Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lemon Tarragon Pate Stuffed Squash Blossoms

as featured at The Green Owl Cafe for Raw night

 If you've never eaten squash blossoms, you are in for a treat.  These little beauties are a nice light appetizer in mid summer when the squash plants are profusely blooming. The perfect filling the the blossoms is a raw nut pate.  Now there are many ways to flavor a raw nut pate, and once you make it you will just know how to do it without a recipe, and flavor to your hearts content.  I thought the combination  of Tarragon and Lemon would be nice cool appetizer for a warm evening.

Lemon Tarragon Pate Stuffed Squash Blossoms
1 1/2 C raw almonds, soaked, peeled
3/4 C raw cashews, soaked
3/4 C sunflower seeds
Juice of one or two lemons
zest of about half a lemon
at least 4-5 stems full of tarragon
1-3 T nama shoyu
2-3 T extra virgin olive oil 
(depending if you like salty or not, I used closer to 2T)
black pepper, pinch or two 
1 rib of celery, minced
2-3 T minced sweet yellow onion

After almonds are soaked, the skins should easily peel off.  All you really need to do is just give each almond a gentle squeeze, and it will just pop out of its skin.  However, I have had some bad luck lately with the skins NOT peeling off nicely.  I wondered if these almonds are from a different supply or something, but then I remembered about the California law that passed a couple years ago now that all almonds labeled as raw being sold to grocery stores would have to be steam pasteurized.  So I called the CoOp where I bought them and had them check where the almonds came from, and sure enough they came from California.  I think I will order them directly from the farm next time to ensure they are indeed raw.
To get the skins off the almonds this time, I actually had to take a fresh clean scrub pad and scratch off one edge of the skin and peel it from there.  I actually gave up after a while and left the skins on some of the almonds.  There is nothing wrong with the skins, in fact, studies have shown that antioxidants in the skins and Vitamin E in almonds actually work as a pretty good team of health quest crusaders.  So eating them together as a whole food is the way nature intended, but for some recipes, they work better to be separated first.  The almonds are a very light creamy color, almost white.  SO in recipes where color matters you may want to peel them, like for a Raw Macaroon Cake recipe (I'll add that one here sometime, I promise!) Also, the texture of the skins is more fibrous, and may contrast  the smooth texture you may want for dips and sauces with almonds, and yes, pate too.  I usually add in fine diced celery and onion or other crisp veggies to my pate so a few skin bits here and there are not too big of a contrast.  Also, depending on the food processing appliance you are using, some machines just have a harder time grinding up the skins and you get big chunks of skin in your mix.
I ran all of my soaked nuts through the Champion Juicer with the homogenizing plate on.  But if you have a good blender like a VitaMix or a Blendtec you can simply just use the blender.  Add the lemon juice and zest, and the nama shoyu and olive oil to the nuts in the blender along with the tarragon and pepper, and blend until mostly smooth. Then add in the minced celery and onion by hand.  You could also reserve some of the tarragon and mince with a knife and stir it in by hand to give a little color bits in the pate.  This simple pate can be flavored in a variety of ways, its great with lime, cilantro and some cumin and cayenne.  Try it with parsley, lemon, nama shoyu with fine minced carrot, onion and celery.  Garlic and basil with lemon and balsamic vinegar and fine diced soaked sun dried tomatoes for a Mediterranean flavor. Its also really good with umiboshi plum vinegar and dill with sweet onion and garlic.  Or try it with a bit of chopped dried fruit, like cranberries or apricots, and some cardamom, that would be really good with walnuts.  Get creative with your flavor combinations, you'll be surprised at how many ways to make pate.  Try filling endive boats for an appetizer, or fill celery sticks, or make romaine tacos by filling whole romaine lettuce leaves with Mexican pate, topped with shredded yellow squash and fresh pico de gallo and avocado. There are so many possibilities, just let your taste buds run away with your imagination!  You can also play with the ratio and combinations of the nuts.  Sometimes I like to use pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds alone, or walnuts also work great in combination with other nuts.  Macadamia and walnuts are extra oily, so make sure they are in combination with other nuts and seeds to balance out the greasiness.  As always, taste as you go, start out conservative, and add more to your liking.  Its really hard to make something less salty and less lemony, vinegary, etc., but its easy to lightly flavor your pate, and add a bit more of whatever you think it needs.

