I have released four recipe books so far:

The Best of the Sunny Raw Kitchen
The Best of Raw Freedom Community
Delightfully Raw and
Deliciously Raw

These feature some of the most delectable creations to have come out of my raw kitchen and will appeal to anyone interested in a healthier diet, regardless of their level of knowledge and experience. From easy one-step everyday fare to more elaborate and involved gourmet dishes and layered cakes, they offer something for everyone and every occasion. Incredibly tasty smoothies, creamy and comforting warm soups, sexy salads, delicious nut cheezes, satisfying entrees and scrumptious guilt-free desserts...

Healthy food never tasted so good!

To learn more about my recipe books, click here!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

What's Uncookin' Good Lookin'? - Episode IV

At last, it's starting to look like Spring around here. Mind you, we got a few inches of snow during the week, but the sun has also been showing up long enough for us to dare a little sun-worshipping, and even a picnic or two. As the warmer weather is gradually settling in, our diet has naturally begun to lighten up some: rolls, wraps, pasta... You know, stuff that can be easily assembled and doesn't require dehydration.

Here are some of the food that was placed on our raw table lately...

We've been beginning our late afternoon meals with a few staples, such as Cream of Zucchini Soup, Cream of Spinach and Cream of Leek. (Guess we had a bit of a cream theme going on, eh?) We also got around to making Manu's Sauerkraut Soup again, but he forgot to pay attention to the measurements. (Bad, bad Manu! That means more dessert for us! lol) However, I did manage to re-test his Creamy Arugula Soup which I shared with you some time ago. Since I had no sesame milk on hand, I used almond milk instead. It didn't occur to me as I was making it that almonds have a higher fat content than sesame seeds (duh!), so the result was very rich. I'll make a mental note to skip the olive oil called for in the recipe if I go the almond milk way again.

On the salad front, I have kept to some of my tried and true favorites: my House Dressing and Dill-icious Dressing which is a variation of the first. For something a little different, I came up with the following cucumber and tomato salad. So light and refreshing! We'll be making this one in the summer months for sure.

Dilled Cucumber Tomato Salad

Serves 2 or 3

2 cups cucumber, chopped
1 cup tomato, chopped
2 tbs green onion, chopped
1/4 cup arugula, chopped
1/4 cup dill, finely chopped

Dressing:
2 1 /2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp raw tahini
1 tbs lemon juice
Splash of apple cider vinegar
1 small garlic clove, minced
Sea salt or tamari, to taste

Optional:
1 avocado, cubed
A couple of tbs hemp hearts

Assembly:
Put salad ingredients in a bowl.

Mix dressing ingredients in a small bowl with a spoon. Transfer to salad bowl and toss well.

Serve on a bed of fresh sprouts.


As I was just saying, for the most part, our entrees have been light and quick to prepare. I've already shared the yummy Nori Rolls with Ginger Sunflower Pate shown on the left as my Recipe of the Week.

After some initial reservation, Don and I are really getting into using collard leaves as wraps. We cut these along the edge of the spine so as to obtain 2 pieces. Since the collard greens we find around here are gigantic, we also usually cut each piece in half. We find that the key is to cover these in warm salt water and let them soak for an hour or so, in order to soften them up. You can then fill the leaves with whatever spread and veggies you have on hand.

Matt Amsden's Tuna Salad caught my eye as I was flipping through his Rawvolution book, so I decided to give it a try. I was a little disappointed when I first sampled the result. Then I realized that I've come to associate 'tuna salad' with Ocean's recipe, which is unbelievably good. Kinda hard to beat such a gem! In the end, after much tweaking, I did come up with something to my liking. (My taste buds are turning me into a picky little brat! lol)

Rawvolution's Tuna Salad wrapped in collard greens


Asparagus is starting to hit the shelves of my local HFS - yay! - a sure sign that summer is really on its way. I was gonna make one of the droolsome pasta sauces posted here, but ended up doing a little impro with what we had around the kitchen. I tossed zucchini linguinis in basil and spinach pesto I still had in the freezer, and added some finely chopped arugula, marinated mushrooms and pine nut parmesan. Wow, it turned out fantastic! I was too hungry and skipped the photo shoot, though. (My turn to be bad!)

We also had a hot dog dinner one evening after a long and tiring day in town. I was looking for something that could be easily whipped up, so that perfectly fit the bill. All I had to do was dig some of Snowdrops' raw vegan hot dog wieners out of the freezer, pop 'em in the D for a half hour or so, and voila! I served them in a soft veggie wrap, with a generous squirt of home made honey mustard, button mushies marinated in olive oil, tamari, crushed garlic, and lettuce. Yummy stuff!!! Manu was totally impressed. Sorry, no pic again. The thought came to me as I was opening my mouth wide to take my first bite, but I didn't have the courage to put my loot down and fetch the camera.

Last entree for this time around: Sudo-Burmese Salad. Portobello mushrooms marinated in an almond butter dressing, then tossed with sprouts, arugula, cilantro, green onion, avocado and tomato. On Libby's suggestion, I decided to serve this deliciously exotic dish on a bed of zucchini noodles. Excellent!

