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!

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!

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