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, October 28, 2007

Recipe of the Week: Nut Burger with Marinated Mushrooms and Fennel

It's been a while since I've experimented with burger recipes; ever since discovering RawGuru's version which I really enjoy. But when I heard about Fairygirl making RAWvolution's burgers for her Raw Combo clients, and how yummy they were, I thought it was time to try something different. Boy, am I glad I did!!!

The burgers were served with marinated fennel and mushrooms, and a simple mixed green salad on the side. The result visually reminded me of the fried meat patties, mushies and onion my mom used to make. I know, doesn't sound very appetizing, but I couldn't help noticing the similarities. See for yourself!

Rawvolution’s Burgers
From Matt Amsden's RAWvolution
Posted on kandacerae.com

Makes 12 burgers

* 1.5 cups raw almonds (soaked for 3-4 hours, drained and dried)
* 1.5 cups raw walnuts (soaked for 3-4 hours, drained and dried)
* 1.5 cups raw sunflower seeds (soaked for 3-4 hours, drained and dried)
* 2.5 cups portobello mushrooms (I used button mushrooms), briefly marinated in 2-3 T Nama Shoyu
* 1 yellow onion, diced (I used red onion)
* 3 cups chopped celery
* 1/2 bunch parsley, stems removed and leaves chopped
* 10 cloves garlic, minced
* 1/3 cup olive oil
* 2 T cumin seed (I used 2 tsp powder)
* 1 cup Nama Shoyu (That's a LOT!!! I used about 1 tbs miso diluted in 1/2 cup water)
* 1/2 bunch tarragon, stems removed and leaves chopped (I used 1 tbs dried)
* 1/2 t cayenne pepper

Using a green star juicer and the homogenizing attachment, homogenize the almonds, walnuts and sunflower seeds. Then, mix with rest of ingredients. Spread mixture evenly on Teflex sheet (or make burger patties - about 12). Dehydrate at 100°F for 12 hours. Flip the tray over on an empty tray and gently peel the Teflex sheet off. Return to the dehydrator for another 20 hours.

Carmella's Notes:
~ I don’t have a green star juicer, so I ground the nuts in my food processor first, then added the rest of the ingredients.

~ I started the dehydration process at 125 degrees for 3 hours, then flipped the burgers over and turned the dial down to 110. The burgers were ready after another 7 hours or so.

Marinated Fennel
I tossed some thinly sliced fennel into equal parts olive oil, organic tamari and honey. I let the mixture sit for about an hour, spread it on a teflex sheet and popped it in the D for 1 hour at 110 while the burger was warming up.

Marinated Herbed Mushrooms
I tossed sliced button mushrooms into equal parts olive oil and organic tamari, and 1 tsp of dried herbs. I then proceeded as for the fennel above.

Put a burger on a serving plate and top with mushrooms.

Add marinated fennel and a green salad on the side.

Mmmmmmmmm... Yummilicious!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ultimate Guide To Equipping Your Raw Kitchen

When embarking on a raw journey, we all have the same question on our lips: how best to equip our new kitchen? I sure would have loved some guidance on the matter when I first got started, but had to do most of the research on my own. I thought I'd share some of the info I've come upon in regards to raw equipment, and my honest thoughts about how well these are faring in my kitchen.

What follows are recommendations based on my personal experience. Please bear in mind that each person's needs/preferences may vary. Consequently, what might be a 'must have' piece of equipment for me might not be at all for you. For instance, I LOVE food prep and concocting gourmet meals, and therefore really appreciate the flexibility that a dehydrator gives me for creating different tastes and textures. However, if you're not the culinary type and enjoy very simple and quickly prepared meals, you'll probably find that a good quality blender, a food processor, and perhaps a spiral slicer will be everything you need.

But before we take off on a shopping spree, let's stop for a moment and talk about budget.

Outfitting Your Kitchen... Without Going Broke
I most definitely didn't have a huge budget to play with, but I figured that investing in good quality tools would pay off in the long run. The process of acquiring all the equipment I was coveting spread over a period of several months, but was definitely worth the wait.

Quality and value being major concerns, I did my 'homework' and looked diligently around the net for the most reliable and cheapest sources to purchase from. In my case (as a lot of the suppliers are located in the States), it also meant one that would ship to Canada for a reasonable fee.

Additionally, I got to learn a few tricks along the way...

5 Tips To Save Money While Equipping Your Raw Kitchen:

1- Look for sales and rebate coupons
2- Look for refurbished items
3- Shop on Ebay - a fab place for items new or used
4- Look at classifieds on sites such as Kijiji and Craig's List
5- Browse through garage sales and thrift stores - you'd be amazed at all the cool stuff to be found!

Raw Foodies' Best Friends
Although you may find most of the tools listed in this article already lying around your kitchen, some will take on a new importance with the raw diet. There are also a few specialty items that will greatly complement your raw culinary adventure.

I feel that the best place to start is with the single most used appliance in our kitchen: the blender. It runs a minimum of 3 times a day, sometimes more if I'm making sauce, spread or dessert.

For many years I had a 'regular' blender such as a Kitchen Aid or Black&Decker (shown on the right). While it would puree soft fruits and veggies, it didn't do a fantastic job at it. And with the sort of use a blender gets around here, it generally didn't have a very long life span either.

Last Spring, we decided it was time to invest in a 'real beast': a high speed blender. Having had to replace blenders every couple of years at the most, the prospect of spending $300 or $400 on a machine that would last me for many years to come seemed like the way to go.

It boiled down to either the Total Blender by Blendtec or the Vitamix 5000. Both appliances are very highly rated by the raw food community.

In the end, the Vitamix's 7 year warranty on ALL parts is what sealed it for me. Blendec used to give 8 years on their machine, but then reduced the warranty to 2 or 3 years, and only 1 year on the carafe (the one thing that is most likely to need replacement!) Sure makes you wonder... If they had such confidence in their product, why would they REDUCE the warranty!?!

And so I went with the Vitamix 5000 and am extremely happy with my purchase. It's elegant, easy to use and reliable, and the texture of soups, smoothies, etc is just unreal! It's a wonder how I could do without it all these years!

Enters The Omni
A couple of years ago we discovered a solid high power blender alternative to the more common Vitamix and Blendtec's Total Blender. Not because these don't do a fine job, but because they leave a great big gaping hole in your budget.

At $279 (shipping included in the USA), the Omni 3 HP blender costs significantly less than similar machines and yet yields a comparable performance.

Some Omni facts:
  • Electronic like the Blendtec but much simpler to use
  • Substantially quieter at 85 db
  • Somewhat slower RPM means thorough emulsification requires a bit more time than the competition, and for that the motor should experience less stress/longer life
  • Comes standard with the 64 fl oz square container and a food tamper
  • Has a six blade system
  • Comes with a 7 year warranty on parts and labor for the motor/base and 1 year on the drive socket, container and blade assembly
As Don points out in his Kitchen Blender Value Review, "clearly the Omniblend V is the substantial Value King as it is about equal to the competition in functionality and expected durability for a much lower cost."

Finally the Omni also comes with a free copy of a raw recipe book that I've written especially for it: Deliciously Raw. (That's how impressed I am with its performance!)

You can find out more about the Omni V 3 HP Blender here.

Looking for a blender that will best suit your needs? Here's a thread you might find helpful.

Don and I have been having a freshly made juice of carrots, apples, beets, celery and ginger first thing in the morning for years. Such a delicious, energizing way to start our day!

There are many different juicers to choose from, depending on what you're looking for, and (mostly!) what kind of budget you have. I opted for Breville's Juice Fountain; a centrifugal system with pulp ejection. It has two different speeds and is super easy to clean up, which is absolutely essential, otherwise you'll find yourself not using it as much as you'd like to because it's just "too much work".

Another great feature of the Juice Fountain is it's extra wide food chute. It can even take in whole apples! This means you don't have to chop food into smaller pieces, therefore saving a LOT of prep time.

I bought mine refurbished on eBay for $100 shipped. I know there are much fancier juicers out there, but I'm really very happy with the Breville.

Note: I just found out Amazon sells reconditioned Juice Fountain units for $37.73 - free shipping in the US (Regular price:$149.99). Man, what a deal! You can have a look out here.

Food Processor
Another 'must have' in a raw kitchen! A food processor is useful for chopping veggies in a snap and making anything from spreads to crackers, cookies, brownies and breads. Again, there are tons of models to choose from. The consensus seems to be that Cuisinart makes great, highly reliable machines. On the downside, they can also be quite pricey so it depends what you're looking for.

For my part, I have a humble 7 cup Rachael Ray, as it's the only model that was powerful enough and available in the local stores (ordering a food processor online wasn't flowing at the time). Definitely not the hottest fp on the market, that's for sure! I've heard people speak very highly of Hamilton Beach brands in the same sort of price range.

You might want to consider getting a smaller size food processor as well, super handy when you don't have a lot of food to process. I'd say that, unless I'm having a big uncooking day and cranking up the dehydrator, I'm mostly using my little Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus that I found at the thrift store for $3. (Gotta love used stuff!)

After following a simple diet of fruit smoothies, raw soups and salads for years, Don and I started experimenting with more complex, dehydrated recipes last fall. We had a hunch that a dehydrator would greatly help us in staying raw through the winter; and we were right. Not only did it allow us to create more elaborate dishes, it provided a fast and simple way to warm up our food before eating. I'm quite aware that this is just a psychological thing, but hey, it did the trick! We find that the dehydrated recipes have come to replace the cooked stuff we used to crave, and therefore haven't felt drawn towards cooked foods at all since.

I played with our neighbors’ old handmade dehydrator for a while and quickly determined that it would be worthwhile investing in an Excalibur. And wow, what a difference! It has made uncooking so much easier and fun!

I highly recommend the Excalibur 9 tray ; it is absolutely the best for the buck! You can find others for a lot cheaper, but they usually have the heat at the bottom (which means you need to rotate the food), or no fan (dehydration takes much longer with high risk of fermentation.)

Excalibur is also available in 5 trays, but in our experience, the trays fill up quickly so that proves to be too small. The latest Excalibur model has a timer and is quite a bit more expensive than the previous one (the ED 2900). Personally, I don't find that feature necessary, as you can pick up a little timer at the hardware store for much cheaper. (Timers are handy if your food is ready in the middle of the night or while you're not around.)

For more general info on dehydrators and how they work, you might want to read Karen Knowler's 'Dehydrator 101' article.

Spiral Slicer
Here's a little gadget that will allow you to make beautiful vegetable pasta in no time at all. You'll see many raw chefs recommend the 'saladdacco' model (shown on the right). To this day, I have to say that this is a bit of a mystery to me. There's a lot of controversy around these in the raw food community, as while the saladacco apparently does work for some, it's a hit and miss thing for many others.

The good news is that there are several spiral slicer alternatives that are much easier to use. After much research, I've opted for the Benriner Cook Help (shown on the left). It produces perfect 'pasta' every single time, and gives me the flexibility of choosing between 3 different sizes - angel hair, spaghetti size and fettucini - which is an awesome feature. Additionally, it allows you to slice vegetables, such as turnip, jicama or beet, very thinly in order to make ravioli wrappers.

I just love using this gadget! It totally brings out the child in me! lol The uniform veggie pasta it produces has made a world of difference over the grated rendition I used to make. I'd swear it does affect the taste too! And to top it all up, the Cook Help is very easy to clean, and you can purchase a new set of blades should yours become dull.

If you'd like to find out more about the Benriner Cook Helper Slicer, there's excellent and helpful reviews here on Amazon. Their price has also dropped way down over the last couple of years. You can now buy it on Amazon for a little over $45. Awesome deal!

A mandoline or V-slicer is an awesome kitchen tool that will help you create uniform veggie slices. It particularly comes in handy for making chips and zucchini noodles for lasagna, or for julienning vegetables for sushi.

One of our main concerns while looking for a mandoline was safety. As you know, these babies tend to be razor sharp, and it wouldn't take much to hurt yourself unless you have a good finger guard.

I thoroughly researched which model would suit me best (and you better believe it: there's a jungle of mandolines out there! lol) In the end, I was seriously considering the Mandoline Plus, but after reading rave reviews after reviews, I fell for the Borner V-Slicer Pro (V-4000).

This model is the next level above their previous, more common V-Slicer Plus (V-1000). Even though the latter is good, its main limitation is that it only offers thin and thick slices. The V-4000, on the other hand, comes with 3 blades, giving a possibility of 9 different cuts. (You can have a look at these here.) Also included with the V-Slicer is a great big food holder so no worries there about safety (unless you don't use it of course! lol) It's sharp, easy to clean and comes with a storing device. I've read stories of people having had the older model for something like 20 years and it still works like a charm! I can tell I'll be having mine for many, many years to come as well. Please Note that the V-4000 is currently unavailable. You can however find the 5000 model as well as the latest 7000 model (with a special patented push button to adjust thickness!) on Amazon.

As Cutlery and More didn't ship to Canada, we found an awesome source in Quebec called PaulsFinest.com. Paul is a really great guy and his service is terrific!

Again, I am totally stoked about my choice as this slicer totally rawks!

