ginger pressed salad

stillife

I’ve recently been gently chastised by my husband Aaron for buying too many cookbooks, from which I cook… nothing. Yes. It’s not the purchasing that he’s opposed to (lucky for me), it’s more that I get terribly excited, pore over them for days, speak of large banquets including recipes from pages 14, 36, 79 and 124 and then… nothing becomes of it. Another one bites the (literal) dust.

It’s a bad habit. One that I’ve continually failed to break. 2013 was supposed to be the year when I cooked through Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty (2010) from cover to cover, but come 2015? I’ve, uh, made about three recipes. And plenty of hummus (Aaron can vouch for that).

Oh, and I now put pomegranate molasses on everything. That was definitely Ottolenghi-inspired. See, it was a worthwhile investment…plate

mixed

I’ve been thinking long and hard about my ‘habit’ over the past few days (in case you required more evidence that I overthink). I genuinely get excited about trying new, beautiful recipes from cookbooks, but then when dinner time arrives? I’m too hungry. There’s not enough time. I’ve run out of garlic. Or I flip through a cookbook and realize that my chosen recipe requires overnight marination, darn it.

So I ‘wing it’, in colloquial terms. For creativity and convenience. Or I’ll enter ‘pumpkin’ into Google and read blog posts ’til I feel somewhat inspired… and then I’ll cook something entirely from the mashed-up ideas in my head. I’ve admitted plenty of times that I’m an instinctual cook who finds it difficult to follow a recipe, so… why the cookbooks?

Aaron’s frustration makes perfect sense.

lokisniffchopbowl As far as I can explain, I constantly get drawn to the beauty of cookbooks. They’re inspiring, both in a creative and intellectual sense. I can read them for hours, soaking in cooking methods, personal anecdotes, ideas and rich imagery. I suppose they’re as much a consumable narrative to me as they are an instructional manual (does anyone else feel the same?).

In reflection, that in itself isn’t a bad thing. But when our bookshelves are already heaving with visual diaries, novels and plenty of cookery books (most of which, let’s face it, are rather large) it seems prudent to refrain from future purchases until I’ve at least cooked a few things from each volume.

bottle

Anyway, with gentle encouragement from my husband, I’ve made a decision to spend the rest of this year cooking through my existing book collection before investing in the next volume(s) on my ‘hit list’ (those being Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More, Jamie Oliver’s Everyday Super Food,  Ella Woodward’s Deliciously Ellaohhhh dear).

My starting point will be a whole lot of goodness from my newest purchase, Amy Chaplin’s At Home in the Wholefood Kitchen with some equally vegetable-heavy (see my recent post on my food philosophy here) deliciousness from The Green Kitchen, Green Kitchen Travels (both by David Frenkel and Luise Vindahl) and A Change of Appetite (by Diana Henry, gifted to me by my beautiful friend Trixie – who also happens to be the author of Almonds are Mercurial).

I’m also hoping to add in a few meals from Tessa Kiros’ Apples for Jam, one of my favourite food-based narratives (that also happens to contain a recipe for the stickiest of jammy cookies).

radishchop

I’ll share a few of the recipes on here, possibly with a few adaptations thrown in (as per the recipe below, I just can’t help myself) whilst also continuing to work on my own vegan and vegetarian wholefood recipes. In fact, I might just have a coconut nectar, buckwheat flour banana loaf in the oven right now…

Watch this space.

And thanks, Amy, for this beautiful pressed pickle. It’s becoming a fast favourite.

sticks

Ginger Pressed Salad

Adapted from At Home in the Wholefood Kitchen by the amazing Amy Chaplin

Notes: if you have a mandolin (or a minion) you will save yourself a lot of prep time. I cut everything by hand as I find repetitive slicing to be strangely therapeutic. If you’re preparing this salad in advance, store it without the black sesame seed garnish as the colour bleeds. Leftover salad can be stored in a jar in the fridge for up to one week (it will soften as the pickling process continues).

