Is cornstarch on your quarantine food shopping list?
If not, you may want to consider adding it after reading this article to the end.
Affordable and Versatile
Cornstarch is an affordable and versatile pantry staple with a long shelf life.
Here are some of its many fully-tested functions:
- For a velvety and restaurant quality gravy, add a spoonful of cornstarch diluted in water to your meat or chicken sauce and stir for a couple of minutes over low heat.
- For feather-light sponge cakes, add cornstarch to all-purpose flour. It lends a fluffy texture to cakes.
- For luscious puddings, made in no time, add one tablespoon for every cup of liquid—let it be juice, fruit puree, dairy, or non-dairy milk. For recipe inspiration, check out this Eggless Chocolate Pudding recipe.
- For an authentic crispy schnitzel, dredge your chicken, meat, or pork fillet in cornstarch first to absorb the moisture before plunging it in eggs and breadcrumbs, and prior to frying it in hot oil.
- For super crispy onion garnish to my Kushari recipe, I generously shower the onion slices in cornstarch before frying.
The “Zero Food Waste” Initiative
My commitment to the #zerofoodwaste initiative by the WFP (World Food Program) has been quite an inspiration. I now look at leftovers with a pair of fresh eyes that constantly figure meal possibilities out of leftovers.
In the context of our ongoing quarantine, the commitment to eliminate food waste is serving me well.
Now more than ever before, I regularly check my pantry and fridge to plan my family meals ahead of time to avoid excessive food shopping.
Cooking with fewer ingredients is another approach that I am focused on embracing. Meals made with fewer ingredients, in most cases, cost less time, energy, and money to prepare.
Two weeks ago, the resourceful blogger Nivin who runs the stellar food blog Nivin’s Kitchen, launched a cooking challenge on her Instagram page, which is cooking with just four ingredients.
Motivated by this wonderful initiative, I checked my fridge to find an open box of coconut cream that was last touched when I made the filling of my Tropical Kunafeh Cups.
What is a “Faux Coconut Pannacotta”
Instead of gelatin, “This Faux Coconut Pannacotta” is held together by cornstarch.
There is no added sugar nor dairy milk. In other words, it is vegan and sugar and gluten-free.
Making eggless puddings using cornstarch is a deep-rooted tradition in the Middle East and it is called Muhalabeya.
This gluten-free dessert took no more than 20 minutes of active time, plus a couple of hours to chill in the fridge.
To cut through the richness of coconut cream, I served the dessert with a tangy apricot sauce. This is the glistening orange pool that the coconut pannacotta lays on (see the photo below).
To make the apricot sauce, I blended some water with dried apricots and thickened it over low heat while mixing in the same magic powder—cornstarch.
You can leave the dessert as is, or garnish it with whatever you like. In my version, I used toasted coconut flakes and crushed pistachios to add some crunch to the velvety pudding texture.
This dessert was the just-right “Friday Night Treat” after a long week of homeschooling.
It is naturally sweetened, and gluten/sugar/guilt-free.
While many of us stopped counting our days in the quarantine, we should continue counting our blessings.
Having a roof over our heads and a bite to share with our loved ones should never be taken for granted.
Stay safe and healthy everyone.
Faux Coconut Pannacotta: مهلبية جوز الهند و صوص قمر الدين
Makes 2 individual servings
Faux Coconut Pannacotta
- 1 cup coconut cream
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch, diluted in ¼ cup water
- ½ cup dried apricots, chopped
- ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Coconut flakes
- Crushed pistachios
- Make the coconut pudding: In a heavy bottom pan mix the coconut cream, water, and diluted cornstarch together. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens and has the consistency of a white sauce. Let it come to room temperature. Wipe the molds with coconut or neutral oil. Pour the coconut pannacotta inside the molds and chill in the fridge.
- Make the apricot sauce: Add the dried apricots and the water to a blender and blitz it until the liquid is smooth and lump-free.
- Plate the dish: Unmold the panacotta over a serving dish. Carefully add the apricot sauce around the pannacotta. Sprinkle some toasted coconut flakes and pistachios on top.
- Serve cold.