Coconut Orange Chicken

coconut orange chicken

My delightful creation boasts of the meat and cream of coconut, contrasted with fresh orange, and melded with the juices of sautéed chicken and onions-flavors which accent each other, as Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page suggest in Culinary Artistry.  1

Much can be said about the benefits of coconut, with its current widespread demand.  Coconut sugar-with its low glycemic index-is the best choice for baking (see Zucchini Bread, 2017/07/24), while coconut oil is ideal for health-learn more about this highly beneficial saturated fat in my entry Nutty Coconut Pie, 2017/11/13.  Here, however, we will explore the advantages of its milk, cream, and water.

Coconut is the largest and most important of all nuts, which is the stone of a drupe, the fruit of Coco nucifera, large tree-like palms, which are more closely related to grasses than other nut-trees.

These hardy fruits are borne and mature year-round; it takes eleven to twelve months for them to fully develop.  Around five to seven months, they develop coconut water (about 2% sugars) and a moist, delicate, gelatinous meat.  The mature coconut, however, has a less abundant, less sweet liquid, and meat that has become firm, fatty, and white.  2

Coconut milk-as opposed to coconut water-is made by pulverizing good, fresh coconut meat to form a thick paste, which consists of microscopic oil droplets and cell debris suspended in water; this water makes up about half of the paste’s volume.  Then more water is added, and it is strained to remove the solid particles.  Left to stand for an hour, a fat-rich cream layer separates from a thin-skim layer in the milk.  3

For a while, only the canned, skim coconut milk was available at Trader Joe’s.  When I inquired about their coconut cream, which I prefer for cooking, I was told the market was presently so glutted by the popularity of coconut products that the cream wasn’t being produced.  Lately, once again, cans of coconut cream are available there, much to my joy.

Recently friends came for dinner.  Cody was sharing his expertise with my computer, while I in turn was blessing with food; thus, the inspiration for this dish.  It was a win-win situation, for both of us were incapable of doing what the other was providing.

We are all critical members of the body.  With God’s help, we play out our individual parts, as we contribute to the whole.  Each of us is uniquely equipped; thus, the manifold splendor of the perfected body.  Likewise, this same divine genius can be seen in what mother-nature did, bestowing on us these many essential products from the coconut fruit.

References:

  1. Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, Culinary Artistry (Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1996), p. 199.
  2. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 508.
  3. Ibid., p. 509.
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coconut_milk

finished product

Coconut Orange Chicken  Yields: 3-5 servings.  Total prep time: 3/4 hr.

12 oz frozen broccoli  (Organic is best, available at Trader Joe’s; our local Grocery Outlet sometimes has it at a better price.)

1 lb chicken tenderloins, 8 lg pieces

6 1/2 tsp oil   (Coconut oil offers ideal flavor and quality.)

1 med yellow onion, cut in even 1/8” slices

Small head of cauliflower  (Organic, orange cauliflower is often available at our local Fred Meyer-Kroger-stores; color is beneficial to health.)

Red or orange bell pepper  (Organic is so important with bell peppers, as they readily absorb pesticides.)

1 lg orange, peeled and divided into small sections  (Organic is best.)

1/3 c unsweetened shredded coconut flakes  (Available in bulk at many stores, very reasonable at our local Winco.)

1-15 oz can of coconut cream (Trader’s usually carries this; coconut skim milk will work as well.)

1 tsp salt, or to taste  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; Costco sells an inexpensive fine grind Himalayan salt.)

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper, or to taste

Steamed rice or quinoa  (See Quinoa Dishes, 2018/01/29.)

  1. produce

    Take broccoli out of freezer, open package, and set aside.  Place chicken in bowl of water to thaw.

  2. Spray all vegetables with an inexpensive, safe, effective produce spray (combine 97% distilled white vinegar with 3% hydrogen peroxide).  Let sit for 3 minutes; then, rinse well.
  3. Chop onions in even 1/8” slices.  Heat 1/2 tsp of oil in a sauté pan, over medium heat; oil is ready, when a small piece of onion sizzles.  Reduce heat to med/low.  Add rest of onion and cook, stirring every several minutes until light color begins to form; then, stir more frequently until onions are dark brown.

    cutting cauliflower

    Place in a bowl and set aside.  While these are cooking, go to next step, but watch onions carefully.

  4. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in an extra large frying pan; salt and pepper poultry well; when small piece of chicken sizzles in oil, add rest of tenderloins.  Cut in bite-size pieces with a spatula as cooking; cook until light pink in center-do not overcook, as they will cook more later on.  Set aside on plate, SAVING JUICES IN PAN.
  5. Cut all cauliflower into small florettes, by first cutting sections off whole cauliflower.  Next remove excess stalk off these sections.  Finally, gently break these smaller sections into bite-size pieces, by pulling the florettes apart with a paring knife, see photo above.
  6. separating orange segments

    Chop pepper into 2”-strips.  Peel orange, break in half, cut halves in half, and divide into small sections (see photo).

