Ginger Carrot Soup with Coral Lentils

A perfect balance of flavors, and healthy and nutritious ingredients. Simple, elegant… and vegan!

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This soup is easy to make. I like to add coral lentils in a variety of soups. They act as a binding ingredient and provide a more velvety texture when puréed. They marry particularly well with pumpkin soup, or here carrot soup.

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Ingredients:
6-8 large carrots
2 celery stalks (can be omitted)
1/2 red onion (or yellow for a more subtle flavor)
3/4 cup coral lentils
1 inch ginger root
2 garlic cloves
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt to taste
A few parsley springs

20130324-120933.jpg Wash and slice the celery stalks lengthwise. Peel the onion leaving the roots attached as they help to hold the onion while chopping, as well as to keep it together so it is easier to handle.

20130324-121149.jpg Chop the celery. Start slicing the onion horizontally, almost to the roots, but do not cut through the roots. You can slice it 3 or 4 times this way, starting at the bottom and making your way to the top.

20130324-121416.jpg Then, slice vertically, again being careful not to cut all the way to the roots so the onion still holds together.

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Now you can keep slicing vertically,but perpendicular to the previous direction. This way you obtain a perfectly chopped onion.

20130324-135915.jpg Place olive oil at the bottom of a large pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the chopped onion and celery and turn down the heat to low to let the onions and celery sweat until translucent.

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Peel the carrots. Slice lengthwise, then into sticks to chop.
In the same way, slice the ginger and cut it into thin sticks
Peel the garlic cloves, slice in half to remove the green inner part. Crush and chop.

20130324-141737.jpg Add the chopped carrots, garlic and ginger.

20130327-063427.jpg Add about 6 to 7 cups of water. Less water will result in more of a puree consistency, more water will result in a smoother, more velvety texture. Add salt to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

20130327-063515.jpg Add the lentils and simmer for another 20 minutes or so.

20130327-063634.jpg When the soup is cooked, let cool a few minutes. Transfer to a food processor in batches.

20130327-063737.jpg For better results, start processing with a small amount, then keep adding more of the soup and process as you go. To adjust the consistency, you can always add more water while you purée the soup if you would like. Be sure to blend well in the food processor before returning the soup to the pot.

20130327-063854.jpg Transfer back to the pot, bring it back to a boil and adjust seasonings as necessary.

20130327-064101.jpg For serving, finely chop a few springs of parsley.

20130327-064200.jpg Serve in individual bowls. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. You might even add a few drops of olive oil on top for taste and decoration. Enjoy!

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Almond Blueberry Vegan Gluten-Free Cookies

A delicious and healthy treat!

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So many of you have been asking for this recipe, an adapted version of my boyfriend’s family heirloom. I hope you enjoy making these cookies as much as savoring them.

I love this recipe because it uses some of the essential ingredients on which I was raised: raw almonds and grape seed oil.
Growing up, my mother would send us to school with a small handful of almonds in case we needed a bit of energy before lunch. Same on the ski slopes. We could always reach to our pockets and find a few almonds to nibble on. Both nutritious and naturally healthy, raw almonds are an ingredient of choice I enjoy every day.
Grape seed oil is also a common staple we used in Provence with revered health benefits. In addition, grape seed oil is one of the least fragrant oil, making it perfectly suited to preserve the integrity of the flavors of other ingredients.
I will write a new page for this blog to share Essential Health Benefits of ingredients about almonds and grape seed oil.

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Ingredients:
2 cups raw almonds
2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
1 cup amaranth flour
1 cup almond flour/meal
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 pinches salt
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup grape seed oil + 2 Tbsp
1/2 cup blueberry jam (try to find a jam made without sugar)
Preheat the oven at 350F.
2 cookie sheets.

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Place the raw almonds in a food processor fitted with a steel blade to grind them.

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Process until they are ground evenly with a slightly coarse texture. This will give the cookies their rough consistency, which is quite pleasant.

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Place gluten-free rolled oats in the food processor fitted with a steel blade, and process the same way as the almonds.

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Then place all the dry ingredients in a bowl: ground almonds, ground oats, amaranth flour, almond flour, cinnamon, and salt.

