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Advanced Raw Cuisine: Week 4

raw vegan chocolate walnut cake

Week 4 of Advanced Raw Cuisine was particularly exciting. We finished a few more pastry projects, made a few savory dishes, and got to work toward our final project, which for this class had some practical business applications. 

First, one of the final two pastry projects… raw vegan cupcakes! I always wondered if this was possible, and it sure is! They even had a nice little “bounce” from the Irish moss. We had creative freedom to make a flavor of our choosing, and since it was fall when I took the class, I made pumpkin spice with a vanilla frosting and some chocolate shavings.

Yes, I’m one of those people. Pumpkin spice all of the things! =D

raw vegan pumpkin spice cupcakes raw vegan pumpkin spice cupcakes raw vegan pumpkin spice cupcakes raw vegan pumpkin spice cupcakes raw vegan pumpkin spice cupcakes raw vegan pumpkin spice cupcakes

We also started to learn about costing out ingredients so that we could calculate prices for dishes the way restaurants do. This was a very useful lesson for those with entrepreneurial aspirations. We made this dish of cacao corn chips and guacamole, calculated the cost of all of the ingredients, then the cost of the whole dish, and finally, added on a markup to ensure we were paid for our time and resources used. This was a really beneficial exercise. The guacamole was tasty too. It’s one of my favorite foods. 🙂

raw vegan cacao corn chips and guacamole w/sunflower mole raw vegan cacao corn chips and guacamole w/sunflower mole

One of the other “big” projects this week was to put a lot of the lessons we learned together in a final pastry dish. We were given two to choose from, or the option to make both. I selected the chocolate walnut cake project. It was delicious. I had more than enough to take into work and share with my coworkers. They all enjoyed the special delivery and this dish got rave reviews!

Below are some photos of the prep work and the final plated dish. The dish is comprised of the chocolate cakes, the sous vide pears, a walnut caramel sauce, a fennel oil, candied fennel seeds, sassafras ice cream, and some fennel fronds and lavender as garnish. It was really delicious.

IMG_2233sous vide pearsIMG_2230 IMG_2165sassafras ice creamraw vegan chocolate walnut cake raw vegan chocolate walnut cake

Following all that dessert, I’m so glad there was another savory dish. This one was especially good because it had a bit of spice in it! It didn’t hurt that cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables too. I know, it’s a bit weird. So many people don’t like it, but to me, it has a subtle sweetness that makes it exquisite. 

This dish is a cauliflower and walnut harissa. I love that we branched out and used walnuts for more recipes this week. So many of the other recipes were based on almonds and cashews, which are certainly versatile nuts for their flavor and texture, but it was nice to have some more variety. There is a walnut cream sauce in the base, some harissa sauce, some marinaded and dehydrated spiced walnuts, and some cauliflower and romanesco. This dish would have been even more beautiful if I had access to some junky purple cauliflower, but my grocery store didn’t have any. I love the way we were instructed to plate this dish in a ring mold with the stems up. They are so organic looking. 

raw vegan cauliflower walnut harissa raw vegan cauliflower walnut harissa

The last real food recipe that we made before presenting out final projects was a lovely light carrot soup. This was somewhat like a gazpacho. There was a nice variety of carrot, radish, and apple chunks for texture and flavor. It was all topped with a bit of the soup, which had been foamed in the blender. The rest of the soup was poured in to make for a nice presentation. The soup was a great blend of sweet and savory with a smooth mouthfeel. It was a great lunch!

raw vegan carrot soup raw vegan carrot soup raw vegan carrot soup raw vegan carrot soup raw vegan carrot soup

For my final project, I decided to make a probiotic granola bar. I polled my social media friends to ask them what kind of product they might be interested in. The overwhelming response was for something quick and healthy that was also filling. I also asked about probiotics and what the perception of taste and texture was regarding fermented foods. People either love sauerkraut or they hate it. Personally, I love sauerkraut. I make it by the gallon, but I digress. I made these bars so that I could sneak some good bugs in without people having to fear the funky taste of fermented vegetables. 

