A day in the world of plant based, raw cooking

Do you think this plate of food looks appetizing? Would you like to eat it? I most certainly hope your answer is yes.

Plant based raw cooking is not only about chewing on carrot  sticks and drinking smoothies. “It is a diet comprising naturally grown wild or organically and sustainably raised fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and occasionally sprouted grain. Raw foodists do not consume chemically processed or pasteurized ingredients. And finally, most significantly, nothing is cooked above 118 degrees F to preserve the enzymes and nutrients” – Matthew Kenney, RAW

You might think that this sounds very limiting and eventually might lead to a very boring diet. After spending just one day at the Matthew Kenney Culinary School in Venice, my creative culinary mind is already in fast thinking, and I am wondering about how to translate my favorite, vegetarian dishes into a vegan and possibly raw alternative.

This is definitely an interesting step for me. My cooking is about great ingredients and beautiful aesthetics. So trying to achieve the same results with some limited cooking methods, and create food that can help people see and experience the flavor and beauty of raw food is definitely challenging and hopefully will be rewarding in the future.

I have not turned into a vegan, just yet. But yesterday opened a door for me and I will definitely be bringing you my ideas on stunning, delicious, vegan and/or raw ideas.

If you have any questions about the recipes or how to make something, let me know. Also, Matthew Kenney Culinary has locations in LA, Miami and Belfast in the US. I highly recommend attending his workshops if you live in the area.

And in case you were wondering what is she really talking about? What happened during that workshop?

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morning smoothie with dates, banana, raw cacao and homemade almond milk

For a few people making their almond milk at home is a no brainer. Well, I am lucky enough not to have any food allergy or sensitivity. So I do drink dairy and use it in my smoothies so never thought about making my own nut milk. I actually hate the almond milk you buy at the store. Just like most things, that has added ingredients that you so do not need in your life. So the first thing I learned yesterday how incredibly easy to make your almond milk, how great it tastes and we started off our day with a smoothie of almond milk, raw cacao, dates and banana.

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raw cacao

 

Next comes avocado. Living in California, I eat it every single day. It is part of our lives, and probably there is no day going by without it. In my world it is my butter. I spread it on toast, wrap and add my other breakfast ingredients with my favorite breakfast veggies tomato, pepper and radish. I also use them in salads, make it into puree and so on. I did know that you can use it instead of cream cheese in vegan cooking. But I just never tried it. So making a Creamy carrot soup using carrot juice and avocado was new to me. In this instance you want to get your herbs to make your soup taste yummy, balanced and elevated. I think you have quite a few possibilities which way to go with the seasoning, in this instance we added ginger, lime juice and cayenne and finished off with cilantro oil. The picture below is the plated soup of our Chef, Alice MacKinnon, decorated with borage flowers (my favorite, you know:) )and amaranth micro greens.

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raw carrot soup

 

I think for me the hardest step to become a vegan would definitely be in saying goodbye to cheese. I am sure this is the reason for vegans trying to find the way substitute cheese and make their own version using plant based ingredients. I am planning to attend another workshop which is all about making cheese because I think the knowledge in that area will make me be more creative and come up with great dishes for vegans and raw diet followers.

 

Yesterday we made a very simple macadamia ricotta which is simply blending soaked macadamia with the help of some other ingredients into a texture that resembles to ricotta. I am not going to lie here. It does not taste like ricotta. But it will definitely give you the texture and it does taste good.

The Heirloom tomato lasagna, which is a signature dish of Matthew Kenney Culinary, has macadamia ricotta and it is a great example of creating a flavorful, stunning dish which is 100% plant based and raw.

It has layers of thin zucchini slices, heirloom tomato and 3 different kinds of “sauce”.  A pistachio pesto, a macadamia ricotta and a spicy red pepper marinara. A burst of flavor and color that shows the power of raw, plant cooking.

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heirloom tomato lasagna

 

Finally back to that avocado. You can use cream cheese in desserts too, right? Yippee! So here comes your avocado, replacing cream cheese in a Key lime tart. This dessert was definitely much easier to make than its original sister, with flour crust and cream cheese. I am more like a savory kind of person than one with the sweet tooth, but I loved this filling. Maybe because it has avocado? and lime? and date paste?

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The crust is a macadamia and cashew nut based one with some other natural ingredients held together with a little bit of healthy coconut oil.

I was really full by the time we got to the dessert, so I didn’t eat mine. Brought it home, made it pretty and took a picture of it.

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raw key lime tart

And I concluded my day with full tummy, still feeling light and good and excited about this newly acquired “taste”.

Have a great day Everyone!

 

 

Strawberries

Strawberries…. Depending on where you live they are in season in spring and early summer. They are not here forever. And if you never bought them directly from a farm, or picked your own, you don’t know what you are missing out on…. SoCal strawberries are famously good. And we have probably the best farm, Harry’s berries in Oxnard, CA that supplies amazing varieties, so different in taste and texture, to some of the best restaurants even to the East Coast. I am so lucky to have access to their strawberries at 3 different markets.

But wherever you are if you have local, organic! strawberries go get some and not only eat them as a simple fruit but try and cook/bake with them.

As a principle strawberries go well with any kinds of cream. Clotted cream, creme fraiche, cream cheese, mascarpone, sourcream, yogurt etc. As for alcohol best to be matched with champagne, cognac and the orange liqueurs. When you mix them with other fruits, try and add tart ones such as rhubarb, citrus, raspberries and peaches, nectarines which are not overly sweet and soft.

Let’s see some ideas!

Strawberry milkshake for breakfast? You only need the berries, good full fat milk, vanilla  and a little bit of maple syrup.

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Make a quick jam without any preservatives, using only the strawberries, lemon juice and white cane sugar and eat it in a couple of days. Have a toast with your homemade, natural jam, or serve it with churros, doughnuts if you don’t mind that white flour.

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quick strawberry jam
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buttermilk doughnut balls with strawberry jam

 

Make a sweet, intense sauce adding old aged, thick balsamic and serve it with a simple cake, rice pudding, ricotta dumpling, or whatever you feel like. Strawberries are great with almond so it is a really good fit to make an almond cake to serve it with.

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balsamic strawberry sauce
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almond flour ricotta cake with strawberries
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almond cake rhubarb and strawberry sauce, poached rhubarb and fresh strawberries

 

Chop them in fruit salad, they are perfect contrast with some slightly tart nectarine, raspberries, passion fruit, kiwi. Add mint, anise hyssop or basil and serve it with some yogurt or ice cream.

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strawberries and nectarine salad
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farmers cheese dumpling with fruit salad

 

Change that tiramisu into a fruity one with adding a thick layer of sliced strawberries in between those lady fingers.

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strawberry tiramisu

 

Do not stop at the sweet things!!!

Strawberries are great in salads with savory components. Feta cheese, cucumber, celery are match made in heaven with strawberries.

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savory strawberry salad
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brunch

 

Any kinds of goat cheese and balsamic goes very well with strawberries too, hence my favorite bite of some ripe goat brie, old aged, thick balsamic and basil on a toast.

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goat brie and strawberry bruschetta

 

Have a strawberrylicous early summer Everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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