Category Archives: vegetarian

My Mom’s Kohi Kanten – Coffee Pudding (Vegan – and about $.10 per serving!)

Kanten…so many reasons I love it:

  1. it’s a naturally ZERO calorie food. That’s right. I said, ZERO!
  2. it’s filling and yet not wiggly-jiggly (unlike gelatin);
  3. even the laziest prep yields yummilicious results; and
  4. I grew up eating it!

Below is a picture of agar agar in stick form.

At any Asian market you can find premixed packets of almond kanten for less than 2 or 3 dollars – really tasty with even the least interesting fruit cocktail. Growing up, we had that all the time. Perfect summertime dessert. Nice and cool! But avoid buying agar agar at Whole Foods. I have seen the Eden versions for almost 6 dollars!!! You should be able to buy the stick agar agar for $2.00 or less per 10 grams (.35 oz). the urban vegan recommends buying the stick format and sticking the sticks into the food processor to make flakes.* I’m used to the stick forms, but, I think this is a great tip for people accustomed to the flake format. Also, people can get quite glamorous with agar agar (also known as kanten in Japanese). I am stockpiling ideas for what do with it. And coffee kanten is a classic (kohi = coffee in Japanese). So here it is!

Mom’s Kohi Kanten

  • 2 cups of boiling coffee – sweeten to taste (pennies);
  • 5 grams of powdered agar agar (about 1/2 of a stick of agar agar – about $.50 worth); and
  • coconut milk – this is optional (about 10 teaspoons – roughly 1/4th of a 13 oz can – $1.59 = $.40 cents worth).

Dissolve the agar agar in the boiling hot coffee in a saucepot. Mix mix mix. Add your sweetener. Mix. Pour the piping hot mixture into a pie plate. Alright, just cover and chill it for about 2 hours. Done. It’s traditional to cut it into squares (as you see above). Splash on a teaspoon of coconut milk per serving. If you have them around, put a roasted coffee bean on top. Makes eight~ ten servings, depending on the size (less than $.10 per serving – half of that if you do not use the coconut milk of course). Be sure to have this with some lovely tea!

(you can also cool it into cute little cups for individual servings)

* the urban vegan’s post is actually VERY helpful for gaining a good understanding of agar agar. Read it and let the erudition flow!

P.S. I don’t really follow diet news, so, maybe someone can tell me if there are any standards for what is “low-carb”? My very casual research shows me that the FDA hasn’t made a decision yet, but, I’m guessing that might not be the latest info.

Update: VegCookingBlog, thanks for linking to this post! My stats are blowing up 🙂 !!!! I’ve also written a post on making Mango Kanten.

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Housekeeping notes:

(1) I’ve added a “Tips” page to the blog to park handy things I learn about (and/or blog about). For example, last week, limes went on sale – 10 for a dollar. So…I’m not going to use ten in a given week…and they don’t last forever…but they can last longer if you slice them and freeze them. Like so:

Might be better to peel skin off – haven’t tried it that way yet. Works grrrrreat in iced tea. (This is a tip contributed by my mom.)

(2) Not sure why, but Feedburner sent off an old post (from April ’07) on May 10. It wasn’t my doing! I’ll try to find out why that happened.

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Spinach Frittata. Egg in a Nest. Oven Fried Red Potatoes. Miscellaneous Breakfast Joy

When I made a spinach frittata recently, I let someone, who shall remain nameless, have a “bite.” Somehow, upon my return to the pan, hoping to enjoy the last two tablespoons, the rest of it had disappeared! The explanation: “well, it was so good…” Oh, a little flattery gets you everywhere. Who says crime doesn’t pay!

Spinach (and Bean Salad) Frittata:

  • 2 eggs;
  • 2 egg whites;
  • 2 whopping cups of organic spinach from Costco;*
  • 4 tablespoons of bean salad, drained;**
  • 4 tablespoons of Kraft Parmesan grated cheese; and
  • black pepper, to taste.

