An Accidental Pudding

“If you do your fair day’s work, you are certain to get your fair day’s wage – in praise or pudding, whichever happens to suit your taste.” ~ Alexander Smith, Scottish poet and essayist (1830-1867)

 

Our box of organic goodies from Bountiful Baskets this week came with some of the most beautiful mangos I’ve ever seen, and I knew right away that I wanted to use one to make a mango lassi.

A lassi is a yogurt-based beverage, often spicy, sometimes a little sweet, and sometimes savory. If you’re looking for a unique accompaniment to a summer luncheon, a lassi is perfect for rounding out lighter fare. I especially enjoy the yogurt tang and light sweetness of a fruit lassi for breakfast.

Bottom line for this morning’s oops is that I forgot to add the ice to the blender when making my mango lassi. The result was a beautiful, thick, creamy pudding that took just a couple of minutes, and can even call itself healthy – the only sweetness is from the naturally occurring fruit sugars. Don’t you love when good things like that happen?

Nutritional information for mango

Health benefits of green tea 

 Mango Lassi Pudding

Mango Lassi Pudding

Serves 4 Time: 5 minutes

½ cup 4x strength green tea concentrate* (for a flavor boost, optional)
1 cup of plain, non-dairy yogurt (we used So Delicious cultured coconut milk)
1 large mango, peeled and cut off the seed, or about 1 ½ cups of fresh mango chunks

Put everything into a blender and process to puree. Pour into serving dishes. Garnish as desired.

 

Mango Lassi Beverage

Serves 2 Time: 5 minutes

Same as above, but after pureeing, add two cups of ice to the blender and continue to process until almost smooth. If you prefer a thinner beverage, just add more ice.

 

*Many varieties of green tea include fruit flavors or spices. I’m partial to the pomegranate varieties, but peach or orange are also lovely in a lassi. To make tea concentrate for the lassi, place two tea bags in a jar and top with ½ cup cold water. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. Remove the bags. Use the tea concentrate within a couple of days. Brewing the tea in this fashion, with cold water, helps to prevent the loss of antioxidants that are sensitive to heat.

 

Sweet Potato Sliders

Orange is the happiest color.”  ~ Frank Sinatra, American singer and actor (1915 – 1998)

How about a really healthy and delicious alternative to meatballs and burgers?  And, if by chance you need to put a little orange on your plate this weekend, well, we’ve got you covered!

Even though we don’t use mixes very often, dried falafel mix is a pantry staple at our house.  We buy it in bulk (keeps practically forever), and just have it sitting in a jar at the back of the shelf, waiting patiently for when we need it.  Once rehydrated, the falafel mix can be shaped into burger-size patties, mini patties for dipping,  or balls (use a cookie scoop!).  Deep fry, pan fry, or bake until the outside is crispy.

Falafel, a middle eastern favorite,  is primarily made from garbanzo beans (a.k.a. chickpeas or cici beans), garlic, onions, herbs, and spices.  Pretty simple, and great to make from scratch if you plan to use a lot or have freezer space. For those times when you just need a little, or when you want some falafel without a a lot of clean-up, a mix is invaluable.  The organic varieties have nothing in them to complain about.

That said, don’t limit yourself to just what is in the box!   Use your imagination and pursue a combination of flavors that you love.  For us, that means adding creamy sweet potatoes, which makes the falafel moister.  You can fry them, if you prefer a super-crispy crust, but we like the firmer texture throughout  that baking provides – not to mention the bonus of lower fat.

Sweet Potato Sliders

 

Sweet Potato Sliders

Serves 4
Time:  45 minutes (30 minutes of time can be prepared day ahead)

1 medium sweet potato
¾ cup dry falafel mix 
¼ – ½ teaspoon ground chipotle pepper (to taste)
½ cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil

Cook the sweet potato in the microwave oven until it is very soft, about 8 minutes.  Allow to cool until you can handle it comfortably.

Meanwhile, mix the falafel mix, ground chipotle pepper, and water together.  Let sit to rehydrate the dried ingredients, about 15 minutes.

When the potato is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and mash with a fork.  Stir in the falafel mixture until the ingredients are evenly distributed.  At this point, you can cover and refrigerate until just before needed (can be prepared up to one day ahead).  Then proceed…

Preheat oven to 400° F.   Lightly oil a baking sheet.

Form into patties of whatever size you prefer.

Brush the patties with olive oil and arrange on the baking sheet, allowing at least 1 inch between.   Bake for 15 minutes, then turn and bake for 10 more minutes, until surface is somewhat crispy.  Serve while hot with condiments of choice.  My favorite is barbecue sauce.

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Porter Truffles

“Filled with mingled cream and amber I will drain that glass again. Such hilarious visions clamber through the chambers of my brain — quaintest thoughts — queerest fancies come to life and fade away, Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe,  American writer  (1809 – 1849)

Rather than do battle for the last bottle of Boulder Beer’s Shake Chocolate Porter, we decided to turn it into dessert.  Like it isn’t already dessert in a bottle!  My first intent was to use it in a ganache topping for cookies, but the cookies were less than spectacular so we turned the ganache into something totally decadent that didn’t require baking. The cook got to drink the rest of the bottle while waiting for the ganache to harden. <insert evil sounding laugh>

Truffles purchased from the candy shop always have dairy cream in the them (at least, I haven’t found any that don’t), which means they are off-limits for me.  But truffles made with beer, now there’s a concept that ‘clambers through the chambers of my brain’!

