May 29, 2009

Can't Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes

3/4 cup beet puree
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup dutch process cocoa (I used Guittard's Cocoa Rouge)
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon plain yogurt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, at room temperature

roux frosting

Preheat oven to 350. Grease or line 12 wells in a cupcake pan. Whisk together the dry ingredients. Set aside. Mix together the oil, yogurt, beet puree, vinegar, milk and eggs. Slowly add the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Fill 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick in the center of the center cupcake comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack before icing.


My thoughts:
Today is my husband's birthday and he requested cupcakes. He said he wanted red velvet. Of course I already had a go-to recipe for that but when I mentioned to him that I had heard of beets being used to naturally redden the cupcakes, he was intrigued. So I came up with this recipe. The beets not only redden the batter (and your hands) they also add sweetness and tons of moisture to the cakes. They are less red than the chemically laced variety but the beets and dutch processed cocoa does a pretty good job. They do have the classic "velvet" texture though. While the cupcakes themselves are slightly nontraditional, I frosted them with the classic accompaniment to a red velvet cake, a roux based frosting. And no, they don't taste particularly beet-y.

Roux Frosting

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
1/8 teaspoon salt

In a small saucepan, whisk together the flour, salt and milk. Cook until thickened (it should sort of look like a smooth paste), remove from heat. Cool slightly. Cream together the butter, vanilla paste and sugar. Slowly add the milk mixture. Beat until it is creamy and smooth. It will take longer than you'd think. Frost on cooled cupcakes or cake.

My thoughts:
If you've never tried a roux or hot milk icing you are missing out. It doesn't taste floury just buttery and the texture is fluffy and very smooth. Not to mention how much easier it is than making a meringue buttercream. If you don't like American buttercream but want an easy, buttery icing, this is the recipe for you. Try it on Can't Beet Red Velvet Cupcakes.

May 27, 2009

Chinese Influenced Boneless Pork Ribs


2 lb boneless pork ribs
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 red chiles, seeds removed and diced
3 shallots, minced
1/3 cup black vinegar
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons black sesame oil
2 tablespoons fermented black bean paste
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons palm sugar
1 tablespoon malt syrup
1 tablespoon five spice powder

a couple drops liquid smoke (optional)


Heat the canola oil in a large skillet. Cook the pork for 1 minute on each side. Place in the slow cooker. Pour the remaining ingredients over the meat. Cover and cook on low 8 hours. If the sauce is very thin, pour into a saucepan and cook until thickened. Drizzle on ribs and serve.

My thoughts:

This is one of the easiest and tastiest meals you can make. It's a snap to put together and the resulting ribs are meltingly tender. Perfect over white rice for a simple, no fuss meal. Not to mention incredibly affordable- boneless pork ribs are frequently found on sale for under $2 a pound.

May 25, 2009

Grilled Potato Salad with Broccolini

10 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 to 2 lb white potatoes, sliced
1 large onion, cut into thick slices
1 bunch broccolini*, roughly cut

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon rosemary
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, minced
juice and zest of 1 lemon


Preheat grill. Brush the mushrooms, onion slices, broccolini and potatoes with olive oil. Place on a grill pan. Grill until fork tender, flipping occasionally to evenly brown.


Meanwhile, whisk together dressing ingredients. When the potatoes, mushrooms and onions are cooked through, toss them with the dressing. Serve immediately.

*Sometimes referred to as "baby broccoli", it is actually a broccoli and kai-lan (Chinese broccoli) hybrid.

My thoughts:
This is the first of what I think will be a bi-weekly grill recipe here on Coconut & Lime. Normally I will be posting them on Fridays from now until Labor Day but since it is Memorial Day, I thought I'd make an exception and post today. This is a super simple noncreamy potato salad with a robust vinegar based dressing that completely satisfies any need for a side dish without having to make anything indoors while monitoring the grill outside. The potatoes take on a smoky note that is flavorful but not overpowering and the onions just caramelize.

May 23, 2009

Strawberry-Asparagus Salad with Strawberry-Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 bunch spring lettuce
1 bunch baby spinach
2 strips crisp bacon
3/4 lb fresh asparagus
1 pint strawberries, sliced
1/3 cup bee pollen dusted hazelnuts
2 oz chèvre

for the vinaigrette
2 oz avocado oil
2 oz pomegranate infused balsamic vinegar*
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 strawberry, mashed**

Place the vinaigrette ingredients in a jar or salad dressing mixer. Shake until a smooth, emulsified dressing forms.

Place the lettuce in a large bowl. Top with the spinach. Cut the bacon into bite sized pieces. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook for about 2 minutes. Drain and cut into manageable sized pieces. Arrange on the salad. Add the sliced strawberries. Dot with goat cheese. Toss in the hazelnuts and bacon. Drizzle with vinaigrette.

