Monday, June 29, 2009

A Tasty Greek Style Dinner And My Strawberry Crumble Cake!

Starting with dessert first!!!

My Strawberry Crumble Cake with fresh local Vermont strawberries!!

This was actually inspired from 3 different raw vegan recipes I’ve made in the past and our love for fresh strawberry desserts. This is the time of year we are finally able to enjoy an abundance of local organic berries! Strawberries are ready in late June and early July. Here’s my recipe:

Use an 8 inch spring form pan

Crumble bottom and & topping

  • 2 cups of pecans, not soaked
  • 1 cup of dates, not soaked
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt or a bit less

Use a food processor with the S blade to process the pecans and sea salt until broken down into a very rough flour. Then add the dates and process until the mixture becomes crumbly. Don’t over process it.

“Grease” the pan lightly with coconut oil. Then add about 50 to 60% of the crumble mixture into the bottom of the pan. Set aside while you make the cake.

Cake

  • 1 cup of young Thai coconut meat (I had mostly firm meat)
  • 1 cup of unsoaked cashew pieces
  • 1/2 cup of strawberries, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup of thick coconut milk (blend meat and water from one small young Thai coconut with firm meat)
  • 6 good sized dates, soaked for 20 minutes
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 1/2 scraped vanilla beans
  • 2 teaspoons of psyllium powder
  • 1 tablespoon and 1 1/4 teaspoons of agave syrup
  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon of coconut oil
  • 2 cups of strawberries, chopped into small pieces

Use a food processor with the S blade to blend all the above ingredients except for the 2 cups of strawberries. Blend until well combined but not completely pureed. Transfer cake mixture to a big bowl and stir in the 2 cups of strawberries.

Add the cake mixture to the pan. With the crumble left, add about 1/2 of it onto the top of cake and press gently. Cut up a few more strawberries and place on top of crumble. Sprinkle the final bit of crumble on top, still letting the strawberries peak through.

Freeze cake until frozen solid. (about 6 hours or so). Then take cake out of freezer and remove sides of the spring pan. Put cake into the fridge and eat when thawed.

Strawberry sauce

  • leftover coconut milk from above
  • big handful of fresh strawberries or more
  • agave syrup to taste

Blend everything up in the Vitamix until smooth.

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Joyce’s Notes: Wow, this is now my husband Scott’s favorite raw vegan cake of all time! He loved this one!! It’s really delicious and I’m very happy with the results. The only problem is that there is just a small bit left! This one goes quickly!

My crumble is very similar to the how raw vegan pastry chef’s make apple cobbler toppings or fruit crisp toppings. The pecans, dates and sea salt give it a surprisingly authentic baked crumble taste. This is soooooo good and it’s hard to stop eating it right out the food processor! :-)

The cake turned out much better than expected! It doesn’t taste like coconuts were added to it which was another pleasant surprise. The taste reminded me more of a summertime strawberry shortcake flavor! The psyllium powder made it stay firm in the fridge and gave it a much different texture than the smooth raw vegan cheesecakes I make. Scott really liked the flavor and texture! He said he prefers a cake like this to my cheesecakes (which are delicious too).

I hate wasting food so I took the leftover coconut milk and blended it with more strawberries and agave to make a nice sauce. This was very good as well. The strawberries overpowered the coconut flavor. The coconut milk made the sauce a bit thicker and a lovely dark pink shade.

Everything in this recipe can be purchased at our local Co-op, City Market in Burlington Vermont. Psyllium powder is in the bulk spice section. Young Thai coconuts are available most of the time in the refrigerated conventional produce section. (This is the only item in my recipe that is not organic. Organic Thai coconuts are not available anywhere here in VT. You can find them online but they will cost over $8/coconut plus an exorbitant shipping fee.) So for now I make best with what’s available and affordable.

Now for some Greek style raw vegan food made this weekend:

Stuffed Grape Leaves with Mint Cashew Aioli! Recipe is by Russell James and found on his amazing blog. CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE and another photo!

Scott and I love authentic Greek food! Scott’s grandmother Clara is part Greek and used to take him to Greek food festivals as a kid when visiting her in New Jersey. I’m not Greek but adore the food just as much! We both miss that Greek food festival out in Southern California when we lived in San Diego’s North Shore 10 years ago.

