Friday, May 20, 2011

Pork Spring Rolls with Chili-Hoisin Sauce and Spicy Cucumbers

Here I have a couple of Chinese-inspired recipes for you. The first is a spring roll stuffed with pork and cabbage and served with a chili-hoisin dipping sauce. The second is my answer to an overwhelming number of cucumbers thanks to my organic produce deliveries the past few weeks. I do love cucumbers, but I swear if I see one more slice in a salad I'm going to go on a mad rampage.

Or not. I mean, cucumbers are pretty tasty.

Anyway, the spicy cucumbers get a near-pickled treatment from being sautéed in the tamari "brine." I like to eat them on their own, but they would also be a nice change of pace as a salad topping.

The spring rolls are fairly traditional, save for not being deep fried. Obviously if you prefer the crunchy wrapper to the fresh, you can fry them. For the vegetarians out there, soy crumbles can be used instead of the pork with similar results. For an even more authentic flavor, add 1/4 cup of fresh chopped cilantro to the cabbage mixture when preparing the spring rolls. I skipped it, since the oldest spawn can't stand it.

Pork Spring Rolls with Chili-Hoisin Sauce

1/4 c hoisin sauce
1/4 c tamari
2 tbs garlic-chili sauce
1 tbs honey
1/4 c water
1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
4 stalks green onion, thinly sliced
1 tbs peanut oil
1 lb ground pork
1 1/2" piece of ginger root, peeled and grated
12 rice paper wrappers

Whisk together the hoisin, tamari, garlic-chili sauce, honey, and water in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, toss together the cabbage and green onion. Set aside.

In a large skillet or wok, heat the peanut oil over medium-high heat. Brown the pork until no pink remains. Add the ginger and sauté for one minute. Pour about half the chili-hoisin sauce over the pork and sauté another three to five minutes, or until most the moisture has evaporated out. Transfer the pork to the bowl with the cabbage and toss to combine.

Soak the spring roll wrappers according to package directions. One at a time, lay a soaked spring roll wrapper on a flat surface and arrange one-half cup of the pork filling on the rice paper, about two inches from the edge closest to you. Roll the wrapper tightly around the filling, tucking the ends on the left and right toward the center as you go. Repeat until each wrapper has been filled.
Serve the rolls with remaining chili-hoisin sauce for dipping.

Spicy Cucumbers

1 tbs tamari
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1 tbs peanut oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2" piece of ginger root, peeled and grated
2 tsp garlic-chili sauce
2 cucumbers, halved, seeded, and sliced into 1" pieces

Whisk together tamari, salt, and sugar. Set aside.

In a large skillet or wok, heat the peanut oil over med-high heat. Sauté garlic and ginger for about 30 seconds, then quickly whisk in the garlic-chili sauce. Add the cucumbers, tossing to coat, and sauté for three minutes. Add tamari mixture sauté another 3-5 minutes, or until cucumbers just start to soften. Remove from heat. Can be served immediately, at room temperature, or after chilling in the fridge (the latter is my favorite!).

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Fudgy Brownies with Chocolate Peanut Butter Icing

Happy Mother's Day! Just in time, what does every mother need once in awhile? Chocolate, of course! These brownies take some muscle to mix, but that just decreases the guilt factor--surely burning extra calories making them justifies a slip from the diet?

If you are into cake brownies, then you won't like this recipe. This is for those of you who love thick, fudgy brownies. Make them with or without the frosting; either way I recommend a tall glass of milk to help wash down the gooey goodness.

Another benefit of these brownies is you can make them on the cheap. By using cocoa powder, you get the dark chocolate flavor without shelling out for the irresistible fine-milled 60% cacao chocolate. Make sure to follow the directions exactly. Not stirring completely or warming the batter long enough will result in a grainy dessert at best; chocolate scrambled eggs at worst. Just trust in my own experimentation, and enjoy! If you have a double boiler, go ahead and use it. I wrote out the directions for those of us who have to go the old-school route.

Fudgy Cocoa Brownies

cooking spray
1 stick plus 2 tbs unsalted butter
1 c packed brown sugar
3/4 c plus 2 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temperature, beaten
1/2 c unbleached flour
2/3 c walnuts, chopped (optional)
Chocolate Peanut Butter Icing (optional)

Place the oven rack on the second position from the bottom and preheat the oven to 325F. Line an 8x8 baking pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.

