Hi everybody! I just wanted to take a look back at some of my old posts and see if anything needed to be addressed. It’s hard to believe that it’s been over 2 1/2 years since I started this blog! As an aside, I wanted to thank all my readers for allowing me into your culinary lives. Y’all are the best!
Anyhoo, this Coconut Pie was the first recipe I had posted ever. And weirdly, I did not include any pictures of any kind. So this post hopefully fixes that. Of course I made some changes, just to switch things up a little bit. It has been a while since I’ve made this, but from what I remember, the pie still didn’t quite set up correctly. I made some tweaks and I like the final product. And this time I made it Gluten Free, so yay! Now these changes, in addition to some boozy cranberries, seems to work. The original recipe that I found from Penzey’s did not have a picture so I just kinda had to guess what it was supposed to look like. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1/2 c. bourbon
- 1/4 c. dried cranberries
- 1 stick of butter, melted
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 c. sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/2 c. coconut flour
- 1/4 c. cornstarch
- 2 c. milk
- 14 oz. shredded coconut
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small saucepan, bring the bourbon up to a boil over medium heat. Add the cranberries and turn off the heat. Set aside to cool.
2. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients (including the cooled cranberries and bourbon) and mix well. Pour into an ungreased 10-in. pie plate. Bake for about 45 minutes until browned and the middle is set. Let cool. Run a thin knife around the rim of the pie plate to help release before cutting.
Notes — I think this would be good with some pistachios. . . This probably could have stayed in the over for another 5 or 10 minutes. . . Might try baking this in the lower half of the oven and see if that can help develop the crust. . . I have tried grating the nutmeg on top of the pie instead of putting it in the batter. I actually liked the results, especially if the pie is still warm!. . .
Alright, I know that I’ve posted a pesto recipe before. But this one is different because I used hazelnuts! Plus I fiddled with the ratios on this one to get a more standardized version. If you’ve made a pesto before, you understand how easy making this can be. But you also understand how important it is to use high quality ingredients. If anything you use is of a lesser quality, you will definitely notice it.
Now using hazelnuts in this recipe can be slightly problematic, since they do have those pesky husks on them (I am not sure that terminology is right). It does take some effort to get those things off, but I think it’s worth it. This recipe makes a big batch. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 3/4 c. hazelnuts
- 5 c. fresh basil leaves, packed tight
- 5-6 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 c. olive oil
- juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon
- 1 c. grated Parmesan
- salt and pepper, to taste
1. Roast the hazelnuts in either a preheated 350 degree F oven or in a pan over medium heat. Roast them until they become fragrant and slightly browned. Transfer them to a plate and cover with a light towel and allow them to cool. While they are covered they can steam which helps release them from the husks. Now rub the nuts with the towel to clean off husks and set aside.
2. In a food processor, place hazelnuts and pulse to chop for a few seconds. Add the basil and pulse again. Do the same when you add the garlic.
3. With the food processor running. drizzle in the olive oil to combine. Add the lemon and pulse for a few seconds. Transfer to a serving bowl or storage container. Stir in the Parmesan. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Notes — I made a batch of Garlic Confit and added a little bit of the infused oil into the pesto. I didn’t put too much because I just wanted a hint of the flavor. Maybe I used a couple of tablespoons. . . I like putting lemon in my pestos which most people don’t. Maybe it makes it too much like a gremolata for folks. I just like the brightness it adds, plus it helps keep everything green. . . Roasting hazelnuts is made more idiot-proof because of their husks. The husks help protect the nuts from burning so even if you get a little charring on the husk, the nut may actually be just fine.
It’s August and Summer is in full swing here in Michigan. Actually, with the weather we’ve been having here the past few weeks, it feels like Fall. Not that I mind the cooler temperatures; I’m just hope the mild summer is not going to translate into a brutal winter. But enough about that — nothing says summer quite like a nice boozy watermelon punch.
I did just have my summer shindig recently and made this again. I usually have 4 big get-togethers each year when I invite my close friends (actually I consider these guys to be family) and treat them to some free food and booze. Sure this explanation is a little simplistic, but y’all don’t need to get into my big bag of crazy when it comes to planning and prep. I actually don’t remember what else I made, other than stuff on the grill. But I did remember this! Making this concoction this time seemed a lot easier, but last time I was face down in my backyard all afternoon so who knows what my recollection can actually count for. And, of course, I could not find my old recipe no matter how much I looked around for it. So this is a whole new deal.
