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Creamy mousse, coconut rum soaked lady fingers, rainier cherries and passion fruit, perfect for a hot summer afternoon.

I am always inspired by the flavors and colors of summer. It’s easy to imagine what to eat when there are so many wonderful things available this time of year.

Peaches, plums, cherries and other splendid things. I wouldn’t know what I would do without summer.

Snacking on baskets of summer fruits is nostalgic. Growing up foraging for days in the hidden fruit patches was what we did. The experience was special. Wild fruits bursting with flavor had something extra than being delicious, something so natural as if touched by magic.

Besides loving the season of fruitfulness this mousse dessert soaked with coconut rum is refreshing. However I am still thinking of my friend d’s mixed berry pie we all shared the other week during dinner.  With wild berries now available, I might just make a berry pie for a picnic with friends.

For now, timing is perfect for cooking easy, vibrantly flavored recipes so simple that makes summer extra special.

Lots of fresh recipes I can’t wait to share.

Do you have any fond memories of summer?

Coconut Mousse Recipe [Serves 6]

6 Tablespoons coconut puree*

3 Tablespoons cold water

¾ teaspoon granular gelatin

¾ cup heavy whipping cream

1-2 teaspoons cane sugar

24 gluten-free lady fingers

1 cup coconut syrup

24 rainier cherries

2 passion fruits

Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

1. Sprinkle gelatin over cold water and allow to bloom for a few minutes.

2. Gently warm coconut puree in a small bowl over barely simmering water. Set aside.

3. Place gelatin over simmering water to melt. Turn off heat and continue.

4. Whip cream and sugar in a bowl just before stiff peaks form.

5. Whisk warmed coconut puree into the gelatin until incorporated.

6. Gently fold coconut/gelatin mixture into whipped cream.

assembling individual desserts:

1. Dip lady fingers one at a time in coconut syrup for a brief moment and place one in the bottom of six serving cups.

2. Spoon a little coconut mousse over the lady fingers.

3. Repeat with another layer of lady fingers and more mousse. Continue until you have four layers of lady fingers. Chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour to set mousse.

4. Garnish mousse with rainier cherries and a small amount of passion fruit flesh.

5. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve chilled or bring almost to room temp.

assembling one whole desert:

Follow the layering instructions as stated above, but cover the base of a dish with soaked lady fingers and a layer of coconut mouse. Repeat to use up remaining lady fingers and mouse. Garnish with cherries and passion fruit; dusted with confectioner’s sugar.

Gluten-free Lady’s Fingers [makes 24]

6 Tablespoons sorghum flour

1/3 cup tapioca starch

3 large eggs, separated

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup cane sugar

Confectioner’s sugar for dusting.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

1. Sift together sorghum flour and tapioca starch together. Set aside.

2. Beat egg whites with sea salt until soft peaks form.

3. Gradually beat in sugar until stiff peaks form.

4. Beat in egg yolks.

5. Gently fold in flour mixture.

6. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a ½ inch round tip and pipe strips of batter two inches long.

7. Dust with confectioner’s sugar, and then repeat when the first dusting is absorbed.

8. Bake for 12 minutes.

9 Remove from the pan once there are finished baking to a cooling rack. Cool completely.

Coconut Soaking Syrup [makes 1 cup]

1/3 cup coconut rum

1/3 cup canned coconut milk

1/3 cup cane sugar

1. Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Cook until sugar is dissolved. Cool.

*note: The coconut puree used for this recipe is a concentrate made from coconut with added sugar and should not be substituted with coconut milk. I used Boiron brand puree.

Fresh, light and flavorful…

 

 

My mind has been on fresh flavors lately, gearing up for spring in anticipation for the farmer’s markets to open with loads of fresh produce. I mainly go for the spring peas and ramps at this time, but getting out and enjoying the warmer sunshine is welcoming after a bleak winter.

 

 

The raw fennel and beet salad made several days ago was simple, but it was what we needed; a good boost of nutrition. No brisk walk later!

