Thursday, November 16, 2017

Griddled Flatbreads and Spicy Carrot Pickle

I’m always on the lookout for vegetarian recipe inspiration, and Middle Eastern food is an excellent source. The latest book from Greg and Lucy Malouf is New Feast: Modern Middle Eastern Vegetarian, and I received a review copy. In the introduction, it’s explained that the climate and terrain of the Middle East is suited to growing a variety of vegetables and less so to raising animals for meat at a large scale. So, we easily find many vegetable, grain, and legume dishes with plenty of herbs and spices. As the authors set out to create this vegetarian cookbook, they wanted to excite people who are trying to eat more plant-based foods and offer some new ideas to those already on that path. The chapters include Breakfast, Breads, Butters and Preserves, Dips and Spreads, Pickles and Relishes, Soups, Stuffed Vegetables, Fritters, Savory Pastries, Raw Vegetable Salads, Cooked Vegetable Salads, Hot Vegetable Dishes, Grains, Rice, Legumes, Pasta and Couscous, Ices, Desserts, Sweet Pastries, and Cakes and Cookies. And, there’s a Menu Ideas list for how to group dishes for different occasions. One of my favorite menus is the Middle-of-the-week working lunch menu: Semolina Bread with Aniseed and Sesame; Artichoke and Lemon Labneh; Baked Tomatoes with Saffron, Bulgur, and Barberries; Shankleesh Salad with Parsley and Pomegranate; and Lemon Posset with Fennel Shortbread Thins. Some other recipes I’d like to try include the Middle Eastern Granola with Pomegratate, Sour Cherries, and Pistachios that’s made even prettier with dried rose petals and the Honey-Roasted Carrots with Dates Dandelions and Moroccan Dressing. But, I got completely distracted by the Breads chapter. The soft, pillowy-looking Sesame Joujou Breads were a strong contender, and then I saw the Griddled Flatbreads and all the suggested options for toppings. To go with the flatbreads, the Spicy Carrot Pickle looked like a fun pairing, and as warned in the head note, it is addictive. 

I started on the flatbread dough first since it needed to proof. Flour and baking powder were sifted before the yeast was added. Warm milk along with olive oil, yogurt, an egg, and salt were added next. Everything was combined in a stand mixer and then kneaded with the dough hook on low speed for several minutes to create a very smooth dough. It was placed in a bowl, covered, and left to rise for an hour. Meanwhile, I moved on to the carrot pickle. Carrots were cut into matchsticks and set aside. For a spice paste, cumin seeds and dried chiles were ground to a powder. Salt, minced garlic, and grated fresh ginger were added along with turmeric. In a saucepan, oil was heated and cumin and mustard seeds were fried until they popped. Curry leaves were called for, but I failed to procure them and left them out. The spice paste was added to the oil followed by apple juice and apple cider vinegar. The carrot matchsticks were stirred into the mixture. The heat was lowered to allow the carrots to barely simmer for about 15 minutes. Moving back to the flatbreads, the dough was divided into six pieces, and each piece was rolled just before cooking. The breads were cooked in a dry pan over high heat for a couple of minutes per side. After removing each bread from the pan, it was brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with herbs and spices. I used a mixture of sumac, za’atar, and fresh oregano on some breads and crushed fennel seeds and Aleppo pepper on others. 

The carrot pickle was nicely spicy. I tore off pieces of bread and spooned carrot matchsticks onto each bite. I kept thinking how delicious the carrot pickle would be on a sandwich. And, the breads bubbled just as they should while cooking and came out of the pan crisp on the edges and deliciously chewy in the middle. Eating vegetarian is an easy sell with flavors like these. 

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Golden Scallion Crepes and Dipping Sauce

