July 28, 2014

Double Chocolate Chestnut Bundt Cake

2 cups buttermilk
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla paste
1 1/2 cups chestnut flour
1 cup flour
2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup Dutch process cocoa
2/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Spray with baking spray or grease and flour one Bundt pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla paste until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together the chestnut flour, flour, espresso powder, baking powder, salt and cocoa. With the mixer running, stream in the dry ingredients and beat until well-incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips. Scrape into prepared Bundt pan.

Bake for 50 minutes or until a thin knife inserted in the cake comes out with just a few damp crumbs.

Cool 10 minutes in the pan, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.

My thoughts:
I know: baking, July. Not exactly the best time to make a recipe that bakes for nearly an hour. But, sometimes you just want cake. And what a cake it is! I had a chestnut cupcake a while back at Lavender Moon Cupcakery in Alexandria, VA and just loved it. So moist and flavorful that I've been wanting to recreate it ever since. I found chestnut flour at our local Italian store and picked it up and it keep looking at me from the cabinet until I finally got up my nerve to use it. The cupcake I had was gluten free (made with all chestnut flour; I asked) but I being gluten free isn't a concern for me and I was worried about how it would hold up structurally in a Bundt cake. No one likes a Bundt cake that breaks when you lift it out of the pan! So I decided to use mostly chestnut flour but a little regular flour too. It ended up being the richest, most chocolatey  and moist cake I literally have ever made. I always think it is so difficult to get true chocolate flavor in a cake, but wow, that was not a problem with this one! It was just amazing. I think the chestnut flour (which doesn't add too much of a chestnut flavor to the cake) just really worked with the buttermilk and cocoa and deepened the chocolate flavor. A must have for the chocolate lover.

Note: If you'd like to experiment and try this with all chestnut flour (I think it might work) please do so and let me know how it turns out!

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

July 25, 2014

Pickled Squash Remoulade

3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup small dice pickled squash
2 tablespoons minced pickled onion (from the squash jar)
3 tablespoons fresh parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
3 tablespoons minced cubanelle pepper
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/8 teaspoon celery seed


Stir together all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour prior to serving.

My thoughts:
I've been really into sauces this year for some reason. This one I created to use up some of the pickled squash that was taking up too much room in my fridge. It is sort of like a fancier tartar sauce; serve it on fried catfish, crawfish cakes or crab cakes. I even liked to dip fries in it.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

July 23, 2014

Mango-Buttermilk Ice Pops

4 mangos*, cubed
2 cups buttermilk
1/3 cup honey

Place all ingredients in a blender. Pulse until smooth. Pour into ice pop molds, leaving about 1/4 inch headroom. Close and freeze until solid, 4-8 hours.

Yield: 8-10 ice pops

*I used half alphonso mangos (aka "champagne mangos") and half Tommy Atkins (aka the most common mango in American stores).

My thoughts:
What is more summery than an ice pop? I was faced with some rapidly ripening mangos and thought I'd transform them into a cooling treat. The buttermilk from the dairy that delivers my milk is so thick and creamy, I can't help putting it in everything. Which is lucky because I can't resist ordering by the half gallon rather than the typical quart because it is only $1 more. That's a lot of buttermilk! I wasn't sure how a buttermilk ice pop would taste but luckily, it turned out even better than expected. The slightly tart buttermilk combined with the sweet mango ended up tasting just like a really, really good mango lassi.

Looking for more ice pop recipes? Check out my archives and this round-up I wrote for featuring paletas, Latin-American ice pops.

So good, even dachshunds approve!

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

July 18, 2014

Aussie Burger, Portuguese Style

1 1/2 lb 93% lean ground beef
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
6 pineapple rings
1 1/2 teaspoons sambal oelek
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 pickled beets, thinly sliced
1 tomato, sliced
6 eggs
6 lettuce leaves
freshly ground black pepper


In a medium bowl, mix together the meat, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Form into 6 uniform patties. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the sambal oelek and mayonnaise. Set aside.

Prep grill according to manufacturers' instructions*. Grill the burgers until desired doneness. Quickly grill the pineapple slices, flipping once, until grill marks appear. Transfer burgers to a plate, cover to keep warm.

Heat a small amount of butter in a skillet or spray with cooking spray. Fry each egg.

