Yale Club of Taipei’s “Yale Day of Fun!”

P1020561   The Yale Club of Taipei hosted a “Yale Day of Fun” at the beautiful law office of Pamir Law on Dunhua North Rd. Pamir partner, Nicholas V. Chen, visionary and self-professed gourmand invited Delicious Taipei to provide gourmet raw canapés for 60 of their guests. I was absolutely honoured for the invitation and very excited since I love my food projects so much. Nic’s company isn’t too bad either 😉 Pamir Law has the sexiest 12-meter long steel table that was constructed inside the building because pieces were too big, heavy and fragile to transport via crane. Ever since I first laid eyes on the gorgeous table, I have fantasized about teaching a workshop there or catering a cocktail party so when the invitation came, I was happy! In order to enhance the beauty of the table, I used plain glass trays which created the effect of the food just sitting on this vast, reflective surface. I decided to make raw beetroot and jicama ravioli with marinated shiitake mushrooms, a spicy cashew/ avo sauce and salted ginger as shown below: P1020556   P1020567

The beets and jicama are marinated in liquid amino and olive oil. The spicy cashew sauce had avo, ginger, garlic, chili, etc to create a sweet, spicy thick cream and the salted ginger added the final flavourful zing to this incredibly balanced and layered canapé. The second canapé was one of my favourites – macadamia nut pâté served on rounds of zucchini with cranberry chutney as shown above but here’s another angle:

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The pate is gorgeous with fragrance of fresh rosemary and the pungent delight of fresh garlic with the tart accompaniment of cranberry. Showstopper. These canapés got lots of compliments which was great as I was a bit apprehensive about Taiwanese’s preference for cooked food over raw. The full bursting flavours in raw food always wins people over.

Finally, for something wickedly sweet but healthy, I made raw chocolate chipotle brownies.

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Inspired by Susan Powers of Rawmazing, these brownies are made with dates, figs, cacao and the smoky gorgeousness of chipotle. It is subtle but warming and as always, when guests taste raw desserts, the questions about raw food in general start pouring in!

To accompany the food, local, women-run wine company, Wine Casa provided red and white Dormaine Auzias Cuvee Monsieur, with aromas of black berries and black currants.

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Ellen O’Neal on the right, of Wine Casa

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Betty Cheng from Pamir Law on the left, enjoying the jicama ravioli.

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More guests enjoying the ravioli.

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With Nicholas Chen, the man who made it all happen! Thank you, Nic and Yale Club for a lovely opportunity to showcase gourmet raw food.

Variation on a theme – Spring Salads

Yesterday I posted “Sweet Jaysus Jicama Beet and Avo Salad”, today I wanted the same salad but I ran out of avo so I made this instead:

jicama beet gorgonzola mint lemon dressing

Still with jicama, gorgonzola and beets but this time with a generous sprinkling of spring onion and an invigorating mint lime dressing.

Here’s the dressing recipe – as far as I can translate a splash and dab:-)

a handful of fresh mint

1.5 tblsp apple cider vinegar

2 tblsp freshly squeezed lime juice

1/4 cup olive oil

a dash of salt

a dribble of maple syrup (optional – be aware of lime/ vinegar balance)

water

spritz everything in the blender until you get a well-incorporated emulsion

jicama beet gorgonzola mint lemon dressing (4)

Sweet Jaysus Jicama Beet and Avo Salad with Gorgonzola and Cumin Garlic Dressing

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This was a “What’s in the fridge?” kinda salad. I’ve been so busy with cheese orders that I’ve neglected to cook for my Beloved who’s working on two big architectural projects. I was feeling GUILTY! Nothing better than a gorgeous salad to repent with.

This is a jicama, beet, avo salad with garlic cumin dressing.

Jicama (the white vegetable in the picture) is a Spanish vegetable which is described as a cross between a yam and a turnip.

jicama

jicama

It’s crunchy, a bit sweet and very refreshing. You could just eat it plain and thoroughly enjoyed it as well. You can find jicama at every fresh vegetable market. If you didn’t see it, you probably just weren’t “looking” for it. I’ve not seen jicama in any traditional Taiwanese dishes so I’m always curious about why we have them so plentifully, here. Make hay, people. Make hay.