Fill a large, deep skillet with 2 inches of water. Bring water to a low simmer, and place a medium heat-safe bowl in the water bath. Place the butter in the bowl and allow to melt. Once melted, add sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. While the bowl is in the water bath, stir until the mixture is well-combined. Stirring occasionally, continue to heat for an additional 5 minutes, or until no grains of sugar can be felt when a drop of batter is rubbed between the fingers (batter should be tolerably hot to touch--not scalding!). Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes, or until mixture is warm (about 80 degrees F, if you have a thermometer handy).

Mix in the vanilla. Add the eggs and stir until completely incorporated (this will take some upper body strength!); the batter will be shiny. Add the flour 2 tbs at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition (more arm muscle). Stir in walnuts, if desired. Spread the batter evenly in the baking pan.

Bake 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 30 minutes in the pan, then pull the brownies out by the foil and place on a rack (still on the foil) to finish cooling. Once cooled, if desired, ice brownies with Chocolate Peanut Butter Icing (recipe below). Cut into 20 portions, and enjoy!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Icing

1/4 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c smooth peanut butter
2 tbs butter
1 tbs cocoa powder
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, heat all the ingredients over medium-low until melted, stirring thoroughly. Once combined, reduce heat to lowest setting and allow to warm an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Use to top brownies, cupcakes, or ice cream. Makes about 1 cup of icing.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Dandelion Pesto and Roasted Beets

I love receiving boxes from Door to Door Organics, but sometimes the substitute feature can get the best of me. Some items will never be allowed to deliver (like raspberries....ick), but other times I waffle between the items I know and items I've never tried. Imagine my dilemma when my Friday morning email announced that there would be dandelion greens in my box.

"Weeds?" I thought, rather taken aback. What on earth was I supposed to do with weeds?

I could've easily substituted the item out for an innocuous lime, or maybe a few bananas; instead, I chose to boldly go where no--well, me--had gone before. I was going to anti-chef the hell out of these weeds.

First, let's go over how they taste. They taste like bitter grass, of all things. Pretty much how I had figured weeds would taste. The bitterness was a little more nuanced, though, with an almost almond finish. Very unique. I opted to go the easy route and turn the dandelion greens into pesto. So I did.

The thing about dandelion leaves is the bitterness increases exponentially as they are chopped and processed. In the batch I came up with, the pesto bordered on too bitter for human consumption alone. Paired with a four-cheese ravioli, however, it was perfect. It also made an excellent smear for bagels, as well as the perfect compliment to an over-easy egg.

I think for more general use, I'd prefer to use half dandelion greens and half basil. For a first attempt, though, I'm pretty happy with the outcome.

For my second feat, I had also received a batch of beets in my organic box. These were much easier to prepare, as you'll see below. Roasted beets have a flavor somewhere between potatoes and carrots, which makes them very easy on the palate. Plus, they are pretty!

Dandelion Pesto:

2 c dandelion leaves, washed and cut into 1" pieces
1/4 c lemon thyme
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 c olive oil, additional to achieve smooth texture if needed
1/2 c macademia nuts
2 tsp light agave nectar
1 tsp lemon zest
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 c Parmesan cheese, grated


Place about of the dandelion greens, thyme, garlic, and the 1/2 c olive oil into the food processor. Pulse chop for about a minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the remaining greens and continue to pulse until finely chopped up.

Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth, drizzling in additional olive oil if necessary. Makes about 1 1/2 cups pesto. Store tightly covered in the fridge for up to a week.

Roasted Beets with Herbs

4 large beets, tops removed
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 springs fresh rosemary, stems discarded and leaves minced
2 tbs fresh lemon thyme leaves
2 tbs light olive oil
juice from half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400F. Peel beets and cut into 1 1/2" cubes. In an 8x8 glass dish, toss beets with garlic, herbs, and oil until thoroughly coated. Cover with foil and roaste in oven for 45 minutes. Uncover, stir, and roast (uncovered) an additional 15 minutes, or until fork tender. Just before serving, toss with lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes 4 side dish servings. Can be served hot or cold!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Raw Chocolate and/or Mango Pudding

I think it's time for a dessert post, don't you? How about a dessert that you'd feel comfortable having for breakfast? Well, here it is! These two puddings are very similar, and a great way to use up extra produce (I know, I know, "extra avocados" are scarce around my house, too!).

