Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It is or is not on the menu

One of my favorite things to do in my raw kitchen is to recreate or rawify dishes from various restaurant menus. Now that I've pulled out the dehydrators again (I don't really use them in the warmer months), I decided to make a raw version of The Flying Biscuit's popular fried green tomatoes.

I had bought some green tomatoes from a local farm stand a few days back, and had this recipe on the brain ever since. By the time I got around to making it, the tomatoes had begun to take on an orange tone, due to the warm sunshine casting its rays onto the kitchen counter. They still had a touch of green, so I knew I needed to act fast, if I wanted these 'maters to be the star ingredient.

Although The Flying Biscuit breads its tomatoes in a cornmeal mixture, I decided to coat mine in a mix of almond meal (almonds ground into flour, leftover almond pulp from making nut milk or a combination of the two), ground golden flaxseed, sea salt, fresh ground pepper, celery salt, cayenne pepper, onion powder and paprika, which was glued on with a drizzle of olive oil. Then, I "fried" them up in my trusty dehydrator for a couple hours.

I served the tomatoes on a bed of salad and topped them off with the Biscuit's own cashew relish recipe, made out of cashews, fresh cilantro, jalapeno peppers (I used orange and yellow sweet peppers, then added some crushed red pepper flakes for heat), white vinegar (although I substituted apple cider vinegar) and honey (there's always agave for those who avoid using animal products). Beautiful and tasty, too.

While I was in the process of breading and "frying" the tomatoes, I also opted to have fun with some refrigerator pickles (sliced cucumbers, soaked in apple cider vinegar, agave, sea salt and other seasonings). Fried pickles, you say? Well of course I did. Haven't you ever heard of fried pickles?

Deep fried pickle chips were part of the pub fare served up at, you guessed it, Pickles, an off-campus bar where I went to college. I can't quite remember if they were actually on the menu at the time, but those in the know were definitely ordering them.

Speaking of ordering without a menu, that same Rachael Ray mag I mentioned reading the other day had a feature entitled, "Secret Service," with the opening paragraph, "Menus are for amateurs. Some of your favorite restaurants are serving unlisted dishes that only insiders know about. (Consider yourself one of them now!) We went undercover for the real house specials."

This peaked my interest, but I quickly found myself bypassing the In-N-Out Burger, Chili's and Quiznos listings, only to land on Jamba Juice and its sweeter option. According to the article, the fresh-fruit smoothie establishment "happily obliges" when its customers "ask for their favorite candy in liquid form ... one quirky combo tastes like a Butterfinger: chocolate, peanut butter, carrot juice and frozen yogurt."

This was right up my alley. I used to love Butterfinger candy bars when I was little, and had been known to buy them in bulk. I just had to make a raw version of this treat, but instead of rawifying it in smoothie form, I transformed it into a tasty pudding.

It was simple, keeping the chocolate and peanut butter flavors (I used my usual mock peanut butter combination), as well as the carrots (to my surprise, they really do help mimic that distinct Butterfinger taste). However, I opted to substitute the yogurt with a banana to lighten it up a bit.

You'll be relieved to know that I didn't add any pickles to this recipe, although I may have considered it when I was pregnant with my son. Actually, I had the pickles and ice cream thing down pat way before then in my high school and college days, when I would order it at Denny's of all places. It must be a family thing, since my sister used to eat peanut butter and pickle sandwiches as a kid (she doesn't do this anymore, thank goodness). What were we thinking?

Anyway, here's the recipe. Do what you want with it. And, while you're at it, let me know what you've been able to order that's not on the menu at your favorite raw or nonraw restaurant.

Butterfingeraw Pudding
1 large ripe, but firm banana
1/3 cup shredded carrots
1 heaping Tbsp. almond butter (emphasizing "heaping")
1 heaping Tbsp. tahini
1 Tbsp. agave nectar
1-2 Tbsp. cocoa powder (adjust based on the amount
of chocolate rocks* you add)
1 tsp. lucuma powder
1 tsp. mesquite powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla
dash of sea salt
*some chopped up chocolate rocks, to taste

Add all the ingredients to a high-powered blender and blend until smooth. You shouldn't have bits of carrots, but it's nice to have some specks of chocolate rocks left intact. Chill to set, or if you're like me and can't wait, enjoy right then and there :-)