Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Chocolate Seaweed

Yesterday I took a second attempt at working with Irish Moss, a sea plant that is commonly used as a gelling/thickening agent in puddings, ice creams, jellies, etc. Aside from the all the health benefits (high in minerals and great for digestion, among other things), I was interested in the "jell-o" factor for desserts. During my last visit with Carmi, we managed to find some ground moss at the health food store, and proceeded to try Cafe Gratitude's Cacao Mousse with it. Oh dear, was that ever a catastrophe! It was a disgusting combination of chocolate and seaweed that didn't even appeal to the dog.

Moving mom recently brought me a bag of whole Irish Moss from Halifax and I knew my first project would be to try that mousse again! I rinsed it, soaked it over night, rinsed it again, and soaked longer, totalling almost 24 hours. "This MUST be it!", I thought. It smelled slightly oceany, but I figured it was a long stretch from the ground, unsoaked stuff we used the first time. The end result still tasted and smelled a bit of seaweed, so I doubled all the other ingredients in the hopes of balancing the flavour. It was definately leaps and bounds better than the first batch, but there was still an odd taste lingering. This huge bowl of chocolate looked SO good - dark chocolatey and creamy, with a perfect mousse texture -normally I'd want to dig a spoon into and go to town - well not this time. On the positive side, I was pretty sure I could fix it. The original recipe called for: Irish Moss, water, almond milk, dates, agave, cacao powder, coconut oil, lecithin, vanilla, and sea salt. Today I added a wack of things to about 1 cup of the mousse- shredded coconut, water, macadamia nuts, cashews, more cacao powder, carob powder, more vanilla, and a bit of maple syrup. I am happy to conclude that its absolutely delicious now. Yum yum, I can dig in with a spoon at last! In this Chocolate Chia Parfait, I layered chocolate seaweed pudding layered with sliced bananas, and vanilla chia pudding:

1/4 cup chia seeds
1 1/2 cups almond mylk
2 Tbs maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Stir the ingredients together and let sit for a few hours to over night. The mixture will become thick and jelly-like.

I used the same chocolate pudding to make a "drink", topped with a swirl of coconut whipped cream. Mmmm.

I have a lot more of the original mousse to play with, so I'm thinking a chocolate ice cream would be nice...maybe a berry parfait - if you have any ideas, please let me know! :D I'll definately be purchasing some white moss in hopes that it works out better.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pizza For Dinner

Thanks to Chef Russell's new pizza recipe, last weekend I made a really yummy pizza when some friends came over for dinner. I made the crusts during my last "Savory D Day" (1 large and 5 personal sized ones) and then tucked them away in the freezer for an occasion like this. This way its really easy to top it as simply or gourmet as you want (or have time for). I really think this will be my new staple pizza crust as I am so impressed.

Half of the pizza consisted of: Sundried tomato sauce, seed cheese, spinach, marinated mushrooms, red pepper, and grated zucchini...while I topped the other half with pesto, fresh tomato, caramelized onions, spinach, and mushrooms, with blobs of cheese.

A bit of a warning if you're not a big raw onion fan, like me - the caramelized onions are good, and at the same time they are still raw onions that have been softened in the D (I left them in for double the time he recommends), with the addition of flavour from the dates and tamari. I find that a bit on a pizza is fine, but since I had so much leftover (I halved the recipe and it still made a lot) I ate them in salads, etc, for a few days after - I'll be blunt for a second in saying that I experienced the worst gas of my life!!!! I threw the rest out and don't think I'll make them again. I also know that we're all different, so maybe this only applies to me, lol.

Buckwheat Crust:
500g (approx 3c) buckwheat, sprouted for a few days until it has a small ‘tail’
2 avocados or 1/2c almond butter
1/4c olive oil
1/4c fresh basil
3T Italian seasoning
1/2c sun-dried tomatoes
3T lemon juice
1/2t salt
3 medium tomatoes

• Grind all ingredients in a food processor until you have a paste consistency.• Spread onto a Paraflexx sheet in a circle and dehydrate for a few hours or until you are able to turn it upside down onto another dehydrator tray and peel off the plastic Paraflexx sheet.• Dehydrate for another 8 to 10 hours or until base is dry enough to hold together.

For the caramelised onions
5 large onions, sliced thinly (use a mandoline if you have one)
1c soft dates
3T tamari
2T olive oil
1/4c water

• Blend all ingredients except the onions in a high-speed blender, until smooth.• In a bowl, hand-mix the date mixture with the onions until they are thoroughly covered.• Dehydrate on a Paraflexx sheet for 2 to 3 hours, so they soften and take on a cooked appearance.