For show I layered the chocolate and the mango pudding, then tossed a few chocolate chips on top as garnish. The kids loved these! The tangy mango is the perfect compliment to the rich dark chocolate.

After the recipes, continue reading for an idea on using leftover mango pudding for breakfast!

Raw Chocolate Pudding

2 ripe avocados
1/8 cup raw cocoa
2-3 tsp honey, to taste
1-2 tbs pineapple juice, to achieve desired thickness (if necessary)

Place all the ingredients into a food processor/blender and purée until well combined. If needed, add juice 1/2 tablespoon at a time until pudding is the desired texture. Spoon into serving dishes and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. Makes 3-4 half cup servings.

Raw Mango Pudding

2 ripe yellow mangoes, peeled, pitted, and diced
1 ripe banana, peeled
1/4 c raw macademia nuts, soaked and drained
1-2 tsp honey, to taste
1-2 tbs pineapple juice, to achieve desired thickness (if necessary)

Place all the ingredients into a food processor/blender and purée until well combined. If needed, add juice 1/2 tablespoon at a time until pudding is the desired texture. Spoon into serving dishes and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. Makes 3-4 half cup servings.

An additional use for the mango pudding is to use as a dessert topping or to place it in crêpes. The following morning, I made the crêpes pictured here for breakfast. I used my basic recipe for crêpes, substituting pineapple juice for the orange since it's what I had on hand. For the filling, I combined about a quarter cup of mango pudding with a quarter cup of Greek yogurt. I also grilled some pineapple to add to the breakfast and topped the crêpes with slivered almonds. Very tasty, and very filling!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Garlic-Ginger Chicken Lo Mein with Bok Choy

Craving Chinese, but hate the grease of take-out? Or love the grease, but hate your thighs? This is an absurdly easy noodle dish that packs a punch without ruining the diet. The majority of the flavor comes from tossing the cooked chicken in the simple Asian dressing. Stir-fried bok choy adds color and extra flavor to the noodles, which only take 3-5 minutes to boil. Enjoy this dish hot or cold, or skip the noodles and serve the chicken over salad.

Garlic-Ginger Chicken Lo Mein

1 tbs peanut oil
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
3 tbs tamari
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbs minced gingerroot
1 tbs rice vinegar
1 tbs brown sugar
2 tbs chili-infused oil (olive oil, if you are sensitive to heat)
1/2 tbs sesame oil
1/4 tsp cumin
12oz box lo main noodles
fresh cilantro to garnish

Heat peanut oil in a large skillet over med-high heat. Cook the chicken breasts for 5 minutes on each side, then reduce heat to med-low and cover. Allow chicken to cook, covered, for 20 minutes or until internal temperature is 165 degrees F.

Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining ingredients except noodles and cilantro. When chicken is done cooking, remove from heat and allow to rest 5 minutes. Slice chicken into strips and toss with the dressing. While the chicken strips rest in the dressing, prepare noodles according to package directions.

If desired, combine the noodles with stir-fried bok choy (recipe below). Serve chicken over a bed of noodles and topped with additional dressing. Garnish with cilantro. Makes 4 servings.

Garlic Bok Choy

2 tbs peanut oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 head bok choy, washed, stems cut into 1/2" slices and leaves sliced to 1"
1/2 c chicken or vegetable stock, or water
1/4 tsp sea salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Sauté the garlic for one minute, then add the bok choy and stock. Stir-fry until the box choy is wilted and bright green. Season with salt and pepper and serve. Makes 4 side dish servings.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Has it Really Been Three Months?

Hello, all. It is I, your friendly neighborhood anti-chef. I did not die or enter the Witness Protection Program. Rather, I've been incredibly busy doing everything but cook. February was a heavy work month, March was spent packing and visiting my sister and brand-new nephew in San Diego, and April has consisted of futile attempts to unpack. If nothing else, the kitchen is usable, so recipes will be forthcoming.

When I last left you fine folks, I had just finished my January of raw food-ness. It was a very interesting month, and I learned some very interesting food prep techniques that I hadn't considered. While 100% raw is definitely not for me (even though I'd love to eat sushi multiple times a day!), I have been and will continue to incorporate more raw items into my every day diet.

