Crackerin’ up

I got re-united with my beloved donutrator ( I don’t dehydrate donuts, the shape of my dehydrator is like a donut) last Sunday, and since I have been hydrating my obsessive needs to dehydrate stuff. The toilet has been smelling of delicious food for the past 3 days, because that is the only place where I am allowed to use the donutrator, since there the constant humming is the least disturbing. It’s no Excalibur, but my dear Rommersbacher which I bought for a fair price from the flea market few years ago, definitely can get stuff dry, crispy and tasty!

 

Dry basics: apples, bananas and rutabaga chips
Dried basics: apples, bananas and rutabaga chips

Besides fruits, I have been experimenting with different crackers. Sadly enough, I am rather bad at taking measurements for recipes. Whats even more sad, is that my appetite is like of an obese weight watcher’s on a cheat day; therefore I often forget to take pictures of the fruits of my labour and the loving care of the donutrator (sounds like a weird diet, right?). However, I do have one or few recipe-ish for you.

Making crackers is fairly simple: just blend some nuts/seed combo, maybe add some vegetables and definitely spices, put the dough in your dehydrator or donutrator or even conventional oven, smell the nice smells and be patient. I prefer making the crackers in the evening, so I’ll have more to look forward to when waking up the next day!

 

O-mega! Chia, hemp, pea protein, veggies - good for more than your bones
O-mega! Chia, hemp, pea protein, veggies – good for more than your bones

Few notes on making crackers:

– Flax and chia seeds (grind to flour) work well as binding agent.
– If you blend for example sunflower/pumpkin seeds, leave some whole ones for extra texture. Chopped sun dried tomatoes give nice crunch, too.
– Vegetable pulp/grated veggies i.e carrots bring lightness to the dough. Remember to squeeze excess liquid out (in a nutbag, for example).
– Use nut pulp from making nut milk! Also sprouted quinoa and/or buckwheat are great for crackers, they make it more like hard bread.

Sweet!

Easy apple chocolate carob cookies:
– 1 dl nut pulp
– 1 medium peeled apple, blended / 0,5 dl applesauce
– few drops of vanilla/toffee stevia and some honey for sweetness
– 2-4 tsp each of cacao and carob powder or as much as you like (or be athletic and use chocolate protein powder!)
– cacao nibs and other nibbles (pieces of nuts, mulberries, gojis) for crunch,
– cinnamon, nutmeg and such for extra flavor

Mix everything together and form a dough that sticks enough (some coconut oil can help with this), and get creative with forming whatever shapes you want and your dehydrator allows. Leave overnight, but do turn them around if you happen to go pee (or snack) during the night. Depending on how moist you want your cookies, keep and eye on them for the perfect consistency.

I will have a picture of these babies tomorrow morning unless I eat them before remembering that I could be an almost proper food blogger if I was a bit more patient. But they smell so good, you’ll understand how hard it is!

 

Vegetables. Shrunk in size yet not in flavor!
Vegetables. Shrunk in size yet not in flavor!

There’s more! If you want to swap your Doritos, Lays (or Taffel here in Finland) or whatever other chips you munch, to something way more interesting, enter the root veggies!

Vegetable chips
– Big carrot (if it is small, it will become tiny. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s less fancy and visual treat)
– Rutabaga
– Sweet potato
– Any other veggies (except for beets. I am traumatized from beets and just cannot handle them, except for the dumplings in Restaurant Day, krhm.)

sauce:
– a nice splash of (apple) cider vinegar
– salt
– cayenne pepper/chili
– powdered onion/garlic
– any other spices you fancy, take your pick
– for possibly desired sweetness, some honey, agave or other sweetener (really not necessary)
– for possibly desired fatness, some coconut oil (chips without fat? Ooooooh, diet food!)

Yep, you guessed it: mix ’em all together, lay on the donutrator (nope, I can’t get enough of that word) and be patient. This stuff crispens out and shrinks pretty fast compared to the crackers, so you might want to watch out for these babies and snack a few samples every few hours. They will keep in airtight container for fairly long, unless you have a good movie to watch. They can also be used in soups or other dishes, for example in salads.

 

Kale chips and friends
Kale chips and friends

 

Who said raw food is just about slurping wheatgrass shots and green smoothies?

