[I thought it would be fun to run a little series over here at DDD: I’ll profile one one of my favorite foods, or a food that I’ve recently discovered and enjoyed, over several days. For this fourth entry, I’m focusing on Coconut. The series is presented on an occasional (and entirely arbitrary) basis, before I move on to the next lucky comestible. This is the second entry on coconut.]
First: thank you all, most sincerely, for all your kind words regarding The Girls and the Ordeal of the Raisins. Both dogs are fine (my bank account, on the other hand, will suffer for some time–but that’s my penance, I reckon). And I’m also glad that the post seems to have provided some new information to some of you, who may not have been aware that raisins are often poisonous to the canines in our lives.
In fact, I was so rattled the other day that I neglected to mention something really great: I won a contest! And this time, folks, I truly felt the love! The eloquent, clever and enormously crafty Shellyfish of Musings from the Fishbowl recently conducted a contest to win one of her handcrafted felt change purses, and my comment was (randomly) chosen to win! Whoo-hoo! I am utterly thrilled and cannot wait to receive my prize in the mail. I will, of course, blog all about it when it arrives. 🙂 Thanks, Shellyfish!
And now, back to our regularly scheduled Lucky Comestible!
You know how some people are just so eccentric, so outré, so larger-than-life that they may as well be a caricature of themselves? Think Jack Palance at the Oscars. Think Richard Simmons. Think my mother’s old friend Ms. Gabor.
Ms. Gabor (a pseudonym, bien sûr) was one of my mother’s regular Mah Jong ladies who came to our house Thursday afternoons. Long before the era of elective plastic surgery, Ms. G managed to appear entirely plastic most of the time, all on her own. Likely in her 50s back then, she balanced under a towering, shellacked and elaborately braided beehive hairdo, pinned in place with a network of rhinestone-studded hair clips. She wore eyeliner too heavy, décolletage too revealing, and an attitude far too abrasive. But what I remember most about Ms. G was how she coped with summer. Because in the summer, our house–lacking any air conditioning–was not just hot; it was “feels-like-Vesuvius” hot; “the-smoke-detector-is-shrieking” hot; “someone-call-Denis-Leary-to-Rescue-Me” hot.
On those blistering summer days when my mom and her friends played “Maj,” we kids would return home from school to a tableau of four women, reposing in a haze of smoke (everyone except my mom smoked cigarettes) and humidity, most of them dripping sweat and fanning themselves with handkerchiefs or napkins. And Ms. G, elbows on the table, calmly studying her tiles and wearing a black bra. Yes, you read that correctly; it was not her black bra as seen through a sheer blouse; no, no; it was her black bra as seen on her torso because she had taken off her blouse and placed it on the back of her chair.
“Dahlink, vould you be so kind as to get me a glass of soda?” she’d inquire in her heavy Hungarian accent, as soon as I entered the room. Then I’d be forced to march to the fridge, pour the club soda, and hand her the glass while pretending that I didn’t notice she was wearing nothing more than a bra! Seeing this vision on a weekly basis may have, I suspect, traumatized me just as much as did seeing The Girls eating raisins the other day.
Well, my mother regularly made a dessert for the ladies that was her one coconut-based specialty. She called it “Roly Poly,” and it was basically a layer of oily, dense dough rolled out to a rectangle, topped with (in this order) a thick slather of strawberry jam; sprinkles of toasted walnuts; a smattering of raisins; randomly scattered chunks of chopped Turkish Delight, and a final light shower of shredded coconut. The entire monstrocity was rolled up jelly-roll style, sliced into pinwheels and baked. It’s possible that the Turkish Delight, with its vaguely floral, vaguely alcoholic smell, is what pushed the roly poly over the edge from the “yucky parental dessert” category to the “makes me want to vomit” category, but I have an inkling it was more closely connected to the image of Ms. G munching mindlessly on a slice, crumbs floating gently into the cleavage on her black lace bra.
I did, eventually, get over my coconut aversion, once I met the HH and found he adored the stuff. But the inspiration for today’s recipe was neither Roly Poly nor the HH; it was two of the recipe testers for my upcoming cookbook. (By the way, have I mentioned lately that I ADORE my cookbook testers??)
