All posts by Mervin

Podcast: Interview with Jeff & Kalisa from The Runaway Jamaica

  This past week, we’ve been in Jamaica hosting our first ever Wellness Retreat with Jeff & Kalisa from The Runaway Jamaica. In this episode, they share their insight on food, cooking, and running a successful business with purpose. Jeff and Kalisa are a Brooklyn couple of Caribbean heritage turned business partners. When an especially cold winter sent them on vacation to […]

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Wraps, Bumps & Videos

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Before we get all summery with today’s little picnic recipe, we wanted to share a couple of things.

#1. This not so small bump is about to give our lives a push into yet another direction – baby nr 3! We are overwhelmed with feelings, thoughts and confusedness (how will we even fit around the breakfast table?!) but I think we’ll save all that for another blog post. Luise is feeling well and is more than halfway through the pregnancy now.

#2. Massive thanks to all of you that came to our event in Lisbon this past weekend. We were overwhelmed by your kind words, hugs (and presents!).

#3. Check out this short little video that we created for our new book. More than anything else, we wanted to show how quick, simple and colorful smoothies can be. We will also be sharing instruction videos of all the drinks in this trailer on our youtube channel. The first one is coming up in just a few days.

The book is actually available in stores in Australia today, 1 June! It will be launched in the UK on 16 June and in USA & Canada on 2 August. It will also be available in German, Dutch, Swedish, Danish and Polish in September.

If you live in the UK you can pre-order it from Amazon.co.uk. Pre-order it from Amazon.com if you are in the US. And Booktopia.com.au in Australia and NZ.

We will be in London next week to launch the book with a bunch of events and press meetings. Unfortunately all our public events are already sold out but we are thinking about adding an impromptu little book signing/meet-up towards the end of the week if there is an interest? Leave us a comment below, letting us know if you would like to join and we will try to make it happen.

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Since our world seems to be spinning around smoothies at the moment, we wanted to share a savory recipe that you can hold in the other hand. We couldn’t think of a more perfect smoothie companion than a summery wrap filled with a green hummus.

When we make wraps, they tend to come out differently every time, but this vegan version is a real treat so I think it will be on repeat for our next couple of picnics. These are filled with large lettuce leaves, lots of herby mint & parsley hummus (also delicious on it’s own!), a lentil, avocado and cucumber salad and topped with fresh strawberries for sweetness and toasted sunflower seeds for crunch. Picnic is ready!

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Summer Wraps
Makes 8 wraps

The wraps can also be rolled directly in the lettuce leaves, without the tortilla, for a lighter gluten-free version. It is a little fiddlier but the parchment paper helps holding it all together.

8 gluten-free or whole grain tortilla bread
16 lettuce leaves (cosmopolitan or romaine)
Herby hummus (see recipe below)
Green lentil salad (see recipe below)
1 large handful sunflower seeds, lightly toasted in a dry frying pan
1 cup / 150 g strawberries, sliced

Place 2 lettuce leaves on each tortilla, then place 2-3 tbsp herby hummus filling in the middle, a couple of spoonfuls green lentil salad and top with strawberry slices and a generous sprinkle of sunflower seeds.
Fold the top and bottom edges over the filling. Roll the whole tortilla from left to right to wrap in the filling. Roll some parchment paper around them and tie with a string to hold them together while you transport them.

Herby Hummus
This makes more than you need for the wraps. Save the leftovers in a sealed jar and enjoy as a side throughout the week.

2 x 14 oz / 400 g cans cooked chickpeas / garbanzos
2 cloves garlic
½ cup / 125 ml lukewarm water
½ cup / 125 ml light tahini
4 tbsp lemon juice
4 sprigs parsley, rinsed and leaves picked
2 sprigs mint, rinsed and leaves picked
1 handful baby spinach, rinsed
salt, according to taste

Drain and rinse chickpeas and add to a high-speed food processor together with all other ingredients. Mix on high-speed for a few minutes, until smooth. Taste and feel the consistency. Add more salt or water if desired. At this point, you can also add a splash of olive oil for an extra rich hummus, if you prefer. Mix for two more minutes. Store in a sealed jar in the fridge.