Sudo-Burmese Salad
Posted by Libby on Raw Freedom Community

Serves 2

Mushrooms and Dressing:
1 portobello mushroom
1 tbsp raw almond butter
1 tbsp nama shoyu
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tea. water
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 inch ginger, peeled and minced (save peels for tea, if you like)
Sprinkle of sprouted sesame seeds that have been dehydrated again for crunch (optional)

Salad:
1/4 cup sunflower sprouts
1/4 cup bean sprouts
1/4 cup finely chopped arugula
1/4 cilantro
1/4 cup of green onions
1/4 cup matchstick chopped zucchini
1 whole avocado
2 tomatoes, diced

Topping:
1/4 cup peanuts, sprouted and dehydrated, then chopped

Procedure:
Combine all wet ingredients for dressing into bowl and stir vigorously to incorporate the almond butter. Slice the mushroom lengthwise and lay pieces down into mixture. Marinate in fridge for a few hours.

Combine all greens, zucchini, avocado, and tomato in large bowl. Toss with hands. Then retrieve bowl of mushrooms. Slice the mushrooms to achieve smaller pieces. Toss mushrooms and marinade with the greens.

Top salad with crunchy, dehydrated peanuts.

Libby's Notes:
My suggestion is to add half the dressing and toss. Then add the second half slowly, as you may find that the whole amount is a little much. It is a matter of taste.

Another variation on this might be to use a zucchini "noodle" as a base.

I adapted this recipe from a website by adding a few ingredients (like the cilantro, tomatoes, avocado, zucchini)... but I cannot recall which. Sorry!

I have a hunch that turmeric powder would be outstanding in the dressing... I'll have to give it a try a report.

Carmella's Notes:
~ I used more like 1/2 cup of bean sprouts.

~ As I served this salad on zucchini noodles, I omitted the zucchini called for in the recipe.

~ I topped the dish with chopped cashews instead of the peanuts.


And finally, desserts. Come to think of it, the tendency to lighten up is reflected in that department as well. We've been mostly enjoying a few cookies with raw vegan ice cream. I made Vanessa Sherwood's Chocolate Ice Cream which had been getting raving reviews. Although it tastes fabulous, Don and I weren't thrilled about the texture. It's got that ice crystal consistency rather than being creamy and smooth. Might be due to the fact that we don't have an ice cream maker. I guess I'll have to try processing it a bit more in the Vitamix, see if it helps. I'm thinking I'll experiment with a version using cashews and macs instead of the young coconut.

I also whipped up a batch of Cherie Soria's Maple Walnut Ice Cream. Sooooo darn yummy! Actually, I'd say it's one of my favorite ice cream recipe thus far. A must try! Totally decadent with warmed up chocolate cookies.

Maple Walnut Ice Cream
By Cherie Soria of Living Light Institute
Posted on Vegetarians in Paradise

Serves 8

* 2 cups walnuts, soaked 8 to 12 hours
* 1 cup cashews
* 2 1/4 cups water
* 1 cup pure maple syrup
* 1/4 teaspoon maple extract
* pinch solar-dried sea salt
* 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, soaked for 8 to 12 hours, then dehydrated (optional)

1. Drain and rinse the walnuts.

2. Put the soaked walnuts, cashews, and all remaining ingredients, except the chopped walnuts, into a blender and blend until completely smooth and creamy. The mixture should resemble the consistency of a thick milkshake.

3. Pour the walnut cream into ice cube trays and freeze until hard.

4. Put cubes through a Green Life or Champion Juicer outfitted with the homogenizing plate.

5. Stir in the chopped walnuts and return to the freezer for a couple of hours. Serve immediately or store in the freezer until ready to use. Keeps in the freezer, in a sealed container, for 1 to 2 months.

If you have an Italian ice cream maker, simply follow the directions to make your ice cream, then fold in the chopped walnuts when the process is completed or before returning the ice cream to the freezer.

Carmella's Note:
~ I didn't have the maple extract so I omitted it. Insanely good anyhow!

~ I put the cubes in the Vitamix instead of a juicer.


After seeing the scrumptious parfaits Heathy has been serving to her dinner parties, I decided to play with the concept a little. In spite of my looking and looking through the cupboards, I couldn't find any Martini glasses, so I settled for whatever I could lay my hands on. My first experiment was a Caramel and White Chocolate Trifle made up of brownie, white chocolate, cheesecake and caramel layers.


Now, before you get all excited, I have to tell you that this recipe needs further tweaking. Since the caramel consists mostly of dates and maple syrup, it lent the final dessert an over-sweet taste. Lots of potential though; it would just be a matter of adjusting the amount of sweetener in the other filling mixtures.

Here's the Trifle again, cake style...

Once I've perfected the recipe, you'll be the first to know, I promise! ;-)

I also came up with the following variation of the lovely Chocolate Mousse Cakes I shared with you last week.

Chocolate & Cream Parfait

Brownie Crumbs
1 cup walnuts (dry)
1/4 cup raw cacao or carob powder (I like to use both)
3/4 cup soft dates (pitted and unsoaked)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Mousse

2 medium ripe avocados
1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 cup + 2 tbs water
1/4 cup cacao powder
1 tablespoon carob powder
1/2 cup raw honey or agave nectar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 whole vanilla bean
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

Whipped Cream
1 cup cashews
1 cup + 2 tablespoons fresh coconut milk (simply blend 1 part dried coconut with 3 parts water in high speed blender)
3 tablespoons raw honey or agave nectar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon lecithin powder*

*Lecithin acts as an emulsifier. Look for soy lecithin (preferably non-GMO), in granules or powdered form. If using granules, make sure to grind them up in a high speed blender of coffee grinder. You can also find sunflower lecithin which is raw and non-GMO.

