MY BEST VEGAN ROASTED POTATO SALAD- perfect served warm!

Swedish midsummer has now passed, and with its ending, a slight melancholic feeling always comes over me. I am slower to embrace seasonal changes than most people I know. Particularly when those changes will, in due course, involve darkening days and many, many more layers of cumbersome clothing.

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In any case, seasonal produce in Sweden continues to be a high point of this time of year, and one dish that made an appearance on our table for this year’s midsummer feast was this warm, dill-sprinkled roasted färskpotatis salad.

I cannot describe accurately in words how delicious it is… you will simply need to try it for yourself! Luckily it’s a cinch to throw together using just four basic ingredients (plus oil, salt and pepper).

Most store-bought varieties of rostad lök contain gluten, so if you can’t find a gluten-free variety (or simply prefer to make things from scratch), here is an easy recipe:

SWEDISH ROSTAD LÖK
(CRISPY ONION SPRINKLES)

INGREDIENTS

1 onion, finely diced
A good pinch of salt (but no more than a 1/2 tsp)
2 tablespoons gluten-free all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons olive or organic rapeseed oil

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine the chopped onion and salt in a bowl. Set aside for half an hour.
  2. Stir the flour through the chopped onion.
  3. Add oil to a skillet and cook the onion mix over medium heat for around 13-16 minutes or until the onions have a rich golden brown colour.
  4. Drain on paper towels and use as you please!

 

And now to the potato salad recipe. Please let me know if you give it a whirl!

I can heartily recommend serving this deliciousness alongside veggie burgers, your favourite BBQ dishes, or veggie schnitzel and green salad.

❤ Marisa

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VEGAN WARM POTATO SALAD

with crispy onions & fresh dill

INGREDIENTS

Around 1.8 kg small potatoes (I use delikatess), scrubbed well, but left unpeeled
200-300 ml of vegan oat fraiche* or vegan sour cream
A generous amount of rostad lök/crispy onion sprinkles
A generous amount of fresh dill, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive or organic rapeseed oil for roasting

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat you oven to 400°F/200°C. Parboil the potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover them over high heat for around 10 minutes.
  2. Drain the potatoes, pop them back into the pot, drizzle with oil (just enough to lightly coat).
  3. Pop the potatoes on a baking parchment lined tray and roast for around 20 minutes or until cooked through and turning golden brown.
  4. Allow the potatoes to cool for around 5 minutes before tossing them in the cream, sprinkling over a generous amount of dill and rostad lök (crispy onion sprinkles) and seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Serve warm. Or even cold, if you prefer!

 

*I use Oatly because, honestly, it is my favourite. For the purpose of transparency this post is not sponsored.

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SWEDISH “BUTTERMILK”, BLÅBÄR & BLÅKLINT VEGAN LEMON LAYER CAKE (yes vegan, but you’d never know it)

If you have been here for a while, you know I love lemon cake, and thus have shared several variations over the years; from the Lemon & Poppyseed cake that made its way into my book, to my white sugar-free Lemon Loaf Cake of 5 years ago (my first baking commission!), and my Sansa Stark-inspired Candied Lemon Cakes which I shared circa 2016 in celebration of Game of Thrones, Season 6 (ah, the nostalgia!). But this one – THIS one – is the one you should bake to impress your non-vegan friends who need convincing. If there’s a perfect plant-based dupe for a conventional, dairy and egg-filled buttercream-sandwiched lemon layer cake, this is it.

I should add that this cake was almost never shared in blog form… for the very silliest of reasons. Reasons that I am almost embarrassed to share “out loud”. The recipe, in my humble opinion, is pretty much spot on. I believe people will love it for being exactly what it is, rather than praising it in a tastes-good-for-a-vegan-cake manner. In fact, I doubt anyone will even notice that it is vegan. The recipe is not the issue. The issue, and reason for my sharing hesitance, was comparison. Or more specifically, the fact that just after I shared the behind the scenes baking of this cake a month ago when I returned from Miami, I noticed another layer cake pop up on Instagram… then a lemon cake. This is not strange. People make layer cakes all the time, and lemon cakes are particularly popular during the summer, etc. It may have been a side effect of jet-lag or general sensitivity brought about by tiredness, but I started to wonder what people would think of mine in comparison to others out there. And thus I literally restyled it no less than three times to take additional shots and give my cake a visual point of difference (this was also as a result of the 50/50 poll results as voted by my followers, half of whom wanted a rustic cake and half who wanted a “fancy” cake!). My efforts were no doubt “extra” in the most unnecessary of ways. To be honest, all I wanted to do from the outset was create a good recipe, bake with my kids, make something appealing and eat some delicious cake.
I don’t normally let comparison or what others are sharing prevent me from sharing anything, but I truly loathe my inner critic at times.
(Can I get an “amen” from my fellow Virgos? 😛 )

In any case, I hope that those of you who bake this cake will see just how deliciously lemony, moist and perfectly textured it is. My thoroughly non-vegan parents love it, my very vegan husband loves it. Heck, even 3 year-old Oliver loves it, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a tougher food critic.

Halve the ingredients for a somewhat less grandiose 2-layer cake. And please note that this was the second styling of the same cake/s and somewhere in between styling versions 1 and 2, a layer was consumed by my ravenous family. The original cake had four layers (as per the recipe) and the frosting is definitely enough to cover a 4-layer cake. Unless you have the sweetest sweet tooth in the world and require inch-thick buttercream!

I will share the other iterations (including a less-sweet version) over time too!

In the meantime, love from Stockholm and I wish you a wonderful summer/winter solstice,
❤ Marisa

*The “Bake with us” behind the scenes stories highlight is still available on my Instagram profile if you want to see the process of baking this cake or bake along with my children.

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SWEDISH “BUTTERMILK”, BLÅBÄR
& BLÅKLINT VEGAN LEMON LAYER CAKE

INGREDIENTS

1 3/4 cups creamy oat milk (I use deluxe) or nut milk
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup (180 ml) aquafaba, whisked until slightly frothy
3/4 cup (180 ml) dairy-free baking butter at room temperature
1/2 cup (120 ml) organic olive oil, or melted coconut oil
1/4 cup (60 ml) apple sauce
2 cups (480 ml) birch sugar or organic caster sugar
4 tsp (20 ml) vanilla extract
4.5 cups (1080 ml) all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons

TO DECORATE

1 punnet of fresh blueberries
1/2 cup (120 ml) blueberry jam
1 quantity of Vegan Vanilla Butter (see recipe below)
Fresh blue cornflowers (blåklint) or dried cornflower petals, optional

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 330°F/165°C, fan.
  2. Grease and line the bases of 4 round 7-inch (18 cm) spring-form cake tins.
  3. Mix the plant milk and apple cider vinegar to create your “buttermilk”. Set aside.
  4. Whisk the aquafaba (the liquid from a can of unsalted chickpeas) until frothy.
  5. Using stand mixer with a wire whisk or paddle attachment, beat the baking butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the oil a little at a time and continue to mix. Add the aquafaba, vanilla extract and lemon zest.
  6. In a separate large mixing bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients.
  7. Put your stand mixer on low speed, adding  the vegan “buttermilk” and flour mix a bit at a time (alternative between them). The batter should be smooth and creamy, but not over-mixed.
  8. Divide the cake batter evenly between the prepared tins, and bake two of them together on the centre rack of your preheated oven for 20 minutes. Turn the oven down a fraction to 320°F/160°C (still fan) and bake for a further 10 or so minutes. When done, the cake should be golden, the surface should be set, and a toothpick inserted in the centre of each cake should come out clean. Remove the first 2 cakes from the oven and immediately bake the second 2 cakes in the same manner.
  9. Allow the baked cakes to cool in their tins for 10 minutes, then carefully release the spring-form mechanisms. Allow the cakes to cool completely on two wire cooling racks (or one large one!) before frosting and decorating.
  10. To assemble your layer cake, take one lemon cake (to be the base) and place it on a serving plate or cake stand. Spread a layer of butter cream – no more than a 1/4 inch or 1/2 cm thick – evenly over the top using a spatula or knife.
  11. Spread 2-3 tablespoons of blueberry jam gently over the butter cream.
  12. Place a second cake on top and repeat the process until you have your assembled cake. Frost the top and sides, smoothing away excess buttercream.
  13. Decorate the top of the cake with blueberries and cornflowers/dried petals, if using.

