Akasha is a self-trained chef and artisan-style baker who has been catering events in Los Angeles and other parts of the country for over twenty years. She began her professional career at the Golden Temple, a now defunct but once popular vegetarian restaurant in Los Angeles. It was in this kitchen that Akasha discovered her passion for making delicious dishes with good-for-you ingredients. After the Golden Temple she became Michael Jackson’s personal and concert tour chef. AKASHA is her first restaurant venture, the result of a vision she has had for many years.
Her cookbook HOLLYWOOD DISH includes tales of Hollywood’s 100-year passion for organic foods and healthy lifestyles and stories of her favorite cooking experiences: making holiday dinners for Billy Bob Thornton, catering parties for Pierce Brosnan, producing events at the Sundance Film Festival, and working as a private chef for Barbra Streisand.
She lends her time and expertise to groups such as Share Our Strength, Environmental Media Association, Common Threads and Pediatric Aids. She has appeared on The Food Network (The Best Thing I Ever Ate), Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, Planet Green, and nationwide news programs.
2 cups water
2 ounces dried porcini or other dried mushroom
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large or 2 small shallots, finely chopped
2 leeks, pale green and white parts only, cleaned, and finely chopped
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems wiped clean, trimmed and sliced
2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
1 large carrot, diced
1 large parsnip, diced
1/2 cup whole barley
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Chopped flat leaf parsley, for garnish
Bring the water to a boil in a 1-quart saucepan. Add the porcini mushrooms, turn off the heat and cover.
Let sit for 20 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft. Drain, reserving the liquid, and finely chop the mushrooms.
Heat the butter in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, shallots, and salt. Cook for
about 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent and fragrant. Lower the heat to medium, add the
leeks, and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the shiitakes and the soaked porcini and cook another 5-8
minutes, stirring often, until the mushrooms are well cooked.
Add the stock, celery, carrots, parsnips, barley, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for one hour or until the barley is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with the chopped parsley.