raw vegan granola bars raw vegan granola bars raw vegan granola bars raw vegan granola bars raw vegan granola bars raw vegan granola bars

To celebrate the completion of the class, we were presented with some raw cocktail recipes. Whoo hoo! The base of both of these was also good as non-alcoholic drinks on their own. The green one is a nut milk with match powder – basically a vegan green tea latte. It is mixed with a cloudy sake to make it an adult beverage. The purple drink is a lavender and blueberry lemonade. It is also mixed with unfiltered nigori sake. Both were totally delicious. It was a nice way to celebrate. Cheers!

healthy vegan sake cocktails healthy vegan sake cocktails healthy vegan sake cocktails healthy vegan sake cocktails

 

 

I’m done!!! =D =D =D Be on the lookout for more delicious recipes and more class adventures coming your way!

advanced raw cuisine certificate of completion

Level 1 Raw Food: Day 12

raw vegan pancakes

I just completed day 12 in the Level 1 Raw Food course from Matthew Kenney Academy. I am well into my third week, learning some cool new techniques, and starting to think about my final project already!

The first thing I got to do today, which was really fun, was to take my “swiss cheese” out of the dehydrator, cut it up to make it look like swiss cheese, and sample it. It was really good! It even had a bit of a swiss-like flavor, and the flexible fatty texture of cheese. If I made it again, I think I’d let it ferment longer to develop a sharper flavor, but this is definitely a technique that I would use again. Totally worth it!

raw vegan swiss cheese

raw vegan swiss cheese raw vegan swiss cheese IMG_1558

After checking on some of my other fermented cheese projects in the fridge and dehydrator, it was time to plate the pancakes that just came out of the dehydrator. They started as humble swirls of batter on a dehydrator sheet.

raw vegan maple pancakes

They were transformed into this masterpiece! I layered them with bananas and seasonal berries, and I made a maple blueberry jelly to go on top. It’s really easy to make. Blueberries naturally contain a lot of pectin, so I just blended them with a little maple syrup until all the little bits were smooth and then I poured it into a bowl to sit for a few minutes. When I spooned it out, it was jelly. 🙂

raw vegan pancakes raw vegan pancakes raw vegan pancakes raw vegan pancakes

The next project for today was to make chocolate chips! Yes, there is such a thing as raw vegan chocolate chips! We blended up a chocolate-y mixture containing raw cacao and then piped it out onto dehydrator sheets. I filled 3 sheets full of them and I have a totally new respect for cake decorators. My first two trays were pretty ugly, and my third came out much nicer. Aren’t they cute? 🙂

raw vegan chocolate chips raw vegan chocolate chips raw vegan chocolate chips

My final project for today was to start one of my favorite food projects – coconut yogurt! This is so ridiculously easy to make. Blend up some coconut meat, toss in some probiotics, and within a day, you have tangy coconut yogurt, ready to eat! You can then flavor it however you like. 

raw vegan coconut yogurt raw vegan coconut yogurt raw vegan coconut yogurt

Fundamentals of Raw Cuisine – Day 3

kimchi

Over the weekend, I finished day 3 of “Fundamentals of Raw Cuisine“, a course offered online through the Matthew Kenney Academy. It was a lot of fun to have an entire day to work on my course material. Normally, I go to work and then I come home with limited time to work on the homework and recipe projects in the evening. I do what I can and try not to stay up too late, but I really love playing in the kitchen, so it’s a challenge. 😉 On Saturday, however, I was able to finish up a full day’s worth of the curriculum material!

I started day 3 off with… you guessed it… more knife skills. If you’ve seen my first two posts about my experiences here, then you know this is how I start every day of the curriculum. My cuts seem to be improving a little bit, and the correct grip of the knife and hand placement is starting to become more familiar to me too. I find myself making it more of a habit now than having to think about where my hands go, which is a really good thing, for the sake of keeping all of my fingers un-injured. 

knife skills knife skills knife skills

 

After some reading material about soaking and sprouting, it was time to make almond milk using some almonds that we had been instructed to soak the night before. I am no stranger to making simple nut and seed milks. Hemp seed milk is my favorite to make.