 

*Please note that both the cakes and frosting can be made and frozen in advance of assembly. Good party prep tip!

*To make this cake gluten-free, use gluten-free all-purpose flour, gluten-free baking powder and nut milk.

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VEGAN VANILLA BUTTERCREAM

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup (120 ml) non-dairy baking butter
1/2 cup (120 ml) vegan buttery spread/margarine
500 g organic icing sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
DIRECTIONS

In the large bowl of a standing mixer, beat the baking butter and spread together until well combined and fluffy. Add the sugar and continue to whip.
Add the vanilla and beat for a further 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy.

*A small amount of plant milk can be added, a teaspoon at a time, if you desire a thinner consistency for this frosting.

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VEGAN THAI-INSPIRED (NO)MEATBALLS- quick, easy & flavour-packed

Do you ever borrow from your own recipes to create new ones? That’s basically what’s happened here. Currently hooked as we are on the Panang curry flavours of our go-to tofu dish, I decided to amalgamate them with a plant-based take on Sweden’s most iconic husmanskost meal; meatballs! This incredibly snappy (20 minutes or so to make) and exceptionally tasty take on veggie balls may not win points on lightness (it’s hearty, to be sure!) but in the taste, comfort and prep categories, it’s bringing home medals.

While my husband is away on business, I am home alone with the 3 littles (and the extra responsibilities that entails). So let’s jump right to the recipe, shall we?

Love from increasingly summery Stockholm,
Marisa x

Please do not copy or share this recipe to your own channel, but feel free
to share a link to this post. Thank you!

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VEGAN THAI-INSPIRED (NO)MEATBALLS
WITH PEANUTS

(quick & easy with gluten-free option)

Serves 4
Prep time: 5-10 minutes Cook time: around 15 minutes

(NO)MEATBALL INGREDIENTS

1 pound (450g) pea-, mushroom- or soy-based mince (see notes), defrosted if frozen
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1tbsp tamari
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp onion powder
1tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup (60 ml) aquafaba* whisked until lightly frothy
1/4 cup (60 ml) coconut milk + more if needed
1/4 cup (60 ml) panko bread crumbs + more if needed (or bread crumbs of choice, inc. gluten-free)

*Drain a can of chickpeas and save the aquafaba liquid to use in this recipe. Put the chickpeas to the side… they can be dressed with lime juice and herbs to serve on the side of this dish, if you like.

SAUCE INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup (60 ml) peanut butter, at room temperature or warmed through slightly
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
A shake of ground cumin
A shake of ground coriander/cilantro
A shake of chilli flakes (optional)
1 small can (4 oz/115 g) vegan Panang red curry paste*. Add to taste, but 3/4 to a full can should be a good amount. (*many traditional versions contain shrimp paste so check the packaging, if that is an issue for you)
6 kaffir lime leaves, crushed and pounded (optional, but recommended to enhance flavour)
1 can (400 ml) organic unsweetened coconut milk, full-fat preferably
Around 2 tbsp tamari, divided (use or more or less to taste)
1/2 tsp coconut sugar or organic brown sugar
1/2 tsp finely shredded lemongrass (optional)

Chopped salted peanuts, lime wedges and a little Thai basil and fresh parsley or coriander/cilantro to serve

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F/200°C.
  2. Add all the sauce ingredients to a mixing bowl (ideally one with a lip for easy pouring), and whisk together to combine. Set to the side.
  3. Place the mince ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Stir well to combine and to help the breadcrumbs hydrate. Make sure the mix is a formable consistency by scooping up a heaped tablespoonful of mince and forming it into a ball with your hands. If the mix is too dry, try adding a little extra coconut milk. If required, for extra binding power, add a combination of extra breadcrumbs and coconut milk. Once your mince is rollable, repeat the rolling process until all balls are made.
  4. Remove the kaffir lime leaves from the sauce (or keep them in for extra flavour and remove when serving).
  5. Pour 1/3 of the sauce into an oven proof skillet.
  6. Place all of the (no)meatballs into the skillet and pour over the remaining sauce.
  7. Pop the skillet onto the centre rack of your oven. Bake for about 15 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through and the sauce is bubbling and thickening.
  8. Serve with rice, rice noodles, zoodles, cauliflower rice or whatever you fancy. Top with a sprinkle of chopped salted peanuts, a little Thai basil and fresh parsley or coriander/cilantro. Squeeze over some fresh lime juice too, if you like.

 

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*I used Anamma Vegofärs. This post is not sponsored, it’s just what I had on hand.
You could use Naturli pea-based mince, Gardein’s Ultimate Beefless Ground or whatever textured vegetable protein you prefer. You may need to adjust the amount of liquid or breadcrumbs used for the meatballs depending upon the texture and moisture content of your protein choice. If using a dehydrated type of protein, make sure it is hydrated first before weighing.

*To make gluten-free, use gluten-free TVP, tamari and bread crumbs.

*To make peanut-free, substitute peanut butter for almond butter and peanuts for almonds.

*If you don’t have an oven, these could be made on a stovetop (on medium heat). Just turn them a couple of times and keep an eye on them during the cooking process… and test one to ensure it’s cooked through before removing the skillet from the heat.

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VEGAN CRISPY TOFU PANANG (PHANAENG) RED CURRY WITH RICE NOODLES- salty, sour, sweet, satisfying & gluten-free

Returning to Stockholm to be greeted by this dish – as cooked by my husband – is basically receiving the ultimate “Welcome home!” exclamation in food form. After a whirlwind magical content creation + exploration trip to Miami, CocoCay and Nassau (more on that soon. Thank you Joyce and Royal Caribbean!), followed by considerably less magical delayed flights and long layovers in Atlanta and Paris, I returned home to be greeted by hugs from my boys… and the comforting aroma of my husband’s favourite curry, known as Panang (or Phanaeng). Having shared this many times on my Instagram stories, I thought I should finally share an actual recipe here.

If you love a dish that balances sweet, salty, spicy and sour (I relate!), this one has your tastebuds covered.

Creamy and satisfying, it’s a comfort dish that remains fresh and light enough to eat in warmer weather. I don’t claim to be an expert on Thai cuisine, though I have certainly eaten my more-than-fair share. And this may not be the most authentic representation of the dish (a dish which usually contains shrimp paste and fish sauce), but it is a worthy alternative for busy people with a penchant for plant-based deliciousness!

Ladies and gentlemen, I present you with my husband’s favourite curry*!
(*He literally makes some variation of Panang curry weekly!)

Do you have a weekly go-to recipe I need to know about? Let me know!

We need to start expanding our easy meal repertoire again. Life is BUSY right now! 😛

❤ Marisa

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CRISPY TOFU PANANG (PHANAENG) RED CURRY
WITH RICE NOODLES

(easy, vegan & gluten-free)

Serves 6
Prep time: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

Approximately 700g (3 packs) unseasoned fried tofu à la minute, cubed
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 capsicums/bell peppers, deseeded and sliced into thin strips
Around 2 cups (480 ml) washed broccoli florets
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp coconut oil, divided
1 small can (4 oz/115 g) vegan Panang red curry paste*
(*many traditional versions contain shrimp paste so check the packaging, if that is an issue for you)
6 kaffir lime leaves (optional, but recommended to enhance flavour)
3 tbsp peanut butter
1 1/2 cans (600 ml) organic unsweetened coconut milk
Around 2 tbsp gluten-free tamari, divided (use or more or less to taste)

Rice noodles* (or other) to serve.
*Prepare as much as required, but 1.6 oz/45 g of dry rice noodles per person is around what we use per individual serve, and we simply soak them in boiled water for around 3 minutes, before draining and adding to dishes. So easy!