If you don't have access to lecithin, you can replace it with 1 tbs + 1 tsp psyllium flakes (less if you're using powder). Please note that the consistency won't be as fluffy and hold its shape as well at room temperature.


To make the Brownie Crumbs:
Place walnuts, cacao or carob in food processor, and blend until you obtain the nuts are chopped small. Add dates and vanilla extract and process until crumbly.

To make the Chocolate Mousse:
Blend all ingredients in high speed blender until smooth.

To make the Whipped Cream:
Blend all ingredients except coconut oil and lecithin until smooth. Add coconut oil and lecithin and blend until thoroughly mixed. Pour into a container and set aside in fridge or at room temperature until ready to assemble.

Assembly:
Sprinkle some Brownie Crumbs at the bottom of a small glass or bowl. Then put a few spoonfuls of Chocolate Mousse, followed by a layer of Whipped Cream. If desired, repeat these three layers.

Carmella's Note: Even though I thought the glasses shown in the pictures were quite small, I could hardly finish mine. Next time I might go with more Mousse and a single layer of Whipped Cream on top.


That about wraps it up for now. I've got a few exciting ideas floating around my head, namely something along the lines of a hazelnut chocolate dessert. Mmmmm... I'm drooling just at the thought of it!

'Til next time!

Recipe of the Week: Nori Rolls with Ginger Sunflower Pate

I know I've shared a few versions of nori rolls over the months (you can even see me in action here), but what can I say? They can't be beat in terms of deliciousness and ease of preparation. Another great thing about nori rolls is that you can use whatever pate and veggies you have on hand.

Here's the variation I came up with this week. As I'm not a big fan of cauliflower-based rice, I was interested in Cafe Gratitude's recipe which calls for parsnip. I like to keep some basic sunflower pate in the fridge so I gave the latter an Asian twist by adding a bit of garlic and horseradish.

Colorful, super quick to assemble and tasty; the perfect summer food!

Nori Rolls with Ginger Sunflower Pate

Ginger Sunflower Pate
1 cup sunflower seeds, soaked overnight
1 garlic clove
1 tbs lemon juice
1" piece fresh ginger, grated
1/8 tsp grated horseradish
Salt or tamari, to taste

Blend until smooth in food processor.


'Rice'
Adapted from Cafe Gratitude's I Am Grateful

2 cups parsnip, roughly chopped
1 med. garlic clove
3 tbs pine nuts
1/2 tsp salt

Process parsnip and garlic in food processor until rice-like consistency.

Add pine nuts and salt and process some more.


Toppings
Red or yellow peppers, julienned
Carrots, julienned
Cucumber, julienned
Thinly sliced avocado
A few sunflower or radish sprouts


Assembly
Place 1 or 2 tablespoons of 'rice' mixture on the nori sheet and spread evenly across the bottom third of the sheet leaving 1 inch of space exposed at the bottom.

On top of the rice, spread a little Ginger Sunflower Pate, roughly the size of a cigar.

Top with red bell pepper, carrot, cucumber and avocado slices.

Finish off with a few radish or sunflower sprouts.


Fold the bottom of the sheet up and over the filling, and roll the nori tightly using a bamboo mat or your fingers. (I like to use my fingers.)

Wet the top part of the nori sheet with a little water so as to seal the sushi.

Let the roll sit for about 5 minutes before cutting.

Using a sharp knife, cut the nori roll into 5 or 6 equal parts. Use a gentle see-saw motion to make it a perfect smooth cut.

Arrange on a plate. If desired, serve with Nama Shoyu, tamari or this dipping sauce in a small bowl.


For a lighter version...
First, put a nice layer of alfalfa sprouts, covering nearly half of the nori sheet.

Spread a little Ginger Sunflower Pate, roughly the size of a cigar.

Proceed as described above.

Oh and before I go...

Since we're on the topic of raw Asian food, you might want to take a peek at some other posts along the same theme:
Enjoy!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Recipe of the Week: Chocolate Mousse Cakes

Avocados are an integral part of our diet, providing some creaminess to both our daily smoothies and soups. We like to keep lots of avocados at various stages of ripeness on hand to ensure a constant supply. Once in a while, though, we end up with way too many of them begging to be used up all at once. I know that there's always the 'Guac Solution', but last week I felt like creating something a little more exciting.

