Friday, November 30, 2007

Two Raw Divas - One Kitchen


This story begins with Chef Russell James’ famous Mediterranean AlmondBread. Yup…this is how the Divas were reunited. It was on the Raw Food Talk forum about a year ago that Carmella and I met. It just so happened that we each decided to make Russell’s bread at the same time and began chatting about it, only to discover that we had much more in common than our passion for creating raw food.
Soon we were emailing each other about our newest kitchen creations, and sharing ideas. I was amazed by this woman’s talent – she doesn’t have any culinary training and yet is a master gourmet raw chef! I have been thrilled to read and try recipes from her well known blog, The Sunny Raw Kitchen and her popular forum, Raw Freedom Community, which is about much more than raw food. It is the perfect place for support, sharing, knowledge, friendship, and the best raw food recipes around!

Carmi (the nickname I gave her) and I talked many times about spending time in the kitchen together “one day”, and creating a series of recipe books. Well, our dream came true recently when I made a completely spontaneous decision to fly out West to spend 9 days with Carmi and Don. Woo hoo!!! I think she fell off the chair when I told her, as neither of us were expecting a visit so soon!

It was really easy for each of us to start compiling “The List” of things we wanted to make during my visit. We also decided that we would work on new recipes to create a joint recipe book, and test some of the creations that will be in my dessert book. I can’t even describe the excitement I had during the week leading up to the trip!!!! Carmi and I chatted daily, dreaming up all the things we could make - my brain started going a million miles a minute, and I hardly slept!

…And the journey began…

The most interesting thing happened during my travel. I got delayed in Calgary because the weather was too poor to fly into Castlegar, where Carmi and Don would pick me up. Oh dear! Another day of waiting! But, as everything is part of a divine plan, it was meant to be and it worked out for me to stay with Don’s sister, Sandy. The freaky part is that Sandy and I have chatted though email because we were going to meet up in Australia earlier this year when we were both there! So, here we got to have an “unplanned” visit, full of talking/eating raw food.
Sandy and her husband were extremely hospitable to me and I thoroughly enjoyed my visit with them – I feel like Sandy and I are old friends. She has a lovely energy and is full of life!
I had a blast in their kitchen preparing dinner for the three of us, and even got to test one of my blueberry desserts on them. I think it was a thumbs up!

The following day, all was a Go for travel, yay! I was greeted with the most awesome welcome sign at the airport. Finally, I was “in human form” with Carmi and Don!!!! OMG OMG OMG! It was like a dream! A bit of doubt crept into my mind as I was nearing my destination, but as soon as I was standing there, talking with these two wonderful people, I knew this visit was RIGHT.

The guys on RFC wanted to make sure that Carmi put maple leaves (instead of flowers, haha) in my hair upon arrival...so that's what I got :)


Ah, notice those beautiful mountains in the background?



Thinking back now, my visit feels surreal. And I can’t even remember what exactly we did each day because they’ve all sort of melded together in my mind. What I do remember is that on my first day, I was served the most delicious dinner! Soup, salad, and Carmi’s famous lasagna (in her book), which is absolutely to LIVE for!!! For dessert: her chocolate strawberry shortcake! Heaven in my mouth I tell ya! Thick chocolate cake layered with fresh strawberries and the lightest whipped cream I’ve ever had! She made this before with bananas, which I haven't tried but imagine to be just as amazing as with the berries.





I’m pretty sure that after that, we started planning what we would make the following day! Real keeners we both are!

Our days together started off with a big glass of fruit fruit/veg juice made by Don, the Juiceman! Mmmm!.Morning exercises included The Tibetan Rites that Carmi taught me, yoga, and sometimes a morning walk.
Then it was on to food prep…for the rest of the day! Yipppeeee!!!! I was excited to be working alongside my kitchen diva sister! I got along with Carmi like a house on fire, the way we do in virtual life! Even Don commented something along the lines of “you girls work extremely well in the kitchen together”. I guess we had just floated along so well together that I never even stopped to think about it until he made the comment. We had a blast, literally dancing around the kitchen like crazy people, while Don thought we had gone insane, LOL. Yay, someone as silly as me!

Lunch consisted of Juiceman’s (Don’s) green smoothie! Pure goodness to fuel us through all that play!

