The Meaning of it All

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I started writing a text about summer food. About being offline and trying to unwind. A happy text about nothing of importance, really. With too many sad reports on the news recently, finding meaning in these short texts can sometimes be difficult.
Millions of refugees keep filling up camps in countries around Syria. Or climb onto small boats in Libya hoping that they will make it across the Mediterranean sea. Meanwhile, prejudices, hate and racism are on the rise both in the US and here in Europe. So how can we make a blog post about summer food feeling meaningful at all?

Luise and I often talk about this. I am sure everyone does. This feeling of wanting to do more but not being sure what, or how to do it. A recipe can seem so irrelevant in the midst of it all. It looks like we might get involved in some voluntary work in relation the refugee situation in Syria within the next couple of months. But until then, we are trying to see meaningfulness around us.

The truth is of course that food does matter. It is important, in many more ways than just for our physical survival. Food is memories, heritage, happiness, family and food is love. Food gathers people around a table and makes us talk. Many of our best memories are connected with food. We solve problems over food. We celebrate. We become friends. So maybe a food blog isn’t that meaningless. Food is after all more than just a recipe.

And talking about meaning. Another truth that Luise and I try to live by, is that the most responsible thing we can do at the moment is infusing our children with kindness. Talking to them about how it never will matter how much money you have, the colour of your skin, if you are a man or a woman, where you are born or who you choose to love. We are all humans. And we are all equal. If we can all just pass that on to our children, they will hopefully grow old in a world with less hate and fear and more love than the one we are currently living in.
By writing this text, I have also passed that simple message on to you. Prepare the recipe in today’s blog post, share the meal with your friends or family and talk about the importance of kindness. It might be a cliche, but we believe it is one worth sharing.

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This is a simple summer dinner that we did the other day after we had prepared a large batch of the Egyptian spice blend Dukkah. Calling the meal simple might be a slight exaggeration as you actually have to prepare the spice blend as well as making the rest of the dinner. But it will be worth it. You will find that Dukkah can be added to an infinite amount of meals this summer. It carries a lot of flavour and adds both richness and crunch to whatever you pair it with. There are lots of Dukkah recipes to be found online so instead of adding yet another to the mix, we are simply sharing a slightly adapted version of Yotam and Sami’s brilliant Dukkah from their Jerusalem book.

In this recipe the Dukkah is generously sprinkled over roasted summer carrots and onions that rest on a bed of herby quinoa with a creamy feta cheese and yogurt spread on the side. Any roasted vegetables can of course be added to this meal and they can just as well be grilled on a bbq. It’s a summery, creamy, very flavourful and absolutely delicious dish. And hopefully more than that. Enjoy!

Much love and happy summer!
David, Luise, Elsa & Isac

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Roasted Carrots with Dukkah, Quinoa & Feta Yogurt Cream
Serves 4

Oven roasted summer carrots & onions
1 lb / 500 g (approx. 8 large) carrots
4 onions, shallots or red onions
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
sea salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F. Scrub the carrots under water and trim off the top greens. Cut the carrots lengthwise if they are thick (and keep thin carrots whole). Place on a baking tray. Peel off the outer layer of the onion and trim the top off. Cut into large chunks. Place on the baking tray next to the carrots. Stir together oil, maple, salt and pepper and drizzle over the vegetables, toss to cover. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until tender.

Herby Quinoa
1 cup / 170 g uncooked quinoa (or 2 1/2 cups pre-cooked)
1 large handful flat leave parsley
a generous drizzle of olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
sea salt & black pepper

Place rinsed quinoa in a saucepan, add water and salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat immediately and let simmer for about 10-15 minutes, set aside and let cool. Chop parsley and stir through the quinoa together with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Feta & Yogurt Cream
5 oz / 150 g feta cheese
1 cup / 250 ml plain yogurt
sea salt & black pepper

Place feta cheese in a mixing bowl and mash with a fork, add yogurt and combine until creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste, set aside.

Dukkah spice blend
(adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi)

1/2 cup / 70 g hazelnuts
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
3 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp nigella seeds
½ tsp sea salt

Preheat the oven to 160°C / 320°F. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking tray and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until cracked and golden.

Meanwhile heat a skillet or frying pan to medium heat. Add sunflower seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds and cumin and dry roast for no more than a minutes while stirring. Now add sesame seeds and nigella seeds and keep stirring until the sesame seeds turns light brown, it takes about 30 seconds. Set aside and add salt.

Rub the hazelnuts between the palms of your hands (or a towel) to remove and discard some of the skin. Place all ingredients in a pestle and mortar and coarsely crush the spice blend. Store in an airtight container for up to a month.

Assembling:
Spread the quinoa in a serving dish or on a large platter. Arrange the oven roasted carrots and onions on top. Spoon the feta and yogurt cream into a small bowl and place in the dish. Sprinkle the vegetables with a generous amount of Dukkah. Serve.

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