Ingredients for the sponge (yields 2)
For the chocolate frosting
For garnishing: fresh strawberries, frozen or fresh blueberries, fresh sage leaves.
First, prepare the cake by mixing all the dry ingredints. Also, prepare the oven (175 degrees Celsius).
Mix in the zucchini, vanilla and rum and depending on how juicy the zuchinni are you may need (or not need) some plant milk to adjust the consistency. Add as much milk as you need and mix very well all the ingredients.
Prepare 2 round trays with perchament paper and divide the mixture into 2 portions.
Place them in the oven and bake for about 40 minuts. Check them with a thoothstick. If it comes out dry, the cakes are ready.
For the frosting, add everything in the blender and mix really well until it's vrey creamy. If the frosting it's too runny, add more cacao powder or coconut milk powder. Keep in the refrigerator untill the sponges are cooled down.
Now it's time to assambly the cake.
First, place one sponge on a plate. Add less than half of the frosting and spread it evenly with an offset spatula. Sprinkle with blueberries. Add the second sponge and press gently. Add the rest of the frosting and even out the surface. Te extra can be taken and put on the sides of the cake. Don't try to make it perfect! It should look naked and rustic and very mouthwatering :)
If you want to see how I assembeld my cake, go to my Instagram page @herbs_and_roots and you'll find there a saved story with the whole process.
Good luck and don't forget to share your thoughts and pictures. Oh, and you can tag @herbs_and_roots for a change to be featured on my Insta page, yay!
Happy baking everyone <3
Have you heard? A new plant-based location opened in the heart of London: Essence Cuisine
Last autumn I planned a trip to London to see my sister and to fuel myself with the London vibes. This is something that I do pretty much every year since I moved back to Romania. London has half of my heart there.
When Essence Cuisine DMed me on Instagram and invited me to stop by and try the food, I was thrileld. I knew the menu was created in colaboration with Matthew Kenney and I didn't have the chance to try his food yet, so... YES PLEASE!
Also, did you know this is the only place in Europe where you can find Matthew's food?
If you're new to the plant-based food scene, know that Matthew Kenney is the world’s leading plant-based chef, writer of several best-selling cookbooks, entrepreneur and a culinary educator who founded the world's first raw food culinary academy. Pretty amazing, huh?
I made a reservation for a Monday afternoon and I was starting to get impatient. After a year and a half of working without a break for my baby project Wild Forest, I needed something new! Working with food, there are (so many) moments when you just want someone else's creativity, to discover flavours that you didn't think of before or just go to a nice place with GOOD food. I do have to say it's quite hard to have this in Romania. The food scene is just poor, unfortunately. But hey, we have great coffee shops instead!
The aesthetic of the Essence Cuisine is cold and bold, and I love it. The bar was full of alcoholic drinks and the place was animated at lunchtime. It's not a restaurant so the vibe is quite impersonal. But you can have dinner there, that's why this great selection of vegan, organic and biodynamic wines.
The place is more like a grab-and-sit-a-bit-then-go and grab-and-go. They do have a fridge full of take out goodies, so you can take your lunch at the office, for instance.
I love that the place has communal sittings - it brings people together, strengthens the social bridges, making it easier to socialize (if you fancy it).
The design was made by Andreas Bozarth Fornell who is a Stockholm-based architect and personally, I am all into raw industrial architecture. The ceilings and the use of shiny metals and concrete it's right on point. It gives it a very modern and appropriate feeling of the years we live in and the overall colour palette is enough (at least for me) to invite you to discover more of the place.
The only thing I didn't really enjoy was the small tables, like really small and not very sturdy, giving the feeling that they may break any time soon. But I think they already changed that.
When we got in and we were immediately welcomed by a very lovely person with a very lovely beard. He was actually Romanian! We spoke our language and I was truly impressed to see that he was so into raw food and very well informed regarding what they served, the techniques and ingredients.
He gave us some suggestions and we ordered 2 hot drinks to start with. One was a pale, yellow almond milk with bee pollen and soft vanilla, the other one was a cacao adaptogenic milk. I loved how subtle, yet powerful the flavours were. I especially enjoyed the bee pollen drink, it was soft. It wasn't sweet because of the sweetener, it was sweet because of the bee pollen and vanilla. I just loved that.
Then we had:
SPICY CARROT SUSHI ROLL (Nori. Jalapeño Cream. Avocado. Carrot. Beetroot Sprouts.)
The taste was exactly how I like it: a bit tangy from the jalapeno and the raw cheese, sweet from the avo and the carrots. Great soy sauce and the overall portion was big and comforting.
HEIRLOOM TOMATO LASAGNE (Sundried Tomato Marinara. Pistachio Pesto. Macadamia Ricotta. Herb Oil.)
I'm not a fan of raw zucchini, but I ordered the Lasagne just because I was curious about how the sauces were made. The dish was nice, and I was totally conquered by the Macadamia Ricotta. It had a lush but simple taste and went so well with the pungent Sundried Tomato Marinara. Very balanced and full of flavour.
ESSENCE SIGNATURE NUT CHEESE BOARD (Selection of our Fresh Homemade Nut Cheese. Raw Crackers. Pear Chutney. Pickled Radish. Sundried Tomato Salsa.)
As for the Cheese Board, everything was amazing. I could almost taste the time that was put into making these. Some of the cheeses were dehydrated and they had the best texture I've ever had in any raw food. I definitely recommend this to everyone who wants to experience the magic of the raw world. My partner was even more impressed than me!
We closed the feast with a dessert platter that incorporated tiny bits of all the sweets they had in the menu.
From the platter, I liked the raw macaroons in black and white and the brownie was rich, but I was hooked with the kola gel drops - have you ever tried kola gel? Oh wow, It blew me away!
Last but not least, the RAW COCONUT BANANA PANCAKES (Candied Walnuts. Berry Salad. Mint. Vanilla Coconut Cream.)
These were like a fairy tale. It had romantic flavours (if that can be a thing) and complex textures. The pancakes were dehydrated but moist and soft enough to resemble a pancake. The vanilla coconut cream was incredibly delicate, and the candied walnuts gave a healthy crunch to the dish. I can usually reproduce almost anything I eat and have a vivid memory of the experience, but this might be one of the few things I couldn't reproduce at all. Actually, this was something I was craving for, this was the thing I needed - fragments that I didn't think of, a very welcomed surprise in my mouth and soul as well.
Needless to say, we already felt fuelled and satisfied despite the medium portions. As you know, raw food is rich in nutrients and flavours and I actually didn't feel hungry for at least another 5 hours.
Overall, I highly recommend you try their food.
I still dream to have the chance to go to Matthew Kenney’s courses one day. I always admired fine dining but somehow never saw myself doing it. Maybe I perceive myself more of a practical spirit than a creative or maybe I am just afraid. That is still a mystery to me :)
If you have the chance to stop by Essence Cuisine and have a bite, I would love to know your thoughts about it!
Wish you all a great Sunday.
The misteryous adaptogens we are all in love with
Well, no need for an introduction here. Adaptogens are everywhere now. It's funny because they where here before as well but we called them superfoods. Remember?
They are like the super heroes of the plants, with crazy super powers that restore your health in a minute. Well not really. You need to make a routine and take them constantly.
For anxiety, for example, there is very dear blend to me made from Ashwaganda, Siberian Ginseng, Cordyceps and Rodhiola. My partner takes these on a daily basis and they show results with anxiety and stress. But you need to be consistent.
I am a very active person and I usually tend to overcome my limits (physically speaking) but then I crash and I don't recover so easily. What I absolutely love to take to sustain my everyday hectic activities is the great Cordyceps.
Cordyceps is considered a medicinal mushroom that increases energy, stimulates the immune system, and acts as an overall tonic to the body. It is one of the more famous Chinese herbs and sometimes I like to combine Camu-Camu and Guarana with it and drink a tonic like this in the morning.
Lately I gave up on coffee so this is the perfect blend for me if I ever get tired of black tea.
The following blend tonic is more of a chocolaty smoothie that I like to drink after 12 am, to give me a boost for the second part of the day.
I just love it because it's so creamy and chocolaty obvs, but not so sweet. I am not a fan of sweet drinks.
And sometimes, when I'm done with chocolate, I like to make simple tonics with plant milk and spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, vanilla, etc). Would you like me to share with you some of my favorite tonic recipes? I learned a lot from Dara Daubinet's tonics. Love her <3
PS: next to my blend is a picture I took in Sicily. I miss Sicily so f***ing bad. I always think of Italy when I'm sad. What part of Italy do you enjoy the most?
So here's the recipe. Enjoy!
Blend everything in your blender and serve cold or hot.
First of all, as you may notice, there is a new background on my feed. I've been crafting some backgrounds lately because I was missing doing something with my hands that doesn't include food so badly...
