Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!


Wishing you a Happy Easter! Since I've been home from Australia, I've had such an urge to get creative in my kitchen again. The list of things to share is piling up, but time is short, so here are just a few of the latest goodies and recipes.


With heaps of almond pulp in my freezer just begging to be used, it was time to fire up the dehydrator. Dried almond flour, cereal, and cookies (next post) were the result...

Raw Vegan Oatmeal Crunch Cereal

I've made this cereal multiple times over the past two years (never got around to posting it until now). It reminds me of some kind of boxed crunchy oat cereal and I think it's scrummalicious! If you want squares, spread it out thin on your teflex sheets and score into the size you want. If you want little clusters, add an extra 1/2 cup dry coconut and simply sprinkle bits onto the teflex sheets. 


1 cup packed almond pulp
3/4 cup dried shredded coconut
2/3 cup oat flour
1/3 - 1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon himalayan salt

Mix all ingredients together. 
Spread out on teflex sheets and dehydrate at 145F for 2 hours. 
Turn the temperature down to 115F and continue to dry for 8-10 hours (or until dry and crunchy), flipping onto the mesh screen halfway through.


If you want little clusters, add an extra 1/2 cup dry coconut and simply sprinkle bits onto the teflex sheets. 

It appears that April is the month of Birthdays. Eight of my friends, plus my mom celebrated this month. I whipped up Creamy Carob Cheesecakes for my friends Pammie, and Nicole in the past week. I love this cake - it's extremely soft and silky with a very light milk carob taste. 


Pammie blowing out the candles on her cake...

I also made my favorite carob creation, Carob Nut Cups. They're the best replacement for cacao that I've ever had. I got Anya into these in OZ, and there we were in the little caravan, stirring up batches of carob "chocolate" hehe.  They're great when you need a little break from cacao, and they're what got me through  my 3 1/2 month cacao hiatus. 

Upside down carob cups dusted in carob powder. 

Carob cups with cashews, goji berries, and bee pollen. 

Tower of carob cups. You can see the pollen that floated to the bottom. 

I hope you're having a magnificent Easter!

Shared at Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Australia - A Raw Dinner Party


My remaining weeks in Australia were spent in Byron Bay (surprise surprise). After trying to find some decent accommodation and bouncing around from place to place, I ended up at Anya's new abode - a little caravan on a friend's beautiful property. I was offered this boat to stay in, but the conditions inside were such that it was no possibility). Somehow, we made it work in the little caravan, and with my dear sisters energy, it felt more homey than anywhere else I could have stayed at that point.


It was a rather hilarious time and we continually found things to laugh about: the tiny couch as my bed, no running water, our makeshift outdoor kitchen, the door that swung open if it wasn't properly slammed shut (and yes it flew open in the middle of the night on a number of occasions), muddy floors when it rained, peeing outside in the night since we had to use someone else's toilet, sharing one towel between us, hitch hiking home from a party in another town one night, having to be on constant watch out for the deathly King Brown Snake which was lurking and we saw one day.... and other funny things. Great memories!

Recently, Anya and I put on a raw dinner party for 20 people. After spending heaps of time running around to find organic ingredients, we got to work in our outdoor kitchen. Much to our dismay, it rained most of those days and when the wind came we got sprayed. Fortunately we had cover overhead and forged onward!


We created the menu below, with 2 options for the appy, entree, and dessert. We also made a platter of cute heart choccies to go with the biodynamic wine/champagne.


Menu

Appetizer


Caesar Salad - with peppery avocado dressing, buckwheat croutons and rawmesan


Crackers and Dips - italian herb crackers, cheddar cheese, walnut crackers, zucchini hummus and cucumber


Entree


Lasagna - zucchini noodles with basil pesto, sundried tomato sauce, marinated mushrooms, and seed ricotta cheese with spinach


Mexi Fajitas - marinated veggies in romaine wraps with sour kream, salsa, and guacamole


Dessert


*Mandarin Dragon Fruit Swirl Cheesecake - with tropical fruit salsa and dark chocolate sauce


Chocolate Truffle Tart - in a cacao nut crust with raspberry sauce and vanilla bean ice cream


Dark chocolate hearts with walnuts, goji berries, cashews, and cacao nibs



Caesar Dressing

This is my favorite caesar dressing. The fresh black pepper really makes it!

2 medium avocados
1/2-1 cup water
1/3 cup cashews
1/4 cup lemon juice, or more
1/4 cup olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1-2 teaspoons himalayan salt
1-2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2-3 cloves garlic
1 date, pitted

Blend all ingredients until smooth, starting with lesser amounts of salt and pepper. Add enough water to achieve desired thickness.

Rawmesan

1/2 cup brazil nuts
1/2 cup pine nuts or cashews
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
1/4-1/2 teaspoon himalayan salt
1/2-1 small clove garlic, minced

Pulse all but the pine nuts (if using - otherwise the mixture will become too oily) in a food processor until almost ground.
Add the pine nuts and pulse again until crumbly.