My trip to San Diego in March was originally to spend a week with my sister and nephew who was supposed to be born a couple of weeks prior. The little guy had a streak of stubbornness (I hear it runs in the family), though and hadn't shown up by the time I landed. Instead, my sis, Jenn, and I drove around San Diego and ended up at a little fish taco stand that was literally right on the fishing docks. The image above was taken from the seating area outside the stand. Talk about fresh! Each day's menu depends on what the fishermen bring in. My sister and I each ordered some fish tacos. I had the striped sea bass, and this was the most amazing fish I have ever had. Perfectly cooked, moist fish, topped with cabbage, pico de gallo, and avocado. I could eat like this every day.

As a side note, I have also purchased a new camera. It has 14mp resolution, 26x zoom, and tons of customizations. Basically, it's the closest I could get to a DSLR without forking out the big bucks. See those fish tacos? I could have never taken such a clear picture with my old point-and-shoot. Yay for new toys!

That night, we had Greek food as we sat around thinking up ways to convince my sister to go into labor. My sis and I both got the vegetarian plate, which included a Greek salad, dolmades (yum!), falafal, phyllo filled with spinach, pita, and (of course) hummus. We also ordered baklava, but we didn't get to it that night. The next day I was determined to get my sister out of the pregnant way. We walked all over the park near her house, and around the grocery store and Wal-Mart several times. That night we had Indian food that was amazing. I had picked up some fresh oregano during our errands earlier, and I was shredding it over my sister's food to hopefully get the labor started. Feeling very full, we chilled out on the couch for a couple hours. Just as we were talking about going to bed, my sister's water broke.

Long labor story short, I finally became an aunt on Sunday, March 13, 2011! Ian Alexander, 8lb 2oz, rockin' the KU gear below:

I returned home to a sea of packing/moving/working. Oh yes, and baseball season started. Things gradually have settled down, however, and I managed to relocate most of my kitchen toys. My first home-prepared meal in the new place was my Black Bean Burgers. I topped these with a mango salsa and gave my first attempt at homemade parmesan potato chips. The chips turned out OK, but the recipe will need a bit more tweaking before I deem it blog-worthy. The burger and chips are pictured below.

I do have a few new recipes to post, but I wanted to get everyone caught up on the going-ons during my absence. I look forward to getting back in the mix! (bad joke, I know)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Raw January Day 25 /26: Spicy Winter Veggie Soup

Mmmm....soup. I have to say, steamy soups and slow-stewed veggies are what I've missed the most during this experimental month. I mean, what was I thinking going raw in the month of January?

The good news is this has sparked my creativity more and forced me to come up with alternate ways to get that warm feeling in my belly. This soup is one of them. I had decided after butchering a kabocha square that came in my organic box that the silly thing wasn't worth it. There was a lot of hacking and chopping and at the end all I had was barely a cup of usable flesh. Originally this was going to be a squash/mango soup; however, I was discouraged. My eyes turned to the half a head of cauliflower, and I thought, "Why the hell not?" Into my dear, sweet Cuisinart it went with the rest of the ingredients I had assembled. A few taste-tests later, and
here you have it.

I imagine any winter squash would do....butternut comes to mind, of course. The heat from the serrano does a nice job of giving the feeling of warmth without over-powering the soup. I think this would also make a nice take on bruschetta (but hey, I think everything is better on bread!).

In other news, my new toy arrived today. I have two more nights at the job (and a desperate need to rearrange the kitchen) before I can use it, but needless to say I am very excited to set it up (right angles, people....right angles!).

Winter Veggie Soup

1/2 kabocha squash, seeds removed, peeled, cut into 1" cubes (or about 1 cup of your favorite, easier to butcher squash)
1/2 cauliflower, cored, cut into 1" cubes
1 mango, peeled, core removed, cut into 1" cubes
1 serrano pepper, stem removed, seeds intact
8 fresh basil leaves
juice of 1/2 a lime
1/2 tbs dried lemongrass
1/4 tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tbs almond milk

