Friday, April 12, 2013

Double Coconut Shortbread

I made Smitten Kitchen's toasted coconut shortbread cookies last year, and I wondered whether coconut oil, another solid-at-room-temperature fat, could replace butter. I finally got around to trying it, and the result was delicious but delicate. The coconut oil gives them a really tender, melty mouthfeel and an incredibly deep coconut flavor.

Both the dough and the finished cookies were quite a bit more fragile than shortbread made with butter. I rolled the dough into a log before refrigerating rather than rolling out and cutting with cookie cutters as in SK's recipe. The dough was much more prone to shattering when I cut it off the log than regular shortbread is. I couldn't cut the cookies as thinly as I normally do for shortbread, which combined with the richness of coconut oil means you really just want one or two at a time, not seven. Whether that's a problem or a benefit is unclear.

After baking, the cookies were very liable to crumble completely, and I'm just eating them off of the cooling rack because they're too delicate to transfer. I'm guessing that there is some mixture of butter and coconut oil that will have the perfect combination of durability and tastiness. If you're in need of a vegan shortbread recipe, this is it. If not, you should try mixing butter and coconut oil for optimal durability.

Double coconut shortbread (adapted from here)

3/4 cup coconut oil, room temperature (or mixture of butter and coconut oil)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
generous pinch of salt
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted (the really small kind, about the size of breadcrumbs, not the big flakes)

In an electric mixer, mix together the coconut oil and sugar. Add the vanilla and salt and mix. Mix in the flour and then the coconut until it kind of forms a dough. I had to turn it out onto a cutting board and use my hands to get it to come together all the way. Roll into a log and refrigerate until hard.

Cut cookies onto a pizza stone or cookie sheet. Try to get them as thin as possible without the dough shattering, which for me was between 3/8 and 1/2 inch.

Bake at 325 F for 15-20 minutes or until they look like cookies instead of dough. They won't brown as much as cookies made with butter, in my limited experience, so the usual "golden" cookie instructions don't apply.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Pork and mashed potatoes

We ate an early dinner (~5:00 pm) and we ate food I would associate with grandparents. We had pork and green peppers stuffed with mashed potatoes. I was a little out of practice because we rarely make meat at home. I was happy with how it turned out.

3 Pork sirloin cutlets about 4 oz each

The topping
As usual measurements are approximate
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp molasses (honey would be great too)
1 tsp diced dried rosemary 
1/2 tsp red wine vinegar (other vinegars would be good too)

Spread a little of the topping on each side. Cook 1 minute on each side on a high to seal in the juices. Lower temperature and cook about 3 more minutes per side adding a little more spread each time you flip.

Healthy Mashed potatoes

2 lbs potatoes

1/2 tsp butter
1 medium onion

1/4 tsp butter
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp diced dried rosemary
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp better than bullion
1 cup water 

1/4 cup heavy cream 

Dice the onion. Heat a pan with 1/2 tsp butter and add onion. Caramelize the onion. While the onion is caramelizing boil potatoes until ready for mashing.
While this is going melt 1/4 tsp butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for a about 2 minutes. Add the rosemary and cumin, mix and cook for 1 minute. Add the water and better than bullion. Simmer until everything else is ready, perhaps adding a bit more water if much of it boils off. 

Mash potatoes with broth and heavy cream. Add in the caramelized onion and enjoy.

I put the mashed potatoes in halved green peppers which I had pre-cooked a bit, topped with cheddar and cooked on 400 for about 20 minutes. I think it would be even better with tomatoes, but the tomatoes at the grocery store were very under-ripe.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Creamy tropical green smoothie

This is my first green smoothie with coconut milk in it. I used all the tropical fruits I had, plus some kale, and it was pretty darn good. Not too much to say about it, really. This would probably be good with mint or cilantro, or maybe even Thai basil, but I didn't think of it until after I drank it. Maybe next time.

Creamy tropical green smoothie

1 banana
1/2 cup orange juice
3/4 cup frozen mango
1/2 cup frozen pineapple
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 kale leaves


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Farro cakes on a bed of kale

I've been wanting to make a farro-based main dish for a while, but usually I just use it in salad, and it's been too chilly for me to get excited about a cold dinner. I played around with the idea of this farro cake for a while before going for it. I've made grain cakes before, and I just kind of made this one up. It's awesome, if I do say so myself. The farro is nice and chewy, and the liberal use of parmesan gives them a really nice deep cheesy flavor. It took me a little fiddling to get them to hold together. First, I just added one egg, but it was kind of just a dry-ish mash. I added a second egg, and it was too wet, but then I threw in some Panko crumbs, which absorbed just enough egg to get the cakes to hold together well. The kale complements the cakes nicely, but I have a pro-kale bias.

