Results tagged coconut from David Lebovitz

Avocado Coconut Ice Cream

avocado coconut ice cream

When I was younger, we used to go to a restaurant in Los Angeles, the long-gone Scandia. It was one of those places where they would wheel up the salad cart, and toss a big bowl of salad right at your table. Since some members of my family went there a lot, they made a special salad for us, which had lots of finely chopped vegetables in it, as well as little cubes of avocado.

It was always fun for a kid from the sticks of New England to sit in that restaurant, installed in a high-backed booth, watching the celebrities and the hoi-polloi mingle and eat nearby. But as much as I loved the salad, and straining my neck every time someone walked in the door, I couldn’t stand those slippery little green bits in there and would eat around them as politely as I could. Needless to say, nowadays, I can put all those avocados that I missed out on years later, on the same list with all those New England lobster platters that featured twin lobsters for $8.99 that I didn’t order when I was growing up.

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How to Prepare Fresh Coconut

preparing fresh coconut

I’ve cracked more than my fair share of fresh coconuts, and tried a number of ways to open them, including doing as the monkeys do and lifting them high above my head and crashing them to the ground. Which I don’t recommend, unless you aren’t wearing pants (like monkeys do) because your pants will get all wet. (Like mine did.) In baking, I tend to use dried coconut (also called desiccated coconut) for cookies and infusing in custards and so forth, as it tends to have a more concentrated flavor than the fresh and less moisture, which can alter a recipe.

I primarily use fresh coconut meat (the kind extracted here) for garnishing, ice creams, sorbets, and even cocktails. There are a number of devices, including wooden boards with jagged teeth and rotary devices that might be worth it if you are doing a lot of coconut. But since I only crack one coconut open every few months or so, I don’t know if I want to give valuable cabinet space to something I would only use occasionally.

split coconutfresh coconut

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Gluten-Free Baking and Substitutions

I’m thrilled when folks want to make recipes from this site and my books, including those who are gluten-intolerant or have celiac. However I’m the first to admit that gluten-free baking is not my area of expertise. So I can’t usually say how and what to substitute in recipes that call for wheat flour.

Wheat flour acts as a binder in recipes and gives cakes and cookies, the gluten gives doughs and batters structure. Broadly speaking, if a recipe has just a small amount of wheat flour, such as 2 to 4 tablespoons (20-40 g), you can often just swap out another flour. I like flours such as buckwheat, chestnut, quinoa, corn, and oat flours, because they are “natural” tasting and go well with most other flavors and ingredients used in baking. Note that some of those flours may be processed in a facility that processes wheat flour, so always check and make sure that the flours you are purchasing are gluten-free, especially oat. Other substitutions include nut flours (also called nut “meal”) as well as corn and potato starch. If the recipe calls for more flour than that, I recommend using one of the work-arounds, listed below.

I generally assume that people who are gluten-free, and bake frequently, know better than I do how certain ingredients and substitutions will behave in recipes. So I often defer to gluten-free bakers since most have work-arounds that they have success baking with. Here is a round-up of tips, suggestions, and recipe that should help gluten-free bakers find an appropriate swap-out for wheat flour.

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La Manufacture de chocolat Alain Ducasse

pralines to dip

I don’t think there’s anyone happier than I am now that we now have our very own bean-to-bar chocolate maker in Paris. I remember when the movement started in America, and small chocolate manufacturers started popping up in the most unlikeliest of places by people curious about roasting and sourcing their own beans, then grinding them into smooth tablets of chocolate. I was impressed, but skeptical when it all started. But am thrilled the movement has taken off in so many ways and directions.

roasting cocoa beans for chocolate

For the past five years, Alain Ducasse has been nurturing the same vision in Paris, along with pastry chef Nicolas Berger, who is now running La Manufacture de chocolat, their chocolate atelier not far from the center of the city.

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Pineapple-Coconut Macaroons

pineapple-coconut macaroons

By now, just about everyone is familiar with Parisian macarons, those little almond meringue sandwiches pressed together with a creamy filling, which are now available far and wide. But if you go to neighborhood bakeries in Paris, you’ll find another kind of “macaroon” – Rochers à la noix de coco, which, because the French are fond of abbreviations, is often shortened to rochers coco.

They’re a similar take on American-style coconut macaroons, which are said to have gotten their moniker when almonds (which are the base for traditional Italian and French macarons) were hard to find at one time, so coconut was substituted in their place.

pineapple-coconut macaroons pineapple-coconut macaroons

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Lamingtons

Lamingtons

When I was in Australia, a couple of interesting things happened while I scooting around Sydney. One was that I went on the hunt for Lamingtons, and a number of people offered to send me recipes, but didn’t. And two, I got quite a few messages from people asking if I was coming to Melbourne. Then a food festival there rolled around and even though I woke up at all hours, checking my messages night and day, an invite to that city never landed in my Inbox.

Lamingtons

But instead of being tough and bitter, I decided to dive into something tender and sweet, and was compelled to whip up my own recipe for Lamingtons. (And it’s hard to remain mad at anyone in Australia because, truly, everyone was exceptionally nice to me during my visit to Sydney.) I did call upon one of those nice folks, the master of the Lamington, Matt Rothman, when deciding whether to go with a cocoa powder icing or one made with chocolate. And he responded that he makes either, depending on whether he wanted the glaze to soak in to the cake a little (cocoa powder) or for it to be more of a thicker icing (chocolate).

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Thai Green Curry

Thai green curry

After my trip to Sydney, I decided I needed to learn some of the basics of making Thai food, if I’m going to get anything as spicy as I enjoyed (and as much as I like) around here. Like all cuisines, it starts with gathering the proper ingredients. Here in Paris, we have Tang Frères, a large Asian supermarket which is pretty well-stocked. (Although being Paris, it seems like it’s required that they’re out of the one essential item that I’m looking for.)

I hunted down most of the ingredients on my list, but paused at the curry pastes on the shelf. Was that cheating? Did Thai cooks use curry paste, or were they shunned and it was considered infinitely better to make your own from scratch? I was in a dilemma since I wanted to hit the flavors I was looking for, but could not find lime leaves, which seems like an essential ingredient from my reading. So I put the message out on Twitter from the supermarket aisle, and right away, all the responses said the curry pastes are fine – and sometimes preferable, if you can’t find the right ingredients.

shrimp paste Thai eggplant

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The Lamington at Single-Origin Roasters

singe origin coffee

My search for the perfect Lamington ended this morning. If you don’t know what a Lamington is, you’re not alone. Yes, even I hadn’t heard of one, until a posted a picture of the Chocolate-Coconut Marshmallows from The Sweet Life in Paris on my Flickr page and they were mistaken for Lamingtons.

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