What was new for me were some of the other ingredients that we added to the milk. There were some really valuable lessons learned here about flavor balancing with fats, sweeteners, and salts. We were instructed to taste the milk after the addition of each ingredient and notice how the flavor and texture changed. By the time I was done adding things to the blender, it was much more familiar in taste and flavor to the almond milk you might find at the grocery store, but without any of the typical additives of a store bought product.

Besides the plain almond milk, I made strawberry and cacao versions as well. That is why one has a pinkish color and another has a light brown color. The colors are subtle. No artificial anything here! I’ve been enjoying my fresh nut milks with gluten free oatmeal. 

The recipe for this almond milk is in Everyday Raw and Raw Food/Real World: 100 Recipes to Get the Glow, both books by Matthew Kenney.

homemade raw vegan almond milk homemade raw vegan almond milk homemade raw vegan almond milk homemade raw vegan almond milk

One of the things I am really loving about this course is the way they talk about using up leftovers so as not to waste anything. For example, almond pulp that is strained out of the nut milk is added to the dehydrator and then blended into an almond flour.

The next assignment was to make a delicious smoothie with our fresh almond milk and to learn about “smoothie building”. To think, all this time, I was just tossing things into the blender and hoping for the best, and there is apparently a magic formula that I should have been using instead. The recipe provided was for a “blueberry bee” smoothie. I could not find the book that this recipe came from, but it was published over on the “Pure Wow” website last year if you want to go have a look. I highly recommend trying it!

blueberry bee smoothieblueberry bee smoothie

After flavor blending exercises and smoothie making, it was time to make some kale chips. We were taught the basics of making our own sauce/marinade for the kale, and then we got to play around with it to make our own flavors. They looked pretty good going in. As long as they dehydrate properly overnight and taste good when I take them out, I will be happy to share my recipe flavors tomorrow. I opted to make a “ranch dressing” flavor and a “spicy mango lime”. 

kale chips kale chips

 

But, wait… there’s more! THREE lessons in fermentation and pickling were to follow. Anyone who knows me in real life knows that I’m a bit of a fermenting fool. I always have sauerkraut in the fridge with another batch fermenting on the counter, ACV fermented garlic, a random vegetable lacto-ferment, kombucha and jun, occasional wild fermented wine, etc. Probiotic fermented foods have made a huge difference in my health. They have helped me to reverse most of my allergy problems, and kept me from getting sick in the last two years. Anyway, I was really excited to see this material not only included in the curriculum, but included as early as day 3! 

For as much fermenting as I do, one thing I have never made is kimchi. That is partially because I wanted to be sure I had an authentic recipe so I could do it justice. Well, ready or not, there is a jar of kimchi happening in my kitchen right now anyway! It smelled really great going into the jar! Never fear, I followed proper protocol and pushed it all down below the brine with a leftover cabbage leaf. The picture of the vegetables floating on the top sure is pretty though!

kimchi kimchi kimchi

I had half a head of Napa cabbage and most of a head of red (purple) cabbage left over after making this, so… SAUERKRAUT SPONTANEOUSLY HAPPENED IN MY KITCHEN! Shocking, I know. Ha!

purple sauerkraut 

We also made some basic quick pickles, to which I added garlic, dill, and peppercorns. I have been growing pickling cucumbers on my porch and I was really excited that I was able to use something I grew myself in a recipe for the course. I have already put my home grown basil to use in all of the recipes that call for it.

dill pickles dill pickles

 

Another new thing for me was pickled ginger! I have always wanted to try making this because whenever we eat sushi at restaurants, the pickled ginger looks as though it’s been artificially colored and tastes funny. It will be a lot of fun to use my pickled ginger for when we made sushi at home!

pickled ginger pickled ginger

 

Overall, it was a very fun and productive day. I am looking forward to what comes next and eating some of those pickled foods!