Tag Archives: fruit

Dairy-free, eggless, banana-based ice cream

There’s been a cool, rainy spell in Shanghai lately, but the weather people tell us summer isn’t over yet. As long as I’m still comfortable in shorts, I’m going to keep letting myself indulge in the best part of summer: ice cream. (Which might explain why I’ve disturbingly gained back half the weight I’d lost back in June…)

So I was super excited to discover, while going through my facebook feed one boring workday, someone’s reposting of a “healthy” ice cream recipe. It called for a whopping — ready? — 3 ingredients: frozen banana chunks, peanut butter, and honey. I’d made mung bean popsicles and PBJ froyo pops earlier this summer, but there’s nothing like the indulgent creaminess of soft ice cream. Since those ingredients are foods we always have around at home, I tried it that very night.

The first attempt failed as my impatience led me to use banana chunks that weren’t yet quite frozen, but a couple more tries in the following days (executed by Sean, who jumped on the idea in an instant) finally led to success. The result is a cold, creamy, smooth dessert that tastes and feels like soft serve — and is actually good for you!

I’d known that bananas are often used in lieu of eggs in vegan baked goods, but had no idea they could come out so deliciously creamy when frozen. Even though ripe bananas are used, the banana flavour isn’t overpowering. With no dairy ingredients, this recipe is lactose-intolerant friendly, and vegan-izable if you ditch the honey — which you totally could if the bananas are ripe enough. We spiced ours up with cinnamon and vanilla extract, and plan to try it with some dark chocolate chunks next time.

[Edit: Tried it with the chocolate tonight, FAIL! Even though we nuked the chocolate for 20 seconds before adding it to the mixture, it solidified right back up upon contact with the frozen banana. We ended up with tiny bland bits of chocolate in the ice cream which killed the texture and did nothing for flavour.]

We lost our faithful blender of nearly two years on our third ice cream-making attempt. We’d been meaning to replace it for weeks (months) now, as the hardened grime on its sides became impossible to ignore, but it’d been working fine up until that fateful evening when it began to moan and then slow down. For 99 RMB, it couldn’t be beat. RIP.

Dairy-free banana-peanut butter ice cream

3 medium very ripe bananas
1 heaping tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp honey (optional)
2 tsp vanilla (optional)
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)

1. Peel bananas, slice each into 10 chunks, and place in freezer for 3+ hours or until frozen.
2. Remove from freezer and microwave on medium-high for about 1 minute. This will make it easier to process.
3. Add bananas, peanut butter, and other ingredients to blender/food processor and blend until creamy, like soft serve ice cream. You will need to stop and scrape the sides down several times, or push it down with a spoon as it is blending. Don’t worry if small chunks of banana remain; these are delicious as they have the texture of hard ice cream. Do NOT spend too long on this step as the mixture doesn’t stay solid for long.
4. Transfer to a bowl or two and enjoy immediately!

Makes about 2 servings.


Filed under eating in

Mango season…

…has arrived! They’re going as cheap as 3.8 RMB/500g at our neighbourhood fruit store, climbing up to 7.8 RMB for the best ones. Not a bad price to pay for a minute of heaven :D

[Edit 2011-05-02: They’ve upped the price for the best quality mangos to 10.8 RMB/500g. Still worth it in my opinion.]

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Filed under buying

How my evening was made

I know it’s been aaages–over a month, to be precise–since I last wrote. Blame that on a 12-day trip to Hong Kong, realizing I need to get my act together career-wise, and being worn out by toddlers on an almost-daily basis. Blame that on me. Whatever. Here’s a quick one, a reassurance to those who care of my continued existence, before I go watch a movie (haven’t done that in a while, either).

My second class this afternoon caused some ire and grief. The four-year-old, Mealler, refused to let any of the handful of vocab words stick in his head–and yes, I’m pretty sure it was intentional, to spite me since I cut short his lego-boats-in-a-sinkful-of-soapy-water fun-time. And at one point, while playing smash-the-plane-into-various-fruit-monster-flashcards (guess who was holding which), he punched my mouth with his hand and then refused to say sorry. (It actually hurt.) And to top off the exhausting lesson, his grandma–who handles his life, apparently–announced that she was to start paying me once every five lessons rather than at the end of each lesson, as we’d been doing the last two months. (At first she proposed once a month, but I was like “uh, no…”; the main thing keeping me motivated to go to this class was the immediate post-lesson cash.) His grandma was also the one who, at our first post-Chinese New Year lesson, gave me in return for my gift of Meltykisses (a kind of chocolate, for the uninitiated) a tub of unshelled peanuts and this pancake thing that was 6 days past its expiry date.

