Vegan Mofo 16: Q is for pretty pink breakfast Quinoa in pink guava soup

A nutritious breakfast with a girlish charm.

Perhaps you saw this coming; I mean I racked my brains for other ‘Q’ ingredients but Quinoa is all I could think of. Nevertheless working with quinoa is fun since it’s so versatile and can be used in practically any dish from sweets to savouries. In a double stroke of luck, pink guavas and fresh figs were on sale this week and so I thought of combining these exotic fruits with red quinoa to create a pretty breakfast.

Quinoa is riding a popularity resurgence and much has been written about it (in fact I wrote about it in my Superfood Series which sadly has failed to take off) so there’s no need to delve too much into explanation. A gluten-free pseudo-grain, it is often highlighted for its complete amino acid profile (including lysine and isoleucine – the limiting amino acids in other grains) and highly concentrated nutritive value such as calcium and flavaoids (quercetin and kaempferol). Did you know that 2013 is also officially recognized by the United Nations as the International Year of the Quinoa? In fact, it is the only food ingredient to make this list apart from the humble potato.

Between red and white quinoa, I prefer the former for its more intense nutty flavour and visual impact. Apart from breakfast quinoa porridges and granola, which I enjoy occasionally as a departure from oats, some quinoa recipes I’ve got my eyes on include the famouus Life Changing Loaf of Bread (My New Roots), and a quinoa quiche or pizza. Quinoa flour is also something I want to experiment with, but probably not anytime soon, given the growing number of half-opened bags ingredients in the kitchen.

If guavas are not available, I suppose you may use guava paste of another intense-colored fruit of choice, like mangoes or strawberries. The main idea is to have a nice thick pool of fruity smoothie for the quinoa to swim in. I also added protein powder and pectin to the soup, which added a nutritional boost as well as help to thicken it.

Pretty Pink Breakfast Quinoa in Pink Guava Soup
Serves one.
Vegan.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup uncooked red quinoa
  • Flesh of 1 pink guava (about 1/2 cup), seeds removed
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk (I used hazelnut milk)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/8 tsp pectin powder (optional – for thickening)
  • Splash of vanilla extract (optional)
  • Dash of ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/2 scoop protein powder (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp maca powder (optional)
  • Your choice of toppings (I used fresh figs and desiccated coconut)

Directions

  1. Soak the quinoa overnight in a bowl of water. The next morning, place the quinoa in a sieve and rinse well under running water.
  2. Cook quinoa. Place the drained quinoa into a saucepan. Add about 1/2 cup water, bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 mins until the water is absorbed and you can see the white curly rings of the quinoa. Fluff and set aside.
  3. Make the guava puree. Place the guava flesh into the saucepan and add the milk and water. Bring to boil, and simmer for about 5-10 mins or until the guava flesh becomes soft.
  4. Add in the vanilla, cinnamon and other powders (if using). Stir well.
  5. Pour the mix into a blender and blend (for less clean up use immersion blender).
  6. To serve, place quinoa into a ramekin and using a spoon, press down to make the quinoa stick together. Invert the ramekin onto a plate, then pour the guava soup over. Garnish with fresh figs or other fruits and nuts.

 

Fig & Almond Galette (vegan)

You haven’t known figs until you try a fresh one. Sure, the dried ones are available all year round, but there is nothing like the lusciously sweet taste and unique texture of fresh figs. Plump, soft, yielding, bright and juicy – no other fruit is as sensually pleasing. Delicate when fresh, bubbly when roasted, jammy when mashed. Oh, I could go on ravishing about this exotic fruit but I should probably stop lest there’ll be no end.

The appeal of the fig goes beyond its sensual delight. Here are some interesting information that you might want to go figure. Thought to originate in Asia Minor, humans have revered the common fig tree Ficus carica since antiquity. Fossil remains from the Jordan Valley indicate they have been cultivated for more than 11,000 years. In fact, the fig is the most talked about fruit in the Bible. For example, right in the beginning Genesis 3:7 indicates that the fig tree provided the first clothing for Adam and Eve: “… they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig eaves together and made coverings for themselves.” And henceforth, the fig leaf became the symbol of modesty, as you may see so often in Renaissance art.

