Thai Coconut Curry with Chickpeas + Cauliflower

I can't think of many meals more comforting than a creamy, dreamy coconut curry loaded with fresh veggies. After years of just winging it (I have an issue with following recipes, guys!), I've finally worked it out well enough to actually write down and share here. Miracle?!

One of the best things about this recipe is that you can swap out the veggies with whatever you've got on-hand or what's in season — for example, sometimes I use roasted sweet potatoes instead of chickpeas or switch out broccoli for cauliflower. The same goes for the toppings...if you don't have crushed peanuts, sprinkle some omega 3-packed hemp seeds, and if you don't have either one, try garnishing with some fresh chopped herbs. If you don't like tofu either simply leave it out or try another protein like sautéed tempeh or Quorn veg chicken chunks. Switching it up keeps it fresh and exciting for people like me that make it really often ;-)

Thai Coconut Curry with Chickpeas, Tofu + Cauliflower

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, for sautéing
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 stalks fresh lemongrass, trimmed & quartered
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated (or you can use 2 tsp. powdered ginger when in a pinch)
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder (I recommend Spice Society)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • Splash of white wine, for deglazing
  • 1.5 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 Tablespoons white miso
  • 1 can diced tomatoes or 2 small fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce (my all-time fav is this brand
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, chopped into small florets (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup baby kale or spinach, chopped (optional)
  • 1 8 oz. package (1 cup) extra firm tofu, drained and cut into small squares and sautéed in oil until crisp (I prefer Hodo braised tofu — no draining necessary!)
  • 1 lime, juiced (I use the Kaffir variety whenever possible as its scent and flavor are unmatched) 
  • Salt to taste (you'll likely need a lot more than you think...add little by little until you're happy with it!)
  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked as bag instructs

Topping ideas:
Parsley or cilantro, chopped
Crushed peanuts
Hemp seeds
 

Directions

Prepare quinoa as the bag instructs and set aside. Warm coconut oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Once melted, add chopped onion and carrot and sauté for 3-4 minutes or until it begins to brown. Add in chopped garlic, lemongrass, ginger, and all spices and cook a few minutes more. Pour in a bit of white wine (no more than a few tablespoons) — just enough to deglaze the pan and scrape all the browned goodness off the bottom of the pan. Add in the veggie stock and tomatoes and let mixture simmer for 15-30 minutes (longer is better).

Carefully remove the lemongrass stalks and transfer mixture into a Vitamix or blender and pulse until completely smooth. Transfer back into pot. [Note: Technically, you can skip this step if you prefer a lot of texture in your curry — in fact, the photos featured in this recipe were taken before I altered my recipe to include this step. It's insanely delicious either way, I've just found that I quite enjoy the upped creamy factor by Vitamix-ing at this point].

Add coconut milk, chili sauce, chickpeas, kale/spinach (if using) and continue to simmer over low heat. In a wok or nonstick cast iron pan, sauté diced tofu in a few tablespoons of high-heat safe oil (such as safflower or canola) until brown and crispy. Place tofu on paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Bring a separate pot of salted water to a boil and add the cauliflower until desired texture is achieved (this depends on floret size, but it usually takes me about 5 minutes). Add the cauliflower, tofu, lime juice, white miso, and salt to taste. If the mixture is too thick for your liking, just add a little more veggie stock or water and up the spices accordingly — if you want it spicier, add Sriracha, or additional chili paste. At this point, you can really mold this recipe and make it you own!

Place quinoa into a bowl, cover with curry, and sprinkle with desired toppings. Serve hot with a lime wedge on the side and enjoy!

Grilled Asparagus + Tofu Summer Rolls

It's official...happy spring! In my opinion, there's no better way to welcome this vibrant time than cooking with oodles of bright, in-season veggies. As you may have gathered from my Instagram feed, this blog, and my portfolio, I'm pretty infatuated with fresh vegetables and I strive to practice and support the farm to table movement every day. 

Tofu side rant. I pretty much have a bowl of it marinating in my fridge at least once a week. It's a staple in my quick lunch stir-fries and salad bowls, and the perfect companion for burritos and thai peanut noodles. Don't worry, I've done my research on soy (here's a fairly comprehensive history via Bon Appetit from 2014) and it's perfectly fine to consume in moderation. In fact, it's been proven time and time again that soy actually decreases the risk of cancer and diabetes across the board in both men and women, and normal consumption could actually lower your cholesterol. I always choose organic non-GMO tofu — my favorite brands are Wildwood and Hodo. When prepared properly, tofu is easily one of the most delicious, protein-packed, and versatile readily available ingredients.

