April 29, 2009


I've been writing this blog for three years. That's nothing to snicker at. Har har. Ha ha. Ho hum hee hee.

I decided to make some more cookies to take to work. I'm trying out a recipe that's new to me for Emeril's Snickerdoodles. I'm a person who usually turns up her nose at desserts with no chocolate and no nuts. I agree with this woman's opinion, but I asked one of the other employees what his favorite cookie was and he said snickerdoodles.

Any excuse to post more vintage Cookie Monster video footage. I do remind myself of Prairie Dawn quite a bit: happy to share cookies, but also downright pushy about it.

April 28, 2009

A Coconut Primer

I was thinking about poor brother dear and the unfortunate incident of the coconut milk, and we strive to educate around here, so here's a little information and an easy recipe for the uninformed coconut lover.

Coconut milk:
This is available in liquid form (in cans or aseptic containers), frozen, and as a powder. Varieties: Light (or "lite") coconut milk has less fat and about a quarter of the calories of the regular version, but doesn't taste nearly as rich. Find it in the Asian foods section of your supermarket.--foodsubs.com

The Chaokoh brand won the Cook's Illustrated taste test.

Cream of Coconut:
Don't confuse this with coconut cream, which is used in Asian dishes. Cream of coconut is thick and very sweet, and commonly used in mixed drinks. Find it with the drink mixers in your supermarket or in liquor stores; available in liquid and powdered forms. Substitutes: sweetened condensed milk with coconut extract to taste.--foodsubs.com (I could kind of eat this stuff straight out of the can.)

I'm about to advocate using a cake mix. See, I'm not as snobby as you think. Of course, you'll get more points in heaven if you make your cake from scratch. Just depends on what you're into.

Kim’s Killer Coconut Cake
1 white cake mix
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 15 oz. can cream of coconut (such as Coco López, NOT coconut milk)
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, plus additional for garnish
Whipped Cream

Mix the cake mix and bake in a 9x13" pan according to the directions on the box. While cake is baking, mix sweetened condensed milk, cream of coconut, and 1 cup coconut in a small bowl. After the cake has finished baking, poke the entire cake with a straw or the handle of a wooden spoon. After the cake has cooled, pour the milk mixture over the cake. Spread the whipped cream over the cake and sprinkle additional coconut on top. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

I like to add a couple of tablespoons of Amaretto to the cake batter before baking. I also add a tablespoon of coconut rum to the whipped cream. You can add other flavorings or liqueurs to the milk mixture, too. Lots of room for creativity. My former co-worker Kim gave me this recipe, hence the name. She is one of my best foodie friends. I've made this cake a few times and everyone always wants the recipe.

April 27, 2009


I have a crush on Bobby Flay. Move over Alton Brown. Bobby's got the blue eyes and curly hair and sense of humor and the man adds chile pepper to cakes. Dreamy!

The only time I watch the Food Network is at the gym. So yeah, I'm that person - jogging to the tune of sizzling steaks and stand mixers. Nice. I caught an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay with an amazing menu that I adapted for Daddy's birthday dinner. We had:

Rum Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Grilled Pineapple Relish
Red Chile Rubbed Sweet Potatoes with Green Onion Vinaigrette
Fiery Corn Salsa

Daddy's Birthday Dinner

I was pleased with all of it. I possibly went overboard when seasoning the sweet potatoes. That dark red ancho chile powder rub turned black at grilling. Scott came into the kitchen and saw a 9x13" pan full of those sweet potato rounds and thought they were steaks. Boy, was he excited. Hopefully he didn't find the sweet potatoes too disappointing.

Vardaman Sweet PotatoesAuntie and Granddaddy recently returned from a tour of the South. They went through the town of Vardaman, Mississippi, the sweet potato capital of the world, much like Lubbock is the cotton capital of the world. I'm not sure how official any of these rankings are. Granddaddy said Vardaman sweet potatoes are the best, and everyone wants that name on their potatoes when they go to market. As a souvenir, I got a cookbook with nothing but sweet potato recipes. Some of the recipes sound a little wild. Sweet potato punch?

And for the third year and counting, Daddy got the Best of Show German Chocolate Cake for his birthday cake. I've decided that the Pepper Cake and the Gianduia Cake notwithstanding, the German Chocolate Cake is going to be my favorite cake until I die. And it'll probably stay that way until the next time I make one of those other cakes.

April 26, 2009

April Fool

The one where we fooled Mom: So for Mom's birthday I plotted to fly Wendy down for a visit to surprise Mom. Mom is sneaky and smart. It wasn't easy to pull it off. Wendy was to fly down on Mom's birthday, the very day, but there was a catch: she had to fly into Midland, because she couldn't get a flight into Lubbock.

