Summer Tapioca Pudding

Ah summer. How I wished for your visit the minute winter reared it’s chilly head…

Summer. When the washing dries to a crisp after only 2 hours. When it’s already 25 degrees by the time we finish breakfast. When it’s all dim inside the house because we close the blinds and curtains to keep out the sneaky glare of the hot sun. When it’s even too hot to wear a singlet and shorts to bed.

When it’s MANGO season! Mangoes here in my cereal, mangoes there in little cubes in a bowl – mangoes everywhere in my smoothie!

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Summer brings a plethora of yummy tropical fruits – watermelon, lychees, cherries, strawberries and blueberries. And mangoes.

Ah mangoes, how I miss you when all I have during dreary winter is apples and oranges and pears.

But enough of dreariness! Winter is a distant 5 and a half months away, and summer is everywhere NOW! Let us revel in the fruits that summer has to bear…and make tapioca pudding topped with my favourite coloured tropical fruits – and that includes MANGO!

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What an amazing colour combination!

I chanced upon a tapioca pudding recipe in the newspaper a while ago and it brought back memories of my childhood when my mum used to make it for us. The childhood version I had didn’t have any tasty fruit on top, even though we always only seemed to have it in summer, and it was a lot runnier than how I make it. But I still remember it being yummy and sweet and full of summeriness!

My take on the pudding has a lot less sugar, but I still have to confess that it’s a pure carb-fest (tapioca is made from the starch of the cassava plant, a root vegetable)… but sometimes a carb-ie detour is just what one needs when one decides to indulge : )

Tapioca Pudding with Summer Fruits

Gluten free

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 tins of coconut milk
  • 500 ml of milk
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/3 cup small tapioca pearls
  • Mango, watermelon and blueberries – or whatever fruit you like.

Let’s make pudding!

  • Mix all the ingredients except the fruit together in a pot and soak for about 20 minutes
  • Turn the heat onto a medium heat and bring to a simmer for about 20 minutes or until the pearls become soft and translucent

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  • Make sure you stir every few minutes, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot and move the pearls around otherwise the pearls will stick to the bottom and burn
  • Take the pot off the heat and let it cool and then chill in the fridge
  • Chop the larger fruit into little cubes so all the fruit are basically the same size
  • Spoon the tapioca into bowls and top them with the fruit
  • Garnish with a mint leaf if you’re so inclined!

Notes:

  • The pudding can also be eaten warm, in which case you can enjoy it during winter
  • The pudding will become gluggy after you’ve chilled it, but it’s still very yummy! If you don’t want to eat it warm but not keen on glugginess, you could add a little bit of water or more coconut milk to make it runnier.
  • Also, if you’re not keen on milk, just substitute the milk for water instead. This does mean that you’ll get a thinner consistency, but I think it’ll be just as good.

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Poh’s Prawn & Yuba Beads

There are many, many dishes I would so love to cook, but if I find any one of my three recipe deal breakers in it, then I’m out.

And my 3 recipe deal breakers are:

  1. Too many ingredients are involved

If the ingredient list runs over a page, it’s just not going to happen, because at the end of the day, I really, really just want to eat.

2. Ingredients are too hard to get

Wakame, wakame, why-fore aren’t thou at the local Chinese grocery store? I don’t want to be tripping across town to source anything. I just want to eat.

3. Twice cooked anything

If I have to cook something two times before I can eat it (hello crispy skin chicken), I move on. Who has the time and desire to wash an extra pot?

I saw this recipe in a DVD episode of Poh’s Kitchen. It actually contains deal breaker number 3, but I didn’t know this when I decided to make it. I only saw the beginning of the segment when she introduced all the ingredients and then the end when she deep fried the beads. Ooohhh, I’d eat that. I’m going to make it!

I was making ginger tea during the actual making and cooking part. Some people would say that it’s quite an important part to watch when learning how to make a dish. I say I was in need of some tea at that precise time and forgot, or didn’t even think to pause or replay the segment.

