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VegFest in Florida 2011 and Brownie Recipe

VegFest Lineup
Uncooking Demo

The second annual Northeast Florida VegFest on Saturday November 5th brought me back to Jacksonville, Florida for a short little visit. While in town I had a chance to visit some friends, harvest reishi mushrooms, go surfing and make some brownies during my food demo at VegFest.

Saturday started out with a visit to WJXT News 4 Jax studios for a quick interview on the morning show. The morning anchor and weather lady Rebecca Barry confessed to me she was a burger and pizza kinda girl. I told her I ate that stuff too back in the day but you can’t get away with that forever… especially if you are on TV… well maybe if they don’t show you below the neck. I was impressed by how she would jog in high heels between the morning show couch and the weather set and then back all while on the air and even talking. That must be how she works off the burgers. I gave her a copy of the book and left a bag of granola with the other morning host (not sure of his name). The next morning show guest was a group of Zumba ladies. They asked me if I’d like to join them during their segment for some Zumba dancing… hey, why not? What’s a “Zumba” anyway?

WJXT4 morning show
WJXT4 Morning Show

While we were waiting between segments I watched the male morning anchor chowing down on the granola. I assumed he was enjoying it but before I could ask him he blurted out, “this stuff tastes like dirt.” That had me confused because he just kept eating it… he must like eating dirt. The old saying about “throwing pearls to swine” comes to mind. His comment didn’t bother me much because he seemed more like the the Froot Loop fan than the raw granola type.

The morning show finished up before 9am so I headed over to VegFest to catch everyone setting up. I said my “hellos” and slipped around the corner to a breakfast spot where I could warm up with some tea and eat a pomelo I had bought the day before.

pomelo breakfast
Breakfast of Champions

Pomelos are a favorite fruit of mine. For those of you not familiar with pomelos they’re the oversized grapefruit looking things you’ll find seasonally at the grocery store. Pomelos differ from grapefruits in a couple of ways:

  • Their skin is very thick and can be easily removed in one piece
  • They don’t come apart in clean slices like grapefruit and oranges. It’s best to peel the fruit, split it in half by pulling it apart from the middle and then peel each individual slice to free it of the thick skin that surrounds it
  • They taste sweeter than grapefruit
  • They don’t make as much of a juicy mess although once you’ve finished eating one there will be a pile of peels and pith

With breakfast and the surreal land of the mainstream media behind me I walked over to VegFest for my demo. Fortunately this year they had a sound system for the food demo. The year before we had to battle the amplified main stage for the attention of our audience. This year we had a microphone on a stand. Not ideal for a food demo but better than nothing. I actually liked the hand held microphone because it made me feel like I was doing stand-up comedy. My friend Natacha volunteered to assist me in my brownie making which allowed me to narrate the process. I was pleased to see a standing room only crowd gather for the no-bake brownie demo. I did a variation of the brownie recipe on page 176 of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Raw Food Detox. There’s also another variation of the brownie called the “Bomb Dot Com Brownie“. Here’s the recipe I shared on Saturday at the VegFest:

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:8]

VegFest Demo
Brownies anyone?
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Mousse on the Loose – Avo Chocolate Mousse

Julian's Ormond Beach Sign
Vintage Kitsch

I had quite a wild weekend of food preparation and fun. Actually things started rocking for me on Friday when I drove down to Ormond Beach, FL for an Art Army meetup event at Julian’s Landmark Restaurant. Let me say first off, a big thank you to Keith for driving down with me and being my “most humble assistant”… best assistant ever! For those of you that have been to Julian’s you’ll understand what I mean when I say that the place is a surreal experience. Julian’s exists in a wormhole that keeps it suspended in the Tiki Bar Rat Pack Era. The decor of Julian’s is authentic, it’s gotta be because who in their right mind would replicate it. Don’t get me wrong, kitsch is cool, theĀ  panoramic 30 foot wide Hawaiian Luau mural is priceless. The mural alone was worth the drive.

Luau Mural at Julian's
Authentic Mural

Our task, Keith and I, was to rock out a raw buffet for the Art Army event that kicked off at 8pm that evening. The menu that was planned was Pad Thai noodles made from zucchini, yellow squash and carrot topped with an yummy-liscious almond miso sauce. We also prepared walnut pecan pesto stuffed bell peppers, mixed green salad and a mack’in bowl of avocado chocolate mousse.

I’ll be posting video from the festivities, but first I’d like to share an avo-chocolate mousse video I recorded this summer. Enjoy!

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Chocolate is "Yes"!