In a food processor, pulse the squash and cauliflower until the ingredients are finely chopped. Add remaining ingredients and process until puréed. The soup will have the consistency of cream of wheat cereal; if necessary add a tablespoon or so of water to achieve this texture (I didn't need it). Chill for at least two hours, then serve. Makes about eight 1-cup servings.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Raw January Day 15-24: Greek Broccoli and Raw Blondies

OK, OK, so I haven't been eating only broccoli and blondies for the past nine days. I had misplaced my camera, and I have an aversion to posting recipes without accompanying photos. As it turns out, my camera was simply hiding out in the box of foodstuffs I had taken over to Amber's for our night of raw fooding. I made gazpacho with tomatoes, squash, yellow bells, red onion, and some other ingredients while she tackled some absolutely delicious chocolate pudding made from banana, Irish moss, and--I'm assuming--cocoa powder. Add a couple of glasses of wine and there really was no way to not have a good time!

This past weekend, I made sure the "mostly" status of "mostly raw" was intact, as I made bison burgers for dinner. Hey, they were on-sale. Plus, I was craving some free-range protein. Don't even try to tell me that almonds are free-range!

Anyway, even though I had (cooked) bison for dinner, I made sure the accoutrement were raw. I'm going to start by bragging on Amber's raw, vegan, 5-minute blondie. Super-simple, super-tasty, and super-quick are just a few of the superlatives I can lavish on this dessert. Her recipe makes a single, normal-sized muffin cup full of goodness. I doubled it and got nine mini-muffins (probably would've been ten had the offspring and I not taste-tested it so much). Go check out Amber's site for the blondie recipe. I made a couple of easy garnishes for the blondie. On top is a simple vanilla/banana/basil ice cream, below is a blackberry coulis (recipes below).

The other side dish that I'm quite proud of is a raw Greek-inspired broccoli with macademia cheese crumbles. The broccoli is marinated in a vinaigrette with Greek spices. Bitterness from the sun-dried olives (which I've spent three weeks reconstituting in white vinegar) add a nice contrast with the acid and salt in the marinade, and the "cheese" has a flavor somewhere between Parmesan and feta that helps reinforce the vinegar. This makes for great finger-food!

Before I get to the recipes, I have to share my new purchase (photo courtesy of
It's a TSM Harvest Food Dehydrator! Eeee! Ten trays, adjustable thermostat from 84º - 155ºF, and square. Yay! I can't wait to make some raw bread or crackers with nice right angles. Can you tell I'm excited?

Enough squealing for now....recipe time!

Raw Banana Vanilla Ice Cream

2 ripe bananas, frozen (peel on to preserve color)
4 tbs almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp fresh basil, minced (optional--about 1 small leaf)

Remove peel from banana. Combine all ingredients in a small food processor. Blend until smooth. Freeze half an hour before serving. Makes two half-cup servings. To highlight the blondies, I just added a mini scoop.

Raw Blackberry Coulis

1/2 c blackberries
1/2 tbs chia seeds
2 tsp agave nectar, or to taste
1/4 c water

Purée all ingredients. Allow to rest 30 minutes to thicken. Makes about 1/2 cup.

Raw Greek-Infused Broccoli

1 tsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 c olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp coriander seeds, ground
1/2 tsp mustard seeds, ground
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
4 raw olives, pitted* and diced
dash sesame oil
1 head broccoli, cut into bite-size florets

In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients except the broccoli. Add broccoli and toss to coat. Let marinate for at least 1 hour at room temperature (if marinating longer than overnight, refrigerate). If desired, add additional salt and pepper and top with macadamia feta (recipe below); serve. Makes 8 half-cup servings.

Macadamia Cheese Crumbles

1 c raw macadamia nuts, soaked
1 tbs lemon juice
1/2 tbs nutritional yeast
1 tbs shallot, minced
1/2 tsp sea salt

Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until crumbly. Place in single layer on a dehydrator tray and dehydrate for about 4 hours. Makes 1.5 cups of macadamia cheese crumbles. Use as you would Parmesan cheese.

*Note: To easily pit olives (or cherries!), place on a cutting board and smash with the flat side of a knive (similar to how you'd loosen garlic peel). The pits are a cinch to remove post-smash.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Raw January Day 12 - 14: Butternut Squash Tacos with Cilantro Cilantro Cheese

Since I'm almost the only one partaking of the raw food-ness in my house, I've been living off of leftovers quite a bit. I plan to do a fair amount of raw experimentation this weekend, so hopefully I will have more recipes soon! Until then, you'll have to settle for a taco recipe I played with tonight....more on that later.

