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Advanced Raw Cuisine: Day 15

raw vegan nut cheese plate

I am very late in writing up the synopsis for the rest of my Advanced Raw Cuisine course, but here it is, better late than never… Day 15!

Day 15 marked the end of pastry week! The finished chocolate bonbons were presented today. We also started prep work for one final pastry recipe that will be completed as part of week 4, and everything came together for the final cheese plate as well. It was beautiful when everything was laid out.

Here are some red pears in the vacuum sealed bag. They are marinading in a sauce that will make them both flavorful and soft. It contains some agave, lemon juice, and spices. The texture was wonderful. The apple slices were pliable and soft, just as if they’d been poached! These are for a chocolate walnut cake that will be ready as part of week 4. 

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These are some candied fennel seed in the making. Fennel seeds tossed with a little maple syrup and put into the dehydrator to get crispy! They will also be used for the walnut cake dessert. 

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Here are the final nut cheeses after aging in the fridge for over a month! The course is only 4 weeks, but since I was working on a longer 8 week track, I had the opportunity to age mine longer. The texture was wonderful. They were soft and creamy, definitely more “cheese-like”. The flavors were so mature. It was really worth the time to let this happen. I also put some of them into the dehydrator for about 24 hours to put a bit of a “rind” on them. 

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I present to you… the finished cheese plate! This has my nut cheeses, some homemade mustard, a raw bread loaf, some raw crackers, a few slices of cucumber and pear, and a few drops of a balsamic vinegar reduction. It was so good!

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The last thing that was finished on this day was a batch of chocolate bon bons! We learned how to temper chocolate and made these wonderful filled candies. There is a green tea and honey filling in the center. 

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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/

Advanced Raw Cuisine: Day 4

green curry kelp noodles

Day 4 of Advanced Raw Cuisine at Matthew Kenney Culinary has been completed!

Today’s creations were very exciting! We revisited the coconut wrapper technique that we learned in Level 1 and used to create the kimchi dumplings. For this variation, we added a little carrot juice to give them a brilliant orange color. They went into the dehydrator and will be used in a recipe tomorrow to create ravioli!

This is a really simple method to create flexible grain free wrappers that can be used in a variety of ways, from wraps to dumplings, to ravioli. Just blend some fresh young coconut, toss in a pinch of salt and whatever vegetable juice you’d like to color/flavor it with, and dehydrate until it holds together, but remains flexible. 

carrot coconut wrappers carrot coconut wrappers

The next project, green curry kelp noodles, was the main focal point of the day, and was used to illustrate today’s sauce lesson: plant based sauces. This is a class of raw vegan sauces that use pureed produce as a base. The green curry sauce we made today incorporated coconut milk and herbs with sweet and spicy notes.

It was plated with kelp noodles that we tenderized with warm water and baking soda. This was nothing short of amazing to me. I’ve tried kelp noodles before, and I could never completely get past the crisp texture and semi-bitter flavor until now. Simply soaking them with a little baking soda softened them up just like rice noodles and made the flavor more neutral, and they are completely raw! In this state, they are easily seasoned by any sauces and flavors that are mixed with them. We marinaded these in some chili oil and lime juice. 

The marinaded kelp noodles are topped up with a variety of vegetable noodles that include zucchini, carrot, and radish. Also in the mix are some marinaded mushrooms, fresh cilantro leaves, and some of those curried nuts we made yesterday

It was an amazingly fresh and vibrant dish, full of flavor and texture. I ate every last drop! 🙂

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The final task of the day was to flavor our nut cheeses that we started fermenting on day 2. Below, I have created:

  • caraway and smoked paprika (macadamia nut/ fermented coconut water)
  • honey, cinnamon, cardamom, and fig (brazil and pine nut/ water kefir)
  • parsley, onion, garlic, and turmeric (cashew/ probiotic powder)
  • dill (macadamia nut/ rejuvelac)

I can’t wait to eat these! They have a couple weeks to set up in the fridge though, as this is a lesson in aging nut cheeses. 