Around 2 cups (480 ml) of fresh baby spinach or sautéed kale to serve (optional)
Thai basil/cilantro/parsley, dried chilli flakes, chopped salted peanuts and fresh lime wedges to serve

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place a wok (or skillet) over medium-high heat. Add one tablespoon of the the coconut oil and the tofu pieces and fry until starting to turn crispy. Set aside.
  2. Add the remaining tablespoon of the the coconut oil and onion. Sauté for 1 minute, before adding the peppers and garlic. Continue to sauté for a further minute before adding the red curry paste and peanut butter.
  3. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring periodically. Then add the coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves and 1 tablespoon of tamari. Add the fried tofu to the curry. Stir the ingredients to combine.
  4. Bring to a boil before lowering the heat and allowing the curry to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and add more tamari, a teaspoon at a time, if necessary. Remove from heat.
  5. Remove the kaffir lime leaves.
  6. Place handfuls of washed baby spinach into serving bowls. Add cooked rice noodles (or rice or quinoa if you prefer) to each bowl and spoon over a generous amount of the curry.
  7. Top with fresh herb/s of choice, chopped salted peanuts, and dried chilli flakes for an extra kick, if you like. And definitely squeeze over some fresh lime juice.
    Enjoy!

    Please note that leftover curry will keep well if refrigerated in an airtight container (for around 5 days). It’s a great prep-ahead meal idea too!

 

*I’ll be sharing a from-scratch curry paste recipe soon, so stay tuned!

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VERMICELLI ALLA MARINARA – a classic dish from Campania in memory of Chef Silvio

It’s been a hot minute since I shared a recipe here, and it is with bittersweet tidings that I return to you with this one; a deliciously simple and evocative Italian dish in honour of a true Italian food legend.

As 2017 began, we finished up a week of filming in Connecticut at the Overabove studio with Royal Caribbean and our dear friends, the Von Family. We arrived at Cafe Allegre for our post-filming celebrations, and were greeted warmly by our wrap party host and shoot director, Ralph Guardiano, who was positively thrilled (and adamant) that we would enjoy “the best Italian food” that Connecticut had to offer. As plate after delicious plate arrived at our table, we chatted, laughed and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I remarked to Ralph that, while the restaurant was elegant, it was comfortably charming, inviting and thoroughly unpretentious. Ralph said it was “exactly that”, adding that he saw Cafe Allegre as an extension of his own home, often finding comfort in Chef Silvio Suppa’s authentic Southern Italian flavours and kind conversation after a hectic day at work.

Before bringing Chef Silvio to our table around the time dessert was served, Ralph mentioned that Chef Silvio was a very humble man; a man who preferred to express himself through his food rather than by singing his own praises about his food. I was given a signed copy of his book, Cooking with Chef Silvio, as he smiled at our party warmly, evidently very pleased that we were enjoying our time in his establishment.

We had an extremely early flight departure from Hartford the next morning and left the restaurant knowing we’d get just 2-3 hours of sleep before moving on. But our night out in Madison more than compensated for the lack of sleep, and the entire Connecticut trip remains one of our fondest family travel memories.

Last year I spoke with a good friend of the Suppa family and was very saddened to hear that Chef Silvio passed away mere months after our visit to Cafe Allegre, the restaurant he had run with his family by his side for 20 years. I had promised him earlier that year that I would cook from his book back in my Swedish home kitchen.

And so I have.

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Today, with his son’s permission, I am sharing a very special recipe with you – one of my personal favourites – in dedication to one of Connecticut’s culinary treasures and beloved celebrity chefs. Chef Silvio’s focus was always about passing the traditions he grew up with onto others, and cooking farm-to-table with honest flavours and organic produce. There is surely nothing that would make him happier than knowing people are continuing to enjoy his food… and that his legacy lives on through his family, the work of his son, Chef Ilario Suppa, at Cafe Allegre, and his authentic recipes from Campania.

Salute, e buon appetito!

Love, Marisa x

For more of Chef Silvio’s recipes, refer to Cooking with Chef Silvio

To find out about current news and events at Cafe Allegre or browse the menus, visit cafeallegre.com

*The links in this post are not affiliate links, but shared for your information.

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CHEF SILVIO’S VERMICELLI ALLA MARINARA

(Vermicelli with Marinara Sauce)

Serves 4-6
Prep time: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1/3 cup (80 ml) extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup (120 ml) chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 pounds (900 g) ripe plum tomatoes, halved, squeezed to expel seeds and coarsely chopped or 32 ounces (900 g) canned San Marzano tomatoes, undrained and crushed by hand
15-20 pitted Kalamata olives, halved
2 tbsp capers
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 pound (450 g) Italian vermicelli pasta
1 cup (240 ml) fresh basil leaves, half torn

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the garlic and parsley and sauté only for a few seconds.
  3. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, for just a few minutes or until the tomatoes soften but still retain their shape without breaking down into a sauce.
  4. Add olives, capers and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. In a separate pot, cook the pasta al dente in boiling salted water, following the directions on the package.
  6. Drain the pasta, return it to the pot, and add the tomato sauce. Add the torn basil and stir well.
  7. Serve immediately in a pasta bowl, garnished with the whole basil leaves.

 

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Recipe shared with permission from Chef Ilario Suppa, from his father’s book, Cooking with Chef Silvio (State University of New York Press, 2010)

 

“Quando un paese perde la sua lingua e le sue usanze e cultura,
perde la sua identita”

(When a place loses its language, customs and culture, it loses its identity.)

Chef Silvio Suppa, 1947 – 2017

 

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2019: THE BEST IS YET TO COME! (my annual vision board ritual)

A while back I created a poll on Instagram asking people whether they’d rather have a shiny new blog with all bugs ironed out, or an old model blog with regular content added but sub par navigation. The results were pretty much bang on 50/50. So here I am, on this perfectly imperfect old blog (soon to be a new blog) adding to my growing list of annual NYE posts featuring my vision board for the coming year.

This year my goals are rather practical and specific… and there’s quite a few of them, (including waking up at 5:30am) which don’t translate so prettily. So I am only including this small corner of my board that sums up the general tone of the intentions I am setting for this year.

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2018 was a strange one. High highs and low lows. But ultimately it ends on a positive, calm and contented note for me. And I sincerely hope it does for you too.

Thank you for being here and bearing with me while I get my new space up and running. I anticipate we will see more of each other in 2019!

Wishing you a happy, healthy New Year!
– Marisa

*Borrowing yet again from my first vision board post back in 2012, if you want to create your own, you can do so using images sourced online** and a page layout program such as InDesign or make one using magazine images and ye olde cut-and-paste method. If really pressed for time, why not create a Pinterest board called “2017” and fill it with pins of the things you’d like to see manifest in your life with this coming year?
** Picture credits: In this vision board I have included images by InkHQ and myself, but there are a couple that I cannot attribute to the original creators. Please let me know if one of these images is yours so I can credit you. x

Previous mood boards:
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018

CARAMELISED FIG SKILLET PIZZA-STYLE PANCAKES + farewell to this blog + a journey from an anonymous food blog to cookbook, part 1

It is with a very sentimental and somewhat heavy heart that I announce the impending closure of this particular blog chapter. Unless you’ve shared the good, bad and everything in between via a blog before, you probably cannot understand the attachment I have to a place that has given me the ability to connect, express myself, create, celebrate and even share about some of the most personally difficult times with many who would be strangers to me had this platform not existed. My blog is not disappearing into the ether, but it will be reinvented… revamped in a way that will actually benefit everyone who visits, with better performance, easier to find recipes/posts and improved navigation overall. But, despite the far-from-optimal navigation on this blog theme that has seen me through all these years so far, I have loved my non-slick, unpolished little corner of the internet. And the move to a self-hosted site feels very incredibly overwhelming right now.

On an emotional level, it is not unlike the move from our first apartment in Stockholm (a 34m2 studio, with one window and the smallest bathroom in the world) to the first home we owned with actual bedrooms in 2009. I remember shedding tears one night as I sat in our bed (that folded out from the lounge room wall), saying to my husband that I was scared of “all the space” in the new apartment, even though I knew the move would bring new opportunities for us. He assured me that I would get used to it and that I wouldn’t miss the old space (lack thereof) as much as I thought I would. And despite my initial concerns, he was absolutely right. There hasn’t been a single day that I have regretted our decision to move back then. Nor to move again to the place we currently call home.

