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KarmaFree Cooking 1st Cooking Class Recap

28 Jan

You asked for it… and we heard you.

Last December we held our first KarmaFree Cooking class at the Centro Cultural Yoga Devanand kitchens.  A delicious vegetarian Puerto Rican Xmas menu designed to help the students discover and taste for themselves that traditional Xmas fare can be made vegetarian without losing any authenticity.

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The menu included:

Rosemary Almonds

Can be enjoyed as an Appetizer or Salad Topper or even as a homemade gift.  It’s a true KarmaFree Cooking favorite.

rosemary-almonds

Raw Yuca Pastelón – all the flavors of a traditional pastel in an easier to make format

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Brown Rice and Pigeon Peas – a classic of Puerto Rican cuisine

Arroz con Gandules

Yautía Fritters – the flavors of  alcapurrias, but without the filling

Frituras Yautia 3

A not so typical Salad – including some non-traditional salad ingredients and a delicious Parsley Garlic Dressing

A New Salad

My version of Tembleque – the quick, easy and vegan dessert we all love

Tembleque My Way

We had a lovely time during our cooking class.  To be honest, this is the first time I have taught an official class.  I have shared my recipes with my friends many, many times, but never in a class setting.  I hope the students who participated enjoyed it as much as I did.

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I would like to thank everyone who attended.  Some were personal friends, some are friends I have gotten to know thru the blog, others have been KarmaFree Cooking fans for a while…  I kinda felt like a celebrity when they told me that.  Your support and interest gets me going.  And it was real nice to have Adriana from Great Food 360 with us and specially to have her take the most awesome pics ever.  I need to ask Santa for a new camera STAT.

But I also want to send a special shout-out to my friend Angie… she was my co-instructor in this class and she ROCKED!!!  She’s my friend, but she was also one of my first vegetarian cooking teachers.  She was the “owner” of the Brown Rice and Pigeon Peas and Raw Yuca Pastelón Recipes.  We always talk recipes and it was a delight to have her on the team.

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Also, a special thanks to my mom… she was the official picker-upper and was in charge of doing the dishes, helping us keep the space clean for the students to cook.  Goes to show you the value of having someone helping you keeping things tidy in the kitchen.

Please visit the links of the recipes in the class above… and stay tuned for our next class coming up on February 1st.  

White Chocolate Cheesecake with Cranberries

2 Jan

A dessert with the holidays written all over it… white chocolate, cream cheese and cranberries. These last ones, look like jewels on top of it all.

Easy to make and fancy to the eyes. I brought it to a day-after-Thanksgiving get-together and my friends ate it all before I had a chance to take a good picture of it.

Is that enough proof on how good this is???

White Chocolate Cheesecake

WHITE CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE WITH CRANBERRIES

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
½ stick butter, melted
8oz cream cheese
¼ cup brown sugar
½ tsp vanilla powder
1 ½ tsp egg replacer + 2 tbs water
¼ cup half and half
½ cup white chocolate chips
¼ cup dried cranberries
  1. Use the wrapper of the butter stick to grease the bottom and sides of a 5” x 7” baking dish.
  2. I break a few graham crackers in the bowl of my food processor. Process it until I get fine crumbs. I measure to make sure I have 1 cup of crumbs and return the measured crumbs to the food processor. Add the melted butter and pulse a few times to combine. It should be the texture and consistency of damp sand. Add the mixture to the buttered baking dish and pat the crumbs to the bottom of the dish and a bit to the sides.
  3. Bake in a 400F oven for about 10 minutes to create a nice crust base for our cheesecake. When the crust is golden brown, take out of the oven and chill for a few minutes to cool down as much as possible.
  4. Reduce the oven temperature to 350F.
  5. In the meantime, let’s create the filling…
  6. In a bowl mix together using a hand mixer the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, egg replacer mixed with water, and half and half. Blend well until it becomes a smooth mixture. Add most of the white chocolate chips and cranberries and mix in using a spatula.
  7. When the crust has cooled, pour the cheesy white chocolate mixture on top of the crust. Decorate the top with the remaining white chocolate and cranberries. Bake in oven for about 25 mins. When the time has elapsed, turn the oven off, but leave the cheesecake in the oven for 10-15 additional minutes.

Take out of the oven and let it cool in a wire rack, so air can circulate from all sides. Refrigerate for about 2 hours for the cheesecake to set completely.

Carob Oatmeal with Cranberries

30 Dec

When you’re trying to lead a gluten-free lifestyle, even if it’s once in a while, I need to get creative…

I love cold cereal in the morning, but most of my favorite options include some sort of wheat component. And after a few days, plain old oatmeal can get a tad boring. I know…

Bring some spark to your mornings with carob and cranberries. It’s just as easy as making regular oatmeal, just a few extra ingredients and VOILA!