Like I said, I don’t remember exactly when we made what, but here are some of the scrumptious goodies that we pumped outta the kitchen that week:

-Pockets : Greek, Asian, and Italian - Carmi's idea and an ingenious one as far as I'm concerned! These are delicious! Kinda like pizza pockets with a soft crust on the outside, full of different flavoured goodies on the inside.


- Crab cakes with tartar sauce - By Cherie Soria (printed in Purely Delicious Magazine). These are wonderful! I haven't eaten many crab cakes in my day, but I think these are close to the "real" thing.



- Cheesey ravioli in rose sauce - another one of Carmi's ideas. Something she remembered from her cooked food days and wanted to re-create. It worked out really great and was yummmers!!!


- Samosas with curry sauce and Mushroom Byriani - Carmi made this for dinner one night, and it was amaaaazing! I could eat that curry sauce as a pudding!


- Snow drop’s sesame chicken and marinated veggies - Snow Drop from RFC came up with this recipe and I encourage anyone who is reading this to make it ASAP! Yes, even if you never liked chicken, like me. You could even just enjoy the sauce on veggies, or as salad dressing.






- Cream of Mushroom Soup - Another Diva creation. We played around and came up with this wonderful creamy soup.




-Veggie/Pesto/Cheese Pizza - We made this for the raw potluck and thought we might have leftovers but no such luck. It was devoured!


- Spinach Quiche - another one of our new creations.
Oh so creamy! Mmmm! I loved it, and Carmi has since worked on another variation. Woo hoo!







- Noodles with Diva balls in mushroom sauce - new creation of ours. Soft linguine noodles bathed in mushroom sauce, topped with diva nut and veggie balls!











- Butternut Spice Muffins - These were all Carmi's doing. Perfect for this time of year, but I'd gladly eat them any time!



- Tropical Smoothie - We made this smoothie one day for lunch. It was yumalicious! Fresh pineapple, persimmon, banana, orange, and pomegranate.


- Strawberry Lime Cake - Of all the desserts I've created, this is my favourite. I have made it so many times and was really happy to make it for Carmi and Don.









- Chocolate Cinnamon Ice Cream - I had been wanting to do something with chocolate and cinnamon, so this is what the Divas came up with! Even with the cold weather we enjoyed it!

- Chocolate Orange Cake - My vanilla Cake layered with chocolate creme and orange creme, topped with juicy fresh orange!



- Oatmeal Raisin Cookies - This is my favourite cookie recipe...soft and chewy, just the way I loved them as a kid!









- Coconut Lime Cookies -
Carmi and My experiment which turned out better than we expected.









- Blueberry Cheesecake - Blueberries and chocolate - who knew they go together so well?!
This recipe was inspired by the millions of wild blueberries I pick in the summer.



-Maca and Goji Cake - Chocolate maca cake layered with goji berry cream, and bananas, topped with coconut cream and pomegranate seeds.

Some of the things we made, not pictured here:

- Mint Ice Cream
- Chocolate Mint Squares
- Fennel and Tomato Tarte
- Stuffing
- Diva burgers
- Maca Cookies
-The Best Coffee Ever
- Apricot Macadamia Cookies
- Granola Bars
- Gingerbread Cookies


I’d definitely say we accomplished a lot! Every night was a feast! It always started with a delicious soup, then mixed greens salad topped with Carmi’s home grown sprouts and yummy dressing, main course of one of delights of the day, and finally, dessert.

(Here are the kitchen divas at work...actually at PLAY, because we love it so much)

My time spent with Carmella and Don is a really special memory. They welcomed me into their home with open arms and treated me like a member of their family.
Carmi is a beautiful person inside and out, with such a big loving heart. I wish she lived closer and we could hang out together all the time – but I know we will meet again. I have never met anyone as passionate as me, about creating raw food!!! Better yet – I’d say that Carmella has the passion and ability to work magic with savory food, the same way my passion runs with desserts. What a team!

As for Don, I had never talked to him before, so didn’t know what to expect. What a character he is! I had a great time listening to all his crazy stories from the past, and gained knowledge from his life experiences. The way I see it, Don has figured out a lot of the keys to life, as a result of his dedication to his inner work. Some of his ideas resonated with my own way of thinking, and some thoughts really challenged me, creating questions and inner discussion. Yay! This is really what I am searching for. Inner growth for freedom in my life. He even pointed out to me “You didn’t just come here to make food.” It’s true.