After toying around with the idea of an avo based chocolate mousse, I came up with the following cute little cakes. I think I'm falling in love with raw cacao all over again... ;-)


Chocolate Mousse Cakes

Crust:

1 cup shredded dry coconut
1 cup macadamia nuts
1/8-1/4 cup packed pitted dates, roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon orange zest

Chocolate Mousse
2 medium ripe avocados
1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 cup + 2 tbs water
1/4 cup cacao powder
1 tablespoon carob powder
1/2 cup raw honey or agave nectar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 whole vanilla bean
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons lecithin powder*
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

Whipped Cream
1 cup cashews
1 cup + 2 tablespoons fresh coconut milk (simply blend 1 part dried coconut with 3 parts water in high speed blender)
3 tablespoons raw honey or agave nectar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup coconut butter, melted
1 tablespoon lecithin powder*

*Lecithin acts as an emulsifier. Look for lecithin (preferably non-GMO), in granules or powdered form, at your local HFS. If using granules, make sure to grind them up in a high speed blender of coffee grinder.

If you don't have access to lecithin, you can replace it with 1 tbs + 1 tsp psyllium flakes (less if you're using powder). Please note that the consistency won't be as fluffy and hold its shape as well at room temperature.


To make the Crust:
Place dry coconut in food processor and blend into a fine powder. Add nuts and salt and blend until a texture of coarse meal. Add dates and orange zest and process some more until mixture is crumbly and holds together when pressed tightly.

To make the Chocolate Mousse:
Blend all ingredients except the last two in high speed blender until smooth. Add lecithin and coconut oil and blend some more.

To make the Whipped Cream:
Blend all ingredients except lecithin until smooth. Add lecithin and blend until thoroughly mixed. Pour into a container and set aside in fridge or at room temperature until ready to assemble.

Assembly:
Press crust mixture at the bottom of silicon muffin cups. If using non-stick metal ones, line these first with plastic film for easy removal.

Pour Chocolate Mousse filling, leaving some room for the Whipped Cream.

Finish off with a layer of Whipped Cream.

Set in fridge or freezer for a few hours.

If desired, serve with orange fillets.

Carmella's Notes:
~ You'll end up with extra whipped cream (what a shame!), but as I always like to say, no doubt you'll find plenty of other uses for it. ;-)

~ If you prefer one large cake instead of smaller ones, simply assemble in a 7" spring form pan.

~ For a decadent chocolate pudding, make the mousse filling omitting the lecithin. Pour into bowls and chill before serving.

Enjoy!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

'Not' Cheeze, Pleaze!

When I look back at my own raw journey, I find that it wasn't difficult at all. In many ways, I've had it easy. Sorta like when I gave up cigarettes, coffee, alcohol or meat; I was so ripe and ready for it that I was able to quit pretty much cold turkey with virtually no ripple effect. I know that I have to thank the fact that my change of diet has been a very gradual and organic process. For the most part, I've remained fluid, not holding fast to any set ideals or percentages, trusting that I was doing the best I could at any given moment. To me, the overall trend mattered much more than the 'less than ideal' choices I occasionally made along the way.

Kinda in the same vein, by the time I started eating mostly raw foods, I had been vegan for many years, so my cheese cravings were pretty much 'gone, baby gone'. Nevertheless, I had a brief stint with fermented seed and nut cheeses early on, thanks to a friend of Don's who had a raw catering service in Victoria. Even though I wasn't really looking for a raw replacement of this old favorite, I still tried my hand at cultured cheese and made a couple of batches, using mostly sunflower seeds and almonds. Neither Don or I were really impressed at the time, so I quickly forgot about it.

Now we fast forward a few years...

Recently, my interest was rekindled when someone posted Chad Sarno's Cashew Cheese Au Poivre on Raw Freedom Community. I was still a little hesitant, remembering my failed experiments, but curiosity got the better of me (especially after reading how yummy it was!) I decided to take the plunge and give raw nut cheese another chance. Don't know what I was doing wrong before, or perhaps it was just a matter of what type of nuts/seeds I used, but this Cashew Cheese was a whole different story. Boy oh boy, was it ever delicious! And the texture was so like the 'real' thing!

Feeling more confident, I've ventured to play around with a few different variations last week. What a fun and rewarding project! Now I'm all thrilled at the possibilities lying in wait.

So if you're like me and have been keeping away from cultured nut cheese, give one of the following recipes a try. You'll be pleasantly surprised!

Basic Cashew Cheeze


3 cups cashews, soaked 12-14 hours
3 capsules probiotics
2/3 cup fresh rejuvelac (see instructions below)

In high speed blender, blend the soaked cashews with probiotics and rejuvelac until smooth.

Line a sieve with a double thickness of cheesecloth and place over a bowl. Transfer the mixture to the sieve, drape the cheesecloth over the top, cover with a towel and leave in a warm place to ripen for 14-16 hours.
Season according to one of the following recipes (or come up with your own variation!)

Alternatively, shape the mixture into a round, place in a covered container, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, or until it firms up.

Store in fridge in airtight container for up to 3 or 4 days.
Here's the cheeze mixture freshly out of the Vitamix...


... cozily wrapped up in cheesecloth.


Then after some 16 hours of culturing.


Carmella's Notes:
~
You could sub the probiotics with some miso; the idea is to give the culture a kick start.

~ If you don't have rejuvelac, fresh water would also work.

~ It is key to use as little liquid as possible for best results in terms of texture.

~ You may want to adjust the culturing time, depending on how 'strong' you like your cheeze.


Rejuvelac Demystified
My good friend and accomplished raw chef Heathy was telling me the other day how she felt intimidated by that whole rejuvelac thing. I know where she's coming from as I was in her shoes only a few weeks ago. However, there's really not much to it. Put simply, rejuvelac is obtained by soaking sprouted grains in fresh water for a couple of days, so don't let the length of these next instructions turn you off.

To Make Rejuvelac
I'm sure there are many different ways to make rejuvelac, but here's the basic technique as described on the Sproutpeople's site.

Ingredients
2 Cups Rye
10 Cups Water
2 Qt. Jar

Preparation
1. Soak 2 cups of Rye in your 2 quart jar. Cover with 1 quart or more of cool (60-70 °) water. Stir seeds up to assure even water contact. Soak for 8 - 12 hours.

2. Pour off water.

3. Rinse (fill Jar 3/4 full with water), twirl vigorously, pour water out, and repeat - if necessary - until water runs clear). Use cool (60-70°) water.

4. Drain thoroughly by shaking your Jar - you want as little water as possible to remain in your Jar between Rinses. Set your Jar in a low-light, room temperature (70° is best) location.

4. Rinse and Drain (repeat steps 3 + 4) again 8 - 12 hours later.

5. 8 - 12 hours later your seeds will have the beginnings of little tails (sprouts). Add 6 cups of water (spring, purified or tap - your choice) to the sprouts and place the jar in the usual low-light, room temperature (70° is best) location for 2 days.

6. Pour liquid - this is your Rejuvelac - into a glass and drink some! Refrigerate the remainder until ready to drink or use in a recipe.

7. You may make more Rejuvelac by repeating step 3 and then adding 1 quart of water. Place your Jar in the usual location and culture your Rejuvelac for 1 day - then follow step 6 again.

Your sprouts are now pretty much spent, so toss ‘em to the critters (squirrels, rabbits, birds and many other outdoor creatures love sprouts) or compost them - or - throw ‘em in the garbage - it’s nice to add a little organic matter to a landfill though, don’t you think?

Carmella's Notes:
~ You can make rejuvelac out of other grains too, but wheat and rye are the most commonly used. My last batch was made with sprouted quinoa, and it turned out great.

~ If you only want rejuvelac in order to make cheese, you might want to cut the recipe way down. I'm experimenting with freezing the left-over rejuvelac for future usage. Hopefully it will still work! *fingers crossed*


Alright! Now this is the part where it gets really fun and interesting!

You get to come up with whatever flavors you want: chive, sun dried olives and fresh basil, rosemary and thyme, or jalapeƱo pepper. Mmmmmmm... So many variations to play with! For my part, I opted for the following...

Cashew Cheeze au Poivre
Adapted from a recipe by Chad Sarno

1 cup Cashew Cheeze
1 tbs nutritional yeast, small flake
1/4 tbs onion powder
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp sea salt
---
Coarsely crushed peppercorns for the crust


Place first 5 ingredients in a bowl and mix well with a spoon.

Shape the Cheeze mixture into a round or press firmly into a small container or bowl lined with plastic film.

While still in the pan, sprinkle the crushed peppercorns on top. Allow to chill for at least 12 hours or until it firms up.

When firm, demold, turn over and transfer onto a plate. Sprinkle more peppercorns on top and sides.

Store in fridge in airtight container for up to 3 or 4 days.


Herb Cheeze
Adapted from a recipe in Charlie Trotter's Raw

1 cup Cashew Cheeze
1 tsp minced green onion
1/4 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp nutritional yeast, large flakes
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp chopped fresh basil (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
---
Dried basil and thyme for the crust


Combine Cashew Cheeze, green onion, lemon juice, nutritional yeast and salt in a bowl, and stir until well mixed. Add fresh or dried herbs and stir until well distributed. Taste and adjust salt, if desired.

Shape the Cheeze mixture into a round or press firmly into a small container or bowl lined with plastic film. Sprinkle
dried herbs on top. Allow to chill for at least 12 hours or
until it firms up.

When firm, de-mold, turn over and transfer onto a plate. Sprinkle more dried herbs on top and sides.

Store in fridge in airtight container for up to 3 or 4 days.



Garlic Paprika Cheeze

1 cup Cashew Cheese
1/4 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp nutritional yeast, large flake
1/4 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
---
Paprika for the crust


Combine first 6 ingredients in a bowl and stir until well mixed. Taste and adjust salt, if desired.

Shape the Garlic Paprika Cheeze mixture into a round or press firmly into a small container or bowl lined with plastic film. Sprinkle paprika on top. Allow to chill for at least 12 hours or until it firms up.

When firm, de-mold, turn over and transfer onto a plate. Sprinkle more paprika on top and sides.

Store in fridge in airtight container for up to 3 or 4 days.


Oh, and have I mentioned that nut cheeze even freezes well?

If you don't dig the round shape, simply store the mixtures in a container 'cream cheese style' or perhaps make truffles like the talented Cheflandria ...


Voila! The perfect snack or party treat!

Say Cheeze! (Can you tell I'm already hooked!)

Monday, April 14, 2008

What's Uncookin' Good Lookin'? - Episode III

Time to catch up and report back on what's been on the menu lately. Hum, where to start? I guess I'll begin with the fun part.

I had a major Savory D Day recently and had a real blast in the process, thanks to Don. Between the two of us, we had everything tucked away nicely in the dehydrator in no time at all. What a team!

I made Cafe Gratitude's Almond Toasts in 2 flavors: plain and rosemary, along with their Buckwheat Pizza Crusts and the Veggie Herb Pizza Crusts (still one of my faves!) while Don worked on CG's Sun Burgers, Rawvolution's Veggie Cakes and Ani Phyo's Black Sesame Sunflower Bread.

We also had 'Vegan Bay' Crab Cakes unbaking away which we enjoyed for dinner that evening. I always like to throw a batch in when I have a savory D day. Works out perfectly!

Getting there! Slowly filling up the D...

From top to bottom: Almond Toasts, Buckwheat Pizza Crusts, Crab Cakes and Veggie Cakes.

Now, let's fast forward a bit to what all yummies I 'harvested' later on...

Ani's Black Sesame Sunflower Bread - a staple around here


Almond Toasts (seriously yummy!!!)


Here are the Sun Burgers


And the Crab Cakes


"Good for another thousand miles!" as Don likes to say.

Some of the soups we've been enjoying include Don's Pilgrim Soup and Green Celery Soup, Cynthia Beaver's Cucumber Avocado Dill and my Popeye Gone Raw Soup. I also made Rawvolution's Scarborough Fair Soup, remembering that Ocean had listed it as one of her Top 10 recipes for 2007. Wow, no wonder! It's a delicious blend of coconut water, bell pepper, cucumber, carrot, celery, onion, sage, garlic, lemon, olive oil and sea salt.


In fact it was so good, I just had to make it again a couple of days later. As you can see, a recipe never comes out exactly the 'same'.


On the salad front, I whipped up a big batch of my House Dressing and Snowdrop's delicious Ranch Dressing, so we were set for a while. When we finally ran out, I assembled the lovely Sauerkraut Salad - something I often do, as it's a make-as-you-go dressing.

I also dared to venture in new territories... On Tofu666's recommendation, I sprouted quinoa in order to make rejuvelac. (Yah, I know, who would have thought you could use that instead of the usual wheat or rye, eh?) While I was at it, I decided this was the perfect opportunity to try making a dish with sprouted quinoa - something I'd been staying away from, as I'd heard that it had a strange taste. Anyhoo, in the end, I opted for the quinoa salad that VeganForLife posted here.

I made half the recipe and that was plenty enough for two and then some. Although the taste of the quinoa wasn't so bad after all, I doubt I'll start sprouting it on a regular basis. It gave me a bit of a tummy ache and I noticed how it didn't get broken down by my body. (Don't ask me how I know! ;-) )

Since we had a bounty of freshly dehydrated goodies, we got to take our pick. I've already mentioned the Crab Cakes (if you still haven't made those yet, I'd run to the D if I were you!) which I served with the ranch dressing (not exactly tartar sauce but close enough!) I also made the Velvet filling for my Spinach Mini Quiches which we enjoyed on Veggie Herb Pizza Crusts, topped with some lovely button mushrooms lightly marinated in olive oil, tamari and garlic.

On a lighter note, I made a sunflower garlic spread - a new favorite - which we had on crackers and in nori rolls. I know it doesn't look like much but boy, is it ever yummy! I'm totally hooked on that stuff!

Sunflower Garlic Spread

2 cups sunflower seeds, soaked overnight
2 garlic cloves
2 tbs lemon juice (or to taste)
Salt, tamari or Nama Shoyu, to taste
Handful dill (optional)

Place all ingredients in food processor and process until smooth.


Finally, we tried the Veggie Cakes; a mixture of sunflower seeds, celery, onion, beets, dulse flakes, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and Nama Shoyu. Although these were good, I thought they weren't anything special. I did like the idea of a mostly vegetable based burger though. I'll have to experiment with the theme some more when I get the chance.

Veggie Cakes served with Creamy Dill Sauce


As for desserts, we munched on the yummy cookies I recently unbaked (man, those macaroons are yummo!) and the rest of Shannonmarie's Chocolate Eclair. While I was chatting with Heathy one day, she told me about a new citrus creation of hers that turned out particularly great. (What else is new?) It got me in the mood to make Cafe Gratitude's Key Lime Pie again. It's so easy to whip up, doesn't take long to set and is soooooo good, especially served with a few slices of banana. Heavenly!

Cafe Gratitude's amazing Key Lime Pie


Even Kylo, our master licker, loved the filling! ;-)

As we had lots of ripe avocados, I toyed around with the idea of making a chocolate mousse for a few days. On a whim, I came up with these one afternoon.

Chocolate Mousse Cakes


A light and creamy chocolate mousse topped with whipped cream on a macadamia orange crust. Mmmmmm... The recipe still needs a wee bit of tweaking (actually, it's just an excuse to make it again! lol) so I won't post it just yet. Soon, though, I promise.

OK, guess I'll stop here for now... the Vitamix is calling me!

Recipe of the Week: Popeye Gone Raw Cream of Spinach Soup

I adore spinach. I can eat the stuff by the handful - something I usually do while shopping at the local HFS. People look at me with this funny expression on their face, no doubt thinking I'm some kind of health wacko. (Who? Me?) I usually smile back and joke that I must be Popeye reincarnated. lol

Actually, I can even be a little compulsive about buying spinach. If it happens to be looking particularly fresh and vibrant, I almost have to restrain myself in order to be 'reasonable' and buy no more than we can go through in a week. (Hum, is there such a thing as a spinach junkie? Guess so...) No doubt that I'm making up for all those years where the only spinach that would enter the house was the frozen packaged variety.