Tonight's raw prep included making almond milk and juicing oranges. I changed out the vinegar I'm using to reconstitute some raw sun-dried olives (I received a case for free, and the darn things are entirely too bitter to eat as is).

I also cataloged the leftovers I had in the fridge to make sure I wasn't wasting anything. Happily, there wasn't much to worry about. Speaking of leftovers, remember my Marinara Sauce from earlier this week? I enjoyed that at work over kelp noodles and dehydrated baby bellas. It was quite tasty. This pic--taken on my phone--doesn't do it justice, so just trust me.

Without further adieu, I give you squash tacos! My friend Amie sent me a recipe to try out. Her version used walnut taco meat, but frankly I'm scared of anything that uses the words "nut" and "meat" in the same sentence. Childish? Most likely, but it still squicks me out. I'm working on changing my opinions on that....

Butternut Squash Tacos


Cilantro Cashew Cheese (shown right):
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp nutritional yeast
1 c raw cashews, soaked and rinsedjuice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/4 c packed fresh cilantro leaves
1 green onion stalk, sliced
water sufficient for processing (I used about 3 tbs)

Southwest Butternut Squash:
1/2 butternut squash, sliced into thin ribbons
1/2 tbs ground cumin1/2 tbs ground coriander
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp Nama Shoyu
juice from 1/2 lime
1/2 chipotle pepper, minced (optional)
sea salt to taste

Other Ingredients:
8 small-to-medium romaine leaves
1/2 c pico de gallo
additional toppings, as desired (avocado, cilantro, etc)


Southwest Butternut Squash:
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, massaging the spices into the squash. Allow to rest 15 minutes before serving.

Cashew Cheese:
Place garlic and salt in a food processor and chop into small pieces. Add cashews and process into paste. Add lemon juice, cilantro and water; purée until smooth. (see close up photo, right)

To Make Tacos:
Spread each lettuce leaf with 2 tablespoons of the cashew cheese. Add 1/4 cup of the squash and top as desired. Serves 4.

This "cheese" is, quite frankly, amazing. The zesty garlic, hints of acid, and cilantro give it the perfect balance to go with the earthy flavors of the marinated squash. While I listed the servings at four in the recipe, I think you'd be hard-pressed to feed more than two. I scarfed down 4 tacos on my own without a second thought.

One last look....

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Raw January Day 6 - 11: Marinara Sauce and Orange Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

It's been a whirlwind of a week. No, I didn't fall off the raw wagon, but I did spend a couple of days not eating at all. I received news of the passing of a good friend on Saturday, and my appetite has been in the negative realm.

This blog is about food, though, and I have food topost! I've been embracing the lettuce wraps lately--mainly because I've been getting a TON of
lettuce from the organic co-op.

Shown here is a wrap with pickled herring (my local grocer let me watch it being made, so I know its rawness is intact), tomato, avocado, and red onion. Super tasty and super filling. This was a great meal to have at work.

Next on the list was to perfect the raw marinara
sauce. I've tried several recipes, and ended up
with this hybrid. I found it to be closest to how I
think marinara should taste. Plenty of herbs and garlic give it the Italian kick needed to meet my approval. We had it over a bed of zucchini, yellow squash, and red bell pepper noodles (shown right). Two zucchini, one yellow squash, and one red bell fed three of us with no leftovers, so adjust according to your family size.

In my meals I've also had a variety of salads, and for breakfast it's been almost exclusively smoothies. Today was an exception, however, as I (after 3 tries) have perfected the raw cinnamon to suit our tastes. The recipe originally came from The 30 Minute Vegan and is shown here. I appreciate the jumping off point, but I couldn't get their recipe to really taste like much more than a mouthful of sugar and cinnamon. I know, I know, what else is a cinnamon roll supposed to taste like? Well, my palate demands a little more challenge than sweet on sweet....on sweet.

So, below you will find my take on the raw cinnamon roll, as well as my marinara recipe. Enjoy!