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Tropical Carrot Cake Smoothie

tropical carrot cake smoothie

My sister is here for a visit this weekend. I decided to put my new smoothie design skills to work for a mid morning snack, and this tropical carrot cake smoothie is what I came up with. We had a large variety of fruits and vegetables to choose from, and since we both love carrot cake, we decided to use that as the inspiration for this smoothie. Enjoy!

Tropical Carrot Cake Smoothie for 2
Serves 2
This summer time smoothie is a perfect mid-morning snack for the carrot cake lover. Now you can have your cake and drink it too. 😉
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Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup carrot juice (fresh juiced)
  2. 1 cup orange juice (fresh squeezed)
  3. 2 frozen bananas
  4. 1 cup frozen pineapple
  5. 1 TB local raw honey
  6. 1 TB vanilla extract (I use alcohol free in vegetable glycerin)
  7. 2 pinches of sea salt
  8. 2 pinches of cinnamon
  9. 2 pinches of nutmeg
  10. 2 pinches of ginger
Instructions
  1. Juice enough carrots to yield 1 cup of juice (this will vary based on the size of your carrots and the model of your juicer).
  2. Juice enough oranges to yield 1 cup of juice (1-2 large oranges)
  3. Add juice and all other ingredients to blender, and blend until smooth, well combined, and frosty. You may need to use a tamper.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

Summer Salad with Fresh Fruit, Edible Flowers, and Herbal Lime Dressing

Summer Salad with Fruit and Herbal Dressing

I made this light summer salad for dinner this evening because summer has come to Florida! We are experiencing the afternoon torrential downpours, as well as the heat and humidity. My porch plants  start to protest if I skip even one day of watering. Some of them even prefer twice a day (I’m looking at you, tomatoes).

This summer salad recipe is flexible; the ingredients can be changed up to suit your own tastes and produce availability. I really enjoyed it with the tangy fruits, as the dressing is subtly sweet and herbal, so the flavors compliment each other nicely. The addition of tender greens and sprouts also provides a nice balance of flavor to counter the sweetness in the fruit. Finally, the edible flowers are totally optional, but I grew them in my garden without any chemicals, and I love how they add a little extra “art” to the presentation. 

Summer salad with fruit and honey lime dressing

Regarding the health benefits of this dish…

I strive to include raw leafy greens in as many of my meals as possible. They are full of fiber, vitamins, absorbable calcium, iron, and they are my favorite source of protein. Per calorie, many leafy greens have more protein than meat, and you won’t be sacrificing any of the valuable phytonutrients in the process of consuming it. When you consume them raw, you keep all of the heat-sensitive vitamins and enzymes intact!

Sprouts are a nutritional powerhouse! Because the little plants are preparing to use a lot of energy to become great big plants, they are full of vitamins and enzymes (a type of protein), which help you to break down your food more efficiently and absorb more nutrients from it. The protein in seeds is higher quality and more absorbable when they are sprouted. Additionally, many nuts and seeds contain enzyme inhibitors, which are not broken down until they are soaked and the germination process begins. During the sprouting process, essential fatty acid content is higher than in the seed alone as well.

Fresh fruit in a variety of colors ensures a variety of nutrients are present in your meal! Pineapple, kiwi, and strawberry are all excellent sources of vitamin C, some of them more so than citrus! Pineapple is highly anti-inflammatory, strawberries are a great source of zinc (from their seeds), and while kiwi’s best traits are being high in fiber and vitamin C, it might also help you get a better night’s sleep. I’ve got some organic apples in there too. Apples are a great source of potassium and the skins contain an antioxidant called quercetin (also found in onion peels, but we don’t want to eat those!). It can help to block histamine response if you are an allergic type of person, and it combats inflammation of your neurons, which means apples are good for your nervous system and might help to prevent dementia. Apples help to keep us sane. 😉 Their high fiber content also helps to reduce cholesterol.