I've already shared a number of great recipes calling for spinach (see my Angel Hair Pasta In Creamy Spinach Sauce, my Spinach & Cream Pasta Casserole or my Gimme More Pizza! to name but a few), but one of my favorite ways to enjoy spinach is also one of the simplest: in soup. I've been making variations of the following for months, and it always hits the spot. And no, I'm not being biased here, just ask Don!

Try it; you might become a convert too! ;-)


Popeye Gone Raw Cream of Spinach Soup

Serves 2 to 3

1/2 avocado
4 cups spinach
2 cups cucumber
1 cup zucchini
1 cup tomato
1 celery stalk
1 garlic clove
1 green onion
1 tbs lemon juice
Handful parsley (1/4 cup)
Handful cilantro (1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon miso
Salt to taste
2 cups water, or until desired consistency is reached

Blend all ingredients in high speed blender until smooth. If desired, warm up gently on the stove while stirring constantly.


Here's a couple of yummy variations:

Spinach Dill Variation
Follow recipe above, replacing parsley and cilantro with 1/4 cup fresh dill.

Spinach Orange Variation
1/2 avocado
4 cups spinach
2 cups cucumber
1 cup zucchini
1 green onion
1/2 small orange, peeled and seeded
Juice of 1/2 orange (or 1 whole small orange)
Lemon juice
Handful parsley
Handful cilantro
1 teaspoon miso
Salt, to taste
Water until desired consistency is reached

Blend all ingredients in high speed blender until smooth. If desired, warm up gently on the stove while stirring constantly.

Enjoy!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Recipe of the Week: Angel Hair Pasta In Creamy Spinach Sauce

Dinnertime was approaching quickly the other day, yet I was still clueless as to what to make. So I did what I often do, I turned to my dear friends on RFC who suggested pasta. But of course! What was I thinking? (Actually, that was part of the problem... my brain wasn't functioning properly! lol)

All I had to whip up was a sauce to serve it with. As we had tons of spinach in the fridge, my original idea was to make a pesto. However, it evolved into a delicious creamy sauce with a hint of nutmeg and thyme. In fact, it was so good, it inspired me to also make a batch of Pine Nut Parmesan which I thought would complement it beautifully.

Don goes to me: "I like this sauce better than the one you usually make" (referring to this sauce.) Having yet to take a bite, I looked across at him in disbelief. He had a point; the result was deeeeeelish! Although I must say, I still have a weak spot for my Spinach & Cream Pasta Casserole.

Angel Hair Pasta In Creamy Spinach Sauce

Serves 4

Angel Hair Pasta
Zucchinis, peeled and spiralized using the smallest setting


Creamy Spinach Sauce
4 cups spinach
1 small garlic clove
1/2 cup cashews
1/4 cup water
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp thyme

Blend in high speed blender until very smooth.


Pine Nut Parmesan
1/2 cup macadamias
1/2 cup cashews
2 Tbs pine nuts
1 Tbs lemon juice
1Tbs flax meal
1 clove crushed garlic
1Tbs nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp salt

First process macadamias and cashews until ground. Then add the pine nuts and process briefly. Follow with the rest of the ingredients and process until well mixed.

Carmella's Note: You don’t want to overprocess the pine nuts as they release a lot of oil.


Assembly
Toss the noodles with the sauce. Top with red bell pepper cubes. Sprinkle with Pine Nut Parmesan and serve.

Here it is once the sauce was mixed in.


Oh, and in case you're wondering, this is a single portion which explains why it seems to have shrunk so much.

Enjoy!

RAWgasmic Delights

Can food be better than sex?

Hum, an interesting question that seems to have been popping up a lot lately.

Alright. Let's try this!

Close your eyes and imagine:

Candlelight...

Soft music in the background...

The faintest aroma of delicate flowers floating in the air...

... and one of the following luscious creations lying in wait:




After experiencing such decadent raw desserts as these, perhaps now it's not so hard to conceive of the possibility?

There is no doubt that some foods have the ability to awaken pleasures beyond those of the mere taste buds. Just think of cacao and its aphrodisiac properties, for instance. Shazzie would probably argue that durian would fit in that category too; a point made loud and clear in her controversial video.

OK, so let us agree for a moment that both food and sex can take one to the summits of sensuous delights, making you want to blissfully close your eyes so as to better savor the moment. (And, if we're lucky, briefly forget our painful lot!)

Lord knows I've been enjoying my share of sexy and decadent raw delights in the last few months. Actually, I've even managed to lure a few adventurous souls over on Raw Freedom Community to come along for the ride! They recently took on the challenge of making my Delight-full Chocolate Orange Cake as a Project RAW, and more to the point, trying to decide whether it's up to its ecstatic claim.