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Combine dry ingredients together by mixing well.

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Separately, mix the maple syrup and grape seed oil, whisking well to homogenize.

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Pour the maple syrup/oil mixture over the dry ingredients and incorporate slowly using a wooden spoon.

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Mix until all ingredients are evenly incorporated and the texture of the almond cookie dough becomes malleable.

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Oil a cookie sheet using about two tablespoon of grape seed oil and spreading it with a pastry brush.

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Using a tablespoon, fill it to the top with the almond cookie dough.

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Place on oiled cookie sheet at regular interval, leaving enough space to allow spreading during baking.

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Tip: you might use the handle of another spoon to unstick the almond cookie dough from the measuring spoon.

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Cookie sheet filled with domes of dough, evenly spaced.

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Use the back of a rounded teaspoon to create a depression in each dome. Be careful not to press too hard. You want to leave enough thickness between the cookie sheet and the deepest part of the depression to ensure the blueberry jam won’t sip through during baking time.
Tip: you might occasionally place the teaspoon under running water to remove any dough stuck to the bottom. This will help to continue forming evenly shaped depressions.

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Fill the depressions with blueberry jam. Bake in the preheated oven for about 12 minutes, until slightly browner. Turn the cookie sheet around and bake for another 6 minutes or so. Baking times are approximate depending on your oven. The first time you bake these cookies, please check them more often and note down the times so you can repeat the same experience next time.

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The cookies are baked when still soft to the touch and the perimeter at the base of them is slightly brown. Let sit one minute outside the oven until they are cool enough handle. Remove them with a spatula and place on display/serving platter. They should firm up a bit as they cool.
Enjoy!

Grilled Scallops with Blood Orange Vanilla Sauce

Simplicity is the essence of this recipe. Simple ingredients. Simple preparation. Simple presentation.

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Perfect as an entree. Served with freshly cut sections of blood oranges and a few chopped chives. I like to accompany this dish with steamed broccolini, or sautéed fennel.

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Ingredients:
12 fresh sea scallops
6 large blood oranges or 8 small ones
1 vanilla bean
1/4-1//3 cup olive oil
Small bunch chives

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Squeeze 4 of the large blood oranges (or 6 of the small ones). You should have between a cup and 1 1/3 cups of orange juice.

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Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise.

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Scrape the seeds from the inside of the vanilla bean. If the bean if fresh and plump, you will have more of a paste. Otherwise, the seeds will appear detached and more powdery.

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Blood orange sauce ingredients ready to be combined.

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Place the ingredients in a saucepan.

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Whisk together to incorporate the oil into the juice and slightly emulsify.

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Bring to a boil and simmer for about 30-40 minutes.

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Meanwhile, prepare the remaining blood oranges by cutting the skin ‘à vif’. This means to cut off the top of the orange with a serrated knife down to the flesh. Then continue to cut around carefully removing all the white part and exposing the juicy flesh of the orange.

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Once all the skin of the orange has been removed in this way, the sections are ready to be severed from the center.

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Cut each section of the orange by slicing the serrated knife down, next to the thin membrane separating each section.

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Keep slicing down on both sides of each orange section, and the pieces will come free. Continue doing so all the way around, and you will end up with the beautiful slices separated, and the membranes will remain attached to the center of the orange.

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Set the beautiful slices aside for presentation.

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When the sauce is reduced and has a smooth consistency, remove the vanilla bean.

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To cook the scallops, brush a little olive oil on each side. Be sure the grill is very hot before placing the scallops on it.

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Once the markings are showing, turn them over to finish cooking the other side. The scallops should just be seized so that they remain tender inside. Be sure not to over cook them otherwise they’ll become rubbery.
Serve immediately, three to four scallops on each plate, accompanied with fresh orange sections. Pour the sauce over them, and sprinkle with finely chopped chives. Enjoy!

Pistou Soup

A fragrant Provençal soup, which can be served on its own as a meal or as a separate dish at a dinner.

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‘Pistou’ is basically the French translation of Italian ‘Pesto’, which is used to flavor this summer vegetable soup. Historically, the two differed essentially in the absence of pine nuts in pistou.
I like to vary my pistou recipe, by incorporating pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese for an Italian version, or even walnuts, almonds or goat cheese, depending on whether I’m looking for a heartier or lighter version of the soup.