These truffles are not kid stuff – the porter has a cocoa-coffee-vanilla flavor that makes for a bitter-sweet, rich truffle, dark as a raven.  Also, some of your guests might need to be aware that the alcohol in the beer does not burn off.

 

Chocolate Porter Truffles

Chocolate Porter Truffles

Makes about 20 truffles
Time:  20 minutes active + at least 2 hours chilling

Ingredients:
3 ounces Chocolate Porter or Chocolate Stout
1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips (read label to avoid dairy)
40 dried tart cherries (optional, but highly recommended)

Optional coatings:
Almonds and/or almond meal
Cocoa
Powdered sugar
Melted chocolate chips
Colored sprinkles

In a heat-safe bowl set over a small pot boiling water (or a double-boiler, if you have one), warm the beer until it is room temperature, then pour in the chocolate chips.  Stir gently until the chips are melted and the mixture is smooth.  Remove the bowl from the pot and set in the refrigerator (dry the outside bottom first!) to cool.  This ganache mixture will thicken considerably on chilling, until it becomes the consistency of school paste – overnight is fine, but it could be ready in a couple of hours.

Spoon up bite-size portions of the ganache and roll them into balls.  If you want, put two dried tart cherries in the centers as you shape the balls. Then, gently roll in one of the optional coatings in order to keep them from getting people’s fingers messy when eating.  If you cover the ganache in the melted chocolate chips, you’ll need to apply the sprinkles or chopped nuts, then put them in the refrigerator to harden.  Store in the refrigerator, covered, until ready to serve.

Just double, triple, quadruple the recipe as needed for your party. That is, if you decide to share…

“And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor shall be lifted – nevermore!” (from The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe)

 

 

Colcannon for Halloween

“…Did you ever make a hole on top
to hold the meltin’ flake
Or the creamy flavoured butter
that our mother’s used to make.” ~ Colcannon song by Mary Black

Halloween has deep roots and it is a shame that so few of us know of the stories behind it when the day inspires so much fun. Samhain, a Gaelic festival that begins at sunset on October 31st, has probably the strongest connection to the holiday we celebrate with pumpkins, costumes, sweets, and spooky tales.

Thus it goes that Halloween has strong Irish roots. To be properly celebrated, might we not join the Irish, then, in one of their traditional Halloween dishes? Of course, you know we’re going to mess with it just a little…

Colcannon is generally made with white potatoes and cabbage or kale. To make it a little healthier and give it a more autumnal appearance, we made it with sweet potatoes and the effect was just plain fun. Using sweet potatoes also requires less fat in the preparation.

Colcannon

Halloween Colcannon

Time: 20 minutes

For each person:
1 medium sweet potato
¼ cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons olive oil
Generous handful of shredded kale leaves (not stems)
¼ cup almond milk
Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon Earth Balance buttery spread (optional)

Scrub the sweet potato and poke it with a fork or knife. Begin cooking in the microwave oven according to manufacturer’s directions for potatoes – generally about 7 minutes at full power.

Meanwhile, begin sautéing the onion and kale in olive oil over medium heat. You want to soften the vegetables, but not brown them.

When the potato has cooked until it is soft, allow to cool for 5 minutes so that it can be safely handled, then slip off the skin if you wish. Coarsely chop, and add to the pot with the softened onion and kale. Mash all together, adding the almond milk and pepper.

To serve, mound on the plate and create a dent in the top. Add a pat of buttery spread if you wish to eat it as the Irish, do – allowing the spread to melt for dipping each bite. How’s that for a great trick?  And we’re pretty sure it would work well for Thanksgiving, too!

“If ants are such busy workers, how come they find time to go to all the picnics?” ~ Marie Dressler, Canadian-American actress (1868-1934)

What do you think of as really great picnic fare?

Preparing food that isn’t going to wilt during transportation, or become questionable for eating just minutes after it has been put out on the table on a hot day can be a challenge. This is the perfect time to try some strictly plant-based side dishes, which are significantly less perishable than meat, seafood, and dairy.

FDA Eating Outdoors, Handling Food Safely article

We originally came up with this Broccoli Salad as a side dish for a Japanese food party, where sushi and dumplings would be the highlights. What we discovered later, is that allowing the salad to sit overnight greatly enhanced the flavor, so it quickly turned into a picnic favorite.

The fiber, protein, calcium, and iron in this dish make it a nutritional powerhouse that might make you want to eat it every night. The spicy roasted pepitas really wake it up, and even folks who aren’t fond of broccoli can be drawn in by the aroma of the ginger in the dressing.

Broccoli Salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Broccoli Salad with Ginger-Almond Dressing

Serves 6
Time: 5 minutes

2 cups small broccoli florets
1 cup small dried fruit, such as cranberries or raisins
½ cup seasoned, roasted pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) – see page 103 of the Mosaic Meals Cookbook for “Smokey Bakin’ Sprinkles” if you’d like to make your own
½ cup Creamy Ginger-Almond Dressing (see below)

Toss together with the dressing until all the pieces are evenly coated. It is good to eat right away, but even better if you can cover and refrigerate it for awhile before serving.

Creamy Ginger-Almond Dressing

Yields about ½ cup
Time: 5 minutes

½ cup chopped onion
¼ cup canola oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh, peeled ginger
½ cup slivered almonds
1 tablespoon tamarai or other soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar, agave nectar, or maple syrup
1 clove garlic, peeled

Place the dressing ingredients in a blender or small food processor (you’ll have to double the recipe to be effective in a large food processor). Blend until creamy and smooth. Use immediately, or cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.