Thursday, May 20, 2010

Coconut Cake without Soy or Dairy

This is a crazy, from scratch recipe for a coconut cake that I have been working on.
1 whole coconut
1/2 cup coconut oil, plus 2/3 cup for making icing and more for greasing pans
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, yokes and whites separated
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Special equipment: a blender, cheesecloth, a colander, a hand or stand mixer, wax paper, and two 9-inch round cake pans.

1. Preheat the oven to 350degrees. Crack open your coconut, being careful to catch the coconut water from the center. Watch this YouTube video for instructions: Use a paring knife to remove the brown skin that may stick to the coconut flesh. Wash the coconut chunks and grate it on a cheese grater or in a food processor.
2. Toss 1 cup of the shredded coconut with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Set this sweetened shredded coconut aside until after the cake is iced.
3. Make coconut milk. In a blender, combine the coconut water and enough water to make 2 cups of liquid. Then add the remaining shredded coconut not used in the previous step. Blend these together. Line a colander with cheesecloth and place it over a bowl. Pour in the blended mixture. Gather the cheesecloth and squeeze out the liquid into the bowl. This should yield about 3 cups of coconut milk.
4. Use a hand mixer or a stand mixer cream together coconut oil, remaining sugar, and 3 tablespoons of the coconut milk. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir half of this mixture into the creamed oil and sugar mixture. Then stir in 1/3 cup coconut milk, and then stir in the remaining flour mixture. Stir in egg yolks.
5. In a clean glass or metal bowl, beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Note: a clean bowl and mixer must be used for the egg white to stiffen. Stir 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter well.  Then gently fold in the remaining egg whites.
6. Cut wax paper circles to match the bottom of your pan. Grease pans, add the wax paper, and grease over the wax paper. Divide the batter between the two pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Allow cakes to partially cool. Then remove them from the pans, remove the wax paper and allow to cool completely.
7. After the cake cools, mix together 2/3 cup coconut oil, 1/3 cup coconut milk, and 4 ½ cups powdered sugar. Add 1 teaspoon of coconut milk at a time until a spreadable consistency is reached.
8. Spread ½ cup of the icing on top of one of the cake rounds and place the second cake round on top of it. Spread the remaining icing on the top and sides of the cake.  Press the reserved sweetened shredded coconut onto the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate until cold before serving.

Update: I can't have this recipe anymore because it is high in sulfur.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fried Yellow Summer Squash

This weekend I planted five squash plants along with my two tomato plants. I know that they will produce more squash than I want to eat, but I'm preparing for overabundance. Here is the first of many squash recipes made with already-grown squash that I purchased with my plants from the farmer's market.

5 yellow summer squash
1 onion
4 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cut onion in half and then cut into thin strips. Sauté onions on medium heat in a non-stick pan with one teaspoon of olive oil.
2. While the onion is cooking, cut the squash into thin rounds. When onions are soft and starting to brown, put in one third of the squash and one teaspoon of olive oil.
3. When the squash slightly brown on one side, push squash and onions to the outside of the pan and add another third of the squash and a teaspoon of olive oil. Cook until slightly brown and push to the edge of the pan and add remaining squash to center with remaining oil. Sauté until slightly brown. Stir the squash and onions together and cook them until they are dark brown in patches.

Update: I can't eat the onion in this recipe anymore because it is high in sulfur. I substitute an thinly sliced green apple.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Strawberry Jam

My mom and I picked seven pounds of strawberries in 20 minutes. These are not the kinds that come in the little green plastic baskets from the bin at the local megamart. These berries are fully ripe, fragrant and bursting with sweetness, and have a shelf life of about two days.
The pectin used to make commercial jams is usually gassed with sulfur dioxide and the juice used to make preserves is usually gassed as well. If I wanted no-sulfite-added preserves, I was going to have to make them myself.
Thus was my motivation to attempt canning for the first time.
I am using a dry pack method. You will need 8 half-pint size canning jars, a candy thermometer, a pot with a lid, and canning rack that fits in your pot (you can buy this as a kit together or borrow one from a relative like I did).

4 quarts of ripe strawberries
2 1/2 cups sugar

1. Sterilize the jars. Put jars in a pot of water and boil for 5 minutes. Follow the directions on your jar package about what to do with the lids. Mine said to not boil the lids. Remove and empty your jars from the boiling and place them on a towel.
2. While your jars are sterilizing, make a strawberry syrup. Heat 2 quarts of mashed or sliced berries and 2 1/2 cups sugar, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 220 degrees or until it thickens and the strawberries mostly dissolve.
3. Next, pack your jars. Cut the caps off of the rest of the strawberries. Pack ripe strawberries into the jars and top with hot syrup. Important note: The jars must still be hot or they will explode. Leave 1/4 to 1/2 inch of empty space at the top of the jar. Run a clean knife along the walls to remove air. Wipe the lip of the jar with a clean damp towel before topping with the lid (My jars directions required me to warm the lids in hot, not boiling water, but check the manufacturer's directions for your lids). Last, screw the lid ring on the jar. Repeat this process for remaining jars.
4. Sterilize your jam if you want it to be shelf stable (otherwise allow jars to cool completely and put them in the refrigerator where they will last 3 months unopened). Your water should still be hot in the pot from sterilizing your jars, so put the jars in your rack and lower it into the water. Add more water so that the jars have at least one inch of water over the lids. Increase the heat to get and maintain a gentle boil. Once the water boils, cover and maintain boil for 10 minutes. If the water level drops, add more boiling water. If boiling stops, bring the water to a boil again and restart the time from the beginning. After 10 minutes, turn off the heat and allow jars to cool enough to handle.
5. Remove the jars from the water and place on a towel. Allow the jars to sit undisturbed for 12 hours. Remove the rings and test lids for seals. If lid is not sealed, store the jar in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. If it is sealed, store the jar in a cool, dark place for up to a year.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Spring Grill for One

I had a good time at the Elizabeth City farmers market this Saturday. I have to work tonight, but I didn't want to wait until tomorrow to eat some of my finds so I made this quick, indulgent, but healthy lunch.

3 ounces lean steak
5 asparagus spears
3 small (golf ball size) new potatoes
1/2 cup strawberries, caps removed and halved
1 teaspoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat grill on high. Meanwhile wash potatoes and poke with a fork. Microwave potatoes for 4 minutes on high. Snap the woody ends off of the asparagus. Put the steak, asparagus and cooked potatoes on a plate and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Put these ingredients on the grill. Cook steak to desired doneness, being careful not to move it around too much. For example, for a well done steak, grill 2-5 minutes this rotate 45 degrees and grill another 2-5 minutes. Flip the meat over and repeat. Even a well done steak should not be moved more than four times.
Remove items from the grill and allow to rest under a loose foil tent for 3 to 5 minutes. Serve with strawberries.