I used different recipes for the pesto (I make a big batch in the summer when I have basil in the garden and keep it in the freezer for the winter), tomato sauce, and cheese (I used Rawvolution's sunflower seed cheese), but here are Russell's...

For the pesto
2c basil
1/4c pine nuts
1T olive oil
1/4t salt
2t lemon juice

• Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until broken down, but leaving some texture to the finished pesto.

For the tomato sauce
10 basil leaves
1c sun-dried tomatoes
1c tomatoes
2t lemon juice
1/4 of a medium onion
1 soft date

• Blend all ingredients in a high-power blender until smooth.

For the cheese
1c macadamias
1 1/2T lemon juice
1/4t salt
1/4c water
1T nutritional yeast
• Grind all ingredients in a food processor until you have a fluffy consistency.

On a dessert note (you know I can't help myself) - here's a little dessert platter I brought to a friend's the other night for a dinner. I considered making one dessert, but thought that a variety would be nice, and since I had these leftovers in the freezer, it was grab n' go. Everyone really liked them (in addition to the ice cream and chocolate tart - gotta have something chocolate!). Yay! Another step forward for raw food!

Here we have (clockwise from the top: Concorde Grape Cheesecake, Carrot Pineapple Cake, Blueberry Lemon Mousse Cake, and Oatmeal Date Cake with Orange Maple Filling.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cupcake Bug

I've been bitten by the cupcake bug alright. I'm having so much fun, I can't stop! The best part is that yummy cupcakes can be made with odds and ends and you don't have to make a whole batch, you can just make one! :D

Here I used leftover vanilla cake from the pink n white cuppycakes to make one lone (but giant and deeelish!) cupcake. I piled whipped cream on top, followed by drizzles of chocolate sauce (leftover topping from the rawtess cakes), and a sprinkling of chopped bananas and pecans. I don't have a name for this guy, but it does remind me a bit of Shannon's banana split cupcake. Half of this was just perfect for dessert last know what'll be on tonight's menu. Mmmm...

Into more leftovers, I used the rest of the chocolate cake from the rawtesses, I made these mini cupcakes topped with grape cheesecake filling. Then I simply piped whipped cream on top to make designs.

View from the top - Looks like a big pile of "who know's what", eh? But it sure does taste grrrreaat!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Choccie Chocolato

It's no secret that I love CHOCOLATE - and since I haven't posted anything chocolate in a while, I figure it's high time. Here, I've used a few base recipes create an assortment of yummies. I've been itching to make Shannon's rawtess cakes since she made them, so yesterday I got to it. The funny part is that I've never eaten a hostess cake, but her version looked too darn appealing to pass up. They're quick and easy to assmble if you have some nut pulp, and coconut or nut mylk on hand. I always have a batch of almond mylk in the fridge, and therefore heaps of nut pulp in the freezer for on occasion like this (I make sure to thaw some in the fridge the night before). I also took her advice and made just a few, sparing some batter for other cakes.

Shannon's Hostess with the Mostest Cupcakes

2 cups nut flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4-1/2 cup date paste or leftover raw caramel
2-4 Tbsp. coconut milk (I used almond mylk)
generous drizzles of agave nectar, to taste
1/2 tsp. vanilla
dash of sea salt
*a batch of raw whipped icing
*quick and easy chocolate icing

In a large bowl, combine the nut flour (a mixture of finely ground nuts of your choice combined with leftover nut pulp from making your favorite nut milk; I like using finely ground almonds, mixed with a little hazelnut and Brazil nut pulp), cocoa powder (use the raw cocoa powder if you can get it, which is not the same thing as just grinding up some cacao nibs) and sea salt. Stir with a whisk or use an electric mixer.
Next, add about 1/4 cup of the date paste or raw caramel (I happened to have some leftover after making these raw caramel apples; usually its the other way around), 2 Tbsp. of the coconut milk (although any thickened nut milk will do; I bet Brazil nut milk would be lovely in this) and the vanilla. Whisk/mix, paying close attention to the consistency of the batter.
Add agave to taste, and more of the date paste and coconut milk as needed. Whisk/mix to combine. The batter should be moist, but not so damp that it requires "baking" in a dehydrator (although you could if you desire).
Divide the batter into 3 sections to make life-size cupcakes (these are not the one-bite mini muffin kind), and remove a few pinches of dough from each one. Form the three sections into cupcake shapes, leaving a melon ball size valley in the center.
Fill the cupcakes with raw whipped icing and top them of with the excess dough. Carefully blend in the seams.
Ice the cupcakes with a quick and easy chocolate icing (agave thickened with cocoa powder to reach the desired consistency). Allow to set in your refrigerator.
Then, pipe a swirl across the top with more of the whipped icing (you can use a squeeze bottle or cut a hole in a Ziploc bag, if you don't own piping bags and tips). Enjoy every last bite :-)

