Category Archives: Sauces, Dressings & Dips

Omega-3 Lemon Balm, Hemp, & Flax Pesto Spread – Vegan

lemon balm pesto

Winter has been very mild here in central Florida this year. My herbs still look great. After pruning back my basil and lemon balm plants, it appeared that it was time to make pesto again. Pesto is one of my favorite sauces! 🙂

I do have one problem with traditional pesto recipes – not only do they contain a lot of oil, they contain a lot of olive oil. Most people have been led to believe that olive oil is a “health food”, and that just isn’t the case. Most plant based oils have omega fatty acid ratios that favor omega-6 and lead to inflammation. As I have a history of inflammatory disease, I try to eat very little oil, but when I do need to use a little in a recipe, I opt for flaxseed oil, which is very high in omega-3 fatty acid, making it an anti-inflammatory food. Flaxseed oil is a little pricey though, so in order to reduce the total amount required in the recipe, I make a thicker pesto spread instead of a sauce. It is wonderful in sandwiches!

lemon balm hemp flax pesto spread

Another ingredient in traditional pesto, which is problematic, is pine nuts. Standard variety pine nuts have THREE HUNDRED TIMES more omega-6 than omega-3. According to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, the Mediterranean variety of pine nuts is much better with a 1:30 ratio. It is significantly better (10 times to be exact), but still very high. We can do even better than that be replacing the pine nuts in traditional pesto with hemp seeds. Hemp seeds have a 1:3 ratio – 10 times better than even the Mediterranean pine nuts. They also have a nutty flavor that compliments the flaxseed oil nicely. By replacing pine nuts with hemp seeds, we have literally made the omega fatty acid ratio of the nut/seed component in recipe one hundred times better

lemon balm hemp flax pesto spread

The last ingredient that I have replaced in this recipe is the cheese. There is a lot of controversy regarding the health benefits of dairy when all factors are considered (whether or not it is from grass fed animals, whether it not it is pasteurized, etc.). Regardless of these things, I’m allergic to it, so dairy is a non-negotiable ingredient exclusion for me. Instead of cheese, I use nutritional yeast in this recipe. It is an inactive yeast that contains all essential amino acids, and multiple B-vitamins. Some brands, like Red Star Nutritional Yeast, are also fortified with B-12. 

lemon balm hemp flax pesto spread

It’s also REALLY good in sandwiches.

gluten free vegan panini sandwich

Omega-3 Lemon Balm, Hemp, and Flax Pesto
This recipe has just a hint of lemon balm, and a few other key ingredient changes that create a much healthier omega fatty acid ratio than traditional pesto.
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Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 cups basil (replace up to 1/4 cup with lemon balm, if desired)
  2. 1/4 cup flaxseed oil
  3. 1/4 cup hemp seed
  4. 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  5. 3/4 tsp sea salt
  6. 1 TB Trader Joe's "21 Seasoning Salute" (or your favorite garlic or Italian-inspired spice blend)
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor until an even, but slightly chunky, consistency is achieved.
Notes
  1. I used lemon balm to replace some of the basil because I had it in my garden, but you don't have to do that for this recipe. It adds a nice hint of lemon to the recipe, but is not necessary.
  2. I experimented with the Trader Joe's seasoning mix since I had swapped out a few other ingredients, but you don't have to use it. You can use a garlic powder based seasoning blend or an Italian-inspired spice blend of your choice, and it would probably still taste great.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

Advanced Raw Cuisine: Day 13

raw vegan linzer cookies

Day 13 of advanced raw cuisine is completed! The day started off with my old friend, the Irish moss seaweed. It has to soak for a few hours so I can make some more Irish moss paste to use in a dessert recipe that is coming up!

irish moss soaking

After the seaweed was put in some water to soak, it was time to learn about mustards, chutneys, and reductions. We were given some guidelines and allowed to make our own mustard and chutney variations to be set aside as candidates for our cheese plates later in the week. We also made balsamic vinegar reductions in the dehydrator that we will be using in the caprese salad plating on day 16!

Recipes for both the mustard and the chutney are included at the bottom of this entry!

The mustard I made is a spicy yellow curry honey mustard. I was very pleased with the way it turned out. My husband has been putting it on his sandwiches. 🙂 

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The chutney I made is a spicy pineapple chutney with some dried apricot and a little fresh mint. It was both refreshing and potently spicy at the same time… a real sinus clearer… my kind of food! 