Because I don’t know how long this blog migration journey will take (hopefully not long) and because there is only 1 month left until my first cookbook, Naturally Sweet Vegan Treats, launches I thought I’d take you on a retrospective little trip down blogosphere lane. I am sure there are many of you who don’t know the origins of this blog, so here goes. In August of 2011, when my little guy Louie was a not-yet-crawling-baby-bundle-meets-kitchen-companion, I came across an ad somewhere for free blog hosting. Having cluttered my Macbook desktop to the point of literal distraction with recipes, crafting projects to-do, personal photos and musings, I decided a blog could be a perfect place to both collect all this digital stuff and keep me accountable to following through on my domestic bucket list. Because I wanted to remain anonymous, I chose a variation on a nickname I have had since I was 9-10 years old as my blog/pen name (that would be Miss Marzipan). And because I didn’t have any money to sink into it, I chose a free blog theme. I wrote some words, I clicked “publish” and thus my first blog post went live on August 8, 2011.

I began cooking, crafting and sharing, keeping my blog and my domestic pursuits completely anonymous. Whereas some people like to announce a project such as this on Facebook to build support from the get-go, I wanted to keep my blog to myself. If I am honest, I suspected that anyone who knew me irl would find this caper all rather lame and uninteresting. With my secret blog there was no prestige (hence not being overly concerned about the absolutely abominable Ericsson/Nokia [circa 2005] phone photography), no self-imposed “rules”, no pressure to perform, no need to justify my choices or interests… and no subscribers. I was genuinely happy doing my own thing, keeping a record for myself of my daily “adventures” at home with my first baby, without self-promotion… even if it meant I was playing to an empty audience. In fact I assumed I’d be sharing to myself for quite some time.

And then I embarked upon the first of many blog “challenges”. Having returned to veggiedom during my pregnancy with Louie, I was already deeply indebted to and in love with all things wholesome and plant-based, but an episode of Oprah led me to partake in her One-Week Vegan Challenge which I documented, along with everything else I did that involved food. It brought the first visitors to my blog, which in turn led me to discover other people’s blogs and, lo and behold, I was possibly the last blogger in the history of the blogosphere to find out there was a “community” here. As my passion for cooking grew, I began to attend food related workshops and talks (both here in Sweden and in Australia), to follow a couple of blogs (the first was Cupcake Project) and to document just about everything I did at home, from making my own toxin-free cleaners to baking for babies. I started to invest money in kitchen implements and appliances that would have seemed ludicrous to me at other stages of my life. KitchenAid ice-cream maker attachments, deluxe Wilton cake decorating caddies, 24-hole cupcake carry cases… you name it, I was geeking out over it and spending stupid amounts of money on it.

I was a good experimenter, but not a good blogger. I took long breaks from posting during travel and when I returned to work briefly after my first period of maternity leave (and I’m still not great in the ol’ consistency department, as you will no doubt be aware if you are a subscriber). I know it is probably hard to fathom, but for some reason I was terrified about people finding out about my blog, while paradoxically wanting to connect. As such, I took paranoid public blogging to the next level and refused to use even my first name here or even identify the country in which I resided. And selfies? Ugh. The thought of me posting a picture of myself made me physically anxious. Only one person with whom I connected here knew me in real life (hi Kim!) and we chatted intermittently via post comments on each other’s blogs about the things we liked that had nothing to do with our real jobs at the office in which we both worked, she as a copywriter and me as an art director.

I did many things that career bloggers clearly don’t do… and after a year I had around 7 followers as a result. And then came the event that changed everything; my pregnancy with Lillian. It was high risk and I found myself in and out of the emergency room at our local hospital, me and my tiny unborn Lillian surviving hemorrhage after terrifying hemorrhage, before I was eventually put on bed rest with a diagnosis of “a very large” and threatening SCH. At the end of weeks of strict bed rest (and meditation, journal writing, gratitude lists and whatever I could do to save my sanity and my baby), I had to take it very easy, but was finally able to move around my own home. I began to cook and bake with a never seen before fervour that was fueled by a combination of boredom, gratitude and pregnancy hormones. And I began to share what was going on for me on my blog. This changed the way I communicate online and it is something that has stuck to this day (once you start sharing in a certain way, it is hard to go back). I realised that it’s not so terrifying to let other people see glimpses of your life in its roughest, rawest and most downcast moments. There is beauty in the realness… and relatability too. That’s when people really started to find my blog. And I started caring less that they were finding it. In fact, I started to feel more “me” and began to connect with certain fellow bloggers and subscribers in a more personal way. I am happy to say that many of those people are still here today, Gallivanta, Violet, Clanmother, Mimi, Sophie, Laura and Mazigrace included (I am grateful to all of you who have hung around and shared your lives and work here too).

Another pivotal moment was my trip back to Australia in 2013-2014. I was not only introduced to Poh Ling Yeow (thanks to a hook-up from my awesome brother), but I was given the opportunity to work alongside her, assisting at the opening of Jamface. It was the first time I had worked with food in this kind of way, let alone with a celebrity cook, although my history working with food stretches way back to my very first job working in what is now a gastropub in Adelaide (then it was more of a regular pub… with food) as a teenage high school student. Poh was baffled as to why I didn’t have an Instagram account and encouraged me to get one, promising to stay in touch with me via my account if I did. And so I got Instagram. I also finally saw the benefit (after 3 years!) of sharing blog posts with images taken with an actual camera. Because, up until that time, this blog had been the equivalent of a personal journal shared online, it had never crossed my mind to up my game in terms of visual presentation. Which is actually crazy considering my professional background is art direction, graphic design and visual communication (including photography). Somehow I had never seen the two paths merging. What I created for work was completely distinct from what I shared on my blog in every way imaginable. Anyway, around the same time as my day at Jamface, I spontaneously picked up a copy of Sarah Wilson‘s I Quit Sugar for Life at the check-out of a store in Adelaide. And so began a new wave of cooking, sharing and eventually joining the IQS8WP, my experiences of which I documented… everywhere! This, I suppose, is pivotal moment number 5 (if we are keeping track of numbers of pivotal blog moments!).

By the time I eventually joined Instagram in 2014, I was well-practiced at sharing about the happenings in my life with a degree of openness that was pretty uncommon in amongst the punchy one-line captions signed off with witty hashtags of many a Macbook and marble-featuring flatlay. However, it took me some time to get to grips with this new platform. For one thing, I did not understand the mechanism of hashtags and thought they were some kind of cool internet speak, not realising their actual function was to make posts discoverable. Yes. Pathetic, I know. I quickly learned, however, when my posts were “miraculously” found by people unconnected to me (which was 99.999999999999% of the Instagram population as, once again, I could count my followers on two hands). I continued to cook, share and connect with new people, many of whom were also interested in more wholesome food of a veggie and less sugary kind. The newly formed I Quit Sugar community was supportive, engaged and engaging. I made good friends, many of whom I have since had the chance to meet in real life. I even had breakfast with Sarah Wilson herself at a cafe in Sydney around the exact time her book, First, We Make the Beast Beautiful, launched. But that’s skipping way ahead in the story.

So, I shared my sugar-free veggie food on Instagram and I won “Sarah’s Picks” for the mid-year round of the IQS8WP in 2014, and suddenly… BOOM. No more hiding behind my nickname and smoothie jar for a profile pic. I Quit Sugar wanted me to do an interview and they wanted to see what I looked like. And finally, after 3 years of blogging, I decided to share who I was (in a low-key way). The evidence of this event is my profile pic on Instagram, which has remained unchanged since. And though I feel the image still says a lot about me, strangely it might be one of the few occasions I have worn colour in the past 20 years, so in that way is not at all reflective of my life… or rather, of my 99% black wardrobe. Amazingly people didn’t start hating on me or leaving me abusive comments after I shared more of who I was. On the contrary, I started to connect with more people.

Meanwhile, I had decided to invest in an actual camera and found a demo model in a camera store window; a Canon 7D. Having previously gone through my entire university art school degree using a hockshop-bought Pentax from the 1970s and developing my own photos in a darkroom, digital photography was a new and slightly (ok, very) intimidating world. But over the next couple of years of experimenting, I discovered that I could combine my professional background as a creative with my rather expensive food hobby… and actually recoup some of the money I was throwing around grocery stores in Stockholm like confetti. In the summer of 2014 my sweet parents encouraged me to incorporate into our family holidays trips to Finland and England, where photography workshops were being held. I am going to be honest. What I get from these types of situations is inspiration and connection. I am someone who learns the practicalities best by doing, teaching myself and practicing in my own time by working on personal projects. It’s how I went from being completely computer illiterate in 2001 when I started university (I literally did not know how email worked and technology felt like my nemesis… but that is a whole other story), to working on a Mac daily and being versed, to an adequate point, in the entire Adobe Creative Suite. But those workshops were incredibly valuable, well worth it experiences, and I made wonderful friends and connections along the way.

