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Journey of Food Cookbook Review by Chef Matteo
Recipe from Living Cuisine by Renée Loux Underkoffler
Fresh coconut meat makes this flan more creamy, though
dried coconut can be used if fresh is unavailable. Sweetened
simply with dried mango. Serve solo or with sliced fresh mango
Mango Coconut Flan 1 C. Mango, dried, unsulphured
1 Vanilla Bean
1 1/2 C. Dried Coconut
1 C. Fresh Young Coconut Meat (if unavailable, use 1/2 C. additional dried
mango, cut and soaked and 1/2 C. additional dried coconut)
1 T. non-alcohol Vanilla Extract
1. With a pair of kitchen scissors, cut the dried mango into pieces. Soak in
one C. fresh water until soft (about 5-15 minutes). Retain the soak water.
2. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise with a small paring knife. With the edge
of a knife or spoon, scrape out all of the tiny seeds. Set aside.
3. In a food processor or blender, grind dried coconut into a powder. Set aside.
4. Blend fresh coconut meat as smooth as possible and set aside.
5. Blend softened mango and soak water until smooth. Add ground fresh and dried
coconut, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean and blend until smooth.
6. Divide into 2-4 parfait or wine glasses.
Yields 2-4 servings.
Living Cuisine: The Art and Spirit of Raw Foods by
Underkoffler (New York: Avery, 2003). Forward by Woody Harrelson. $21.95
paperback. 497 pages.
With raw and living foods making their way into the mainstream, education
seems more pertinent than ever. Only through educating yourself can
you make the transition to a raw diet, healthy and delicious. It is
difficult giving up those textures, tastes, and aromas that bring us
back to our most memorable food experiences. How does one recreate
the bold and subtle flavors in the kitchen with little or no heat?
Fortunately, Renée Loux Underkoffler published her new book
titled, Living Cuisine: The Art and Spirit of Raw Foods Cuisine.
In this guide to eating and living a raw lifestyle, Renée lays
the framework in an easy-to-follow fashion.
Renée believes in educating too. The first few chapters are devoted to
just this. She provides a brief history of agriculture and the destructiveness
of commercial farming upon our fertile lands. For making the healthy switch to
this lifestyle, she makes 11 strong points. But what should be highlighted is
Renée’s urging of a gradual transition, allowing yourself to adjust
slowly and not shock your system. She suggests you start by adding more raw foods
to your diet each day and become more involved with the preparation or even growing
of your own food. Gradually, by adding more raw foods, you’ll achieve your
personal goal. Some people cannot sustain themselves on a 100 percent raw diet
and that is perfectly fine. Listening to our body and its needs is important
In the chapters preceding the recipes, Renée goes into detail about most
fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, sweeteners, oils, and condiments that you
would find in your health food and gourmet markets. These explanations are priceless,
especially for those with a limited food background. She even provides a list
of essential equipment and preparation techniques to boot.
In some of her recipes, Renée uses low-heat cooking methods. A good example
is the Golden Butternut Soup with Provencal Pesto. Renée calls for simmering
the squash under a very low flame until it can be pierced with a fork. The final
outcome of this soup is divine, especially with the herby and nutty pesto. Some
purists might frown upon this soup, but the flavors are well developed and a
good recipe for someone making their transition.
Everyone will love the rich, gorgeous Macadamia Nut Ricotta, which Renée
suggests using as a creamy dip or layered in a terrine. And Renée’s
Pizza Fresca with Red and White Sauce will bring back those comforting pizza
memories from your childhood.
With spring and summer in the air, the Indonesian Vegetable Pad Thai in Coconut
Sauce is the perfect dish. The fresh flavors of the noodles and vegetables are
balanced with the silky texture of the tangy, ginger spiked coconut sauce. For
those who like heat, feel free to add minced jalapeños or serrano chilies.
Do not let the long list of ingredients fool you, this recipe is easy and you
will be happy to have learned to prepare it.
For dessert, Renée offers numerous choices. One of the standouts is a
Traditional Layered Carrot Cake with Lemon Cream Frosting. This cake is relatively
easy to prepare and the results are not to be missed. The creamy lemon frosting
has a sweet, citrusy zing that cuts through the richness of the cake. She combines
two of my favorite flavors in another easy to prepare recipe. The Mango Coconut
Flan is creamy and sweetened only with dried mango. It has a rich coconut taste
with an underlying mango flavor that drives your taste buds wild. Try adding
just a pinch of sea salt.
All in all, Living Cuisine is an indispensable reference tool that will assist
you in your travels toward a healthy and holistic lifestyle. Choosing this way
of life will not only benefit you, but also all of the planet’s creatures
and the earth itself.
Chef Matteo is a long-time vegan who has worked in the health food and restaurant
business for over a decade. Matteo currently works as a private chef, caterer,
and hosts 4 Course Vegan, a weekly gourmet dinner party in NYC (see www.4coursevegan.com).