*I used locally bottled Pompeian vinegar.
**I just put it on a cutting board and mashed with with a potato masher until pretty smooth.

My thoughts:
A while back I was invited to do a cooking demonstration at the Maryland Heartland Sustainable Living Fair which is going on today. Of course I agreed to do it. The major challenge was designing a recipe that made the most of what is in season in the end of May in Maryland. Which, unfortunately, isn't terribly much as May is pretty much the beginning of the growing season here. I had thought of doing some sort of stir fry but when I looked at the list of what was in season I realized that a big salad might be a better choice. I used locally grown strawberries, lettuce, spinach and asparagus along with some local fresh goat cheese. I tossed in some bacon because it just smells so good and thought it might draw some people in to watch the demo. It also adds a smoky note to the salad. I used some hazelnuts from a family owned farm (in Oregon) that were dusted in local bee pollen for some crunch. The dressing was simple but extremely tasty and added an additional fruity note to the salad. Unfortunately some of the dressing ingredients were not quite local but there is a drawback to living in the mid-Atlantic; no avocado or olive trees for oil.

All of these seemingly disconnected ingredients came together to from a very satisfying salad that felt light and fresh. I loved the asparagus and the strawberries, they made the salad feel hearty despite the near absence of meat. The perfect springtime meal salad.

May 21, 2009

Bee Pollen Dusted Hazelnuts

1 cup dry roasted hazelnuts
2 tablespoons bee pollen
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt

Place the pollen, sugar and salt in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and grind until a fine powder forms. Heat the oil in a small skillet. Add the nuts and toss occasionally for 1 minute. Pour into a bowl. Sprinkle with the pollen mixture. Toss to coat. Pour into a fine mesh sieve and shake off excess powder.

My thoughts:

I bought bee pollen at the farmers market ages ago with the idea of making some pollen caramels like the divine ones sold by Vosges but never quite got around to it. Then yesterday I came across a passing reference to a dessert that featured bee pollen and almonds in a food memoir and then a box of Freddy Guys hazelnuts arrived and it seemed fortuitous. They were super simple to make and tasted great out of hand or in a salad. The bee pollen has a fruity herbal flavor that pairs wonderfully with the toasty nuts. The sugar adds a touch of sweetness and helps the bee pollen adhere to the nuts.

May 19, 2009

Nibby Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup toffee chips
1/8 cup cocoa nibs
1 egg, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a medium sized bowl combine flour, salt, and baking powder. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and combine thoroughly. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the sweetened butter and mix until a very thick dough forms. Fold in the chocolate chips, nibs and toffee. Distribute them evenly in the batter. Form cookies by dropping 1 teaspoon of dough on the sheet two inches apart. Flatten slightly then bake until light brown, about 12 minutes. Remove (using a flat turner or spatula) to a wire rack to cool.

Yield: about 1 dozen cookies

My thoughts:
I don't how the weather is where you live but the last couple of days here in Baltimore have been unseasonably chilly and windy. I figured I'd take advantage of this and get some baking in before the weather turns hot enough to bake the cookies out on the sidewalk instead of in my oven. They are slightly chewy from the toffee, slightly crunchy from the nibs and really chocolate-y.

May 17, 2009

Garlic Breadsticks

2 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 oz active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

3 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

optional: grated Parmesan

Stir together the milk, water, butter and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil then remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool to lukewarm.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, sugar and yeast. Pour in the milk mixture and stir until the dough starts to come together, adding more water of the mixture looks dry or more flour if the mixture looks wet. If you have a stand mixer, use the dough hook to mix for about 8 minutes. If not, knead the dough on a floured surface for about 10 minutes. Place the dough in a greased bowl. Cover with a towel and wait until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour. Punch down the dough and divide into 6 even portions. Roll each between your hands until a smooth, approximately 8 inch long tube forms. Place on a lined baking sheet. Allow to rise 20 minutes (they should double in bulk) then gently stretch them out to slightly increase their length.

Cover the breadsticks with the towel again and set aside for 20 additional minutes minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400. Whisk together the butter, garlic powder and salt. Brush generously onto the tops of the rolls. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown on both the top and the bottom and when tapped, they sound hollow. Immediately sprinkle with Parmesan, if desired.

My thoughts:
I had never made breadsticks before but once I started thinking about them I couldn't get them out of my head. So I set out to make as simple yet satisfying a breadstick recipe that I could and this is what I ended up with. I must say, these are some great breadsticks. Easy to make, soft on the outside with a solid crust and a garlic flavor that isn't too overpower but isn't weak either. They are lovely dipped in a tomato based sauce or as a side dish to any meal.

