A delicious raw cream of mushroom soup

Raw food cream of mushroom soup

Raw food cream of mushroom soup

On Saturday I came in hungry and in need of a quick and satisfying lunch. I had a pack of organic mushrooms that I had bought heavily reduced on impulse from Waitrose the day before and did a little Google for ‘raw food mushroom soup’. This recipe from About.com, seemed simple enough and more importantly I had all of the ingredients to hand.

I started with whizzing up about a 1/4 cup of cashews with 1 cup of water which made a lovely nut ‘milk’ which I plan on making again (for the base of a milkshake) .. I then added my mushrooms, tamari, garlic, onion, lime juice and seasoning, and left the whole lot to blend in my trusty Vitamix until warm.

Despite being very simple, this was soup absolutely delicious and compares well (in my mind at least) to the far more time consuming cooked version. Accompanied with some gorgeous onion bread (recipe from the Rawtarian which is highly recommended) it was a lunch fit for a princess:

mushroom-soup-and-onion-bread

Apple and Strawberry Crisps – magic with the dehydrator

I recently saw some apple and strawberry crisps in a shop and decided that this is exactly what my food dehydrator was designed for. While I have yet to invest in a full blown Excalibur Dehydrator, my £45 basic model from Amazon has opened up a whole new world of raw food beyond salads and soups.

Dehydrating fruit is super simple. And super satisfying. I just sliced the apples and then the strawberries and gently tossed them with a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice to stop them discolouring too much. I didn’t slice them too finely so that they would be quite substantial but if you are after a proper crunch I would suggest going finer.

Strawberries ready for the dehydrator

Strawberries ready for the dehydrator

Apples ready for the dehydrator

Apples ready for the dehydrator

The lid then went on, the dial set to 40degrees and the timer set for 10 hours.

Dehydrating fruit

Dehydrating fruit

I left this overnight and in the morning, as if by magic, I found 2 trays of beautiful jewel-like crisps:

Dehydrated strawberries

Dehydrated strawberries

Dehydrated apple slices

Dehydrated apple slices

To store them I ensured that they were completely cooled and and then filled up small Kilner jars:

Jars of dried fruit ready for munching

Jars of dried fruit ready for munching

I kept the apple and the strawberry separate so that I could try them out in different recipes (buckwheat granola perhaps?), but as a snack, when eaten together the flavours work fantastically. The joy of the dehydrator is how the taste of food intensifies and really dances in the mouth. Given how simple and cheap (at this time of the year) I am pretty chuffed with my investment.

Foodilic: a raw food review in Brighton

It is surprising that there aren’t any raw food restaurants in Brighton at the moment (after the sad departure of Aloka). So when Foodilic opened up a new branch at 163 Western Road in Brighton a few weeks ago I was excited to see that they had a range of raw food on offer. The window into the restaurant gives a nice taster of what to expect inside with a beautiful range of cakes by the door.

Foodilic @ 163 Western Road, Brighton, BN1 2BB

Foodilic @ 163 Western Road, Brighton, BN1 2BB

foodilic-restaurant-front

The great thing is that the menu meets the needs of everyone from carnivores to rawtarians and everyone in between, meaning that groups of friends can meet without anyone having to compromise. The menu today had a good range of raw salads and other (cooked) delectable treats including beef casserole and coq au vin for those who are into that kind of thing:

Foodilic menu on 28.6.13

Foodilic menu on 28.6.13

The rainbow of fresh juices on the counter are also arranged in a tempting way:

Foodilic Fresh Juices

Foodilic Fresh Juices

The very friendly staff are delighted to serve you your selection, and it is all beautifully presented in big bowls behind glass.

Selection of Foodilic raw food salads

Selection of Foodilic raw food salads

Further selection

Further selection

I went for mango and dill salad, carrot and apple, and the mixed salad with berries (strawberries and blueberries) and an almond dressing which was heaven.

Mixed salad with berries

Mixed salad with berries

As well as the caesar salad with celeriac:

Raw caesar salad

Raw caesar salad

The food was extremely fresh and the portions suitably healthy. The mango and mixed berry salad were (perhaps unsurprisingly!) very fruity but in my humble opinion delicious.

The seating is comfortable around chunky wooden tables with bright white walls and quirky details such as this wall art:

Foodilic Wall Art

Foodilic Wall Art

On the way out my eye was drawn to the raw puddings, pizza and wraps that had been freshly prepared and I was sad to have missed these when I first came in.