Place one burger on top of each lettuce leaf. Spread with sambal oelek mayo. Top with pineapple, beets, tomato and fried egg. Serve immediately.

*Alternately, cook the burgers and pineapple on the stove in a grill pan or skillet.

My thoughts:
When we were in Portugal, we were surprised at how many gourmet hamburger shops there were. It seemed silly to get a burger while we were there but we couldn't resist. We found that in Portugal it is really common to serve burgers without buns and with a side of rice and fries. And what burgers they were! Each one came with exciting toppings and sauces that were either Portuguese influenced or with a more international flair. They were so good! No one in Portugal every picked up any food with their hands (even hot dogs were served with paper napkins wrapped around them so you didn't have to touch them directly) so a hamburger you ate with a knife and fork make sense.

To bring it back to this recipe, I had always wanted to make an Aussie burger "with the lot" but it seemed like too much to fit on a bun. I mean, I guess they do it all the time in Australia but I would end up with half of that burger in my lap if I tried to pick that up. So I thought I'd serve it up Portuguese style. I served it with rice and corn on the cob because corn is in season, but a small salad or fries (!) would work too. The addition of a fried egg seemed very Portuguese-appropriate too, I love a fried egg and they were quite popular in Portugal on burgers and steak (bife a cavalo). I have somewhat recently become a fried egg devotee and love how they taste on top of a burger which only inticed me further to try my hand at an at-home Aussie burger. The egg I fried up for this recipe was slightly crisper around the edges than I'd like but our stove is on a slight slant which makes my whites run a bit and I was distracted by assembling all those toppings! It still tasted fantastic though, I love a runny yolk on a burger.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

July 16, 2014

Cheesy Summer Squash and Crab Bake


1 small onion, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
5 small Japanese eggplants, cut into 1/4 inch coins
2 small-medium zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch coins
2 small-medium golden zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch coins (like goldenrod squash)
3/4 cup blue crab meat*
1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
Old Bay (if needed)
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease an 8x8 inch baking dish.

Heat a small amount of butter or oil in a small pan. Saute the onion and garlic until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. Scrape into a large bowl. Add eggplant, squash, crabmeat and spices. Toss to evenly distribute all ingredients. Scrape into prepared dish. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with cheese. Continue to bake for 15 minute or until the cheese is bubbly and the vegetables are tender.

*I used leftover crabmeat from steamed crabs, it was a mix of claw and lump. It was also well-seasoned. Add additional Old Bay as needed.

My thoughts:
This is sort of like a tian but less fussy. I simply don't have it in me to artfully position a billion 1 1/2 inch slices of summer vegetables in a gratin dish. No thanks. This is the lazy American crab version of that but made better with crab. There is a farm stand that isn't too far away that I like to get to during the summer months because they always have a wide range of fresh vegetables for sale. This time they had tons of summer squash: pattypan, zucchini, crookneck and a type of yellow zucchini called goldenrod. The goldenrod was the prettiest squash ever! Bright yellow and perfectly straight. You can catch a glimpse of the color in the raw veggie shot above. It tastes pretty much like regular zucchini but was easier to slice and cube since it is basically a tube; no flaring out or narrowing. I was going to make a straight squash/eggplant casserole but I had some crab meat leftover from steamed crabs (just a few crab's worth) so I tossed that in and loved it. It is still a little light to serve as a main dish (though with a heavy grain like wild rice or kamut it might work) but the crab makes it seem like the fanciest of side dishes.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

July 14, 2014

Sockeye Salmon with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce


for the green sauce:

2 lbs tomatillos, husks removed
2 jalapenos
1 small red onion, quartered
freshly ground black pepper

for the fish:

1 large lemon*, sliced
1 onion, sliced
2 jalapenos, sliced
2 lb sockeye salmon fillet
freshly ground black pepper

Place the tomatillos and jalapenos on a lightly oiled broiler-safe pan. Place the pan under the broiler. Broil on high until the tomatillos and peppers start to blacken and blister. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Add the tomatillos, whole jalapeno peppers and red onion to a blender. Pulse until fairly smooth. Stir in salt and pepper. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350. Place a large piece of foil on a baking sheet. Arrange a layer of sliced lemons, jalapenos and onion on the middle of the foil the length and width of the fish. Lay the fish on top of the onions and lemon. Salt and pepper. Drizzle with sauce. Cover and bake for 15 minutes or until the fish just fully cooked. Remove. Drizzle with additional sauce and serve.

