Sunday, August 23, 2009

This one takes the cake!

As promised in my last post, I've got the mango raspberry tart recipe for you.... but first a little trip though miniature cake land....

As you know, I've recently been working on a wedding catering job (for a girl who happens to have the same birthday as me :). This was a really fun, creative project, and I must say I was pleased with the finished product.

Besides the pesto stuffed mushies and nori rolls, there were 10 kinds of miniature cakes, and a chocolate peanut butter caramel tart.

Hmm, I think I'll show you using a photo stream since there are so many pics.

Below: Strawberry Lime Mousse Cakes on an almond crust, garnished with half a strawberry (from Just Desserts)
Mango Cream Cakes on a walnut crust with a crystalized ginger slice (recipe below)
Blueberry cheesecakes on an almond crust, garnished with wild blueberries (recipe from Just Desserts)

Coconut Cream Cake: Coconut crust, creamy coconut filling (recipe from my head)
Chocolate Pecan Cake: Pecan crust, rich dark chocolate, pecan garnish (from my head)

Mint Cakes: cacao crust, mint cream, fresh mint leaf (recipe from Just Desserts)

Banana Chocolate Cheesecakes: chocolate nut crust, choco/banana swirled together (from Sweet Gratitude)

Chocolate Vanilla Layer Cakes: chocolate crust, vanilla cheesecake, chocolate cheesecake, vanilla layer, topped with hard dark chocolate and a coconut whipped cream swirl (recipe from my head)

Lemon Raspberry Cheesecakes: on an almond crust, raspberry in the middle and on top (recipe from Sweet Gratitude)

Triple Berry Cheesecake: on a walnut crust, vanilla and berry cheesecake swirled together (recipe here )

Chocolate Peanut Butter Caramel Tart: Chocolate nut crust, caramel, "peanut butter" filling, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, cashew garnish (recipe in my next book)

OK, I can't help myself, just one more!...a close up of the strawberry and mint cakes.

I made this little tart with leftover filling from the mango cakes - since we've had such a bountiful raspberry crop this summer I decided to paired the two. Mmmm, deliciousness!

Mango Raspberry Tart

2 cups nuts of choice
3/4 cup pitted, packed dates

Grind the nuts and dates together in a food processor. Add 1-2 teaspoons of water if the mixture is too dry and crumbly.
Press the mixture into an 8" tart pan, or use mini tart pans.

2 cups diced mango
1 1/2 cups cashews
1/4 cup agave
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1-2 tbs lemon juice
1/3 cup melted cacao butter
2 cups raspberries

Blend all but the cacao butter, coconut oil, and berries, until smooth and creamy. 
Add the cacao butter/oil and blend until completely mixed.
Evenly spread some of the raspberries over the crust and then smash them down with a fork.
Spread the mango filling over top.
Garnish with the remaining raspberries (and more if needed).

Thats all the cakes for now... always more to come from here though! Have a great rest of the summer!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Summer Eclectic

After a very short, hot/dry stint, the weather has returned to a state of heavy rain, thunder storms,
and humidity. NOT cool in my books, but what can a person do, other than make the best of it? I was in such need of some outdoor exercise yesterday that my friend Lauren and I walked in the pouring rain. Despite wearing our rain jackets, we returned to the house completely soaked from head to toe, but I must say it was refreshing!
While I'm not a big socialite, I really enjoy it when friends return home for summer visits - and I always love a gathering that allows me to bring food! I recently made this 5 layer mexi dip for a get-together. It requires a bit of time, but worth the effort, especially when proving to non-raw friends just how delicious raw food can be.

Layer 1 - Refried sunbeans - soaked sunflower seeds, sundried tomatoes, onion, olive oil, chili powder, cumin, garlic, and lemon juice, mixed into a thick pate in the food processor.

Layer 2- Sour cream - young coconut pulp, cashews, lemon juice, sea salt, apple cider vinegar blended until smooth and creamy.