Zucchini Walnut Crackers

These are some of the best crackers around. Originally from the book Raw Food Real World, I remember when these started popping up on all the raw food forums years ago as "Just Like Ritz" crackers.

2 1/2 cups walnuts
2 1/2 cups peeled, cubed zucchini
1/2 cup ground golden flax seed
1/4 cup hemp or sesame seed
2 teaspoons himalayan salt
(less if using fine celtic sea salt)

In a food processor, grind the walnuts into crumbs. Transfer to a bowl.
Grind the zucchini into small bits. Do NOT process into a puree! Keep texture. Add to the walnuts.
Stir in the flax, hemp, salt, and water (1/2-3/4 cup). Add enough water to create a thick, spreadable mixture.
Spread evenly on teflex sheets.
Dehydrate at 145F for 3 hours. Turn the temperature to 115F and continue dehydrating for 8-12 hours, flipping onto the mesh screens after a few hours.

Zucchini Hummus

Here's a rough guideline for zucchini hummus. I like mine a touch lemony and sometimes I add cumin, but usually I keep it neutral. For the dinner party we added a handful of cashews to even out the taste, as zucchini often leaves a funny after taste. I've also turned this into a dilly hummus by omitting the cumin and pulsing in fresh dilly after blending everything else.

2 cups chopped, peeled zucchini
1/4 cup olive oil
Lemon juice, to taste (4-6 tablespoons)
3/4 cup unhulled sesame seeds
1/2-1 teaspoon himalayan salt
2 cloves garlic
Cumin, to taste
Optional: cashews (add a bit of water too), or cayenne

Mandarin Dragon Fruit Swirl Cheesecake

*Follow this RECIPE but make the following changes:

Transfer 2/3 of the mandarin filling to a bowl.
Blend pink dragon fruit or white dragon fruit and raspberries into the remaining 1/3 filling with a little extra coconut oil.
Pour the mandarin filling over the crust and pour blobs of the pink filling on top, making sure it pierces through. Swirl the fillings together with a chopstick or knife.

A few production shots...

Assembling fajitas... people thought the dehydrated veggies were cooked, and they thought the coconut sour cream seemed just too real. It means we did our job :)


Plating up desserts. Ketchup and mustard bottles (which you can buy for super cheap) make excellent squirt bottles for these occasions.

A small section of our friend, Al's yard got transformed from this....

Into this...

We had beautiful live music too. Jasmine and her friend are incredible!


As I write this, I've just returned home a few days ago. As much as it's wonderful to be home (I came back early for various reasons), I miss Australia. I miss Byron Bay, I miss the ocean, the beach, the weather, texting/talking to Ulyana whenever I want, the biodynamic yogurt, the raw milk, and especially Anya and all our antics.


Hugest thanks to everyone who made my Australia trip so incredible!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Australian Adventures - Melbourne


A few weeks after my trip to Adelaide, I flew from Byron Bay down to Melbourne for my next adventure. Lucy Stegley of Raw Events Australia kindly organized a raw dessert demo for me at RMIT University. This was a fun event with 85 people in attendance and an intermission where people could purchase delicious raw food from the Realfoods Cafe. I was a busy bee beforehand, prepping heaps of mini Cacao Brownies and Chocolate Chip Cookies for samples. Other goodies I demoed were Strawberry Lime Mousse Cake, Raspberry and Vanilla Chia Pudding Parfait, Granola Bars, and how to open a young coconut. Lucy demoed a Carob Cake Shake.

Raspberry and vanilla chia pudding parfait with blueberries and figs.

How to open a young coconut. 

Making almond milk for the chia pudding. 

That week I spent time with one of my favorite raw food chefs, Omid Jaffari. We had a great time going out and about in the city, and playing in the kitchen. He made me some spectacular food, and he particularly enjoyed my vanilla moonie pies!

A night out with Omid and Paul.

Omid made me this cinnamon chia porridge with caramelized almonds and apples, one morning. Yummm!

Lucy brought me out to her family's beautiful farm one day. I was in a total state of bliss as we picked two grocery bags of the sweetest, juiciest figs from the tree. I'm sure I ate about 30 figs that afternoon. Then it was time to pull out the dehydrator to turn these juicy gems into chewy fig candies. I want to live in a place where I can grow a fig tree!


Under the fig tree which has to be protected from the birds with this net. They still manage to poke their beaks through and chow down a bit. Smart birdies!

Figgies, prepped and ready for dehydration!

We took a little walk on the beach - not exactly swimming weather, but fabulous none the less. I love these little beachy huts.




