Raw Chocolate Pudding

Today I made the most amazing Raw Chocolate pudding. It came together in no time but I had most of the ingredients ready to go. It is soooo good and contains very little added sugar; it might become a staple in my house. If you don’t want to bother making it, stop by.

Ingredients

1 Thai coconut
1 sapote – found only at Colman farms on Wednesday and Saturday, SM farmers market.
1 cup of raw cashews
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon of raw coco powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/8 cup of Maple Syrup or Honey

1.With a cleaver cut the coconut. I like to do this by cutting a triangle in the center. I find that the best way to crack the coconut is to hit it with the back of the cleaver. Once you have a well in the center, pour the juice into a pyrux measuring cup and cut the coconut in half. You can do this by either going straight down the middle or a more gentle approach- one side at a time with the back of the cleaver.
2. Now that the coconut is open, scoop the meat into a blender. Make such not to get any of the woody junk mixed in.
3. Now peel the sapote, cut around the seed and add it to the blender as well.
4. Add the cashews, coco powder, vanilla, and sweetener of choice.
5. Pour the strained coconut water on top. Add just enough water to cover the ingredients.
6. Blend until smooth. If you find that the pudding is too thick, add more coconut water.
7. Once the pudding is done refrigerate it for an hour or until cold. Serve it in little cups or ramekins with fresh berries.

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Posted in Chocolate, Dessert, Vegan | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Ceasar Salad

Ceasar Salad is a staple in my house, especially since it is the only vegetables my brother will eat besides the occasional kale chip. My whole family enjoys this salad and we never seem to make enough. We usually use about 6 heads of romaine and there are very rarely leftovers. Keep in mind that I don’t use cheese in mine but if you choose to, add a ¼ cup of Parmesan to the dressing and then sprinkle more on top when you serve the salad. I find that the best anchovy’s to use are Rustichella d’Abruzzo brand found at any whole foods store. They are a bit pricy but there are a lot of fillets in one jar and you would not need to use too many at a time. Also, they last forever in the refrigerator.

Croutons
3 slices of bread
1 teaspoon dried oregano
A pinch of salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Toast the bread in a toaster.
2. Take the bread out and turn on a pan.
3. Cut the bread into ½ cubes. Add olive oil to the pan let it heat up a little bit and then add the bread.
4. Let the bread get crispy about 45 seconds to a minute, and then add a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of dried oregano.
5. Sauté for another minute or two and the croutons should be done.

Salad/ Dressing
3 to 4 heads of romaine
2 cloves of garlic
2 fillets of anchovy’s
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon of mustard
¼ cup of olive oil
Juice from half a lemon
¼ teaspoon of salt

1. Combine the Anchovy’s, garlic and salt in a mortar and pestle. Mash the ingredients together until you have a liquid mess.
2. Combine the egg yolk, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and liquid into the bowl in which you will serve the salad. With a wisk, beat the ingredients and slowly add a ¼ cup of olive oil. You should see the dressing turn into the consistency of mayonnaise. After about 15 to 20 seconds, stop wisking.
3. At this point cut up the romaine and add it two the bowl. Drizzle the lemon juice on top of the lettuce and then mix the salad for about 20 seconds. Make sure there is no dressing sitting on the bottom of the bowl.
4. Lastly, put the homemade Croutons on top of the lettuce and serve.

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Posted in easy, healthy, Just Veggies, Vegan | 1 Comment

Spring Inspired Tacos

Yesterday my mom and I made this dish for dinner. It is quite simple to make when you have beans around and it is delicious. The idea came from a book called Vegan Planet.  However, in the book they make enchiladas, which takes a little longer to prepare than tacos.  Packed with protein and fiber, these tacos are a great easy meal to go with a salad.  You can top them with whatever you like. I didn’t feel like having a traditional salsa so I made an avocado, mango salsa.  The sweetness of the two fruits dilute a little of the spice from the beans.