With Squash blossoms so plenty right now, they make pretty and tasty treats that will be sure to impress for your next summer get together.  
Both summer and winter squash blossoms are edible flowers, raw or cooked.  Harvest only the male blossoms unless the goal is to reduce production.  Male blossoms are easily distinguished from the female blossoms. The stem of the male blossom is thin and trim. The stem of the female blossom is very thick. At the base of the female flower below the petals is a small bulge, which is the developing squash.  Always leave a few male blossoms on the vine for pollination purposes.   There are always many more male flowers than female.   
Use pruning shears or a sharp knife to cut squash blossoms at midday when the petals are open, leaving one inch of stem. Gently rinse in a pan of cool water and store in ice water in the refrigerator until ready to use. The flowers can be stored for a few hours or up to 1 or 2 days.
They are easy to fill, just use a regular spoon and gently scoop some pate into the blossom until it seems full, but not bursting out.  Arrange nicely on a pretty plate, maybe decorate with a few more edible flowers, and voila!  All there is left to do is share and enjoy!

Monday, August 8, 2011


Previously Posted  on Wednesday, July 22, 2009
As featured at the Green Owl for Raw Night

One of my favorite things to make is Nori Rolls.  Looks like Sushi, you say?  Well, technically speaking, the word "Sushi" translates to "with rice", and since I am writing about eating a raw vegan diet, we will not be cooking rice to put into the rolls.  One of my favorite fillings to substitute for rice, is a raw nut pate.  Raw nut pate is one thing I have not written about yet on this blog.  I don't know why, really, because I make it all the time, and it is so simple, and its a great thing to make a big batch of, and keep it in the fridge, you can do a lot with it, infact, today I made spinach rolls filled with raw nut pate.  OOOH! I just had an idea, make the raw nut pate with dill and onion, and make raw dolmas with fresh grape leaves...hmmm, I will work on that one soon!

Raw Nut Pate
Raw almonds (soaked, and skinned, if you please)
raw sunflower seeds (soaked)
fresh lemon juice
fine diced onion
fine diced celery
chopped parsley
Shoyu or other salt
(sometimes I put kelp powder in)

process raw nuts and lemon juice and Shoyu till smooth (I have been using the solid plate on my Champion Juicer- but a processor will work).  Hand mix in the rest of the ingredients, and youre done!  Taste and adjust flavor if desired.

I collected a nori roll video on the Radical Ways YouTube Channel by Ani Phyo, raw food chef in San Francisco.  She makes a filling very similar to this one, but instead of savory seasonings like I do, she made it with ginger and garlic. YUM!  I think this would be good with some wasabi powder as well.  The best thing about making nori rolls in the raw, is that you can stuff them with whatever you like.  I have made them with chunky guacamole, and with hummus, 
or with just veggies.
Here is a run  of photos to help you figure out how to do this:
So, I know that this particular set of pictures was nori rolls made with hummus.  But basically, all you do is put your filling down on the dry nori sheet. and layer up veggies.  I like to put leafy greens down, this one has some lettuce and mustard greens, but I love to put beet greens and spinach in as well.  Next layer on your jullianned veggies, like cucumbers, raddishes, carrots, avocado, green onions, sprouts,,, the possibilities are endless, even kohlrabi!
then roll up tight.  You can use a bamboo sushi roller, it works great.  Then using a VERY sharp, even a serated knife if you have one, cut up into bite sized pieces.  I like to dip them in a bit of Shoyu (fermented soy sauce, nama Shoyu is unpasturized, so you can still be in the raw.  
Also, if you want to keep in the raw, you can find raw nori, or untoasted nori.

Get creative, and enjoy!  Good Luck!


Previously Posted on Sunday, July 26, 2009
As featured at the Green Owl for Raw night.

I made a big old batch of my favorite raw tabbouleh salad lastnight for a friend and I for a dinner.  She brought along some arugala and we put the tabbouleh on a bed of arugala, it was awesome!  So the reason why this is such a good salad, besides that it is all raw, but because it is all veggies.  The bulgur that would be in a traditional tabbouleh salad in this case, it cauliflower.  I know that cauliflower is not everyone's favorite vegetable, but it is so good for you, its packed with vitamins and minerals, and protien.  And it belongs to the brassica family, like broccoli, and has cancer fighting and anti cancer properties.  Its high in dietary fiber and folate...all around it has a dense nutritional value.  So substituting the cauliflower for the bulger really packs a punch to this salad, making it really Super Food!