Okay, let's get down to business: I absolutely adore stuffing my face with summer rolls this time of year, but I make them very infrequently. Why? They're somewhat time-consuming, require a fair amount of ingredients, and mastering the rolling technique takes practice. All of this said, the hard work always pays off! Alanna and I set out to refine our current summer roll recipes and together managed to create possibly the best roll of my life! When our powers combine...

This recipe is just gorgeous — everything from the flavor-bomb marinade and dipping sauce to the perfectly grilled asparagus and tofu.

And the colors! Spring personified. 

When Alanna and I cook and shoot together, it's a true collaboration. Usually, one of us has an idea about a recipe we want to perfect...then we decide on ingredients, and tend to figure out assembly and technique along the way. It's all very organic (only like a little pun intended). We often play off of each others' style concepts or shot ideas and always utilize our collective hand modeling skills for one another! It's an inspiring creative process that surefire ends in consuming copious amounts of homemade food and at least one (or three) lady cocktails with a dear friend.

Guys. Big news. Because of this shoot, I can now effectively roll a summer roll like nobody's business! Exciting, no? Click through to Alanna's incredible blog, The Bojon Gourmet, for the recipe and more behind-the-scenes stories that make me laugh out loud.

Artist Spotlight: Mikey Kelly

When I lived in Orlando and worked in nonprofit arts, studio visits were second nature — I spent so much time with local artists learning about their crafts, watching them in action, and helping them learn more about available artist and project grants to apply for. Here in Napa, I've been focused on my clients in the food and wine realm, so art has taken a bit of a back seat. That said, there are a wealth of exciting, talented and vibrant artists here in the Napa Valley, and I'm very lucky to know a few of them. I recently visited the studio of my friend and neighbor Mikey Kelly located right in downtown Napa. His drawings and paintings are created through a repetitious network of hand drawn lines. The pieces are painstakingly beautiful and are extremely intriguing to see up-close and in-person! Sculptures, drawings, paintings, light fixtures: this guy does it all, and does it well. His many art forms are present within his warehouse-style workspace. Enjoy the tour!

Napa also offers a self-guided Open Studio Tour every September, where you can go check out dozens of local artists in their element. But some of these incredibly talented artists (like Mikey!) keep their studios open year-round by appointment only for guests to visit. Just a little nudge to scratch the surface in the Napa Valley – there's so much to see and do (before and after you eat and drink).

Visit Mikey's website or follow him on Instagram.

Sonoma Photo Adventure

Showing out-of-town friends around my home, the Napa Valley, has become second nature to me. But last week I decided it was about time to do a little exploring in neighboring Sonoma County! So in celebration of my gal Alanna submitting her final cookbook manuscript (pre-order here!), she came in from San Francisco along with her sweet friend Jessica, and off we went! Here's a little vignette of our day of photo adventuring whilst rocking our ever-present food (& wine) babies. Because let's face it: that's what you do in Wine Country. SO MUCH FOOD. ALL THE TIME.

First stop was the somewhat iconic Fremont Diner, who holds the title for my favorite chocolate malt around and also has delicious house-made pickles, pimiento cheese, and avocado toast. 

We did our fair share of gawking over the early spring blooms around Sonoma...

Then we were thirsty, so we decided to try out some sparkling wine on the porch of a castle. Yup, Domaine Carneros is a castle. Psssst...word to the wise: if you go here, ask to try their Ultra Brut Sparkling and Late Disgorged Brut Cuvee Sparkling — they're the two best, yet aren't offered within the standard tasting menu.

Then it was off to one of my most personally frequented spots around the 'hood, Scribe Winery, because any friend of mine simply needs to experience this view, their dry Riesling, and the amazing folks that make this winery a must-see experience in Sonoma.

And finally, we landed about 30 minutes up the road at the exceedingly charming Glen Ellen Star. Known for their woodfired vegetables and pizzas, I have three words for you: Tomato Cream Pie. Imagine the best creamy tomato soup you've ever had, but on top of a pizza and paired with fresh mozzarella. Of course this pizza is the one thing I didn't photograph (it got too dark, and we wanted to eat it too badly to snap anyway). Lucikly the vegetables, like the woodfired cauliflower with almonds and tahini, and the salads are equally as scrumptious and gorgeous.

Be sure to follow along on Instagram for my everyday adventures!

Rescue Dogs Wearing Fruit + Veg Accessories

Earlier this week, I spearheaded the most heartwarming and fun shoot I could have ever dreamed up. I somehow talked Los Angeles-based TV hostcookbook author, and veg enthusiast Laura Miller into coming to Napa and making her famed fruit and vegetable accessories to adorn local rescue dogs. She's awesome, lets just get that out of the way. The purpose of this collaborative shoot was two-fold: first and foremost to help find these babies their forever homes, and secondly to raise awareness about the huge number of unwanted older and hospice dogs that are in the system and the importance of fostering, adopting, and raising funds to support them.