Raw Marinara Sauce

3 c fresh tomatoes, diced
1/2 c sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in water until
soft, liquid reserved
1/2 c fresh mango, diced
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1/4-1/2 fresh jalapeño, deseeded and diced
1/3 c fresh basil, packed
1/4 c fresh oregano, destemmed
1/4 c fresh thyme, destemmed
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and deribbed
2 sun-dried black olives, deseeded
1 large shallot, peeled
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 c olive oil
1/4 c liquid reserved from the sun-dried tomatoes.

Set aside one cup of diced tomatoes for later. Place remaining ingredients except liquid from sun-dried tomatoes in a food processor and purée. Add sun-dried tomato liquid as needed to smooth out the sauce. Adjust salt and pepper as necessary. Pour purée into bowl and stir in remaining tomatoes. Serve over pasta, marinated veggies, or as a dip for raw garlic bread. Makes about 7 cups of sauce.

Orange Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

1 c raw buckwheat groats (unsoaked, or soaked and dehydrated until dry)
1 1/2 c raw pecans, finely chopped
2 1/2 c Medjool dates, pitted, packed
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbs + 1 tsp honey
1/4 c orange juice
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tbs ground cinnamon
pinch of sea salt
1/4 c golden raisins

Process the buckwheat groats for 40 seconds in a food processor, or until finely ground. Add ONE cup of the pecans and process an additional 30 seconds. Add TWO cups of the dates and continue to process about 30 seconds. Add ONE teaspoon of the honey and all the vanilla. Process for 30 seconds more, or until a sticky dough forms. If necessary, add an additional teaspoon of honey to achieve a dough that will form a tight ball and hold its shape.

Transfer the dough to a flat work surface covered with wax paper. Using your hands, press the dough into a rectangle 9" x 11" and 1/4" thick.

Process the remaining 1/2 cup of dates, honey, juice, vinegar, cinnamon, and salt in the food processor until smooth. Spread the mixture over the dough, leaving about 1" along the far long edge. Sprinkle raisins and pecans evenly over the cinnamon layer.

Roll up the dough by making a small fold along
the long edge closest to you, pressing it down, peeling back the wax paper, and continuing to roll in the same way, making as tight a roll as possible (similar to rolling sushi, if you've ever had the pleasure). When completely rolled, wrap entire log in wax paper and refrigerate at least 15 minutes.

Cut the log into twelve even slices. Makes 12 rolls. Top with icing if desired.

Orange Zest Icing

1 c cashews
3 tbs almond milk
3 tbs agave
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange zest

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Makes about a
cup of icing, enough to drizzle over 12 cinnamon rolls.

You can see my youngest spawn enjoying one of these breakfast rolls here. That's icing on her lip, not a snaggle tooth!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Raw January Days 2 through 5 -- Mushroom Shiro, Cinnamon-Coconut Cream, and more

I'm in the working half of my week, which means I need to consolodate. Fortunately I made enough food in the first half to get me through! That's the funny thing about food takes the same amount of time to make one serving as it does to make six the majority of the time.

On Day 2 I had a fruit bowl topped with cinnamon coconut cream (recipe below!) and hemp seed for breakfast; lunch was leftover Cucumber Soup; for dinner I made--get this--mushroom shiro! It's only my favorite Ethiopian dish from Blue Nile! While my version isn't as good as the real, it's a decent approximation of the stewed original.

Shiro is ground chickpea powder, which is combined with berbere in this very delicious stew. Instead of chickpea powder, I used ground macademia nuts. Dehydrating the veggies gave them a cooked feel that is absolutely necessary when dealing with dishes that are traditionally cooked over a long period of time. In the absence of injera, I used lettuce leaves. See below for the recipe!

Day 3 was met with a breakfast smoothie of aloe, wheatgrass, ginger root, peaches, and beet greens (which are actually red--go figure).For lunch I had more of Day 2's mushroom shiro. As I had an absurd amount of carrots, I went with this carrot linguine dish by Russell James (see photo, right). Naturally, I had to make a few adjustments. I followed the linguine recipe to a T, aside from using all carrots rather than the carrot/parsnip split. I managed to amass 6 pounds of carrots from the organic co-op, and I thought carrot linguine seemed a fitting way to diminish the bounty. The only change I made to the macademia mozzarella was to add a clove of garlic to the purée. It tasted very much like Alfredo sauce and helped cut the sweetness of the carrots. The red pepper sauce had more augmentation, as I found the original to be a little....I don't want to say bland, but I felt it needed a little boost. Four rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes and half a tablespoon of chili-infused olive oil found its way into the red pepper puree. Adding a few cracks of black pepper completed this dish that I am pleased to say went over very nicely with the spawn.

