January 30, 2009

Chili Parlor Queen Chili

2 lb very lean ground beef
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium carrots, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 whole, jarred pimiento, chopped
30 oz canned dark red kidney beans, drained
30 oz diced tomatoes in juice
3 tablespoons chili sauce (like Heinz)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Montreal seasoning
1 tablepoon yellow hot sauce (I used Miss Hatties)
2 teaspoons cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoon hickory liquid smoke
1 teaspoon dried celery flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon hot Mexican chili powder
1 teaspoon ground jalapeno
1 teaspoon hot paprika
1 teaspoon ground chipotle
1 teaspoon ground cumin

serving suggestions:
tortilla chips
sour cream
chopped onion
sharp cheddar
diced avocado

In a skillet, lightly brown the ground beef. Drain off any excess fat. Place all ingredients (including the beef!) in the slow cooker and gently stir to distribute the spices. Place on low for 9-10 hours. Stir before serving.

Serves: about 6

My thoughts:
I think this is the best beef chili I have ever had. As I am sure you can tell by my recipes I really more of a pork person than a beef person but this was so good. I was amazed. Beef can really hold up to a long cooking time and becomes incredibly tender and tasty-perfect for chili. I wasn't sure what time we'd be eating dinner so I wanted something really forgiving. This chili more than fit the bill. The longer it cooked, the better it smelled and tasted.

The spices are fairly traditional but the chili sauce and chopped pimiento add a bit of depth of flavor while adding some moisture to the chili without needing additional water, broth or fat. This particular chili has sort of a lightly sweet+smoky+hot and spicy thing going on that left me wanting more. I think I had two bowls the first night then another big bowl the next morning and I've already made it a second time. It was that good!

Note: I know it can be tempting to use a higher fat ground beef (people find it tastier, it is cheaper) but using a lower fat beef-90-94% fat free-is best for chili in the slow cooker. Even if you drain the fat off after draining, the meat still releases some additional fat as it cooks. If the fat content is too high, your chili will probably end up being pretty greasy. The lower fat beef has tons of flavor and you don't get the oily chili issue.

January 28, 2009

Toasted Ravioli with a Warm Tomato Dipping Sauce

16 to 20 oz fresh ravioli

for the breading:
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon chervil
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons water or milk

for the sauce:
14 oz canned diced tomato
1 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chervil
1 teaspoon oregano

In a shallow bowl mix together the bread crumbs, oregano and chervil. Beat the egg yolk and water together in a small bowl. Dip each ravioli in the egg then toss it in the bread crumbs. Set aside.

In skillet, heat 1/2 inch oil. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat the olive oil and then saute the shallot and garlic until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and spices. Simmer until it thickens slightly, stirring occasionally. Fry the ravioli in batches, flipping once, until golden. Drain on paper towel lined plates. Serve hot or at room temperature with warm tomato dipping sauce.

My thoughts:
Toasted ravioli is a fun appetizer with St. Louis roots. There are a lot of stories surrounding their creation. Some think it was based on a sweet ravioli dish that was popular in Italy and adapted into a savory version by Italian immigrants in the US. Other reports date back to the 1940s when any one of a number of St. Louis chefs may have accidentally dropped ravioli into boiling oil rather than water. How that explains the breading is beyond me but it is a cute story. Regardless of the origin, toasted (sounds so much better than fried, right?) ravioli is an extremely satisfying appetizer or snack. They are crisp and especially delicious when dipped into a tomato sauce.

January 26, 2009

Savory Savoy-Shiitake Dumplings


6 oz savoy cabbage, finely diced
1 oz bean thread noodles, soaked and cut into 1/2-inch strands
3 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
7 re-hydrated shiitake mushrooms, chopped
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 bunch scallions, minced
1 inch knob ginger, grated

round dumpling wrappers

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together. In a wok or skillet, quickly stirfry the filling until the cabbage is just softened. Allow to cool. Place a teaspoon of filling in the middle of the wrapper Fold the wrapper in half to form a half moon shape, pinching the wrapper tightly together. Make sure no filling is peaking out or they will break while cooking. Steam or boil the dumplings (I like steamed best). Serve hot. Leftovers can be refrigerated and re-steamed the next day if need be.

