You CAN make friends with salad.

fig, goat cheese and kale salad

Baby kale & frisée salad with figs, herbed goat-cheese & prosciutto in a olive oil & a balsamic reduction dressing. Fresh, simple and delicious; this salad is the perfect melody of flavours.

Whether you are new to my blog or a regular follower, chances are we share a love/hate relationship with the world-wide-web. While I don’t always enjoy its time-leeching powers, I do love that it provides a platform where I can openly share my recipes and stories. Like millions of others, I belong to a community of bloggers who are creative, one of a kind and often very supportive.

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Coconut Chicken Soup with Vermicelli Noodles

Coconut chicken soup
Want to know what the greatest invention is since gluten-free sliced bread?

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Fresh Quinoa-Tabouli Salad

Quinoa-Tabouli Salad

Refreshing, zesty and flavorful; this protein-packed salad is both tasty and healthy.

Tabouli is traditionally prepared with wheat-based couscous or bulgar (gluten) which is a big NO-NO for Celiacs like myself, but problem solved! Simply replace these ingredients with delicious, nutty quinoa.

Quinoa is pronounced as: Keen-wah (which honesty, I’m still trying to accept). Sometimes I want to confront “Keen-wah” because on occasion, she tends to come across as a little pretentious and quite honestly needs to lose the attitude problem already! I can picture her at parties with a fancy cocktail in hand while correcting strangers, “no, no it’s pronounced Keen-wah.” I’m pretty sure even couscous would roll her eyes. But the matter of fact is, Quinoa is quite simple and often misunderstood… Many people often neglect the important step of thoroughly rinsing quinoa which helps discard any unpleasant bitterness. It is easy and quick to cook and has more nutritional value than wheat-grains.
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My Version of Vietnamese Pho

pho gluten-free dairy-free
Baby, it’s cold outside. PHO REALZ!  (Yes, that’s right. I just said that.) Perhaps it has now become painfully obvious that I’ve spent the last six years working with teenagers as a teacher. As for the cold, it has been the most bitter winter I can recall. Like everyone I know, I just want to hibernate, wear my flannel pajamas and eat hot soup.

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Curried Carrot and Parsnip Soup

Sweet, savoury and spicy all in one bowl, this soup is a real crowd pleaser that is healthy and easy to prepare;  not to mention inexpensive to make.

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Behind every good meal, there’s a (good?) story…

While I was in high school, I was given the lucky opportunity to work in a kitchen alongside an experienced cook.  There I assisted with planning and catering three-course meals every Sunday for a group of 10 to 15 people.  This kitchen was spacious, well stocked and therefore every cook’s dream. It has forever ruined me!  No other kitchen will ever (sigh) compare.   After all, they do say that you never know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

I should note that this all took place in a retirement home.  Initially, I ignorantly thought my meal planning would consist of all things mashed and puddings.  But as it turns out, the elderly are human beings too, and also enjoy eating a range of cuisine and textures…OBVIOUSLY!

Was I ever a dummy!  Yes, at times, softer foods were, um…necessary.  But man!  Most of them could put away a well-done steak with no trouble at all!  I’m talking ninety year-olds here, people!  To be honest, I hadn’t really spent too much time with older people until then.  All of my grandparents lived overseas and during a holiday visit, I once saw my grandmother’s dentures floating in a glass of water.  This, quite frankly, frightened the life out of me.  So there I was, about to embark upon work in a retirement home and all I could think of were those loose, detached dentures.  After a few weeks of working at the home, my eyes were opened as I slowly got to know some of these wonderful individuals.  In fact, I ended up having some of the best conversations of my life with these people.

Some of the most memorable conversations were about the specialities they once prepared in their own kitchens for family and friends.  After all, where did I think recipes came from?

By now you’re probably wondering, that’s nice, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE SOUP!?

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Well, one of the first things I learned to cook properly was carrot soup. When arriving to the kitchen with the little experience I had, I thought…brilliant! I can serve them soup! Old people can eat soup! Luckily, despite this recipe being stereotypically smooth and soft in texture, it was well received and became a regularly requested item. Outside of the home, it also became a favourite of my family’s. Therefore, I thought why not kick off my blog with this contender! If you’re still with me, thanks for hanging in there for the long haul! I hope you love this soup as much as my friends and family do. Enjoy!

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Curried Carrot and Parsnip Soup  

Prep Time: 15 minutes    Cook time: 45 minutes    Serves: 4     Author: Milk and Marigolds

Ingredients:
4 carrots, diced
1 medium parsnip, diced
1 small potato, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 medium yellow onions, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1½ teaspoons of ground cumin
½  teaspoon curry powder 1 tablespoon of Patak’s vindaloo curry paste (or triple the quantity of the curry powder instead)
1 gluten-free chicken or veggie stock cube
4½ cups of hot water
½ cup of roughly chopped cilantro as garnish
pepper & salt to taste

Instructions:

1. Begin by preparing the vegetables and boil enough water for the stock ahead of time.
2. Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the cumin and curry powder and stir for about 1 minute.
3. Add the onions and celery and sauté until mostly clear or lightly browned. Then add the garlic. Continue to stir. You want to avoid browning the garlic too much as this will make your dish taste bitter.
4. Add the carrots, parsnip and potato. I dice them to cut down cooking time. Stir for one to two minutes until they become coated in the oil and spices.
5. Add the vindaloo paste, stock cube and boiled water.
6. Once boiling, lower heat to a simmer. Keep the lid on to avoid liquid evaporating. Occasionally stir. Test if the carrots are tender by placing a knife through its centre.
7. Using a blender, (I personally love my hand blender as it’s less cleanup) puree the soup until its smooth in texture.
8. Season with salt and pepper to taste and top with chopped cilantro before serving. Enjoy!

Tips:

If the soup is too spicy for your liking, add half a cup of coconut milk to lessen the heat. The coconut milk also adds great flavour. You can change the consistency by adding more stock if desired. Don’t dig cilantro? Garnish with thinly sliced spring onion instead.

Copyright © 2014 . Milk and Marigolds