Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Beet Cookies ... Plus Continuing My Way Through The Bay

 It's Tuesday! That can only mean one thing: Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. I must say, it is really easy and delicious to eat locally when you are in California. I recognized some of the farms from working at Millennium, how's that for community? One great thing about this farmers market was the free samples of produce at nearly every table. After trying all of the peaches and nectarines I could handle, I headed right to Donna's Tamales stand, all made without meat or lard! (If eating at Millennium has got me hooked on two things, it's the end pieces of brownies and tamales.)
Donna's has vegetarian and vegan tamales, plus vegan tapioca pudding, which was really hard to say no to, but will have to wait for another time.

The first one eaten had black beans, carrot, corn, and peppers. The second was the  "dessert" tamale with  pineapple and plantains.

Next I came across the nicest "peeple" that I met last year in SF: Pepples Donuts!

It was really hard to make up my mind, but decided on the Plum (My new-found plum obsession can also be blamed on Millennium). I had the lemon one last year, plus a week ago from Cole Coffee. The seller said that on the weekends they serve yeast donuts, looks like I just might have to go back...:)

I wish the plum was incorporated into the dough and not just the icing, but who can stay mad at a face like this?

I needed a small detox break from the sugar, so I found my way to THE PLANT Cafe. I was intrigued by their use of fennel in a juice, so I ordered the Apple-Fennel-Mint. It was a bit smaller that I would have liked for the price, but for the few seconds it lasted, it was amazing.
Fennel loves you.

Keep walking along Embarcadero and you'll find TCHO, the only chocolate factory in the city, and the only one ever to be on a pier. The place is small so the tour was short, but the tastings were incredible. All of their "flavors", Fruity, Nutty, Citrus, and Chocolatey, have the same ingredients and are not "flavored" at all, but have undertones naturally developed by different types of cacao fruit. My favorite? The Nutty, of course.

I ordered a TCHO shot, which unlike hot cocoa (one of the only foods that grosses me out), is made from melted chocolate, like chocolate was originally ingested by the Mayans. This shot was something I could get used to: drinking this I totally understood all those research articles that claim that chocolate has the same effect on the body as falling in love. It was euphoric, and with none of the commitment or baggage of an actual relationship.

I'm not digging this recurring theme of small cups, although I don't think I could have handled any more nirvana.

Feeling at though I should end my day on something more down-to-earth, I went back to Berkeley to try the highly-praised Cafe Gratitude, which completely went above and beyond all of the hype. Half of the menu is raw, half is cooked, with only raw desserts, everything organic, vegan, and gluten-free.

Inside was the comfort and hospitality that really convinced me that I was eating in someone's home. I felt even more so ordering the "I Am Warm-Hearted: grilled polenta with a fresh puttanesca sauce, topped with cashew ricotta and Brazil nut Parmesian". I have the Natural Gourmet Institute to thank for my polenta-love (but don't worry, Millennium did encourage that too).

This just might be the most Italian meal I've ever eaten and enjoyed so much. I've made my ancestors proud.

This was actually a lot of food, but I pulled through and made room for dessert. I don't think I've ever even had tiramisu, but any other 'misu would have been obsolete anyway. "I Am Rapture: Seasonal Tiramisu Layer Cake" was the best decision I've made all week. 'Twas my first time with a raw cake too, and what an experience 'twas. Made from coconut, almond, agave, cocoa, more coconut, vanilla, and coconut flakes.
Completely raw in every sense of the word.
The other desserts to pick from were also very tempting. If the Saturn Cafe was the place to bring all my friends, than Gratitude is where I take only the most important, meaningful people in my life. Bringing anyone else might send the wrong message.

Raw Chocolate and Coconut Mousses.

Raw Dark Chocolate Nuggets and Special Chocolate Truffles

Raw Key Lime Torte
 One big thing that stuck with me about Cafe Gratitude was their "I Am Grateful: Our community-supported grain bowl. Shredded kale with local brown rice, black beans, and tahini-garlic sauce. We created this bowl to allow for those in financial need to have access to organic vegan food. Payment is by donation. No one is turned away." So even though I ate alone I got to buy dinner for someone in need, how cool is that?

As if pondering all the things you were grateful for while eating wasn't enough they also have a question-of-the-day, today's was "What is your biggest aspiration?" A restaurant that encourages deep thinking instead of using food to numb your mind and emotions. Only in Berkeley.

The thinking never stops.
I did promise Beet Cookies somewhere in the post now didn't I?
These are a result of being resourceful in culinary school a few months ago. Every leftover scrap of food is salvaged at the Natural Gourmet, which is a good means of increasing creativity the kitchen with the food you take home. After a day of juicing, there was a ton of beet pulp remaining. Two options: toss in the compost pile or bring home to experiment with cookies. How could I say no?

Now, I'm going to let you have some of the fun of experimentation and not give you measurements. I didn't use any cups or spoons, but added until the dough held together well and tasted sweet. So next time you are juicing, don't dump that bowl of pulp! It's nutritious and fibrous, not to mention a terrific source of color.

In a large bowl, mix together beet pulp, flour (all purpose, whole wheat, or oat), and a sweetener (I used agave). If you want a red velvet cookie, add a few spoonfuls of cocoa powder and drops of vanilla. Top with a walnut piece, bake on a lined/greased sheet at 350F for about 7-10 minutes, until lightly browned.

One bit of advice: Please don't go on making these for your omnivorous friends, these are a bit of an acquired taste, to say the least. These are not going to win over anybody, unless you know they really like beets. If beets aren't your thing, try using the pulp left behind after juicing carrots or apples.
My main points with these cookies are
1. Be resourceful with every edible part of the plant. You get maximum nutrition by eating the whole food, and especially if you do a lot of juicing, that's a lot of food that goes to waste.
2. Be confident in venturing forward without a recipe. Follow your tongue.
3. Be creative and take risks.

1 comment:

  1. Couldn't find an email to reach you on your comment, but anyway, I am just messaging to let ya know, despite that silly disqus has hidden your reply, your comment in my contest still counts :3 (as entry #1 for the random # generator obv).
    That said you still have an excellent chance of winning! :3