Jun 26, 2015

couscous & mograbiah with tomatoes

summer always causes me to chase that je ne sais quoi "summer feeling". this easy-breeziness, that you somehow lose at the tender age of 14, and that you only seem to be able to compensate with an indecently expensive vacation to a place that can be summarized with words like: "luxury", "retreat", "beach fron"t and "infinity pool". since vacations only happen, like, once a year, if at all (it does feel like there has been a very long absence in my life), i'm focusing on summer to do's for sanity and happiness. like a little bbq here and a bike ride through the summer night, there. i don't ask for much, it's the small things that make me happy. 

this salad is a summer must, that also adds to happiness, in multiple ways. for one, it features the best summer ingredients - fresh tomatoes - and as it's a salad it can easily be taken to outdoor places for an impromptu picnic. plus it makes for a pretty neat leftover lunch at work.

couscous & mograbiah with tomatoes
inspired by two recipes from ottolenghi

1 cup couscous
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup mograbiah, fregola or israeli couscous, from the turkish shop
2 cups colorful cherry tomatoes (yello, red, green), halved
2 large coeur de boeuf tomatoes, in eighth
1 lemon, juice
1 handful basil
1 handful parsley
1 handful coriander
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. pomegranate molasses
1 tsp. harissa
1 tsp. garlic paste (or 2 cloves, crushed)
maldon sea salt

for this salad, two different ottolenghi favorites have been merged into one. first, cook the couscous and mograbiah separately. boil the broth, add the couscous and a little olive oil, cover and let sit until soaked up. fluff with a fork. cook the mograbiah al dente in salted water, drain and cool in ice water. combine couscous and mograbiah.

prepare the tomatoes, coarsely chop the hers. prepare a simple dressing with the olive oil, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, garlic paste and harissa. season with salt. combine couscous, mograbih, tomatoes, herbs and the dressing. garnish with grilled lemon slices, if you want (i like the looks of it but i don't eat them). enjoy at room temperature (or the next day as a desk lunch, ahem). 

Jun 23, 2015

simple & quick coconut loaf

coconut is probably one of my favorite flavors... i don't necessarily mean the (cheap) perfumes and body sprays (the term alone...) i used as a teenager. i admit i slightly overdid it with these. much rather, i refer to the connotations of coconut with summer, sun and beaches - because obviously i've spent my beach vacations in italy, where freshly sliced coconuts are being offered for sale on the beach with intense ballyhooing. "coco bello, coco!" is something that's burnt forever in my memory of beach vacations. somehow, and thus coconut is linked to summer, for me. maybe the coconut flavored sun screens and pina coladas only add to that. hmm, pina coladas. so very underrated, no?

anyhow, so coconut is happiness in a flavor or a scent, and i want more of it in my life. so it was about time i baked a bloody coconut cake! i don't know what took me so long, honestly. 

this cake - or bread, or loaf, as many of you americans (or so i believe) refer it to - is as simple as can be. no equipment other than a wooden spoon required. a simple, old-school good stir will do to turn these ingredients into a dough. and when baked, you will receive magic. island-scented magic! 

current state of my pre vacation anticipation is properly climaxing (4 more weeks to go and we're off!) at the moment, so that might explain my coconut cravings. this cake is going on rotation for the next 5 weeks, at least. maybe it helps me against my intense fatigue and weariness. the cake, i mean., right? i'm slightly confused. give me a break! a vacation! or a cake, at the very least.

simple & quick coconut loaf

recipe adapted from blahnik baker

1/2 cup sugar
6 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
2 eggs
1 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes

for the glaze:
1/2 cup coconut milk, chilled
1 cup powdered sugar
coconut flakes & lavender flowers for garnish

preheat the oven to 180 c / 350 f. grease and flour a loaf pan. in a bowl, combine the melted (not hot but cooled down a little) coconut oil, sugar and eggs. add the coconut milk. in another bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. work in the liquid mixture until a homogenous dough forms. fold in the coconut flakes. pour the mixture into the prepared pan. bake in the middle of the oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a stick inserted comes out clean. let cool a little, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely. when cool, whisk together the glaze with the coconut milk and the confectioners' sugar. spread onto the cake and scatter with coconut flakes and flowers. 

