Stuffed squash blossoms & raspberry cheesecake

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.

17 Comments to “Stuffed squash blossoms & raspberry cheesecake”

  1. Wow! Sweetie! Both the squash blossoms and cheesecake look amazing. Your photography is stunning too! You can un-cook for me any day! ;-)
    x x x

  2. Wow!!! I want to eat all that food, now! The cheesecake looks divine! It seems to be the week for cheesecakes :) I love the way you describe the first dish- the flavour profile was middle eastern- such a good way of putting it.

    Happy weekend!!! xxx

  3. Camille!! Looks like you two had such a creative time in the kitchie – the dishes look fabulous! I’ve always been intrigued by squash blossoms, so pretty! I love your little appetizers too – I make similar ones with an ‘almondaise’ and alfalfa sprouts. Great idea to use sunflower sprouts – do you make your own?! I always have a tricky time sprouting them on my own.

  4. gorgeous post, such fantastic looking foods. i eat squash blossoms plain b/c i love them so much, now i gotta find me a recipe!

  5. ugh!!! if it weren’t for the durian experience i would have beautiful memories of that day!! hehe…just kidding…

    great recap darling!! and i love how you reused the smokey yummy cheese as a snack on zucchini!!! yummers…

    lovely photography as per usual!!!

    can’t wait to see ya tomorrow…

  6. IM SOOO JEALOUS.
    I need real food lol.

    Eating in a caf in 20 minutes, just motivating myself, knowing that in a month I’ll be in the company of my own kitchen and creativity!! Don’t stop “un-cooking!”

    amy

  7. I’ve only had Durian frozen — that was the only way that I could find it, and I loved it! My husband, however, cannot abide it, so I only eat it when he’s away on business trips. :-)

  8. Everything looks so good! I love squash blossoms, they are so delicate and versatile! That cake looks so creamy and delicious, I want a slice! :) As for durian, I like it frozen, never had it fresh! I am scared now! :)

  9. yay for food porn! I want to make those squash blossoms now. yum.

    it took me awhile to get the swirl down. it was easier with colors that were more starkly different–like brown and white. an excuse to make more cheesecakes!

  10. I wants to come over for some eats!!! :) Amazing looking food, as always!

    LOL, you girls at the durian is hilarious!
    I didnt like it on my first try either – so don’t give up, try again!

  11. Everything looks great! Sarma is an amazing chef, we look up to her :) Good job with her dish!!!

    And I want a slice of that cake< LOL

  12. Hi, I love reading your blog. The photographs are wonderful. What kind of camera do you use? Thank you!

    • Hi Deborah, I use a Canon Rebel XSi. Most of the photos were taken with my favourite 50 mm 1.4 Canon lens (which really is the secret to great photos!) and if necessary, a Speedlite 430EX flash.

  13. This is so pretty! The colors of the squash blossoms are so vibrant, and the cheesecake is so rich and creamy looking…yum

    I did have a durian just once, and really loved it, much to my surprise :) I have heard there are many different types, so they may taste different. The one I had was a Mornthong, and it made a very rich decadent ice cream.

    Thanks for telling us what type of camera you use to take all your amazing photos :)

  14. that cheesecake looks to LIVE for!! i must make it :)

  15. Oh, that is too bad! I LOVE durian more than anything I’ve ever eaten, but sadly can only get it frozen here in Oregon. People either love it or hate it. There are alot of different varieties, though…I’ve tried some that I just can’t stand. Maybe you got one of the not-so-good tasting ones.
    Ya, every dog I’ve ever introduced to durian is crazy for it. I’ve heard cats love it, but not that I’ve ever seen.

  16. Re the durian, I think, understandably that the durian we get here in Toronto isn’t all that fresh. The smell — it should smell like stinky cheese or worse but it shouldn’t taste like that.

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