Australia – A Raw Dinner Party
My remaining weeks in Australia were spent in Byron Bay (surprise surprise). After trying to find some decent accommodation and bouncing around from place to place, I ended up at Anya's new abode - a little caravan on a friend's beautiful property. I was offered this boat to stay in, but the conditions inside were such that it was no possibility). Somehow, we made it work in the little caravan, and with my dear sisters energy, it felt more homey than anywhere else I could have stayed at that point.
It was a rather hilarious time and we continually found things to laugh about: the tiny couch as my bed, no running water, our makeshift outdoor kitchen, the door that swung open if it wasn't properly slammed shut (and yes it flew open in the middle of the night on a number of occasions), muddy floors when it rained, peeing outside in the night since we had to use someone else's toilet, sharing one towel between us, hitch hiking home from a party in another town one night, having to be on constant watch out for the deathly King Brown Snake which was lurking and we saw one day.... and other funny things. Great memories!
Recently, Anya and I put on a raw dinner party for 20 people. After spending heaps of time running around to find organic ingredients, we got to work in our outdoor kitchen. Much to our dismay, it rained most of those days and when the wind came we got sprayed. Fortunately we had cover overhead and forged onward!
We created the menu below, with 2 options for the appy, entree, and dessert. We also made a platter of cute heart choccies to go with the biodynamic wine/champagne.
Caesar Salad - with peppery avocado dressing, buckwheat croutons and rawmesan
Crackers and Dips - italian herb crackers, cheddar cheese, walnut crackers, zucchini hummus and cucumber
Lasagna - zucchini noodles with basil pesto, sundried tomato sauce, marinated mushrooms, and seed ricotta cheese with spinach
Mexi Fajitas - marinated veggies in romaine wraps with sour kream, salsa, and guacamole
*Mandarin Dragon Fruit Swirl Cheesecake - with tropical fruit salsa and dark chocolate sauce
Chocolate Truffle Tart - in a cacao nut crust with raspberry sauce and vanilla bean ice cream
Dark chocolate hearts with walnuts, goji berries, cashews, and cacao nibs
This is my favorite caesar dressing. The fresh black pepper really makes it!
2 medium avocados
1/2-1 cup water
1/3 cup cashews
1/4 cup lemon juice, or more
1/4 cup olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1-2 teaspoons himalayan salt
1-2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2-3 cloves garlic
1 date, pitted
Blend all ingredients until smooth, starting with lesser amounts of salt and pepper. Add enough water to achieve desired thickness.
1/2 cup brazil nuts
1/2 cup pine nuts or cashews
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
1/4-1/2 teaspoon himalayan salt
1/2-1 small clove garlic, minced
Pulse all but the pine nuts (if using - otherwise the mixture will become too oily) in a food processor until almost ground.
Add the pine nuts and pulse again until crumbly.
Zucchini Walnut Crackers
These are some of the best crackers around. Originally from the book Raw Food Real World, I remember when these started popping up on all the raw food forums years ago as "Just Like Ritz" crackers.
2 1/2 cups walnuts
2 1/2 cups peeled, cubed zucchini
1/2 cup ground golden flax seed
1/4 cup hemp or sesame seed
2 teaspoons himalayan salt
(less if using fine celtic sea salt)
In a food processor, grind the walnuts into crumbs. Transfer to a bowl.
Grind the zucchini into small bits. Do NOT process into a puree! Keep texture. Add to the walnuts.
Stir in the flax, hemp, salt, and water (1/2-3/4 cup). Add enough water to create a thick, spreadable mixture.
Spread evenly on teflex sheets.
Dehydrate at 145F for 3 hours. Turn the temperature to 115F and continue dehydrating for 8-12 hours, flipping onto the mesh screens after a few hours.
Here's a rough guideline for zucchini hummus. I like mine a touch lemony and sometimes I add cumin, but usually I keep it neutral. For the dinner party we added a handful of cashews to even out the taste, as zucchini often leaves a funny after taste. I've also turned this into a dilly hummus by omitting the cumin and pulsing in fresh dilly after blending everything else.
2 cups chopped, peeled zucchini
1/4 cup olive oil
Lemon juice, to taste (4-6 tablespoons)
3/4 cup unhulled sesame seeds
1/2-1 teaspoon himalayan salt
2 cloves garlic
Cumin, to taste
Optional: cashews (add a bit of water too), or cayenne
Mandarin Dragon Fruit Swirl Cheesecake
*Follow this RECIPE but make the following changes:
Transfer 2/3 of the mandarin filling to a bowl.
Blend pink dragon fruit or white dragon fruit and raspberries into the remaining 1/3 filling with a little extra coconut oil.
Pour the mandarin filling over the crust and pour blobs of the pink filling on top, making sure it pierces through. Swirl the fillings together with a chopstick or knife.
A few production shots...
Assembling fajitas... people thought the dehydrated veggies were cooked, and they thought the coconut sour cream seemed just too real. It means we did our job 🙂
Plating up desserts. Ketchup and mustard bottles (which you can buy for super cheap) make excellent squirt bottles for these occasions.
A small section of our friend, Al's yard got transformed from this....
We had beautiful live music too. Jasmine and her friend are incredible!
As I write this, I've just returned home a few days ago. As much as it's wonderful to be home (I came back early for various reasons), I miss Australia. I miss Byron Bay, I miss the ocean, the beach, the weather, texting/talking to Ulyana whenever I want, the biodynamic yogurt, the raw milk, and especially Anya and all our antics.
Hugest thanks to everyone who made my Australia trip so incredible!