Uzbek plov (pilaf)

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When I was a kid growing up in Russia plov was one of my favorite comfort foods. My mom makes it so delicious. Plov is a traditional dish of Uzbekistan that is made with lamb meat. I decided to veganize this dish and it was a success. It came out with the right consistency, not sticky and slightly chewy, and so aromatic. Another reason why I wanted to make plov is to use my brand new cast iron Dutch oven. I wanted one for so long and finally got it. It make me so happy because I absolutely adore anything made of cast iron (including building columns in Soho in NYC). It just has so much history in it.

Without further ado, here is the recipe.

Serving: 6-8

Ingredients:

3 cups of short or long grain rice (I used organic short grain brown rice), rinsed and drained

2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped

3 medium carrots, julienne cut

1/4 cup vegetable oil (canola, sunflower, avocado, grapeseed. Do not use extra virgin olive oil)

2 cans chickpeas, drained (or 1 cup dry chickpeas, soaked over night)

6 cups water

2 heads of garlic

2 tsp cumin seeds (or ground – 1 tsp)

2 tsp coriander seeds (or 1 tsp ground)

1-2 whole red chilly peppers

2 tbsp dried barberries, Sadaf Zereshk (or use goji berries instead)

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Salt to taste

Parsley for garnish

On a medium heat saute onions in all of the vegetable oil – couple minutes. Add carrots and cook for another couple minutes. Add all the spices, chilies and barberries. Mix and cook for another couple of minutes.

If you are using dry and soaked chickpeas then throw them in now, and add 2 cups of water. Bring it to boil.

*** If you are using canned chickpeas, then skip the step above – you would add them about 10 minutes before plov is done cooking.

Gently pour all the rice over cooked veggies and spices – DO NOT MIX! Add water and salt. Gently bury garlic heads inside the mixture. They should be fully submerged.

Reduce heat to simmer, cover dutch oven with a lid and let it cook. How fast it is going to cook depends on your rice type. I would check it half way and see if rice needs more water, you don’t want it to stick too much to the bottom/burn. Add canned chickpeas (if using).

Once rice is cooked, and all liquid is evaporated, turn off the heat and mix plov. Garnish with parsley. That’s it, folks. Your plov is ready! Enjoy the buttery creamy garlic inside your delicious plov. Xoxo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Warm okra salad

First time I tried okra was when I went to Louisiana. It is a very different place compare to NYC. Southern hospitality is a real deal. Guess what dish did I have that had okra in it? Gumbo. Of course! I was then wondering what are these white little balls floating around the soup. Turned out… Continue reading Warm okra salad

Creamy Jerusalem artichoke soup

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I really love the taste of these scrumptious little tubers. Sweet, fragrant, nutty in flavor, and delicate in texture. They were first cultivated by the Native Americans (way before this new vegetable was introduced to Europeans). Italians call it girasole – sunflower. And indeed, it is a type of sunflower. It is believed that the name Jerusalem artichoke came from the way of southern Italian pronunciation – [ʤiraː’zul]. There is no real connection to the ancient city of Jerusalem (but who knows!).

Jerusalem artichoke plant. Image: Annette van der Swaluw
Sunchokes (another name for Jerusalem artichokes) have a lot of health benefits. The phyto-nutrient profile is comprised of fiber (non-starchy carbohydrates), antioxidants,  minerals (potassium, copper and iron), and vitamins C, A, E and B-group. It is a very healthy and tasty vegetable to eat!

Now let’s make the soup.

Serving: 3-4

Ingredients:

1.5 lbs sunchokes (pealed and cut)

1 medium onion (chopped) – save a small amount of finely chopped onion for serving

2 garlic cloves (chopped)

4 c veggie broth (+ extra if needed)

2 tbsp vegan butter (or oil of choice)

1/4 c raw hazelnuts

1/4 tsp dry oregano

sea salt, crushed black pepper to taste

balsamic vinegar & fine olive oil for garnish

In a soup pot sauté onion and garlic in vegan butter (oil) for couple of minutes without browning. Add veggie broth and sunchokes and let simmer on medium-low heat for about 25-30 min or until sunchokes are soft.

In a mean time we are going to roast hazelnuts. Heat up a pan on a med-high heat. Without adding any oil roast the nuts until skins start coming off. Always shake the pan so no hazelnuts would get burnt. This should take a few minutes. Turn off the heat and let them cool off. When nuts are cool to touch chop them and set aside.

