Category Archives: cooking club

Raw Vegan Spicy Walnut Burgers with Onion Bread and Ketchup

This is going to be a monster post, but I just have to do these recipes together — it just makes sense. I’m a personal chef and have been preparing food almost weekly for a raw vegan client for six months. I’m happy to say for three straight months she was able to be 100 percent raw with my help and feels great! The rest of the time, when traveling or on vacation, she eats vegan, but has noticed a big difference in her energy levels and how she feels when she falls off of the raw wagon.

As with most of the food I make for clients, I try to taste everything I make. Not only have I gotten into eating raw when I can (i.e. make the effort), but I’ve started eating at some great area raw restaurants (like Red Pepper Deli in Northville, Cacao Tree Cafe in Royal Oak  and The Raw Cafe in Detroit).

A favorite of my client are these spicy walnut burgers and onion bread, so I decided to make them at the recent (Un)Cooking Club night with a raw theme. Everything the ladies made was DELICIOUS and included raw cheeze dip, kale salad with miso dressing, fall fall harvest soup, avocado coconut soup, and chocolate truffles.  I’d like to say the burgers were a hit! They definitely were with me. My squeeze ate the leftover burgers the next day and I promptly made us another batch. I had an undisclosed number of them (more than 3, less than 5) for dinner tonight, wrapped in lettuce since a batch of the onion bread still is in the dehydrator.

I’ll say now too that I’m not exactly sure where I got any of these recipes. I’m constantly scouring websites, cookbooks and whatever I can get my hands on for new things, especially raw recipes. I then often tweak and adapt them to my or my clients’ tastes. I’ll be sure and give credit where credit is due if and when I come across them again.

Obviously, making things like this pretty much requires a dehydrator. If you don’t have one, you could try lining a sheet pan with unbleached parchment paper and keeping an eye on things in the oven. Considering things usually dehydrate for hours and hours, it would be quite a waste of energy to put the oven on its lowest setting and let things sit in there for a few hours, but you can do it. They say putting ovens on the lowest setting (ideally 175) and propping it open with a fork or a chopstick keeps it around 115 degrees — approximately the highest temperature at which things should be dehydrated to be considered raw/living. Above 118 degrees, food’s enzymes start breaking down and therefore they are no longer living. However, if you’re interested in trying these for flavor and health, and not their rawness, you can bake them in the oven at a low temperature (250? just a guess) and keep an eye on them.

On to the recipes.

Spicy Raw Walnut Burgers
You could leave the hot peppers out completely and it will still be delicious. Or, if you like things crazy hot like my client, throw in 2-3 habaneros or ghost peppers. I have been using 1 jalapeno or serrano and it’s been perfect for me.

• 1 c. walnuts, soaked in filtered water for 2-4 hours
• 1/4 c. sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in filtered water for 30+ min.
(Reserve soaking water)
• 1 hot pepper or more to taste
• 1/2 onion (This is up to your interpretation. I usually use half of a good-sized sweet onion)
• 1 Tbsp. nama shoyu OR Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce, tamari, etc., which aren’t technically raw)
• 1 tsp. salt-free meat seasoning (or a seasoning with salt and pepper and disregard the next two ingredients)
• 1/2 tsp. black pepper
• 1 tsp. sea salt

1. Process (drained) walnuts, (drained) sun-dried tomatoes, and 1/8 c. tomato soaking water in food processor, and process until it reaches a “meaty” consistency.

Here you can either remove from processor and combine with rest of ingredients in a bowl OR do what I do, and add rest of ingredients to the food processor and process until it reaches your desired smoothness or chunkiness, depending on what you like.

2. Turn dehydrator to 115 degrees and pull out trays, lined with with ParaFlexx sheets (or use parchment paper if you have a different kind of dehydrator). Form mixture into patties (be sure to use gloves if you’re using super spicy peppers. I learned this the hard way once…). I find the smaller the patties are the better because they dehydrate faster and they are a good size to either eat with the raw bread or wrap in a piece of lettuce like a burrito.

3. Put patties on trays (I made a double batch today and it made about 20 small burgers on 2 1/2 trays — I remove whatever trays I’m not using). Dehydrate for 1 hour.

4. Flip onto screen, removing the ParaFlexx sheet. You can either do this with a spatula or place an empty mesh-lined tray on top of a tray of burgers, flip it then carefully peel back the sheet. Dehydrate for an additional 1-2 hours until they are dehydrated to your liking.

