Home Made Pasta and Semolina Cake

Pasta
IMG_2387If I told you that making pasta is easy, that it takes very little time and ingredients and that you don’t need a single machine to make it would you believe me? Well you don’t have to. Here is the deal, you take flour, salt and water and you make a dough that sticks together and is easy to knead. You form a ball, and wrap it in plastic or put it under an upside down bowl. Let it rest for an hour or less if you don’t have that much time and then roll it out using a rolling pin. Cut it in the shape you would like and set it on a clean and dry kitchen towel to dry. You can also hang it on a wooden stick. After you are done rolling and cutting you can either let it dry a bit or cook it right away in a large pan of boiling water with a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil until al dente. Make sure that the sauce is already done so that your pasta doesn’t have to wait for the sauce.

This is a very easy, not very messy and it tastes a zillion times better than anything store bought.
Try mixing different sorts of flours. For the pasta in the picture I used white spelt and semolina. Don’t be concerned with measurements, for more pasta use more flour and water and for less pasta less. It works!
Besides creating delicious pasta this is a beautifully artistic activity, and just like with bread it connects you with your food in a very basic way.

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Yesterday I was going to make Baklava, but I didn’t have filo. My husband volunteered to go to the store and buy some, but in the time he was gone I made this Semolina Almond Orange Cake with the ingredients I had at home. It came out really well, but it was even better today, when the orange syrup had been absorbed into the cake and the tastes had blended.

Semolina Almond Orange Cake

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Semolina Almond Orange Cake
3/4 c. almond flour
1 c. semolina
1 c. white flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 rice syrup
8 tbs. sucanat
the rasp of one orange
1/4 soy yogurt
1/2 c. soy milk

Syrup

3/4 c. rice syrup or honey
the juice of one orange
a handful of peeled pistachios
a handful of walnuts
a handful of raisins
1 tbs. rose water

-mix the dry ingredients in a bowl
-mix the wet ingredients in another bowl
-add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients
-pour batter in a round cake pan, in which the bottom has been covered with wax paper and the sides have been oiled
-bake for about 30 minutes at 175* centigrades
-in the mean time put all the syrup ingredients in a small pan and bring them to a boil.
-after the cake is done make tiny wholes tooth pick or sate stick and pour the syrup with the nuts and raisins
-let it cool completely

 

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Real Food

Buckwheat Pilaf

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I love when food looks like food, when it doesn’t pretend to be something else, when it is not ornamented with weird contraptions, when the end product is clearly traceable to its original source, when it smells like it was cooked by people, when the process is not hidden, when it is art not because it has “make-up” on but because it is so beautiful, natural, colorful, delicious, nourishing and satisfying that it fills me with a sense of wonder for the transformative power and imagination that we people have to keep ourselves alive with the wonderful and pure products that nature so abundantly provides us with.
Here are two very, very simple dishes I made this week, which I thought were so simple and attractive that there were worth sharing

Buckwheat Pilaf
2 cups of buckwheat rinsed
2 1/4 cups water
2 tbs. olive oil
1 onion cut in small cubes
2 or 3 garlic cloves minced
1 large carrot diced
1 cube of vegetable bouillon
1 tsp. turmeric powder
a pinch of saffron
a handful of currants
a handful of roasted pine nuts

-in a deep pan warm the olive oil
-add the garlic, stir and quickly after add the onion
-stir a bit at medium fire
-add the carrots, the vegetable bouillon cube(crumbled), the turmeric and the saffron
-saute a bit, then add the buckwheat
-saute a bit more and add the water and a pinch of salt
-bring to a boil, lower the heat and place a flame deflector under the pan
-cook covered for about 20 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed and the buckwheat is cooked
-turn off fire
-add the currants and pine nuts and mix gently with a fork
-garnish with lots of parsley and tomatoes chopped in small cubes
-serve with a salad and a nice glass of white wine