So to make this salad:

  • Slice jicama as uniformly as possible
  • Wash, peel and slice beets as uniformly as possible
  • Slice and core avo then rub each slice with lemon juice to maintain its colour
  • Arrange on plate as in the main picture.

Dressing

Can you see the bits of cumin powder, black pepper and garlic?

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  • Finely crush 3 cloves of garlic and put it in a bowl
  • 1/2 – 1 tablespoon of freshly-squeezed lemon juice OR 2 tbls cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp of freshly-crushed black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt depending on how large your salad is. In this picture, I used 1 medium beet, 1/2 a medium jicama and 1/2 avo so added 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp powdered cumin and a few sprinkles of whole cumin for texture and bursts of cuminy-goodness

Lightly hand-whisk.

This dressing was inspired by one of my many searches which revealed Cuban chef, Marciel E. Presilla

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Finally, crumble well-aged gorgonzola on top.

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Disfrute!

Springtime Juice Cleanse!

Breakfast, lunch and supper for the next few days

I’ve made a habit out of doing a serious cleanse once a year. The cleanse of choice was always the lymph system cleanse followed by the master cleanse. I don’t care what some people say about the master cleanse. It works. I know this because I saw it working on my liver and digestive system. What makes a cleanse fail is what you do or don’t do after you get off it. If you break your cleanse with a candy bar, you deserve to have your head checked. Ok, that was an exaggerated example but I know people who do similar such things. Sustaining your diet after the cleanse is of empirical importance. Cleanses to sustaining diets is like yoga asanas is to pranayama. The asanas are practiced to arrive at the breath. The asanas are the cleanses and the pranayama is the sustaining diet.

This time, I got back from a month-long trip in South Africa and shortly thereafter a whirlwind long weekend in Shanghai. I needed to cleanse not only my body but also my mind. My body was in shock from a particularly traumatising experience with someone close to me and my mind was unsettled. All the comfort food I ate at home was weighing me down. And Shanghai, well…you know how it goes. Please understand that I love the food at home and will always return to it when I go back home, but it is no longer the sustaining diet that I enjoy at this point in my life.

When cleansing, it is really important to make sure your body can support the cleanse. It is very dangerous to go from eating steak on Sunday to going directly onto a fast on Monday. It is shocking for the body. It is not equipped to make that sudden switch so quickly. Above that, the lymph system, which drains the body of toxins, may suffer from an overload of toxins streaming out of your body and will itself, not be cleansed and prepared to assist that release. It’s like trying to pour dirty bath water out of a clogged drain hole. Makes no sense and causes more damage. This is why I prepare my body to fast or cleanse by doing a pre-cleanse.

A pre-cleanse usually spanning four days, which includes a mono-diet, slows down digestion, quietens your internal state and prepares the digestive system for a period of deeper rest with no food. Why does the digestive system need to rest in the first place? So that it can go into cellular repair and rejuvenation. So it can heal. Believe me when I say I feel like I can fly after a cleanse or fast.

The pre-cleanse I choose to do is the lymph system cleanse created by Dr. John Douillard. It is an Ayurvedic  4-day cleanse which kicks my butt every time I do it. The cleanse involves a mono-diet of kitcheree for breakfast, lunch and supper and the taking of Ayurvedic powders to clean and replenish the blood, drain the lymphatic system (can you say Ooooow! Pretty painful the first time) and keep the digestive fires burning. Then there’s the daily 20 minute epsom salt bath (heaven) and the lymph massage oil (hell). It’s four days and you’re eating breakfast, lunch and supper but it’s more challenging than a ten-day no-food master cleanse. Why is that? It’s because emotions are stored in fat cells and you are purging those cells so if you have any monsters in the closet, they’re going to come out and play. Let them. They’ll be gone in four days and you will feel amazing. If your relationship survives, all the more power to you. Ha!