*lime would be good too but I had a lemon on hand

My thoughts:
It is sockeye salmon time again! I always seem to miss it. Either it is too expensive or I can't find it locally. This year I got lucky and was able to score some reasonably priced. It was too rainy to grill--my first impulse--so I did my second favorite way to cook salmon, foil packets. This method keeps the salmon nice and moist. No one likes a piece of dry, over-cooked salmon! I made the sauce the day before I served this (it is basically a green salsa so try leftovers on tacos, in burritos, quesadillas, with chips; it is great on everything) so it was even quicker to assemble the next day. A wonderful, flavorful weeknight main dish. And if you have better weather than I, you can throw all this on the grill and make it that way instead of in the oven. Either way the results will be terrific, the just hot enough sauce is a perfect foil for the technicolor, oily sockeye. I served it with tomato, corn & lentil salad. I shared the recipe for the salad here at

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

July 11, 2014

Sweet Cherry Ice Box Cake

2 cups whole, pitted sweet cherries (about 1 lb/1 pint)
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1 (.25 oz) envelope unflavored gelatin
2 cups cold heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
2-3 tablespoons bourbon (optional)
1/2 box Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafer Cookies (about 20)

Place the cherries and sugar in a blender and pulse until smooth. Set aside. Place the gelatin in a small bowl. Add 3 tablespoons cold water. Allow to sit 2 minutes.

Pour the cherry/sugar mixture into a small saucepan. Cook 2-3 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved fully and the mixture is just warm. Whisk in the bloomed gelatin. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Place the cream, vanilla paste and bourbon (if using) in a large bowl and whisk using an electric or stand mixer with a whisk attachment until stiff peaks form. Using a spatula, gently fold in the cherry mixture.

Line a loaf pan with foil parchment. Spoon in all but a 1/4 of the cherry mixture into the pan. Arrange the cookies vertically or horizontally in the pan, leaving about 1/4 inch space between each one. Spoon on remaining mixture. Cover the pan and freeze until set, at least 4 hours. Unmold onto a platter; slice and serve.

My thoughts:
Another day, another frozen cherry treat! I love, love, love ice box pies but until now had never had an ice box cake. No bake desserts are the best for hot July days! I had read about ice box cake and seen pictures of "cakes" made of wafers and whipped cream but it wasn't something we made growing up and no one has over offered me a slice. I knew the Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafer Cookies were a key ingredient and that they could be tricky to find. I don't normally buy cookies but I had a hankering for Oreos so I was in the cookie aisle and spied a box of the wafer cookies so I chucked them in the cart. Since we are just two people, I opted against making a giant cake and instead made one that fit into a loaf pan--it still yielded about 10 servings but I was able to unwrap it, then put in back in the pan and kept it in the freezer just slicing off a bit each night for nearly a week for dessert. You can do the same, just keep it tightly wrapped or use one of those loaf pans that comes with a (freezer-safe) lid. I pureed the cherries so every bite has a bit of cherry. Yum. The wafers soften and become positively cake-like (it reminded me a lot of the ice cream cakes I'd have at birthday parties in the '80s) and added a great not too sweet chocolate note-perfectly paired with sweet cherries. Just like their cousins the ice box pie (so named because they only needed the "ice box" to set up--no baking--and which became popular when home refrigeration became a reality for many people) this cake requires no baking at all and minimal effort. Exactly the kind of dessert I like on a hot July day.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

July 09, 2014

Cherry-Ginger-Beet Sorbet

4 cups whole, pitted cherries (about 2 lbs/1 quart)
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup beet juice*
1 teaspoon grated ginger**
2-3 tablespoons cachaça (optional)

Place all ingredients in a blender. Pulse until smooth. Pour into an ice cream maker and churn until frozen. Scrape into freeze-safe container and freeze until further set (if need) or until ready to eat.  Store any leftovers in a freezer safe air-tight container in the freezer.

