Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Coconut Every Day: A Cookbook Review

If there ever was a beauty contest held for fruit, coconut wouldn't stand a chance against stronger competitors like apples or peaches! On the surface of things, there is so little to recommend coconuts: they're ugly, brown and hairy.

Though they are often misidentified as a nut, technically coconuts are classified as a fibrous one-seeded drupe. A drupe is fruit with an outer layer, a fleshy middle and a hard woody layer that surrounds a seed.

Coconut seems to become hugely popular in the last few years. Though it's probably always been good for you, coconut is the latest "superfood".  Many celebrity chef's, who used to prepare food with extra virgin olive oil, seem to have switched to coconut oil instead. I've watched this growing trend with curiosity, but was uncertain as to where to begin to incorporate more coconut into our diet.

Then I happened on this cookbook: Coconut Every Day by Sasha Seymour. It was by a Canadian author whose food styling I had admired in so many magazines. The short lists of ingredients and simple preparation appealed to me as well. 

Coconut "every day" was going to be a stretch for me. The only coconut in my pantry was a few cans of coconut milk that I used whenever I made curry! I was very grateful for the introduction to the book that introduced me to coconut oil, flour and sugar and water. I made a shopping list and started working my way through some of the recipes.

Tomatoes with Salad Cream

Really good tomatoes, picked at the height of summer, really don't need much in the way of dressing. They're delicious all on their own. Tomatoes drizzled with a light "salad cream" sounded even better, so I wanted to try it.

This dressing takes mere minutes to make. A splash of red wine vinegar and a few teaspoons of dijon mustard are a nice counterbalance to the rich, creaminess of the coconut milk and olive oil. A finely diced shallot, a pinch of salt and a little freshly ground black paper round out the flavours As in the cookbook, I chopped chives from the garden and sprinkled them over the whole plate of tomatoes. 

The salad cream was terrific and so much better than anything you might find in a store-bought bottle. 

I would certainly make this dressing again. The only thing I might do next time is cut the amounts in half. The half a cup of coconut the recipe calls for makes quite a lot of dressing! You could store the extra dressing in the fridge I suppose, but I think I prefer to make it up as needed.

Peanut Butter Coconut Cookies

Do you ever find yourself questioning a recipe as you are making it? I have! I am a terrible one for second guessing recipes. Then I catch myself recalling something Ina Garten's wrote in one of her many fabulous cookbooks. Ina maintains that you owe it to the recipe to give it at least one try as written before you start experimenting with your own variations.

So even though I was deeply troubled that Coconut Every Day's recipe for peanut butter cookies lacked body with just 2 scant tablespoons of brown rice flower, I followed the recipe as is and filled a baking sheet with cookies. 

In the hot oven, my cookies dough melted into flat round blobs!

Before I baked the next batch, I added a quarter cup of flour. They came out perfectly! I don't know what to tell you. If I made them again, I'd alter the recipe.

How were the cookies? Creamy peanut butter, toasted coconut and dark chocolate chunks? 

What's not to love!

Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup

Coconut and earthy mushrooms may seem like an odd mix, but I was surprised to discover that the two flavours compliment one another in an unexpected way. This soup recipe starts with garlic, thyme and some leeks which are sautéed in a little coconut oil. The fragrance wafting from the pot will make you feel as though you've taken a tropical vacation!

Next, in go the mushrooms. When they are nicely browned, wine, chicken stock and water are added and brought to a boil. After 30 minutes the pot is removed from the heat. Lemon juice brings a hint of freshness, while coconut milk adds creaminess to the soup. A dash of tamari sauce darkens the color.

A portion of the mixture is purred in the blender to thicken the soup, but some generous pieces of mushroom are left to be discovered as treasures buried deep in the bowl.

This soup was another hit. I've already made it twice. The coconut milk has a slight edge to it that's a little like sour cream and the leeks are so much more interesting than a plain old onion.

Middle Eastern Chopped Salad with Tahini

The final thing I wanted to try for this review was another dressing. When I was in college I worked in a vegetarian restaurant that has its own signature salad dressing. Tahini was a key ingredient. I remember the nutty taste of that dressing so very fondly! When I saw that Coconut Every Day included a salad dressing that was made with tahini, I had to try it.

Sadly, I was a bit disappointed this time. Tahini can have a certain bitterness (To be fair to the author, I must admit that I like things on the sweet side. Raw peanut butter for instance, is not sweet enough for my taste.) and so I ended up adding a little honey to the finished dressing.

All in all I was really pleased with the recipes from Coconut Every Day. If you too are curious about all things coconut, I think you'll find that it's a excellent place to begin.

Here are links to some online recipes from Coconut Every Day:

More Information and Links:

Interview with Sasha Seymour.
Take a tour of Sasha Seymour's townhouse courtesy of House and Home TV.

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