Jack-Fruit of Hearts

For those out there that are chocolatiers, you are familiar with the intoxicating smell of cacao butter melting in the dehydrator and also with the way cacao powder seems to gravitate towards all things white. I spent last night in the kitchen preparing chocolate for a promotional holiday party. Free raw chocolate is a great way to promote your business. What’s my business these days? Good question. As usual I’m playing “the Jack” as in “Jack of all Trades”. The Jack is cool and all. It’s royalty, but it ain’t The King or even The Ace. So I’m selling super foods, teaching classes, consulting, hosting dinners and preparing packaged foods… oh yeah and occasionally making videos, posting blogs and working on a recipe book. Wow, when I look it like that I feel like I’m spreading myself thin. Don’t get me wrong it’s not like I’m doing all of those things everyday, some of them I’ll only do once a month. Believe me I find time in there for surfing and other forms of recreation.

So where was I? Making free chocolate for a promotional event, ah yes. That’s the whole dynamic of “you’ve got to spend money to make money”, but whose in it for money? My motto is “you gotta do what you love to love what your doing”, which I can affirm. So playing The Jack(fruit) and occasionally The Joker is cool with me…

Here’s a sampling of what I made last night:

Candied Pecans dipped in chocolate, I made little sandwiches by dipping the flat half of the pecan and then placing another flat half

Hearts and Caramel Squares

on top of the other. This way you can pick up the choccie pecan sandwich without it melting in your fingers.

Chocolate Caramel Squares: I busted out the casserole dish, layed down some wax paper and poured a layer of chocolate for this creation. I set the chocolate in the fridge, made a caramel, poured that over set chocolate and spread it within a quarter inch of the edges of the chocolate, back in the freezer to set and the caramel layer with a layer of chocolate that went to the edges. At this point I should have set it in the fridge because I eventually had to cut it into squares. A casserole sized chocolate caramel bar is a little excessive. Trying to cut it directly out of the freezer caused some of the chocolate to crack… little patients and thawing allowed me to make clean cuts.

Chocolate Hearts with Goji and Coconunt: this is a Valentines Day classic that never fails to please. I sprinkled the goji and coconut into the molds before I poured the chocolate in. This heart molds are super easy to use. I scored them at Target in the bargain bin just after Valentines last year… Score!

So that was it for free chocolate schwag. I’m hoping that I’ll have some left overs to share with family and friends. Myself I’m choco’d-out. Making chocolate takes its toll on me with all the sampling you have to do. By the end of the night I feel like flying and I this funny sensation in my chest like my heart is radiating out of my chest: raw chocolate is a true heart opener. So I’ve come down of the cacao cloud. I tend to burn out quick on cacao powder and that’s why I stick to the nibs.

Choco Candied Pecans

Here’s the basic chocolate recipe I used:

Cacao Butter – 10 oz. about 1 1/2 C melted

Agave – 1/4 C

Palm Sugar – 1/2 C

Lucuma – 1/4 C

Cacao Powder – 8 oz about 1 3/4 C

pinch of Himalayan salt

Chocolate dipped Candied Pecans

I melted the cacao butter in the dehydrator in a metal bowl with a fork laying in the bowl. I do this to draw heat into the center of the melting cacao. The metal bowl conducts heat better than glass or pyrex which are actually an insulators. I then moved to my double boiler set up which is a crock pot filled enough to float the metal bowl. I check the water temp. with a small thermometer and turn the crock off and on accordingly. Next I mix in the agave, salt and palm sugar with the melted butter. I do this in the bowl using a blending wand. These things are cheap and very useful for blending directly inside of bowls and even wide mouthed jars. It’s good to have a second set of hands at this point but it can be done alone… Once the cacao butter, agave and palm sugar is blended I start adding the cacao butter and mixing. You can sift the cacao powder into the mixture as well which makes things easier. With the hand blender there is the danger of spraying chocolate all over the place. I like to live on the edge. I only had minor splatters from this undertaking.

A couple tips for using the hand blender.

  1. Make sure your bowl is wide and deep enough to prevent from slinging your mix everywhere.
  2. Lift the mixing wand up out of the mixer to create a vortex of chocolate spray. Do this carefully because this the “wall splatter”danger zone. Tilting the wand on an angle will also pull floating ingredients down into the blending vortex.
  3. Unplug hand blender before licking the blade.
Joker is Wild

Cocoa Butter on Foodista

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Banana Lama Ding Dong Finale

Part 3 in the epic saga of Crust, Filling and Chocolate Sauce. May the Bliss be with you.

Chocolate Sauce:
1/2 C agave
2 T cacao powder
1 T mesquite powder
1 T lucuma
1 T carob
2 t agave powder
1 T coconut oil
pinch of salt