chilled carrot & harissa soup

i am a year older (and wiser?) i celebrated my 26th birthday last weekend with an epic day that included a 6-hour yoga workshop, a few hours of stand up paddle boarding around lake union with friends, brewery hopping around fremont and ballard, my favorite sherried mushroom toasts from ocho and spoonfuls of hot cakes. it was perfection. perfect warm weather. wonderful friends. delicious cider made with champagne yeast (!). such a wonderful way to start my 26th year of life. 

most enjoyably, i allowed myself to take the full day 'off' on my birthday... which i'm discovering is a tricky thing to do when you are self employed. there is always emails you can respond to, menus to plan, shopping lists to organize, food photos to snap and blog posts to write... and when you do take a day 'off,' the next day is just a game of catching up - or so it seems. in this case, the whole week felt like i was playing catch up. this afternoon i've finally caught up with myself and finally found time to write a new blog post here and over at 'good food life' blog! 

i can't complain. i am somewhat dumbfounded that my business has grown so rapidly. i've been presented with amazing clients and a wide range of opportunities to grow my skill set! i am thriving in my new career and best of all, helping others thrive on delicious plant-based meals! 

chilled carrot & harissa soup ~ serves 4
1 pound carrots
1 red onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small clove garlic
1 teaspoon harissa paste (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon tomato paste (optional)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
fresh cracked pepper to taste
4 cups water
1/2 cup raw almonds
4 medjool dates, pitted

optional toppings:
1 small bunch parsley
4 tablespoons creme fraiche
pinch aleppo chili flakes

soak almonds and dates in water for 8 hours or overnight. drain off water and replace with 4 cups fresh water. in high speed blender, process until smooth. 

in a large sauce pan bring a couple inches of water to a boil. cut carrots into small 1/2-inch cubes and toss into boiling water. cook over medium heat until fork tender - at least 10 minutes. in the mean time, peel and roughly chop red onion. in a separate pot or pan, heat a olive oil over medium heat and saute slowly to caramelize but not too browned. 

finally, strain cooked carrots and add carrots & onions to blender with almonds milk. add all other remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. chill for at least 3 hours.

peanut butter pretzel banana ice cream

i don't know who fist started making banana vegan ice cream, but whoever it was - thank you for your brilliance. i hadn't tried making it until recently and have been experimenting with flavors and additions. i honestly love just the blended frozen bananas, with a splash of almond milk and vanilla bean. maybe topped with some chocolate covered sunflower seeds (who else is addicted to those? anyone?) i've tried adding a scoop of peanut butter. awesome. but even better was the addition of crushed peanut butter filled pretzels. oh my! this is my new favorite treat for a hot summer day... 

peanut butter pretzel banana ice cream ~ serves 2
3 spotted ripe medium bananas 
1/4 cup or more vanilla almond milk (homemade if you like!) 
20 peanut butter filled pretzels, quartered or crushed 
(or 2 tablespoons peanut butter and 2 servings regular pretzels - or gluten free pretzels - crushed inside a ziplock bag) 

peel bananas and slice into small bites. spread banana bites out on a parchment lined baking sheet and pop into your freezer for 2+ hours or overnight. 

remove from freezer and toss frozen bananas into a high speed blender. add 1/4 cup almond milk to start. start on low speed, pushing down bananas often with spatula or blender tamper tool. once combined, blend at medium to high speed until smooth. add additional milk only if necessary, as it will turn into more of a smoothie if you add too much milk. (if using regular peanut butter, add 2 tablespoons and blend in just add the end). 

scrape the blended frozen bananas into a bowl and add chopped peanut butter filled pretzels (or just crushed pretzels if using regular peanut butter). toss to the mixture into the freezer for about 30 minutes to set. scoop and serve with a few additional crushed pretzels on top or a sprinkle of sea salt. note: do not freeze too much longer than 30 minutes, as it will harden into a blob shaped popsicle. the recipe can be halved, if you want to make just a single serving.

