Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Book Review and Giveaway: Practically Raw Desserts by Chef Amber Shea Crawley

Practically Raw Desserts by Chef Amber Shea Crawley
Practically Raw Desserts is Chef Amber's sophomore release, and this sequel is definitely as good, if not better than the original.  What I love most about this book is how flexible it is.  Sometimes raw recipes can be so daunting.  I've read through recipes in some raw cookbooks that can literally take a week (or more!) to make.  Not so in this book.  Amber makes eating naturally and "practically" raw easy.

I have been drooling over so many of these recipes that have such simple ingredients.  And not having to turn on the oven in the middle of the summer is such an awesome bonus!

The Strawberry Blondies (page 75) are simply incredible, and so friggin' easy to make.  I plan on having a batch of these in the fridge always, so that I can satisfy late night sweet cravings with a healthy dollop of fruit and nuts, in a treat that I think tastes kind of like a PB & J cookie bar.  So strawberrylicious. (Sorry, Amber, I just couldn't help myself!)  Another favorite is the Key Lime Pie (page 121.)  I love desserts that star avocado as the main ingredient, so this is a real keeper.

Beyond the recipes are practical tips and techniques for raw food prep, including lots of base recipes for nut milks, flours, crusts, sauces and syrups that can be used in all sorts of recipes, beyond those in the book.  I really love when a cookbook gives the reader the power and confidence to go out and create their own with the knowledge gained from the book.

Also included are ingredient guides, nut soaking tables, substitutions, and lots of other info.  Have I mentioned that I like to take cookbooks into the bathtub with me so I can read them like romance novels?  Well, this one is perfect for that, since there is a lot of info, beyond recipes to read and enjoy.

Overall, I find this book to be a real keeper, even for someone who isn't a raw foodie, or even vegan. The flavors are solid and anyone who is interested in cooking (or in this case, uncooking) would really enjoy this book.

I would also like to share a copy of this book with one lucky reader.  Simply leave a comment below telling me about a memorable experience you've had experimenting with raw foods, whether eating or making it!  I'll start.
"When I worked at the Whole Foods in Venice Beach, a lovely raw chef there used to use me as her guinea pig for all of her new raw creations, she came up with a "Tiny Raw Pizza" that looked absolutely nothing like pizza, but tasted fantastic!  And a tiny little piece was enough to fill me up for lunch, so it was then that I realized how nutrient dense raw foods really are, and a little bit goes a long way."  
I will choose one comment at random on Monday, July 29, at 7 pm PST.  So please check back to see if you have won.


Amber was generous enough to allow me to post one of the recipes from the book for you to enjoy, and if you are a tahini lover, like, I am, than you will absolutely adore these insanely simple little bites of goodness.

Salted Tahini Caramels from Practically Raw Desserts
Salted Tahini Caramels
Grain-Free, Nut-Free

From Practically Raw Desserts: Flexible Recipes For All-Natural Sweets and Treats by Amber Shea Crawley, © 2013. Used by permission.

There are two types of people in this world: those that adore tahini enough to eat it straight out of the jar, and those that do not. I am of the former persuasion. If you are too, you’ll love these tahini-rific little freezer caramels. Have all the ingredients ready to go at room temperature to make for easy mixing.

1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup coconut nectar
1/8 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Combine the tahini, coconut flour, and coconut nectar in a medium bowl and stir until very well-mixed (the mixture will be thick). Pour into a small glass container (lined with plastic wrap or waxed paper for easy removal, if desired) or divide between mini muffin cups. Sprinkle evenly with the sea salt and freeze until very firm. Once frozen, slice into bite-sized pieces with a very sharp knife. Enjoy straight out of the freezer.

Store the caramels in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Yield: 16 small caramels
Per caramel: 64 calories, 4.2g fat (1g sat), 6.1g carbs, 1g fiber, 1.6g protein

Substitution Option
Coconut nectar: agave nectar, maple syrup, or any other liquid sweetener

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen: Sneak Preview Recipe! Lumpiyang Shanghai

Lumpiyang Shanghai served with Spicy Sushi Sauce for dipping

Here is a sneak preview of one of the recipes from my upcoming book, Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen.  It is a vegan version of a traditional Filipino street food called Lumpia.  It tastes great with the Spicy Sushi Sauce (the recipe for a new and improved mayo free version of this sauce is included in the book), as pictured, but it also tastes great seved with a sweet chili sauce for dipping.

Lumpiyang Shanghai
The earthy, meaty flavor of the mushrooms fills in nicely for the traditional beef or pork usually found in this Filipino inspired savory fried pastry.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
10 ounces (about 3 cups) chopped crimini mushrooms
1 cup diced white or yellow onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
pinch salt and pepper
2 cups vegetable broth (I really love the "Better than Beef" bouillon in this!)
2 ounces (about 2 cups, packed) finely shredded cabbage
1 cup green peas
1 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon dried parsley (or 1 tablespoon fresh chopped)
10 to 12 (8-inch) vegan spring roll wrappers
Additional vegetable oil for frying

Heat oil in a pot over medium high heat.
Add mushrooms, onion, garlic, salt and pepper and sauté until mushrooms have reduced in size by half and onions are fragrant and translucent.
Stir in vegetable broth, cabbage, peas, carrots, nutritional yeast, and parsley.
Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes stirring occasionally until most of the liquid has been absorbed.  By doing this, the flavors of the broth are intensified and absorbed into the vegetables.
Remove from heat.
Lay one wrapper onto a flat surface
Add 1/4 cup (2 ounces) of filling to the wrapper, near the edge closest to you.
Fold over 1-inch of both the left and right edges toward the center.
Roll up like a burrito.
Seal the seam with water if necessary.
Repeat until all of the filling is used up.
In a frying pan add enough oil to equal 1/4-inch and heat to 350 F.
Add 2 to 3 rolls to the oil and fry for 3 to 4 minutes, until golden brown and crispy.
Flip and repeat on the other side.
Transfer to a plate lined with a kitchen or paper towel to absorb excess oil.
Repeat until all Lumpiyang are fried.
Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

Yield: 10 to 12 pieces

2012 Copyright/Permissions/Disclaimers

All recipes written by me, Joni Marie Newman, unless otherwise noted. Please feel free to refer to or link back to any of my recipes, but please ask for permission, and remember to give credit when reprinting recipes in their entirety. I do provide links to affiliate programs (such as Amazon) in which I receive a small commission for items purchased. I do not provide paid reviews. All reviews done on products or books are of my own unsolicited opinion. On occasion I may receive a book or product to review. I will note when this is the case, but rest assured, it will not affect the authenticity of my review. Thanks!--Joni