  7. Over medium heat, heat left-over juices in large pan, to which 1 tbsp of oil is added.  When a small piece of cauliflower sizzles in pan, add the rest of it, as well as the pepper strips and broccoli.  Stir oils into vegetables; mix in dried coconut and coconut cream (be sure to gently stir the cream in the can first, to avoid a mess when pouring).  Sauté until desired tenderness; may cover with a lid to speed up process. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Add chicken pieces; adjust seasonings; cook until tenderloins are hot (see photo at top of recipe).
  9. Serve over rice or quinoa.  A powerfully good dish!

1950’s Boiled Raisin Cake

boiled raisin cake

The glorious Big Sky country of Montana was the recent setting for my mother Pat’s memorial, which holds the story of redemption.  This couldn’t have been more special, with family there from all over the state, as well as Washington, California, and Oregon.  It was a blessed reunion of next of kin and old friends, many of whom I hadn’t seen for decades.  My 94-year old mother, who was so eager to be with her Maker and my father, was smiling down from heaven, highly pleased with all our gaiety.

Needless to say, the food at this week’s many meals was the greatest.  My sister Maureen, who follows a ketogenic diet, is highly gifted in creating memorable ailments. (She trains people in ketogenic-style cooking and presently is writing a cook book, which includes beautiful creative desserts; I will promote it when it comes out.)

Today’s boiled raisin cake, however, dates back to my early childhood in the 1950’s; my mother probably found this well-known cake recipe in a popular magazine.  Maureen knows the original instructions by heart, to which I have added a few twists of my own, such as freshly ground flour-this is totally optional, but oh so good!

Pleasing the palate beyond words, this world’s easiest, foolproof cake is mixed in the saucepan in which you boil the raisins.  I couldn’t help but share it at this time, thus honoring my mother.

Death normally brings loss; Mom’s departing, however, promoted life and goodness.  Her long-term desire to be with Jesus and my father “Buzzy Baby” was finally granted; our Redeemer brought great liberty to many with her passing.

Food, friends, and faith were the best description of her earthly sojourn; thus, these attributes also marked her transition to heaven, for my sister Maureen labored to insure their presence at all our gatherings, thus commemorating our beloved mother-nothing was overlooked.  This week-long series of family events highly esteemed this great woman, with the actual memorial, in our village of East Glacier Park, being the height of the glory which was signified by her home-coming.

At this treasured celebration, I was able to reunite with many childhood friends-some of whom I hadn’t seen since the 1970’s.  During the reception, extreme laughter blessed us at one table, as we traversed memory lane, for we were recalling our shared employment at my parent’s restaurant.

So many people who came to memorialize Mom’s life had worked for my parents in their fifty-plus years of restaurant ownership; all were bearing rich, belly shaking stories.  It was at this respected establishment that I first learned my love for food, in which I have a unique approach of educating with health and history.

Here I note that the raisins in this cake receipt were most likely sun-dried on rows of paper in the vineyards for about three weeks, as is their most common form of production in the United States.  There are many thousands of grape varieties, which are of the genus Vitis V. vinifera.  Here in North America, we have about 25 native grape species, where in temperate Asia, there are about 10; the major source of wine and table grapes, however, is native to Eurasia.  About two-thirds of the world’s grapes result in wine; of the rest, about two-thirds are consumed fresh, with the remaining made into raisins. 1

Urbain Dubois published a recipe in his 19th century cook book, in which he ingeniously combined raisins and capers; presently, Jean-Georges Vongerichten has capitalized on this unique paring, enhancing it even further by pureeing it with nutmeg as a sauce for skate (this popular dish is on his restaurant menu). 2

Loving food and adventure, my mother would have appreciated this daring treatment of raisins.  You may experiment with this raisin/caper combination, or just securely rest in Mom’s proven boiled raisin cake.  (I suggest making the latter with white vanilla, which is ideal for white frostings-this uncommon flavoring was my recent gift from friends traveling to Mexico, the home of the world’s most outstanding, dirt-cheap vanilla.)

References:

  1. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 363.
  2. Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, Culinary Artistry (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley& Sons, Inc., 1996), p. 70.
  3. https://calraisins.org/about/the-raisin-industry/

finished cake after final frosting

Boiled Raisin Cake  Yields: 12 servings.  Total prep time: 1 hr & 50 min, with 45 min inactive prep time for cooling raisins, unless you boil them ahead of time, following step one/  active prep time: 20 min/  baking time: 45 min.

3 c flour  (Optional: may grind 2 c organic soft white wheat berries to make 3 c flour.)

