5 ways to use: coconut milk

Up until recently, I had zero use for coconut milk. I looked at the cans on grocery shelves and never gave it fighting chance.

And then I decided to make tacos, and the recipe called for almost a cup of it. And then I wondered what else I could do with the leftovers (not the tacos, those were eaten). I poured the remaining coconut milk into a deli container, and it sat in the refrigerator.

Somehow I found a variety of uses for it. And at less than $3 a can (or less than a dollar at some places), its hard not to give this ingredient a shot.
cold brew coffee: substitute regular milk with the coconut variety. I also use my French press to make cold brew at home (1/3 cup ground beans, 1 1/2 cups water, let sit for 12 hours, strain, and while drinking, wonder why you didn't try this before)
cornmeal pancakes: use in lieu of buttermilk - the pancakes (or even waffles) don't turn quite the same shade of golden brown, but taste just as good. I like to make a few extra 'cakes to reheat the next day for breakfast.
pork & black bean tacos: giving credit where credit is due, Food52 posted this twist on a favorite. I've also used ground beef and pinto beans. What to do with the remaining pineapple juice will be the topic for a future post.

breakfast quinoa: cook one part quinoa in one part water, one part coconut milk. Once fluffy and spooned into a bowl, pour over a little more coconut milk and top with some toasted almonds.

rice pudding: similar to the breakfast quinoa, use this as a substitute for the other liquids (heavy cream, whole milk, etc).

PS: what other ways to do you use coconut milk?
  

Strawberry Cornmeal Tart

Sometimes recipe inspiration comes on a walk home from the grocery store.

Not someone who usually buys premade things, I'd seen these cornmeal gluten free pizza crusts at the farmers market earlier in the day. The vendor selling these is situated next to one of three Blue Bottle coffee outposts, so its easy to check these crusts out while waiting. Seeing them for a second time at the grocery store made me immediately think "savory" with tomatoes and basil appearing everywhere. Bellwether's ricotta cheese went into my basket thinking the evening's dinner would be a vegetarian pizza.

On the walk home, I remembered the morning's Dirty Girl Farm strawberries, three day old mint, and thought "dessert"!

There really isn't a recipe, more like assembling and then a quick bake in the oven.

I cut a quarter of a cornmeal crust and spread some ricotta on it. Use more or less depending on how much you want. I could have used a little more. Thinly slice enough strawberries to cover the cheese, then crack some black pepper over the fruit. Slide onto a sheet pan and put into a preheated 425 degree oven (says so on the crust's package) and wait for 10-12 minutes. When the crust is golden brown and the berries are juicy, sprinkle some torn mint leaves.

I ate this before eating dinner.

Oops.





Rhubarb Compote

Rhubarb is a sign of spring. Living in the Bay Area, I've seen it for several weeks hanging out near the strawberries, its culinary partner. When I lived in Chicago, it was for sale for a mere week or maybe two if we were lucky; and in Boston, I don't think I ever saw it.

I was inspired to just cook it solo and have dolloped it with my morning yogurt and granola. It would pair with butter on bread or on a slice of cake or between shortcakes and whipped cream. Just go with it.

Rhubarb Compote

7.5 oz rhubarb or 2 meaty stalks, remove the ends
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 Valencia orange, juice & zest
scant 1/4 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Cut the rhubarb into 1/4" pieces. Place pieces in a bowl with the vanilla extract, orange zest and juice, and sugar. Toss with your hands and let the pieces hang out in the bowl while the oven warms up.

Pour the rhubarb into a baking dish and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve with plain yogurt, ice cream or crème fraiche. Or spoon on toast, scones, or, really, anything.


City by the Bay Scenes

Day five of San Francisco living. The sun shines a different shade of blue. Not to wax rhapsodic or pile on the romanticism, but the air is a bit different out here. The biggest adjustment is the time difference. Three hours. Football is the first thing to air today. Not a terrible thing, its just not something I'm used to, especially when a beer used to be involved. Now its coffee or tea.

Blue Bottle coffee + saffron vanilla snickerdoodle at the Linden kiosk; 101 Cookbooks just posted the cookie recipe

Fort Mason/Off the Grid food truck park/Fleet Week Airshow - the outdoor volume will return to normal tomorrow.
@theMillSF coffee shop in progress - want to try their thick slices of toast
produce from the Grove + Divisadero Sunday farmers market - fresh figs were $5 a pound & flower bouquets $4 a bunch.

