Carola de Kanter is a Dutch television cook and recipe developer and I remember her from when I was way younger. I always enjoyed watching her cook on television although I don’t remember anymore what she was cooking at that time. The other day she appeared on Dutch television again with a really beautiful cookbook. Carola has an enviable cooking studio ”Caatensteyn” in the Netherlands with a beautiful greenhouse, vegetable garden, orchard and fruit yard. Her new book Leafs seems to be based entirely on her beautiful environment. This cookbook shows from the first page that Carola is a lady with an impressive background as a television cook and recipe developer.
The reason that I’m reviewing a cookbook that is not entirely plant-based is simply because this is not a standard vegetarian cookbook. First of all, the emphasis in this cookbook is on vegetables, fruits and herbs. And secondly, almost all recipes are with a small adjustment easy to prepare vegan as well. The book also contains a good amount of completely vegan recipe options. How great is it that there are more and more cookbooks being published with a focus on healthier products such as vegetables?
Carola’s book gives you a beautiful peek into her (enviable) vegetable garden that is surrounding her cooking studio. Carola is (therefore) cooking according to the seasons. In her book Leafs she takes you through the seasons of the year. In addition, she gives you (seasonal) tips on how you can maintain your vegetable garden. You can imagine, I need a vegetable garden now…..
The best thing about her book Leafs is the fact that the recipes are quite simple to prepare (don’t be fooled by the beautiful photography).
You might wonder if it’s possible to cook out of her book without owning a vegetable garden, right? Yes, you can. Vegetables, fruits and herbs are the basis of her book and the other ingredients can be found in a local toko (Indonesian shop or any Asian store) or a whole food store. However, Carola cooks beyond her own vegetable garden and greenhouse and likes to discover new ingredients to experiment with, and she finds this in a local toko. She also gives tips on the cultivation and processing of certain products, and even if you don’t have a vegetable garden, you can get started with a small spot on your balcony or window sill.
With accessible recipes Carola shows how to make a tasty meal with vegetables as the key ingredients on your plate. She cooks with special flavors and combinations that you probably have not seen or tasted before.
Such as white or green asparagus with a Japanese dressing. Or elder blossoms served as tempura in May and June. Green peas with a foam of coriander. Have you ever combined peach with basil? In the colder months you will find recipes like a warming pear quiche or pearl barley with mushrooms.
The book does not contain many sweet recipes, but the sweet recipes are delicious and often plant-based too. Such as aqua faba or a pulled jackfruit sandwich.
The photography in this book is beautiful so you can easily leave this book on your coffee table if you wish. At first I was only looking at the pictures that create such a beautiful atmosphere. Leafs is a wonderful book if you like interesting combinations of flavors and if you like to transform your “basic products” into an exciting recipe.
I’m allowed to share three delicious recipes from Leafs with you: the ”Elderberry Syrup Mojito”, ”Aquafaba Meringue” and ”Pavlova with Gooseberries”.
Photography Mitchell van Voorbergen
Elderberry Syrup Mojito
”This is an alcohol-free cocktail that looks beautiful and will make you keep drinking. I like to serve the cocktail prior to a cooking class which makes it always a success.”
- ice cubes or crushed ice
- elderflower syrup
- a handful of fresh mint
- 4 drops of rose water
- 1 bottle of water
Fill 4 beautiful glasses half with the crushed ice. Add elderberry syrup to taste and add a drop of rose water in each glass. Fill with sparkling water. Divide the mint leaves into the glasses.
”Instead of rose water you can also use a slice of lime and some lime juice. If you want to prepare a larger amount of cocktails, use normal water. It’s such a pity when the bubbles fade. And if you would like to serve this drink but don’t want to make the elder blossom syrup yourself? No problem. It’s also available in shops, but home made is ofcourse best.”
Photography Mitchell van Voorbergen
Pavlova with Gooseberries
”For this cake you will use the meringue recipe of aquafaba, foam of chickpeas liquid. That doesn’t sound really attractive, but try it out, because it’s truly delicious.”
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 600 gr thick coconut yoghurt
- agave or maple syrup, to taste
- 1 pie crust size amount of aquafaba
- 400-500 gr of gooseberries
- 25 gr of pure chocolate
Stir the vanilla extract with the yogurt and season the yoghurt with the agave or maple syrup. Spoon the yoghurt on the cake bottom. Halve the gooseberries and divide them over the yogurt. Rasp some of the chocolate.
”This is just magic: so easy and yet such a great result. Aquafaba, or bean water, has many features that resemble egg white and can therefore be used as a replacement. You can use the liquid of chickpeas, but also of lentils or peas. This can be the liquid from cans or jars, but also the cooking fluid when you cook the beans yourself. I have the best results with the liquid of chickpeas from a glass jar. Buy the chickpeas with a thicker liquid, not with a thinner one. Use the chickpeas to make a nice hummus.”
- 200 g of chickpeas moisture
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 200 g powdered sugar
Put the chickpeas liquid in a bowl of your kitchen machine or a normal bowl if you use a batter mixer. Add the vanilla extract. Blend the chickpeas liquid firmly, start at a low position and gradually accelerate. Add the sugar if the moisture is white and firm. Continue until you can make beautiful white peaks. Preheat the oven to 100 Celsius degrees. Spoon heaps of foam on baking paper. Now dry the foam in the oven. This takes about one and a half hours. Then turn off the oven, but allow the foam to dry. Only remove the meringues from the oven if the foam feels firm.
Carola de Kanter
Publisher Good Cook