After the summer holidays and prior to returning to my job as an art director, I decided to enrol in an intensive pastry course that took place during the evenings so my husband could be with our two little ones. The days were incredibly long, as I would wake early with two bubs to care for and return from pastry school on the subway close to midnight on occasion. What took me to pastry school was passion; a passion for both baking and learning. I never saw myself becoming a commercial kitchen pastry chef (which would have involved taking extra studies and, most likely, an apprenticeship) and I still don’t. I don’t have the right temperament and I don’t think I’d be able to maintain the momentum necessary to keep things both functioning and interesting. I always saw myself being a happy home baker and, because my time at pastry school coincided with my husband going (ethical) vegan and me quitting sugar, it was a given that I would experiment further at home on my own with treats of a healthier, plant-based nature (my first experiments actually began in 1992 when I was a Morrissey-quoting, lone vegetarian schoolgirl… and, for the purposes of transparency, my food back then was not far short of appalling).

What I discovered at pastry school was that traditional pastries and their contemporary plant-based, white sugar-free counterparts can have very little in common. But I still learned valuable lessons and the overall experience was fabulous. I developed a whole new level of appreciation for the chemistry of baking, the artistic craft of presentation (although my own home bakes still err on the rustic side of the spectrum, ’cause #motherhood), not to mention the practicalities of “organised” baking such as mis en place, timing, the clean-as-you-go approach and the weighing and measuring of ingredients. I tend to work well in group situations especially when I’m 1) placed with other hard workers (I can’t abide slackness) and 2) afforded some degree of autonomy. My baking partner, Linda, and I kept a clean station and stayed on track with timing (I often went a little over when decorating, though!), managing to share an oven, stove top and implements quite naturally.

I continued to bake, share, blog and Instagram (yes, I use it as a verb and a noun) even after I returned to my corporate job. I found myself eating a lot of lunches at Sally Voltaire’s restaurant near my office (the Vegan Salad was my go-to) and dreaming about food. I even made food to bring in for my team (Taline Gabriel‘s Raweos, for example). And despite the fact that I was running, eating well, doing regular yoga and the like, I began to get sick. All. The. Time. My immunity was shot, I was putting on weight inexplicably, my anxiety levels started going through the roof and the commute to work (although short, because I live in the city) became a personal nightmare. Because I literally did not know what was going on for me medically or emotionally, I couldn’t communicate it with my co-workers, as much as I liked them (and still do). I still liked my job too and I can honestly say it was, in general, one of the best I have had for so many reasons. But I knew that something was way off with me and that I needed to find a path out of it.

Around this time, the poop hit the proverbial fan with various Instagram “wellness stars” being outed for sharing bogus nutritional advice (along with fake diagnoses). This rocked my world as, naive as it may sound, I had started to buy into the whole green smoothie lifestyle (NB: I still love smoothies, but they’re certainly not a cure-all). I’d begun to feel like a failure because I was trying to live “my best life” and was embracing many of the “clean living” (I hate that expression, hence quotation marks) things I was encountering, and yet I was sick… sick to the point of needing to have lymph nodes biopsied to find out what was wrong with me. It turns out it was terrible immunity and freaked out lymph nodes* (*not the official medical term). When the truth came out about certain wellness figures I’d been following, I vowed to be more mindful about “influence”. I vowed to always share my food from a personal place rather than a dogmatic, preaching one… not to tell people how to live (especially those who were unwell, looking for hope or otherwise vulnerable), but to share what I loved and what worked for me from an anecdotal perspective, even if it was rather unglamorous (and my life is often rather flour-dusted and unglamorous). Non-judgy sharing from a personal stance has always been my way online and I hope it will continue to be so, but this so-called “wellness” influencer fiasco cemented my position on the matter.

And then, pivotal moment 654 (erm, I’ve lost count at this point): Oliver.

When I found out about my pregnancy with Oliver, firstly I was overjoyed. Overjoyed is a gross understatement, actually. I knew he was meant to be here. I knew it. And, despite my medical and pregnancy history and all the naysayers (some people were literally upset with me when I told them I was pregnant again), I knew all would be well. My health improved drastically overnight. And it was by far the easiest and most chill pregnancy of the three. I also heard an internal voice say early on in the pregnancy, “This baby will save you”. It sounds crazy, I know. But in some ways, I guess it is true. I went through some damn stressful periods at work in 2015 and unfortunately the peak of it all coincided with my third trimester. But the gift of landing in hospital with cramps more painful than contractions around Christmas 2015, was that I was able to make a decision, with support from my doctors, to step back. It was hard on one hand, but I had a baby and my health to protect. So I did it.

In the weeks leading up to my due date in early 2016, I finally accepted my first paid commission for food-related work (recipe development and photography). I had rejected all other offers for paid blog or Instagram collaborations up until that point, but this particular offer came from one of Sweden’s largest and best organic food producers and I felt I couldn’t say no. To ensure it was all legitimate, I re-registered a freelance company in Sweden… literally in the same week that Oliver was born. Around Oliver’s due date, I sat in the car park of BB SöS (the hospital where I was due to give birth) having contractions in the car whilst speaking on the phone to an editor from one of Europe’s biggest publishing houses. That very day I was supposed to be meeting with the editor and my co-author to discuss a book project we’d been working on. Instead, I found myself waiting for a midwife to check how effaced and dilated I was. Gotta love timing, eh?

But for some reason, despite missing this HUGE meeting with someone who could potentially change my life forever, I was absolutely cool with how things panned out. And in hindsight I am so grateful that it didn’t come to pass, as it would have been an emotional catastrophe to take on a book project with a (brand) new-born baby and two toddlers in tow! Some people might be able to juggle such weighty responsibilities (who even are you?), but being predisposed to anxiety, it would have resulted in a total breakdown for me. I am sure of it.

As it was, I continued to do what I had been doing… sharing my food by posting online. And then something else happened. I guess I had gotten a little bored of creating recipes of a certain kind, because for some BIZARRE reason I decided to fully embrace my love of all things geeky and fandom-y (I’m a fantasy fan from way back. 1980s… Yeah!) and share my own interpretation of Game of Thrones-themed recipes. I knew this could be a potentially DIRE move. Instagram favours the hip, so I thought, not the nerdy. Yet I felt the compulsion to go full geek. My content at that time was naturally in tune with what was en vogue by chance, not design. I was already veggie and eating sugar-free and even though these were longterm lifestyle choices and not a bandwagon I had jumped upon for the purpose of validation, I suppose my stuff was “on trend”. And Instagram eats trends for breakfast. Thus, because of this and the fact that the dreaded algorithm hadn’t kicked in, my engagement on Instagram was bafflingly high at the time (well over 20k engagements on a slice of avocado toast? Somewhat sad and bewildering, but true). I was starting to be offered more opportunities to make money doing what I already loved to do with brands I actually liked, and people who followed me knew what to expect from me…

And then, overnight, I decided to throw a potential spanner in the works by posting pictures of potions, elixirs and Dothraki-inspired tofu jerky. It was weird, it was whimsical, some people no doubt hated it, I loved every second of it. And I came to realise that I could unapologetically be myself and share what I loved… and it wouldn’t necessarily mean the death of my account or the end of my friendship with every hipster on “the gram”. I didn’t make a cent from anything GoT-related, nor did I set out to. But I did meet others who loved the books and show like I did, and I loved seeing what they created and sharing their work via my channels, regardless of how many followers they had. It was another one of those pivotal decisions. Why? Because I made more friends and became more “me” by sharing more of what I liked… and being unafraid to do so.

I know this isn’t a great cliffhanger to the story, but I think I will leave part one there. Part two will follow when this blog is shiny and new. In the meantime I’ll be counting the days until my book launches on the 23rd of October (23 is my lucky number, by the way) because it is still completely surreal to me that a published book with international distribution somehow sprang from the very random stuff I have written about in this post.