Don't they live in the most beautiful spot?! I'd love to go back in the summer when its a bit more comfortable to be outside :D
I must also say a huge thank you to the people on RFC who kindly contributed to our Diva adventures in the kitchen. We thought about you a lot and hope you enjoy your cookies!
Part 2 about our trip to RAWfreshing Cuisine will come in my next post. Check back soon!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Raw Dessert Class 101



I held another food class today – Raw Desserts! Yay! My favourite! It was a complete success and the ladies walked away with new ideas, knowledge, recipes, and full tummies!





One woman exclaimed, “I can’t wait to make the cheesecake tomorrow with raspberry topping!” By the end of the class they were throwing around all kinds of ideas, like using the fudge as the crust for the cheesecake, using the mango filling as a smoothie, or thickening it to make a pie. I love seeing that!

Here are the recipes we made today, written exactly as I gave them to the students. We started with my chocolate cream stack which I modified slightly from my original recipe, and then used half of the mixture to make a cheesecake with blueberry topping - then it was into the freezer to get chilling so it would be ready for the end of class!





Next was a banana ice cream demo I did - the ladies were amazed at how it didn't even taste like bananas! Hehe! They loved the idea of adding things like vanilla beans, carob powder, fresh mint, and other fruits for different flavours.


The fudge and lemon dessert smoothie come from Anna of The Raw Table, with a few modifications for class purposes. Lastly, the fruit tarts were made with a mango filling from greenchefs. It is delish!



Carob/Chocolate Cream Stack

Crust:

1 cup of walnuts or pecans
5 medjool dates, pitted

Process the ingredients in a food processor until they are crumbly and will hold together. Press the crust mixture into the bottom of a spring form pan and set aside.


Cheesecake Filling:

3 cups cashews, soaked for a few hours
1/2 – 2/3 cup agave or honey
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted (place the bowl in a bowl of hot water)
1 " piece of vanilla bean (or 1/2 tsp pure vanilla)
¼ -1/3 cup of water

Blend everything in a high power blender or food processor until completely smooth.
Note: This may take a while, so stop the blender and scrape down the sides often.

Chocolate Carob Layer:

2 medium bananas
1/4 cup of soaked raisins
4 soft dates, pitted
¼ cup carob or cacao* powder
1/2 tsp pure vanilla
1 banana sliced

Blend everything but the sliced banana, until smooth.
*If using cacao, add another date to the mixture.

Assembly:

Pour the filling on top of the crust, followed by half of the chocolate mixture.
Sprinkle with a few pecans and sliced banana, and finally the rest of the chocolate.
Put the whole thing in the freezer for several hours to set.
Then remove the spring form pan ring and slice.
Thaw at room temperature for a while if it is frozen solid.


Berry Cheesecake

Use the crust and cheesecake filling, above, doubling the recipe if you are using a large cheesecake pan. Chill the cheesecake and then top with berries.

Berry Topping:
2 cups fresh or frozen berries of your choice
2-3 tbs agave or 2-3 dates
Juice of ½ lemon

Blend all until smooth. Strain to remove seeds if using raspberries.


Carob Fudge

¾ Cups walnuts
¾ C raisins
¼ C carob powder
dash of cinnamon
pinch of sea salt (really, just a pinch)


Preparation:

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth and balled up.
Remove from bowl and press into a glass dish – or shape into one large square with your hands. Freeze until firm, then slice. Double the recipe and keep in the freezer.





Lemon Berry Dessert Smoothie

1 1/2 C nut milk (1/2 cup soaked almonds: 1 ½ cups water)
2 C frozen bluberries
1/2 C fresh young coconut pulp, or ½ cup cashews
Juice of 1 lemon
3 medjool dates, pitted and soaked in water to soften
2 T honey


Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Enjoy!











Fresh Fruit Tarts

Crust:
1 cup soaked almonds
4 dates, pitted
1 tbs coconut oil, melted
1 ¼ cup shredded coconut

Grind the almonds in a food processor. Add the dates and process until smooth. Add the last two ingredients and process into a dough. Press this mixture into tart shells, or 9” pie plate.

Filling:

2 cups chopped fresh or frozen mango
2 tbs coconut oil, melted
1 tbs lime juice
2 tsp lime zest
¼ cup agave

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Fill half of each tart crust with this mixture.

Topping:
Chopped or sliced fresh fruits: kiwi, strawberries, orange, banana, raspberries.