The beans

2 large sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon Olive oil
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 small fresh hot chili, seeded and minced
1 ½ cups of fresh or 15 ounces of canned black beans, drained
14 oz of canned, diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon of chili powder
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
Corn tortillas

  1. Steam or roast the sweet potatoes whole or cut them into pieces it doesn’t matter. If you roast them do roast at 400 degrees for 45 min to an hour whole or 25- to 30 cut into pieces.
  2. While the sweet potatoes are cooking, dice the garlic, chili, and open your can of tomatoes and canned beans if using.
  3. When the sweet potatoes are done, heat a pan and add a tablespoon of olive oil. Once the oil is hot add the diced garlic and chili. Saute the garlic and chili for about a minute and then add the beans, tomatoes, chili powder, salt and pepper.
  4. Add the sweet potatoes. You might want to cut them into bite size chunks. Simmer the dish for 5 to 10 minutes. When it is done taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly.   Serve as a stew or over warm tortillas with an avocado, mango salsa.

Avocado Mango Salsa

 1 Avocado
1 Mango
1/4 of a red onion, diced
Juice from half a lime 

  1. Cut the avocado in half. Remove the seed by banging your knife into it and then giving it a little twist with the wrist. Discard the seed, then cut a few vertical and horizontal lines so you get squares. With a spoon, remove the avocado into a bowl.
  2.  Cut the mango. The easiest way to do this is by cutting around the seed. Sometimes the seed is bigger than others making the mango frustrating to cut.  Anyways, when you have removed all the goodness, cut it into squares and add it to the bowl.
  3. Dice a forth of a red onion and add it to the bowl as well. You don’t want the onion flavor to be overwhelming but it adds a nice bite.
  4. Drizzle the juice of half a lime on top of the salsa and that’s it- dinner served!

What to do with the leftovers? I put them in another taco with scrambled eggs. That was my lunch today!

If you have left over salsa, add it to your salad.

Posted in Beans, Dinner, easy, Vegan | Leave a comment

Mediterranean Bulgur and A twist on Asparagus

Yesterday, I had fun in the kitchen teaching people how to cook omelets and scrambled eggs as an afternoon snack and make chocolate chip cookies as a post dinner dessert.  I would say we went through about 27 of our own eggs in less than three hours. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures and have no record of the events so they will have to be repeated in order for me to blog about them.

Today however, I made sure to record my creations. I have not been given the opportunity to design another menu for the school yet but I do get some input as to what dishes I want to serve when I help in the kitchen. Quinoa and rice are staples here and everyone is burnt out with them so I decided to make bugler today, which is a different grain closely related to cracked wheat.  I also found out that we had asparagus so I decided to make that too. I usually keep asparagus really simple and steam it but I know for a fact that this asparagus wasn’t local. Thus, I needed to give it some flavor but still keep it simple.

Mediterranean Bulgur

2 cups fine Bulgur
¼ cup chopped parsley
8-12 sundried tomatoes and the brine
2-3 tablespoons of capers
1 shallot or ½ of a red onion
1-2 cloves of garlic

  1. Rinse the bulgur. Put it in a pot with 3 cups of water. Cook it over a high flame for about 10 minutes.
  2. While the bulgur is cooking, chop the onions, garlic, parsley and sun dried tomatoes.
  3. Now, it is possible that not all of the water will be dissolved but the bulgur will definitely be cooked so; strain it through a mesh strainer.
  4. Put it in a bowl or on a sheet tray and allow it to cool for 10-20 minutes.
  5. Once it is sufficiently cooled, add all of the veggies, 2 tablespoons of the tomato brine, capers, salt and pepper and parsley.
  6. Stir it up, taste it and adjust the seasoning to your liking.

A twist on Asparagus

1 bunch of Asparagus
2-3 tablespoons Neutral oil
Pinch of Salt
Pinch Pepper
½ tablespoon of red wine vinegar

  1. Fold one of the ends of the asparagus. When it snaps off take note of that length and then cut the rest of the ends in accordance with the break of the first stalk. You want all the stalks to have a uniform length.
  2. Heat a pan and coat it with oil.  Once the oil is hot, add the asparagus. You want a nice sear on each side of the stalks and you want them soft, yet crisp.
  3. After the first 2 minutes, turn the heat down and let the asparagus cook for another 2 minutes. Then turn the heat up and flip the asparagus over.  Repeat the process of searing the asparagus and then turning the pan down and then add the vinegar, salt and pepper.
  4. Turn the pan off and serve.  When you serve the asparagus, make sure to pour the juices from the pan over the stalks.