Turning to another cupcake now, here are Black and Whites. I used the chocolate batter from the previous cakes to make mini ones, and topped them with a swirly whirl of vanilla and chocolate whipped cream. I think a pink/white swirl would be cute with my Pink N Whites too - I'll have to try that next time.
Whipped Cream
1 cup cashews or a mixture of cashews and macadamia nuts
1 cup + 2 tablespoons fresh coconut milk (simply blend 1 part dried coconut with 3 parts water in high speed blender)
1/8 - 1/4 cup honey or agave nectar (depending on how sweet a tooth you have)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla
Pinch sea salt
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon lecithin powder*

Blend all ingredients except coconut oil and lecithin until smooth. Add oil and lecithin and blend until thoroughly mixed. Set in fridge for about 1 hr.
For chocolate whipped cream, just add cacao and or carob powder.

You might be a bit thirsty from all that chocolate cake. Why not enjoy a Choco-Tini with your cupcakes? :) Kidding! This edible tini/parfait combines chocolate sauce, chocolate cream, and whipped cream, with raw chocolate shavings on top. Doesn't it remind you of Carmi's Chocolate N Cream Charlotte - which looks amazing and I am hoping to try at her place during our upcoming visit! :D

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pink n White Cuppycakes

As I mentioned at the end of my previous post, I'm totally inspired by Shannonmarie's "world of cupcakes" - I was drawn into all those deliciously rich looking miniature cakes and decided to make some of my own. I've never cared for the traditional cooked kind with its flavourless cardboardy cake, (although I did enjoy thick homemade frosting, by itself) yet always liked the idea of a beautifully decorated, personal sized cake.
So the answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind...errr...I mean, is in real-food-raw-cupcakes! These guys have it all - moist, flavourful cake topped with delicious sweet frosting, and any garnish you want - never mind dye filled sprinkles, shredded coconut is where it's at!

Last winter I made my very first raw chocolate cupcakes , after seeing them on The Daily Raw. I made mini ones in my silicone muffin cups (love em!), and had so much fun whipping up coloured frosting to decorate these goodies.

This time I chose to go for the big Kahunas - full sized cupcakes! I just love these little cakes dressed in two of my favourite colours - pink and white :D

To start, I pressed my vanilla cake recipe into regular paper muffin cups, in a muffin pan (so they would keep their shape and even have those "muffin lines" when the wrapper was removed). I then topped the cakes with coconut whipped cream, which I dyed light and dark pink using beet juice. The sprinkles are simply shredded coconut mixed with a weeee bit (a few drops) of beet juice also. So pretty! I love how food is art. On that note, today I watched a video of a Buddhist Monk making a sand mandala - it was the most beautiful piece of art work made out of coloured sand that he tapped onto a huge board to create pictures, using a pen-like device. When he was finished, he "dismantled" it (in other words destroyed it), as a symbol of non-attachment. I was thinking that it's a lot like that with desserts: make beautiful edible art, spend time and energy creating, and then eat it! At least with desserts I get to let go, while reaping the rewards of satisfying my sweet tooth and hunger. Mmmm.

I have lots of other ideas in mind, including Shannon's Rawtess cakes (actually, it's next on the list). In the meantime, I'm going to bore you with more pink n white cuppycakes :D

As you can see, I've become cupcake obsessed already!!! Eeeeks!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Just Gimme Desserts

Yesterday when I clicked to read Carmi's "Recipe of the Week: Persimmon & Coconut Cream Parfait", I sure was in for a wonderful treat! The first thing I saw was a pic of my "Just Desserts" ebook cover -Yowsa! That girl, I tell ya...I had no idea she was planning such a surprise, Hehe! :D I think I actually jumped in my chair, and before reading anything, I emailed her to express my excitement. As I read through her post, my thoughts of the book got pushed to the back of my brain when I saw what she has been up to in the kitchen lately. I'm positive you've already seen, but if not, check out her amazing parfait (Im hoping for one of those in a few weeks during my next visit, as I love persimmons), and even more importantly (this is the chocolate obsession in me), check out the final picture of her chocolate and vanilla charlotte!!!!!! YummmO! Can't wait for that recipe.

