Posts Tagged ‘Coconut’

Raspberry and Coconut Summer Cake

Early in May of this year, I travelled to Morocco for a blissful ten days. As with any holiday, if my room is good and I can find traditional and authentic food to fill my belly, I can rest assured that my holiday will be a success. 

After much searching, we settled on the boutique Riad el Fenn, a  charming boutique riad nestled in a bustling corner of the old medina. It did not disappoint. When we first arrived, I was a little concerned by the looming dark entrance. But once inside, it was an oasis of tranquility. The art filled retreat was beautifully decorated in the most saturated shades of terracotta and turquoise. 

Each room was filled with quirky details, eclectic art, local decor. I only wished I had gotten to stay in a different room each night. Every morning, we would be greeted by hot tea placed outside our room. This would be accompanied by a small tray of home baked Moroccan sweets. Perfect start to the day, no?

Lazy breakfasts of berber pancakes and cinnamon porridge were had on their rooftop terrace which had views of the Koutubia mosque and it really was the most perfect spot to catch the sun setting every evening. They even had a family of turtles housed in the courtyard that kept both kids highly entertained. 

One of my favourite things to do was recline on the large oversized cushions in the courtyard and gaze up at the overgrown citrus trees. Full of ripe oranges and lemons, their heady scent filling the air. Bright pops of orange and yellow against the blue spring skies. Every morning, Maryam would count how many had fallen to the ground and proceed to collect them. 

What Maryam and I, even Hassan, looked forward to most was chomping away at the home baked cakes and pastries every afternoon with a steaming cup of mint tea. Every afternoon, the treats were different and all housed in a beautiful bird cage. There was a pear tart, a luscious orange scented cake, baklavas and some dainty coconut crusted concoction. 

Ever since we have returned back, Maryam has constantly asked what ‘cake’ we would be having after her nap. Every single afternoon without fail. And so I thought it would only be fair if I made her one to remind her of the fun afternoons spent in the riad’s courtyard. This version has lots of coconut which pairs beautifully with the tart berries. 

Now if only I was sitting in in orange scented courtyard with a local cup of freshly brewed mint tea in hand and listening to the distant hustle and bustle of the city of Marrakech!

Raspberry and Coconut Summer Cake

225g butter, room temperature
225g sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
175g all purpose flour
pinch salt
1 1/12 tsp baking powder
100g unsweetened shredded coconut
100ml coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g raspberries

Extra raspberries, icing sugar and creme fraiche to serve

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Centigrade and butter and flour a 10 inch baking tin (I used two 7 inch pie tins and had extra batter leftover for 4 cupcakes as well).

Using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and frothy, about 7 minutes and on medium speed. Add eggs, one at a time and scrape the bowl now and then. Mix the flour, salt, baking powder and shredded coconut in a separate bowl. Mix together the coconut milk and vanilla extract in a jug. With the mixer speed on low, add the flour and coconut milk alternatively. Pour the batter into the prepared tin (or pie tins) and top with raspberries. Bake for 40 minutes if using the 10 inch baking tin (25 minutes if using 2 pie pans) or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool on a rack. 

Decorate with more berries and a sprinkling of icing sugar and serve with creme fraiche on the side. 

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Coconut Jam Shortbreads with Coconut Icing

I write this post in a midst of frenzied photo editing. It has been nearly a week since we returned from a fantastic sojourn in London. This post has been sitting in my inbox since before I packed for our trip.

But there was always something to delay me from publishing. First there was that mourning period when my family left. The house suddenly felt too big for us. I heard echoed laughter and conversations that had been. I missed everyone terribly. ‘When are nanu and nani coming back on the plane? When will I get to see them?’ Maryam enquired. I felt the same. ‘Soon.’

Taken on Instagram
In between photo shoots for a client (can’t wait to tell you about this one), I excitedly packed our suitcase leaving it as empty as possible for the troves of food and prop treasures I had planned to buy in London.

Then we finally arrived. This post languished in drafts longer. I made excuses for not opening my computer- lack of internet, lack of time. In fact, we were too busy taking in the sights, culture and rich history of London. There was just too much to show Maryam, too many nooks and crannies to visit. The post would have to wait.

