The Breakfast Club on Nourish Atelier is a Q&A serie with the finest people in food inspiration.
Muse: Laura Wright from thefirstmess.com
I'm really excited about chatting with Laura Wright from The First Mess here on the Breakfast Club. Pour a cup of coffee and get to know her in this breakfast conversation. Laura lives in Canada near Niagara Falls with her partner. She's created an outstanding list of recipes on her blog that has been swooned over by a whole generation of Pinterest users and blog readers all over the globe. It's the way that she mixes flavours; her eclectic taste in food and her beautiful presentation that has won our hearts (and the jury of Saveur blog awards). Laura makes food that is wholesome and plant based and feels very modern. She is writing her first cook book and it's going to be a classic I'm sure. One thing I love about Laura's recipes are that they never fail me. I hereby dub her the first lady of food blogs! Here we go:
Credits: Portrait and Scenery photography by Laura Wright. Falafel photography by Nina Olsson. Falafel and Tahini dressing Recipe by Laura. Props : Ceramics in the falafel shots by vastergarden.se except the turqoiuse bowl.
N/A: Good Morning Laura. What an absolute pleasure to have a breakfast session with you. In the spirit of The First Mess, what are we having for breakfast.
LW: Thanks Nina! I’m so happy to be featured here. I go in phases with breakfast. Temperatures have been rising in my area, so I’ve been doing lots of smoothies packed with fruit, greens, chia, bee pollen, vanilla powder, and a whole bunch of wild and wacky superfoods. Sometimes I do the smoothie bowl thing with lots of toppings if I want to be more intentional about it and just enjoy my breakfast a little bit slower.
N/A: When I read your blog posts, I feel a kinship with your relationship to food, the importance of good produce and eating well in good company. But also with your relationship to nature and good life. What is a good life and good food for you?
LW: I think allowing yourself time to be outside and experience nature firsthand as often as possible makes eating intentionally a lot more exciting and desirable. It kind of makes you hungry for life and in turn, foods that are bursting with life. I’ve never been the kinda person that goes to the gym to break a sweat. I like to take my fitness outside, breathe in that fresh air, see the wind rustling in the trees, and then fuel my body with all the colourful food I can get my hands on afterward. Gardening is one of my hobbies (flowers and vegetables) and even though it can get kind of rough and filthy, I never wear protective gloves or anything because I actually like to feel the dirt! I want to know what the soil is like and get clues from that. I love that feeling when I’m lightly breaking up the roots of a plant and firming it into the ground, or gently raking soil over some seeds. It forms a really deep connection to your food supply! When I make my first summer panzanella salad with my own tomatoes and basil, I’m the happiest person on earth. Or when I get to pick a tree-ripened piece of fruit and eat it right there in the shade of the branches--that instant connection fills me up with light and hope.
N/A: The impressive body of work, your beautiful recipes and photography on the blog is to be extended into a printed book. I can’t wait to get a copy and I’m also very curious about your process of writing, how is it writing your first cook book?
LW: The whole process has taken so much longer than I thought it would. I did the recipes, recipe testing, styling, photography, writing… basically the whole thing myself over the span of a year. A lot of the recipes in the book I had been working on for years and knew from front to back. So with that in mind, in some ways I felt really prepared to take the project on. When I’m working on blog posts, the photography and styling is typically my favourite part of the process. This was not true for the book. I would go in phases where I was so frustrated with styling the food or trying to capture something in a different way, I felt like I was working against myself sometimes. I kept printing out and posting up my photos on a wall as I locked them down. I’m normally lightly critical of my own work and I experience self-doubt like most creative types, but doing this book took all of that to another level. Having said all of that though, I’m very excited for it to come out. I worked really hard on it and I think the recipes will appeal to a lot of people whether they eat plant-based regularly or not.
N/A: When I think of your food and style its embodying many forward thinking ideas about modern food and eating. What are your best tips for eating better?
LW: One of my favourite tips is to just think about how the food is going to make you feel later. I crave indulgent foods sometimes like anybody else, but when I get that craving for something less virtuous, I try to be mindful of how I know my body will respond. When I eat plates of colourful vegetables and whole grains, I know that I’ll feel vibrant, happy, and energetic afterward. But sometimes you just need to have the french fries or the extra glass of wine too. As long as it makes you truly happy and you have that awareness of balance in place, I don’t think you need to be hard on yourself or restrict certain foods.
N/A; Which recipe from your website are you most excited about?
LW: Since I’m all about the seasonal, right now I’m pretty stoked to make my raised buckwheat waffles with vanilla-stewed rhubarb with the rhubarb that’s popping up in my backyard. (Note: find the recipe here)
N/A: Canada always interested me, for a while I though there were so much great music and culture emerging from your homeland. Do you find inspiration locally?
LW: I definitely do! We live in a very special pocket of Ontario that is protected from most of the very harsh weather that impacts regions around us. Because of this, there are great conditions for wine grape varietals and really excellent stone fruit (and all kinds of other crops) in the summer. There are so many beautiful parks and spaces for camping, exploring, and any other outdoor activity here too. I always feel lucky to call Canada my home.
N/A; I’m always curious about food bloggers life outside the kitchen, what’s your passions, not food related?
