Gazpacho – Chilled and Delicious

It’s 30 degrees C here on the west coast of Canada, and the best place to be, quite frankly,  is in the shade under the apple tree – I moved my office out there where there was a slight breeze.

The local markets are booming with fresh fruits and vegetables – this made me think – it’s time to make a cool and delicious Gazpacho soup.

It’s literally the easiest thing in the entire world to make. I think it took me 8 minutes! It’s super tasty and so packed full of goodness. It’s tango in the mouth! You can make it for lunch, as an appetizer or for dinner with a slice of homemade bread.

Ready for Gazpacho

Ready for Gazpacho

Gazpacho 

For 4 portions

800g of sun ripped tomatoes

1 clove of garlic

1 small shallot onion

1 celery stick

1 red pepper

1 small green chilli

1 cucumber

80g of stale good bread

1 -2 tablespoons of good vinegar – I used balsamic

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2-1 cup of filtered water

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Rinse and roughly chop the tomatoes and vegetables, put them into the blender along with the other ingredients and blend into a smooth delicious soup.

Serve the soup ice cold with freshly diced cucumber, peppers, and green onions.

Cool and delicious Gazpacho

Chilled and delicious

 

The perfect summer meal – enjoy!

” it’s a smile, it’s a kiss, it’s a sip of wine … it’s summertime!” 
― Kenny Chesney

 

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Fresh Homemade Tomato Soup served with Garlic and Goat Cheese Focaccia

Today I went out to my local market,  a fantastic place just outside the city where I live. Right now the market is  booming with local strawberries, new potatoes, fresh herbs, tomatoes, spinach and so much more.

…and chickens wandered around in the shop while I was filling my basket – that’s my kind of place.

A basket full of goodness

A basket full of goodness

I  simply love this time of year when the markets are booming with the delicious fresh produce of the season- particularly the deep red sweet tomatoes! They are like candy in themselves and create a little party in your mouth – so intense with flavours!

When I saw them I immediately decided that I wanted to make fresh tomato soup. Continue reading

Elderberry Flower Juice

A summer tradition – as soon as the elderberry trees starts blooming, I am on a mission.

Ice Cold Elderberry Flower Juice

Ice Cold Elderberry Flower Juice

I get out early in the morning while the sun is rising and the mist hangs low on the fields, to pick the beautiful white and deliciously smelling flowers.  It’s a Danish tradition, we look at it as a confirmation of summer – the elderberry flowers are blooming and the first strawberries are ready. Then I know summer is here!

Elderberry flowers

Elderberry flowers

Since I moved to the West Coast of Canada I have not seen any Elderberry bushes anywhere. Last year I told my friend how much I missed that tradition and she said – “but I have one!”

So this year she, the dear soul, donated every single flower to my mission – that’s generosity!

Elderberry Flower Juice

40 Clusters of flowers

3 organic lemons

1 1/2 kg Raw sugar – (the original recipe asks for caster sugar to get a clear blonde juice, but I prefer to use the healthier raw sugar)

2 liters of boiling water

Rinse the elderberry flowers, put them into a big bowl. Wash the organic lemons, slice them and put them with the flowers.

Getting ready

Getting ready

Add the sugar – pour over the boiling water and stir till the sugar has dissolved.

Leave it to cool – cover it and put it in the fridge for 3 days to “brew”. Take it out and stir every day.

Brewing

Brewing

On the third day strain the juice through a cloth pour it in to distilled bottles. There is no preservative in the juice and therefore it will not last long. What I do to keep it fresh is to freeze it in ice-cube trays, then I can take it out as I need it. Use them as flavorful ice cubes – ie in white wine or in apple juice.

It’s delicious!

Even on strawberries with freshly chopped mint……

Local Strawberries

Local Strawberries

Enjoy!

On Ice

On Ice

Walnut Bread

Nothing quite like homemade bread……

People frequently ask me – “really, do you make your own bread?”

– I would never have time for that, they say, but really, it doesn’t take that long to make delicious homemade bread. Once you have gotten into the routine, it’s the easiest thing on earth! Honestly! And fun! And rewarding!

Actually, mixing up the dough takes less than 5 min. And then the secret is to leave it to raise for at least 4 hours, the longer the better – I usually mix it in the evening before going to bed. Put it in the fridge or leave it on the counter with a wet cloth, to do it’s magic overnight.

In the morning I let it rise a second time, while the oven is heating and then I pop it in to bake, which it does while I’m in the shower.

Freshly baked bread in the morning is such a treat for everyone.

Just imagine waking up to the smell of homemade bread – a day starting like that, is bound to be a good one!