Taken on Instagram
Since being back, I have been busier than a bee, juggling photoshoots, visits to the park as that slim window of glorious weather graces Dubai, a pie party to plan with fellow food bloggers. It’s all happening. But I missed this space, the immediate feedback, the comments, that thrill of blogging that only you and I can understand.

So here I am, back where I feel most at home- doing what I love. This is THE cookie recipe that my mom shared with me on her recent trip. We spent the afternoon around the kitchen table, telling tales, kneading dough, trying various cookie cutters. The buttery shortbread is beautifully scented with coconut and finished with a creamy coconut drizzle. You can use whatever jam flavor you prefer or even marmalade.

Taken on Instagram
This recipe has a few steps so take an afternoon off, wear your most comfortable apron, gather family and friends and make these cookies as we did. Then pour yourself a cup of tea or milk and enjoy the fruits of your labour.

P.S- I hope to post my London photos soon. There will be lots of rustic tones. And perhaps a British inpired recipe too. Stay tuned.
Coconut Jam Shortbreads with Coconut Icing
1 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3-4 cups all purpose flour
1 egg white
desiccated sugar for sprinkling
1/2 cup jam (I used strawberry)
1/2 cup icing sugar
1-2 tsp coconut milk
Using the paddle attachment on stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, scraping the sides and beating well after each addition. Turn mixer speed to low and add 3 cups flour. Add the last cup of flour two tablespoons at a time until the dough just comes together. Form a disc, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for ten minutes.
Place baking paper on a tray. Roll the dough out to a thickness of 1/8 inch in between two pieces of parchment. Refrigerate for 30 minutes (with the parchments papers). Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade. Take it out of the fridge and use a cookie cutter to cut out shortbreads. Remove excess dough and use a spatula to transfer half the cut shortbreads onto the tray lined with baking paper (keep half inch space between them). Using the back of a small icing tip, cut a hole in the remaining shortbread. Brush the ones on the tray with egg wash and place the remaining shortbreads (with holes) on top. Brush the top with egg wash again and sprinkle with desiccated coconut. Heat strawberry jam in a pot till slightly runny. Place a small amount of the jam in the hole until it is just filled. Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until the edge of the shortbread just begin to brown. Remove and cool on a wire rack completely before icing.
To make the coconut icing, mix 1-2 teaspoons of the coconut milk to the icicng sugar until pouring consistency is achieved.

Makes about 22 cookies.

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The Colors of Tanzania and Pineapple Mango and Coconut Crumble

Come, pull up a chair. Get cozy and comfortable. I’m going to take you on a little journey and share with you a small part of me. A glimpse into my childhood, where I spent the first 18 years of my life, where my parents still live, where the big five can be found and peacocks roam free, where the ocean has a hundred hues of blue, a haven of peace. This is Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

There is so much to tell you about Dar es Salaam- this post won’t even scratch the surface. Exotic, colorful, lush, tropical. As soon as you land and the rush of hot hair hits you hard, you know you’ve arrived.

We had glorious sunshine followed by tremendous outpours. Such stark contrasts. Lush green vegetation cocooned by the deep azure seas followed by arid and red dry land. Every day we had a different activity planned. Naturally, we spent a lot of time at the various local beaches. But Dar es Salaam has so much more to offer.  

There were visits to crowded local markets in Kinondoni where you would find more exotic produce such as avocados and the crunchiest variety of pears I have ever eaten. Or the more local market in Kariakoo where vendors stalls are literally piled on top of another, produce piled like little mountains on each table. And sellers hollering and jostling to get your attention. The place is bustling.

We visited The Slipway- a local tourist district from where you can take fishing trips, cruise the Indian ocean, eat local fare and just watch the sun set. We bought some hand crafted wooden souveniers and local ground coffee to bring back for friends. I was thrilled to catch a man skillfully chisseling at some wood to make a delicate carving. We were enamoured with the colorful and saturated ‘tinga tinga’ paintings- a style of painting developed in Dar es Salaam.