Going Worldwide
But before I get into the juicy details (What? Me teasing? Nah!), let me tell you a little about Project RAW. The concept arose one day when one of our members, Aisah, was feeling unnerved at the prospect of making her first gourmet dessert: Vanessa Sherwood's Blackforest Cheesecake. Spontaneously, I offered Aisah to make it on the same day as her as a sort of moral support. Was she ever grateful! The idea became an instant hit among RFC's community. Hence "Project RAW- Raw Around the World" was born and has developed into yet another way of exploring the power of cooperation while having a blast in the process!

We've had a number of Project RAWs since, including for my Delight-full Blueberry Chocolate Cake, Snowdrop's Blonde Fruitcake, and Heathy's Mango Cake. Oh, and a couple of savory projects too: Russell James' 'Spinach & Wild Mushroom Quiche' and my Fennel & Pear Pizza with Pine Nut Parmesan. It's so awesome and so much fun to compare notes on tweaks and variations, give support, and share pictures of our renditions of particularly intimidating recipes.

Rawk 'n Rollin'
Things were taken to a new level in the last week when 'RAW' came to stand for "Roll Around the World". This latter refers to my comment that "Don was rolling around on the floor moaning in ecstasy" as he ate my Delight-full Chocolate Orange Cake. It's been a 'hot' and, at times, on-the-verge-of-triple-X-rating discussion. Actually, I can't resist sharing a few of the comments posted on this colorful thread. If only to show you what you've been missing...

Snowdrop:
"i couldn't wait for the march 30th date, as we will be out of state attending a family bridal shower. so i made it last nite and had my first taste of ecstasy today. OMG it's everything everybody said it was.

OMGOMGOMG

carmella you are my sunshine my only sunshine!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
thank you for giving us this heaven in our mouths"

*~*~*
Rawbie:

"Since my plan is to fast earlier than expected, I went ahead and made the cake yesterday. Whoa! The recipe is definitely a keeper, as the cake is amazingly delicious. However, I am still trying to figure out if it is better than sex."

*~*~*
WyJoz:


"he's divine !!!!! hehe; now I'm looking for my Wayne !!! hehe!

got to compare !!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

*~*~*
Aisah:

"Oh maaaaan!! Hmmm this is truly a delightful experience!! I must tell you guys that I am one who (usually) will NEVER touch an orange flavored chocolate so to say this is nice (says it all)!!! I especially liked the batter. It is still cold hard though as I am not allowing it a little thawing!! All in all - tis was a good union with "Mr Delight"!!! Every bite a lovely tantalizing play for the taste buds!!"

*~*~*
Peaches4Ever:


"Finally, I poked and prodded and he seemed just right. The first bite…. Ooooooooooooooooooh Oooooooooooooooooooooh Oooooooooooooooooooh, luscious, creamy, fruity chocolate melting in my mouth. Wow, Wow, Wow…. Oh yeah… This is soooooooooooooooooooooooo goooooooooooooood!!!. So worth the wait!

Better than sex??? Well, I have yet to decide that. Definitely a mouth-gasm for sure."


Sexy Flashes
While everyone was busy playing with "Mr. Delight", I had a mission of my own, investigating Shannonmarie's “Rawifed” and Sexy Eclair Dessert which was also reputed to be of the "better-than-sex" variety.

Since I had the graham crackers all ready, a few days ago I got to work on the rest.

As I had run out of nut butter, I decided to take a deep breath and try making my own. What a success! I ended up with a lovely and smooth cashew butter (read the details of my adventure here) which I used to make the chocolate topping. I also threw in more cacao powder, as I preferred it slightly on the bitter sweet side. For the vanilla pudding, I didn't have enough young coconut, so made up with more cashews instead. I also used part coconut oil and cacao butter instead of just the cacao, and added 1tbs of lecithin to the mixture for good measure.

I assembled the Eclair in a bread pan we had lying around which I lined with plastic film. Then began the wait...

Finally, it was all set and ready to be enjoyed.

Here it is, out of the wrap.


Getting darn close to chow down time now, the minutes are a-ticking!


Don caught in the act.


Mmmmmmm...


Don, Manu and I all agreed this was pretty yummy stuff. We served it to a friend of ours who thought it was delicious, especially the chocolate topping. For my part, I found the Eclair perhaps a bit heavy to my taste. Actually, I think I got a little overexcited, and cut the pieces too big, as I didn't manage to finish mine.

So where does that leave us? Have we found an answer to the question of the hour?

When presented with it, Manu offered that "it depends on the quality of the sex" (and of the food too, I would add!)

Good point.

Jozzie's words of wisdom on the matter?

"Food is 'always' better than sex !!!!!!!!!!!!!! So much variety, so many different tastes! So much pleasure planning, preparing, eating!

Sex is Sex! Wham bam not even a 'thank you mam', it's done! That's it! hehehe"

Hum... I think I'd tend to agree, especially when it comes to 'normal' sex. Tantra, however, might be a different story...

Well then, I suppose it's yet another one of those "it's all in the eye of the beholder" issues.

Are y'all drooling yet? I know I am! Time to go get dessert ready! ;-)

Here's to RAWgasmic delights! Keep 'em coming!

*~*~*~*
Photo Credits

White Chocolate-Strawberry Cheesecake by Vanessa Sherwood
Mango Cake by Heathy/Fairygirl
Delight-full Chocolate Orange Cake by Joz
Delight-full Chocolate Orange Cake by Aisah