I love talking about good food. The details, minutia, and subtleties of what makes particular ingredients so good is the talk I enjoy. As we all know, when you start with the best ingredients, you’ll end up with the best meals. This is exactly the path taken in the recipes in David Tanis Market Cooking: Recipes and Revelations, Ingredient by Ingredient, and I received a review copy. Whether he’s writing about heirloom beans, the fleeting season for perfect tomatoes, or the “vast and remarkable difference between the taste of conventional factory chicken eggs and that of those purchased at a farmers’ market,” it’s the details about the ingredients that matter here. Once you’ve gathered the best you can find, the rest is easy. The recipes aren’t difficult, but they are all devoted to made-from-scratch cooking with instructions for homemade mayonnaise and yogurt to name two. In the recipe for Cucumbers in Yogurt, he explains that commercial Greek yogurt available today is too creamy and bland with a lack of acidity. By making your own, you can control the flavor by letting it ferment longer. The recipes are presented one starring ingredient at a time with varied flavor influences. Among the cauliflower dishes, there’s Seared Cauliflower with Anchovy, Lemon, and Capers and Indian Panfried Cauliflower. For winter squash, there’s Hubbard Squash with Parmesan and Brown Butter and Sake-Steamed Kabocha with Miso. I’ve made the Glazed Shitake Mushrooms with Bok Choy and Sesame, and it’s a nice mix of spicy and well-seasoned shitakes over simply steamed greens. My favorite part of the book is near the end with The Art of Seasoning. There’s a section about chiles that has inspired me to grab as many from our local farms as I can now that the season is at an end and roast and freeze them. I also have my eye on the recipe for Taqueria Pickles with carrots, jalapenos, onion, and garlic. Next time I have a bunch of fresh, lovely carrots, I’ll be deciding between North African Carrot Salad with Preserved Lemon and Roasted Coconut Carrots with cilantro and mint. To start cooking, I flipped to the beginning for the Alliums United chapter. I had some green onions from the farmers’ market, and Golden Scallion Crepes sounded like a great way to use them. 

The crepes themselves are actually vegan with no eggs or dairy. The dipping sauce does contain fish sauce though. For the crepes, the batter was made with rice flour, and I used brown rice flour, ground turmeric, salt, and water. It was whisked together and left to sit for one hour. I cooked the crepes in coconut oil in a small skillet. The batter needs to be stirred well before ladling about one half cup into the hot pan. It does spatter a bit in the oil. The batter needs a couple of minutes to cook and set, and sliced scallions were added on top while cooking. Now, I had a little difficulty with flipping the crepes. They wanted to stick to the pan despite the oil. I loosened all around the edges with a spatula and carefully moved the spatula to the center of the crepe to completely loosen and flip. Still, a couple of crepes ended up broken. The dipping sauce was a mix of thinly sliced chiles, minced garlic, grated ginger, lime juice, a pinch of sugar, and fish sauce. To serve, bean sprouts, grated carrots, mint, and basil were added before folding each crepe in half. Lettuce was served on the side for picking up the crepes. 

The crepes are a simple, tasty vehicle to convey all the fresh, bright flavors of vegetables and herbs and the zip of the dipping sauce. They become like a handheld salad with the lettuce used to wrap the crepes before dipping. I could go on and on about the flavors of the fresh chiles and just-snipped herbs, but there’s much better talk of good food and recipes to go with it in this book. 

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Thursday, November 2, 2017

Baked Acorn Squash Falafel with Almond-Milk Yogurt

When I receive acorn squash from my CSA, it takes me a few days to decide how to use them. My first inclination is always to roast and stuff the halves. But, a recipe in the September issue of Food and Wine gave me a delicious new idea that will work great for all types of winter squash. Baked squash falafel uses mashed, roasted squash in place of chickpeas, but chickpea flour is used to bind the mixture. The star ingredient here was the winter squash, and I get excited to use what’s fresh and in season from our local farms. But, for a recipe like this, it couldn’t have come together without a trip to the grocery store as well. Do you have strong feelings about grocery stores? I’m lucky to have great options for grocery shopping in Austin, and I’ve seen lots of changes to the grocery shopping scene here over the last couple of decades. What got me thinking about that is the new book Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America by Michael Ruhlman of which I received a review copy. The book is a broad reflection on grocery shopping and how it has evolved from its beginning, but it’s also a look at what customers expect from grocery stores and how that changes with trends that come and go. I admit to feeling a little hometown pride in reading about the history of Whole Foods Market and how they were able to change the landscape of organic foods and what was available. They were able to buy enough from farmers for them to feel comfortable making the switch to organic, and they were able to convince beef suppliers to raise cows with no hormones or antibiotics. Because of asking for these kinds of products and having enough stores to sell high enough quantities, the market changed. Now, all grocery stores can carry organic versions of every type of food because more is being produced all across the country. My current wish is that this interest in organic supply would reach further into wine production. Another interesting, but unsettling to me, change in grocery shopping noted in the book is the rising demand for prepared foods. I find it sad to see this happen as more and more people place less priority on cooking for themselves. Ruhlman explains the details of how stores make these changes to what they offer and the challenges they face. As usual, his writing is full of insight and wit, and his personal experiences add to story being told. I might be one of the pickiest or most demanding grocery shoppers out there, but I do appreciate being able to find black and white sesame seeds along with chickpea flour, coconut oil, and almond milk yogurt, all preferably organic, all in one place. I definitely couldn’t have found all those things in one store if at all back when I first moved to Austin. 