I have worked closely with Napa Valley’s Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch (JARR) for more than a year now, and their focused work and mission is near and dear to my heart. The nonprofit recently purchased a 40-acre ranch with a vision to build Northern California's first rescue and sanctuary for both farm and companion animals (think Farm Sanctuary). JARR also provides transitional and permanent shelter, adoption and rescue services, humane education, animal advocacy, and is committed to ending animal hunger, cruelty, and overpopulation. Such insanely important work.

Now I'd like to introduce you to some of JARR's most eligible adoptable doggies. Spoiler alert: there's nothing cuter than dogs dressed up in fruit and veggies. To find out more about these (and other!) dapper guys and darling gals, please click over to JARR's website or contact Deassa directly. Please note: they are looking to pursue in-state (California) adoption possibilities only.

Meet Carmen. This sweet girl was a stray at the Napa shelter, and after pulling her it was discovered that she has terminal cancer. She is a cuddle bug and her foster mom cherishes every moment they have together. Carmen is considered a "Fospice" dog which means that she lives with a forever foster that cares for her for the remainder of her life. Her healthcare is paid for via JARR's Emergency Fund which is 100% reliant on private funds. 

Meet Carmen. This sweet girl was a stray at the Napa shelter, and after pulling her it was discovered that she has terminal cancer. She is a cuddle bug and her foster mom cherishes every moment they have together. Carmen is considered a "Fospice" dog which means that she lives with a forever foster that cares for her for the remainder of her life. Her healthcare is paid for via JARR's Emergency Fund which is 100% reliant on private funds. 

Meet Sally. She's between 8 and 10 years old and enjoys nothing more than a warm lap or a fluffy bed! She was adopted from a shelter in the Bay Area and then surrendered in the Valley when her owner moved to a place with no dogs allowed. Sally is very adaptable and gets along well with large and small dogs. We're sure she would be great friends with a cat too. Do you need a special someone? This is your girl!

Meet Sally. She's between 8 and 10 years old and enjoys nothing more than a warm lap or a fluffy bed! She was adopted from a shelter in the Bay Area and then surrendered in the Valley when her owner moved to a place with no dogs allowed. Sally is very adaptable and gets along well with large and small dogs. We're sure she would be great friends with a cat too. Do you need a special someone? This is your girl!

Meet Gunner. In August of 2014, Gunner's world was shaken apart. His family lost their housing in the big Napa earthquake. A week later they dropped him off at the local shelter for emergency boarding. Eight months later, after the family decided they could not find proper housing, we set our minds to find this smart, energetic, loyal, fun-loving, and inquisitive boy a new forever home. He would do best as an only dog. Gunner is a healthy, 65 pound, 5-year-old pittie mix. He is such a lover and is ready to wiggle his way into your heart!

Meet Gunner. In August of 2014, Gunner's world was shaken apart. His family lost their housing in the big Napa earthquake. A week later they dropped him off at the local shelter for emergency boarding. Eight months later, after the family decided they could not find proper housing, we set our minds to find this smart, energetic, loyal, fun-loving, and inquisitive boy a new forever home. He would do best as an only dog. Gunner is a healthy, 65 pound, 5-year-old pittie mix. He is such a lover and is ready to wiggle his way into your heart!

Meet Cinderella. She is 13 years old and happily living out her golden years in her forever home. She's just a diva and wanted to crash the photoshoot!

Meet Cinderella. She is 13 years old and happily living out her golden years in her forever home. She's just a diva and wanted to crash the photoshoot!

Meet Edgar. This little guy's 10 years young, and was at a Bay Area Shelter with the threat of euthanasia nearing due to his age, but the vet says he’s got a good 5 years ahead of him! He’s a wonderful dog who is devoted to his person and follows you everywhere. Edgar is great with other loving dogs and kids, and is house trained. He loves going on adventures in the car, on long walks, sitting in warm laps, and sleeping under the covers.

Meet Edgar. This little guy's 10 years young, and was at a Bay Area Shelter with the threat of euthanasia nearing due to his age, but the vet says he’s got a good 5 years ahead of him! He’s a wonderful dog who is devoted to his person and follows you everywhere. Edgar is great with other loving dogs and kids, and is house trained. He loves going on adventures in the car, on long walks, sitting in warm laps, and sleeping under the covers.

Meet Malachi. This playful 10-month-old German Shepherd/Doberman puppy was an owner surrender. Malachi gets along with other dogs, likes to ride in the car, sleeps all night in his crate, and is housebroken. He's only had a few days walking on-leash but is learning quickly! This sweet boy will need both physical exercise and mental stimulation. Did I mention he's very ball and treat motivated?

