Tonight, I had such a delightful evening! I decided to break away from my computer and treat myself to a cooking class at the Whole Foods in Woodmere. My son's darling girlfriend was the chef for the evening and because she is a vegan and a exceptional cook, I knew that I was in for a treat! Whole Foods Markets have a really great tradition of hosting excellent food events and many evenings I've walked into the store in University Heights to find the rambunctious and talented Chef Dave cooking some pretty incredible meals. Tonight's feast was no exception, when I walked into the test kitchen and was greeted by Cassie and her delightful partner in crime Nadine , I just knew that I was going to have fun! The meal was three parts, a Fresh Pea Soup with Tarragon, a Radichio, Radish and Fennel Salad and for dessert, a Raw Vegan Chocolate Decadence!
One of the things that I was the most impressed with was the quality of the Mise en Place , translated "Putting in place" which is a French technique for keeping everything in order and at your fingertips. Consequently, we were able to enjoy, see and understand everything that was being use to create our meal, which sometimes is a problem in cooking demonstrations due to lack of preparation! Needless to say the ingredients used were sparkling and beautiful and as I watched Cassie make the Raddichio salad I was impressed by the ease of the preparation. They wisely chose recipes that were not intimidating, but fun, for example the dressing for the salad was whipped up in the blender in just a few seconds. It was delightful, made of fresh mint, maple syrup, mustard, lemon juice and excellent olive oil, it was the perfect counterpoint to the crunchy salad. As she moved on to the soup, deftly sauteing leeks and adding the garlic, vegetable broth and peas, Cassie explained that all of the recipes with the exception of the dessert had come from the Vegetarian Times and she explained the ease of using their website and recipe database. Letting the ingredients for the soup sit for a bit allowing the flavors to meld, she went on to create our dessert, which I must confess was my favorite part of the meal!
This dessert was unexpected and absolutely amazing. I'm no stranger to raw food, but this one surprised even me. I watched as Cassie peeled and seeded 3 avocado and put them into the blender. She proceeded to add 1 cup of dark agave nectar, 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of cocoa (she likes the Green and Black kind), 2 tablespoons of organic vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon of Vietnamese cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt. All of this she put into the blender with the avocados and processed it all until it was smooth. She had a bit of water that she added to thin it out just a bit and that was all. They spooned it into flute champagne glasses for us and it was absolutely delicious and so incredibly easy. Topped with fresh raspberries or strawberries this is the kind of dessert that I could make as a treat for my brother who is diabetic or my best friend who has Crohns disease.
This was healthy and intelligent cooking all the way around and I am impressed with Whole Foods for offering this kind of in store programming. For the whopping price of 5.00, I was treated to a delicious vegan meal cooked by fun and extremely knowledgeable women. Neither Cassie nor Nadine had any trouble at all answering my questions and we were given the recipes to take home. I truly recommend that you go to their web site and check out their calender! You're bound to find a class that will intrigue you, expand your culinary repertoire and delight your taste buds and you'll make some new friends too! Breaking bread together is still the best way that I know of to create a compassionate world so grab a friend, go to their next class and start a new tradition! Go to: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/ for their online store calender!