Farro cakes on a bed of kale
Makes about 10 cakes. I had 2 at dinner, and Jon had 5. So it serves 2-5 people, I guess.

1 cup farro (or a little less; you want 2 cups cooked in the end)
2 cups vegetable stock

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
8 grape tomatoes, quartered
1/2 tsp ground marjoram
1/2 tsp dried thyme

.65 oz grated parmesan or asiago cheese (I just got an electronic kitchen scale! If you don't have one, it's probably 1/3 cup grated by a microplane.)
2 eggs, well beaten
1/4 cup Panko or bread crumbs

4 kale leaves

Cook farro by combining farro with broth in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, and cook for about 25 minutes, or until water is absorbed and farro is tender. Set aside.

Heat oil in a medium frying pan. Add onion, then a few minutes later, garlic, tomatoes, marjoram, and thyme. Saute until everything is soft. Set aside.

Place 2 cups farro in a medium mixing bowl. Add vegetable mixture and cheese. Stir in eggs and Panko or bread crumbs.

To cook the cakes, heat a crepe or nonstick pan over medium heat until it is very hot. (Add a little oil if your pan needs it; ours doesn't.) Take a big spoonful of farro mixture, plop it on the pan, and mash it down with the back of the spoon so it's even and fairly flat. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the bottom is golden brown. Carefully flip it and cook on the other side until that side is done as well. The cakes didn't seem very liable to burn, so you don't need to be too worried about them getting overcooked.

In the leftover oil from the vegetable pan, saute the kale. Serve farro cakes on top of a bed of kale.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


I like Rubens and Flemish painting in general. I also love the Reuben sandwich. I have my own ideas on it which I will now share. I like to make my Reubens on the skinny side. This makes it easier to balance ratios, not get super messy and reasonable for an any day lunch. I am trying to find the best reuben in our neighborhood, and so far mine wins. (Salonica is the best restaurant reuben we've found so far.)

For this recipe I do not heat the sauerkraut or corned beef ahead of time. It improves the sandwich a bit if you do, but I usually don't want to take the time (I am often already hungry). As usual measurements are approximate.

Best Reuben in Hyde Park

4 slices of Corned beef
2 slices seeded rye (a pumpernickel rye might be even better)
2 oz or so sauerkraut
3 slices swiss cheese
Thousand island dressing (1/2 oz?)
a little mustard

Put the mustard on one slice of bread and top with the corned beef. Put the cheese on the other. (This will insulate the bread from the liquids.) On top of the corned beef put the sauerkraut and top that with the dressing. Close the sandwich.

Melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Put the sandwich on. Put a weight on the sandwich (like a heavy pot). After a couple of minutes remove the sandwich and melt some more butter in the pan. Put the other side of the sandwich down. Put a weight on the sandwich. Cook for a couple of minutes and then serve. I like to serve it with a pickle spear (Hyde Park Produce's deli section has good pickles) and chips.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Deconstructed guacamole quesa-jitas

I have been threatening to make deconstructed guacamole for a while, and on Saturday I finally followed through. I used it as the key ingredient in dinner, which was something between a quesadilla and fajita. I used up some leftover tofu in it too.

For fellow southsiders, Hyde Park Produce tends to have good avocados at a reasonable (maybe even cheap) price.

Deconstructed guacamole

2 firm avocados, chopped
1/2 tomato, chopped
Corn, optional
Cilantro, optional

Juice of 1/2 lime
1 healthy shake arizona dreaming or other chili powder
1 shake chipotle powder
1 shake cajun seasoning or seasoned salt
2 pinches cumin
1 pinch coriander
1 shake tabasco

Combine ingredients.

I served this on tortillas with sautéed onions, dry fried tofu, tomato slices, cheese, sour cream and jalapenos. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pineapple matcha smoothie

This is a green smoothie, but the green is from matcha (powdered green tea) instead of bona fide greens. It's a delicious way to start the morning, mostly sweet with some bitterness from the tea.

Pineapple matcha smoothie

1/2 banana
1/2 cup orange or pineapple juice
3/4 cup frozen pineapple pieces
1 tsp matcha