Feeds one very very hungry person (me). Plus one interloper. OK, so, I sliced the spinach leaves into a loose chiffonade. While the cast iron skillet heated up to a nice medium high, I beat the eggs together with the spinach, bean salad, cheese, and black pepper. Threw some vegetable oil on there. Then I put it all in the skillet. And then tried to flip it, in parts. That was pretty much it. Probably took me all of 4 or 5 minutes of prep. Might have taken 10 minutes to cook. The bean salad adds sweetness, a nice chewiness, and a great tang that stands up to the spinach nicely.

Egg in the Nest

Also made Egg in the Nest recently, with the help of this lid:

Began like so:

Ended like so:

Now you know when I say you might want to avoid using raisin bread to make Egg in the Nest…well, I lived through the hardship of over-carmelization – so you can learn from my pain…

Red Potato Oven Fries

You buy a sack of potatoes. You have the very best intentions. But how quickly can any human get through a 5lb bag (especially if rice = = primary starch)? The potatoes looked wilted and lame after waiting around with nothing to do for too darn long. I resuscitated them overnight with a dash of vinegar. Vinegar prevents the potatoes from browning. I don’t have the “before.” Just know and trust that the potatoes were less than photogenic.

After:

The next day, I drained and dried them, slathered them in olive oil and a pre-packaged Italian-style herb mix before baking them at 375F for about 1/2 hr. Easy as pie. Freezes and microwaves beautifully. Lovely to have for breakfast, especially with eggs and some fine coffee.

After roasting, then freezing:

*Links you to a 2004 industry article regarding the synergy between Costco’s membership base and the organic agriculture market.

**Since the first time I made it, I find myself making it every few weeks. This last rendition boasted some canned corn.

Spicy Roasted Chickpeas

Only for people who want a high fiber, high protein, insanely delicious and cheap snack. Or if you want to get major props. Because people will like them. They will disappear like nobody’s business. And they are way more exciting than popcorn! Since I have that 2kg bag of dried chickpeas, I thought I should find a way to enjoy them. Many, many, many, many, many people love roasted, spicy chickpeas. “Addictive” is the perfect word to describe them. I had no idea. But now I know, and I can never be the same. I encourage you to go forth and seek chickpeas!

Roasted Spicy Chickpeas

  • 1 lb cooked chickpeas(about $.30 cents worth of dried, cooked chickpeas – 1/2 lb or less) ;
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (likely any type of oil would suffice – pennies); and
  • 2 ~ 2 & 1/2tablespoons of seasoning (I used a mixture of Pappy’s and dried cilantro (coriander) – pennies).

Um…but…it’s complicated…first you have to turn on the oven, to about 400…then you have to mix the cooked chickpeas (which you have patted dry) with spices and olive oil…then you pour the beans in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Whew! It’s a lot to think about, but, you can do it! When’s the last time a 3-step recipe yielded you insanely gratifying results?

P.S. Even before roasting, as seen below, they tasted pretty good! But the popular vote was to try roasting…and a good thing was rendered into the hallowed dimensions of fabulousness.

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Other DWTS recipes involving chickpeas (both very inexpensive to prepare – less than $1.00 per serving):

Chana Masala (Chole) and
Madras Chicken Curry.

Subversive Peanut Butter Cinnamon Chickpea Fudge (under $.03 per serving)

Sssssh. I have a secret. Dessert can be nutritious. And, in the old countries, it frequently is. Recipes for yōkan, burfi, and halva routinely use beans, sesame seeds, and even carrots to establish foundations for sweets. They are dense dessert formats, just like fudge.

And what if such a dessert were to be made of chickpeas? Well, one cup of these yields more than 20% of your Recommended Daily Value of folate, vitamins B6, C, and zinc. That means these beans might be good for you. Let me say right now, I don’t know much in the way of desserts.* This was a total experiment. But I really liked how it worked out. And you won’t even have to trick anyone into eating their veggies for this sweet. (I frown upon that sort of trickery!!!)

Peanut Butter Chickpea Fudge

  • 4 cups of hot, cooked chickpeas** (about 1.5 cup of dry chickpeas, about $.60 worth);
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar (less than $.10);
  • 5 tablespoons of unadulterated creamy peanut butter (about $.50 worth);
  • 3 tablespoons of cinnamon ($.20? unknown***);
  • water; and
  • cookie sheet.

