Contributing Monkie GreenChef Staff Monkies
Published on June 15, 2009
GreenChefs Recommended Recipe Book Entertaining in the Raw
This book is gorgeous, first of all. It’s one of those books that you can certainty judge by it’s cover. Miha Matei, who did the photography for the book did an amazing job, and the design and styling is beautiful as well. The colors and richness of the cover photo and text tells you a lot about what the book is about and filled with. It is happy and colorful, but with a sophisticated and refined edge, reminiscent of a modern Matrix Varenna kitchen. Very New York.
The book is layed out in a unique fashion. Instead of the contents being organized by the type of meal, the chapters are divided by the style of the meal. Each chapter represents a different inspiration of types of recipes and food combinations. The first chapter, Blossom, is all about the seasonal array of food blossoming in the spring and summer, crafted into light and refreshing dishes. It’s filled with recipes featuring tomatoes, cucumbers, squash blossoms, basil, cantaloupe, watermelon, plums, micro-greens, avocado, apricots, fava beans, raspberries, and many more mouth watering foods.
The Contemporary chapter is filled with dishes that are uniquely creative and sophisticated in design and presentation. Visually, this chapter is stunning, filled with stylized dishes that stand out with vibrant light and dark contrasting colors. The Black Sesame and White Coconut Dumblings with Creamy Miso Sauce is particularly ‘Contemporary’ and vibrant, with white coconut wraps nestled inside black coconut wraps, scrunched together with the tie of a green chive that sits on top of a light brown miso sauce on an all white plate. There is also a Jackson Pollock inspired raviolo with arugula pesto that uses red and green juices to artfully splatter rich colors into the canvas of beige coconut wraps, much like a Jackson Pollock painting. And there is a Shitake Ravioli with broccoli rabe, balsamic fig puree, and ginger cream. I also love the Heirloom tomatoes, warm “cheese” crisps, and melting olive oil “ice cream”. The various white, yellow, orange and green tomatoes are sliced into thick squares that look like translucent pastel colored frosted sea glass that gets washed up on the shore of the beach.
The next chapter is titled “Inspiration”, as though what we’ve seen so far hasn’t been inspiring enough! This chapter is full of amazing looking dishes that make creative use of cacao and other exotic ingredients like saffron. There is a Bitter broccoli ravioli and pine nut “cheese” in Chocolate wrappers with orange powder and pinot noir sauce. It looks insanely good and is a vibrant rich brown and
burgundy color. There is also Chocolate chili tacos, cacao crepes, chocolate cake, and a Frozen mint panna cotta with marshmallow whip, vanilla wafers, and bittersweet cacao sauce.
Next we get to Spice, the chapter on sensually enticing and flavory sharp spices like coriander, saffron and white cardamon. This chapter looks very promising for mouth watering recipes that are packed with flavor. I love these names. Citrus tart, raspberry leaf-infused cherry sauce, and rosewater “ice cream” – Heirloom tomato pave and preserved lemon dressing with green olives and pine nuts – Avocado tartare with tamarind-glazed cherry tomatoes, black sesame pappadam, and curry froth – Sweet pea samosas, mint-almond chutney, and pickled lime “yogurt”, etc.
The chapter after that is called Radiance, with dishes that are best served on a romantic summer night, or casual backyard lunch party. Well, maybe not that casual, unless it’s on the upper east side. These dishes are still very gourmet and sophisticated, just lighter on the palate, leaving you with a radiant glow. Some of the recipes in this section are – Roasted sweet pepper soup, basil manti, and hazelnut “yogurt” – Spinach and beet ravioli, cashew “ricotta,” wilted spinach with basil, and wine pear sauce, orange-pineapple flan and lime syrup – Golden and green cannelloni with sun-dried tomato-ginger marinara, mint-basil pistachio pesto, green zebra tomatoes, and pine nut and black truffle “ricotta.
The next chapter is Revolution, and starts off with an inspiring truthful quote by William James. “The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.” This chapters theme is perhaps the most apt in relation to the entire book and genre of actual gourmet, raw, organic and plant based cuisine. These chefs are truly revolutionizing what is possible both with fine cuisine and with healthy raw ingredients, turning it into something never seen before or taken to these heights of creativity. Raw cuisine has certainly come a long way and has struggled to get a foothold into mainstream acceptance, which it is now doing with excellerated speed and evolution. Anyways, this chapter reflects the inspiration of traditional old-world cuisine of many nations, revolutionized with a raw modern twist. Here are some of the super long and craving inducing recipe titles from this section. Empanada de espinaca y salsa de tomate: empandanda with spinach, tomato relish, and cilantro-mint puree – Orange, pistachio-cacao, and mesquite truffles – Chile rellenos, monta-raw jack “cheese,” and cacao mole – Chocolate ancho chile tarts with lime-spiced mango chutney and cinnamon vanilla cream – Tricolor sesame-cashew dumplings and sweet chile-lime sauce (the cover photo) – and Empadinhas de queijo: “cheese” empanadas.
The last chapter in the book is, Meaningful, focusing on the tradition and meaning when sharing a meal. I’m not sure what sets this chapter apart, as all the dishes in the book seem meaningful in some way. But it has of course delicious looking photos and fancy names, with some that seem slightly simpler to prepare. It has a lot of Asian themed dishes. O.K. that’s what sets it apart, I’ve found it, it’s ALL Asian. Lovely. Here are some of the titles of dishes – Zaru somen and sweet dashi sake broth – Pearl balls with spicy mango salsa – Mochi “ice cream”: goji berry, vanilla lemongrass, green tea – Cold spicy long-life noodles with ginger sauce – Thai cucumber salad, Spicy “fried” spring rolls with sweet tamarind fondue (looks like a must), and, wait for it…. Raw Fortune Cookies! Oh my! How does he do it?
So, that sums up what you will find in the book. It is difficult to describe really because most of it’s appeal is all visual. This is the kind of book, that even if you don’t think you will ever make time to prepare these intricate dishes, it is still worth having just for the visual entertainment and inspiration. I haven’t tested out any of the recipes yet. I will let you know how they go and post photos. So far I can only review the book itself, the visuals, presentation and impression of it all, not the taste or success of any of the recipes. Honestly, a lot of the recipes are so unique and the combination of ingredients and flavors sound so unusual, I have a hard time even imagining what many of them would taste like – but I’m curious as hell. If the taste is even half as good as the presentation, I will be blown away.