To make these squash falafel, first the acorn squash was halved, cleaned of seeds, and roasted until tender. The flesh was scraped from the skins and mashed in a mixing bowl. Chickpea flour, chopped parsley and cilantro, minced garlic, ground cumin and cayenne, and lemon juice were added. The mixture was shaped into little balls that were rolled in the black and white sesame seeds before being placed on a baking sheet with melted coconut oil. The balls were rolled in the oil on the sheet pan and were baked for 20 minutes. They were turned halfway through baking, and the turning flattened the shape a bit. Almond milk yogurt was mixed with chopped mint and a little more lemon juice. 

I liked that with almond milk yogurt, this was a vegan meal. The herbs and spices flavored the mashed squash well, and the sesame seeds gave the falafel nice crunch. I garnished them with some pomegranate seeds that came from my own dwarf shrub. I love walking outside and harvesting edible things in my own yard and bringing home all the seasonal goodies from our area farms. But, I do hope our grocery stores continue to offer all the other stuff demanding shoppers like me want to cook with too.

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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Tessa’s Spice Cake

It’s always exciting to see a new book from the Ottolenghi group, and this latest, devoted to sweet treats, is another winner. I received a review copy of Sweet: Desserts from London's Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh. There are signature flavors you’d expect from an Ottolenghi book like rose water, saffron, and orange blossom water, and there are also classic combinations like rum-raisin, banana-caramel, and chocolate-peanut butter. The recipes span a range from simple to elaborate. There are cookies, cakes, cheesecakes, tarts and pies, desserts, and confectionery. I’m eagerly awaiting an upcoming occasion, or any sooner excuse, to make the Sticky Fig Pudding with Salted Caramel and Coconut Topping which would be perfect for Christmas dinner. The Saffron and Almond Ice Cream Sandwiches look like a lot of fun for a celebration too. There’s really not one thing in this book that I don’t want to try. A couple of recipes are intriguing because I’ve never tried making a rolled pavlova or a wide roulade that you stand on end and cut to see vertical stripes. Those are two adventures I look forward to attempting along with so many others. Custard Yo-Yo’s with Roasted Rhubard Icing, Cranberry Oat and White Chocolate Biscuits, Saffron Orange and Honey Madeleines, Banana Cakes with Rum Caramel, Coffee and Walnut Financiers, and Spiced Praline Meringues are all on my short-list. And, all the recipes come with straightforward information. If a specific pan is required, they let you know, and if there’s another size or shape that will work as a substitute, that info is provided. They also include good guidance on ingredients including the difference in texture between cream cheese sold in the US vs. that sold in the UK. It wasn’t easy to pick a first recipe to try, but it’s fall and spice cake sounded perfect. 

This is described as a simple spice cake, which it is, and as advertised the crumb is tender and lovely. The cake was originally made with Chinese five-spice, but mixed spice, pumpkin pie spice, or quatre epices are all suggested alternatives. It occurred to me that I’d never baked with quatre epices, and I quickly became fixated on it. Sadly, our neighborhood Penzeys is no more, and driving all the way across town to our local Savory Spice Shop seemed like too much. Instead, I gathered the individual spices that make quatre epices and made my own. I ground some whole white peppercorns, grated some nutmeg, and added ground ginger and allspice. I added a pinch of cloves as well. To start the batter, butter was creamed with dark and light brown sugar and orange zest. In a separate bowl, eggs, sour cream, and vanilla extract were whisked. In a third bowl, the spices, flour, and salt were sifted together. The wet and dry ingredients were added to the butter mixture alternately in thirds. Last, baking soda was mixed with apple cider vinegar, and that was added to the batter. The cake was baked in a small loaf pan for about 50 minutes. 

This cake belongs in a category of things you should bake to make your house smell wonderful. As promised in the head note for this recipe, there was enough going on here that no icing was needed. A quick dusting of confectioner’s sugar dressed it up nicely. For a sturdy pound cake, it did have a surprisingly light texture, and the spice mix was just right. Now, I’m faced with the challenge of deciding what to try next. 

