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Interview with a cannabis chef: Monica Lo and her fresh cannabis chimichurri recipe

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Chef Monica Lo grew up in a household with a love for food, where every meal was made from scratch. From a young age, she was spending quality time in the kitchen with her mom, “prepping the mise en place or pleating dumplings.”

This love of food evolved over the years, turning into a passion project that from which sprang forth “various food blogs” back in the days of Tumblr. Eventually, as the years went by, she eventually launched her own site, becoming the creator of Sous Weed – Cannabis-Infused Recipes From an Asian American Kitchen.

Lo got her start in the culinary world through art with a background in advertising and design. Her career evolved into food styling and photography classes during time she spent in New York. Later, she moved to San Francisco and started having pop-up dinners and events.

She learned the way many of the greatest do: through the foundations of cooking taught by her parents. In this case, intertwined with their Taiwanese and Chinese traditions.

Monica Lo meets cannabis

Chef Monica Lo has been building her career in the culinary space for years, and continues to bubble with fresh and fun ideas.

In 2015, Lo’s cooking journey took a turn towards cannabis. It began with a workout injury – a herniated spinal disk. She was prescribed a mix of opioids and acetaminophen by her doctor, but the medicines “destroyed” her stomach. “[It made] the whole situation worse,” says Lo.

“Raw or cooked, this plant is delicious! It’s not always about the THC or CBD; cannabis is a nutrient-dense vegetable to be treated as a culinary challenge like any other.”

– Monica Lo

Eventually, seeking relief from the pain without the terrible side effects she was experiencing, Lo tried a cannabis edible.

“That night I slept so well,” says Lo. “From that day on I knew I had to make my own edibles.”

There was just one problem. Lo lived in a strict no-smoking building, which meant the smell of cannabis wafting from her kitchen could be trouble, smoking it or not. She couldn’t cook it on a stovetop or crockpot, so she had to get creative. Fortunately, at the time, Lo was working as Creative Director for a sous vide start-up.

Sous vide is a cooking technique where food is vacuum sealed in a bag and then cooked to precise temperatures in water baths. The technique allows for greater precision and consistency, and has been around in the culinary world since the 70s, but didn’t really take off in the U.S. until the 2000s. From there it’s grown and has become more accessible to home chefs.

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Lo decided she would put her start-up’s machines to the test, and to her delight, it worked. Lo says, “Since the cannabis flower and cooking oil are sealed in an airtight bag and placed underwater to infuse – there’s no smell! Plus, I can make multiple cannabis infusions at once, using all my favorite cannabis strains. I would use these infusions in a variety of sweet and savory dishes.”

Embracing the plant and its unique qualities

Lo doesn’t hold back from the possibilities when cooking with cannabis.

She uses various cooking oils, fats, butter, sugars, and alcohol for the base of her infusion, and says she prefers both fresh and dry cannabis flower and leaves.

“To get the full spectrum of benefits, you should use whole plant material. There are over 100 cannabinoids that have been identified,” Lo reminds us, while celebrating broad-spectrum cooking. She believes cannabis can be an accompaniment in dishes, rather than an additive to hide and disguise.

“The flavors of cannabis should be welcomed, not hidden.” says Lo. “The lovely terpenes that give each cannabis strain its distinctive smell should be celebrated.”

Lo says that by using a gentle method like sous vide, it’s possible to infuse more phytocannabinoids and terpenes into cooking oils, and this allows her to consider her food pairings more carefully.

“For example,” says Lo, “I like to infuse a strain that smells funky and garlicky into lard or schmaltz to use in savory dishes. Or I’ll infuse a lemony, citrusy strain into olive oil to use in a salad dressing. On the flip side, I also chop up my cannabis fan leaves to use in a chimichurri, or juice it to color my dumpling dough. It’s an opportunity to be creative!”

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Ultimately, her journey into cannabis cooking helped Lo manage her back pain in a less invasive manner and take back control of her life. She documented the process on her blog and Instagram, and as a result, doors opened for her to collaborate with “really amazing people and brands” in the cannabis industry.

“It’s been quite the adventure,” Lo says.

Edibles for everybody

Monica’s latest venture is the launch of her cookbook, The Weed Gummies Cookbook. Lo says it has been her dream since she started to publish a book, and she hopes her practical cookbook can be a go-to resource for the cannabis curious of all levels.

Photo of Monica Lo's book cover for "The Weed Gummies Cookbook"
Monica Lo’s latest venture is The Weed Gummies Cookbook.

