28 June 2014

Papaya Salad with Lime Cashew Cream and Raw Cacao

This is a spin off of an afternoon snack we had at the eco lodge in Bali. There could not have been a more satisfying snack than a simple bowl of papaya drizzled with lime juice, raw cacao, and cashew cream. Papaya and cacao trees were growing in and around the eco lodge and eating from the immediate land around us was a very visceral experience. Even though papaya and cacao trees grow nowhere near us at home in Switzerland, this is such an enjoyable summertime snack or breakfast that I will be making it several more times this summer.

The cashew cream makes more than you will use for the salad, unless of course you double or triple the papaya. But leftover cashew cream stays very well in the fridge for several days and can be used to slather on waffles, quick sweet breads such as banana bread, or to top poached pears, grilled peaches or nectarines, or roasted cherries.

Papaya Salad with Lime Cashew Cream and Raw Cacao
Serves 2-4 (depending on size of papaya)

1 small papaya
Handful raw cacao beans (or cacao nibs)
Juice 1/2 lime
Lime Cashew Cream (recipe below)

Peel papaya, scrape out seeds, and cut into bite size pieces.  Transfer to a bowl and squeeze lime juice over. Scatter around raw cacao beans or nibs and dollop a large spoonful of cashew cream on top.

Lime Cashew Cream

1 cup cashews, soaked overnight
6-12 Tbsp. water
1 1/2 Tbsp. honey
Zest 1 lime
Juice 1/2 lime
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla pod (~2 inch strip)
1/4 tsp. salt

Rinse and drain cashews. Add to a mini food processor (or to the tall cup attachment for the immersion blender)* along with the remaining ingredients. Blend until you get a smooth cream. Add as much water to reach your desired thinness of cream.

*A blender may work but it will depend on the width of your base. I have a wider base and would have needed to add another 1/2 cup of cashews for it to blend properly. 

23 June 2014

Lessons From The Balinese

Bali was our holiday destination. We spent most of our time in the jungle at an eco lodge surrounded by rice paddy fields and dense forests of coconut, papaya, cacao, and banana trees. We were deep in the heart of the island, far removed from anything resembling the modern world, but in the midst of everything important. We got to see the real Bali; thriving nature, tiny villages scattered throughout rice paddy fields, a preserved way of life, sacred temples, and ceremonies where gifts were offered to the gods.

This was the Bali I convinced my husband was worth traveling 20 hours door-to-door to experience first-hand. And this was the Bali that, beyond a beautiful place for a relaxing holiday, I heard possessed a special culture, one that offered us the opportunity to observe a very genuine way of being. The villagers here are poor, they have a hard life. But the strong social ties and sense of community and family enrich their well-being in a way money cannot. The signs of their genuine nature were subtle, but they came across so vividly and were so authentically ingrained in the daily life, that they really made me think.


Strangers smiled at each other, locals smiled at foreigners, even the endless pack of roaming street dogs, as disheveled and ratty as they were, looked like they were smiling (yes, dogs can smile, though it could have just been the humidity getting to me there). But my point is that the smiles were genuine. We can all tell when smiles are not genuine, can't we? The villagers were smiling in their eyes as much as on their lips which gave me the sense that they cared for others around them on a fundamental level, acknowledging that we are all one, all a part of nature, and therefore all deserve that basic level of respect. 

When was the last time you gave a stranger a genuine smile?


We had a guide lead us on a 7 1/2 hour round-trip climb on Mt. Batukaru. Our ascent was divided into 4 sections, each marked by a small temple just off the narrow foot path, if you could even call it a foot path. Our guide left incense and flowers at each temple, as a gift to show gratitude for the mountain and ask for permission to pass into the next section. On the mountain, in our wanderings through the villages, and at the eco lodge, we observed that these basic rituals of gratitude are a typical part of daily life. I think gratitude is one of the main paths to joy and contentment. 

What are your daily rituals of gratitude?

Patience + Trust

Balinese driving defies most western rules and boundaries, yet the roads had an order to the disorder. Motorbikes and cars would pull into traffic without waiting for an opening and trust that the cars behind them would make room. Which they always did, without batting an eye or honking their horn. They allowed room for patience on the road, and they trusted each other, so I began to trust their chaotic order. 

How often do you allow room for more patience when driving? Where else can you be more trusting in your life?

Have you been to Bali? What made an impression on you?

14 June 2014

Roasted Cashew and Green Pea Soup with Mint Chimichurri

Recently I realized that I don't make many simple pureed vegetable soups. I love the idea of having them around for a light meal, and I have a whole list of pureed parsnip, beet, carrot, and tomato soup recipes in my favorites folder. But I find myself opting out of making them more often than not because they almost seem too light, if that's possible. If, for the same amount of effort, I can make something more substantial or that will stretch over to the next day's lunch or dinner, I'll almost always choose that instead because I am a strong believer of the cook once, eat twice rule.

So this recipe is my attempt to turn a simple vegetable soup into a substantial meal. By using peas (a legume that acts like a vegetable) and cashews, this soup is hearty enough with good fats and protein while still being light, which was what I was going for here. And the mint chimichurri is essential for the soup, so don't even think about skipping it. It elevates and brightens. The suggested servings listed in the recipe depend on whether the soup is served with anything else. I love making quick flatbreads, so that was my choice, but this recipe will serve fewer if eating it alone.

And yes, if you were wondering we are back from our holiday, and I am excited to share some pictures, thoughts, and inspired recipes from our time away in the coming posts. Stay tuned, and in the meantime I hope you enjoy this soup!

Roasted Cashew and Green Pea Soup with Mint Chimichurri
Serves 3-4

Knob ghee (or butter/coconut oil)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red chili, chopped
2 tsp. cumin
4 cups (600 gr) frozen peas
3 cups (750 ml) water
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (85 gr) cashews, roasted
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Mint chimichurri, to finish (recipe below)

Heat soup pot over medium heat. Add ghee, garlic, chili, and cumin, stir, and cook until fragrant (~1 minute). Add peas, water, bay leaf, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Add roasted cashews, simmer for 5 minutes, covered, then remove from heat and puree with a hand (immersion) blender until smooth*. Add lemon juice, taste, and adjust for seasoning. Ladle into bowls and top with mint chimichurri.

* Soup can also be blended in a standing blender

Mint Chimichurri

1 bunch mint, stems removed (~ 1/2 cup, tightly packed)
6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 small clove garlic
Few pinches crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. water
1/4 tsp. salt
Drizzle honey

Place all ingredients in a small food processor. Blend until smooth, taste, and adjust for seasoning.