Since these two women are gluten intolerant, I assumed they’d attempt the GF recipes exclusively (about 30% of the recipes will be gluten free). What I’ve found, instead, is that these two have willingly adapted some of the original recipes to render them gluten-free! I’ve been amazed at and inspired by their ingenuity, and decided I had to dive in and finally start creating more gluten-free goods myself. This coconut series seemed the perfect place to start out; I already had a recipe in mind that met my NAG requirements, so converting it to gluten-free was the next logical step.
Originally given to me by a friend in university, this recipe was titled, simply, “Coconut Loaf,” and called for eggs, butter, white sugar and white flour. Using gluten-free flours and finally trying out some xanthan gum as a binder, I came up with this combination. I’m happy to say that the resultant loaves were just as light as–if not lighter than–the original, with a tender, delicate crumb and ethereal coconut flavor. The HH pronounced this a hit as he bit into his second loaf, remarking, “The texture is so light, it reminds me of a Twinkie.” (To the HH, this is the highest praise one can confer on a cake.)
I, too, was very pleased with the result, and would certainly make these again, gluten free or not. Even if you are able to eat gluten, you might want to try these out as an alternative to your usual cupcakes; the preponderance of legume flour (from the beans and chickpeas) makes these an abundant source of both protein and fiber, more so than most other baked goods. I’m sure the Maj ladies would approve.
Finally, if you’ve recently posted any coconut recipes you’d like me to share, just leave the link here in the comments or send it via email, and I’ll add it to the list below!
Gluten Free Coconut Mini Loaves or Cupcakes
These are light and not too sweet, with a pronounced coconut flavor. For fancier loaves, drizzle with your favorite glaze.
2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) coconut oil, melted
2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) cashew or macadamia nut butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (180 ml.) light agave nectar
1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup (80 ml.) plain or vanilla almond, soy or rice milk
1/4 tsp. (1 ml.) pure coconut extract (optional)
1 Tbsp. (15 m.) finely ground flax seeds
1/4 cup (30 g.) garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour
1/4 cup (40 g.) whole bean flour
1/4 cup (30 g.) sorghum flour
1/4 cup (45 g.) potato starch
1/4 tsp. (1 ml.) baking soda
1-1/4 tsp. (5 ml.) baking powder
1/4 tsp. (1 ml.) xanthan gum
1/4 tsp. (1 ml.) sea salt
1/2 cup ( g.) shredded unsweetened coconut
Preheat oven to 350F (180 C). Spray 6 mini loaf pans or with nonstick spray or line 8 cupcake cups with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the coconut oil and cashew butter. Slowly stir in the agave, vanilla, almond milk, coconut flavoring and flax seeds; whisk to combine. Set aside while you measure the dry ingredients, or at least 2 minutes.
In a larger bowl, sift together the garbanzo flour, whole bean flour, sorghum flour, potato starch, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt. Whisk to combine. Add the coconut and stir to blend.
Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir to mix well. Using a large ice cream scoop or 1/3 cup measuring cup, fill the loaves or cupcake cups about 3/4 full.
Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, rotating the pan once about halfway through, until a tester inserted in the centre comes out clean (the tops will begin to crack and brown a bit). Cool in pans for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely. May be frozen.
[This recipe will also appear in my upcoming cookbook, Sweet Freedom, along with more than 100 others, most of which are not featured on this blog. For more information, check the “Cookbook” button at right, or visit the cookbook blog.]
Other Posts in This Series:
Lucky Comestible 4(1): Cabbage T’horin
Lucky Comestible 4(3): Savory Veggies with Rice and Coconut
Lucky Comestible 4(4): Tofu and Chickpeas in a Thick Creamy Coconut Sauce
Lucky Comestible 4(5): Raspberry Coconut Coffee Cake
Other DDD Coconut Posts:
Mrs. K’s Date Cake (coconut topping)
Tropical Lemon-Coconut Muffins (with coconut and avocado)
Aloo Masala (Potato Curry with Coconut)
Polish Lemon Cake (lemon cake with gooey coconut topping)
Anzac Biscuits (the Australian tradition)
Coconut Recipes on Other Blogs:
From Lisa at Lisa’s Kitchen:
From Bee and Jai at Jugalbandi: