Hello There! It’s been quite some time since I’ve checked in here. I’ve been busy adjusting to my new job, & trying to establish a new routine as my schedule has been very different. One of the hardest adjustments by far is giving up my summer, however, I am grateful to have a full time job in a field that I love & I still get to enjoy my weekends off. For this special “holiday” weekend, me, my Mom & our dear foodie friend Giulia kicked off our “Sunday Supper Cooking Club” where we will meet seasonally to prepare & enjoy a delicious meal together. For our first gathering, my Mom hosted in her brand new beautiful home, which has a kitchen built for cooking parties, & put together a menu that highlighted the crisp & fresh flavors of summer! We met late morning, popped some Prosecco, nibbled on fresh baked croissants, put on some music & our aprons & got to cooking. We tackled one dish at a time, with each of us taking on separate tasks, & assisting each other where needed. And the end result was this beautiful spread…
For our main course, we prepared this delightful “Rawsagna” from Chef Chloe Coscarelli’s latest cookbook, “Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen.” She was inspired to create this dish after her favorite meal at Pure Food & Wine in NYC, which I am lucky enough to have experienced myself. One bite of their “raw lasagne” & my mind was blown, I’d never experienced “raw food” in that way. I am so glad that Chef Chloe recreated this dish! NYC is a far stretch from San Diego, so it’s awesome to be able to make it at home.
The “rawsagna” is made up of beautiful layers of thinly sliced zucchini, a layer of fresh tomato sauce, homemade pistachio pesto, homemade pine nut ricotta, sliced heirloom tomatoes & so on. We topped it with a sprinkle of my recipe for “Raw Pepita Parma” & a sprig of fresh basil. Oh holy wow was it delicious. If you are skeptical about “raw food” I highly encourage you to make this! Isn’t it absolutely gorgeous? Summer produce at its finest! The freshness of the crisp zucchini & tomato, along with the zesty pesto, creamy & decadent ricotta & vibrant tomato sauce makes for a dazzling flavor & texture experience. It’s also surprisingly rich & filling for a “raw food” meal. Mmm, mmm, mmm….Also, if you do not have a good mandoline slicer, I highly recommend it for a dish like this. It made slicing the veggies a breeze! I finally upgraded from a little handheld slicer to the real thing & it made such a difference.
To get our greens in we put together one of our favorite summer salads with green leaf lettuce, fresh Rainier cherries & pistachios with a balsamic glaze vinaigrette. Super crisp & delicious & the cherries add such a nice pop of sweetness!
Since we weren’t intending on a “fully raw” meal we decided to try our hands at making homemade bread. We used Chef Chloe’s recipe for “Fabulous Foccacia” also from her new Italian cookbook. While the thought of homemade foccacia seems quite daunting, it really was not that labor intensive. It does require a couple of hours & several steps – making a “sponge” to activate the yeast & start the dough, then making & kneeding the dough itself & allowing it to rise. Then comes the fun part — punching it down & stretching it out! After letting it rest a bit, you then top it with red onion, kalamata olives & fresh rosemary & finally pop it in the oven.
Let me tell you…it was so worth the time & effort! The flavor & texture was absolutely perfect & the combination of briny olives, herbaceous rosemary, & sweet red onion was wonderful. We served it with a lemony olive oil that was just perfect.
And now…dessert! Just a few days ago one of my favorite foodies, Claire Ragozinno, posted a recipe for an “Avocado Lime Tart with Coconut Macaroon Crust” on her lovely blog Vidya Cleanse. I had just been raving about the raw key lime pie that was served at my friend’s bridal shower, & so when I saw this recipe, I sent it to my Mom & said “WE HAVE TO MAKE THIS!” I am so glad we did! What I love about making raw desserts is that they are so simple. It takes a little planning ahead to soak the nuts & allow the tart to firm up in the freezer, but otherwise its really just a matter of throwing all of your crust components into a food processor, giving it a nice whiz, then adding all the filling ingredients into a Vitamix to whip until smooth & creamy. Then you press the crust into the pan, pour in the filling, smooth it out, pop it in the freezer & a few hours later…voilà!
The macaroon crust was a combination of shredded coconut, almonds honey (or maple syrup), vanilla & coconut oil. The vibrant filling contained avocado, coconut butter, coconut oil, lime juice & zest, honey (or maple syrup) & vanilla paste. Now I am sure you might be asking, avocado? Really? Yes, really! Now if you’ve ever had chocolate-avocado pudding, or “Chocomole” as some call it, then you know that the avocado adds a richness & density, but you really do not taste it at all. Here it adds a beautiful & vibrant hue, but the star flavor was definitely the zesty fresh lime!
To top it off, we made Claire’s spicy chocolate sauce, added a drizzle & a sprinkle of Cacao nibs. Oh my heavens! This was so amazing – rich & creamy, but balanced by the bright flavor of tart lime. And the spicy chocolate sauce added a nice & unexpected kick.
So, there you have it! Our first cooking club experience is now under our belts & what an incredible afternoon it was – filled with laughter, friendship, lots of bubbly, a few kitchen messes (the dogs were always close by to help with clean up!), & absolutely delicious food. I cannot wait until our next one! Until then, I will be back very soon with a giveaway & a book review that I am very excited about. I hope you all had a wonderfully fun & safe holiday weekend.