Nopalito's red chile chips + lime + crema (along with the rest of their menu) is crave worthy. And very welcoming and friendly service to boot. Its dangerous and delicious to be living around the corner.

Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream

Strawberry season might be over and done with in New England. Some farms might have strawberry fields ready later in the summer, but there is no guarantee especially when conflicting weather occurs. Other parts of the US might have strawberries at markets - if so, snatch them up and make this ice cream.

What makes this ice cream extra special is the strawberry puree.  Berries cook until they release their sugars and bubble in a not too thick syrup. Use "good" balsamic vinegar, the thick kind that costs a bit more at the grocery or specialty stores. A little goes a long way, and the extra money is worth the spend. Blend the berries and vinegar into a smooth puree and add to the ice cream base once everything is cooled. The rosy, light pink color looks like summer.

PS: if you want to extend this recipe to include ice cream sandwiches, the full cookie recipe is here. Promise its worth the extra effort.
Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream
inspired/adapted from Food52 & Bi-Rite Creamery
yield: one quart of ice cream

1 1/2 pints strawberries, hulled (stem removed) and halved
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
5 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup whole or 2% milk
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

for the strawberry balsamic puree:

Add the strawberries and first round of 2 teaspoons vinegar to a medium size sauce pot. Put the pot over medium heat and cook for about 8 minutes until the strawberries are soft and a lot of the berry juices are released. This step takes close to 7-8 minutes.

Let fruit cool slightly, then transfer the berries and their juices to a blender or food processor. A hand-held immersion blender could also work. Purée until smooth and hold the puree in the refrigerator until the ice cream base is very cold.

for the ice cream base:

In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks and a 1⁄4 cup of sugar.

In a heavy nonreactive saucepan, stir together the heavy cream, milk, salt, and the remaining 1⁄4 cup of sugar and put the pan over medium-high heat. When the mixture has tiny bubbles on the surface (a slight simmer), reduce the heat to medium.

Carefully pour 1⁄2 cup of the hot cream mixture (a ladle works well here) and, while whisking the eggs constantly, add the cream to the bowl with the egg yolks. Repeat, adding another 1⁄2 cup of the hot cream to the yolks. This tempering process gets the egg yolks ready to go into the pan with the rest of the hot cream mixture. Not going this would result in creamy scrambled eggs. Using a heatproof rubber spatula, stir the cream in the saucepan as you slowly pour the egg-and-cream mixture from the bowl into the pan. A kitchen helper helping stir would also be a good idea, if you are a first time ice cream maker.

Cook the egg and cream mixture carefully over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it is thickened. You will know the base is done when it coats the back of a spatula and holds a clear path when you run your finger across the spatula.

Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean container and cover with a top or place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the egg mixture. Refrigerate the base for at least 2 hours or overnight. You want this mixture to be very cold.

Whisk the strawberry purée and the remaining 2 teaspoons vinegar into the chilled base.

Freeze in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Eat immediately or transfer to a container and freeze for at least 4 hours for a more solid ice cream.

Rosemary + Lemon + Olive Oil Cookies

These cookies are a hit. Expect an empty plate so be prepared to snag a cookie before sharing with your next party. A Meyer lemon (cross between an orange and a lemon) is the aromatic choice with intense and fragrant juice and zest. Rosemary is equally pleasing, but thyme is another option. Use a middle of the road extra virgin olive oil since this ingredient isn't the start of the show, but a key understudy.

Rosemary + Lemon + Olive Oil Cookies
adapted from FoodNetwork (yep, that one)
yield: 16-20 cookies

1 cup AP flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
8 grinds of black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary (thyme can also be substituted)
1 small lemon (Meyer, if available), zest and juice
2 ounces extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons milk

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, black pepper, rosemary and zest.

In another small bowl or measuring cup, stir the lemon juice, olive oil, and milk together until blended.

Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Feel free to add additional milk by the 1/2 teaspoon if the dough looks too dry.

Scoop the dough into ping pong size balls and place on a parchment lined sheet pan.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are golden. Let cool and serve with tea.

