Food

Coconut

December 24, 2013

coconutThe thing about coconut is that you either love it or hate it, and there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground. It used to be that coconut was that “exotic” ingredient that made its appearance only in a cake, candy bar or cookie. Sure, making macaroons (not the French kind, the Pesach 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 marketplace.

The coconut is a multitalented 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, coconut everything. Knowing what you’re getting and how to use it is key to making the most of your coconut experience. Dried coconut is obviously used in all kinds of dishes. Coconut oil and coconut milk (which come from the flesh of the coconut) are used in cooking, baking, 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. The husks and leaves of coconuts 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 your new favorite ingredient.

COCONUT VODKA PASTA SAUCE (pareve)

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 (meat)

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 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 soy 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

COCONUT MOCK CRAB 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 kosher mock crab
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 1 minute. 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 mock crab, bump up the heat to medium and cook about 2 minutes. In a bowl, combine the cornstarch with the water. Stir the mixture into mock crab 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 CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE CHUNKS AND COCONUT DRIZZLE (dairy)
*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 (fish)

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