Raw Onion Bread
I know I found this on a raw community forum. I remember it was referred to as “The Famous” onion bread. I LOVE the flavor of this bread. It also was delicious with the raw cashew “cheeze” that A made at cooking club.

• 2 1/2 pounds sweet onions (Any sweet onion will do — just make sure it’s some kind of sweet onion, like vidalia or walla walla, etc. If you can’t weight it, usually 3 medium to large onions hits around 2 1/2 pounds.)
• 1 c. ground sunflower seeds
• 1 c. ground flax seeds
• 3 oz. (1 1/2 Tbsp.) Nama Shoyu (or again, Bragg’s, etc.)
• 1 avocado, overripe*
• 1/4 c. olive oil

* Original recipes calls for 1/2 c. olive oil. I decided to substitute half of it with an avocado. At some point, I want to try to eliminate the oil altogether.

1. If you don’t have already ground flax or sunflower seeds, pulse in food processor until finely ground, then place in a medium sized mixing bowl.

2. Process roughly chopped onions in food processor until finely chopped but not total mush. Don’t worry, the seeds will soak up that extra liquid.

3. Place onions and rest of ingredients in with seeds and mix thoroughly. If your avocado isn’t super ripe, maybe leave some of the onions behind and process with the avocado to get it mushy, then add it to the rest.

4. Spread on ParaFlexx sheets about 1/2 inch thick. This recipe usually spreads to cover three trays. I usually “cut” it at this point with a pizza cutter or a dull/butter knife (carefully and lightly) into 9 squares each sheet. Although it doesn’t seem like it would do much, as it dehydrates it will separate more and make it easier to cut/break into pieces in the end.

5. Dehydrate at 115 for 4-5 hours. Then use the flipping trick mentioned above (if you can think of a better one, go for it. I felt like a genius the night I figured this out!) and dehydrate another 4-5 hours until it seems dehydrated to your liking. I actually usually flip, then go to bed, so it ends up dehydrating for 6 to 8 hours in the end and its just fine. It might not be as spongy or “bread-like” but it also doesn’t over-dehydrate it to a cracker state, so I’ve continued to do it this way.

6. Cut or break off pieces and place in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 7-10 days. Use for sandwiches or however you like!

Raw Ketchup
This is quick and easy and very tasty!

• 1 c. diced tomato, any variety
• 2 tsp. cider vinegar
• 1 tsp. agave
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1/4 c. sun-dried tomato

Place everything but the sun-dried tomatoes in a high-speed blender until smooth. Then add sun-dried tomatoes and blend until thick and smooth.

Throw this on a burger with the bread and a crispy piece of Romaine lettuce and enjoy! I don’t have this particular bread or ketchup photographed, but you can see the burgers and other raw foods that I’ve made on my Facebook page for my business HERE.


Vegan Creamy Asparagus Soup

Our latest cooking club happened to fall on St. Patrick’s Day and we went with a “green” theme. Although I never met a green vegetable or fruit I didn’t like, my two favorites are definitely kale and asparagus. For this, I went with asparagus and decided to make asparagus soup.

I found a vegetarian version on with great reviews, so I decided to make vegetarian and vegan versions so we could taste test them both. One of the things I have gotten better at during my vegetarian cooking exploration of the last few years is substituting various ingredients with others — I don’t think I’ve had a total fail yet, which makes me much more adventurous!

The vegetarian version uses plain yogurt, which makes the soup tangy and for the vegan version I used coconut milk, which makes the soup a little richer and with a definite coconut milk flavor in the background. I think next time I might mess with a little curry too. Both versions were delicious, but can you really go wrong with coconut milk? I think the vegan version was my favorite…

I’m sure there are many different ways you could change this up — and other vegetables you could use in the place of asparagus! In my personal chef business, I hope to never use a can of “cream of ______” (fill in the blank) soup if I can help it. Something as easy as this makes me wonder why anyone would. Here’s what I came up with.

