July 21, 2017

Summery Spaghetti and Meatballs

for the meatballs:
2 lb 90% lean ground beef
1 medium zucchini, grated and squeezed dry
1 clove garlic, grated
1/4 cup finely grated pecorino romano
1/3 cup bread crumbs
pinch nutmeg
1 egg

for the sauce:
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
28 oz petite diced tomatoes
28 oz canned crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1/4 cup red wine (optional)
1 tablespoon minced Italian parsley
1 tablespoon minced basil
1 tablespoon minced oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil

to serve:
1 lb spaghetti, cooked to package instructions

Start the sauce first. Heat the olive oil in a medium sized saucepan. Add the onion and garlic. Saute until the onions are softened. Add the remaining sauce ingredients. Cook, stirring occasionally.

In a medium sized bowl, add all of the meatball ingredients. With a gentle hand, combine all ingredients and form into 1 to 2-inch meatballs. Place on an (oiled or nonstick) broiler pan and broil for about 5 minutes or until just starting to brown.

Add to the sauce. Continue to cook until the meatballs are fully cooked and most of the liquid has been cooked out of the sauce. Serve over hot spaghetti.

Pro tip: Leftover meatballs in sauce freeze remarkably well.

My thoughts:
Just because it is summer doesn't mean one can't crave spaghetti and meatballs! As a nod to the season, I added some grated (and squeezed dry using a paper towel) zucchini which pretty much everyone has on hand right now. It isn't quite tomato season here yet (all I've seen are cherry tomatoes and puny ones at that and the ones on my plant are still super green) so I went with canned tomatoes but if you have fresh, by all means, use that! Just peel and hand crush/chop them to equal the appropriate amounts. Either way, the dish was a fresher, more summer take on the traditonal favorite and only heated up the house a little bit.

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July 12, 2017

Elotes Inspired Hamburgers

1 lb 93% lean ground beef
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/3 cup grated cotija cheese
1 ear's worth of corn kernels

spicy mayo:
1/2-1 teaspoon Tajín Clásico seasoning (chile lime seasoning)
1/2 cup mayonnaise

to serve:


In a medium bowl, combine all of the burger ingredients until evenly distributed. Form into 4 even patties. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the spicy mayo ingredients. Set aside.

Meanwhile, prepare grill according to manufacturer's instructions. Grill the burgers, flipping once until desired doneness. Place on buns, top with spicy mayo. Serve immediately.

Warning! You might hear some of the corn "pop" as it cooks!

My thoughts:
I am sure this recipe is somehow blasphemous. I admit is it is a bit of a stretch but when I realized I had all the ingredients for elotes and ground beef, I couldn't resist. It is kind of wacky but it works, I promise! Think of it as fusion if that helps. You get bursts of sweet corn and that lovely cheese flavor in every bite of burger and the spicy mayo sets it off perfectly. I served it with mango with Tajín sprinkled on, chips and guacamole. It was a great summer meal and a wonderful way to use up that last ear of corn. The burgers were so good, my husband gave an audible "Mmmm" and a thumbs up after one bite and raved about them all night.

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July 10, 2017

Cauliflower Salad with Marinated Artichokes and Olives

1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
1/4 cup sliced kalamata olives (in brine)
1 jarred marinated artichoke, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
1 cubanelle pepper, diced
1 large handful curly parsley, chopped
1/4 cup marinade from the artichoke jar
juice of 1 lemon


Bring a few inches of water to boil in a large pot. Add the cauliflower and steam 5-8 minutes or until tender. Drain and allow to cool. Place in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and toss to evenly distribute all ingredients. Chill 1 hour prior to serving for best flavor.

My thoughts:
I know, another cauliflower salad. I can't help it! I really enjoy them this time of year when cauliflower is in season. It just tastes so fresh! Of course, I couldn't resist using a bit of pickle-y, marinated flavor. Plus you can use the marinade from the artichoke jar totally eliminating the need to make a vinegarette. The lemon juice brightens it up and keeps it all from being too heavy. The cubanelle adds a light pepperiness and crunch as well. A refreshing salad for a hot day.

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June 29, 2017

Dill Sun-dried Tomato Kofta Sandwiches


for the kofta:
1 lb 93% lean ground beef
3 tablespoons minced dill
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (dry, not packed in oil), minced
1/2 small onions, minced
freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/3 cup thinly sliced, seeded cucumber
1 tablespoon minced dill
freshly ground black pepper

to serve:
small flatbread/pocketless pita, warmed
sliced tomato
sliced cucumber


Mix together all of the kofta ingredients until well combined. Form into 12 small flat patties (think slider sized). Heat canola oil in a large skillet, cook the kofta until cooked through, flipping once, about 5 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towel-lined plates.

Meanwhile, stir together all of the tzatziki ingredients until well distributed. Set aside.

Spread the bread with tzatziki, top with two kofta, tomato, and cucumber. Serve immediately.

My thoughts:
The idea for these came to me when I was visiting the new location of Trader Joe's out in the suburbs. I have a love/hate relationship with Trader Joe's but I do love their sundried tomatoes because they are not packed in oil. Oil-packed is good for some recipes but when I'm using it with other heavy ingredients like meat, I really prefer the dry kind. Anyway, their ground beef isn't as overpriced as most of their meat so I picked that up and voila, Dill-Sundried Tomato Kofta Sandwiches were born. I made these for lunch because Matt is working from home today but they are definitely hearty enough for dinner when served with some veggies or a salad. We were both surprised at how well the dill came across in the burgers. It really lightened the flavor of the kofta and pulled together the whole sandwich. Plus it was super quick to make, I slept in and was only half awake when I made this and it still came out awesome and in under about 25 minutes.