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Black Sesame Otsu with Soba Noodles and Tofu

The first thing I noticed about Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook was the variety among the recipes. When I started flipping through my review copy, it was immediately clear that there are a lot of different styles and cultural influences here, and I like that a lot about it. The recipes are all tried and true favorites from women who have been featured in or have inspired the makers of Cherry Bombe magazine. And, several of the recipes are family favorites rather than trendy dishes from the latest restaurant menus. The chapters are organized by Mains, Soups and Salads, Sides, Apps Snacks and Sips, Cookies Cakes and Pies, and Sweet Treats. I’ll be watching for the first local beets of fall so I can try the Pink Spaghetti with Beet and Ricotta Sauce by Elettra Wiedemann of Impatient Foodie. Jessico Koslow contributed the Lemongrass and Ginger-Brined Chicken that looks fantastic with a simple arugula salad. The “Million Ingredient” Autumn Salad from Naomi Starkman of Civil Eats includes delicata squash, persimmons, and pomegranate seeds and would be great on a Thanksgiving menu. Speaking of fall menus, the Pumpkin-Swirled Mashed Potatoes with Vegan Rosemary Gravy looks like a delicious way to celebrate the season. For a twist on a classic cocktail, Gail Simmons’ Charred Pineapple Margarita is on my to-try list. And, the Candied Grapefruit Pops, involving grapefruit segments skewered on sticks and dipped into caramelized sugar, looks like such a fun citrusy treat. I started cooking from the book with the Black Sesame Otsu with Soba Noodles and Tofu from Heidi Swanson because the unique black sesame paste drew me in. 

That paste is sort of like pesto but taken in a different direction. Pine nuts and sunflower seeds were toasted in a dry pan on the stove. Black sesame seeds were added to toast briefly at the end. The nuts and seeds were crushed in a mini food processor, but a mortar and pestle would also work. Shoyu, mirin, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and some ground cayenne pepper were added. Drained tofu was to be cut into sticks and browned in olive oil in a skillet. My preferred method for browning tofu has for years been broiling. I toss the tofu pieces with oil, season them, and arrange them on a sheet pan. I place the sheet pan under the broiler, and every four minutes or so, I turn each piece of tofu so an uncooked side faces up until all sides are browned. The browned tofu was set aside while the soba noodles were boiled. Some of the water from boiling the noodles was used to thin some of the black sesame paste. A big spoonful of the sesame paste was set aside to use as garnish. The drained, rinsed, and drained again noodles were tossed with the thinned sesame paste and sliced green onions. The noodles were served with tofu pieces, more sliced green onions, and a dollop of the reserved sesame paste. 

I appreciated this recipe’s use of a couple of very Italian techniques that were reinterpreted with Asian flavors. The sesame paste paired nicely with the soba, and the notes in the book suggest several other uses as well such as serving it with spinach, roasted potatoes, or broccoli. I’d like to try all of those ideas. Or, I might revel in the variety by turning to a recipe found a couple of pages later which is a Caesar Brussels Salad. There’s a lot to explore here.  

Black Sesame Otosu with Soba Noodles and Tofu
Reprinted from Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook. Copyright © 2017 by Cherry Bombe, Inc. Photography by Alpha Smoot. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.
 

This unique soba noodle salad is refreshing and distinctly Heidi. The writer-photographer-globetrotter-shopkeeper has a knack for creating meditative meals that touch on her travels and delight the taste buds in the subtlest way. Her inspiration here was a dish she discovered at a tiny restaurant in San Francisco, her home base. The umami-packed black sesame paste that flavors this salad can be made a few days in advance and also tastes great on spinach, roasted potatoes, broccoli, and other veggies. 

Makes 4 servings 

1 teaspoon pine nuts 
1 teaspoon hulled sunflower seeds 
1/2 cup black sesame seeds 
1 1/2 tablespoons organic cane sugar 
1 1/2 tablespoons shoyu, tamari, or soy sauce 
1 1/2 teaspoons mirin 
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil 
2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar 
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
Fine sea salt 
12 ounces soba noodles 
12 ounces extra-firm tofu 
Olive oil 
1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced 

Toast the pine nuts and sunflower seeds in a large skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan regularly, until golden, about 3 minutes. Add the sesame seeds to the pan and toast for a minute or so. Remove from the heat as soon as you smell a hint of toasted sesame. Transfer the nuts and seeds to a mortar and crush with a pestle; the texture should be like black sand. (Alternatively, you can use a mini food processor.) Stir in the sugar, shoyu, mirin, sesame oil, vinegar, and cayenne. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Set aside. 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water generously, add the soba, and cook according to the package instructions until tender. When done, reserve some of the cooking water and drain the noodles. Rinse the noodles under cold running water. 

