Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Stir-Dehydrate - or, an impromptu weeknight dinner

I learned to appreciate vegetables at a young age. In fact, there was not really any learning to be done - I have always instinctively loved all things veg. Unlike most food-fussy children, I had no problem gobbling up broccoli, and I salivated at the mere mention of spinach. While I shunned anything that was of recognizable animal origins (I could handle hamburgers but balked at steak or chicken), I happily snacked on raw veggie sticks and filled my plates with seconds of peas, potatoes and parsnips.

One of my mom's staple weeknight dinners was the classic stir-fry, and as a vegetable lover this was always a favorite of mine. Hers tended to be very onion-and-pepper centric, but I did learn from her the beauty of throwing a bundle of whatever vegetables are on hand into a big ole' frypan and making them taste delicious by topping them with assorted savory sauces. As I learned to cook for myself, particularly as I appreciated the beauty of healthy vegetarian eating, I relied more and more on the stir-fry for a quick, easy and yummy weeknight meal. In fact for ages my favorite post-yoga dinner was a big bowl of stir-fried greens and tofu.

Transitioning the stir-fry to the stir-dehydrate takes a tad bit more planning, but it's just as forgiving and delicious as its cooked counterpart. I say it takes more planning simply because I like to warm it for at least half an hour in the dehydrator, but you could eat it totally fresh if you're short on time. In winter I really need to eat my food slightly warmer than room temperature for comfort reasons - my old house is really cold, and warm food really seems to help me keep the chills at bay.

The only requirements for this recipe are a lot of asian greens - in fact, today's inspiration is some lovely local bok choy with gorgeous little purple streaks and an intensely cabbagey flavor - and a good savory sauce. Other than that, you can play around with the veggies you add or subtract - just use whatever you have on hand. I even tossed in some tempeh here to bulk it up a bit more. I serve this one with strips of coconut meat as noodles because I like to add a bit more fat into my winter diet, but you could lighten it up with zucchini or kelp noodles instead. Either way, definitely try this sauce - it's a winner that I keep coming back to again and again.


3 bunches bok choy, chopped width-wise into thin slices
1/4 head of cauliflower, cut into tiny florets
4 large swiss brown mushrooms, sliced thinly
3 spring onions, chopped into 1cm pieces
meat of 1 young Thai coconut, cut into ribbons
drizzle of olive oil (or use sesame or other oil of your choice)
big pinch of himalayan salt

2 Tbsp tahini
2 Tbsp tamari
1 Tbsp miso paste
1 tsp honey
3 Tbsp olive oil (or sesame, or other oil of your choice)
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp minced fresh garlic
a few drops toasted sesame oil
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

2-3 Tbsp sesame seeds

Mix chopped vegetables, coconut noodles, oil and salt in a bowl and toss to coat. Place bowl in dehydrator, or spread veggies over teflex sheet, and leave at least 1/2 hour to warm and soften veggies.

For the sauce: combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine thoroughly. Adjust seasoning to your taste - remember, the taste should be intense but balanced as it will be spread over all those veggies.

When veggies are warm enough for you, toss with sauce in a bowl. Top with sesame seeds and eat with chopsticks! Serves 2 as a main meal.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


A relatively lovely specimen, from marcwomm on flickr

Celeriac is one ugly bugger. It's a knobby, tangly, dirty root hiding beneath a mop of straggly greens. Why I selected it from the assortment of root vegetables adorning the winter vegetable display at the farmers market is a bit of mystery - perhaps I felt sorry for the homely little guy. All I can say is, I'm glad that something prompted me to bring this sad specimen home. Because hiding beneath the gruff exterior is a unique and enjoyable flavor experience.

I decided to try my hand at adapting a traditional French preparation for celeriac - the remoulade. It took a bit of work, but I didn't mind. I lopped off the greens and made myself a green juice (celeriac tops, 1 apple and 1/2 a lemon) to fuel me up for a culinary task at hand. Then I simply cut away all of the gnarly exterior. What was left resembled a turnip or swede. The celeriac was treated to a quick grating (I used a box grater, but I sure am missing the grater attachment to my food processor that is buried in a box somewhere from my last move) and set aside.