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June 26, 2017

Raspberry Eton Mess

1 1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cup fresh raspberries (I used a mix of golden and red raspberries)
1 1/4 cup (whole) raspberry meringues


In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a mixing bowl using a hand mixer beat the cream and sugar together until soft peaks form. Meanwhile, lightly crush 1/2 of the raspberries (I did this by hand but the back of a spoon will do) and set aside. When the peaks have formed, remove the bowl from the mixer and use a large spoon to gently fold in the crushed raspberries (do not thoroughly incorporate) without deflating the cream. Crumble the meringues over the mixture and gently fold them in. Divide into bowls. Top with remaining berries. Serve immediately or refrigerate 1/2 hour. Best eaten the day it is made.

Serves: about 4
My thoughts:
One of the biggest disappointments of my trip to England last year is that when we were in Windsor, a mere footbridge away from Eton during strawberry season, we did not get a single chance to eat Eton Mess. It was a major goal of mine for the trip. At least I got to see the castle.

There is a popular story that when at Eton cricket match a dog knocked over the prepared dessert, meringue and strawberries (I'm assuming a pavlova) crushing it and to salvage it, an enterprising chef tossed it with some whipped cream and served it anyway. The truth seems to be that some chef started selling it in the Eton snack/sweets shop in the 1930s but I like the dog story better.

Traditionally it is made with strawberries but our yard is overflowing with golden and red raspberries so I thought I'd make it using raspberries instead. The raspberries crushed much more easily than strawberries that made the dessert (pudding!) even quicker to make.

OMG is so good! Simple, even though I did make the meringues from scratch so that took some time, but surprisingly light tasting and full of fresh raspberry flavor. I loved the pockets of chewy meringue in the fluffy, creamy, fruity whipped cream.  I can't wait to make it again.

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June 23, 2017

Free Form Raspberry Meringues


3 egg whites, at room temperature
pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 oz freeze dried raspberries


Preheat oven to 250. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

Place the raspberries in a Vitamix, mortar and pestle or food processor and grind until it forms a powder. Whisk the mixture through a fine sieve to remove any seeds/chunks into a bowl. Measure out 3 1/2 tablespoons of powder. Place in a bowl and whisk in the sugar.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer or a regular bowl and using a hand mixer, beat the eggs, salt, and cream of tartar together until soft peaks form. While the mixer is still running, slowly stream in the raspberry/sugar mixture. Beat until stiff peaks form. Using a regular dining teaspoon and your fingers or a second spoon, place heaping spoonfuls of meringue on the lined baking sheet. They can be close together as they will not spread. When all of the meringue is on the baking sheet, place it in the oven for 1 1/2 hrs. After the time is up, turn off the oven, leaving the meringues inside, and let them hang out for one hour.

Yield: about 30 meringues

My thoughts:

As you may have guessed, I am not one for fussy details. I piped exactly 3 meringues before the bag started to leak so I thought I'd go rustic. You can, of course, pipe your meringues if you want them extra cute but it really isn't necessary. I get a lot of emails from people who say they don't bake because they don't know how to make swirly icing or they don't have piping bags and I am here to say you really don't need them. These meringues are just as tasty and for what I am ultimately doing with them (Raspberry Eton Mess), their appearance doesn't matter. Frankly, even if you were serving these as-is they are tasty and pretty and people will be so impressed you made them yourself vs. buying them at the store (which I was tempted to do) they won't care what they look like.

I was really excited to remember that I had some leftover freeze-dried raspberries from making my Very Berry Rice Krispies Treats so rather than boring vanilla meringues I could make raspberry ones! Any freeze-dried fruit should work. The flavor is light (as are meringues!) but very raspberry-y and it turned them into a very pretty pink color.

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June 21, 2017

Top Drawer Crab Cakes


1 lb jumbo lump blue crab meat
1 slice of loaf brioche, torn into tiny pieces
1/2 teaspoon good quality dry mustard (like Colman's)
1-2 tablespoons Old Bay (depends on how Baltimore you are)
1 egg
1/4 cup mayonnaise


Heat 1/2-inch canola oil in a large skillet. In a medium bowl, whisk together the mustard, Old Bay, egg and mayo until smooth. Add the crab and bread. Form the mixture into 5-6, 3-4-inch, 1/2 inch thick patties. Place in the pan and cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides and heated through (about 5 minutes on each side). They are a little more fragile than some so take care to only flip them once. Drain on paper towel-lined plates and serve.

My thoughts:
I've made Baltimore (or Maryland if you prefer) crab cakes a lot. I've posted the method I personally use most frequently which is similar to what I grew up eating and the another method that I didn't grow up with but that is also very popular which uses crushed saltines as the binder. I haven't posted one using bread crumbs yet (another popular method) but maybe one day.

This recipe is basically a richer version of what I grew up eating. It uses eggy, slightly sweet brioche (I buy the sandwich loaf brioche at Aldi) to bind, mayonnaise for a really creamy texture, and straight jumbo lump (no backfin). The result is a  more decadent crab cake that is just as simple to make as "normal" crab cakes. Perfect for making a weeknight special.

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