Moreover, the fig is also a nutrition powerhouse – an excellent source of potassium, calcium, manganese and vitamin B6. So all the more seize the opportunity to load up on figs this season! Here is one idea how: make a Fig Galette!

The word Galette is derived from the French word “galet”, a weatherworn smooth pebble. In culinary terms, this refers to various types of flat cakes, including the crepe-like pancakes of Brittany and Normandy (Galette De Bretagne) as well as freeform pies. Today we are interested in the latter, because, what’s better than filling a dough purse stuffed full of bubbling roasty figs? Traditionally made with a butter-based pie crust or puffed pastry, I never thought that a vegan version was possible. Not until I came across several recipes using frozen coconut oil as substitute. I was very intrigued and couldn’t wait to try it out.

In fact this was my first time making a pie dough, vegan or not, so after some extensive research, here’s what I gleaned. Pie dough is made by cutting butter (or other solid fat) into flour until the butter and flour looks crumbly and has pieces of butter the size of peas. Then, just enough water is added to form the dough into a ball. Most importantly:

Keep things cold, very cold.
It is especially important for the fat to be cold because pockets of unmelted fat within the crust that melt away during baking are what makes a deliciously flaky pie. Thus, refrigerate the oil, flour and use ice-cold water when making the dough, and work quickly.

For a tender crust
Do not overwork the dough; over handling will lead develop the fluten and lead to a tough pie crust dough. Thus, also choose a low protein flour such as pastry flour. I used a blend of pastry flour and buckwheat flour for nuttiness and to make it more nutritious. Buckwheat flour is also gluten-free so I though it may work well. Nevertheless, all-purpose flour is readily available and works well for all pie crusts. Sift the flour before measuring it.

I understand that pictures speak more than words so below is a pictorial on how to make the coconut oil pie dough.

Assembling the galette is easy. I used an almond cream base and layered the figs on top, then folded in the edges to form a mini-dumpling. So cute isn’t it?!

First of all, I was very pleased and amazed at how the dough came out. It was pliable and very easy to work with, though you need to let the dough “defrost” slightly after chilling because coconut oil becomes very hard when chilled and takes even longer than butter to melt. Second, I have to admit that the crust didn’t come out flaky at all. Nope, no beautiful layers of flaky pastry was in sight. Instead, it came out crumbly, but in an oh-so-delightful crunchy graham-cracker style. That was exactly my first thought when I bit into the crust: Mmm…graham crackers!

With the bubbling hot cinnamon-spiced figs sizzling in its sugars and in all its glory, this was pure perfigtion. Crunchy graham base with pulpy caramelized figs, and a heady almond cream to pair the two together – this galette is definitely worth making. It’s a free-form tart; you don’t need a lot of skill yet it presents a level of rustic sophistication that will surely impress. This is what I call a cheat dish!

Fig & Almond Galette
1 medium galette, about 4-5 slices.
Vegan.

Ingredients
Pie Dough

  • 3/4 cup flour (I used 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour + 1/4 cup buckwheat flour)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, frozen until solid
  • 2-3 tbsp ice-cold water (I used 2 1/2 tbsp)
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Almond Cream

  • 1/4 cup almonds, soaked overnight
  • 1/2 large medjool date, chopped
  • 2 tbsp non-dairy milk (soy, almond, rice, coconut)
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract

Fig Layer

  • 3-5 figs, depending on size
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Ground cinnamon

Directions
Begin by making the galette pie dough.

  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. Add the cubes of frozen coconut oil from the ice tray. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the coconut oil into the flour mixture until the texture becomes lumpy, with the pieces of coconut oil no larger than small peas. Add the water and knead with your hand just until the dough pulls together. Alternatively, the dough can be made using the food processor.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and pat into a round disk. Wrap tightly with a cling film and chill for at least 30 mins (can be prepared ahead).

Make the almond cream.

  1. In a food processor, combine the almonds, dates, milk and almond extract and process until smooth and creamy. Place the almond cream in a small bowl and refrigerate to thicken.

Assemble the galette.

  1. Once the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.
  2. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out to a circle of 1/8″-1/4″ thick.
  3. Place the galette dough onto a baking sheet. Spread with the almond cream mixture, leaving a 1.5″ border around the edge. Arrange the figs concentrically from the center. Lift the edge of the dough and fold over filling to make a nice, crimped border.
  4. You may choose to refrigerate the dough if it has become too soft. Bake at 350°F/175°C for 45-50 mins until figs are bubbling slightly and edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool before slicing and serving.