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Potato Mash with Mushroom Garnish

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Mashed Potatoes with Mushroom Garnish

a buch of potatoes
olive oil
sea salt
4 cups of sliced or chopped mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic minced
1/4 cup soy milk

-boil the potatoes until they are soft
-get rid of the cooking water and pure the potatoes with a hand blender, adding salt and a generous(reasonably generous) amount of olive oil and about a tsp. of salt to create a very smooth puree
-put puree in a baking form, make it flat and smooth and drizzle with a bit of olive oil, and soy milk
-sprinkle with black pepper
-bake at 200* c. for about 15 minutes or until it begins to get a nice toasty color on top
-take out of the oven and sprinkle the sautéed mushrooms on top

Mushrooms
-saute the mushrooms with the garlic and olive oil until the liquid has disappeared and they have become quite dry.

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Pear Upside-Down Cake with a New Blog Look!

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Upside Down
I lived in a funny town 
Where everything was upside down!
The birds walked and the humans flew
Where the trees were totally blue!
Trees talked and laughed a lot
They stole each other’s fruit and fought
The bear was gentle, kind and sweet
He never ever ate raw meat!
Fishes went to school in a pool
Where a frog principal ruled.
Water was blue and the sky flew
And told me in life always be true!

By: Rosy, Tulika, Nikitar

Another Quick Post from one Busy Girl to Cyber Space
Pear Upside-Down Cake
If you’re into moist fruity cakes like I am this upside down cake will please you.

Cake:
3/4 cup whole spelt flour
1/2 cup white spelt flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp.baking soda
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup light olive oil
1 cup maple or rice syrup
vanilla

Glaze:
2 or 3 medium pears cut in half then thinly sliced
1/2 cup pear or apple juice
1 tbs. rice syrup
1 1/2 tbs arrowroot dissolved in 1/4 cup of the juice mentioned above
dusting of cinnamon

Cake:
-preheat oven to 180*
-Prepare a round cake pan by covering the bottom with wax paper and oiling it with about 1 tsp. olive oil and greasing the sides
-in a bowl mix all dry ingredients
-in another bowl mix all the wet ingredients
-mix wet ingredients with dry ingredients
-drizzle the baking pan with about 2 extra tbs. of maple syrup and spread evenly
-place the pears gracefully in the prepared cake pan
-then pour the batter evenly on top
-bake for about 30-40 minutes until a knife inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean
-cool the cake and the invert onto a serving plate, peel the wax paper off carefully

Glaze:
-in a small pan heat up the juice and syrup
-add the 1/4 cup of juice with arrowroot and stir until it becomes thick and shiny
-brush, or gently evenly pour the thickened juice on top of the cake and sprinkle with cinnamon

One word of advice: don’t do what we do at or house and devour the cake before it is cooled off, it will not only leave you with an unpleasantly burned throat, but it won’t taste nearly as good. Wait until the cake has cooled down, it will be worth it!

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The Onion Pie

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Yes I am still alive, and realizing how much I miss my blog!

I won’t go into all the gory details of my hectic life, but I will tell you that we had a great Oktoberfest way back in october. This fall I have tasted the best apples ever, which I picked up off the ground of my friend Caroline’s drive way in some little village near Oxford.

Teaching school kids is an all consuming activity, which unfortunately keeps me from indulging in this totally wonderful process of cooking. Nevertheless even my school kids can’t escape my cooking frenzy and I have them writing a cook book in English(they are all Dutch).

This time I am bringing you an onion pie, and I know it will make you forgive my absence, since it is so delicious and easy to make.