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This is the easiest balsamic vinegar reduction I have ever made! I didn’t have to worry about watching anything on the stove, or checking temperatures, or making sure anything wasn’t burning! I just put the glass bowl of balsamic vinegar into the dehydrator to let some moisture evaporate off, and after a few hours, I was left with a beautiful balsamic vinegar syrup. 

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As a bonus, we also learned how to make homemade vanilla extract. It is really simple. I can’t believe I’ve never done this before. I took herbalism classes years ago, and it is literally just a vanilla bean tincture. Pour some vodka over the plant matter and let it hang out in a dark place for 4-6 weeks. Voila!

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The other fun thing we got to do today was to assemble the linzer cookies! After making and dehydrating the cookie shapes yesterday, and making the jam, everything was ready. I spread a bit of the raspberry jam between the layers and had a lot of fun taking photos of them. I nibbled a little, but to be honest, my husband was the one who got to eat most of them. They have an almond flour base, and eating too much almond sets off my allergies, so I had to give them up. They turned out to be quite beautiful though!

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After making the liner cookies, we started a cracker recipe, so that we would have some crispy components to add to our cheese plates. I added some garlic and black sesame seeds to give them a more pungent flavor and a nice visual appearance. I really love how they turned out!

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After setting the crackers up in the dehydrator, I blended the Irish moss into a paste and then day 13 was all wrapped up! I’m so ready to go for chocolate making on day 14!!!

Spicy Yellow Curry Honey Mustard
This spicy yellow curry honey mustard blends the exotic and the familiar and a unique flavor combination that is great spread on breads, crackers, sandwiches, etc. If you like spicy food, you will love this mustard recipe!
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Prep Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 TB yellow mustard seed, soaked in cold water for 10 min (use warm water for less spice)
  2. 2 TB yellow mustard seed, unsoaked
  3. 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  4. 1/4 cup fermented coconut water (or use a dry white wine)
  5. 1/4 tsp salt
  6. 1 TB yellow curry powder
  7. 2 TB raw honey
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth and well incorporated.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/
Spicy Pineapple Apricot Chutney
This chutney blends tropical fruit and spicy flavors with fresh elements of mint and basil. It is sure to clear both your palate and your sinuses. 😉
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Prep Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Food Processor ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup chopped pineapple
  2. 2 TB chopped apricot (appx 5 apricots)
  3. 1/4 thai chili, seeded (omit this if you don't want it to be spicy)
  4. 1 TB lime juice
  5. 1/4 tsp of salt
Chopped and folded-in ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup chopped pineapple
  2. 2 TB chopped spearmint
  3. 1 TB chopped basil
Instructions
  1. Blend the "food processor ingredients" in a food processor until well incorporated, but still a little chunky.
  2. Transfer blended ingredients to a bowl and fold in the remaining chopped pineapple and fresh herbs.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

Advanced Raw Cuisine: Day 11

raw vegan thai salad

I’m officially into my third week of Advanced Raw Cuisine via Matthew Kenney Culinary Online. Today marks the start of… wait for it… PASTRY WEEK! We’ll be making cookies, breads, and crackers, and finishing the week with some chocolate making and a cheese plate with the nut cheeses that have been patiently fermenting in the refrigerator. I really loved putting the cheese plate together in the first level fundamentals class. The recipes we worked on today were fabulous. I have no doubt the rest of the week will be a lot of fun. 🙂

It’s time to get back to the cinnamon rolls… They were setting up in the freezer, and then I sliced them. I prefer my sweets in smaller portions, so I made these rolls smaller than usual. Not a whole lot of “swirl” going on, but I think they’re cute anyway. Cutting them down to this size also allowed me to use my sushi mat to roll them, which made the whole process really easy. After slicing, they went into the dehydrator for a few hours to warm up before plating and serving them later today.

raw vegan cinnamon rolls raw vegan cinnamon rolls

The next project was to learn a method for making raw bread loaves in the dehydrator! I had seen some of these before in old raw foods books, but they relied on sprouted glutenous grains, which I am unable to eat. This method does not! We used flours from some nuts and some sprouted gluten free grains for these. The seaweed, Irish moss, was used to hold the whole thing together and give it a bit of a bouncy texture. 