I did print out the recipe afterwards. But by the time I realized you had to steam AND deep fry, Daddyken had already invested some time into getting me the ingredients and mum had already washed and peeled 2 small bags of chestnuts they had harvested from their garden, especially for the dish.

But as it turns out, I’d happily eat it and make it again. It was crunchy on the outside and the combination of the pork and prawns is a favourite pairing of mine, of which you’ll find in many Chinese dishes. It also reminds me of some of the dumplings you’d get at Yum Cha.

I also score two bonuses with this dish:

  1. It’s gluten free because it uses bean curd skin so Daddyken can eat it
  2. There’s no carb in bean curd skin, which means I can have a guilt free pig out!!

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And despite the double cooking, it was surprisingly really easy to do.

Poh’s Prawn and Yuba Beads

Ingredients

  • 500g fresh prawns, shelled and chopped (so there is still a bit of texture)
  • 250g pork mince
  • 1 ½ tsp corn flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp white pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 5 large shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water squeezed and chopped finely
  • 1 tbs shaoxing rice wine (chinese cooking wine)
  • 150g water chestnuts, julienned
  • 250g Chinese soft bean curd skins (Not the pale yellow brittle sort. This one is a golden colour and translucent and should be very flexible in the packaging)
  • Lemon wedges to serve

Cooking:

  1. Mix all ingredients except for bean curd and lemon wedges. Work mixture with hand till it is very sticky and opaque.
  2. Lay out the bean curd skin and smooth out the folds and wrinkles. Cut off the rounded part of the skin to make it into a rectangle and easier to roll (see notes below on what you can do with the left over bean curd skin).
  3. Spoon the prawn and pork mixture onto the skin in a long thin line so that when you roll it over it is about the thickness of a regular sausage. Leave a 3cm space from the left edge and six centimetres at the other end. Ensure you tuck the mixture right in, under the bean curd skin so there is not a big cavity as this will cause the skin to split easily. Roll about four rotations.

4. Now with kitchen string, start by tying and knotting from left to right, making small balls along the sausage, so it resembles a chain of beads. You should be able to fit seven to eight per chain (or you can make larger ones like the ones I’ve made). Repeat process till all filling is used.

6. Place the chains in a dish or bamboo steamer (they can lay close to one another) and steam for ten minutes. Cut at the tied intervals and remove string.

7. In a wok heat oil to medium and deep fry the beads till they are golden. Drain on paper towelling.

8. Serve with lemon wedges and rice

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Note:

  • Recipe rewritten from Poh’s Kitchen, with my own small additions. I love watching Poh’s cooking shows not only because she cooks the type of Asian food that I love to eat, she doesn’t take herself too seriously and her warmth and energy is really infectious.
  • ‘Yuba’ means tofu or bean curd skin, and is made from the skin that forms when you boil soy milk (just like the skin that forms when you boil milk).
  • Poh actually recommends eating these beads with chilli oil, but since the arrival of the Cherubs, we’re not used to eating spicy foods anymore, so we opted out.
  • You can make Chinese ‘mock duck’ with the left over cuts of the bean curd:
    • Wet the bean curd skin and place in a square baking tin
    • Brush a little bit of soy sauce, Chinese five spice powder, sesame oil and hoisin sauce on top, and put another layer on top
    • Repeat with the spices and oil with each layer
    • Steam for 10 mins
    • Bake, covered in the oven for another 10 mins.
    • Cut into pieces and eat with rice.

Coconut Flour Brownies

If you took a quick look in my pantry, you’d think I’d be able to live off it for at least 2 months if all the supermarkets were hit by exploding space rocks sent by greenie aliens gleefully plotting to make us more self-sustainable.

But that’s all just speculation (about my pantry content). So if the above does happen, I don’t want to go to the cupboard and find it bare – of food actually within the limits of their use by date.

And so I found the 1 kg bag of coconut flour bought late last year because I’m a sucker for a good marketing spiel – High in fibre! Digestible carbohydrates! Low GI! Healthy fats! And never thought through how I would use them in a practical way in my everyday life (I’m also looking at you agave syrup).