“Homemade edibles are cost-effective, discreet, and delicious! The Weed Gummies Cookbook offers approachable ways to incorporate a variety of cannabinoids into your routine. With step-by-step instructions and color photos, you’ll also get tips for safely handling and labeling your confections.”

At the end of the day, Chef Monica hopes the takeaway from her brand, Sous Weed, is that cannabis can be used as a superfood ingredient, as opposed to only a psychoactive additive.

“Raw or cooked, this plant is delicious! It’s not always about the THC or CBD; cannabis is a nutrient-dense vegetable to be treated as a culinary challenge like any other. My goal is to encourage and empower people to make their own infusions at home.”


Chef Monica Lo’s cannabis chimichurri recipe

Photo of cannabis leaves, garlic, and herbs next to a photo of bright green chimichurri on a spoon
Cannabis chimichurri recipe by Monica Lo. Photo credit: Monica Lo, Sous Weed®

Chef Monica Lo says, “If you’re growing a cannabis or hemp plant at home and you’re unsure of what to do with all the fan leaves–just eat it! While the leaves, in the raw state, won’t get you high, they can still provide you with a wealth of health benefits. Plus, it makes an awesome chimichurri.”

Prep time:

10 minutes

Cook time:

No cooking necessary

Recipe yield

Makes about 2 cups

Recipe ingredients

• 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

• 1/4 cup raw cannabis or hemp leaves, finely chopped

• 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, finely chopped

• 1 small shallot, finely chopped

• 4 garlic cloves. finely chopped

• 1 red jalapeño, seeds removed, finely chopped

• 1/2 cup red wine vinegar

• 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil*

• Juice of 1/2 lemon

• 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste

• 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

Recipe instructions

1. Chop all ingredients separately.

2. Add ingredients into a bowl and mix well.** 

3. Salt and pepper to taste.

4. Serve on skirt steak or roast chicken and enjoy.

*Substitute regular olive oil with your preferred dosage of cannabis-infused extra virgin olive oil if you’d like.

**To make a creamier dipping sauce that tastes amazing on empanadas, blend all ingredients together in a blender or food processor.


Follow Chef Monica Lo on Instagram to stay up to date on her recipes, books, and adventures. Click here to check out more of her recipes on Leafly.

Rae Lland's Bio Image

Rae Lland

Rae Lland is a freelance writer, journalist, and former editor for Weedist and The Leaf Online. With a focus on culture, music, health, and wellness, in addition to her work for Leafly, she has also been featured in numerous online cannabis publications as well as print editions of Cannabis Now Magazine. Follow her on Instagram @rae.lland

View Rae Lland’s articles





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adult-use cannabis

Interview with a cannabis chef: Mike DeLao and his peanut budder cookies recipe

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Mike DeLao’s love for cooking grew organically, in his grandmother’s kitchen where she made fresh tortillas every morning. This sense of community stayed with him as he grew up and went out into the world.

At 18, DeLao went off to college and had a culinary epiphany while partying with his friends, telling Leafly, “I realized that I was only caring about cooking for my friends at six in the morning; not really caring about the party all night.”

After this late-night revelation, DeLao decided to take a chance and change his major. In 2000, he joined Orange Coast College,  a top 10 culinary school in Costa Mesa, California. 

“It was just like trial by fire and learn, learn, learn,” says DeLao. On the cusp of graduation three years later, he got his first job as a chef in a fine dining restaurant, and later picked up a second gig at a raw food restaurant. But about three years in, Chef DeLao pinched a nerve in his back from the hard labor in the kitchens. 

While doctors prescribed him a plethora of prescription medications, one day he saw an ad that would change his trajectory. 

“Chronic back pain? Come get the chronic,” it said.

Mike DeLao meets edibles

chef mike delao
(420LivingFoods Twitter)

DeLao had been a casual, social cannabis consumer up until that point, but he wanted to get off the strong meds his doctor had prescribed. He inquired about cannabis, but his asthma posed a problem.

The obvious solution from there? Edibles. He got a medical recommendation in 2003 and found one rather hush-hush clinic in California to supply him. But the baked goods of 20 years were a far cry from what consumers can buy today. 

“I just bought whatever I could, all the cookies he had, every single one, and they were horrible! They tasted so bad, and it wasn’t that the cannabis tasted bad; it’s that they weren’t made correctly. The sugars weren’t built up right, the butters weren’t whipped right. Just procedurally, the cookie wasn’t made correctly. Someone for sure was throwing all the ingredients in the pots and mixing.”