May 14, 2009

Smoked Salmon & Caper Dip

1/4 cup diced red onion
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
5 oz smoked salmon
3 tablespoons capote capers*
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Cube the cream cheese and place it in a food processor along with the salmon, capers, pepper and sour cream. Pulse until fairly smooth. Add the onions and pulse once. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving and refrigerate any leftovers.

Yield: about 1 cup

*These are the large sized capers. They have more caper taste and work best in this dip. If you must, substitute the smaller, nonperil capers.

My thoughts:
One of our favorite local places to eat, the Hamilton Tavern has a neat feature on their menu. Every day (week?) there is a different, often seasonal dip that is served with appropriately matched dippers like homemade potato chips, pita or vegetables. One day we went and the dip was smoked salmon. I can never resist smoked salmon anything so we ordered it and it was really good, thick and creamy with bits of salmon, capers and red onion. It was like everything I love on a bagel in a dip!

Of course they aren't in the business of handing out their recipe and I have no way of knowing when it will make its way back on the menu so I decided to create a recipe based on what I had there so I can have it whenever I want. I added more smoked salmon (more from the delicious Just Cured) than I think was in the original and thinned the cream cheese out a bit with some sour cream. It is the creamiest, tastiest dip I've had in ages. Think about your best bagels and lox experience and subtract the bagel. Smoky, salty, savory. Yum. I had it on chips because what better excuse to buy chips is there than making dip? Plus eating on chips reminded me of my childhood tendency to dip Utz chips in straight cream cheese. However, it is also really good or with crackers, celery and sesame pretzels. It is a rather thick dip and can be used as a spread on small rounds of bread

May 12, 2009

Roasted Pineapple Five Spice Sorbet

5 cups cubed fresh pineapple (one whole pineapple)
6 oz pineapple juice
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 tablespoon Chinese Five Spice Powder

Preheat oven to 375. Place the pineapple in a single layer on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes or until the pieces look caramelized. Cool. Place in a blender with the five spice powder, lime and pineapple juice. Pulse until smooth. Pour into a ice cream maker. Churn according to product directions until frozen. For a more firm texture, freeze up to 4 hours before serving.

My thoughts:
It must be pineapple season in Hawaii because all of the local stores have had really large, juicy whole pineapples for about half their usual price. As a result, I think I have eaten more pineapple in the last couple of weeks than I think I have over the course of my entire life. I had bought two pineapples for a recipe and ended up only using one so this left me with a rapidly ripening pineapple without a destiny. So I chopped it up and tossed it in the Vita-Mix where it promptly became frothy. I was tempted to drink it as is but resisted the urge and instead froze it. I am glad I did, the sorbet was one of the best I've ever had. I had actually thought about making the same flavor but as ice cream but I think it was better served in sorbet, the caramelize pineapple flavor really shines.

May 09, 2009

Rhubarb Gelatin

1/2 lb rhubarb, diced
1 1/3 cup water
1 cup very cold water
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon unflavored (powdered) gelatin

In a saucepan, boil the rhubarb in 1 1/3 cup water until soft. Meanwhile, sprinkle gelatin into the cold water. Stir in the sugar. Continue stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Strain through a sieve* into a heat safe measuring cup and discard the solids. Make sure the boiling water equals 1 cup. If not, add water to equal one cup and reboil. Quickly add the boiling water and stir. Pour into heat safe molds and refrigerate until solid.

Yield: about 3 cups

*Quick tip: It sounds odd but whisking the the cooked rhubarb with a wire whisk while it is in the mesh strainer is a super quick and thorough way to get all of the liquid out of the rhubarb.

My thoughts:
Oh, I love rhubarb. I never ate it growing up but once I tried it, I couldn't get enough. As soon as I see it, I stock up and freeze any leftovers so I can have it at will. I particularly like using in some what unconventional forms so when I had an idea for homemade rhubarb-flavored Jell-O (a flavor I am sure I will not encounter on the grocery shelf any time soon) it seemed perfect. I had learned from earlier experiments that boiling rhubarb is a great way to get all of the flavor without having to use the actual stalk. All I had to do was figure out the sugar and I was good to go. I really liked how it turned out: light, sweet-tart and refreshing.

Check out my other rhubarb recipes:
Rhubarb-Orange Pancakes
Baby Loves Rhubarb Cupcakes
Rhubarb Soda
Rhubarb Granita
Rhubarb Oatmeal Bread\
Raspberry-Rhubarb Tart
Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumb Cake

May 06, 2009

Coleslaw for Pulled Pork Sandwiches (or for anything, really)

16 oz coleslaw mix (shredded green and red cabbage and carrot)
1 small onion, sliced thinly

for the dressing:
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon sesame seed
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon

In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients until smooth. Toss with the onion and coleslaw mix.