  • 1 celery heart (about 5 sticks/2 cups chopped)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 small Lebanese (thin skinned) cucumber, thinly sliced (if you can’t find a small Lebanese one, use a large one but remove the peel)
  • 8 radishes, topped and tailed, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) brown rice vinegar
  • 1 small thumb-sized knob of fresh young ginger, finely grated
  • chilli flakes, optional
  • toasted black and white sesame, to garnish
  • shelled edamame beans, to garnish
  • optional: thinly sliced spring onions to garnish

Place all of the ingredients (except the garnishes) into a medium bowl and toss well to combine.

seasonedGently push down on the vegetables with your hands to help soften them and release their juices. Place a small plate on top of the salad and a weight on top of the plate (I used some cans of beans, however anything heavy would work). Set aside for 1 hour or longer to ‘press’ and pickle.

Remove the weight, drain off the liquid and season to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl (gently squeeze to release any more liquid if the salad is still very ‘wet’). Sprinkle with black sesame seeds, spring onion and edamame beans if desired.

Serve as an accompaniment to a bento set, with sushi or as a tasty accompanying pickle for barbecued meat.
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66 responses

  1. Ha, ha I can relate to the husband chastisement. I now have two cookbook sections, the ‘oft-used’ (which includes Tessa Kiros’ Apples for Jam – isn’t it the best? The honey cake!) and the ‘never used but can’t part with’ section.
    Look forward to reading your cooking journeys through those lovely-sounding books.
    Your pressed salad looks BEAUTIFUL!

    • Tessa’s cookbook is so lovely, definitely with you on the ‘favourite’… and so glad you relate (though your husband possibly isn’t, haha! But I guess they can relate with each other!) xx

  2. You and I have the exact same habit! I have SO many cookbooks (this has been highlighted now that we are packing to move into our new house haha), I bookmark, declare I’ll be trying that and then… kind of don’t. But the intent it there I swear :)

    • Haha, ah yes. It’s always when you have to move that you realize how much junk you’ve accumulated (not that cookbooks are junk, but you get me!). Intent counts for something right? xx

  3. I am such a cookbook collector :) I do read them but I rarely cook from them directly! Funny story: when I was apartment searching in the East Village, I looked at what I later realized (it did have an AMAZING kitchen, nothing like I have haha) was Amy Chaplin’s apartment. All of the book/recipes are photographed in that kitchen and in its amazing little reading and dining nook. xx

    • Oh my gosh, wow! That apartment is amazing! Wish you could’ve rented/purchased it… imagine cooking in such a gorgeous space! And I guess this cookbook thing must be a common habit ;) xx

  4. So true about the cookbooks. I recently sold all the ones I NEVER use, but I bet I could still get rid of a few others, or just start cooking from them now and then! I have periods when I’ll cook lots of things from one book, and then forget about it for months (years). Your salad looks amazing. I love the resting-pickling process, and how fresh and vibrant it is.

  5. This is so me!
    I made the same promise that no more cookbooks until I had worked my way through some of mine but alas I walked into Myers on the wk end to see a one day sale on cookery books so Yottam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More has been added to my shelf. I am now looking forward to sitting out in the garden with a cup of Earl Grey tea and a date muffin and devouring the pages!! Lol ☺☺

    • Oh my gosh, I would have bought it also if it was on sale! That cookbook looks amazing, I look forward to seeing what you cook from it (hint hint, haha!!). And your muffin, tea + cookbook reading sounds like my kind of idyllic morning xx

    • Definitely agree, they’re often so pretty (both in terms of binding and the inside!). I’d love to actually have a ‘library room’ one day. Then I could take pride in adding to the collection :) x

  6. Laura, too many cookbooks. . I can so relate! and with my husband, it’s all the real estate they are taking up on our book shelf! :) your current hit list looks very impressive!!! I haven’t heard of Tessa Kiros’ Apples for Jam, will have to check it out! and I love love love this ginger pressed salad. . everything I love and so beautiful!

