Monday, January 31, 2011

Raw Beet Soup & Hemp Seed Pesto

Today is Albion Cooks 5th Birthday! I thought I'd celebrate with two raw recipes.

January often finds us enthusiastic about healthier directions. I would definitely like to be healthier and lighter this year. A couple of friends are on a "cleanse" and have inspired me to check out a variety of diets and cleanses. There's an awful lot of differing opinions out there, but everyone seems to agree that the more raw fruits and vegetables you eat, the better. And there seems to be some consensus that a smoothie or juice is gentler on your digestive system, giving your body more energy for other things.

I wasn't too psyched about the idea of smoothie/juice meals, until I found the recipe for a raw "Beet Soup" in Raw Food: A Complete Guide for Every Meal of the Day by Erica Palmcrantz & Irmela Lilja. Given my current love affair with Borscht, this recipe tempted me. And, the result was incredibly satisfying! In addition to great taste, beets are full of antioxidants and considered anti-inflammatory and detoxing.

The recipe is this simple: Peel two beets and dice. Place them in a blender with water and blend until smooth. Add a chopped apple and more water, as needed. Add an avocado and water to desired consistency.

The taste is a wonderful blend of earthiness, sweetness, and creaminess. Most notably, it is substantially satisfying and the vibrant color adds a zing to a cold winter morning.

I highly recommend Raw Food: A Complete Guide for Every Meal of the Day if you are interested in incorporating more raw food into your diet. The recipes are simple and do not require you to invest in expensive dehydrators or juicers - you use your oven or regular blender. Lots of lovely photographs too! I already have my eye on a beet-pistachio raw burger recipe for next time.

I've wanted to make this "Hemp Seed Pesto" ever since I enjoyed it at Cafe Gratitude.

The recipe is adapted from their cookbook I Am Grateful. Hemp seeds are nutritional gold mines: high in protein, fiber, omega 3 & 6, phosphorous, potassium, and Vitamin E. This pesto is easy and quick to make and taste great on crackers or raw veggies or as a vegetable-bean soup garnish. I'm planning to use it as a topping to tofu.

Hemp Seed Pesto
1 cup basil leaves
2 TBS olive oil
1/2 tsp meyer lemon juice
sea salt
1/4 cup + 1 TBS hemp seeds

Place all ingredients but the hemp seeds in a mini-prep and pulse until blended. Add the hemp seeds and pulse to desired texture. This made 1/3 of a cup.

Thanks to all of my readers for visiting Albion Cooks over the last 5 years! Here's to a happy and healthy year!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Millennium Mushroom Class Jan. 2011

Well, first of all, a belated Happy New Year to everyone! Although I've been cooking, I haven't blogged about it lately. Partly due to the fact that my natural light for photographs is gone by dinner time and partly to the fact that I've been making a lot of Borscht. I just can't get enough of the stuff!

That said, it was all about the mushrooms yesterday at my 18th vegan cooking class at Millennium.Taught by Millennium's Executive Chef Eric Tucker, the cooking classes at Millennium are seriously hands-on. The format is that class members break into two teams and prepare different variations of dishes, which maximizes participants' learning opportunities to twice the amount of food they are able to prepare in the approximate 6 hours of hands-on cooking. We worked with a variety of mushrooms including the familiar crimini, velvet pioppine, and oyster mushrooms as well as the rarer black chanterelles, hedgehog, and candy cap mushrooms.

In addition to prepping dessert, the first part of the class involved making two salads that riffed on a classic seafood salad of calamari and potato in a strongly lemon vinaigrette. This involved one of Eric's favorite cooking styles "grilling the heck out of" mushrooms, brussels sprouts and radicchio. The lemony vinaigrette beautifully complimented our two versions of this salad: below the radicchio version:

We also used Hodo Soy's delicious fresh Yuba (tofu skin) to create Yuba rolls stuffed with seasoned butternut squash puree, sauteed mushrooms, and sushi rice:

Here's the lunch plate showing two versions of the yuba rolls, and the radicchio and brussels sprouts salad:

The second half of the class involved two versions of mushrooms pierogies. We used two flour blends of AP with two Eatwell Farm wheat flours: Gaba di Farro and Bianco Fuerte with either crimini mushrooms or a crimini - shiitake blend. The pierogies were boiled then sauteed - here they are in the saute pan::

They were served with a grainy mustard cream (made with cashew cream)and a smoked apple hash:

The other team made hedgehog mushroom stuffed tamales using two different corn blends, served with an Ancho chile Nogata sauce (with cashews and toasted hazelnuts).

Finally, I had noted a black lentil ragu was to be served with beet ravioli on an upcoming wine dinner at Millennium. Being a big fan of lentil dishes, I asked Eric if we could incorporate a black lentil ragu dish into the class. Always super accommodating, I got the opportunity to make a black lentil ragu with black chanterelles, which I have to say was absolutely delicious:

Here's the recipe:

3 shallots, finely chopped
1.5 TBS olive oil-grapeseed oil blend
1/2 TBS each fresh thyme and fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely diced
1 small parsnip, peeled and finely diced
3 TBS tomato sauce
1.5 cups vegetable stock
2 large handfuls of black chanterelle mushrooms
2 cups cooked black lentils
3-4 TBS red wine
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
3 large pinches nutritional yeast
1-2 large pinches of salt and pepper to taste

Heat the shallots and oil in a pan and saute. The black chanterelles need to be cleaned meticulously to avoid grit. Break open the mushrooms and agitate in warm water, draining and re-rinsing 7 times or until there is no sign of grit in the water.Then finely chop the mushrooms.

Add the fresh herbs to the shallots and the root vegetables and saute for a few minutes until the veggies start to soften. Add the tomato paste and the vegetable stock and cook over high heat until reduced by 40 % (10-15 minutes rapid boil). Add the mushrooms and continue to cook over high heat until reduced another 20%. Add the wine and reduce. Add the cooked lentils and reduce until most of the liquid has cooked off. Taste the dish and flavor with soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, nutritional yeast and S&P.

So, how do you work mushrooms into a dessert dish? Sweet ground candy cap mushrooms infused the "crumb" and the "sugar" of a delicious Candy Cap-Apple Pyhllo Strudel with vegan cinnamon ice cream. I really don't have a sweet tooth, but this dessert was really fabulous:

Many thanks to Eric, Ann, Thomas, Warren and Alison for another fabulous cooking class at Millennium.

Here's links to my previous 17 classes:
  • Sept.2010 Cooking Class

  • July 2010 Cooking Class

  • June 2010 Cooking Class

  • Spring Cooking Class 2010

  • Chiles Cooking Class 2009

  • July Cooking Class 2009

  • June Cooking Class 2009

  • Spring Cooking Class 2009

  • Mushroom Cooking Class

  • Holiday Cooking Class

  • Fall Harvest 2008

  • Indian Summer

  • Southern Comfort Cooking Class

  • Spring Cooking Class

  • Fall Harvest Cooking Class

  • Chiles Class

  • Tomato Class