Since these breads will be going on our cheese plates at the end of the week, we were given free reign to add our own seasonings and make our own shapes. The rectangular loaf has some chopped olives in it. In the profile, you’ll see I shaped it like a cute miniature loaf of bread with the little “bubble” at the top. Those high school pottery classes are finally paying off! 😉

The second rounder loaf has a big of molasses and chicory root tea added in to give it a darker color and depth of flavor, as well as some caraway seed. My intent for that one was to be like a faux-rye bread with a biscotti-like profile after it is sliced. I am so excited to see how these turn out!

raw vegan bread loaf raw vegan bread loaf raw vegan bread loaf raw vegan bread loaf

All this pastry work sure does make a girl hungry. Thank goodness there was a salad recipe planned for today. This is a “Thai salad”. We learned more about combining unique ingredients and textures, and also about styling salads. This is a great lesson for me because I absolutely love salad, and I’m always looking for ways to make them a bit prettier. There is a little bit of the spicy sesame dressing peeking out from under the greens, and some more mixed into the mix of colorful vegetables and coconut on the top.

This was an amazingly delicious salad. It’s still pretty warm here in central Florida, so it was nice to have something that was light and refreshing, but still had a lot of flavor. I would definitely make this one again!

raw vegan thai salad raw vegan thai salad raw vegan thai salad

After the salad, it was time for dessert. It’s pastry week, right? Bring on the pastries! =D

Remember that chocolate chili sauce I made on day 10? It’s going on the cinnamon rolls! This was one exotic dessert and I really loved it! The rolls are topped with some chocolate and chopped walnuts (the rolls also have walnuts in them). The drink you see paired with them is a chili-cacao herbal tea with a cashew foam to make something that is kind of a cross between a tea latte and a cappuccino. I topped it with a few slivers of thai chili pepper. Chocolate and chili are one of my favorite flavor combinations! 

This wraps up day 11. Looking forward to more pastry adventures on day 12!

raw vegan spicy chocolate butter raw vegan cinnamon rolls raw vegan cinnamon rolls

Parsley and Dill Hemp Seed Pesto (Raw Vegan)

raw vegan amuse bouche

It’s no secret that I love pesto, and I love to experiment with different varieties because of all the herbs that I’m growing. I’ve been trying to squeeze in as many uses as I can for them before the weather cools and they are no longer flourishing. This parsley and dill hemp seed pesto was created as part of a class assignment, through Matthew Kenney Culinary, to create two amuse bouche dishes.

The pesto is the base for this particular dish, atop which is stacked some red and yellow grape tomatoes, chopped cucumber, thinly sliced radishes, scallion, a few alfalfa sprouts, and some sprigs of dill. A tiny pinch of salt is sprinkled on top to tenderize and enhance the flavor of the vegetables. Every tiny mouthful allows for a little variation in which vegetables are paired with the pesto. It was really wonderful. I enjoyed both eating it and plating it.

Parsley and Dill Hemp Seed Pesto (Raw Vegan)
A delicious herbal pesto made from parsley, dill, and hemp seed. Parsley is a great source of iron and hemp seed is not only a source of good fats, but also offers a full range of essential amino acids.
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Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup parsley, loosely packed
  2. 1/2 cup dill, loosely packed
  3. 1 clove garlic (bonus: use fermented garlic to add some probiotics)
  4. 2 TB hemp seed
  5. 2 TB cup extra virgin olive oil or flax seed oil
  6. 1 TB nutritional yeast (optional if you feel opposed to eating it, as it is not truly raw)
  7. 1/4 tsp sea salt
  8. few twists of black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients in a food processor until herbs are thoroughly and finely chopped. This produces a chunky pesto. If you'd like a smoother pesto, use more olive oil.
Notes
  1. Use 1 tsp dried garlic for a milder garlic flavor.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

Advanced Raw Cuisine: Day 3

raw vegan mezze platter. eggplant bacon. olive bread. hummus. muhammara. hemp tabbouleh.

Day 3 of Advanced Raw Cuisine is completed!

This has been a truly wonderful and delicious journey so far. We are not only creating beautiful raw versions of classic recipes like romesco and tabbouleh, but we are also learning the foundations upon which those recipes are built so that we will have the tools to create our own recipes in the future. Every one of these edible works of art is made from pure and uncomplicated ingredients. This is truly how food was meant to be eaten.

