How To Make Kombucha

This is my first use of a cool new tool called Explory.

It allowed me to take my photos and videos during a cooking session and turn them into a story.

There’s an audio track, so turn up the volume, then click to watch.

Would love your comments too.

Til we eat again.

Peeled and quartered pumpkin. Was easier to do than I had originally thought 4 trays of sliced (on a mandolin) pumpkin pieces 8 hours at 105 produced these pumpkin crisps. The raw pie mash - needs one more blending to smooth it out even more. The crust is adapted from Matthew Kenney's Crumble in his Raw Desserts book, then dried overnight and filled. The finished pie - pre garnish. Adding coconut whipped cream on site

Raw Pumpkin Pie - original recipe from Rawmazing - Link here

This is a labor of love, which I think applies to everything we prepare for families on Thanksgiving. Try this when you have plenty of time.

Susan explains in her recipe that you need to peel and slice the pumpkin, then dehydrate it - she recommends a few hours, I left it in overnight and you can see it got very dry. However, it reconstituted excellently, and that process did indeed remove any starchiness. Awesome trick.

Next, you can see the mash of cashews, maple, coconut oil and pumpkin after it first came out of the Vitamix. I really wanted a smooooooooth mouth feel, so actually processed it even more and you can see in the top image that the final product is like velvet.

The crust I did differently as we are not big Pecan fans. This is almond meal and oat flour with maple syrup, mixed, formed, then dehydrated overnight. I am debating about putting the whole pie into the dehydrator overnight to get a thin skin on the pumpkin.

Great idea from a friend this morning is to whip up a can of coconut milk, which turns into a nice Rediwhip substitute ;-) - You can see that the creme whipped nicely, however next time, I will aerate it more.  Recipe here

This indeed had more than 3 steps, which some of my readers actually count. So, if you can abide more than 3 steps, this is a great recipe. I’ll report back on what the families said about the taste.

til we eat again.

For my recent Introductory Raw Food Workshop I brought a lot of the tools I use for nearly everything with me. I would consider these essential. I have tried a lot of different variations and like these the best. If you want to see more about them, I have detailed them all below.
Spiral Vegetable Slicer
This is used to create long curly noodles out of anything from beets to broccolli stems to carrots, jicama and sweet potatoes. Makes the work very easy.
Vitamix
I think I use this at least twice a day and there really isn’t a substitute. Yes, there are other high speed blenders, this is a workhorse that is easy to clean and I can blend nuts into the creamiest purees, that are so smooth you’d think they were made of glass. Seriously. Great machine.
Cuisinart Mesh Strainer
I have several of these and use them constantly as I am always trying to make sure I have removed things like pulp and seeds from purees. I triple strain my nut milks and green juices using this. I have 3 sizes.
Mandoline and matching Mesh Glove
You can just see this collapsed in the photo above. This is essential to get really thin, consistent slices, especially when prepping things for the dehydrator. You also want to get the mesh glove, as the included safety hub that holds the veg so you don’t get cut is a waste of time. Use the glove instead.
Excalibur Dehydrator
This is my smaller unit. I have a 9 tray one that is going 24x7, making crackers, jams and kale chips. This smaller unit is perfect if you don’t have a lot of room. I have found that I could use a wall of these some times - especially when all my friends want their own bags of Kale Chips.
Post-it Big Pad
You wouldn’t think I’d have this as an essential tool for the kitchen, however, once I started using these, I can’t live without them. They stick anywhere and are large enough to put across the room with your entire list of things you need to do for the meal. Fantastic tool that I use daily.
One of my students @hollyejacobs thesilverpen took a photo of my prep list and posted it here. High-res

For my recent Introductory Raw Food Workshop I brought a lot of the tools I use for nearly everything with me. I would consider these essential. I have tried a lot of different variations and like these the best. If you want to see more about them, I have detailed them all below.

Spiral Vegetable Slicer

This is used to create long curly noodles out of anything from beets to broccolli stems to carrots, jicama and sweet potatoes. Makes the work very easy.

Vitamix

I think I use this at least twice a day and there really isn’t a substitute. Yes, there are other high speed blenders, this is a workhorse that is easy to clean and I can blend nuts into the creamiest purees, that are so smooth you’d think they were made of glass. Seriously. Great machine.

Cuisinart Mesh Strainer

I have several of these and use them constantly as I am always trying to make sure I have removed things like pulp and seeds from purees. I triple strain my nut milks and green juices using this. I have 3 sizes.

Mandoline and matching Mesh Glove

You can just see this collapsed in the photo above. This is essential to get really thin, consistent slices, especially when prepping things for the dehydrator. You also want to get the mesh glove, as the included safety hub that holds the veg so you don’t get cut is a waste of time. Use the glove instead.

Excalibur Dehydrator

This is my smaller unit. I have a 9 tray one that is going 24x7, making crackers, jams and kale chips. This smaller unit is perfect if you don’t have a lot of room. I have found that I could use a wall of these some times - especially when all my friends want their own bags of Kale Chips.

