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Posts Tagged ‘Coconut’

Barely one week into September, and it already feels like fall. Connecticut was hit with some dicey weather over the weekend, resulting in some gusty breezes, fallen branches, and comfortably cool weather to start off the week. Taking advantage of the coolness on Sunday, Greg and I decided to head out for a little jaunt through the woods of Haddam, CT. Little did we know this excursion would end up in an emergency roadside assistance call placed to the local police when we lost our trail and found ourselves wandering alongside an unmarked road. Thankfully, the local authorities came to our rescue and we were able to make it back to our car with little incident. Good reminder to pack a GPS or Eagle Scout along with you on your next hiking trip!

We’ve been experimenting with some raw desserts recently and have hit upon a few successes (more on those to come). This one in particular has an excellent, flavorful, aromatic crust that we’re excited to use again in future recipes. Cashew “cream” is a pretty common filling in raw desserts, and though it’s not quite the same as fluffy layers of dairy, it approximates cream closely enough and is a completely guilt-free substitute. Enjoy!

Triple-Citrus Raw Bar

Coconut Almond Crust:

1/2 c unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 c almonds
2 t coconut butter
1 T vanilla extract
1/4 c liquid used for soaking dates*

In a food processor, pulse the almonds with coconut flakes until it is pebbly, like almond meal. Combine other ingredients and blend until you have a sticky mess.

Place the mixture in a 9″ pie pan and press down and against the sides until even. Freeze until ready to use.

Lemon Cashew Filling:

1 c raw cashews, soaked overnight and drained
5 dates, soaked overnight*
5 clementines, juice and zest
2 T lemon juice
1 T coconut butter
1/4 c mandarin preserves

Place the cashews in the food processor and blend until “creamy”. These will likely still have a few clumps but process until the consistency of a wet peanut butter. Add the remaining ingredients to the food processor and process until smooth.

Once the crust is ready, spread an even layer of the mandarin preserves on the bottom of the crust. Pour the lemon cashew mixture on top and evenly spread. Sprinkle toasted coconut flakes on top (optional).

Refrigerate for 30 minutes until firm. Serve cold.

* Soaking dates in water can soften them and make them easier to blend. The soaking liquid can then also be used as a flavored “simple syrup” to moisten the coconut-almond crust.

Photo and original recipe found here.

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I don’t mean to hate on meringue, but it’s true, I don’t have a particular affinity for it. It might be because of a small incident we had after I made the awesome chocolate stout birthday cake for the husband this year. In a fit of prideful curiosity, I asked triumphantly if it was the best birthday cake he’s ever had, and he responded (first, yes, and then) that the only other birthday cake memory he has is of a lemon meringue pie. Anyway, that threw me into a bit of competitive envy, and I guess I no longer enjoy meringue.

All that said, if you’re left over with lots of egg whites from your pasta-making endeavors, you may be interested in coconut macaroons. These macaroons are more in the French-style of macaroons (envision: rich, generous clumps of coconut flakes) as compared to the Italian-style of macaroons (crunchy little cookie-cakes made with ground almonds). These are type of macaroon I imagine Nora stealthily snacking on in A Doll’s House, as they seem far more indulgent and worthy of sneaking than the Italian version of the cookie.

These cookies are impossibly easy to make and involve just a few ingredients (fewer still if you choose not to dip in chocolate). They are incredible warm out of the oven, but a few extra minutes of cooling definitely helps them hold together better.

Chocolate-Covered Coconut Macaroons

3 egg whites
6 oz. dried coconut flakes
1/4 c sugar
1/4 all-purpose flour
6 oz. good-quality chocolate (we used Fairway)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare a cookie sheet with a Silpat liner or greased with butter.

In a large heavy pan, mix egg whites, dried coconut, sugar, and flour with a silicone  spatula. (Particularly if using a non-stick pan, do not use metal utensils, as they will scratch the pan!) Place over a low heat and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly to make sure it does not stick. When the mixture becomes the consistency of thick oatmeal, remove from heat.

Place spoonfuls of the mixture in round-ish piles on the lined baking sheets. Bake for ~15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and leave to cool completely.

When macaroons are cooled, melt the chocolate in a double boiler, a bowl over simmering water, or the microwave. Dip cookies into melted chocolate and set on parchment paper or cooling racks to cool.

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Worth knowing: “rendang” means cooked in coconut milk.  Or something like that.  So why would somebody call something coconut blah blah rendang?  I don’t know either.  This is a really flavorful, spicy, creamy, and easy dish.  Chicken thighs cooked in a chili paste with garlic and ginger and simmered in coconut milk with lemongrass and madras curry.  And it’s really good for you, too!  Well, that part is not true (coconut milk; yum), but it’s not terrible.  I don’t think.

Begin by mixing up the chili paste, which we did in a food processor but could as easily be made by chopping finely.  Onion (or shallots if you prefer), garlic, ginger, chiles (or flakes), nuts (we used cashews because we didn’t have macadamia–honestly, I’m not sure what difference nuts make here).  The recipe called for first frying this in some oil before adding the chicken, but I would have done it the other way around.  Doing it their way kept the chicken from browning because there was so much liquid from the onions.  I would brown the thighs, remove, fry the paste, and add back the chicken.

Then add the coconut milk, curry powder, lemongrass, lime, and some sugar.  Bruise the lemongrass to release the oils and then cut into pieces; you’ll remove the lemongrass at the end (feel free to bruise however you want, as I’m not convinced that my method with the knife is the “established” method).  I’m also thinking of next time throwing the lemongrass into the food processor to really break it down and make it edible.  Simmer uncovered (to thicken) until the chicken is tender and the sauce is velvety and full.  Serve over rice, and why not add a vegetable like green beans, too?

And one more thing: I can’t let a sleeping dog lie.  Or is it, don’t kick a dead horse?  Either way: my dad cooked the pork shoulder the other day.  Two shoulders totaling 18 pounds.  And he cooked them for 50 people.  And for 20 hours.  And he hasn’t stopped talking about how good it was.  In fairness (to me) he cooked them on the barbecue (check out the Bubba Keg; we got it on super-sale, of course).  So maybe the smoke’s the difference.  Anyway, I’m glad it came out for him, and I’m pretty sure we’ll be eating it next time I visit, too.

Curried-Coconut Chicken Rendang

1-2 Tablespoons Madras curry powder
ground pepper
1 lemongrass stalk
canola oil
salt
1 pound chicken thighs (Costco sells boneless-skinless)
1/2 large onion
4-5 garlic cloves
1 inch ginger
5 cashews (or 3 macadamia nuts)
2 teaspoon red chile flakes and 1 dried guajillo (it’s what we had; Asian chiles obviously preferred)
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1 Tablespoon light brown sugar
(optional: shredded coconut)

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