Green Lentil Salad

1 cup / 250 ml cooked green lentils (any color works)
2 avocados
1/2 cucumber
10 sugar peas
¼ red onion, peeled
a few sprigs parsley, leaves picked
a few sprigs mint, leaves picked
a squeeze of lemon juice
a tiny drizzle of olive oil
salt

Rinse the cooked lentils and place in a mixing bowl. Cut avocados, cucumber, snow peas and red onion into small cubes. Finely chop parsley and mint and place all ingredients in the mixing bowl. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Mix it all and season to taste.

Iced Green Tea

There was a man behind me at the grocery store the other day. I was in the bulk section surrounded by large jars of dried herbs, tea blends, spices, and sea vegetables. The man inquired about a rose & green tea blend, and the young woman overseeing the teas replied that she thought they used to carry a black tea & rose blend, but not green tea & rose. I drink a good amount of green tea, and thought the green tea with rose combination sounded particularly nice. I imagined it iced, and made a pitcher as soon as I got home using green tea I had from my trip to Tokyo, along with rose petals I had on hand. Cold-brewed, accented with rose and a bit of whole coriander – it’s a warm weather refresher.

A couple notes related to my brewing technique. It’s a hybrid, mostly cold-brew approach. I hit the leaves with a splash of just-shy-of-hot (not boiling) water, to wake up the leaves. This also extracts some of the healthy antioxidants from the tea leaves – straight cold brewing (with out the hot water splash) has less antioxidant activity. Count to 10 or so, and then finish up with cold water. This kills the heat, keeps the extraction smooth and slow, and prevents over cooking, or over brewing. The difference between a cold brew green tea and hot brew is dramatic, both wonderful in their own right, but for an iced tea like this I prefer less vegetable / cooked notes.

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I use whatever green tea I have on hand, but I tend to prefer certain types over others. When I’m doing iced green tea, a favorite is loose leaf Japanese sencha (above). The color is beautiful, and it brews vibrant, smooth, and clean. Enjoy! -h

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Whole Wheat Waffles

If you’re a waffle fan, please give these a try. Everyone needs a solid waffle recipe in their back pocket, and I’m quite sure these are the end of the waffle conversation for me. You’re looking at the waffles I make for every family brunch. They’re the waffles requested by my seven-year old nephew when he spends the night – the ones he like from breakfast and dinner 😉 And they’re the ones included in Near & Far.

I’ve made them dozens of times, in both Belgian and standard waffle irons. The batter is a combination of whole wheat and all-purpose flours along with rolled oats. This combination conspires with lots of buttermilk to give each waffle a nice, moist interior, and a crisp, and beautifully golden crust. A bit of rice flour (or organic cornstarch) keeps the batter from cooking up damp and heavy. You can also play around with the batter. I tend to keep the ratio of whole wheat to all-purpose flour constant, but sometimes trade in wheat germ for the oats. Or add a bunch of chopped chives and herbs, or a few tablespoons of cacao powder for a chocolate version and chocolate chips when I really want to score points with the kids.

Whole Wheat Waffle Recipe
Whole Wheat Waffle Recipe

A couple pro tips: mix up the dry ingredients and keep in a mason jar(s) for easy morning-of assembly. I sometimes do a double or triple batch of the dry ingredients, divide into jars, and keep them on hand for a last-minute cabin, or brunch adventure. Once you combine the dry ingredients, the batter comes together in a flash with just buttermilk, eggs, and butter.

You can also see them on Tara’s site (Seven Spoons), and Madeline’s too (Madeline Marie). Enjoy! -h

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Thai Zucchini Soup

My intent here was to make a chilled, pureed, Thai curry soup. It would be summery and refreshing, and at the same time, strong with green curry flavor. It would be a fantastic lunch. As you can see from the photos, that is not what happened. Instead, I ended up with a chunky zucchini soup, beautifully spiced with a thin, bright, assertive coconut-lime curry broth. And it was better than the soup I’d originally imagined. Here’s why. The best cooks I know are flexible, observant, adaptable, and resourceful – qualities I try to bring with me when I enter my own kitchen. I went to make lunch, prepped my shallots, chopped my zucchini, and things began to progress through the initial cooking process – shallots sautéed, green curry added in a quantity that was assertive but (hopefully) not over powering, and on and on. As I got to the point in the process when I would have removed the soup from heat, pureeing it into silky deliciousness, I realized this approach was going to be mistake. I could sense, just by looking, the ingredients in the pot would not yield a vibrant, bright green pot of wonder, but instead, something a sad shade of green-brown. Options: I could either boost the color with a bit of spinach greens (which I didn’t have on hand), or come up with another approach. I decided to keep it chunky, thin the broth out, and aggressively bump up the lime so the green curry coconut broth would be light, bright, tangy, and not overly heavy. I served it over some cooked brown rice, and tricked it out with everything within reach at the time: roasted cherry tomatoes, toasted nuts and seeds (just something to bring a contrasting crunch to the zucchini), and some shallots covered in vinegar with a bit of salt for ten minutes at the beginning of the soup making process. So happy things went down this way. For anyone who might try it – this is a super flexible soup, and you might flare it out with a whole other host of things. Leftovers were top notch – we enjoyed them the next day over beautiful egg noodles.