Not all bread now-a-days is honest as there are so many additives that go into store-bought bread today. Unless of course you get it from a good baker!

When you make your own bread you know what goes into it. 

Bread from the good baker

Bread from the good baker

 Walnut Bread

2 cups of water

1 teaspoon dry yeast

2 teaspoons of salt

2 tablespoons of raw sugar

3 tablespoons of olive oil

4 cups of organic unbleached flour

1 cup of chopped walnuts

1/2 cup of extra flour

Dissolve the yeast in the water, add the oil, the salt and the sugar, add the chopped walnuts and add the flour little by little while stirring.

Walnuts

Leave the dough to raise with a wet cloth overnight or at least for 4 hours.

Fold in a little extra flour and sprinkle some on a clean countertop. Place the dough on the flour and gently fold the the sides of the dough underneath – without kneading it.

IMG_4032

Allow the dough to raise on the table while you heat the oven to 450 F – place a cast iron pot with the lid in the oven for 1/2 hour to heat it.

Take the cast iron pot out and carefully place the dough in the very hot pot, put the lid back on – please don’t burn yourself! And place the pot back in the hot oven and bake for 30 min.

Take the lid of and bake for another 10 min

Take it out, and try to let it cool a little before cutting it, I know it’s difficult :-).

IMG_4036

Enjoy!

IMG_4039

Moroccan Vegan Burger with Spicy Homemade Harissa

One of the ways I like to keep healthy by is making some of my meals with plant-based foods.

In general I try to be 80% plant-based as I feel my body thrives and feels content that way. So much so I could never go back to my old “regular” diet. I smile when I see my children eating more and more vegetables too.

Hey they do as you do, not as you say 🙂

This way of eating keeps my cholesterol levels down, naturally. I maintain my ideal weight. I have tons of energy all thorough the day. And the Meniere’s disease I once suffered from, has gone!

Yesterdays plant- based invention was this:

Morrocan Vegan Burger with Homemade Spicy Harissa

Moroccan Vegan Burger

Moroccan Vegan Burger

 

Moroccan Vegan Burger with Spicy Homemade Harissa

3 medium sized yams – cooked until tender

2 cups of cooked quinoa

500 grams dark mushrooms

3 shallots

Olive oil

2 cloves of garlic

3 spoons of flaxseed meal

Sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

Seasoned flour

Spice mix

small 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Small 1/2 teaspoon cardamom

Small 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon

Small 1/2 teaspoon Allspice

1/2 teaspoon Cumin

Finely chop the shallots, rinse and chop the mushrooms – put the mushrooms into a hot frying pan with olive oil and fry until they are until golden brown. Add the chopped shallots and continue frying until they are tender. Add sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

In the blender put the de-skinned baked yams, the cooked quinoa, the cooked mushrooms, the spice mix, the freshly squeezed garlic, the sea salt and the freshly ground pepper-blend. Put the “burger” mixture into a bowl and add 3 tablespoons of flaxseed meal. The mixture is quite soft so it can be a little tricky to work with – you can put the mixture in the fridge for a couple of hours before you make them into patties so they can firm up a bit. Then turn them in seasoned flour like this:

Turn lightly in flour before frying

Turn lightly in flour before frying

Gently fry the patties in olive oil until they are golden brown on both sides.

Serve on a good bun with homemade harissa sauce, slices of red onions and a handful of Arugula or mixed lettuce – (see recipe for homemade rolls here )

Homemade Spicy Harissa

Spicy Harissa Sauce

Spicy Harissa Sauce

I love this sauce on anything – the perfect dip for any vegetable! But also good with fish, chicken, lamb, – well, as I said, anything 🙂

2-3 red peppers

1-3 cloves of garlic depending on how fierce you want it

1/4 cup of olive oil

Red chilli – I use 1/2 , how hot do you like it?

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

Juice of one lemon

Cut the peppers in halfs and bake them in the oven with the skin up until they are tender and the skin is beginning to get dark, actually almost almost black. Leave them to cool and then take off the skin.

Place all the ingredients in the blender and blend into a smooth sauce.

A healthy spicy bite

A healthy spicy bite

Open faced Sandwich with Portobello, baked peppers,eggplant, freshly made hummus and rosemary

Open-faced sandwiches are so good and, being a Dane, I was raised on them. In Denmark, we have open faced sandwiches every day, in all variations and in every creation. Open-faced sandwiches rock! The perfect finger food and greatest snack you can imagine. Only your fantasy sets the limit for what you can put on them. This is served on “no knead bread” but could easily be served on freshly made rye bread, which is the traditional for Danish open sandwiches. Continue reading

Tagine Feast

One of the things I love most about winter is slow food! Food that takes love and compassion to prepare and slowly cooks on the stove while the delicious smells of the dish spread throughout the kitchen.

