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Go nuts for coconut
If you adore the taste and flavour of coconuts then there are no boundaries to the uses of this delicious nut as it is quite versatile. In its young stage we get nutritious and delicious coconut water, a little later on we get both water and coconut jelly and in the final stage we get the dried jelly of the coconut which we use to create delicious sweets, desserts and savoury dishes, not forgetting the sublime coconut milk. Processed coconut can be found in several forms in the supermarket. There is tinned coconut milk, frozen coconut cream and also coconut milk powder (which needs to be reconstituted before use). In Caribbean cooking, grated fresh coconut is used in candies, for breads and cakes and in savory batters. It is also cooked with sugar and used in fillings for tarts. Coconut milk or cream is used as an essential ingredient in ice creams, creamy desserts, soups, rice dishes, vegetable dishes, stewed peas, and in curries bringing both silken texture and distinct flavour.
FISH WITH COCONUT LEMONGRASS AND HOT PEPPERS
2 lbs fresh fish fillets, cut into 4 portions
2 tbsps minced chives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tbsps vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
4 tbsps fresh chive, white and green portions, finely chopped
1 red hot pepper, seeded and cut into strips
4 stalks fresh lemon grass (fever grass), smashed and thinly sliced
4 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1 tsp fresh lime juice
Clean and wash fish fillets season lightly with minced chives, salt and black pepper.
In a medium sauté pan heat oil and add garlic, onions, chives, hot pepper and lemongrass, sauté until fragrant, about one minute, add tomatoes.
Add coconut milk to pot and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about ten minutes.
Adjust salt to taste. Puree sauce in blender and strain.
Return sauce to pot.
Add fish fillets and cook for about four minutes on each side basting frequently with sauce.
Remove from heat, adjust seasonings, sprinkle lime juice and serve immediately.
Serves 4 to 6
TOASTED COCONUT CAKE
1 cup shredded fresh coconut
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
21/3 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp grated orange zest
1/2 tsp orange extract or vanilla
1/4-cup fresh orange juice
Preheat oven to 325F.
Line, grease and flour the base and sides of a nine-inch cake tin.
Spread coconut onto a baking tray and lightly toast for about five minutes, just until coconut is dry and just beginning to turn colour, do not brown coconut.
Crumble lightly with your fingers.
Cream butter until light, add sugar one tablespoon at a time beating well until sugar is dissolved and mixture is fluffy.
Sift flour with baking powder.
Add eggs one at a time beating well between additions.
Combine orange juice, orange zest and orange extract or vanilla.
Combine coconut with flour mixture.
Fold in flour alternately with juice in three additions, beginning and ending with flour.
Spoon batter into prepared tin, bake for about 50 minutes until a wooden pick inserted through the centre comes out clean.
Cool on wire rack for 6 minutes.
Turn out of tin; remove lining paper and cool on cake rack.
Makes one nine-inch cake
COCONUT FRIED SHRIMP WITH FIRE AND SPICE ORANGE DIP
2 lbs large shrimp, cleaned with tails intact
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp coconut milk powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder
1 1/2 cup milk
2 cups finely shredded fresh coconut
Marinate shrimp in garlic and salt.
Make a smooth thick batter by combining 11/2 cups flour, baking powder, coconut milk powder, salt, curry with milk.
In two separate plates put the remaining 1/2-cup flour and the shredded coconut.
Dredge shrimp in remaining flour, then dip into the batter and then roll in shredded coconut. Repeat to use up all the shrimp.
Fry the shrimp in hot oil until golden, drain and serve with orange dip.
Makes about 16 pieces
FIRE AND SPICE ORANGE DIP
1 cup orange marmalade
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
Juice of one orange
1/2 hot pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
1 tsp Chinese chili sauce
1 tbsp shredded ginger
Combine all the ingredients.
Serve with Coconut Fried shrimp