Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Busy Holiday Weekend!! Lots of Yummies

What a busy holiday weekend.  I spent a lot of time in the kitchen. 

Instead of barbequing, we had a nice raw dinner on the front patio.   Pesto with zucchini pasta and garlic toasts

Click on the link above for the garlic toast recipe.  The picture above is a pretty sad picture with just one toast ... we'd nearly finished them off before I thought to take the picture.  These toasts are made in the dehydrator and are a bit like bruschetta.   Here's a picture of the left overs that I put in the refridgerator.  They'd been in the dehydrator a bit longer (perhaps too long) so the edges were curled up.  The "toast" is made out of jicama:

For desert we had cherry vanilla ice cream.  I used the vanilla ice cream recipe in this Raw Food Talk post and added fresh cherries.   Unfortunately, it didn't freeze very solid in the ice cream maker.  I think this might have been because my dehydrator was running and it was heating my kitchen a bit.   Here's how it looked the first night - delicious, but really more like a thick shake or very loose soft serve:

I put the left-overs in the freezer and it looked a lot more like ice cream when we had it for desert to finish off the pesto-pasta meal.  Next time, I am thinking I might just try to make the ice cream the night before I plan to eat it and just freeze it so it is more solid. 

All that said, the ice cream was delicious!!!  The recipe uses the seeds of two vanilla beans. I got organic ones at Whole Foods and they were nearly $14.  So this ice cream had a lot to live up to - since it cost so much money to make!!  I'm happy to say, it lived up to every penny I spent on it.  AND, I also promptly ordered some more vanilla beans online.   I ordered from http://www.beanilla.com/ and spent just about twice what I spent at Whole Foods and instead of just two beans, I'll be getting a full half pound of vanilla beans!  Once my vanilla beans arrive I'll definitely be making this recipe again.

I also dehydrated some figs and made some watermelon candy.  Here's a photo of the watermelon candy:

The watermelon candy is just about the easiest thing in the world to make and it reminds me a bit of Laffy Taffy and those watermelon Jolly Ranchers from my childhood - but a whole lot healthier!   I am thinking it'd be fun to get some cute cookie cutters and cut the watermelon into fun shapes to dehydrate, but even square, they taste delicious.

I also made the Kaia kale crackers again.  This time I was tracking the ingredients so I could post the quantities for you, but I don't think I've quite got it right yet so I may need a few more attempts before I post the recipe. That said, they did turn out pretty tasty.   This time I made not just the barbeque flavor, but I also made some cheesy ones:

And, if all that wasn't enough, after dinner we walked to the edge of town to watch the Macy's fireworks display. It was probably a 3 mile walk round trip, so a great opportunity to work off some of that ice cream!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Spirooli Review

I bought a Spirooli last week.  As I mentioned when I reviewed my Joyce Chen spiral slicer, it had a few issues in that the "angel hair pasta" pieces didn't always separate completely.

When I was in Martha's Vineyard, we used the Spirooli to make pasta with marinara sauce.  I was really impressed by the noodles it created.  They are considerably thicker noodles - more like spaghetti, but the noodles cut very cleanly and evenly.

Both machines basically do the same thing, but if you're not in need of really tiny noodles, you'll probably be really pleased with the performance of the Spirooli.

To give you a little review of how the Spirooli works, here are a couple pictures of cucumber "noodles" being made.

As you can see, unlike the Joyce Chen that allows a maximum 3 inch long piece of vegetable to be used in the machine, the Spirooli allows for a much longer piece of vegetable to be used.   In fact, for this cucumber, we only needed to slice off the ends to make sure that they were both parallel to each other so they would work in the machine.

Here is a picture once some of the "noodles" have been made so you can see how they come out of the machine.  One thing I learned is it's very important that you turn the crank with your right hand and also hold tight to the lever with your left hand and use the left hand lever to push the vegetable forward into the slicer.

Once entire vegetable is spiralized, there'll be a little core left over with about 1/4 inch of vegetable left at the end.  It sort of looks like a really long skinny mushroom.  You can save this for juicing or just snack on it while you're preparing your raw meal:

Here's a picture of the bowl of finished Spirooli Zucchini Pasta.  Some of the pasta noodles were close to 6 feet long!  I ran a knife across the diameter of the bowl just to shorten some of the noodles.  I think I'd have a tough time twirling 6 feet of noodles around a fork!

Compare that with the bowl of Joyce Chen Pasta below.  You can really see the difference in noodle size.  If you look closely, you'll also see that some of the Joyce Chen noodles have not completely separated from each other.  A lot of the noodles are thick perforated pieces, but they are not really "noodles"

We served the Spirooli zucchini noodles with homemade pesto sauce.  I was really happy to discover that Trader Joes had raw pine nuts back in stock (at a reasonable price), and I found organic basil at Wal-mart (of all places!)