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Posted in easy, Grains, summer, Vegan | 3 Comments

4 Fantastic Days in London

Friday March 25th

After making a great lunch for the school, I headed for the airport to catch a plane to London.   The trip was super easy. I got to Liverpool station at about 6:30 and met up with a friend Sebastian Schluter who I hadn’t seen in a long time.  He lives in the University of Westminster housing and had a kitchen so we went right to the market to get some goodies. In light of the delicious lunch, I recreated a dinner that was just as special.  Although the resources in a dorm kitchen are even more limited than you would imagine, I was still able to come up with a method to make everything work. Dinner was accompanied by a few Bulmers, which is the name of an Irish company that makes really good cider.  Bulmers is renowned for their high quality fermented cider!   The annoying thing about London is that everything is so expensive and you pay for stuff in pounds.

To walk off the meal, we headed down Victoria Street and walked by Westminster Abbey/ Big Ben, and the House of Parliament.  This was the beginning of great food and sight seeing in a fantastic City.

Saturday March 26

Today was a long day of sight seeing. We started by going to the Tate Modern museum.  Getting there took longer than expected because there was tens maybe even hundreds of thousands of people walking along the river protesting the rise in college tuition and pension cuts.  As a result we were forced to walk inland and then cut back over the Millennium Bridge.  At the museum, there was a beautiful view of London from the 6th floor balcony. Also there was a really cool sunflower exhibit. I would tell you how many sunflowers lay on the floor but unfortunately before I was able to finish reading all of the information on the exhibit, the fire alarm, yes that’s right, went off and the security guards quickly evacuated the building.

Outside, we noticed that the Globe Theater was right next-door and went and had a look. We didn’t stay for a play but it was a cool sight. From here Basti and I debated going into a pub for fish in chips or going to St. Paul’s Cathedral. We decided that it was too early for lunch and walked to the cathedral, which took a while.  We went into the main part of the Cathedral but didn’t go the whole way in because we didn’t want to pay the entrance fee. You will find that this is a recurring theme in my travels.    From here we wondered up Ludgate Hill St. in the opposite direction of the protesters, past the London School of Economics and went to Neal’s Yard Dairy. Neal’s yard is a great cheese vender that emphasizes local and small farm cheese. There, we sampled a few cheeses and picked up some real buffalo mozzarella for Caprese.   Finally we headed back to the flat for lunch.

After lunch we went to Portobello Road, which is a huge street that has lots of interesting shops and a lively atmosphere.  Basti and I stopped at a really cool pizza shop and split a slice, which was just what we needed. It was cold out and the warm bread covered in delicious sauce and a little bit of cheese was just what I needed to warm up. Fortunately, we hit Portobello Road on a day when there happened to be a market and there were venders selling everything from jewelry to homemade paella.  We found that the produce was surprisingly cheap- three times less than it would be at the market and made a few purchases. We were very happy with our purchases but found out later that we should have bargained and dropped the “Poor Student” phrase to get more bang for our buck.    In addition to these purchases, we had a large helping of paella with clams, calamari, and shrimp. It was delicious. I think that the rice was a little too al dente but it didn’t matter. The flavor was exceptional, the ingredients were high quality and watching the cooking process was exciting.

After this snack we continued wandering around Portobello Road and eventually decided to go have pre-dinner dessert in Hampstead Heath.  Even though it was a schlepp, the crepe stand is located right down the street from the tube stop and I had been waiting 5 years to go back to La Creperie de Hampstead. In my opinion they make the best crepes in the world even better than the ones in Paris.  I had a chocolate crepe with banana and rum. It was delicious. The melted dark Belgium chocolate oozed out of the crepe and with every bite I received a sweet banana and a nice sharp contrast from the strong rum.  At 4 pounds 20, the crepes are not the cheapest in town but the steep price and the commute is worth the flavor explosion! At the stand, we met two Cambridge grads who said always bargain for more stuff at the markets. They were interesting people. Did you know that Cambridge grads get sent master’s degrees two years after they finished their B.A. just because the curriculum is supposedly sooo hard?   After the crepe stand we headed home for dinner. We had Caprese and leftover rice for dinner and then went out to a pub.

