Creating delicious food in Spain November 2013
For four days we came together and active shared ideas and recipes during lunch and dinner preparation times, about 4,5 hours a day to give an idea about the time spend on this by different participants.
We learned many things about gorgeous looking and tasting food, fully made with fresh locally grown and locally bought food. And as top exclusive with a large diversity of wild edible plants and flowers found just around the place of stay.
Raw pancake, plate, cup or wrap
On thing we learned was the different ideas to present a food-dish lovely. As a “basic” we used colorfully nicely shaped foods for example a round thin slice of a red beet, a pink sweet potato, a green sliced zucchini “wrap”, a orange round sliced pumpkin. Let you fantasy grow on these. I found yellow beets in Holland, white rash like bulbs, purple carrots, green large collard leaves as wrap. Also zucchini or soft pumpkins types are a good “basic” for a dish and a feast for the eye when sliced like spaghetti in long thin dreads.
The above examples of thin sliced vegetables become easier to digest once mixed with some oil and salt and maybe some herbs and citrus added, and set aside in a warm environment (25 degrees), for a while, like at least 20 minutes. This process can be altered or also used by means of putting pressure on the vegetables. For example by putting them in a bowl and putting a jar filled with water on top. No need to put oil, but salty water should be added. Finally warmth helps the process to make a vegetable easier to digest. So putting your bowl in a warm place, maybe even 40 degrees, but not more as that will kill the enzymes in the food.
Then as we set aside our “basic”, we can start making the sauces that go between them. We learned that it is possible to vary endlessly with different vegetables and herbs to make e nice tasting sauce. Some rules we found out about:
A sauce can become more interesting when adding something sweet, like honey, raisins, maple sirup, something salt, like sea salt, olives or dried tomatoes. Something sour, like vinegar, lime or lemon. And by adding something spicy like pepper, herbs like basil, oregano, dill, fennel.
A sauce can be made more creamy texture and full taste by adding soaked nuts and/or seeds, like walnuts (we used home grown in Spain), sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, cashew nuts, hazelnuts, pine tree seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, flax seed, sesame seeds. Also the color of the sauce changes to more pastel like, as in fact you add a white paint. Red tomato sauce becomes a beautiful pink sauce.
It’s important that raw seeds and nuts, when regularly eaten, should be soaked (or dry fried when you prefer). This because seeds and nuts have enzymes that make the digesting more difficult. When soaked the germination process starts and this will change a lot of the biochemical process in the seeds and nuts, thus making them more rich in diversity and easier palatable. We found out that in practice this meant that in the late evening, just before going to bed, we would meat in the kitchen and put different mixtures and bowls with some seeds or nuts to soak with water. It is not really needed to know exactly what you’re going to make with them. They can be used for a wide variety of recipes. As a measure you can take a small handful per person to 1 cup per person. Because we were 13 persons the seed stock was declining fast during our stay.
For preparing the sauce it is very simple with a good electric blender, or hand blender (for baby food such hand machines are on the market). Blend everything together until a nice sticky sauce that will stay between your “basic” vegetables. For a thinner consistency, for example for mixing with the spaghetti sliced zucchini, or for mixing in a green wild leaves salad, simple add some water. Watch out not to use the water from the soaked nuts.
Finally put the food in a nice way on a clean plate and add some flower petals or a whole flower for superb color effect. During our stay in November in Spain we enjoyed much the sight and taste of pink cosmea flowers, the delicate beauty of the daisy flower, the nice tasting purple vetch flowers. Some other beautiful topping we made were finely grated white parsnip topping, and very finely sliced and marinated mustard leaves topping.
raw sauces recipes
• wild chickweed, zucchini, red bell pepper, ground coriander seeds, lime and honey
• soaked sunflower seeds, red bell pepper, tomatoes, oregano
• root celery, dates, olive oil, salt
• leeks with spicy oil, red bell pepper with spicy oil, mushrooms marinated in tamari (makes three different colors.
• soaked cashew nuts with cumin seed, basil and salt
• the famous fof spain barbeque sauce: soaked dried tomatoes, soaked raisins, oregano, little bit of hot pepper, some fresh tomatoes.