Today, we focused on tomato based sauces, demonstrating this technique with a raw vegan romesco sauce. I used a vibrant yellow tomato that I found at my local market to introduce an extra pop of color into the dish. Not unlike a traditional romesco, we used tomatoes, bell pepper, chopped nuts, and spices to build flavor and texture. The finished product was richly flavorful and vibrant, keeping all of the enzymes and vitamin C from the tomatoes and peppers intact that would otherwise be lost to the cooking process. 

raw vegan romesco raw vegan romesco

 The second recipe we learned was a muhammara. Muhammara is dip eaten in the North African and Middle Eastern regions, traditionally made with red peppers, walnuts, bread crumbs, and olive oil. In the raw version, the dip is infused with a concentrated pepper flavor by dehydrating the peppers first. We also soak and dry our nuts to neutralize enzyme inhibitors, which makes them more digestible. Otherwise, it’s not too different from the traditional preparation, except that we use no breadcrumbs. The other ingredients give it so much texture that it’s really not needed. 

raw vegan muhammara raw vegan muhammara

We’ve also created a tabbouleh, replacing the bulgar wheat with hemp seed, and a zucchini hummus, which amazingly, has a very similar texture and flavor to one made with cooked chickpeas. Mine is a little more orange than usual because I’m currently having a secret love affair with smoked paprika. I love the hemp seed in the tabbouleh because it adds a slightly nutty flavor, good fats, and the complete range of essential amino acids. Besides that, it’s easy to come by and requires no preparation, making this version of the recipe even easier to prepare than its traditional counterpart. 

The tabbouleh recipe can be found on page 88 of Matthew Kenney’s book, Everyday Raw. It calls for sprouted quinoa, but it is easily exchanged for hemp seed. 

The eggplant bacon is on page 58 of the same book. Some basic flat bread recipes are on pages 50-52.

The hummus recipe is on page 85 of Everyday Raw Express: Recipes in 30 Minutes or Less.

raw vegan tabbouleh

Besides the muhammara, humus, and tabbouleh, the mezze platter also contains the eggplant bacon and the olive flatbread we created in the days prior. It all came together nicely with complimentary flavors and textures that were a delight to snack on for dinner. My husband ate his fair share too. 😉

raw vegan mezze platter. eggplant bacon. olive bread. hummus. muhammara. hemp tabbouleh. raw vegan mezze platter. eggplant bacon. olive bread. hummus. muhammara. hemp tabbouleh. raw vegan mezze platter. eggplant bacon. olive bread. hummus. muhammara. hemp tabbouleh. raw vegan mezze platter. eggplant bacon. olive bread. hummus. muhammara. hemp tabbouleh.

The last plate of the day was mushroom calamari with caper and herb tartar sauce and the romesco that was prepared at the start of the day. We cut calamari shaped rings from mushrooms with ring cutters, and then marinaded them to create a softer, more rubbery, and fattier texture… like calamari, but without harming any sea creatures in the process. After marinading them, we “breaded” them with a blend of flax meal and herbs and then dehydrated until the outside was crispy.

It’s really an ingenious process, and the flavor and texture were very familiar and comforting without having that “greasy” feeling that fried foods leave in your mouth. This is food that leaves you feeling energetic, rather than lethargic, after eating it. There’s also no fear of burning yourself with any dangerous hot oils in during the preparation process. 

raw vegan mushroom calamari raw vegan mushroom calamari raw vegan mushroom calamari raw vegan mushroom calamari raw vegan romesco sauce raw vegan tartar sauce

Before the day was over, we also made two batches of seasoned cashews to add some extra flavor and texture in future recipes. One batch is coriander and the other batch is curry. I just love coriander. It is seriously underrated as a spice. Looking forward to making and eating more delicious things tomorrow!

seasoned nuts - curried cashews

Advanced Raw Cuisine: Day 2

raw vegan root vegetable gnocchi

On to day 2 of Advanced Raw Cuisine at Matthew Kenney Culinary! Today’s delectable treats included a raw vegan gnocchi and a vegetable miso soup. Not only was there was ample opportunity to continue honing my skills, every dish provided an opportunity to make culinary art and continue improving my plating skills as well. I have truly enjoyed learning new things each and every day.

The first thing I did today was to do a bit of rearranging in the dehydrator. I checked on the olive bread that I put in yesterday and removed it when I found that it was nice and crispy. In its place, I put in the eggplant that I left to marinade overnight. 