Then there was the food, oh the street food. The grilled corn or ‘makaai’ sold at every street corner-vigorously scrubbed with keffir lime and a generous helping of chili powder and salt. Deep fried ‘mihogo’ (cassava) drenched in a speciality sauce of local scotch bonnet pepper and tomatoes. And one of my favorites- mishkaki. Tender pieces of lamb eaten right off the skewer. Coconut water after each meal- ‘ngumu kyasi, maji tamu’ (slightly hard, but with sweet water we would tell the vendor). Yes, every day. Those are the little things we miss here.

We made sure to eat at least one meal a day at home. Infact, the first meal we had as soon as we came back from the airport had been planned weeks in advance. Slow cooked chicken stew which is then barbequed and simmered again in a rich creamy coconut sauce, ‘kuku paka’ similar to this. With sticky coconut rice on the side. Typical African fare.

As much as we ate at home, we ventured to quaint local restaurants from time to time. Especially those dotted along the beaches. At Mediterraneo, we ate fresh off the boat kingfish which was simply grilled. No spice, no fuss but full of flavor with a side of pickled garlic and scotch bonnet peppers. Definitely one to replicate at home. But that’s another post. 

Evenings were spent feeding the peacocks that wandered from the fauna and flora garden we live next to. Maryam wasn’t keen at first but she quickly warmed to their cries in the evenings. She was chasing them in the garden and before we knew it, they were more weary of her. At night, the days’ culinary adventures were digested with a few slices of papaya sprinkled with passion fruit and a dash of smoked paprika.

We were also lucky enough to visit a dairy farm on our last day. It wasn’t on the agenda, sort of just happened by accident. On the way to a picnic at my aunt’s beach house, I came across a herd of cows- a beautiful sea of velvety browns and blacks. A masaai was leading them to a nearby field to graze. You could tell they were happy cows. 

I made a few quick calls and it seemed we were destined to visit. The farm was owned by a lively Greek man who just happened to be a family friend. His passion for providing his family an open and green space, a place where nature roams freely, a place nature meets nurture led him to develop the organic farm.

Each of the twenty five cows are milked manually. Completely non commercial, the milk produced is given to local school children in the area. When he wants to show a token of appreciation to someone, he will gift them a cow. Anyone who knows local Tanzanians would now how much how heartfelt and revered a gift like that is. Such an inspiring man.

And so we watched a cow being milked and its baby calf being fed from a huge bottle. We were treated to smooth and creamy homemade yoghurt. Eaten Greek style with a dollop of honey. Simple, wholesome and so moreish. We were made to feel part of their family. It was a day to remember. The perfect end to a wonderful trip.

And so we are back in Dubai. But not empty handed. We have these memories locked in our hearts, our bellies are full with the beautiful meals we had and these photographs to remember good times spent. And these pineapples. I knew they would somehow find their way into my suitcase from the moment I had my first bite. Their sweet fragrance still lingers in my suitcase.

And that is not all I brought back. There was fiery red scotch bonnet peppers- fiery in appearance and taste. ‘Mali maao’, local keffir limes that I have been sprinkling on anything in sight. Very strong and pungent with a crackled green skin. We’ll be cooking with them in the next few days and I can’t wait to show you the results.

I mentioned this crumble before and that is the first thing I made when I came back, to celebrate the foods of my country. I added some seasonal mango and toasted coconut in the crumble. If you haven’t added coconut into your crumble before, you must. Tanzanian produce with exotic local flavors. Each bite brings back good times…..until we visit again.

Pineapple Mango and Coconut Crumble

1 large mango- cubed
1 pmedium pineappe- cubed
3 tbs muscivado sugar
1 vanilla pod desseded
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup muscavado sugar
5 tbs cold butter- cubed
1/2 cup dessicated coconut- toasted
3 tbs ice cold water

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade. Toss the first four ingredients on a baking tray and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

In a food processor, pulse the flour and butter until it just resembles bread crumbs. Incorporate the sugar and coconut. Add the water and rake gently with a fork until some clumps are formed. Freeze for 10 minutes.