Basically, I just pureed the chickpeas with a little bit of water immediately after cooking them to make a paste with the peanut butter. I realize now that it would have been much easier to add the sugar/cinnamon/coffee first to water, then the peanut butter, and then adding that to the chickpeas. It should end up being thicker than peanut butter – very thick – and just wet enough to incorporate everything into the chickpea puree. The amount of water will vary with the moisture left in the chickpeas after draining of course.

Grease a cookie sheet, and spread the mixture with a spatula. I actually put them on a piece of waxed paper laid inside the cookie sheet, and this was fine…but it would have worked better if I had greased it first – later I had to absolutely pry them off that paper. I put them in an oven that I preheated to 425, for about 1/2 hour. Makes about 50 approximately 3/4″ x 2″ pieces (covers 1 cookie sheet fully) for less than $.03 a piece (as in, makes $1.40 divided by 50 = $.028).

Let these cool before eating. They will taste sweeter. The pizza wheel was very handy for cutting these, by the way. The peanut butter and cinnamon stand up and shout, which is just what I like. It freezes like a champ. I absolutely adored having this with my lunch the other day. They are a little bit moist, and very crumbly. (Update: likely a more experienced baker would add some sort of binder, like cornstarch, to render less breakable. But not me!) It’s perfect to have with a cup of strong tea, after popping a frozen one in the microwave for 15-20 seconds.

* Hm, I know how to make apple pie, pumpkin pie, flan, cranberry fruit salad, and tropical fruit salad from scratch…and now this! Cake mixes doesn’t count!

** Canned chickpeas will add saltiness.

***You can get a big bottle of cinnamon powder for $1.00 at some dollar stores, according to one of my friends who bought a lot of her spices that way.

Chana Masala (less than $0.50 per serving)

Everytime I go to the supermarket, I see MDH’s Chana Masala powder mix. Now, I’ve used it before…but not for its intended purpose. I see the happy picture on the box and I wonder if chickpeas can really be that glamorous? I bought the box and decided to take the plunge.

After watching the culinary superawesomeness of Ms. Manjula, in her Youtube contribution, I felt a teensy bit more knowledgeable about preparing the dish. Manjula cooks hers with ginger, and by golly, so will I! Her recipe calls for fresh chiles, which I did not have around.

Chole, a.k.a., Chana Masala

  • 1 lb dried chickpeas, which expands to at least 2lb after soaking overnight (about $.80 – I got a 2 kg bag for under $3.00);
  • 1 can of whole tomatoes, which I then chopped (guessing: about $1.50 – fresh is better, and that’s what Manjula did, but, the available tomatoes looked kinda waxy and were still superexpensive);
  • 1 extremely large onion, almost 1lb (guessing: $1.00 worth);
  • 1.5 cubic inches of ginger (guessing: $.50 worth);
  • 1/5 of the package of MDH chana masala powder – about 2 tablespoons (about $.35);
  • cooking oil (pennies);
  • salt* (I threw in three generous dashes of fish sauce); an
  • pressure cooker.

“Cavalier” is the word I would use to describe how I cooked this. I put the burner under the pressure cooker on medium high, and threw the MDH in when the oil was nearly smoking. Fortunately, I had chopped everything in advance, so in the onion, tomato and ginger went, surely preventing a small kitchen fire. And then the cooked chickpeas. Since I had undercooked the chickpeas the first time around, it took me a while to pressure everything together…probably about 25 minutes in aggregate – pressured it, for 15 minutes, checked it, and then pressured it some more.

You might see the burn marks on one of the chickpeas in the top picture. I would recommend just simmering it (in a regular pan) for 40 minutes like the package recommends – might need a little more water than just the canned tomatoes I used here. I like it just really chunky and with very firm chickpeas. Indira of Mahanandi makes a puree of some of the chickpeas to thicken it a bit. Maybe next time, I’ll try it that way. But I am definitely making this again. So good, and so easy!

Smells absolutely great when you are cooking it. Tastes even better the next day – very microwave-friendly. And is a fabulous lunch, even when cold. Likely makes at least 10 servings (yields almost 4 lbs) for less than $4.50 – less than $.45 per serving.

