, which do not grow bigger in the oven. But this is how they are just perfect.

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Crescent Poppy Seed Rolls

For the dough:

  • 1 cup rice flour +  more for rolling
  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 cup flax egg
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3-6 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp water with a little maple syrup to glaze

Poppy seed filling:

  • 1 cup ground poppy seeds
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • pinch of salt

There are accidentally vegan, if you use rice or soy milk. I have nothing against eggs, but this works for the days when eggs are missing in the fridge, also the flax egg gives great texture to the dough and a certain nutty flavour. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350 F). Mix all of the ingredients for the filling. Mix flours with salt. Add oil mixed with sugar and mix to flours into sandy mixture. Rub flax egg in the sandy mixture and gradually add water slowly. Mix, you will end up with sticky dough. Add a sprinkle of flour and knead to for a nice smooth dough ball. Roll out on well floured surface, cut and fill with filling. Finish by glazing them with water and maple syrup and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake for 25-30 minutes and cool out on the rack.

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Recipes

Honey and goat yogurt Ice cream

Here it is for a perfect season opening – minimal creamy ice cream with kind of savory quality. Yes,  rosemary was considered, but I wanted it as minimal as possible. If you feel like experimenting, you can add rosemary, thyme, tarragon to the milk when heating it with the honey.

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Honey and Goat yogurt ice cream

2 cups goat yogurt

1 cup whole milk (cow or sheep milk)

1/2 cup honey

3/4 cup soft goat cheese

1/2 tbsp salt

Heat the milk and disolve honey in it. Cool down completely. Whizz up all of the ingredients, until soft cheese fully incorporates. Transfer to the ice cream container and freeze it according to manufacturer’s manuals. Serve with a drizzle of honey.

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Recipes

Saffron cauliflower soup

Lately my cooking is all about colours. The gray dullness outside makes me crave vibrant foods and what better way then to use blooms to spice things up. As saffron is strong enough to tint the textiles, it is also used to clear away the blues as it is an antidepressant. So, here is a soup to warm and energize.

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Saffron Cauliflower Soup

1 head cauliflower florets, broken into pieces
1 small peice of celeriac, diced
1 medium diced onion
2 peices of garlic
2 Tbsp ghee
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish
1 Tbsp sliced almonds for garnish
1 tsp saffron
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

In a heavy-bottomed pot, sauté the onions and garlic in the melted ghee until fragrant.  Add the celeriac and cauliflower.  Pour in the stock and bring the mixture to a boil.  In a small saucepan, warm a bit of ghee and heat the saffron, releasing its flavor and color.  Add to the soup mixture.  Cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender.  Use a stick blender to puree the soup until smooth.  Taste and add salt, if needed, garnish with parsley and almonds.

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Recipes

Lust in cake form

When the winter is ending I crave intense colors. And flavors, extra salty feels right so does spicy. And chocolate. This is definitely the lustiest cake, despite the fact that it’s moistness and rich color come from beets.

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Red velvet chocolate beet cake

1 cup plain flour/GF flour
1/3 cup carob powder*
1 satchet baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup beet and soaked dates puree
1/4C sugar
2tbsp coconut oil + more for greasing
1 tsp vanilla extract
 *I prefer carob powder but you can substitute it with cocoa powder. (edit: Using Carob gives the cake amazing red colour, with cocoa the cake gets much darker)
Glaze:
2 ripe bananas
1 ripe avocado
1/4 cup carob powder
1 tbsp coconut oil
vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 180°C/355°F. Grease and line a small cake tin.
In a large mixing bowl combine flour, carob, baking powder and salt.
In a separate medium mixing bowl combine beet&date puree, sugar, coconut oil and vanilla and pour into dry ingredients. If you feel your mix is not wet enough, add in some milk or water until it reaches a thick cake batter consistency. Use your best judgement. Mix until just combined and pour into cake tin.

Bake for 20 – 23 minutes or until cooked through and a skewer inserted removes clean. Cool down and in the mean time prepare the glaze: blend all of the ingredients together and pour over cake.

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Recipes

Sea bass in salt crust

I’m covered in salt, my hair is curled up with crystals and pine needles. Quite appropriate for salt baking post. Sure grilling is great, but when salt baking you get to play with salt like beach sand, break the salt crust at the end and taste the rich juicy meat infused with lemon and rosemary. Time to be outside, so forgive me on this short post, but the sun and sea are calling.