Now I really like this recipe. I didn’t think it was overly sweet and you could still pick up on all the ingredients. And if you are like me, you may just have a couple of portions of mint syrup just hanging out in the freezer for emergencies.
I did hollow out the watermelon and use it as a serving utensil, which is completely optional. I like the presentation. If you were interested in serving it this way but don’t know where to get a spigot like this, you could check out your local brewer’s supply shop. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 watermelon (medium-sized, I guess. Use the pictures as a reference)
- 1/2 – 1 c. vodka
- 1 c. cachaça
- 1 1/2 c. rum (I used a dark 8-year-old rum)
- 4 oz. Midori
- 6 limes, juiced
- 2 c. mint syrup
1. Take your watermelon and see if it’s able to stand on its end. If not, just cut off a small slice to level it off, making sure not to expose any of the inner flesh.
2. Cut off the top couple of inches of the watermelon to expose some of the red flesh inside (wow that sounds a little macabre). Using an ice cream scoop, start scooping out the fruit (berry?) and place it in a food processor. Pulse it in batches until smooth and run the purée through a fine sieve set over a large bowl.
3. In a large pitcher or jug, combine the vodka, cachaça, rum, Midori, lime juice, and mint syrup. Stir to blend.
4. Add the strained watermelon juice and stir to combine. You can refrigerate this overnight, just be sure to mix it before hand.
5. Pour yourself a little happy. Add some ice if you like!
Notes — you may want to run the watermelon through a very fine sieve. you could just line a sieve with some paper towel, but that sounds like a long process. . . if you cut off too much on the bottom to level the watermelon, it’s not the end of the world. just be sure not to hollow out the watermelon too much or you will have a boozy, leaky mess on your hands. . . also, be careful not to take out too much of the pulp (is that the right term?). if you are overzealous with your scraping, the hollowed out shell might crack and there’s another boozy, leaky mess. . .
Wow. It is definitely weird how much having a new full-time job affects your life. There’s a whole new schedule to figure out, there are weeks of intense training, there’s tests, new policies and procedures, new people, new office. . . well, you get the point. So my mind has been preoccupied lately, which explains the dearth of postings lately. Sometimes you just have to make a paid gig a priority! But I am sad that I’m probably gonna have to close up the bakery at this point. Just a sign o’ the times! Maybe I’ll just go super-super small-scale, although there is a limit to the amount of downsizing that you can do, especially if your workforce consists of one.
So this is my attempt at achieving some sense of normalcy — a return to blogging, a return to working out, a return to volleyball (that is, if my injuries would stop lingering). I would like to stress the word “attempt”. It may take me some time to really figure out how to balance everything. What makes it more challenging is that my work schedule isn’t exactly always set in stone. Eh, it’s a work in progress, much like everything else in life.
Anyhoo. . . on to the recipe! Now mussels are one of my most favorite things to eat. Just throw them into a pan with some white wine and dinner is ready in like 5 minutes! Really. It’s not the most user-friendly, mainly because you have a whole bunch of shells to deal with when your done. Which is why I try to schedule meals like this the day before trash day. I don’t need bits of shellfish lingering in the trash for several days.
Now that I’ve gotten that lovely image out of the way we can get back to the recipe. It’s relatively simple and it’s easily changed to fit whatever ingredients you have around. This time around I had some onions, garlic, celery, Roma tomatoes, and some basil. Throw in the little bit of Andouille that I had bought specifically for this and you get one of my most favoritest dishes. Here’s what you need:
- 1 1/2 lbs mussels, cleaned and beards removed
- 1/4 lb. andouille sausage
- 1 rib of celery, 1/4 in. diagonal slice
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
- 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
- 1/4 c. basil, chopped
- 1-2 c. white wine
- salt and pepper, to taste
1. In a large pan, sauté the Andouille for about 3 minutes. Add the celery and onion and sauté for about 2 minutes.
2. Add the tomatoes, garlic, and half of the basil. Cook for another 2 minutes.
3. Throw in the mussels and white wine and cover. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Then remove the cover, stir the mussels, and return the lid. Cook for another 2-3 minutes.
4. Top with remaining basil. Serve over pasta, or rice, or with crackers, or with a straw (or just slurp it out of the bowl).