Happy New Year!

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Dear Friends of Tasha. Kitchen,

Happy New Year!

My wish for you is to Live Better, Strive Harder, Be Bolder, Dream Bigger, Climb Higher and Seek Greater.

These too are wishes for myself and in the pursuit of this at the end of the year I took some time out to self reflect on all I have learnt over the last year.

In 2018, I completed my certificate in Plant Based Nutrition with Cornell and have used this and some great books (e.g. how not to die – Gene Stone and Michel Greger), articles and blogs to learn more about the hard science behind food and disease.  Many of you may have seen my blog evolve over that time, from broad based healthy food to more of a plant-based blog. This is a reflection of my learning and has caused me to sit back and think about what my own philosophy is and what the blog should centre around.

After much study, contemplation and a recommitment to both my followers, and myself I am pleased to announce a new blog coming soon. The blog will be dedicated to Vegetarian, Vegan and Raw recipes with a focus on Plants and Whole Foods to maximise the nutritional content. There will also be a new section where I will share scientific research, so you can learn with me.

The blog will be called PlantToTable.com and exists today but with a redirect to Tasha.Kitchen until it is ready for launch in early 2019. Tasha.Kitchen will resume this Saturday and an announcement will be made when the new blog is ready.

I hope that this news allows you to forgive my absence and I look forward to continuing our journey together.

Yours faithfully,

Tasha x

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Chilli Chocolate Vegan Samosas

Chilli Chocolate Vegan Samosas

Samosa

I was inspired to create this for a competition where we were asked to use cacao in a creative way. My first thought was to make my grandmothers samosas with a chilli chocolate slant on them. (Mr B’s influence as two of his favourite flavour profiles). I wasn’t sure this would work, but I felt my grandma was urging me on, if only to see me make my first samosa

Well it did work and I’d encourage you to give it a try. It has some wonderfully deep, rich flavours from the garam masala and chilli, with an earthy tone from the cacao and smoked paprika

‘Creativity is the courage to let go of certainty’.

I didn’t want to let go of the certainty of my grandma’s recipe, but this competition pushed me out of my comfort zone and to something new in our relationship. A collaboration of sorts, a recipe created hand in hand, partly from heritage and partly from something new. Growth isn’t just a case of learning something new but about unlearning old limits too

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp. chilli powder (adapt to heat preference)
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp. garam masala
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 500g vegan mince
  • 20g cacao powder
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp. flour
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 10 spring roll wrappers

Method

  • Heat the olive oil, add the onion and fry till translucent, add garlic and fry for 30 seconds
  • Add spices for 30 seconds
  • Add vegan mince and stir till equally distributed
  • Cook down for 20 minutes
  • Taste and adjust for seasoning
  • Let cool
  • Mix the water and flour together to use as a glue for the samosa pastry
  • Fold, fill and seal (see picture for instructions)
  • Bake or fry and serve with a coriander dipping sauce

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Beet tartare

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Life is your canvas…paint it with your dreams!

My dreams are normally full of food. If you know me well and see me staring off into the distance, you’ll know its because I am thinking about my next meal, the meal I just had or a recipe I am working on. It is therefore natural for me to combine food and art.

Beetroots have such amazing colors, my favourite is the deep ruby red because of the colour but also the antioxidant qualities you get with it.

This recipe is my healthy vegan version of beef tartar using those beautiful red beets to create a hearty, beet tartare. The dish has a lovely crunch and salinity from the capers and a smooth heat from the mustard.

I loved playing with this dish, as when you have finished you have a pink paint and a white cream cheese base to play with. It lets your inner artist (and child out) and what could be more fun than that!

This is a Tasha. Kitchen original, feel free to copy, creativity should be shared!

Ingredients

  • 2 small beets
  • 1 tsp. capers
  • 1½ tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. mustard
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • 3 tbsp. vegan cream cheese (see prior recipe)
  • Chives, chopped (for garnish)

Method

  • Preheat an oven to 350c
  • Bake the beetroots in salt for 40 mins or until slightly tender
  • Remove from the oven and let cool
  • Once cooled chop into roughly 1cm x 1cm pieces
  • Whisk together the mustard, vinegar, oil, and salt.
  • Transfer beets to a small bowl and mix with the dressing
  • Smear plate with the vegan cream cheese and place the beetroot on top using a cookie cutter or ramekin
  • Garnish with chopped chives

Raw Apple Pie (Gluten free, Dairy Free, Vegan)

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‘Life is short, eat dessert first’ – I love this quote, as it reminds us to forget the routine and focus on living. This dish takes the quote literally as it is so healthy and nutritious, you can eat it for breakfast or serve it for dessert. Imagine your kids delight, when they sit down to breakfast and get apple pie! It has protein from the nuts and vitamin C from the apple and wins hands down in a nutritional competition versus most cereals.

This recipe just takes a little time with our trusted blender and the great thing about it is that each layer of the mixture tastes great on its own and can also be eaten as an energy snack, so 4 recipes in one.