Post-it Big Pad

You wouldn’t think I’d have this as an essential tool for the kitchen, however, once I started using these, I can’t live without them. They stick anywhere and are large enough to put across the room with your entire list of things you need to do for the meal. Fantastic tool that I use daily.

One of my students @hollyejacobs thesilverpen took a photo of my prep list and posted it here.

Green Star Juicer
This amazing device is what started my journey into home preparation of raw foods. This is an affordable cold press juicer, which means that the juice never gets heated and stays raw. This is very important to maintain the nutrients. If you are serious about juicing, I suggest you take a good look at this one. It’s easy to clean and I have used it 3x a week for 3 years now and it’s in excellent condition.


// High-res

Green Star Juicer

This amazing device is what started my journey into home preparation of raw foods. This is an affordable cold press juicer, which means that the juice never gets heated and stays raw. This is very important to maintain the nutrients. If you are serious about juicing, I suggest you take a good look at this one. It’s easy to clean and I have used it 3x a week for 3 years now and it’s in excellent condition.

Teaching Raw/Live Food Preparation

I am thrilled to be teaching a class that will revolve around an easy to prepare menu with five items to a class of people who really want to learn the insider tips and tricks.

I have been a chef my entire life, even though my day job since 1984 has been in the software industry. I still eat 21 times a week and for the past 3 years have been focusing on this raw food journey, and for the past two years, writing about it here.

This is another step on the adventure and I’m looking forward to the class. I love showing people how to get creative and build confidence in the kitchen, so this is a natural evolution. Who knows, I may do a second class.

The photo above is of me taking a class with my mentor, Matthew Kenney at M.A.K.E in Santa Monica. Head down, focused.

til we eat again…

Nutty Herb and Beet Salad (raw)
This is an easy one and so delicious and pretty to look at.
Combine equal parts of these herbs - or add your own
Basil leaves
Flat parsley
Cilantro
Tarragon
Dill
Julienne 1 medium beet - or halves of a red and yellow beet
Make nut / seed mix:
Slivered raw almonds
Raw pumpkin seed
Raw sesame seeds
Dressing
Juice from two lemons
Extra virgin olive oil
Pinch sea salt
Fresh pepper
Pinch red chili flakes
What is great about this dish is the incredible crunchiness of the herbs, beets and nuts. There’s no soft green in this, like a butter lettuce. Everything has a nice snap to it.
Enjoy.
Until we eat again… High-res

Nutty Herb and Beet Salad (raw)

This is an easy one and so delicious and pretty to look at.

Combine equal parts of these herbs - or add your own

  • Basil leaves
  • Flat parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Tarragon
  • Dill

Julienne 1 medium beet - or halves of a red and yellow beet

Make nut / seed mix:

  • Slivered raw almonds
  • Raw pumpkin seed
  • Raw sesame seeds

Dressing

  • Juice from two lemons
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch sea salt
  • Fresh pepper
  • Pinch red chili flakes


What is great about this dish is the incredible crunchiness of the herbs, beets and nuts. There’s no soft green in this, like a butter lettuce. Everything has a nice snap to it.

Enjoy.

Until we eat again…

n-naka - Japanese Omakase Dinner

Chef’s Tasting Menu and Wine Pairing Selection to celebrate my 60th birthday*
This was one of the top three meals of my life. Three hours of bliss. Pure art, pure and complex flavors, elegantly presented and enjoyed.

You can visit n/naka next time you are in Culver City

n/naka Philosophy

"The whole of a meal is as important as the sum of its parts. At n/naka, we are devoted to providing a unique and satisfying dining experience through our interpretation of kaiseki. This traditional Japanese culinary art form reflects the ever-changing rhythms of the earth by taking the freshest seasonal ingredients and presenting them in their most natural states. Using the very best ingredients we have access to is true kaiseki; we proudly serve vegetables from our own organic garden built and maintained by our friends at Farmscape Gardens. We take great care in preparing a beautiful plate and believe that the more involvement we put into a meal — no shortcuts — the more connected we feel to the food and to your experience of it. Through a meaningful balance of both traditional and modern techniques, Chef Niki Nakayama is committed to creating a meal that will engage your attention — it’s about enjoying the moment, the current offerings of the season, and ultimately, the food in front of you.”

The evening of Monday, July 16th, 2013
Descriptions provided by n/naka. Photos by me.

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Saki Zuke (A pairing of something common and something unique)

A perfect medley of textures and tastes to start your meal: gelee of tomato puree and dashi broth, Haas avocado wrapped around fresh lobster and topped with uni from Santa Barbara, fennel and a flower petal of pansy.