For vegetable burgers typically the mixture of vegetables and soaked nuts and even maybe sprouted seeds are not blended through. But put in the kitchen machine. This time the intention is to reach a crumbling, and sticky consistency and texture that can be easily formed into “burgers”. For us it took some time and effort to find the right machinery in the new kitchen to do this job.
Sprouting seeds, lentils, or grains like buckwheat is a process that takes several days. The grains are soaked overnight and than put in a plate, and cleaned with water twice daily in order to keep them wet, and fresh. The store place should be preferable more dark, moist and average temperature )15-25 degrees. Once the sprouts are long enough the can be kept as dry as possible in a glass jar in the fridge for some days more. Be careful that they stay smelling nice, a notification they are alive and not rotting. Or dry your sprouted grains in a dehydrator.
We learned that in order to make the texture of the dough more dry and sticky, it is possible to use a little dry blend flax seed “powder”. This will soak up the extra water and at the same time glue the dough together. The burgers taste great with the above mentioned barbeque sauce.
Raw pizza or cake dough
Another nice use for the mixture of soaked nuts and seeds, maybe dried fruits, ore herbes and maybe added, sprouted grains, lentils, seeds is to make a dough for vegetable toppings (somewhat like pizza) or a dough for fruit toppings, like cake. The texture that you would like to create is somewhat dryer then the burger and maybe even more sticky. We found out that some kitchen utensils were of great help. For example the cake form with a floor that can be taken out. It was easy to press the dough on the floor and make a nice thin layer. Also the small iron/metal rings that were used to put some dough inside and press firmly to create a nice regular, thin little pizza.
Toppings for a cake would be a mixture of blend and are grated/cut fresh fruits of the season. Interesting to know is that some fruits have more soluble fiber than others. The more soluble fiber the better they make a smooth texture when chopped. These fruits are; bananas, peers, strawberries, mango. In Spain we found some of the last fresh raspberries, strawberries and physalis in the garden, these beautiful colorful fruit we used to decorate our apple base pie (if they made it back to the kitchen).
raw chocolate balls
Toppings for the pizza crust would be a mixture of marinated vegetables like, zucchini, mushrooms, olives, yellow beet, or red bell pepper. Marinated in lemon, or lime, and some salt. And of course when first punt a layer of soaked dried tomatoes, with dates (blend to a sauce) and a layer of soaked cashews with basil and salt, the vegetables stick easier to your dough and the taste is more rich.
A meal is not finished without it’s salads. So we made many different types of salads. The base is rough parts of many different (wild) edible leave plants, mostly mild and sweet tasting alternated with some bitter (but healthy) tasting plant leaves. We took the most soft felling parts and took away the more woody parts. As we were able to pick herbs from the large farm we were blessed with a huge variety of wild and semi wild edible greens. This made a simple salad already special and very taste, maybe some sauce of lime, lemon, slat and oil was added, or some of the other sauces mentioned above.
I watched how the two cooks of the hostel easily produced spectacular looking salads with vegetables from the garden. For example the took a large bowl and filled it layer by layer with, cut tomatoes, cut avocado, cut endive (greens), these were “pressed” into the bowl, then a plate put on top and the whole thing turned around, now we could see a pudding like salad, the different layers nicely built.
The same technique they used for a salad made of soaked seaweed, with onion rings, ginger, orange and some garlic. With capers first put in the bowl (thus later on top).
We enjoyed much the beautiful pink/purple colored salad of sliced red bell peppers, (yes from the own garden), sliced beetroot, parsnip and carrot, with added some sprouted lentils. Marinated with oil, lemon, salt and sit for a while. Actually the next day the left over was really tasty.
Also we made some soups of vegetables with some water added and put to blend. We learned that because of the watery texture of the soup it is not easy to keep fresh. So preferably make a small quantity. Much smaller then you would recon for a cooked soup. To present the soup it looks nice to put a flower petal in the middle, or green chopped chives. We tried pumpkin soup with coconut and some tomato and apple. Also we tried some onion soup, with blended onions with oil and water. This soup was far to strong tasting, so be aware to try out your soups and find out how much water should be added. Also a soup can be warmed by keeping the blender longer turning, or heating it on a stove (not above 40 degrees Celsius).
Rascha Wisse the Netherlands december 2013