Once soup is ready move it to a blender and process until smooth and creamy. Add salt if needed. Add more warm broth if the texture is too thick.

For serving, place on the bottom of a bowl little pinch of raw onion, and a generous spoonful of hazelnuts. Pour soup on top. Sprinkle with black pepper, oregano, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!

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Raw vegan stuffed zucchini flowers.

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Zucchini flowers. Cilantro cashew cheese. Shiitake anchovies. Shiso. Mint oil.

 

Hi guys,

I want to share with you this delicious raw recipe – stuffed zucchini flowers. Every summer I make sure I eat zucchini flowers, they are super special, so tender, fragrant and delicate.

Did you know that zucchini flowers that we harvest and eat are male flowers? Yup. Only female flowers produce zucchini fruits. Male flowers are those that we can pick and consume. They have a single, long stamen that is covered in pollen. Female flowers have a stigma with multiple stems inside. You can find these beauties at most of farmers markets during mid summer – which is NOW 🙂

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Before I learned about raw food I use to pan fry zucchini flowers, following traditional Italian recipes. This year I decided to prepare them raw to retain that sweet fragrant essence that otherwise gets destroyed by high heat.

I was truly delighted with the results! Fragrant aromatic herbs compliment so well sweetness of the flowers. And the chewy shiitake anchovy gives it a nice salty kick to balance the flavors.

Serving: about 8-10 stuffed flowers.

Ingredients:

Mushroom marinade:

1⁄2 tablespoon tamari

1 tablespoon ume vinegar

1⁄2 teaspoon olive oil

Pinch of salt.

Cheese:

3/4 c of soaked cashews (2-3 hours min)

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp lemon zest

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

1/4 tsp salt

1 tbsp water (add more if too thick)


Chopped cilantro 2 tbsp (adjust to taste)


8-10 zucchini flowers


Mint oil:

1/2 c olive oil

1/4 c mint leaves

few large spinach leaves


8-10 shiso leaves

 

First, Shiitake anchovies. *Prepare them a day before (could be then stored for couple of weeks in air tight container in the fridge). I’ve learned this recipe when I was in Maine this June with Matthew Kenney Culinary.

Clean (using a brush, no water) and slice mushrooms. I use shiitake because their texture works best here. Mix marinade ingredients together and set mushrooms in it for 15-20 min, they should absorb all the liquid. Dehydrate at 115F overnight. Texture can vary based on your preference. I like them slightly chewy not super crispy.

 

Now flowers. Do not wash them. Rather use a vegetable brush and brush off little speck of dirt etc. Using a knife cut into the flowers (long side), shake off any bugs that might have crawled inside, then gently tear off the stamen. Process all the flowers and set them aside.

Let’s prepare Cilantro cashew cheese. This is a non-fermented cheese. We will use acid and nutritional yeast to achieve that cheesy flavor. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl, and fold in chopped cilantro. Set aside.

Next Mint oil. Blend ingredients together. Strain through a fine mesh. Transfer into a squeeze bottle and store in the fridge.

Assembly:

Gently open zucchini flower, using a small spoon stuff it with cheese and a couple slivers of shiitake anchovy. Set each flower on top of a shiso leaf. Sprinkle with herb oil. Finish with mint leaves and cilantro flowers.

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Bon appétit!

 

 

 

Vegan spring risotto

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OK. I’ve been wanting to make risotto for some time. Well, the weather is nicer now (not as warm as I wish it was but still),which means the season for white wine is officially open. Every time I have that opened bottle of Italian wine sitting in my fridge I always think of making risotto. It does take a little time, but the results are incredible – a creamy fragrant dish that is just so tasty. I love enjoying it on a cool evening with a glass of wine.

And my veggies are starting to pop on the balcony so I decided to put them to use!

Here how to make this spring risotto.

Yield: 3- 4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups of Arborio rice (do yourself a favor and go to an Italian grocery store if you have one in your area. Or come to mine! So much cheaper)
  • 1/2 yellow onion or 1 small sweet Italian onion
  • 2.5 cups of veggie broth (I make my own but you can buy one in the store)
  • 1/4 tsp saffron
  • 1 cup of white Italian wine (Hola to my favorite wine shop in Brooklyn www.naturalwine.com. You guys are always so sweet, so helpful, so amazing!)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Decoration: purple leaves of mesclun, few springs of chives, broccoli flowers

 

I fist start with making my broth by cooking down whole bunch of washed veggie scraps that I keep in my freezer for occasions like this. Make the broth with salt since we are not going to salt our risotto. If you are using a store bought veggie broth – skip the step.