All you have to do is core and quarter the whole head, and put one quarter at a time in the processor untill broken up into tiny bulger sized pieces, not pureed. Dont add water, and pulse the processor, or on low, don't over process it, or it will be mush.  Once you have all your cauliflower processed, pour in the lemon juice.  I ended up using 4 or 5 small organic lemons in this salad, because it was so large.  You could easily make only half the batch, but I like to just do it up, and eat off of it for a few days.  Then just chop up all the remaining ingredients, and toss together, taste and adjust.
here is the list of ingredients:

Raw Tabbouleh:
One head of cauliflower
6-7 roma tomatos, diced
a lot of parsley, one whole bunch? fine-coarsely chopped
a few large scallions, or alot of small ones, sliced thin
good hadfull of fresh mint, fined chopped 
one long cucumber, or two smaller ones, peeled, and diced
4 big cloves of garlic, minced
olive oil
juice of 4-5 lemons
black pepper 

I like to chop the fresh parsley and mint first and mix it in with the cauliflower, then add the cucumbers and tomatoes and scallions last, and dress it with olive oil and salt and pepper, taste and add more lemon or salt to it, or not, it may be perfect!
I brough this salad over to some friends with gluten intolerances lastnight.  So as you can imagine, they were very pleased to have a tabbouleh salad that they could have, without the glutenous bulger.  They couldnt even tell it was cauliflower, the flavor of tabbouleh just took over any other cauliflower flavors that may have lingered otherwise.  I enjoy the flavor of cauliflower, but I don't pick it up at all in this salad.  It has the same texture as a traditional tabbouleh!

So a girl friend and I had a quiet diner lastnight with some wine, and we enjoyed this salad over arugala, and had raw dolmas, and a papaya and ancho chile salad as well.  It was a fantastic, flavorful and fulfilling meal!  Thanks, Sarana, for bringing the arugala and the wine, and for making the papaya salad, and sharing!


Previously Posted on Sunday, July 26, 2009
As featured at the Green Owl for Raw Night

I am definately making these again, and again (In fact, these were on the Green Owl's Raw Night Mediterranean theme menu a couple months ago) .  They were so tasty, and so easy!  Lucky for me, I have grape vines in my yard, so in the morning, I went down, and picked about 15 leaves all of a good medium size.  Then I made a sea salt water solution, and soaked them in there on the counter top all day while I worked. 

Soaking them in salt water will soften them up, and make them more pliable for making the wraps, also, the leaves are easier to bite into after they are softened.

The other pre prep thing I did before I left for work was soak some almonds.  

After they've been soaked, drain and rinse, and soak in more fresh water until you are ready to make dolmas!  Soaking almonds breaks down the enzyme inhibitors, and awakens the life force for sprouting.  Raw nuts are more nutritious if they have been soaked.  Also, after almonds have been soaked it is very easy to get the skins off.  No blanching involved!   Just give it a little squeeze, and the almond will pop right out of its skin!  

here is a list of ingredients for raw dolmas:
12-15 medium grape leaves, soaked in sea salt water for hours
1 cup or so of raw almonds, soaked a few hours
a lot of fresh dill
handful of fresh mint
1/2 cup or so of raisins, chopped a bit
5-6 slices of sundried tomatos, soaked and chopped
lemon juice
lemon zest from one lemon
olive oil
sea salt
crushed red pepper flakes
Process the peeled almonds with the lemon skins (to zest it.  I just slice off the skins of one whole lemon, and add it to be processed, but if you have a microplane, you can add in the zest later), lemon juice, and olive oil, dill and mint, and salt and red pepper flakes.  Process until you have a pate like consistancy.  Scrape out into a bowl, and mix in the rasins and tomatoes by hand.  Add more lemon juice if needed.  Remember that the grape leaves are soaked in salt water, so dont add too much salt to the filling, because it will taste salty on first biting into it.  then just lay out a grape leaf, underside of the leaf up, so the darker shinier side will be on the outside of each dolma.

you can see from this leaf, that the tips are still a brighter green, that just means that the salt has not fully penitrated into all the cells, but it is still softened up rather nicely.

Start by folding the stem end of the leaf over the filling, then fold in the sides, and continue rolling up.  Simple!  continue untill all the filling is used up.  I had 15 leaves soaked, and used 12  for the amount of filling I had.
Oh my, were they awesome!  I was wishing I had made more, we ate them all up lastnight, I gave the last two away to my friend Katie, who gave me the idea to try to make raw dolmas.  Thanks Katie, and I am glad you thought the dolmas were heaven! 

I really hope this inspires you to try to make these super simple tasty good for your body treats! 
  It'll be worth it, I promise!


Previously Posted on Friday, May 29, 2009

So here is the Sweet Vidalia Onion Living Dressing I promised you.  
And, oh boy, I am glad I made that promise, because it turned out so yummy!

