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? 🙂
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.
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”.
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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.