Monday, February 16, 2009

The Look of Love

The heart at rest sees a feast in everything.
~Hindi proverb

Rather than kicking myself in the pants, head or otherwise for slacking on my blog, I will dive right back in and deliver some raw love to my peeps.

Valentine's Day. Most who know me well know that I find the holiday to be kind of ridiculous. We should be loving people every day, and not need a Hallmark holiday to remind us. Plus, what's with all the shitty candy? If I give you a bag of chalky hearts with sappy things inscribed, you may B MINE but will you B healthier for it?

Let me step down from my chocolate-covered soapbox and get down to business. The business of a Valentine's night raw potluck. It truly was the best possible way to spend the evening...with friends I love and food that was mind-blowingly delicious.

What a feast of love!

We started with a theme...Italian. The request was that you made something in that genre, but it wasn't a requirement. What we got was everything from ravioli to stuffed mushrooms to lasagna to tiramisu. Not to mention raspberry chocolate cheesecake, incredible salads and more. Add to that friends that love to laugh, and you've got the recipe for a fantastic night. I have really got to stop using food puns.

So, I'm posting pics from the table of love, and I'm also posting the recipes for my two dishes. Once again, I put so much love into these, and I'm so pleased with how they came out. Raw lasagna and tiramisu, anyone?

Jenny's astonishing stuffed mushrooms.

Jenny's astonishing Jenny Bars. I want to eat that picture.

Jenny's astonishing rawvioli. Are you sensing a theme here?

Elizabeth's decadent raspberry chocolate cheesecake.

Brian's scrumptious salad.

Many Layers of Love Lasagna
I got the inspiration for this from the fabulous Russell James. His lasagna recipe has inspired many to drool on their keyboards. So using that as a starting point, I got to town. My suggestion is to prep all of these layers the night before you make the 'sagna. That way you're not running around like a carrot with its top cut off. Please, stop me.

The cool thing about dishes like this is that you can trade out layers, or take some out. The idea is to get inventive. Use ingredients that offer a variety of textures and flavors, but that compliment each other. Let's layer, people.

Layers. Mmmmm. Layers.

Layer 1: I'm feeling meaty Brazil nut meat
I based this off of Russell's meat recipe, tweaking so my poor, walnut-allergic friend Luke could dig it. I was really pleased with the way this turned out.

  • 1 ½c Brazil nuts
  • 1c sun-dried tomatoes, soaked
  • 2T miso (I used mellow white)
  • 2t dried oregano
  • 1/4 t cayenne
  • 4T nama shoyu
  • 2T olive oil

Russell has agave in his, but I found that I liked the taste of this without it. If you need a bit more sweetness, use the agave; otherwise, the sundrieds do a great job of imparting that sweet, luscious flavor. Just throw it all in the blender. I actually didn't leave this chunky, instead blending it to a creamy/grainy consistency.

It tastes as good as it looks.

Layer 2: Funky Chunky Marinara
  • 1 ½c sun dried tomatoes, soaked
  • 3 dates, soaked
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2c tomato (I threw in a big bag of Roma tomatoes. I didn't measure. I just tasted as I went)
  • 1 ½T dried oregano
  • 1/3c olive oil
  • 2T lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Combine everything except sd tomatoes in a FP. Blend well. Add in sd tomatoes and blend some more. Yum.

Layer 3: Don't pesto me pesto
  • 2 c tightly packed basil leaves
  • ¾c pine nuts or walnuts (I actually did half pine nuts and half Brazil nuts for this)
  • ½c olive oil
  • 1t salt
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1T lemon juice
Combine ingredients in FP. Blend, leaving a bit chunky.

Layer 3: You're so cheesy Alfredo sauce
  • 1.5 c pine nuts
  • olive oil (add enough to give it some juiciness)
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 2 T nutritional yeast (add more if you want a cheesier taste)
  • 1t salt
  • water as needed
Dump the ingredients into your FP. Blend. Blend some more. Blend till you stick your finger in and scream "sweet and holy gods, that's good!"

Layer 4: Pepper me with kisses
For this, I used 2 shell containers of those baby yellow and red peppers that you can get at Trader Joe's. I marinated them in olive oil, a squirt of lemon juice and some garlic, salt and pepper. You can use whatever veggies you want for this. The peppers are sweet and add a nice dash of color, crunch, and compliment to the more savory flavors.

Layer 5: Decadent truffled mushrooms
I was lucky enough to score some really good truffle oil from my aforementioned friend Luke. If you can get your paws on some, I highly recommend it. Though pricey, you only have to use a tiny bit to have a giant impact.

  • 2 containers of mushrooms-baby bellas, button, etc.
  • truffle oil
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

I put the shrooms in my FP, pulsed until they were chopped up, and then gave them a decent coating of olive oil, a precious drop or two of truffle oil, and seasoned with sea salt and pepper.

Layer 6: Popeye's Props
  • Approximately 1 bag of washed baby spinach
  • 4T dried oregano
  • 3T olive oil
  • 1t sea salt
  • Combine ingredients and massage into spinach. Don't expect a tip for the massage; spinach can be a bit of a tightwad.