Day 4 I was back at work, so it was filled with leftovers. I failed miserably at the raw cinnamon rolls I had attempted to make, so instead the "dough" got dehydrated into sweet bread (I'll make my second attempt when I'm off work again!). Another fruit bowl for breakfast, followed by mushroom shiro for lunch and a hefty salad for dinner. I also put the "mostly" in "mostly raw" by having a baked potato at work. Hey, a girl's gotta eat!

Today is Day 5, and I'm planning on having another salad for dinner, and as soon as I finish here I'm going to whip up a smoothie with buckwheat, spinach, chia seeds, and blueberries. I think for lunch I'll just do a fruit salad with the sweet bread that was salvaged from the cinnamon roll attempt.

Anyway, on with the recipes!

Cinnamon Coconut Cream

1 c fresh coconut meat
2 tsp agave nectar
2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of sea salt

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Makes 1 cup of thick cream. This is great with fruit or blended into a smoothie. My youngest daughter thought it was yogurt and was quite happy to eat it with a spoon!

Raw Mushroom Shiro

2 c assorted mushrooms, chopped
16 grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp olive oil
1 tbs nama shoyu
1 tbs + 1 tsp berbere spice blend
1 tbs lemon juice
1 c macademia nuts, soaked and dried
2 cloves garlic
1 tbs fresh ginger, grated
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
1/4 c tomato juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 large lettuce leaves

Toss mushrooms, tomatoes, and onion in oil, nama shoyu, one teaspoon of the berbere, and one teaspoon of the lemon juice. Spread on dehydrator sheet and dehydrate 2 hours at 105F.

In a blender, pulse the nuts until finely ground. Add the garlic and remaining berbere and lemon juice. Pulse again to chop the garlic. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.

After dehydrating, coarsely chop the onion. Stir mushrooms, tomatos, and onion into the macademia sauce. Serve with lettuce leaves substituting for the injera. Alternatively, serve over parsnip rice.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Raw January Day 1 -- Cucumber Cilantro Soup

I started my raw food experiment yesterday, the second of January. As I had some very tasty Indian leftovers from New Year's, I couldn't very well start on the first ;).
Yesterday and today have been filled with prep work. I made a half-gallon batch of almond milk, juiced a ton of oranges, and started some cashew cheese (we'll see how that turns out in a few days). I also gutted a few young coconuts. Today I'm going to use the almond pulp from the milk to attempt to make some raw bread (again, we'll see how that works out!), marinate and dehydrate some veggies for future use, and attempt to make an Ethiopian inspired dish for dinner tonight. More will be forth-coming on that endeavor! I'm also going to play with a batch of raw sun-dried olives and see what I can come up with.

My meals yesterday consisted of:
  • Breakfast: A smoothie made from almond milk, pineapple, and hemp seed
  • Lunch: Asian kelp salad and cucumber soup (recipe below!)
  • Dinner: A very tasty meal at Sushi Gin of sashemi and seaweed salad (see photos)
Not too bad, if you ask me! Snacking through the day consisted of flax crackers and my first attempt at raw hummus (which needs some tweaking), tomato slices, and a pear.

So far, I'm finding that planning is absurdly essential when it comes to raw fooding. Also, I need a bigger kitchen. I see some rearranging in my very near future....but for now, my latest recipe--
raw, vegan, super-quick, and very refreshing!

Cucumber Cilantro Soup

2 cucumbers, cut into 1" pieces
2 tbs lemon juice
1" peel of lemon (or 1 tsp of zest)
1 tbs fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp salt, to taste
2 tbs tahini
2 tbs coconut milk
2 green onion, chopped
jalapeno, to taste (I used a 1" piece)
water, if necessary to thin soup (add a tablespoon at a time)
4 tbs fresh cilantro

Blend together all ingredients except the cilantro until smooth. Add cilantro and pulse until well combined. If desired, garnish with extra pepper slices and cilantro. I also splashed a little Chipotle Tabasco on my bowl (not raw, but it's damn tasty!). Serves 2.