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Upcoming: Restaurant Day vol. 10

Restaurant Day “food carnival, where anyone can start a restaurant”, started in Finland on May 21st, 2011, when there was 45 pop-up restaurants in 13 cities. On the 8th Restaurant Day on May 18th, 2013, there was 1701 restaurants in over 200 cities in 30 countries. Not bad for a guerrilla activity that defies the laws and hygiene regulations. Over 45 countries in total have had these pop-up restaurants, cafes or something alike where people sell home-made dishes, treats and drinks. The event has won several prizes in different countries, no wonder why! So far there has been restaurants serving food in backyards, parks, from apartment windows to a yurt!

Porridge and Chaga in Puu-Vallila, 19.11.2011, photo by Heidi Uutela

Porridge and Chaga in Puu-Vallila, 19.11.2011, photo by Heidi Uutela

I have participated in Restaurant Day twice, but then I left the country and missed few of the most recent ones. I have been a huge fan and intrigued by the concept and idea of sharing something that you’ve made with effort and love.

This time, it will be something more than just baking few cupcakes: Raw Food chef/guru Boris Lauser has come from Berlin to serve delicious Asian gourmet dishes at Raaka baari. We started preparing today, and will continue tomorrow and Sunday morning. If I said I was pretty stoked, that’d be an understatement. So far, we’ve made chocolate blueberry cheesecake, dipping sauce for Chinese dumplings, marinade for dehydrated almonds that will be used for pad thai. I had an idea of making a berry crumble pie, and Boris got exited – so I came up with a recipe for that. If it becomes a success, maybe after the restaurant day I’ll post it here! The menu will also include spring rolls, in addition to the dumplings and pad thai. In addition to sushi, those are my favorite Asian dishes! This weekend I’ll be cooking up a storm, smelling and tasting amazing flavors, and learning a lot while enjoying the raw cuisine…and hopefully I’ll get to enjoy the Restaurant Day, too! There will be over 400 restaurants in Helsinki alone.

Marbling the cacao blueberry cheesecake
Marbling the cacao blueberry cheesecake

Yum-mee. Next week: Boris’ raw food courses. Have you heard of/been to any Restaurant Days? Would you consider organizing something?

How I Roll

Sushi, probably the best-known definition of Japan and the Japanese cuisine, is definitely one of my favorite things to eat and make myself. Rather than the conventional white rice rolls and balls topped with all sorts of sea creatures, I prefer to jazz things up a bit. By “a bit” I mean skipping the rice, which technically makes these rolls not sushi, since sushi is based on su-meshi rice. Sushi or not, these rolls are as modifiable as far as your imagination goes, and my results have always been rather pleasing.

Here’s few ideas on What and How to Roll.
If you want your rolls raw, opt for ingredients that require no cooking (duh). If heating is not a problem, then you have more options to choose from. Since there is no need for washing, soaking, boiling and waiting for the rice to cool, the rolls are ready to be devoured quite quickly. Fast food at its’ best, specially if you don’t cut them!

Step 1: “Rice”
First of all, the base of the roll doesn’t need to be rice-like. You can opt for quinoa in stead of rice, or puree or chop some cauliflower into tiny bits to make it resemble rice (add some cashews for extra creaminess). Sprouts, salad or chopped cabbage work as well – the result just won’t be so conventional sushi-like. If you use cabbage, sprinkle it with some salt and squeeze excess liquid out. Mixing some chia seeds in gives more texture, but also helps to bind the moisture. If the base is too moist, it might be hard to roll and the nori might break.

Chopped veggies for filling
Chopped veggies for filling

Step 2. Veggies
Go crazy. Anything works – the more color, the prettier! Avocado gives creaminess, carrots and bell peppers are nice and crunchy, mushrooms are always good…try your favorites, but don’t over-stuff the roll – you’re supposed to be able to actually roll it (or then just eat it like a temaki handroll, but still it shouldn’t be too fat). If you wish, season the fillings with wasabi, pepper or which ever spices you wish.

Few favorite combos:
Sprouts, avocado, fresh mint and mango
Cauliflower “rice”, avocado, cucumber, red bell pepper
Salad, strawberries, cucumber, fresh basil

Cabbage-chia (mushroom powder) base with veggies, ready to be rolled
Cabbage-chia (and mushroom powder) base with veggies, ready to be rolled

Step 3: Ready to Roll
Place a nori sheet on a dry cutting board (or use sushi bamboo rolling mat). Spread your “rice” evenly, leave about 1/3 of the top of the nori without filling. Top the “rice” evenly with veggies, and hope for the best. Moisten the top edge with water, fold the front edge over the fillings. Keep rolling until the end, making a firm tube. Place the seam on the cutting board, and use your best knife to cut even pieces.