These noodles were a huge hit!   I eat zucchini noodles pretty regularly, so I'm excited that I can have these now.  I will probably alternate with the Joyce Chen from time to time for variety.

After my raw food gathering on Saturday my friend sent me a link to this video on the Lurch Dyskus slicer.  I had never heard of it, but I think I might have to buy it!! It's not too pricey and it does so much!  Look at those really cute wavy zucchini pasta pieces it makes - not noodles but something that really looks like a fancy shaped pasta, about the size of Ziti.  That'd be nice with pesto sauce or in a pasta salad ... !

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ice Cream!!!

I went to visit with some friends this afternoon and we had a fabulous feast.

We had nori rolls, "pasta" with pesto sauce, onion bread, sunflower cheese, stuffed baby peppers (with the sunflower cheese), salad, and for dessert we had puchased raw gourmet truffles, home made raw brownie bites and ICE CREAM!!!

It's getting late and I have work tomorrow so I'll focus tonight's post on my favorite part of the day ... the ice cream.

I haven't made ice cream since I was a little kid.  I remember it was such an ordeal we really didn't do it all that often, but I remember sitting outside with my dad where we had an old time ice cream maker (yikes, might have even been one you had to crank ...).  It required rock salt and ice in order to turn the milky mixture into ice cream and it seemed to take forever.

A couple weeks ago, I purchased the Cuisinart Ice Cream maker.  I had been a bit busy on the weekends so I never got around to tackling the ice cream.  I decided I wanted to make this mint chocolate ice cream for my first attempt. 

I followed the recipe to the letter except we used cashews instead of brazil nuts.  I've had cashew ice cream before at Pure Food and Wine and loved it so I figured that was the safest bet.  Maybe next time I'll try Brazil nuts.

I mixed all the ingredients in the Vita-Mix, including mint from my own garden.

Here we are pouring the ice cream mix into the ice cream maker:

It says it makes ice cream in less than 20 minutes and it really does!! I think I blinked and it turned into a super thick ice cream mixture.  We added some cacao nibs at the end to make "mint chip" ice cream.

Here is the ice cream in the maker as it was finishing up:

The ice cream was a huge hit!!  I had my bowl topped off with one of the gourmet truffles:

If you've been pondering the idea of making raw ice cream but thought maybe it was too difficult or time consuming, let me put those fears to rest.  It was super simple!!!  It was as simple as making a smoothie.  The ice cream maker literally does all the work, and it doesn't take that long.

I'm looking for ideas for my next ice cream adventure. 

Any ideas or favorite recipes?

BBQ Kale Crackers

Kaia Foods has these fabulous Kale Chips that I just adore.  They're really Crackers though, not chips. :)

I wish I had a copy of the bag, but these BBQ Kale Chips are the ones that I really like.

I was at Whole Foods yesterday and took a picture of the ingredients list to try to replicate them today.  The picture is a little blurry, but hopefully you can make everything out:

I had some Kale, so I put the Kale, Sprouted Sunflower seeds, (non-sprouted) sesame seeds, and all the other ingredients into the Vita-Mix.  Then I blended to get everything mixed together and tasted tested a bit along the way. 

The result looked promising:

I started them at 145 degrees for an hour to get a lot of the moisture removed. There is research that shows the food does not get to 145 if you have the dehydrator set to that temperature for just an hour and it greatly reduces the time to dehydrate.  I know some people who read this will not have seen that research, so once I find it again, I'll add it to the comments.   Anyway, since I wanted to bring them to my get-together today I decided to give this a try.  Otherwise, I'd probably just leave them at 105 degrees for the whole time.

I started these chips/crackers fairly early in the evening so I removed the Teflex sheet and flipped them right before heading to bed.  This is what they looked like this morning:

I let them go in the dehydrator a couple more hours and this is what they look like now.  I sampled a couple and they were very similar to the Kaia Foods chips I was wanting to recreate, so I'd call this a success!!!  Next time I make them, I'll measure out the ingredients to share with everyone.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Kombucha and Dinner Outdoors

I have to confess to a long standing fear of Kombucha.

I'm not really sure why I was afraid of it.  I guess it had to do with the probiotics that are in it. 