Noodles—prepare these on the day of assembly.
I grabbed about 5-6 zucchini. I don't have a mandoline, and so instead, after peeling the zuchs, I took a sharp knife and cut them in half, then sliced thin slices lengthwise. (you want them to be thin enough to be pliable, but not transparent, as they will tend to break apart. Marinate strips in about 3 T olive oil and 1t of salt, for about 15-20 mins.

(This is not a school) Assembly
I used a rectangular glass dish for this. How you layer your lasagna is up to you. My suggestion is:
  1. Noodles (overlap them, don't worry about perfection)
  2. Meat layer
  3. Marinara layer (I had leftovers and saved it for the top)
  4. Pepper layer
  5. Cheese layer
  6. Mushroom layer
  7. Spinach layer
  8. 2nd noodle layer
  9. Pesto
  10. Remainder of sauce

You'll get the hang of each layer. Some you can just ladle on evenly. Others, like the meat layer, need to be gently patted in. Have fun!! Put the final lasagna in the fridge for a few hours to set. Whooo!

Tear in My Eye Tiramisu
I started this recipe with the incredible Café Gratitude book's version, and changed it up to suit my available ingredients. So if you want the original CG recipe, um, you can buy the book. :) It's a LOT to type out.

  • 1 16 oz bag of Brazil nuts, soaked
  • 1 16 oz bag of Almonds, soaked [I soaked these overnight and then made a ton of nut milk]
  • 2 vanilla beans scraped
  • 3/4 cup coconut butter (I recommend Artisana)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 1/2 cups dates, pitted and soaked
  • 8 oz of cold-processed espresso or coffee (optional)
After soaking the nuts (people, please.), I made nut milk, straining the pulp in a paint strainer bag and reserving it. Then I took the dates and other ingredients, whizzed them up in the FP until they were creamy and cake batter consistency. You may need to add a bit of water; I used the reserve from soaking the dates. Add the batter to the pulp. Get your hands in it and sing Italian opera. Actually, that's not necessary, but it's fun. Mixing with your hands ensures even distribution of the batter, and also it kind of squishes the liquids into the nutmeat. Grease a springform pie pan (or other deep dish dessert thingy) with coconut oil. Take half of the cake mixture and pat it down into the pan, evenly. Here's where you have the option of adding the coffee. I had some leftover from my parents' last visit. I popped it in a paint strainer and let it soak in 8 oz of water. Then I added some cacao powder. Then poured over the cake to soak it in. Pop in the fridge.

You can only find the cacao mousse during hunting season in Maine. Oh, wait. That's a little animal humor, folks. Snort.

Okay. CG recommends Irish Moss. Mine wasn't ready to use, so I winged this and it came out just fine. I'm recreating this from my memory, though...
  • Meat of 4 young coconuts
  • 1/2 cup dates, pitted and soaked
  • 1/2 cup of cacao powder
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 1 T lecithin
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 1/2 cup coconut butter
  • 1/4 c agave

Blend ingredients in FP until fluffy and chocolatey. Pour on top of cake layer. Put in freezer for at least an hour, until firm. Then add second cake layer.

  • 2 1/4 c coconut milk
  • 2 c soaked macadamias
  • 1/2 c + 2T agave
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 1/8 t sea salt
  • 2 T lecithin
  • 2/3 c coconut butter

Blend thoroughly until graininess is gone and it's all creamy. I popped this into the fridge before setting on top of the last cake layer, just to firm it up. When that's done, spread it on top. Then pop in the freezer. Garnish with a dusting of raw cacao powder (I put nibs in a coffee grinder and used those). Eat and LOVE.


earthmother said...

LOL! Snort! (thanks, I needed a really good laugh) You have been missed!

Amazing. Really. The lasagna out shines the pizza you made, and that was pretty freakin' wonderful.

I'd consider moving to Raleigh just for the potlucks.

Amanda said...

That Tiramisu looks soooo good! I am going to beg my husband to make that for me! Your little puns were super cute, don't stop. lol Thanks for sharing!

~Anastazia~ said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog, your writing, your humor! & wow, the pics & recipes....AWESOME!!!!!!
Glad to know of your blog, & how come the whole entire raw world doesn't know about it & hand out here & leave you tons of comments & let you know what a wonderful gift you offer us????
"I'll be back!" (She said, in her best Arnold voice...)
(Fellow RawFu'er)

Vee said...

Aww, shucks. You guys are fantastic. :)

Adria said...

So glad you enjoyed your weekend!! At least it seems like it. Recipes look amazing. One day, one day I'll have the time to make these things.

zombie squirrels said...

That's a whole lotta good looking food. I'm starving now...

How To Start A Raw Food Diet said...

Is there something you can substitute for young coconut meat for the Tiramisu? I can't get my hands on any and this recipe looks sooo good!

Vee said...


You could just use mac nuts instead; they have a really fluffy texture. :)

Winona said...

Incredible photos! Very awesome. Thanks for taking the time to type up the recipes - that is super awesome of you!! I linked to you from my raw site

Aimee (Bitt) said...

yum yum yum!!!

Angela Leeds said...

Fabulous. Gorgeous. Awesome. I'm ravishingly hungry, now, lol...

Added you to my Blogroll, BTW ( You deserve a *huge* audience, chica... :D