Rainbow Carrot Ribbon Salad

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I enjoy going to the market and picking up stuff I haven’t worked with before or that I don’t particularly enjoy. I don’t enjoy carrots and I haven’t worked with winged beans or shiso before so that’s what I picked up at the market.I made this salad. Here’s the recipe.


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Salad
4 to 5 washed and peeled rainbow carrots
a bunch of rinsed shiso leaves
2 – 3 winged beans

Using a peeler, peel the carrots into ribbons. Sprinkle salt on the ribbons and let it sit for a while. Tear the shiso with your hands and finely slice the winged beans, on the diagonal.

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Dressing
1 bunch parsely
1 bunch fresh oregano
1 bunch cilantro
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 small Thai chili (or a teaspoon of dried chili flakes)
1/2 cup olive oil
salt/ pepper

Put all of the above dressing ingredients, except olive oil in a blender. Blitz until it is all small and incorporated. Slowly add the oil in and blend until well mixed.

Mix the shiso, carrots and winged beans, pour the dressing over and mix with your hands. Serve on a clean plate.

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Mushroom, Dill Cheese & Broccoli Blini

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Yesterday I showed you how to make sprouted buckwheat flour. Today, I will give you an idea of what to do with it.

The picture above is a mushroom, dill cheese & broccoli Blini, of which the base is made of buckwheat flour. I am delighted with the mouthfeel. It behaves like a conventional shortcrust pastry, which is divine.

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Blini Base
2 cups buckwheat flour
1/4 cup flax meal (no gooey mouthfeel, I promise)
2 tbls dried oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika salt
2 tbls olive oil
1/2 – 3/4 cup water (start with less and feel your way through)

Mix it all up and you should get a dough like this:

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Roll it out and use a blini mould, or bottle lid to cut out circles:

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Dehydrate for about 4 – 5 hours then remove. You don’t want them to crack and get all bendy and dry. You want a bit of moisture in the centre.

Next, the cheese. This is a simple cheese, no fermentation or culturing.

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Dill Cheese
1 cup soaked and rinsed cashew
1 tbls nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbls water
1 tbls dill

Blend till smooth. Set aside.

Broccoli
1 head organic broccoli
1 clove garlic
1.5 – 2 tbls red wine vinegar
2 tbls olive oil
salt and pepper

Slice the florets off the head, as close to the florets as possible. Wash in hot water and drain then blitz until it resembles crumbs as in the picture below.

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In a small blender, add the minced clove of garlic, red wine vinegar, water, salt and pepper and blend. Slowly add the oil in until the dressing is emulsified.Pour this dressing over the broccoli and set aside.

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Mushrooms
1 punnet oak mushrooms
2 tbls flax oil
2 tbls balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Wipe the mushrooms with a paper towel. Slice the stems off then slice the mushrooms into thin slices. In a separate bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients together then add it to the mushrooms and mix well. Set Aside.

Assembly

Place two blini bases on a plate. Add a healthy dollop of dill cheese and make as level as possible but not flat. Add a mound of broccoli. Don’t press this layer flat, now you want height. Take three pieces of mushroom and lay them on top of the broccoli. Add some dried pomegranate seeds. Dress the plate in chopped, candied almonds, sprigs of rosemary, cracked black pepper and a few drops of olive oil on top of each blini.

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Raw Sprouted Buckwheat Flour

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Buckwheat Flour:

Soak 2 cups of buckwheat for 10 minutes, rinse well then separate them into smaller batches and distribute amongst a few sieves. We do this because they need space to sprout. If you put them into one sieve they will have too much moisture, not enough room to sprout and mould will develop.

Cover the sieves with a cloth. You can just place a cloth over without securing with a rubber band. For some reason, buckwheat does not attract as many fruit flys as other seeds and grains. Place in an area of your kitchen with no direct light. Dark cupboards are great. After 8 hours, rinse the seeds and drain them well, then place the covers over again.

By the next morning, your buckwheat will have sprouted. You can leave it for another half day to sprout even further or you can spread them on texflex sheets and dehydrate them. Make sure there are pockets of space between the seeds so that mould does not develop. After 4 hours, your buckwheat should be dry. Grab one, have a bite. If it crunches, it’s dry.

If you don’t have a dehydrator, spread the seeds on an oven tray and set the temperature to its lowest setting, leave the door ajar and dry. It will be more time consuming as you will have to do a few rounds of drying but you will have sprouted, dried seeds.

Next, if you have a flour mill, put the seeds in in batches and set the flour mill to its milling setting. Transfer to a ziplock bag or airtight container.

If you don’t have a flour mill, place the seeds in your blender and lightly, slowly pulse until it turns to flour. You don’t want to blend because the heat given off in that setting will turn the buckwheat doughy. When you pulse, you control the heat.

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The best place to store your flour would be the freezer. If you have a small freezer, find a cool, dark cupboard.

The Bazaar by José Andrés

IMG_7924Nothing you have ever imagined in your wildest imaginings or your most sophisticated of pondering will ever prepare you for the very real culinary experience of eating at José Andrés’s “The Bazaar”. The Bazaar is a Spanish Tapas (both traditional and molecular) restaurant based in both Beverly Hills, California; Miami, Florida and opening soon in Las Vegas.

