raw (everything-free) choc-mint slice

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What this slice lacks in refined sugar, it makes up for in its infinite potential for hashtags: #dairyfree, #paleo, #vegan, #raw, #glutenfree, #cleaneating etc. The only food trend – gluten free – is one I follow by force, not fashion. That being said, I secretly love health food crazes as they encourage trying new things with food. I’m not about to activate an almond or anything, but I genuinely enjoyed the added challenge of makingย something in a novel way. I especially enjoy how mint leaves themselves lended their colour to the green layer!

I have never been the hugest fan of vegan treats, let alone raw ones, but the Pana Chocolate cafe in Melbourne successfully swayed me to believe that such alternatives could be better than the real thing. One taste of their chocolate mint slice had me happily handing over $8 to indulge in a full piece. It was worth every penny, and I have thought about how amazingly decadent, rich and smooth it was on a regular basis since. All I needed at home to recreate it practically perfectly was patience and a reasonably powerful food processor. The ingredients themselves are not too hard to come by in most supermarkets, however they are more expensive than their standard, sugary counterparts. The batch ensuing is gigantic, however, and best stored frozen. Compared to how much a single piece costs at any hipster cafe,ย making this is almost economical when it comes to cravings.

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cauliflower “steaks” on cauliflower puree

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Cauliflower with cauliflower.

There’s no such thing as too much of a good thing, here. I’m not about to produce a vegetarian meal by halves.

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This recipe calls for an entire head of cauliflower to be consumed between two people. We are using the whole damn thing. If I was truly innovative, I would have crisped up the leafy fronds encasing the florets, but I’m afraid I was a little busy massaging my kale. Could I be more of a food wanker? Let me just add that this recipe can be easily adapted to be vegan, paleo or even both for good measure. I don’t often cook an entirely vegetarian meal, and so for some reason, making a dish based around vegetables in various disguises and then adding more vegetables to compliment it somehow made a lot of sense to me. Given that I absolutely love celebrating fresh produce, I’m seriously considering challenging myself to one meat free day per week. Once upon a teenage time, I was a vegetarian!

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Ottolenghi’s chargrilled broccoli with chilli and garlic

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One of my New Year’s resolutions is to befriend Yotam Ottolenghi, but that’s beside the point: this recipe transforms broccoli into something spectacular. I have always been a broccoli believer – as long as it isn’t overcooked, it’s practically guaranteeed that I will be enthused by it. This recipe is simply perfect as barbecue side-dish food, packed lunch sustenance, night shift nutrition, and even better, it’s open to adaptation. I’m not inclined to measure anything out when prepping vegetables – I prefer to simply eyeball and assess the result via taste. I’ve attempted to approximate what I do, in any case.

This is not Ottolenghi’s exact recipe – I’ve adapted it for simplicity, laziness and what I have on hand, as any good recipe should, eh?

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Ingredients:

  • 2 large heads broccoli, torn into floret/stem segments, suitable for rather large bites
  • 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (I use a lemon-infused variety)
  • 1 large spoonful crushed garlic (I buy mine pre-crushed with as few preservatives as possible)
  • 1 tablespoon sumac
  • 1 tablespoon dried chilli flakes (adjust for desired spiciness, obviously)
  • 2 tablespoons verjuice
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Optional: toasted slivered almonds, fresh pomegranate, etc.
  1. Blanche the broccoli florets in a large saucepan of gently simmering water for 2 minutes before draining in a colander and transferring to a large bowl of ice water to halt the cooking process. Drain in the same colander before drying thoroughly with paper towels or a clean teatowel.
  2. In the large bowl, combine the crushed garlic, sumac, chilli flakes, verjuice, oil and plenty of salt and pepper. Toss the blanched broccoli in the mixture before cooking over a barbecue grillplate on high heat. Turn when the broccoli is starting to achieve charred grill-marks (don’t be afraid for it to look a little burnt!).
  3. Serve warm or at room temperature – sprinkle extras on top if you’ve so chosen. This keeps well in the fridge for a few days for packed lunches, however I’m such a huge fan it never lasts that long.

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