The Onion Pie

2 cups of flour(white with some whole wheat or spelt)
This time I added 1 tbs. of powdered flaxseeds1 tsp. sea salt, but this optional
1 tbs. arrowroot
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup of water(or maybe a bit more if the dough is too dry)

-combine the dry ingredients in a bowl
-add the wet ingredients and form into a ball.
-on a smooth counter surface covered with a bit of wax paper, stretch the dough with a rolling pin and put it on an oven pie dish
-poke some holes with a fork and bake at 180* for about 10-15 minutes
-when it is done you can proceed to cover it with the onions

Filling

about 6 medium onions cut in thin half moons
2 tbs. olive oil
1 bay leaf
sea salt
olives for garnish
sun dried tomatoes for garnish

-warm the olive oil in a large pan and saute the onions with the sea salt and bay leaf.
-cook the onions stirring regularly and let them caramelize.
-they are ready when they become really sweet, soft and shiny
-spread the onions evenly on the baked pie crust and garnish with the olives and sun dried tomatoes if you like.

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Lady in Black

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Oh how good it feels to go back to my kitchen after days of being busy making lesson plans and grading tests for my seventh, eighth and ninth graders. Although I haven’t been as frequent with my blog posts as I had been I have not been totally neglecting my culinary obsession, since I have also been preparing and planning for the Pop-up Restaurant Amsterdam, which of course everyone has written down under October 5th in their calendars. This event will be great fun, we have very tasty dishes in the planning, great home brewed beer and a good share of live German Oktoberfest (dance) music. So please stop by if you happen to be in Amsterdam on this day.

Today’s recipe is Black Quinoa. I would really recommend that you give this mysteriously beautiful grain a try, most likely it will pleasantly surprise you. Not only is black quinoa as nutritious as its white counterpart, but it has a deliciously nutty taste and texture which is unique and perfect for pilaffs, salads and surely a bunch of other things which I am planning to discover in the future.
I opted to go easy on myself and not work too hard, actually for this recipe I didn’t work hard at all. But the result is this exotic, elegant, crunchy and super healthy tasty pilaff, which will “exotify” (as in making it exotic, I just added a new word to the English language) any meal of which it becomes part of.

Very important for the success of this dish is the fact that this morning I went to the farmer’s market and bought some succulent fresh vegetables, which made the end result embarrassingly easy, since it was merely a matter of inviting these characters to mingle with each other. You could use white or red quinoa for this dish, but really, black quinoa is worth the trip to the health food store.

Black Quinoa Pilaff
2 cups black quinoa
3 cups water
the juice of 1lemon
3 tbs olive oil
a pinch of salt
the corn kernels of 2 cobs blanched
a handful of flat leaf parsley
5 or 6 of the best pomodori you could possibly find cut in medium size pieces

-in a pan with a thick bottom cook the quinoa with water and a pinch of salt
-lower the flame when it begins to boil and use a flame deflector
-cook for about 20 minutes at low flame
-in a cup mix the lemon juice, olive oil with a pinch of salt
-place the quinoa in a dish and mix in the olive oil dressing
-add the rest of the ingredients and mix gently
-serve!

I served the black quinoa with tempeh sticks with mustard sauce, sauerkraut and lightly blanched greens

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Oktoberfest

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I like feasts and I am crazy about the colorful, breezy, unpredictable month of October, adding those two things together equals Oktoberfest!
On october 5th the Pop-up Restaurant Amsterdam, which is my excuse for creating a food party and getting to know lots of new people, is presenting my version of Oktoberfest. Of course this event is somewhat inspired by the big october happening in Munich and although we’ll be brewing several sorts of beers for this occasion, making our own sauerkraut and mustard as well providing an appropriate dosage of Ompaah Blasmusik our Oktoberfest is not necessarily about the beer or about Germany, but about celebrating the fall, life and enjoying delicious vegan foods with new and old friends.

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On this edition of Pop-up Restaurant Amsterdam I will be working with my friend and wonderful vegan chef Alexander Gershberg

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Cyrille van Poucke will be in charge of the brewing as well as the music.

Our location is the Museum Kromhout in Amsterdam, a charming, industrial location in the center of the city, which has proven to lend itself perfectly for Pop-up Restaurant Amsterdam events.