"everything" potatoes & a string bean sauté

i had this brilliant idea the other night to smoother roasted potatoes in "everything" bagel toppings: poppy, sesame and caraway seeds along with roasted onions and garlics. it was a concept fully worth testing out. only one problem: it required turning on the oven. while slowly lugging ourselves up the hill to our home from the overly-hot bouldering gym, we debated whether or not it would be worth turning the oven on to execute our dinner plan. our west-facing apartment gets rather warm in the afternoons. adding oven heat is about the last thing i wanted to do. but there was little else we could fix for dinner in our fridge. so we did. we chopped up vegetables and sipped on cucumber dry sodas (my new addiction) and roasted heaping piles of "everything" potatoes. 

it was worth turning the oven on. they were delicious. but equally so, were the sautéed green beans we had picked up from the farmers market. smothered in feta cheese and drizzled with lemon juice. they were so simple, but so phenomenal that the recipe must be shared! 

lemon, feta & string bean sauté ~ serves 2
two large handfuls fresh green string beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup firm cow milk feta
salt, pepper & aleppo chili flakes to taste

in a large sauté pan, heat one tablespoon olive oil over medium-low heat. add beans (i left the little stem on, but you could remove them if you prefer). cook for a few minutes, uncovered, stirring often. add 1 tablespoon lemon juice and quickly cover with a lid to steam for a minute or two. toss and return lid to cover and continue to steam over low heat until they reach your desired texture - slightly crisp, yet for tender. remove cover, and crumble feta over the beans and season to taste. serve warm straight from the pan so that the feta has a chance to warm a bit. optionally, serve with a few wedges of lemon or a sprinkling of lemon zest! 

"everything" potatoes ~ serves 4
1.5 pounds fingerling potatoes
1 red onion
1 full head of garlic
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 tablespoons raw sesame seeds
2 tablespoon caraways seeds
2 teaspoons medium or coarse sea salt
1/8 cup olive oil
fresh cracked pepper to taste

preheat oven to 400 degrees. in a small bowl combine seeds and salt. cut potatoes in half, lengthwise. peel the full head of garlic, and cut large cloves into halves or quarters. cut onion into large chunks, maybe into twelfths. line a large baking tray with parchment paper and pile all the root vegetables together. coat evenly with olive oil, tossing with your hands. then add at least half of the seed & salt mixture, and toss to coat. make the potatoes as seedy as you like, adding more if you want. or reserve a some seeds for plating. crack fresh pepper over the potatoes and pop the baking sheet into the oven for 10 minutes to start. stir just once, and return to oven to continue cooking until desired crispiness (at least another 10+ minutes). serve warm with a sprinkling of fresh seeds.

*note: this seed mixture is also amazing over roasted chicken breasts coated with just a drizzle of oil. thinly sliced, "everything" chicken is a great topper to salads!

crunchy korean cabbage slaw

i seem to have mindlessly filled up my entire summer schedule with events, catering, teaching, yoga workshops, birthday celebrations and so on... individually, i am excited for all of these events... until it dawned on me that i hadn't saved a single bit of time in which we could get away from seattle for more than a day or two. i had grand plans to make it out to the washington coast this summer. to fly my stunt kite on the beach (mind you, stunt kites are bad ass...), roast corn over a campfire and whittle away the evenings with cribbage games and s'mores. we might break away for a night or two, but we won't make it as far as the gorgeous coast. there is always next summer, right? 

luckily there are fun and wonderful things to enjoy in seattle during the summer and i am truly enjoying the work i am doing as a personal chef! it is fun to expand my repertoire of recipes and create new, delicious dishes that fit my clients' dietary restrictions. i often spin off of those creations and remake similar dishes for myself at home - tweaking them to my liking, which usually means adding spice! i learned early on that my spice tolerance is much much higher than most of my clients. i can thank my dad and his wall of hot sauces for that. i am also a salt feen. which i usually account for in my recipes here on the blog, noting that most of you would prefer less sodium. but when you spend most of your days sweating like i do, your body craves and needs salt! there are days that i sweat through three changes of clothes between cycling commutes, practicing and teaching yoga, and long climbing sessions at the bouldering gym. anyhow... this recipe hit the spot for all my cravings: salt, sugar, spice and crunch!