Read about the lymph system cleanse and if you need any help, let me know. http://lifespa.com/short-home-cleanse/

So, after these four days of lymph-cleansing, my Beloved and I continued on to our juice cleanse. This was the first time we did it and to be honest, I wasn’t very happy about it because I did not want to be consuming anything at all. The master cleanse does a clean, thorough strip so I thought ingesting juices was going to take away from that.

I was wrong.

orange, green and red

orange, green and red

One of the sinking feelings that I anticipate when being on a cleanse is feeling deprived of food. Mentally, that is the toughest challenge for anyone going on a fast or cleanse, especially for me who works with food. But on the juice cleanse, I did not once feel deprived of food because the raw juice that I filled myself with for breakfast, lunch and supper was giving me MORE than the food I would have eaten would have given me. I felt energized, focused, happy, filled with gratitude for everything and everyone in my life and also – really able to let go of that painful situation I referred to in the first paragraph.

I don’t know about you but for me when I go away on long holidays, it takes a really long time for my mind to switch back into gear when I return. So much of what I do work-wise depends on my own creative energy, thoughts and actions. When I come back, I feel like a baby hippo learning to swim but not quite getting it, kinda wading haphazardly and flopping about in the mud rather inelegantly. That is me when I get back from holiday. My Beloved is very patient and kind and never frowns at me when I loll in said “mud” (our bed) until 9:30 in the morning bellowing for my almond milk. Ah, but this in itself deserves a whole other blog entry. Going on the juice cleanse soon after returning, saved me from that pathetic, lethargic period. I became focused and driven.

Ok, yeah, yeah, yeah I know I’m starting to sound like Mary Poppins. What’s the pain-in-the-butt part of this cleanse? THE JUICING! It is a pain in the butt. Well, it WAS, until we bought a Breville juicer. The Breville was the juicer of choice featured in the perspective-shifting documentary, “Sick, Fat and Nearly Dead” about morbidly obese Australian, Joe Cross who sick with a debilitating disease, on 15 different pills  day, drops his meds and road trips across The USA, talking to people about health, illness and juicing. It is a must-watch.

Breville, the beast

pulp container on the left and 1.2 litre juice jug on the right. The chute is large enough to pulverize a whole, large apple and a large English cucumber

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The juice extractor on the right extracts juice. The froojie on the left makes smoothies out of soft fruits like mango and strawberry

The amount of juiced vegetables you consume in one day is huge. I think we were spending between NT600 -NT800 on vegetables and fruit per day. For breakfast, lunch and supper for two people, that is awfully cheap but if you think of volume and mass – we had cabbages on our couches, beets on the coffee table, lemons near the pot plants and apples coming out of our ears! But, it had to be done. No way could we go shopping every, single day. It was fun, running through different parts of the apartment to get our goods for juicing. I used the opportunity to pretend I was on Masterchef with Gordon Ramsey saying, “Your 5 minutes in the pantry starts…NOW!”

The Breville is something of a beast but a very elegant one. It swallows whole vegetables and fruits down its extra-large chute and as you gently push the whole vegetables and fruits down, it spins juice into its 1.2 litre jug and collects the pulp in a 3 litre jug.

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In goes a whole, large apple

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Now, a Taiwan-size carrot

It also comes with a handy booklet of recipes for the pulp.Very thoughtful. Cleaning it is a cinch, too. You can imagine how happy I was tossing whole apples, carrots, cucumbers and large chunks of ginger into the chute.

So, what recipes did we follow? Some amazing ones from a site called “What’s Gaby Cooking?” In her post,Juice Cleanse 101, she suggested 6 to 7 drinks a day of:

  • GREEN JUICE
  • ORANGE JUICE
  • GREEN JUICE
  • RED JUICE
  • GREEN JUICE
  • ORANGE JUICE
  • GREEN JUICE

That sounds like a lot of juice and going on the size of vegetables available in Taiwan, I only needed 2 to 3 drinks a day. Water supplemented a lot as well and actually made me feel so good. If your other half has facial hair, then he/ she (haha) may need more.