I hope to see those of you who happen to be hanging out in Amsterdam or surroundings around that time and that you can come celebrate with us.

The Cooking Angels

Sometimes one just has to let someone else do the cooking. Maybe that someone cooks so well that if one insists in doing all the cooking one would be terribly missing out on some major yumminess, or maybe the others are really good at preparing quick lunches with the ingredients that are around at moments when one has to spend hours at the computer preparing lesson plans for the impending and fast approaching school year. I will be starting a new job at a Waldorf School teaching English as a foreign language, and although I am really looking forward to it, in combination with my cooking activities it will be quite a handful. So I am very relieved to be able to count on these cooking angles with whom I share a home, to regularly lavish me with delicious wholesome treats and wonderful meals.

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Yesterday my husband made a wonderful rice dish for lunch, with fresh vegetables from the farmer’s market. He made it in such a way that the vegetables remained colourful and vibrant, but at the same time were cooked long enough to impart loads of flavour to the dish; specially the whole cherry tomatoes were a special surprise.

Farmer’s Market Veggie Rice
about 3 cups of cooked brown rice(left over is perfect)
1 or 2 onions cubed
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 large carrot cut in small pieces
1 red bell pepper cubed small
1 cup of brad beans
1 leek cut fine
about a cup of cherry tomatoes
a bunch of black olive
sea salt
pepper
paprika
2 tbs.tamari
2 tbs. mirin

-sauté the onions and garlic in a broad cooking pan with a bit of olive oil(about 2 tbs) and a pinch of salt
-add the veggies one group at the time starting with the carrots
-add the red bell peppers, the broad beans and leeks and stir a bit
-add the paprika powder and the tomatoes with a pinch of salt and cook a bit, stirring but don’t bruise the tomatoes
-add the olives and the rice, stir a bit and add the mirin and tamari
-cook at low and medium fire stirring to make it cook evenly and prevent burning
-after about 10 minutes turn off the fire and served garnished with spring

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Chocolate Banana Nutcase
210 gram mixed ground nuts (about 3 cups)
1 small cup fine polenta
1 cup cacao powder
1 3/4 cup palm sugar
2 tablespoons maca
3 tablespoons chia seeds
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 bananas well mashed
3 tablespoons coconut butter melted
1 1/2 tablespoon butter(substitute for melted coconut oil)
1/4 cup coconut milk
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoon grated ginger

-combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl
-in another bowl combine all the wet ingredients including the banana
-mix the wet and dry
-prepare an oven try by covering it with baking paper
-spread the batter evenly on the tray and bake it for about 15 minutes at 180* C

My oldest daughter Ella took care of dessert today. She is a fantastic cook and great at just whipping something up out of thin air. Ella made some seriously rhapsodic brownie like things, that made us all desperate for a second piece and in some cases a third.
I got to finish my lesson plans and have a great dinner, as well as figure out what to put in my and my 12 year old daughter Anna’s lunch lunchbox, since we both have our first school day tomorrow albeit in different roles. While others were taking care of dinner I put a dish in the oven filled with sliced zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and bell pepper, with a drizzle of olive oil and salt. I let them roast and tomorrow I will drizzle the veggies with a bit of balsamic vinegar, minced basil and some pine nuts to make delicious sandwiches.

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Carrot Cake Pudding with Ginger Syrup

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My oldest son plays the piano. He is not just a pianist, but a wonderful pianist, possibly one of the best of the younger generation in the Netherlands and tomorrow he is presenting his first cd, which of course is a festive occasion for our whole family. In the spirit of this festive occasion part of our family decided to spend some time in the kitchen, of course! My munchkin Anna and I decided to do some baking and Cyrille(husband) made a fantastic mushroom risotto for dinner. I will concentrate on my contribution since Anna baked amazing chocolate chip cookies from a Mooswood dessert cookbook and Cyrille doesn’t ever measure any ingredient so it is practically impossible to reproduce anything he makes and share it on a blog.

