Saturday, 15 June 2013

Magenta Memories

Budino di Tapioca allo Cocco, con Rabarbaro
Coconut Tapioca Pudding with Rhubarb Compote

Yes, as you can see, the rhubarb caught my eye again at the farmers market today- it was just so wonderfully juicy and ripe looking that I couldn't resist! I could see that the stalks were colored vibrant magenta through and through... so pretty and so irresistible! I didn't need that much though, just 5 stalks were plenty for me to make a nice bowl of delicious compote- my favorite method made it easy... I usually prepare it the night before, but this evening I was a little impatient- lol!

The other thing I decided I needed to make, was tapioca pudding! For some reason I began remembering and reminiscing about it from back in my school days... the main thing in my memory was that yes, I did enjoy it USUALLY, but yes, it did also depend on who was in the kitchen at the time... it could either be really yummy- or really yucky! Sadly, most people have memories of the yucky, slimy version- so I wanted to try making it myself to refresh my memory and hoped I could do a good job!

Fortunately I did a little reading up on the preparation and found what must be the secret- which was to soak the tapioca in advance to cooking, so that it would soften and swell up, but also give off a lot of starch, which could be poured away. Obviously, you do not want to pour all of it away, but one initial rinse after 5 minutes of soaking, then fresh water for the next 30 minutes or so worked really well for me. The ratio of water to tapioca is simple- always double the amount of water :-)

This evening I made 2 cups of tapioca- which of course after soaking for 30 minutes turned into 4 cups. To actually cook it and turn it into a simple, but yummy pudding, I heated up 2 cups of milk, added 2 tablespoons of coconut flakes and brought it to the boil. I added cinnamon, a small piece of vanilla and pinch of salt, then in went the tapioca and then the stirring began!

I sweetened mine with Stevia- but of course you can use sugar too- I am just going to say that you need to sweeten it to your own taste- but I would tend to say that less is more- you can easily overdo it and I was happy with just 1 level tablespoon of Stevia for mine. I stirred it on a low simmer for 4-5 minutes and added a little milk as required- as it does absorb quite a lot! This was the very fine grade of tapioca with the tiny pears and was soon soft and creamy... and as soon as it was ready, I poured it into a glass and let it cool, then popped it into the fridge for it to become firm and cold and ready for serving later... and got busy with the rhubarb!

Let me quickly recap on the rhubarb. I added a couple of teaspoonfuls of red berry preserves to 5-6 peeled and chopped rhubarb stalks. I then added 1 tablespoon of honey and 1 teaspoon of Stevia, 4-5 tablespoons of water and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. I stirred this together to get everything equally coated, added a little piece of vanilla pod and popped it all into the oven, which I had heated up to maximum temperature for 10-15 minutes beforehand. In it went, for 5 minutes at first to get nice and hot, and then I turned the oven off, leaving it to finish baking gently in the remaining heat. After an hour or so, the rhubarb was perfect and the syrup surrounding it just divine! Like I said- my all-time favorite way of preparing rhubarb!

By that time, the tapioca was nicely set and I served it up with a generous helping of delicious, vibrant magenta rhubarb and syrup... mmm! An eye-catcher and a delicious one at that! And the perfect way to transform something as humble and plain as tapioca into something totally cool and tasty! Hope you give it a go yourselves!

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