Sunday March 27th

Today we woke up late. I actually woke up first and went to the market to get a few supplies.  After breakfast, we headed to Brick Lane, which is a great street full of shops, street venders, a flee market, and lots of amazing food. Our first stop was Brick Lane Beigel Bakery. It is a Jewish bakery that makes homemade bagel’s 24 7 and they make incredible salt beef.  Additionally they sell dozens of bagel’s at a very cheap price.  We picked up a salmon and a salt beef with mustard bagel, and a dozen for 3 pounds.

From Brick Lane, we headed to the Imperil War Museum. Even though I had been there during my previous stay in England, it is a cool place and the holocaust memorial is always moving. After this, we headed to Camden Town Market, where we had delicious fish and chips and then stopped at a pub to pick up another bulmers.  From here, we caught the C2 bus back to victoria but ended up detouring through Green Park.  It was a really nice day out and when I heard that we were stopping at Green Park I decided we should walk through, stop at Buckingham palace, which we did and got a great view of it as the sun was setting behind it; then headed home to make dinner. Dinner was spicy peanut noodles, which I have previously posted, with homemade guac and tortilla chips as appetizers.  Sebastian appreciated my help in the kitchen and enjoyed having someone do the cooking. He was a very great and competent sous chef.

Monday March 28

Today I took the London underground to Liverpool Station, where I hopped onto the Stansted express to the airport.

 

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Posted in Travel | 4 Comments

Mexican Day at SFYI

Friday March 25th

Today I was given the reins  of the kitchen. It was my job to plan the menu and make a list of all the ingredients I would need.  Cooking for 20 plus is no easy task. A lot of planning and effort is required.   I knew that I wanted to have a vegetarian meal but I also had to cater to everyone’s pickiness’s . I went back and forth deciding what I should do but I finally settled on Mexican food.  I was eager for this day to come but unsure how the crowd would respond to my food.

I kept the food pretty mild and only used a few Jalapeños.   From the re-fried beans, which are un-heard of in France, to the homemade tortillas, everything was exceptional and fresh.  I had never done homemade flour tortillas before so I did a practice batch on Wednesday. When I got the approval from a few students, I knew I was off to a good start.  Today was one of the first days that all of the plates were empty at the end of the meal!

So what did we make that could have been so good?

Homemade Tortillas

Two cups of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
3/4 cups of water

1.Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and oil.
2. Slowly add the warm water. Stir until a loose, sticky ball has formed.
3. In the bowl, knead the dough for two minutes. You know that the dough is done when it is soft yet firm.
4. Place a damp cloth on top of the bowl and allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes.
5.After the dough has rested, break off 3 to 4 ounce pieces of dough and roll each piece into a ball.
6. Place them on a plate, cover them with a damp cloth and allow to them rest for 10 more minutes.
7. After the dough has rested, one at a time place a dough balls on a floured surface, with a rolling pin, roll them out into circles that are about 1/8 of an inch thick.
8. Heat a non-stick pan, wipe it was an oiled paper towel and put the tortilla on. Heat the tortilla for about 45 seconds and then flip it. You want it to be a little brown but not burnt.

Re-fried Beans

1 recipe of homemade beans. See musical fruit post.
2-3 medium onions
1 ½ carrots
½ cup of olive oil
1 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2  jalapeños
2 teaspoons of paprika
Dried Epizota

  1. Dice the onions and carrots.
  2. Heat a pan and sauté the onions in 2 tablespoons of olive oil . When they start to turn translucent, add the carrots.  When the carrots become soft about ten minutes, add the jalapeños, epizota, salt, pepper, and paprika.
  3. Sauté them for a few minute and then add some of the bean liquid and oil. This is very important. When the liquid starts to boil off mash the beans with a masher.   When all the liquid has dissolved add more liquid and mash the beans or puree them with a blender or hand mixers.
  4. Return the beans to the stovetop, adjust the seasoning and serve.