Our first lesson for today was on the second of the five raw mother sauces, the vegetable stock. That’s right! You don’t have to give up that tasty soup or your favorite recipes. We can still make flavorful raw vegetable stocks through juicing, blending, and dehydrating. It doesn’t take any more time than simmering a cooked stock would, and all of the vitamins and enzymes are kept in tact. This is especially important when you consider the heat-sensitive vitamin C and that unlike other primate and mammalian species, humans cannot manufacture their own!

Isn’t this broth beautiful?

raw vegan vegetable stock

 

 

Our next lesson was starting on a root vegetable gnocchi. I really love that we have the creative freedom to customize the flavors and ingredient choices in this class. It allows the recipe creation process to feel a lot more personal when the selected ingredients are close to your heart (and tongue!).

For the gnocchi, we were allowed to select any root vegetable that we wanted. The demo was shown using beets. Indeed, they offer many health benefits and are fantastic liver cleaners. I wanted to use a root vegetable that I hadn’t been able to work with over the duration of these courses yet and picked one of my personal favorites, sweet potato! I’ve really been into the color orange lately too. Beta carotine, FTW!

We were given the option to shape them into fancy French quenelles, or to roll them and use a fork to give them more of a “rustic” look. I chose the latter. I really love the traditional look of gnocchi with the ridges across the middle. After forming our selected shapes, into the dehydrator they went!

raw vegan root vegetable gnocchi raw vegan root vegetable gnocchi

 

While waiting a few hours for the gnocchi, there were plenty of other projects to work on, one of which was more fermented nut cheese! We made a few of these in our Level 1 class, but this time around, we’ll be using our own probiotics and aging them to build some additional character in the flavor and texture. I’m a bit of a mad scientist when it comes to fermenting things, so I had to make sure there were enough batches to experiment with. 😉

I’ve got a “control” batch of cashew with a standard probiotic powder, a brazil/pine nut combo with water kefir, a couple pistachio experiments with kimchi and sauerkraut brines, and some macadamia cheeses with fermented coconut water and rejuvelac. 

raw vegan nut cheesesraw vegan nut cheesesprobiotic fermented food

 

The second recipe we worked on while waiting for the gnocchi to dehydrate a bit more was a “new style miso soup”. This soup was a great opportunity to test out the versatility of the raw vegan vegetable broth. It was a flavorful and creative cross between a vegetable soup and a miso soup. It was also slightly creamy, but retained a lightness to it, which made for a satisfying appetizer. Working on this recipe gave me a lot of creative ideas for just how versatile our second mother sauce really is.

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At long last, after being taunted with the wonderful smells coming out of my dehydrator (don’t forget, the eggplant bacon is still in there too), something was ready to come out and be eaten. I removed the gnocchi after warming the lemon cream sauce from yesterday’s lesson a bit.

In addition to the cream sauce, we learned how to make gremolata, a parsley and lemon based condiment that adds a refreshing quality to an otherwise rich or heavy dish. The flavors and textures paired very well with the Meyer lemon cream sauce, and the textural contrasts looked beautiful on the plate as well.

The most rewarding part of all this is that the parsley came from my porch garden! Food is so much more rewarding when you’ve grown it yourself.

The whole thing was topped off with some micro-greens. I chose some baby chard here, not only for their mild tangy flavor, but also for the beautiful pop of color that the red stems added to the plating. I was really thrilled with how this all came together. It is by far the most beautiful dish I’ve ever put together, and I learned all of the skills with the help of my wonderful instructors. I am really impressed with the quality of the culinary education I’ve been receiving from an online program!

raw vegan root vegetable gnocchi raw vegan root vegetable gnocchi raw vegan root vegetable gnocchi raw vegan root vegetable gnocchi raw vegan root vegetable gnocchi

 

That wrapped up my second day! Looking forward to tomorrow’s projects! We will be putting a mezze platter together and learning about tomato sauces!

Advanced Raw Cuisine at Matthew Kenney Culinary: Day 1

raw vegan milk chocolate custart

Fundamentals of Raw Cuisine was such a great educational experience for me that I decided to take the second level course, Advanced Raw Cuisine, as well. I’ll be working through it over the months of September and October. 

We really hit the ground running in this class. We jumped right into recipes and some more in-depth culinary techniques. What I really like about this course so far is that the school has gone to great lengths and experimentation to really deliver us some solid and well-tested raw recipes, built on a foundational structure that is similar to a cooked food culinary course. 