Excellent with my favorite dipping sauce.

Makes 35-45 dumplings.

My thoughts:
These are some tasty dumplings. The ginger, garlic and green onion add a lot of flavor that is nicely absorbed by the shiitake mushrooms. These are vegetarian (vegan, actually) dumplings but between the noodles, cabbages and the mushrooms they are pretty hardy and can almost sub as a meal.

The half moon shape is the easiest dumpling shape to master but it is still quite attractive. You can get fanicier with the crimpling but when steamed, these dumplings are stars even simply prepared. Half moon or crescent shaped dumplings are traditonal fare at Chinese New Year celebrations. While this filling isn't stictly traditional, it makes a good addition to the New Year's table.

Other recipes suitable for Chinese New Year that have been featured on Coconut & Lime include Lion's Head, Longevity Noodles and garlic chive dumplings.

January 23, 2009

Spicy+Smoky+Sweet Dry Rubbed Steak

2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground chipotle
1/2 teaspoon ground jalapeno

2 inch thick, 2 lb top round steak (sometimes labeled as "London Broil")

Mix together all of the rub ingredients.


Rub into steak on all sides. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.


Place on a preheated indoor grill and cook according to package instructions. It took only 7 minutes at 450 using my countertop grill. Alternately, grill outside on a charcoal or gas grill until desired doneness. Remove to a platter, tent with foil and allow to sit for 5 minutes before slicing thinly.

My thoughts:

my grill friday
Welcome to a special Winter edition of My Grill Friday. You know how grilling obsessed we were over the Summer and we decided to extend the season by using a indoor grill with removable plates for easy cleaning. It can get up to 450 degrees to really sear the meat and it cooks incredibly fast because you are cooking both sides at once. While there is a fair amount of sugar in the rub it is surprisingly not very sweet at all, the sugar just caramelizes on the meat and seals in all the yummy juices.

January 21, 2009

Hello, Hawaii, How Are You? Pulled Chicken

1 1/4 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/4 cup chili sauce (like Heinz)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup spiced ginger preserves
1/4 cup pineapple juice
2 tablespoons dark rum
1 tablespoon yellow hot sauce (I used Miss Hatties)
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon mesquite liquid smoke
1 1/2 teaspoon Mexican hot chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground jalapeno
1 habanero pepper, seeds removed and chopped
juice and zest of one lime
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

Add all ingredients to slow cooker. Cook on low in the slow cooker 2 1/2-3 hours or 1 hour on high plus 2 1/2 hours on low. When done, meat should shred easily with a fork. Shred chicken with a fork. Toss to evenly coat with sauce. Serve on rolls.

My thoughts:
This is a pretty "quick" recipe as far as things in the slow cooker go. While you couldn't quite work a whole day and come home to a completed meal, it is perfect for a weekend when you might spend just a few hours shopping, doing housework or better yet, lazing around not wanting to cook and still have a homecooked dinner. This Hawaiian-inspired pulled chicken is perfectly balanced between fruity sweet and spicy and it yields just right level of sauce. The pineapple-ginger-balsamic combo should become a new classic, it is that good.

I had actually never had pulled chicken before (sticking to my beloved pulled pork instead) but I am now a total convert and you will be too- who doesn't love saucy, juicy chicken sandwiches? The first day I served them on big, sesame seed buns but the leftovers made a great sourdough-coleslaw-sharp cheddar-pulled chicken panino.

Side note:I used thighs from Just Bare Chicken which have a neat gimmick, each package has a number that you can use to look up the exact farm your chicken is from. Plus it is tasty!

January 19, 2009

Black Bean with Bacon and Oyster Mushrooms Soup

3 to 4 slices cracked black pepper bacon
30 oz canned black beans, drained
3 1/2 cups broth (chicken*, pork or vegetable)
6 oyster mushrooms, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 onion, diced

In a large pan, fry the bacon until crisp. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of grease. Drain the bacon on paper towel lined plates. Crumble the bacon. Set aside. Saute the mushrooms, garlic, onion, and celery until just beginning to soften. Add the broth, beans and bacon. Heat through.

