Posts tagged ‘main course’

February 28, 2010

Daiya cheese arrives in Toronto

Consider yourself warned: this is a decidedly non-raw post! But I think it’s a topic of interest to many vegans, especially those who are new to the lifestyle.

It’s now super easy to find vegan alternatives for virtually any common animal products on the market. There are countless varieties of soy, rice, almond and hemp milks, dairy-free sour cream and cream cheese, egg replacement products, fake meat, and so on — many of which are damn good imitations of the originals. But as many will attest, for a long time no one had succeeded in creating a reasonable approximation of cheese. Sure, some brands make orange-coloured blocks of hard stuff that look like cheese, smell a bit like cheese, and sometimes even sort of taste like cheese, but when it comes to the aspect of cheese that most people love – melting – they all more or less fail.

But all this changed with the introduction of Daiya vegan cheese. The buzz around Daiya has been solid for months. It won VegNews’ Product of the Year, and everywhere I go vegans are talking about it. I think part of what adds to the excitement is that it seems notoriously hard to get — it isn’t widely available in stores yet, and has mostly been sold prepared in restaurants. Up here in the great white North of Toronto, we had yet to experience Daiya — until this week, that is! Rumor had it that Daiya had hit the shelves of our local vegan store, Panacea.

Now, I’ve moved far away in recent years from relying on meat/dairy replacement products. I used to enjoy them, and I find they are tremendously useful for anyone new to the diet, or trying to consume fewer animal products. But at this point in my life, I eat mostly non-processed, raw food, and seldom consume replacement-type products. I feel best eating mostly raw and unprocessed, so I try not to stray too far from this diet. I was still excited to try Daiya, but not nearly as excited as my boy. He is newer to eating all vegan, and his last holdout was cheese, and it’s the only thing he misses — he has been itching to try Daiya for ages. We tried to find it during recent vacations in NYC and LA, but for various reasons that didn’t work out. He practically ran to the store to pick it up, and was like a kid on Christmas morning while the nachos and pizza we made were in the oven.

So how was it? Just as awesome as anticipated. It melts, stretches, and tastes pretty close to cheese. (At least so far as I remember, it’s been awhile.) It contains no scary ingredients of the type sometimes found in fake cheese, and it’s not bad on the calorie front, either. I may indulge occasionally, but I have no doubt my now Daiya-obsessed boyfriend will always have a container in the fridge.

I’ll leave you with a photo of the pizza I made with it: whole wheat crust, pesto base, caramelized onions, grilled zucchini, portobellos, and red peppers, and sundried tomatoes. It was amazing! Next post will be back to raw, I promise 🙂

February 5, 2010

Indian-spiced dinner party!

I’ve always loved entertaining friends. I adore creating big, elaborate dinners, complete with wine, dessert and good conversation. Even after I started eating mostly raw foods, I still used to cook up vegan dishes for my omnivorous friends, unsure of what they might think of the raw eats. But as I got more into the raw lifestyle and mastered more and more gourmet raw recipes, I started testing them out at dinner parties. And guess what? My friends love the raw cuisine! When you think about it, what’s not to love? Fresh ingredients, crisp flavours, and all of this without the after-dinner heaviness that we used to experience after eating a rich, cooked meal.

A few weeks ago, we had some friends over for a delicious Indian-themed feast. We kicked off the evening with Black Sesame Paratha, Spiced Cucumbers, and Mango-Green Papaya Chutney from Matthew Kenney’s Entertaining in the Raw. These were tasty little bites! The paratha (bread) base was my least favourite part — the rounds were made from flax, nuts, zucchini and spices, and they were a little on the bland side, but were better in combination with the cukes and chutney.

Next up on the menu was Biryani with Coconut-Curry Sauce from Sarma Melngailis’ most recent book Living Raw Food. (As a side note, this is totally one of my favourite books — every single recipe is a hit!) The biryani is somewhat complex to make, as it involves turning jicama and other ingredients into the rice, dehydrating some veggies, and blending up a coconut curry sauce. It is totally worth the effort, and was a hit with our dinner guests!

Jicama "rice" with nuts, raisins and spices

The real star of the evening, as usual, was dessert — a recipe of my own creation. With the Indian theme in mind, I whipped up two kinds of raw ice cream — vanilla chai, and chocolate — sprinkled on a coconut-pistachio-cardamom brittle, and topped off the creation with chocolate sauce. Delicious!! Here are some photos and the recipe.

Coconut-pistachio-cardamom brittle on its way into the dehydrator

Vanilla Chai Ice Cream

Ingredients

1 cup cashews

1 cup young coconut meat

3/4 cup strongly brewed chai tea

1/3 cup agave nectar

2 tablespoons melted coconut butter

1 tablespoon vanilla extract, or seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean

1/4 teaspoon salt

Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender untl completely smooth. Chill in the refrigerator, then run through an ice cream maker as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

For chocolate ice cream, replace the chai tea with water, and add 1/4 cup of raw cacao powder. Add extra agave to taste, if desired.

Coconut-Pistachio-Cardamom Brittle

Ingredients

1 cup pistachios

1 cup dried coconut

1/3 cup agave nectar

2 teaspoons ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Combine ingredients into a food processor until just combined. Spread on dehydrator sheets in a thin layer and dehydrate 8-10 hours, or overnight. Flip onto screens and dehydrate a further 8-10 hours. Break into smaller pieces and dehydrate a few more hours, or until sufficiently brittle.

For the chocolate sauce, I blended up melted coconut oil with raw cacao powder, some agave, and a pinch of sea salt, then poured the sauce on top of the ice cream and brittle. The great thing about using a coconut oil-based chocolate sauce is that it hardens on top of the cold ice cream, just like one of those chocolate-dipped soft serve ice cream cones I used to eat in the summer as a kid!

January 29, 2010

Beet ravioli with pine nut goat cheese and rosemary cream sauce

This raw ravioli recipe from Sarma Melngailis’ Living Raw Food — one of my favourite raw recipe books. I’ve been planning to make this one for awhile, but I bumped it up to the top of the list after seeing it on the Happy Raw Kitchen the other day. It was totally easy to make — the hardest part was actually slicing the beets thinly enough on the mandoline. The issue there may be that my particular mandoline isn’t exactly what I’d call high quality, and the blade is probably getting dull. It eventually got the job done, however, and here are a few pics of the process and the result!

Ingredients, pre-assembly

The beet slices were stuffed with pine nut cheese, and served with rosemary pine nut cream. I served the finished dish with raw asparagus, marinated in olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper, and dehydrated for an hour or so.

This ravioli is totally tasty – it’s a hit! I’ve had the beet ravioli at Pure Food & Wine, and I’ll admit the version coming out of their kitchen is

My beet-stained hands!

probably superior to anything I’ll ever make at home, but this was pretty good.  I have some extra filling and sauce left, so I might have left over ravioli tomorrow for lunch instead of my usual kale salad. The ravioli recipe is online at Epicurious.

The finished product

For dessert, I made raw chocolates, filled with maple butter — possibly my new favourite way to consume chocolate. I’ll do a separate post soon with that recipe and some photos.

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