2 c raisins

3 c water

1 cube butter

2 lg eggs, beaten

1 tbsp vanilla

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 c sugar  (Coconut sugar has a low glycemic index; for health benefits, see Zucchini Bread, 2017/07/24.)

1 tsp salt  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; an inexpensive, fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco.)

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cloves

1 c pecan pieces, optional

Spray oil  (Coconut oil is best for flavor and health; Pam coconut spray oil is available in most stores; our local Winco brand, however, is far cheaper.)

Glaze:

2 c powdered sugar  (Organic is best; Trader Joe’s has 1-lb packages, where Costco has more economical, larger packets.)

1/2 c butter, melted

1/2 c cream  (Organic heavy whipping cream is better for your health.)

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

  1. easy mixing of batter

    In a 3-quart sauce pan, bring raisins to a boil in 3 cups of water over medium heat; cook for exactly 5 minutes; add butter.  Place in a sink full of cold water to cool quickly.

  2. If using fresh ground flour, grind wheat berries now.
  3. Make glaze by mixing above “glaze” ingredients, set aside.
  4. When raisins are cool, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Add flour and all other “cake” ingredients to pan; blend well; do not over-beat, however, as this toughens cakes and cookies.  IF grinding your own flour, be sure to let batter sit for 45 minutes, as freshly ground flour is coarser and absorbs the liquid more slowly.
  6. Pour batter into 9”x13” pan, which has been sprayed with coconut spray oil.
  7. icing cake the first time

    Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean, and cake lightly responds when pressed with finger.

  8. When hot out of oven, immediately poke holes over the whole cake with a toothpick or skewer.
  9. Pour 2/3’s of glaze evenly on cake (see photo).  When cake has cooled, frost with remaining icing; see photo of finished product at top of recipe.
  10. This cake is dynamite, and it gets better as it sits over time!

Nutty Coconut Pie-a Variation of Blum’s Coffee Toffee Pie

nutty coconut pie

This nutty coconut pie is my sister’s inspiration from 1980, during her days of running our family’s restaurant, which she did along with my parents and brother; there her food genius produced wonders for the American public that traveled to Glacier National Park, our home.

Among Maureen’s sumptuous creations, this coconut pie was one of my favorites: it is her modification of Blum’s coffee toffee pie-a recipe we received in 1968, when I had a serious eye operation in San Francisco (see Blum’s Coffee Toffee Pie, 2017/08/14).  She ingeniously produced multiple variations of this basic receipt, which likewise thrill; their unique directions will follow over time.  You may make this dessert ahead of the holiday festivities; I prefer it partially frozen, which gives it an ice-cream-like texture.

As a child, I loved coconut: my father’s coconut cream pie, the favored coconut Russell Stover Easter eggs in our yearly baskets, and fresh coconut-to mention but a few of my titillating experiences with that food.

This fruit of the Cocos nucifera has been regarded as the jewel of the tropics; in which it often has been called the tree of life, for their people have depended on it not only for food, but shelter, and much more-every part of it has been used for both culinary and non-culinary purposes.

The powerful coconut originated in India and Southeast Asia; with the floating properties given by its light shell, it apparently made its way independently by marine currents, to every subtropical coastline in both hemispheres.

Historians also agree that it traveled the world at the hands of men; sea-faring Arab traders most likely brought this treasure to East Africa long ago (they actively were obtaining it from India by the 8th century AD).  These same traders were responsible for its introduction to Europeans on the trans-Asian Silk Road; the Venetian adventurer Marco Polo was among those who encountered this food; he named it “Pharaoh’s nut” in Egypt in the 13th century.  Beginning in the early 1500’s, this prized fruit made its way back to Europe following such explorer-colonizers as Portuguese Vasco da Gama.

Our prolific coconut evidently floated to the New World shores, where it prospered in its tropical lands; in addition, the European adventurers brought it to the Caribbean and Brazil, from whence it further spread to the American tropics.

For instance, in 1878, the merchant vessel Providencia, carrying this fruit from Trinidad, ran aground the coast of Florida; this resulted in a drastic change in the landscape, which became inundated with palm trees; nevertheless, the coconut didn’t change the economy much here, as was the frequent occurrence in other locales, where multiproducts resulted.

The coconut product, which interests me most, is oil, for I use this extensively in my cooking.  Many believe that this is the healthiest of all oils for our internal bodies, as well as being ideal in external beauty regimens.  Among its helpful health benefits are weight loss, boasting the immune system, and “oil pulling” in detoxifying and cleansing the body.

Here, however, I choose to elaborate on its exceptional cooking qualities, for it has the greatest resistance to oxidation (spoilage)-when heated-of any oil on earth; this is due to its 92% saturated fatty acids, which represents the highest percentage in any oil.  This effectual make-up provides extraordinary protection against heat and the formation of free radicals, which are associated with many diseases, such as cancer.  How is this?