My thoughts:
I had never "cheated" and used coleslaw mix before but on this day I made pulled pork sandwiches made with Georgia-style homemade barbecue sauce, homemade baked beans, homemade rolls and a crumb cake, I felt justified in using some preshredded cabbage. Really the mix wasn't bad, it was very crisp which was a great foil for the tangy dressing I made. This is a super not-too-sweet-or-wet coleslaw that makes a great sandwich topper or side dish.

May 05, 2009

Knishes Three Ways: Potato & Onion, Kasha and Potato & Smoked Salmon


for the dough:
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sour cream
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 egg

egg wash:
1 egg
1 tablespoon water

kasha filling:
2 cups beef broth
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 cup kasha
1 cup plain mashed potatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 egg

potato & onion filling:
4 cups plain mashed potatoes
1 onion, chopped
3 tablespoon schmaltz or canola oil

potato & smoked salmon filling:
4 cups plain mashed potatoes
1 onion, chopped
4 oz smoked salmon, minced
3 tablespoon schmaltz or canola oil

NOTE: each filling recipe yield enough for all 12 knishes.

For the kasha filling:
Heat the oil in a skillet. Saute the onions and mushrooms until very brown. In small bowl, mix 1 egg into the kasha until the kasha is coated. It will look rather clumpy. Add to pan and stir until the groats start to separate from each other. Pour in the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 7-10 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. Mix with the mashed potatoes, pepper and egg.

for the potato and onion filling:
Heat the schmaltz in a skillet. Add the onions and saute until very soft. Mash the onions into the potato along with some salt and pepper.

for the potato and smoked salmon filling:
Heat the schmaltz in a skillet. Add the onions and saute until very soft. Mash the onions into the potato along with the salmon and some salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 375. Allow your filling to cool while you make the dough.

for the dough:
Whisk together all of the dry ingredients. Pour into a large bowl,preferable in the bottom of a stand mixer. In a medium bowl, stir together the sour cream, butter, water and egg. Pour on top of the dry ingredients and mix using a dough hook until a solid ball of elastic dough forms.

Divide the dough into 12 pieces. Roll each piece out on a floured surface to a 5 inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Place a 1/4 cup of filling in the middle. Fold the sides up to close, pinch shut. Place seam-side down on a lined baking sheet. Prick the top with a fork, once. Beat the egg and water together for the egg wash. Brush over the top of the knish. Repeat for remaining dough. Bake for about 20 minutes or until very hot but not browned.

My thoughts:
I've always wanted to make that deli staple, knishes at home. However, all of the recipes I came across called for oil. I hate working with oil based doughs, they invariably come out greasy and heavy tasting. Since we don't keep kosher, keeping the dough pareve (that is to say neutral-neither dairy or meat) by using oil instead of butter is not an issue. So for my version I decided to make a dough that was more pierogi-like in origin. The dough is wonderfully soft and elastic to work with; not one rip or tear.

Now for the fillings! My favorite is potato and onion but Matt really like kasha (buckwheat groats) the best. So we made both. Then I remembered I had some truly divine smoked "European-style" salmon in the fridge from Just Cured and decided to make a potato-salmon one too. I am glad I did, it might be slightly nontraditional but it was really tasty. I'd also like to point out that it is very much worth your while to quickly render some chicken fat (using chicken thigh skins works well) in some onions to some schmaltz to use. It adds so much flavor and really gives it an authentic taste that you can't quite get with butter or oil.

These are really the best knishes I've ever had. Smaller than the monstrosities one can find in delis they are lighter tasting while still being satisfying.

May 03, 2009

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumb Cake

for the cake:

2 cups flour
1 cup strawberry-rhubarb compote
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk, at room temperance
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, at room temperature

for the streusel:
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger


Preheat the oven to 375. Butter and flour or spray with cooking spray with flour a 9-inch springform pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups of flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with flour until a thick dough forms Pour batter into the prepared pan. Thoroughly spread the cake with the compote. Set aside. In a small bowl, mix together all of the streusel ingredients by hand or with a fork until a rough crumb forms. Sprinkle streusel evenly over the compote-topped raw cake. Bake 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out pretty much dry. Remove to a wire tack to cool. After about 15 minutes, release the buckle from the pan and serve.

My thoughts:
Rhubarb is finally in season and compote-ing is a great way to sweeten up some not quite in season strawberries. Combine that compote in a sweet cake and there is no stopping you. No stopping you! Take over the world, one breakfast at a time.