The Book: Like many, I’m a long time fan of Green Kitchen Stories, the wonderfully vibrant blog written by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl. David and Luise are masters of inspired, healthy cooking, making fruits and vegetables shine in new ways with every post. I loved their first book, Vegetarian Everyday, which was released in the states last year (you can see my full write up here), and it quickly became a go-to book for me when I needed something fast and healthy, as evidenced by this baked pistachio falafel, these savory corn muffins and this baked blackberry oatmeal. When they announced that they were writing a second book, this one based on their travels around the world, I immediately knew I had to have a copy. And Green Kitchen Travels, now safely nestled into my cookbook shelf, does not disappoint.
This is one well-traveled family: together with their four year old daughter, Elsa, they have been everywhere from Spain to Mexico to Morocco to Thailand, picking up new flavors and inspiration in every corner of the globe. The recipes they’ve included to mark their travels are not meant to be recreations of authentic local dishes, but instead are healthy recipes in the unique GKS style influenced by the flavors, ingredients, and techniques they’ve found around the world. It’s fusion at its finest – adopting whatever works from each cuisine and blending it with an existing style to create something balanced and new. I was particularly taken by the chapter dedicated to soups: Vietnamese pho and Indian dal and Italian ribollita all in the same few pages! Of course, the pictures are stunning, as anyone who reads their blog already knows. The travel theme just gives the couple the green light to add to their colorful collection of food pictures with jawdropping landscapes from around the world, market scenes dripping with color and life, and of course, their adorable daughter in exotic locales worldwide. I do love the feeling that in a way, this book is a love letter to Elsa, as you see and hear her influence on their journeys and cooking style throughout the pages – this book is very much a family affair.
The Food: The day I left for my recent trip to Malaysia, I felt like cooking just because. Knowing that I wouldn’t be around to eat whatever I made, I flipped through the pages of Green Kitchen Travels looking for something that I could leave behind for Trevor. I quickly settled on this light Italian cake, which felt like the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon espresso on a warm fall day. The cake is gluten-free, made from a combination of polenta and almond flour, and uses only honey as a sweetener, so you can cut yourself a big slice without too much guilt. I’ve had hit or miss results with “healthy” cakes, and in particular cakes made with ricotta, but this one was very good. It was moist and not overly crumbly, with a delicate flavor of lemons, almonds, and honey. It’s not very sweet, so while I’m not sure I’d serve it for dessert, it’s the perfect thing for an afternoon break or an indulgent breakfast.
Recipe Shortlist: Mexican Breakfast Salad; Rye and Chocolate Croissants; Halloumi Veggie Burgers; Sweet Vietnamese Cucumber Salad; Harira Soup (Tomatoes, Chickpeas, and Dates); Baked Eggplant Rolls; Berber Tagine; Sweet Potato and Eggplant Moussaka; Turmeric Lassi
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of Green Kitchen Travels from Hardie Grant, but I was not otherwise compensated and all thought and opinions are my own.
Ricotta and Polenta Almond Cake (Torta di Ricotta e Polenta)
Recipe from Green Kitchen Travels. Serves 8.
- 1/2 c.(100g) butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 c. clear honey
- finely grated zest of three small lemons
- 1/2 tsp vanilla or almond extract
- 4 eggs, separated
- 1 1/4 c. (5 oz) almond flour, or whole almonds, ground into flour in food processor
- 1 c. (4 1/2 oz) fine ground polenta
- 1 c. (9 oz) ricotta, preferably creamy
- 1/2 c. flaked almonds
- powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the base of an 8 inch springform tin with parchment paper and set aside.
- Place the butter, half of the honey, the lemon zest, and the vanilla extract in a large bowl and beat until creamy, using an electric mixer if you have one. Add the egg yolks and continue to beat until fully incorporated and creamy. Add the almond flour, polenta, and ricotta and fold everything together using a spatula.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Still beating, drizzle in the remaining honey and continue to beat the egg whites until medium peaks hold and the honey is fully blended in. Gently fold the egg whites into the rest of the batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and sprinkle the flaked almonds evenly over the top. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before removing from the tin. Dust with powdered sugar before serving if desired.