Anywho, going back to the book, I am thrilled to announce that "Just Desserts" is FINISHED and will be available within the next few days! Yes yes yes!!! Yippeee Hurray!!! So check back soon if you're interested in a copy :D :) This has been a while in the making, and would not have come to fruition without all the help from my bestest/dearest friend Carmella. She has worked countless hours on this project as my editor, has provided support in every sense of the word, contributed many ideas, and been my inspiration all the way along. As a result, I feel it is no longer just "my" book - it has been a joint effort, and I am forever grateful. On that thought, we have already talked about creating "The Raw Dessert Bible" in the future, featuring a combination of our BEST desserts (plus newbies, of course).

In celebration of this exciting time, here's a new recipe (NOT in the book). A friend who grows heaps of grapes every year gave me a huge jar of freshly squeezed concorde grape juice the other week! Ah, heaven, right?! Naturally I toyed with different ideas, but settled on making this cheesecake, and a sorbet (next post). I froze the rest in an ice cube tray for any other ideas that pop into my mind down the road.

Concorde Grape Cheesecake with Fig and Grape Puree
1 1/2 cups macadamia nuts
2 tbs agave
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt

In a food processor, grind the nuts. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse a few times to combine. Make sure the mixture will hold together when pressed in your hand. If not, add a touch (1/2 -1 tsp) water and pulse briefly again. 
Press into the bottom of an 8 or 9" spring form pan.

2 cups fresh concorde grape juice
3 cups cashews
1/2 cup + 4 tsp agave
4 tsp lemon juice
6 tbsp melted coconut oil
2 tbsp lecithin

Blend all but the oil and lecithin, until completely smooth and creamy. Now add the remining two ingredients and blend again.
Pour the filling over the crust. Chill in the fridge or freezer until set.

Fig and Grape Puree:
1/2 cup concorde grape juice
1/2 cup halved, dried black mission figs, packed
1 medjool date, pitted
1 tsp chia seeds, optional (helps to gel the mixture)

Soak the figs/date in the grape juice until plump and soft.
Puree all ingredients, including the chia seeds, leaving a little bit of texture.
Spread the mixture over the filling, or serve on the side!

The bottom line is: Just Gimme Desserts- plain, or beautified on a plate. Either way, I'm a happy camper! (Note: Yes, I enjoyed eating this chocolate creme with a wisk, strait outta the mixing bowl but fear not, this dessert didn't get fed to anyone else but me ;)

Oh, but before I go, I must leave you with a sampling of what will be coming up in the next post - the wonderful world of cupcakes! Shannonmarie inspired me with her tantalizing cakes each day last week, so I took the plunge - I hadn't made cupcakes since last winter, and figured it was high time.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dinner Is Served

I was totally inspired the other day when Chef Russell's most recent newsletter popped into my inbox, featuring a falafel and hummus wrap. I immediately added it to my "to do during next savoury D day" list! Anywho, with this idea on my mind, along with the smoked veggie pizza that Carmi made last week, I whipped up these Smoked Veggie Wraps in a jiffy (umm...really, who say's that? not me, till for dinner, using things I already had on hand.

I combined soft veggie wraps that were in the freezer from a while ago, along with some cashew cheese I had in the fridge, squash cheese I made the other day, and smoked veggies. It was really quick and easy - the only thing I had to do was slice some veg, and assemble.

Smoked Veggies
3 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms of choice
1 cup chopped bell pepper (I used red)
2 cups chopped spinach (my addition)
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 1/2 tbs olive oil
2 1/2 tbs tamari
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp garlic powder (or 1 garlic clove)
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp black pepper

Toss all ingredients in a bowl and let marinate for a couple of hours - OR as long as you have, which was 30 mins in my case, and it proved to be enough time. Drain.

Squash Cheese
Based on an idea from Rainbow Green Live Food Cuisine, I made a dehydrated squash cheese.
I don't have amounts, but I blended Uchiki Kuri Squash (actually I think this is a cooking pumpkin but this was the name given on the sticker - really orange round, super delish and sweet), with some olive oil, ground yellow flax, water, sea salt, and nutritional yeast, until smooth. I spread it on teflex and dehydrated for about 6-8 hours, but it was still quite soft.

Yum yum, these really were deeeeeliiiish!!! You could just as easily use lettuce, collard, or chard leaves to make these wraps, if you don't have a dehydrator or the time to make the soft veggie ones.

So you know that I never have dinner without having dessert too (it's the very best part, right?)!