You can also change the apples for pears and the walnuts for pecans and cashews for macadamias, so just see what you have to hand.

This is from peace and parsnips by Lee Watson, a vegan cooks dream with over 200 plant-based recipes.

I was going to switch back to posting a few savory recipes before posting this one, but having handed out a few portions for tastings, to my friends and neighbors, there was a plea to post this one. I take that as a thumbs up to this recipe and hope that you enjoy it as much as they did.

Ingredients

For the crust

  • 5 cups (200g) cashew nuts
  • 5 cups (200g) walnuts
  • 1/3 cup (50g) dates
  • ½ tsp. sea salt

For the filling

  • 5 ounces (150g) dried apples, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups (480ml) apple juice
  • 13 ounces (375g) apples
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 8 dates, soaked until soft
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg (optional)
  • ½ tp. Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • ½ tsp. sea salt

For the topping

  • 1 cup (90g) walnuts, finely chopped
  • 4 dates, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon

Method

  • Soak the dried apples in the apple juice for an hour
  • To make the crust, blender all the crust ingredients until a crumble is formed. Gently press down into a baking tin, press down with a spoon and pop into the fridge for an hour
  • To make the filling, drain the dried apples, core and chop the fresh apples (approx. 1 cmx1cm) and toss them in the lemon juice to stop them going brown
  • Put half the fresh apples in the blender with the dates, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, maple syrup and salt and blend till well combined. Add the rest of the fresh and dried apple to the mixture and spoon onto the pie crust
  • To make the topping, mix together the walnuts, dates and vanilla in a bowl and spread over the top to form a crust. Sprinkle on the cinnamon.
  • Cover and place in the fridge to chill. When ready to serve, carefully sliceProcessed with MOLDIV

Sunset Soup (Red and Golden Beets)

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This recipe is gluten, diary and nut free. It is adapted from my new chef crush, Chef Daphne Cheng’s website, having tasted her amazing vegan food on a recent visit to LadyBird in NYC. (www.daphnecheng.com)

The beauty of this dish to start, is that the dish is beautiful. It reminds me of a deep sunset on a contemplative day.

It is also 98% beetroot and thus super healthy and full of antioxidants (see other health benefits below). You can spice this dish up a little by adding a little red pepper (I will do this for Mr. B and his asbestos stomach) or you can bathe in its simplicity.

Ingredients

  • 2 red beets
  • 2 golden beets
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. apple vinegar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil

Method

  • Heat oven to 350f/180c. Rub the beets with coconut oil and roast until tender, about 1 hour. Make sure to wrap them in foil separately or use two different baking trays to make sure the red doesn’t bleed into the yellow
  • Remove from heat, let cool, peel and chop (still keeping separate)
  • In a medium pot, add water, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Pour half into another medium pot. Add one color of beet to each pot.
  • Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool slightly then puree each color in a blender until smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  • To Serve:Spoon the red beet soup into a bowl, then spoon the golden beet soup over. Take a knife or chopstick and swirl around.
  • As breathtaking and as vibrant as the sunset!

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Boston Restaurant Bonanza

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Sarma of Somerville

 

Sarma

Sarma is in Somerville; a sleepy suburban area of Boston and you could quite easily walk past it and never know it is there. Once you have been however, you’ll never forget the evocative and complex tastes and smells, which whisk you straight back to a spice market in the Mediterranean.

The menu at Sarma is one of small plates, so you get to taste lots of different dishes. There are also dishes brought round during dinner (soft shell crab and fried chicken, two exemplary examples brought round during our meal and these seem to change with the season).

We ordered eight dishes to start between four, and that finished us off. Dare I say it, but Brussels Sprout Bravas with chorizo was a highlight, as was black orzo paella with squid and octopus. The Greek yogurt biscuits with jalapeno-whipped feta, smoked ham and honey was a cacophony of taste but a little unbalanced on the spice side for me. Likewise the sweet potato latke with jalapeno labne, rhubarb, lime and scallion (spring onion), which could have done with a touch more spice.

The cocktails were a great addition to the meal, with it being difficult to pair a wine to such a mix of different flavour profiles. Mr. B had an Oaxacan Divorce with Mezcal, Citrus, Tea and Vermouth and I took favour to the Illyrian King’s Cocktail, which contained grilled lemon vodka, Greek mountain tea and salers.

All in all a great variety of tastes and an explosion of flavour from this hidden gem.

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No cream or butter

Erbaluce

Located in central Boston and hidden in a side street, Erbaluce is as understated outside as it is inside. It’s almost like walking into someone’s living room and in fact the service feels just as warm. The focus of the restaurant is Northern Italian food using local produce, high quality ingredients and a distinct lack of butter and cream. You might think this is an odd thing to mention as butter and cream is more characteristically French, however in America, Italian food is generally swimming in it.

