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Advanced Raw Cuisine: Day 14

raw vegan baklava

Here is the recap for Day 14 of Advanced Raw Cuisine! We are well into the desserts and pastries, and also working toward our finished advanced cheese plates!

The first task of the day was to put our fermented nut cheeses into the dehydrator to develop a nice rind if we wanted to. Yes, please! That is one of my favorite things to do with raw cheeses! It just seems to give them so much more texture and make them more cheese-like. They are a bit more firm and have a nice professional finish on the outside. Into the dehydrator my cheeses went!

We also started soaking some more oats to prepare flour for additional recipes that we will be working on later in the course. 

The next task of the day was to make the baklava filling and syrup, and then to plate it. It was a delicious blend of pistachio, apricot, and spices. The syrup was infused with citrus. The whole dish was quite a treat for me because… I’VE NEVER EATEN BAKLAVA BEFORE IN MY LIFE.

It’s not that I’ve been living under a rock. I’ve just had problems with wheat and gluten for most of my life, so there are a lot of things I never had the chance to try. Anyway, here are some lovely pictures of the assembled raw vegan baklava. 

raw vegan baklava raw vegan baklava raw vegan baklava

Next… CHOCOLATE! Yes, they taught us how to tempter chocolate! By using ingredients which are raw to begin with, the chocolate stays raw because the tempering process does not take it over 118 degrees Fahrenheit. Tempering chocolate is the process of heating and cooling it to specific temperatures in order to leave in tact only those fat crystals which leave the chocolate hard and shiny. This is the process that gives bon bons, filled chocolates, chocolate bars, etc. their familiar “crunch” and glossy appearance. It also keeps chocolate from melting at room temperature!

One of my favorite parts of this exercise was playing with my new infrared thermometer! I have always wanted an excuse to play with one of these. It’s so much easier than using a candy thermometer because there is nothing to clip on or clean up afterward. Just point and shoot occasionally. It’s also great for making sure your water temperature is perfect for tea. 😉

Check out my bon bons below. The first photo is the initial coating of the Polycarbonate Candy Mold (the text links to the actual mold I purchased) and the second photo shows a green tea and honey filling that I made for them. After setting up in the fridge to harden the filling, I added a final layer of chocolate on the top (which would actually become the bottom of the candy) and let them set in the fridge for about an hour. 

raw vegan chocolate raw vegan chocolate

Finished bon bon photos coming on day 15! 😉

If you’d like to learn more about raw food and chocolate, Matthew Kenney has a great book about it, aptly called, “Raw Chocolate“.

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/

Raw Food Fundamentals: Day 15

raw vegan fermented nut cheese plate

Day 15 is Raw Food Fundamentals at Matthew Kenney Academy is completed! Today was an exciting day because I got to make some tasty breakfast items, and a fancy cheese plate! It just so happened that I finished the cheese plate on the weekend, so my husband and I were able to snack on it in the afternoon while we busied ourselves with bottling his home brewed beer. 😉

The first task of the day was to flavor our coconut yogurt. Mine was very tangy from the strong probiotics that I used in it and the extra time that I let it ferment. I added a little honey, vanilla, and some ripe bananas to make a delicious banana flavored yogurt. With this, I layered in some fresh mango along with my finished tropical buckwheat granola. I topped it all off with a pinch of cinnamon and a drizzle of raw honey. It was tangy and sweet and delicious!

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The extra granola that was left was also amazing eaten as cereal with some homemade hemp milk and a little roasted dandelion tea (a reasonable facsimile for coffee if you want something that is caffeine-free, acid free, and good for your liver!).

raw vegan sprouted buckwheat granola with hemp milk

…And now the moment of truth. CHEESE PLATE TIME! With a little coaching about mixing flavors and textures together and the subtleties of plating something like this, I went to work. I actually own a cheese board too. I bought it for my sister’s baby shower last year, but I mostly use it for plating flax crackers and sauces or other snacks. Who doesn’t love food served up on a fancy piece of slate?

I did a little extra credit work on my cheeses since I’m on the slow track for this class. In addition to the 3 cashew cheeses that I made (rosemary crusted, orange/rose, and red wine/pepper), I wanted to try some with macadamia nuts as well, so I made 2 additional cheeses – one which I stuffed  with green olive, and another which contains layers of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. Yup, it’s Simon & Garfunkle cheese. 😉 As my cheeses were all of the savory and salty variety, I paired them with sweeter elements and included some crunchy items on the plate as well. There are dried apricots, figs, and cantaloupe, fresh cherries, almonds, pecans dipped in raw honey and topped with the leftover homemade chocolate chops, and my trio of chia crackers that went into the dehydrator yesterday.

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Following my nut cheese extravaganza, we made some more nut milks to prepare for tomorrow’s recipes and got to spend some quality time cleaning up our final project recipes, as well as making our grocery lists and daily schedules for testing out our final recipes and plating. I’m so excited!!!