This is the definition of passion for me - Teaching others how to prepare this delicious healthy food. What a wonderful note to end on before flying West for more great raw food adventures with my beautiful sister Carmella….many stories and photos to come....!!!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Raw Combo - Week 5

Another week of meals for my clients! Here is what’s on the menu:

Smoothies:

Banana/Dates/Carob powder/Vanilla/Water

Strawberry/Orange/Banana


Falafel Wrap with Cucumber Sauce

I love this falafel recipe! It’s the perfect replacement for the icky deep fried version I used to enjoy as a vegetarian. I find that the dill flavour in the cucumber sauce really comes out as it sits a while.

Bean-less Falafel
From Alissa Cohen's "Living on Live Food"Posted on Veggieboards Forum

I’m not all that crazy about eating a lot of beans, they just don’t digest well for me. But, I love falafel, which is usually made with chickpeas. The solution: almonds! These are out of this world! Dehydrate them for only a few hours and they come out fluffy and soft.


2 cups almonds
1/2 cup cilantro
1/4 cup parsley
4 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons tahini
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup water
In a food processor, blend the almonds until fine. Add the remaining ingredients, and blend well. Roll mixture into small balls and place on a mesh dehydrator screen. Dehydrate at 105 degrees for 4-5 hours, longer if you desire a crispy falafel.

Cucumber Sauce

Light, refreshing, and delicious. Serve with the falafels.
1/2 large cucumber (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup raw tahini
1/4 cup fresh dill weed
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 Tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Blend all ingredients thoroughly in a food processor or blender.

Assembly:

Use romaine lettuce leaves to roll up the falafel balls and drizzle with the cucumber sauce. Mmmm!

Tabouli

This goes great with the falafel wraps, and also makes a great dish all by itself!

½ large cucumber, diced
2-3 large tomatoes, diced
½ red bell pepper, diced
1 small green pepper, diced
1 bunch of parsley, minced
¼-1/3 cup hemp seeds
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup olive oil
Sea salt to taste

Gently mix all ingredients together.

I made Carmella’s Spinach Quiches…are they ever good! There are a few different versions you can make, here.

Spinach Mini-Quiches


By Carmella Soleil
Crusts
I experimented with two different kinds of crusts as a base for the quiches. One is the ever-versatile calzone crust from Alissa Cohen's 'Living on Live Food'. The other is also found in Alissa's book, and is the crust from Elaina Love's Spinach Mushroom Quiche.
Crust:
From the Spinach Mushroom Quiche recipe by Elaina Love
3 medium sized yellow zucchini, chopped (about 3 cups)
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 cup olive or coconut oil/butter
1 cup flax meal (about 3/4 cup whole seeds, ground)
1 cup soaked almonds (about 1/2 cup before soaking for 8 hours)
1. Blend the zucchini, sea salt and oil until zucchini is smooth.
2. Add the almonds and continue to blend until the entire mixture is smooth. You may need to use a spatula or celery stick to get the mixture to blend.
3. Pour the blended mixture into a bowl and add the flax meal.
4. Here is where I deviated from the original recipe. Using a muffin pan lined with saran wrap, I formed the batter into mini crusts. I put about a couple of tbs of dough in one of the muffin cups.
Then, spread it thinly with a wet spoon (makes it easier to work with) and my fingers, all along the bottom and 'walls'. After a few hours, once the outside shell was dry, I simply pulled on the saran wrap and gently turned the shells over onto the mesh to finish dehydrating.If you'd rather go for larger sized quiche, just follow Elaina's original directions:Shape into 4 pizza shaped crusts on dehydrator screens covered with Teflex sheets. Dehydrate the crusts at 105 degrees for 4 hours.
5. Remove the Teflex sheets and continue to dehydrate until the crusts are hard. It may take 8 or more hours altogether.

Filling:
Spinach Velvet Cream Filling
2 avocados
4 cups spinach
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup fresh dill (or 1 tsp dried)
1 tbs olive oil
3/4 cup zucchini, roughly chopped
lemon juice, to taste
1 or 2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp sea salt or more if needed
Pinch of nutmeg (optional)
2 tbs soaked sun dried tomatoes, chopped (optional)
A few mushrooms marinated in a little oil and tamari, Nama Shoyu, Braggs or salt, chopped up
Blend all of the ingredients, except for the sun dried tomatoes and mushrooms, until smooth and consistent. Add water if too thick. If desired, fold sun dried tomatoes into spinach mixture.Put some marinated mushrooms at the bottom of the shell crusts and pour filling on top. Decorate with a few mushrooms or chopped sun dried tomatoes. Refrigerate for up to 4 hrs or serve immediately.

