Evi Oravecz is a freelance photographer, recipe developer, passionate vegan, and the girl behind the blog Green Evi. We recently had a chance to speak with Evi about Hungarian cuisine, a plant-based diet, and helpful hints on photographing food.
Tell us a little about yourself. Why did you decide to start a blog?
I’m a twenty-something food photographer, dog lover, and blogger. I grew up in Budapest, Hungary, but currently live in Hamburg, Germany and work as a freelancer.
For a very long time, I thought cooking was absolutely boring and nothing more than another necessary chore. Then one day a few years ago, something changed and I realized that cooking is such a fun (and at the same time relaxing) hobby. Being in the kitchen made me ridiculously happy and I wanted to share this feeling with others. Blogging is a great way to do so and to connect with people from all around the world.
Since you are Hungarian, could you tell us what are some of the traits and characteristics of Hungarian cuisine?
Traditional Hungarian cuisine is mainly based on meat and dairy, but luckily there are many dishes that can be interesting for people on a plant-based diet, too. Potato stews, bread rolls, and veggie soups are some of my favorite Hungarian comfort foods. You can get pretty creative with classical ingredients and dishes, but a good quality sweet paprika should never be missing.
What are some of the health benefits that you enjoy by adhering to a plant-based diet?
When I went vegan, I primarily focused on the ethical side of the lifestyle and I didn’t care much about the health benefits of a plant-based diet, especially because I knew that plant-based doesn’t automatically mean healthy. However, I have to admit that since adopting a vegan diet, I’ve never felt better both mentally and physically. I sleep better, I have much more energy every day, and I haven’t had a cold for over 2 years. It’s still so fascinating to me what wonderful things plants can do to our body.
What can you find in the farmers’ markets that you visit frequently that you often can’t find in stores?
Farmers’ markets are truly magical places. I love that personal approach where you can talk with the vendors and try their beautiful fresh produce. I am always impressed by interesting fruits and veggies, and it’s so great to find something new every time I go there. Purple kale, rainbow carrots, edible flowers, wild herbs, golden beets, and fragrant mushrooms are my absolute favorites.
Is it possible to be a vegan and still satisfy your sweet tooth?
Absolutely! I can’t think of any dessert that couldn’t be made easily in animal-free form. There are many simple ways in vegan baking to get the same tastes and textures as with the traditional sweets, so you can make fluffy, soft, dense, doughy, chocolaty, or creamy desserts – whatever your sweet tooth desires.
As a photographer, could you give us some tips on how to take better photos of food?
Despite the fact that I studied photography, my first food photos were embarrassingly bad. I struggled a lot with styling, lights, and backgrounds until I could finally take some pictures I liked. What actually helped was practicing – basically taking the same pictures over and over again until I learned how to make them look good.
So the best advice I can give is: practice a lot and don’t be afraid of experimenting! Get creative with your props and backgrounds. An old door, random newspapers, a rustic shelf, or even a broken glass can work so well in photos. It’s always good to use natural light, but you can play a lot with black or white papers, mirrors, tin foil, or a half transparent cloth to create interesting light and shadow effects. Probably the most basic and easy trick I like to use is adding some fresh herbs to my dishes. They just make everything look so appetizing.
Are there any foreign foods that you simply can’t resist when you travel?
Since I’m a carb lover, I have to say trying a delicious local bread is an absolute must when I travel. But I also love to visit local restaurants and taste anything new and unfamiliar.
Finally, could you share with us one of your favorite vegan recipes that is always popular with friends and family?
My Vegan Olive and Artichoke Tart is probably my most popular recipe ever. It’s savory, hearty, loaded with veggies, and full of flavor, and the texture is spot on. It’s also totally customizable, so it’s one of my go-to recipes to use up leftover veggies.
VEGAN OLIVE AND ARTICHOKE TART
PREP TIME: 10 mins
COOK TIME: 40 mins
¾ cup of cashews, preferably soaked
1 can of cannellini beans
1 tbsp mustard
1 lemon, juiced
2 cloves of garlic
2-4 tbsp nutritional yeast
1.5 tsp oregano
1.5 tsp basil
1 tbsp summer savory
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 cans of artichoke hearts
½ cup pitted kalamata olives
1 cup of frozen peas
1 pack of puff pastry* (make sure it’s vegan)
- Add cashews, beans, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, nutritional yeast, herbs, starch, salt, pepper, and about ⅔ cup of water*** to a blender and blend until completely smooth.
- Press puff pastry into your baking forms. I use a large 23 cm/9 inch dish, but you can use 2-4 smaller dishes instead. Prick pastry with a fork a few times.
- Spread half of the cashew-bean mixture over the bottom of the tart, then layer artichoke hearts, peas, and olives. Pour the rest of the mixture on top.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes at 200°C/400°F. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
*You can use any of your favorite quiche/tart bases; but I was lazy, so I went for puff pastry. But it’s going to taste way better with a homemade one!
**Use black salt for a more eggy taste.
***For an even creamier result, use plant milk instead of water. Or for an extra fancy version, use white wine.
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