I’m Nuts for Coconuts

coconut 1

The thing about coconut is that you either love it or hate it, and there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground. Used to be coconut was that “exotic” ingredient that made its appearance only in a cake or candy bar or cookie. Sure making macaroons (not the French kind) always required that you buy a bag or two but ethnic dishes aside, until a few years ago the idea of coconut water was laughable, now, it’s the hottest item in the specialty water market place.

Early New World Spanish explorers discovering the coconut in their exploration called the strange round object that fell from trees coco, which translated means “monkey face”. I suppose those three indentations on that hairy nut does sort of resembles a monkey head but really when the coconut was brought back to Europe it became a source for many and varied products. Just to be accurate, a coconut is actually the fruit of the coconut palm and is a drupe, not a nut at all. A drupe is a seed consisting of an outer hard shell

The coconut is a multi talented food source and it provides a form of meat, juice, milk, and oil to countries around the world. It’s also a rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Recent studies have shown that the coconut is one of the best foods around.

Today, coconut is considered a wonder food. There are lots and lots of coconut products available on grocery shelves these days. Shredded coconut, coconut milk, coconut flour, coconut oil, really coconut everything and knowing what you’re getting and how to use it is key to making the most of your coconut experience. The dried coconut is obviously used in all kind of dishes. The coconut oil and coconut milk (which come from flesh of the coconut) are used in cooking baking, cooking and frying and coconut oil is also used in the manufacturing of soap and cosmetics. Coconut water is the hot new product in the flavored water aisle these days and not to be ignored the husks and leaves are used for making furniture and other house hold items.

So, it’s obvious that the past bad rep surrounding the coconut has been debunked. Now that you know exactly how versatile every little part of the coconut is, go get some and use these fun and delicious recipes to become acquainted. Who knows, maybe it will become you new favorite ingredient.

 coconut 3 soup

COCONUT VODKA PASTA SAUCE

 

1/2 cup oil

1 large onions, minced

3 stalks celery, diced

1 to 3 teaspoon minced garlic

1 cup vodka

2, 28 oz cans diced tomatoes

1 14-Ounce can coconut milk

Salt and Pepper, to Taste

Cork screw or bow tie pasta cooked al dente, kept warm

 

In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute the onion, garlic and celery in the oil until softened and just beginning to take on a brown color. De-glaze with the vodka, stir well, and let cook for 10 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes (with the juice) and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Add the coconut milk and cook 20 more minutes. Using an immersion blender or food process. Puree slightly, leaving some chunks. Season with salt and pepper. You can serve immediately with the cooked pasta or cool and refrigerate or freeze. Makes About 2 Quarts

 

My file, source unknown

 

THAI CHICKEN SOUP

 

1 lb pkg. fettuccini noodles

4 heaping tablespoons shredded coconut, unsweetened, toasted

6 cups chicken broth

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon chili powder

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 red or green chili, seeded, finely sliced

2 tablespoons fish or soy sauce (more to taste)

2/3 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, finely chopped (use a food processor)

1/2 can coconut milk

2 tablespoons lime juice

Fresh chopped cilantro or parsley, optional

3 green onions, sliced

 

Place the dry noodles in a large bowl. Pour room temperature water over the noodles and let them soak for 10 to 15 minute. (They will be al dente in about 15 minutes). Drain and rinse and then divide them between 8 bowls)

 

Bring the broth to a boil in a large stock pot. Reduce to medium heat and add the turmeric, chili powder, garlic, and chili. Mix to combine, cook 2 minutes and then add the chicken. Continue cooking for 10 to 12 minutes or until the chicken pieces are all cooked. Reduce heat to a simmer and add fish sauce, ground peanuts, and coconut milk. Cook for 1 minute more and remove from heat. Add the lime juice, mix to combine and then spoon the soup over the noodles in the 8 bowls. To serves, top each bowl with the chopped cilantro, green onion, and toasted coconut. Serves 8

 

Modified from yummly.com

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COCONUT SHRIMP CURRY

 

2 teaspoon olive oil

1 chopped onion

1 cup red bell peppers, sliced thinly

1 1/2 cup sugar snap peas

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 1/2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 tablespoon white sugar

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 pounds raw shrimp

2 cups light coconut milk from a can

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

1/4 cup chopped peanuts

salt to taste

cooked rice for 6 to 8

 

In a large skillet heat the oil and saute the onion, red pepper, and sugar snap peas for 2 minutes, then add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Add the cumin, coriander, and curry powder. Cook for 1minute. Add the coconut milk, sugar, and red pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil then quickly reduce to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered for 2 minutes.

Add in the shrimp, bump up the heat to medium and cook until the shrimp is cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes. In a bowl, combine the cornstarch with the water. Stir the mixture into shrimp mixture, and cook until sauce has thickened, about 1 minute. Add salt to taste. Remove from heat, serve either on individual plates or on a platter. To serve sprinkle the chopped cilantro and peanuts on top. Serves 8.

