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For the grater good

Flip Grater and husband enjoying apero time
Flip Grater and husband Youssef Iskrane preparing a plant-based spread for apéro - an almost sacred French foodie tradition.

Now equally celebrated for her musical talent as for her skills as a chef, Ōtautahi-born and based Flip Grater has recently added cookbook author to her list of talents. Photos Tonia Shuttleworth

Youssef and I met at 2am on a cold September night in Paris in 2012. I was recording my album Pigalle; he was working in a famous jazz bar. As Montmartre closed, my bass player Seba let out his famous hearty chuckle, lifted a finger into the air and said, ‘I know a place … the party will continue!’

We traipsed up and over the hill with our double bass and inappropriate footwear and arrived to Youssef’s smiling face leaning over a balcony. He threw down a key, invited us up, immediately poured a round of whiskies and we settled in. There, nestled into a deep armchair under a large black and white photo of Camus, surrounded by stacks of old books and golden Moroccan trinkets, we discussed the meaning of life, and made plans to save the world.

Food and music were always the binding agents. I toured the world collecting recipes from my audience members and wrote recipe-laden tour memoirs. It allowed me to be constantly discussing food and wine and music with everyone I met. It was my first experience of bobo life on those and subsequent tours … tasting the best wines across Europe, singing with the best punks and crooners, eating the most exquisite food everywhere we went. All whilst sleeping in dirty old venue apartments, running to catch trains, wearing vintage polyester dresses and heels worn down to nails.

By 2018, Youssef and I were living in New Zealand with our daughter Anaïs. My new domestic life and breeder-based fears for the future had me wanting to do more for the planet than writing sad songs. I wanted to promote plant-based eating full-time, not through protesting or education, but via the pleasant, delicious activism that came to be called Grater Goods.

We made a chorizo out of beans and sold it on social media. I rented a small kitchen in an industrial part of Christchurch and cooked there three days a week. I made deli sandwiches for workers in the area and plant-based pilgrims who could find me. The demand grew so rapidly that within a year we’d taken over the whole building, with a team of staff and a bustling retail and hospitality space. A little slice of Paris in industrial Sydenham. A fully plant-based menu of European-inspired deliciousness. Showing everyone who walks in the door that we no longer have to choose between pleasure and principles.

And voila! Here we are now… still staying up all night, discussing the meaning of life and trying to save the world. These recipes are edible activism, ethical hedonism. They’re mostly unfussy, unpretentious and shareable. So please share them. Gather around tables, break bread and leave a ton of crumbs like the French do.

Apéro

Ahhhh apéro! Our favourite time of day and the inspiration for everything that Grater Goods is. Both a noun and a verb, you can have, take, or go for apéro. It can begin any time between 3pm and 5pm and last between 1–5 hours. It is simply the act of stopping your day, having a glass of whatever and a snack prior to dinner, usually with others.

Escarfaux

Our daughter Anaïs calls this ‘mescargots’ as in, my escargot! It’s a great way to use wild mushrooms in autumn but can be made any time of the year with Paris button mushrooms. Serve with bread to mop up all those garlicky juices.

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS
8 medium button mushrooms
cup vegan butter (or dairy-free spread)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small shallot, finely sliced
6–8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ cup Chardonnay
½ cup vegetable stock
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 sheet nori, cut into small pieces
sea salt to taste
pinch black pepper
bunch chopped parsley
crusty bread to serve

METHOD

  • Cut mushrooms in half, then each half into 2 or 3.
  • Gently heat butter and oil in a pan, add shallot and garlic and warm for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add chopped mushrooms, wine, stock, vinegar, nori pieces, salt and pepper. Simmer for approx. 20 minutes, until the liquid has reduced substantially and thickened.
  • Taste and season if needed. Toss plenty of parsley through the mushroom mixture and serve immediately with crusty bread.
cashew ricotta

Cashew ricotta

This is a version of one of our classic cheeses created by our brilliant production manager Sonya. She’s been with us since really early days and helped make Grater Goods what it is today. She’s incredibly hard working, caring and hilarious and we love her.

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS
260 g soaked cashews
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ tablespoon flaky sea salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 clove garlic
¼ cup water

METHOD

  • Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender, scraping the sides as needed. Chill and eat.
  • This is a basic dairy-free cheese recipe. It’s super easy as it doesn’t require draining with cheesecloth or culturing and can be used as a spreadable ricotta-style cheese. If you want a set cheese, simply put this mixture into a mould and freeze. Remove from mould and coat in cracked pepper, dried dill or chopped parsley and serve chilled.

A word on cashews: Cashew pieces are ideal for a lot of this kind of recipe as they soften faster and they’re loads cheaper. They will blend best if soaked overnight but if you’re disorganised (like me) simply pour boiling water over raw nuts and leave for at least 10 minutes before blending.

Super seed bark

Makes 1 oven tray

INGREDIENTS
1 cup gluten-free flour
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup linseeds
¼ cup sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 tablespoons hemp seeds (switch out any of these for other seeds or even rolled oats as a cheaper option)
1 cup hot water
¼ cup rice bran oil

METHOD

  • Line a baking tray with recycled baking paper and preheat oven to 170°C. In a bowl, mix dry ingredients together well.
  • Combine water and oil and add to the dry mix. Spread mixture as thinly as you can on the lined baking tray. It’s a sticky mess at this stage but have faith! Use a wet spatula to spread as evenly as you can and don’t worry about rustic edges.
  • Place back into the oven for 50–60 minutes until golden. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container.

Excerpt and photos from The Grater Good by Flip Grater, Koa Press, $44.95

escargot table
Escargot table
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