Bread, cashew parmesan, Food, Fruit, fruit salad, high-powered blender, Pizza, Raw foodism, raw pizza, raw vegan parmesan, Raw veganism, rojak, Singapore, tahini sauce, Veganism, vegetarian cooking class
Time passes so quickly; it is already our last lesson with our second Vegan culinary class instructor V! I will definitely miss her innovative raw vegan recipes and learning vegan versions of Singaporean local favorites. Today we made a raw vegan gluten-free pizza cracker bread base and probiotic cashew cheese which were used to make a raw pizza dish. Then we finished the lesson by making a really simple Fruit Rojak making use of a tahini base sauce.
Crispbread (Raw Vegan Pizza Base)
First up, we began spiralising zucchini and carrot which will go into our pizza cracker bread. Those without a spiraliser can perhaps use a grater to similar effect.
Next, we ground up flaxseed, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds for the nutty component of this gluten-free pizza base. But before that, we had to sieve the flaxseed like so to remove any sticks and stones hidden within. This wasn’t actually very effective yet I can’t think of any effective way to remove the dirt other than to pour out seeds onto a light-colored plate and using fingers to manually sort them out. A little tedious but we removed as dirt as we could.We ground all the seeds separately into a fine powder which produced different colored powders! Which were very visually soothing.Then, mustard powder was also added to give a little flavor kick. Being the curious cat I am, I just had to have a little taste of it, which was just about the most regretful choice I’ve made because it was most GHASTLY as is. Never, ever, taste test mustard powder on its own! Gross! Consider yourself warned!
Once the dry components and veggies are prepped, on to prepping the wet ingredients. V used oranges for their sweetness plus bright orange-yellow color which resembled beaten eggs. To the oranges, seasonings were added. Namely these were lime juice, liquid aminos, salt and a pinch or two of any of your preferred spices (garam masala, paprika, etc.) Blitz to mix and pour into the dry ingredients. Stir vigorously to incorporate as the seeds, especially the flax, start absorbing the liquid and turn quite doughy in consistency.We mixed the spiralised veggies in at this point. They help lighten up the batter and provide extra taste.
Then what’s left is to dump the mixture onto Teflex lined Exacaliber trays and flatten and smooth them out. This was my first time getting up close and personal with the Excaliber dehydrator equipment. The Teflex sheets are definitely made of robust material to withstand continuous use and though thin aren’t flimsy. The Teflex sheets which are sold separately are needed for making dehydrated breads and crepes that require a batter to be spread over a large surface area as the trays themselves are perforated with holes.We smoothed the batter out as evenly as possible making us feel like artisanal cement workers. We even used tweezers to carefully arrange these thin, mandolin sliced bell peppers over the surface! Talk about artwork on canvas!The bell peppers are arranged with little overlapping and pressed down once more with the offset spatula. Then our breads are bunged into the dehydrator to let rip.
Pizza bread base down, probiotic cashew cheese to go!
Cashew nut Cheese Parmesan
This was actually very straightforward if only tedious to prepare for the dehydrator. First, soaked cashews, probiotic powder, salt and water are blended to uniformity. High-powered blenders like the Blendtec really produce smooth, velvety mixtures unparalleled in particle size.
Our cashew cheese mixture was so smoothly blended you couldn’t even feel any of the cashew particles. Normal blenders/ grinders will never match up to this standard. Which isn’t exactly a problem if you don’t mind a little grittiness.Again, more practice paving cement. Smoothing these out was more difficult due to the more liquid consistency. Once the cheese is flattened to satisfactory evenness, the trays are bunged into the dehydrator for a few hours of drying out whence the active probiotics help develop a fermented, cheesy flavor.
Asian Pizza Delight
After their respective dehydration times, this is how our pizza bases and cashew cheese look like. They are both heated at the highest temperature setting (~50degC) for a coupla hours, then the heat is turned for for a longer time period before flipping sides to ensure the bottoms are dried out as well.
I am especially intrigued by the cashew cheese which actually turned into thin, flaky, brittle shards. Can you imagine this from just cashews alone (well, mostly)?? Taste testing both, they have extremely condensed and intense flavors. The crispbread is sweet, nutty and absolutely flavor packed from all the concentrated flavors of the veggies. The cashew cheese is absolutely more-ish as well, with a salty, umami savoriness.
Now to assemble the pizza toppings.
Chiffoning the Kailan helps to reduce it’s strong veggie odor.
This is then tossed together with sliced Shiitakes in a marinade of lime juice, sweetener, plum jam, liquid aminos and sesame oil.To assemble, smear some unsulphured molasses on the pizza base which will help toppings to stick. Molasses is iron-rich, calcium-rich and magnesium-rich, just about the best healthfood for women!
Then carefully stack beef tomato slice and Kailan-Shiitake mixture over the top.The cashew cheese is further crumbled into tinier shards.Then gently sprinkled over veggies as a raw gourmet parmesan topping. Finally, the raw masterpiece is complete! OMG, so damn delicious. The different flavors just mingle and work in mysterious ways on your palate. The dehydrated components have complex, intense flavors which are balanced with the fresh ingredients. Probably not recipes that we will rely on regularly, these gourmet raw recipes however give us a rare glimpse into what flavors are combinations are possible with creating raw food.
Making this rojak is a rather simple affair, unlike the finicky prepwork for dehydrated pizza cases and cashew cheese. The relatively unprocessed nature of ingredients used plus the high water content of the veggies used makes this rojak apt for regular consumption in my opinion. Besides apple, we also had pineapple, jicama, cucumber and guava chunks going into the mix.
The sauce is incredible healthful, making use of raw tahini, a calcium-rich source, compared to the conventional blackish sauce containing shrimp paste used in traitional rojak. Other seasonings like liquid aminos, sweetener, plum jam and lime juice are added to balance out flavors. Generally, you want a good balance between salty, sweet, tart and savory/umami taste.
Finally, its as simple as throwing all the fruit and veggies into the sauce and tossing to coat.Add extra walnuts and raisins for toppings. Serve and attack with gusto! This was chunky, crunchy and creamy from the tahini sauce. The sauce and fruit used also made this dish sweet which makes me think this might be an ideal raw dish suitable for children.
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That’s all for our raw vegan adventures, stay tuned for the next vegan culinary class where we learn the ropes of Indian vegan cooking from our third and last instructor! We will be taught vegan versions of Aloo Tikkis (potato cutlets), Vegetable Masala and Keralan Eggplant Curry. Yum!