 

Peach Tart

Peaches are quickly disappearing in New England.  Never fear as this tart dough would serve a multitude of fall and winter fruits including apples, pears, and plums. Next spring I plan to test out this tart with strawberries and, maybe, rhubarb

End of Summer Peach Tart
ever-so-slightly adapted from Food52
Yield: one 9-inch tart

1 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 cups plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup mild olive oil
2 tablespoons whole or 2% milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons cold, salted butter (original recipe called for unsalted)
3 to 4 small ripe peaches, pitted and thickly sliced (about 1/2-inch thick)

Heat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a medium size bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon sugar.

In a small bowl (or in the measuring cup), whisk together the oils, milk and almond extract. Pour this liquid into the flour mixture and mix gently with a fork, just enough to dampen; do not over work it. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch tart pan and use your hands to pat out the dough so it covers the bottom of the pan. Push the dough up the sides to meet the edge.

In the same bowl used to mix the dough (why dirty another dish?), combine 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt and the butter. Using your fingers, pinch the butter into the dry ingredients until crumbly, it should look like fine granules or tiny pebbles.

Arrange the peaches in an overlapping pattern over the dough.  The peaches should have a tight fit in the pan. Sprinkle all of the butter mixture over top. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the fruit is bubbly and the crust is slightly brown. Cool on a rack. Serve warm or room temperature.

Rhubarb Strawberry Cobbler + Cornmeal Biscuits

This is part 2 of the "what to do with 2 gallons of strawberries" series.  In part 1, I made jam with chiles and black peppercorns.  I had this recipe filed away for about two years and finally finally! decided to make it with some slight changes: swap the raspberries for strawberries and use two types of sugar.  The dessert is delicious hot from the oven or straight-from-the-refrigerator cold. 

Rhubarb Strawberry Cobbler + Cornmeal Biscuits

adapted from the New York Times
yield: 8 servings

filling:
2 cups rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 5-6 stalks)
2 pounds fresh strawberries, washing, hulled, and cut in half
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon white sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon raw sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

biscuits:
1 cup all-purpose flour, more as necessary
2/3 cup fine cornmeal
1/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2/3 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make the filling, toss together rhubarb, strawberries, sugars and cornstarch in a large bowl. Allow mixture to stand while preparing biscuit dough.

To prepare biscuits, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Add butter and use two knives to cut butter into flour mixture. Pour in cream and continue stirring until dough starts to come together, scraping down sides of bowl if necessary.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently pat it together. Divide it equally into 8 balls, then flatten them slightly into thick rounds.

Pour filling and accumulated juices into a 2 1/2-quart gratin or a 9 by 12 inche baking dish. Arrange biscuits on top of filling and brush with cream. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until filling is bubbling and biscuits are golden.

Ricotta Cake

As this cake baked, my kitchen smelled like orange zest.  That's how I knew this would be a good cake. Especially with the addition of a dollop of orange marmalade.

The addition of an apple initially threw me for a loop, but it brings texture and an "extra touch of something" to the mix.

Ricotta Cake
slightly adapted from Food52
yield: one 9-inch cake

9 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
1 cup fresh ricotta
Zest of 1 orange
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 apple, peeled and grated (should yield about 1 cup)

Heat the oven to 400˚. Butter and flour a 9 inch spring form pan or tart pan with a removable base.  Use the wax paper from the butter to save a step.

Cream the butter and sugar using a hand mixer until light and fluffy, and on the lowest speed, add the eggs one at a time.

Slowly add the flour, salt, ricotta, orange zest, baking powder and apple.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and the sides start to pull away from the pan.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and cool completely on the rack. Serve with your favorite seasonal fruit.

Reminds me of Miss Pacman.

Chocolate Oatmeal Dried Fruit Cookies

In the continuing journey to find a cookie that combines chocolate, fruit, and oats, this one takes the cake, err, cookie. 

Chocolate Oatmeal Dried Fruit Cookies
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
yield: three dozen (using a 1" cookie scoop)

1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) butter, softened
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or powder
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped or chips
1/2 cup dried fruit mix (raisins, cranberries, cherries)
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Stir this into the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in the oats, chocolate, dried fruits and pecans.

Either chill the dough for a bit in the fridge and then scoop it, or scoop the cookies onto a sheet pan and then freeze the whole tray, bag the dough scoops, and freeze for future enjoyment.

If baking immediately, bake the cookies two inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 10 to 12 minutes, taking them out when golden at the edges but still a little undercooked-looking on top. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool.  If baking from the freezer, add 2-4 minutes of additional baking time.