My cake came about as a result of my desire to create a carrot cake which would focus on the intensity and yumminess of the carrots rather than on the cakekiness of the cake, if you get what I am saying! One of the things I like about carrot cake is its moist comforting quality, which I wanted to emphasize by making my dessert more like a pudding than a cake; I don’t mean a cake that failed as a cake and resigned to being a pudding(we’ve all had some of those), but an elegant mixture of the two, cake and pudding.

At the moment I am also a bit taken by the wheat controversy and the possible negative effects that many seem to attribute to it(just read the book Wheat Belly and I am trying to process the information in it). So I was inspired to make a cake without wheat and with as little flour as possible, for which I think carrots lend themselves quite well. Besides the the fact that I didn’t use much flour(one cup of spelt) the other unusual things in this cake/pudding is the use of corn flour, coconut milk and thickly grated carrot as opposed to finely grated. But the funniest thing of all is that when I was making this dessert I forgot to add a sweetener to the batter, which I realized when the cake was already in the oven. At that point I decided to solve the problem with a ginger syrup which would go on the cake after it came out of the oven, this worked out great, in fact it seems like the perfect way to sweeten this dessert. Everyone at home loved the result including guests who are not used to putting up with my experiments, so I am confident that you will love it too!

Carrot Cake Pudding with Ginger Syrup

3 cups medium grated carrots
2 grated apples
1 1/4 cups ground almonds
1/2 cup corn flour
1 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup light olive oil
1 cup coconut milk
the juice of one orange
the peel of one orange
1/2 cup water
1 tsp salt
2 tbs flaxseeds
1 tbs chia seeds
a handful of raisins
2 tbs. baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamon
1/2 tsp clove powder

-put the grated carrots and grated apples in a large bowl
-in another bowl mix all the dry ingredients
-in a third bowl mix all the wet ingredients
-mix the wet ingredients with the grated ingredients and add the dry ingredients, mix well
-prepare a cake pan covering the bottom with wax paper and greasing the sides with oil
-pour the batter in the cake pan and bake at 180* C for about 30 minutes
-pour the ginger syrup evenly on top of the cake before taking it out of the cake pan and whilenit is still hot
-let the cake cool off a bit without cutting

Ginger Syrup

slices of fresh ginger(about 2 tablespoons)
1 cup rice syrup

-put everything in a pan and cook it for about 10 minutes until the ginger flavour is absorbed in the rice syrup
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Yum, Yum, Yum

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It feels like the summer is coming to an end, at least here in Amsterdam, where the gray days have started, the wind feels cooler and the fall jackets are starting to come out of the closets. I know it’s early but that is the nature of the this beast called the Netherlands. The weather may not be spectacular, but many other things are pretty wonderful here. Today I read a quote somewhere on FB which reminded me of the give and takes of life, which in the Netherlands you can interpret pretty literally: “If you want the rainbows, you’ve got to put up with the rain.” I am willing to embrace the rain in exchange for the beautiful canals, the mix and match of people and styles, the variety of foods and the typical down to earth Dutch attitude of which they seem so proud.
Yesterday in an attempt to hold on to the summer vegetables and dishes I came up with a delicious gazpacho which I have to share with you. Have you ever thought of combining roasted red peppers and a very ripe mango? Well it seems like a marriage made in heaven! The sweetness of the roasted peppers and the mango really complement each other, neither sticks out or tries to control the other, and even the colors don’t cancel each other out, they create a beautifully intense shade of orange. By the way orange is the national Dutch color and since I seem to be ranting on about the qualities of this adoptive country of mine, the color of this soup seems like a funny and appropriate bonus.
The basil pesto with roasted almonds adds that extra texture which makes this soup a notch chiquer. The super bonus is how easy it is to put together this bomb of color, texture and taste.