Our first lesson was “mother sauces”. Obviously, raw vegan mother sauces are not the same as cooked mother sauces, but the conceptual ideas are there. We were presented with a well-thought out list of 5 raw vegan mother sauces, and during the first week of the course, we are focusing on one of them each day.

The first of the mother sauces that we learned about was the cream sauce. It is built on a foundation of soaked nuts to provide a rich and creamy texture. With these mother sauces, we can add ingredients to modify textures and flavors, which make secondary sauces. Our first recipe assignment was to create a Meyer lemon cream sauce, which will be used in a root vegetable gnocchi recipe on Day 2. I think it looks nice and creamy, don’t you? 🙂

lemon cream sauce

Our second lesson was about nut milks. We covered basic almond milk as a flavor and texture exercise on Day 3 of Fundamentals of Raw Cuisine. It helped us to learn some great lessons about flavor balancing. In this exercise, we were to select 3 different nuts and seeds, and not only compare and contrast the different flavors and textures, but to also consider what kinds of recipes they might be used for, assess how much pulp they created, whether the pulp was usable in recipes, and if so, what kind. It was a really great taste and thought exercise.

I used brazil nut, pumpkin seed, and hemp seed for my 3 selections. The brazil nut was my favorite! Almond milk is so yesterday.

nut milk tasting

 The next recipe was a delicious milk chocolate custard, with the milk being any one of the fresh milks we just created! It’s like someone out there knew how to put me in an even better mood on my first day back to school. =P Seriously, culinary school AND chocolate. I think I’ve reached nirvana.

I chose to use my brazil nut milk, of course. It was amazing. This also has some avocado and spices in it for a little something extra. I’ll definitely be making use of this technique again. 

This recipe is in Matthew Kenney’s book, Raw Chocolate, on page 72. It is listed as “Milk Chocolate Pudding”.

raw vegan milk chocolate custart raw vegan milk chocolate custart

Someone out there must be a mind reader because fermentation is right up there with chocolate on the list of food things I love. We learned how to make salt preserved lemons, which are traditionally used in North African recipes. These have to cure for 3-4 weeks and then we will be using them in a recipe during the final week of classes. I’m really excited about these because it’s something new that I’ve never tried, and I love food from Mediterranean/Middle Eastern regions.

The only part of this recipe that I didn’t like was a little detail of the preparation. We were required to cut an X into each lemon almost down to the bottom and then stuff them with salt. I then realized the eerie resemblance they had to those creepy face hugger eggs in the Alien movies. Thankfully, I’ve had no nightmares about lemons yet. 🙂

salt preserved lemons salt preserved lemons

But, wait… there’s more! I can hardly believe it myself. I feel like there is so much more packed into each day of this course, but at the same time, I am able to work much faster, thanks to the skills I learned in Level 1. While I was sneaking giant spoonfuls of chocolate custard and trying not to think about face huggers, I worked on the next project, which was to start on an olive flat bread recipe that we will be using in a mezze platter on Day 3. If the batter was any indication, this will be divine. Besides having just the right amount of olive flavor, there is a hint of orange zest that balances out the salt nicely.

raw vegan olive flat bread raw vegan olive flat bread

 The final required recipe was to start marinading a batch of eggplant crisps. The sauce was sweet, salty, spicy, and smokey all at the same time. I’ve actually made this recipe before, and I really love it. They’re great to put in a sandwich, break up into a salad, or just to snack on. They don’t even taste like eggplant by the time they’re done, which is great because let’s face it… eggplant on its own is bitter and weird. This recipe makes it all better. 

If you’d like to make this recipe for yourself, it is in the book, Everyday Raw, by Matthew Kenney. 

raw vegan eggplant bacon raw vegan eggplant bacon

 The final assignment was optional… an introduction to kombucha. Anyone who knows me personally has seen all of my crazy kombucha experiments elsewhere on social media. That’s something that can easily have its own blog entry or multiple blog entries devoted to it. So for now, here are a few snapshots of my process and some finished batches. 

making kombucha

making kombucha

making kombucha

Raw Food Level 1: Day 17-18

raw vegan mango lassi panna cotta with black cherry sauce

Raw Food Level 1 is almost complete! Just 2 more days of class to go! Over the course of days 17-18, I worked on a lemon tart as part of the process for learning how to use Irish moss. Irish moss is a seaweed that can be used to thicken puddings, tart fillings, etc. 