crunchy korean cabbage slaw ~ serves 3-4

1/2 small red cabbage
4 medium carrots, peeled
1 english cucumber, peeled only if you prefer 
1 sweet bell pepper, any color 
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

1 cup tamari or dry roasted almonds, roughly chopped 
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar 
2-3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil 
2-3 tablespoons tamari 
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1 medium clove garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons honey 
pinch chili flakes

1 package extra firm, high protein tofu 
3 tablespoons sweet korean red chili sauce, homemade or annie chun's brand

cut the half head of cabbage again into half, then slice the two quarters into thin shreds. cut cucumber in half and slice into thin half-moons. quarter the bell pepper and julienne cut into thin strips. finally, take peeled carrots one at a time and lay flat on a cutting board. use a vegetable peeler, peeling continuously to create thin ribbons. rotate the carrot often, until you've utilized as much of the carrot as possible. gobble up whatever bit you can't seem to peel any further. combine all vegetables together in a large mixing bowl along with chopped almonds and green onions. 

in a smaller bowl, combine remaining ingredients into a vinaigrette. poor over vegetables and toss until evenly coated. can be made ahead several hours in advance. serve chilled as is, or with shredded grilled teriyaki chicken, or with cubes of fresh tofu coated with sweet korean red chili sauce. 

crispy kale & harissa frittata

a few years ago, i tried to make a frittata on my birthday. i don't remember what recipe i was trying to follow or what process i used. i blocked that memory out of my mind because it was an utter kitchen fail. tears were shed, i kid you not. and then we got dressed and went out for breakfast. i had never made a frittata before in my life. and i had a sad not-so-non-stick pan. 

yesterday i marched out and purchased a good non-stick sautee pan. hell, i deserved a new pan every once and a while. but more importantly, i deserve perfect frittatas any time i want. first up, a frittata version of my go to breakfast of crisped kale & eggs. with an added kick from harissa paste. this recipe is probably a 'three-star' on the heat scale. so modify if you like, or skip the harissa entirely. 

crispy kale & harissa frittata ~ serves 6
10 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 bunch kale
1 + 1/2 teaspoons harissa paste
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1/4 teaspoon aleppo pepper 
1/2 cup crumbled feta (i used sheep feta) 
3 tablespoons olive oil, separate
optional: roasted garlic, roasted bell peppers, or sauteed shallot

preheat oven to 375. wash and dry kale and remove stems. tear kale into 2 inch bits and spread out on a large baking sheet. in a small bowl, whisk together a tablespoon of olive oil with 1 teaspoon harissa paste and smoked paprika. pour this mixture onto the kale and use your hands to toss and coat kale evenly. spread out the kale on the baking sheet and roast in oven until just starting to crisp, but not blacken (check after 5 minutes or so). let cool. 

the easiest way to whisk all these eggs is to toss them in a blender along with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon harissa paste, 1/2 teaspoon salt, black and aleppo pepper. bend just for a few seconds on medium speed until lightly fluffy. 

in a 10-inch non-stick & oven-safe sautee pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. add whisked eggs and scramble gently for a few minutes. the mixture should still be very wet. at this stage, remove from heat and fold in the crisped kale, and top with the crumbled feta (or any additional optional ingredients). return the pan to the stovetop, and let sit untouched for 2-3 minutes over low heat to allow the frittata to begin to set. run a spatula around the edge, to loosen the frittata from the pan. then using a spoon, drizzle a bit of olive oil just around the edge of the pan. remove from stove top and place into the preheated oven. bake for another 15 minutes or so until eggs are firmly set and the edges of the frittata start to bubble and brown. 

let cool slightly before cutting to serve. with your favorite hot sauce if you like. or a sprinkling of aleppo pepper. enjoy!