Is it week 4 already?! I am just beginning to get used to the intensity of the course and now it is drawing to an end. I was about to turn in but decided to write this post because this course means a lot and I want to document the journey. In week 4 we did less recipes as more attention was paid to preparation for finals.
Bahian Style Soup was one of the most memorable and tastiest dishes we made. Bahia, meaning ‘bay’ in Portugese, is a northeastern coastal state in Brazil whose culture is highly influenced by African slaves and cuisine is no exception. The soup pays tribute to the country’s emblematic dish, moqueca, a seafood stew of fish or shellfish in a spice-laden luxurious broth of coconut milk and dendê or African palm oil, tomatoes, cilantro and chilies. We practiced extracting coconut milk from dried coconut using a 1:2 ratio of coconut to water. This raw and vegan version uses avocado in place of palm oil for creaminess. The mingle of flavors and floral notes from coconut reminded me of Thai tom yum soup, only more decadent.
Buckwheat Granola and Coconut Yogurt Parfait was a rework of the breakfast classic. It was not my first time sprouting buckwheat but usually I would blend it in smoothies rather than to dry it. To make tasty raw granola, you coat the sprouted groats in a fruit-sweetened paste and then dry it. We were given the freedom to choose our own flavour, and I went with a fruity apricot and matcha. Matcha added a hint of grassy undertone that contrasted nicely with sweet apricots. However, what stole the limelight of this dish was, indubitably, coconut yogurt. More on making homemade coconut yogurt at this post!
Creating a cheese plate was entering foreign territory for me. In Asia, the general public’s concept of cheese is limited to using it as a sandwich filling, or garnish, and not enjoyed as it is. After some reading, I learnt this mnemonic when pairing cheeses to create delightfully diverse plate: “something old, something new, something goat and something blue.” There should be a variety of cheeses of differing strengths, something familiar and something exotic or unexpected. Accompanying vehicles for serving cheese include fruits, crackers, herbs and nuts. Then there is the serveware also; black slate provides a wonderful contrast to display cheeses and with cheese names handwritten in chalk, it provides a very welcoming yet sophisticated feel. However for this exercise, I made do with a large white porcelain plate.
My raw and vegan fermented cheese plate consisted on nut cheese, plain chia crackers and sesame chia crackers, peares, plums, basil, sage, olives and walnuts. Both the fermented cheeses – sage peppercorn ‘blue’ cheese and sundried tomato and peppercorn cheese – turned out mediocre. It did not particularly have a cheese taste; perhaps it takes a few tries to find out the optimum conditions for culturing nut cheese. Nevertheless, it was fun testing and tasting the limitless permutations of cheese and accompaniments.
Banana Chia Chai Pudding is an example of an easy raw food for everyday. Essentially, it was chia seeds soaked in banana almond milk and topped with chai cashew cream. To make it look more attractive, I flavored half the pudding with carob and plated the two flavors on a slant, inspired by a picture of jelly shots I had come across. On a side note, carob goes very well with chai spices.
We exercised our creativity in the Create Your Own Salad and Vinaigrette exercise. I am head over heels with the nori vinaigrette I created. It turned out more like a dip with the nori, but it was a super sharp vinaigrette that inverted the classic 3:1 ratio rule of oil to vinegar. It had brown rice vinegar, mirin, and lemon juice. The salad itself did not turn out too good. I handled the mightly burdock for the first time too but it was a culinary disaster raw. Too fibrous.
- 2 nori sheets
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon honey
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- Place all the ingredients for the vinaigrette except for the oil into a blender. Blend until smooth and then slowly incorporate the oil to form an emulsion. Adjust the seasoning if needed.
On the second attempt, I finally managed to get some decent wrap-pable coconut wrappers for kimchi dumplings. This was no meat feat considering it was done in the conventional oven at low temperature, overnight. The wrappers had an interesting chewy texture that melted into the cashew kimchi paste, and at the same time, the fattiness of cashew and coconut helped to tame the fiery kimchi. Heavenly would be an understatement.
I had spent the whole Sunday conceiving my final menu. I have attached a picture. The theme is a rawyal christmas, and hopefully I will indeed execute these dishes for Christmas this year!