Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Green Tapioca Pudding with Salted Coconut Cream

Thai desserts are so wonderful because they typically feature a slightly sweet, salty and rich component. This tapioca pudding delivers a dose of all of those, as well as boasts an incredibly fluffy and light texture, alongside a softly gelled layer of salted coconut cream. To make the coconut cream gel, I incorporated some agar powder which I first dissolved in hot water. Agar has the ability to transform any liquid to a gel once cooled, with the advantage of not affecting the the overall flavor of a dish. This is a perfect dessert to enjoy during the summer when served cold, but does require a dedicated 15-20 minutes of constant whisking over a stovetop. I used green tapioca for the photo because I love its beautiful green color, but any small pearl (not instant) variety will do.

INGREDIENTS
for the pudding:
1/3 cup small-pearl tapioca
3 cups almond milk
3 tsp Ener-G
1/3 cup superfine sugar
pinch of salt

for the coconut cream:
1 cup full fat coconut milk
3 TB coconut oil
1 tsp agar powder
1/4 cup boiling water
1/4 tsp salt

METHOD
To make this, you'll need to soak the tapioca beads in one cup of the almond milk as well as prepare the coconut cream the night before.

To make the coconut cream, place the coconut milk and oil into a mixer and combine well over the highest setting, for about 4 minutes.

To prepare the agar mixture, place it with the boiling water in a small pot over medium low heat, stirring frequently until the agar has completely dissolved. Add that to the mixture, along with the salt. Transfer to a plastic container to chill and gel overnight.

To make the pudding, combine the soaked tapioca/almond milk mixture with the remaining pudding ingredients in a medium-sized pot over medium heat.

Immediately begin whisking the mixture as it heats, for about 15 minutes (a little more or a less time may be necessary). You'll know that it's ready once the tapioca becomes translucent and the mixture becomes really thick and frothy. Its really important to whisk briskly and constantly during this time, as it will yield an extremely fluffy pudding as well as prevent any sticking or scorching of the pudding. When it's done, remove it from the heat to cool. Transfer the pudding to a plastic container to chill for about 3 hours.

To serve, spoon some of the pudding in a glass or bowl, layered with some of the salted coconut cream.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mushroom Walnut Paté


Several months ago, I went into Chinatown for a grocery trip and came out with several bags of dried shiitake, oyster and some other type of mystery mushrooms. I bought so many because they were very cheap yet vaguely exotic at the time, but I've since grown kind of tired of looking at them hanging out in my cabinets. So I've been thinking of ways to use them up, without having to crank up my stove too high or for an extended period of time, and mushroom pate seemed like an obvious choice. Although the recipe below doesn't call for very many dried mushrooms, this an excellent way to enjoy them for their unique smoky and woodsy flavor. Perhaps once the weather cools down, I can throw my remaining dried mushroom stash into a clam chowder or a tom kha gai. For now, I'll enjoy this pate for its earthy taste, rich bite and smooth texture.

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4-1/2 cups dried shiitake mushroom caps, broken into pieces
8 ounces fresh baby portobella mushrooms, quartered
2 shallots, quartered
2 TB olive oil
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
1/2 cup walnuts
2 TB vegan cream cheese
1/2 tsp salt

METHOD
Place the shiitake mushroom pieces into the boiling water and stir to ensure all pieces are moistened. Set aside.

Place the quartered fresh mushrooms and shallots into a food processor. Pulse until well combined.

Heat the two tablespoons of olive oil in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Place the thyme sprigs and smashed garlic into the oil for about 5 minutes, stirring to prevent any browning. Remove the thyme sprigs from the oil and then add the flavored oil and smashed garlic into the food processor, using a rubber spatula. Pulse a few times more.

Return the small saucepan to the stove and add in the walnuts. Over medium heat, toast for about 2-3 minutes, or until you can smell them. Add them to the food processor, along with the dried shiitake mushrooms, straining out any of the remaining liquid.

Add in the vegan cream cheese and salt. Enjoy with toasted baguette slices or crackers. Spread on toast for a perfect light breakfast.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Fried Bananas with Cashew Miso Cream


Every few weeks, we order Thai delivery from Tom Yum Koong in Medford. It's pretty standard Thai fare, but we continue to order from them because they are consistent with their food and have pretty good vegan options. Plus they are really nice! Ending dinner with their Fried Banana Dessert, topped with a little raw agave nectar and some coarse sea salt, is the best. Their dessert inspired me to recreate a fried banana dish of my own, featuring a sweet (agave), salty (miso) and rich (cashew) component—which all worked well together to make this easy and kind of fancypants dessert.

INGREDIENTS

1 TB white miso
2 TB cashew cream, thick
1 tsp water

1 1/2 tsp Ener-G, mixed with 5 TB water
3/4 cup cornstarch
1-2 bananas, cut any way you like
plenty of oil for frying

raw agave syrup
sesame seeds

METHOD

Make the cashew miso cream by mixing together the first three ingredients. Set aside.

Heat the oil (enough to submerge the bananas in) in a saucepan over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes. Test the readiness of the oil by dropping a pinch of the cornstarch into the oil—if it sizzles immediately, you are ready to fry.

Working in batches, dip the bananas into the Ener-G slurry and then coat with the cornstarch, tapping off any excess. Slide them into the oil slowly (being careful not to  overcrowd) and fry until golden, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the oil and place on paper towels to drain.

To serve, drizzle with the agave and a spoonful of the cashew miso cream. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.


Monday, July 4, 2011

Minted Pea Soup with Cashew Cream and Basil Oil






































Last week, my husband pulled something in his back, so we bought a huge bag of frozen peas to ice it with. His pain has since passed, but the monster bag of peas is still here. I have to confess, I don't really like peas—they are just kind of blah, so I was stumped with figuring out a good way to use them. When I spotted some fresh mint at Whole Foods this weekend, I decided that some minted pea soup would be perfect. Served at room temperature, this is a light yet flavorful summer dinner.


INGREDIENTS
for the cashew cream:
1 cup cashew cream, thick
1 TB white miso paste
1 TB Vegenaise

for the soup:

1 small onion, chopped

4 TB Earth Balance
1 tsp coarse sea salt
2 cups frozen peas
4 cups vegetable stock
1 Not-Chick'n bouillon cube
1 cup fresh mint, chopped
2 TB basil oil, plus more for drizzling

METHOD

First, make the cashew cream by combining all of the ingredients together. Set aside.

Melt the Earth Balance in a soup pot over medium heat. Add in the onions and sprinkle with the salt. Cover and steam for about 4 minutes. Add in the frozen peas, stir well and cover for about 4 more minutes. Add the broth and bouillon cube to the pot and simmer for about 10 minutes more, uncovered.

Remove from the heat and add in the fresh mint and basil oil. Using an immersion blender or a blender, puree until very smooth.

Serve at room temperature, topping with the cashew cream and extra basil oil.