Molecular is by now, very familiar to most but to me it was a new experience. We ate at the Beverly Hills location and I must admit, being out-of-towners, the drive along the looping, wandering traffic circles and winding roads around the restaurant did much to prepare us for the disorienting, unfamiliar shocking gastronomic experience that we had. I wonder if he moonlights as a civil engineer as well?

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The space, designed by Philippe Starck,  is sexy and mysterious with lots of discombobulating interior features and rooms entering rooms much like the Russian Matryoshka dolls. But unlike the Matryoshka dolls, symmetry and coherence is not part of the design, at least not at first glance. Dining rooms are cut at bizarre angles, each with its own lighting philosophy and design sensibility. The foyer is dressed with vintage memorabilia, whilst others are designed like dance floors of the true era of disco.

We were seated at a line of tables which extended from the foyer in a single, white, diagonal line, flanking other more expansive dining areas shielded behind pillars and thick velvet curtains, some reflected by the ever present mirrors scattered around the place. Aimed at the “slightly” narcissistic, the wildly imaginative and the seasoned adventurer, The Bazaar places itself well within the realm of the three.  The crowd resembled the space. Families, couples, large bodies of business people, some folk looked like circus entourage, the people were as fascinating as the food.

We ordered 7 or 8 dishes but did photograph them all because they were not all distinctive but those that were, made me cry. I kid you not.

Here are some of the dishes we tried:

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Traditional tapas: scallops on tomato sauce – beautiful combination with a rich and nutty sauce

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Modernist: Listed on the menu under the heading “A Few Sandwiches” the Philly Cheese Steak is probably the one menu item they are serving the largest quantity of each day and indeed it is one of the reasons we even came.

The bread is called “air bread” and the method of making this bread is to put pita dough through a pasta machine so it gets really thin but puffs up when you cook it. A Vermont and Wisconsin cheese mousse is piped into the air bread. Flame-seared Kobe is layered on top of the bread and a puree of caramelized onion placed on top. Finally truffles, and you have food experience that is indescribably erotic and ecstatic as the complex mass of flavour and texture literally explodes into your mouth, creating a heavenly chamber within.

But…that did not make me cry. The olives did.

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The traditionally-prepared olives on the right, placed next to the molecular on the silver spoons on the left, celebrate the journey the olives have made.

If you’ve ever eaten an oyster so raw and delectably alive that you squirmed around in your seat, then the experience of eating molecular olives will draw the same reaction out of you. Made by juicing olives, mixing with xantham, resting the mass, then dropping into a sodium alginate bath the mixture forms into perfect spheres of olives. When placed in the mouth, they pop at the slightest coercion and explode a briny, salty, aromatic, acidic liquid in all parts of your mouth, exciting all the taste buds and causing mild concern at neighbouring tables as you gasp, giggle and cry.

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Beef cheek and potatoes

The beef cheek was pleasant.

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Red Velvet cake

I am an absolute snob when it comes to dessert and always find baked goods to be inferior to raw ones. We tried this because my final presentation at school involved creating a red velvet raw ice-cream so any opportunity to test was a good one. I am sure that it is a marvelous cake to people who have never tried raw desserts.

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A chocolate mousse, brittle shortcake and olive oil, berry coulis

I was still crying over the olives so barely ate this.

The price point on the menu is above average but not high enough to warrant you selling your house to eat there. If you’re in California and have been hmming and aaahing about going there for a while, I highly recommend it.

In my next blog posts, look forward to “Red Medicine” and “Sadtha”.

My Time at the Matthew Kenney Raw Cuisine Academy

Dearly Beloved, We are gathered here today to mourn the absence of the strange, hippy-dippy farmers’ markets, so frequent in Santa Monica that Taipei has not.

Full of flourescent cruciferous creatures inviting hallucinatory inspection, raw honey as varied in flavours as the very flowers that exist, roses, freshly-plucked and of raucous colour, dripping dewy sweetness, dates, soft, nutty, thick, pasty, sweet, delicious and best of all; people: multi-coloured, squat, fat, thin, tall, short, petite, brusque, eye contact, eye contact, eye contact. I was quenched.

My favourite memory of the early morning market in Santa Monica was the sight of a beautiful, large Rastafarian vendor who would accuse me of being scared and shy when I did not want to enter his stall. Burning incense of strange form and colour, draped in African kaftans, his determined eyes finally begged my entry. Good thing too, since his natural creams solved a skin problem for my boyfriend.

Aside from the lovely Rastafarian and strange young foot fetishist who courted my boyfriend’s feet a few times on the beach, Santa Monica was a life-changing experience. I attended “Food and Wine”‘s best-rated plant-based cuisine academy in the world and honestly loved every moment of it.  Matthew Kenney Cuisine Academy is a student’s dream and the restaurant attached to the academy, a healthy eater’s necessity. The course was a month-long, 5 days a week, 6 hours a day. We were gifted beautiful Japanese chef’s knives on the first day, handed to us in what looked to be rifle bags which we had to sling across our backs, making us feel like chef ninjas. Ok. Maybe it was just me, but I felt fierce. I met the most down to earth, friendly, knowledgeable people whom I now consider to be new friends.

The month flew by and I learned a lot of how to set up mise en place and to communicate with people in a kitchen. The recipes were pretty basic but it was great to learn different ways of doing what I already have learned. Even though I had prior knowledge, it was still beneficial.

All the teachers were great, each giving every student individual attention and pushing us where we needed to be pushed, very encouraging, whacky and fun! I am definitely going back for the advanced course and look forwrad to sharing what I learn, too.