Layer 3- Romaine lettuce - shredded

Layer 4- Salsa - tomato, red pepper, green pepper, cilantro, lemon juice, sea salt, done in the food processor

Layer 5- Guacamole - avocado, lime juice, lemon juice, jalapeno pepper (wee bit for me!)

Served with a variety of raw crackers... now who can resist that?!

The other week I had friends over for a bon fire (which got rained out, about midnight - no surprise) to catch up, have drinks, and feed them raw goodies. For the savory, I whipped up a batch of the most delicious nacho dip to go with veggies and tortilla chips - I cannot say enough good things about this dip! I make a few mods by subbing all cashews for the hemp seeds, or using half cashew/half hemp, and I always use half the cayenne, since I don't like spicy food. Since I had sweets coming out the ying yang, I served up some of the banana chocolate cheesecake and lemon strawberry cakes that would also be on the wedding menu , dark chocolate cherry mini cakes, and italian chocolate almond zucotto. I don't think my friends could manage another bite by the end of the night!
Enjoying a bon fire beside the lake
We're having a hoot dancing around the fire!

My friend Elisa and I tried to recreate this photo of us together at the age of six. The photo has been on my fridge since last summer when I forgot to bring it to her wedding for old times sake. I think we came close to recapturing our moment of glee from 20 years ago - Fortunately my front teeth grew in!

The next day, I was out in the garden while the hummingbird was busily collecting flower nectar. Luckily I managed to run and grab my camera in time to catch this great shot! Can you find the bird? Isn't he/she beautiful? The pic at the top of the post is the same hummingbird at another set of flowers.

Cold Asian noodle salad was on last night's dinner menu. It was the perfect way to incorporate fresh sugar snap peas from our garden. This dish is simply kelp noodles (which I find are much tastier after being marinated for at least a few hours) and veggies, in a flavorful sauce. Always remember to rinse the noodles really well and then let them sit covered in water with the juice of half a lemon before using in your recipe. No worries if you don't have access to kelp - zucchini noodles are a great substitute!

Asian Noodle Salad

1 bag kelp noodles
generous splash of tamari
squeeze of lime juice
drizzle of sesame oil

Mix the noodles with tamari and oil. Marinate for 4-8 hours.

Note- If you're out of time, you can skip the marinade, but I feel the end result is worth this extra little step.

Veggies (thinly sliced):
Red bell pepper
Sugar snap peas
Bean sprouts and bok choy would make a nice addition.

2 Tbs lime juice
2 Tbs tamari
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs sesame oil (I used toasted for extra flavor, but you could use extra virgin)
1-2 Tbs chopped cilantro
1 1/2 Tbs minced ginger
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp agave or honey

Whisk all ingredients together. Pour over the salad. Garnish with sesame seeds.

If you have any great summer recipes please let me know - particularly anything with peas because we have soooo many in the garden this year and I'm at a loss for ideas, other than eat them "au natural" (which I do love, but there comes a time when you want to enjoy them in other ways), and salads. I'm planning on making a pea soup within the coming days, but have never done it before, so if you've got a recipe, bring it on!

Well, that's it for now, but stay tuned for this delicious, summery mango raspberry tart in my next post...

...and if the sun is shining in your neck of the woods, pleeease send some my way! Much appreciated! :)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Summer Sweets

August is one of the best months of the year, in my eyes. The freezer is full of freshly picked strawberries from a nearby farm, the raspberries in my yard have finally started coming out this week (they're behind this year due to all the chilly/rainy weather), and the wild blueberries should be ready for picking within a few weeks. The sugar snap peas are coming along nicely, the carrots are looking plentiful, the herbs are flourishing, the arugula and lettuce look great, and the zucchini are starting to produce. Talk about abundance!