That is for me, the coziest time! Woolen socks, candle lights, some good music, a big pot of tea and I am ready to cook. Today I prepared one of my favorite dishes of all. Tagine – a Maroccan classic. So intense with flavours it is pure joy and well worth the time it takes to prepare. I made two versions, a vegetable Tagine and because it is my husband’s birthday, a lamb Tagine – with Homemade Harrisa Sauce.

Harrisa Sauce:

1/4 cup olive oil

1-3 garlic cloves

3 baked red peppers

1/2 – 1 red chili

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly squeezed lemon juice

Bake the peppers in 350F for approx. 45min -1 hr. Let them cool and peel of the skin.

Add the de-skinned cooled peppers into the blender – add the garlic, the cumin, the coriander, the salt, the freshly squeezed lemon juice.  Blend into a smooth delicious sauce.

This sauce is so good you might just want to make a double portion 🙂

Harrisa Sauce

Harissa Sauce

Vegetable Tagine

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

3 shallots finely chopped

1 bunch of fresh cilantro washed and freshly chopped

4 tomatoes cubed

3 spoonful olive oil

In a tagine dish fry the garlic, the shallots and the cilantro till it is golden – add to the blender and blend it with the tomatoes ( If you are also making the lamb tagine make a double portion of this)

Set aside till later………

Then,

take your favorite veggies and cut them into chunks. I used:

one bunch of carrots,

one parsnip,

1/2 head of cauliflower,

1 eggplant

1 zucchini

chop the veggies and set them aside

1 can of chick peas – drained and rinsed

Then

Chop 1 shallot

finely chop some fresh ginger so you have 2 spoonful.

3 tablespoons of olive oil.

Heat the tagine dish again, add the olive oil, the shallot and the freshly chopped ginger – saute. Then add the veggies, saute them all and add 1 stick of cinnamon and 1 spoonful of ground cumin.

Add the tomato/ cilantro/ garlic/ shallot mixture and 1 cup of vegetable broth. Add the lid and cook gently over slow heat for 30-45 min. Half way through, add the chick peas.

Serve with the Harrisa Sauce and perhaps with a bit of yoghurt that has been stirred with some freshly squeezed lemon juice, some sea salt and some freshly ground pepper – like this

Vegetable Tagine

Vegetable Tagine

 

Lamb Tagine

1 kg of lamb shoulder

3 garlic

3 shallots

1 bunch of fresh cilantro

3 spoons of olive oil

4 tomatoes or a can of chopped tomatoes

In a hot tagine dish or Dutch oven – saute the shallots, the garlic, tomatoes and the cilantro – add into the blender and blend into a smooth sauce – set aside

Fresh Tomato Base

Fresh Tomato Base

spice mix

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cardamom

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon cumin

Delicious mix of spices

Delicious mix of spices

Mix well together to be used as the spice on the lamb – when it has been browned.

Now cut the lamb shoulder into cubes – brown well  in a hot tagine/Dutch oven, add sea salt, freshly ground pepper and the spice mix – I used 3/4 of the spice mix – you may want to use it all.

Now add the tomato mix along with 1 cup of broth – cook for about 1 — 1  1/2 hr  or until the meat is tender.

Serve with cilantro, lime, yoghurt stirred with freshly squeezed lemon juice and some of that delicious Harissa sauce.

Lamb Tagine

Lamb Tagine

Enjoy!

Have a great weekend!!

Orange vanilla brownie

Yesterday, my kitchen was full of happy teenagers who had gathered to make a cake.  I LOVE  a busy kitchen, humming with life, conversation and good food.

Earlier, my daughter and her friends had been out shopping for the things to make the cake. And, as you know how I am an advocate for authentic honest food, well I admit, I was challenged! Out of the shopping bags came Orio biscuits, jello and chocolate cake mix – the only real ingredient for the cake were eggs! Sorry, I don’t mean to be a bore, but really – we have been fooled to believe that using cake mix is easier and cheaper than making the real thing – from scratch – and that’s just not right!

The cake was mixed and went into the oven, while music, chatter and laughter filled the kitchen.

When the cake was ready, they tasted it – still hot from the oven. They were digging into it with their forks and I overheard: “Hmm, it tastes kinda gross, don’t you think’?

Taking my cue, I offered to give a cake course during the summer! The response was loud and in unison: ” Yes, please, that would be so cool! ”

Here’s a recipe that is quicker and just as easy to make – and it tastes good!