/end rant

The unpleasant afternoon was redeemed by a splendid evening, made so by three things:

#1. Nang (Xinjiang flatbread), which Sean brought home from a Xinjiang restaurant near his school that makes seriously terrific nang. I’ve only had it from three or four establishments in China, but I suspect this one comes pretty close to the real thing (to be confirmed when I make it out to Xinjiang…). Though much of the crisp had worn off after 2 hours in his bag, it was still warm and soft and salty and loaded with sesame, not hard and flavourless like the others I’ve tried.

#2. Dessert from a Dongbei restaurant where we had dinner: 拔丝地瓜, or deep-fried sweet potato wedges drenched in caramelized sugar. They threw in some regular potato, the sneaks, but that didn’t matter: the crunch of the thick sugar coating giving way to the hot, soft inside made it hard to believe we were eating any kind of vegetable at all.

#3. The most broke-ass Chinese imitation attempt of all time:

[Edit 03/08: OK, a recent sighting by Sean has mine beat on the broke-ass aspect. It’s linked on facebook here.]

OK, off to see whether “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” is as amazing as my little sister claims.


Filed under eating out, restaurants - non-vegetarian

Things to get used to

#1. I peeled a mandarin orange to eat this morning. The pith appeared a lacklustre white and the flesh beneath the membrane a pale orange (and full of seeds!), so I prepared myself for an unpleasant (sour, bland) orange-eating experience. But guess what? It was incredibly sweet. And a little fizzy. Like orange Capri Sun*. And you know how sometimes when you’re eating fruit that’s unusually sweet, you say with giddy delight something like “man, tastes like someone pumped sugar in this”? That’s what went through my mind. And the next thing that went through my mind was that I’m in China, and that that seemingly ridiculous idea could very well be reality. And who gets the last laugh? Not me.

#2. I really should know better than to eat chocolate when I’m sick. I gave in yesterday morning and it made my throat feel like a pool of gluey chewy gooey goo from Dr. Seuss’ Fox in Socks.

#3. Sichuan pepper (花椒). These things are seriously the bane of my existence and my fear of them makes me feel embarrassingly un-Chinese. Somehow I’d managed to be shielded from this little but lethal spice throughout my childhood, when ginger had been my worst enemy**, so I was in for a nasty surprise my first meal out alone in Shanghai back in September. I ordered a seemingly innocuous 麻婆豆腐 (mapo doufu, a spicy tofu dish), but what I got, apparently, was 麻辣豆腐 (mala doufu, mala meaning hot & numbing), because the first bite numbed the hell out of my mouth. The tangy, tingly, and highly uncomfortable feeling was exactly how I imagine mistaking citrus-scented floor cleaner for mouthwash would feel (after spitting it back out). Following up with an entire bowl of white rice did nothing to ease the discomfort—or the feeling of betrayal.

But yeah. Turns out that the Chinese love throwing Sichuan peppercorns into all sorts of dishes, so the kind of experience described above has happened several times since, and most recently last night, when we decided to order in from the Xinjiang place downstairs. One of the dishes we got was 大盘鸡 (dapanji, or “big plate chicken”), which we’d had twice before at different Xinjiang restaurants and thought we liked. Well, turns out that our previous experiences were not-so-authentic, because dapanji, according to a sample of google results, is typically loaded with sichuan peppers, as this one was. So much of dinner (and today’s lunch) was spent picking out these little pods, because the dish is actually more than palatable as long as you don’t bite into one—and don’t mind feeling like you’ve just picked out a schoolyard of dead bugs.

Anyway. The race is on. Who will win Frances’ favour first, sichuan pepper or ginger?

*Capri Sun has a video game out? Huh?
**We’re still not friends.

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Filed under eating out, SH living