Roasted Red Pepper-Mango Gazpacho
5 roasted red bell peppers(I roasted the peppers in the oven until they turned pretty black, it took about 15 minutes, then I peeled and seeded them)
1 large mango peeled and cut in chuncks
1/2 -1 cup water
1/2 tsp sea salt

-put all the ingredients in the blender and blend until the mixture is smooth and uniform

Roasted Almond Basil Pesto
a handful of basil leaves
1 clove of garlic crushed and minced
about 3 tbs roasted almonds
1/4 cup great quality olive oil
sea salt to taste
1 tsp of sumac (optional)

-make the pesto by hand with a mortar and pestle
-first crush the basil, garlic, oil and salt then add the almonds
-crush until you get a unified consistency, but the almonds still feel crunchy
-sprinkle with sumac if desired, for a tangy taste and mix well

Spoon the pesto in the individual soup servings

Veggie Pie with Sumac

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Early this morning my oldest daughter was laying on the kitchen floor quietly doing Alexander Technique exercises while listening to the string trio version of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. If something is going to put me in a peaceful, creative mood is that piece. I had bought a bunch of zucchini thinking about continuing my experiments with jams and canning, but I woke up with the pie bug and got excited about making a savoury one which would taste fresh and not too baked(whatever that means!).
I hope that you all are aware of how easy it is to make a pie, because it really is! Once you have the basic measurements for a dough the rest is play, and if you turn on the Goldberg Variations, or any other Bach, ideas and inner peace will come your way while you cook. You can use the basic measurements and ingredients in this pie crust for all sorts of pies, sweet or savoury.You can add nuts, sweeteners, seeds, herbs, spices or pretty much whatever tickles your fancy, and it will work. This time I wanted a pie in which the vegetables would still feel alive and crunchy to counter balance the “bakiness” of the crust, unlike most quiches.

The combination of the fresh vegetables and the baked “buttery” crust was really sexy. The only vegetables I briefly sautéd were the zucchini and red bell peppers, the rest was all raw. I used agar to make it all hold together, which I have never used in savoury dishes, except long ago for an aspic which nobody liked including myself. After the pie was done for some reason I felt a bit insecure about what the rest of crew would think of it, so I didn’t advertise it at all, just left it there on the kitchen counter , but within less than a half an hour it was completely gone. I think that this combination of a semi raw vegetable pie is something I will be playing with again, since I really love pies, but often consider them on the heavy, overly cooked, greasy, not fresh side, this way however I feel that I can have my pie and eat it.

Crust:
2 cups spelt flour
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup cold water

Filling:
2 zucchinis cut in smallish cubes
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 red bell pepper cut in cubes
3 cloves of garlic crushed and minced
a bunch of chives
a couple of oregano sprigs
a couple of basil leaves
2 cups of cashew milk(it can be any other milk)
a couple of drops of lemon juice
a pinch of saffron
1 tbs agar agar
3 tbs chia seeds
2 tomatoes seeded and cubed
a handful of spinach roughly minced

Crust:
-make the crust, mix the flour and salt and add the coconut oil
-work with a fork until it looks like wet sand the add the water and form a ball
-wrap in plastic and refrigerate for about 10 minutes
-stretch out the dough on a sheet of baking paper with the help of a rolling pin
-transfer to a pie dish and bake for about 15 minutes in a. Preheated oven at 180* c

Filling:
-in a wide pan sauté garlic and add zucchini and a pinch of salt
-add red peppers and stir
-add some of the oregano and basil and stir

-in a sauce pan heat up the milk and add a pinch of salt and a couple of drops of lemon juice
-add the saffron and a minced garlic clove
-when is very hot add the agar powder and stir well, turn off fire when it begins to thicken

Putting it Together:
-when the crust is done fill with the cooked zucchini and add the tomatoes and spinach as well as the rest of the herbs and the chia seeds
-pour the agar milk on the veggies and sprinkle with sumac
-wait until it sets a bit before cutting

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