French Sparkling Wine, Domaine Rosier ‘Cuvee Jean-Philippe”, Blanquette de Limoux, France 2010

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Zensai (Main seasonal ingredient presented as an appetizer)

Grilled blue shrimp topped with yuzu cream, butter foam, bulls blood beet chip, leaf of water cress

Verdejo, Martinsancho, Rueda, Spain  2010

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Modern Zakuri (A modern interpretation of a sashimi course)

Toro Tartare: Otoro mixed with white scallions, topped with ponzu reduction, uni butter and fresh chives, dashi broth

Pinot Blanc, Dopff and Irion, Alsace, France 2008

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Otsukuri  (Sashimi)

Kumamoto oyster with ponzu and lemon,  Tai (sea bream), Kanpachi (Amberjack), and Maguro tuna, served with freshly grated wasabi from Japan, and Niki’s special soy sauce (lighter so you can taste the quality and freshness of the fish)

Sake Junmai Ginjo, “Shichida” Tenzen Brewery, Saga, Japan


 

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Mushimono (Steamed dish)

Seabass tororo: Steamed Seabass, grated Japanese mountain potato, shitake and mizuba leaf in a dashi broth

Muller Thurgaeu, Kurtatsch Cortaccia, Alto Adige, Italy 2009

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Shiizakana (the Chef’s choice, not bound by tradition)

Spaghettini with Black Abalone from Monterey, Pickled Cod Roe, Shaved Italian Summer Truffles, Garlic and Soy. Topped with Daikon Radish Sprouts.

Greco di Tufo, Villa Mathilde, Campania, Italy  2010

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Niku  (Meat course)

Rib eye angus steak with kabocha, broccolini and lunar carrots from our chef’s garden.

Elke (Pinot Noir), Anderson Valley, California, Pinot Noir 2007

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Sushi

Tai (Japanese Snapper); O-toro of Big-eyed Tuna; Wild Aji (Spanish Mackrel); Amaebi (Sweet Shrimp); Fresh Uni (Sea Urchin); Seared Toro

Sake Junmai Yamahai Karakuchi, “Shichida” Tenzen Brewery, Saga, Japan

 

 

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Mizumono (dessert)

Flourless white chocolate green tea cake, a dusting of matcha powder, crème brulee of black sesame; Hojicha Tea (naturally decaf and made from roasted green tea leaves)

Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, Delas, Rhone Valley, France 2010

 

 

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Chef Niki

"Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, chef Niki Nakayama began her career at the renowned Takao restaurant in Brentwood, working under the guidance of esteemed chefs Takao Izumida and Morihiro Onodera. Committed to exploring new techniques, Niki embarked on a three-year working tour throughout Japan, sampling her way through different regional flavors and immersing herself in the essentials of Japanese cuisine, both traditional and cutting-edge. While working at Shirakawa-Ya Ryokan, (Japanese inn owned by relatives) Niki trained under chef Masa Sato in the art of kaiseki the traditional Japanese culinary practice that emphasizes the balance and seasonality of a dish.

Upon her return to Los Angeles, Niki opened her first restaurant - Azami Sushi Cafe, which quickly became known for Niki’s popular omakase menu. Azami was an immediate LA staple, touted by Zagat and the Los Angeles Times in addition to earning Citysearch’s “Best of Sushi” distinction in 2006.

Inaka, Niki’s ambitious second venture, functioned as a gourmet Japanese take-out by day and an intimate eight-course chef’s table by night. Focusing on tasting menus allowed Niki to do what she enjoys - and thrives in - most: creating a thoughtful and cohesive series of dishes that provides a personal experience for each diner.

n/naka has been ten years in the making and is the expansion of Niki’s previous endeavors, applying the artistic and technical notions of kaiseki to create an ever-evolving seasonal narrative within each meal.”

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Note from Mark. If you have never had a chance to explore a meal over a three hour period in any cuisine, with a chef whom you know will reward your trust in their vision with a stunning meal, you need to put this on your list of things to do.

This was true when we did the Tasting Menu at Pure Food and Wine 3 years ago, which started me on my Raw Food journey. I have always loved Japanese cuisine and this was an epic adventure.

Til we eat again…

Ancho Cashew Cheese, Black Smoked Salt Cashew Cheese, Cucumber Oak Crackers and Honey-Ginger Figs - plating suggestion Figs ready to dehydrate Figs in the Lemon Ginger Bath

Honey Ginger Lemon Figs - easy to make snack to accompany homemade crackers and cheese.

Simple preparation, now that figs are here at the Farmers Markets.

Create a dip of lemon juice, fresh ginger and raw honey - blend, then dunk the quartered figs and place on teflex and put in the dehydrator overnight.

Serve with some of the fine Cashew Cheese I have been making. I made a simple Lemon-Herb one that I think will go perfect with these.

Note: These figs are smaller than a golf ball, so I don’t think they will need more than 12 hours at 105 degrees.

Raw Cashew Cheese
Made from raw cashews, filtered water and probiotics. Set to ferment for two days, then herbs and other ingredients added. Freeze overnight in mold, unmold and dehydrate for 24 hours. These are bite sized tests of Cajun and Tapenade versions.
Original recipe from @TheRawChef - then modified by me High-res

Raw Cashew Cheese


Made from raw cashews, filtered water and probiotics. Set to ferment for two days, then herbs and other ingredients added. Freeze overnight in mold, unmold and dehydrate for 24 hours. These are bite sized tests of Cajun and Tapenade versions.

Original recipe from @TheRawChef - then modified by me