Meet Malachi. This playful 10-month-old German Shepherd/Doberman puppy was an owner surrender. Malachi gets along with other dogs, likes to ride in the car, sleeps all night in his crate, and is housebroken. He's only had a few days walking on-leash but is learning quickly! This sweet boy will need both physical exercise and mental stimulation. Did I mention he's very ball and treat motivated?

Meet Red Rooster. Are you ready for a good time? This active fella loves to play fetch and go for hikes. Red Rooster is very athletic and knows his basic commands. He enjoys walks and playtime with other canine friends. With proper introductions, he could learn to live with cats too! He is under 2 years old and is about 50 pounds. He can be a little shy at first but warms up quickly and can't wait to get a few kisses in! This sweet guy will make someone very very happy.

Meet Red Rooster. Are you ready for a good time? This active fella loves to play fetch and go for hikes. Red Rooster is very athletic and knows his basic commands. He enjoys walks and playtime with other canine friends. With proper introductions, he could learn to live with cats too! He is under 2 years old and is about 50 pounds. He can be a little shy at first but warms up quickly and can't wait to get a few kisses in! This sweet guy will make someone very very happy.

Meet Merry Ann. This sweet affectionate girl is between 8-10 years old. She weighs 60 pounds and doesn’t need much more than love and a soft bed. She runs to meet new people. She would enjoy being an only dog during her senior years, as she wants humans and her things all to herself. That doesn’t mean that she couldn’t live with a well-matched large dog! She is house and crate trained. Do you have a spot to let her live out her golden years?

Meet Merry Ann. This sweet affectionate girl is between 8-10 years old. She weighs 60 pounds and doesn’t need much more than love and a soft bed. She runs to meet new people. She would enjoy being an only dog during her senior years, as she wants humans and her things all to herself. That doesn’t mean that she couldn’t live with a well-matched large dog! She is house and crate trained. Do you have a spot to let her live out her golden years?

Meet Rose + Sally. Get ready for a tear jerker. These two amazing Lab girls made their way to safety with JARR in August 2015. They are presently in the loving care of a foster home receiving rehab, decompression, socialization, and exercise. They have endured a life no dog should. In their former lives, they lived outside in extreme heat and cold. They foraged for their own food. Both have been badly mistreated, but you would never know it. They are full of love, years of it! These gals are easy to be with: they love when you toss a ball and use both hands to pet them whenever possible. Silly Sally is about 12 and is the family clown. She has kidney disease and must be on a specific diet. Rose is about 10 years old with eyes that will hypnotize you into loving her in mere moments. She has arthritis and takes meds for pain and incontinence. They are a bonded pair; Sally is protective of her sister Rose. Their dream home is a FOSPICE situation where JARR would provide all food, medicine, and vet care. These girls are in desperate need of a gentle, compassionate, loving soul that is home often to spend time with them and dote on them. A home free of chaos and buckets of love, no other animals, a backyard with a solid fence, a cool lawn, and more love love love. They deserve the very best. We are grateful Rose & Sally are safe with JARR and that we were able to get them to a healthier state.  All they need now is you... :) Donate directly to JARR's senior programs here.

Meet Rose + Sally. Get ready for a tear jerker. These two amazing Lab girls made their way to safety with JARR in August 2015. They are presently in the loving care of a foster home receiving rehab, decompression, socialization, and exercise. They have endured a life no dog should. In their former lives, they lived outside in extreme heat and cold. They foraged for their own food. Both have been badly mistreated, but you would never know it. They are full of love, years of it! These gals are easy to be with: they love when you toss a ball and use both hands to pet them whenever possible. Silly Sally is about 12 and is the family clown. She has kidney disease and must be on a specific diet. Rose is about 10 years old with eyes that will hypnotize you into loving her in mere moments. She has arthritis and takes meds for pain and incontinence.

They are a bonded pair; Sally is protective of her sister Rose. Their dream home is a FOSPICE situation where JARR would provide all food, medicine, and vet care. These girls are in desperate need of a gentle, compassionate, loving soul that is home often to spend time with them and dote on them. A home free of chaos and buckets of love, no other animals, a backyard with a solid fence, a cool lawn, and more love love love. They deserve the very best. We are grateful Rose & Sally are safe with JARR and that we were able to get them to a healthier state.  All they need now is you... :) Donate directly to JARR's senior programs here.


Photography + Concept: Emma K. Morris
Costumes: Laura Miller
Styling: Laura Miller, Alex Healy, and Katie Miller
Special thanks to: Deassa Binstock and all the JARR foster parents
 

→ Check out outtakes on Instagram at @imlauramiller and @emmakmorris.

→ Follow Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch on Facebook.

→ Donate directly to JARR's Emergency Fund and Senior Programs here.

→ Check out Laura's blog here.



"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

― Mahatma Gandhi