So like any other dressings I make, this one is the same basic process.  Food processor, plus ingredients, 
so right, here we go:

1 Vidalia Onion
juice of 2 lemons
zest of 1/2-1 lemon
fresh ginger (about 2-3 inch chunk), peeled
about 15-20 sprigs of fresh parsley, stems and all
3+/- Tbs of Agave
2-3 Tbs raw apple cider vinegar
2-3 or so Tbs of Orange Blossom Water
just a small amount of sea salt, about 1/4 tsp or less
Olive oil maybe about 1/3 -2/3 cup?

Start by prepping the onion, and cutting into quarters or so, prep the ginger, peeling and chunking, squeeze the juice of lemons into processor, slice away the zest and add to processor, throw in the parsley and process.  Add the orange blossom water (you can usually get this from an Asian grocer, I got mine at a tiny little Pakistan grocer.), agave and the vinegar and keep processing.  Add the tiny bit of salt to bring out the flavors; this is supposed to be a sweet tangy dressing, too much salt will ruin it.  Then slowly add the olive oil and process for a minute or so to make sure it emulsifies.  Fill your favorite reclaimed jars, top your salads. Yum!

This picture is of the dressing all done in the processor with the bottle of Orange Blossom Water next to it, so you can see if you've never used it.
The salad you see above was so delicious, it was just spinach, apples, grapes, cucumbers and raw sunflower seeds.  Doesn't the salad look so beautiful with the dressing dripping off the cucumber there?  You can see the tiny flecks of parsley.  The dressing took on a wonderful color, it was very creamy in texture, too.  I need to run to the store for more greens, that was the last of it!
Until next time...
Enjoy the lively life!


Previously Posted by Cara Moseley on Friday, July 17, 2009

For this post, I want to talk about the coleslaw I just made today.

    So for the last 4 weeks, I have been volunteering at a CSA (community supported agriculture) and for doing so, I get to take home lots of veggies.  Good thing, too because that is all I am eating right now!  I have been saving a lot of money at the grocery store.  I love it!  So this week, I brought home some wonderful things, many of which I cant wait to get creative with and write about it all and share the goodness!  Well, I got two huge heads of purple cabbage, a few bunches of purple kale, and a bunch of beets, but not just any old beets, I got the Chioggia beets.  These are the sweetest of the beets, and they look pretty cool sliced, and realy cool when shreded!

But lets see, I started with the kale.  Now, I have been reading in a lot of books, and online raw food blogs about wilting your kale with sea salt, but I wasn't sure exactly how, until I found a video on about making a raw coleslaw with wilted kale.  And so I was inspired to make one similar.  Mine of course is a lot more radical than the one I saw on 
 After slicing the kale in thin strips (I used about  8 stalks), sprinkle a teaspoon or less of sea salt over the kale, and massage it in, you will notice a difference in the kale as it softens, and the moisture starts to come out of it, it will seem wetter.  I used Smoked Sea Salt, its my newest fun ingredient in some really great dishes I have made lately.
 (more to come on that subject).
Just set aside the wilted kale until ready to toss in with the rest of the ingredients. 
Then slice thin strips of cabbage, toss in a large mixing bowl.  I used half of an extremely large purple cabbage.
Then for the beets, I used the shredding tool on my food processor.  Oh, just to update you on the food processor, I did finally buy my own, and gave back my landlord's.  I think I used about 6 or 7 small to medium sized beets, shredded them up and tossed them on top of the cabbage.
Then for the dressing, I put everything in the processor, and wizzed until thicker and creamyish:

approximate measurements always:
1/4-1/3 cup raw honey
1/2- 3/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp mustard powder
2 cloves garlic
one very small onion
(it was only like 1 inch by 2 inches big)
olive oil.

Put all ingredients except the olive oil in the processor, and process untill purreed good, then slowly add the olive oil.  How much?  I really dont know, maybe like 1/2 cup or less.  I just pour it in very slowly until it feels right.  I know, I am sorry, I know not everyone can prepare food this way, and I know it leaves a lot to the guessing, but thats how I do it.  If you are afraid to mess it up, just dive in and give it a go.  How bad can it be?  The more you create in the kitchen, you will become more comfortable with just winging it.
OK, notice there is no salt in the dressing.  Thats because there will be a bit of saltiness coming from what was massaged into the kale, so DO NOT add salt to your dressing if you taste it and think it needs a bit,
just wait, it'll be alright!
Toss in the greens, and pour in the dressing, and work it with two forks, or salad tossers, or whatever, but you will need a tool in each hand, the wilted kale doesnt want to mix in very nicely, so you need to force it into submission!  All you domanatrixes at heart, just fantasize while you poke and prode your raw.... ok back to the kitchen.