LW: Well, we have a house that’s over a hundred years old, so I’m always pursuing projects with that. I’ve become very interested in learning how to fix things myself and see how they work. My collection of design/architecture magazines is a lot bigger than my food-focused ones right now. I always want to change or update something with our space because I love the idea of a home evolving and reflecting our life as we build it together. I’m taking up golf in a more serious way this summer. I’m an avid Toronto Raptors and NBA fan in general. I love traveling when we get a chance to do it. My partner is super busy with his line of work and because I’m self-employed, I almost always feel guilty when I take time away from my projects. We’re hoping to go to Italy and to do a California road trip in the next year or so. I’m also a big believer in the power of regular meditation. My days are noticeably different if I take away those 15 minutes of quiet focus on the breath. And another one of my passions that kind of spills over into the food thing is natural skincare. I have a giant collection of different oils, hydrasols, serums and the like on my bathroom’s vanity. I’m always researching and playing around with DIY cleansers, masks, moisturizers etc.
6 quick questions for Laura
N/A: Your favourite kitchen tool?
LW: My high speed blender. I use it at least 3 times a day.
N/A: Whats' your favourite music while cooking?
LW: I listen to a huge variety of things while I cook. I find the season really factors into my cooking music selection too. Right now I’m really into Drake’s new one, D’Anglelo, Tame Impala, A Tribe Called Quest, and Radiohead’s new one as well. But when the cold weather comes back and I’m making more soups, stews, and braises, I’m more likely to listen to something a bit slower like Neil Young or Ryan Adams.
N/A: Culinary heroes?
LW: Rick Bayless, April Bloomfield, Dan Barber, Amy Chaplin, and Bryant Terry
N/A: Your most memorable dish ever?
LW: I ate at Dan Barber’s Blue Hill restaurant one time. It was peak-spring and my partner and I ordered this unassuming side dish of snap peas with lemon and mint (among many other things). The snap peas were so fresh, sweet, and beautifully cooked. I remember the sensation of them bursting on my palette with freshness. It felt like they had been plucked from the plant right then and there. It made a very serious impression on me. My eyes lit up and widened after the first bite and my partner asked me if I was okay ☺
N/A: Not without my _ _ _ _ _ ?
LW: Earl Grey. I have a warm cup of it every morning frothed up with some warm almond milk, vanilla, maple syrup, and coconut butter.
N/A: Please tell us :) whats your best cooking tip?
LW: Always aim for balance in terms of salt, acidity, and sweetness. Hitting those notes just right is what takes any food from good to amazing.
N/A: Thank You Laura! Every breakfast muse gets to nominate the following muse for the next Breakfast Club, who would you like to see for the next session?
LW: Oh, I’d love to see Renée from Will Frolic For Food on here.
SPRING ONION FALAFELS WITH MILLET + TAHINI DRESSING
Notes from Nina: I never tire of falafel or tahini dressing, and Laura's recipe brings out the best in both of these favourites. Adding spring onions to the falafel makes it extra delicious and I love the tangy flavour of lemon shining through. I used quinoa instead of millet and it gave a lovely texture to the falafels. Be careful not to overly blend the chickpeas as I almost did - I needed to add extra chickpea flour to firm up the mix before rolling the falafels. To make these pink breads I used my own flatbread recipe with 50 ml raw grated beetroot added and a little extra flour.
makes about 20 falafels
Notes from Laura: I feel like quinoa or any other small, fluffy and spherical grain could work in place of the millet. Just make sure that all of the water is cooked out and the grain is as dry as possible when you go to mix it with the chickpea base. As always, garlic, cumin and any other spices can be added or subtracted to your liking.
2 cups cooked chickpeas, dried with a kitchen towel
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled + roughly chopped
1/2 of a small cooking onion, roughly chopped
4-5 green onions, sliced, white bulb-parts and green tops separated
2 tsp ground cumin
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1 tbsp brown rice/oat/millet flour (or whole wheat, spelt, all purpose etc. if you can handle gluten)
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup cooked, but still chewy, millet (1/3 cup millet + 2/3 cup water simmered until all the water is gone)
1 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment.
In a food processor combine the chickpeas, garlic, chopped cooking onion, the chopped whites of the green onions, ground cumin, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pulse until you have a chunky paste and there are hardly any whole chickpeas left. Add the flour and baking soda and pulse a couple more times to combine. You should have a wet and chunky paste. Scrape this into a large bowl. To this, add the cooked millet, sesame seeds, and sliced green onion tops. Fold it all together to combine.
Form falafels with your hands by grabbing about 2 tbsp of chickpea mixture at a time. Gently roll it into a football-ish shape and place it on the parchment lined pan. repeat with remaining chickpea mixture. Once you’re done, slide the tray into the oven and bake falafels for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned and slightly firm to the touch. Serve falafels in a pita, big lettuce leaf, or on top of a salad.
tahini dressing makes: a generous 1/2 cup
1 clove of garlic, minced or grated on a rasp juice of half a lemon 1 tbsp maple syrup/raw honey splash of cider vinegar 2 tbsp olive oil 1/4-1/3 cup water (depending on how thick/thin you want this) 1/4 cup tahini salt and pepper 2 sprigs of dill, leaves chopped
Shake up all of the ingredients in a tightly sealed jar. Check it for seasoning, adjust and store in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.