Chop onions very finely. On a medium heat in a saucepan saute onions in olive oil until golden. Add rice to the saucepan. Reduce the heat to low. Mix it with the onions for about a minute then add white wine. Mix again. Once wine evaporates add a little bit of broth (about 1/4 cup) and mix. Continue adding broth and mixing for the next 30 min or so until you almost run out of broth. For the last 5-10 min of cooking add saffron to the rice and just mix it in well. It will give rice this pretty yellow color and aroma. When you run out of broth cook risotto for another few minutes and turn off the heat. Cover with lid. Let sit for a couple of minutes, then serve. Top your spring risotto with purple leaves of mesclun, chives and broccoli flowers. Enjoy!!

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Raw coconut mango cheesecake

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Raw desserts are my favorite. There is so much life! I like them light, fruity and pretty. I get so much energy and satisfaction that no cooked dessert can give. This recipe is very simple to prepare. It is gluten free and you can eat it any time of a day, breakfast or late dinner. To make this cheesecake you’d only need a food processor and a pan with a removable bottom. That’s it! No special skills required 🙂 Let’s dive in!

Ingredients for a 7″ cake:

  • 1 cup raw pecans
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut + 2 tbsp for decoration
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 16 dates
  • 1.5 cup raw cashews
  • 5 tbsp raw coconut sugar
  • 1 young coconut
  • 2 tbsp soft raw coconut oil
  • 2 ripe mangoes
  • juice of 1/2 lime

Soak nuts for at least 4 hours in 2 separate bowls. When nuts are soaked we can start preparing the cake.

To make the base we are going blend together (in a food processor) soaked pecans, shredded coconut, oats and dates. Once the mixture comes together spread it on the bottom of a cheesecake pan.

Next step is to make the “cheese”. Rinse your food processor and set aside. First we are going to make coconut milk by blending together coconut water from a fresh coconut with its flesh. Next in the food processor blend together cashews, coconut oil, coconut sugar and freshly made coconut milk. The consistency should be like a thick cream. Process it until cashews become very creamy. Spread the cheese layer on the top of base layer. Put the cake in the freezer for a few minutes.

Last step is to prepare mango layer by simply blending 2 mangoes and lime juice into a puree. Take out the cake from the freezer and spread the last layer on top. Sprinkle the cake with remaining shredded coconut and set in a freezer for about 4-5 hours. Let it sit for 10-15 min out of the freezer before serving. Enjoy!IMG_2881IMG_2882

Egyptian lentil soup (vegan)

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Lentil soup. I love red lentils. I find them particularly tasty. And I adore the vibrant golden color that they have. Lentils came a long way along with humans. The first mentioning of us eating lentils dates back 13,000 – 9,500 years ago. Paleolithic and Mesolithic caves in Greece, then Syria, Palestine, Turkey, and the many other sites in the Middle and Near East. Aristophanes said “You, who dare insult lentil soup, sweetest of delicacies.” (Source: www.cliffordawright.com). Lentils been used to make soups, porridge, breads. It is such a versatile food that is also loaded with protein, fiber and micro nutrients. It tastes even better when heated the next day!

In this recipe I use Egyptian spice called dukkah. It is a mixture of toasted nuts, sesame seeds, herbs and salt. It is also great to just add it to olive oil and dip fresh bread in it. But today we are going to use it to make soup.

Yield: 4- 6 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups red lentils (rinsed)
  • 1 medium yellow onion (chopped)
  • 1 large carrot (diced in small cubes)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 cups veggie broth
  • 4 cups filtered water
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • salt & black pepper to taste

Spice:

  • 2 tbsp Dukkah (oven roasted hazelnuts, almonds, coriander, cumin, sesame seeds, salt)

Recipe how to make this aromatic spice could be found here.

Heat up olive oil in a large pot. Saute onions until golden and soft. Add garlic, carrots and all the spices. Cook for 5 minutes. Now add tomato sauce. Cook for another 5 minutes. Add broth, water and lentils. Bring to boil. Reduce the heat let let simmer for about 25-30 minutes. While cooking you may need to add more water to reach the desired consistency. Add lemon juice at the very end. That’s pretty much it. Garnish with micro greens, cilantro and sesame seeds. Enjoy!

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