A few weeks ago I hosted a supper club for ten friends. A supper club, or underground restaurant, is a way for aspiring chefs (or home cooks) to cook up a semi-professional meal while making a bit of money- like a dinner party with an entrance fee. Cooking for a crowd is a daunting task, and my friends generously paid to be my test subjects. But they were all happy with the meal, and I think the night went wonderfully: good food, fun drinks, great people, gorgeous food photos, and only a few mishaps- sorry about the salted truffles, friends! Many of the photos you see here on ManisKitchenworks were taken that great evening, captured by my talented friend Tyler of The Intire Project.
Today is the first day of the Vegan MoFo. Are you as excited as me? The first recipe I am sharing this month is a Cauliflower & Sweet Potato Soup, my favorite recipe from a recent cooking class focused on the humble and underrated cauliflower. The main ingredient of the soup is cauliflower, but it’s paired with sweet potatoes and lots of roasted onions and garlic for a nice layering of flavor.
Generally white foods are not too healthy (think white sugar, white bread) but cauliflower is actually quite powerful nutritionally. It’s crazy high in vitamin B5, B6, C, K, and folate, and it’s host to trace minerals like manganese and molybdenum (which is easier written than said aloud in class!). It’s great for aiding in the daily detoxification processes of our bodies, and cauliflower contains high amounts of glucosinolates, which aid in cancer prevention. All good stuff from this wholesome and versatile vegetable!
Cauliflower & Sweet Potato Soup
4 cups chopped cauliflower
2 cups chopped, peeled sweet potatoes
¼ cup olive oil or coconut oil
1 cup roughly chopped onions
4-6 cloves roughly chopped garlic
2-3 cups vegetable broth
1 Tablespoon each dried sage, dried basil, and dried rosemary
½ -1 cup coconut milk
salt and pepper to taste
- In a large stockpot boil 6 cups water to a boil. Boil cauliflower and sweet potatoes until very soft, about 10-15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in another stockpot, warm oil over medium low heat. Add onions and garlic and stir to coat. Cook until very brown, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
- Add cooked cauliflower, sweet potatoes, onion mixture, and two cups broth to food processor and blend. Add herbs and coconut milk and continue blending until desired texture is reached. Add salt and pepper to taste, and add more broth or coconut milk as needed.
- Divide evenly between four bowls and garnish with a dollop of coconut milk. Enjoy!
Notes: This soup is a filling meal as is, but I liked it dressed up with some cooked grains (brown rice & quinoa), grilled veggies, and some mung beans for some added protein. You could also serve this as a creamy sauce for noodles.
Yield: approximately 6 cups soup, or four servings
These are some of my favorite food photos of the past three years of blogging. As I was building this website I dug through my photo archives and pulled out some of the best photos. I am not a great photographer- it’s definitely something I struggle with as a blogger. But these are some highlights, so permit me to show off some accidentally great photos! Some feature produce in all its natural glory and others feature some of my favorite recipes from here on Vibrant Wellness Education.
Calamansi limes from the Ala Moana Farmer’s Market.
Chia Pudding, a quick and easy snack.
My favorite quick meal: udon noodles with greens, tempeh, and tahini sauce.
Raw Chocolate & Berry Cheezecake! A sweet frozen treat made with cashews, coconut, cacao, and nuts.
The best barbeque sauce ever, adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance.
Mango season is fleeting, so make use of it with a hearty Black Bean, wheat berry, and mango salad.
My first (maybe last) coconut harvest, when I was living on Maui.
Vegan Gingerbread Cake with Spice Molasses Frosting: my favorite thing about the holidays!
Gorgeous organic strawberries from Maui, a rare find at the markets on Oahu!
I was able to start my weekend off right with a trip to the Ala Moana Farmer’s Market. This is one of my favorite markets here on Oahu, run by the same dynamic lady duo that runs the Haleiwa Farmer’s Market. The Ala Moana market is great for many reasons:
- Most importantly, lots of quality produce from our island farms. Organic, exotic, local!
- It’s at a good time (Saturday mornings), and I can usually remember to go!
- It’s held at the mall, and I think it’s a GREAT way to give the finger to the consumerist bullshit that the mall generally represents. Who needs all that Prada, J.Crew, and Chanel crap when we have beets and greens and fresh bread and eggs and music?!
- Such good prices: for only $40, I walked away with lots of calamansi (sweet-tart mini citrus fruits), limes, oranges, mangoes, pastured eggs, turnips, collards, kale, beets, choi sum, cilantro, jicama, lemongrass, green papaya salad, avocado, and two wee bananas.
During cooking class last month I shared recipes for my favorite Arabic-inspired dishes. The recipes we enjoyed were a roasted vegetable Hummus, an earthy-tangy Baba Gannoush, and a simple Fattoush Salad with Pita Wedges. And while the idea for this class was inspired by the baskets of pita and plates of hummus shared between my high school girlfriends in surburban Detroit, the recipes are all inspired by great bloggers listed below in the intro to each recipe.
Baba Gannoush (Smokey Eggplant Dip)
This delicious and creamy dip can be thought of as the cousin to hummus- made with creamy eggplants and a little smoke and spice. Recipe adapted from David Ledbovitz. He roasts the eggplants over an open flame, which completely terrifies me. I sneak in some liquid smoke instead!
3 medium-sized eggplants
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
½ cup tahini (roasted sesame paste)
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
pinch chile powder or cayenne
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon liquid smoke
½ cup packed flat-leaf parsley
- Preheat oven to 450º.
- Split eggplants lengthwise and lay flat on baking sheet. Add garlic to baking sheet and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until eggplants are soft. Check by using a sharp knife through the middle. Remove from oven and let cool.
- Scrape out the pulp from eggplants (which just might be the wackiest food goo EVER), and add to processor with garlic and all other ingredients. Blend until very smooth, scraping the sides if needed.
- Taste, and season with additional salt and lemon juice, if necessary. Chill for a few hours before serving.
Yield: about 4 cups dip
Roasted Vegetable Hummus
2 zucchini, coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 (fifteen ounce) can chickpeas, drained (or two cups home-cooked)
¼ cup lemon juice
1 tsp cumin
½ cup tahini
2-4 Tablespoons olive oil
½ cup hempseeds
- Add chopped zucchini and peppers to a 9×13 baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes at 450º, stirring after 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
- Blend vegetables and all remaining ingredients in a food processor until very smooth. Add water if necessary.
- Serve with pita or fresh vegetables.
Yield: 3 cups hummus
Fattoush Salad and Crispy Pita Wedges
A light salad dressed with simple vinaigrette and toasted pita chips- which go perfectly with the two fabulous dips above! This recipe was adapted from A Taste of Beirut. Her version features sumac, which I couldn’t find here, so I skipped it… hopefully she will forgive me! Don’t skimp on the pita chippies, these are the best part of this salad!
4 slices pita bread
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon each dried basil and black pepper
½ teaspoon ground coriander
salt to taste
1 head romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped
½ cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
½ cup roughly chopped fresh mint
1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
1 cucumber, sliced
½ cup shredded carrots
- Preheat oven to 400º.
- Slice pita bread into strips and line on a baking sheet. Set aside.
- Add oil, juice, zest and spices to a small jar. Shake until emulsified.
- Brush pita bread generously with olive oil dressing, and bake for 15 minutes, or until very browned and crispy.
- When bread is finished baking, break each strip into dime-sized pieces.
- Meanwhile, add lettuce, vegetables, and herbs to a large mixing bowl and toss gently. Add remaining dressing and toss to coat.
- Toss in cooled pita chips, and then serve immediately.
Yield: 4-6 servings