Saturday, July 25, 2009

Is it a Cracker or a Chip?

Improvising with raw food recipes is another fun-filled benefit of eating foods in their natural state, it's hard to make a mistake.

I've been making various versions of flax crackers since my Excalibur dehydrator arrived on the scene. After the first few times when I followed written recipe directions, I've been experimenting with different herbs and spices, ground flax and whole flax and combinations. This latest version is a mix of almond pulp, from a batch of almond milk, and whole soaked flax seeds. The combination proved a winner with the other flavor additions. They turned out spicy, thin and crispy, a fine stand in for chips, after about 16 hours in the dehydrator.

1 cup flax seeds, after soaking close to 2 cups

1cup almond pulp

4-5 pieces sun-dried tomato, soaked until soft (reserve soaking water)

1 large clove garlic

1/2 cup parsley, minced

2 TBS tamari

juice from one lemon

1 heaping tsp Herbs de Provence

dash of cayenne

pinch of sea salt (taste first - add if needed or desired)

Process all to an even wet paste (thin with tomato soaking water if needed). Spread evenly over 3 - 4 sheets (Teflex or parchment paper) onto dehydrator trays. I spread the mix very thinly, approximately 1/8" thick. Score the batter in desired shapes and sizes with the edge of the offset spatula used for spreading.

Dehydrate at 115° until top side is dry enough to turn over (approx 7 -8 hrs). Turn, remove Teflex or peel off parchment paper, and continue drying on mesh trays at 110° until the desired crispness is achieved (6 - 8 hrs.)

When done, break along perforations, allow to rest a bit at room temperature, to be sure chips are completely dry, before storing in an airtight container. In my experience, these keep very well for a couple of weeks at room temperature.

Great for snacks, perfect for dips, or crumble over a big green salad.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Faux Foie Gras?

Just saying faux foie gras has saliva slithering over my lips and down my chin. In my meat eating days, I was not a liver lover regardless of how it was prepared or by what cachet it was called. But when I scooped out portions of my latest seed pâté, I realized it had the same color and texture as the glamorous, glorious, French favorite, foie gras aka duck liver!

Nut and seed pâtés can be as simple as soaked sunflower seeds, lemon juice and seasonings or as complicated as using expensive nuts, a long list of aromatics, vegetables, herbs and seasonings. Whichever route you go, having a basic bowl of pâté in the fridge is a lifesaver when hunger pangs ping or when one just doesn't feel like fussing with a meal. Slathered on leafy lettuce, stuffed onto cukes, celery stalks or zucchini spears, a pâté fills the bill for quick and easy snacks or light meals providing both taste satisfaction and super satiety.
This latest batch was simply made with:
1 cup soaked, sprouted, inexpensive sunflower seeds
1/2 cup almond pulp (left over from a batch of almond milk) optional
3 soaked sundried tomatoes
1 soaked sundried chipotle
3 thick slices of sweet onion
1 clove of garlic
juice from one lemon
1 TBS tamari
enough soaking water from the tomatoes and chipotle to achieve the desired consistency.

A few pulses in the food processor produces a nice chunky texture, a bit more processing delivers a paste. Mix it to your liking. This simple basic pâté is a great starter recipe and one to have on hand for a 'quick fix'.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Oft Neglected Beet
Jessica Rosen visited us recently, and brought with her the idea for a fabulous sandwich combination—beets and avocado.
One of my favorite sandwich combinations is tomato/avocado/sprouts. Beets and avocado had never occured to me. I think beets are perhaps a vegetable often neglected, avoided or in many cases, even untried. An old-fashioned vegetable in the same category as turnips, parsnips and rutabagas. Something ones grandmother or great-grandmother might have cooked. No beets in sight at the fast food drive in windows, that's for sure.

On the last day of Jess's visit, I joined her and her mother, Helen, for a marvelous impromptu lunch combining it all: tomatoes, avocado, sliced beets, and mixed sprouts served on fat slices of Helen's freshly baked whole wheat, crunchy crusted baguette, drizzled with drops of extra virgin olive oil. This was a big hit and a fun project to eat. Best done family style with the individual components plated separately allowing each diner to stack her own baguette slice. Messy? Oh, yes. But worth every drip and each swipe of the napkin. If you try this, I'd advise using paper napkins. The beet juice is a real stainer.

The memory of that taste treat begged for an encore. With freshly baked whole wheat pita on hand, it was a snap to split one open and layer in juicy slices of red, ripe tomato, a couple of slices of cold, roasted beets, slivers of sliced Haas avocado, all topped with a big handful of freshly grown mixed sprouts. This messy sandwich made a fabulous supper treat.

Either bread choice makes a good sandwich, whether you choose open faced or closed. And the rich flavor combination of beets, avocado and tomato, tossed with a big bowl of dark leafy greens, dressed in a light vinaigrette, would make a super salad for a gluten free feast.

