Thursday, May 27, 2010

third Superstore cooking class


This past Wednesday, I had the opportunity of teaching another installment of the "What's for Dinner?" cooking class series at The Real Canadian Superstore in Grimsby. For this class, I wanted to prepare some "Sweet and Simple Spring recipes" that were either primarily raw or vegan, with ingredients that were somewhat seasonal and interesting!

After much consideration, I decided on a variation of Golubka's fabulous Avocado Truffles, a Simple Bean Salad inspired by my sweet Carol, and a modified version of my Auntie Chris' amazing Thai Fruit Salad. These recipes are super quick and easy to prepare and really complimented the incredibly warm and beautiful weather we've been having lately in the Niagara region.


First up were the Avocado Truffles. Although they look elaborate, avocado truffles are surprisingly quick to prepare. This colorful dish works well as an appetizer at a dinner party, or an accompaniment to salad.

½ bunch of cilantro
2 avocados
2 mangos
1 lime
¼ cup black sesame seeds
¼ cup shelled pistachios
Dried fruit (mango, peach, pineapple)
Other seeds and nuts of choice (ex. sunflower or pumpkin seeds).

Cut an avocado in half and take out the pit. Scoop out some of the flesh, mash and add to the filling: combine chopped mango, cilantro, some black sesame seeds, and lime juice. Fill the two avocado halves with the ‘salad’ mixture. Assemble back together and carefully peel off the skin. For the coating, grind dried ingredients with a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder. Bathe the avocado in the coating. Once fully bathed in the coating, slice truffles in half or segments. Serves 4.


For the coating, I used a hemp seed, sesame seed, and crushed pistachio base, as I found that the dried fruit-seed-nuts option, while super tasty, tends to not adhere as well to the avocado flesh (see my previous post about making Avocado Truffles here).  The Truffles turned out quite well, and looked like little ornate Easter Eggs, silently waiting to be sliced and served. I was quite pleased with the overall presentation, and the class really enjoyed the creativity of the recipe.

bye bye Truffles, until we make again

Next up was the Simple Bean Salad. This was inspired by my dear, sweet Carol :). I made this recipe a few days prior to the class, and I just had to share it with the group. The lime juice in the dressing was particularly palate pleasing (that's right, I said it!). The refreshing flavors of cilantro, cumin, and lime juice make this a wonderful salad.

Dressing
¼ cup olive oil
juice of 2 limes
¼ cup chopped cilantro
1 tsp. cumin
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Salad
19-oz. can black beans (turtle beans), rinsed and drained
1 red bell pepper, diced
12-oz. can kernel corn, drained
1/3 cup chopped red onion
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

In medium bowl, whisk together oil and lime juice. Add cilantro, cumin, salt and pepper and mix well. Stir in salad ingredients and correct seasoning. Serve at room temperature. Serves 4-6.

Last, but certainly not least, was the Thai Fruit Salad.

This recipe is inspired from a recent trip to London, England. Passion fruit adds a refreshing element to this sweet and sour fruit salad. Enjoy as a dessert on a warm spring/summer night. (*note: instead of passion fruit, I used some papaya, mandarin oranges, and did not make the lemongrass infusion ahead of time).

2 lemongrass stalks, bruised
juice and zest of 1 lime
1 melon of your choice
1 small pineapple
1 ripe mango
14 oz can of lychee fruit, halved
4 passion fruit

Create a lemongrass infusion by combing lemongrass, lime juice, and lychee juice in a bowl. Cover and leave overnight. Cut melon in half, remove the seeds and scoop out the flesh with a melon baler. Place in a bowl. Peel pineapple, remove core, cube and add to the melon. Peel the mango, cube, and add to the other fruit. Add the lychees, cut the passion fruit in half and scoop the fleshy pulp and seeds into the bowl of fruit, add lime zest and lemongrass infusion. Stir gently to combine. Will keep for three days in the fridge.

I conducted a few, fun little demos with this recipe. First, how to cube a mango, and second, how to bruise lemongrass, which releases the oils from the skins of the grass. To bruise lemongrass, use the back of a knife to press the stalk in several places until fragrant. Bending the stalk is another way to bruise the lemongrass and release its oils.

I just love the vibrant colors of the different fruits in this salad

the wonderful class, enjoying the vibrant food

Overall, these recipes were a great success, and really complimented one another with the use of lime juice and cilantro. I had such a great time sharing these recipes on a wonderful, sunny day! Many thanks to everyone who attended -  I really appreciate all of the wonderful comments about the recipes. My next scheduled class at this location will be on July 7th; Can't wait!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

beer and butter tarts

I'm pleased to announce that barefoot and frolicking has been added to Beer and Butter Tarts, a Canadian Food & Drink Blog Aggregator. As noted on their website, Beer and Butter Tarts is  

"dedicated to the food and drink scene across Canada. By compiling RSS feeds from participating food bloggers, we act as an aggregator to pull Canadian food blogs and writing all together in one place. This makes it easier for readers interested in food and food blogs to find new and interesting bloggers, and helps food bloggers across the country promote their site and attract new readers."