Quality nori and knife are essential in cutting the rolls
Quality nori and sharp knife are essential in cutting the rolls!

 

The rolls are best served with tamari/shoyu soy sauce, with gari (pickled ginger). And what’s sushi without misoshiru (soup)? Oh, and edamame (soy beans) would make a perfect appetizer to this. All to be enjoyed with a nice pot of sake and a cup of green tea, of course.

Itadakimasu!
Itadakimasu!

Have you tried making sushi yourself? What is your favorite kind of sushi – conventional, fusion or other?

THE cake

Usually, if “everyone” else is doing something, I try to swim against the current – or at least I don’t admit that I am one of “them”. In this case, (I typoed cake) my defense is that I was happily here in Hong Kong, flippin’ my pancakes just like no one’s business, and then it started to appear in my Facebook stream and blogs all over Finland. I don’t know about the rest of the world, and sharing is caring – especially when it comes to all things yum-yum good. Therefore, I am proud to present you: the ridiculously simple, versatile, (and healthy) Protein Pancake! It has been a while since I posted about food, but I’d say this was worth the wait.

So…to the cake.

Banana pancake, by Dita Margarita
Banana pancake, by Dita Margarita

Ingredients
– 2 eggs (or egg white and one whole egg, or 2 whites and one whole, however and which color you like)
– Banana (preferably ripe, dotted and smushy)
– Coconut oil or butter for frying (or any other oil you wish to use)

That’s it. You mash the banana and whisk (or blend) it with the eggs. How ever lumpy you like it, go for it. Fry on medium heat, flip and munch away!

But…that’s not all. With this simple base, you can go beyond bananas! My imagination has led to the following conclusions for successful additions:
– Oats. You can either roast them on the pan for a nuttier, crunchier consistency, or let them soak in the base mix for a while before frying
– Nuts (cashew, dry roasted peanuts). Roast, and crunch on top of the pancake before flipping
Chocolate chips cocoa nibs. Nuff said.
– Grated ginger. Gives a nice fresh touch
– Cinnamon powder/vanilla or cacao, to smoothen out the banana flavor
– Powder. Your preferred protein powder, herb blend or cordyceps would boost this baby to a new level
– Coconut/almond flour for thicker pancakes: I haven’t tried, but I saw someone did it and apparently it worked since it was worth a blog post
– Chia seeds/quinoa, again for the mouth feel (and added nutrients)

And what comes to toppings….well, use your imagination. I’ll give just few personal favorites: baked fruit pieces (apples, pear), honey (erhm, nut butter…).

This pancake makes a great breakfast, lunch, dinner, post-workout treat or a midnight snack, and seriously, I have yet to discover what could be easier to make. Since I am not a big fan of banana, I will try substitutions for that: maybe avocado or over-ripe papaya would work. And I’ll promise to try my best to get a good picture of the pancakes before eating them.

Have you heard of this miracle before? What is your favorite combo?

Work or Play?

Time in Hong Kong, well, despite being a huge clichè, it flies. My weekdays I spend happy in our Happy Valley office, doing various tasks for Four Sigma Foods. My title is marketing assistant, which suits me pretty well.

Guess how many sachets it took for the perfect shot...
Guess how many sachets it took for the perfect shot…

From pretending to do sports to behind the camera.

My great moment as a photographer
My great moment as a photographer

The photo shoot last week was for our upcoming product catalogue, which my actual task was to write the texts for.
Besides gulping down the Instant drinks and writing to FSF blog about interesting people and herbs, I have been able to try different working methods, and most of all, learn something new every day. We’ve had workshops about self-leadership and self-development, and there’s more to come! Unless my brain explodes from all the new things and good stuff around me, I bet this trainee time will be something quite spectacular.

Life is pretty sweet over here in Hong Kong, and the weather forecast for today is mild 27C! Oh Finland, I miss your snow not.

Banana, coconut cream and sunflower seeds spiked with some brain powder
Banana, coconut cream and sunflower seeds spiked with some brain powder

The recipe for the divine Instant fruit dessert/snack is so ridiculously easy and modifiable that I don’t know if it can even be called a recipe. Aaaanyways, here goes:

Mix coconut cream with your favorite fruits, such as banana, mango, apples or pear. If you want to take the treat up a notch, add some nuts, seeds, toasted coconut flakes, cocoa nibs or whatever you fancy. Finish it all off with basically any of the Instants, I used Lion’s Mane (previously known as Brainpower) which is specially good for your cognition and concentration. Mmmm.