    • Tessa Kiros’ books are so lovely, they tell a story through the pictures, anecdotes and recipes. I think you’d like Apples for Jam! Thanks so much Alice, sending you hugs (and haha, our poor longsuffering husbands!) xx

  7. I definitely understand the too many cookbook problem. I think too that it’s simply fantastic you have a plan to work through them. You’re inspiring me to give it a go too! What a beautiful salad. Fresh bright and delicious flavors!

  8. Hilarious, I do the same, I buy cookbooks and don’t follow any recipes from them. Ok I drool at the photos and design, get ideas for dishes, read things in case I’m missing out on some life changing tip… But no I don’t really follow any recipes. Hang on, except the first time I made a terrine (because that seemed hard) and the first time I made lemon curd. This looks delicious by the way, and I love seeing your little furry kitchen helper in Instagram. Have a lovely weekend!

    • Aw thanks so much Sofia, I love seeing your photos on Instagram too! And yes, come to think of it I did cook more from cookbooks as a teenager. I guess when we build our ‘repertoire’ we become more confident with experimentation and don’t need a reference as much anymore. Hugs xx

  9. This salad looks wonderful – can’t wait to try it out! We love Asian cuisines but I always fall short on the salads and sides. Just plain ol’ rice! This helps a lot! (And you are going to love Plenty More!)

    • Haha don’t tempt me David! But yes, it’s going to happen eventually… ;) Love rice but I’m really getting into Asian style condiments at the moment. I’ve never been strong with Asian flavours so it’s fun experimenting with crunchy veg and punchy seasonings! x

  10. As you already know I’m a lifetime member of cookbookaholics and a founding member of the world wide support group. Cookbooks are more or less story books for me, not just a story book mind you, sources of inspiration that lead me down the rabbit hole and at the end of that rabbit hole who knows where I come out or what will be produced as a result to something I saw one time in a cookbook somewhere. Alyssa has pretty much banned any further purchases, I’m now resorting to my inner Han Solo and smuggling them in while she’s not looking… I may need some suggestions on some awesome vego meals or vego cookbooks…. I’ve come to the realisation I may overdo the meat from time to time… Apologise for the epic comment, I’m gonna stop typing now…. :)

    • Ha! Smuggling works. Until the bookshelf collapses :P Hm, I guess you can pretty much say that cookbooks are a necessary part of your occupation now. I mean, imagine if Matt Moran asked you about sous vide and you had no idea? And yep, we can swap vego ideas anytime (though I am wondering what happened to my friend Matt… is that Jamie book getting to you?!)

      • Haha I’ve reinforced the book shelves so I should be all good there! I’m pretty sure I could claim them on tax or something right ? 😁 I may or may not have had a brief moment of insanity! But I’m back on the meat train! But the odd vego recipe would probably balance the beer consumption 😀

      • Haha, I classify beer as fermented hops, so basically that’s a vegetable… right?! Well. Yes. Glad you’re back on the train, gotta practice up for this burger off with Grazman (slightly scared. A CHEF vs US. But we’re badass burger eaters so I’m sure we’re fair game)

  11. The start of your post made me laugh – I absolutely love buying cookbooks too, and then put post-it notes through them of all the recipes I’m going to cook, don’t quite get there though! I also get “cookbook envy” when I go to friends houses and flick through their stack of cookbooks and make a mental list of those I want to buy…does that happen to anyone else?! Love your posts Laura, enjoyed the previous one on the ‘life changing loaf’ – funny timing as my sister had just baked me that exact loaf the day before your email post arrived, and I was really taken by it!