Yield: about 4 servings

*I actually used reduced sodium Progresso chicken broth.

My thoughts:
I made this soup for a quick lunch the other day but it really is enough to serve as dinner, perhaps with a roll or cornbread.

Normally when I made black bean soup I go the spicy route but for a change I used the pepper bacon to add some spice and smoky flavor and kept it pretty simple. The flavors of the vegetables and beans really stand out. I choose oyster mushrooms because they have a meaty texture that holds up well in soup. A good substitute would be portobello but you will miss the oyster-like flavor of the appropriately named oyster mushroom.

January 16, 2009

Sweet Potato Muffins

1 egg
1 1/4 cup mashed plain sweet potato*
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground orange peel
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

optional: Demerara sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350. Grease or line 12 wells in a muffin tin. In a large bowl, whisk together the spices, baking powder and both flours. Set aside. In another large bowl, beat together the oil, eggs and vanilla. Stir in the buttermilk then add the dry ingredients. Mix to combine. Fold in the mashed sweet potato. Divide evenly into wells. If desired, sprinkle the tops with demerara sugar.


Bake about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the center muffin comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Cool on a wire rack.

*I used 2 leftover baked sweet potatoes.

My thoughts:
I buy sweet potatoes and then I remember that I actually don't really like sweet potatoes very much. They are just too sweet for me to enjoy baked or as a side dish. As a muffin or a cupcake however, they are palatable. These muffins are pretty straightforward; a simple spice muffin made extra moist by the sweet potato. They are extra tasty served warm with a bit of butter.

January 14, 2009

Smoked Salmon Cheese Ball

2 cups grated Cabot extra sharp cheddar
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3 oz smoked nova salmon
1 inch chunk of shallot, minced
1/2 cup minced flat leaf parsley

Place the cheese, cream cheese, shallot, salmon and Worcestershire sauce in a blender. Pulse until smooth. Scrape into a bowl and chill for 30 minutes to an hour. Scrape it out of the bowl and shape into a ball. Sprinkle the parsley in a shallow bowl and roll the ball into the cheese until evenly coated. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.

My thoughts:
Cheese balls were quite a hit in entertaining scene during the 1960s. They continue to be a favorite because they can be made ahead of time (in fact they are better made 24 hours in advance) and really, who doesn't enjoy spreadable cheese? This one has a slight pink tint and a wonderful smoky salmon flavor. Perfect to spread on crackers or even bread.

Note: most delis and grocery stores that sell smoked salmon also sell little tubs of "ends" leftover from cutting the big sheets of lox. Often they are half the price of the regular smoked salmon and the pieces are generally quite large. They are also perfect for something like this when you need just a bit of smoked salmon.

January 12, 2009

Hot, Hotter, Hottest Buffalo Wings

2 lbs chicken wings (separated at the joint and wing tips clipped off)
2 cups Buffalo Wing sauce*
2 tablespoons Wondra flour
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

canola oil for frying

to serve: blue cheese dressing and celery sticks

Sprinkle both sides of each wing part with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and the flour. Set aside. Heat 2 inches oil to 350 degrees in a very large, heavy pot or frying pan. You can test the oil by inserting a chopstick straight down into the oil. If the oil is hot enough bubbles will form vigorously up the chopstick. When the oil is hot enough put all the wings in at once. Carefully stir the wings so they do not stick together. Cook until they are golden brown, and then continue to cook them a couple of minutes more. Under cooked wings can be unpleasantly chewy. Scoop wings out and put into a large bowl and toss with the wing sauce. Serve immediately with generous servings of blue cheese dressing and celery. Lots of napkins couldn't hurt either.

*We use one cup of Anchor Bar Hotter Buffalo Wing Sauce and one cup Anchor Bar Suicidal Buffalo Wing sauce whisked together. The Hotter has a better flavor but the Suicidal is really hot so together they make the perfect sauce! You can find it at your local grocery store and I bet the Anchor Bar website would also sell it.