Joyce’s Notes: This is another stellar recipe by the great raw food chef, Russell James that was enjoyed by both of us! My mouth waters just thinking about cooked vegetarian stuffed grape leaves with rice! If you read Russell’s recipe, you see that he also loves the original cooked version. So he came up with an incredibly flavorful raw version. Russell believes that anything cooked can be made better raw. Well, maybe not anything, but I’m being won over by Russell as I keep making his ingenious recipes. This was so good!!!

I found pickled grape leaves from Greece in a jar at Healthy Living Market in South Burlington, Vermont. The brand is Gaea. This jar provides A LOT of grape leaves so you only need to buy one jar! Here are the ingredients: early season grape leaves, water, salt, citric acid (which is lemon juice). These aren’t organic and probably not raw but close enough. They tasted fine with the recipe.

The filling is incredibly good. It explodes with flavor and certainly doesn’t taste raw! I could have eaten it by itself as a meal. This was another recipe that was hard for me to stop eating. The ‘rice’ is actually cauliflower processed up in the food processor. The sauce for the cauliflower ‘rice’ consists of olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, lemon zest, cinnamon, lemon juice, sea salt and scallions (spring/green onions). Everything gets blended up in the Vitamix until smooth and then mixed with the ‘rice’. Chopped sun-dried tomatoes (soaked), fresh mint and chopped raisons also get mixed into ‘rice’. This is just so tasty and creative! My only modification was that I used about 1 1/2 cups of packed fresh mint leaves instead of 2 cups. (Scott didn’t want the mint to overpower). My small change worked well for us.

The Mint Cashew Aioli is very good as well and tasted even better with the stuffed grape leaves! This consists of cashews, lemon juice, sea salt, agave syrup, lemon zest, garlic (I only used 4 cloves of garlic instead of 5), water and mint. This all gets blended in the Vitamix until smooth. Russell actually instructs you to blend everything but the mint leaves and then pulse them in at the end. I forgot this step so mine was a bit green. It still tasted lovely.

And how about some delicious Tabbouleh!

Quinoa Tabbouleh! Recipe by Matthew Kenney and found in his book, Everyday Raw.

Tabbouleh (it’s spelled tabouli as well) is another favorite Greek and Mediterranean style salad of mine. The cooked version uses wheat bulgur and Matthew’s uses soaked and sprouted quinoa. This was my first time using uncooked soaked and sprouted quinoa.

Joyce’s Notes: We both liked this as well but it was especially delicious for me! Scott hasn’t eaten a lot of tabouli in the past so I wasn’t sure what he would think of this one.

 

Here’s how I handled the quinoa as I read several different instructions for soaking and sprouting the stuff. I purchased one cup of dry quinoa in the bulk food section on Friday during lunch. I brought a water bottle to work and started soaking the quinoa at about 2pm. When I got home, I rinsed the quinoa and soaked them over night. The next morning, I drained them and let them sit and sprout for most of Saturday. They already had little sprouted tails in the morning! I kept rinsing them every 2 hours or so since I read this is important for the quinoa to taste and smell OK. 

I began the tabouli at about 4pm on Saturday. I let the drained quinoa marinate with olive oil, sea salt and fresh lemon juice for an hour. Then I mixed in the rest of the ingredients. Matthew’s recipe is very good and has very traditional flavorings. He uses diced cucumber, seeded and diced tomatoes, red onion and parsley. Simple and gorgeous tasting! The quinoa is a bit more crunchy than the traditional cooked wheat bulgur but that wasn’t a problem at all for me. Scott commented about the crunchiness but still liked the taste.

Overall, I was delighted with my raw food results and creating Greek style foods this weekend! The leftovers went quickly on Sunday!!

Some Kitty ‘Raw Food’:

I call this stuff ‘Kitty Wheatgrass’. We get this from our small locally owned pet food specialty store. I know it’s probably silly not to grow this grass, but maybe someday!

Hope everyone’s enjoying the summer. Stay dry if you’re in Vermont! Stop by again soon!