While the noodles are cooking, drain the tofu, pat dry with a paper towel, and cut into matchstick-size slivers. Season the tofu with a pinch of salt and toss with a small amount of olive oil. Cook the tofu in a large skillet over medium-high heat, tossing every few minutes, until browned on all sides. 

Reserve a heaping tablespoon of the sesame paste, then thin the rest with 1/3 cup of the reserved noodle cooking water. In a large bowl, toss the soba, half the scallions, and the sesame paste until well combined. Add the tofu and gently toss again. Serve topped with a dollop of the reserved sesame paste and the remaining scallions.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Sarah Bernhardts Cookies

I previously had baked from five of Alice Medrich’s books and always appreciate her insight into ingredients and precise instructions. However, I’d never used her first book until receiving a review copy of the newly republished Cocolat: Extraordinary Chocolate Desserts which first appeared in 1990. A lot has changed in the availability of varieties of chocolate and cocoa powder since then. These days, you can find exactly the cacao percentage you’d like to use for dark and even milk chocolate. But, back before such offerings could be found easily, Alice Medrich was creating incredible, artful desserts at her shop in Berkeley starting in 1976. In this new publication of the book, she has added some updated information including a Chocolate Chart. The chart indicates what percentage of cacao chocolate should be used for each recipe since when the ingredient lists were first written, they just called for semisweet or bittersweet. And, these are beautiful desserts. Any fear of attempting them will dissipate as you read the book. The instructions explain which recipes are deceptively simple and any of the more complicated steps for the truly show-stopping treats are carefully explained and illustrated. There’s a chapter full of torts that are all easier to make than you might first think, and they can be served simply or adorned. The Mocha Pecan Torte with a Mocha Glaze is one I want to try. Next is a chapter of Designer Desserts, and these require a little more time and attention for the incredible results. The Strawberry Carousel with White Chocolate Mousse and the Bittersweet Chocolate Truffle Tart are both elegant options for a special occasion. Not every recipe in the book is chocolate-focused. You’ll find a Coco Cabana cake made in a dome shape and topped with big pieces of coconut, Lemon Roulades that are made in petite individual serving size, and a Citrus Tart with glistening candied citrus slices. There’s also a chapter of Petite Rewards full of smaller treats like Walnut Squares which take brownies to a new level, Chocolate Dessert Cups that can be filled with ice cream or berries, and these dressed-up cookies shown here named for Sarah Bernhardt. 

So, who was Sarah Bernhardt? She was a French stage actress who performed around the turn of the 20th century. The cookies were invented in Denmark when she visited Copenhagen. They’re made up of an almond macaroon base topped with a chocolate ganache, and the cookie is then dipped into chocolate glaze. In Cocolat, the photo shows perfect, little confections. The ganache has been piped into precise cone shapes, and only the top is covered in chocolate with the cookie base seen below. They are also adorned with flecks of gold leaf. Mine look a little more casual by comparison, but the flavors and textures were divine. They can be made in stages, but there are a few things to keep in mind. First to make the cookies bases, you do want to carefully measure the egg whites. It should be exactly three tablespoons and not just an eyeballed amount from one to two eggs as I did incorrectly the first time. My first attempt produced cookies that spread too much but were delicious thanks to the almond extract. The second time, I measured the egg whites and ended up with a thicker paste of a batter that was easily piped into small rounds. For the ganache topping, the recipe suggests making a double batch of the Chocolate Ganache in the book. That seemed like a lot of ganache to me, so I decided to just make a single batch and see how far it would go. I ended having more than enough to top all the cookies. The ganache is a simple mixture of warmed cream and chopped chocolate, stirred until melted and smooth, that was chilled overnight before being beaten to a silky, smooth texture. After lightening the ganache in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, it was piped onto the cookies. I created more of a swirl shape rather than a cone. The cookies were then chilled while the chocolate glaze was made. The glaze was made from chopped chocolate, butter, and corn syrup. Once melted and mixed, the glaze needs to cool to about 90 degrees F before being used. And, it’s handy to place the glaze in a tall container to dip the cookies into it. You could dip the entire top of the cookies or just the ganache, but work quickly so the ganache doesn’t become too soft. Then, chill the cookies again until ready to serve. 

Alice Medrich is a master of chocolate confections, and I always love learning from her. The techniques in this book, from working with chocolate for glazes and piped decorations to ribbons of chocolate to top a cake, will set you on a path to making amazing desserts. And, as she points out, regardless of how the creations look, they’re going to taste delicious. 