Sandwich – On Russell’s Sundried Tomato Bread with Tomato, Sprouts, Lettuce and “Mayo”

Elaina Love’s Mayo

2 cups macadamia nuts
½ cuke, juiced
5 stalks celery, juiced
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp paprika
½ cup olive oil

Blend all till smooth.

Pasta Primavera

Zucchini Noodles – using a veggie peeler or spiral slicer
Fresh garden peas
Chopped carrots
Chopped red and green pepper
Grape tomatoes, halved
Chopped fresh parsley
Chopped fresh basil
Lemon Zest

Alfredo Sauce
Adapted from Rawvolution’s Recipe

¾ cup water
½ tsp honey
1 clove garlic
¼-1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tsp sea salt
1 ¼ cup cashews

Blend all ingredients until smooth.


Marinated Greens

Carmi gave me the recipe for this delicious dressing that I then added ginger to.
1 large bunch kale, chopped

Massage kale with sea salt to draw out the liquid. It makes the kale look soft and cooked.

Dressing:
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
¼ cup nama shoyu or tamari
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
Few tablespoons of tahini to thicken
1 small clove of garlic
1 tsp agave
1 “ piece of peeled ginger
Bit of water

Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Mix with the kale.

Apple Pie

The recipe is in a previous post, here .

Lemon Ginger Coconut Tarte

From The Raw 50…this is full of coconut, fresh ginger, and lemon juice. Really delicious!
And that wraps up another week!


Thursday, November 1, 2007

Holiday Flavours




Yesterday I was in another "Fall" mood...well except that its past fall, and as I prepared these recipes in my kitchen, there was snow falling outside!! Can you believe it?! Fortunately, it didn't last long, and the white stuff is gone by now.
I had some really ripe pears lying around, so made these pear tarts, which don't look like much in the picture, and yes are really simple, but thats what I like about them. I love the flavour and soft texture of the pear mixed with maple and ginger. Another ingredient that I think of around winter/holidays is cranberries! Oh so pretty...and yes a bit tart, but that can be worked with to create delicious desserts.



Maple Pear Tarts

Crust:
2 cups walnuts
½ cup dates
½ cup shredded coconut

In a food processor, mix these ingredients into a smooth dough.
Press some dough into the bottom and up the sides of small tart shells.

Chill in the freezer while you make the filling.


Filling:
1-2 cups soft and ripe, peeled diced pear (diced small)
¼ cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp lemon juice

Gently mix all ingredients together and let the pears macerate in this syrup for anywhere from 1-6 hours. Then spoon some of the pear mixture into the tart shells with a bit of the syrup. Serve immediately.

* For a pie, press the crust into a 9” pie shell, and double the filling ingredients.




Cranberry Orange Pie



The cream filling of this pie is pretty delish! The cranberries can still be a bit tart, even after “baking” them in the syrup. So this topping is completely optional, and looks really pretty but isn’t necessary to make this pie.

Crust:

Make any nut crust of your choice or you can use the same recipe as the pear tarts above.
Press into a 9” pie shell. Chill while making the filling.


*Cranberry Orange Cream

This cream does not firm up much even after chilling a while. If you prefer a firmer filling, add some cashews and blend until smooth.

1 cup cranberries
2/3 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup packed young coconut (mine was quite firm)
4 large medjool dates, pitted
¼ cup agave
1 tsp orange zest
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp lemon juice

Blend all ingredients until completely smooth and creamy. Spoon into the pie crust.

Topping:

1 cup fresh cranberries
¼ cup pure maple syrup
¼ tsp orange zest

Gently mix the cranberries with the syrup and zest. Spread on a teflex sheet and dehydrate at 115F for about 5 hours or until the cranberries become really soft. Spread the berries over the cranberry cream.

*This cream is great over chocolate cake (the pic at the top of the page) - Mmmm! It also makes a great dip for fruit.







*Another Idea: Use dehydrated pear slices to make a pretty dessert. On top of your favourite cake, stack the pear with cranberry cream in between, and voila!

Cran-Apple Juice. I just love this drink whenever the grocery stores are carrying fresh cranberries. Juice a few apples and a few handfuls of fresh cranberries - careful not to add too many or the juice will become too puckery!


So these are just a few holiday treats to try! Enjoy!