Amidst working at the camp, lately I've been whipping up a lot of yummy treats in my kitchen. I'm doing a rather large catering job for a wedding in 9 days, consisting of 225 mini raw cakes in 11 flavours, many truffles, nori rolls and stuffed mushrooms. Naturally it's the perfect opportunity to make extra to enjoy, especially with all the summer guests. My all time favourite, strawberry lime mousse cake is on the list, of course, and I found the perfect way to use up a bit of the filling in the bottom of the vita mix! I added a bit of water, ice, more lime juice, a few more berries, and a dash of agave for a super strawberry/limeade.

Mmm, frosty, tangy and slightly sweet - perfect on a hot day.

I used leftover lemon cheesecake filling with strawberry lime mousse filling to create these refreshing, light cakes, garnished with fresh raspberries.

This mint chocolate tart was inspired by all the mint in my garden (chocolate mint to be exact) - much similar to the peppermint chocolate squares in my Just Desserts ebook.
This is another of the cake flavours for the wedding. So deliciously minty and fresh!

Mint Chocolate Cheesecake Tart

1 cup almonds, ground

3/4 cup pitted, packed dates
1/4 cup cacao powder
1/4 cup cacao nibs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a food processor, mix ingredients into a moist dough that presses together easily. Add 1-2 teaspoons water if needed.
Press the mixture into a 6" tart pan. Set aside.

2 1/2 cups cashews
1 cup lightly packed mint leaves
1 cup water
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons agave
5-8 drops mint essential oil, or to taste
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of Himalayan salt
3 tablespoons cacao butter
2 tablespoons coconut oil

In a blender, combine all but the butter and oil until smooth and creamy. Start with less mint essential oil, as it is very strong! Now add the last 2 ingredients and blend to incorporate. Taste the mixture - add more mint oil if needed (or mint leaves).
Pour into the crust and spread evenly. 
Chill the tart for at least 6 hours, or even better, overnight.

Note: You can sub mint extract for the mint oil if necessary.

Chocolate banana cheesecake from Cafe Gratitude made it into the cake lineup too! This cake is absolutely amaaaazing - if you like banana, of course - BUT I will say that even my mother, who finds banana revolting, really enjoyed a piece of this cake. I ate it with banana slices, but found they didn't look so good on the cake with the pretty swirl. I was thinking for next time, it might be nice to put a layer of sliced bananas over the crust before pouring the filling in.

And last, but not least, I have a cute poem to share with you that my mom wrote about me after visiting me with some friends at work one afternoon.

But first, I must tell you a funny little story... when a childhood friend of mine was home for a visit in recent months, is somehow came up that I would only answer to my full name when I was a little girl (we went to daycare together) - "Heather Sarah Lee Pace!" she exclaimed, imitating little me. OMG! I laughed so hard. My full name is Heather Sarah Helene Pace, but I guess saying it quickly as a little girl, it came out as "Sarah Lee" - she thought that was my name all these years - and I figure it's kind of fitting considering my love for desserts! :)

Now, for the poem....

We visited her on Saturday
The young woman called Sarah Helene
We were enchanted by all she was doing
In an environment so pristine!

We felt the magic immediately
As we saw a grin on her face
While she created wonderful meals & snacks,
Loved by everyone in the place.

We wondered what made everything so special,
Delicious and appealing to taste
Until we realized we were under the spell
Of Heather "Sarah Lee" Pace!

This young woman's cooking is her passion
Her creative outlet well known
Which delights the palate of many
From far away and back at home!

Because she is so close to nature
Using Mother Earth's ingredients at best
She incorporates into food she prepares

Tasty wonderful flavors with lots of tangy zest!

So happy were we as we munched on her snacks
And walked down the forest trail
Along the rocks at the water's edge
Beauty without fail!

Our friends were happy and so were we
Enjoying nature often unseen
Feeling content with our bellies full
Of the creations of Sarah Helene!

Written by Elaine Pace

Well, thats all for now! Hope you're having a great summer, and are getting warmer weather than we are!