Crunchy Baked Apples. JANEEN SARLIN
Coconut is a drupaceous fruit with a hard, dark brown hairy husk encasing sweet creamy white meat moistened by a thin opaque juice. Nutritionists, foodies, and doctors debate whether coconut is healthy or harmful. It is a good source of potassium and it is high in saturated fat (some say it’s good fat, while others say not so much.) My rule of thumb is “everything in moderation.” Choose unsweetened organic coconut to make one of these recipes.
Borrowing from Thai, Malaysian and Indian curry dishes, I add unsweetened coconut milk to the pan juices after sautéing fish, chicken or vegetables to create a simple creamy sauce. Coconut milk also adds flavor and body to this week’s marinade and peanut dipping sauce for a chicken satay. Serve it as a first course or as the entrée for dinner.
Coconut naturally adds texture and sweetness to ice cream or fresh fruit. To toast coconut, sprinkle unsweetened coconut slices/flakes in a dry skillet over moderate-high heat and shake the skillet constantly until it becomes light brown and aromatic, about three to four minutes.
Maida Heatter’s macadamia and coconut bars are unforgettable and irresistible! Or make my favorite crunchy baked apples tonight. Bon appetit!
Chicken or Pork Satay with Peanut Dipping Sauce
(Serves 6 to 8 for first course or entrée for 4)
2 whole chicken breasts split, skinned and boned
1 pork tenderloin, trimmed
Bamboo skewers soaked in water
For the marinade:
1, 13-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk (reserve 1/3 cup for the dipping sauce)
1, 1 1/2 inch piece of peeled fresh ginger, sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
2 large cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
Dash of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup hot water
1/4 cup dry sherry
For the peanut dipping sauce:
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried hot red chili peppers
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 to 3/4 cup hot water
Lime wedges for garnish
1 bunch fresh cilantro for garnish
Handful roughly chopped salted peanuts for garnish
Cut the chicken (or pork) into strips of 3 inches long by 1 ½ inch wide or into small cubes. Place in a large shallow bowl and set aside.
In the food processor, blend the coconut milk, ginger, curry powder, garlic, lime juice, soy sauce, sugar, pepper, hot water and sherry together until smooth. Pour the marinade over the chicken and let stand one hour or can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
Meanwhile, in the food processor, blend the peanut butter, garlic, lime juice, soy sauce, sugar, chili peppers, coconut milk and just enough hot water to make a light dipping sauce, until smooth. Transfer the sauce to a glass jar and refrigerate if making ahead.
To assemble and cook:
Preheat the grill or broiler to high. Remove the chicken strips from the marinade, do not rinse or pat the chicken dry. Thread each strip onto a soaked skewer, weaving in and out. Transfer the remaining marinade to a small saucepan, bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Broil or grill the chicken 3 to 4 inches from the flame, turning and basting the chicken often with the remaining hot marinade. Cook the chicken until the juices run clear when poked with a fork, about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a warm platter and garnish with peanuts, cilantro and lime wedges. Serve at once with the peanut dipping sauce.
Crunchy Baked Apples
6 firm tart apples, halved and cored
Juice and zest of one lemon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup sundried cranberries
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1 cup organic unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups orange juice
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Arrange apples in a baking dish large enough to accommodate the apples in one layer and drizzle with lemon juice.
In the food processor mix the butter with cranberries, raisins, sunflower seeds, lemon zest, cinnamon, and salt until evenly mixed. The mixture will be thick.
Using your fingers, evenly divide and “stuff” each apple with the coconut mixture. Drizzle juice over and around the apples in the pan. Bake, basting every now and then with the pan juices, adding more orange juice if necessary, until the apples are tender to the point of a fork and the coconut is brown on top, about 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature, top with whipped or ice cream.
Macadamia and Coconut Bars
Adapted from Maida Heatter’s Brand-New Book of Great Cookies, Random House 1995
(Makes 32 bars)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup light brown sugar (packed)
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup sifted unbleached flour
1 1/2 cups salted macadamia or almonds (about 7 ounces)
2 tablespoons almond flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup light brown sugar (packed)
6 ounces shredded coconut — unsweetened/organic (about 2 cups, packed)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Rinse a 9x13x2 inch baking pan with water and fit the wet pan with aluminum foil, with the shiny side up to fit into the pan. Generously butter or spray the foil with non-stick spray.
In the small bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft, add sugar and beat until well mixed. Beat in the egg and salt. Add the flour and beat just until mixed. The dough will be stiff.
Using floured hands, place a spoonful of dough here and there in the bottom of the pan and press out the dough to form an even layer (flour your fingertips if necessary.) Bake until set and not shiny, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand.
Meanwhile, shake or roll the nuts gently to remove excess salt, and set aside. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder together and set aside. In a small bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs, vanilla and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the flour mixture. Using a rubber scraper, fold in nuts plus 1 1/2 cups of the coconut.
Spoon the mixture evenly over the baked bottom layer— it will be a thin layer — and sprinkle remaining coconut on top. Bake, turning the pan around in the oven until the top is a rich brown color and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack.
Cover the pan with a cookie sheet, turn the pan upside down, remove the pan and carefully peel off the foil. Cover the baked dough with waxed paper and another cookie sheet or a cutting board, invert the dough, leaving the bars, right side up. Refrigerate or freeze for 1 hour before cutting. Using a long heavy knife, cut into bars. Wrap individually or store in an airtight container with waxed paper between the layers.
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