Sea Bass Baked in Salt crust

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Recipes

The greener peas

The ones on the other side. With voluptuously saturated green and supreme glow. “Bling”, from the shine spark. Anti consumerist might blame it on the hard core capitalism, which is igniting purchasing desires in order to keep the money motor running. But in fact there is also our inner motor which runs on fuel,  the goal, the constant need of something to be achieved or improved. Yes, sometimes it may seem like that we are constantly reaching on a never ending staircase. How very non zen, if you look at this treadmill running from a distance, it does seem almost primitive and ridiculous. But then again, the Buddhists are also longing, reaching higher and improving their knowledge, compassion and serenity. Having infinite desires to always reach higher is in our nature, our nature given kick in the rump to exist.
Whenever I look back I always regret because I keep longing to the perfect future. When all the problems, frustrations, imperfections and goals will be over. Keeping the motor running is crucial, just don’t forget to enjoy the ride.
What does that have to do with peas? Nothing really, but the soup is fantastic.

peas from podpea soup with tarragon

Fresh peas and tarragon soup
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup peeled diced apples (hint: the secret ingredient)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 3 cups shelled fresh peas
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves
  • freshly ground white pepper and salt to taste
  • greek yogurt for garnish

In a saucepan cook onions and apples on olive oil, covered, over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until tender. Add peas and broth, simmer uncovered for additional 5 minutes, or until peas are cooked. Stir in tarragon. In a blender purée until smooth. Add white pepper and salt to taste and garnish with a dollop of greek yogurt.

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Bad conscious after taste

You know the feeling: you want it so bad, it is right there, you already smell it, crave it, feel the texture in your mouth and the taste taking over. “O, what tha heck…” and it’s down the throat. Once the urge has been sattled, and the demanding ego is taking a restful nap, the super ego starts decelerate a monologue with obvious discontent voice. Monologue of “how could you do it, you promised never again and you know how this will end up”. The guilt taking on extra points of regret.

It’s no coincidence that Maslow’s scale of needs and seven deadly sins have basic correlation – our drives and urges. Basically, you could say that a need becomes sinful once you already reach higher on Maslow’s hierarchy and yet still feel the first level needs are not satisfied. Let’s say when you are full up to your neck  and yet still want that last piece of cake, with ice cream on top of course. Or, when you are willing to trade higher level needs for the basic ones, for example safety for lust or self-esteem for gluttony. Priorities are our heaviest decision making scale weight. No, I’m not talking about guilt calorie counting, it’s about garlic. The thing you desire but regret half an hour later and even the day after. If you happen to stumble on certain close relation without gum, the regret of sinful bite is even greater.

I tried to make wild garlic more innocent by wrapping it in pure white ravioli form. Didn’t help though, with the guilt, nor with the breath. But it was worth it.

ravioli wild garlic

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 leaves of wild garlic
  • olive oil
  • salt

Put flour in the bowl, break the eggs in the middle. Slowly mix together, once well incorporated add water. Allow to rest for 20 minutes, covered. In the mean time chop the wild garlic leaves and mix with ricotta an pinch of salt. Then roll the dough out cut it with round cutter, will with ricotta mix, seal well. Cook raviolis in boiling water until they start to float on top. Serve drizzled with olive oil and garnish with remaining chopped wild garlic.

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Festive spring brunch

The calendar begins now. The one dictating the rhythm of sprouting, repeated pattern following every year serving you what you need and want. According to traditional Chinese medicine our bodies have seasonal, monthly and daily rhythms aligned with tempo of nature. In spring our bodies are running cleaning program and dandelions are offering help to clean your blood and liver. It is also has diuretic properties and helps to flush out the toxins from the body. Besides, bitterly freshness somehow feels right, tastes better now. Bitter is not one of my prefered tastes, but right now this is what I crave for.

Until today dandelions were always prepared as a salad. Quite boring, besides chilly spring requires warm variations. Sauté the dandelions with olive oil and garlic, they will remain bitter, but moist with smoother texture. Cover it with poached egg on toasted bread for a festive brunch.

Poached eggs on dandelions and toast

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Gnocchi zen

Not so fast, don’t judge a text by it’s title. I see you, rolling your eyes thinking “another recipe transformed into a spiritual experience”.  I’m not getting too deep to the bottom of the pot but yes, cooking is meditative. Having mind focused on only one thing, without effort. Setting everything aside – the problems can wait, tasks can wait, even hunger can wait. All that matters is the process, getting it right, making sure it is as good as it gets. This is what meditation is all about, having being here at this very moment and yet feeling distant, disappearing for a while losing track of time.

These small sized dumplings are ideal for getting lost. No need to measure out the ingredients, simply observe and follow the texture. No hurry to keep the ingredients cold, fluffy,… Just working with the dough is the best of experience – like making a zen garden with sand and round smooth stones.

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Sweet potato gnocchi filled with goat cheese:

3 cups of cooked mashed sweet potatoes (approx. 3 large potatoes)
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
6 cups rice flour
3  cups tapioca flour

1/2 cup goat cheese

Note: The amount of flour variates, depending on the wetness of the potatoes. Add it gradually when mixing with mash and egg, to get the right consistency of gnocchi dough barely holding together so you can shape it in gnocchi. This resoults in fluffiest gnocchi.

Mix mashed sweet potatoes with eggs in a separate bowl combine the flours and salt. Gradually add four mixture to potatoes. You will end up with soft dough, transfer it to a well floured surface, roll out and cut in 2×2 cm squares. Add small piece of goat cheese in the middle, wrap it up, seal the edges, roll a ball and flatten it just a little bit. Repeat till you have used up all of the dough.

Put the gnocchis in boiling water, cook until they start to float. Drain, add basil pesto and sprinkle with some pine nuts.

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