Sites such as this one are a great way for compiling like-minded foodies in Canada in one "poetic jumble" (a phrase Paul McCartney used once in an interview, which I love to use from time to time ;).

This website compiles daily posts from each blog's RSS feed, and lists them on their site. An excellent way to keep people involved in the online foodie blogging community! Do check them out at beerandbuttertarts.com.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

recipe review - avocado truffles

I have a confession to make: I love raw food blogs. I find them so inspiring, and think it is wonderful that blogging really does help establish an online raw food community of sorts. At one point, I was so fascinated with the whole raw food blogging phenomenon, that I even considered writing about it in an academic context for my MA in Popular Culture!

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a fabulous new raw food blog which combines some of my favorite interests: raw food and design. Coupled with a great visual sensibility and striking photography, Golubka is, according to their About section, "a mother-daughter collaboration covering good food, clever design, and some things in between. Dreaming of a family café and the world. Golubka - noun, dove from Russian."

One of their featured recipes for Avocado Truffles really caught my eye. Apart from the absolutely beautiful photography, these are so unique and looked super delicious, so I thought I would give them a whirl. The recipe and ingredients seemed simple enough to manage; mango, cilantro, avocado, lime juice, black sesame seeds, and a melange of dried fruit and nuts for the coating:



For the most part, this recipe was quite straightforward, however I made a few adjustments for my truffles, using pistachios, dried mango, sunflower seeds, and goji berries for the coating. I found that a coffee grinder, while helpful, tended to grind the ingredients into a powdery texture, whereas a more crumbly mixture was needed for the coating. Using a mortar and pestle (or placing the ingredients in a plastic Ziploc bag) to grind./mash them would also suffice.

Some additional tips when making this recipe: make sure to refrigerate the avocados beforehand, and also that they are quite firm rather than soft (makes it easier to handle them while coating them with the mixture, as well as slicing them as part of the presentation). Also remember to chop the mango into small pieces for the filling, as it can be quite difficult to fill the avocados with large pieces of mango. I found that I had some mango filling mixture leftover, which made for a wonderful mango salad.

Overall, I was pleased with my attempt at Avocado Truffles, and would love to make them for a dinner party as an appetizer. They were quite yummy, and would be a wonderful, fun accompaniemtn for crackers. I'm hoping to make a variation of these for an upcoming cooking class. Stay tuned for the results!

Friday, May 21, 2010

thai fruit salad

As mentioned in my previous post, here is a delicious recipe for Thai Fruit Salad. Inspired by my Auntie Chris in England, this fruit salad combines such tropical fruits as melon, pineapple, and passion fruit. This fruit salad holds the honor of my first time trying this interesting little fruit with the fleshy insides and edible seeds. I've made a few minor changes to the recipe, but for the most part, it stays true to Auntie Chris' original recipe.


Thai Fruit Salad
Serves 4

This refreshing sweet and sour fruit salad. can be enjoyed as a breakfast dish or dessert on a warm spring/summer day.

75 ml water
2 lemongrass stalks, bruised
juice and zest of 1 lime
1 melon of your choice
1 small pineapple
1 ripe mango
14 oz can of lychee fruit, halved
4 passion fruit

Create a lemongrass infusion by combing lemongrass, lime juice, and juice from the lychees in a bowl. Cover and leave overnight. Cut melon in half, remove the seeds and scoop out the flesh with a melon baler. Place in a bowl. Peel pineapple, remove core, cube and add to the melon. Peel the mango, cube, and add to the other fruit. Add the lychees, cut the passion fruit in half and scoop the fleshy pulp and seeds into the bowl of fruit, add lime zest and lemongrass infusion. Stir gently to combine. Will keep for three days in the fridge. Enjoy!

Thai Fruit Salad - serve in smaller, individual portions

Also, my Aunt showed me some amazing cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans, and whole nutmeg (mace) that her friend brought back from Morocco. Beautiful quality:


What is your favorite tropical fruit?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

london in the raw

Preparing for my trip to London a few weeks ago, one major thought crossed my mind: what about the food situation?! Granted, I grew up with traditional English dishes and sweet choccie confectionaries (Walnut Whip, anyone?), never being a huge fan, but still enjoying them every once and a while at family functions. Since transitioning to a predominantly raw vegan diet last year, I thought that it may be difficult to eat many raw foods whilst in England.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that one can order a fruit meal on Air Canada. I did so for my departing and returning flight; the fruit meal on the way to England was somewhat lackluster, just a few pieces of melon, and grapes, with a side salad of corn and edamame (I was quite surprised to find edamame beans in such a mass produced salad - I would encounter many a shelled edamame bean whilst on my travels):

somewhat sad fruit salad

On the returning flight, I was most impressed with the fruit selection. In fact, the selection of soaked apricots, prunes, raisins, and raw fruit was almost too much to eat:

raw fruit bar, raw fruit plate (melon, pineapple etc.), dried fruits

Throughout my travels, I was most impressed with the huge shift in food consumption and production. While prepackaged foods still run supreme in most supermarkets and convenience stores, there are many healthy options to be found. Marks and Spencer offers many healthy, prepackaged salads with such ingredients as wheatberries, red rice, quinoa, and sprouted beans and peas.