And I’ll leave you here with a picture taken in front of the very same wall as my Instagram profile picture of over 4 years ago (with an extra munchkin in the mix and my new book baby). Oh, and a delicious recipe… because I am still food-obsessed and if you are reading this, there’s a good chance you are too.

Love, Marisa x

My book is available internationally for pre-order now, and I am in the process of creating bonus material for all who pre-order. So if free extras appeal to you, you can find my book here online at your preferred bookstore.
(Apparently it’s already in store at Dymocks in Melbourne [say wha?!?],
my ultra talented friend Vickie Liu – aka Vickie Yo – informed me today when
she picked up a copy!)

 

 

Obsessed as I am with all things skillet/pizza/breakfast/fig-related, I literally dreamed this recipe. That’s right, my subconscious mind invented it while I slept. So if you see it elsewhere, the other creator is either 1) weirdly in synch with me and I with him/her 2) skilled in the art of legilimency. And if you like it, you have my subconscious to thank for it. Seriously though, it’s wholesome, grounding, satisfying, easy and inviting and features a skillet and jammy caramelised figs, so you *will* like it. Please let me know if you try it (comment here or tag me in your recreation post on Instagram if you happen to reside there).

And here’s a tip: if you allow it to cool completely and then slice it, it makes a perfect grab-and-go breakfast or treat. You’re welcome! x

CARAMELISED FIG SKILLET PIZZA-STYLE PANCAKES

Makes: 2 large or 4 individual, depending on skillet size
(Ingredient measurements in US cups & metric)


INGREDIENTS

1 3/4 cups (415 ml) unsweetened plant milk
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp (135 ml) well-mashed ripe banana (approximately 1 banana)
1 tbsp (15 ml) rice malt/maple syrup
1 tbsp (15 ml) baking powder
2 tbsp (30 ml) melted coconut oil (or extra milk)
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp (80 g) buckwheat flour (or spelt if you prefer)
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp (60 g) almond flour
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp (70 g) oat flour or 70 g of oats pulsed to a flour
1/4 tsp vanilla powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
A pinch of salt
4 fresh figs, sliced

Coconut oil for frying and brushing over
Approximately 1 tbsp (15 ml) coconut sugar for sprinkling over

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Add all wet ingredients to a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.
  2. Add dry ingredients and fold through to combine.
  3. Heat a little coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, preheat your oven grill to 400°F (200°C).
  4. If using a larger sized skillet, ladle in half the batter from the mixing bowl (approximately 1 1/2 cups/360 ml). Do ensure you are using a skillet with an oven-safe handle. If using smaller skillets for individual serves, add a quarter of the batter to each one. Allow the batter to begin to cook for around 1 minute, so that the mix is just starting to set, then arrange half (or a quarter, if using small skillets) of the figs slices on top.
  5. Cook for around 3 minutes further on the stove top over medium heat or until you see the edges have cooked and small bubbles are forming on the surface.
  6. Gently brush a little coconut oil over the surface and evenly sprinkle over coconut sugar (a teaspoon or so will do per pancake).
  7. Transfer the skillet to the oven and allow the pancake surface to cook under the grill for 3-5 minutes or until the figs are caramelising, keeping a close eye on the skillet to ensure no burning occurs.
  8. Remove the skillet from the oven. Allow the pancake to cool at least slightly before slicing and serving.
  9. Repeat the cooking process with the remaining batter.
  10. Serve the pancake slices with coconut whipped cream, syrup, nuts and/or other toppings of choice.
    I served this one with a low-sweetener salted caramel sauce from my book, Naturally Sweet Vegan Treats.

 

NO-BAKE MISSISSIPPI MUD PIE – a vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free spin on a classic chocolate treat

There is a reason why my most requested recipe of 2017 (aka, this No-Bake Mississippi Mud Pie), is only making an appearance on this blog today. I’ll get to that and the recipe in a minute (well, actually a few minutes). Today is my birthday, a day I have had mixed feelings about celebrating since I was a little girl. Why? It is the expectation around occasions such as this combined with what I suppose I perceive is a somewhat undeserving limelight being cast in my direction (after all, my mother did the hard yards on the 29th of August all those years ago in London, not me) that makes me feel not entirely comfortable. I adore celebrating other people’s birthdays and have a tendency to go over the top for my children on the anniversaries of their births as a result of my party-planning enthusiasm and my overwhelming gratitude for the fact that my children exist in this world. However, I used to ensure I was traveling on my own birthday to avoid having to host some kind of event or party because, although I love to socialise and I appreciate love, friendship and camaraderie as much as the next person, I have always felt a pressure to be in a certain emotional state (i.e. happy and revelling) on my birthday and have found that expectation and reality don’t always align. This has been a bit of “a thing” since the first birthday party I can recall… an occasion during which my 3-5-year-old party guests were thrilled, and I, meanwhile, was having some kind of emotional melt down over my mum baking my Cindy dolly into a cake (PS I don’t blame you, mum. I now think it was a very cute idea!).

But today I have decided to give myself a gift. The gift of space… to indulge in (very)simple things that make me happy and bring me a sense of true/grounded contentment. I began my day with my favourite meditation; Kundalini Sat Kriya. If you haven’t tried it before, what can I tell you? You will probably find it strange (it is, even to me and I have done it many times!), but it works. It really does. If you’re curious you might like to try a version with some guidance. I then scrolled through Yoga with Adriene‘s video uploads to choose my yoga flow for the day and found Yoga for Text Neck, literally moments after I realised I was probably suffering from text neck. So I listened to my body and went with that. I drank my green powder concoction (the first thing I consume each day) then spent a good 10 minutes lovingly dusting the leaves of one of my favourite plants with a cloth. I watered and appreciated the others too. Then I ate a chocolate bar for breakfast because… yolo.

And now I sit here typing these words because this blog makes me happy. Being in this space makes me happy. And my work-related busyness keeps me from being here far more than I would like. These days, my bread and butter comes from executing creative content for other people. Nothing to sniff at or complain about as it has been my vocation for many years, from my time as a graphic designer at a marketing bureau to my last non-freelance job as a corporate art director. But I love creating for the love of creating too. And I love sharing and connecting. And those are things this space has always afforded me the opportunity to do. And so I am “indulging” a little by not doing any paid work today and taking a full day off for the first time in around 2 weeks. That is my gift to me.

I have touched on this via my Instagram accounts (@missmarzipancom and @missmarzipan_moments), but I received a preview print of my cookbook, Naturally Sweet Vegan Treats, last week. It was a momentous full circle kind of moment for me and so overwhelming that I literally had to put the book in another room and close the door for a while. To borrow directly from my post:

“Long story short… One year and 5 days ago I left my corporate job. Literally the same day I had my resignation meeting (and admitted to my boss I had no idea what I was going to do🙈)- in fact, exactly 4 hours later- I was offered a book deal by an American publishing house🙏🏻. While working on my book Oliver stopped breastfeeding. And then, as a result of the massive hormonal changes I was going through in combination with other factors, I was diagnosed with depression😢. Yesterday my psychologist agreed that I am now doing well. I have no more follow-up appointments scheduled🙏🏻. And my first copy of my book arrived at my door by courier😱. BIG full circle kind of day. I am still processing it all.
Love to you, Marisa x”

I have ventured to go through it now, and my overwhelming feeling is of the “You done good, kid” variety. I feel blessed that my children and recipes inspired by my family appear in its pages, I am absolutely amazed that I was able to follow through with it all despite the personal challenges I faced during its conception, I am forever grateful for the kindness I had along the way from friends, family (especially my husband and children) and those who stepped in to volunteer support when it was so, so needed and, of course, I am beyond thankful for the opportunity itself (Page Street Publishing and Macmillan, thank you for all the hard work you have done and continue to do), as a cookbook of my own was not even a proverbial twinkle in my eye back when I started this blog.

In gratitude for their support and friendship and, I’ll admit, with a sense of pride, I’d like to congratulate some of my friends on their own amazing cookbook publishing achievements. I know firsthand now the heart, soul, tears and flour/veggie scrap-covered slog involved in giving birth to such a project, and I applaud not only my friends mentioned here, but anyone who has ventured to put their work in print. Firstly, I want to mention the latest work of Ditte Ingemann, who has just released Krydret with Anne Hjernøe, a gorgeous book shot with David Loftus (who many will know as Jamie Oliver’s go-to photographer and bff). This book was in the process of being created when Ditte’s talented and lovely husband, Søren Thuesen, who I have interviewed right here on this blog, was diagnosed with cancer. Not only has Søren been going through the ordeal of tests, chemo and everything associated with recovery from this most brutal of circumstances, but Ditte has been supporting him and had a book to create in the midst of it all. Truly, these people are heroes. I wish Søren the speediest of recoveries and Ditte the best of success with Krydret… and everything else!