Line your baking tray or ramekins with fruit and top with crumble. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown (time will depend on size of each serving). Serve hot with custard, cream or ice cream and toasted coconut flakes.

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Celebrating Eid al Adha and a Blog Anniversary with Nutty Coconut Vermicelli Truffles + GIVEAWAY

Have I mentioned before that I love celebrating Eid? Even more so now that I have a growing family. There is nothing like the anticipation of opening presents, devouring sweet treats and wearing brand new clothes when you have a two year old. It makes holidays even more special, more magical than they already are.

Eid al Adha is all about that and more. It is a time when millions of Muslims gather each year- different cultures, different races, different nationalities. Yet, all dressed in white representing human equality. They all perform rituals that culminate on Eid al Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice, in Mecca.

Maryam was extra excited this year as she got to ‘choose’ what outfit she would wear. She is going through an independent phase where she wants to ‘choose’ everything from her clothes to her food, to what spoon she eats with.

And as with any celebration, food is an important part of this festival in my home- it bonds our families, it drives conversation and camaraderie, it creates unforgettable memories. Food brings us all together on this day and lunch menus generally consist of biryani and sweet vermicelli, jalebis and samosas. Sweet bites such as cookies, chocolate bars and cakes are also prepared as nibbles for visiting relatives. And Eid isn’t the same without presents- Maryam ravenously tore through layers of wrapping paper to get to her treasures.

This year, I’m inviting you to my home to celebrate Eid al Adha. Come take a peek into my kitchen as I prepare sweet treats eaten during this festival. I’m making truffles with a difference- sweetened vermicelli paired with chopped almonds and pistachios. Add some fluffy coconut to the mix and you have an eclectic truffle.

And then these buttery and crunchy pistachio cookies with pistachio butter cream.- melt in your mouth perfection.  I was so thrilled to contribute recipes for both these nibbles to the latest Holiday issue of House of Fifty magazine. You can find my work, more photos and the recipe for the Pistachio cookies on page 118 onwards. It’s also been one year since this blog was born and so I have double reason to celebrate.

In the meantime, I leave you with the recipe for vermicelli truffles and a wonderful giveaway to mark the one year blog anniversary. Kenwood sent me their latest True Blender BL480 and besides using the metal lined grinding mill to chop almonds and pistachios to make these truffles, I have also been using the blender to make fluffy pancakes. The blades are wonderfully sharp and it even has an ice chopping function. With a baby on the way, I can’t wait to experiment with new baby foods using the BL480.

Here is how you can enter:

1) Follow @sipsandspoonful on Twitter
2)Tweet the following: I entered to win a Kenwood Blender via @sipsandspoonful #giveaway
3) Like Kenwood Middle East on Facebook
4) Like Sips and Spoonfuls on Facebook
5) Follow Kenwood Middle East on Twitter 
6) Subscribe to Sips and Spoonfuls by Email or RSS feed (links on top right hand corner)

Note: Please leave a separate comment for each of your entries or else they will not count. Please leave a valid email so you can be contacted.

The giveaway will run until midnight on Monday 21st November 2011. A winner will be announced on Tuesday 22nd November 2011. Giveaway is open to Middle East and Africa residents. Product provided by Kenwood Middle East but all views expressed above are my own and I have not been paid to do this review.

Nutty Coconut Vermicelli Truffles

3 tbs butter
1 ½ cups vermicelli
1 cup desiccated coconut
¼ cup chopped almonds
¼ cup chopped pistachios
150 ml condensed milk
Extra desiccated coconut for dusting

Melt butter in a pan and fry the vermicelli until brown and cooked. Use a wooden spoon to keep stirring and breaking the vermicelli as you don’t want it too brown too quickly. Take the mixture off the heat and let it cool before adding all the rest of the ingredients. Stir well. Use your hands to shape the mixture into 1inch balls. Roll in desiccated coconut before serving.
Note: Press the mixture between your hands to form a ball. If it is still difficult to make the truffle, you can add more condensed milk to the mixture o help form the truffles.
Makes approximately 28-30 truffles depending on size.


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