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Summer Aubergine Rolls

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Hi friends, today we are sharing a dinner recipe that we prepared over the weekend. Some of you might recognize these aubergine rolls as they are a summery version of our Involtini di Melanzane recipe. It has always been one of our favorites and there is also a winter version of it in our Green Kitchen Travels cookbook.

This one has a brighter and tangier filling than the original and is baked without the tomato sauce. The filling is made with a mix of asparagus, rhubarb, pesto, pistachios, feta cheese, raisins and cooked quinoa. It is a really delicious filling that could also be served on its own (but it looks so much more impressive tucked inside the aubergine rolls). We served the rolls with a green salad drizzled with a little yogurt dressing. It was totally delicious and would be quite an impressive dish to do if you have friends coming over for dinner. I know we always say this, but do save some time (and effort) and let everybody get involved and help roll. Cooking and eating is so much more fun when the experience is shared.

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We also have some news about upcoming events.

  1. First of all, we are going to Lisbon this coming Sunday (29 May) to promote the Portuguese edition of our first book. We will be doing some interviews and a talk and book signing in the Praça Leya at the Lisbon book fair. The talk is at 7 pm. We’d love to meet some of our Portuguese readers there, so please come by and chat with us!
  2. We also wanted to share some more dates for our exciting launch of Green Kitchen Smoothies in London.
    We will be doing a supper club and Q&A with Mae Deli x Deliciously Ella on Tuesday 7th June and tickets can be booked here (only a few left!). We will also be talking at the Good Roots Festival on Saturday 11th June but unfortunately that is already sold out. There will be one or two more opportunities to get your books signed and have a chat and we will announce those as soon as we have more info.

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Summer Aubergine Rolls stuffed with Quinoa, Rhubarb & Asparagus

2 large aubergines, thinly sliced (approx. 24 slices in total)
olive oil, to brush
sea salt
2 rhubarb stalks, thinly sliced
10 asparagus spears, thinly sliced

½ cup / 100 g uncooked quinoa or 2 cups cooked quinoa (any color)
1 cup / 250 ml water
1 large pinch sea salt

1 cup pesto dressing (see end note)
50 g shelled unsalted pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped
150 g feta cheese, crumbled
1 handful raisins

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.
Arrange the aubergine slices (not overlapping) on two baking trays lined with baking paper. Use a pastry brush to brush each slice with a thin layer of olive oil on both sides. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake in the oven for 13-15 minutes or until very soft and golden. Thinly slice the rhubarb and asparagus and spread out on another baking tray lined with baking paper, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Place in the oven and bake for 5-8-minutes, or until soft and juicy.

Meanwhile cook the quinoa. Place rinsed quinoa in a saucepan, add water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat immediately and simmer for about 15 minutes, set aside. When slightly cooled, stir through ¾ of the pesto dressing, ¾ of the chopped pistachios nuts, ½ of the feta cheese and raisins. Then carefully fold in the baked rhubarb and asparagus.

Roll the aubergine: Place the grilled aubergine, one by one, in front of you. Add a large spoonful of the quinoa mixture at the bottom of it and roll up lengthwise away from you. Place the rolls on a baking tray with baking paper. Scatter over the remaining feta cheese, a drizzle of the pesto dressing and sprinkle with the chopped pistachio nuts. Bake for 10 minutes at 200°C/400°F. Ready to serve. Serve with a simple green salad of choice and drizzle with yogurt. Enjoy!

Note about the pesto dressing: If you make a batch of homemade pesto, simply add more olive oil and lemon juice to make it thinner. Alternatively buy a store-bought pesto and thin it out with more olive oil and lemon juice.