We started our meal with some amazing homemade breadsticks, sourdough bread and white bean dip. The dip tasted so creamy and luxurious that we assumed it had butter or cream but it was just white beans and olive oil. This sounds simple but the dish was delicious and I asked for the recipe so will be trying it out in a few days.

For starters we shared some San Daniele Prosciutto, which was complimented with black cherries. My Italian husband said he preferred this to the usual melon, for me, whilst I liked the idea, the cherries where not as sweet and I would have preferred more of a sweet salt contrast.

For main, Mr. B had one of the specials as his Primi, which was Tagliatelle with Rabbit. He loved the fresh pasta and the rabbit, although would have preferred a more sauce-based ragu. I had an original carbonara, which is a no cream dish. Real carbonara is a mix of egg yolk, Parmesan, Pecorino and Pancetta. This one had a special twist of a duck yolk and boar pancetta and was absolutely lip smacking delicious.

For main we had the wild boar chop, which was expensive and not well done, i.e. the fat hadn’t been rendered properly. At $45 for that one dish, it was a disappointing end to a great and authentic meal. The lavender meringue and chocolate truffles as part of the house free desert made up for it however.

All in all, a great restaurant, especially by Boston Italian American standards.

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Guest star: Iveshu

The Liquid Art House

This is a bar/lounge, with a beautiful open space and some really interesting artwork on the wall (all for sale of course). There are two menus available for brunch, a small plates menu with eclectic dishes from around the world (including momo’s and gyoza’s) and a brunch menu with more typical dishes like French toast and eggs benedict. The best dishes by far where in the small tasters, although there was a large variation in quality from one to the other. The Chinese sausage bun and egg yolk ravioli were the most interesting and well executed but the food in general wasn’t overwhelming. The cocktails were great, personal favourite was the yuzu Bellini, and so I suspect that I will be frequenting this more for the bar than brunch.

All in all, great space and bar, if you get really hungry the go for the small bites.

Del Posto (NYC restaurant review)

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This is one of the best meals I have had in the USA and I would actually put it in my top 10 globally, so I thought it was a good review to start off with.

This was for a meal at which my family and my better halves would meet for the first time and so needed to be special, thus needless to say; I did a lot of research into the restaurant style, chef’s and customer reviews before booking. The restaurant did not fail at any level. Service, food taste and execution, wine list (if a little heady) and atmosphere were all exemplary, with some outstanding and all time favourite dishes to add to my foodie repertoire.

We were a group of nine and thus had to opt for a tasting menu. We opted for the 5-course menu, within this the diner picks an antipasto, a main course and a desert and the table shares two pasta dishes.

Pre the antipasto dish arriving the waiter bought over some tasters from the chef, three each to be precise. The best was a chickpea fritter with truffle, known as a Panelle in Italian and originally from Sicily. It sounds like a simple dish, but the execution was outstanding given how difficult it is to create a fried product and still retain the delicate hint of truffle. This dish was so good; a request was put in immediately for me to attempt this at home.

Next was the individually selected antipasto, which for me was the Truffled Beef Tartare with crunchy Salsify Crisps. (See photo). Again a delicious dish, which was perfectly, executed, with meat, which melted in the mouth, a delicate hand with the truffle and a nice textural addition with the salsify crisps. I could have eaten this dish twice over and certainly had food envy from those that had chosen the sashimi platter, which whilst also beautiful (see photo), didn’t quite have the same impact.

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Next were the two pastas, which for the table we choose lobster Pansoti (ravioli) and Orecchiette with Lamb Neck Ragu. I thought this would be a really filling part of the meal, but it was portioned well, with first 3 ravioli each and then a spoonful of the ragu. I love lobster and so for me this was the star pasta dish, but for the other side of the family who are Italian, the ragu was said to be better than their mothers (shhhhhhhh…). We asked the chef for the recipe, so I could be a good Italian wife and cook it when I go home, but they wouldn’t part with it and suggested we wait for the recipe book to come out in a few months (the only disappointing part of the meal), the ragu we were told had been cooked for seven hours, it was succulent and juicy, with a depth beyond any ragu I have ever tasted.

For my secondi I choose the Poached Lobster, as I wanted to keep some room for desert. The lobster was a small light dish, combined with artichoke, hazelnut, basil and tangerine. It was a beautifully light main, delicately put together.

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For desert we were treated to the butterscotch semi freddo, the brown butter panna cotta and the melanzane e cioccolato, all amazing. Who would have known that sheep’s milk cheese and chocolate, eggplant, chocolate and balsamic vinegar all on crispy pastry would go together. Sounds crazy but it works. The best however was yet to come. The petit fours were amazing, including champagne vinegar caramels in an edible wrapper, a decadent extra virgin olive oil gelato lollipop topped with chocolate and toasted breadcrumbs and a classic bomboloni, a light Italian doughnut filled with vanilla cream.

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All in all, this restaurant is the ultimate expression of Italian indulgence and refinement. Buonissimo!