With the catering business I am always there to help the team. Always making new recipes, washing, cleaning and keeping the lab in the most hygienic way we can. But this year I made some changes in my schedule so I can have some free time for myself (something that I didn't have in the last 2 years...) and it started to show some results. My mental and physical fatigue has dropped and my stress levels are lower - I can finally enjoy my weekends and a day in the the middle of the week only for myself. It's a huge step. I'm not really ready to talk about the business thing and the challenges that made me reconsider my life but I'll get there. For now, I'm just trying to relax, stay out in the (cold) sun, paint some backdrops and do meditation from my bed. Feels awesome!
Sooo, yesterday I cooked back home - which is also something I didn't do in the last 2 years - and I was over the moon. My partner was out so I got to enjoy the whole house for myself. I love being home alone from time to time. I clean the house, then I take a looong shower, put on some of my favourite essential oils and just chill in the coziness and stillness of the room/kitchen.
Yesterday I also chose to cook my lunch and I made some uber delicious savory crepes. I was watching @shanyaloraine's Instagram stories and I saw, 2 times in a row, some savory pancakes and it really gave me a huge appetite. Didn't know the recipe, but I went with the flow.
So easy to make!
Like... really easy! Just like normal crepes / pancakes but with some spices and spinach. That's all. You can also add scallions and green garlic or dill. Mmmmm I'm drooling just thinking about these?
Basically you need to make a runny batter. Did you know that the secret to thin crepes is a very thin batter? You can go for any plant milk you like, or plant yogurt but I chose to make them with still water and they came out incredible.
Now stuffing wise, I don't really have a recipe for you, sorry. I just grab what I have in my home fridge. Some pleurotus, parsnip, red pepper, spinach, garlic, hazelnuts and radish sprouts. I sauteed everything except for the hazelnuts and sprouts with a bit of oil, added some salt, pepper and lemon and that's it. But you can make all kind of mixes. You can choose to clean the fridge and make a leftover stuffing or go wild for anything you like - sauteed creamy cabbage, mixes of mushrooms and cashew sauce, no meatballs with some tomato sauce, falafels and salad - there are so many ideas that pop in my mind now.
Anyway, if you don't fancy making the stuffing, be sure that the crepes are amazing by their own. You can just eat them on the couch while watching Netflix. So you get a healthy and filling snack. Win win.
Makes arounf 5-7 crepes, prepares in 20 minutes
Plant Based, Refined Sugar Free, Soy free
These raw truffles are... OMG! Whenever I crave chocolate, they are simply the first thing that crosses my mind. What I love the most about them is the creaminess, they literally melt in your mouth, they are soft and have the best chocolate flavor ever. Also, the coating gives them the crunchy aspect which I love, love, love & also it enhances and balances the aroma (the filling is sweeter and the coating a little more bitter).
Anyway, you should definitely try them. Here is the (simple) recipe :)
Makes about 15 truffles
1 cup raw hazelnuts
1/2 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup plant based milk
1/2 cup coconut oil /coconut cream
1/4 cup raw cacao poder
1/4 tsp vanilla bean /extract
pinch of salt
*1-2 bars raw chocolate such as The Raw Chocolate Company or any raw chocolate bar you like.
1 cup raw cacao butter
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
3 tblsp healthy sweetner
tossed hazelnuts /raw hazelnuts
You will need a good blender for these. Start by blending the raw hazelnuts until you reach a buttery consistence. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well until everything gets really smooth. Freeze the composition 1-2 hours.
Bain marie the raw chocolate and prepare a tray for coating the truffles.
Get the chocolate composition out and form around 20g balls using your hands. Put them aside and then coat them in the melted chocolate or make your own chocolate, it's bery easy. Melth the cacao butter, add the cacao butter, salt and sweetner, mix well and that's it. You can optionally add 1-2 dried cranberries to each ball. I love to do that! They are sour and goes so well with the chocolate.
To decorate, you can use tossed/ raw and crushed hazelnuts.
They will last a few weeks in the fridge.
Let me know if you try the recipe and if you liked them <3
For the base:
For the wild berry layers:
White cashew cream:
* you will need two springform pans (2 different siezes)
First start by making the base. In the food processor, add all the ingredients. Pulse until everything is finely chopped. Add more some water little by little- process until your mixture starts to stick together.
Line the bigger pan with parchment paper, add the base and press it really well with your hands/ or a spatula on the bottom of the pan.