Here is a photo of the seaweed soaking in preparation to use it.

irish moss soaking

There were some other essential skills that we learned here too. We made tart crusts that firmed up in the refrigerator, a frozen meringue formed into a quenelle, and some dehydrated citrus slices. It was fun learning how to make the quenelle, a classic French technique. I’ve always wanted to learn how to do that. All my frozen treats will be fancier from now on. I also didn’t know that you could dehydrate and eat citrus slices. I always found the peels to be bitter when blended or juiced, but after painting on a little agave and dehydrating, they are a delicious tart treat!

I shared this tart with my husband and visiting relatives, and they all gave it a big thumbs up.

raw vegan lemon meringue tart raw vegan lemon meringue tart raw vegan lemon meringue tart raw vegan lemon meringue tart raw vegan lemon meringue tart raw vegan lemon meringue tart

Both of the dishes that I’m working on for my final project are of my own creation. We were tasked to come up with a three course menu, and then to execute two of the dishes. I chose the starter and the dessert. 

My starter is a cucumber tzatziki roll. The herbs are on the inside and the cucumber is on the outside! It is topped with a sweet pepper relish and paired with a root vegetable with a cumin vinaigrette. Which of my practice plating arrangements do you like best? 

raw vegan cucumber tzatziki rolls with root vegetable salad raw vegan cucumber tzatziki rolls with root vegetable salad raw vegan cucumber tzatziki rolls with root vegetable saladraw vegan cucumber tzatziki rolls with root vegetable salad

 My dessert is a mango lassi panna cotta infused with with cardamom and dusted with cinnamon. It is paired with a peppery black cherry sauce to create a spice blend reminiscent of chai. The panna cotta is topped off with a pecan tuile. Below are the photos of my practice plating before my big final presentation on day 19!

raw vegan mango lassi panna cotta with black cherry sauce raw vegan mango lassi panna cotta with black cherry sauce raw vegan mango lassi panna cotta with black cherry sauce raw vegan mango lassi panna cotta with black cherry sauce

Fundamentals of Raw Food: Day 16

raw vegan chia pudding

Week 4 of Fundamentals of Raw Food has officially started!!! Only 4 more days left and then I’m done with the course. I can hardly believe how far I’ve come and how much I’ve learned. I’m really excited about the final project that I’m working on too!

The first thing we did was to create more nut milk for some additional recipes that we will be completing as part of the curriculum. I also created a cashew milk for the first time, as it is a component of the dessert recipe I am working on for my final project. 

The first project of the day was to create some tart crusts! These are so cute, aren’t they? They will eventually be filled with a lemon and chamomile tart filling. I can’t wait to taste it!

raw vegan tart crust raw vegan tart crust

After making the tart crusts, we made another breakfast (or anytime snack for that matter) dish. This is a banana chia pudding topped with a chai cream and some seasonal fresh fruit. The chai cream was amazing. It tasted just like a chai latte, and it gave me a great excuse to finally purchase some cardamom!

raw vegan chia puddingraw vegan chia pudding raw vegan chia pudding raw vegan chia pudding

We had another lesson in artfully plating and properly dressing salads today as well. If you toss the leaves in the bowl with the dressing and then arrange them on the plate, you get just the right amount in every bite. We have previously practiced with kale and a green of our choice in artfully plating salads. Today, we were given butter lettuce to practice with. It’s so light and fluffy. It almost looks like a flower when you make a little tower from it. Then, it’s easy to tuck little bits of vegetables into the folds. I feel like Christmas has come early with all the red and green bits tucked into my butter lettuce tree. =D

butter lettuce salad with honey mustard dressing butter lettuce salad with honey mustard dressing butter lettuce salad with honey mustard dressing

The class assignments are a bit lighter this week to allow us time for testing our final project recipes. We had to submit our first process/testing photos, so I can give you a little sneak peak of what I am working on. I started the prep work for my appetizer and my dessert. The appetizer will contain a yogurt cream sauce inside of a cucumber roll and my dessert is going to be a mash up of a mango lassi and a panna cotta. The photos below are my yogurt before starting incubation, a honey pecan wafer, and my panna cotta experiment in the molds, getting ready to go into the fridge to set up overnight.

raw vegan coconut yogurt raw vegan toule raw vegan toule raw vegan mango lassi panna cotta raw vegan mango lassi panna cotta

Raw Food Level 1: Day 13

raw vegan chocolate chip cookies

I just completed day 13 of the Raw Food Level 1 course at Matthew Kenney Academy. I’m having so much fun! I feel like the time that I spend on my class material is going by so much faster now that my daily knife skills exercises are completed and I am able to get right into the recipes each day. I am also probably moving a lot faster, thanks to those very same knife skills. 