Yield: about 1 quart

*Make it yourself or use bottled beet juice (I like Love Beets juice)
**grate your own or in a pinch, I like to use Ginger People minced ginger

My thoughts:
Hot, muggy weather is in full swing here in Baltimore. While I look forward to summer all year long so I can eat my favorite foods like cherries, nectarines, tomatoes and corn; I do not look forward to the weather that comes with it. It is this time of year I haul out my ice cream maker and make it earn its spot on the shelf. This sorbet is super easy to make, just a whiz in the blender (if you don't have a high-powered blender like a Vitamix, feel free to whisk the mix through a sieve before churning, I found the skins were well pulverized and did't bother) and then churn for a bit and voila, sorbet. It was ready to eat (though melting quickly) right out of the machine. You can store the leftovers in any freeze-safe container. When I was in Philadelphia a few weeks ago I picked up a quart ice cream container at Fantes at the Italian Market that I like a lot, it looks like real ice cream container! If I'm giving the sorbet to a friend, I have cardboard pint containers that I picked up at Williams-Sonoma last summer. So much cuter than just using the odd bowl.

I digress! I love this sorbet because it really has a strong, true sweet cherry flavor. The beet juice is a bit of an odd addition but it doesn't make it taste like beets exactly, it just adds a depth of flavor and helps preserve the bright color. The ginger adds a zingy bit of spice.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

July 07, 2014

Italian-style Carrot Salad

2-3 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz shredded carrot
1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Toss all ingredients together in a small bowl. Allow to sit 30 minutes prior to serving.

My thoughts:
I was trying to think of something fun to make to serve with take-out pizza. While I love Matthew's Pizza; I do not love their salad and salad is how I can fool myself into thinking I had a well-rounded dinner on pizza night. I had a bunch of shredded carrots so I turned them into a bright, light, raw salad with a lively vinaigrette and loads of garlic. I can't get enough of salads like this is in the summer; super easy but full of flavor and a bit more interesting then the old lettuce-cucumber-tomato that is easy to fall back on.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

July 04, 2014

Sugar Snap Pea & Radish Salad

2 lb sugar snap peas, cut into thirds
4 large radishes, sliced very thin*
1/2 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped Italian parsley

1 oz sherry vinegar
1 oz olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon
1/2 tablespoon yellow mustard seed
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon celery seed

Toss together the salad ingredients. Set aside. In a small jar or salad dressing shaker, shake together the dressing ingredients until a smooth, cohesive mix forms. Drizzle over dressing. Toss to coat. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 1 day.

*I used a mandolin

My thoughts:
I thought you all might like one last quick recipe you can take to 4th of July  festivities this weekend. This is super simple to throw together and meets pretty much anyone's dietary needs as it is vegan, gluten-free and raw. Plus fairly high in fiber thanks to the sugar snap peas. It also transports well, making it the perfect potluck picnic side dish. I love using sugar snap peas because you don't have to shell them and the pods are not only edible by they are tasty and unlike similar snow peas, hold up really well in this type of salad.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

July 02, 2014

Old Bay Corn Relish (for Hot Dogs)

2 ears' worth of corn kernels
1 cubanelle pepper, minced
1/4 cup minced onion
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seed
1 teaspoon Old Bay

Stir together all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour prior to serving. Use to top hot dogs.

Yield: about 1 cup

My thoughts:
I love hot dogs. I really do. I have a running list of hot dog huts and regional hot dog types for pretty much every major city/state in the US and frankly, most countries I'd want to visit. We sought out three different hot dog types in Portugal, which had the craziest hot dogs I have ever had. I like to mix it up at home too, I've made a few fun hot dogs in the past that I've posted here but it is has been a while and since one of the biggest hot dog days of the year is coming up, I thought I'd share a new one in time for your 4th of July cookout!

Since corn is slowly coming into season, I went with a simple corn relish with a Baltimore-twist: Old Bay. Sadly, Baltimore doesn't really have a signature dog ( well, we do have one wrapped in bologna but that is 1. not that exciting and slightly gross and 2. virtually unheard of or ordered even here, by natives 3. I suspect more of a kosher deli thing than a Baltimore-only thing) so I keep trying to make (a new) one happen. This relish is really good! Fresh and crisp, the perfect foil the a plump hot dog of your choice. I've been a Nathan's girl but recently I had a "weinervetion" and have been getting Applegate which are tasty and better for me. A girl who eats a lot of hot dogs needs to keep that sort of thing in mind!

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg