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Dining at the Ravens: Ravens Seaweed Strudel Plus a Giveaway #ravensblogtour #sponsor

When Heather at BenBella Vegan asked if I'd like to kick off the book tour for their new title Dining at the Ravens, I agreed immediately. I already had an advance copy of the book and was more than a little bit enamored with the recipes.

Full disclosure: I am not a vegan. But I am in my 40s and - if you're not there yet, lucky you! - I'm finding that I have to be much more aware of what I'm eating in this decade. So, my husband and I are consciously eating more plants, fewer sweets, more lean proteins, and fewer grains. But no food is completely off limits. I don't do well with moratoria, so we're judicious with our portions and purposeful in our menu choices. And our two sons are hearing - probably more than they would like to hear - about why we're choosing the foods that we're choosing.

"I'm not forty," the 12-year-old whines. "Why do I have to eat more plants?"

Because, you live with us and you don't buy your own groceries. 

"That makes perfect sense," assents the 13-year-old.

Dining at the Ravens is a cookbook, written by Jeff and Joan Stanford, that shares over 150 vegan recipes from The Ravens Restaurant at the Stanford Inn by the Sea in Mendocino, California. Packed with colorful photographs, Dining at The Ravens includes not just recipes, but the history of the establishment as well as cooking tips for perfect recipe execution. There's even inspiration for creating your own garden. If only my thumb weren't pitch black! Thankfully my husband and our youngest son can nurture plants and trees. I'll pass the book on to them soon.

I already mentioned that I am not a vegan, but these recipes are delicious for anyone who loves food, herbivore or omnivore. It's been a wonderful addition to my cookbook collection and we are happily adding these recipes to our kitchen repertoire. Thanks, Stanfords!

Every summer my family and I do a 1000+ mile loop, camping all over Northern California; Mendocino County is always one of our stops. From sea caves to redwoods and wildflowers to sea glass, Mendocino is a constant source of photographic inspiration.

For years, I have looked at the sign for the Stanford Inn by the Sea and not known what was down that road. Just this past summer, we had a great adventure at Van Damme State Park -  a little way down the coast from The Ravens - but I'll have to check out the inn as a possible splurge night during our 2016 camping trip next July!

Q & A with the Authors
I was excited to have the chance to do an online interview with Jeff and Joan and was tickled to discover that they got their West Coast start in my backyard. Before they headed up to Mendocino, they called Carmel home and managed the Carmel Garden Court Inn, which had previously been called Rosita Lodge. At the intersection of 4th and Torres, it was built primarily to house couples during WWII by a naval architect and his wife. The name was a combination of their first names—Roscoe and Anita (Johnson). The Stanford family changed the name to Carmel Garden Court Inn.

Jeff and Joan Stanford, photo courtesy BenBella Vegan

I asked them just a couple of questions...

Q: I am not a vegan, but my husband and I are consciously moving towards a more plant-based, whole food way of eating. When I talk to friends about veganism, the biggest objection I get, or most common excuse for why someone doesn't want to try it: "I would miss the meat." Clearly, your restaurant's success shows that if you're eating good vegan dishes, you won't miss the meat. What would be your best advice to someone about not missing the meat? How do you balance dishes so that they feel like they have a variety of tastes and textures and they're not eating 'rabbit food'?

A: We create some dishes folks can identify with, e.g., ravioli, or ethnic dishes, and just make them as tasty as possible with fresh ingredients. If folks like what they taste they won’t "miss the meat.” Vegan food being rabbit food is an outdated stereotype of sprouts, chopped veggies, and brown rice. Most vegan restaurants have creative, colorful, and flavorful dishes that dispel that image. Our favorite ethnic inspirations are Mexican, Thai, East Indian, Mediterranean, and East African. The flavors from these cuisines are complex and the variety of ingredients provides complexity and satiation. For those looking for a meaty taste, we use mushrooms and seaweed in dishes like our Portobello Sliders, or the strudel we make with sea palm, carrots, and onions. We make a New England oyster mushroom chowder that has won clam chowder contests. Our barbequed portobello is awesome and is a whole food alternative to brisket and other barbequed meats.

Q: I'm always curious to know what cooks and chefs eat when they are away from their work. And I'm usually surprised by the answer. What's your favorite at-home dinner?

A: At home we eat salads, braised or roasted vegetables, chili, and quite often, russet potatoes cooked in a T-Fal ActiFry (a low-fat multi-cooker). When cooked with white vinegar, the potatoes remind us of Winnipeg’s “chips and vinegar.” We don't cook at home often because we live on the Inn property and are continually tasting and tweaking dishes for the restaurant. We try parts of different dishes to assure consistency. A vegan restaurant has a high bar to meet and we have to stay on top of the kitchen. When we go to Lake Winnipeg for our annual family reunion, we experiment, creating dishes we bring back to the Inn and hand over to our fantastic cooking staff to test.

Raven Seaweed Strudel
reproduced with permission from the publisher, slightly adapted

A good friend of mine became a vegan around Fathers' Day last year. His son explained it this way: "My dad is a vegan. My mom and my sister are vegetarian. And I am tortured!" I might have to have him over for a few of these recipes. I am pretty sure he'd happily devour these dishes. Just looking at these titles makes my mouth water - Grilled Barbecue Portabella, Grilled Cauliflower Napoleon, Mushroom Pesto Burger, Spicy Peanut Curry Sea Palm, and Eggplant Cannelloni.

When I was perusing the cookbook, I decided to share a more challenging recipe. I did have some trouble sourcing sea palm. I ended up finding mixed sea veggies, so I changed the title to "seaweed strudel." Also, I added in some collard greens because I had them in my CSA box and I thought they would be a great addition.

As the Stanfords commented about their next-gen vegan fare, this was an incredibly creative, colorful, and flavorful dish. Incredible. They serve the strudel with two unique sauces and a fresh stir-fry. Did I already say 'incredible'?

For the Seaweed Strudel
  • 4 ounces seaweed, soaked for 5 minutes in enough warm water to cover
  • 4 C water
  • 1 C brown rice syrup
  • 6 T gluten-free tamari
  • 1 T grated fresh ginger
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 2 C collard greens, destemmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 T organic vegetable broth
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1 (16-ounce) package whole wheat fillo dough (I used Fillo Factory Organic Whole Wheat Fillo Dough, as they do)
  • Spray oil
  • 2 T black sesame seeds

For the Umeboshi Plum Sauce
  • 1/2 (10-ounce) bag frozen raspberries
  • 3 1/2 T umeboshi plum paste
  • juice of 1 organic lime
  • 1 C apple juice
  • 2 T arrowroot powder

For the Asian Stir-Fry
  • 1 T sunflower oil
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1 C chopped cauliflower
  • 1/2 C chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 C sliced green cabbage
  • 1 large carrot, cut into 1/8-inch slices
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2  organic vegetable broth
  • 1/4 C raw cashews

For the Wasabi Sauce
  • 2 1/4 T wasabi powder
  • 2 1/4 T water
  • 2 1/4 T canola oil
  • 1 1/2 t brown rice syrup


For the Wasabi Sauce
In a small bowl, make a paste of the wasabi and water. Place paste, oil, and brown rice syrup into a food processor or blender. Process until smooth and creamy. Add more water if necessary.

For the Seaweed Strudel
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a large saucepan, combine drained sea palm, water, brown rice syrup, and tamari. Over medium heat, bring mixture to a slow boil. Lower heat and simmer until the liquid turns to syrup, about 15 minutes.

Add ginger, remove the saucepan from the heat, and allow to cool.

In a medium saucepan, braise onion, carrots, and collard greens in the stock and sesame oil. Lower heat to low and allow the vegetables to soften, approximately 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

To assemble, lay down 1 sheet of fillo dough and brush or spray lightly with olive oil. Place a second sheet on top of the first and brush with oil again. Repeat with a third layer.

Sprinkle black sesame seeds over the whole third sheet. Layer 2 more sheets of fillo, brushing each with oil (for total of 5 layers). Sprinkle black sesame seeds on the top layer.

Spread a 3-inch wide strip of the cooled sea palm mixture evenly across the fillo sheets, 2 inches from the bottom. Lift the bottom edge up and over the sea palm mixture, rolling and securing the mixture. Then place a 3-inch-wide strip of the cooled carrot-onion-collard green mixture evenly across the top of the secured sea palm mixture. Roll the sea palm up and over the carrot mixture, securing the mixture. Continue to gently roll up.

Place, seam-side down, onto a greased baking sheet. Bake for 15–20 minutes, or until golden brown and heated through. Allow to rest for 5–10 minutes.

For the Umeboshi Plum Sauce
In a small saucepan, combine the raspberries, plum paste, and lime juice. Add apple juice, using only enough to cover the mixture. Bring to a boil over medium heat. In a small bowl, combine the arrowroot with a 1/2 teaspoon water to make a milky paste. Add additional water if necessary.
Carefully add the arrowroot mixture to the boiling raspberry mixture. Mix well and remove from heat. Strain the seeds out, if you wish; I did. Set sauce aside until ready for assembly or store in refrigerator for up to 5 days.

For the Asian Stir-Fry
In a large sauté pan, heat sunflower oil and add onion. Sauté for 2 minutes over medium heat, then add remaining vegetables and red pepper flakes, tossing occasionally. Pour in the vegetable stock, toss vegetables to coat, reduce heat to low, and cover pan to steam the vegetables. Toss vegetables again after 5 minutes, and replenish vegetable stock if needed to coat vegetables. Continue to cook until just tender, another 5 minutes. Just before serving, toss cashews into the vegetables.

For Serving
Smear a ribbon of wasabi sauce on your serving plate. Using a serrated knife, slice the strudel into 2-inch pieces and place on top of the wasabi sauce. Place about 1/2 cup of stir-fry in front of strudel pieces. Drizzle the umeboshi sauce over the strudel and serve immediately.

The Giveaway
One of my lucky readers - US only! - can enter to win a copy of  Dining at the Ravens by Jeff and Joan Stanford, courtesy of BenBella VeganGiveaway runs from February 9th till March 3rd at 6 o'clock PM, Pacific time. Please see terms and conditions in the rafflecopter widget below. Many thanks to BenBella Vegan. You may find them: on the web, on Facebook, on Pinterest, on Instagram, and on Twitter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Dining at the Ravens by Jeff & Joan Stanford to review plus the opportunity to give a copy away. Opinions are my own. I received no further compensation for my posts.

Other Stops on the Tour


  1. Not a vegan either, Camilla, but being a bit older than you, I also see the benefit. I think I could be a mostly vegetarian (with a few slips). Cheese is my weakness when it comes to veganness! :)

    1. Yes, cheese is a huge deal-breaker! ;) Thanks for entering.

  2. We have at least one vegan or vegetarian dinner a week in our house ... I'm certain this book would come in handy!

    1. Nice! Yes, I have found all of the recipes absolutely delicious.

  3. I'm not vegan, but do eat vegan one night a week. This book looks great!

  4. I'm a vegan wannabe. I'm vegan at home but sometimes have to compromise when eating out and have something vegetarian but not fully vegan. That's the biggest challenge I've found.

  5. Of course this is delicious. It is wrapped in flaky pastry.

  6. Thanks for posting this! I think the strudel looks delish, even if one isn't a vegan. A bit over 40 myself, cheese would tempt me a lot, too. I admire their perseverance and commitment. My husband and I run a cooking school, so I can identify with their constant tasting and tweaking. What lucky guests at the Stanford Inn by the Sea.

  7. The meal I had at the Ravens was at least 15 years ago but still stands as one of the most memorable and delicious in my whole life! I had this seaweed strudel, it was wonderful!

    1. That's wonderful, Christine. Thanks for reading and commenting!


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