 

The Chioggia beets were not intentionally used in this salad, but somehow a few landed in the cart while picking the deep red variety. I didn’t even know they were there!  I love the look of these beets when shaved very thin and leaving them uncooked; vibrant and sweet with a bit of earthiness. So here they are, in this salad.

 

 

Another salad was made a few days later, for a light dinner. The wonderful Vietnamese type salads you can make are great for a more substantial meal where lettuce wouldn’t be enough. Of course J. sighs when I make a dish that will need to be photographed before we can eat. Luckily this was a quick recipe, a few quick snaps and it was time to eat. J. loves these kinds of meals; the flavors are fresh, garlicky and spicy.

 

The special ingredient is the sauce for this shrimp noodle salad. You take equal parts lime juice and sugar, and then season with fish sauce, garlic and chilies to your liking.

 

 

I think fresh energizing flavors is what we all need, and a little bit of warm sunshine to shake off the winter blues…don’t you think?

 

Coconut Shrimp Noodle Salad [Serves 2]

 

10 whole shrimp, peeled & de-veined

½ cup shredded coconut

1 egg white

Sea salt to taste

 

8 ounces rice noodles [cooked per package instructions]

 

1 large purple carrot, julienne

1 small cucumber, thinly sliced

2 large radishes, julienne

2 handfuls mixed greens -or- chopped romaine

¼ cup fresh mint leaves

¼ cup Thai basil leaves

 

¼ cup fresh lime juice

¼ cup cane sugar

2 Tablespoons fish sauce

½ garlic clove, minced

½ teaspoon crushed chilies

 

Mung bean -or- other kind of sprouts [optional]

 

Preheat oven to 350°F.

 

1. Coat shrimp with beaten egg white and coat with coconut.

2. Place shrimp on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper coated with coconut spray.

3. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until shrimp is opaque and coconut starts to color.

 

4. While shrimp is cooking, combine lime juice, sugar, fish sauce, garlic and chilies in a small bowl.

5. Fill bowls with lettuce then rice noodles.

6. Place shrimp and prepared vegetables over noodles and pour sauce over and enjoy.

 

*note: A traditional Vietnamese salad uses pickled carrots and radishes which you can do in a snap with some rice vinegar and a little sugar to balance. Drain the vegetables after 30 minutes of marinating and continue with recipe.

 

Beet & Fennel Salad Recipe [Serves 2-4]

 

1 large fennel bulb, shaved -or- julienne

2 medium golden beets, shaved into rounds

2 medium Chioggia beets, shaved into thin rounds

1/3 cup fresh peas

 

4 Tablespoons grape seed oil -or- olive oil

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 Tablespoons fresh lime zest

3 Tablespoons fresh orange juice

2 ½ teaspoons cane sugar -or- honey

1 Tablespoons shallots, minced

¼ teaspoon sea salt

 

1. Toss fennel, beets, peas and some of the feathery fennel tops together in a bowl.

2. Whisk together everything except the oil and marinate for 10 minutes.

3. Just before serving, which oil into the juice in a little stream until emulsified.

4. Toss with vinaigrette and enjoy.

I look forward to the one day J. and I can sit down for breakfast. I am usually up early, running around while sleepy sounds are heard far from the kitchen. What will it be this morning? Coffee and croissants? Eggs with braised lentils and vegetables?

Perhaps something on the sweeter side…

 

 

I feel great excitement during the summer when I can make my way out to the herb garden and pluck a few fresh herbs to work into breakfast. Fresh thyme or rosemary for the scones or a mixture of sweet herbs for the scrambled eggs.

Such decisions… so early in the morning…

 

 

After the clanking, mixing and cracking of eggs, we can sit down to enjoy breakfast for some unhurried conversation before the day takes off. Since I rarely sleep in on the weekend, this quick pace early in the morning energizes me after a long restful night and sets the mood for a good day to come.

 

 

As with most recipes that have gluten in them, the conversion is pretty simple for gluten-free. Sometimes there are ones that need a little tweaking to have them turn out properly. Various gluten-free flours all have different reactions, but can easily be overcome if any issues arise.  I like to think the gluten-free mix I make at home will work every time, but there are recipes I use this mix for poorly resemble the real thing. But not to worry, a few alterations and were back on track.