    • Yes indeed, I do the exact same thing Caroline! Haha. I think the list of future purchases will never end! Glad that you are enjoying the blog. I appreciate your kind words (and I hope that you enjoy the buckwheat version of the life changing loaf!) xx

  12. Laura, I think that’s what draws ‘foodie’ types together. The obsession with beauty and the Art of Eating and Cooking. It’s like we’re in love with that aspect but at the same time have to deal with the realities of modern, everyday life. While Google is great for a quick search and possible dollop of inspiration, nothing compares to pouring through a cookbook, touching the pages, reading the stories and appreciating the photos. I’ve cut down on my obsession, but that’s as far as I’ll go. That’s my decision and I’m sticking’ to it.
    P.S I love this beautiful ginger pressed salad.

    • Love reading your perspective Emilie. You make complete sense and I’ll support that decision making process anytime! Food is so much more than the cooking and eating component. I love being able to interact with people who feel the same way, albeit through the interwebs! Hugs xx

  13. Oh, Laura, that is me exactly! I spend the first couple of days with a new cookbook putting little sticky tabs on all the recipes I want to make, sometimes even getting as far as making a shopping list for one or two. And after I make that one or two, I’ve moved on.

    And I also have a few “wish list” cookbooks still to buy. I look forward to your adaptations of some of your favorites from the books you mention, even though your posts may add to my wish list. :)

    Your ginger pressed salad looks light and flavorful, just the thing to accompany something rich and meaty off the barbecue pit. (We are just coming into barbecue season here when it is cool enough to stand outside over a hot fire without succumbing to heat stroke.)

    • Haha, it’s funny how we do this isn’t it? I’m really making an effort to break the habit, as there are so many beautiful recipes in the cookbooks on my shelves. And you’re completely right, it’s a perfect accompaniment to rich barbecued meat.

      So funny how your barbecue season is when it cools down, we’re usually ‘yay! Let’s barbecue!’ when it starts warming UP! Mostly as it’s nicer being outside, secondly as the barbecue saves me from heating up our apartment with the stove. We have pretty useless aircon so I try to cook as little as possible during the summer months :) Enjoy your gorgeous outdoor season! xx

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    • Aw, thanks so much Nicole. Haha, I guess it takes a bit of organisation doesn’t it! We’re all so similar in that regard (being intuitive cooks who develop our own recipes!). Thanks for the comment lovely xx

  15. I’m not sure it’s possible to have too many cookbooks, but I totally, completely understand. I have a bazillion that I’ve never cooked a thing from, but which have a bunch of pages dog-eared – bookmarking recipes I must make. I love going through cookbooks, looking at the photos, reading their prose, and getting inspired by ideas. I’m so glad I’m not alone in this. One of the purposes of cookbook, I think, is to just get us into the kitchen. But it’s shocking how many nights I don’t do this until 10 minutes before I want to actually eat something. So I yank something off Pinterest, add my own ideas, and call it done. I really must learn to plan a little better :-)

    • I completely relate to your comment here Susan. It’s so much fun just poring over the pages, getting absorbed in the beauty of the photography and the stories within. I do think cookbooks are kind of designed that way, rather than just been manuals of technique ;) Haha, so true about a last minute search of the internet! I do exactly the same thing! xx

  16. I had the same problem before but now, when I buy a cookbook, I intend to make all of the recipes. 😉 And I do!
    I love, love your pressed salad,….lovely multi coloured too. That is Why I made it! Mmmmmmm,….it was!

  17. It sounds like lots of us are in the same boat here – cookbooks are my favourite, but there is just not enough room and so little time to cook everything!! I admire your commitment to making as much as you can from your existing ones before splashing out on more :) Ottolenghi is just the best, right?! And pomegranate molasses EVERYWHERE! This salad sounds lovely too – I especially love how you can store it in a jar <3

    • Oh yes! Pomegranate molasses FOREVER! I adore everything Ottolenghi does. Such a talented person!
      Thanks lovely, haha… makes me feel a bit better that a lot of us are in the same boat :) x

