Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Raw Pasha

Pasha is a traditional, originally Russian Easter dessert. It is typically made with curd, cream, raw yolks, sugar and dried fruit. Growing up, my mother made this faithfully every Easter. I didn't love it that much as a child, but began enjoying it more each year. This year I was slightly sad I can't have it anymore (diagnosed with casein allergy + lactose intolerance, it has gotten a lot worse and I can't tolerate ANY milk anymore). I thought I'd try to make a raw version, but wasn't expecting any success. But whoa, this tasted authentic! Just have to share the recipe, even if it sounds strange to some of my  foreign readers.

 Prep time: 12h soaking + 2 days

The curd:
1 C cashews + 0,5C almonds, soaked
1 C water (or more/less)
2-3 tbsp raw honey or agave
insides of 1 vanilla bean (use less for milder vanilla flavor)
3 tsp acidophilus powder (I used this one)

Dried dates, figs, apricots etc
Ground almonds
lemon zest

Soak nuts for 12 hours, peel almonds if they have the peel on them. Boil water and allow cool (to eliminate unwanted micro-organisms). Blend nuts until perfectly smooth with enough water to make a rather thick cream. Blend in honey, vanilla seeds and acidophilus. Set in a clean, sealed glass container in a warm place. A pleasant sour aroma should develop within a couple hours. Finns may notice the scent of "vanilja rahka". It should also thicken significantly (almost stiff!). Once this is accomplished, place in the fridge overnight.

Next day mix with dried fruit, ground nuts of choice and lemon zest. You may add honey/agave if you feel it needs more sweetness. Then fetch a cheese cloth or another similar device for draining the mixture. I used a cloth over a colander and an empty bowl. Place in the fridge to firm up, mine was ready a day after. Although mine didn't leak out any liquid, it firmed up enough so I could turn it over and it held its shape when we cut into it. It will probably continue to sour, so make only what you can eat within 1-2 days.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


It was my husbands birthday two weeks ago, so of course I wanted to surprise him with something scrumptious. My mind went back and forth with what kind of a cake I would make (nice rhyme!), but at the end it came down to what my husband loves most - coffee, nuts and chocolate. He no longer drinks coffee daily, only on special occasions. These days he has also switched to organic coffee infused with medicinal mushrooms (etc Reishi, Cordyceps). Iherb sells and ships these even to Finland with an affordable price, and their flavor is as good as any other regular coffee brand.

Of course, since coffee is used in this recipe it is not entirely raw. What it is, is my own take on a healthier tiramisu. It is my best attempt to recreate this delicious Italian dessert without cream, sugar and amaretto liquor. I do think that once these key flavor ingredients are omitted, the coffee is necessary to keep it resembling the original. If you don't care for it, just omit it. In this case I would add some almond extract to bring out some amaretto flavor in the cream.

Raw, organic almonds
Raw cacao powder
Honey, coconut oil
dash salt and organic vanilla/almond extract

Process almonds into a powder, mix with rest of the ingredients in a bowl. The mixture should be firm enough to shaped on a serving dish with your hands. Taste it to make sure the flavors are balanced, you don't want the base too sweet. Set in the fridge to chill.

Tiramisu cream layer:
3/4 C Reishi Coffee (I use Longreen, better tasting and cheaper than MadreLabs)
2 handfuls of cashews + 1 handful of peeled almonds
Honey/agave, to taste
Lucuma powder (for nutritional value and sweetness)
Almond extract

Soak almonds overnight and cashews for a couple hours. Make the coffee, allow it to cool down to room temperature. Blend everything until smooth, thick creamy consistency. Spread on the base with a spatula/knife. Set in the fridge. This is best when served the day after making, because the flavors continue to intensify and develop. Sprinkle with grated raw chocolate or cacao powder. Enjoy!

This recipe does not specify amounts, because it all depends on how thick a base you want or whether you like your tiramisu in several layers. The precise amounts of the ingredients are best determined by tasting. With this nut-coffee ratio the cream takes on a rich but not overpowering coffee taste. It is however a good idea to add the coffee slowly to make sure you get the right taste and texture. 

A tiramisu like this makes for a nice introduction to raw desserts. It is easy to prepare and it resembles a well-known "regular" dessert in both texture and flavor. I am already planning to serve this for my coffee-loving in-laws next time they come to visit.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Amazing raw sour cream!

Just a brief note to let you guys now I am alive and thinking of what to make for my husbands birthday tomorrow. Hopefully it will turn out successful and make its way into this blog! 

Last night we enjoyed blinis. Well, I have yet to figure out a decent way to recreate the actual blinis in a raw way. The toppings however, have been raw for a long time now. Every time we make them, I try to think of a way to improve the raw sour cream we love to dab on the blinis. Usually I have added acidophilus, and allowed it to sour up in the fridge for a couple days. This time I felt the urge to make blinis ex tempore, so I had to come up with something faster. Here it is (sorry, no pic!):

Quick raw sour cream:
2 handfuls of soaked cashews
1 small handful of your favorite raw sauerkraut, or to taste
dash lemon juice, Himalayan salt, pepper, fresh or dried dill

Blend all until smooth. You can add the dill after blending, so that it won't turn out completely green :)
Check seasoning.

The Blinis:
handful of cashews + water (should equal 5dl or 2 C after blending into cashew milk)
organic buckwheat groats ground into flour or whole-grain buckwheat flour (didn't measure this, you want somewhat of a thick pancake batter consistency)
1 organic egg
Himalayan salt

Beat until there are no lumps, let sit for a while for the flour to "swell up". Add more, if it seems too thin.
Heat the skillet. Makes about 35 small blinis.

Traditionally blini recipes use carbonated beverages and yeast or baking powder, but for health reasons I settle for this recipe. 
Serving suggestion: tuna or salmon ceviche, dehydrator-marinated shiitake mushrooms, marinated veggies and of course heapings of raw sour cream!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Orange fudge brownies with date frosting

My in-laws came for a visit today. It is always a bit scary to cook for your mom-in-law, especially when you don't bake the traditional coffee table "treats" she is used to. I can bake, quite well even, but I just don't care for it anymore. Raw desserts are so much better than dairy and gluten free baking. Like many of you, I would also like to see my family and friends eat better and I try to teach them about healthy eating (subtle hints) when they visit. I gave up the preaching a long time ago, now I just attempt to wow them with how good real food can be.

To my suprise, my mother-in-law RAVED about these brownies, had seconds and thirds and also requested the recipe. Big hit! When we told her, that they are no-bake, she was even more amazed. Mission accomplished.

Orange fudge layer:
1,5 C almonds
200g or little less than 0,5lb dried figs, soaked
1/3-1/2C carob powder
4 tbsp coconut oil + some fig soak water
1-2 tbsp honey, or to taste (feel free to omit)
Dehydrated organic orange peel, to taste (I put 1 tbsp)
2 tbsp lucuma and 2 tbsp maca powder, optional
Pinch salt

Blend until a smooth "ball" of dough. Chop a handful or two of walnuts, and fold in. Shape into a large square on a pretty serving dish, place in the fridge. This should be a rather stiff dough, so only a brief chill in the fridge is sufficient.

Date frosting
10 dates + handful of raisins, soaked
Soak water
2 tbsp lucuma powder, optional but adds great flavor
1/4C carob powder
(pinch salt)

Blend until smooth, spread on top of brownie layer. Chill & Enjoy.

If I were making these for just us two, I would add some ginger to the brownie mix. For this occasion, I thought ginger with "mock chocolate" may have been just little too exotic.. :)