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Rather than letting this sully his first experience with medical edibles, DeLao saw these disappointing cookies as an opportunity.

“It took about two months of begging and buying all those cookies to say, I will make the cookies for free, just pay me in cookies and let me fix them.”

The proprietor, the late Steven Lawrence, agreed and became what DeLao calls his “first mentor” in the cannabis world. 

“He took me in, and he was so serious about sick people. It was always about his son who had muscular dystrophy. We were gonna help the sick; it wasn’t just making cookies to make money.”

How Jack Herer changed Mike’s life

photo of Mike Delao competing in cooking on high with mise en place
Mike appeared on the Netflix show ‘Cooking on High.’

In 2008, DeLao attended the NORML conference in Berkley, and met the emperor of cannabis himself, Jack Herer

“He was in the booth next to me. I knew he had a strain named after him, and I thought I should give this guy some of my cookies. So, of course, I go over there, and I try to give him cookies, and he says, ‘I’m a diabetic. I can’t eat any of your stuff. Nothing you have is medicine.’”

Herer’s words massively impacted DeLao. He went back to Lawrence and together they began making a sugar-free line for their collective. 

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DeLao stayed in touch with Herer and his wife Jeanie, and they introduced DeLao to Rick Simpson Oil. Jeanie convinced DeLao to start providing RSO to patients so he could understand how it helped people in real-time. Today, he continues to use it in recipes and inform other’s about how he’s seen RSO change lives.

DeLao went on to have a show on Cannabis Planet, where he never made a single recipe with sugar. From there he landed a spot on Netflix’s Cooking on High, and contributed to two cookbooks, The Cannabis Kitchen Cookbook and The Official High Times Cannabis Cookbook.

Adapting to the legal market

Today, DeLao continues his mission of listening to patients and learning from them. He develops recipes for individuals and their needs, whether it’s a patient with no teeth in need of soft food, or another with specific dietary restrictions.

It’s still difficult for him not to want to give cannabis away to those that need it most, and leave money out of the equation.

In the meantime, Chef DeLao says he is leaning into his age as a cannabis veteran, and getting back to his “pachuco days,” to make himself the most “interesting man in cannabis” while working on several new projects.

He continues to cook with cannabis oil, developing healthy recipes with whole foods, raw foods, and complimentary healing ingredients for a fully holistic approach. 

“I just want people to remember that there’s sick people out there. It’s cool to have flashy products and large dabs, but there’s someone right now that is lying in their bed who can’t even eat food; if you just gave them a little help or gave them a free cookie, then you would change their life. Some of them are all alone, and they need somebody to care about them. The whole point of this whole thing was always to worry about those people.”

Chef Mike DeLao


Chef Mike’s peanut budder cookies

Mike is known for being a versatile chef who can make delicious goodies with or without sugar. For Leafly, he provided a tasty peanut budder cookie recipe that includes the sweet stuff. Modify this recipe and substitute as necessary if you have peanut allergies, diabetes, or other serious health considerations.

Delicious homemade peanut butter marijuana cookies.
These tasty treats zap the pain away. (fundio/Adobe Stock)

Yields: 24 servings

  • 1 cup unsalted cannabis-infused butter 
  • 1 cup  peanut butter 
  • 1 cup white sugar 
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • ½ teaspoon salt 
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda 

Tips for making infused butter: 

Melt the butter and fold in any good clean concentrate. Mike prefers a full spectrum ethanol extraction.

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Chef says: one gram to one pound of butter will be enough, or you can use Leafly’s cannabutter recipe.

Once your butter is done, let cool to room temperature before making your cookie dough.

Baking the cookies:

  1. Cream butter, peanut butter, and sugars together in a bowl. Once incorporated, beat in the eggs.
  2. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Stir into butter mixture. 
  4. Cool dough in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  5. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and lay on baking sheets. Flatten each ball with a fork, making a crisscross pattern. 
  6. Bake in a preheated 375º F oven for about 10 minutes or until cookies begin to brown.
  7. Eat one or two for pain!

Visit Chef Mike on his website at www.chefmike420.com.

Rae Lland's Bio Image

Rae Lland

Rae Lland is a freelance writer, journalist, and former editor for Weedist and The Leaf Online. With a focus on culture, music, health, and wellness, in addition to her work for Leafly, she has also been featured in numerous online cannabis publications as well as print editions of Cannabis Now Magazine. Follow her on Instagram @rae.lland

View Rae Lland’s articles



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