Saturated fats are full of hydrogen atoms in their carbon atom chain, giving them a durable molecular structure; thus, they can be heated to high temperatures, resisting oxidation.  They are crucial for maximum health for this reason-among other sound benefits, which I haven’t room to address in this entry.

On the other hand, monounsaturated fatty acids lack a pair of hydrogen atoms, while polyunsaturated fatty acids are missing two or more.  Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids are highly unstable and prone to oxidation, without the durable molecular structure, as found in all saturated fatty acids.

Trans fat and interesterified fat are manufactured fat molecules that don’t exist in nature; they were generated in an attempt to get more solid, stable fatty substances (examples are Crisco and margarine).  Both these types should be avoided all together (for more on the history of Crisco, see 1880’s Ozark Honey-Oatmeal Cookies, 2017/10/30).

In a natural way, coconut oil achieves these objectives, which man was seeking by forming these fake fats.  Coconut, as the most saturated of all oils, is superlative both in being naturally stable/solid and in having an abundance of health attributes, over and above all other oils on the market, in my estimation.

As I have always loved the taste of coconut, I additionally find this oil enlarges the flavor of my foods.

Unsweetened dried coconut enhances our already delightful nutty coconut recipe.  By reducing this pie’s over-all sweetness, it allows for the full impact of the fruit.  (This unsweetened flake is available in bulk in many upscale grocery stores, as well as at our local, inexpensive Winco.)

May I encourage you to slow down and smell the roses: allow yourself the luxury of the time required to produce this memorable pleasure-a gift from God, made with the ease of my sister’s foolproof directions.

References:

  1. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), pp. 508, 509.
  2. Reay Tannahill, Food in History (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1988, 1973 by Reay Tannahill), pp. 141, 220n.
  3. http://www.coconut-oil-central.com/
  4. http://www.aramcoworld.com/en-US/Articles/January-2017/Cracking-Coconut-s-History
  5. https://www.livescience.com/54901-free-radicals.html

a piece of nutty coconut pie

Nutty Coconut Pie, a Variation on Blum’s  Yields: 1-9” pie, 8 servings.  Active prep time: 2 hr/  inactive prep time for setting up: 1/2 hr.  Note: can be kept in the freezer for long-term use, cutting off pieces as needed; serve partially thawed for a favored ice cream-like texture.

1 1/2 c nuts, chopped small and roasted

1 3/4 c unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted  (Available inexpensively in bulk at our local Winco.)

1 c unbleached white flour  (Optional: may choose to grind 2/3 c organic soft winter white wheat berries to make a total of 1 c fresh-ground flour.)

1/2 tsp salt  (Real Salt is important for optimum health; available in health section at local supermarket.)

1/2 c plus 3-4 tbsp butter, softened

1/4 c brown sugar, packed down  (Organic is best; available sometimes at Costco and always at Trader Joe’s.)

1 oz unsweetened chocolate, grated  (Baker’s will do.)

1 tbsp water

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 c cane sugar  (Organic is ideal; best buy is at Costco; also available in a smaller quantity at Trader’s.)

2 lg eggs, at room temperature  (If sensitive to raw eggs, may use pasteurized eggs for extra safety; available at some grocery stores.)

1 c heavy whipping cream

1/3 c powdered sugar  (High quality organic is available at Trader’s.)

3 tbsp, or more, instant vanilla pudding mix, only if needed as a stabilizer  (Be sure to have on hand for quick correction.)

Ganache

1 cup heavy whipping cream

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, or bittersweet chocolate of your choice  (These chocolate chips are available at Trader Joe’s.)

1 tsp vanilla

  1. finished ganache

    If grinding fresh flour, do so now.

  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place nuts on a cookie sheet in hot oven for 7 minutes, watching closely as not to burn; set aside to cool.
  3. Distribute coconut in a pan with edge; bake until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes, stirring mid-way; set aside.  Leave oven on.
  4. Place bowl for whipping cream in freezer to chill; this greatly facilitates the whipping process (keep beaters at room temperature for filling).
  5. Make ganache-see list of ingredients above-by bringing cream to a very low simmer, over medium/low heat (should be very hot-steaming-but not boiling); add chocolate pieces and continue to cook, beating with a wire whisk, until mixture is glossy/shiny.  Remove from heat, add vanilla, set aside, see photo above.
  6. filling beaten to perfection

    Combine flour and salt in a large bowl; blend in well 4 tbsp butter with a fork, until texture is mealy (only 3 tbsp will be needed if using fresh-ground flour).