Place it in the freezer.
While it sits there, prepare your wild berry layer.
Take the blender and add all the ingredients. Blend really well. Pour some of the cream over the nut base. Leave it to chill in the freezer.
Pour the rest of the cream in the smaller pan. Freeze.
Make the white cashew cream by adding all the ingredients in the blender. Mix really well.
When both of the cakes are frozen, take them out and assemble the cake. Coat the cake with the white 'frosting'. Decorate as you like, with fresh or frozen berries.
Sweet green sauce
grilles zuchinni, alfalfa sprouts, parsley, sauerkraut (or even better, KIMCHI- but my second batch is gone, again!) & other veggies
Prepare the patties
Preheat the oven to 180C. Mix all the veggies in a big bowl. Add the oil and bread crumbs. The mixture will become sticky and now you can Form the patty using your hands and prepare a tray with some cooking paper. Leave them in the oven for about 30 min then flip them over and leave them for another 30 min. Let them to cool down before using them in burgers.
Prepare the dressing
Add all the ingredients in your blender and mix until everything is smooth. Add more acv and salt if needed.
Prepare the grilled zuchinni using your electric grill
Check your patties. If they are ready, give them 20 mins to cool down and start to prepare your burger by preparing the buns.
Keep the dressing and sauerkraut/Kimchi close, you'll need them :)
There is no doubt that these pancakes broke my Insta likes ''limit'', with over 8,000 likes. Sure it's quite a pretty pic, but I think it's no coincidence that they are also the best tasting pancakes I've ever made!
They have every quality I seek for in a stack of pancakes: fluffiness, an incredible enhanced flavour of whole grain and lemon zest, not too sweet, moist and easy to digest!
Now grab your ingredients and try it for yourself!
Start by mixing the dry ingredients, then add the almond milk/water and oil. Adjust the liquid as you like [ if the batter is really liquid, the pancakes will be more puffy, if the batter is a bit thicker, they will become more dense]. Stir really well until there are no clumps in it. Cook the pancakes on a medium heat, and stack them up on top of each other to prevent dryness.
To serve, top with everything you have on hand. I used sliced banana, raw hazelnuts and almonds, freeze dried blackcurrants, frozen blackberries drizzle of maple syrup
Now this one is a classic, but it's way too good not to share my own version.
I love it even more with Green cracking russula mushrooms but since we are not in season, Portobello works just fine (anyway better then Champignon for exemple). I ate a lot of mushroom toasts back in London, but never found a perfect match. Sometimes they were too oily, too salty or the mushrooms flavour wasn't highlighted at all.
When I saute vegetables, I try to do it as healthy as possible so I cut the veggie in really small pieces and try to use as less oil as I can or to use vegetable stock instead of oil. Flavor wise, I usually go for a bit of coconut oil, but the mushrooms can cook really well in some vegetable stock as well.
One thing I never skip when cooking mushrooms is black pepper, I think it brings out the aroma really well.
When eating toasts like this, I always need something savoury - a lemony salad or any fermented veggies. This time I used what I had on hand - sauerkraut. But a few days ago I've tried it with my homemade Kimchi and it was a revelation!
PS: I could't make my fiance get used with Kimchi yet, but we'll get there!
Start by heating a pan with olive oil on medium heat. When it's hot, add the leeks, allow them a minute to soften then sautee the mushrooms. Add salt and stir constantly until they are cooked. When they are done add the smashed garlic, and chopped basil. Save a few leaves for decorating. Mix everyting and set aside to infuse. If you are not a fan of using this method, simply use the oven.
Place the mushrooms on a tray, sprinkle a little bit of oil and some salt and cook until they are soft. Now smash the avo on the copping board and spread it on the toasts. Squeaz some lemon , add the mushrooms, sprinkle some black pepper and garnish with basil leaves. Eat it imediatly and enjoy every bite!
Bon appetit ♡ ♡ ♡
Put the oats and chia in a big jar, pour in the milk and sprinkle in a pinch of salt. Add the maple syrup and stir. Adjust with spring water until it has reached a pancake composition. Leave it in the fridge overnight.
If you want to eat it right away, you can! Leave it for 15-20 mins in the fridge and it will be ready.
The next morning pour into bowls, top with walnuts, pomegranate, apple slices, seeds, blackberries or anything you have on hand.
Optional, you can add more warm or cold milk on it. Would be a delish!
Drizzle with as much maple syrup/honey as you like, if you want it sweeter.