Sauerkraut Maker
Until I discovered the raw diet, I was unaware of the numerous health benefits of consuming fermented veggies. If you'd like to get into making your own, I highly recommend the Pickle, Sauerkraut and Kimchi Maker sold by Mike at his The Raw Diet Heath Store. It has a lot of great reviews and, best of all, is quite inexpensive (about $30 including shipping); a much more affordable alternative than the traditional large ceramic crock pots.

RawVegan4Health has ingeniously come up with a home made version of the Sauerkraut and Kimchi maker for roughly $9. You can have a look at his instructions, posted on our forum, Raw Freedom Community.

You might also want to check out my blogpost on Sauerkraut Making here.

Odds and Ends
As you know, there are all kinds of smaller gadgets and tools that are essential to any kitchen, regardless of the diet. These are the ones we find indispensable:
  • Knife - A good, sharpened knife is invaluable
  • Cutting Board
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Coffee Grinder - For grinding small seeds such as flax and sesame
  • Garlic Press
  • Grater
  • Small Citrus Squeezer
  • Strainer
  • Peeler
  • Various shape pans - For making lasagna, cobblers, pies, cupcakes, quiches, etc.
  • Spring form pans or medium plastic tub - For making cakes
  • Ziplock bags
  • Plastic or glass storage containers

But specific to raw food prep, here's some kitchen tools that can be particularly helpful:

Offset Spatula - A gem when it comes to spreading batter for crackers, breads, wraps and the like. I'd say the best 10 bucks I ever spent in my kitchen!

Regular Spatula - To get the last scraps out of your food processor or blender

Pizza Cutter - For easily scoring breads and crackers. And yes, to cut raw pizza too! lol

Lettuce Spinner - "No dressing will ever taste right if tossed in wet greens." as Nomi Shannon points out.

Gallon Jars - For sprouting or making kombucha tea

Mason jars - For storing nuts, seeds, dried fruits, etc and for sprouting

Cheese Cloth - For covering the sprouting jars

Plastic Trays - For sprouting (see this post)

Nut Cracker - We've been buying fresh nuts in their shells in the fall and around Christmas and are loving them. We even have some left from last year and they're still good! Unshelled nuts are cheap and taste so much fresher than the shelled ones. The trick is to have the right tool to help you tackle them. We have the nut cracker shown on the right that we paid something like $12 for at a local kitchen specialty store, and it works like a dream!

Nut Milk Bags - For separating the pulp while making nut milk which can then be used in recipes such as breads and cookies. (Paint straining bags from a paint store or Home Depot work beautifully and are a lot cheaper!)

Raw Recipe Books - There's tons of raw recipes floating around the net, but you might also want to add a few books to your collection. Check out this thread for highly recommended titles. And there's of course my ebook that I released a few months ago, "The Best of The Sunny Raw Kitchen". It features 21 tried and true recipes, some of the best creations to have come out of our raw kitchen.

MacGourmet - A fantastic recipe program for Mac computers, that allows you to easily organize your recipes. Truly invaluable for me! I talk a little more about some of the fab features it offers here.

A small extra freezer - Not essential, but super handy in order to store ripe bananas and other fruits (for smoothies and ice cream), nuts and dehydrated goodies like breads, cookies, pizza crusts, burgers, etc.

There's all kinds of kitchen gadgets available these days: from avocado or cherry pitters to zesters and ice cream makers; it would be impossible to name them all! But I guess I'll stop here for now, as I think I've pretty much covered the key stuff. (Do let me know if I'm forgetting anything important!)

Hope this article will prove to be of some help to anyone seeking to equip their own raw kitchen.

Happy Outfitting!

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Recipe of the Week: Banana Chocolate Cream Cake

Alright, alright. I know exactly what you're thinking! "What? Another cake!?!" But what can I say? My friend Aisah needed some moral support while making her first raw cake so I just couldn't help myself!

Whoa, this is another winner, I tell ya! Bananas and chocolate go naturally so well together. Combine that with some scrumptious whipped cream and you've got a ticket to taste bud heaven!

My neighbor actually just came over to report on the cake and she said there were no words to describe how good it was. lol Coming from a SAD eater, I definitely take that as a compliment!

Banana Chocolate Cream Cake
Inspired by Cafe Gratitude's I Am Rapture

This recipe is for a 6" diameter pan or tub.
Serves 8

1 cup soft dates, chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
Pinch salt
1/2 cup raw carob and cacao powder (I used 1/4 cup of each)
1 1/2 cup finely ground almonds or loosely packed left-over pulp from making milk (wet pulp is fine)
1 cup finely ground dried coconut
1/2 cup finely ground cashews

Whipped Cream
1 cup cashews or a mix of cashews and macadamia nuts
1 cup fresh coconut milk (simply blend 1 part dried coconut with 3 parts water in high speed blender)
1/8 - 1/4 cup honey or agave (depending on how sweet you like it)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon lecithin* (1 tbs + 1 tsp psyllium)

*Lecithin is 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.

Banana Layer and Decoration
2 or 3 ripe bananas, sliced

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. Set in fridge for about 1 hr.

You should have extra whipped cream but I'm sure you'll find other ways to use it. lol

To make the Cake:
Place dates in food processor and process until a smooth paste forms. You may need to add a little water.

Then add the rest of the ingredients and mix until smooth.

Grease a spring form pan with a little coconut oil or line a medium margarine tub with plastic film.

Next form an even layer on the bottom with half of the cake mixture.

Top with banana slices, followed by some of the whipped cream. Set in fridge.

When very firm, form another cake layer. Then top with more banana slices. (Remember to save some for decoration).

Again top with whipped cream and set in fridge.

When firm, gently remove cake from the pan or margarine tub and place on serving plate.

Decorate with banana slices and serve.

Carmella's Notes:
~ For the whipped cream, I used psyllium husks instead of lecithin, as suggested in Cafe Gratitude's recipe. As a result, I found that I had to let the cream set in the freezer rather than in the fridge. The consistency also made it difficult for the cake to hold its shape well once at room temperature. However, this may not be a major issue if you keep the cake in the freezer, thawing pieces as needed.

~ It is key that you grind your nuts finely in a coffee grinder or a high speed blender before processing them with the other ingredients. This will ensure that your cake layer has a lovely smooth texture.

~ In order to apply the cake layer easily, the whipped cream needs to be quite firm (set in the fridge or freezer first). If you find that the cream tends to yield while patting down the cake, try forming the cake layer on a different surface (such as the counter or a plate) then transferring it over to the pan.

~ For a simpler version of this, simply put a cake layer, followed by banana slices. Top with whipped cream and let set in the fridge/freezer. Decorate and serve.

Here you can see what it looks like cut up:

Mmmmmmmm... Yummy stuff! Who wants a piece?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Autumn Yummies

Each turn of season is an eloquent reminder of impermanence and the ever-changing nature of Life. Autumn perhaps more so with its dramatic display of browns, reds, and yellows that preceeds Winter's barrenness.