After you get it mixed up pretty good, now for the extra bits that make this coleslaw so good:
Add in about 3/4 cup of raw sunflower seeds, and about a cup of coconut flakes. 
Toss until well mixed, and enjoy!

I brought some of this to a little dinner gathering tonight, and it got RAVE reviews, and it dissapeared FAST!  I saw a few folks go back for more!  It is really a very unique salad to bring to any pot luck or family picnic, it is so beautiful to look at, and even the children love it!
I hope you try to make this salad, its worth the effort, and really, I was making this all in the last 15 minutes before I had to rush off to work, so this is a very simple and quick dish to make as well.

Mediterranean Kale Salad

Previously posted on:
July 28, 2009
Not only does this salad taste fantastic, it will make you feel fantastic, because it is so great for you body! 
I love Super Foods, and I love to share my ideas in the kitchen, in hopes that somebody somewhere will make the effort to go raw, or at least go somewhat raw.  I love it when people try something I have made raw, and their whole perception of a raw food diet is shattered!  It's just as exciting as the gourmet fanciful feast, infact, for me, it usually is a gourmet fanciful feast!  It isn't more difficult to eat raw foods, infact, I think it is so much easier in many ways.  And, I hardly ever need to wipe down my stove top anymore!  Actually, I have placed my wooden cutitng board over one of the front burners so I can increase my counter space and prep area.  So its a win-win situation.  Not to mention all the energy I have, and the weight I've lost, and my skin....ok, you get the point.

For this raw kale salad, you will be processing the kale the same way as in the Sweet Kale, Cabbage and Beet Coleslaw, so start by de-veining the leaves, and rolling up the leaves together, and slicing thin, so you end up with thin strips.  Then place it all in a big mixing bowl, and sprinkle about a teaspoon of sea salt on the kale.  I used Hickory Smoked Sea Salt...I just love the stuff!  Then massage the salt into the kale.  You will feel the kale start to soften and moisten as the water inside the cells diffuses out (Botany classes did me well, here!).  Once your pile of kale has shrunk to almost half, it is wilted and ready for the next step.  Chop the remaining ingredients and pile on top of the kale.  Once you have everything done, just toss with a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  So good!

OK, here is the list of ingredients for this spectacular and beautiful salad:

Mediterranean Kale Salad
about two bunches of kale, sliced in thin strips.  
one yellow bell pepper, diced
3 medium sized tomatos, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
about 3/4 cup or so of sliced kalamata olives
1/2 cup or so of pine nuts
big handfull of fresh basil, sliced in thin strips
small handfull of fresh oregano, minced 
1 tsp. sea salt
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp of olive oil
Isnt it so colorful??!  So this picture was taken before I added the pine nuts, but I wanted you to see what my approximate quantities of ingredients looks like in the bowl.  I hardly ever measure, however, I did measure the balsamic and olive oil this time mainly because I did not want the balsamic flavor to take over, and be a wet tart salad.  This salad has so many flavors bursting out of it, between the bell peppers, thea basil and the kalamatas, the balsamic is merely to add a touch of sweet/tart, and enhance all the other flavors as well.  Olive oil is very good for you raw (cold pressed, of course).  We need to eat good fats for optimal systems operations.  The key is moderation, not exccesive.  I tend to use a lot of olive oils in my salad dressings, but I also make bigger batches of dressings, so it works out proportionately.  And as always, you may substitute or blend different oils, like flax or hemp seed oils. 

I was in my garden earlier before making this salad, and harvested some Red Russian Kale, and some Purple Curly Kale, and this salad has the mixture of them both.  I am thinking that it was maybe just unter the equivelent of what two bunches of kale looks like in the grocery store, so again, always walk on the light side of things.  Start small, taste, and adjust.  I have been working in the kitchen so long, that I have a real feel for how much is enough, but I have ruined a few things.  I think every great chef has ruined a few dishes developing new and creative recipes.

One tip about mixing this salad: use two forks to blend it all up.  The kale tends to clump together, so you need to force it to blend with the other ingredients.  Just like in the Sweet Kale, Cabbage and Beet Coleslaw.
I was looking around this morning for other kale salad recipes, and found this great blog, called the Happy Foody.  With a name like that, I knew it was going to be worth checking out.  So I hope you do too!  I found this recipe for a Kale and Avocado Salad, that I would like to try my own spin on soon.  Lots of Kale in the garden right now!  So many ways to make it, I love it!