  18. Love this vibrant crunchy salad– so bight!! And agree with you that it is so much fun pouring over cookbooks– and it’s not a bad habit if you’re gathering information and inspiration for things you pull up from your kitchen in a practical every day kind of way!! I think a person can say my hobby is reading cookbooks without having to produce from those exact pages. Do they have good cookbooks at your library?? I got Macus Samauelsson’s new cookbook and the Huckleberry Cookbook (that I’ve been visit at the bookstore) both on the new books shelf at the library this week! At least they’ll be mine for 6 week! and I might even cook a couple things from them. Happy week ahead Laura…

    • Oh what a fantastic idea – for some reason I’ve never really thought about borrowing cookbooks from a library. I might just have to follow your footsteps and make a long overdue visit to my local branch. It’s been a very long time (which is sad, come to think of it. I used to visit the library all the time until I left university!). I do think that I learn and absorb a lot of information from each cookbook I read, rather than just reading and shelving them. You’re right, there is a practical benefit to the obsession :) Hope you’ve had a great week too Rhonda xx

    • So, so nice! I’m loving this cookbook and I can see myself cooking a lot from it over the warmer months. Sorry though, if I’ve fed into the addiction, haha ;) xx

  19. I think we can all relate to your post. I have many cookbooks that I haven’t cooked even one recipe from. This pressed salad sounds like a delicious side to many meals.

  20. I love the way you started the post Laura. Sounds familiar to me:-) Ginger is just so beautiful and I love this salad so much. Bright, fresh and flavorful. I hope you’ve been well my dear friend!

    • Oh thanks lovely Sonali! Yes I’ve been going ok, definitely enjoying the transition to warmer weather as we head towards Summer. Hope that you’re going well too (and glad you enjoyed the post!). Hugs xx

  21. ROFL!!! My husband has said very similar comments….and there is a stupidly oversized pile of well worn books on top of the microwave that I have only cooked a bee’s hand full of recipes out of. But then….those who love fashion will pour over fashion books and not buy everything in them so surely we are just enjoying the beauty of food too!

    • Yes that is so true Martine!!! It’s definitely an aesthetic/creative appreciation as well as a gastronomic one ;) So funny, our poor long suffering husbands (though we surely feed them well!) xxx

  22. I am the same! My cook book collection is so outta control yet every time a new baking book is released I just HAVE to have it :) THis salad looks perfect for spring! So vibrant and zesty.

  23. Oh yummm. This salad sounds so up my alley, as does your wonderful collection of cookbooks!! I am the same way–I love picking up my collection at random and reading through them, but I rarely cook from them. It’s just a fun experience to leaf through them! But I think I’m going to let you inspire me to try to cook from them more this coming fall (it’s just starting to get chilly where I am and I’m so ready to cozy up in the kitchen and just stay there!) :)

    Also POMEGRANATE MOLASSES. I bought some when I was in Istanbul and I am SO EXCITED TO USE IT!!!!

    • Thanks lovely! Haha… glad I’m not the only one who devours cookbooks in a creative way ;) Hope that you guys had a gorgeous Christmas. Stay warm and enjoy that pomegranate molasses (I am OBSESSED!) xx

    • Thank you for this Rhonda, sorry I didn’t reply for ages – you’re lovely and I appreciate you! I’m ok, just taking things a little slowly at the moment. Hopefully next year will bring more energy, both in a blogging sense and life in general! x

      • Hello friend–This has been a year– Hoping with you that it will be healthy and stable– have you found a new job? (I think job searching is one of my unfavorite occupations.) Thankful you have your Aaron and God’s faithfulness through it all. Look forward to see how your days unwind ahead. Blessings Laura…

      • I definitely agree, I haven’t found a job yet but I’m trusting that God’s got it all worked out. It’s actually a good exercise for me, in terms of making sure that I don’t try to figure my whole life out alone, haha. I have a tendency to do that! Thanks for your prayers and your friendship, I appreciate you! Blessings for the new year lovely xx

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