Now that my body has adjusted to the cooler temperatures and the inevitable piling up of layers of clothings, I'm actually finding myself enjoying the season and its change of pace: the languid mornings, the daily walks in the crisp, fresh air, the evenings spent with a good book... We also naturally seem to be drawn to 'calling it a day' earlier, going to bed by 8 or 9:00 PM. Getting more attuned to the sun's rhythm, I suppose.

And of course, I'm reveling in the ongoing challenge of playing with new flavors and textures. Each time I put a new raw delicacy on the table, I move yet another step away from the cooked foods I used to crave. I seem to have come to a place within me where I'd be hard pressed to name a single cooked dish I would choose over a raw one.

Let me share with you a few recipe ideas to celebrate this season's harvest.

Falling For Fennel
I discovered fennel only recently (thanks to Russell James' exquisite Fennel & Cherry Tomato Tarts) and fell in love with its subtle taste. If you've been staying away from fennel because of its slight licorice taste, try marinating it. You will be surprised at the result!

I've never been to Italy, but to me, this is what a raw Italian soup should taste like. Delicioso!

Heirloom Tomato Soup With Olives and Shaved Fennel
Posted by MichiganVeggie on Recipe Zaar

A raw recipe from Natural Health Magazine. The original recipe calls for arbequina olives, but any small, mild-flavored olive will do.

4 servings
30 min prep

Soup Base
2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped (preferably heirloom variety)
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup chopped peeled cucumbers
2 teaspoons sherry wine vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
sea salt
fresh ground black pepper

3 inches baby fennel, thinly shaved with a sharp knife
olives, slivered (I used sundried black olives)
seeded and diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons brine, from olives (I didn't use)
2 teaspoons sherry wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
chopped fennel leaves (to garnish)

To make the soup base, combine the tomatoes, jalapeno pepper, cucumber, and vinegar in a high-speed blender; process until smooth. (For a smoother soup, pass the puree through a fine-mesh sieve.) Season with salt and pepper.

Divide the soup base between 4 bowls. Garnish with shaved fennel, olives, and diced tomato. Drizzle olive brine, vinegar, and olive oil over the soup. Sprinkle with fennel fronds and serve.

Carmella's Note: I added thin slivers of red onion to the bowls.

I'd been toying with ways to combine fennel and pear together for a few days, when I stumbled upon a picture of pear pizza. Something in me went 'Yes!'

This was totally new territory for me and was delighted at how these turned out. The marinating process works its magic and gives the fennel a very delicate flavor, which marries beautifully with the sweetness of the pear and the pine nuts. And wait 'til you catch the smell of this pizza coming out of the D! Mmmmmmm

Fennel & Pear Pizza with Pine Nut Parmesan

For this recipe you will need:
- Pizza Crust(s)
- Your favorite basil pesto
- Marinated Bosc pear
- Marinated fennel
- Pine Nut Parmesan

Veggie Herb Pizza Crust
By Erica of School Of Rawk

2 cups Sprouted buckwheat
2 zucchinis (2 cups)
onion powder
1-2 cloves garlic
Braggs (or salt for those who don't do Braggs)
1 teaspoon herbs de provence
1/2 ground flax
1 tablespoon oil

Process until a dough-like consistency is reached. (Add more flax if needed). Form into pizza crusts and dehydrate.

Marinated Bosc Pear
1 Bosc pear, thinly sliced
2 tsp olive oil
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar

Gently toss pear in marinade and let sit for 1 hr.

Marinated Fennel
1 cup fennel sliced thinly on a mandoline or V-slicer
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs Nama Shoyu
1 Tbs agave or honey

Toss fennel with the rest of the ingredients and let marinate for at least 1 hr.

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 rest of the ingredients and process until well mixed. You don’t want to overprocess the pine nuts as they release a lot of oil.

On a pizza crust, spread a generous layer of your favorite basil pesto. Follow with pear slices, then marinated fennel. Crumble pine nut parmesan on top. Dehydrate for 1 hour at 110 degrees.

Optional: Just before serving, top with cherry tomato halves.

Interestingly enough, Living Light Institute just published an amazing looking fennel recipe in its October Newsletter. Talk about a work of art!

Fig Fennel Fettuccini
Serves 6

This recipe was created by Living Light students during the October session of Ethnic Flavors in Recipe Development.

4 medium zucchini, peeled
1 tablespoon crystal salt

1 cup basil leaves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 fresh figs, de-stemmed
2 cloves garlic (1 teaspoon) pureed
½ teaspoon ground fennel seed

Salad Ingredients:
1 cup tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup yellow or red bell pepper, fine julienne
1/2 cup carrots, very fine julienne
5 fresh black or green figs, sliced
1/4 cup fennel root, thinly sliced
1/8 cup onions, very fine julienne
2 tablespoon capers
2 tablespoons fresh basil, cut into long thin strands
1 tablespoon chives or scallions, very finely sliced
2 teaspoons fresh tarragon, minced
2 teaspoon parsley, minced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1. Cut long thin planks of zucchini, using a mandolin or sharp knife, then slice the planks into long thin strands to form linguini-like noodles. Add one tablespoon salt to the zucchini noodles and toss thoroughly. Allow it to stand at room temperature for 15 - 20 minutes while preparing the dressing and vegetables.

2. Put ingredients for dressing together in a blender and puree.

2. Put the dressing and the remaining ingredients, except salted zucchini, in a large bowl and toss thoroughly.

3. Gently squeeze the excess liquid from the zucchini, rinse and drain well. Pat zucchini noodles dry, and add them to the vegetables. Toss everything together gently and salt to taste. Serve chilled.

Digging Roots
The one veggie I just could not 'dig' as a child was cooked carrots. Yuck! Especially when you know they were of the conventional variety. (Sure were no organics in my neck of the woods back then!) I can still remember the day I tasted a raw organic carrot for the first time. I haven't looked back since...

Spicy Carrot Ginger Soup
By Heathy/Fairygirl

I've never been much of a soup person, but i looove this soup! It's smooth and creamy, with a beautiful color and refreshing taste. I make it on the less spicy side but more chili can be added for those who like a more firey dish.

3 -4 cups carrot juice
1 small avocado
1/3 cup young coconut pulp
2 tbs agave
1/4-1/2 red chili
1" piece ginger root
1 small clove garlic
1/4 tsp sea salt

Blend all ingredients together until completely smooth, starting with 3 cups of carrot juice and adding more if needed for a preferred consistency.

On top I swirled young coconut cream - simply young coconut/water, bit of lemon juice, blended together.