  7. Mix together with flour: brown sugar, 3/4 c cooled nuts, and 1 oz unsweetened chocolate, which has been grated with a sharp knife.  Blend in water and 1 tsp vanilla.
  8. Butter a pie plate generously; press pie dough in pan firmly with fingers. Bake for 20 minutes in preheated oven at 350 degrees; cool in freezer.
  9. Beat 1/2 c butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until creamy.  Gradually add 3/4 c cane sugar, beating well with each addition.
  10. Add 1 egg; mix on medium speed for 5 minutes; beat in second egg

    layer of ganache on crust

    for 5 minutes more.  (This filling should be like fluffy whipped butter or soft whipped cream when done; see above photo. The following makes this preparation foolproof: it is so important to have ingredients at room temperature; if your kitchen is either very hot or cold, this mixture may curdle; this is easily corrected, by beating in 3 tbsp of instant vanilla pudding mix-more may be needed-to reach the desired soft, full-bodied consistency.  In this way, you will never fail with this recipe!)

  11. Wash and freeze beaters, along with bowl, for whipping cream with exceptional ease.
  12. Pour a thin layer of ganache on bottom of cooled pie crust-about 1/2 inch thick (see photo above); set the rest aside for garnish (leftovers can be refrigerated indefinitely in a glass jar; great, when warmed, over ice cream).  Place crust back in freezer for several minutes.
  13. Fold 3/4 c nuts and coconut into filling, SAVING 1/4 c coconut for garnish.
  14. filled pie

    Spoon filling evenly into pie crust (see photo); let mixture set-up by freezing for 1/2 hour.

  15. Meanwhile, using ice-cold utensils, beat cream until it starts to thicken; add powdered sugar and vanilla; continue beating until stiff.
  16. When filling is set, cover pie with whipped cream; drizzle ganache over top; garnish with toasted coconut (see very top photo).
  17. If keeping for long-term use, be sure to freeze uncovered; then, cover extra well with plastic wrap.  I love serving this partially frozen for optimum pleasure.

Serungdeng Kacang

serungdeng kacang

serungdeng kacang

The condiment serungdeng kacang first completed my food in the early 1980’s, when I was catering historical events in Billings, Montana.  In those days, I sought recipes that allowed me to offer thematic meals from diverse cultures and times. To my joy, I discovered a host of receipts from Indonesia; thus, I presented an Indonesian rijsttafel to my eager audiences.

I loved to act in my youth and knew the Billings’ theatrical community well.  As an aside, actors often make a living in the restaurant business; they are adept at waiting tables.  Then my creative dinners needed both excellent service and improvisation.  An incredible fit was made with my Billings’ thespian friends; thus, I frequently employed them in my catered dramas.

My favorite memory, using this partnership, was a fundraiser for the Billings’ Children’s Theatre: I presented an authentic Moroccan dinner, for a staged “Night at Rick’s Place”.  The five winning tickets, from those auctioned off-each with their three guests-were transported back to World War II in the theatre’s upstairs; this large room had been converted into Rick’s Place, from the movie Casablanca.  It was furnished with a bar off to one side of the restaurant, which consisted of five tables of four, clothed with white linen.  The city’s leading actors peopled the bar scene. More of these, dressed in tuxedos, served the unsuspecting partakers in this suspense.

Broadway arts resulted!  Numerous brawls took place in the bar; the Gestapo arrived; guests were pick-pocketed, and on and on…Talk about fun.

My part was the researched Moroccan meal.  That afternoon, after weeks of cooking, I showed up for the final preparations in the theatre’s limited kitchen. Behold, the limits escalated upon my arrival-the stove wasn’t working!  The true test of my creativity came.  God’s grace, however, broke through: makeshift occurred as a call went out and citizens brought in hot plates.  The meal came off triumphantly: I, in a Moroccan dress, told the innocent company the colorful history as each dish was served.

I repeated this dinner numerous times in my career, but this show never again reached the thrill of its original occurrence.  That night in Casablanca best exemplified what I did with my work then.  Now my food history presentations entertain larger audiences.  Still guests participate in dinner-theatre-type-events. They engage by eating authentic foods; I, dressed in period costume, narrate their careful stories.

Today my grand affairs mostly involve Northwest history, for which I was trained in graduate school.  However back in the 80’s and 90’s, I presented other cultures and times in my gala occasions.  Among these many thematic experiences was an Indonesian rijsttafel, which is a banquet of delicacies from this southeast Asian republic, formerly known at the Dutch East Indies.

Serungdeng kacang is a condiment for rice dishes in these ethnic feasts. My particular recipe comes from Java, one of the many islands in Indonesia. These coconut crumbs, spiced with onion and garlic, are spread liberally over the rice portions, in addition to a variety of other garnishes.

Serungdeng kacang has multiple, inventive benefits: it is also compatible with Indian curries; acts as a delicious hors d’oeuvre; and, my favorite, it provides the crowning touch to salads!  Keep this enhancement to tossed greens on hand. Make a double batch and keep it in a sealed storage bag.  The beauty of this topping lasts indefinitely.

simple mincing of onion

simple mincing of onion

Serungdeng Kacang  Yields: 3 c.  Total prep time: 1 hr/ active prep time: 30 min/ cooking time: 30 min.

