Whole is a recipe book by a collection of female New Zealand food bloggers. A book of blogs! Whatever next? Bronwyn Kan has photographed and designed the book, so despite the range of bloggers featured it retains a cohesive aesthetic and reads like one piece of work.
It's quite amazing how many good female food bloggers we have out there. I can think of a fair few more that might not fit the 'wholefood' label to make the cut for this book. Whole's tagline is 'recipes for simple wholefood eating’ – but what is 'wholefood'? Do I get to make a pizza and eat the whole thing? According to Wikipedia, “Wholefoods are foods that are unprocessed and unrefined, or processed and refined as little as possible, before being consumed. Wholefoods typically do not contain added salt, carbohydrates, or fat.”
At first this sounds a bit too healthy for my liking: is this some sort of health food trap? The pictures look so good but I check the ingredients list and surely enough I find almond milk, all varieties of coconut-based products and even protein powder pancakes. Of course, there’s an incarnation of 'stuff ground into balls that anyone who avoids sugar promises me are amazing' (I don't believe you, healthy people).
I look through for something to test – there are some interesting contributions from the pair behind Mondays Eatery and unsurprisingly The Cakers’ recipes appealed to me (real flour! Butter! My kind of #health). As I’ll be testing one of her cakes soon enough I decide to go with the ‘Courgette Cakes’ by Abbeylee and Twyla of the blog Healthyself – any excuse to make their accompanying guacamole really!
I start by making the 'Full Flavour Trio': Guacamole, Tzatziki and Fresh Tomato Salsa. Avocados aren't in season, but I manage to find two softies that would do in a guacamole: I smash them with a fork. I dice half a capsicum and mix them in with garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper – not what I'd think of as a quintessential guacamole recipe, but I guess in Mexico there’s a wide range of recipes with different ingredients. This tasted good, so I was into it.
I grate some cucumber into yoghurt and adde lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper and the Tzatziki was done. The Salsa Fresca was just as easy: I cut cherry tomatoes into quarters, add coriander, spring onion, lemon juice, salt, pepper and a chilli. Corn isn't in season but there's was only ¼ cup of it in the recipe so I microwave some frozen corn (how very un-health food blogger of me!).
The salsa was good, but I like to scoop the seeds out of my tomatoes so there isn't as much liquid (usually I'd opt for low acidity/plum tomatoes too because this would be a real chore with all the cherry tomatoes). As I predicted, there's a lot of liquid at the end. I also found that quartering the tomatoes made for more of a salad than a salsa, the tomatoes were in quite large pieces, which made it harder to pile on top of things.
The courgette cakes were also pretty easy to put together. I grate the courgettes and squeeze the liquid out of them in a tea towel.
I thought we had lemon balm in the herb garden, but apparently it got pulled out because no one was using it. I don't think I'd actually ever tried any of it, but according to Abbylee and Twyla it “completely makes this dish”. I settle on the fact I have to incompletely make the dish, substituting coriander as they suggest.
I add the chopped coriander to the squeezed-out courgettes along with spring onion, Parmesan, ground almonds, beaten eggs, lemon juice, salt and pepper. After a quick stir to combine I'm ready to fry them.
They're quite tricky to flip; they keep falling apart – I guess replacing the flour that would usually be in a courgette fritter with ground almonds means that there isn't really anything to bind them. Plus with the added lemon juice there was quite a bit of liquid with nothing to soak it up. If you leave the mixture to sit for a minute or two the liquid seems to separate out a bit. This even happened in the short time while they were cooking; but they came out ok.
Texture-wise they're like a crumbly hamburger. If I shut my eyes I can almost convince myself that there's some sort of meat in them – they're very savoury. I think the Parmesan probably helps with that. On their own they're a little dry, I'm glad to have copious amounts of Guacamole, Tzatziki and Salsa to put on top of them. They're good. So good I decide to embrace this wholefood thing by eating all of them. The whole batch. Maybe eating healthy isn't so bad after all?