Back in Byron Bay, my friend Gordy came over from New Zealand for a 9 day visit. We met 3 years ago while working at the same restaurant in NZ, and our passion for food, spirituality, and nature made us instant friends! By day we enjoyed swimming, lounging on the beach, walking and shopping (eeks, I did too much shopping). By night we took advantage of Byron's restaurants - some great, some not so good. Two chefs will always dissect the food, lol. 

At Surfers Paradise, an hour away from Byron where we took a day trip.

I introduced Gordy to the King of fruits - Durian! The verdict? He thought it was ok, but too rich, so I ended up eating most of it. 



I thought Mister Durian needed his portrait on the beach. 

Can you tell that I love the beach???

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ozzie Adventures: Adelaide


The next chapter of my journey brought me down to Adelaide, in southern Australia, for a visit with my other dear friend/soul sister, Ulyana. While we've been online friends, this was our first meeting in person. Wouldn't you know? It feels like I've known her my whole life and she's quickly become one of my best friends. We had a wonderful time together, in fact it was one of my favorite weeks during my OZ trip. Uly rented the cutest little vacation house for us in Hahndorf, a little German tourist town in the Adelaide Hills. The streets are lined with shops, restaurants, museums, and galleries, with many farms and wineries surrounding the town.

A trip down the strees of Hahndorf with our friend James. 

We managed to do a lot of things that week in addition to getting enough relax time outside. Naturally, a few trips to the beach were a "must". One afternoon we met up with Uly's friend Margarita for a trip to one of Adelaide's beautiful white sandy beaches for a special durian picnic. I'm really not sure what's better than indulging in durian dipped in raw chocolate sauce and crunchy cacao nibs on the beach under the hot sun. If you've never tried this combo, you must try it right away - you'll know exactly what bliss I'm referring to.


Margarita's first durian experience!

We enjoyed a big salad lunch at Bliss Organic Cafe one afternoon. It's a great restaurant and shop with lots of raw products and books.

Uly knew exactly where to bring me for organic raw milk. I was so excited! Raw dairy products are illegal in Australia, however producers manage to get around the laws by labeling milk and cream as "cosmetic skin treatment only". I love that this one is called Cleopatra's "Bath Milk". I tried two other raw milks in OZ. Nimbin Valley Goat Milk, and another raw cow milk - Oh so luscious and creamy! My staple breaky was a simple chia seed pudding with raw milk, chia seeds, vanilla bean, goji berries, and cacao nibs. Mmmm. I'll miss that milk!


A small dinner party was in order during the week too. We invited a few people over and made some food. Pizza (Recipe HERE) and salad were on the menu. I also whipped up a parfait style dessert with pudding, crumble and fruit layered together in a big bowl. Much to our surprise (a whole other story on it's own), the hardcore fruit folks, Durian Rider and Freelee showed up with a huge box of dates, figs, lettuce, and a blender. Harley made us datorate (dates and water blended together) which was a fun new treat to some people.

Uly and James on the pizza assembly line.

Sundried tomato buckwheat pizza crusts with tomato sauce, cashew cheese, marinated/dehydrated mushrooms, spinach, and zucchini. 


The gang dining outside.


Another fun event occurred that week. Uly organized for me to teach a raw dessert class! It was a fun time shopping, prepping, and presenting. I did recipe demos/samples of:


Mandarin cheesecake with mango/strawberry topping
Chocolate chip cookies 
Apple peach blackberry crumble
Cacao brownies
Chocolate blueberry pie
Vanilla chia berry pudding parfait
Ice cream with chocolate and berry sauces
Strawberry lime mousse cake with passion fruit


Mandarin Cheesecake with Mango Ginger Topping
(See the original recipe with cranberry pomegranate compote HERE)

Pecan Ginger Crust

1 1/4 cup pecans
1/3 cup pitted, packed dates - finely chopped
1 tablespoon minced ginger*
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Grind all ingredients together in a food processor to create a dough.
Press the dough into the bottom of an 8" or 12" spring form pan.

*grated finely on a microplane

Mandarin Filling

2 1/2 cups mandarin segments
1 1/2 cups cashew
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon maple syrup
6 drops stevia
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon packed orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4-6 drops orange essential oil, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon himalayan salt
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
2 tablespoons melted cacao butter

Blend all but the oil and butter until completely smooth and creamy.
Add the oil/butter and blend briefly to incorporate.
Pour the filling over the crust.
Chill in the fridge for 8-12 hours.

Mango Ginger Topping

2 cups diced mango
2-3 teaspoons minced ginger
Liquid sweetener and lemon juice, to taste

Blend 3/4 cup mango with the ginger, until smooth. 
Transfer to a bowl and fold in the remaining diced mango.
Add sweetener and lemon juice to taste. 
Spoon over the top of the chilled cake, and top with colorful berries, if desired. 

The week was so much fun that it zoomed by at lightening speed, and I was sad to leave at the end. I know I'll be back again one day though!


*Chia parfait photo courtesy of Simone Balestrin.