A traditional remoulade is dressed with a garlicky mayonnaise. Since I'm not averse to the idea of raw egg, I've tried this before. But I found the results to be so rich that eating it made me feel kind of sick. So I decided to make a lighter version of the creamy, garlicky dressing using avocado as the base, with an assortment of seasonings including parsley from the garden and fresh raw organic garlic (I'm definitely going through a garlic phase at the moment, eating about 1 clove a day...hopefully nobody's noticed). The resulting dressing packs a lot more nutrition and is easier on the stomach than the original.

I tossed the dressing with the grated celeriac and, voila! A lighter, brighter version of celeriac remoulade. Yeah, it looks a little bit greener than the traditional type, but in the raw food world we're used to our food having a slight tinge of green.
Light, Bright Celeriac Remoulade

If you haven't tackled celeriac yet, I urge you to try it. Its flavor has hints of celery, but nuttier and sweeter. Once you cut away the exterior, it is really easy to handle, and has such an unusual taste that is really surprising. Don't let its funny looks deceive you.

Light, Bright Celeriac Remoulade

1 celeriac root, trimmed
1/2 avocado
3 Tbsp olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp himalayan salt
1 tsp tamari or nama shoyu
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp mustard
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Grate celeriac into a bowl. Set aside.

Combine avocado, olive oil, lemon juice, himalayan salt, tamari, nutritional yeast, mustard and garlic in food processor. Whir until smooth. Add parsley and pulse until just combined.

Toss dressing with grated celeriac. Serves 2 as a side or 1 as a big meal.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Chocolate Orange Ganache Tart

This is a celebration cake! It features a chocolate cookie crust filled with layers of rich chocolate ganache and orange cream. I actually made it about a month ago for a raw potluck that got canceled at the last minute, so instead of attempting to devour the whole thing myself, I stuck it in the freezer. It worked a treat. With Jayson's birthday in mind, I pulled it out the day before our family celebration. Then we all gorged ourselves silly on this incredibly rich tart for his birthday dessert.

This amazing cake comes with a word of warning: do not eat late and night, and do not eat in large quantities. It is insanely delicious, but so rich and packs quite a punch of cacao power. So make sure to share it with people you love!

The idea for this cake is a combination of Matthew Kenney's Chocolate Hazelnut Tart from Everyday Raw, and Raw Goddess Heathy's Chocolate Orange Cake. I didn't really plan for it to be that way - basically I couldn't find hazelnut extract, and I felt that I needed a bright, clean flavor to cut through all that chocolatey-ness. So I tweaked the tart recipe a bit, stuck an orange cream layer in the middle, and voila! Chocolate Orange Ganache Tart. Here's the recipe:

Chocolate Orange Ganache Tart

*This recipe requires a few days of advance planning, as you need to make the cookie crumbs at least 3 days before the tart. Since the whole thing is pretty labor intensive, I recommend making it in advance for a special occasion and then refrigerating or freezing until ready to serve. If freezing, take it out of the freezer the day before you're going to serve it.

2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
1/4 cup melted coconut oil

Sub-recipe: Chocolate Cookie Crumbs

2 cups cacao powder
2 cups oat groats, ground to powder in a spice grinder
3/4 tsp himalayan salt
1/2 cup agave
1/2 cup raw honey
1 1/2 Tbsp melted coconut oil
3/4 tsp vanilla extract

Combine dry ingredients (cacao powder, oat powder and salt) in a large bowl. Add agave, honey, melted coconut oil and vanilla and mix well. You'll probably have to get your hands in there! Crumble into small pieces onto dehydrator screens and dehydrate for 3 days.

Now you have lovely cookie pieces to do with what you will! You'll want to pulse about 3 cups of the pieces in a food processor to get small crumbs to use for the above crust, but you can use extras in lots of fun ways - crumbled over raw ice cream, mixed into raw chocolate or white chocolate base recipes, in other raw cookies, or just munch on them! Store in a sealed jar.

Back to the Tart...