Live it up! Add beets for a new taste treat.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Broccoli in Hoisini Sauce

adapted from Russell James

I suspect most raw foodies are familiar with the creative genius of Russell James,the raw chef who develops some of the most interesting gourmet raw food recipes. On the whole, gourmet raw foods are probably best kept for special treats or when entertaining guests as they do require a bit of planning and a lot of prepping and often, hours and hours of dehydrating.
However, I've found that by adapting a few of the steps, sauces, or other fancier preparations into everyday meals, I can add a whole new dimension to simple raw foods.
Russell James has several fabulous raw food prep books and he sends out great blog posts with FREE recipes like this broccoli hoisini. Check out his website and sign up for the blog/newsletter. I guarantee it will give you some great new ideas to expand your raw food repertoire. This broccoli dish is a great example. I've adapted it to serve me for lunch, but I can't wait to follow the complete directions for the original dish. Russell's dish includes instruction for making parsnip "rice" to round out the dish and his broccoli is dehydrated a bit before adding the sauce. That will be a weekend endeavor. Meanwhile, I enjoyed a whole new take on broccoli salad. Thanks Russell, you're a creative recipe genius.
I marinated the broccoli along with sliced button mushrooms and sliced Vidalia onion for a couple of hours at room temperature and then whisked up the sauce to dress it, turning it into a variation on broccoli salad but with a completely different take on the flavorings.
For the original recipe, which is a simple preparation for a great, gourmet raw dish, check out Russell's newsletter. Meanwhile, here's my adaptation.

Ingredients: One head of broccoli, florets only, 8 oz sliced button mushrooms (or mushrooms of choice); half a large Vidalia onion, sliced into half moons. Marinade: 2 TBS lemon juice;3 TBS olive oil; 1 TBS tamari.

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Let sit covered at room temperature for an hour or two. Or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Sauce: 1/4 cup tahini; 1 tsp lemon juice; 1 tsp agave; 1 tsp apple cider vinegar; 3 tsp tamari; 1 minced clove garlic; 1 small chili without seeds; 1TBS chopped fresh ginger. Blend in high speed blender or whisk thoroughly by hand. Thin with a bit of filtered water until the right consistency.

Mix with broccoli when ready to serve.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Pseudo Samosas

It may be stretching it to call these roll-ups samosas. Where are the potatoes? Where is the crunchy deep fried crust? Where is the zingy green sauce?

A raw foodie will go that extra imaginative mile to call a dish by its favorite cooked food name, I guess. This was a first attempt at capturing the spicy memory of a favorite street food — the simple samosa. Encouraged by similar combinations I've been reading about, particularly in Matthew Kenney's book, Raw Food, Real World, and with a head of cauliflower beckoning to be used, I tossed together this spicy melange of cauliflower, peas, cashews and spices.

Instead of potatoes, peas and a spice mix cradled in a tender whole wheat flour crust, then baked or deep fried, here's a fresh mix of cauliflower and peas processed with a clove of garlic into small bits, then dressed in a sauce evoking the flavor memory of samosas using a tablespoon of garam masala, another of freshly minced ginger, and a generous helping (about 2 tsp) of Penzey's blend of hot curry powder, all puréed together in the blender with 1/2 cup cashews and one cup of filtered water.

I spread the wet mix onto a large dinner plate and placed it in the dehydrator at 115° for about 4 hours. This softened up the cauliflower a bit and also dried out the mixture. The finished dish was moist but not runny.

When dinner time rolled around, I washed three large dark green outer leaves from a head of romaine, sliced out the crunchy stem (don't waste it, nibble on it while proceeding) then sliced each leaf in two along the stem line.

Place a heaping tablespoon of filling on a leaf piece, wrap the skinny tail up over the filling then continue wrapping, much like a burrito fold. I used the peanut dressing I've posted before to accompany the rolls. It was a bit difficult to actually dip the rolls. Using a teaspoon to drizzle the sauce onto the rolls as I ate was much less messy. However you do it, it's fun and pretty tasty!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

More Veggie Sushi
I'm forever learning new tricks which keeps eating fresh and fun. I recently read about spreading a little wasabi paste directly on the sheet of nori before adding ingredients. That really works well. Here is a quick pre-lunch snack I made this morning.

Making a quick roll up is fast and easy after you've done it a few times. The bamboo rolling mat makes a pro out of any novice willing to give it a go. Practice makes perfect. Watching a couple of YouTube video demonstrations certainly helped as well.

I mixed a generous teaspoon of wasabi powder with a little water to a smooth, spreadable consistency. Spread that over the bottom half of the sheet of nori and then topped it with a layer of nut/seed pâté, slivered cucumber, red pepper, avocado and mixed sprouts. A quick roll up, then slice into segments and sprinkle with sesame seeds. No dipping sauce needed.

A few odds and ends become a tasty snack in minutes.