• 1 lb. fresh asparagus (my guess is you could use frozen in a pinch)
• 3/4 c. chopped onion
• 1 3/4 c. vegetable broth
• 1 Tbsp. butter or vegan butter (Like my favorite, Earth Balance Buttery Spread)
• 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
• 1 tsp. salt
• 1 pinch ground black pepper
• 1 c. soy or almond milk (I went with plain almond milk)
• 1/2 c. yogurt or coconut milk
• 1 tsp. lemon juice
• 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese, parm substitute or nutritional yeast (optional)

1. Trim the woody ends off of the asparagus and set aside.

2. This step I decided to do on my own — you can skip it if you like and I’m sure it would be just fine! I put all of the vegetable broth in a saucepan and  placed the ends of the asparagus in with it. I simmered it for about 20 minutes to infuse the asparagus flavor into the broth, then removed it from heat (I think I put a little extra broth in there in case some cooked off). Remove asparagus ends with a slotted spoon and throw away.

3. Place asparagus and onion in small saucepan with 1/2 c. of broth. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Simmer until vegetables are tender.

4. Reserve a few asparagus tips for garnish if you like, and puree the rest in a blender or use an immersion blender to puree it in the pan until smooth, then pour into a bowl and set aside.

5. Melt butter in the pan, then stir constantly while sprinkling in flour, salt and pepper into it. Don’t let the mixture brown — cook while stirring for about 2 minutes.

6. Stir in the remaining 1 1/4 c. broth and increase the heat. Continue stirring until the mixture comes to a boil.

7. Stir the vegetable puree and milk into the pan, the whisk in the yogurt or coconut milk and lemon juice.

8. Stir until heated through and ladle into bowls. Garnish with asparagus tips and cheese or nutritional yeast if desired.

Wilted Salad with Warm Vegan “Bacon” Dressing

Forgive me father for I have sinned. It has been (gasp) FIVE weeks since my last post. During that time I have gone out of state for Thanksgiving, had two back-to-back craft-fair-filled weekends, finished Christmas orders, Christmas shopped, headed out of town for a family Christmas and baby shower and cleaned out my back office on my one day off (which was more like 3 hours off after a much needed relaxing brunch with my squeeze over at Toast), worked some more, wrapped presents, trimmed a tree, hosted a holiday part.

A few of us managed to gather for a wintery Cooking Club at Karen W.’s new loft downtown last week. I was totally going to phone it in and bring salad fixin’s but decided to do at least a LITTLE better. I feel like I only had it a couple of times, but I remember really loving the warm bacon dressing my mom used to make. Well, she probably still makes it — I just don’t eat it anymore…

Since I was heading straight from work to the store by the time I thought of it, I couldn’t look up mom’s recipe, but found one that sounded similar online. I subbed fake bacon for the bacon and –instead of the bacon fat that usually sits as the base of the dressing — I used olive oil with two little drops of hickory liquid smoke.

I offered hard boiled eggs — as the original recipe includes — and also made a vegan option by soaking a block of firm tofu in water and turmeric overnight, then pressing out the liquid in my tofu press for a crumbly egg-like feel.

I think I pulled it off and I think I’ll be making it a lot this winter. I wonder if my mom would even go for it… I doubled this recipe and it was plenty for six to eight servings.  Here it is!

• Spinach
• 2-3 hard boiled eggs or 1 block extra firm tofu + turmeric
• 1/2 pkg. fake bacon, cooked and crumbled
• 3 Tbsp. olive oil
• Liquid Smoke (hickory)
• 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
• 1 tsp. sugar
• 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
• salt and pepper
• sliced mushrooms (white is the traditional here, I think I went with baby bellas)
• 1 small red onion, cut into thin slices

1. The recipe says to remove stems from the spinach, but I didn’t bother. We did it buffet style so people could add what they like. Make sure it is washed well and dried.

2. Non-vegan version: To boil eggs, place eggs in pan and cover with water until there is about an inch of water above the eggs. Bring to a boil, turn the pan off and leave it, covered, for about 15 minutes. Cool or rinse with cold water until cool. Peel off shell and slice.

Vegan version: Soak tofu in water with a few shakes of turmeric over night. It won’t give it too much flavor but it will be a nice yellow color.

3. Add 3 Tbsp. olive oil or vegetable oil (I went with olive) to a small saucepan and add 2-3 drops liquid smoke. It doesn’t take much! Whisk in vinegar, sugar and mustard. Season with a pinch each salt and pepper.

4. Create salad with spinach, mushrooms, onion, egg or tofu, and bacon. Top with warm dressing and serve immediately.

Cooking Club: Chickpea Salad with Orange and Cinnamon Dressing

Katie contributed this salad to our orange-themed cooking club. It was one of the only dishes that didn’t necessarily LOOK orange, but you tasted (and saw) the oranges in there. It was a light refreshing twist to what you would expect. This is a crowd-pleasure for sure.

