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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 7

raw vegan apple pear crumble with almond milk gelato

Day 7 of Advanced Raw Cuisine at Matthew Kenney Culinary completed!

I’ve had such a fun time working on everything today with many opportunities to exercise my creativity. I’ve learned so much while taking these courses, not only about flavors and techniques, but also about art. My plating skills have improved dramatically, and as an artist, these playful arrangements translate into more lessons for me than just those with culinary applications. They have made me a better photographer, causing me to reconsider placement of the people and objects in my portraits. 

The day was started by adding some sliced apples and pears into a water bath for a little more practice with the sous vide technique. Following that, we learned about and executed two “amuse bouche” dishes. According to Wikipedia, “amuse bouche” literally means, “mouth amuser”. It is a 1-2 bite sized course that is both intense and playful.

We were given the freedom to create two of our own amuse bouche plates. My selections were inspired by the produce and herbs that I’ve been growing in my garden this summer, and by Florida grown produce in general. I tried to include local components in each dish (some as local as my patio).

The first plate includes some of my favorite flavors. It is small sampling of red and yellow grape tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, and scallions atop a parsley and dill hemp seed pesto, which acts as both a surprise element in the dish, and a punch of flavor. 

Recipe link: Parsley and Dill Hemp Seed Pesto

raw vegan amuse bouche raw vegan amuse bouche

I wanted my second amuse bouche to be plated differently from the first, and I wanted a way to transform a classic non-vegan hors d’oeuvre into a healthful raw vegan version. In this dish, I created my version of “prosciutto and melon” using hami melon (sometimes called “Honey Kiss melon”), marinaded red pepper, and Florida avocados with a basil and ginger cucumber sauce. I was very pleased with the result. 

Recipe link: Bell Pepper ‘Prosciutto’ and Melon

raw vegan melon and prosciutto raw vegan melon and prosciutto

While I was busy snacking on my amuse bouche creations, we learned how to use the dehydrator as a “hot box”, which is very handy for creating a “wilted greens” texture, but leaving them completely raw with all of their precious nutrients and enzymes in tact, as the temperature remains at or below 115. 

The salad we made with this technique was a simple spinach salad tossed with some olive oil and lemon, and included a little bit of our macadamia nut goat cheese, some chopped golden raisins, and some pine nuts. Two thumbs up from the husband on this one! We ate it for dinner. 🙂

raw vegan wilted spinach salad raw vegan wilted spinach salad raw vegan wilted spinach salad

After the salad, it was time for dessert. With all of the components for the apple pear crumble ready to go, all that was needed was to plate it. I had enough to make a few of them, so I plated it 2 different ways to see how it would look. Which one do you like best? 🙂

This dish is comprised of the apples and pears that were in the sous vide earlier today. We were told to cut them with final plating in mind. I made very thin round slices on the mandolin, sans cores. In one plating, I rolled them up; in the other, I left them them flat. They are topped off with the oat crumble that we put in the dehydrator yesterday, along with the almond gelato that we also made yesterday. I got a little more practice making perfectly shaped quenelles. I think I’m getting the hang of it! The whole thing is topped off with a little bit of star anise syrup that we made today and a pinch of star anise for garnish. I love that stuff!

If you’d like to make this yourself at home, Matthew Kenney’s book, Everyday Raw Desserts, from pages 118-129, contains a variety of recipes for crumbles, cobblers, and ice creams that you can mix and match to make any number of similar desserts.

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We ended the day by starting on an advanced pickling assignment. We are making quick pickles here, so the process includes some vinegar, as well as salt, which helps them to be ready quicker than a traditional salt brine only ferment. The class is only 4 weeks, so this method is understandable. We were allowed to experiment with flavors and ingredients that we thought might go well with our aged cheeses. I love pickling experiments, so I made two different jars – one with fruit and another with vegetables. 

My fruit pickles are: elderberry, lavender, apple, ginger, peeled muscadine grapes, and cinnamon. 

My vegetable pickles are: squash, carrot, shallot, turnip, radish, portobello, chili pepper, peppercorn, dill, and smoked sea salt. 

If after 4-5 days, they turn out well, I’ll share the exact recipes. 🙂

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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/