Saturday, December 18, 2010

Holiday Colored Dessert

It's the holiday season and there are certainly no lack of holiday parties and events to go to. With so many meals to pay for and all those presents to buy, it can get pricey. At last weekend's holiday party at a friend's house, I decided to make an easy-to-make, low budget but still very tasty dessert treat. Best of all, it's red; perfect to get into the holiday spirit with.

(Red Beans)

(Red Beans in Boiling Water)

It's a pretty cheap dessert that can feed a lot of people. A bag of red beans cost $1.69 a the local supermarket, and I only used half the bag. A bag of green beans cost also $1.69, and I also only used half a bag. A can of coconut milk cost $0.59. A bag of small tapioca pearls cost $0.69 and I only used less then 1/5 of the bag. The rest was used to make a tapioca dessert soup for another party. I already had cane sugar and water at my home so the total cost was around $5.00 while the actual cost of making this dessert was approximately $3.00. For $5.00 I have enough to make almost two pots of this red and green bean dessert soup and one pot of tapioca dessert soup.

There are a lot of variations in making the red and green bean soup. In place of the coconut milk, you can use dried tangerine or orange skin. There are also all sorts of other little items that could be added to the soup, half of which I have no clue what the English names are. I have to go back to the supermarket and look them up. You could also make a pure red bean or a pure green bean version. The thickness of the soup could also be altered based on your own preference. Some people like it more watery while others like it thicker. Some prefer the beans to be boiled to a paste while others like the beans to be more intact. The red beans takes longer to turn completely into a paste while the green bean is much easier to do so. I mix the two together so that I would get a graininess to the soup while still be able to eat some of the beans sort of intact. The tapioca is optional and adds a little starch to the soup and thickens it that way. In the end, experiment with it until you get the consistency that you prefer.

(Green Beans)

Red beans - half a bag
Green beans - half a bag
Cane Sugar - between half a cup to a cup depending on how sweet you prefer
Small Tapioca pearls - a couple table spoons
3/4 can of Coconut milk
Water - depends on how thick you like it. 1/5 of my pot were the beans. 2/3 of the pot was the water.

1. Boil the water.
2. Add the red beans and tapioca pearls to the boiling water.
3. 20 minutes later, add the green beans.
4. Cook for an hour or so on medium till the beans are all soft.
5. Let it simmer for another 30 minutes or until the consistency you like.
6. Add sugar. Taste it till you get it to the level you prefer. If you plan on serving it cold, you should add a little more sugar than you would serving it hot.
7. Add the coconut milk, stir till it's well mixed and turn off the heat.

Serve it hot as is or chill overnight and serve the following day.

(Red and Green Beans Sweet Soup)

Here's how I actually cooked it, keep in mind that I don't measure anything:

I boiled the water. I had a pretty large pot where I knew the beans would take up a little less than 1/5 of the pot. I added the water to a little more then 2/3 of the pot. Once the water was boiling, I added the red beans. I stirred the pot a little over the next 10 to 15 minutes. The red beans looked like it was a little softened so I added in the green beans. I figured I wanted it all mushy in the end anyways so who cares if I added it a little early.

Ten minutes after that I found out that I could add a little bit of tapioca pearls into the pot and so I did, just a little bit out of the bag that I bought for a different dessert I was going to make the next day. I just added a little bit off the top of my bag. I let the pot cook for about one hour in low heat. Then my Dad decided to add the sugar in for me without telling me because I was in the middle of teaching a piano lesson; I knew I had an hour. He told me he added about half a bag of sugar, which was about a 1/2 cup. I told him to let me do it myself or I'll never learn.

The thickness looked right so I finally opened the can of coconut milk and poured in 3/4 of it into the pot. The way I open cans to pour liquid out is by using a giant butcher knife to poke a hole in the middle and a hole on the side of the top of the can; one to let the air in and the other to let the liquid out. I stirred the pot until everything mixes and then I turned off the stove and let it sit there for a little bit before heading off to my friend's place.

I know I should do more taste testing when I cook. That's the one thing I don't do enough of. It did turn out really well and my friends enjoyed it. I did have a lot left over because I didn't know there were only seven of us going to the party. I put the leftover in the fridge and ate it over the next few days. It was so much better by day three chilled.

Well this holiday season instead of eggnog, which I still have never tasted, feel free to try out a red and green bean soup to delight your guests.


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