Marigold petals are edible! Their bright orange color comes from carotenoids – the same antioxidant family that gives carrots a similar hue. Three particular carotenoids in marigold petals are lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene. The former two help to protect against damage to your eyes as you age. So, get out there and nibble on some flowers! I tossed a few cucumber blossoms in there for good measure. I had to trim back my vines a bit today due to my limited porch space. I knew they were edible and I don’t let perfectly good food go to waste in this this home! (http://www.livestrong.com/article/444206-health-benefits-of-marigold-flowers/)

The dressing for this salad is really amazing. I used a probiotic drink called jun that I brew myself (along with kombucha and a slew of other things I enjoy fermenting), fresh lime juice, local raw honey, flax oil, and fresh sage and peppermint from my garden! Every single ingredient serves to boost the nutritional value of the meal. The jun adds more biodiversity to the gut flora (and a very pleasant floral green tea flavor to the dressing). Combined with improving my gut flora, local raw honey has done miraculous things for my seasonal allergies. I like to add a small amount to my food/drinks a few times a week. As I have significantly reduced my oil consumption, flax seed oil is one that I still consume in small amounts, as it is the only plant based oil that has more omega 3 than omega 6, making it anti-inflammatory. One of the reasons that sage and mint pair so nicely together is because they are botanically related! I love to pair related plants. They always seem to compliment each other, flavor wise. Peppermint is great for digestion and sage can help to improve memory function. It’s also anti-inflammatory and was once thought to be crucial in fighting off the plague!

Summer Salad w/Fresh Fruit & Herbal Honey Lime Dressing
Serves 2
A light and filling summer salad that contains a wide assortment of vitamins and minerals and a rich layering of flavors. This recipe can easily be scaled up or down to feed as many people as you need it to.
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Prep Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
Salad Ingredients
  1. 5 oz butter lettuce (or tender greens of choice)
  2. 1/2 red delicious apple (always buy organic apples)
  3. 4 large strawberries (always buy organic berries)
  4. 2 kiwis
  5. 1" section of pineapple
  6. 1/4-1/2 cup sprouts of choice (I used sweet clover sprouts)
  7. Edible flowers (optional - I used marigold petals and cucumber blossoms - both from my garden)
Dressing Ingredients
  1. 1/4 cup jun (for a similar flavor, substitute 1/4 cup chilled jasmine green tea + 1/2 tsp honey + 1/4 tsp ACV)
  2. 1 lime, skinned
  3. 2 TB flax seed oil
  4. 2 TB local raw honey
  5. 6 fresh sage leaves
  6. 12 fresh peppermint leaves
Instructions
  1. Add 2.5 oz of tender greens to each plate (should be easy to divide based on standard sizing of packaged greens)
  2. Chop fruit and arrange on top of the greens to your artistic liking
  3. Add appx 1/4 cup sprouts to each plate (or just a few pinches - however much you like)
  4. Sprinkle with edible flowers
  5. Add all dressing ingredients to blender and blend until thoroughly combined (each serving is roughly the size of an espresso cup - shown in photo)
  6. Top salad with dressing
  7. Eat with someone who will make pleasant dinner conversation and give thanks for the bounty on your plate. 🙂
Notes
  1. Jun is a fermented drink that is made using a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeasts). It provides a blend of probiotics that are good for your gut. It is grown in a similar fashion as kombucha, but is grown in a medium of green tea and raw honey. This being the case, the jun has a light floral taste (pending the type of honey you use - orange blossom is my preference). I realize that most people probably do not have a jun culture, so the closest thing I think you could substitute to get a similar flavor in the dressing is an equal amount of a light jasmine green tea with just a small amount of honey, and an even smaller amount of ACV to account for the every so slight acidic flavor of the probiotics.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/