 

I just had to shove this picture up your face. Enjoy!

Tapioca & Chia Seed Pudding

You like pudding? I give you twice the puddingness.

Before I came to know about chia seeds, I was already acquainted with the gelatinous texture in another form – sago and tapioca pudding. The little white sago and tapioca pearls are popular in traditional Southeast Asian desserts made with coconut milk such as Mango Sago Pomelo and Bubur Cha Cha. These squishy jelly-like balls added a unique texture to the dish, making them seriously fun to eat. And then the chia superfood craze came along.

Although pearl tapioca, pearl sago and chia seeds exude the same ooey gooey texture, they have quite different botanical origins, nutritional properties and preparation. Sago and tapioca are almost pure starch, gluten-free, and very little protein or vitamins, being extracted from the pith of the Sago Palm stems (Metroxylon sagu), and the root of the cassava plant respectively. Both are commonly sold as pearls and require soaking and boiling to release their starches and become transparent when cooked. Because of their highly similar properties, tapioca pearls may also be called sago in common parlance and may be used interchangeably. However tapioca pearls come in different sizes and colours; there are some who also claim that sago is less sticky to work with. On the other hand, chia seeds come from the dried flowers of the chia plant (Salvia hispanica) and is ranked as a superfood. It contains a balanced blend of carbohydrate (44%), fat (31%) and protein (16%). The carbohydrate includes both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, and most of the fat is heart-healthy essential omega-3 and 6 fatty acids. In fact, did you know that clinical trials on chia seeds have been carried out? Most results showed improvements in outcome measures in healthy subjects as well as metabolic syndrome patients. [via The Promising Future of Chia]

Then I thought about combining tapioca pearls and chia to create a Mother Pudding of all puddings. Adding chia seeds to the traditional tapioca pudding would also give it a nutritional boost. Because my generic packet of pearl sago did not have cooking instructions, I had to look up online on how to prepare them. Following several trials (and tribulations), here a tutorial on how to prepare a double whammy tapioca/sago and chia pudding. Best enjoyed layered with overnight oats or spooned over hot oats!

Basic Tapioca and Chia Pudding – A Tutorial
Vegan, Gluten-Free.

The night before, soak ~ 1 tbsp pearls overnight in at least twice the volume of water. You can also prepare your favourite overnight oats in another bowl.

The next morning, rinse rinse and RINSE the pearls thoroughly with lots of water to remove excess starch. Then boil the pearls in enough water to cover the pearls fully until it turns translucent. This should take no more than 10-15 mins. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. When the pearls turn translucent and white dots are still visible (see below), immediately turn off the flame, cover and let stand for 10 mins. The pearls would continue to cook in its own residual heat, and then turn fully transparent. Run the cooked tapioca/sago pearls through a fine sieve under running water to remove excess starch. If not using immediately, the sago can be kept in a bowl of cold water until ready to use.

**The first time I prepared the pearls I did everything that you should NOT do – reheated the pearls in their overnight liquid, failed to rinse them through a sieve, and cooked them for 30 mins. That was a recipe for guaranteed disaster and behold, I ended up with a pot of white glue where the starch had all but dissolved into a sticky paste that was worse than any baby food.**

When ready to make the pudding, add the cooked pearls to non-dairy milk, about 1 Tbsp cooked pearls to 2 Tbsp milk for a thick pudding. Use more milk if you like it thinner. I love to use coconut milk here for its thicker texture and sweetish taste. A drop of vanilla also goes a long way to up the flavours. Stir in 1 tsp chia seeds and let stand another 15 mins to allow the chia to absorb and swell. By this time, it should have become a very jelly-like pudding. Layer with overnight oats to make a parfait or spoon over hot oats!

 

Here are some of the ways I’ve been enjoying the double pudding.

Round 1: Tapioca/Chia Pudding layered with Overnight Matcha Oats & Strawberries. (The pearls were overcooked in this instance) but the matcha/strawberry/coconut flavour pairing was great!

Round 2: Tapioca/Chia Pudding spooned over Balsamic Roasted Figs & Strawberries steel-cut Oatmeal. The pearls were perfectly cooked this time!