Orange vanilla brownie

You will need;

2 eggs

175 g  cane sugar

3/4 cup  butter

100 g of good dark chocolate – I use the 70-85% coco kind.

90 g flour

1 vanilla pod

1 organic orange

a small pinch of salt

1 handful of freshly chopped walnuts or pecans ( As I had run out of these – I just left them out, but it does taste good with nuts in it.)

In a bowl, whisk the eggs and the sugar, break open the vanilla pod and scrape out the bean, add it to the eggs and sugar and whisk some more. Melt the butter and the chocolate slowly over a water bath.

Add the melted chocolate and butter to the eggs and sugar, while whisking. Grate the rind of an organic orange, add it to the mixture and squeeze in the juice of 1/2 the orange . Fold in the flour and the chopped nuts.

Add the batter to a greased pie tin and bake for 25-30 min at 350F

Serve with a coulis of raspberry or fresh berries.


Summer Infused Pizza

Frequent visitors to this site may notice a few changes. The “Happy Health” diet and exercise has become a part of the larger “Balanced Living” that I feel better describes my journey.

I realized that an important part of me had been missing: – the gourmet chef, my old recipes, my old signature dishes. The scrumptious food that is still part of what I eat.

Before getting into Happy Health diet & exercise – my life-balance was out of whack. I was eating rich food all the time and my body was suffering because of it. But with the new diet& exercise, my life-balance changed and it made a world of difference! I lost weight and gained energy. I now feel vibrant and full of life, my hereditary (bad) cholesterol is now normal and I’m off medication! I started to exercise more and I enjoyed it! My satisfaction with life grew as I could feel that things were “in-balance” again. These were just some of the amazing changes I have experienced, re-charging and re-balancing my life.  (See my updated “About” and the new “Balanced Living” page here).

Before Happy Health I had a 80/20 “balanced” diet – 80% rich gourmet food, meat, cheese, butter, cream etc and 20% vegetable, fruit, grains and nuts – Today I’m 20/80 – I eat 80% plant food and 20% of “anything”.  But, I still assure that the “anything” comes from the best sources – organic & honest!

I have been wonderfully inspired by New York Times food-writer Mark Bittman who created VB6 – Vegan before 6. Eating only plant- based foods until dinner, he then goes to work – and eats at great restaurants serving the wonderful food he writes about. And now, no longer does this rich food make him ill – because he is not eating it all the time! His balance was wrong. But VB6, vegan before 6, changed his balance and he is fit as a fiddle today. You can read more about Bittman  here

In our family, we have been inspired by VB6 and have even made our own version – VUF – Vegan until Friday.

Summer Infused Pizza

We love pizza – Pizza can be divine if it is made with real ingredients and kept simple.

This recipe is made from scratch with love and sunshine. Made with sunriped tomatoes, garlic and lots of fresh basil and oregano.

The pizza dough:

1 teaspoon of dry yeast – if you have fresh 25 g

2 1/2 cups of water

1 1/2 teaspoons of salt

1 tablespoon of olive oil

5 cups of organic unbleached flour

You will need approx. 2/3 extra flour when you work with it later.

Dissolve the yeast in the water, add the olive oil and the salt. Add flour a little at the time while you stir. Add all the flower while you keep mixing til you have a dough that has “accepted” all the flour, meaning no flour on the side in the bowl. Leave the dough out on the counter to rest, with a clean wet cloth. The longer the better – you can mix this in the morning or the night before and put it in the fridge.

Freshly made tomato sauce on pizza is the best – it is such a treat and you will never want to eat store-bought pizza sauce again, if you can help it.  Another important thing is – the nutritional value in freshly made sauce is priceless. Click to see, tomatoes are a true SUPER POWER FOOD – packed full of goodness and taste!

Tomato Sauce:

1200 g fresh ripe tomatoes (the more reder the better)

2 shalot onions

2 cloves of garlic

one big bunch of fresh basil

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

2 spoons of olive oil

dash of white wine

2 bay leaves

Wash and chop the tomatoes, chop the shalots and the garlic. In a frying pan add the olive oil, saute the shalots, bay leaves and the garlic, add the white wine let it reduce a little, add the chopped tomatoes – let it cook over slow heat till the tomatoes are cooked through. Add the chopped fresh basil and let it cook for another couple of min.

Add the mixture into the blender and blend it into a smooth sauce. Taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper – the sauce is ready to go on the pizza.

I make a garlic/herb/chili olive oil marinade to drizzle on the pizza – and by adding some fresh arugula or any other lettuce on top of the pizza, you will get a divine mouthful!