Carob Oatmeal with Cranberries

CAROB OATMEAL WITH CRANBERRIES

1 ½ cups almond milk
4 tbs quick cooking oatmeal
½ tbs carob powder
¼ tsp salt
2 heaping tbs brown sugar
½ tsp vanilla powder
1/3 cup dried cranberries
  1. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat add the almond milk and season it with the sugar, vanilla powder, carob powder and salt. Mix together to combine well. Immediately after, add the oatmeal. Mix well again and partially cover allowing an opening for you to see the milk and how it’s coming to temperature.
  2. When the milk starts to boil, in about 2-3 minutes, stir everything to combine and allow all the boiling to subside a bit. Lower the temperature of the stove to low and continue to cook partially covered.
  3. After about 5-6 minutes of cooking, you’ll see the oatmeal starts to thicken a bit, but not quite done yet. I cover completely. Count to 10 and turn off the stove. Turn it off and walk away. Don’t look, don’t peek… just walk away.
  4. After about 15 minutes of letting the oatmeal stand, it’s done. I usually let it stand for about 30 minutes to allow it to be a tad cooler.
  5. Add the cranberries right before you’ll eat it to add a special chew and sweetness.

Yautía Fritters

27 Dec

I learned to make these fritters from Mili at the Yoga Center. She was always a champion of having something fried in our Saturday menus…

I have always been a great fan of anything fried, but to be honest, never made these yautía fritters myself. So why in the world did I want to include them as part of a Cooking Class menu??? Beats me…

So I had to prepare fast, real fast to make a recipe that I could replicate time and time again, and that it tasted as good as Mili’s always did. Thank goodness yautías and most viandas are on sale during Xmas because they’re used in so many typical recipes.

Frituras Yautia - INgredients

Here are the results… I hope you enjoy them as much as the cooking class students did.

Frituras Yautia 3

YAUTÍA FRITTERS

2 medium sized yautías, peeled and cut into small pieces
1 green banana, peeled and cut into small pieces
3 tbs sofrito
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and cut into smaller pieces
1 tsp salt
1 tbs olive oil
Sprinkling of paprika
Frying oil – Grapeseed oil or Canola Oil
  1. Add all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until you create a puree.
  2. With a spatula, scrape off the sides of the bowl of the food processor to make sure all the mix is evenly pureed.
  3. Using a skillet with about ½ inch of oil over medium high heat, fry the fritters creating small mounds with 2 spoons.
  4. When they’re golden brown on both sides, transfer them to a plate with paper towel to soak up any extra oil.

Processing Frituras yautia

These fritters are easy… and delicious. You can make them in a cinch. Perfect for an impromptu parranda. They taste like an alcapurria without the filling.

Masa Frituras Yautia

When we were making them at the cooking class, Angie told me if we had left a bit of the soy filling from the yuca pastelón, we could’ve demonstrated how this masa works for an alcapurrias too.

Coquito Ice Cream

25 Dec

I have been meaning to make an ice cream using my Coquito recipe for years… but recently I asked my mom for her ice cream maker and I have become a frozen dessert maniac.

I educated myself on making ice creams… proportions, flavors, textures. And the best ice creams always included some sort of egg component. And as you know, eggs are no-no’s in KarmaFree Cooking. I was willing to give this project a few tries, but making Coquito takes a few steps and I didn’t want to be wasteful.

I struck gold when I took my ice cream making inquiries to a Facebook group we have – the Serious Eats Water Cooler. There a few friends introduced me to Max Falkowitz, an ice cream guru who’s also part of the editorial team at Serious Eats. Between his recommendations and my friend Jerzee Tomato’s input, I came up with a brilliant combination of texture and smoothness.

Create a custard… without using eggs and mix in the Coquito. Genius!!! The Coquito has fat from the coconut milk, evaporated and condensed milks so all you need to do is add some more to the custard.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!   My mom was in awe when she tried it…  as has been each and every person who has tasted it after that.  This was a home run!

Coquito Ice Cream


COQUITO ICE CREAM

2 cups of my Coquito Recipe
1 ¼ cups half and half
2 tsp cornstarch
½ cup brown sugar

First we need to create the components… you can make a batch of Coquito first and then make the cornstarch custard.

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add 1 cup of half and half and sugar. Add the cornstarch to the remaining ¼ cup half and half. Whisk well to create a slurry and while whisking, add to the saucepan with the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Whisk or stir constantly using a wooden spoon to avoid any lumps while the mixture thickens. It’ll take about 5-6 minutes. The custard is done when it coats the back of a wooden spoon and when you run a finger thru it, the sides of custard will not get back together.
  3. It may look a tad loose, but it’ll thicken in the fridge while it cools.
  4. Transfer the custard to a heatproof bowl or even a glass measuring cup and chill in the fridge at least 2-3 hours. I place a plastic film over the custard to avoid it creating a film on top. You can do this even a few days in advance if you want. Just like making the Coquito in advance.
  5. When you’re ready to assemble the ice cream, in a pitcher bring together 2 cups of Coquito and the cornstarch custard, which should measure just a tad more than 1 cup. Mix well to combine and add to your ice cream maker. Churn 25-30 minutes according to your ice cream machine’s instructions.
  6. Transfer to a container to freeze in the freezer for about 2 hours before serving. It’s delicious right off the ice cream maker… but it’s at its best after a few hours in the freezer.
  7. When you’re about to serve it… leave it a few minutes at room temperature before scooping.

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The end result is a smooth, spicy and creamy ice cream that feels as rich as any premium ice cream around.

Merry Xmas, Happy Holidays and may 2014 be filled with lots of blessings.

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