Quinoa & Lentils, Simple Salad, and Sauerkraut

A simple vegan meal for two of both cooked and raw foods: germinated quinoa and lentils, salad of romaine and cucumber, homemade sauerkraut

Dear Internet,

I have great news! In an effort to be more frugal, I am now preparing all of the meals for both my husband and I from scratch. We’ve been all about simplifying our lives (even more) and “getting rid of (even more) stuff” lately. As I am the cook, he’s been eating vegan food. It’s a lot cheaper and better for the planet to eat good quality plant based foods than to eat animal proteins. He’s dropped a few pounds and is looking even hotter than usual. Hooray for easy vegan meals. 😉 

sauerkraut

We also rearranged the furniture at about the same time that we started to implement this, so now we get to sit down every night and share a nice meal and some conversation together. It’s really been wonderful, though I will have to admit, it is more time consuming than I thought it would be. In an attempt to not keep him waiting too long for dinner, I haven’t been as diligent at recording my recipes, and I haven’t really been using recipes, so much as throwing together simple, healthy, and very affordable meals with items we already have on hand.

quinoa and lentils

While I prefer more raw food, he prefers more cooked food, and I want to be able to accommodate both of us, and also make sure he’s still getting some “roughage” since cooking destroys certain heat-sensitive vitamins, like vitamin C (which, as a friendly reminder, humans are unable to produce on their own like most other animals on the planet – we must consume it from our food). 

romaine and cucumber salad

After struggling over whether or not to post these ridiculously easy vegan meals, it struck me that this very thing was the original premise of my blog. My husband is actually eating and enjoying the vegan meals that I’m preparing. It truly is a “taste of two plates” now! =D

By incorporating some of my own dietary tweaks (which I also feed to my husband), I’ve seen additional improvements to my health as well. Since I cut oils (except for a little flax) out of my diet and started to treat nuts and seeds as condiments rather than snacks or main ingredients, I’ve dropped about 2% body fat (no lean tissue loss), have very sound sleep with minimal disturbances, have been getting up earlier, and have been feeling rested on less sleep. This is nothing short of a miracle for me. For all the health issues I’ve managed to reverse, I’ve still always needed a lot of sleep.

simple vegan meals

This evening’s dinner consisted of a large romaine and cucumber salad, some homemade sauerkraut (love the bugs!), and some sprouted lentils and quinoa with parsley and a honey mustard sauce (the only cooked part of the meal). Yes, I use local raw honey (to build immunity against local pollen), but you may use any natural sweetener you like (such as a fruit puree). I’ve been buying dried lentils, beans, and seeds, so I can soak and germinate them before eating, whether they will end up being cooked or eaten raw. This reduces the phytic acid content and makes them more digestible. Less phytic acid means you can absorb more nutrients from the rest of your food too. 

Apricot Honey Mustard Quinoa & Lentils, Simple Salad, and Sauerkraut
Serves 2
An easy vegan meal with a lot of raw food, a little cooked food, and a healthy dose of probiotics. The quinoa and lentils are germinated to maximize nutrition and digestibility, and are also hearty and flavorful enough to please the omnivores in your house.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Sauerkraut Ingredients
  1. Easy Sauerkraut Recipe
Quinoa & Lentils Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup dried quinoa
  2. 1/2 cup dried lentils
  3. large handful fresh parsley, chopped
  4. 2 TB cup organic mustard
  5. 3 TB water
  6. 2 TB ACV
  7. 1 TB naturally sweetened apricot fruit spread (e.g. Polaner's) - optional, but delicious
  8. 2 TB local raw honey (or preferred vegan sweetener - or just add extra apricot spread)
  9. 1/4 tsp sea salt
Salad Ingredients
  1. 1/2 head of romaine
  2. 1 cucumber (peeled if not organic)
  3. 2 TB flax oil
  4. 2 TB raw ACV or lemon juice
  5. Dried herbs of your choice (optional - I used fennel and dill on mine)
  6. Tiny pinch of sea salt and pepper to taste (optional)
Germinating Quinoa and Lentils (Optional)
  1. The night before you want to make this, soak the quinoa and lentils overnight (in separate bowls), drain in the morning, and then leave on the counter, covered loosely with a towel, during the day. If you want instant gratification, you don't need to do this advanced prep work, but it makes them much more nutritious and digestible.
Cooking Quinoa and Lentils
  1. Using a 2:1 ratio of water to quinoa, cook the quinoa either in a rice cooker or simmer for appx. 20 minutes on the stove after bringing the water to a boil.
  2. Using a 2:1 ratio of water to lentils, simmer the lentils for appx. 30 minutes on the stove after bringing the water to a boil (test for tenderness).
  3. Combine in a bowl and mix in the parsley (bonus points if you grew it yourself).
  4. Whisk in a bowl until well blended: mustard, water, ACV, apricot spread, honey (or other sweetener), and sea salt.
  5. Pour the sauce over the quinoa and lentil mixture and stir it in.
Salad Directions
  1. Layer greens and veggies on the plate.
  2. Top each salad with 1 TB each flax seed oil and ACV or lemon juice.
  3. Add some dried herbs if you like.
Notes
  1. For best preparation efficiency, start cooking the lentils first, then the quinoa. While those are on the pot, prepare the sauce, chop the salad vegetables, and retrieve your sauerkraut from the fridge.
  2. I use local raw honey because it helps to keep my allergies at bay. You are welcome to use any other natural sweetener that you would like in this recipe if you would like a truly vegan alternative.
  3. You are welcome to use any dressing you like on the salad in order to have a peaceful meal with the omnivores in your life. My husband and I do not use the same salad dressings. 🙂
  4. I like my food a bit on the spicy side. If the mustard is too potent for you in the sauce, feel free to add a little extra water to dilute it. Keep in mind that once it is mixed into the quinoa and lentils, they will soak it up and it will not be as strong.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/