Hello from Hong Kong!
I’ve been neglecting my blog because I’ve been on holiday, but I’m sneaking in a few minutes to write a post. I’ve had lots of amazing food here so far, two of my favourites being a super fresh, green coconut at a thai restaurant and coconut and chocolate raw cheesecakes from Mana! Fast Slow Food. I’m yet to try their raw ice cream and I’m looking forward to checking out Grassroots Pantry this week for dinner, too. I’ll report back. The raw cheesecakes made me think of one of my favourite desserts I haven’t shared yet: Pomegranate Raspberry Cheesecake.
This recipe is almost the same as the Blueberry Cheesecake, but uses raspberries inside and pomegranate on top instead of blueberries. It’s also a blatent rip-off of Russell James’s pomegranate cheesecake concept, except that I use a lot less coconut oil and have a chocolate-almond base rather than a cashew base.
1 CUP ALMONDS 1/2 CUP DUTCH PROCESS COCOA OR CACAO POWDER
1/2 CUP DRIED DATES, CHOPPED
1.5 CUPS RAW CASHEWS 1 TABLESPOON LEMON JUICE 1/3 CUP AGAVE NECTAR 1/4 CUP COCONUT OIL
3/4 CUP RASPBERRIES
POMEGRANATE SEEDS TAPPED OUT FROM 1 POMEGRANATE (I do it like this)
EXTRA AGAVE NECTAR
Line the bottom of a springform cake tin with cling film – I used quite a small one with a removable base for this recipe.
For the base, place all base ingredients in the food processor and process until it all comes together. Your food processor won’t like this at first and will make a loud noise as it grinds through the almonds. Persist. You may need to scrape down the sides every so often and add in a splash of water to help it along. Once it’s all come together pat this into the base of the tin and up the sides evenly. You may need to wet your hands with water slightly to smooth it out. Place it in the freezer until the filling is ready.
For the filling, place all ingredients in the food processor except the coconut oil and blend until smooth as possible (mine took around two-three minutes), then add in the coconut oil in a stream until incorporated. Spoon on top of base and smooth the top with the back of the spoon. Refrigerate overnight or place in the freezer for a few hours. When you’re ready to eat it, press the pomegranate seeds onto the top and drizzle with a teaspoon of agave nectar to make it shiny.
If you are into carrots as much as I am, there’s a great carrot website from the UK full of interesting carrot trivia. For example, in 1600s England, Parkinson, the celebrated botanist to King James comments that ladies wore carrot leaves in place of feathers in their hats – “the light, feathery verdure of which caused them to be no contemptible substitute for the plumage of birds.”
One thing I’ve noticed about myself is that dependent on my mood, texture and surface area makes a huge difference to how much I want to eat carrots. I do love them, (and the massive dose of Vitamin A is always a good thing), but I’m not always in the mood for the heavy crunching; sometimes it can feel a little laborious to get through a plate of carrot sticks.
This recipe uses shaved carrots to break up that heavy carrot density to make it easier to eat and is based on traditional Moroccan flavours. It uses both plumped sultanas and crunchy currants to give a great contrast of textures. A few tips: the fresher and younger the carrots, the better it tastes. And don’t skip the orange blossom water, it’s essential!
MOROCCAN CARROT SALAD
6 – 8 BABY CARROTS 1/3 CUP SULTANAS, SOAKED IN WARM TAP WATER FOR 10 MINS TO PLUMP & THEN DRAINED 1/3 CUP DRIED APRICOTS, DICED 1 TABLESPOON CURRANTS 1/3 CUP FLAKED ALMONDS
BUNCH OF FRESH CORIANDER, LEAVES PLUCKED
1/2 ORANGE, JUICED 1 TABLESPOON OLIVE OIL 1 TEASPOON FRESH, GRATED GINGER 1 TEASPOON ORANGE BLOSSOM WATER 1/2 TEASPOON CUMIN POWDER 1/4 TEASPOON CINNAMON POWDER
1/2 TEASPOON SEA SALT
Peel the carrots, then shave them into long strips using a regular vegetable peeler. Place in a bowl with the other salad ingredients. In a separate bowl, stir all the dressing ingredients together until smooth and then toss through the salad just before serving. Easy!
Salt flakes + chocolate = :¦:-•:*’””*:•.- SPECTACULAR -.•:*’””*:•.-:¦:
And that is all I have to say about that.
You don’t need a lot salt to accomplish the goal, which is to make the chocolate more chocolate-y. The rosemary is to give a deeper complexity to the flavour. I’m not going to lie, the taste of the avocado isn’t completely obliterated – you do get a very slight aftertaste, but it’s barely noticeable.
CHOCOLATE MOUSSE WITH ROSEMARY & SEA SALT
1 HASS AVOCADO, PEELED & DICED 3/4 CUP MAPLE SYRUP OR DARK AGAVE NECTAR 3/4 CUP DUTCH PROCESS COCOA OR UNSWEETENED COCOA POWDER 1 TEASPOON FRESH ROSEMARY, FINELY CHOPPED
1/2 VANILLA BEAN, SEEDS SCRAPED OUT
FOR THE TOP
1/2 TEASPOON FLAKED SEA SALT ROSEMARY SPRIGS
Put all the mousse ingredients into a food processor and blend until very smooth. Spoon into small containers (I made four) and top with a sprinkle of salt flakes, fresh rosemary sprigs and flowers.
Three things get tricky for me every winter:
One – It gets dark quickly and I find there’s only a very small window to go for a walk or run after work while still feeling safe and warm enough;
Two – I don’t drink enough water. So far, I’ve been trying to combat this with big teapots of fresh lemon, ginger and hot water; and
Three – I’m not particularly inspired to eat salad.
On number three, I think the secret is to use ingredients that are in season and to eat them at room temperature. Salads with tomato taste horrible because, well, tomatoes taste pretty horrible right now and who wants to eat something cold, tasteless and unripe? This salad mixes bitter but beautifully purple radicchio, crunchy sweet/tart apples and earthy walnuts. I took it along to my bookclub potluck dinner this weekend on a very cold night and it felt just right.
RADICCHIO, APPLE & WALNUT SALAD
12-15 LEAVES OF RADICCHIO 2 GREEN APPLES 3 STALKS CELERY 3-4 SPRIGS LOVAGE (OPTIONAL, I LIKE THE CELERY-LIKE FLAVOUR) 3/4 CUP FLAT LEAF PARSLEY
3/4 CUP WALNUTS
1/4 CUP OLIVE OIL 1 DESSERTSPOON LEMON JUICE 1 TEASPOON HONEY (OR MAPLE OR AGAVE SYRUP) 1 TEASPOON FRENCH WHOLEGRAIN MUSTARD (YES, I KNOW THIS ISN’T RAW, BUT IT’S WORTH ADDING) 1/2 TEASPOON SEA SALT
A FEW GRINDS OF BLACK PEPPER
Roll three or four radicchio leaves up tightly into a roll at a time and finely slice. Finely slice the green apples (I used my food processor), I like to leave the skin on. Finely slice the celery and mix in a bowl with the lovage, parsley and walnuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients until the honey is mixed in smoothly. Stir through the dressing just before serving.