•  15 oz. chickpeas dried, soaked in plenty of water overnight
• 2 tomatoes, chopped
• 1 small handful mint, finely chopped
• 1/2 red onion, finely sliced
• 1/4 cup  feta cheese
• 6 dried, plump apricots, sliced

•  juice from 1/2 lemon
• 1 garlic clove, crushed
• zest from 1  orange
• 1 tsp honey
• 1/2 tsp ground cumin
• pinch of ground cinnamon
• pinch of sea salt
• extra virgin olive oil to taste

1. Drain the chickpeas, fill the saucepan of chickpeas with water and bring to boil. Let simmer for 30 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse under cold water.

2. Combine the chickpeas, tomato, mint, onion and apricots in a bowl. Top with crumbled feta and lightly toasted almonds.

3. In a small bowl, mix the dressing ingredients together and pour over the salad. Toss well and serve.

Cooking Club: Rutabaga Chips with Curry Mayo

Here was Amy E’s contribution to the most recent cooking club! I ate a ton of these, then made someone take them away from me. Sadly, I didn’t take any pictures, but you can imagine what oven-baked chips looked like right?

Here it goes, in Amy’s words:

• 1 whole rutabaga (it’s a big, ugly, waxy purple root, in case you are not sure what you’re looking for. Also, fun fact: In Europe rutabagas are carved out to make jack-o-lanterns.)
• Salt to taste
• Olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Peel the skin off the rutabaga (you can do this with a sharp knife). Using a chef’s knife or a mandoline, slice thin, and as evenly as you can. (I found that the chewier chips were a result of one side of the chip being too thick. Also, the chips shrank a LOT in the oven, so feel free to cut big — but not thick — pieces.)
3. In a large bowl, toss with olive oil (I probably used about 2 tsp?) and salt to taste (I used about a tsp). Spread in one layer on a baking sheet and place in the oven. The chips will need about a half-hour, but watch them carefully so they don’t burn. If you notice them browning quickly, flip the chips over and turn down the temperature a bit. I ended up baking them at 350 for about 30 minutes and then turned the heat down to 200, but I had a lot of burnt pieces that I didn’t serve, so be more vigilant than I was.
4. When they are done, take them out of the oven and let cool before serving. Place on paper towels for a while if they are greasy.
These would probably also be delicious and crispier deep-fried.
Curry Mayonnaise (Adapted from Mark Bittman’s recipe for food processor mayonnaise)
• 1 egg
• 2 tsp. brown or dijon mustard
• 1 Tbsp. lemon juice plus 1 tsp. white vinegar
• 1 c. neutral oil (I used canola oil)
• 2 tsp. curry powder
1. Put everything but the oil in the food processor and turn the food processor on.
2. In the little insert that goes in the lid (the “food pusher”) there should be a tiny hole. Pour the oil into the insert while the food processor is running and it will drip into the bowl in a slow, steady stream. Wait until the oil is incorporated, turn off your food processor, and taste. Adjust seasoning and vinegar levels as necessary (that’s why I added the 1 tsp of vinegar).
If you don’t have a food processor, you’ll have to add the oil — slowly and steadily — by hand, but you will be fine.

Cooking Club: Sharon’s Pear Sorbet with Sake Granita and Pear Grapefruit Salad

Sharon pulled out the big guns and decided to make the fanciest dessert that has graced the Cooking Club scene to date. Well, they’ve all been amazing, so maybe that’s not a fair statement, but this was as delicious as it was beautiful, that’s for sure.

This one takes a little prep work the day before, but it’s worth it from a tasters standpoint. Of course, the recently-hitched Sharon was probably dying to use her new ice cream maker, so maybe that’s why she chose this recipe!  🙂

Pear Sorbet
• 3/4 c. water
• 3/4 c. sugar
• 2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
• pinch of salt
• 3 1/2 c. diced peeled ripe Anjou or Bartlett pears (about 3 large)

1. Combine 3/4 water, sugar, corn syrup, and pinch of salt in large saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.

2. Add pear pieces and simmer until pears are very tender, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool slightly. Transfer mixture to food processor and puree until smooth. Chill pear mixture until cold, about 2 hours.

3. Process pear mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer pear sorbet to freezer container; cover and freeze until firm. Do ahead of time — at least 24 hours and up to about 3 days ahead of time.