#8 in a series of my posts about recipes yielding meals for under $1.00 per serving:

  1. Madras Chicken Curry in the Tundra for less than $1.00: even better than it sounds;
  2. approximately Sailu’s adraki kebabs – less than $0.50 per serving;
  3. maximally lazy and frugal version of feijoada (under $0.25 per serving) // Year of the Boar post #2;
  4. antioxidant red cabbage and sweet potato curry – about $1.00 per serving;
  5. When the stars make you drool just like Pasta Fazool, that’s Amore…(about $.50 per serving); and
  6. Three Bean Salad: antidote to winter, super convenient and less than $1.00 per serving!

P.S. There is such a thing as Indian Chinese food, as in, Chinese food interpreted by Indian nationals. Me adding fish sauce, well, I just like it, but I suppose I can get away with calling it some kind of “fusion” technique!

P.P.S. I put the chole on a little plate because I adore being able to see the chickpeas themselves and because I liked the plate. In reality, I prefer eat more than 1.5 tablespoons of food at a time.

* If you leave out the fish sauce, of course, it will be vegan.

South Asian Foods, giving you halwa puri, yes, in Fridley, MN (blissful altar of breakfast post #3)

south asian foods, in fridley, mn

south asian foods, in fridley, mn

Somewhere, off of Highway 694 I believe, you can find a grocery catering to the South Asian palate. That’s right, in the middle of nowheresville, a.k.a., Fridley, Minnesota, you can find a tiny, teeny shop selling toor dal, sambal and the like. Bangladeshi, Indian, Pakistani, and other people patronize the store.

I took a special field trip there with one of my friends, an Indian national, pining for some tolerably authentic food for breakfast. He said it was OK that it was Pakistani. On Saturday mornings you can buy an inexpensive breakfast (somewhere under $6.00 I think) – halwa puri – including rice, dal, halwa, puri, and other nice things. It takes a LOT to get me up on a Saturday morning, but my friend threatened me by saying that if we did not get there by 9:30 a.m., none would be left. So, I went. I saw. I ate. It was SO good. Smells great when you go in, too.

If you find yourself pining for a good breakfast on a Saturday morning to remind you of the old country, look no further than South Asian Foods!

(post #3 in a series of posts about BREAKFAST!)

South Asian Foods
765 53rd Ave. NE
Fridley, MN 55421
(763) 586-9800

Tropical Influenced Fruit Salad (major hit with no added sugar!)

Maybe I shouldn’t even tell you about this. When I served this, I saw my friends taking seconds and THIRDS. No lie!

The major work of this consists of the chopping, chopping, chopping. And removing the pith and peel from the oranges takes quite a while. Or maybe I’m just slow with the motor skills. And no, I don’t think a food processor is going to help you here.

Tropical Influenced Fruit Salad – I did it MY WAY!

  • 1 can of chopped pineapple, with juice;
  • 3 Gala or other sweetish apple (I’m sure Delicious varieties would work well too);
  • 6 Navel oranges;
  • 3 firmish bananas;
  • 1/4 cup of coconut milk; and
  • dashes of cinnamon.

Mix everything. And then chill. I think I garnished this with five or six latitudinal slices of the navel oranges.

I was actually planning on making my Grandma’s Cranberry Salad, but there were no fresh cranberries in the supermarket the day I went shopping. There are a few caveats with this salad. First, the more orange juice/pineapple juice you put in, the less time the salad will last.* I am guessing that something about the acids versus the coconut milk causes a breakdown in “vinaigrette” over time. So, this’ll probably last about 36 hours after making. Oh, also, my can of coconut milk had the floaty bits caked on one side. This meant that it wasn’t so much milk as a nearly-solid cream. This turned out to be a boon because it ultimately helped me control the moisture content. The clear coconut juice doesn’t add a lot (in my humble opinion) of flavor, so, I would not add it in.

Makes 20 servings – by this I mean, my seven or eight friends eating this kept getting more and more and more…enjoy!

Photo Credit: one of my happy diners!

*2009 Update: you could reserve the apples and the juices until just a few hours before serving, to save on time.