Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cracking a coconut

Cracking a coconut

This seemed like a daunting task, but as I could only find sweetened shredded coconut, I figured I'd give this a whirl. I ended up getting it done, but not without breaking a sweat. After watching a few youtube videos and reading a few wikihow videos, I was able to figure it out.

Step 1: I drilled a hole in the eye of the coconut with a power drill (Overkill? Maybe.) and drained the coconut water - and drank it, of course. Delicious!

Step 2: I tried doing this with the back of a knife, but it didn't work. I ended up using a hammer. While holding the coconut in hand, you have to hit it in the center. In fact, I would ram the two together, hoping to increase the force that way. It ended up finally creating a fault line after a minute.

Step 3: Continue whacking it with the hammer until you can pry the two halves open.

Step 4: The next challenge was to figure out how to get the meat out of the coconut. First I tried scraping it with a peeler - didn't work. Then I tried scraping it with a spoon - also didn't work. Lastly, I used a paring knife - it worked! Here's the trick - first score the coconut from the apex to the center, and making a new score 1/2 inch apart until you've made your way around the entire coconut. Then, jam the point of the knife into one of the score marks and twist. A small section of the meat should separate. You can jam the knife higher up and keep twisting to break off more pieces. It's labor intensive (took about 20 minutes), but I was able to scrape the coconut clean.
Whew! All scraped out!
Step 5: Now, you have a bowl of coconut pieces. Place in a food processor until they become crumbles.
Shredded coconut

Step 6: All done! This shredded coconut is now ready for cooking!
(sidenote: I did read that to make coconut milk, you have to process the coconut with water and drain it with a cheesecloth).

Friday, September 16, 2011

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from John Barricelli's Sono Baking Company Cookbook

I just bought this cookbook -was on clearance at Borders, since it was closing :(
The pictures looks gorgeous, and this is the first recipe that I've made from it.

Link to his book:

 So, the problems I had with this recipe were that it was REALLY oily, the dough was too liquidy, like brownie batter, and it's a touch too salty.


First, I mixed the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl

Then, in a double boiler, I heated my chocolate chunks and chips with butter

Until melted...

Now here's where I didn't pay close enough attention. I was supposed to take it off the heat, but I kept it on the heat. I don't know how much this contributed to the "liquidiness" of my batter.

Anyway, I added my brown sugar...
Then I added my first egg. When I saw the white get slightly cooked, I pulled it off the heat and saw my mistake of keeping it on the heat - OOPS!

So now the pot sits on the counter and the rest of the eggs get added. As well as my vanilla (which is of the powdered variety)...

I added the 1 cup of flour as ordered per the recipe and as you can see...

... very much like brownie batter, not like cookie dough (very tasty, though, if I do say so myself...)

So I decided to go ahead and add another 1/3 cup of flour....

... and then another 1/4 cup of flour until it seemed to form into a thick dough.

I added chocolate chips - BUT the batter was TOO hot, and all of these melted :(. I also decided to throw in some pecan chips at the last second, because I loooove the crunchiness.

I made smaller cookies than the recipe stated, (maybe about 2 tbsp of batter per cookie) and baked them for 5 minutes at 350, turned the pan, then baked for another 4 minutes. These burn VERY easily.

You have to let it sit on the pan for at least 5 minutes before removing, because these cookies are very soft. They are REALLY TASTY, I do have to admit. REALLY, REALLY chocolatey, too :)

So, things that  I did wrong:
- not taking the chocolate off the heat soon enough
- I burned the first batch

Things that I would like to change
- How oily this dough is - maybe add less butter?
- It's a little saltier than I'd like
- the dough is too warm to add the chips in right away, maybe give it 20 minutes to cool down?
- the dough was too wet at first, until I added more flour. Why is it this wet? Is that normal?!?
- I added pecans, which were a good addition. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Spicy Indian Salmon Cutlets

Spicy Indian Salmon Cutlets
-adapted from Anjum's New Indian by Anjum Anand

Link to her book:

Link to her website:

The meat store was closed, so I bought salmon from the grocery store and decided to try this fish cutlet recipe by Anjum Anand instead of the beef recipe (which I will do sometime this week). For a first time recipe, it turned out fine. I have to mince the onions and cilantro a lot smaller - and make sure I buy regular bread crumbs instead of these Italian crumbs next time! Tricky, tricky!

Made 16 cutlets

The Ingredients:

1. 1/2 onion, chop it as fine as you can
2. 1 tbsp ginger, peeled and processed
3. 6 cloves of minced garlic
4. Grind together: 1 inch cinnamon, 5 whole cloves, 1.5 tsp of cumin seeds (Indian grocery store)
5. Mix: 2 tsp of mango powder (from the Indian grocery store), 3/4 tsp chili powder, and 1 tsp garam masala (from the Indian grocery store)
6. Salt to taste
7. 1/4 cup of finely chopped cilantro
8. 2 salmon fillets
9. 2 cup of breadcrumbs
10. 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
11. 2 eggs
12. oil for frying


First, saute onions in 1 tbsp of oil until golden. Then add garlic and ginger.

Next, add all the spices and salt

Stir for 2 minutes until it is all cooked, then set it aside and let it cool.

Meanwhile, place salmon fillets in water and boil for 4-5 minutes until the fish turns opaque. I flipped the fish once.

Place the fish on a plate with paper towels to drain the rest of the liquid off. Peel off the skin and any bones, then start flaking the fish with a fork into a bowl. Be careful, it will be hot.

Next, mix the fish, onions, cilantro together. Taste and add more salt if you like. Add 1 cup breadcrumbs (Not Italian!!), 1 beaten egg. And form into flat patties. I made mine a little too thick, and the edges didn't fry. So I will make them thinner next time. Place them on a platter. Then bread them by first dipping in flour, then in the second beaten egg, then in breadcrumbs. Here's what it looks like when they are all breaded and ready to fry.

Heat 2 tbsp of oil and fry 2-3 cutlets at a time, about 1.5 minutes per side until deep golden brown.

Then place on a wire rack (this will help keep them crunchy!) covered with paper towels. Also place paper towels on top to absorb as much oil as possible. You should be able to fry about 8 of them before you'll have to replace the oil. Heat 2 more tbsp of oil and repeat with remaining cutlets.

Eat them with ketchup! I think you can probably prepare these a few hours ahead up until the frying stage, and fry when ready.
(Note: To do next time - make sure onions and cilantro are finely chopped, otherwise they are lumpy in the cutlet. Use regular breadcrumbs).