 

For these good morning muffins, I added just a bit more mix to have them looking and tasting like traditional muffins.

 

“Delicious,” J. replied as the final test muffins were inhaled.

Bingo! Mission accomplished.

 

 

If you are not going gluten free, I encourage you to give these muffins a try. I thank all of the wonderful creative gluten-free bakers out there who have paved the way for us to enjoy a better gluten free life!

Enjoy!

 

Coconut Apple Carrot Muffin Recipe [makes 12 small muffins]

 

1 ½ cups gluten-free baking mix*

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

¼ teaspoon sea salt

 

½ cup dark brown sugar

2 large whole eggs

 

½ cup buttermilk

6 Tablespoons sunflower oil

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

 

1/3 cup flaked coconut

1/3 cup apples, diced

1/3 cup carrots, peeled & diced

1/3 cup currants

 

½ cup flaked coconut [optional topping]

 

Preheat oven to 350°F.

 

1. Whisk g/f mix, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt together. Set aside.

2. Mix together buttermilk, oil and vanilla extract together and set aside.

3. Whisk eggs and sugar together until pale and airy.

4. Mix wet ingredients and sugar mixture into the dry ingredient just until smooth.

5. Fold in coconut flakes, apples, carrots and currants.

6. Place one #20 scoop of batter in each baking cup.

7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until centers are done when tested with a toothpick.

*note: You can sprinkle the optional flaked coconut on the batter before baking or sprinkle a little sugar for a nice sugar crust.

 

The holidays for me conjure up glistening desserts, hearty main meals and of course small sweet treasures. Growing up I remember eating all kinds of things, but the one thing I always loved about the holidays was my grandmother’s orange flavored gelatins. As the holiday approaches, I wanted to recreate that taste of the past.

 

For an updated version of that recipe, I used a bubbly citrus beverage, filled with fresh Satsuma oranges! To top things off and give a more finished look, a layer soft set coconut cream was used; this works very well for the garnish of pistachios and coconut. If you are not going dairy-free, cream would be a nice replacement.

 

As for the holidays go, I have yet to decide on a dessert to bring to the family gathering. Usually this time of year I have already baked up countless dozens of cookies for eating and sharing. With all of the possibilities one can get pulled in all sorts of directions. Once I have decided I will post as a holiday recap. So enjoy the holidays everyone. The snow has been steadily falling the past few hours, maybe we will have a white Christmas after all! Enjoy!

 

Satsuma Gelée Recipe

 

2 cups bubbly orange juice

1 Tablespoon gelatin

 

10 Satsuma oranges, peeled & segmented

 

¾ cup coconut milk [-or- cream]

2 Tablespoons cold water

1 teaspoon gelatin

 

Chopped pistachios [for garnishing]

Shredded coconut [for garnishing]

 

preparing the orange gelée:

1. Place the orange bubbly in a sauce pan and sprinkle the gelatin over. Let the gelatin bloom for a few minutes.

2. Whisk in the gelatin and heat just to a simmer. Set aside.

3. Fill serving glasses with orange segments and pour in the juice.

4. Chill in the refrigerator until set, approximately 2-4 hours.

 

preparing the coconut cream:

1. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and allow to bloom.

2. Heat the coconut milk in a small sauce pan and add sugar and any flavorings you like.

3. Whisk a little coconut milk into the gelatin and then add it to the rest of the coconut milk.

4. Cool slightly and pour over the set orange gelée.

5. Garnish with pistachios and coconut.

Serves 4

 

 

Playing on the coconut theme a lot of my dairy-free recipes have been over the past few months, I made a delicious tapioca pudding. I have to confess I made six full batches this past weekend of pudding and found this to be the best spin on the age old classic.

 

Sometimes making desserts does not mean spending laborious amounts of time making tarts, jelly rolls or mousse cakes. It’s all about variety, comfort and spending time with others, not to mention they would be happy to help with over abundant dessert making!