 

Modified from about.com

 coconut 4 cake

COCONUT CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE CHUNKS AND COCONUT DRIZZLE

I love this recipe, I found it in Bon Appetite and have been making it ever since

 

Cake:

1 3/4 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate bars broken into small pieces, divided

1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut

 

Drizzle:

3/4 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons (or more) canned unsweetened coconut milk**

1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides; dust pan with flour, shaking out excess. Sift 1 3/4 cups flour, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl. Stir in the unsweetened shredded coconut and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the sugar, butter, and orange peel and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with coconut milk in 2 additions, beating just until blended after each addition. Fold in half of bittersweet chocolate pieces. Spread batter evenly in prepared cake pan. Sprinkle remaining chocolate pieces over batter, then sprinkle with sweetened flaked coconut.

 

Bake cake until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, (tent with sheet of foil if cake is browning too quickly) 60 to 70 minutes. Transfer cake to rack and cool in pan 45 minutes.

 

In a bowl combine the powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk, and vanilla and mix to combine, adding more coconut milk by 1/2 teaspoonfuls until mixture is thin enough to drizzle over cake.

Place the cake on a serving platter and then drizzle the glaze over the top. Cool cake completely on platter. This is great with vanilla ice cream. Serves 10 to 12.

Modified from Bon Appétit January 2010

COCONUT HONEY SALMON

 

1 1/2 cups butter

3/4 cup honey

1/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup flaked coconut

4 (4 ounce) fillets salmon

Salt and pepper to taste

 

In a saucepan combine the honey, brown, sugar, and coconut. Bring the mixture to a boil and then immediately remove from the heat. Cool the mixture slightly and pour it into a 9X13 glass pan. Place the salmon in the pan and then flip it once or twice to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Flip the filets and refrigerate for 30 more minutes. Preheat oven to 375. Arrange the salmon in the dish, and spoon some of the marinade over the top, making sure to get some of the coconut on the top. Season with just a little salt and pepper. Bake 25 minutes in the oven, basting occasionally with the sauce, until the salmon is flaked easily with a fork. Serves 4

Submitted by Eleanor Razon Toronto Canada

 

© Eileen Goltz coconut 13

 

Oh Honey

            September is National Honey Month so now is the time to ponder an ancient question that has confounded learned scientists for eons. This deep and multifaceted matter has puzzled subsequent generation and rears its dubious head every year when summer rolls around. Of course I’m talking about the unsolvable dilemma, which came first, the honey or the bee.

I’m going to take a giant leap of faith and say, well, they both arrived at the same time and jump right into why using honey is so good for you. Honey is one of nature’s most perfect food. Very few people are allergic to it, it’s easy to digest, and has benefits that encompass, ensuring good health, beauty treatments AND it’s so and is just plain delicious. There’s lots of ways you can buy your honey. There’s honey comb, liquid, crystallized and whipped/creamed honey.

You should know that all honey will eventually crystallize given enough time so when you see it starting to get a little hard you can heat it to melt the crystals (I tend to zap it in the microwave for a 1 minute or so). While the consumers in the US seem to prefer the liquid variety many countries throughout the world prefer the whipped honey where it’s typically served at breakfast instead of jam.

If you’re planning on using honey instead of sugar in baking you can substitute it at a 1:1 ratio but I prefer to slightly reduce the amount of honey because it is so much sweeter. You also need to know that you’ll need to reduce the other liquids in the recipes by about 1/4 cup to compensate for the liquid/water in the honey. You should also lower the oven temperature by 25 degrees to prevent burning. I also add about 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda for each cup of honey to help counteract the honey’s acidity.

 I’m going to take this moment to suggest that any recipe with honey in it has got to be a reason to celebrate. Bees and what they do when they sting is a whole different kind of column

 

NOTE: Never EVER feed honey to a child under the age of 2. Their undeveloped digestive systems aren’t equipped to deal with some of the naturally forming bacteria that are in it.

CHOP CHOP SALAD WITH HONEY LIME DRESSING

 

2 heads chopped romaine lettuce

1 can (15.5 oz) garbanzo beans, rinsed and well drained

3 chopped seeded tomato

1 can sliced hearts of palm

1 cup fresh corn kernels, uncooked (canned, drained)

8 to 10 thinly sliced radishes

2 avocado, diced

1 to 2 red bell pepper, chopped

 

Lime and honey dressing:

 

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup honey

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley or cilantro

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 to 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

 

In a salad bowl combine the lettuce, garbanzo beans, tomato, hearts of palm, corn, radish, avocado and red pepper. Toss to combine and set aside. In a smaller bowl combine the lime juice, olive oil, honey, parsley, garlic and pepper flakes, and whisk to combine. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 6 to 8. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

 

TOMATOES WITH HONEY THYME DRESSING

 

6 to 8 large tomatoes, sliced

3 to 4 shredded carrots

Salad greens

1/3 cup white wine or fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons lemon zest

3 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 cup olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Black sesame seeds for garnish

Black olives (optional)

 

Place the salad greens on a platter and then place the shredded carrots on top. Lay out the sliced tomatoes in rows (deocorate with black olives if you like). In a small bowl, whisk together the wine or lemon juice, lemon zest, honey, and thyme. Whisk in the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and then sprinkle the sesame seeds over the top for garnish. Serves 8 to 10.