Jun 20, 2015

roasted gazpacho with sourdough bread

i'm maybe the biggest fan of chilled soups there is. why not? they're (often) easy to make, flavorful, healthy, refreshing... and if you have only some imagination, it's pretty a versatile way to feed people during the warmer months. and here's another one: a gorgeous roasted gazpacho with sourdough bread. yes, it's as good as it sounds. 

a friend of mine, nelson, pointed out to me (after i posted my last gazpacho), that his granny was famous for the best gazpacho, and, as it appears, she always added a bit of (stale) bread to the mix for texture and depth. i have seen recipes before that feature bread in cold soups, somehow i just never added any to my own versions. soon after his tipp, though, i couldn't help but pick up a sourdough on my next groceries run, for the ultimate test. and guess what? a bit of sourdough goes a long way. it will make your next gazpacho smooth and a bit fancy but also just so very comforting (carbs, go figure). 

that being said, i know it might get boring for some, but for me it never does, so here's a roundup of my favorite chilled soups (last picture, from left to right). 

aaaand... you're dismissed! wishing you all a splendid weekend, wherever you may be. 

roasted gazpacho with sourdough bread
serves 2

4 ripe, aromatic tomatoes, quartered
1 yellow (or even better red) pepper, quartered and deseeded
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 handful parsley, finely chopped
1 cup vegetable broth
1 slice sourdough bread, cubed
4 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. harissa
salt, chili flakes

for the croutons:
2 slices sourdough bread, cubed
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 garlic clove

put the tomatoes, pepper and garlic in a heat prove pan and brush with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. sprinkle with some salt. roast at 220 c / 400 f for 25 minutes, until the tomatoes are brown and the peppers have blisters. the scent will be heavenly! let the vegs cool a little before removing the peppers' skins (by hand). put everything (including the juices from roasting) in a blender, add the broth, parsley and the rest of the olive oil and blend well. add the sourdough bread and puree some more. season with lemon juice, harissa and some salt. cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 

for the croutons, heat the butter and olive oil in a pan. fry the bread cubes in it until they're nicely brown and crispy. add the garlic at the end and fry for a minute or so. season with salt. stir the gazpacho well, season once more if necessary and divide between bowls. garnish with the still warm croutons and serve. 

Jun 19, 2015

fork and flower behind the scenes

friends and readers (which i don't see as mutually exclusive, but rather think of as one and the same group, one little community), today i'm lucky to be able to share with you a special project. a new friend of mine, peter bender, who is an incredibly talented photographer and film-maker, captured this behind the scenes of fork and flower - or rather, my home and my work, beautifully, in both, pictures and a little mood film. 

i find it weird to be (partly) the subject - as in, center of attention - for once. normally, my food gets all the spotlight, being the driving force that brings everyone i love together at one big table. i feel a wee bit sneaky about stealing the spotlight, yet i can't helpt but admit that i love how this turned out. kind of a lighthearted ode to life. 

the film followed me around during the day as we prepared everything for a dinner. we wanted to celebrate summer and life with our closest friends over a simple, vegetarian sunday dinner. this film basically captures everything i believe in: simplicity, dedication, friendship and sharing. these have become my mantras over the years, and although the work for fork and flower is mostly pure bliss but oftentimes exhausting. in the end it simply gives me so much in return and happens to be my source of joy and inspiration. i'm grateful so many people join in on the fork and flower adventures - because, let's be honest, it wouldn't be possible with you - time and again. goosebumps! 

but on to the food, the sine qua non for everything! the table was so full with food it was almost hilarious. i wanted it to be a simple, summer, nature inspired, vegetarian feast (much to the dismay of one of my friends, who was more than a little skeptic), so we skipped the elaborate meaty dishes and fancy layer cakes, and opted for a variety of vegetable centered dishes, instead. we served everything at once, making it hard to pick and choose a favorite. the foraged elderflower made for a very refreshing, subtle drink. the couscous with tomatoes - in various stages of roastedness - was inspired by one of ottolenghi's recipes, i think it was probably from the first book? only the clafoutis, after a recipe from mimi thorisson's book, turned out a bit, well, let's say "windswept" in its shape. i probably made the batch too big for the pan. it tasted heavenly though, so we didn't mind too much.

here's all the food that has been featured - and enjoyed. food, glorious food!

foraged elderflower lemonade
watermelon and mint infused water
watermelon champagne 

heirloom radishes

roasted brocoli with raspberry dressing and toasted hazelnuts
leafy greens with baby artichokes, foraged bush vetch and caramelized lemon
couscous and mograbiah with oven dried tomatoes (inspired by ottolenghi)
watermelon caprese with burrata, mint and lemon balm

cherry clafoutis (recipe by mimi thorisson)


film & photography:       peter bender, peter bender photography
photography & styling:  anka gerbes
production:                      moritz schneider, cut up production
music:                               drew holcomb & the neighbours