The garlic/ herb/chili marinade is made from – olive oil, finely chopped fresh oregano, slices of red chili,fresh garlic some sea salt – I make a good portion, often I make it ahead to allow it to infuse the oil, to make it more intense. You only drizzle a little on top – so any leftovers are perfect for preparing vegetables, frying fish or chicken – or as a drizzle on your favorite anything.

Fresh herbs are so full of goodness!

Now to the actual pizza making.

Add some flour onto the counter and pour out the dough – add some more flour on top of the dough and start to work with the dough, needing it and stretching it. It will be ready when it stops being sticky, add flour until it feels elastic and is easy to work with. I use a rolling-pin to roll it real thin – add it to a hot baking stone or to a baking tray with baking paper.

Now add the homemade tomato sauce and sprinkle with grated Grana Padano, fresh mozzarella cheese and some good olives. Bake in a hot 420 F oven until baked and the crust is right. Keep an eye on it!

You can prepare smaller pizzas directly on the barbecue – with or without cheese – this is really an amazing way to make pizza too!

Once the pizza is ready – cut them, drizzle a little marinade on top, add the arugula and serve with a great bowl of salad.

Enjoy!

p.S. I just found Pinterest, I know I have been living under a rock, but I will be signing up, it looks like fun! I realized that my photos were there! I am so happy, grateful and thrilled to see that some of you have pinned my photos – THANK YOU!! I was not even aware – gratitude, I really appreciate that!!

Virtual Vegan Potluck – It’s Party Time

This is it – the day I have been looking forward to for weeks have finally arrived! The Virtual Vegan Potluck

– The Virtual Vegan Potluck was initiated and arranged by one of my favorite virtual friends and bloggers, Annie at anunrefinedvegan!

She birthed this idea and made it possible – thank you Annie!! I brought you some flowers from my garden

How it works: 

The virtual vegan potluck is a gathering of enthused foodies, lovely people who have created amazing dishes that they have “virtually brought” to this party. Please come and mingle, enjoy and visit with all the amazing bloggers and indulge with your eyes and soul in these fantastic creations. I feel like I am in heaven – this is a vegan gourmet feast! And a perfect way to be inspired!

I hope you enjoy it and visit all the bloggers and see their delicious creations.

There are two buttons below – a beautiful forward and backward button created by Annie. Click one of them & you are on your way!

For this amazing feast I have created a grilled pepper and zucchini salad with pine nuts – it is served on a piece of homemade roll with a deliciously tangy humus that I have specially created for today.

The Grilled Pepper and Zucchini salad with roasted pine nuts:

4 peppers

4 small zucchini

pine nuts

Fresh big leaved parsley

Split in half and grill the peppers on the BBQ on the skin side till they are literally black on the skin. I added some fresh oregano and rosemary inside while they were grilling. Leave them to cool in a closed container to help loosen the skin. Peel off the skin.

Slice the zucchini and toss them in a bowl with a dash of olive oil. Put them individually on a baking try and bake them at 360F till they are lovely and golden. Check them and remove from the tray as they are ready. They will not all be ready at the same time so keep an eye on them – have patience. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper when they are done.

Dry roast the pine nuts on a frying pan – just slightly gently browned.

Cut the red peppers into smaller bite sized bits. Mix with the golden baked zucchini slices. Pick the leaves of the parsley, rinse well and add to the salad. Serve with roasted pine nuts.

Deliciously tangy and homemade humus

1 1/2 cup of chick peas – garbanzo beans

3 bay leaves

3 springs of fresh thyme

3 table spoons of organic Tahini

juice of 1 lemon

small bunch of big leafed parsley, rinsed

5 small cloves of garlic

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1 1/2 cup of olive oil

small teaspoon of ground cumin

Soak the chick peas for 24 hrs. Cook in plenty of water with bay leaves, thyme sprigs and sea salt – for about an hour but check along the way – they need to be soft, not crunchy.

Strain them and leave them to cool. When they are cool put them in the blender, add 1 & 1/2 cups of olive oil, squeeze in the juice of one lemon, add 3 tablespoons of organic tahini, the garlic and a small teaspoon of ground cumin, chopped parsley. Blend it all together, add some filtered water if it is too thick. Taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Homemade humus is easy to make and it tastes so good – you can really taste the difference!

This is it – ready to serve and enjoy!

This salad taste so good! And being a true Dane I like to serve it as an open-faced sandwich on a freshly made bread rolls with the humus and the salad on top, just like this

Oh by the way – those little flowers are edible sweet little rosemary flowers.

This is my contribution. Thank you for coming to the Virtual Potluck – I am thrilled you came – and so the party continues the show goes on and on and on – click forward or backward as you please.                                                                                                                                                                     Enjoy and have fun