When I first discovered raw, I used to make a simple salad with fresh greens, grated carrots and beets pretty much every day. I just wouldn't tire of it! Ani Phyo's version is a tad more elaborate, calling for pine nuts and dill, which add a wonderful touch.

Red Beet Salad
By Ani Phyo

The flavor for this simple salad comes from the delicate pine nuts, sweet red beets, and fresh dill.

1 red beet, julienne
1 carrot, julienne
½ head of romaine lettuce, torn
½ bunch spinach, torn
¼ cup fresh dill, torn
1 stalk celery, chop
½ cup pine nuts

1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 Tablespoons olive oil
½ lime’s juice
½ teaspoon sea salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste

Begin by placing salad ingredients into a mixing bowl.

Next, drizzle the ingredients for the simple dressing right into your mixing bowl.

Toss, and serve.

Bet you never dreamed of the day you could have raw vegan hot dogs, but I got some news for you! Snowdrop has ingeniously come up with a recipe that will blow your taste buds away! These are sooooo good!

It was my first time using hickory/liquid smoke and both Don and I were amazed at the 'authentic' taste it gave the hot dogs. We sure had our 'real' dogs fooled! he he

Raw whole food hot dogs
Posted by snowdrop on Raw Freedom Community

i hope you like them as much as i did, on a nice wrap all loaded with raw hot-dog type toppings. i just had one, wow!!! they taste exactly like them!

Makes 6-8

1-1/2 c walnuts
¼ onion
¼ beet
½ carrot
2 clove garlic
2 T agave (to taste)
2 T soy sauce/tamari
2 t hickory smoke flavor*
1 t marjoram
½ t celery seed
½ t salt
½ t smoked paprika
sprinkle cayenne pepper

Blend till smooth in food processor.
Form dough into hot dog shapes on teflex (6-8).
Dehydrate 105 about 4 hrs.
Flip onto grid dehydrate to the texture you like. (Another hr or so.) Roll lightly into shape.
Serve warm.

*Carmella's Notes:
~ Hickory/ liquid smoke can be found in health food store, usually alongside other savory sauces.
~ This is pretty intense stuff so I would recommend starting with less than what's called for.

Here's another recipe by my beautiful friend Heathy. A creative way to use carrots and take care of your pumpkin pie cravings!

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream
By Heathy/Fairygirl

1 cup carrot juice*
½ cup packed young coconut pulp
½ cup cashews
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup agave
1 ¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ cup chopped pecans, mixed in at the end.

Blend all but the pecans together until smooth and creamy.

Chill in the fridge and then run through an ice cream maker

OR freeze in an ice cube tray and then blend until smooth and frosty.

* Heathy's Note: I like it with all carrot juice, but if you find it too "carroty", use 3/4 c juice and 1/4 cup water.

For more great ways to use root veggies, have a look at the Carrot and Parsnip Pasta with Cilantro-Pumpkin Seed Pesto and the Rawssian Borscht recipes previously posted on my blog. Anna of the Raw Table also has a lovely Beet Ravioli w/Herb Cheese Filling here.

Playing In The Squash Patch
Such a lovely array of colorful squashes at the farmers markets this time of year: acorn, ambercup, buttercup (my fave!!!), butternut, spaghetti, turban and of course pumpkin. For me, baked squash is as good as it gets when it comes to cooked food; it was one of our winter staples while on a high raw diet.

Happily, squashes can also be enjoyed in the raw. Try making squash pasta with a spiral slicer and top with your favorite sauce or slice thinly and use as ravioli wrappers. I am still very much at the exploration phase, but here's a great recipe I prepared last week. It actually reminds me of the cream of celery soup my mom used to make. Yummo!

Butternut Squash Soup
By Frederic Patenaude

This is a sweet soup that will surprise more than one. It is ideally made using a heavy-duty blender such as the Vita-Mix.

4 servings

1 and 1/2 cups water
2 cups butternut squash, diced
4 ribs of celery
2 tablespoons tahini
2 green onions
½ cup fresh basil
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon paprika

Blend the water and half of the butternut squash.
Add progressively the other half as well as the rest of the ingredients and blend.

On the other hand, I have lots of scrumptious looking squash recipes on my 'to do' list. Check out The Daily Raw's Pesto-stuffed Butternut Squash with White Sauce and Veganbear's Moroccan Butternut Squash Parcels. (The names alone are enough to make you drool! lol) Ani Phyo has a Walnut Cranberry Squash Rice and a Mexican Squash Rice recipe in her new book Ani's Raw Food Kitchen that also sound very very promising.

Cabbage 'N Mushies
If you like raw cabbage and have a thing for spicy food, then you will probably enjoy this next dish. I actually first tasted it at a local restaurant. When I saw the recipe in the 'Purely Delicious' magazine, I knew at once that it was the same one. Totally delish!

Thai Coleslaw
From Matt Amsden's RAWvolution
Posted in the Summer 2007 issue of 'Purely Delicious'

3 C finely shredded green or Napa cabbage
1 C peeled and shredded zucchini
1 C shredded carrot
1 bunch fresh basil, stemmed and chopped
1 bunch mint,
1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch fresh chives,minced
1/2 C raw, unsalted peanuts (I used soaked almonds instead)

2 T fresh lemon juice
2 T apple cider vinegar
1/4 C Nama Shoyu
2 T agave nectar
1/4 C olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 1" piece ginger, peeled
1 1/2 T curry powder
1 tsp chili powder

In a large bowl, combine all of the salad ingredients and toss to mix thoroughly.

In a high-speed blender, combine all of the dressing ingredients and blend until smooth.

Pour the dressing over the salad, mix well and serve.

Carmella's Note: I found the dressing to be a little too hot for my taste. It might be a good idea to start with less curry and chili powder, and add more until the desired spiciness is reached.

Autumn, with its moist and cool days, is the ideal season for wild mushroom picking. We've heard that there are some varieties growing in the woods nearby, but we don't feel knowledgeable enough to go on a hunt. I'll have to ask Shanoon, the wild edible expert, to give me a little tour sometime. Thankfully, at this time of year we can also find wild mushrooms at the local markets.

Here's a must-try for all mushroom lovers. I have subbed the Porcinis with fresh criminis or Portobellos before, and it was still totally awesome.

