July 20, 2011

Vegan Fusion Workshop

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a two day Vegan Fusion workshop with Mark Reinfeld, co-author of one of my favorite vegan cookbooks, Vegan World Fusion Cuisine.  I've been using this cookbook for about six years now and was delighted to learn from the creator of these recipes.  I met quite a few very nice people.  My friend Vickie came along so we rode to Portland together and talked about what we learned all the way home. It was a fun and worthwhile weekend.  She's a bit new to vegan cooking and it was fun to see her get excited about all the wonderful vegan choices available.

I haven't been writing this blog very long, but you could probably search Vegan World Fusion in my blog and find quite a few dishes I've made using the recipes either in whole or as a part of a meal.  One of the best points I thought he made during the class:  He teaches his students to find base recipes for soups, sauces, and desserts and add or substitute ingredients to get the desired taste you want. I've often done that as I usually start my cooking by going to the farmer's market and the produce store and let the available ingredients decide what we are eating. I look for ideas online and many times substitute an ingredient for something I have on hand.

Mark is a delightful teacher, patient, and knowledgeable.  He's got a great attitude about cooking, "There are no mistakes in the kitchen." he says.  "If you don't have the ingredient, substitute."  "If you happen to cook the rice a little too long, it's toasted now."  "If you think it's not the way you want it to be, adjust something." That's the way I cook everything. I look forward to learning more from him.  I am going to take the ten day class online and, hopefully, next year get around to taking his three day class to become a certified vegan cooking instructor. I'd love to share what I know with others.  I think this way of eating is not only easy, once you get the hang of it, it's colorful as well as tasty. 

One of the great things I've learned about vegan cooking is that many of the dishes are raw, prepared using a food processor or blender, and usually contain few ingredients making them quick and easy to prepare.  I've learned a lot about pre-preparation of my ingredients and have been cooking this way long enough, I can find a nice recipe and have most the ingredients to prepare it.  During the weekend we were able to prepare and eat all of this:

Day 1
Sun-Dried Tomato Flax Crackers witjh Cashew Cheese
Raw Carrot Ginger Soup
Coconut spinach Rice
Macadamia Nut Crusted Tofu with Golden Gravy
Organic Mixed Greens with Toasted Pecan Vinaigrette
Chocolate Dream Pie

Day 2
Mushrooms Stuffed with Spinach Paté
Creamy Broccoli Bisque
Raw Pesto Pasta Puttanesca
Coconut Curry Tempeh over Quino Pilaf
Raw Chocolate Mousse with Macadamia Cream

Mark is in Europe now teaching classes and gathering ideas to finish his "Taste of Europe" vegan cookbook soon to be published.  He has also written The Complete Idiot's Guide to Eating Raw.  I've recently been playing with this book and it's full of very easy and tasty recipes complete with nutritional information for each one.  I've already made a few things, only having the book about two weeks.  One of my favorites so far has been the Raw Nachos with Nacho Cheese Dip.  It's very close to the nachos served at the Blossoming Lotus in Portland, also created with the help of Mr. Reinfeld.  If you're in Portland, Oregon, check it out sometime.  You won't be disappointed.

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