Monday, September 28, 2009

Something different for a change

Tropical Tapioca Pudding
The Conscious Cook Copyright 2009

2 (13 ½-ounce) cans coconut milk (not light)
½ cup small pearl tapioca (not instant)
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup granulated sugar or ¼ cup light agave nectar I used raw agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

Tropical Fruit (choose one or combine)
2 large ripe bananas, diced
1 ripe mango, diced
1 to ½ cups drained canned crushed pineapple or pineapple chunks
1 to ½ cups pomegranate seeds
1 large persimmon, diced
3 or 4 kiwis, peeled and diced or sliced

1. Combine the coconut milk (be sure to scrape the thick cream from the cans), 1 full can of water, the tapioca, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.
2. Stir in the sugar, then reduce the heat to medium-low and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, until the pudding has thickened and the tapioca pearls are completely translucent, 20 to 25 minutes.
3. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla bean paste. Gently fold in the fruit and let cool for 15 minutes. Spoon into serving bowls and serve warm or chill, covered, in the refrigerator for 2 hours before serving. Garnish with your favorite fresh fruit.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised by how good this was, knowing how much fat is in coconut milk. I've never actually cooked with coconut milk before and I was surprised by how cream-like it is. This wasn't incredibly sweet but it was definitely sweet enough. The flavors rounded out nicely. I just wish I had picked up some pineapple too. I only had banana which was great but pineapple would have put it over the top.

This recipe is from The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen, a brand new meat and dairy-free cookbook coming out next week. I think it's well-timed since there many people are thinking about how and what they're eating right now. Even those of us who aren't giving up meat and dairy completely can realize the benefit of cutting back on those foods.

This is probably my first vegan cookbook and I wasn't sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised that the recipes aren't 'way out there'. They aren't exactly my usual fare (a good thing - variety is nice) but the recipes are very doable for anyone who cooks. Recipes that caught my eye in particular include some great-looking salads, some recipes that used faux meats that looked very meat-like*, a great looking focaccia, some cakes that looked fantastic. Oh there several small appetizer-type dishes that looked incredible too. Maybe I've just been stuck in a rut lately but I got excited looking over this cookbook and even more excited after enjoying the first recipe so much.

(*The woman who wrote the intro claimed that Tal Ronnen cooked for one of her dinner parties and the guests thought they had been served veal when actually no meat had been served!)

I was afraid there would be a lot of weird ingredients but there was nothing I couldn't get my hands on if I really tried. I've already tried vegan mayonnaise (Vegenaise) which several recipes call for and I thought it was pretty good. While I haven't tried the brands of meat substitutes mentioned in the book, I have tried other brands and I know that some faux meats are very good. A few recipes call for nutritional yeast flakes which I know I could get at the local Amish store. There were some nut milks, Earth balance shortening, faux stocks, etc but I think if you're actually vegan you've probably found a supplier for most of these things already and if you're not vegan, you could probably substitute with non-vegan ingredients in some cases.

Since we are a peanut and tree nut free home, I thought that might be an issue but this book didn't have as many nuts as I thought it might. Cashews are made into a cream-substitute and used in many recipes and of course there are nuts in other recipes but that still left plenty to choose from. There was a chocolate chip and peanut cake that looked fantastic but sadly won't ever be made in this house.

I look forward to trying more of the recipes in this book. If I ever have to feed a vegan, this will be a handy book to have on hand.

Question of the Day: Do you know any vegans personally?


Annie Jones said...

I don't know anyone who is vegan, but I know several vegetarians. My daughter was ovo-lacto vegetarian from about ages 13 to 18, so I have cooked a lot of meatless dishes, have sampled a lot of the faux meats, and have owned or read many vegetarian cookbooks.

By the way, she started eating meat again when she was pregnant with Kat. She was in a bad relationship and living in her (then) boyfriends parents' home. No one there would accommodate her diet, and being pregnant, she simply had to eat what was available. She has often said that she'd like to return to a vegetarian diet, but so far, she hasn't.

La Pixie said...

I dont know any vegans or vegetarians... maybe its living in Arizona, but most people are red meat and potatoes people.

Anonymous said...


DancesInGarden said...

I was vegan for about a year, and eat mostly vegetarian right now. It wasn't hard exactly, but we don't have good brands of meat subs available here (just Yves, which used to be good but now is disgusting).