Foodilic raw desserts

Foodilic raw desserts

To remedy this, I think I may be making Foodilic a regular haunt for this lady who lunches. All in all, it is great to have such a modern and fun purveyor of the raw stuff on my door step, combined with great service. I will be back 🙂

Eating raw food al desko…

After eating so well in Glastonbury I have come back to Brighton with renewed enthusiasm to be more adventurous with my raw food preparation (or non-cooking if you like). So I started the week at work with some delicious raw food falafels with olive, tomato and pumpkin seed pate all wrapped up in cabbage leaves.

Raw food falafels al desko

Raw food falafels al desko

While I am well aware that it would be beneficial to leave the office for my lunch I still find myself at my desk (along with a reported 60% of the working population who eat at their desks every day), but at least with something bright, cheerful, tasty and extremely healthy.

As is my current ritual, this was then followed by a fruit salad freshly prepared in the kitchen at work. The chopping and slicing provides a nice break in itself and the result always makes me smile – colourful and jewel like.

fruit-salad-at-work

Raw Chocolate Love Temple in Glastonbury

During a recent stay just outside of Glastonbury I came across heaven: The Chocolate Love Temple – a chocolate shop dedicated to raw pleasure.

Chocolate-love-temple-glastonbury

We had come down from the famous Glastonbury Tor:

Glastonbury-tor

And in need of a pick when we came across the quirky shop front at the top of the High Street:

chocolate-love-temple-shop

with colourful signage ensuring that you couldn’t miss it…

chocolate-love-temple-shop-sign

On entering we were met with enthusiasm and were invited to sample a range of dark and light chocolate (made with Lucuma) as well as the raw cocoa nibs themselves. There was a wonderful range of shapes and flavours:

More traditional raw chocolate bars

More traditional raw chocolate bars

Orange blossom raw chocolates

Orange blossom raw chocolates

White delight with mulberries

White delight with mulberries

Rose chocolates with petals

Rose chocolates with petals as well as infamous Durian

Raw chocolate Om

Raw chocolate Om

Despite the choice I narrowed it down to a cherry chocolate heart which was divine and made me smile as I munched outside the shop:

A nice touch outside the shop

A nice touch outside the shop

Suitably fuelled, it was then time for a trip to the Glastonbury Abbey ruins:

Glastonbury-abbey-ruins

Truffle sweetness – a luxury ingredient

I was introduced to a new ingredient this week when a friend brought round some ‘Truffle Sweetness’ as an accompaniment to some mighty fine cheese. 20130606-210547.jpg

 

This honey with shavings of white truffle through it was unlike anything I have eaten before: earthy, intensely sweet and savoury at the same time and perfect with some vintage Comte (both from La Cave a Fromage in Hove).

20130606-210646.jpg

 

I now have my thinking cap on to see how I can include this in some luxury recipes as an extra special ingredient. At £12 for a small jar, I may continue to lean on the generosity of friends! But it could make a great gift for that foodie friend who has everything else…

Raw Food Feast and Workshop with Sarah Barber

This Saturday I treated myself to a Raw Food Feast and Workshop with the lovely Sarah Barber from Pure People. The workshop was run in her homely kitchen in Hove and I was joined by 5 other raw/vegan/health foodie people.

When we arrived all of the ingredients were tantalisingly laid out:

Ingredients for the day

Ingredients for the day

While waiting for everyone to arrive it was great to get a chance to flick through someone else’s raw food cook books. I really liked the look of the ‘Uncook cook book’:

Selection of raw food cook books

Selection of raw food cook books

We had been encouraged to arrive hungry as breakfast would be the first thing on the menu. We started with a purple green smoothie – purple from frozen blueberries but still full of green goodness:

Purple green smoothie

Purple green smoothie

The smoothie included sunwarrior vanilla protein powder which I hadn’t come across before:

proteinpowder

Apparently adding protein to your smoothies and shakes helps slow down the release of sugar into the bloodstream helping to avoid a sugar rush. Sarah also uses vanilla powder in a lot of her recipes as a calming background flavour.