My thoughts:
In 1963 Wondra flour was introduced and then in 1964 the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York served their first batch of buffalo wings. I am not sure if they used Wondra flour in that first batch but we love using the super fine flour (also known as "instant" or "gravy" flour) to coat just about any fried food. It coats the wing and allows the spices and sauce to adhere without adding breading. Now I am not a big one for gnawing food off teeny tiny bones but Matt assures me that this recipe is a winner, he had tried several times to make the perfect wing and came close. He didn't believe me when I said that I thought adding a bit of flour would make the difference but it did, it didn't add bulk, just crispness and the sauce and spices stuck on right away.

January 09, 2009

Ginger-Lime Glazed Rock Cornish Game Hens

1 small onion, quartered
1 small lime, halved
1/2 cup spiced ginger preserves
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon lime zest
2 Cornish game hens

Preheat oven to 350. Place the hens in a roasting pan with a rack. Place 2 onion wedges (or just one wedge if the cavity is especially small) and a lime wedge in cavity of both hens. Roast for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the preserves, zest and juice. If the glaze is too thick to easily spread (it shouldn't be, but some brands of preserves are thicker than others), heat it briefly over low heat. Remove the hens from the oven. Brush each with the glaze, leaving about 1/2 of the glaze for later. Roast an additional 15 minutes then glaze again, using up all of the remaining glaze. Roast an additional 15 minutes or until the hens are cooked through. Remove onion and lime wedges from inside the hens and serve.


My thoughts:
Cornish Game Hens debuted in the US market in 1965. While their name is slightly misleading, the Rock Cornish Game Hen is a specially breed variety of teeny-tiny chicken. While they are not currently in vogue, they are fun to eat-they are small enough to serve as individual portions-and frequently on sale. A local store had them for just 99 cents a pound and since cornish game hens weigh and average of 1 1/4 lbs, they make for a pretty cheap but fancy-looking meal. They fit perfectly not only on my minature silver platter but as the main course for our '60s night.

Now, I am not 100% sure that a ginger-lime glaze is exactly a classic '60s way to serve game hens but a perusal of some cookbooks of the era show a lot of glazed meats featuring apricot preserves so I came up with this variation using my favorite ginger glaze and some lime to keep it from becoming too sweet. The result was quite tasty, the flavors of the preserves and the lime juice seeped through the thin skin and flavored the entire bird.

I served it with a classic iceberg lettuce salad made with lettuce wedges, blue cheese dressing and crumbled bacon pieces for that '60s era company food charm.

Quick note: I deliberately gave the above photographs that orange-y look that is so prevalent in '60s era cookbooks, the actual food comes out of the oven looking much less day-glo.

January 08, 2009

2008 Weblog Awards

As some of you might know, Coconut & Lime has been nominated for a Weblog Award for best food blog. It really is an honor to be up for an award among such wonderful blogs! I'd like thank everyone who took the time to nominate Coconut & Lime.

If you'd like, you can take a moment and vote. I'd really appreciate it! You can vote once every 24 hours until January 13th so vote early and vote often.

The 2008 Weblog Awards

January 07, 2009

Clam Dip, Gonna Have Clam Dip! Clam Dip!

10 oz canned "cocktail" clams, drained, reserving 2 tablespoons clam juice
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons minced shallot
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon celery seed
white pepper
finely chopped flat leaf parsley

In a food processor or blender (I used my Vitamix) blend together the garlic, shallot, mayo, sour cream, parsley, cream cheese, spices, clam juice, zest, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and pulse until smooth. Pour into a medium bowl. Stir in the clams. Refrigerate overnight before serving.

Easy variation: for more clam flavor add about 3 oz of clams to the mixture when you food process it then stir in the 10 oz of clams.

My thoughts:
What '60s night would be complete without some sort of chip & dip? While clam dip wasn't exactly invented during the 1960s but that was the decade when it was in its pre-Julia Child "company food" heyday. Dip really became popular in the 1950s after the invention of California Dip which was then made even easier with the introduction of Lipton's instant onion soup mix and as the years went on, other flavors of dips became party staples. A recipe for clam dip appeared in almost every 1960s cookbook I came across.