Well, about a year ago my friend Loren asked me if I wanted to try some Kombucha that he brought into the office.  It was a new flavor he discovered that he really liked - Apple.  I gave it a try and was so repulsed I wanted to spit it out - it tasted just like fizzy Apple Cider Vinegar.   Apple Cider Vinegar is okay, but I'm not really into drinking it and that one sip put me off Kombucha almost for good.

Well, now that I've been raw for three months, I decided it was time to give Kombucha another try.   Today I was at Whole Foods so decided to check out the Kombuchas.   I found this Mango flavored bottle that appealed to me:

I poured it in a glass over ice and I have to say .... OMG!!! I loved it.  This was really super tasty.  I loved the fizzy mango flavor.  I'll definitely have it again.  This is my new favorite raw drink.   If you haven't tried it, I definitely recommend you give it a try.

Since the weather was nice this afternoon, I decided to eat outside on my back deck.   We got a new bistro table and chairs for the deck but hadn't eaten out there yet so tonight was the night:

We had Mexican Salads.  That's why I call it.  It's a bit high in fat - it has both cashew "cheese" and guacamole.  In addition the salad also has romaine lettuce, raw corn, tomatoes and onions (if I have salsa available, I usually use that instead of the tomatoes and onions).  It's super tasty and very filling.

I also got to experimenting in the kitchen this afternoon.   I'll keep it a suprise for now, but if all goes well, I'll be posting pictures of my creation tomorrow night.  I'm also getting together with some friends tomorrow for a nice raw meal  - we're having Nori Wraps, Zucchini Pasta with Pesto, Onion Bread, Chocolate Mint Ice Cream and brownie bites.  I'll try to remember to take some pictures.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Brownie Bites & Donut Holes

Today I decided to modify the Fudge Ball recipe that I tried a while ago.

The fudge balls were amazing, but I've seen recipes for raw brownies that basically mimic the fudge ball recipe (1/4 cup of cashews, 1/2 cup dates, 1 Tbsp cacao), but the brownie recipes use walnuts instead of cashews.

So tonight I decided to make brownies!!  They turned out fantastic, but either I used too many dates or they needed a greater ratio of walnuts - my "batter" turned out with the consistency of raw brownie batter - super sticky.   I put the batter in the refrigerator for a few minutes before attempting to roll it into balls.  They turned out delicious, but the whole project was just a little messier than it needed to be.  :-)

The brownie bites are on the left - they are rolled in ground walnuts.  The donut holes are on the on the right - they are rolled in a mixture of coconut flour and coconut sugar.  The donut hole idea was inspired from my raw uncooking retreat in Martha's Vineyard.   There we made Raisin Walnut truffles that we turned into donut holes.  I decided to try the idea with the fudge ball/brownie recipe.

Both are the brownie bites and donut holes are delicious so I decided to make equal amounts of both.  I'm getting together with a group of friends and making raw food this weekend.  I quadrupled the recipe and I'm planning to bring some of these yummy treats along to show how amazing, tasty (and simple) raw food can be.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

String Beans

My co-worker Lisa is always having string beans for lunch.   I can't remember the last time I had string beans, but I'm guessing it was a Thanksgiving dinner a couple years ago.

After work I stopped by the Asian market across the street and they had a ton of string beans out, so I bought a bag.  These were not the cleaned up, cut up type of string beans in a sealed bag like you might get in a typical grocery store.  These were the bulk kind like my mom used to get.

String beans are one of my most vivid childhood memories!  I remember my mom sitting at the kitchen table with a big pile of string beans snapping off the ends and breaking them in half for our Sunday dinner.  Such a time consuming task, but she never complained.   Well, tonight I probably spent half an hour to forty-five minutes snapping string beans for dinner!

I wasn't really too sure what to do with them, so I bought some mung bean sprouts and portobella mushrooms.  I added those in with my string beans and added some thinly sliced massaged onions, olive oil and aminos.   The result was pretty tasty:

There were a lot of beans in that bag I bought, so I think I'll be having string beans for lunch for the next few days.  Luckily my creation turned out pretty good.

It got me thinking though ... I wonder if I could make a mushroom soup or gravy.  I was thinking I could potentially add some cashews and blend with the portabella mushrooms.  Or I could try Ani Phyo's recipe for mushroom ragout (in her book the recipe goes with polenta ...).   Anyway, I was thinking if I made a mushroom gravy/soup and mixed in with the green beans, I could then add my dehydrated onion snacks to the top to try to create a raw version of the famous Thanksgiving green bean cassarole!

I spent a lot of time in the kitchen tonight.  After the beans were finished I made a couple batches of the Rawvolution Famous Onion Bread.   I haven't made it in a while and I thought it might be tasty to eat with the string beans.  The onion bread will be finished tomorrow night.