Chocolate Ganache Filling
1 1/2 cups cashews, soaked for 2 hours
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup agave
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp himalayan salt
1 cup cacao powder

Orange Cream Layer
3/4 cups cashews, soaked for 2 hours
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 tsp orange zest
3 Tbsp agave
1 Tbsp melted cacao butter
1/2 tsp melted coconut oil
tiny pinch himalayan salt

Dark Chocolate glaze (melted coconut oil, cacao powder and agave)
Orange segments
A bit of orange zest

To assemble the crust, mix chocolate cookie crumbs with melted coconut oil in a bowl until the crumbs hold together. Press the mixture into the bottom of a tart pan and place in the freezer while you make the filling layers.

Make the chocolate ganache by combining all of the ingredients in a high-speed blender or food processor (often these creams require a high speed blender, but mine came out totally smooth in my trusty old battered food processor) and processing until completely smooth. Spread half of the mixture over the cookie crumb crust, and put the rest aside. Place the half-filled tart into the freezer to set while you make the orange cream.

Make the orange cream by combining all ingredients in high-speed blender or food processor as above. Spread the cream layer over the bottom chocolate ganache layer. Place in freezer to set. After about 1/2 hour, remove from freezer and top with the rest of the chocolate ganache. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve, or freeze if not using with a day or two (remove from freezer one day prior to serving).

I made a quick dark chocolate glaze by mixing about 2 Tbsp melted coconut oil with 1 Tbsp cacao powder and a bit of agave, then drizzling over tart just before serving. Decorate with orange segments.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Beetroot Dip

Avocado Stuffed with Beetroot Dip

The pace of our lives can be terribly fast, and it often feels like we're moving in whirlwind with no time to slow down and relax. Running from job to job to errands to meetings to social engagements - this life of speed has come to be a common experience today. I have been experiencing this tornado of activity lately in my life, and while I certainly enjoy being busy, I also miss being home at mealtimes to indulge in the pleasure of culinary creation. Often my lunch has been a salad or bowl of fruit gobbled down at my desk, my dinner has been sneaky bites of veggies in the back kitchen towards the end of dinner shift, and my snacks have been juices, granola bars and teas. These simple foods have nourished my physically, but I find that I'm lacking in the spiritual nourishment that I derive from a little kitchen inspiration.

Today I finally had half a day to myself, so I decided to whip up something creative for lunch. I wanted to make something raw and healthy, but a little bit outside of my recent comfort zone of an amazing big salad with everything on it. Rather than just make something to eat, I wanted to consider flavors and textures, experiment with colors, and use some power tools!

I opted to create an original dip - a forgiving palette on which to experiment with different elements. Jayson has been buying some lovely vegan dips lately, and I've been thinking to myself how easy it would be to come up with raw versions. So today's challenge was to create a raw beetroot dip with all the depth of flavor of a cooked dip, but way more nutrients. Chopped beetroot, tomato, red onion, garlic, parsley, sunflower seeds, lemon juice, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, mustard and a pinch of himalayan salt all went into the food processor. Then I played with seasonings a bit until the taste was just right. The surprising ingredient in here is actually carob powder, which adds both sweetness and depth to balance the acidic flavors.

Beetroot Dip Prep

I was going to eat this with crudites, but then I saw two ripe organic avocadoes purchased at CERES market yesterday that were just calling my name. So I filled half of one with the dip and ate it over a bed of greens from the garden with a few plump, juicy Mt. Zero olives. I think there are endless ways you could use this dip - as a sandwich spread, thinned out with a bit of water and poured over salad as a dressing, tossed with zucchini pasta, over steamed sweet potatoes and quinoa, or just as is with some raw crackers and veggies.

Beetroot dip with crudites and garden greens

Taking the time to nourish myself with inspiring flavors, and to enjoy the process of creating loving food for myself, is so important to keep me on track on so many levels. I know that no matter how busy I am, culinary creation is a priority.

Beetroot Dip

1 cup raw beetroot, roughly chopped
1/4 cup red onion, roughly chopped
1 packed TBSP fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1 tomato, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 TBSP apple cider vinegar
1 tsp brown mustard
1/2 tsp himalayan salt
1 tsp cumin powder
2 heaped tsp carob powder
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in food processor and whir whir whir until you achieve a smooth, creamy consistency. Adjust flavors to taste - add cayenne if you like a spicier dip, or a bit of agave/honey if you like a sweeter dip. I like to add lots of black pepper for a little surprise zing.
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