See left for a wonderful salad I made, mixed greens, spinach, sliced beetroot (yes, prepackaged salad in England can include sliced beetroot, love it), avocado, and sprouted pea and bean medley.Delicious and chocked full of greens; I was so pleased to encounter sprouts on my travels:

avocado delight

During one of the most fabulous days of the trip (a day that included sightseeing around London, checking out many now abandoned sights from the Swinging London era), I encountered an interesting restaurant chain called Eat. I tried their Superfood Salad, a melange of edamame and peas (this combination is everywhere), slivered beetroot, sprouted beans, sunflower seeds and so forth:

superfoods abound near Regent Street, 
around the corner from Savile Row 
 
My next post will include a delicious family recipe for Thai Fruit Salad, complete with passion fruit! Also, I will be updating feeding off ghosts, my new arts and culture blog, shortly with wonderful accounts of my adventures traipsing around London. Stay well and stay tuned for more tales of my traveling in the raw!

Monday, May 17, 2010

back to barefoot

Hello everyone! I'm so glad to be back in this expansive blogosphere with you. As you may or may not have noticed, I've been away from 'barefoot and frolicking' for the last little while, as I was in England for both school (conference) and a mini-vacation. I had the most amazing, wonderful trip, and have so much to share with you, most likely in installments over the next little while! But first, I'd like to go back a few weeks and give a review of one of the restaurants I like to frequent: Raw Aura.

I hadn't been to Raw Aura in quite sometime, and as such, had yet to taste the food made by their new chef, Douglas McNish. Although I'd met Doug at a David Wolfe event in Toronto last year, I had yet to visit Raw Aura since he started working there in the New Year. I was pleased to see that the restaurant was quite busy on a Tuesday afternoon. After exchanging pleasantries with one of the owners and Doug, my man and I settled down to order some super delicious raw food. One of the first things I noticed on this visit was that the menu has changed somewhat (although, not updated as of yet on their website).

I've always been a fan of the restaurant's Kale Chips appetizer, so I just had to try the sour cream and onion variety. These were super delicious and creamy, not too sour, and there was a definite emphasis on the cream and (red) onion. The crunch factor was 'spot on', and made for a satisfying appetizer:

yummy kale chippies

Next, was the main course for lunch. I opted for the Big Salad, which had so many ingredients I've forgotten most of them by now! Some highlights include sprouted beans, alfalfa sprouts, sprouted chickpea hummus (delicious!), sliced apple, yellow pepper, sunflower seeds, tomato, avocado with a savory vinaigrette. I think I would have preferred perhaps less ingredients and the lettuce sliced more thin, but overall, the salad was super delicious. The presentation was equally impressive, as I loved the combination of 'shaved/slivered' apple and carrot atop a bed of greens:

the Raw Aura Big Salad

My man ordered the sandwich (whose official name escapes me, Wonderbread sandwich?), which was served on a sunflower seed and sprouted flax bread and with a side of salad. It looked delicious, and the presentation was beautifully done. White plates are always a nice touch:


For dessert, we decided to try the Strawberry Cheesecake! Since I usually make enough raw desserts to last a lifetime, I very seldom try raw desserts in restaurants. The cakes were just so tempting from behind their glass casing, that I just had to try a piece. It was so difficult to choose from the wonderful options, but we ultimately decided on the SC. 

Served with a drizzle of caramel sauce (with hints of cinnamon - love this), the cheesecake was incredibly creamy, sweet, and satisfying. The strawberries were so moist and really complimented the level of sweetness in the cream base and nut crust. A small piece was definitely more then enough to satiate our respective sweet tooth's (teeth?) after such a wonderful raw meal:

 two forks = double the fun!

Overall, we had such a wonderful time, and it was great to be back for another dining experience at Raw Aura! Overall, I noticed the flavor palate has changed somewhat from the last chef (Meghaen, can never spell her name correctly), and there is a definite shift from more sour and savory flavors to a more subdued, yet still vibrant taste in the dishes. I think this is an interesting change, as it makes raw food more appealing to a wide array of people, rather than just people with particular preferences (like me, I love sour and salty, rather than overly sweet flavors). Nevertheless, healthy food and good vibes all around :)

Do stay tuned to my blog for upcoming posts about my trip to London! I promise you won't be dissapointed :) Have a wonderful day, stay well, and talk to you all soon.