Tag Archives: dessert

Red Wine Pears

steaming pears

steaming pears

red wine pears simmering

red wine pears simmering

 red wine pears

red wine pears

Once upon a time, in early fall, pears were on sale for 29 cents a pound. TWENTY-NINE CENTS, you heard me. What to do? Oh yes, at first, you buy pounds of pears. And it is pear time, all the time. Pears with cheese. Pears by themselves. And then the pears threaten to go bad! How can I save these pears, so that their goodness can be captured? Why, poach them in red wine.

It’s that easy.

Ingredients:

  1. 6 very ripe Bartlett pears;
  2. one bottle of red wine; (I use the infamous Trader Joe’s 2 buck chuck)
  3. splash of vanilla;
  4. 1/4 cup of honey;
  5. 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon;
  6. 2 sprigs of thyme (somewhat optional – I’ve done fine without the thyme);
  7. 2 quart sauce pot.

Steps:

  1. Pour the red wine into pot and begin low simmer.
  2. Peel the pears. Slice in half if you like, or leave whole.
  3. Add ground cinnamon, honey/sugar, thyme and vanilla to the pot.
  4. Melt everything together.
  5. Add pears.
  6. Allow pears to simmer until just tender – this means, start checking on it no later than like 10 minutes after you’ve added the pears. Depending upon ripeness, these pears might be ready quite soon.
  7. Remove!!!
  8. Let sauce continue to simmer until it is reduced to half of its original size. This is not a hard-and-fast rule – the idea is to intensify the flavors.

They are simply wonderful as-is. Even better with ice cream/frozen yogurt / nondairy frozen treat. Served that way, any international spy of superior caliber will start weeping like a child with joy. I saw it with my own eyes!

Mango Kanten

I am falling in love with kanten all over again. Summer = = cool, fruity desserts. Like mango kanten! Sometimes mango kanten comes out like this:

Mango No Kantent (mango pudding)

And that’s fine. It’s actually quite pudding-like. But, I kinda like it to be firmer, more like yokan.*

Mango Kanten

  • 1 can of sweetened mango puree ($3.49 for 30 oz – I used Ashoka, a brand sold in Indian markets);
  • 2 cups of water;
  • 4 grams of powdered kanten (about $.50 worth);
  • sugar to taste (optional); and
  • lime slices (optional).

Boil the water. Add the puree. Mix, mix, mix. Once the temperature rises again to barely a simmer, add the powder. Mix, mix, mix. You want to avoid lumping! Taste it. Add sugar/sweetener if necessary. Pour into a 9″ pie plate (it will just barely fit). Let it cool to room temperature. Then cover with wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. Cut it into squares and serve. Makes a lot…at least eight or nine servings (turns out to be about $.50 per serving or less). Squeeze a bit of lime if you have it – I kinda like the contrast with the dense mango flavor.

*One of these days, I will have to make a tea-flavored yokan (photo displayed here by kind permission of ya ma):

P.S. I had no idea that people prepare kanten in Mumbai…interesting!

P.P.S. Here is some gratuitous food porn, of castella (fantabulous Japanese dessert by way of the Portuguese):

It’s something you can enjoy even if it’s cold and gloomy out!

I love sweets, but, I don’t make very many…I guess I’m trying to be more daring about my desserts! So, here are some other recipes I’ve blogged about that are perfect for you if you are a novice like me:

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.

Cream Puffs. Delightful, and terribly easy…

Cream puffs = fabulousness. And now, I know that they can also be easy, as in, E-Z. My mother made them, after being inspired by the $1.75 cream puffs at at Osaka-based Beard Papa’s in Aberdeen Centre. (And frankly, hers were better than those pros!!!) This post content comes by way of my mother. If I’m very lucky, maybe I can get other people to guest blog for me the entire year!

Cream Puffs

400 degree Fahrenheit oven

A.
1/2 C butter (1 stick, unsalted)
1 C water

B.
1 C flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt

C.
4 eggs

1. Boil A (butter + water) in a medium saucepot.
2. Turn the fire low, add B. (flour+salt) Mix vigorously until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl.
3. Remove from heat. Cool for approx.5 minutes
4. Add 1 egg at a time. Stir constantly until smooth and glossy.
5. Scoop with ice-cream scoop into a muffin pan. Bake for 20 minutes
6. Prick the puffs with sharp knife (or toothpick) to allow steam to escape.
7. Fill with whipped cream.

Note: this recipe makes 12 rather grandiose puffs. Would likely make 15 or more lesser puffs.

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.

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.

My Grandma’s Cranberry Salad – holiday recipe

People love this salad. It’s my third grandma’s. Red-headed woman from Nebraska. Force of nature. And cook extraordinaire. Here’s my rendition.

My Third Grandma’s Cranberry Salad

  • 1 bag of fresh cranberries;
  • 1 cup of chopped walnuts;
  • 3 organic navel oranges, sectioned and chopped broadly after removing pith and skin – save the skin for zest*;
  • 3 Granny Smith or other tart apples, chopped broadly (I like to leave the skin on for color);
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of orange zest;
  • 1/4 cup of white sugar; and
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon.

Wash the fresh cranberries. Throw out any berries that are discolored or soft. Throw them into the food processor. Put them into a mixing bowl and add everything else. Mix. Be sure to taste-test for sweetness – you might want more or less sugar. Refrigerate overnight (if possible). At least for 4 hours, to let it all come together. Enjoy!

Thanksgiving 2012 Update: check out the sauce for this salad!

Photo credit: a friend’s son took the picture above (and I cropped the picture to make for the extreme closeup effect) at my friend’s 2007 Christmas party, where I served this salad. I think I also served it at their 2006 Thanksgiving!

*I like for these to be organic especially because I am using the zest, and I’m guessing the peel has the greatest potential for exposure to pesticides and herbicides.