13 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you tried the grape leaves! I wanted to try them, but since meeting me, my husband has been a huge fan of mediterranean food (Greek and Lebanese foods are very similar) and I'm always afraid he'll prefer the cooked version. I have all the ingredients, and need to soak my grape leaves (we have a big grape vine we planted 2 years ago -- they grow fast! Yours will be big in no time). I'll tell you how it went :)

    The cake looks wonderful! I saw the picture on Facebook and was hoping you'd share the recipe ;)
    Thank you!

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  2. woops... the person above is me, logged in with some strange account apparently.

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  3. Hi Joanna, yes do keep us posted on the grape leaves. Mine are small right now but I hope to someday be able to successfully pickle ours :-)

    Glad you like the cake photos. Summer is short here and the local strawberries won't be around for long so I see a few more berry desserts coing up. BTW - Scott also loves the Strawberry Brilliance pie from Sweet Gratitude. Might have to do that one again!

    Catcha later
    Joyce :-)

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  4. Is it the one that uses Irish moss? I never tried using Irish moss, I'm still too intimidated by it! ;)

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  5. So pretty joyce! I always love looking at your posts for inspiration in the kitchen. I love greek food and I work part time in a lebanese resturant so its hard being around all the tasty food that i cannot eat. I am going to try out these recipes soon because I miss eating stuffed grape leaves!

    Michal : )

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  6. If your hubby really loves cooked mediterranean food, then maybe the pickled leafs from a jar might be good for transitioning over so there is at least something familiar tastewise and texture wise. My dolmas were a hit with Cooked eaters with the jarred grape leaves.

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  7. Hi Joanna - yes the strawberry brilliance has Irish moss in the meringue topping and the strawberry filling. Yikes! I better order some more from Linda!

    Hi Michal - do tell us how you like the stuffed grape leaves. I also remember seeing a raw recipe on GLiving.....wanna try that too

    Hi Pirawna :-)

    Cheers All!
    Joyce

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  8. The cake looks absolutely scrumptious!!!
    I have a potluck coming up and I want to WOW my friends. If you could only pick your top three dishes or desserts, what would they be? Preferably with out Irish Moss - that stuff is intimadating! LOL. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
    Lilla :)

    p.s. Love your blog even though it makes me drool all over my laptop. ;D

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  9. I am so glad I found you! I live in northern Vermont and I thought I was the only raw foodist (foodie?) around!

    And your Greek feast looks scrumptious!

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  10. Hi Robin! Nice to hear from you! Where in Northern Vermont do you live? We're in Bolton but I work in Burlington. Do you know Linda Wooliever in Worcester? She's the raw guru around here and sells anything you could imagine to make raw yummies! Ahd she's nice too. But I don't know many raw foodies or vegans around here yet. Hoping to meet more. Drop me a line anytime:

    jholsten at gmail dot com

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

    Cheers
    Joyce

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  11. Hi KaliLilla.com, Try the rich cheddar sauce over the marinated broccoli and the caramel dream brownie bars I did a few weeks ago. I brought them to a party which was a 3 hour drive away. Everyone loved the food and couldn't believe it was raw!

    Have fun at your potluck!

    Joyce :-)

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  12. THANK YOU,THANK YOU,THANK YOU FOR THIS BLOG!
    I am in the process of incorporating more raw foods into my families lives.My hubby is a true "meatatarian".(His parents still farm animals.So very hard to completely take him away from meat.But he's willing to try anything I make).However,my two young daughter's (9 & 4) eat mainly vegetarian.It's my hubbys birthday this coming Monday,Aug.31st and my youngest daugther's 4th birthday on Sept.2nd.I'm going to make your "Strawberry Crumble" cake for their birthdays.No more baked cakes now that I have your beautiful recipes to help me change over to raw ones!I am SO looking forward to making the cake!Also going to try your Blueberry pie and the Raspberry/Lemon one too!THANK YOU AGAIN!!!

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  13. Your so welcome C.C :-) So glad you found me! That's wonderful that you're making raw food. Desserts are a pefect way to introduce 'meatatarians' to raw and living foods. My husband used to eat meat too and then turned vegetarian, then vegan and is now working towards a more raw vegan diet. It takes time. Just be patient and keep 'wowing' your hubby with awesome raw foods!

    Blessings,
    Joyce :-)

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