Vegan superstar Kim-Julie Hansen, who has been an incredible support to me, may not yet know this but her debut book, Vegan Reset: The 28-Day Plan to Kickstart Your Healthy Lifestyle, is already ranked #1 in Amazon’s New Release category for Juice and Smoothie cookbooks… and it won’t even be launched until next week! Maria Koutsogiannis, the ball of energy in Greek goddess form who has been making me smile since 2015, has released her wonderful debut book, Mindful Vegan Meals… and it turns out we have the same editor (hi, Marissa G.!)! The powerhouse that is my friend Nina Olsson has released her vibrantly veggie and beautifully captured second and third books, Feasts of Veg and Veggie Burger Atelier. My lovely Bettina Campolucci Bordi is kicking goals with her 5-star rated book, Happy Food, released earlier this year and available for ordering worldwide. Talented food creative and IG friend from way back in the day, Sara Kiyo Popowa, will be having her gorgeous book, Bento Power, released in 3 weeks. Good news: it is available for pre-order as I type! My sweet Lynn Hoefer‘s fabulous healthy eating cookbook, Himmlisch Gesund, has just hit shelves in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. My ridiculously talented and knowledgable naturopathic advisor and good friend, Julia Michelle, has released her incredibly informative eBook, 21 Day Reset, a guided 21-day diet and exercise program, with sleep protocol and stress management regime built in. She knows her stuff, guys. I can vouch for that. Newer friends Carolin Strothe and Maya Sozer have both created their third and second books respectively. Power Vegan Meals by Maya is available now and Carolin’s drool-worthy book, Einfach Natuerlich Backen, is currently available in German and will be launched in the UK and US in April next year.

Dear friends and incredibly talented creators Rita Serano and Dr. Rupy Aujla have already released books that I am currently in love with. Rita’s Vegan in 7 is a masterpiece of simple, honest plant-based cooking and Rupy’s The Doctor’s Kitchen is a wonderful collection of wholesome, tasty recipes developed by a passionate medical professional who is at the forefront of championing balanced living and disease prevention through healthy eating. Gorgeous Rachel Khoo’s new book The Little Swedish Kitchen (also shot by David Loftus) is a gem. As beautiful as you would imagine one of Rachel’s books to be, I have been lucky enough to taste some of her Sweden-inspired dishes when she hosted a gathering in her home early this summer (where I also had the chance to flick through her book’s pretty pages). And I can tell you, you will not be disappointed if you grab yourself a copy, particularly if you find the landscapes, produce and cuisine of Scandinavia enchanting! All of these fine people are doing okay without any promotion from me (as, of course, are Candice KumaiDeliciously Ella and Jamie Oliver, who have all released new and very impressive titles too), but I wish them so well on their journeys and thank them as creators/friends/supporters/inspirers and general all-round good people. Extra thanks to my amazing friend Timothy Pakron, otherwise known as Mississippi Vegan, who chatted with me the other day as he awaited his first copy of his stunning book of the same name, Mississippi Vegan. It is available for pre-order now.

And finally, speaking of Mississippi, here is my gift to you/anyone who has requested it, in a belated yet far more easily searchable form (yes, scrolling through dozens of Instagram posts to search for a recipe in the comments section is a pain in the butt. I feel you); my No-Bake Mississippi Mud Pie. Made for the first time almost a year and a half ago and inspired by a treat served aboard Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas, I hope you will love it too. According to Wikipedia, it is believed that the first Mississippi Mud Pie originated in the state of Mississippi and that the name of the gooey chocolate sauce-topped crumbly chocolate pie crust concoction is “derived from the dense cake that resembles the banks of the Mississippi River”. Whatever its roots may be, this treat is sure to speak to the chocolate lover in you, wherever you are in the world.

And wherever you are in the world, I send my love there!

Marisa x

NO-BAKE MISSISSIPPI MUD PIE

– a vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free spin on a classic chocolate treat

COOKIE CRUST INGREDIENTS
225 g gluten-free oats (or quinoa oat mix)
30 g crunchy quinoa (or other gluten-free crisp flake-style cereal)
2 tbsp cacao powder
150 ml unsalted almond butter
6 tbsp rice malt/maple syrup
6 tbsp melted coconut oil
2 tbsp warm water

MISSISSIPPI MUD FUDGE FILLING INGREDIENTS
250 g cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours/overnight
250 g dates
70 g raw cacao
2 tsp vanilla powder
A pinch or two of salt
70 ml coconut oil
150 ml water (+ a tablespoon or extra if needed)

GANACHE INGREDIENTS
100 ml maple syrup (or rice malt)
40 g coconut oil, melted
35 g cacao (if using maple, a little extra cacao may be needed)

TO SERVE
Fresh summer berries
Seasonal edible flowers (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Line a small baking pan with baking paper.
  2. Blitz quinoa oats, flake cereal and cacao in a food processor to make a coarse flour.
  3. Add wet ingredients and blitz until well combined (a shiny dough should start to form).
  4. Pop the mixture into a round spring-form cake tin and, using your hands to pat down, spread the mixture evenly across the base and approximately 4 cm up the sides of the tin to create a pie crust. Use a silicone spatula or the back of a wooden spoon to flatten and smooth the mixture. Try to create a smooth surface & even thickness.
  5. The crust will set quickly if placed it in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  6. While crust is firming up, in a high-speed blender or food processor, blitz all the fudge filling ingredients until a smooth thick frosting-textured mix has come together.
  7. In a small mixing bowl combine ganache ingredients and mix well until a smooth and shiny pie topping has formed.
  8. Using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, fill the pie crust with the filling and smooth the surface out.
  9. Spoon ganache over the top. Decorate with fresh berries and edible flowers, if using.

*This recipe, as shared on my Instagram account was, made originally as a collaboration with Mud and if you use food grade bentonite clay, you can try adding a teaspoon or two to the fudge filling. You wont notice any taste or texture alteration. 

 

 

GDPR: The European Union’s General Data Protection regulation, compliance & how it may affect blogs

Are you as confused as I am about the implementation of GDPR and what it means for you as a blogger (or reader of blogs)? The EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will officially come into effect tomorrow, May 25, 2018. And, to be quite honest, I don’t know what all the possible implications for me will be, especially as my blog is not monetised, I don’t actively “market” and I don’t sell product. But, on a personal level, I assume I’ll be receiving less email!

For all of us in Sweden, GDPR will replace the Swedish Personal Data Act. Apparently there are similarities between these two regulations, but under GDPR individual rights will be strengthened and companies will be subject to more restrictions when processing personal data. If you’d like to read the European Union’s entire legislative act for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), you can find it here. If, like me, you have neither the time nor inclination, here’s the skinny version:

Basically, GDPR will reinforce what professional marketers already do: i.e., sending marketing material only to those who opt in, while keeping personal data secure and safe.

What this means for businesses is, no doubt, a lot more complicated than what it means for individuals like me. From an article by The Verge entitled No one’s ready for GDPR:

‘For companies that have operated under the principle of “extract as much data as possible and figure it out later,” reorganizing under GDPR is a lot like an episode of Hoarders, especially one of those episodes where the hoarder doesn’t finish cleaning and everyone sort of falls apart crying at the end.’

For my part, I feel it necessary to add my own statement about GDPR as it may pertain to this blog, just to be on the safe side. MJ Mallon has scripted one that I’ve tweaked slightly in part for the purposes of simplicity and because she has succinctly included information that I believe could be relevant to this matter.

Email subscribers, I hope this issue will not affect you. Please pop back if you don’t hear from me in a while!

❤ Marisa x

Image Ⓒ cybersecuritycoalition.be


Your privacy and my GDPR compliance

Any cookies on my website are used to ensure normal website functions. These cookies cannot be switched off because the website wouldn’t function properly without them. However, it is my understanding that these identifiers do not store any personal data.

