Whether you are travelling to a Paris cafe or to your local inn’s tavern, it’s fun to go out for a bit and experience positive ambiance. Tasting the culinary flavours of Europe, or any country, builds a layer in your library of senses. It is a very handy tool to use in the kitchen, at home, when thinking of cozy holiday recipes. Inspired by English pies, we piled spinach into a beautiful teatime crust. Rich little desserts are simple to make and last the week. They remind me of pretty Italian dishes brought out after dinner. A smooth sweetness paired with fresh fruit is entirely lovely. They are handy to set out when friends pop by, and for relaxing with velvety licorice tea during the evening’s unwinding time. The Small Valentine here is our Greatest Love! Sharing healthy, beautiful, garden fresh food with children is endlessly amazing. Conversations and moods brighten with warm teatime surprises. Paper hearts are exchanged, followed by cuddles, smiles, hugs, and kisses. Simplicity is complex with happy tones. Food made with love feels good in the soul. Happy Valentine’s weekend! ~Love, Amor Milagre
Cinnamon Salted Chocolate Raisin Almonds
Warm or cold, these lovely little bites are sure to entice. The flavours unfold slowly, allowing appreciation for every stage of recognition. For children, just raisins and nuts, no cacao yet, but no nuts for very young ones until they’re ready. Be ready for allergies, too.
Non-GMO, organic, vegan ingredients:
Arrange some raisins and almonds on a non-stick pan, and sprinkle over a pinch of pink Himalayan Salt. On the stove, on low heat, hover a heat-safe bowl over simmering water in a small pot. Slowly melt a cup or so of dark cacao nibs or a broken up cacao bar. When lovely and pourable, add a tsp of cinnamon and stir. Pour over the raisins and almonds, drizzling, until all the cacao is transferred. (It’s nice to have some almost bare almonds, too). Eat warm, or chill in the refrigerator until firm. Carefully crack with a knife on a cutting board, making little pieces. Set them on a plate for dessert with fruit. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. (This simple recipe lends itself well to more warm spices, too.)
For this vegetable pie, the ginger can be sliced fresh from the root or used as a powder. Fresh spices are important, too. There is a local spice business here, which is very nice for refreshing our spice cabinet when they have gone stale. We’ve been trying out a new one, called za’atar, an ancient Mediterranean / Middle Eastern spice that helps improve memory, something we all could benefit from. It means ‘thyme.’ It’s usually dried in the sun and eaten with pita that is dipped in olive oil, then into this spice.
You can make your own za’atar spice at home:
Non-GMO, organic, fresh, local, vegan ingredients:
Combine1 tbsp each of: Ground Cumin, Chopped Fresh Thyme/Oregano or Chopped dried Hyssop Leaves, Sumac, Sesame Seeds. Stir in 1 tsp each of: Pink Himalayan Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper. This makes around 1/4 cup. Store in an air tight container.
It smells and tastes wonderful! Use it for vegetables, grilling, roasting, salads, breads, and pies like this! We love growing hyssop in the garden as the bees adore them, the seeds are easy to collect, spread, and store once they dry on the plant. We make hyssop tea, which has a licorice flavour that I love. Fennel seeds can also be used, which also have a licorice flavour.
Ginger Spinach Vegetable Pie
Sweet ginger and shallots love and hug every ingredient in this pie. When we want an extra feeling of home and comfort, a pie like this is transcendent.
Non-GMO, organic, fresh, local, vegan ingredients:
Use our vegan pie crust recipe to make 2 crusts: 3 C Spelt Flour (Or einkorn flour or your favourite flour), 2 tsp Pink Himalayan Salt, 1 1/4 C Vegan Shortening, 8-10 tbsp Very Cold Water. Divide into 2 and press one into a pie dish with lightly floured hands. Press out the other on a lightly floured, flippable non-stick surface, and save for the top of the pie. (Add a little extra flour if too sticky.)
Line the bottom crust with a large pile of spinach. Add on top a lightly sautéed combination of: Chopped carrot, turnip, parsnip, 2 shallots, 2 cloves garlic, 2 stalks of celery, a pinch of za’atar spice, pink Himalayan salt, cinnamon, and 1-2 tsp of chopped or powder ginger, some water to make everything like a gravy, and some of the same vegan shortening used for the crust (mostly made of sustainable coconut oil, not hydrogenated oil, no dairy, etc). The sauté is moist yet kind of crispy at the same time. It softens more as it bakes. When you think you cannot add any more spinach, go ahead an add more spinach on top. It cooks down as the pie steams everything. Add the top crust, crimp the edges, and cut a few slits in the top. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until your pie crust is golden.
This pie beautifully scents your home. Everyone reads lovely stories as we wait in happy anticipation of this glorious simple pleasure.
A cup of tea by the fireplace, at the inn down the road, makes a cozy Valentine’s Day for our family. If more places had local, organic, affordable, plant-based dishes in their menus, we would love to explore them. The local inn is one of two places we’ve seen near us that has started to have even just a few organic, locally grown ingredients. But, they mix them with not organic & not local foods, so it’s not helpful for us when trying to dine out. You want to feel well after a meal out. We always feel well after a meal at home. When we’re ready for it, a little later in our lives, we’ll invite everyone to the Amor Milagre Cafe, that serves beautiful, fresh food, grown on site, in our organic gardens. I’ve been designing it for ages now, and it’s always been a part of my company design plan. It’s all connected. To the Love of Nature!