Using coconut has been a great way for me to enjoy dairy rich recipes without using dairy at all. I am not saying no to dairy, but I think experimenting and variety to be what keeps cooking and baking exciting here at home.

Another recipe today is a cardamom spiced pecan cookies that was paired with this dessert just for fun and a nice balance from the creamy pudding.

 

Enjoy!

Coconut Tapioca Pudding Recipe

½ cup tapioca pearls [not instant]

2 2/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk [drinking beverage]

1 14-ounce can coconut milk

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoons cornstarch*

2 teaspoons cold water

1/3 cup granular sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

1. Soak tapioca pearls in coconut milk [drinking beverage] overnight in the refrigerator.

2. Once soaked, place in a medium saucepan with the coconut milk and bring to a simmer.

3. Reduce heat if necessary to keep coconut milk at a gentle simmer and cook for 8 minutes.

4. Add the cornstarch mixed with water to the pan. Stir until mixture comes back to a boil and has thickened.

5. Add sugar and vanilla extract and remove from heat.

6. Chill pudding in a shallow bowl and covered with plastic wrap directly on the surface.

Served room temp or chilled, makes 6-8 servings.

*note: If in the event you boil the pudding to hard you may not need the starch to give a more pleasant body.

Cardamom-Spiced Pecan Cookie Recipe

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted

½ cup finely ground toasted pecans

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 large egg

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon sea salt

2 cup gluten-free baking mix

2 tablespoons finely chopped toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

1. In a food processor cream the butter and then mix in confectioner’s sugar until smooth.

2. Add egg and vanilla; process for a minute until well incorporated.

3. Add pecans, cardamom and sea salt and mix in.

4. With the processor off place the full amount of flour mixture and process just until dough forms.

5. Chill dough for 2 hours in a flattened disk or one inch logs.

6. Cut eight inch slices and arrange on a parchment lined sheet pan and sprinkle on pecans.

7. Bake for 12 minutes or until edges are lightly golden.

What started out as a tart ended up being just a panna cotta. The tart was yummy, but I didn’t care so much that lifting the tart out of the pan it started to crumble apart. Wet crust! The panna cotta itself was made from a base of coconut milk, unlike ones made from cream. This experiment turned out to be surprisingly delicious and very pretty.

The texture and flavor was that of flan and a nice change from the heavier dairy based dessert. I think that serving this just as it reaches room temperature to be great and really shows how creamy the texture can be.

 

I shied away from adding any coconut flavor; however, you can add some coconut liqueur to the coconut base for a grand dinner party dessert. Would your dinner guests know that it is dairy-free? When they discover that there were no cows milked for this one, they might be surprised.

 

 

Coconut Panna Cotta Recipe

 

1-15 ounce can coconut milk

¼ cup granular sugar

2 inch piece of vanilla bean, scraped

 

1 ¾ teaspoons powdered gelatin

2 Tablespoons cold water

 

Vanilla Fig Syrup [see recipe below]

Fresh Ripe Figs [adorable garnish]

 

1. In a small bowl sprinkle gelatin over the water and stir. Set aside to bloom.

2. In a small sauce pan heat the coconut milk, sugar and vanilla bean to a boil.

3. Strain coconut milk into a mixing bowl.

4. Whisk in as much as a quarter cup of the coconut milk into the gelatin to melt.

5. Pour gelatin mixture into the remaining coconut milk.

6. Fill desired jars, compotes or bowls and place in refrigerator for 4 hours.

7. Serve with vanilla-fig syrup spooned over the top and adorn with fresh ripe figs.

 

Fig Syrup Recipe

 

¼ cup granular sugar

4 large ripe figs, halved

2 Tablespoons Grand Marnier liqueur [-or- water]

1 Tablespoon water

1 inch piece vanilla bean, chopped

 

1. Place all ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a gentle simmer.

2. Continue to simmer until figs have released their flavor and color.

3. Strain and cool.

 

*note: If you prefer, you can keep the poached figs and include them as part of the desert.

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