Today, we explored raw versions of some more baked goods, and continued to prep the fermented nut cheeses that we started a couple days ago.

I created 2 cheeses, as required, and a bonus experiment. I chose to model my rosemary crusted cheese after a goat cheese, so I let it ferment a bit on the longer side of the suggested range, and I added a bit of lemon to really create a tangy flavor. The one next to it is a citrus and rose petal cheese that was inspired by a spice blend called, “Florida Sunshine“, which is made a local company, “The Spice & Tea Exchange”, in Winter Park, FL. I mixed some orange zest into the cheese, and then topped it off with some rose petals, sea salt, and black pepper. My “bonus” experiment is a nut cheese that I added a red wine stain and some black pepper to. I was hoping that the red wine flavor would infuse into the cheese, but it didn’t really sink in as I had hoped. It sure was pretty, though. 

raw vegan nut cheeses raw vegan nut cheeses

Following the cheese flavoring, we put those chocolate chips to good use and made raw vegan chocolate chop cookies! Oh my goodness, these were amazing. I haven’t had anything resembling a chocolate cookie in a long time. With all of my weird food allergies and other food problems, I just decided to give up on baking all together. It’s nice to know that I can still have a treat. I will definitely be trying some other cookie recipes in the future.

raw vegan chocolate chip cookies raw vegan chocolate chip cookies

After the cookies, it was time to make something healthy again. We had a lesson on vinaigrettes and learned about acid to oil ratios be making two different provided recipes, and then comparing/contrasting them. After that, we took what we learned and were given free reign to design our own vinaigrette dressing! I made an Asian inspired citrus and sesame vinaigrette and have included the recipe at the bottom of this post in case you would like to put it on your own delicious salad.

vinaigrette salad dressings

After creating an awesome vinaigrette, we were challenged to create a salad with whatever we had on hand that would compliment our newly created salad dressings. The salad exercise was also to practice artistically plating salad. It’s not just a “pile of stuff” on a plate or in a bowl.

My salad had a base of red leaf lettuce. I tucked portobello mushroom and bartlett pear into the folds and propped them up a bit with some sprouts to create a dimensional look.  I also added some julienne of carrot and sugar snap pea pods, as well as some peas that were removed from the pods, scallions cut on the bias, and finely diced celery. That little mound on the left is a bit of pickled ginger that I made myself! This salad was great, and having good knife skills made all the difference in being able to present it as a piece of art. 

Asian pear salad with citrus and sesame vinaigrette Asian pear salad with citrus and sesame vinaigrette

We also did some prep work for a dish of portobello sliders that we will be consuming in the near future. Below are some “caramelized onions” and the batter for the buns, both ready to go into the dehydrator. I just love the way the red onion sliced on the mandolin looks. It’s like little ribbons with a bit of color on the edge. My kitchen smelled very fragrant while these were dehydrating! The slider buns had a really great bread-like finished texture as well. I will definitely be making them again.

caramelized onions caramelized onions slider buns slider buns

Lastly, we did a little more prep work for that fancy cheese plate that is coming at the end of week 3. We made some simple chia crackers! They are so easy. Toss some chia seeds into your liquid of choice with your seasoning of choice and then after they gel and become thick, put them on a dehydrator sheet and make some crackers! The variations that I made were basic black pepper, which was the recipe the school provided us with; carrot juice and onion powder; and a mix of smoked paprika, smoked sea salt, cayenne pepper, and red chili flake. They all came turned out to be amazingly delicious!

raw vegan chia crackers raw vegan chia crackers raw vegan chia crackers

Citrus and Sesame Asian Vinaigrette
A light and flavorful citrus and sesame Asian inspired vinaigrette salad dressing. It pairs perfectly with carrot, scallion, pear, and sugar snap peas.
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Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/4 cup sesame oil
  2. 1/2 cup OJ (fresh squeezed is best)
  3. 3/4 tsp tamari (or coconut aminos and miso)
  4. 1/4 clove of garlic
  5. 1/4" piece of ginger
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth.
Notes
  1. It should be enough to use on a few salads.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/