I tried to think of ways I could sneak down to Midland on the night of Mom's birthday without arousing suspicion. I could visit Pauline, I thought to myself. I could send a minion (read: Scott) to get Wendy. No, I'm a Nazi when it comes to tradition, and that means that we always celebrate birthdays and eat a big dinner and I'm cooking the cake and you're going to like it or else! It would definitely be weird if I decided to up and go to Midland on the day of Mom's birthday.

So I decided that we would go down to Midland under the guise of trying a fabulous restaurant down there to do something out of the ordinary for Mom's birthday. Why the heck not? Wendy's flight got into Midland at 10:50pm, so I had to stall our arrival in Midland until about 9, which was a little awkward. And if the six of us, plus Wendy, plus Wendy's luggage were going to fit in one vehicle, we were going to have to drive the old Suburban. It seemingly being the least fabulous option among the seven vehicles in the family, that could also arouse suspicion. "Let's take the Suburban so we have lots of room and can lie down on the drive back." Pretty believable. Here we are at Venezia. It was worth the trip.


After dinner, I stalled some more, made everyone take bathroom breaks, and set the GPS to take us to the airport. Now Mom's no dummy. When we pulled up at the airport, she started asking questions.

"Surprise! We're sending you and dad on a trip. We couldn't get a flight out of Lubbock, so we had to come down here. We packed your bags for you. Aren't you excited? Have fun!"

She was shocked.

Then we parked and started walking towards the entrance of the airport, with no bags, mind you, and at that time Mom yelled, "Hey, we're here to get Wendy!" She swore that she hadn't known about the plans.

Marmee's Birthday PartyThat weekend we had a party for Mom. And yes, Kimberly the dictator came out and said we always celebrate birthdays and I'm cooking the cake and you're going to like it or else! We had the Pepper Cake. One of these days I'm going to tally up exactly how many batches of that cake I've made in the last two years. Also: Goat Cheese and Lemon Cheesecake with Hazelnut Crust, Chocolate Amaretto & Chocolate Raspberry Truffles, shakes made to order, etc.

Marmee's Birthday Party

Mom's affinity for goats in mind, we had some goat-themed games. We had a goat piñata that was decapitated and then beaten to a pulp. Good clean fun.

Marmee's Birthday Party

Then we played "Pin the Beard on the Goat." Even cheating didn't help me win.

Marmee's Birthday Party

I think the only casualty of the night, besides the goat piñata, was my trusty plastic-handled ice cream scoop. There was a lot of excitement about those shakes, because we had Daddy's commercial grade shake mixer ready for action. A little thing like the ice cream being too hard to scoop wasn't going to deter anyone. Since the ice cream wouldn't give, the plastic handle of the scoop snapped and cracked. I bought a very superior replacement that I've had my eye on for awhile. The Rösle stainless steel scoop is perfect for a girl that takes ice cream as seriously as I do.

C Is for Cookie

I dreamed last night that I was arguing with someone at United about giving me a discount on an eleven pound bulk block of Callebaut bittersweet chocolate. The price of that brand increased to $8.99/lb a few weeks ago. I buy at least a pound every time I darken the door of the store. I'm going to have to start buying it online, where the price of the eleven pound block is in the $60 range. Yes, these are the things that occupy my mind.

I made my Big and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies and took some to work. I tried Jacques Torres' suggestion and let the batter sit in the fridge for 36 hours before baking. I'm not sure that helped my recipe. Maybe sometime I'll try Jacques' super duper fussy recipe that calls for both cake flour and bread flour and bittersweet chocolate fèves instead of chips. I try not to shun complicated recipes.

Today for dessert we had Raspberry-Almond Napoleons. First I made a batch of Kimbo's Runny Pudding. (Remember that, Steve?) The short story is that one time I had some of that runny pudding spill in my truck at the height of summer. Nothing stinks up your car quite like eggs and dairy and vanilla. That's what I get for trying to be nice and share. After many attempts, I've realized that the America's Test Kitchen "Good Book" vanilla pudding recipe doesn't thicken and set properly. I decided it is short a tablespoon of cornstarch and an egg yolk.

Raspberry-Almond Napoleon

I cut a sheet of puff pastry into smaller rectangles, brushed the pastry with an egg wash, sprinkled it with sugar, and baked it. Whipped heavy cream, added some runny pudding and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract and beat it to stiff peaks. Spread the pudding mixture over the bottom half of a pastry square, topped it with slivered almonds and raspberries. Spread pudding mixture over the top half of the pastry and placed it on top of the berries. Garnished the top with a little more pudding, a raspberry, and almond slivers.

They were very pretty and tasty but messy to eat. Sorry that you missed them. As Cookie Monster said, "You always denying me!" You can print out a picture of them just the same.

Raspberry-Almond Napoleon