Sake Granita
• 1 1/3 c. coarsely filtered sake
• 2 Tbsp. water
• 3/4 tsp. unflavored gelatin (Note: That makes this portion of the dessert not vegan!)

1. Pour sake into 8x8x2-inch glass dish.

2. Spoon 2 tablespoons water into heatproof custard cup, ramekin or small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand until gelatin softens, about 10 minutes.

3. Pour enough water into small skillet to come 1 inch up sides; bring to boil. Reduce heat to very low. Place cup with gelatin mixture in hot water in skillet. Stir until gelatin dissolves and mixture is fluid, about 1 minute.

4. Remove cup with gelatin mixture from skillet. Pour gelatin mixture into sake and stir to blend well. Freeze sake mixture until firm, at least 8 hours or overnight.

Asian Pear and Grapefruit Salad
• 1 1/2 c. water
• 1 1/2 c. sugar
• 4 ruby red grapefruits or white grapefruits
• 2 large unpeeled Asian pears
• fresh fennel fronds for garnish (optional)

1. Combine 1 1/2 c. water and 1 1/2 c. sugar in medium saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Cool simple syrup until just warm to touch, 20 to 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, cut off peel and white pith from all grapefruit. Working over bowl to catch juices and using small sharp knife, cut between membranes to release segments into bowl. Quarter and core Asian pears, then cut lengthwise into very thin slices. Add to bowl with grapefruit.

3. Pour warm simple syrup over fruit. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours. Make sure to do this ahead of time and not at the last minute — can be done up to six hours ahead of time.

4. Arrange 1 layer of pear slices in each of 6 cocktail glasses. Top each with 1 layer of grapefruit segments. Spoon 2 tablespoons syrup from fruit mixture over. Scrape fork all over sake granita to form crystals. Place large spoonful of granita atop fruit in each glass. Top each with 1 more layer of pear slices, then layer of grapefruit segments and scoop of pear sorbet. Garnish with fennel fronds, if desired, and serve.

Cooking Club: Amy B.’s Steamed Dumplings

This was Amy B.’s first time at Cooking Club and she nailed it! The the crazy amount of food we had that night, it was the perfect introduction for Amy, who brought along her adorable daughter, Penny (who ate tons of noodles), and her friend, Robyn, who was passing through town.

These steamed dumplings were so ridiculously good. Asian restaurants around these parts are severely lacking in veg dumplings/potstickers. Seems they always have pork in them… Anyway, Amy said she was just winging it when she put this stuff together, so I imagine there’s some room for creativity here, whether you’re veg or eat meat. They were beautiful and delicious!

• tofu, cut into small pieces and marinated for 1 day in sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, canola oil, minced garlic, ginger, and a few squirts of sriracha
• 1/4   package of thin rice noodle (like vermacelli)
• 1   lg. carrot, shredded
• 1   sm. broccoli head, shredded
• 1/4  head of cabbage, thinly sliced
• 1  lg garlic clove, minced
• 1  pkg mixed mushrooms
• 1  Tbsp. grated ginger
• 3  scallions, sliced
• 1/4  jar hoisin sauce,or more to taste (make sure you get one you know is good)
• 1  package of wonton wrappers

1. Chop, shred, mince, etc all veggies and set aside.

2. Heat up a few tablespoons of canola oil, in wok or large pan and stir fry tofu until slightly browned; set aside on paper towel.

3. In same pan add extra oil, if needed, and stir fry carrots, broccoli, cabbage, mushrooms, scallions, garlic and ginger until slightly soft (can add a bit of soy and rice vinegar to soften). Add noodles and hoisin sauce. mix until combined. taste to see if it needs more hoisin, soy or rice vinegar. Set aside to cool.

4. Assemble dumplings on cutting board. Place about 1 tablespoon of filling in the middle of wrapper. Wet finger with water and wet 2 sides (one corner) of wrapper. Fold wrapper diagonally and pinch sides so the dumpling is sealed; set aside on plate or tray lined with parchment.

5. In bamboo steamer or steaming rack, line with lettuce, bok choy, or any green you like! Place dumplings on greens and steam until wonton is transparent. You could also boil the dumplings or fry them. Top with sliced scallions to garnish!

Dipping Sauce:
• soy sauce
• chili garlic sauce
• chinese-style hot mustard
• rice vinegar

Start with soy sauce as base. add rice vinegar, chili garlic sauce, and mustard to taste.