Thursday, August 27, 2009

coconut-milk pudding pops

Yep, I'm still using up what's left in our cabinet and for sure, that "popsicle stick" is one of my rubber-handled metal measuring spoons! I'll explain in a bit...

The wheels started turning when I was thinking about my cans of coconut milk and I remembered I had a recipe for chocolate pudding pops--so why not do coconut instead? Everybody was happy with the results except hubby who thinks everything should be chocolate (plus he's not a coconut fan). That's OK, though, because it left more for the rest of us.

Matthew-Bean wasn't complaining...he just cruised through his popsicle.

So I assessed my options and realized I probably didn't have enough popsicle molds--no worries because I improvized with plastic cups, waxed paper, and yes, measuring spoons.

I cut waxed paper into circles the size of the bottoms of the cups, laid it in there, and then placed more around the sides of the cups before pouring in the cooled pudding. After it had set for a while in the freezer, I added the measuring spoons when the pudding was frozen enough for the spoons to stay upright.

I had to let them warm up a bit at room temp (or you could run some hot water over the base of the cups) before easily pulling them out...

Then you just unwrap the waxed paper from the sides and peel off the circle from the top of the popsicle.

They were nice and creamy, cold, not too sweet, and with just a hint of cinnamon, would be perfect at the end of a curry meal--though they were wonderful just for a snack all by themselves.

I ended up fusing two recipes: a chocolate pudding pops recipe from More with Less and a Puerto Rican Christmas coconut pudding recipe (tembleque) from Extending the Table: A World Community Cookbook.

Here's my version, great for nice summery pudding pops. It took 1.5 cans of coconut milk, and I used the leftovers to add to a mandarin orange yogurt shake (plain yogurt, coconut milk, mandarin orange segments, honey, and toasted wheat germ all creamified with the immersion blender).

For the pops, you'll need:

2.5 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1/3 c. sugar
1/4 t. salt
1/4 c. cornstarch
ground cinnamon

Do this:

Combine the milk, sugar, and salt in a pan on the stove over low heat, then use a bit of that mixture in a separate bowl to dissolve the cornstarch. Add that back into the pot, and cook until it's thickened, then cook an additional 5 minutes on low, constantly stirring. Add some ground cinnamon to taste, then let it cool a while.

Pour into popsicle molds of your choice (cups, waxed paper, and measuring spoons are fine). This made enough for 4 popsicles in the proper mold plus 3 small plastic cups' worth.

Friday, August 21, 2009

balsamic (soy)bean dippy spread

Thanks for your suggestions and helping me use up what I've got left before we head off across the Pacific for our big move (still doesn't seem real--after 8 years in Japan, life in America will be a bit different!).

I neglected to mention I have 1.5 bottles of balsamic vinegar (got them on sale!), so I was thinking balsamic + beans = ?

Bean dip! Found the recipe I liked at Epicurious (came to them via Bon Appetit, apparently). Of course I changed a few things, as I am wont to do, and instead of cannellini beans I used soybeans (it took 3 small cans at 140 g each). I also added minced garlic, seasoned salt, and instead of using sun-dried tomato oil, I just dolloped on some olive oil with the balsamic, and chopped some fresh basil to strew across. (The soybeans I use come in a dry-pack can, so they are harder and drier than cannellini. I had to add a bit of water to the processor to get it to a good consistency.)

We used it as a spread on baguettes, but of course you could take a dip in it if you like. We LOVED LOVED LOVED this and I highly recommend it--a nice blend of creamy olive-oily beans with the spiky sour hit of the vinegar. Lovely.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

counting down and using up

It's not that long till we are moving to the States, and my cupboards (OK, the closet in the Japanese 6-mat tatami room that we use as our dining room/computer room/playroom) is still running over with too many overzealous Costco purchases. We are blessed to have so many provisions!

Here's a quick overview of some of the things I need to use before we go:

  • 6 cans tuna
  • 2 kg of regular flour (Japanese "soft" flour)
  • 9 cans black beans
  • 4 cans soybeans
  • 4 cans black olives
  • 4 cans kidney beans
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 4 cans creamed corn
  • 6 cans refried beans
  • 1.5 big bags old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 4 cans coconut milk
  • 10 cans cream of mushroom soup
  • 10 cans tomato soup
  • 4 bags (500 g or 1 lb. each) penne pasta
  • 3 bags (500 g or 1 lb. each) angel hair pasta
We've also got some dried chickpeas, dried mixed beans, dried black-eyed peas (I've got a recipe for a black-eyed pea curry meal I'm hoping to try soon), dried lentils, and some staples like couscous and rice.

I feel like I'm cooking up a storm all the time and hardly using up anything (a very good - miraculous? - problem to have).

I've got some ideas already forming, but I'm open to any and all suggestions you may have about easy, fast, fuss-free, and summer-friendly meals that I could make using any/all of these ingredients.

Oh, and by the way, we're probably not going to Costco in Japan anymore! We've got plenty! (OK, maybe just for wet wipes for the kids. We love the Kirkland big, soft wipes for baby bottoms.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

one baguette = two delish dinners

So let's start with the soysage egg mcmamatouilles. I had one fresh baguette, a bit of leftover egg salad (just with mustard, mayo, and seasoned salt), and some leftover soysage (yes, soy sausages) that I had browned the day before. What to do? Toast the baguette slices with some marg, slap on the egg salad, and arrange the reheated soysages on top with some ketchup. Hubby loved it!

