Kimberley’s book, Vibrant Food, arrived rather unexpectedly on a Friday evening a couple of weeks ago. It had been one of those days/weeks/months where I’d fallen slightly out of love with food. Deciding what to eat for dinner every night had become a chore. We’d gone to restaurants where I’d struggled to find anything I fancied on the menu. There was a pile of food magazines by the side of my bed that I couldn’t really be bothered to read.
I started absently flicking through Kimberley’s book, more out of a sense of loyalty than any particular interest. Within about three recipes, however, it had totally captivated me.
Kimberley’s blog, The Year in Food, has been one of my long-time favourites. The best way that I can describe it is that she makes my kind of food (by way of illustration, some recent examples: grilled caesar salad, cajun-spiced sweet potato burgers, pear and cacao nib buckwheat muffins, spiced winter cake with cranberries). I’ve always loved Kimberley’s photographs as well, as simple and striking as her recipes and full of colour and vitality.
Vibrant Food is divided into four chapters based on the seasons. Within each chapter, Kimberley takes three or four key ingredients for that season (from edible flowers and srping greens to Dungeness crab and persimmons) and provides a couple of recipes for each. Like all of the recipes on Kimberley’s blog, everything is gluten free, or has a gluten free option, but that’s incidental really – this is a book for everyone.
I’ve been cooking from Kimberley’s book almost constantly for the last couple of weeks, taking recipes from different seasons and adapting them for what’s available now in a way that I hope she would approve of. The day after the book arrived, I made the yogurt paprika chicken with lemon, a dish from the winter citrus chapter but which has a brightness and lightness that works perfectly in the height of summer. On a rainy Monday evening that felt more like November than July, I made the smokey red pepper soup, topped with a sprinkling of feta and cumin-scented pumpkin seeds. We spent pretty much a whole weekend eating Kimberley’s carnitas, served in the book with an autumn apple salsa but which I combined with an avocado crema from one of the summer recipes.
And then there is this cherry ginger granola which I’ve eaten for breakfast almost every day since I made it. In many ways, it so exactly represents Kimberley’s style of cooking to me. It’s full of textures and flavours and contrasts; in every bite there are toasty warm oats, crunchy nuts and seeds, sweet and sticky cherries and fiery nuggets of ginger. Kimberley serves her granola with yogurt and peaches; I had apricots so I went with those instead.
More than anything though, I felt touches of Kimberley’s inspiration in everything I’ve cooked over the last couple of weeks (and, indeed, in every photo I’ve taken). I’ve been more liberal with herbs and spices and garnishes, adding little touches of colour and texture. I’ve thought more about the composition of what I cook, not necessarily from an artistic point of view, but in terms of creating a more interesting and complete dish.
And that’s how I know that this is a brilliant book. Not because of the recipes themselves (although they clearly are stellar) but because it’s changed the way that I cook.
Some other recipes from around the web that have been adapted from/inspired by Kimberley’s book:
honey almond cake with raspberries, orange and pistachio // poached apricots with lavender and mascarpone // cherry buttermilk clafoutis // cherry clafoutis // chocolate pots with lavender and sea salt // blueberry peach crisp // triple berry skillet crisp
Kimberley's original recipe calls for 1 cup raw almonds, 1/2 cup raw pistachios, 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds and 1 cup coconut flakes. I didn't have any coconut flakes so used flaked almonds instead, upped the quantities of the other nuts/seeds and threw in some hazelnuts too. I also swapped the ratio of ginger to cinnamon as I'm not a huge fan of the latter. Don't skimp on the cherries and/or crystallised ginger - it's what makes this granola.
- 3 cups oats
- 3/4 cup raw pistachios
- 3/4 cup mixed seeds (I used a mix of linseeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds)
- 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
- 1 cup flaked almonds
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup dried cherries
- 1/2 cup chopped crystallised ginger
- Preheat the oven to 300F/170C and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, mix together the oats, pistachios, seeds, hazelnuts, flaked almonds, ginger, cinnamon and salt. Add the maple syrup, olive oil and vanilla and mix thoroughly until all the dry ingredients are sticky. Spread the mixture out over the baking tray and bake for 30 - 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until the granola is toasty-brown.
- Remove from the oven, add the cherries and crystallised ginger and then pat down with the back of a wooden spoon to encourage clumping. Leave to cool before transferring to an airtight container to store (I keep mine in the fridge).
- Serve with greek yoghurt and apricots (or, as the original recipe suggests, peaches).
Adapted from the Cherry Ginger Granola with Peaches from Kimberley Hasselbrink's Vibrant Food.
(In the interests of full disclosure, I should add that Kimberley did offer to send me a review copy but her email just happened to arrive about 10 minutes after I’d ordered the book from Amazon and so I declined. Her generous offer has not, however, made a jot of difference to my thoughts about the book. It’s really, really good and I’d happily buy it again and again.)