Best served with Pringles (introduced in the US in 1968), crisp vegetables and crackers, this dip is creamy and (this version at least) has a great tangy savory flavor. I was a little skeptical about using canned clams but they were juicy and flavorful and added texture interest.

January 05, 2009

Lemon Bars with Lemon-Ginger Cookie Crust

for the custard
4 eggs at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup flour
zest of 3 lemons

for the crust:
10-12 lemon-ginger cookies
4 tablespoons butter, melted

to serve:
confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Place the cookies in a food processor (or if you are lucky, your Vita-Mix) and pulse until it forms coarse crumbs. It should yield about 2 cups.


Remove to a small bowl and stir in the melted butter. Press firmly into the bottom of a well-greased 8x8 inch pan. Bake for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the cookie crust.


Return the pan to the oven and bake 35 minutes or until set and no longer shiny in the middle. Cool completely then sprinkle with confectioners' sugar.

My thoughts:
Bar cookies have been popular since the 1930s but it wasn't until the 1963 publication of the Betty Crocker Cooky Book that lemon bars became popular. While this isn't the recipe that was published in that book, it is similar in spirit. There are a little more tart than the super sweet originals (which only called for 2 tablespoons of lemon juice!) and instead of crushed Nilla wafers or shortbread crust, I used crushed homemade lemon-ginger cookies which added an extra layer of flavor. Matt loved them and they were a perfect addition to our yearly decade-devoted night.

January 03, 2009

Lemon Ginger Cookies

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
3 tablespoons golden syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
zest of two lemons

demerara sugar (raw cane sugar) for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 cookie sheets with a silipat or parchment paper. Sprinkle a place with demerara sugar and set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg, lemon juice, zest and golden syrup and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, baking powder and salt. Slowly add it to the butter and sugar mixture. Mix to thoroughly combine. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and roll the balls in the demerara sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart onto the cookie sheets. Flatten each cookie slightly with the heel of your hand or a spatula. Bake 8-12 minutes or until set and the bottoms are golden.

My thoughts:
This cookies are sort of plain looking but their lemon-ginger flavor is intense. The texture is great too, it is a little crisp-chewy on the outside and soft on the inside. Not to mention the great crunch the sugar gives the cookie. Simple, classic, crowd-pleasing.

January 02, 2009

Jamaican Inspired Spaghetti Squash and Black Beans

1 large spaghetti squash
15 oz canned black beans, drained
3 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 medium onion, diced
3 teaspoons jerk seasoning
1 scotch bonnet pepper, seeded and chopped
juice of 1/2 lime
1 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 375. Place the squash in a baking dish and roast for about 50 minutes or until tender. Cool slightly. Slice in half. Remove the seeds and then scoop flesh from squash and set aside. Heat a large skillet and saute the bacon until almost crisp (drain any extra fat) then add onion, pepper, garlic, and saute until just fragenent. Add beans, squash, jerk seasoning, and salt, cook about five minutes, stirring frequently. Squirt with lime juice. Serve hot.

Yield: 4-6 servings

My thoughts:
Most recipes I see for spaghetti squash call for you to treat it like you would actual spaghetti with an Italian tomato-based sauce. The recipes claim that "you can't tell it isn't pasta!" but really, anyone with a mouth can tell that spaghetti squash, no matter how tasty, isn't real pasta. I'd much rather highlight the squash's unique texture than cover it up with sauces. This recipe is just spicy enough to be interesting and with the beans could be a light one dish meal.

January 01, 2009

Jamaican-Style Jerk Seasoning

1 tablespoon onion flakes
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
2 teaspoons dried chervil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground jalapeno
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire black pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Yield: about 1/4-1/3 cup seasoning

Stir all ingredients together. Store in an air tight container.

My thoughts:
Okay, this is perhaps not the most exciting recipe I've ever posted but it is a handy one. Homemade jerk seasoning can be made in bulk and saved for personal use or given as gifts and is much tastier than what you can buy at the store premixed.