Monday, September 27, 2010

vegan mango pudding


"My friend asked me if I wanted a frozen banana. I said "No. But I want a regular banana later, so... yeah."
-Mitch Hedberg

It's officially autumn, and maybe you're already feeling a little nostalgia for the bygone days of summer. Or maybe you live in the Southwest, where the days are still quite warm. In either case, I would like to share an easy, healthful recipe that makes a perfect breakfast, afternoon snack, post-workout treat or dessert.

You will need to plan ahead a little bit and peel and freeze a ripe banana (this is the perfect thing to do when you have a few sitting on your kitchen counter that you fear might not get eaten in time), and then buy a mango and let it ripen for a few days. After that, all you need is a can of coconut milk. Just three simple ingredients. I really like to use the Magic Bullet blender, because it's the perfect size for this recipe. Here are the proportions:

1 frozen ripe banana
1 ripe mango, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup coconut milk

Place all the ingredients in the blender and blend until it's a creamy consistency. It will be thick and pudding-like, but it doesn't keep for very long without separating, so blend it right before serving.

One common source of confusion I've noticed among readers who post comments on cooking blogs is that many people (understandably) think that coconut milk is a dairy product. However, the term is a misnomer; it's not milk at all, but finely shredded coconut that has been soaked in hot water and strained through a mesh cloth to obtain a white, creamy liquid. It's completely vegan and offers some interesting health benefits. According to multiple informational websites, including this one, coconut milk contains lauric acid, which provides a boost to the immune system, and although it is high in fat, its chemical makeup is such that the fat is burned more easily than other types of fatty acids. Perhaps most perceptibly, it is cooling, delicious and filling. I find it to be a perfect snack after an intense yoga practice and I hope you will enjoy it, too.

One last note: We had a little technical glitch a few days ago, and you might have received an e-mail that promised you an entry about mulligatawny soup. We apologize for the blank e-mail, but we will make good on that promise and write you all about our mulligatawny soup adventure very soon. We think it'll be worth the wait, so please stay tuned...

Monday, September 6, 2010

supreme cream scones


Sometimes after a demanding week at work, when my day off comes I wake up and want nothing more than to start a leisurely sunlit morning baking in the kitchen and listening to music. Today I woke up thinking about scones, one of my favorite indulgences whether sweet or savory.

I didn't want to do a scone that had any eggs in it, so I started by sleuthing around a bit online. I found a recipe for scones, sans eggs, originally published in Bon App├ętit magazine and available at epicurious.com, and was impressed. It involves a different series of steps than I was familiar with from drop scone recipes I have made before. It is instead a wedge scone recipe, and before baking melted butter is brushed on, and a mixture of sugar and lemon zest is sprinkled on top. Those are the basic concepts I kept from the recipe before customizing it. I was in the mood for pear blueberry scones because I had a big juicy anjou pear I wanted to use. I decided to cut back on the amount of lemon zest suggested in the original recipe so that it wouldn't dominate the other fruit flavors. I used Sucanat instead of a refined sweetener and I think it worked really well.

I also used a new flour I was excited to try. Last time I was at Whole Foods I was looking for an unrefined all purpose flour and found Bob's Red Mill Organic Hard White Whole Wheat Flour which they explain is a recent innovation: a new variety of wheat is used that grinds into a much lighter flour than traditional whole wheat flour. I always have felt conflicted about using whole wheat flour in baking recipes because though I really want the health benefit of the whole grain, I dislike the added density that seems inevitable. But this flour is amazing. It is indistinguishable from all purpose white flour as far as I can tell.

Most importantly, I should mention that these scones turned out truly amazing. My friend and I had them with tea, and she said that they were the best scones she has ever had. Now I am tempted to purchase a proper cast iron wedge scone pan so that I can continue on a quest for ultimate scone perfection.

Pear Blueberry Scones

Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup plus 2 T. Sucanat
1 T. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1 large pear, cored and chopped
1/3 cup frozen blueberries
1 T. lemon juice
2 tsp. grated lemon peel
1 1/4 cups heavy cream

3 T. unsalted butter, melted

Method:

Preheat oven to 425°F. Stir the lemon juice into the blueberries and put aside. Mix 2 cups flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 T. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt in large bowl. In a second bowl, mix the cream, pear, blueberries, and 1 tsp. of the lemon zest. Add this wet mixture to the dry ingredients and stir just until dough forms. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Knead gently just until dough holds together. Form dough into an 8 or 9 inch diameter, 1/2-inch-thick round. Cut into 8 wedges.

Transfer wedges to large lightly greased baking sheet, spacing evenly. Combine remaining 2 T. Sucanat and 1 tsp. lemon peel in small bowl. Brush scones with melted butter. Sprinkle with Sucanat mixture. Bake scones until light golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool slightly. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool completely. Wrap in foil; store at room temperature.) Serve the scones warm or at room temperature.