Vegetable Fajitas with Lime Sauce

3-5 Red peppers
3-5Red Onions
Salt
Pepper
Olive oil for rubbing onto the veggies

1. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees. If you have a broil setting use it. It browns the veggies faster.
2. Cut off the tip of the onions and peel them. Cut the onions into rounds and leave the peppers whole. Cover the onions and peppers with a bit of olive oil.
3. Put the veggies into the oven and cook them for about 10-15 minutes. At this time, take the peppers out and flip the onions over.
4.  Remove the seeds from the peppers and cut them into long strips. Once they are baked, they are really easy to work with but a little juicy.
5. Remove the onions from the oven.
6. Put the peppers and onions onto a platter or into a bowl and cover them with the lime sauce.

Simple Lime Sauce

3-4 Limes
4 tablespoons of olive oil
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 tablespoon of vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
1 ¼ teaspoons of brown sugar
1 jalapeno chili, seeds removed
1 ½ tablespoons fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon of salt
¾ teaspoon of pepper

Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, the garlic, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, jalapeno, salt and pepper.  Once it is mixed taste it and then set it aside.

Spanish Rice

Making Spanish rice is similar to cooking a risotto or paella.

2-3 medium onions
½ cup of olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
2-3 bell peppers
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
14 ounces of chopped tomatoes
2 cups of Paella Rice
2-3 cups of warm vegetable stock

  1. Dice the onions. Sauté them in oil until they are translucent.
  2. At this point add the peppers and garlic.  Cook the peppers until they are soft.
  3. Then add the tomato paste, and chopped tomatoes.
  4. When the liquid starts to boil off, add the rice and sauté it for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add a few ladles of vegetable stock and give the rice a few stirs.  Repeat this process every 5 minutes for 20 minutes and they rice should be cooked al dente.

Guacamole

5 avocados
1-2 juiced limes
2 cloves of garlic
1 -2 teaspoons of cumin
1/8 cup  of fresh cilantro
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper

Take the avocados out of their skin and place them in a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mash up the avocados.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Sweet Corn

3 cups fresh corn kernels
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 minced shallot
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of pepper to taste.

  1. Preheat an oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Toss the corn with oil and spread it out on a large baking sheet.
  3. Bake, until some kernels begin to brown.
  4. Combine the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl.
  5. Add the corn. Mixed well and serve warm or cold. Both options are good

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Posted in Ethnic Foods, Lunch, Vegan | 7 Comments

Delectable Almond -Chocolate Bars

In this recipe I call for Whipped or Creamed honey. This is honey that has been processed to control crystallization. It contains a large number of small crystals and has a creamy and spreadable texture.  I believe that this honey makes the rice puffs stick together better than regular (unprocessed) honey.

In these bars the coconut oil has a notable taste. It is not overpowering but if you have access to coco butter, I recommend using it instead of coconut oil because coco butter has taste that is more akin to the rest of the bar and it will blend right in.

The Bars

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of Coconut oil
½ cup of whipped honey
½ cup raw almond butter
½ teaspoon of salt
4 cups of Rice Crispy’s


  1. In a pan heat the coconut oil over a low flame.
  2. Once it has melted, add the honey. When this mixture begins to bubble and smell delightful, turn it off and add the almond butter.
  3. Stir the mixture until the almond butter has completely dissolved.
  4. Now add the salt and mix again.   At this point, put the rice crispy’s in a bowl and pour half of the liquid mixture in.
  5. Stir well and then pour in the rest.

Now pour the rice crispys into a parchment covered or greased 9×9 baking pan and refrigerate it for 1 ½ hour or freeze it for 30 minutes.

 

Chocolate Topping

½ cup of dark chocolate 70 percent or more
½ teaspoon of salt

  1. When the rice crispys are close to setting. Start melting the chocolate. I did it in a pan over a “really” low flame and did it in increments. You don’t want the chocolate to burn or melt too fast.
  2. Start by breaking up the chocolate into small pieces and melting half of what you have.
  3. Once that has melted stir it and add ½ of what is left.
  4. When that has melted. Turn the heat off and add the remaining chocolate and the salt. This process of turning off the pan to melt the last of the chocolate is known as tempering the chocolate.
  5. Once it has melted, Pour the chocolate over the rice crispys and freeze for 30 minutes or refrigerated it for an hour or more.

 

Once the chocolate has set, cut the bar into pieces and serve. They will last in the refrigerator for a week.

 

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Posted in Chocolate, Snack, Vegan | 4 Comments