Mushroom Stroganoff
By Cherie Soria
Published in the December Living Light International Newsletter

6 servings

½ cup dried porcini mushrooms
1 ¼ cups water

Marinated Crimini Mushrooms
3 cups crimini mushrooms, sliced 1/8" thick
2 tablespoons red onions, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ teaspoon wheat-free tamari
½ teaspoon garlic powder

Zucchini Noodles
12-16 medium zucchini, peeled (about 2 lbs)
1 teaspoon crystal salt

Cream Sauce
1 cup reserved mushroom soaking water
1 cup almonds, soaked for 8 to 12 hours
2 cups reserved zucchini centers, chopped (see direction #3, below)
2 tablespoons dark miso
1 ½ teaspoons shiitake powder
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon crystal salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
⅛ teaspoon pepper, ground Fresh ground black pepper

1. Soak the porcini mushrooms in water until soft, about 1 hour.

2. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the onions, olive oil, tamari, and garlic powder. Add the crimini mushrooms and toss until all the mushrooms are thoroughly coated. Set the mushrooms aside to marinade for 30 minutes.

3. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the peeled zucchini lengthwise, rotating the zucchini a few degrees each time, to form thin planks resembling wide egg noodles. Once you reach the seedy center of the zucchini, stop and reserve the core for the sauce. Sprinkle the “noodles” with salt. Gently toss and set aside for 30 minutes.

4. Drain the water from the porcini mushrooms and rough chop. Retain the mushroom soaking water to use in the recipe.

5. Put the almonds and the mushroom-soaking water in a blender and blend to form a smooth thick cream. Pour the cream into a mesh bag and gently squeeze the mixture to remove the pulp. Only the strained cream will be used. Refrigerate or freeze the pulp for another recipe.

6. Drain the liquid from the crimini mushrooms and put 1/3 of the mushrooms into a high powered blender, along with half the cream, all the soaked drained porcini mushrooms, the leftover chopped zucchini centers, the dark miso, shitake powder, nutritional yeast, paprika, salt, garlic powder, and pepper, and blend until smooth and creamy. Add the remaining almond cream and pulse to blend. Do not continue blending the gravy once the remaining cream has been mixed in, or it will become frothy. It should just be mixed in.

7. Gently squeeze the zucchini to remove the salt and excess moisture. Towel dry the softened zucchini noodles so they are dry (otherwise the moisture will thin the sauce and it will not cling to the noodles). Toss the noodles into the cream sauce.

8. Put the mixture in a shallow rectangular glass baking dish approximately 8 1/2-inch by 13-inch (lasagna-type), top with remaining marinated crimini mushrooms, and place it in the dehydrator set at 135 degrees for 1 hour.

9. Serve warm from the dehydrator, topped with a sprinkle of fresh ground pepper.

Click here to watch a video of Cherie making this recipe.

Trickless Treats
Growing up, I loved Halloween, not because of the sweets (in fact, I usually had some of my old loot hiding under my bed by the time the next Halloween came up!), but for the thrill of dressing up and getting free stuff. lol

Walking the aisles of our supermarket these days and seeing all the unhealthy junk that kids will be soon munching on gives me the shivers.

If you're expecting to be swamped by a bunch of ghosts and vampires at the end of the month, here's a rawsome way to join in the fun.

Posted by GlimR on Raw Food Talk

1 cup raw cacao powder
1/2 cup mesquite powder
1/2 cup almond butter
3/4 cup honey or agave (I used a mix of both)
2 T. fo-ti
2 heaping T. lucuma powder
1 T. vanilla
pinch sea salt

process in food processor till well blended...will be very stiff, stir down as needed

place in bowl and knead in more lucuma (several T.) till no longer sticky.

roll in logs, wrap in paper

store in freezer

One of the best things about raw foods is how you get to enjoy the tastiest and most luscious desserts without a hint of guilt! As an adult, I still don't have much of a sweet tooth, but I can't resist exploring all the exciting possibilities raw desserts have to offer. Thankfully, I can always count on Don and our neighbors to help me go through the resulting goodies.

The following was inspired by Mishka's fantastic Peach Cobbler recipe I shared with you here. Either version would also be lovely with apples as well.

Pear Cobbler

Serves 8

6 large Bosc pears
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 cup honey or agave nectar
dash of sea salt

Crumble Topping:
1 cup pecans
1 cup dates
2 dashes of cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

Put 2 pears and the rest of cobbler ingredients in food processor, then pour into a glass casserole dish.

Chop in bite size chucks the remaining 4 pears and add to the dish. Crumble the topping on top.

Place in dehydrator at 105 degrees for 2 hours.

I have yet to try this raw rendition of baked pears but my friend Joz assures me it's outstanding. Sure love the colors!

Bartlett Pears with Cinnamon Cranberry Sauce and Spiced Ginger Cream
By Indulge
Posted on GreenChefs

Makes 8 Pear Halves

Cinnamon Cranberry Sauce
1 Cup Cranberries
1/2 Cup agave Syrup
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
2 TB Lemon Juice
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg

Spiced Ginger Cream
1 Cup Young Coconut Meat
1/4 Cup Virgin Coconut Butter
1/2 Cup Agave Syrup
1 TB Fresh Grated Ginger
1/8 tsp Ground Clove
2 tsp Vanilla

Bartlett Pears
4 Large Bartlett Pears Cut in half

Cut the Pears in half and place them on your dehydrator tray and dehydrate for 1-2 hrs. on 110 F.

While the pears are dehydrating, make the toppings.

For the Cranberry Sauce, place all the ingredients in the blender and process on high until smooth and well blended. You may chill this or keep it room temperature. I like it best chilled.

For the Spiced Ginger Cream, place all the ingredients in the blender and process also on high until smooth and creamy. Taste to adjust flavorings to your liking. Chill for 1-2 hrs. Then stir well before serving.

Place the pears once they are done on plates and drizzle a little of each topping over them. For decoration you can add a sprig of thyme or rosemary and garnish with orange peel and cinnamon. Serve immediately while warm.

Alternatively you can skip the dehydrating and just use fresh pears as I have in this photo. Although, because of the high water content of the pears, it pretty much dilutes the flavors of the toppings. It still tastes fresh though and is nice both ways.

Lovely Heathy's rendition of an all time favorites...

Apple Pie
By Heathy/Fairygirl

I made this for thanksgiving dinner with fresh apples that a friend picked and brought up from southern Ontario days prior! I swear the fresh apples make a world of difference. Anyway, we also had a cooked pumpkin pie and everyone tried both but only commented on how great the apple pie was. OOooh yeah! Raw is the best! One friend commented "this tastes just like the oatmeal I make with brown sugar and cinnamon - are there oats in here?" haha. I know there are a million raw apple pie recipes floating around, but I thought, hey, no harm in one more!

2 cups pecans
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup dates

Process ingredients together in a food processor until crumbly. Press into a 9" pie plate.

6 medium apples, cored, peeled and separated
1/2 cup pitted medjool dates
1/4 cup raisins (or use a few more dates)
2 tsp cinnamon

Blend 2 apples, dates, raisins, cinnamon until smooth.

In food processor chop the other 4 apples.

Mix into the blended mixture.

Spread into pie crust. Chill.

