Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Finally Something Savory!

As you know I have a sweet tooth and love love love my desserts, so naturally this is what I prefer to share with you, plus they're much more fun to post about! I do eat other things too though, LOL. For example, my daily fare normally consists of green juice, raw veggie soup with seaweed, chocolate, salad, and of course, dessert. The juice is the same every day, the soup is a basic combo of any of the following: zucchini, peppers, spinach, avocado, tomato, herbs, and/or celery blended with water and seasoned with seaweed....and my salad is also similar every day, BUT I do change up the dressing every few days so I'd like to share some of my faves - the "tried and trues".

This is an adaptation of a wonderful italian dressing in the book The Complete Book of Raw Food.

Creamy Italian Dressing

1 large red pepper
1 cup water
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, soaked
(amount before soaking)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup packed fresh basil
3 tbs apple cider vinegar
3 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs nutritional yeast
1-2 cloves garlic
2 tsp ground kelp
1 tsp dry oregano
1 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp cayenne (optional)

Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy, adjust any flavours to taste.

Alissa's Italian Dressing is another of my faves because I love fresh basil so much! Let this dressing sit for a few days and the flavours intensify!

1 cup olive oil
1 cup fresh basil
1 cup fresh parsley
1/2 cup dried Italian seasoning
2 scallions
2 teaspoons onion
1 lemon, juiced
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Blend & chill for at least one hour.

I have to say that my #1 fave is my caesar dressing. I just can't get enough - occasionally I go for weeks eating this on my salads and must force myself to make something different, lol. This makes a large batch, so you might want to half it. I usually do that because it has a shelf life of about 6 days max in the fridge.

Caesar Dressing

2 medium avocadoes
1/2 cup cashews
½ c water
¼ c lemon juice
¼ c olive oil
2.5 tbs acv
2 tbs nutritional yeast
1-2 tsp sea salt
1-2 tsp black pepper
2 medium cloves garlic
1 large date

Blend all ingredients until smooth, starting with the lower amount of salt and pepper. Taste, and reseason if needed.

This next dressing posted by Ingrid on Natural Living Cuisine is really nice. I like to add either some lemon juice or more apple cider vinegar as I prefer a bit of a tangier dressing.

Tomato Dressing

Try this fresh slightly spicy tomato dressing on your next salad or as a dip with fresh vegetables. The garlic and pepper give it its spicy flavor.
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon celtic salt
1 teaspoon fresh cracked mixed pepper
1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika

Put all ingredients into the blender, except olive oil, and blend until mixed. While blender is still running slowly pour in olive oil, blend until mixture is creamy. Store in salad dressing bottle and refrigerate. Keeps about 5 days. Shake well before serving.Makes about 1 1/2 cups
Dill-icious Dressing
This is a dilly version of Carmi's house dressing - super delish! It's just as great without the dill too! Makes 3 cups
1/2 avocado
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup water (or until desired consistency is reached)
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 or 3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon miso (or 2 tbs Braggs)
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 cup fresh dill

Blend all ingredients except dill until smooth. Add dill and process briefly. Alternatively, you could finely chop the dill and add it by hand.

So there you have it, my top 5 salad dressings...but I'm always on the lookout for new faves - do you have some great ones to share?!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pure Coconut

Coconut! What a wonderful food! Its versatility makes it a prefect ingredient for both sweet, and savory dishes. I use it in a lot of my desserts- dried coconut in crusts, cookies, cakes, or as a garnish...and ground, dried coconut used as flour. I love young thai coconut eaten straight up, out of its shell, in a smoothie by itself (the water/pulp blended with a bit of ice), with fruit, or combined with cacao powder and dates for a super treat! Mmm, the possibilities are endless.

(This photo was taken in Fiji when I picked and ate coconuts in total abundance...Oh how I dream of doing that again soon!...)

I've been thinking about how even though I use coconut so much, it's not usually a feature flavour - poor coco is getting taken advantage of! I mean, I use coconut oil in raw ice creams, cheesecakes, whipped cream, and cakes - not for the flavour, but rather to create a firm, yet creamy consistency. Same thing with the young coconuts...the soft pulp makes great ice cream, whipped cream, puddings, and shakes, but again, I use other ingredients to disguise this fabulous flavour.

I suppose it was this thought that recently motivated me to make a few coconut recipes. Young coconuts are hard to come by in my town, but weeks ago, my friend Denyse brought some from the city for me to play with. For the first time ever I made coconut ice cream! I seriously can't believe I've never made it before. We sure enjoyed it so much that it got eaten pretty quickly around here. With the mind of a chef, I've been conjuring up all kinds of other flavours that I think would make yummy additions, like: cacao nibs or raw chocolate chunks for coconut chip; mango, pineapple, and banana for tropical, caramel sauce for coconut caramel; berries, etc...

Coconut Ice Cream
2 cups young coconut flesh

1 cup cashews

1 1/2 cups water

1/3-1/2 cup agave

1 tbs pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup coconut oil

Blend all but the coconut oil, until smooth and creamy. Add coconut oil and combine. Chill the mixture and then process through an ice cream maker. Garnish with dried coconut.

My favourite way to eat ice cream is freshly out of the ice cream maker while it's still super soft (or put into the freezer for only an hour or two to firm slightly) - you can definately tell in this pic, as it's becoming a pile of melty balls rather quickly! Another coconut recipe I've recently made is the vanilla almond macaroons from Matthew Kenney's book, Everyday Raw. Boy, are these ever delish! It combines dried coconut with almonds, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla, and almond extract - I thought they might be similar to the mac macs from The Raw 50, but the batter was much much more wet and they turned out to be a cookie more than a macaroon. After dehydrating for 12 hours, they're firm enough to hold, but super soft and moist on the inside - perfect for me!

Needing a little choccie with my coco, the coconut almond joy truffles from Sweet Gratitude satisfy my cravings for this combo. I've gotten so hooked that I've made them a number of times since Christmas, yet they never stay around long enough to snap a photo. The secret ingredient is coconut butter (not to be confused with coconut oil), a blend of pure raw coconut pulp. You've gotta try this stuff on it's own, it's absolutely amazing - like candy!!! I'm not sure why I waited so long to purchase my first jar of coconut butter, which was back in December, but I'm glad I did. Even though I don't use it often, (the truffles are the only thing I've used it for so far) it will be a staple in my kitchen forever. Anywho, in addition to the butter, these gems are made with dried coconut, agave, vanilla bean, sea salt, almonds (which I omitted in this batch), and a dark chocolate cover (I use the one from my Just Desserts ebook).

As I've been writing this post, a yummy coconut based smoothie from my Summer Sippers post last summer keeps coming to mind. So I headed back to the old archives, and pulled the recipe out to share again.

Chocolate Decadence

1 young coconut
(water and pulp)
large handful walnuts
cacao powder
carob powder

Blend everything together and then add ice at the end to make it frosty. This is more like the consistency of cream, rather than a thick smoothie. I add about 1 tablespoon each of the cacao and carob, and then just a bit of the other powders, and agave to taste.

If you like coconut, I'm sure you'd enjoy any of the above recipes...and if you have any great ones featuring coco, please please, share em with me! :)

You'll have to look closely to spot the guy near the top of the tree - see him?! That was in Fiji - he climbed with his bare hands and feet to get us heaps of fresh young coconuts. I was amazed!