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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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.

Addictive (Healthy) Raw Chocolate Fudge! Be Gone, Winter Blues!

P1060631Thank God I never liked commercial fudge growing up. It tastes so gross. Even though I didn’t like it, somehow this raw chocolate fudge gives me such satisfaction, bite after bite after bite.

Make it. In bulk. It will disappear quickly! But that’s cool because it’s made with 4 simple ingredients that carry great health benefits: nuts, cacao powder, honey and coconut oil. Now go read a label on a box of commercial fudge and feel your tummy turn.

Recipe

Blend two cups of your favourite nuts on medium speed for about 15 minutes until it turns to butter. You will need to stop and scrape down the sides of the blender until you incorporate all the little bits of nut that stick to the sides of the blender. Your nutter-butter production will go through several phases:

ground nut flour – paste – thick creamy paste – oils release – full liquid

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Coconut butter (solidified)

Please bear in mind that not all nuts behave well as butters. Macadamia is a dream to work with, turning into butter before you even reach ten minutes. Cashews are very starchy but turn out a good butter. Almonds are difficult because they turn into a thick paste and don’t easily release their oils. If this happens, do stop blending and just use the paste as you would a butter.

Once your nuts have turned to butter, add 2 tablespoons of honey and raw cacao powder (or more), then blend until it is incorporated. Using a spatula or spoon, remove the thick, sticky mass from the blender into a bowl and give it a final squeeze and mix with your hands.

Pull out your favourite ice cube trays (with shapes) or simply line a square or rectangular-shaped container with plastic and press the fudge mass into the container. Flatten with your palm and neaten the edges so they are flat and straight. Refrigerate while you make the chocolate coating. If you’re using ice cube trays, leave enough space at the top to finish with chocolate coating. I use 1 tablespoon of fudge for each mould. photoChocolate Coating

1/2 cup coconut oil (melted over low heat, double boiler style)

4 tbls raw cacao powder

4 tbls honey

Mix all together until smooth. Take fudge out of fridge and gently spoon the chocolate over the fudge if you used mould. If you used a container, simply pour the chocolate over. Let it set it the fridge for an hour then un-mould or turn out of the container and slice into squares.

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Dull Day, Bright Salad

P1040985William pears have a lovely tartness to them which marry well with the heavy creaminess of Haas avocados. Try this salad for breakfast or lunch.

Recipe:

1 William Pear, sliced into thin slices

1 firm Haas avocado sliced into thin slices

a few mint leaves

a few fresh fennel fronds

a few spoons of dried pomegranate seeds (or whichever dried fruit you have that could pair well)

a few squeezes of fresh lime/ lemon juice

French or Himalayan Pink salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

Slice the avocado, drizzle in lime then place around the plate as in the picture. Slice William pear and add to the plate, bearing in mind, that the more red skin shows, the better the contrast.

Place mint leaves and fennel fronds around the empty spaces then add pomegranate seeds. Squeeze just a little more lime on the plate, add your salt and pepper.

Note: Use an interesting and textured salt so that your palate receives bursts of different flavours in one bite. Don’t place it evenly on the plate. Same with the lime and herbs. If everything is evenly flavoured, it becomes lacklustre.

Enjoy.

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