The smoothie was then swiftly followed by a demonstration of making almond milk:

Making almond milk

Making almond milk

Which we then enjoyed over some delicious buckwheat granola and grated apple topped with goji berries:

Raw food buckwheat granola

Raw food buckwheat granola

After breakfast, the next obvious step was to move straight onto puddlings! We started with an amazing avocado based chocolate pudding:

chocolate pudding in the making

chocolate pudding in the making

This was followed by a demonstration of making a fruit tart with an oat, nut and date crust topped with a creamy pineapple filling:

Raw food fruit tart

Raw food fruit tart

Next were the main courses with one of my favourite dishes: Olive, Tomato and Pumpkin pate:

Pate in the making

Pate in the making

This has wonderful strong flavours and looked a treat too:

Olive, Tomato and Pumpkin Pate

Olive, Tomato and Pumpkin Pate

Sarah then gave us a useful talk about the benefits of eating a raw food diet (apparently providing a great source of enzymes which we need to digest our food and have also been linked to a long life expectancy). She also covered equipment, tips for introducing more raw into your diet and places to buy the more unusual ingredients.

The fun really started when we got to sit down together and share a lunch of the treats that had been made including nori rolls and cabbage wraps which were laid out for us to help ourselves:

Wrap ingredients

Wrap ingredients

Cabbage wrap filled with pate and sprouts

Cabbage wrap filled with pate and sprouts

Nori wrap

Nori wrap

Tamari seeds

Tamari seeds

All followed by the chocolate pudding which had now set:

Raw food chocolate pudding

Raw food chocolate pudding

Topped with a divine cashew nut cream:

Cashew nut cream to die for!

Cashew nut cream to die for!

Somewhat full from the day, we were then given a slice of the fruit tart to take home, along with a comprehensive handout with detailed recipes and resources. It was a great workshop and I am now feeling inspired to try some new recipes and ingredients.

It was also great to learn about some of the pop up restaurants that are cropping up locally including: Gourmet Girls Pop up @ Fanny’s of Hanover offering vegan and raw food, and Pure Taste in Haywards Heath offering “gourmet gluten-free and paleo-friendly food (that’s dishes that are free from gluten, dairy, grains, legumes and refined sugar!).”

Thank you Sarah, and if you are tempted to join one of her workshops (which I would highly recommend) you can find out more at: http://www.pure-people.co.uk/workshop-dates.html.

60 day cleanse anyone?

Although I haven’t blogged for, ahem, awhile, I have still been continuing my explorations into the world of raw food. This film: Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead from Joe Cross has recently got my interest and even got me thinking about embarking on a cleanse. You can see a trailer here:

Does anyone have any advice they would like to offer? Juicers you would recommend?

Ametsa with Arzak Instruction London review

Minimalist table setting at Ametsa with Arzak instruction restaurant

Minimalist table setting at Ametsa with Arzak Instruction restaurant

I had the extremely good fortune to be invited for a 70th Birthday celebration at Ametsa with Arzak Instruction at the Halkin in London in April.

Pop up restaurants from chefs around the world seems to be a big trend at the moment and who was I to decline? So for one evening I totally set aside all dietary preferences or choices and indulged in the full tasting menu. I share these photos in the interest of sharing creative inspiration and the role of fine dinning as theatre:

1. Aperitivos

Ametsa Chorizo con Mango

Ametsa Chorizo con Mango

Ametsa Arroz con 'Arraitxikis'

Ametsa Arroz con ‘Arraitxikis’

Kataifi con Pastel de Cabracho

Kataifi con Pastel de Cabracho

2. Scallops with Betacarotene

Vieira con Betacaroteno

Vieira con Betacaroteno

3. King Prawns with Sweet Corn

Atillo de Langostinos y Maiz Dulce

Atillo de Langostinos y Maiz Dulce

4. From Egg to Chicken

Del Huevo a La Gallina (when it arrived)

Del Huevo a La Gallina (when it arrived)

Del Huevo a La Gallina (with chicken stock poured over)

Del Huevo a La Gallina (with chicken stock poured over)

5. Monkfish with Red Onion

Rape con Cebolla Roja

Rape con Cebolla Roja

6. Pigeon with shot

Pichon con Perdigones

Pichon con Perdigones

7. Ametsa Moonrocks

Ametsa moonrocks setting the mood for the arrival of the dessert courses

Ametsa moonrocks setting the mood for the arrival of the dessert courses

8. Strawberry bubbles

Pompas de Fresa

Pompas de Fresa

Pompas de Fresa bubbling away

Pompas de Fresa bubbling away

9. French Toast with Mango and Coconut

Torrija de Mango y Coco

Torrija de Mango y Coco

10. Ametsa Petit Fours

Petit four with exquisite macaroons

Petit four with exquisite macaroons

This was probably the most expensive meal I have ever eaten and delighted my visual senses as much as my taste and smell. It has inspired me to make sure that as well as being healthy, I want my cooking to look amazing too. The bar has been set high!