6 tbsp yellow onion, minced  (You will need a med/large onion; follow directions below for simple mincing-see photo.)

6 medium/large garlic cloves, chopped fine

2 tbsp sugar  (Organic cane sugar is best; available at Trader Joe’s and Costco.)

1 tsp salt  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; a fine grind Himalayan salt is available inexpensively at Costco.)

1 tbsp oil  (Coconut oil is the best for flavor and quality.)

2 c unsweetened coconut chips  (Available in bulk at our local Winco, or in a 12-ounce Bob’s Red Mill package at local supermarkets.)

1 c roasted, unsalted peanuts

  1. An easy way to mince onion is to peel it, leaving the root on; next, score it by cutting slices close together across the top one way, going 3/4 of way down into the onion; then, turn it and cut slices the other direction (see photo).  When onion is prepared thus, shave the minced pieces off the end of it with a sharp knife.
  2. Start by measuring 6 tbsp of minced onion; save rest of onion for other cooking.  With a mortar and pestle mash onions, garlic, sugar, and salt.  When this is a thick puree, set aside.  (See mortar and pestle in photo.)
  3. Heat oil in a cast iron skillet over med/low heat.  Place a piece of the coconut in oil; when it turns brown, oil is ready for cooking.
  4. Meantime mix together coconut and onion mixture in a large bowl.  Make sure coconut is completely coated.
  5. When oil is hot, add coconut mixture; stir well to coat coconut with oil; cook 20 minutes, or until golden brown in color and slightly wet.  Then, stir every 5 minutes, so as not to burn.  (Let it cook for full 5-minute increments, however; this allows for the coconut to brown.)
  6. When coconut is light golden brown, add the peanuts and cook for another 5 minutes; stir twice now.  Note: it will get a darker brown and drier, as it cooks more with the peanuts and then cools in the pan.
  7. Remove from heat and be sure to cool in skillet; this completes the drying process.  (See top photo for finished product.)
  8. Keep in a sealed storage bag, lasts for months.

Cooking with Kale Made Extra Easy

Chopping kale in food processor

chopping kale in food processor

Last week’s easy kale recipe may be simplified even further.

A dear one from my church shares my passion for excellence with food.  She recently rolled out the red carpet for a small group of us; a repast of splendor marked the celebration of what would have been the 49th anniversary of her marriage; she commemorated this occasion with her friends, as her husband has been with Jesus for ten years now.  Her exquisite home and meal spoke volumes of exuberant love to my soul!  It foreshadowed the “marriage supper of the Lamb” for me.

This couple started the coffee movement.  Her husband trained a person who participated in creating one of the most popular, international, corporate franchises.  (Note: I will be doing a future post on this married team and the coffee development.)

My beloved fellow lover of foods has gifted me with new ailments; one such blessing was a bottle of Cherry Pomegranate Habanero Sauce from Robert Rothschild Farm; this inspired me to cook kale with a ready-made sauce.  Order this on-line or get it at Costco; any prepared sauce will work for the following recipe, of which a number are available at Trader Joe’s; thus, healthy fresh greens are made with the shortcut described below.

My other church friend, that provides the kale from her organic garden, shared her version for

Assembly of chopping attachment

assembly of chopping attachment

my receipt, which is makes this even easier.  She added a prepared spicy chicken, which she purchased from our upscale Whole Season’s Natural Foods; this eliminated the additional step of cooking the meat for this dish. The result was optimum health, heightened taste, and even greater culinary ease.

I use the food processor to chop all my leafy vegetables. (See how the assembled blade looks in the photo.)  Sometimes I have other greens on hand, such as beet tops, mustard greens, or spinach, which I mix in with my kale; this adds nutrition, when available. It only takes minutes to chop the prepared greens in this manner; I can’t encourage you enough to try these simple, healthy instructions.

 

 

Kale with Beef or Turkey and a Prepared Sauce  Yields: 4-6 servings.  Total prep time: 45 minutes.

8 1/2 teaspoons oil  (Coconut oil enhances flavor and quality here.)

1 medium yellow onion, halved at the core and cut in even 1/8 inch slices

1 lb ground turkey or beef  (Natural is best; Foster Farms natural ground turkey is inexpensive; a prepared meat from a deli is even quicker.)

Salt and pepper  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; an inexpensive fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco.)

1-1 1/2 lb fresh kale  (Organic is best.)

4 carrots, thinly sliced, at a diagonal

8-12 oz jar of prepared sauce

Avocado, sliced

  1. beginning stages of carmelization

    Heat 1/2 teaspoon of oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  Test for readiness by placing small piece of onion in hot oil; the temperature is right when it sizzles. Reduce heat to med/low, add onions, and carmelize (cook until dark brown): stir once every several minutes until color starts to change (see photo); then, stir every minute until dark brown (see photo below). Watch carefully, as you go to next steps.

