So it’s that time of year when I get a little obsessed with homemade gifts and seem to wind up putting cinnamon and nutmeg into everything. I’m lucky to have an orchard, and so most of my gifts are inspired by that, and the hedgerows that surround it. Jam, chutney, sloe gin… you know the drill. But this year, my very generous friend, Kanna, loaned me a food dehydrator, glamorously named “The Excalibur”, which has taken my apple preserving – and my gift giving – to a whole new level.
Right about the time I’d amassed my third mountain of dehydrated apples, a neat kitchen-y thing arrived at my doorstep: this nifty recipe box from Instaprint, along with recipes from ten groovy foodies (including me and my recipe for Pear and Avocado Smoothie).
Flipping through the recipes, I came across Karen’s Maple Almond and Pecan Granola with Blueberries which instantly inspired me to create something similar with my apple stash. I liked the heavy dose of pecans, the wintery spices and the coconut action. And I really liked the idea of doing something OTHER than jam and chutney for my DIY Christmas presents this year.
I didn’t change much from the original recipe. I used honey instead of maple syrup and dried apples (plus a few dried cranberries) instead of blueberries. I kept the dried apple pieces really big and left the pecans whole. I love the crunchy rustic-ness of it all. And I love how it smells! Just like Christmas.
Christmas Granola with Apples, Almonds and Pecans
125mls honey (use maple syrup or similar to make this vegan)
25g Demerara sugar
30mls rapeseed oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
400g jumbo oats
100g porridge oats
50g pumpkin seeds
50g sunflower seeds
100g whole almonds
100g dried coconut flakes
1 teaspoon sea salt (I use Maldon)
2 teaspoons ground mixed spice (or ground cinnamon if you prefer)
150g dried apples and cranberries
Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F. Line three large roasting tins or trays with baking paper.
Pour the honey into a large bowl and then add the sugar, oil and vanilla extract. Mix well before adding the oats, mixed seeds, almonds, pecans, coconut flakes, sea salt and mixed spice.
Using your hands, mix all of the ingredients together so that all of the dry ingredients are coated in the the maple syrup and oil mixture.
Spoon the mixture over the paper lined trays so that is is evenly spread and in a single layer. Bake it in the oven for 10 to 20 minutes, checking every 5 minutes or so and giving it a good stir. Make sure it doesn’t burn!
The granola is done when it’s toasted to a light golden brown colour. Remove it from the oven and allow to cool completely before mixing in the dried apples and cranberries.
Store the granola in airtight containers and use within 3 to 4 weeks.
Given yesterday’s news that nuts are tied to lower risk of cancer and heart disease, I thought I’d share this cashew curry recipe which I made recently as part of an Indian feast for my friend Sam’s birthday a couple weekends ago. The recipe is adapted from Reza Mahammad’s “Cashews in a Rich Coconut Sauce” from Rice, Spice and All Things Nice. Yes, this is a curry based entirely on nuts! A strange idea, I thought, but it works really well and makes a most interesting option for a vegetarian curry.
And if you’re worried about the fat content of nuts, don’t be! The study showed that people who ate nuts actually tended to be slimmer than their non-nutty counterparts. And, bonus, they also had:
29% reduced risk of heart disease
11% reduced risk of cancer
20% reduced risk of death
The results applied to all nuts, even peanuts, which are actually a legume, not a nut (in fact, I’d be willing to bet that people who eat legumes regularly experience the same benefits as nut fiends).
I had a pretty stellar Thanksgiving this year. The party included two of my bestest friends of all time, Rachel and Dave, visiting for the occasion all the way from Austin, Texas (via a year-long stint in Berlin).
On the evening before our big day of nut roast and Prosecco, I decided a pre-Thanksgiving dinner detox was in order. So I went with the kind of food that I know I can make well, tastes a bit celebratory, but just happens to be healthy and vegan at the same time. The meal: my reliable red lentil dahl with panch phoran, Indian cabbage salad, basmati rice and flatbread masquerading as naan.
Of all the dishes, the cabbage salad was the biggest hit, a nice thing because I never know if my love of this salad has something to do with my own personal obsession with all things cabbage, or with the fact that the cabbage salad really is that good. Rachel seems to confirm my suspicion that this, indeed, is cabbage clad in awesomeness, so I’m posting the recipe here for her and for all cabbage lovers of the world. (Consequentially, I also made this salad for my friend, Claudia, last year – you can see it in the picture above, made all the more better by her rad vintage tableware – she also gave it the thumbs up.)
This salad is basically a winter riff on this cucumber and coconut salad and leaves a lot of room for improvisation (because I know how much Rachel loves improv). Any cabbage will do for this salad, though I am partial to the texture of Savoy. Chop it chunky or slice it fine. Skip the carrots if you don’t have them, or try adding other slaw-style goodness like bell peppers. Up the spices or the chilli if that’s your thing. Go nuts with the coriander.
I don’t usually follow a recipe when I make this, but I’ve attempted to write it up as such all the same. Do let me know if you try it and what you think!
I left out the asafoetida and curry leaves when I made this for Rachel and Dave but if you have them, use them. Feel free to chop the cabbage and carrots as finely or as not finely as you have the patience and inclination. My tendency is often to slice as finely as possible, but sometimes I like a chunky salad!
½ head of cabbage, finely sliced or chopped
2 carrots, shredded or sliced
a small bunch of fresh cilantro (i.e. coriander), finely chopped
2 tsp olive oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ tsp asafoetida (optional)
~10 dried curry leaves (optional)
1 green chilli, finely sliced (be careful with these – they can be HOT!)
2Tbsp grated or dessicated coconut (or more to taste)
juice from half a lemon
Put the cabbage, carrots and coriander in a bowl and set aside.
Put the oil in a large frying pan with the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves. Turn the heat up to medium and wait for the seeds to start sizzling and smelling delicious.
When the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the green chilli and fry for another few seconds, then pour the oil and seeds over the salad. (If you’re struggling to get all of the seeds out of the pan, put some of the salad in the pan and swirl it around, then scrape back into the bowl.)
Add the lemon juice, a pinch of salt and the coconut. Taste, adding more salt, lemon or coconut if desired.