Amy Chaplin, the former executive chef of Angelica Kitchen, was destined to become a vegetarian chef. She was raised by vegetarian parents, who fed her seasonal cuisine, from an organic garden. For birthdays, she got heirloom tomatoes and seeds. Okay, we’re kidding about that one.
Since stepping out of restaurant kitchens, Chaplin’s been cooking for private clients (like Natalie Portman) and sharing her knowledge of vegetarian cuisine on her blog, www.coconutandquinoa.com.
And she’s about to become a celebrity herself, if not for her vegetarian recipes then for her serious organizational methods in the kitchen. We peeked into her stunningly arranged jar-filled fridge.
Let’s start at the top: What are all of the nuts and seeds on the left side of the top shelf? I toast nuts and seeds and then put them in the refrigerator—I think the flavor is better and they last longer. Pumpkin seeds are a great snack—I’m always recommending them. I sprinkle black sesame seeds on grains; I put sunflower seeds on my oatmeal every day. Oh, and next to the seeds, it’s brown rice. I’ve always got some kind of cooked grain.
What’s in the white glass jar? I make homemade almond milk a couple of times a week. It’s unsweetened with cinnamon and vanilla. You soak the nuts the night before, strain them up, and it tastes so much better than the store-bought. Once you do it, you can never go back! And this has pulp in it, so it’s sort of heartier. I warm it up and pour it over oatmeal.
You have two different kinds of miso. Do you cook with it a lot? Well, I recently did a post on my blog on miso soup for after Christmas when you want something cleansing, so that’s why I have two. But when I’m feeling run down, I’ll have a spoon of miso in hot water, and occasionally I use the dark miso for seasoning. I do love it, and it keeps forever.
Alright, now to the jars. That is a lot of jars. Are you a canner? I’m jar obsessed! They hold all of my other toppings—ground flax, hemp seeds, wheat germ, maca root. I sprinkle all of these on my oatmeal, a teaspoon of each. Hemp seeds I put in salad dressing. The container next to the jars is chia seeds soaked in almond milk. I put that in my oatmeal, too.
Umm…your oatmeal sounds seriously intense. I know! I only cook very little oats, and the rest is all of this other stuff!
That makes sense. What’s the white root vegetable sticking out? I can’t identify. That’s daikon. I usually have radishes, but there weren’t any at the store. It has the same kind of spice taste, so I would eat it raw, or I also put it in the miso soup.
As a vegetarian chef, what’s your go-to dish at home? I always have cooked grains or beans in the fridge—it’s a great basis for any kind of meal. I’ll have some marinated kale on the side and know that I’m eating something tasty and healthy.
A lot of people would say cooking delicious vegetarian meals is a lot harder than cooking with meat? Do you agree? I would say that once you’re organized, no it isn’t. To eat well, you have to be organized. I do think we all have to take care of making sure we’re getting the right nutrients, so you have to have everything stocked so you eat these things daily. I made up a pantry stocking PDF for my readers, which I send out when they sign up for my newsletter. It can really help!