  2. Spray carrots and kale with produce spray (a mixture of 97% distilled white vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide is a safe, cheap, and effective cleaning solution).  Let vegetables sit three minutes; rinse three times in a sink full of water.
  3. Cook meat in 2 teaspoons of oil, in a large frying pan, over medium temperature; salt and pepper heavily before cooking; place in a bowl when done.  Set aside pan for future use.  (If using a prepared meat, omit this step.)
  4. Chop the wet kale in a food processor, by using the straight edge attachment (this is the large, round disk that fits onto the provided white “stem”-place this tall, assembled cutting disk in the food processor, where you normally put the smaller blade-see above photo).  Be sure to pick out large pieces of stem before setting aside chopped kale.  Note: you may chop this by hand, by first cutting out stems, then cutting kale into small pieces, using a sharp knife.
  5. finished carmelized onions

    Scrape cleaned carrots with knife (this preserves the vitamins just under the skin); slice carrots thinly, at a diagonal; set aside.

  6. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat in pan the meat was cooked in; add carrots when a small piece sizzles in hot oil; cook covered for 2-3 minutes, or until tender, stirring occasionally.
  7. Place another tablespoon of oil in pan; add 1/2 the kale to carrots and distribute the oils, stirring well. (Be sure to check for big pieces of stem.) Repeat these steps with remaining kale; cook covered for 10 minutes, or until kale is limp; stir occasionally.
  8. When onion is caramelized, add meat and blend well.  Mix in  a generous amount of your favorite prepared sauce; flavor should be strong, as it will lighten, with the addition of vegetables.  Heat thoroughly.
  9. Add hot meat mixture into vegetables, when kale is cooked.
  10. Serve topped with fresh avocado slices.

Cooking with Kale

Honeyed Lime Kale with Ground Turkey

honeyed/lime kale with ground turkey

This series displays my relaxed creations with greens.  A close friend from my church blesses me with an abundance of fresh produce from her organic garden; I am wowed by its bountiful beauty.  She grows several species of kale; thus, I am always creating new recipes incorporating this health-giving vegetable.

Here I spell out detailed steps of preparation for cooking this green.  It’s easy to follow these directions.  Vibrant health results!

My recent series of posts on 19th century French foods defines Classic French Cuisine (see Chicken a la Oignon, 2016/07/04, Carrots au Beurre, 2016/07/11 and Meringues a la Ude, 2016/07/18).  These posts expound on that culinary period following the French Revolution in 1775.  The main cooking procedure in my kale series is sautéing, which originated during this culinary age.

Cooking methods changed at the end of the 18th century, as Esther B. Aresty described in The Delectable Past: fireplaces gave way to ranges with built-in ovens; French cooks quickly invented the sauté pan.  The word sauté means to jump-when the fat “jumps” in the pan it is ready for cooking. 1

Here I give instructions for employing this cooking method properly.  First heat the oil; then, add a small piece of food.  It is time to begin sautéing, when it sizzles or “jumps” in the pan.  This allows swift frying of food for optimum preservation of nutrients, as it inhibits the overcooking of vegetables and meats.

The following, easy recipe brings proficiency with cooking nutritious kale.  Next week I will share a shortcut, where this procedure is simplified even further, with prepared sauces and/or meats.

I pray this dish brings the same pleasure to you as it does me.  To our health!

  1. Esther B. Aresty, The Delectable Past (New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1964), p. 126-127.
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saut%C3%A9ing
Food processor assembled with wide-blade, chopping attachment

optional food processor assembled with straight-edged, chopping attachment

Honeyed/Lime Kale with Beef or Turkey  Yields: 4-6 servings.  Prep time: 1 1/4 hours.

2 tbsp oil  (Coconut oil is best here for quality and flavor; olive oil is carcinogenic, when heated to high temperatures.)

1 medium yellow onion, halved at root, and cut in even 1/8 inch slices

1 lb ground turkey or beef  (Natural is best; Foster Farms’ natural ground turkey is inexpensive.)

Generous amounts of salt and pepper  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; an inexpensive fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco.)

1-1  1/2 lbs of fresh kale  (Organic is best.)

4 carrots, thinly sliced at a diagonal  (Organic carrots are very inexpensive.)

Juice of 2 limes

2 tbsp honey

avocado, cut in thick slices

  1. beginning stages of caramelization

    Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a frying pan over medium heat, until a small piece of onion sizzles in pan; lower heat to med/low; add the rest of onions and caramelize-cook until dark brown.  Stir every two minutes, until color starts to form (see photo); then, stir every minute until dark brown.  Be sure to watch carefully, while going to next steps.