Here's a new cake and ice cream that I had fun creating. You see, it all started with the huge jicama that my mom carted back from Halifax...after making the mashed taters and eating it in salads, there was still so much left and my mind just couldn't help but think about turning it into something sweet. On first look at the pic, you might think it looks like my white chocolate orange cake , sans the chocolate layer - or at least thats what came to my mind - but this is definately a Fall flavoured cake with the dates, maple, cinnamon, and oats. Mmmmm....

Oatmeal Date Cake with Orange Maple Filling and Cinnamon Orange Ice Cream

1 1/2 cups almonds, ground
1 1/2 cups diced jicama
1 cup ground oat groats
1/3 cup maple syrup (or agave)
1 tbs ground yellow flax
1 tbs melted coconut oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup minced medjool dates

In a food processor, grind the jicama. Add the remaining ingredients, except the dates, and blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and fold in the chopped dates, making sure to evenly distribute them. Let the batter chill while making the filling (it might seem a bit wet but will firm as it chills).

Orange Maple Filling:
1 medium orange
1 cup cashews
2 tbs maple syrup
2 tsp lecithin
1/2 tsp packed orange zest

Blend all ingredients until completely smooth.

Spread half the cake batter into a 6-8" spring form pan.
Evenly spread half the filling on top. Chill in the freezer until firm enough for the next cake layer.
Continue one more layer of each the cake and filling. Chill at least a few hours to set.

Cinnamon Orange Ice Cream
2/3 cup fresh orange juice
1 1/3 cup cashews
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup agave
1 tsp packed orange zest
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Blend all but the coconut oil, until smooth and creamy. Now add the oil and blend to incorporate. Chill and then process through an ice cream maker or freeze in an ice cube tray until firm. Most of all - enjoy! :D

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Banana Cream Pie and Rosemary cream??

In keeping with the dessert theme I have going (ummmm seriously when is the last time I posted a savory recipe?! You know by now where my passion lies ;), here are 2 fabulous recipes I've made in the past week.

Chocolate Banana Cream Pie

Here we go again, it was just weeks ago that I posted another pie featuring chocolate and bananas. Guess I just can't get enough! This recipe is a bit of a collaboration, between me and Cafe Gratitude - speaking of which, I'm a huge fan of their recipes (have a goal of making it to the restaurant one day), and they have a new dessert book out, so I'm stoked! I'm going to order it as my reward for finishing my Just Desserts ebook (to be out very soon). Anywho, the crust and chocolate sauce are my recipes, and the filling comes frmo CG's Banana Cream Pie which sits in a coconut crust and is topped with coconut cream.

Crust: Use a crust of your choice - I used a chocolate nut crust.

1 cup coconut milk (blend young coconut flesh/water)
1/4 cup packed, chopped dates
3 ripe medium bananas
1/2 tsp salt (i used 1/4 tsp)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tbs lemon juice
Turmeric for colour
2 tbs lecithin
1/2 cup raw melted coconut oil

Blend all ingredients but the coconut oil and lecithin, till smooth. Now add the last 2 ingredients. Pour half the mixture into the pie crust and chill to set.
When set, arrange a layer of sliced bananas on top and then pour the remaining filling over. Chill again and then arrange a second layer of sliced bananas.
Top with chocolate sauce or cacao nibs! Enjoy :)

Now into the rosemary ice cream...hehe I'm kidding, I mean mashed potatoes - did I have you fooled at all with the pic? An ice cream scoop makes perfectly rounded mashed potatoes! Actually, did you know that mashed taters are often used in food photography and commercials for ice cream? Yup!

Here are THE MOST AMAZING raw mashed taters I've ever had - they far surpass the cauliflower version that I just can't get into despite the various recipes I've tried. Carmi made this for me during my last visit, and I've been itching to make it ever since - buuut, slight problem - I can't get jicama in my town. In fact, I have to travel 5 hours by car to get one! Fortunately, my mom was travelling to Halifax and picked up a 5 lb jicama for me! Yay mom, travelled all the way back on planes and cars with this baby! Yippee! Enjoy Carmella's version of the recipe from Everday Raw.

Rosemary-Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Adapted from Matthew Kenney's Everyday Raw
Serves 4-6

4 cups chopped jicama
1 1/2 cups cashews
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary (or dried)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
Black pepper, to taste

In food processor, process jicama. Press out excess liquid with a cheesecloth or through a sieve. Place in high-speed blend with the rest of the ingredients. Blend till combined. Serve immediately or warm up in dehydrator before serving.

Carmella's Notes:~ I used a little less cashews than he calls for as I prefer a lighter mixture.

So there you have it - pie and ice cream :)