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The green drink has spinach, kale, romaine (I used bok choy instead), parsley, cucumber, apple and ginger

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The orange drink has carrots (LOTS), an orange, an apple (I left this out), tumeric root (I used powder) and I added ginger because I don’t like it sweet

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The red drink has beets, an apple a bunch of spinach, oranges and ginger. This was my least favourite one because it is overwhelmingly sweet. I like to drink my beets with balsamic only. You can just drink more green in place of the beets.

The best juices are the simplest ones without too many components in it. Green is green, orange is orange and red is red and they each intelligently focus on different areas of the body. You give it time to do its thing by waiting at least two hours between each drink and chugging down as much water as you can. Drinking water is crucial. It washes toxins always, moves vitamins and nutrients where they need to be moved and energises and hydrates you.

Why the different colours?

Read about the Benefits Of Green Food

Read about orange foods: Orange Equals Healthy

Read about 10 Healthiest Red Foods

A few days into the cleanse and I was feeling pretty amazing. Now that I have finished, my Beloved and I are sure to have a green, red or orange drink every, single day. As the weather warms up and reaches boiling point in Taipei, I am sure we will be having more than one drink in place of food. I urge you to try it. I would say try it for a minimum of 14 days to see real changes. I did a total of ten days with the lymph cleanse but next time I will do all 14 days on juice.

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If you can understand that this time of cleansing is not a sacrifice but a gift that you are giving to yourself, if you can appreciate the rewards, if you can see the long-term benefits, do it! But if you enter into it with a state of suffering and deprivation in your mind, it will be a job half done, a gift half-received.

Consultancy at Metro Bodhi

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I served this at a dinner for 18 Buddhist teachers who fell in love with it so much that they asked me to teach the chefs at their restaurant, 一沙一塵MetroBodhi how to cook this. This dish, along with two others they liked haven’t made it onto the menu as yet. I will have to go back and re-teach as the teachers still need to get the hang of it.

The chefs and I in the kitchen

The chefs and I in the kitchen

This dish is devilishly easy but so delicious, anyone tasting it would imagine you spent hours perfecting it. I got it off the website of a great Indian chef. Sanjeev Kapoor. I love his recipes. I loved the idea of beets because first, I NEED them and secondly, you don’t much of beets in Indian cooking. My intention was to show the Buddhist teachers a new way to experience Indian food. I’m tired to hell with the typical, commercialised, washed down dishes of palak paneer, and whatever khorma are selling at the below average Indian restaurants at above average prices in Taipei.

When imagining the flavour, think about peppery mustard, nutty chana and earthy curry leaves.

Here’s how:

1 large beet, cut into cubes (yeah, you can in Taipei;) Mr. Kapoor’s original recipe asks for 3 – 4 small ones

Your favourite cooking oil – enough to stir fry

1/2 tsp mustard seeds (I use 1 tsp)

2 tsp chana dhal (I use more, I’m pretty full-on:D)

2 red chili, split length ways, insides removed

10 – 12 curry leaves (is life possible without curry leaf?)

salt

Now the original recipe asks for 1/4 cup coconut but I don’t dig coconut in food unless it’s Thai so I substituted a nice, dark balsamic to add a but of tartness. If you’re inclined towards coconut, go for it.

1 tbls chopped cilantro (I would freshly chopped mint and basil for some complexity)

Heat the oil in a pan, add the mustard seed. Once they start dancing around like Freddy Mercury is singing right next to you, add your chana dhal. I had no idea one could fry chana. This was a very exciting discovery for me. Stir for a bit then add curry leaves and chili and inhale! My word! Curry leaf is just heaven! Add beets and salt, cover and cook. I like my beets to be a bit crunchy so I won’t cook them right through. Once cooked, add balsamic or coconut and cilantro/ basil/ mint.

Beets Porial in the pan

Beets Porial in the pan

Metro Bodhi - really lovely, modern, clean vegetarian food

Metro Bodhi – really lovely, modern, clean vegetarian food

Great olive oil, vinegars and honey selection

Great olive oil, vinegars and honey selection

Here’s some info on curry leaf: Curry tree – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bon appétit!

Bon appétit!