  2. Place 2 teaspoon oil in large saute pan, over medium temperature; test for readiness by putting a small piece of meat in hot oil; the temperature is right when it sizzles or “jumps”.  Add rest of turkey; salt and pepper heavily, before browning.  Set aside in a  bowl when cooked; save pan for cooking vegetables.
  3. Meantime spray carrots and kale with produce spray (a mixture of 97% distilled white vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide is a safe, cheap, and effective cleaning solution).  Let sit three minutes; rinse well in a sink full of water three times.
  4. May cut stems out of wet kale and chop into small bite-size pieces by hand-this is time-consuming.  Better yet prepare it with a food processor by using the straight-edged, chopping attachment.  (This is the large, round disk that fits onto the provided “stem”; place this tall, assembled cutting disk in the food processor where you normally put the smaller blade; see photo at top of recipe.)  If using a food processor, it is not necessary to cut stems out, but be sure to carefully pick out pieces of stems, after processing.  Set aside chopped kale.
  5. caramelized onions at mid-point

    Scrape cleaned carrots with a sharp knife (this preserves the vitamins just under the skin); slice carrots thinly at a diagonal; set aside.

  6. Heat lime juice and honey in a small saucepan, just until blended, set aside.
  7. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat in the large saute pan; when a piece of carrot sizzles in hot oil, add carrots and cook for 2 minutes.
  8. Add 1/2 the kale, distributing the oils well and checking again for any pieces of stem left from processing.  Cover pan and cook kale down; repeat this step with remaining kale, when there is room.  Cook covered for 10 minutes, or until kale is totally limp, stirring occasionally.
  9. When onion is caramelized, mix this and meat into cooked kale; blend in the honeyed/lime juice; adjust seasonings.
  10. Enjoy topped with fresh avocado slices.

 

1960s French Dinner

Cotes de porc braises a la moutarde

cotes de porc braises a la moutarde

I have a repertoire of what I call my childhood recipes, of which the following is one of my favorites.  It stretches my imagination every time I eat it: I can hardly believe that food tastes this good!

My mother taught me so much about cooking; she was excellent at this endeavor in her day.  My mentor exercised her expertise with hospitality in our home, rather than in our family restaurant, inspiring me to follow in her footsteps with her extensive gourmet preparations.

The passing on of tradition from generation to generation is so important.  I’ve never married (Jesus is my husband), but I have a vast quiver full of spiritual children-more than I can count!  Thus, I have a desire to give them what was so freely given to me: wisdom.  I gaze at this precise diamond through the perspective of food, with all its joys and health-providing benefits.  I am so grateful to God, my parents, and my entire family for this knowledge that was birthed in me.

We all identify with comfort foods, especially those from our youth.  I will offer numerous ones, with which my mother nurtured our family’s souls.  Cotes de porc braises a la moutarde is my first choice in this marvelous journey into the past.

Time-Life Books put out a series of cook books entitled Foods of the World, showcasing the cuisines of numerous countries in the mid-twentieth century.  Mom subscribed to these superb sequels; my family and our guests experienced incredible pleasure as a result.  Hence I grew to appreciate the world, through its food in the confines of my home at a very young age.  This instilled an appetite in me, which was gratified in my twenties and thirties, when I went to the nations to study their eating habits.

I have greatly simplified this recipe for pork loin chops from its original complex detail.  My version is uncomplicated and literally explodes with unforgettable flavor!  Enjoy…

Cotes de Porc Braisees a la Moutarde  Yields: 4 servings.  This recipe is adapted from The Cooking of Provincial France, M.F.K. Fisher and the Editors (New York: Time-Life Books, 1968).

4 center-cut, boneless pork loin chops, about 1 1/4″ thick

salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; an inexpensive, fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco.)

flour for dusting meat

2 tbsp butter, 2 tbsp oil  (Coconut or avocado oil is best, as olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.)

1 lg yellow onion sliced, about 2 c of 1/8″ slices

3 tbsp wine vinegar

3/4 c heavy cream

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp lemon juice

Serve with brown rice  (My favorite is brown basmati rice; available at Trader Joe’s.)

  1. Heat butter and oil in a large, heavy skillet, over medium heat.  Wash pork chops and lightly pat dry; salt and pepper generously.  Dredge in flour, shaking off all excess.  Sautee in hot oil for 2 minutes on each side; do not overcook. Remove from pan; set aside.
  2. Add onions to pan, stirring in pan drippings well.  Sweat onions (cook until translucent).  Add vinegar, scraping the bottom of the pan; cook until most of moisture is gone.
  3. Add cream.  Stir well and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Place pork chops in onion mixture, coating well with onions/sauce.
  4. Cook until pork chops are hot; do not overcook.
  5. Take off heat; stir in mustard and lemon juice, mixing into the onions by moving around the chops with a spatula or spoon.  Adjust seasonings.
  6. Serve immediately with steamed rice and be wowed!