And finally, with American Thanksgiving just around the corner, you might want to try the following recipe.

Cranberry-Pear Relish
By Chad Sarno
Posted by Vanessa on GreenChefs

1 c. dried pears rehydrated for 1/2 hour
1/2 c. raisins soaked 2 hours
2 c. cranberries, pulsed
1 c. pears diced small
3 T. red onion minced
1/4 c. parsley minced
1 T. ground cinnamon
1 T. onion powder
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. flax seed oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Process the rehydrated pears and raisins until a slightly chunky paste. Remove and place in mixing bowl. Proceed to pulse the cranberries, leaving the mixture chunky.
Hand mix in remaining ingredients with the pear paste and cranberries.

Phfew! And I thought I was done with long posts! In another lifetime maybe. lol

Here's to Autumn's many blessings!

Photo Credits:

Autumn Leaves by love_child_kyoto
Fig Fennel Fettuccini by Living Light Culinary Institute
Spicy Carrot Soup by Fairygirl/Heathy
Pumpkin Ice cream by Fairygirl/Heathy
pumpkins 2 by *andee*
Tootsie-Rawls by GlimR
Apple Pie by Fairygirl/Heathy
Bartlett Pears with Cinnamon Cranberry Sauce by GreenChefs

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Recipe of the Week: Almond Mushroom Quiches

I never know what's going to put me in a creative mode. This time, it was brought on by a huge bag of mushrooms sitting in the fridge. Wondering what to make with them all, I asked my friend Heathy/Fairygirl who, helpful as always, suggested mushroom quiche. Of course! Why didn't I think of this before!

The following recipe was inspired by the Spinach Almond Mini Quiches I've shared with you in a previous post. The quiches' aroma was so incredible coming out of the D, I was shaking my head in amazement. But what's more, they taste even better! Don actually ate with his eyes closed! lol Not to mention he thought they had a hint of the stuffing taste he loves so much!

Almond Mushroom Quiches

Herbed Crusts: (Makes about 22 shells)
3 cups zucchini, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup flax meal (grind flax seeds in coffee grinder)
1 cup soaked almonds (about 1/2 cup before soaking for 8 hours)
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 clove crushed garlic
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (opt)

1. Blend the zucchini, sea salt and oil until zucchini is smooth.

2. Add the almonds and continue to blend until the entire mixture is smooth. You may need to use a spatula to get the mixture to blend.

3. Pour the blended mixture into a bowl and add the flax meal by hand.

4. Form the batter into uniform circles of about 3 " in diameter on the teflex sheets. Dehydrate for a couple of hours at 110, then proceed as follows:

5. Gently peel a circle off onto one of your hands.

6. Place on top of a muffin cup, 'wet' side up.

7. Carefully push the circle of dough onto the muffin pan, then press with a wet spoon or your fingers to even the dough out.

8. Dehydrate for a few more hours until completely dry.

For a detailed step-by-step description of how to shape the mini-shells, complete with photos, see this post. You may also want to check out this post, for a better view of the actual shells.

'Sauteed' Mushies:
4 large crimini mushrooms, diced
1 small Portobello mushroom, diced
2 tablespoons green onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Dash salt or Nama shoyu

Toss mushrooms and onion in marinade ingredients and let sit for 1 hour.

Place on teflex sheet and dehydrate at 110 for 1 hour.

Filling: (Makes enough for 8 mini-quiches)
1/2 cup almonds pulp
2 tablespoons almond butter
1 small tomato
A little less than 1/4 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon portobello mushroom
3/4 teaspoons oregano
3/4 teaspoons basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

Blend all ingredients until smooth.

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

First process macadamias and cashews until ground. Then add the rest of the ingredients and process until well mixed. (You don’t want to overprocess the pine nuts as they release a lot of oil.)

Carmella's Note: This will make a lot more parmesan than you need for the quiches. You could halve the recipe if you want, although it is so good that you will undoubtedly find other uses for it. It is fabulous sprinkled on pizza or pasta topped with your favorite sauce.

Gently fold 'sauteed' mushies in filling.

Place a couple of teaspoons of mixture in a quiche shell.

Crumble Pine Nut Parmesan on top.

Dehydrate at 110 for 2 hours.

Carmella's Notes:
~ Alternatively, you could make a large quiche. However, you may have to double the amount of 'sauteed' mushies and filling.

~ The filling is also very good served as a pate on crackers

Friday, October 12, 2007

Karen Knowler Is Having a Mega Sale!

Yesterday was Karen Knowler's birthday, and she's celebrating by offering 50% off ALL of her downloadable products until midnight on Sunday, October 14th.

There's four great items to choose from, two of which are MEGA best-sellers, and you get to have them ALL at half-price!

This is what she has to say about them:

1. The Raw Food Coach’s: 50 Quick, Easy, Healthy & Delicious Raw Food Recipes (Best Seller)

Every single one of these recipes is super-delicious, will leave you feeling and looking fabulous and even better? They all take less than 10 minutes to make!

2. How To Get Started With Raw Foods ...And Gain More Energy, Clarity and Vitality Than You Ever Thought Possible! (Best Seller)

Ready to go more raw? Whether you’re brand new or a longer term dabbler this info-packed eBook will most definitely take you to the next level of your raw food diet. Rave reviews and my best work so far.

3. The 30 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Raw Food Answered
The perfect little Q&A guide to all those niggling first questions from “Where do I get protein?” through to “What should I do when I have cravings?” and so much more...

4. The 5 Stages of Raw Transformation
If you want to know more about the amazing places that raw food can take you from a whole person perspective this transcript and MP3 recording ePackage will fill you in.

Click here and go to 'Products' to take your pick!

But wait, there's more...

Karen is also offering a FREE copy of her “Wheel of Radiance” poster which normally retails on her site for £2.99 ($6.00 US).

Download your free copy of this beautiful poster here.

Happy birthday Karen!
(And Lucky Us!)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Raw Gourmet Review: Fennel & Cherry Tomato Balsamic Tart

It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Russell James; the one who has been called "the UK's leading raw chef" by The Times is a culinary genius!

A few weeks, ago, Russell was launching his much awaited eZine, ‘News From The Kitchen’, in which "The Raw Chef" shares inspiring recipes, helpful info and tips.* I gotta say I always look forward to receiving it in my inbox every second Thursday. (Yes, it's that good!)

His Fennel & Cherry Tomato Balsamic Tart with Macadamia Cheese was featured in the second issue of the eZine and recently posted on his blog. (If you've missed this gem of a recipe, have a look here!) One of those dishes to impress the crowds, raw or SAD!

Fennel & Cherry Tomato Balsamic Tart with Macadamia Cheese
By Russell James
Published in his 'News From the Kitchen' eZine*

Makes 8, 11cm tarts.

