First off, congratulations to the Party Parfait Challenge winners! I was beyond impressed with Angela’s first-place Lifesavers-inspired parfait – what a creative idea! Emma’s second-place Black Forest Sparkle parfait and Theresa’s Chocolate Coffee Explosion parfait also looked amazing. So did all the entries… yum.
Today’s post is going to be straight-up food porn: the kitchen fun I got up to last weekend with Nelly. We made two delicious and very gourmet raw recipes — stuffed squash blossoms and white chocolate raspberry cheesecake.
I’ve been intrigued by squash blossoms for a long time, ever since seeing recipes for raw stuffed squash blossoms in Sarma Melngialis’ Living Raw Food and Charlie Trotter & Roxanne Klein’s Raw. I’ve never tried the cooked version, but apparently they are often stuffed with cheese and pan-fried. But I had a problem: where to buy squash blossoms? I could never find them in stores. Finally, I stumbled across them at the Dufferin Park organic farmer’s market last week. If you’re in Toronto, this market is definitely worth a visit — 3-7 pm on Thursdays, and there is an incredible bounty of organic, seasonal, local produce. At any rate, I grabbed the squash blossoms and some other goodies, and we got to work on un-cooking.
The recipe we ended up using was the one from Sarma’s book, and it didn’t disappoint! The flavour profile of the recipe was decidedly Middle Eastern — they were stuffed with an incredible smoky paprika cashew chive cheese, which I found to be the highlight of the recipe. On the side was a cucumber mint raita (made from young coconut meat & pine nuts), a spicy harissa sauce, and a tomato-olive-cumin salad. So amazing!
Now, onto dessert: we made the white chocolate raspberry cheesecake from Sweet Gratitude, the dessert bible. Don’t let appearances deceive you: this beautiful dessert was really fast and easy to make! The almond-coconut-cacao nib crust literally took seconds in the food processor, and the filling took only minutes in the Vitamix. The hardest part was swirling the fillings to make them look pretty.
I think I kind of failed at this task: the surface swirling looked OK but the inside was mediocre. I think I need a lesson from Sweet Gratitude mater Bitt, whose swirled creations always turn out perfectly. There was a LOT of cheesecake left over after we each had a slice, so I took some to work on Monday. My co-workers devoured it, and couldn’t believe the cheesecake was vegan, let alone raw! Raw desserts are the way to anyone’s heart.
There were also left over components of the squash blossoms, so I enjoyed the cashew cheese on zucchini slices for a snack the next day.
Finally, check out Nelly’s blog for a recap of our experience with durian. All I can say, is that it was disgusting. It stank up the house before we even opened it with the putrid aroma of onions and sulfur. And the taste was just as bad as the smell! I totally now understand why many countries have banned durian in public places like buses and hotels. I’ll be staying away from these stink bombs in the future. Nelly’s pup Jackson, on the other hand, seemed to love it. Have you tried durian? Love it, hate it? I’m curious.
I hope you all enjoy the long weekend (if you have one). The weather is supposed to be beautiful in Toronto, and I have more food plans with some of my favourite raw ladies, and you’ll definitely see a recap.