So my first foray into the world of the coconut flour was coconut flour pancakes. Six eggs and some coconut flour later, Soccer Boy cried for his ‘usual’ while Panda gagged. The texture was grainy, the combined smell of the eggs and coconut was too strong and a little unpleasant, and it just tasted heavy. I ended up wondering what the hell I was going to do with 15 pancakes (we’re kind of on a sustainability and reducing waste kind of theme here so I won’t tell you what I did with them).

Not to be deterred, and aware that the count-down to its use by date would be soon approaching, but strangely confident that the aliens wouldn’t make their move until I used up the coconut flour and replaced it with something that the Cherubs would actually eat in our lock-down, I present to you my quick and easy 1 bowl, 1 spoon Coconut Flour Brownie Recipe.

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Coconut Flour Brownies

(Gluten free)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup cacao powder
  • 1/2 butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • Icing sugar (optional)

Let’s bake!

  • Preheat oven to 150°
  • Line a 20 x 20 baking tin with baking paper so it covers the bottom and sides
  • Put all ingredients except the icing sugar in a large bowl and mix until well combined
  • Transfer to tin and smooth down with a spatula
  • Bake for 30 mins or until a skewer inserted into the middle of it comes out clean
  • Leave to cool in tin
  • Dust with icing sugar if desired, but they’re just as good without

Notes:

  • If the mixture is thick and hard to smooth down, just do what you can and put it into the oven. Wait 10 mins, then take it out to smooth down when it’s warmed up a little.
  • I find honey is a little too thick to use in the winter with this recipe, so I prefer to use maple syrup in the colder months.
  • The flower in the image is an edible native violet that we’ve got growing in our garden. It tastes like mild grass.
  • The original recipe asked for 1/2 a cup of honey or maple syrup, but I found it a little too sugary for my liking so I’ve reduce the quantity.
  • You can substitute coconut oil for the butter if you want to make it a paleo brownie. The Cherubs found the coconut oil version too strong on the coconut.

Lemon garlic chicken mid-wings

There are only a few dishes where the Cherub’s palates align – this is one of them.

Unless you’re watching your cholesterol levels, it’s pretty hard to not like chicken mid-wings. They’re little morsels of bite sized yumminess, easy peasy to cook and because of all that skin, half the flavour is already there even before you’ve done anything to them!

I can’t remember which doctor’s, dentist’s or hairdresser’s waiting room magazine I got the original recipe from because it’s just written on a white napkin, but this is my reduced salt version. I love this recipe because the scrumptious fatty chicken skin negates the need to add sugar for flavor and the lemon helps to cut through the fatty feeling some people may experience.

This is one of the dishes the Cherubs usually request when they’ve got friends over for a play and dinner. I’m happy because prep time is a measly 10 mins and I’ve got a meal where no child is hungrily rearranging their food around their plate, desperately waiting for dessert.

Lemon Garlic Chicken Wings

(Gluten free if using rice flour)

Serves: 4 adults or 2 adults and 4 hungry kids

Ingredients:

2 kg chicken mid wings

1 cup rice or plain flour (Daddyken is gluten intolerant so we use rice flour)

Marinade:

  • 2 tablespoons grated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice of 1 1/2 lemons

Cooking:

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees
  • Line 2 baking trays with baking paper
  • Mix marinade in a large bowl
  • Mix mid-wings in with the marinade
  • Coat mid-wings in flour
  • Lay mid-wings upside down on baking paper (make sure you leave some space between them)
  • Bake for 20 mins
  • Turn mid-wings over
  • Bake for another 20 mins or until browned on top

The Cherubs eat the wings as is, but I like a little bit of sauce with mine. I have lots of dill in my garden at the moment, so I mixed together greek yoghurt, dill and a pinch of salt.

Serve with rice and salad. Oh, and don’t forget to eat mid-wings with fingers – it’s yummier that way!