For the base
2c cashews
1/2c pine nuts
2T flax meal
2t Italian seasoning
1 clove crushed garlic
1T nutritional yeast
1T olive oil
1t balsamic vinegar
1/2t salt
3T water

* Grind all ingredients in a food processor until thoroughly mixed, leaving some texture to the nuts.

* Press into plastic film lined individual tart cases so you have a thin crust. You will find that regularly dipping your fingers in a bowl of water helps with this.

* Place bases onto a mesh dehydrator sheet and dehydrate at 115 degrees F for 2 hours. They should now be firm enough to remove from the tart cases so you can continue to dehydrate them for a further 6 hours.

For the tomatoes
3c cherry tomatoes
3T olive oil
2T basil
1/2t salt

* Slice the tomatoes and marinade in the olive oil and salt for at least an hour, or overnight.

* Transfer to Paraflexx dehydrator sheet and dehydrate at 115 degrees F for 1 hour.

For the macadamia cheese
1c macadamias
1T lemon juice
1T nutritional yeast
2T onion
1/2t salt

* Process all ingredients in a food processor until fluffy.

For the fennel
1c fennel
3T olive oil
1T nama shoyu
2T agave nectar

* Thinly slice fennel on a mandoline and marinade in remaining ingredients for at least an hour, or overnight.

* Transfer to Paraflexx sheet and dehydrate for 1 hour.

* Arrange a layer of fennel in the bottom of the tart case. Top this with the tomatoes and crumbles of cheese.

*To sign up for Russell's ‘News From The Kitchen’ bi-monthly eZine, Click Here!

A'right, let's put on our aprons!

I started with the base. Now here's one delicious combination of ingredients. Of course, I couldn't resist munching on it as I was forming the tart shells.

I proceeded to grind all the ingredients in a food processor at once, as instructed. The mixture turned out very oily; something I've noticed before whenever I over-process pine nuts.

Tweaking Tip:
Mix everything but the pine nuts first, adding these towards the end.

Forming the crusts was the most time consuming aspect of this entire recipe. (No, no, don't worry! It really isn't that difficult!) I didn't have special tart cases so I used wooden bowls of approximately the right size. I might have made the crusts a little too thin as they caved in when I turned them over onto the mesh. I'll have to ask "The Raw Chef" himself to find out where I went wrong!

As you can see in the first photo, I ended up serving the tarts in the wooden bowls. Not as pretty but it sure did the trick!

Next, I tackled the veggies.

It was my first time trying raw fennel and I absolutely loved it! Perhaps because of the marinating, it didn't have the strong licorice taste I was expecting at all. The flavor was very delicate and pleasing to the palate.

Marinating and dehydrating the fennel and tomatoes also gave them a 'sauteed' texture and look. Here they are before going into the D:

The cherry tomatoes...

... and the fennel

I found that the veggies were quite oily, especially after dehydration. It would be a simple matter of cutting down on the amount of oil called for in the marinade.

Lastly, I prepared the Macadamia Cheese. All I can say is yum!

I couldn't get the mac nuts in small enough pieces so I decided to add a little water. As a result, the mixture was more creamy than 'fluffy'.

Tweaking Tip: Process the nuts first before adding the rest of the ingredients.

As for the assembly, it couldn't be simpler!

Thankfully, I had also formed mini-shells, using muffin pans lined with film. Those turned out beautifully, as you can see...

The tarts were like an explosion of flavors. A 'mouthgasmic' experience to borrow someone else's expression. lol I will definitely be giving these another try before fennel season is over.

Well done Russell! "The Raw Chef" has once again delivered!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Recipe of the Week: Strawberry Shortcake

I've been on a cake roll these days. Guess I'm making up for lost time. lol Being born in July, strawberry shortcake was my de facto birthday treat for years. Don't ask me why I finally decided to attempt a raw version of this childhood favorite right at the end of strawberry season (at least, around here). Not great timing I know, but what can I say? Creativity has its reasons...

This recipe has earned me the nickname 'Carmi CRAWker' on Raw Freedom Community (he he) and I must say it is definitely a new favorite. In fact, for me, strawberry shortcake never tasted so good: light and creamy, and not too sweet. Yum! Yum! Yum!

Strawberry Shortcake
Inspired by Cafe Gratitude's I Am Rapture

This recipe is for a 6" diameter pan or tub.

3/4 cup well packed dates, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla
Pinch salt
1 cup loosely packed left-over pulp from making milk or ground almonds
1 cup dried coconut
1/2 cup cashews

Whipped Cream
1 cup cashews or a mixture of cashews and macadamia nuts
1 cup + 2 tablespoons fresh coconut milk (simply blend 1 part dried coconut with 3 parts water in high speed blender)
1/8 - 1/4 cup honey or agave (depending on how sweet a tooth you have)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon lecithin* or 2 teaspoons psyllium husks (see notes)

Strawberry Layer and Decoration
1 1/2 cups strawberries, sliced

*Lecithin acts as an emulsifier. Look for soy 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. You can also buy sunflower lecithin which is raw and non-GMO.

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. Set in fridge for about 1 hr.

(I ended up having too much cream for the cake, and served the last of it with fresh strawberries. Soooooo good!)

To make the Cake:
Place dates in food processor and process until a smooth paste forms. You may need to add a little water.

Then add the rest of the ingredients and mix until smooth.

If using ground almonds instead of wet almond pulp, you might want to add a couple of teaspoons of water for moisture.

Grease a spring form pan with a little coconut oil or line a large margarine tub with plastic film.

Next form an even layer on the bottom with half of the cake mixture.

Top with 1/2 of the strawberries, followed by some of the whipped cream. Put in fridge to set.

When firm, form another cake layer. Then top with more strawberries. (Remember to save a few for decoration).

Again top with whipped cream and set in fridge.

When firm, gently remove cake from the pan or margarine tub and place on serving plate.

Decorate with strawberry slices and serve.

Carmella's Notes:
~ For the whipped cream, I used 2 teaspoons psyllium husks instead of lecithin, as suggested in Cafe Gratitude's recipe. As a result, I found that I had to let the cream set in the freezer rather than the fridge. The consistency also made it difficult for the cake to hold its shape well once at room temperature. However, this may not be a major issue if you keep the cake in the freezer, thawing pieces as needed.

~ In order for each layer to retain its distinctive shape, it's key to let the whipped cream layer set in the fridge (or freezer) before patting down the cake layer. Yah, yah, I know it's just for visual purposes, but hey! Remember that we taste with our eyes first.

~ For a simpler version of this, put a cake layer, followed by strawberries. Top with whipped cream and let set in the fridge. Decorate with strawberry slices and serve. Perhaps not as impressive but definitely still as delicious!