The next day we had a big lunch out so needed a light supper. I had two zucchini in the fridge I needed to deal with, so I chopped them, some onion, yellow pepper, and cherry tomatoes. First into the pan went some olive oil, minced garlic, the zucchini, onion, and yellow pepper, and then after they were nicely sauteed, I added the tomatoes and some seasoned salt. Yummy spread on toasted baguette slices with parmesan and basil!

The kiddietouilles got their veggies turned into a puree for their baguette slices (what the eye does not see the taste buds like anyway)...

And sliced into bite-sized pieces that Mamatouille called "pizza". They were mostly eaten by the little beans, and what they couldn't finish turned into an extra little snack for Daddytouille.

I found a small fruit stand at a train station nearby that has two luscious Japanese peaches for only 250 yen (about US$2.60), a bargain here! So I bought four for our dessert - a lovely sweet way to end the veggie-full supper.

Monday, August 10, 2009

mamatouille musings

I've figured it out - the meaning of life and what separates us humanoids from the animal kingdom.

The answer? Ready for this?


(image from

Sunday, August 9, 2009

summer sakana salad

This is another recipe from my favorite cooking show (and about the only TV that I watch) in Japan (Oshaberi Kukkingu) - it comes on at 1:05 for about 15 minutes, right after I get my boys in bed for naps. Perfect timing!

is "fish" in Japanese, and you can use any sashimi-grade cut for this more-ish cool-and-tangy salad. Don't worry, though - if you're squeamish about raw seafood, this has had boiled water poured over the fish slices and it's perfectly, tenderly, and completely done.

The salad recipe also calls for myohga, a cousin of shohga (ginger), but if you can't find it in your neck of the woods, you could always substitute ginger or maybe even water chestnuts. Myohga has an almost grassy-earthy flavor with a hint of sourness and I sure hope you can try it - it's not as strong as ginger and it adds a wonderful crunchy herby zinginess to this salad. Just what the doctor ordered for when you're natsubatte (wilting in the summer heat).

Myohga - isn't it beautiful?

For the salad you'll need:
  • 1 carrot, cut into thin matchsticks
  • 2 Japanese thin cucumbers, cut the same way
  • 3 myohga, ditto on the cutting method
  • sashimi fish, about 24o g, sliced thinly
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
For the dressing you'll need:
  • 1 T. mustard (I used dijon)
  • 2 T. white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • bit of cracked pepper
  • 5 T. oil (I used canola - any will do)
Do this:

Mix the dressing ingredients together in a bowl and set aside (I used a small whisk for this). The chef on the show said to add an extra pinch of salt to the dressing for "umami balance."

Put the sliced fish in a colander, set over a bigger bowl, and pour boiling water over it into the bowl. Almost immediately pick up the colander with the cooked fish and place in another bowl full of ice water. Allow the fish to cool, then lift out and drain on a paper towel (also wipe the top with a paper towel) and sprinkle with some salt.

Place a platter or big plate in the fridge to cool, then in a big bowl toss the sliced veggies (except tomatoes), fish, and dressing, reserving a bit of dressing to add at the end. Pull out your cold platter, place the salad on it, then arrange the tomatoes on and around the salad, adding the last bit of dressing over all.

I served this with some suh-weeeeeet corn-on-the-cob for a light summer supper, and I've already ordered the ingredients from the co-op to make it again next week! Can't wait!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

silken tofu peanut-butter choco pie

It's cold, it's chocolate, it's peanut-buttery, it's pie, it's perfect creamy-smooth summeriness on a plate.

Nuff said.

Comes by way of my friend Julie (pictured below), who visited us this past week from Kyushu with her hubby, and via her friend Jackie (hi, Jackie, hope to meet you someday!).

I'm used to making my own cookie crusts, but Julie brought a rare and treasured pre-made shortbread crust imported from the States, so we used that and of course it makes it a lot quicker. I also melted the chocolate chips in the microwave, another time saver (you just have to watch carefully and use a low setting - no headache whatsoever). The pie doesn't require any baking and it comes with a bonus track: You could also serve it crustless as a pudding in individual cups. The possibilities are endless: top it with chocolate shavings, use chocolate cookies for a crust, dollop some whipped cream on top. I love it because I used organic salt-only peanut butter and the end result was not too sweet - just chocolatey-peanut-buttery mmmmmmmmmmm.

Grab your blender (definitely could use an immersion blender) and get to it!

You'll need:

  • 450 g (about 1 lb.) block of silken tofu, drained
  • 2/3 c. creamy peanut butter (I love sugar-free organic PB, with just salt added)
  • 1 c. melted chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chips - watch out, they're good right out of the bag, too!)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Do this:

Blend the ingredients in the order given, starting with the tofu, and then just pour into a pie crust or bowls. Chill for 2 hours in the fridge or freezer - yummy either cold and creamy from the fridge or a bit icier from the freezer.

Julie working her pie magic...