I am curious to know who of you reading this blog post would like to pursue being a chef as either a hobby or profession. My story was that at the age of sixteen I wanted to be a chef but as I was vegetarian no one would take me on as an apprentice. I let go of that dream and pursued my other dreams, working with people with disabilities and being a primary school teacher. It was only at the age of thirty eight that I decided to follow my original passion and teach myself how to be a top notch vegetarian and then vegan chef. It has been an incredible twelve years.
It’s week three of my blog schedule and I am enjoying having a theme to go with each week. This week is seasonal produce. I’m excited as this is a seasonal vegetable that is native to both Australia and New Zealand. It can also be found in South American countries. It’s a hardy plant that likes sandy and marshy conditions to grow. It grows wild in many people’s gardens without them even knowing.
For eight years now my partner and I have been living on a full organic diet. When shopping for fruit and veg and dry foods we buy organic food only. There is the odd exception when we go away or eat out as there is not really any fully organic café or restaurant in Australia and when I go to India it is hard to eat 100% organic. However on a daily basis we buy organic food and when travelling in our van for five weeks late last year we only bought one grocery item that wasn’t organic.
In the foundation vegan course we look at ways to make cooking delicious but easy, so you eat well all the time. One of the many ways we do this is to create ‘go-to sauces and dips’ that you can have in your fridge at all times, that you can use for breakfast, lunch, dinner or for snacks.
You know those meals that you had growing up that you just can’t get out of your head. Something that you just have to have from time to time to overcome the nostalgia. Green Papaya Salad (Som Tum) is one of those dishes for me.
In the last vegan foundation course Grace and Mark made a delicious salad with black bean kofta balls. They were a real treat. I had a left over eggplant from the course and decided to develop their recipe further by putting chopped walnuts and mashed eggplant in the koftas. It worked and they are lovely and crunchy but moist at the same time.
As many of you know already, I am in the middle of teaching the Vegan Chef and Lifestyle Training for 2018. While I am enjoying this course immensely I am pushed for time to create my own recipes to showcase in the weekly newsletter I send out. So this week I am borrowing one of the recipes the chef students created last week and also sharing a pesto that features in module two (Raw Cuisine) of the course.
While I still see figs in the fruit and veg fridge at our local health food shop (Santos) I think I should quickly get this salad recipe out to you while the figs are still in season. This is a recipe I would never have thought of making so I am delighted it came my way. In the Vegan foundation Course the participants get to create their signature dish and Suzanne and Mike decided to try something they had never made before and that was this fruit filled and very tantalizing salad. It is certainly a treat indeed. If you can’t find figs then oranges and grapefruit would do or oranges and pears could work nicely too.
Do you always dress your salads or is salad dressing not so important to you? I grew up with either having vinegar or mayonnaise on my salads. Sometimes I was able to eat a salad without any dressings. These days I couldn’t possibly eat a salad without a dressing. With so many delicious dressing around these days it almost feels a crime not to add one and the beauty is we can make them all ourselves. No need to buy a shop bought dressing ever again. You can make a dressing and store it in a glass jar or bottle for a week. I have quite a few salad dressings here and many can double up as dressings for steamed veg. Hope you enjoy some of them. Let me know which ones you end up making and if you post them on Instagram or Facebook can I please ask you to #veetsvegancookingschool as I would love to see your creations. Have fun dressing your salads this week.
A few people of late have asked me for recipes and ideas to help them transition into a vegan diet more easily. It's too much to share in one email so I feel I will need to do a series. This is the first blog of three or four, I would say. I'm starting with vitamins, minerals and nutrients as this is what often concerns people (protein will come in another blog). I'm a believer that if you eat a good variety of organic, locally grown, seasonal fruits and vegetables along with grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds you will get all the nutrients you need.