Category Archives: coconut

Heart-healthy panna cotta

It figures I’d start the low-fat, low-sodium posts with a dessert.  Those of you who know me in real life are aware I don’t do deprivation well — particularly when it comes to sweets.  So yes, dessert was the first thing I tried to transform.

The good news is, I think I’m on the right track.  I would almost serve this to guests — ALMOST.  It is still very much a work in progress, but I can assure you of this: it is a welcome substitute for the non-fat yogurt and jam we’ve* been stuck with lately.   I’ve basically started with a low-fat panna cotta recipe, which replaces the typical cream and sugar component of the dessert with low-fat milk and yogurt, and transformed it into something more exotic.  Does it work? Well — as I said before, almost. I would use pineapple or bananas instead of strawberries (or at least saute the strawberries with a little bit of nice balsamic or brown sugar), steep the basil in the coconut milk as opposed to liberally adding slivers of it to the dessert, and would skip the black pepper (which I will not mention in the recipe, of course) in favor of vanilla or toasted coconut.  Beyond that, though, it actually does seem worthy of dessert, which is exactly what I was going for.  If you want to make it a little creamier, you can either use full fat coconut or low / full fat yogurt.  But then you might as well use real cream, no?

If you prefer, you can also use regular milk. I’ve done this as well, and it works. It’s just a little less exciting.

Forgive the photos, which sort of remind me of faux foodie glamour shots. It is 11 pm and my nice camera lacks battery power, so I’ve decided to improvise.

* Err… well, James has. Until yesterday, I had my private stash of Girl Scout Cookies. Shhh, don’t tell!

Low-fat strawberry basil panna cotta

Serves 4.

  • 1 c. low-fat coconut milk
  • 1 c. non-fat greek yogurt (Fage or Skyr are the best)
  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin (have yet to try this with agar agar for the vegetarians out there, but if I get around to it, I will report back. If you try it out and it works, leave a comment!)
  • 2 t. honey
  • 3 basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 6 strawberries, cut into small chunks

Sprinkle the gelatin over the coconut milk, and let stand for a couple of minutes minutes.  Heat briefly over a medium-low burner, stirring rapidly, until the gelatin dissolves.  Add the honey, and stir until that also dissolves.  Remove from heat. Stir in basil chunks, and set aside.

Evenly distribute strawberry chunks between four ramekins or small bowls.  Pour coconut milk mixture over the strawberries.  Chill mixture for a couple of hours, or until the mixture has firmed.  Serve cold, either in the ramekins or turned out and topped with some sort of decadent berry sauce (which I have yet to make).

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Filed under coconut, dessert, strawberry, Uncategorized

Buttery biscuits for Anzac Day

Buttery golden deliciousness

I’m a little bit tardy with this post, but I’ve been a bit lazy in the kitchen of late. Yesterday was Anzac Day, which is kind of like the Australian version of Veteran’s Day here, and since I will take any excuse I can get to make Anzac biscuits, I figured I’d share them with all of you, as well.

Mmm, golden

Anzac biscuits are kind of funny. They have a little bit of a mad scientist quirk, they’re “healthy” (because they’re made of oats, of course), and don’t call for eggs at all, which makes them a cinch to modify for vegans. During World War I, when these biscuits were first made, eggs were difficult to come by, so people had to find something else to bind their baked goods. It turns out that golden syrup does the trick. Golden syrup, for those of you who haven’t tried it, is sweet, buttery, golden (duh), and delicious cane syrup, and really should be in your kitchen if it isn’t already. It’s finally available in the international section of most supermarkets, so it really isn’t hard to find. I use it in a lot of my cookie recipes, just because the flavor is that much better.

Dough

The thing I can’t quite figure out about this (or any) Anzac biscuit recipe is the mad scientist bit I mentioned before. One key step involves dumping the baking soda in a bit of boiling water. When you do this, you get a tame little explosion of carbon dioxide, resulting from the interaction between the sodium bicarbonate and the hot water. As I understand it, this leaves you with sodium carbonate, which will once again break down into carbon dioxide and water provided you have sufficient heat (~1000°C, according to Wikipedia!). It seems like any further leavening really won’t happen in the oven. So what exactly is the point? Anyone have an idea? It seems to be fairly standard in any Anzac biscuit recipe I’ve come across…

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Filed under Australia, baking, butter, coconut, cookies, dessert, golden syrup, oatmeal