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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Chilled Avocado, Turmeric, and Almond Soup

I’m always eager to read about cooking with fresh, seasonal ingredients for healthy eating, and I want to tell you about another book that offers just that. It’s Real Food by Mike: Seasonal Wholefood Recipes for Wellbeing, and I received a review copy. Mike McEnearney operates two Sydney restaurants serving whole food cooking and believes that food is “natures’s medicine.” In this new book, each recipe comes with a note about the ingredients, their nutritional value, and how they support good health. I like those reminders about the benefits that come with eating what’s fresh from the farms each season. The recipes are organized by season and move from summer to spring. You’ll find everything from mains and sides to dessert and breakfast dishes and even preserves and drinks. There’s a Malaysian Spiced Pumpkin and Coconut Soup that sounds great for this transitional time of early fall. I also have my eye on the Mango, Avocado Lime, and Lentil Salad. The Roast Pumpkin with Chai Spice and Buttermilk is intriguing in that the pumpkin wedges are left with the skin on the outside and attached seeds on the inside to protect the flesh for a longer cooking time. The wedges take on great color from longer roasting and get topped with the buttermilk-chai dressing. The Baked Whole Cauliflower with Indian Spices, Mint, and Yogurt looks festive for a dinner party. And, the Pineapple Tarts are adorable minis made with one round slice of pineapple per tart. The first recipe I tried is a chilled avocado soup, but I actually thought of it more as a smoothie. It makes a great, quick, nutritious breakfast on the go. 

In the book, the soup is made with cashew milk, but there’s a note that any nut milk will work. I’ve recently become a fan of a locally-made almond milk called Malk that’s made simply with organic almonds, water, and a little salt and nothing else like other similar products with added stabilizers, thickeners, and flavorings. So, I went with almond milk. Making the soup was a quick puree in the blender of two avocados, almond milk, some salt, lemon juice, ground turmeric, ground cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg, and a little olive oil. You’ll want to taste and adjust to your preference. I added a little extra lemon juice. Then, the mixture gets chilled until you’re ready to serve it. And, no worries about the avocado turning a darker color. Once blended with the other ingredients, it maintains its pretty shade of green. 

The nutrition notes for this recipe let you know that avocado is good for lowering bad cholesterol and boosting good cholesterol, and turmeric in addition to being anti-inflammatory also has one of the highest levels of antioxidant strength of all herbs and spices. Knowing that made it even more enjoyable. And, all the other recipes in the book come with similar good news about the ingredients used.  

Chilled Avocado, Turmeric, and Cashew Nut Soup
Recipe excerpted with permission from Real Food by Mike by Mike McEnearney, published by Hardie Grant Books August 2017, RRP $29.99 paperback. 


This refreshing soup works well for breakfast to kick start your day, or as a light lunch. There are a number of varieties of avocados available in spring and they get better towards the end of the season. There is no right type to use for this soup, as they are all as good as each other. The only prerequisite is that the avocados must be ripe with a sweet flavour. Pumpkin seed oil can be found in most health food or good food stores. If you can’t find it, try edible argan oil or a simple drizzle of very good-quality extra-virgin olive oil. This recipe will also work well with any kind of nut milk, or you can use full-cream (whole) milk. 

SERVES 4 

2 avocados 
600 ml (20 1⁄2 fl oz) cashew nut milk or rice milk 
1 teaspoon salt 
1⁄2 lemon, juiced 
1 teaspoon ground turmeric 
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
freshly grated nutmeg 
2 teaspoons pumpkin seed oil 

Pulse all the ingredients together in a blender or food processor and serve the soup chilled. 

MEDICINAL BENEFIT: HEART, SKIN Avocado is high in monounsaturated fatty acids, as well as the omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid linoleic acid. A diet rich in these acids can help lower LDL, otherwise known as ‘bad’ cholesterol, and increase HDL, or ‘good’ cholesterol, helpful in preventing coronary artery disease. Avocados also contain vitamins A, K, E (great for skin) and B (for muscle growth). Cashew nuts contain monounsaturated fatty acids too, plus important micronutrients and minerals like manganese, potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium. Turmeric root contains curcumin, a potent compound that not only imparts a deep orange colour, but can exhibit anti-tumour, antioxidant, anti-arthritic and anti-inflammatory attributes. Turmeric’s phytonutrient profile is off the charts and its total antioxidant strength is one of the highest of all the herbs and spices.

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