Originally, the golden rule of making this soup was to include summer vegetables such as green beans, tomatoes, zucchini, along with the traditional white beans and red beans. However, it is such a hearty soup, that I also like to adapt to other seasons by using cabbage or leeks and turn it into a more versatile, all season dish. So please feel free to explore by switching ingredients and turn it into your own unique version depending on where you live and the season.

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Ingredients:
For the soup-
1/2 yellow onion
4 celery stalks
4 carrots
2 cups dry white baby lima beans (soaked the night before)
2 cups red beans (soaked the night before)
4 small zucchinis
3 medium tomatoes
1/2 lb French green beans
1/2 cabbage

For the Pistou-
1.5 oz fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup pine nuts (might be omitted)
8 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp lemon juice
4 Tbsp olive oil
4 oz parmesan cheese (might be omitted)

You might incorporate the pistou into the soup just before serving, or offer it at the table for each guest to add according to their own liking after the soup is served. Personally, I like a combination of both, by typically mixing about half the pistou into the soup and

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Clean and dice the onion, celery and carrots in a rough mirepoix.

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Moderately heat about 2 Tbsp of olive oil and add the mirepoix mixture. Cook over medium low heat until the onions are translucent.

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Add the presoaked white and red beans, about 12 cups of water and salt to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes.

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You might use half a white cabbage if making in winte

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Slice cabbage and zucchini thickly

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Cut French green beans in thirds.

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Quarter the tomatoes to easily remove the green/white part attached to the stem.

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Further cut in eights and run under water to remove the seeds.

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Cut into large pieces.

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Add tomatoes, zucchini, French green beans and cabbage to the simmering white and red beans. Bring to a boil again, and simmer for another 30 minutes or so.

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The soup is ready when it reaches a hearty consistency

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Meanwhile, prepare the Pistou.

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Place the pine nuts, if using, in a dry, wide surface skillet on medium hear. Watch constantly, while occasionally tossing by shaking the pan, to ensure even toasting. Stop immediately as the pine nuts turn brown.

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Be careful not to overlook the pine nuts otherwise they’ll burn in seconds.

Poached Pears with Citrus, Ginger and Cardamon

Refreshing and simple, a perfect way to end a meal on a light note, with the ginger contributing to help digestion.

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Poached pears are a classic, yet can be interpreted in so many different ways. Here the cardamon and ginger bring a refreshing twist. You might use ground cinnamon and cinnamon stick instead of the cardamon.

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Ingredients:
4 pears – either d’Anjou for softer texture or Bosc for firmer texture
1 orange
4 mandarins
1 lemon
1/2 tsp ground cardamon
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
12 cardamon pods
2 cups water
1/2 cup agave syrup

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Prepping the ingredients. Wash the fruits. Cut the citrus into relatively thick slices. Peel and half the pears. Core the center to remove the hard part and seeds. Using a melon baller is a useful tool for this task. Set aside.

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Grating the ginger. I recently learned a tip for keeping fresh ginger on hand at all times in the kitchen: store it in the freezer and grate it frozen as needed.
When it comes to peeling or scraping ginger, this is a matter of personal preference. Once washed and scrubbed, you might peel it with a peeler or scrape it with a spoon in its intricate shapes. Although, I have to admit that since seeing my friends from Japan leaving the skin on the root, I have been doing the same.

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Place the water, agave syrup, cut citrus, grated ginger, cardamon in a large pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes to infuse all the flavors of the poaching liquid.

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Add the pears and return to a boil. Lower the heat again and simmer for about 20-30 minutes, until the pears are soft. Depending on whether the pears were hard initially, this might take a little longer. Just check with the tip of a sharp knife. You should not feel any resistance when the blade cuts through the pear.

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Once the pears are ready, turn off the heat and let cool. When the pot reaches room temperature, transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until serving time. This dish is best eaten cold.

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Serve by itself in its own juice, or accompanied by ginger cookies, ‘Pain d’Epice’, or a chocolate ganache. Enjoy!