 

HONEY PECAN CHOCOLATE PIE

 

1 readymade deep dish uncooked pie shell

 

1 stick butter or margarine

1 cup sugar

3 beaten eggs

1/3 cup corn syrup

2/3 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 to 3 cups of chopped pecans

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 to 2/3 cup chocolate chips

 

Preheat oven to 325. Melt the butter and then set it aside and allow it to cool slightly.  In a large bowl combine the sugar, eggs, corn syrup and honey. Whisk to combine.  Add the melted butter, vanilla, pecans and cinnamon. Mix to combine. Pour the pecan mixture into the uncooked pie shell and bake for 45 minutes. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on the top and return the pie to the oven. Bake an additional 15 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven. Cool for at least 10 minutes and spread the melted chocolate chips over the top. Cool for at least 1 hour before serving. Serves 6 to 8.

 

APPLE AND HONEY FRUIT SLAW

 

1/3 cup honey

1/3 cup oil

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar or rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 to 2 lbs. coleslaw mix

2 to 3  tart apples, peeled and chopped (I like granny smith)

2 cans (11 oz) mandarin oranges, drained

1 cup dried cherries

1/2 to 3/4 cup pine nuts

 

In small bowl, whisk together the honey, oil, vinegar, poppy seeds and salt; set the mixture aside. In large bowl combine the coleslaw mix, apples, oranges, dried cherries and pine nuts. Mix to combine. Pour the dressing over coleslaw mixture and mix to coat. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving. Serves 6 to 8.

 

HONEY CURRIED BAKED CHICKEN

 

2 chickens, cut up about 4 to 5 lbs

1/2 cup butter, cubed

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup crushed pretzels

 

Preheat oven to 350. Line a large baking pan with foil. Place the chicken in the pan. In a sauce pan combine the butter, honey, mustard, curry and salt. Simmer until the butter melts and whisk to combine. Pour about 1/2 of the sauce over the top of the chicken and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the chicken over and pour the remaining sauce over the top of the chicken. Bake for 10 minutes and then baste the chicken with the sauce and sprinkle the pretzel crumbs over the top. Cook an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Serves 6 to 8.

 

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PEANUT AND CHOCOLATE HONEY BARS

 

1 cup honey

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup chunky peanut butter

1 cup honey roasted peanuts

1 cup milk or semi sweet mini chocolate chips

7 cups crisp rice cereal

 

In large microwave-safe bowl combine the honey and brown sugar. Microwave on High for 3 to 5 minutes, or just until mixture begins to melt and become bubbly. Stir to combine. Stir in the peanuts, chocolate chips and cereal and mix to combine. Grease a large shallow 10X15 baking dish with cooking spray. Firmly the mixture into the pan. Let sit at room temperature or in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. When cool, cut into squares or use cookie cutters to cut it into fun shapes Makes 16 to 20 bars.

 

HONEY ZUCCHINI LOAF

 

1 egg

3/4 cup honey

3 Tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

2-1/2 cups flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups grated zucchini

3/4 cup slivered almonds

Powdered sugar for dusting

 

Preheat oven 325.  Grease a loaf pan (9X5X3) in a bowl combine the egg, honey, oil and vanilla. Whisk to combine. In another bowl combine the flour, baking powder, orange zest, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Mix to combine. Add flour mixture, zucchini and almonds to honey mixture; mix until combine but don’t over mix. Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes then remove the loaf to a cooling rack. Let cool to room temperature. Dust with powdered sugar before slicing and serving. Serves 6

 

Modified from about.com

 

PUFF PASTRY APPLE TARTS WITH HONEY GLAZE

 

1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of 17.3-ounce package), thawed

2 7- to 8-ounce Golden Delicious apples, peeled, halved, cored, each half very thinly sliced

3 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine, melted

4 teaspoons honey

 

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll out pastry sheet on lightly floured surface to very thin 18×14-inch rectangle. Using small plate as guide, cut out four 7-inch rounds. Transfer 2 rounds to each prepared sheet; cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 1 day.

 

Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 400°F. Overlap slices from 1/2 apple on each pastry round, leaving 1/4-inch plain border. Sprinkle apple on each tart with 2 1/4 teaspoons sugar, and then drizzle with 2 1/4 teaspoons butter.

 

Bake tarts until pastry is golden and apples are tender, about 25 minutes. Drizzle each tart with 1 teaspoon honey. Transfer tarts to racks; cool 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

From Bon Appétit October 2002 (this is one of my favorite recipes from Bon Appétit)