When you leave a comment on this blog WordPress will automatically store your Gravatar name, IP address, comment and email address. Leaving a comment is considered a definite intention, as defined by the GDPR, giving me consent to store this information, and permission to contact you in the future (if only to respond to your comment via this blog).

But please rest assured that your personal information will not be sold or shared with any third parties under any circumstances. If you wish me to remove your comment and associated data for any reason, please get in touch.

If for whatever reason you do not consent to the above, please don’t leave a comment on my blog.

ALL-VEG EDAMAME PASTA WITH FRESH TOMATO, KALE & OLIVE SAUCE (gluten-free, 100% plant-based)… and a work-life update

Before we get to this most simple and tasty of pasta recipes, I want to chat about a couple of things (skip ahead if this bores you, I don’t mind!). Firstly, I have been sadly absent here for far too long. As always, when I am away from this blog for any length of time, I miss it. As someone who doesn’t obsess in the least over SEOs, stats and such (I might if this blog was monetized, but as it is not…), I feel that I can share virtually anything in this space related to my passions and my life, and it’s ok. I have no anxieties about clicking publish (other than my typo-phobia) and maybe that’s one of the perks of having a 7-year relationship with a completely organically evolving, non-strategic blog; not money from ad revenue, but the gift of freedom of expression. In any case, my absence is justified and has been necessary on account of time (lack thereof). And no, I am not about to spring another pregnancy announcement on you, however something has certainly been in a kind of creative gestation period… a phase that is coming to a close as I type these words.

I have been working on my first cookbook! 😮

It’s something I have talked a little about on Instagram, but as my manuscript is with my editor and things are still being finalised in terms of the design, I am yet to do the big TA-DA! In fact, I honestly can’t fathom it, even after months of loving dedication and intense hard graft. My head and reality are not quite in sync about it just yet.

I have also worked as a food stylist and recipe creator for two of my fave brands, IKEA and Friggs, and have continued to submit magazine articles on the regular (on that, if you happen to live in Scandinavia, I have several recipes in the current issue of Glutenfri Matlust Magazine). I have renewed my contract with Royal Caribbean (yay!), so that means more traveling, shooting (and eating!) food this year, and I have already spent a week aboard Symphony of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, sampling and capturing the culinary offerings. Literally all of these opportunities were on my 2018 wish list, so the gratitude is immense.

Simultaneously, the self-imposed pressure to live up to my own expectations (let alone what I assume to be the expectations of others), an absolutely unprecedented hormonal freak out that my body decided to have post-weaning Oliver (I am still moving through that) and a string of illnesses and accidents concerning my children (of which broken bones and chickenpox are just two), have meant not enough sleep, too much coffee and the inevitable stress snowball effect that comes with the everything-at-once conundrum. Yep. That old chestnut. Again. I bore myself with it, believe me.

Right now I am doing what I can to nourish myself back into some semblance of balance and normalcy. I see a LOT of posts on Instagram along the lines of “Do you struggle with ….? I hear you. I did too. And now that I am super successful, I want to share my secrets with you! Just sign up for/click the link for/swipe up for… etc.” I’m going to be honest. This might not be inspirational. It certainly isn’t the ‘living the dream’ quick fix solution I am sure sells well for others because that’s what the vast majority of people probably want to buy. But I haven’t cracked the code of ‘freelance WAHM life’. And I am not trying to sell you anything either. For now, freelance life for me is very much a process of going with the flow and learning from every stumble, every little victory, each mistake and all challenges faced and (hopefully) overcome. And just maybe I’ll have my rough edges polished off over time and my desk will morph into something Pinterest-worthy. Or maybe I am stuck with being the creative go hard or go home (figuratively, as I work from home!) type. When I’m engaged in a project – whatever it is – I do it with my whole heart and all my creative energy. That is a good thing. I think. Well, at the very least I suppose it means I give a damn… and at best it means I love the process and that I am genuinely invested in my clients. I truly think that it’s the latter.

The downside? I find it hard to step back. I have a tendency to criticise the 💩 out of everything I do. I check. I recheck. I can get obsessively bogged down in little things. And, whereas I used to have a manager saying “Marisa, go home.”/”Don’t work on weekends.”/”Why are you eating lunch at your desk?”/”You really have to start saying no.”, now it’s up to me. And, left to my own devices, I realise I haven’t been the kindest of self-managers.

A serious physical manifestation of my hormonal issues (exacerbated by stress) landed me in my doctor’s office a few weeks back. Whilst there, it was suggested to me that I should also see a psychologist as, according to some scale, I am (or rather was on that day, at least) “mildly to moderately depressed”. Believing my situation to be temporary and seeing the possibility that my recent anxiety flare-ups were intrinsically linked to my hormonal imbalance issues, my doctor nevertheless deemed it an issue worth addressing (albeit in a non-medicated way). I decided to follow her advice. And, lo and behold, talking things through also helps. It doesn’t fix perinatal anxiety or post-breastfeeding “blues”, of course. But it does help in terms of perspective… and breaking the isolation of it all. Funny how communicating with other humans does that, eh?

I mentioned in one of many Instagram rambles lately that I was struggling with certain aspects of my health and wellbeing. Long-time trusted friend and connection Julia, a naturopath and nutritional medicine practitioner (and owner of Julia Michelle health clinic in Melbourne), stepped in with the most timely assistance ever. I was literally in the final proofreading stages of my manuscript when she said “We should chat!”. Post-conversation with her, I’ve started taking supplements, upping my water intake, reducing my coffee consumption, adding more protein to my meals and generally being more mindful about how I am treating myself. It will be interesting to compare this cycle to the last one, of which the PMS stage was traumatic to the point where I found myself on the phone to a mental health services line that my husband called for me in an I-don’t-know-what-to-do-to-help-you-panic (I certainly won’t be calling that number again for a stress and PMS-induced anxiety attack!). I can safely say that things have gotten steadily better over the past three weeks. Or rather, they seem to have stabilised somewhat. Which is the same thing, as far as I am concerned. My doctor believes it is only a matter of time (and consistent better self-care) before my hormones have found their new normal after years of pregnancies and breastfeeding (and no periods).

And so, I just keep on keeping on. Trying to be a little kinder to myself and practicing what I already know works. More sleep, more sunshine, more downtime, more water, better self-care, quality time with loved ones, time set aside for doing enjoyable things, more movement, good nutrition. The simple things work, as always.

Is this an opportune moment to segue into a nourishing yet time-saving recipe? I think it could be…

❤ from a slightly better-rested Miss Marzipan x

EDAMAME PASTA WITH FRESH TOMATO, KALE & OLIVE SAUCE

Gluten-free, 100% plant-based

This pasta sauce is so tasty, so simple and very customisable. The sauce is a variation of one that I have been making for years. If you’d like to see this recipe ‘in action’, there’s a stories highlight I created on Instagram (from about 18 weeks back).

1 packet edamame pasta (or pasta of choice)
10-12 ripe plum tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp olive oil

A bunch of kale, washed, trimmed of the woodiest stems and chopped roughly
Kalamata olives (as many as you like… be generous!)
Chilli flakes, optional
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Fresh basil

DIRECTIONS

  1. Simply take the tomatoes, cut them in half width ways and place them cut side down in a deep frying pan (one with a lid) over medium heat.
  2. Add a splash of olive oil and the garlic.
    Place the lid on and allow the tomatoes to cook for around 10-15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, sauté the kale in a pan over medium high heat for around 2 minutes, then set it to the side.
  4. Prepare your edamame pasta according to directions.
  5. Use tongs to lift the skins off the tomatoes and give your tomatoes a mash to create the sauce. Add the olives and kale and stir through. Season the sauce to taste (chilli flakes are a wonderful addition).
  6. Spoon a generous amount of sauce onto each portion of pasta. Scatter over a few fresh basil leaves and serve immediately. Enjoy!

 

 

*I want to be clear, as always, that I share my personal experiences here in an anecdotal fashion for the purpose of transparency and ‘connecting’, and not to medically advise anyone. I am not ‘anti-medication’ or ‘pro-medication’. I am pro-getting-the-right-help-depending-on-individual-and-circumstance (and doing so with assistance from qualified professionals if need be). I am pro-feeling better.