Friday, January 24

Mexibowls - a dinner of firsts!

Last night I decided to try a delicious-looking recipe for a 'mexibowl' which I found here on Vegan Eats and Treats (the second one).

As shocking as it may sound for me to admit this, this was the first time I had ever cooked quinoa (apart from an instant packet one once) and it was the first time I ever cooked using dried beans. Yes, I know! How have I got to this stage in my life and never done either of those things? The answer is because I was scared. I was scared that it would be too hard, it would take too long, and I might mess it up.

To cook the quinoa, I found some great instructions at The Kitchn and followed them religiously! I cooked it in Massal Chicken Stock (which is vegan, obviously), and it was the best quinoa I've ever had! I could have eaten a whole bowl of it just by itself.

I was planning on just using a tin of black beans, as suggested in the recipe, but I couldn't find them anywhere, tinned or otherwise! After having a look online, it seems that tinned black beans are near impossible to get in Australia, and dried ones are hard to find as well. After looking around a couple of supermarkets, I instead settled for dried adjuki beans (also known as azuki beans). Having never cooked with dried beans before, I thought it would be a really drawn out experience, but after researching how best to cook them, everything fell into place.

After soaking the beans for 2 hours (and going away and reading), I boiled them for an hour (and read some more), then just cooked the rest of dinner as if I were using tinned beans. It was so much easier than I had imagined. I mean, yes it does take more time, but when I'm home anyway, it doesn't inconvenience me at all.

After years of avoiding cooking with these two very popular foods, I now don't know what I was so afraid of! Dinner was delicious and I will definitely be cooking quinoa again, and using dried beans!

PS - another first: the recipe suggests using lime juice in the guacamole, I've never done this before so I tried it and it was yummy.

Happy eating! :)

Tuesday, January 21

Frogs' eggs (AKA sago pudding)

When I was little, this dessert was one of my favourites. Frogs eggs! With a name like that, how could anyone not be intrigued? The look and the texture really was just what I imagined frogs' eggs to be and it absolutely delighted me. However, it was a rare treat as my mother always said that it was too much work to make. Recently though, I remembered frogs' eggs and discovered that it is actually quite easy to make! Hmm... my mother has a lot to answer for... Go on, leap in and give frogs' eggs a try! I also dare you to find a child who won't eat it, or at least try it (and sometimes that's a victory in itself!)

Here is my veganized recipe for frogs' eggs, known to most people as sago pudding. Sago are small, white starchy balls that can be purchased from the supermarket or a health food store. They're also known as tapioca pearls and turn clear when cooked.

Serves: 2 large serves or 4 smaller serves

1 cup sago
3 cups water
1 cup coconut milk
4 tbsp castor sugar

1. Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan. Add the sago, stir well, and reduce heat to low. Leave to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.

2. Add the coconut milk and sugar, stir well, and heat back to a simmer. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until sago balls are completely clear.

I like to eat this dessert hot, but it will actually become a solid jelly-ish substance if chilled in the fridge. This makes it great for moulding and means that it can be made ahead of time and presented in a really impressive way. When cold, it's nice with fruit or any number of syrups and is perfect for a summery dessert.

Happy eating! :)